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Save Hundreds on ‘Hidden’ Costs This Season — Gas, Wine, Decor, and More

Unexpected holiday extras can wreak havoc on your budget.


From last-minute gifts to refilling your gas tank, it’s the unexpected extras that can wreak havoc on your budget this time of year. But if you follow our tips, you’ll be able to save on hundreds on “hidden” costs like gas, wine, festive decor, and more this holiday. Without further ado: some great ways to score deals so that you’ll have plenty of moolah left to buy presents for everyone you love.

Get these gifts for free.

It seems like every year, a neighbor, friend, or other kindhearted holiday-maker shows up on our doorstep with a gift we hadn’t expected. Fortunately, you can avoid the embarrassment of not having a gift to reciprocate by getting just-in-case backup presents — for free! That’s because retailers are offering more buy-one-get-one-free deals than ever before, thanks to a recent flood of inventory after overdue orders from shipping delays finally arrived, so they’re eager to empty their shelves before December 25. To find the latest offers, visit and

Cut the cost of gas.

If you’re like most of us, you’re driving a lot more than usual as you shop for gifts, attend festive functions, and hit the road to visit loved ones. And all those extra fill-ups are taking a bigger bite out of your wallet. While applying for a credit card that gives you cash back for fuel purchases can help, it can take weeks for the card to arrive. Instead? Most major gas stations offer free rewards programs that give you a lower price on fuel as a way to foster brand loyalty. Simply register in-store and you can start using them right away! Some options: Circle K, Exxon, Shell, Speedway, and Thorntons. Also smart: Download the free app Gas Guru from Yellow Pages; it pinpoints the cheapest gas near you using prices obtained directly from gas companies to ensure accuracy.

Tip: Stringing tree and home can increase your electric bill. But switching from incandescent lights to LEDs slashes electrical usage by up to 90 percent. Plus, LEDs last twice as long — up to 10 years!

Drink wine for less.

A recent survey found Americans drink twice as much wine around the holidays. To save, try store-brand wine. Starting at just $3, private-label bottles found at stores like Lidl, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and more are known for their high quality and flavor. In fact, Lidl’s store brand wines earned 47 medals at the Sommeliers Choice Awards last year! Another option? Get a bulk discount with boxed wine. A Consumer Reports taste test found that many brands stand out for price and quality, including Black Box Pinot Noir 2019, Black Box Sauvignon Blanc and Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon — all $19 per 3 liters.

Nab deals on decor.

The cost of festooning your home with holiday-themed displays can add up fast. But not if you head to craft stores right now. They’re filled with pre-made decorations like candles, wreath, and centerpieces. And in the final weeks leading up to Christmas, these stores slash prices on these items by 40 percent or more to clear out stock by the holiday. For example, at this time last year, Hobby Lobby offered Christmas trees, wreaths and tableware for 50 percent off, Joann slashed the cost of holiday figurines and candles by 50 percent, and Michaels cut the price of ornaments by 40 percent.

Scam buster!

See a coupon for grocery savings on Facebook or another social media site? Skip it! Around the holidays, scammers post phony offers for $25, $50, or $100 off at supermarkets. They even create fake accounts for well-known stores so their “coupons” look genuine. Then if you try to access the offer, either you’ll be asked for personal information (like your birthdate), which they’ll use to defraud you, or when you download the “coupon,” it installs malware to your device.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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