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BBB tips for using sales to stretch your budget
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Consumers who are interested in getting the most bang for their buck (and who isn’t?) know to watch for sales. Most of us notice the patterns over time – holiday items on sale right after the holiday passes and white sales in January, for instance. Beyond that, many simply look for the best price at whatever time the need for an item arises.
But for those who are willing to exercise patience and forego a little bit of immediate gratification, the financial rewards of knowing what time of year certain items go on sale can be large. With that in mind, your Better Business Bureau has compiled a general guide to what usually goes on sale when. Most of the information comes from the experts at Consumer Reports and Readers Digest magazines, and from the Lifehacker website.
January through March
Items that are obviously off-season during winter months can be purchased at lower prices through the first quarter of the year. That means everything from calendars to boats to motorcycles. Air conditioners, gas grills and even wedding supplies and venues are discounted during the cold months. This is also the traditional time of white sales, meaning bedding and towels are reduced. Later towards March, prices go down for golf clubs and winter clothing. Look for sales on these items as well: carpet and flooring, TVs, computer monitors, toys, luggage, cellphones, digital cameras and furniture.
April through June
The spring season is when the choices are greatest for house-hunters, though the winter months with a smaller market can be a good time to negotiate lower prices. This is a great time to go thrift store shopping, where many have donated items after spring-cleaning. Laptop and desktop computers can be on sale as well as office furniture, mattresses and refrigerators. Later in spring come tool sales anticipating Fathers Day, and cookware and dishware sales, looking towards wedding present season. Bargains can also be found for camping and sports gear, swimwear, camcorders and mowers.
July through September
Back-to-school sales can bring down prices on backpacks, dorm supplies and computers. July is another good time to look for furniture clearances. The continued wedding season means home décor items can be on sale. As the quarter nears its end in September, bargains abound for home appliances (except refrigerators), bicycles and, though choices are now more limited, school supplies. New cars will be coming out which means discounts on the current year models and a better chance for negotiating lower prices. If you’ve been limping through the mowing season with a worn out mower, there are discounts now but, again, fewer choices. This is the time for discounts on shrubs, trees and perennials also.
October through December
The last quarter continues to be a good time to buy a car. Cookware goes on sale for the coming holidays, as do toys and games. Between the school sale and the holiday sale seasons is a good time to find deals on jeans. As retailers make room for more seasonal items, what’s left of their patio furniture gets deeply discounted. November is when the best fall prices on appliances come around. Among other merchandise that goes down in the fourth quarter are GPS Navigators, baby products, digital cameras and other small electronic devices.
Consumer Reports advocates that buyers haggle frequently to try to get retailers to lower prices. But be polite about it and make sure you know what constitutes a fair price before you start.
If you have questions about finding the right time of year to shop for products, contact your Better Business Bureau at (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at