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RISMEDIA, January 28, 2010—(MCT)—It seems that for every purchase, there is a discount season, and most people generally know they can get a deal by timing some purchases to a season—to buy when demand is low or supply is high. For example, clothing is cheaper when it’s “out of season” and certain fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re “in season.”

But the strategy is not so obvious with some items, such as condiments. Condiments, including mustard and relish, are cheapest when the weather warms in May so supermarkets can lure you with visions of picnics and barbeques. Similarly, stores put champagne on sale in December in hopes you’ll come for the bubbly and buy full-priced liquor for the holidays.

Mark Di Vincenzo, author of Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There offers the following examples of how you can time your purchases to save money.

End of season: Retail inventory is usually ahead of the actual season, so you’ll find good deals on swimsuits in September and winter coats in January and February, when those garments are still useful. Similarly, lawnmowers, gas grills, shrubs and patio furniture can be bargains after Labor Day. Buy sporting goods at the end of that sport’s season.

Sudden drops in demand: Chocolate and roses become far less expensive after Valentine’s Day. Think holiday wrapping paper and boxed Christmas cards in January.

Back-to-school: You can stock up on some good deals during the back-to-school retail blitz in August, but it might pay to buy some things, including jeans, in September and October, after the rush. By then, fashion-conscious students will also know the must-have items.

Discontinued: Retailers will sell current inventory cheap when it’s time to make room for the new stuff. Hit the white sales in January for sheets and towels and July for furniture.

Electronics: TVs, computers and cell phones are generally deals when new models come out. Laptop computers, in particular, tend to be cheaper during back-to-school sales. Cameras tend to be cheapest in February. TVs sales are often best in December and January.

Thrift stores: The big idea is to know when selection is best. Ask the clerks at your local store what time of month they get overstock donations from retailers and especially when dry cleaners donate unclaimed garments. People who use dry cleaners usually have high-quality clothes that are well cared for. Selection is also good after people have done “spring cleaning” in their closets.

Shoes: Shop in late afternoon when your feet have swelled, so you don’t waste money on a size too small. Buy sneakers in April or November.

Grocery shopping: Sunday through Tuesday is the best time to do your grocery shopping. Store sales often start on Wednesday, but coupons to match some sales don’t come out until the Sunday newspaper circular. Stacking coupons with sales leads to the best deals.

Homes: Buy houses in January—or, more generally, winter—when buyers are few and sellers desperate. “A January seller is an eager seller,” Di Vincenzo said. “If they weren’t, they would just wait until spring when their house would show better.” This year’s winter sales season might see more action than usual because of first-time buyer’s tax credits that expire April 30.

Vehicles: Buy cars in the fall, after new models come out. You can save 10-20% on the previous year’s model, but the longer you wait, the fewer choices you will have in colors and options. Visit the dealership at the end of the month when salespeople must make quotas. Buy boats and RVs off-season, in winter.

Weddings: You might dream of a June wedding, but a winter one might mean more cash for the honeymoon.

(c) 2010, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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