SEIZE THE MOMENT
Timing is everything, especially for frugal consumers. Knowing when to buy something can make a big difference at the register. The best time to shop for big-ticket items usually comes just before a new model is introduced, and the end of a season can mean big bargains. Remember, though, that waiting for a sale has trade-offs. Forget about having the latest and greatest, but enjoy the steep discounts to be gained with this month-by-month guide.
New furniture models come out in February, so bargains arrive in January. Keep an eye on office furniture, as retailers target entrepreneurs launching ventures in the new tax year. With winter weather setting in, department stores lure shoppers with "white sales," making this the best time to buy linens. The annual Consumer Electronics Show spurs price drops on digital cameras, TVs, tablets, and other electronics to clear shelves for new models. Also on sale: holiday items, winter apparel, select toys, and home fitness gear.
Stock up on high-end chocolate -- which rarely goes on sale -- after Valentine's Day. Also in February, retailers continue to discount select electronics such as TVs and audio equipment, as well as video games released during the holiday gift-buying frenzy. Look for deals on winter coats and apparel, especially over Presidents' Day weekend, as stores make room for spring fashions. Presidents' Day also spurs sales on linens, towels, and bedding. With the winter boat show season in full swing, February is the best time to buy a boat for less. Also on sale: tax-filing software.
As temperatures rise and demand cools, sellers strike deals on winter sporting equipment and apparel. The same goes for thatlast ski trip of the season. Updated luggage styles arrive in advance of summer travel, so now's the time to buy last year's suitcases. March is National Frozen Food Month, so stack coupons on top of supermarket sales to fill the freezer.
Car dealers pick up used vehicles at auction this time of year and aim to move them quickly. April is also National Car Care Month, which means deals on car parts, tires, and service. Retailers mark down cookware as graduations and wedding season approach. In recent years, Home Depot has held a springtime Black Friday sale with discounted home improvement supplies. Spring apparel has been on the retail racks since February, so April is the time to find discounts. Ditto for running shoes, as fitness buffs take their runs outside. And with tax day falling mid-month, look for tax-day freebies. Also on sale: snow blowers, jewelry, and cruise vacations.
Mattress retailers offer exceptional discounts in May to clear the floor for incoming merchandise. The long Memorial Day weekend also sees the last markdowns on spring clothes. Deals on office furniture pop up again in May, with price cuts continuing through June. With the start of wedding season and graduations, look for bargains on home goods and other gifts, especially during Memorial Day sales. Items such as kitchenware should be discounted heavily, while picnic and grilling supplies see price dips in May. Also on sale: refrigerators and party supplies.
Warm weather heats up deals on health club memberships in June. The onset of hurricane season makes cruises and Caribbean vacations cheaper yet, especially for last-minute bookings. It's also off-season for travel to Alaska, so watch for deals there. Cinemas offer deals on movie tickets when bought online. Even with back-to-school weeks away, laptop deals start to heat up in June. With Father's Day coming, look for discounts on restaurant dinners, as well as on tools and paint. Savings on cookware and dishes continue from May. National Doughnut Day falls on June 1 this year, so take advantage of freebies from places such as Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts, and Tim Hortons.
July is one of the best times to buy tools. After July 4, retailers start firing up discounts on grills and summer apparel. Independence Day also heralds a handful of mattress deals. On National Ice Cream Day (July 15 this year) look for specials at local shops and chains such as Baskin-Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery. The semi-annual release of new furniture models in August invites sales in July. And with no gift-giving holiday in sight, jewelry stores vie for business. Back-to-school shopping starts near the end of the month, which means deals on computers. July has played host to Amazon Prime Day in the past three years, so expect Black Friday-like specials from the e-commerce giant.
August is a good time to buy back-to-school staples like laptops, backpacks, and office supplies as well as dorm room essentials. In addition to attractive deals on kids' clothes, summer apparel and swimwear are at all-time-low prices. Keep track of tax-free shopping days (they vary from state to state) to gather up these and other items without sales tax. Items such as lawn mowers are tagged with some of the biggest discounts of the year. With summer travel wrapping up, it's easy to find good deals on camping gear and luggage, too.
September is a good time to buy plane tickets for holiday travel. New car models are released in early fall, leaving cut-rate leftovers from the prior model year. Likewise, last year's bicycles go on clearance, as do large appliances. Look for denim and desktop computer sales after the back-to-school rush. Once again, mattress dealers roll out discounts for the long Labor Day weekend. On Sept. 29, don't miss the opportunity to get a free cup o' joe for National Coffee Day. Also on sale: patio furniture, perennial plants, lawn mowers, and sunglasses.
Not much goes on sale in October, but the remaining summer stock (bikes, grills, lawn mowers) takes on spooky-low price tags. Discounts on denim, new cars, and camping gear also continue this month. Deals on Halloween costumes and decorations start in mid-October and continue to increase as the witches and goblins close in.
The biggest shopping season of the year kicks off on Thanksgiving, but look for Black Friday deals throughout November. Expect discounts on big and small appliances, vacuum cleaners, and furniture. This is also a good time to buy laptops, HDTVs, tablets, digital cameras, and other electronics. Sales abound on toolkits and cookware. As people prep for holiday guests, home service providers such as house cleaners lower their rates, and food storage containers are discounted to help store leftovers. November brings a lull in the wedding business, and bridal shops want to clear out older inventory. Also on sale: Halloween candy and trappings.
Savings continue in December on TVs -- including 4K ultra-HD TVs -- as well as on cookware, small appliances, kitchen items, tools, and wedding dresses. Toys reach their lowest prices as Christmas approaches. Gift card deals also emerge. In the market for a new house? Sellers who leave a home listed during the holidays are usually very motivated to negotiate a deal. With New Year's Eve in sight, Champagne and other sparkling wines are discounted. The day after Christmas brings a wave of fresh discounts, from holiday decorations to winter apparel.