First, some tips on shopping in general:
- Always price-check: Use Google Shopping, other retailer apps/websites — whatever you can find to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
- You can also use Amazon’s app in-store — they have a built in barcode/QR scanner.
- Use your devices to find coupons & deals: Check out this post on Clark.com.
- Check out my other post: Browser extensions that can save you money
- Try to stay within your budget: There’s nothing worse than running out of money. You can definitely find great deals within your budget — you just need to try a little harder than usual sometimes.
- Create a checklist of things you want/need: I try to utilize lists for everything I do — I’m not necessarily scatter-brained, but I do need some guidance.
- Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it: Americans are notorious for wasting millions of dollars on bullshit we don’t use. STOP FUCKING DOING IT!
The best time to buy anything (hint: some are not so obvious)
- Bedding and Linens: The trend of discounted bedding and linens began way back in 1878 with John Wanamaker — he ‘wanamake’ a deal! His idea back then? The “white sale” — so named because bed sheets only came in white in the late 1800s. Thankfully, now we get to sleep on bed sheets and under bed covers that are super ‘creative’.
- Toys: You know you want to return that fuzzy stuffed animal grandma bought you for a sweet Lego set. Well, January is the best time to return your unwanted Christmas gifts for better toys! Many retailers — expecting returns or who missed sales forecasts — lower toy prices to bring shoppers back to the stores post-holidays.
- Indoor Gym Equipment: After all that wonderful holiday food, your pants and shirts probably don’t fit as well as they should. Perfect timing! Instead of rushing out to get a gym membership with everyone else, consider shopping for indoor gym equipment in January and working out inside your home. You should probably consider getting a treadmill desk — you know you want one.
- Winter Clothing: While January is technically in the middle of winter, retailers are eager to reduce winter inventory for new spring lines. Some retailers have slashed prices up to 75% off during January.
- Discounted Gift Cards: Similar to toys, many people receive unwanted gift cards over the holiday season. Although you can’t return a gift card, you can trade them in or sell them. Retailers like Walmart are now allowing you to trade-in other retailer’s gift cards for Walmart store credit. Check out these other sites for buying and selling gift cards:
- Video Games: Major game releases typically occur in the fall — just in time for the holidays. After the holiday shopping season winds down, many game publishers and retailers will begin reducing prices on video games to increase traffic and demand.
- Fast Food: Apparently, January is the unofficial fast food month. Clark Howard — a consumer advocate — says it’s due to consumers having ‘lighter’ wallets after the holiday shopping season.
- Gift Sets: Even if the items you’re buying are wrapped in holiday-themed paper, you can remove those items and use them yourself or create your own gift set for any event!
- Holiday Decor: Post-holiday sales on holiday decorations can be found in every store from Kroger to Target to Macy’s. Every retailer needs to reduce or completely eliminate holiday decor in order to bring
- Airfare: According to Clark Howard again, airline tickets are typically the lowest in August, but January is another great month to buy tickets. Typically, most people complete holiday travel in November and December — leaving January and February as troughs in air travel demand. If you don’t have a set date for travel, consider purchasing booking your next flight in January.
- TVs: Two weeks before the Super Bowl — the most watched event in television history — is the 2nd best time to buy a TV, according to Consumer Reports. The organization found that the ‘Big Game’ drops TV prices by an average of 22 percent. The best single day to buy a TV is still — you guessed it — Black Friday.
- January Leftovers: February is a pretty bleak month when it comes to categorical sales: you’ll see the biggest discounts on leftover items from any January promotions. You probably won’t get the best items but you’ll likely get a great deal.
- Airfare: Travel demand is still pretty light in February so you might find some good deals — although not as great as January or August.
- Thrift Stores: From now through the Summer, you’re going to find some great items at thrift stores. After the holidays, many people will feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of ‘junk/stuff’ they now have in their homes. Also, spring cleaning is ‘around the corner’ — a great time to find some quality items at a discounted price: yard sales, donations, moving sales, etc.
- Frozen Food: March is apparently “National Frozen Food Month” — yes, there is a frozen food month. According to the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), sponsoring brands will partner with Coupons.com to release 180,000 coupons or 10,000 offer pod clicks for non-sponsoring brands.
- Golf Clubs: According to Livestrong.com, March is typically when club manufacturers release new models — just in time for the warmer weather in the U.S. If you’re not the best golfer in the world, consider buying last year’s club line. I purchased a set of Ping clubs a few years ago — older models — for about 50% off the price of the newest releases.
- Chocolate: If you didn’t get your chocolate fix on Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck! According to Consumer Report, between February 15th and just before Easter are the best times to buy chocolate — March happens to fall right in the middle of those dates.
- Tools: Check out Home Depot’s ‘Spring Black Friday Sale’ that happens every April. The home improvement giant typically has discounts that rival the other ‘Black Friday’ in October.
- Carpeting: Just like office furniture below — and at the ‘Spring Black Friday Sale — carpet is a great buy in April.
- Office Furniture: Post tax season can be a good time to buy some office furniture.
- Mattresses: As the weather heats up, so do the deals on mattresses. People typically shop for outdoorsy items in the spring and summer — duh — so retailers will heavily discount indoor items to bring shoppers into the stores.
- Spring Clothing: Similar to January and winter clothing discounts, May is a great time to find deals on spring clothing.
- Gym Memberships: Apparently, New Year’s resolutions begin to fail around the middle of the year. Gyms and other fitness chains see this as a perfect opportunity to entice consumers with discounted memberships and waived initiation fees.
- Appliances: Refrigerators are the biggest winner in May, as new models get released, but you can also find great deals on other household appliances. Same logic as the mattresses, consumers are focused on outdoor activities so retailers begin discounting indoor items to entice buyers to visit the stores.
- Camcorders: Check out Clark Howard’s YouTube video where he talks about Camcorders and other great deals in June!
- Kitchen & Dining Ware: Not only is wedding season in full swing, most people are still focused on getting outdoors or traveling before the peak of summer. That means you can expect some additional great deals on kitchen and dining ware.
- Tools: June 18 is Father’s Day in the U.S. and that means some great deals on Dad’s favorite items.
- Recliners and Chairs: The website furniturebrains.com — a furniture database wiht 50 years of experience — writes, “The advent of Mother’s day and Father’s day will bring a flurry of [deal] advertising.”
- Amazon: Amazon holds its annual anniversary party in the form of a major sales event every July 12 — at least it has the last two years. While nothing is officially confirmed for 2017, the 2016 anniversary sales day was the largest single day of sales ever in company history. So we expect Amazon will continue to roll out its Prime Day.
- Chick-fil-A: July 12 is National Cow Appreciation Day, which means that Chick-fil-A is giving away free entrees and kid’s meals for those dressed in cow costumes!
- TVs: Consumer Reports tracked a new Samsung UN50JU650D from its release in April 2015 until its final phaseout in July 2016. They found that the lowest price was the final phaseout, which was 16 months from release. With recent advances in display technology, you will not notice a difference in viewing quality or features on a 1-1.5 year old TV. Most manufacturers will release new models in the Spring so this timeline should hold true for all TVs.
- PC Games: Steam has an annual summer sale has typically run from the end of June to on or around July 4th. And the best day to buy anything is generally the very last day (unless it’s a flash sale at 70% off). Many other online gaming ‘stores’ also have competing summer sales, so keep an eye out if you’re in the market for some new games.
- Airfare: Turns out, demand is much lower in August due to kids heading back to school. So, if you’re considering a vacation this summer, try to travel in August.
- Summer Apparel and Swimsuits: Summer might be coming to an end but the heat isn’t dissipating. Thankfully, retailers need to reset the floors with fall apparel, so they will begin marking down summer apparel. Swimsuits are a big bargain as many community pools close after Labor Day.
- Outdoor Furniture and Grills: As colder weather approaches (though still a little ways off), most people will trade in their patio furniture for a cozy, warm spot on the couch. If you’re a smart shopper, you can take advantage of the trend and get a good deal on some patio furniture and grills.
- Storage Items: We all have a lot of ‘junk’ — you should really donate or turn it into cash — but if you want to keep it, take a look at storage containers this month.
- Laptops: With most middle, high school and college students needing a laptop for school, retailers will offer shoppers discounts on those necessities this month. You should see discounts up to 25% off new laptops.
- School and Office Supplies: Back-to-school sales are in full swing this month and that includes items for those still at home, going off to college or who just graduated and need to ‘deck out’ their new cubicle.
- iPhones: The last 5 major iPhone releases have occurred in September, so it’s likely we’ll see another release date in September. With any new model release, manufacturers and retailers mark down older models — so you can get a great deal on older models.
- Laptops: Manufacturers and retailers will offer additional discounts on laptops — sometimes even greater than those in August — as they need to manager the sales figures to the budget.
- Coffee: September 29 is National Coffee Day. We should see retailers like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and even smaller, local shops offering discounts on that delicious ‘black gold’.
- Outdoor Power Equipment: Grass growing and cutting season is coming to an end for most of us, so that means we won’t need to purchase new lawn mowers to replace our old ones. That also means retailers will try to discount any leftover inventory. Snow blowers will also see heavy discounts this month as the demand (and the snow) is still a few months away.
- New(ish) Cars: Last year model cars still sitting on the lots will see heavy discounts in September as dealerships need to move inventory to make room for new models. While we recommend buying a used car — 2 to 3 years old — if you want to get a new car, September is a great time to purchase.
- Wine: According to Forbes, September is harvest time for vineyards. Time to stock up on some vintages!
- Bicycles: Riding season typically ends around the beginning of October, so you can get some pretty good deals on any leftover bikes. Bicycling.com also notes that manufacturers release the new models in the falls, which means discounts on last year’s models — just like cars.
- Digital Cameras: Most consumers and photography hobbyists don’t take as many pictures during the late fall and winter months. Additionally, newer models are released at the end of September, so you’ll see discounts on older models increasing in October.
- Air Conditioners: Cold weather is upon us — some might have snow already — and it’s likely you’ve shut off your A/C for the year. Time for a great deal!
- Wedding Supplies: As winter starts to ‘creep’ into our lives, the wedding season subsides. Retailers and independent shops with extra inventory will be more open to negotiating wedding supplies.
- Wedding Dresses: Fall and winter are the off seasons for weddings. Just like in October, you’ll find great deals on wedding supplies, especially those expensive dresses.
- Jeans: Money Magazine, Lifehacker and Nerdwallet all say: They [jeans] are the best deal in October! Since fall inventory begins arriving in stores in August and September, the prices are more likely to drop by October.
- Camping Gear: I prefer to camp in cooler weather, so this is a great deal for me! However, many people prefer to camp in the spring and early summer so fall is a great time to find discounted gear.
- TVs and Electronics: November has Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are the best days to find discounts on TVs and other electronics.
- Used Cars: The best day to purchase a used car is Black Friday — according to iSeeCars.com. And, the best overall month is November.
- Baby Products: Most babies are born in the summer leaving late fall as a great time to buy baby gear.
- Halloween Costumes and Decor: As you’d expect, retailers start discounting all leftover items from Halloween in November.
- Used Cars: Dealerships are hard-pressed to meet year-end sales goals, so they’ll be eager to negotiate and give you a good deal. According to iSeeCars, who analyzed 40 million sales between 2013 and 2015, December has 4 of the top 10 days for car buying.
- Pools: Unless you want to imitate polar bears or you’re on vacation in the Caribbean, chances are low that you are going for a ‘dip’ in a pool. Pool installers will artificially reduce prices during offseason to maintain a steady flow of cash.
- Diamonds: According to Bankrate.com, you can find a good deal on diamonds. “December is the biggest month for diamond sales of the whole year,” Butler says. Though not all diamonds are on sale, it is likely to find a discount of 30-50% off.
- Caribbean Travel: December 1-15 is typically a great time to go on a Caribbean vacation. It’s off-season and most likely to be the best deal.