With all the store signs advertising their holidays sales, it’s easy to assume that everything is at its best price in December. However, smart shoppers know otherwise. They only buy items in December that are truly on rock-bottom sale, and they wait until after the holidays season is over to purchase everything else.
If you’re trying to save money, here’s what you might want to grab—and what you can leave on the shelf—in December, according to shopping expert Hillary Mendelsohn, founder of Thepurplebook.com, and Andrea Woroch, consumer advisor for Kinoli, Inc.
Toys: Fun gifts for kids are at their best prices in December, says Woroch. If you can wait until two weeks before Christmas, you might be able to find some last-minute bargains, adds Mendelsohn. Also, December is a great time to find bundled deals on gaming consoles with accessories and games.
Cars: Dealers are aiming to move their inventory before the new year, so December is the perfect time to negotiate a great price, particularly on the last of the 2014 models, says Mendelsohn. Even private sellers may lower their prices this month in order to get some extra cash for holiday purchases.
Electronics: Many people on your holiday gift list may be asking for gadgets, and December is a great time to get electronics at their best prices. Woroch reminded me that brands that don’t typically offer discounts, such as Apple, will offer some kind of price cut or added gift card in December. In addition, electronics retailers are usually willing to price-match, negotiate cost, or offer additional coupons to get your business. Woroch suggests using the PoachIt price and coupon-tracking app so you’ll know when to buy a specific electronic item at its lowest price.
Holiday items: If you don’t mind fighting the crowds, Dec. 26, is the best time to take advantage of department store sales on holiday decor and leftover gift items, says Mendelsohn.
High-end TVs: It may be tempting to put this big box under the holiday tree, but you’re better off waiting, advises Mendelsohn. You’ll find the lowest prices in February and March. Current TV models go on sale as new models start arriving in stores.
Winter apparel: You’ll see deals on items such as coats and boots throughout the month, but Woroch told me that some sneaky retailers actually raise their original prices to make their discounts look like better deals. If you can wait, the better time to buy winter clothing and footwear is late January and February. Don’t forget to compare name-brand prices with online retailers and ask stores if they’ll match a better price you found elsewhere.
Calendars: If, like me, you still use a paper calendar along with your electronic one, buy it on sale in January. I’m a fan of the Mom’s Plan-it Calendar that offers a space for up to five family members’ activities each day, and includes a weekly dry-erase calendar I like to put on the refrigerator.
Jewelry: Sparkly items are quintessential holiday gifts. However, if you’re a savvy shopper, wait until February to buy expensive jewelry and watches. You’ll get your best deals closer to Valentine’s Day, as retailers gear up for their biggest sales period of the year.
Teri Cettina is a mom of two daughters and freelance writer who specializes in personal finance and parenting topics. She blogs at Your Family Money. Follow her on Twitter: @TeriCettina