Personal Finance Saving Smart Spending

When’s The Best Time To Make Large Purchases?

Written by Beth Trach

If you’re working to get out of debt, going shopping shouldn’t be on your to-do list — at least not as a form of entertainment. Still, there comes a time when you simply have to get to the mall and replace that old winter coat or hit the big box stores for a new washer and dryer when your old ones finally go kaput. Sometimes making a big purchase can’t be avoided.

But that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price.

If at all possible, try to time your shopping for big-ticket items when retailers are ready to deal. Stores have their own schedules of getting new inventory and offering sales on certain items, and it pays to know when there’s likely to be a big price drop on the items you need. There’s a lot of researchers out there working to crack the code on how retailers operate, and you could go crazy trying to keep up. No worries — this list is all you need.

When to Shop for What: Month by Month


January is the traditional month for white sales, when bedding, table linens and other textiles like towels and curtains go on sale for deep discounts. It’s also a great time to snag holiday decorations at rock-bottom prices. Many retailers also offer sales on things that could help you keep those New Year’s resolutions.

Big Items for Less: Ellipticals, treadmills, TVs, winter sports gear

Small Ways to Save: Linens, cookware, holiday decorations


President’s Day sales are a great time to buy large appliances for less. Do your research ahead of time so you know what you want and need so you don’t get swayed by only the price.

Big Items for Less: TVs, mattresses, furniture, large appliances

Small Ways to Save: Winter coats, home goods, tax preparation software


March isn’t a great month for sales, but retailers are shifting inventory away fro winter and to spring and even summer items. You can snag a last-minute deal on winter supplies if you’re paying attention.

Big Items for Less: Smartphones, grills, digital cameras

Small Ways to Save: Chocolate, sneakers, golf clubs


If Easter falls in April, it’s a great time to find deals on spring apparel and shoes — look for items that will work well into the summer to get the most bang for your buck. It’s also a good time to book a vacation, especially if you have your heart set on a cruise.

Big Items for Less: Computers, carpets, cruises, vacuum cleaners

Small Ways to Save: Garden tools, spring clothing, jewelry


May is another good time to pick up large appliances. This is the time of year that retailers are clearing their floors to make way for new models, which often come out in the summer and early fall.

Big Items for Less: Computers, mattresses, refrigerators

Small Ways to Save: Baby gear, paint, home goods


The summer is a strange time for retailers, since many people are thinking more about travel than shopping. That could lead to good sales to try to get you in the door especially around Father’s Day.

Big Items for Less: Camcorders, tools, indoor furniture

Small Ways to Save: Summer sports gear, home improvement items


Independence Day sales are a great time to pick up large appliances, mattresses, and outdoor living items like grills and patio furniture. If you’re patient, you can also clean up on summer clothes, since retailers are already thinking about back-to-school merchandise.

Big Items for Less: Camcorders, decking, siding, air conditioners

Small Ways to Save: Bathing suits, summer clothing


The dog days of summer aren’t known for big sales, and it’s kind of a slow shopping period. Wait for a back-to-school sale before buying any office supplies or housewares that could be used in a dorm room.

Big Items for Less: Outdoor furniture, snow blowers, laptops, cars

Small Ways to Save: summer clothing, office supplies


With kids back in school, you can snag great deals on paper, pencils and other office supplies that were left behind after the back-to-school frenzy. Labor Day sales can also help you save on larger items.

Big Items for Less: Computers, cameras, printers, lawn mowers, iPhones

Small Ways to Save: Office supplies, home goods


Stores are filling up with holiday decorations and the newest toys, but these things will be full price for quite a while. Turn your attention to picking up the dregs of summer gear instead — they’ll be desperate to get rid of it.

Big Items for Less: Camping gear, gas grills, last year’s car models

Small Ways to Save: Jeans, fall clothing


Black Friday and Cyber Monday are finally here, so it you don’t mind getting up early, you can get the year’s best prices on all things electronic. Hold off on winter clothing like sweaters and ski gear until after Christmas if you can.

Big Items for Less: TVs, electronics, GPS

Small Ways to Save: Videogames, toys


Holiday sales will continue all month, so keep close tabs on prices so you know when to make your move. Anything you’d give as a gift will probably be on sale at some point.

Big Items for Less: TVs, gaming systems, tablets and e-readers, large appliances

Small Ways to Save: Toys, cookware, gift cards

If you can hold out for the right time of year, you can save some serious dough on almost anything you’d every need to buy. In general, your goal is to shop off-season: Wait a couple months after the newest models or fashions have hit store floors, and you’re more likely to see prices drop. For truly seasonal items, wait until the last minute before the items on display change — it’s often sooner than you think, since retailers are always pushing the next holiday at least a month or two in advance. Sure, it’s annoying to see Halloween decorations on Labor Day and hear Christmas carols on Columbus Day, but take these as you cues to buy last season’s stuff before it’s gone.

About the author

Beth Trach

Elizabeth Trach is a writer and editor living in Newburyport, MA. She also sings in a band, grows almost all her own food, and occasionally even cooks it. You can catch up on all her adventures in frugal living and extreme gardening at Port Potager.

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