Holiday Shopping: Save or Splurge

So long, Black Friday. Sayonara, Cyber Monday. It’s the thick of the holiday shopping season. If all your gifts are bought, congratulations. If not, you have plenty of company to stress about buying, wrapping and delivering gifts for the next couple of weeks.

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, you’re normal budget judgement may be compromised. So you have to ask yourself, is it worth it to drop the big bucks or is it better to go the frugal route.

The answer should always depend on your budget, of course, and there is usually an emotional element at play in the decision. But there is usually a better time of year to buy certain items and it doesn’t always coincide with the holiday season.

TVs

The door-busting deals may be gone with Black Friday, but this can still be a good time to buy a new TV. However, this is often a household gift, so it may not be so important to have specifically for the holidays. If you find a steal, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger. But know perhaps a better opportunity to save— think Super Bowl season—is right around the corner.

Phones

You’ll find every combination of carrier, contract and payment plan under the sun when shopping for smartphones, but generally speaking, the holiday season is no better or worse time to buy one. The latest, greatest models typically come out in early fall, which is also the time the older models drop in price. So you may be able to find a deal on last year’s model for this year’s holiday.

Video Game Consoles 

Timing is everything with game systems. Now is a perfect time to buy. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms have been out for a while and there isn’t a high-priced new generation debuting for the holidays. The good news is both can be found for under $300, often with a bundle of one or more games.

Jewelry 

Jewelers know all too well that some people, often grooms-to-be and procrastinating husbands, will buy this time of year no matter what. So, don’t expect the deal of the year at holiday time. The best prices usually occur after Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and in the dog days of summer.

Clothing 

This is the time to go coupon crazy. Keep an eye on sites such as RetailMeNot or Ebates for cashback offers on online purchases at major retailers—regardless of item. Or track prices on Amazon, which can change by the day. Another trick with clothes is to buy something even if it’s not a good deal or the perfect item. Your recipient can really cash in on returns or exchanges the day after Christmas through the end-of-winter sales.

Big Ticket Items

Pianos, pool, ping-pong and foosball tables, basketball goals and other popular “family” gifts will almost always be cheaper after the holiday season. However, the price fluctuations are not as extreme. The technology doesn’t change much, so these items tend to hold their value. These types items are great to find on Craigslist for real savings.

Gift Cards

When all else fails, don’t forget the gift card option. It may feel lazy or unimaginative to give, but who doesn’t like to receive a gift card to their favorite place? Gift cards can actually land in the “save” category. Online businesses such as Cardpool and Raise sell gift cards to most major retail, restaurant and even some resort brands at discounts.

To save or to splurge? That is the perennial holiday season question. The answer depends on the gift and the timing. Happy shopping!

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