So you want to save more money, good news — becoming a better bargain shopper is now easier than ever before.
The rise of the price conscious consumer has created an environment that not only demands transparency, but also requires brands and retailers to find new ways to reach a growing budget-friendly customer base. Today’s shoppers are more focused on making informed decisions about how and where they spend their money — and retailers are being forced to adjust in a variety of ways.
What does this mean for you? As brands fight for your business, there are more opportunities to find deals, discounts and savings on pretty much anything these days.
There are several key strategies that make up a good bargain shopper’s routine. Here are a few great tips from Clark Deals Editor Charis Brown:
- Always, always price-check: Use Google Shopping or a price checker like this one to make sure what you’re buying is the best deal.
- You can also use Amazon’s app in-store — they have a built in barcode/QR scanner.
- Use technology to find coupons & deals: These apps can help you find the best deal.
- Stay within budget: Avoid the temptation to overspend — find great deals within your budget, and stick to it. Creating a list can help. And if you need help creating a budget, check out these tips.
- Don’t buy it just because it’s a great deal: Millions of dollars a year are spent on items we rarely, if ever, use. Avoid buying something just because it’s a great deal — buy it because you really need it or want it and it’s a great deal.
Best time to get the best deal on anything
One of the easiest ways to save is knowing when to buy what. Whether it’s seasonal sales, monthly trends or specific days of the week — if you know when the lowest prices will be available, you can save a lot of money throughout the year on everything from home goods and clothing, to even a new car or house.
Beginning of the year
- Bedding and Linens: The trend of discounted bedding and linens began way back in 1878 with John Wanamaker — he ‘wanamake’ a deal! His idea back then? The “white sale” — so named because bed sheets only came in white in the late 1800s. Thankfully, now we get to sleep on bed sheets and under bed covers that are super “creative.”
- Toys: You know you want to return that fuzzy stuffed animal grandma bought you for a sweet Lego set. Well, January is the best time to return your unwanted Christmas gifts for better toys! Many retailers — expecting returns or who missed sales forecasts — lower toy prices to bring shoppers back to the stores post-holidays.
- Indoor Gym Equipment: After all that wonderful holiday food, your pants and shirts probably don’t fit as well as they should. Perfect timing! Instead of rushing out to get a gym membership with everyone else, consider shopping for indoor gym equipment in January and working out inside your home. Want a treadmill for your office? Clark is a big fan of this treadmill desk.
- Winter Clothing: While January is technically in the middle of winter, retailers are eager to reduce winter inventory for new spring lines. Some retailers have slashed prices up to 75% off during January.
- Discounted Gift Cards: Similar to toys, many people receive unwanted gift cards over the holiday season. Although you can’t return a gift card, you can trade them in or sell them. Retailers like Walmart are now allowing you to trade-in other retailer’s gift cards for Walmart store credit. Check out these other sites for buying and selling gift cards:
- Video Games: Major game releases typically occur in the fall — just in time for the holidays. After the holiday shopping season winds down, many game publishers and retailers will begin reducing prices on video games to increase traffic and demand.
- Fast Food: According to Clark, “January is the unofficial fast food bargain month”. He says it’s due to consumers having ‘lighter’ wallets after the holiday shopping season.
- Gift Sets: Charis says, “Gift sets are also on sale [during January] — anything from lotion and toiletries to pet gift sets.” Even if the items your buying are wrapped in holiday-themed paper, you can remove those items and use them yourself or create your own gift set for any event!
- Holiday Decor: Post-holiday sales on holiday decorations can be found in every store from Kroger to Target to Macy’s. Every retailer needs to reduce or completely eliminate holiday decor in order to bring in new inventory.
- Airfare: According to Clark, airline tickets are typically the lowest in August, but January is another great month to buy tickets. Typically, most people complete holiday travel in November and December — leaving January and February as troughs in air travel demand. If you don’t have a set date for travel, consider purchasing booking your next flight in January.
- TVs: Two weeks before the Super Bowl — the most watched event in television history — is the 2nd best time to buy a TV, according to Consumer Reports. The organization found that the ‘Big Game’ drops TV prices by an average of 22 percent. The best single day to buy a TV is still — you guessed it — Black Friday.
- January Leftovers: February is a pretty bleak month when it comes to categorical sales: you’ll see the biggest discounts on leftover items from any January promotions. You probably won’t get the best items but you’ll likely get a great deal.
- Airfare: Travel demand is still pretty light in February so you might find some good deals — although not as great as January or August.
- Thrift Stores: From now through the Summer, you’re going to find some great items at thrift stores. After the holidays, many people will feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of ‘junk/stuff’ they now have in their homes. Also, spring cleaning is ‘around the corner’ — a great time to find some quality items at a discounted price: yard sales, donations, moving sales, etc.
- Frozen Food: March is apparently “National Frozen Food Month” — yes, there is a frozen food month. According to the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), sponsoring brands will partner with Coupons.com to release 180,000 coupons or 10,000 offer pod clicks for non-sponsoring brands.
- Golf Clubs: According to Livestrong.com, March is typically when club manufacturers release new models — just in time for the warmer weather in the U.S. If you’re not the best golfer in the world, consider buying last year’s club line. I purchased a set of Ping clubs a few years ago — older models — for about 50% off the price of the newest releases.
- Chocolate: If you didn’t get your chocolate fix on Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck! According to Consumer Report, between February 15th and just before Easter are the best times to buy chocolate — March happens to fall right in the middle of those dates.
Spring to early summer
- Tools: Check out Home Depot’s ‘Spring Black Friday Sale’ that happens every April. The home improvement giant typically has discounts that rival the other ‘Black Friday’ in October.
- Mattresses: As the weather heats up, so do the deals on mattresses. Clark says, “This is the best time to buy a mattress because people are not buying indoor stuff this time of year.” Many people are focused on traveling since the ‘kiddos’ are out of school for the summer.
- Spring Clothing: Similar to January and winter clothing discounts, May is a great time to find deals on spring clothing.
- Gym Memberships: Apparently, New Year’s resolutions begin to fail around the middle of the year. Gyms and other fitness chains see this as a perfect opportunity to entice consumers with discounted memberships and waived initiation fees.
- Appliances: Refrigerators are the biggest winner in May, as new models get released, but you can also find great deals on other household appliances. Same logic as the mattresses, consumers are focused on outdoor activities so retailers begin discounting indoor items to entice buyers to visit the stores.
- Camcorders: Check out Clark’s YouTube video in which he talks about camcorder deals and other great discounts in June!
- Kitchen & Dining Ware: Not only is wedding season in full swing, most people are still focused on getting outdoors or traveling before the peak of summer. That means you can expect some additional great deals on kitchen and dining ware.
- Seasonal Foods: Here’s a great post discussing some seasonal food items you should consider purchasing in June.
- Tools: June 18 is Father’s Day in the U.S. and that means some great deals on Dad’s favorite items.
- Recliners and Chairs: The website furniturebrains.com — a furniture database wiht 50 years of experience — writes, “The advent of Mother’s day and Father’s day will bring a flurry of [deal] advertising.”
Summer to early fall
- Amazon: Amazon holds its annual anniversary party in the form of a major sales event every July 12 — at least it has the last two years. While nothing is officially confirmed for 2017, the 2016 anniversary sales day was the largest single day of sales ever in company history. So we expect Amazon will continue to roll out its Prime Day. Read more: What you need to know about Amazon Prime Day
- Chick-fil-A: July 12 is National Cow Appreciation Day, which means that Chick-fil-A is giving away free entrees and kid’s meals for those dressed in cow costumes!
- TVs: Consumer Reports tracked a new Samsung UN50JU650D from its release in April 2015 until its final phaseout in July 2016. They found that the lowest price was the final phaseout, which was 16 months from release. With recent advances in display technology, you will not notice a difference in viewing quality or features on a 1-1.5 year old TV. Most manufacturers will release new models in the Spring so this timeline should hold true for all TVs.
- PC Games: Steam has an annual summer sale has typically run from the end of June to on or around July 4th. And the best day to buy anything is generally the very last day (unless it’s a flash sale at 70% off). Many other online gaming ‘stores’ also have competing summer sales, so keep an eye out if you’re in the market for some new games.
- Other mentions: 4th of July Discounts and Deals
- Airfare: Check out Clark’s video on bargain months for purchasing airfare. Turns out, demand is much lower in August due to kids heading back to school. So, if you’re considering a vacation this summer, try to travel in August. Read more: August 23rd is Cheap Flight Day.
- Summer Apparel and Swimsuits: Summer might be coming to an end but the heat isn’t dissipating. Thankfully, retailers need to reset the floors with fall apparel, so they will begin marking down summer apparel. Swimsuits are a big bargain as many community pools close after Labor Day.
- Outdoor Furniture and Grills: As colder weather approaches (though still a little ways off), most people will trade in their patio furniture for a cozy, warm spot on the couch. If you’re a smart shopper, you can take advantage of the trend and get a good deal on some patio furniture and grills.
- Storage Items: We all have a lot of ‘junk’ — you should really donate or turn it into cash — but if you want to keep it, take a look at storage containers this month.
- Laptops: With most middle, high school and college students needing a laptop for school, retailers will offer shoppers discounts on those necessities this month. You should see discounts up to 25% off new laptops.
- School and Office Supplies: Back-to-school sales are in full swing this month and that includes items for those still at home, going off to college or who just graduated and need to ‘deck out’ their new cubicle.
- iPhones: The last 5 major iPhone releases have occurred in September, so it’s likely we’ll see another release date in September. With any new model release, manufacturers and retailers mark down older models — so you can get a great deal on older models.
- Laptops: Manufacturers and retailers will offer additional discounts on laptops — sometimes even greater than those in August — as they need to manager the sales figures to the budget.
- Coffee: September 29 is National Coffee Day. We should see retailers like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and even smaller, local shops offering discounts on that delicious ‘black gold’.
- Outdoor Power Equipment: Grass growing and cutting season is coming to an end for most of us, so that means we won’t need to purchase new lawn mowers to replace our old ones. That also means retailers will try to discount any leftover inventory. Snow blowers will also see heavy discounts this month as the demand (and the snow) is still a few months away.
- New(ish) Cars: Last year model cars still sitting on the lots will see heavy discounts in September as dealerships need to move inventory to make room for new models. While we recommend buying a used car — 2 to 3 years old — if you want to get a new car, September is a great time to purchase.
- Wine: According to Forbes, September is harvest time for vineyards. Time to stock up on some vintages!
Fall to end of the year
- Bicycles: Riding season typically ends around the beginning of October, so you can get some pretty good deals on any leftover bikes. Bicycling.com also notes that manufacturers release the new models in the falls, which means discounts on last year’s models — just like cars.
- Digital Cameras: Most consumers and photography hobbyists don’t take as many pictures during the late fall and winter months. Additionally, newer models are released at the end of September, so you’ll see discounts on older models increasing in October.
- Gas Grills: Your cooking habits have started to shift from grilling outdoors to pan-searing your steaks — great grill discounts are served up!
- Air Conditioners: Cold weather is upon us — some might have snow already — and it’s likely you’ve shut off your A/C for the year. Time for a great deal!
- Wedding Supplies: As winter starts to ‘creep’ into our lives, the wedding season subsides. Retailers and independent shops with extra inventory will be more open to negotiating wedding supplies.
- Jeans: Charis writes, “Money Magazine, Lifehacker and Nerdwallet all have this to say about jeans: They are the best deal in October! Since fall inventory begins arriving in stores in August and September, the prices are more likely to drop by October. So if you want to pick up a pair of blues, don’t settle for less than a sale!
- Camping Gear: I prefer to camp in cooler weather, so this is a great deal for me! However, many people prefer to camp in the spring and early summer so fall is a great time to find discounted gear.
- TVs and Electronics: November has Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are the best days to find discounts on TVs and other electronics.
- Used Cars: The best day to purchase a used car is Black Friday — according to iSeeCars.com. And, the best overall month is November.
- Baby Products: Most babies are born in the summer leaving late fall as a great time to buy baby gear.
- Halloween Costumes and Decor: As you’d expect, retailers start discounting all leftover items from Halloween in November.
- Wedding Dresses: Fall and winter are the off seasons for weddings. Just like in October, you’ll find great deals on wedding supplies, especially those expensive dresses.
- Used Cars: Dealerships are hard-pressed to meet year-end sales goals, so they’ll be eager to negotiate and give you a good deal. According to iSeeCars, who analyzed 40 million sales between 2013 and 2015, December has 4 of the top 10 days for car buying.
- Pools: Unless you want to imitate polar bears or you’re on vacation in the Caribbean, chances are low that you are going for a ‘dip’ in a pool. Pool installers will artificially reduce prices during offseason to maintain a steady flow of cash.
- Diamonds: According to Bankrate.com, you can find a good deal on diamonds. “December is the biggest month for diamond sales of the whole year,” Butler says. Though not all diamonds are on sale, it is likely to find a discount of 30-50% off.
- Champagne: Although demand for the bubbly is high, discounts are also comparatively elevated. The champagne and sparkling wine marketplace is heavily crowded now and competition means better prices.
- Caribbean Travel: December 1-15 is typically a great time to go on a Caribbean vacation. It’s off-season and most likely to be the best deal.