When your refrigerator suddenly dies, you obviously have to buy another one, pronto. You don’t have time to save money for a new one or watch for a great sale. Similarly, if you realize your patio dining set isn’t party-worthy right before you host your family reunion, you’ll probably run out to buy new outdoor furniture—whether it’s a good deal that month or not.
Fortunately, emergencies like these don’t happen every day. Most of us have a little time to plan our biggest purchases. And that’s good news, since many big-ticket items are on sale at specific times each year. Take advantage of these sales trends and you can save 50 percent or more on items your family will enjoy for years to come.
Indoor furniture: Furniture typically goes on sale twice a year—now, before new models come out in August, and again in January.
Camcorders: Prices on older models are slashed as new versions hit the stores.
Lawn mowers: Retailers are getting ready to sell fall/winter equipment and need bulky mowers out of the way. Watch for great deals.
Snow blowers: Get preseason deals on the latest models.
Computers—especially laptops: Students need computers for classes, so retailers make special offers as part of the back-to-school season.
Outdoor furniture: Your best deals pop up after Labor Day barbeques, of course. Buy patio sets and other furniture on clearance now, and store it all for next spring.
Air conditioners: AC units go on sale when temperatures drop. If your old unit is still usable, this is also a good time to get deals on servicing.
Bikes: The riding season is almost over, and retailers are ready to bargain over whatever stock is left. New models are on their way.
Outdoor grills: Pickings may be slim, but whatever’s left of this year’s grills is deeply discounted starting in mid-September.
Trees, shrubs, and plants: Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and perennials so they can overwinter. Nurseries are clearing out end-of-season stock.
Cars: New versions arrive at the end of the summer, so dealers are anxious to clear out old inventory. Buy toward the end of the month, when salespeople need to make sales quotas.
Toys: Find bargains on kids’ holiday gifts in early November.
TVs: Before the holidays and again near Super Bowl time are your best bets for TV deals.
Digital cameras and small electronics: Most gift-givers want the new models that come out for Christmas. It’s a great time to buy this year’s versions.
Home appliances: Manufacturers introduce new models now, so retailers are anxious to get last year’s appliances off their floors.
Furniture: After maxing out on holiday spending, most families don’t splurge on furniture. Salespeople are desperate and willing to negotiate.
Linens and bedding: Now’s the traditional time for “white sales.”
Homes and condos: Get a jump on the high spring/summer selling season by making an offer well before school lets out.
Exercise equipment: Retailers offer deals to lure in “New Year’s resolution” exercisers.
Carpeting/flooring: Demand is low—as are prices—because most families are focusing on outdoor areas.
Winter sports gear: Skis, snowboards, and more are on sale, as stores make room for bikes and camping equipment.
Lawn mowers: An incoming crop of new mowers means bargain prices on closeout models.
Cookware: Gourmet gear goes on sale now, in time for graduation and wedding gifts.
Outdoor and camping gear: New summer gear is arriving, and it takes up a lot of floor space. Take advantage of incentives to clear out bulky inventory and get occasional deals on new items.
Small electronics and camcorders: Just in time for graduation, find good deals on gift-worthy MP3 players and cameras, as well as camcorders and DVD/Blu-ray players.
Computers: This is your second-best time of year (after the back-to-school season) to get good buys on laptop and desktop models.
Teri Cettina is a personal finance and parenting writer/blogger. Prior to becoming a freelancer, she was an employee communications writer and editor for a large regional bank. Follow her on Twitter: @TeriCettina