1. Many non-profit organizations send out fund raising letters this time of year. Included with the letters are sometimes personalized address labels. Save the labels. Whether or not the logos on the label are your favorites, these come in handy when mailing bills especially.
2. Many restaurants have bonus gift cards when you purchase a gift card this time of year. Now these do make great gifts, but you can use them for your family as well. Usually the bonus card is worth about an extra 20%.
3. If you’ve had a fire in the fireplace then make sure the damper is closed after all the coals are burnt out. A lot of heated air can escape through an open damper. Because of how most contemporary fireplaces are built they actually consume more energy then they produce. While some heat is generated by an open fire, the draft created will pull much of your home’s heat up the flue.
4. If you’re leaving town for the holidays then consider the following:
- Have mail and newspapers held so that neither piles up and signals you are not home.
- Leave a light on so that it appears you might be home. For any light left on a lot then use an L.E.D. or C.F.L. bulb as they use much less electricity over the long run.
- Adjust your water heater so that it is on vacation mode.
- Open the doors to any cabinet beneath sinks on which there is an exterior wall. This will help keep pipes from freezing.
- Lower the temperature on your heater. Do not turn the heater off as pipes need to be protected, but lower it enough that it would be chilly if you were home.
If your stay will be extended then consider unplugging computers, TVs and such that pull electricity even when not in use.
- Check to make sure live Christmas trees have plenty of water before leaving.
- Make sure no water is running. Check faucets, toilets, ice makers, etc.
- Garage door openers have a lock option that cuts the electricity to the unit and prevents the opening of the door. Set the opener to the locked position before leaving.
5. If you have a Sam’s Club Master Card then use it for gas fill ups and hotel stays. This card gives 5% cash back for gas purchases and 3% cash back for travel expenses.
6. If you have adequate storage space then save gift bags and bows from the gifts you receive.
7. If you are uncertain whether you will use a particular gift, then keep it in its original packaging, think about it and then return it if you won’t use it. Many stores have very accommodating return policies. Without a receipt you probably can’t get cash, but you can usually get store credit, which will allow you to purchase other items you’re likely to use.
8. Following Christmas dinner, if you have relatives who are trying to find someone to take leftovers then I’d suggest help them out. Turkey and dressing may not be your favorite menu item by the 27th or 28th, but hey if it’s free, give it a try! Recently I researched how my Scotch Irish ancestors would have eaten 2 or 300 years ago. I discovered that their diet consisted of milk, fish and potatoes, day after day after day. If they could eat that year after year then I can eat turkey and dressing for a few days.
9. If you bought a live tree this year and you’re open to an artificial tree, then the few days after Christmas are often times the best time to buy such holiday décor. For about the cost of one live tree, an artificial tree can be purchased after Christmas and it will serve you for many years. We’ve used ours for 17 years now and plan to continue using it. For more insight on how to save $925 by purchasing an artificial tree after Christmas, then check out my recent post:
10. If you’re open to selling stuff on Ebay then consider what sale items you could purchase and resell. I have a couple of friends who in the past would go to Hallmark and purchase their collectible ornaments discounted at 50% or more. They would then store the ornaments in their original boxes and later sell them for profit on Ebay.
11. The days following Christmas are also a good time to purchase wrapping paper, bows, and other Christmas items. Again, if you have adequate space for storage, then this is a good option.
12. If you’ve been wanting storage tubs and are okay with red and green on your color palate, then you may find Christmas storage containers discounted after the 25th. Check them out.
photo credit: Steven Depolo, Girl Hands Holding Quarters via Flickr cc License – 12/22/16 with no changes