The prices of certain products fluctuate by 10% to 75% over the course of a year. Some even vary predictably within a single day or week. Knowing how to correctly time purchases can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.
APPLIANCES & ELECTRONICS
Best time to buy small appliances and electronics: April. Many electronics products are made by Japanese companies, which typically introduce new products and discount older ones soon after March 31, the end of their fiscal year.
Best time to buy a refrigerator: May. Merchants often slash fridge prices in May to clear space in showrooms and warehouses for new models, which arrive each summer.
Best time to buy a computer: August, during back-to-school sales. Prices often drop by $50 or more. Printers and other computer peripherals sometimes are thrown in as well.
Buy televisions in January, when discounts are common on units that were not sold at the holidays and on products replaced by newer models unveiled at early January’s Consumer Electronics Show. (TVs often are attractively priced during December’s holiday sales as well.)
Buy cameras in February. Most new models come out in January and February. Get a good deal on a year-old model at a Presidents’ Day sale.
Buy portable music players in August or September. These often are marked down in anticipation of the new models, which tend to arrive in September and October.
Best time to buy a lawn mower, snowblower or barbecue grill: Near the end of its season of use. Discounts can reach 30% to 40% on grills and lawn mowers between Labor Day and November… with similar savings on snowblowers in March. Merchants don’t want to store these bulky, expensive items until their next season.
Best time to make an offer on a house: January. Home buyers face minimal competition during this month because house hunting is no fun when the weather is at its worst. Less competition means greater odds that a seller will accept a low-ball bid. The weather is no better in February, but by then sellers are more likely to hold out until temperatures and the housing market begin to heat up in March.
The first Tuesday of January can be the perfect day to make an offer. Home owners will have recently made a month-end mortgage payment, a reminder of the high cost of holding onto an unneeded home. Tuesday also is a great day to make offers in slow housing markets because by then, home owners realize it’s unlikely that other house hunters from the weekend’s showings intend to make offers.
Alternate strategy: Make an offer on Christmas Day. Sellers are happy to receive an offer — even on a holiday — and people are in a good mood on Christmas, leaving them psychologically predisposed to be flexible and generous in their negotiations. Add a message to your offer explaining that the home would be the perfect place to raise your family — we tend to become very family-oriented on Christmas. You will need a real estate agent who is willing to work on Christmas to do this.
Best time to buy thrift shop clothing: Soon after area dry cleaners make donations. Some of the best clothing available at many thrift shops is donated by dry cleaners. These are mostly high-end clothes that the dry cleaners’ customers failed to pick up.
Ask a thrift shop employee if the store receives donations from any dry cleaners and, if so, when those donations tend to arrive. Stop by soon after a donation is expected.
Best time to buy new clothing: About a month after you first see it. If clothing hasn’t sold six weeks after it appears in stores, the markdowns begin. Ask an employee how long an item has been in stock if you are not sure.
Best time to buy a new car if low price is your priority: October through December. Dealers often discount the current year’s models by as much as 20% late in the year to make room for new models. October and November are the best bets if you’re at all picky about what you drive — prices can be even lower in December, but by then very few desirable vehicles from the current model year are likely to be available.
Whatever month you buy your new car, shop on one of that month’s final days. Salespeople and dealerships become more willing to offer attractive deals late in the month because they often need to sell cars to meet monthly sales quotas or earn bonuses.
Best time to bring a car to a mechanic for repairs: Thursday. This is the slowest day of the week at many repair shops. Some shops are willing to give discounts of 10% to 20% to customers who are willing to wait until Thursday — if those customers know to ask. But don’t expect a Thursday discount at a shop that always is busy. Thursday discounts most likely are given to customers who bring multiple jobs to a shop, so consider holding off on having a minor repair done until additional work is required.
Best time to shop at a farmers’ market: Just before closing time. Farmers’ market merchants hate loading unsold goods back onto their trucks. If fruits and vegetables are already ripe and are unlikely to be sellable in another day or two, point this out. Discounts can be 50%, sometimes more.
Best time to buy at an outdoor flea market: On the last weekend of the season. Outdoor flea markets shut down for the winter in most parts of the country. Sellers often are willing to accept low-ball offers rather than put merchandise in storage for months.