Editor's Note: This is an updated version of a story written
by Starting Out columnist Erin Burt in 2008. The advice is as
good now as it ever was. See if you agree.
There's more than one way to save money the day after
Thanksgiving. You're certainly welcome to drag yourself out of bed
at 4 a.m. to endure frozen toes, long lines and hand-to-hand
Or forget the mall mayhem and use your time more wisely at home.
There really are better things to do on Black Friday that can save
you just as much money -- or more. Plus, you'll actually finish the
day with your sanity intact.
1. Shop online.
You can find
amazing holiday deals online
without having to mess with parking, weather and hoards of frenzied
shoppers. Plus, it's easier to comparison shop on the Web, find the
items you're looking for and collect coupons for your purchases.
You just might save more money than if you had ventured out in
person. And with the time you save, you could even sleep in.
Be mindful of shipping costs, though. There are plenty of free
shipping promotions out there this season, but many will require a
minimum purchase. See
for stores that have free-shipping coupons. And more than 1,000
merchants will be participating in
on December 17, with delivery by Christmas Eve. Or check out deals
that'll ship your order for free to a local store for pick-up, such
as Walmart.com and Payless.com. You'll have to leave the house, but
you'll save oodles in time and hassle.
2. Prepare your holiday budget and gift list.
Do you blow your holiday budget each year? If you just answered,
"What holiday budget?" listen up. Holiday shopping is a contact
sport. You need a game plan. Take time now to jot down the names of
everyone for whom you want to buy gifts. Set a budget and divvy up
dollar amounts to each name on your list, complete with gift ideas
or notes of their interests. If necessary, discuss with your family
ways to cut back this season, such as drawing names or buying just
for the kids.
Plus, make sure you budget in a buffer for those last-minute
surprises you forgot to plan on. With a little organization, you'll
save time and money -- and have a much smoother holiday season. See
Smart Holiday Buying Guide
for shopping tips and affordable travel ideas.
3. Set up a gift that keeps on giving.
We know you have the best intentions to open that
529 college-savings plan
for Junior or that
for yourself (or to
convert a traditional IRA to a Roth
because the income limit on conversions disappeared in 2010). After
all, these tax-sheltered investment accounts are the ultimate
But in the rush of day-to-day life, you just haven't found the
time. Truth is, you can
start investing in just five easy steps
. That means you can secure your child's educational future or your
get your beauty sleep before Black Friday shoppers return with
4. Winterize your home.
A bit of caulk and weather stripping around doors and windows can
save a lot of money on your energy bills this winter. You should
also check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, drain gas from
your lawn mower and other seasonal equipment, clean out your dryer
vent and have your furnace inspected and cleaned. See
10 Energy-Efficient Moves to Do in a Weekend
for more details.
5. Shop for the best credit card.
You're going to spend hundreds of dollars over the next month, so
why not get something in return? With a rewards credit card, you
can get cash, airline miles or other free perks for every dollar
you spend. (Just make sure you pay off your balance each month so
the interest charges won't eat away your advantage.) See
our picks for the best rewards cards
Or, get a low-rate credit card. We know that despite your best
intentions and no matter what we say to persuade you otherwise,
many of you will lean on your credit cards and carry balances into
the New Year. At least make sure you have the best rate to minimize
Click here to compare credit card rates.
6. Clean out your closet, basement or garage.
Are your old clothes, knick knacks, books, CDs and other household
items taking up precious space? Donate your used stuff to a
charitable thrift store such as Goodwill or Salvation Army and get
a tax write-off. Or sell it on Craigslist, eBay or Amazon.com to
make some extra cash for the holidays.
Learn more about how to declutter and make a few
If you have boxes stuffed with old bank statements, tax returns
and pay stubs, you might want to take the opportunity to pitch what
you no longer need. See
Paper Records: What to Toss, What to Keep
7. Assemble your financial emergency kit.
A couple hours of preparation could prove priceless if disaster
ever struck your family.
Gather all your important documents, including insurance
policies, birth certificates, property deeds, car titles and
investment records, and store them in a fireproof safe. Also,
consider creating a couple of backup CDs of digital family photos
to stash in your safe. Pictures are often the number-one item
people wish they could take with them in an emergency.
While you're at it, assess other areas of your preparedness,
including writing a will, buying life insurance and starting a
rainy-day fund. Learn more about
assembling your financial emergency kit
8. Make smart year-end money moves.
Take action now and you could trim hundreds of dollars from your
tax bill next year. Now's an ideal time to sell losing investments,
spend your flex-account money and donate to charity. See
Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your Taxes
for money-saving moves to make before the end of the year.
If you plan on making charitable donations,
use our checklist
to make sure your giving is getting results.
9. Protect your PC.
Microsoft Windows Defender
AOL's Safety and Security Center
An informal survey on Kiplinger.com found that more than half of
you plan to do just this. After all, who couldn't use a little
family-detox time? Use it to watch football, curl up with a good
book, work on a hobby or browse the Web for a good Thanksgiving
leftovers recipe. You work like crazy all year long. Take a
well-deserved breather before the holidays are in full swing.
Kiplinger's Smart Holiday Spending Guide