BUY THIS, NOT THAT
Have you spent too much on Christmas presents? Are holiday gift cards burning a hole in your pocket? Either way, frugal shoppers will find plenty of bargains in January, although some things should be put on the "wait" list.
Related: The Best Time to Buy Almost Anything in 2017
BUY: CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY ITEMS
Prices on holiday-themed goods take a dive immediately after Christmas and continue to fall throughout January. By early in the month, prices should be at least half off, albeit on a dwindling selection. Still, it's worth stocking up on holiday wrapping paper, ornaments, cards, and the like to stash away for next year.
BUY: WINTER APPAREL
Winter apparel is discounted even more in January than holiday items. According to retailers' calendars, spring is right around the corner and shelf space is in short supply. January is a good month to find a broad selection, good sales, and stackable coupons. February and March will see even better deals on winter clothing, but choices will be limited.
SKIP: WINTER SPORTS GEAR
January is still peak season for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, so there's no incentive to buy winter sports gear until the season ends. Look for attractive deals starting in March or April.
BUY: ADMISSION TO A NATIONAL PARK
National parks that charge admission waive fees on 10 days during the year, and Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 16 in 2017) is one. This special offer saves about $10 to $25, depending on the popularity of the park and mode of entry (foot/bike or vehicle). Plan to arrive early, as free park days tend to get crowded and parking can be scarce.
Related: Explore One of the Best National Parks in Every State
Prices on electronics began a downward spiral on Black Friday, when TVs typically see the biggest discounts. After huge markdowns in November and December, January brings rock-bottom deals on other electronics such as tablets, cameras, and the like. The Consumer Electronics Show takes place early in January, which prompts last year's models to hit clearance prices.
SKIP: TAX SOFTWARE
It pays to be an early bird, but not too early. While taxes are on many minds with the start of the new year, waiting until February to purchase tax software is the best bet. Discounts sometimes show up in January, but the real deals break out in February.
January "white sales" historically bring the best prices on linens and towels. That said, June has actually surpassed January for linen and towel sales in recent years. Still, these are practical items to buy now if waiting another few months means doing without.
January is one of the best months to buy furniture, second only to November. Why? Because new models are released in February, which motivates retailers to start discounting old inventory the month before. Consumers in need of a new sofa or dining set should plan to buy one in January.
SKIP: MATTRESSES OR SMALL APPLIANCES
Mattresses are rarely good deals in January. Save more by waiting until Presidents' Day in February, when mattress sales pop up everywhere. Presidents' Day is also the best time to buy small appliances, so put off purchasing a new coffee maker or microwave.
BUY: HOME FITNESS GEAR
For deal hunters looking to kick their fitness levels up a notch, home workout gear is a good buy in January. Bargain prices on exercise equipment abound, and fitness DVDs also will be on sale to welcome the New Year.
Related: 10 Free Pre-Valentine's Day Workouts for Couples
SKIP: GYM MEMBERSHIP
Getting in shape is a popular New Year's resolution, and with cold temperatures discouraging outdoor workouts, the local gym has no lack of new members in January. Hold off until warmer weather entices people to take their workouts outside. That's when gym proprietors will be eager to see your face.
Related: 10 Ways to Work Out at Home and Stay Motivated
While most toys are not deeply discounted in January, some are, particularly those based on new movies. For example, Star Wars toys that crowded the shelves during the holiday season will likely go on sale in January as retailers rush to clear out merchandise before the series' newest installment, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," loses steam.
BUY: SEASONAL PRODUCE
Stick to a resolution to eat better in 2017 with fresh and cheap in-season vegetables, including beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, leeks, onions, and parsnips. Add some sweetness with healthy and readily available fruits, such as clementines, cranberries, grapefruit, pears, pineapples, and pomegranates.
BUY: SOUP AND PASTRIES
Use those seasonal vegetables to throw together a homemade soup to celebrate National Soup Month. Save time by checking the soup aisle at the local grocer for coupons and discounts. Then swing by the bakery for free or discounted pastries in honor of National Cream Puff Day (Jan. 2), National Pie Day (Jan. 23), and National Croissant Day (Jan. 30).