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8. Gift card trading • Want to buy or sell your gift cards? Sites such as Cardpool.com, GiftCardRescue.com or PlasticJungle.com let you sell unwanted gift cards for cash or buy other people’s cards at a discount. The gift cards represent hundreds of well-known brands, from Sears to Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s to Home Depot.
Say you want to unload a $100 gift card from American Eagle Outfitters. Cardpool, a San Francisco-based site, will pay you $79 — by check — if you mail in the card; for a $100 Babies R Us card, they’ll pay $82.
If you want to buy gift cards, they’re sold at discounts of up to 30 percent. At GiftCardRescue, for example, you’ll pay $22.50 for a $25 Sunglass Hut card or $45 for a Pottery Barn $50 card.
9. Best deals • If you missed or avoided the Black Friday frenzy, no worries. Many experts say better deals on certain items often land in the last week before Christmas.
Household goods, such as bedding, linens, towels and decorative items, often get marked down with deep discounts, for instance.
The risk of waiting, of course, is that a coveted item might be sold out.
10. Play it safe • One of the worst ways to lose money during the holidays is theft. When out shopping, follow these common-sense reminders:
Don’t carry more than one credit card, in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. Don’t leave packages, laptops or cellphones visible in your back or front seat; if you don’t have a trunk, bring a blanket to throw over valuables. Keep your purse tucked under an arm and strapped across your torso; stick your wallet in a front pocket. Don’t pull out a wad of cash at the register. Always be aware of your surroundings and park in well-lit areas.
And a final note. Go easy on yourself during the seasonal spending spree.
"It’s so easy to get caught up in the consumer side of the holidays," said Bond. "The best thing is to stick to your budget and not set yourself up for a debt hangover in January. Just because it’s a great deal doesn’t mean you need it."
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