Like many of you, I braved the cold and did some holiday shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
I've never been involved in an angry mob to get the one item that everyone else wants. The places I go are usually crowded but fairly peaceful with carols playing in the background and happy people out looking for a good deal.
As the acceptable time to open the stores creeps earlier into our holiday and Cyber Monday gets more popular, we have to rethink the topic of when really is the best time to shop for a deal. For that matter, what other tricks of the trade could we use to stretch our money even further, past the holidays and into real life?
In "Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00" by Mark Di Vincenzo, we are given a notebook of sorts on industry secrets to work to our benefit. Using advice from a wide variety of experts, we discover the best times to buy a high-def TV (no, not right before the Super Bowl) and even when to take that fabulous tropical vacation.
Written in an easy-to-read question-and-answer format, we are presented with quick bites of consumer knowledge. Fun to read, informative and filled with great conversation starters, this little book will get you ready for the latest shopping trends and the occasional cocktail party tidbits.
For more consumer advice, we have a collection of books to meet any shopping and saving conundrum. In "Never Pay Retail Again," author Daisy Lewellyn reveals just what us bargain babes need to do to look great with minimal damage to the checking account.
Whether you're an impulse shopper, an emotional shopper or even the smartest shopper, you can benefit from some step-by-step instructions on creating a wardrobe plan and a shopping strategy. Different industry experts pipe in with their opinions on finding a great deal, and websites boasting the best prices are listed.
Michelle Snow is the "Queen of Common Cents" — as printed on her book of the same title. The author of a series of books on savvy living, she gives us some old housewives' ideas in this one.
Focusing mostly on grocery items, we learn how to make homemade beef jerky at a reasonable price and what are the best cuts of meat to get from your grocery's butcher. Recipes are included, of course.
Those of us who need to learn to cut our budget and save hundreds of dollars a month should pick up "Point, Click, and Save: Mashup Mom's Guide to Saving and Making Money Online" by Rachel Singer Gordon. Based on a popular blog, Gordon gives us some easy answers as well as more difficult moves for getting you on solid financial ground.
Websites for coupons, deals and even freebies are listed in a fun and easy-to-read style. For more, visit her blog at MashupMom.com.
Times are tough these days. Tara Kuczykowski and Madi Ehman are offering up some help in their book "All In Good Time: When to Save, Stock Up, and Schedule Everything For Your Home." Inside you'll find hints on cutting your grocery bills without cutting coupons, when to get a haircut and easy (and inexpensive) ways to remodel your kitchen.
Based on DealSeekingMom.com, one of Forbes.com's Top 100 websites for women, the key to this book is streamlining your life. If you only knew how to do things more economically, you'd have more time to do things you really want to do.
If the thing you really want to do is fight the crowds at your local big retail outlet, so be it. When you're doing your shopping wisely, you see fewer brawls by the angry mobs who didn't read these books. So what are you up for this season?
Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.