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10 Things To Buy Before The End Of The Year

By Laura Heller

Dec 16th 2010 at 9:00AM

You're Christmas shopping may not be done, but now is a great time to think about buying a few items for yourself before the end of the year. Think about going against the grain and you'll get some good deals on non-gift items. So before the clock strikes midnight on New Year's here are some purchases you might want to consider making.

1. Home improvement Not a lot of people are undergoing major renovations, but now is a good time to start planning when designers aren't so busy, advises Rebekah Zavelof of KitchenLab and Design in a Bag in Chicago. Retailers like Home Depot, Lowes and Sears have great sales on tools and other DIY project necessities in attempts to compete with more traditional gift items like cashmere sweaters, toys and jewelry.

2. Appliances Appliance sales for the year have been dismal except for those states offering rebates to buyers of new energy efficient appliances. Those were single-day events only, and now stores and manufacturers are stuck with too much inventory, even as new models are prepped for release in 2011. Look for deals on major brands like GE, Frigidaire, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool--including non-commercial style appliances from the likes of Jenn-Air and GE, Zavelof says. Even Viking is offering discounts, if not directly, then in bundles. Jon Abt of Abt Electronics told Walletpop earlier in the season: Buy more than one and get a rebate or discount.

3. Decor Once the initial late-fall holiday-nesting phase passes, most of us are more focused on getting through the holidays than decorating or renovating, and the retailers specializing in home goods do everything they can to tempt you to do otherwise. Furniture stores like Crate & Barrel often have sales on dining room pieces and we found extreme discounts of up to 75% off on lighting at Macy's. Remember to look beyond the highlighted gift items for deals on things you'll want to use year-round.

4. Health items There's usually a rush at the end of the year of people making appointments for elective procedures like LASIK eye surgery to use up Health Savings and Flexible Savings account funds. But you don't have to go under the knife, or red light as the case may be, to use these up. Non-invasive cosmetic procedures and products, new eyeglasses or even a therapeutic massage can quailify. Also, load up on over-the-counter medications, advises WalletPop's Vera Gibbons, as the rules are set to change come Jan. 1, 2011.

5. Fitness and weight loss Buy a gym membership or join a weight loss program, and start using them before the rush of people trying to fulfill their New Year resolutions. Health clubs are more likely to offer deals or negotiate now, before their busiest season, and you get the benefit of less-populated classes and more personal attention from instructors, while everyone else is at the holiday buffet. You will establish a routine and lay the groundwork for success well before the New Year, so you can just breeze by the confused newbies at the club on Jan. 2.

6. Gift certificates or cards Many retailers, restaurants, salons and spas are offering incentives to anyone buying gift cards, usually above a certain denomination. Lettuce Entertain You, for example, gives a $25 gift card for every $100 purchased in any increment, and at Romano's Macaroni Grill, you'll get a $5 card with every $25 purchased. The bonus card is labeled as such, making it inappropriate for a gift, but if you eat out regulary, you'll put it to good use.

7. Cotton Prices of some commodities are going up, including cotton. So are shipping costs and the price of labor in China. So stock up now on basic apparel items like cotton t-shirts, tank tops and other undergarments before these take effect. According to Investors.com, prices are anticipated to rise between 5% to 10% in the first half of 2011.

8. Items for your business If you're self-employed or a small-business owner, think about picking up that new printer or desk chair before the end of the year. And if you're among the lucky ones actually feeling the recession lift, you may really need the tax deductions thanks to improved profits. Take some time to take stock, and then take advantage of end of the year sales.

9. Stocks There's end-of-the-year financial manuevering going on, and it may be scary to think about investing, but long-term planning is always a must. Kiplinger has some stock picks for kids that seem like good picks for just about everyone. At the very least, let this nudge all of us out of the spend mode and into a saving and investing one as we say goodbye to 2010.

10. Champagne and wine It may seem illogical, what with New Year's Eve coming up, but retailers really offer some great prices on the bubbly in December, when things get ultra competitive. If you're not a champagne drinker, consider stocking up on wine as distributors offer special pricing on gift items, or a percentage off when you buy multiple bottles.

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