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Use post-holiday sales to treat yourself — responsibly

Posted: 11:45 AM, Dec 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-26 19:44:22Z

Much like Santa, you spent this holiday season delivering gifts to your family members and friends.

But now that the flurry of tinsel and wrapping paper has settled, it’s time to be your own Santa. Don’t worry, no dropping through a chimney required. Just the gift-giving — and, OK, maybe the cookies, too.

That’s right: Now it’s time to buy a few gifts to give to yourself. Done the right way, treating yourself can be enjoyable and within your budget . Here’s why it’s a good time to look out for No. 1.

You can get what you want

Was your heart set on something that didn’t appear under the tree? Now’s your opportunity to get your hands on exactly what you had in mind. And since the post-Christmas period features deals on a variety of products, you’re likely to find what you want at a discounted price.

The price-tracking app Paribus historically has seen price drops in categories such as home decor, gaming systems, cell phones and clothing in the two weeks after Christmas.

“Sometimes, we’ll see that retailers are trying to get certain products off the shelf as the Christmas season comes to a close,” says Jenna Kaye-Kauderer, head of Paribus.

That’s the case with holiday decorations, wrapping paper and winter clothing, for example.

There’s no need to go crazy and buy everything that’s on sale at the end of December and beginning of January. But if you’re eyeing a new pair of knee-high boots, or another item that’s been discounted, consider spending some of the Christmas money or gift cards you may have received.

It could make you feel better

Could shopping for yourself — and scoring deals — make you happy during the winter season? It’s possible.

Scott Rick, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, has researched consumer spending habits. He says people experience different levels of distress when spending money and buying gifts.

“Tightwads,” for example, kick themselves for not buying things they actually wanted to buy, he says. “Spendthrifts” are the opposite. They overspend, but still end up unhappy.

Rick says there’s a happy medium between these two. “There’s this middle ground of what we call unconflicted consumers, who have some distress when they spend money … just enough to keep them sort of in line,” Rick says.

“They don’t completely deprive themselves,” he says. “They don’t go nuts. They are happier, on average, than most tightwads and spendthrifts.”

So forget post-holiday blues. The freedom of buying some gifts for yourself, within reason, could actually be beneficial.

It can be part of a balanced budget

Allowing room for self-spending is also part of a healthy budget.

“You don’t want to sacrifice your whole life until retirement just eating ramen noodles or never buying something for yourself,” says Robert P. Finley, a certified financial planner and the principal of Virtue Asset Management in Illinois.

Finley says it’s important to consider your emotional and mental well-being.

“I think it’s more than acceptable to buy yourself presents, especially around the holidays, or even not the holidays, as long as you’re not running up your credit cards to a very high amount and taking on a lot of debt just to try to make yourself feel better,” he says.

As long as you keep your spending within realistic boundaries, you shouldn’t have to feel overly restricted.

The 50/30/20 budget is a helpful guideline. According to this model, you can spend up to 50 percent of your take-home income on needs, 30 percent on wants and 20 percent on savings and debt repayment. Gifts for yourself would fall within the 30 percent portion — as long as you’re not way off in the other categories.

So go ahead and buy that sherpa blanket that wasn’t under the tree. It would look so good on your couch.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.