Okay, I’ll say a word and you respond with the first thing that pops into your head:

Me: January

You: White Sales!

Excellent response — the very one I was hoping for to set the tone for this article. There was a time that our grandmothers patched the sheets while waiting for the the January White Sales.

But times have changed. It is increasingly a buyer’s market thanks to the advent of online shopping and so many retailers vying for our dollars.

Learning to "shop smart" is a great way to reduce debt and become a better steward. And in recent years some of the best sales often take place immediately before the related holiday or season.

Here’s a month-by-month guide for the best times to purchase all sorts of consumer goods:

January

Besides everything Christmas, this is the time to stock up on calendars, planners and date books while they’re available and at rock bottom prices. TVs are priced lowest during the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl.

Look for bargain prices on workout gear and fitness equipment to appeal to your New Year’s resolutions.

January is still a great time to land excellent deals on high-thread-count sheets as well as other "white sale" items like towels and blankets.

February

President’s Day is the cue for furniture retailers to offer blow-out bargains, especially on upholstered furniture. Watch for jewelry sales in honor of Valentine’s Day, and don’t be afraid to negotiate even the sale price on jewelry.

March

Even though it still feels like winter, home improvement centers haul out air conditioners in March and put them on sale. Other bargains: Winter sporting equipment and, oddly, frozen foods. March is National Frozen Food month so plan to fill your freezer with great bargains from Birdseye and Pictsweet for starters.

April

Home improvement items like flooring, house paint and gardening supplies are good buys now in anticipation of spring home-cleanup projects. And eggs—both chocolate and fowl. Think: Easter.

May

Mattresses and box springs are highly promoted from late May to early fall. This is when retailers gain significant support from the mattress manufacturers in the form of advertising and special offers. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional signal for big-ticket items like major appliances to go on sale.

June

If you’re not too picky, this is a great month to buy a wedding dress. What hasn’t sold gets highly discounted in anticipation of a new season of bridal wear. Home tools and hardware, dairy foods (yep, it’s National Dairy Month) and menswear are the hot items for June.

July

Electronics, including air conditioners (what’s left by this time in the season) and ceiling fans; craft supplies, summer clothes, shoes, swim wear and barbecues are offered at bargain prices this month.

August

Outdoor furniture, now marked down, is taking its last breath as the season winds down. Fresh produce is cheap this month as are school supplies and pre-season fall fashions. And white sale items are now offered routinely in August. My grandmother would be happy.

September

Golf clubs are a bargain this month along with canned goods (retailers want you to stock up for the long winter ahead), scooters, bikes and ... houses. Home sellers who were unsuccessful in selling during the summer are anxious to move before Christmas. They are more likely this month to listen to your ridiculously low offer.

October

This is the big candy month of the year. Stock up for all your holidays. And it may be a good time to buy a new car—if you must. In October salespeople are getting nervous about meeting or beating year-end quotas.

November

Turkeys are priced dirt cheap from now through Christmas. So are cranberries. Stock the freezer because a turkey that remains frozen is good for at least a year. And while you’re at it stock up on baking supplies at rock bottom prices. Blankets, comforters and winter wear will also be deeply discounted to boost retailers’ holiday cash-flow.

December

It used to be you had to wait until after Christmas for the sales. But in today’s market, everything you can imagine from toys to computers, shoes to perfume, crystal to party foods, cell phones and baby furniture are on sale in hopes of boosting holiday retail sales.

_____________________________________________

Except in the case of a dire emergency — I can’t actually think of one right now, perhaps you can — there is no reason to pay retail. But that assumes you have the financial maturity to delay gratification and wait until you find that item for less. And it is in that period of waiting that something may happen to help you save even more.

You may change your mind and decide you don’t need it after all. Or more likely, you’ll forget that you "needed" it in the first place.

And if you don’t, you’ll know you exercised great financial wisdom in making yourself wait until you found the best price and the most value.
________________________________________________


© 2005 Debt-Proof Living. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

"Debt-Proof Living" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt. What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt. Today, "Debt-Proof Living" is read by close to 100,000 cheapskates. Click here to subscribe.