When to Buy and Pay the Least

When to Buy and Pay the Least

Part of spending smart is getting the best deals on items you need or want. Part of getting the best deal is knowing when to buy. Here is a guide to help you decide the best times to buy.


Sports and fitness equipment, winter apparel and even early Valentine’s Day gifts are cheapest in January, according to Dealnews.com.

Linens (sheets, comforters, etc.) are generally cheapest this time of year thanks to the tradition of the “white sale” named after the fact that most linens were only available in white back in the late 1800’s.

Snack foods are pretty cheap in January in preparation for the Super Bowl.

Major U.S. holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday

Treadmill - When to Buy and Pay the Least


Mattresses are available at their lowest prices thanks to President’s Day sales.

Clearance Valentine’s Day gifts and candy.

Major U.S. holidays: Valentines Day, President’s Day


Cleaning supplies, likely because of overstocking during the New year’s resolution period in the beginning of the year when everyone wants to get organized, etc.

Winter gear such as skis and snowboards since the season is almost over.

Luggage is cheap in preparation for Spring Break trips and heading into the vacation season.

Major U.S. holidays: St. Patrick’s Day, Easter (sometimes April)

Luggage - When to Buy and Pay the Least


Computers, carpet, and digital cameras are quite the bargain in April according to Consumer Reports.

Major U.S. holidays: Tax Day


Refrigerators – With new models coming in the spring, now is a great time to look for a new refrigerator. April is also good, as there are plenty of “tax day” sales.

Major U.S. holidays: Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day


Gym memberships are cheaper this time of year since they have to compete with the warm weather and outdoor activities.

Dishes are also cheapest since stores are trying to persuade the wedding shoppers.

Major U.S. holidays: Father’s Day


Furniture, home decor, tools and video games are cheapest according to LifeHacker.com.

Broadway tickets are cheaper in July because it gets hot in New York which chases away the tourists.

Major U.S. holidays: Independence Day

Tools - When to Buy and Pay the Least


School supplies, swimsuits, and outdoor grills are at their best prices according to U.S. News.

Major U.S. holidays: None!


Patio furniture, denim, and kitchen goods are cheap according to Business Insider.

Major U.S. holidays: Labor Day


Home appliances – According to House Logic, September, October and January are the best time to buy home appliances, except for refrigerators, since new models come out in the spring.

Major U.S. holidays: Halloween


Small consumer electronics – can you say, “Black Friday?”

TVs and small appliances for the same reason are pretty cheap in late November.

Major U.S. holidays: Thanksgiving, Black Friday (not a holiday, but lots of sales)

TV - When to Buy and Pay the Least


Cars – That’s right. Buy a new or used car at the end of the calendar year. Of course inventory may be lower, but dealers are pushing to hit year-end numbers. If you can’t wait until December, at least try the end of a quarter or the end of a month, and try to negotiate late in the day as well. Just make it clear you are a serious buyer. Here are some tips on purchasing a used car. Keep in mind that spring and summer are usually the worst months to purchase a new or used car.

Real estate – Nobody wants to move this time of year! While inventory may be a bit lower, there are not many people shopping for real estate. Homebuyers generally want to move in the spring or before the winter holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), so you will not have to compete with very many buyers.

Major U.S. holidays: Christmas and Hanukkah

Knowing Not Just When to Buy but What to Buy

Of course, this is just a guideline and some retailers offer their own special promotions, such as Amazon’s Prime Day where you can save on everything from electronics to… well… everything. Plus, certain seasonal items are starting to get pushed off the shelves sooner each year to make room for the next big holiday/sale. So keep an eye out at your local retailer as well as online so you can find the best deal.

Keep in mind this guide is not intended to be used as an excuse to spend money you don’t have at certain times during the year just because prices are at their best. We still believe in responsible spending (“Friends don’t let friends buy broke!”) We also advise against buying something just because it is one sale at the lowest price – if you don’t need it. The point of identifying when items will be at their lowest price is to wait until the next big sale. By then, you may even change your mind and decide you don’t need it anymore.

Let me know if you found this article helpful or if you have any tips of your own to share!

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Bill Pratt

Bill is an Assistant Professor of Business at Piedmont Virginia Community College. He speaks on topics related to personal finance on college campuses across the country and is the author of multiple books on personal finance. He left the financial industry to focus on helping people become personally and financially successful. He lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife and their three pets.

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