It's October, so think holiday shopping
This is a good time to take advantage of deals and save money on the costly holiday season.
This post is from Jeanette Pavini at partner site The Wall Street Journal.
Between party-going and gift-giving, those additional expenses add up. Think ahead, save wherever you can, and take advantage of October deals to ensure that you make it to January with money in the bank.
1. Layaway purchases
Most of us will be faced with the task of holiday shopping. And if you're planning on shopping now and paying later, October is the best month to take advantage of layaway.
This allows time to pay off purchases, and layaway contracts typically last for eight weeks or more. Plus, it's a way to reserve popular holiday gifts before they sell out, even if you can't pay for them right away.
One main advantage to layaway is you can buy those big-ticket holiday purchases and spread out payments without incurring interest, like you would on your credit card. Usually there is a fee of around $5 to open a layaway account, but some stores are changing that policy.
Wal-Mart Stores is offering free holiday layaway now through Dec. 13. Layaway products are eligible for price matching if you find a lower advertised competitor price.
Kmart is waiving its service fee on new layaway purchases made now through Nov. 23. Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us are also offering free layaway.
Keep in mind that most stores charge a cancellation fee for layaway, typically $10 to $15, so make sure this is an item you want and you have the money to cover it.
2. Energy savers
We always seem to use more energy this time of year. October is National Energy Awareness Month. Look for retailers offering promotions and take the Energy Star pledge at EnergyStar.gov.
Choose the energy-saving changes you want to make, like replacing 10 light bulbs, using a programmable thermostat or purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator. When you submit the pledge, Energy Star will send a list of available rebates and offers that coincide with the changes you pledged.
Now is the time to assess whether you've made or would like to make energy-saving home upgrades that could qualify for a 2013 tax credit. Energy Star says you can get a tax credit for 10% (up to $500) for insulation materials such as weather stripping and house wrap or 10% (up to $200) for Energy Star-qualified windows (not including installation).
3. Flu shots
October also seems to be the month when cold and flu season kicks off. You may be able to get a free flu shot this month.
Why October? Flu vaccines start shipping in late July, and by October all vaccines for the season have been distributed, so providers are well stocked.
More importantly, flu vaccines take about two weeks to kick in, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They say influenza outbreaks begin as early as October, though they generally peak in January or later.
If your insurance plan covers flu shots, then you can still get a free vaccination even if there are no clinics in your area. Consider getting it from a retail store with a shopping incentive. CVS offers a 20%-off shopping pass when you get a flu shot. Safeway and affiliate stores like Dominick's, Randalls and Vons give 10% off groceries with a flu shot.
Thanks to Halloween and those folks who love to make costumes, fabric goes on sale this month. Score big discounts on fabric whether it's for a costume or you are making a new set of curtains.
Fabric shoppers (especially quilters) may luck out and find a surplus of remnants near the end of the month. These are the leftovers or scraps from fabric bolts that are too small to put back on shelves so they are sold at a discount.
I know, it's a no-brainer. Candy is marked down right after Halloween (Oct. 31). Stock up on 75%-off pumpkin-shaped chocolate; melt it down, and voilà! You're ready for holiday baking. Or, buy an assortment of sweets and save it 'till December to adorn your kids' gingerbread houses. Now that's a sweet deal.
More from The Wall Street Journal:
Lets see, no pay raise in nearly 5 years, furloughed, starting a business of my own, and worrying about just keeping the regular lights on much less the Christams lights. Chistmas is cancelled at the figtin house.
Google using our faces to advertise? Facebook ads?...they can shove all of their advertising up their free market asses.
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