You probably know that certain things are cheaper at certain times. Whether you’re buying airfare, dining out, shopping online, or buying anything else, there is often a “best time to buy.” Every year year, we compile a list of the best times to buy stuff based on when stores are trying to push out old stock, when they’re dropping prices for upcoming holidays, or even when they start having sales for no good reason. Check out the chart below for an easy view of the year, or read on for more details.
You can find this info at a lot of different places, from big guides like Freeshipping.org’s Best Time to Buy guide and PC World’s gadget-specific buying guide. However, in an effort to make the guide as accurate as possible, we’ve gone searching for more specific, individual sources for each item to ensure you’re looking for deals at the right time (and gotten rid of the items for which there wasn’t clear consensus—like party supplies or aluminum cookware). So, for each item, click the source link for more specific information on when and how to buy.
Also, if you’re looking for more specific up-to-the-minute news, we highly recommend checking out Dealnews’ monthly best time to buy feature—it’ll highlight a lot of the same stuff that we do here, but also discuss specific gadgets (like the newest iPad or the Xbox One and PlayStation 4). For a bigger overview of the year, read on!
First Quarter (Jan/Feb/March)
- Boats: Not only is it the off-season for boats, but it’s also boat show season, which means you can grab a lot of models—particularly last year’s models—at good prices (not to mention with fewer strings attached). [Boatline, Bankrate]
- Computer Monitors: There are multiple times that you can grab monitors for cheap (Black Friday, anyone?), but the January and February clearance time is a great one. [PCWorld]
- Gas Grills & Air Conditioners: They’re obviously off-season (at least in the colder states), and unless you’re a serious air conditioning enthusiast, you probably aren’t itching to get the latest and greatest. [Bankrate]
- Wedding Supplies: Everyone wants a wedding in the spring, which means it’s a lot easier to find a venue and negotiate prices for a service in the winter—depending on the location, of course. [Bankrate]
- Winter Coats & Clothing: The later you get into winter, the better the prices will get, because everyone already has theirs. If you need to upgrade, try to survive one more winter with your old battered coat before retiring it. [TIME, Dealnews]
- Clothing: Have you ever been to a clothing store post-Christmas? It’s amazing. They’re all having mad sales after the holiday rush, so now’s a great time to grab some extra clothes if you need them. The selection won’t always be great, but prices will. [Di Vincenzo]
- Broadway Tickets: Broadway’s slower months are in the winter and fall, so January’s a great time to seek out some discounts. You probably won’t find them for the more popular shows, but if you’re looking to branch out, this is the time to do it. [CNN]
- Carpeting & Flooring: Most people buy carpets at the end of the year in preparation for the holidays. Once January rolls around, prices will go down. [Carpet SuperSite]
- Furniture: Different furniture is better at different times of the year (and we’ve noted examples in this guide), but January is a great general clearance time, since most furniture companies release new products twice a year: in February and August. That means they’ll be giving some sweet deals in January to make room for the new products next month. [FurnitureBrains, Bankrate, Dealnews]
- Gift Cards: It isn’t quite as “official,” but just after the holidays is a great time to go onto gift card exchange sites like Plastic Jungle to find discounted gift cards. This time of year, everyone’s trading in their unwanted cards for cash. [About.com]
- Linens and Bedding: Ever since John Wannamaker started the first “white sale” in 1878, January has been the best month to get bedding and other linens. Of course, just as with clothing, keep an eye out all year round, since retailers will put last season’s stuff on sale when new products come out. [Bankrate]
- Motorcycles: It’s really cold outside. Not to mention icy. It doesn’t make for great cycling weather, but if you’ve been mulling over a motorcycle purchase, get it in January and then wait to ride it when the snow melts. [Motorcycle.com]
- Suits: Not a lot of people buy suits in January, so you may see prices drop to get you into the store. Remember, though, you get what you pay for, so don’t go too overboard with the cost-cutting. [Di Vincenzo]
- Video Games: A lot of new video games come out in late fall for the holiday season, and they’ll go on sale after the holidays are over. Check out Steam and other gaming retailers for discounted prices.
- Broadway Tickets: February still falls into the slow season for Broadway, so grab discounts on tickets to the less popular shows. [CNN]
- Cellphones: Valentine’s Day may seem like a strange time for cellphone sales, but you can often find buy-one-get-one-free sales in the “theme” of the holiday. [Di Vincenzo]
- Televisions & Home Theaters: You won’t find every TV on sale during the pre-Super Bowl sales, but you can usually find a good deal on older models before they come out later in the spring. [CNET, Dealnews]
- Chocolate: If you’re willing to wait until after February 14th. [Dealnews]
- Frozen Foods: It’s National Frozen Food Month. Seriously, that’s a thing. [National Frozen Food Month, Dealnews]
- Golf Clubs: New models are coming out for the summer, so your local golf shop is pushing the old ones out the door. Grab last year’s set cheaply and you’ll forget all about how awesome the new ones are. [LIVESTRONG, SaveAMillionShots.com]
- Luggage: It’s in between vacation seasons, so shops are dropping prices. Grab any extra bags you might need for the summer in March. [Kiplinger, Dealnews]
Second Quarter (April/May/June)
- Televisions and Other Electronics: Japanese manufacturers’ fiscal year ends in March, so they’re eager to get rid of old stock. This will probably be better than the Super Bowl sales, provided you’re okay with buying last year’s model. [Di Vincenzo]
- Houses: Houses are a little weird. Spring is the peak season for home buying, which means prices are high and competition is fierce, but you have a much better selection. You can shop in the winter for lower prices, but you’re going to be picking from a much smaller pool. [Bankrate]
- Cookware & Kitchen Accessories: Graduations are coming up, so even if you’re well out of school, take advantage of the grad-based sales for everything kitchen-related. [Bankrate]
- Digital Cameras: Digital cameras start going on sale in February, after the new models have been announced at the January Consumer Electronics Show. However, if you’re looking for the best deals, you’ll find it in the second quarter of the year—as long as you’re okay with buying a slightly older model. [Digital Photography School, Digital Camera HQ]
- Thrift Stores: Spring cleaning means thrift shops will be getting a lot of new inventory, so if you like to shop for bargains at the Salvation Army and similar places, spring is a good time. Just make sure you don’t undo all the spring cleaning you just did. [Real Simple]
- Vacuum Cleaners: New vacuums come out in June. This is pretty convenient, since you can buy a vacuum for a low price beforehand and get started on your spring cleaning (though you may find even better deals during Black Friday). [Bankrate]
- Cruises: Shop well ahead of your cruise date for the best deal. [Dealnews]
- Sneakers: As the weather starts getting warmer, the less serious start getting back into the swing of working out, which means it’s a great time to take advantage of spring sales at your favorite running or footwear store. [TIME]
- Refrigerators: While most big appliances go on sale later in the year, refrigerators are the big exception. New models come out in May, so last year’s models will get discounted. [Money Crashers, Mint]
- Mattresses: While mattresses are generally a product that comes out year round, the Spring sees quite a few reduced prices. [Dealnews]
- Office Furniture: If you shop after tax day—when most home businesses start up—you can usually find some great deals on those office chairs and desks. [FurnitureBrains, Dealnews]
- Dishware: Wedding season brings deals on dishes to everyone, including those not getting hitched. [Real Simple]
- Gym Memberships & Equipment: Everyone’s forgotten their New Year’s resolutions, so gyms are a bit more desperate for members (not to mention everyone’s working out outside). Haggle yourself a good price. Similarly, if you aren’t a fan of working out in front of others, you can buy gym equipment for your home at a similar discount. [Di Vincenzo, LIVESTRONG]
- Tools: It’s hard to complain about gender stereotypes when power tool prices are this low. Shop before Father’s Day for a good sale. [Dealnews]
Third Quarter (July/Aug/Sept)
- Computers: Intel and AMD start ramping up for new stuff in July, and back-to-school sales get pretty good around this time too. If your computer store of choice requires proof that you’re a student, you can always fudge it if you have flexible ethics (and maybe some Photoshop skills). [Digital Trends, Forbes, Bankrate]
- Furniture: July is the other big clearance month for furniture, since new stuff is coming out in August. Check out the clearance sales for some good steals. [FurnitureBrains, Bankrate]
- Home Decor: From table settings to dinnerware, you’ll find lots of home decor on sale for the middle of wedding season. [Real Simple]
- Tools: July is a great month for stocking up on tools if you have the DIY itch. [Dealnews]
- Video Games: If you play console games, the best you can do is usually wait until your desired games go on sale, usually a few months after they’ve been released. PC gamers can take advantage of big online sales—like the ever-popular and wallet-reducing Steam Summer Sale—around this time.
- Linens & Storage Containers: As the kids head off to college, lots of stores have sales on new dorm supplies.
- Office Furniture: Another benefit of those back-to-school sales, whether you’re a college student or not. [FurnitureBrains]
- Kids’ Clothing: It’s back to school season, so lots of more kid-oriented stores are having sales.
- School Supplies: Again, back to school sales mean good deals on lots of office supplies. You can either buy now, when the sales are going on, or later in September, when stores are getting rid of leftovers.
- Swimsuits: While you can find good deals on swimwear at the beginning of spring, the best discounts come during the end of summer, when everyone’s clearing out their inventory. [Real Simple, Dealnews]
- Appliances: With the exception of Refrigerators (see May), September and October are the best time to buy big appliances, since it’s when new models start coming out. You can get last year’s leftovers for less. [Bankrate, About.com]
- Bicycles: New models come out at the end of riding season, which is around September. Look for good prices on last year’s models. [Bicycling.com].
- Broadway Tickets: September is the second “off season” for Broadway, so it’s another good time to find deals on tickets. [CNN]
- Cars: New cars usually come out at the end of the summer, so lots will be clearing out their 2013 models around this time. It should be easier to haggle down the price, too. Buy at the end of the month for extra savings. This is also a good time to lease, since it’s when the banks estimate a car’s residual value. [Di Vincenzo, Consumer Reports, Bankrate]
- Lawnmowers: Stores have to make room for all their winter gear, which means summer staples like lawnmowers will be on sale. As usual, the selection won’t be as good, but that’s the tradeoff you make for good deals. [ToolGuyd]
- Holiday Airfare: We’ve mentioned before that you should buy plane tickets two months in advance, which means now is the time to prepare your holiday visits to friends and family. [Dealnews]
- School Supplies: As mentioned above, stores’ll be clearing out their inventory from all the back to school sales. Anything you don’t need the first few weeks of school can be bought in September for even less.
- Wine: It’s harvest time, which means this is the best time to stock up on wine. [Forbes]
Fourth Quarter (Oct/Nov/Dec)
- Cars: As we said in September, now that the new models are out, the old models are going for less. Haggle your way down to good prices on 2014 models for the rest of the year. [Di Vincenzo, Consumer Reports, Bankrate, Dealnews]
- Cookware & Kitchen Accessories: Holiday deals start pretty early, and cookware is one of the more popular items that you’ll find on sale all quarter. [Bankrate, Dealnews]
- Digital Cameras: There is often a second round of new camera announcements in September, so check out the older models for a reduced price after the new ones come out. [Digital Photography School, Digital Camera HQ]
- Gas Grills & Air Conditioners: Again, as we drift into the cold off-season, and stores start to push their older stuff. [Bankrate]
- Plants: If you have a cellar or other area that can store plants until the spring, you can pick them up now pretty cheaply. [Real Simple, Dealnews]
- Toys & Games: Again, the Christmas sales start early at places like Toys R Us, and will continue through most of the holiday season. The closer you get to the holidays, the better the deals…but also the more stressful it becomes (we’ve all seen Jingle All the Way, right?) [Dealnews]
- Wedding Supplies: Winter’s back, which means finding a venue and negotiating those services is going to be a lot easier. The deeper into winter you get, the better the savings. [Bankrate, Dealnews]
- Appliances: The fall season of big appliances continues. Shop for last year’s models at a lower price through this month. [Bankrate, About.com, Dealnews]
- Broadway Tickets: Yet another off-month for Broadway shows, so grab your tickets now for less. [CNN]
- Jeans: Jeans are one of the more common leftover items after the back-to-school rush, so hit the mall in between back to school season and holiday shopping season for some mad prices. [Real Simple]
- Patio Furniture: Now that the outdoor season’s really wrapping up, you’ll find the best prices on patio furniture before it all goes away. [Dealnews]
- Appliances: According to Dealnews, November will net you the absolute best prices in the Fall appliance sales. [Bankrate, About.com, Dealnews]
- Candy: As long as you don’t mind it Halloween-themed, you can walk into pretty much any grocery store and stock up on loads of candy you didn’t even know existed anymore. [Dealnews]
- Televisions & Other Electronics: Hit the stores during Black Friday and Cyber Monday for good deals on all sorts of electronics. Make sure that deal you find is really a deal before pulling the trigger, though.
- Tools: Holiday sales are perfect for grabbing cheap tools, especially if you have a winter-related home repair you need to make. [Dealnews]
- Champagne: Again, this is one of those few times that prices drop because demand is so high. Champagne companies are all trying to compete with each other, so grab it now for your holiday celebrations. [Billshrink]
- Golf Clubs: It’s the off-season, so golf clubs are cheaper to come by. [LIVESTRONG, SaveAMillionShots.com, New England Golf Monthly]
- Pools: It may seem like eons away, but if you buy a pool now, you can get a great discount on next summer’s fun. There are a few smaller sales during the summer, but you’d have to keep a sharp eye out to catch them. [River Pools, Pool Captain]
- Televisions & Other Electronics: The sales continue after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, usually all the way up until the super bowl. [CNET, Di Vincenzo, Dealnews]
- Tools: The holiday tool-stravaganza continues. [Dealnews]
General Buying Tips for Any Time of Year
Apart from the above time periods, there are other days of the week or year that are best for buying certain items (which is great if you can’t wait three months for a new computer). We’ve mentioned a few of these around the site before, but in the interest of being comprehensive, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Appliances tend to be cheap on Sundays, when most people are out buying new ones. In addition, you’re bound to find great deals on any major holiday, like Memorial Day or Independence day.
- Computers & other electronics are cheapest on Mondays, when manufacturers apply their rebates. This applies to TVs, cameras, and video games as well.
- Entertainment venues like museums and amusement parks often have discounts during the middle of the week, when they’re less crowded. Plus, smaller crowds are always nice. Some museums might even have free admission days, so check out the venues you’re interested in for more.
- Gas prices are higher on the weekends, hitting their peak mid-morning on Thursday to anticipate all the weekend drivers and travelers. Fill up on Wednesdays or early morning Thursdays for the biggest savings.
- Jewelry is best bought on Wednesdays, when most people tend to shop for it. However, stay away from gift giving months like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas.
- Chocolate is great to buy after any holiday that involves chocolate: Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Valentines’s Day, for example. They’ll be clearing out all their holiday-themed candy, so you can grab them up if your kids already ate their chocolate rabbits and Santas.
And with all things, if you find an item you like, monitor it regularly. Things go on sale for no reason all the time, whether it’s a Shell Shocker on Newegg, the end of a clothing season, or when a particular product goes through a refresh (like Apple computers).
More at LifeHacker.com
The Best Time To Invest For Your Retirement (And The Best Stock)
Look at the chart below.
It shows the revenue of four tech stocks. One is IBM. One is Facebook. One is Google.
And that big red one to the right?
It brings in more cash than any of the other three tech giants.
While IBM trades for $143, Facebook for $176 and Google for more than $1,100…
This other company trades for just $3.
But the time to buy is now.