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Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Holiday | 0 comments

Thrifty Trees: 10 Ways to Save on Real & Artifical Christmas Trees

Nothing welcomes in the holiday season like a  Christmas tree. The reals ones smell great, the artificial ones are easy to assemble, and both varieties look beautiful and are a great way to bring some winter splendor indoors. Traditionally, Christmas trees have come at quite a cost. If you buy a live tree, you can end up spending as much as $10 a foot. Snag a six foot tree, and you could easily be forking over $60 or more for a tree that you’ll only have a few weeks. An artificial tree is not always a thriftier solution, as they can run as high as $200 at your local home decorating store. So what’s a frugal solution?

Luckily, you can still enjoy a fresh or fake Christmas tree this season while keeping some cash in your pocket.  Take a look below at 10 ways to save on real and artificial Christmas trees.

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When Buying Fresh

1. Choose a lot over a farm

Fresh trees are often offered at lot sales, in the parking lots of larger chain stores, or even at gas stations. These will typically cost you less since you’re not paying for all of the bells and whistles a farm experience offers. Sure the farm has “free” hayrides and “free” hot chocolate, but the price of these free items is usually rolled into the cost of your tree. Opt for a simple lot sale instead and save.

2. Choose a pre-cut tree

You can venture out to a “u-cut” farm and choose your own tree, but you’ll pay more for this luxury. Instead, browse the local pre-cut selections at various greenhouses or lots and save. So, save yourself a little money, time and back pain, and choose a pre -cut tree instead. Plus, these typically come pre-wrapped and roped as well, making them easy to load up.

 3. Look for lush pine needles

Just like when you’re shopping for flowers, look for healthy, green needles. Avoid choosing a tree that has needles which are dry to the touch, break or fall off easy, or look like they are browning. Look for branches that have not settled downward yet, but instead are still pointing upwards. This will ensure you have a fresh tree ready to last the season.

4. Keep your eyes peeled for fundraisers

Many charities sell Christmas trees during the holiday seasons to raise a little cash.  You can typically find these trees for less since they are donated or sold to the organization for little to nothing, allowing the organization to see them at a reasonable price.  Plus, you can feel great about helping out a good cause, and your donation may even be tax deductible.

5. Don’t be afraid to bargain

Many tree lots are willing to bargain with you if you just ask. If trees are sold by the foot, ask them to round down to the smaller amount. Or, if you’re shopping for more than one tree, ask for a multi-purchase discount. Some may offer discounts for cash over credit or debit card, and some may even start discounting the closer it becomes to the holiday. Don’t be afraid to ask, as sellers are wanting to liquidate their trees before the end of the season!

When Buying Artificial

1. Assemble your own lights

A pre-lit tree may seem easy and quick to assemble, but the convenience is going to cost you more. Instead, buy a no-frills artificial tree and buy discounted lights to decorate it yourself. Plus, when the strand stops lighting, you can just remove it. You can’t do that with a pre-lit tree.

2. Skip the additional embellishments

If you buy a tree with any sort of embellishing, you’re going to pay more. This can include  simple fake pine cones, snow tips, ornaments, etc. They look nice and save you a step, but again, you’re paying for that convenience. Instead, purchase these items and decorate your tree yourself.

3. Check out thrift stores

People donate their old Christmas trees all of the time! Be sure to check out your local thrift store and see what you can find. You may be able to find just the size you are looking for, for a whole lot less. Take measurements and a measuring tape with you as thrift shop items are often not returnable. You want to make sure you get something that fits your space.

4. Search for coupons

Craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby offer an assortment of coupons online and in the Sunday paper. These coupons can help you save as much as 40% off your tree purchase. You can also look in your Sunday circular for store specific coupons that could help you save.

5. Plan ahead

While it may not do much for you this year, you can shop this year’s after Christmas sales to find a cheap tree for the following year. Most stores start marking trees and decor down the week of Christmas, so keep your eyes open!

As you can see, there are plenty of easy ways to save money on a Christmas trees this holiday season. Give these tips a try and see what you can come up with. You’re sure to find a beautiful tree that you can enjoy all season for a whole lot less.

Ryan Preston is the founder of Ultimate Coupon Club, a frugal living blog helping others learn how to live well and save more – all while having fun! He is also a Savings.com DealPro and teaches Savings Nation workshops in New Jersey that help people learn how to save up to 50% off their grocery bills.

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