The one money thing to do now that the holidays are over

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The one money thing to do now that  the holidays are over

While most people are recovering from the merriment of the holidays, savvy shoppers will be making a beeline for the seasonal decor aisle of their local department store.

Nearly any retail expert will tell you there's no better time to score deep savings on holiday items than in the days and weeks following a major holiday.

"Post-Christmas sales are gifts that keep on giving,” says Chelsea Hudson, personal finance expert for TopCashback, a rebate and coupon site. “From holiday decorations to wrapping papers, you can snag most items for less than half off.”

Where to find savings

Stores from Ikea to Crate & Barrel and Big Lots tend to kick off their winter clearance sales Dec. 26, Hudson said. The biggest savings are likely to be had at Home Depot, Walmart, and Target, where seasonal décor sells for as much as 50% off.

“You can find festive lights for around $4 and even highly discounted inflatables for around $20,” said Hudson.

Bargains on holiday items can be found both online and in-store but there are pros and cons to each.

You’ll typically see bigger discounts at brick-and-mortar stores, Hudson said. They are more likely to get rid of inventory to make way for new merchandise. However, in-store inventory tends to be limited after the holiday shopping frenzy.

How long do deals last?

Major discounts tend to be available the entire week after Christmas. Prices plunge further as the new year arrives.

If you're an online shopper, sign up for a store’s email alerts so you're notified as soon as a sale goes live.

Sales typically apply to holiday items like wrapping paper, gift tags, ornaments, decorations and lights. The key is to act fast, said Sara Hollenbeck, shopping and retail expert for BlackFriday.com.

“High-traffic stores and must-have items tend to go quick, so if there’s any inventory left after Christmas it will be gone in a flash,” said Hollenbeck.

This rule applies to more than winter holidays. Easter and Fourth of July offer still more examples of times when Cost-conscious shoppers can also find savings on decorations after Easter and the Fourth of July.

“All seasonal items go on sale as soon as the peak-buying period is over,” said Hudson. “About a week after any holiday, you can find any remaining seasonal decoration marked down to 90% off. The selection will be more limited, but you can find amazing goods for pennies.”

Looking to save more next Christmas? Take advantage of these 50 ways to make your holidays more affordable.

Image: Studio Doros