The Best Time to Buy: 43 Cheap Finds Throughout the Year | Reader's Digest

The Best Time to Buy: 43 Cheap Finds Throughout the Year

When's the best time to buy a car, airline tickets, appliances, a TV, furniture, a mattress, a laptop, and more? Here's a month-by-month guide to smarter spending.

By Alyssa Jung
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    January: Best time to buy a computer, holiday goods

    • Other people’s unused gift cards: Consumers with unwanted gift cards hit sites like PlasticJungle.com, GiftCards.com and even eBay after Christmas to sell them at discounted prices.
    • Wrapping paper: Stores slash prices on gift wrap, holiday cards, and Christmas decorations in the weeks following the busy shopping season. Buy now; they'll keep till next year.
    • Bed linens: Retailers offer deep discounts on sheets, towels, and blankets in January. "White sales" actually date back to 1878, when a Philadelphia department store held a “White Sale” on linens to help keep linen makers in business during a slow period.
    • Computer: Starting in January, keep an eye on PC prices; companies offer discounts on older models to prepare for the upcoming release of the newest systems.

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    February: Best time to buy furniture, washer and dryer, wedding items

    • Wedding: Tying the knot in this off-season month means taking full advantage of discounted prices on reception venues, catering, and photography. Plan around the Presidential holidays, though, and beware of nasty weather.
    • Air conditioner: During cold weather months, many appliance stores offer units at cheap prices—if you can find them.
    • Furniture: New inventory hits showrooms in February, so retailers often offer deals around now. Politely negotiate on good-condition floor models, and you can often pay much less than cost.
    • Washer and dryer: New models arrive in winter, meaning you'll spot deals on last year's appliances. Don't be afraid to haggle.

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    March: Best time to buy luggage, a camera, golf clubs

    • Frozen foods: March is National Frozen Foods Month, a large-scale marketing campaign that encourages grocers to offer price-cuts and coupons all month long.
    • Luggage: Retailers such as Walmart, Macy's, and Sears discount luggage before travel-heavy spring and summer.
    • Boats: It's the tail end of boat-show season.
    • Golf clubs: The season tees off in early spring, meaning last year's irons are on sale.
    • Digital camera: Consumer Reports advises snapping up a digital camera in March and April—sales are best.

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    April: Best time to buy vacuums, clothing

    • A cruise: Plan a getaway that's months ahead of time to snag a deal, or book at LastMinuteCruises.com for spur-of-the-moment discounts.
    • Vacuum cleaners: Most new models come out in June, so retailers discount old vacuums now—just in time for spring cleaning.
    • Thrift stores: People clearing out closets means a larger, fresher selection.
    • Winter clothing: Spring collections hit stores, and cold-weather clothes are often dramatically marked down for clearance.

    Fuse/Thinkstock

    May: Best time to buy appliances, a gym membership

    • Spring clothing: Memorial Day sales include discounted clothing and home goods at department stores, apparel retailers, and big-box stores.
    • Gym memberships: Whether New Year’s resolutions are history, or outside exercise is possible, gyms offer discounts to bring in more bodies.
    • Cookware and dishes: Kitchen items make popular gift choices during graduation and wedding season, and stores often run sales.
    • Refrigerators: Spring is refrigerator season! Last year's appliances will be discounted to clear the showroom.

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    June: Best time to buy a laptop, vacation tickets

    • Lingerie: Apparel retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and BareNecessities.com turn over inventory this month, and hold storewide sales.
    • Laptops: Back-to-school laptop sales actually start as early as June, often bundling the computers with a printer or a gift card.
    • Caribbean vacation: With the beginning of the Caribbean hurricane season, you'll see steep discounts on vacation packages and cruises.
    • Tools: You can score plenty of good deals—right before Father's Day.

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    July: Best time to buy jewelry, ice cream

    • Summer apparel: In the middle of the season you'll start to see prices start to drop.
    • Picnic supplies: Once the 4th of July has passed, pick up discounted picnic and party supplies.
    • Ice cream: July is National Ice Cream Month; scoop up coupons from both local stores and online deal sites.
    • Jewelry: With no major holidays in July and August, jewelers offer lower prices to lure in customers.

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    August: Best time to buy office supplies, grills

    • Grills: You'll see huge deals, especially on big outdoor grills. It’s not too late for cookouts!
    • Office supplies: Retailers roll out the discounts on backpacks, notebooks, and dorm supplies for back to school.
    • Bathing suits: Stores might have had sales around the 4th of July, and most of the selection is picked over. But if you see your size, the price will be right.

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    September: Best time to buy a car, airline tickets, a mattress, a bike

    • Patio furniture: Major sales on outdoor furniture, which needs to be cleared out—often for Christmas items, as that season gets pushed up earlier each year.
    • Cars: Car dealers promote deals on current vehicles to make room for the newest ones.
    •  Bikes: New bicycle models come out at the end of the summer riding season, so check out discounts on last year’s bikes.
    • Airline tickets: Book your holiday flights now for the best chance on finding low prices.
    • A mattress: Many mattress companies boast big Labor Day sales, though if you miss out, similar sales run around President's Day and Memorial Day.

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    October: Best time to buy toys, jeans

    • Jeans: Denim left over from back-to-school sales get discounted for a short time before holiday shopping begins.
    • Outdoor goods: Score deals on lawnmowers, gardening tools, and even camping supplies.
    • Toys: Toy stores sometimes offer sales ahead of the holiday season.

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    November: Best time to buy a TV, small appliances, candy

    • Candy: Grocery stores discount Halloween-themed candy in November, and it still tastes just as sweet.
    • Gadgets: Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which might extend the entire week) are prime opportunities to score very inexpensive TVs, Mp3 players, small appliances, and more.
    • Free turkey: Some grocery stores give away Thanksgiving-ready turkeys when customers spend a certain amount. Keep an eye on your weekly circulars.

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    December: Best time to buy Champagne, athletic gear

    • Champagne: Competition actually drives prices down during the holiday season, not up. The peak month of December is the best time to spend on bubbly.
    • (Lousy) NFL merchandise: If your team isn't even close to the Super Bowl, gear will be discounted. Better luck next year.
    • Athletic apparel and equipment: Stores slash prices in the weeks before January 1, when they can cash in on New Year's resolutions.
    • Wedding dress: Look for bargain prices on gowns during the wedding off-season; most couples are focused on holiday shopping and not wedding planning.

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