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January is for Shoppers

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for January, 1999

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Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you've all resolved to do at least one Frugal Fun thing every week.

This month is a good time to spend some bucks, especially if you had a proper frugal holiday (as you would have if you followed the suggestions in my last two December columns). A lot of things tend to be unusually cheap around now, so stock up:
* Airfares. I've been receiving notices lately about round trip fares to Europe in the $300-$350 range. Probably accommodations are also pretty cheap right now, since it's not tourist season. Any destinations to colder climates should be fairly cheap right now.
* Christmas/Chanukah wrap. Move quickly on this one! It should still be marked down for about another week, and then buried in warehouses for the next many months. Of course, if you'd rather use the Sunday funnies, you won't need this.
* Holiday decorations (though next December I'll be running a tipsheet on how to decorate your house for just a couple of dollars--without buying ornaments, etc.)
* Chanukah candles--getting a bit late for this one, but you might get lucky. One year we bought several boxes of 44 for 39 cents each, a week after Chanukah ended.
* Linens--traditionally on sale in January, though in my experience, these sales are harder to find than they used to be.
* Winter coats, hats, gloves, etc. They'll start disappearing from the shelves and by the end of February, pretty much all the winter stuff will be hard to find. I still have my wonderful winter coat that I bought several years ago in February for $41--after rejecting numerous coats in the $150-$200 range for the previous month or two. Pine nuts. It's as far from pesto season as possible. Find them for $5-8 per pound and put them in the freezer until the basil comes in.
* Houses. Real estate prices are extremely low, at least in my area (Western New England). By spring, the same houses may be an extra $20,000.
* Computers and electronics, power tools, jewelry, luxury items: If merchants didn't make their Christmas quotas, they may be ready to negotiate. Don't be afraid to buy last year's unsold models, as long as they do what you need and you get a great price.

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