Saving money on basics such as clothes, books, technology, food, and apartment supplies sounds appealing, right? By shopping during the right times, and at the right places, you'll find plenty of ways to save.
computers and electronics
Buy: July and August, or after a new model is launched
MSN Money suggests buying in the middle of the summer to hit back-to-school sales, or checking markdowns around the holidays. When new models debut, prices typically drop on the previous model. Many releases are timed around big technology shows such as MacWorld and the International Consumer Electronics show.
Buy: Sunday evenings
SmartMoney suggests hitting the aisles on Sundays to maximize savings. Stores generally run sales from Wednesday to Tuesday, but the latest manufacturer coupons also are available Sunday. Stop in near closing time to take advantage of sales on items that must go by day's end, such as bakery items or meat.
Another practical tip is to buy items in season that can be frozen for later use. Fresh strawberries or peaches you freeze are great in blended smoothies or pies.
Buy: Thursday evenings, end of season
You'll find the best selection of goods on Thursday evenings—most weekend sale prices already are effective, but weekend shoppers haven't yet raided the stores. Also, season-end clearances often coincide with designer fashion weeks, says Kathryn Finney, author of "How to Be a Budget Fashionista." Fashion-forward buyers can scout if next season's trends are on this year's clearance racks."Shop end of season, after holidays, clearance, and with a friend for 'buy more, save more' sales," says Denise Winston, a financial lifestyle expert in Bakersfield, Calif. "And always watch for store coupons."
cookware and appliances
Buy: April/May, October/November, holiday weekends
An MSN Money article says you'll find the best bargains in April and May (graduation and wedding season) and October and November (holidays). Stores also discount cookware and appliances on holiday weekends, according to SmartMoney.
furniture, linens, and bedding
Buy: January and July
You can spend quite a few pennies furnishing an apartment, but shopping at the right time can help slash the price tag. According to MSN Money, showrooms stock new furniture after the holidays and as fall rolls in. Bedding and linens generally are cheapest in January.
Winston also says that a great way to save on furniture and many other items is to simply ask the store clerk if any damaged, scratched, or discontinued items are available. "I've saved up to 90% this way on items like leather sofas, washing machines, microwaves, dishes, and home décor," says Winston.
Buy: April and May
Besides showers and flowers, April and May also bring spring cleaning. Prices on older vacuum cleaner models start to come down during these months as new models arrive.
bicycles and outdoor gear
Most sporting goods stores begin changing their seasonal gear in February and March. Before the store makeover, in January, store owners generally discount much of their existing inventory.
the "best" time can be anytime
Let's face it: It's impossible to plan every purchase. Furniture ages, clothing fades, and technology falters—you don't always know when you'll need to make that next purchase. Fortunately, finding deals is easier than ever—thanks to the Internet.
"One of the easiest ways busy [consumers] can save huge amounts of money, sometimes up to 90%, is by shopping online and using promotion and coupon codes," says Winston. "This can reap savings on anything such as restaurants, computers, clothing, shoes—you name it and there is a coupon code out there."
practical advice reigns
Winston says that shopping smart and being conscious of purchases can add up to serious savings.
She reminds shoppers to save receipts, as millions of dollars are wasted each year because people don't use return and warranty policies.
To save time and money, Winston suggests trying a "price match" program. If you see a product for sale in a retail ad, but that store is far away, check if a retailer closer to you will match the price in the ad. Not wanting to turn away business, many stores will honor price matching, provided you show a copy of the ad and the store has the same item in stock.
When asked what she would say to young adults who prefer to buy on impulse and insist the time spent planning just isn't worth the savings, Winston crafts an example:
"Let's say you have a part-time job and earn $10 an hour, and after taxes you bring home $8 an hour," says Winston. "You could purchase a 12-pack of soda at a regular grocery store for $5. You could instead buy a soda per day, for 12 days, in a vending machine for $1 each. At the end of 12 days you will have spent $7 more at the vending machine than at the grocery store—or close to one hour of work. The amount adds up to almost $20 a month."
And this is just on soda. She says to remember that all the little purchases and planning can add up to either a lot of money spent or saved—it's up to you to decide.