Bargain Hunting: The Best Time To Buy

by Reader Contributors

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A big part of bargain hunting is knowing the best time to buy. Some of our frugal readers share their calendars of the best time of the year to find bargains on any item.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
My grandma used to have a sheet of paper on the refrigerator of the best time to buy things listed by months. All I can remember from it is that January was linens and towels.

Can your readers help by sharing their calendars and lists? Thanks!

The Best Time To Buy Grocery Products

Based on my five years experience in doing layouts for supermarket circulars for the largest chain in NYC, here are some basics:

Frozen Food: March is nations frozen food month. Always great sales.

Dairy: June is National Dairy Month. Not quite as big a deal as Frozen Food month.

BBQ Products: (Ketchup, mustard, relish, salad dressings, napkins, etc.) Early in the summer. These companies want to fill your pantry so you don’t buy any competitors products all summer. Good time to stock up a years worth.

Beverages: (Soda, beer, juice drinks, apple juice, etc.) All summer, especially around holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 4th. Also usually good prices on large size items (like 2 liter soda) during holiday sales in other months. (See also: Simple Beverage Savings That Can Reduce the Grocery Budget.)

Baking Needs: (Flour, sugar, corn/vegetable oil, aluminum foil, etc.): Thanksgiving and December Holidays. This is also a good time to stock up on holiday related items that you like to eat all year such as cranberries and canned yams.

Italian Products: (Ricotta, mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, olive oil) Christmas, Easter and Columbus Day. Holiday stock-up goes for all ethnic products, such as Chinese products at Chinese New Years, Jewish products during Rosh Hashana and Passover, etc.

It is also good to follow what is going on in the world too for indications of what will happen in the store. Items that can’t be stocked up on, just buy now and enjoy them as you won’t be buying it again for awhile.

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Listed by Type of Item

Garden Tools: February/April – Look for up to 50% off on things like rakes, hoes, and shovels then. (See also: Inexpensive Tools for Beginner Gardeners.)

Linens and Towels: January/February and July/August – Pick up discontinued fall and spring merchandise.

Landscape Plants:

  • indoor plants – January
  • perennials and annuals – March through October
  • shrubs, trees, and rosebushes – March through May
  • fall bulbs – September
  • spring bulbs – February/March

(See also: 12 Frugal Landscape Tips for Filling Your Yard with Plants.)

Kitchenware and Small Appliances: Mother’s Day shopping in May or after holidays (See also: Affordable Small Kitchen Cookers.)

Furniture:  December – Supposedly, furniture sales slow down for the holidays.

Carpeting: January and February

China and Flatware: March and September (on last season’s styles)

Hardware: December and during June’s Father’s Day specials


  • March for spring patterns
  •  September for fall patterns

Flowerpots, Statuary, and Barbecues: During the winter

Major Appliances: No special time of year was given, just to consider buying floor-demonstration models and to ask the larger chains for bigger discounts when making major purchases. (See also: An Insider’s View on Kitchen Appliance Deals.)

Paint: May through August (See also: Finding Quality Paint at An Affordable Price.)

Building Supplies: There’s no way to predict times for sales prices. Your best bet for saving money is to look for free cutting, delivery, and other service perks.

Cleaning Supplies and Pantry Staples: January or August/September

Patio Furniture: February and late August
Brookes E.

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A List by Month

Here’s my month-by-month schedule for dedicated bargain hunters that I use.

January: After-Christmas sales, appliances, baby carriages, books, carpets and rugs, China and glassware, Christmas cards, costume jewelry, furniture, furs, lingerie, men’s overcoats, pocketbooks, pre-inventory sales, shoes, toys, white goods (sheets, towels, etc.)

February: Air conditioners, art supplies, bedding, cars (used), curtains, furniture, glassware and China, housewares, lamps, men’s apparel, silverware, sportswear and equipment, storm windows, toys, TV sets and stereos

March: Boys’ and girls’ shoes, garden supplies, housewares, ice skates, infants’ clothing, laundry equipment, luggage, ski equipment

April: Fabrics, hosiery, lingerie, painting supplies, women’s shoes

May: Handbags, housecoats, household linens, jewelry, luggage, Mothers’ Day specials, outdoor furniture, rugs, shoes, sportswear, tires and auto accessories, TV sets

June: Bedding, boy’s clothing, fabrics, Fathers’ Day specials, floor coverings, lingerie, sleepwear and hosiery, men’s clothing, women’s shoes

July: Air conditioners and other appliances, bathing suits, children’s clothes, electronic equipment, fuel, furniture, handbags, lingerie and sleepwear, luggage, men’s shirts, men’s shoes, rugs, sportswear, summer clothes, summer sports equipment

August: Back-to-school specials, bathing suits, carpeting, cosmetics, curtains and drapes, electric fans and air conditioners, furniture, furs, men’s coats, silver, tires, white goods, women’s coats

September: Bicycles, cars (outgoing models), China and glassware, fabrics, fall fashions, garden equipment, hardware, lamps, paints

October: Cars (outgoing models), China and glassware, fall/winter clothing, fishing equipment, furniture, lingerie and hosiery, major appliances, school supplies, silver, storewide clearances, women’s coats

November: Blankets and quilts, boys’ suits and coats, cars (used), lingerie, major appliances, men’s suits and coats, shoes, white goods, winter clothing

December: After-Christmas cards, gifts, and toys, blankets and quilts, cars (used), children’s clothes, Christmas promotions, coats and hats, men’s furnishings, resort and cruise wear, shoes

From “Miserly Moms”

Here is the list from the book Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy by Jonni McCoy.

January – February: men’s shirts, towels, linens, sheets, clothes dryer, used cars, water heaters, art supplies, bicycles, books, curtains, clearance furniture, Christmas wrap and ornaments, toys, meats (turkey, ham), baking items

March: coats, clothing for all, shoes, TV, washing machines, ski equipment, housewares, artichokes

April – May: dresses, suits, coats, summer clothes, towels, TV, tires, outdoor furniture, paint, tools, garden supplies, summer sports equipment, gift items, artichokes, dairy products, ham, eggs, chicken

June – July: summer clothes, shoes, air conditioners, school supplies, outdoor furniture, building materials, most furniture, gift items, dairy products, fresh fish, barbecue foods, limes and lemons

August – September: summer clothes, fall clothes, school clothes, swimwear, school supplies, garden supplies, outdoor furniture, rugs and carpets, bicycles, car batteries and mufflers, seasonal items, season passes, fresh fish, lamb, canned goods

October: cars from dealerships (buy close to last day of month for best deal), summer sports equipment

November: men’s shirts, water heaters, home improvement supplies, houses are cheaper.

December: Not a good time to buy anything, until December 26.

Reviewed July 2023

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