The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 9, 2012

Holiday skip list: What not to buy

It's the most wonderful time of the year — arriving year after year after year — and somehow, we still haven't caught on to the needless consumer spending that the season propagates. Every holiday season, we buy new stockings for the kids, twinkle lights for the house and sparkling clothes that we'll wear to no more than one holiday party.

This year, we're giving you an out. Stop buying stuff you don't need! According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $6 billion on holiday decorations last year and are expected to spend $6.9 billion this year. (That's more than the 2012 election cost!) According to Bloomberg, we spent $2.2 billion on fake Christmas trees, more than twice what we spent on real ones. (So, no, we're not even helping Christmas tree farmers.)

We're not saving money when we buy things we don't need. And we don't need 10-foot Santas in our yards or another fake tree every year.

We loves the season, but it has a way of bullying us into unnecessary purchases. Here are five things you don't need to spend money on this holiday. If you still want that giant inflatable snowman after New Year's, you'll be happy you waited until 2013.

YOU DO NOT NEED . . .

A new television

Yes, this is counterintuitive. If you are among the first ones in line at Walmart, Target or Best Buy on Black Friday, go ahead: Buy the severely discounted flat-screen TV. But if you don't get your hands on the advertised door buster, you probably won't get the best deal on a television. The Wall Street Journal and Decide, Inc., a consumer research firm, recently sponsored a Black Friday comparison shopping study. They found that the average price of a Samsung 46-inch LCD television was $1,159 before Black Friday. On Black Friday, the same TV's average price was $1,355. There's a logical reason prices might be higher during the holidays: Demand for televisions is high during winter (and football season). For the best deals, wait until March or April, when demand falls.

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