The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Archive for December, 2012

Money Matters: 7 Things You Need to Know About Post-Holiday Shopping Deals

After Holiday Shopping “Deals” are designed to get you to dig deep into your pockets and spend, spend, spend more before years end.  Our friends at take a look at the 7 Things you Need to Know about Post-Holiday Shopping Deals.

after holiday sales


But is it really worth heading to the mall, especially when you’ve probably already stretched your December budget to the breaking point?

We asked money-saving consumer expert Andrea Woroch for her advice on navigating those post-holiday sales. She told us what to buy, what to pass on–and, more importantly, how to outsmart stores to keep your spending in check.

1. Make a List

“It’s just like holiday shopping,” Woroch says. “Bring a list, so you can avoid impulse purchases.” This is especially important now since you probably already spent a lot of money in December on gifts, charity and travel.

2. Swap Those Gift Cards

Did you get any not-so-awesome gift cards for the holidays? Luckily, December 26th is Gift Card Exchange Day, when you can swap unwanted cards for cash using this website.

And even if you don’t have a gift card to turn in, you can still snag deeply discounted ones. “After Christmas, you’re going to have a lot of gift cards available through sites like Gift Card Granny or Cardpool,” Woroch says. You can find cards for up to an 87% discount that you can use at retailers, restaurants and even hotels.

3. Shop Department Stores

If you want to find steep discounts, the clearance section of department stores is your destination, where “you can find quality, brand-name merchandise, instead of generic brands offered at big-box stores,” Woroch says. And places like Kohl’s and Macy’s will offer coupons to bring down the prices even more.

RELATED: Department Store Workers Share How You Can Save

4. Eye That Winter Merchandise

Retailers are trying to clear out sweaters, boots and coats before spring goods come in, so they’ll drop prices even further. If you could still use a puffy jacket or a cashmere sweater, now’s the time to get it. Just avoid high-end merchandise. You won’t find discounts on items like Apple electronics, North Face jackets and other luxury brands. These discounts would have come before the holidays.

5. Exchange Wisely

Stores know that you’ll be coming in to make exchanges–and they’ll try to capture your dollars while you’re there. So first check to see which online stores offer free returns, so you can avoid the mall or store altogether.

RELATED: The Perils of Online Shopping

If you have things that you need to return in person, make a list of what you want and need to keep focused as you pass those loud sale signs on the way to the register. And don’t forget to check out the clearance section to see if you can get more for less of your exchange dollars.

“If there’s not necessarily something you need right now, you might want to get a store credit to give yourself time to think about what you want,” Woroch says. “And don’t feel like you need to spend a gift card because it won’t expire for five years.” Of course, if you can get cash back, that’s ideal.


6. Stock Up on Holiday Items

Focus on getting things for next year’s holiday season, like decorations and wrapping paper–they’ll be priced to move … and quickly. Just make sure that you’re buying what you’ll definitely use next year–not because they happen to be “cheap” or a “bargain.” Instead, pick up twinkle lights to replace the ones that short-circuited or get decorations that weren’t quite in your budget this holiday.

7. Beware of Tricky Deals

“You’re going to see lots of buy-two-get-one-free deals,” Woroch says. “But it’s important to note that you’re likely to spend an extra $25 you wouldn’t have.” Translation: If you only want one sweater, but you end up paying for two to get the third free, you’ve overspent on merchandise you weren’t looking for in the first place.

RELATED: 9 Secret Ways Stores Seduce Us Into Buying

Also watch out for those “Limited Time” or “Today Only” deals that will fill up your email inbox post holidays. They create a sense of urgency, potentially convincing you to spend on unwanted stuff that you really didn’t need (you got enough of that from Aunt Claire!) just to get a great deal.


Treasurer’s Top 5: Vilas County

Vilas County, Eagle River Ice Castle

This week, we travel to Vilas County.  Here’s a look at the Top 5 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you see anyone on this list you know?  If so, have check out and search their name to make a claim.  They can also call 855-375-CASH (2274)

Vilas County

Vyto Demereckis

Leonard and Esther Anderson

Charles Weary

John and Mary Scott

James Falcon

Money Matters: 4 Steps to Budgeting for the Holidays NOW, STEP 4!

There are 4 weeks until Christmas and  still plenty of shopping to be done for that perfect gift to Aunt Zelda,  the postal carrier, and the nice man down the street.  Ho, Ho, HOLD on a minute!  In the last part of our series, “Money Matters: 4 Steps to Budgeting for the Holidays,” our Friends at show us how to calculate the most joyful holiday budget.

4. Crunch Your Numbers With Our Holiday Budget Calculator

Every person’s situation is unique, which is why we’ve developed a calculator to help you get a rough sense of an appropriate holiday gift budget for what you have to spend this year. We’ve based it on how many people you have to give to, how comfortable you are right now with your finances and what your current income looks like.

It’s always helpful to have a rule of thumb. That said, this calculator makes assumptions about your life, and you know best. So, get crunching … and watch the real magic of the holidays happen.

Of course, you can always throw a little more cash into those numbes for searching our database for your name at

Treasurer’s Top 5: Vernon County

Vernon County, Kickapoo Valley Reserve

This week, we travel to Vernon County.  Here’s a look at the Top 5 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you see anyone on this list you know?  If so, have check out and search their name to make a claim.  They can also call 855-375-CASH (2274)

Vernon County

Barbara Thorington

Mark H Johson

Marjorie and Jacklelin Emidy

Jacobson Schaller Auto Collision

Fay and Millicen Jacobson

Money Matters: 4 Steps to Budgeting for the Holidays NOW, STEP 3!

 The Holidays are here.  Most likely, your wallet is not as well stuffed as that bird you just enjoyed.  So, in Part 3 of our blog series “Money Matters:  4 Steps to Budgeting for the Holidays,”  our Friends at introduce us to the “Seasonal Spending Commandments.”  Thou shalt get out your tablets and start scratching. 

3. Obey the Seasonal Spending Commandments

These are a few easy rules to follow to make sure your holidays are happy and financially healthy:

  1. Never go into credit card debt for holiday spending.
  2. Never dip into your emergency fund for the sake of buying gifts or decorating your home.
  3. Never go into credit card debt for the holidays. Seriously. Ever.
  4. We’ll add one of our own:  ALWAYS search our database for your name to see if we are holding some extra holiday cash for you at

Does that mean you don’t have a lot of cash to spare for gifts for your loved ones? We have a feeling they’ll love you even if you don’t drop a boatload. Here are great DIY gift ideas from last year—and keep your eyes out for this year’s updated version, coming next month.

Money Matters: 4 Steps to Budgeting for the Holidays NOW, STEP 2!

The Holidays are descending upon us along with some potentially overwhelming bills if you get a little too caught up in the spirit if giving.  This week, in our 4 part blog series for Money Matters devoted to Holiday budgeting,  our Friends at, outline how to calculate your spending budget.   Of course, having a little extra cash wouldn’t hurt.  Don’t forget to search our Unclaimed Property database for your name  at

2. Calculate How Much Can You Spare

The easiest way to calculate where your holiday budget is coming from is to log in to LearnVest’s Money Center to see your spending trends. These are already grouped in your Financial Inbox according to the 50/20/30 Rule, so you can see at a glance what percentage of your income you’re spending on Lifestyle Expenses.

If you have money left in your Lifestyle Choices before the 30% mark, you can allocate the leftovers to holiday spending—and create a special color-coded folder to account for it. If not, it’s time to trim back.

Could you free up enough for holiday travel by cutting a dinner out once a month, or temporarily stretching your time between salon visits? How about freezing your gym membership for two months and starting anew in January? You’d be amazed by how easy it is to free up funds when you see exactly how much you’re spending on what laid out before you.

You can even set a specific savings goal for the holidays in the Money Center and play with various contribution amounts per month to see how far they would get you.

Treasurer’s Top 5: Trempealeau County

Trempealeau County, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

This week, we travel to Trempealeau County.  Here’s a look at the Top 5 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you see anyone on this list you know?  If so, have check out and search their name to make a claim.  They can also call 855-375-CASH (2274)

Trempealeau County

Vyril Gatzke

Helen Jacobson Estate

Edmund Sylla

Zelda Wingad Estate

Helen Enghagen