What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in January
Like so many things in life, timing is everything. Getting great deals is certainly no exception, and throughout the year you will be able to snag killer bargains if you buy at the right time. Conversely, you should also be aware of the items you should avoid at certain times of the year. That's why I'm helping you start your shopping year right by highlighting the best deals — and biggest red flags — for January. (For other months, check out our Shopping Calendar.)
What to Buy in January
January is a great time to shop for the following items.
1. Fitness Equipment
The holiday feasts are fun at the time, but for many people, the guilt soon sets in. And that's when thoughts of working out and finally getting in shape bombard our heads. Now is the time to find amazing deals on workout equipment, with many people opting to buy their own gear rather than paying monthly gym dues.
2. Christmas Gear
Wreaths. Trees. Baubles. Tinsel. Cards. Wrapping. You name it, right about now the prices have been slashed on all of the holiday gear, with some places discounting it as much as 90%. Now is the time to stock up on supplies for next year and bag a great tree or wreath for pennies on the dollar. If you have a nice big basement or attic, box it up and store it until next year.
3. Linens and Bedding
John Wanamaker first introduced the White Sale in the late 1800s. Since then, linens, towels, and bedding have gone on sale every January. So, if you're ready to spruce up the bed with new sheets or deck out the bathroom in new towels, now is the time to go shopping.
4. Tax Software
The IRS is starting to warm up for the April deadline. And tax preparation software is hitting the shelves, with discounts to get the new software moving. Most of the software sold will have the ability to be updated online to reflect new laws (oh, the dreaded fiscal cliff). So get your discounts now, before the March rush kicks in.
All those giant HDTVs, laptops, tablets, Blu-Ray players, digital cameras, and computer monitors that dazzled Christmas shoppers are now sitting around, taking up valuable shelf space. The Consumer Electronics Show is in January, and that prompts clearance prices on old stock. So take advantage!
New models of chairs, tables, sofas, and all sorts of other stuff are ready to be rolled out in February. Retailers don't want old stock hanging around, so you can pick it up for big discounts.
7. Valentine's Gifts
You can never escape. Just as you're cleaning up the holiday wrapping, the day for lovers is on the horizon. Right now, it's about six weeks away, so the urgency isn't quite there yet. And that's why now is a great time to find deals on jewelry, chocolates (look for long expiration dates), perfumes, and other romantic gifts.
8. Winter Coats
What?! It's snowing in places. It's bitterly cold outside. But spring is just around the corner, and you know how stores like to stock up early. So grab a winter coat now, and you'll get a deal on something you can get several months' use out of before it goes into storage for the summer.
The weather is nasty for many of us. The holidays have just gone. No one is even thinking about buying a house right now. And that's why it's a great time to grab a deal. Don't wait until spring when you'll be fighting the crowds. Do it now, and have some negotiating power.
What to Avoid in January
While the sheer number of post-holiday sales might make it seem like it's a good time to buy everything, here are some items you should avoid.
1. Gym Memberships
If you're a member of a gym already, you'll know all about the January rush. It's frustrating to say the least, with locker rooms suddenly full, parking spaces gone, and queues forming for some pieces of equipment. On January 1 at 12:01 a.m., people start making New Year's resolutions to get fit and join a gym. And that means the gyms are seeing a glut of new members. They don't need to offer special deals; the customers are flooding in. Wait until it's all died down, by April you'll see legitimate deals.
January is just not a good time to buy, as the deals will be coming thick and fast over Presidents Day. If you have a rotten, pokey, empty mattress, you're better off putting up with it for one more month and saving a bunch of dough on a new one in February.
3. Winter Sports Gear
This one is a no-brainer, but hey, winter coats are on sale, so why not winter sports gear? Well, you may get a slight discount, but people are still shopping for it, and it's in high demand. Stores don't discount anything that's in high demand. Wait until April or May, and you'll see prices slashed across the board.
This is the peak time for people to buy new luggage, as they're all jetting off to escape the nasty weather. People are also preparing for the spring break trips, too. Either way, that spells full-price offers from retailers. Wait until the summer — you'll get genuine bargains then.
5. Patio Furniture and Grills
Retailers dumped their stock of patio furniture at the end of summer. That was the time to buy. Right now, they're starting to get in this year's brand new merchandise and will charge top dollar for it. If you want deals on grills and patio furniture, your best bet is used, on Craigslist.