SHOWERS OF DEALS
It's officially spring, and retailers are preparing for warm weather and hotter sales. In April consumers will find deals on everything from travel to jewelry, as well as some on winter items. Although the selection of last season's goods will be even slimmer than it was in March, prices may be deeply discounted. There are a few things it's best not to buy this month, as well.
April is National Car Care Month, so auto parts stores and service centers will be running promotions. It's a good time to take a vehicle in for a tune-up and shop for car accessories.
Dealers stock up on inventory in April in anticipation of warm weather and spring car sales. Beat the crowds for a better selection of used cars and hunt around for dealers willing to negotiate. But keep in mind which cars are cheapest to repair, too.
Spring is one of the best times of the year for travel. Sandwiched between the peak winter holiday and summer travel seasons, April offers pleasant weather and lower travel costs throughout much of the country, as well as Europe and Asia. Take advantage of the shoulder season to enjoy flight and hotel discounts and thinner tourist crowds. It's also a good time to find cruise deals.
Bling is the thing to buy in April. With the Valentine's Day bump a distant memory, jewelers eagerly compete for tax-refund money with low prices to get customers in the door. Early April is also the moment to get a head start on Mother's Day shopping. Wait until May, and prices will be higher.
MOTHER'S DAY GIFTS
Speaking of jewelry, early April is also the moment to get a head start on Mother's Day shopping. Wait until May, and prices will be higher – especially on jewelry.
With the last of the snow out of the way, equipment like snow blowers and snow shovels will be on clearance to make room for spring gardening tools. Now is the time to look for end-of-season sales make a big purchase for next winter.
HOME IMPROVEMENT SUPPLIES
With spring in the air, many do-it-yourselfers are ready to tackle some projects they let slide over the winter. Home Depot offers "Spring Black Friday" discounts in April, making this the month to stock up on home improvement supplies.
With spring apparel in stores since February, retailers are ready to move it out to make room for summer duds, landing spring clothes on sale racks.
Retailers feature April promotions on pots, pans, and cooking tools in time for bridal showers, weddings, and college graduations. Again, don't forget that Mother's Day is just around the corner, on May 13.
FOOD IN SEASON
Eating fruits and vegetables in season is a win-win -- the best flavor and the best prices. Foods to buy in April include asparagus, artichokes, and other spring vegetables such as rhubarb, lettuce, and peas. Fruits such as limes, oranges, pineapple, and mango also are ripe for the picking in supermarkets.
Spring cleaning yields loads of donations to thrift stores, so take a break from your own chores to check out a fresh array of secondhand clothing, home decor, and other deals. Smart thrift-store shopping tips include buying off-season for the best selection and being prepared to try on clothes. Vintage clothing is always in style, and thrift stores are excellent sources of cheap home decor and pieces that can be repurposed.
TAX DAY FREEBIES
Forget about what to buy -- Tax Day (April 17 this year) is a good day to find freebies. Look for local restaurants to offer buy-one-get-one entrees and coffee shops to pass out free beverages. Last year we spotted coupons for a free massage and other treats.
Although outdoor temperatures are climbing and many people are itching to barbecue, waiting until July or August to buy a cheap grill pays off.
Mattresses seem to be perpetually on sale, but with no "shopping holidays" in April, they're less likely to be discounted. If you can hold off, you'll find much better mattress deals around Memorial Day, at the end of May.
SKIP: SUMMER APPAREL
The beginning of a season is always the worst time to find deals on new duds. With retailers clearing out spring merchandise and stocking up on summer apparel, now isn't the best time to buy new summer clothes.