What's On Sale in January

The holidays are over and its time to find what's on sale in January.

For savvy shoppers, January is a great time to find bargains. It's as natural as slipping on sweater. Remarkably, way too many people dismiss January. They assume all the good deals have come and gone. Yet, rest assured there are some excellent ways to save money in January.

The folks over at Consumer Reports agree. DVDs, CDs, cookware, housing, swimwear, treadmills and TVs are on their list to check out. The wedding industry is gearing up its spring and summer season and the savvy wedding planner knows, their early season offerings will contain many of the best prices for the year. Over in the aisles at the supermarkets, the various seasons for food continues. January has some good prices on fruits and veggies. So before you write January off as the dark days of finding deals, the Frugal Yankee offers some pointers.

Obviously the first couple of weeks in the month has tons of post-Christmas goodies at remarkably low prices. Christmas cards, lighting, wrapping paper or other tchotkes are out there at great prices. Sales of 70 to 80% will not be uncommon. The Frugal Yankee suggests you buy what you need for next Christmas. Then place it in a big plastic storage tub to be opened next November. You'll congratulate yourself then for how sharp you are now.

Beyond the Christmas stuff there are other things to check out. Remember, the Frugal Yankee isn't suggesting you buy these because they are simply on sale. Only buy if you need it AND it is on sale. That difference is the difference between a savvy consumer and a compulsive one.

APPLIANCES

Appliances have several seasons, but right now is one of the best. Stores are looking to bring customers in as the post-Holiday slump hurts their cash flow. Also new models are coming in from the manufacturers. Last year's models and demos are the target. Don't be afraid of a ding either. A ding on the side where the appliance is up against the wall will be a great deal. No one will see it, and besides what does a ding have with cleaning your clothes?

The same goes for refrigerators, but keep in mind, the sales staff will tout the energy efficiency and how the new unit will pay for itself. It will pay for itself if, and this is the big IF, if your old unit is over 20 years old. The newer models will be energy efficient and will offer many upsides, but paying for itself is usually not one of them. Let's say that again: energy efficiency is fine, but it will NOT pay for the itself.

Another reminder about fridges, the stores will try and add as many bells and whistles they can. It jacks the price up. Before committing, sit back and ask yourself, "Do I really need that?" The answer is usually, "No."

Before leaving appliances, this may also be a good time to buy an air conditioner. In January they should be around 50% off steamy August's price. Remember, buying an AC in August is like buying an umbrella during a rain storm,

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

Like appliances, consumer electronics hit a significant downturn in the post-Holiday period. Sales, coupons and other come-ons will abound. Specifically be on the lookout for deals on digital cameras. The Consumer Electronic Show and Photo Marketing Association convention occur this time of year. This heralds the new models. The older models will go on sale. Define what you want and start looking. You should score.

Like the digital cameras, those big TVs will also be looking at new models coming in and a post-Holiday slump in sales. Deals touting $1000 off or various 'freebies' should whet most gadget geek's appetite. TV sets are the loss leaders many stores use to bring customers in.

Before jumping in on buying a new TV, do your homework on the web. Also consider if the new set will last at least five years. Upgrading prior to that will mean a waste of money.

Two other declining value items go on sale in January, and possibly into February as well. These are CDs and DVDs. Both items have reached their peak and are declining in sales. New formats are taking their place. Over the next two years, more and more sales will not be hard copies, but access to them in the 'cloud', a place on the internet where you can access them at any time. This is especially true of films and TV shows. However, if collecting DVDs/CDs is in your budget, there will be some dramatic sales to augment your library.

CLOTHING

When it comes to clothing, two items are on sale on January and they couldn't be more contradictory, swim wear and winter outerwear.

The outerwear is easy to understand. Most people already have their winter coats. Spring fashions will be arriving soon. So prices will be low. This is a great time to buy for next fall and winter. The Frugal Yankee's like buying this time of year, but go classic. Don't go trendy. Trendy fashions look old before their time. Classic fashions have stood the test of time.

Swimwear is on sale because it is the pre-season. The Frugal Yankee is not that into swimwear fashions every since the body went south of 40, but for those who still look good and want to make that special statement on the beach or poolside, now is the time to look. This is a relatively brief window because as winter wanes, the prices will rise.

COUPONS

Manufacturers of all stripes have discovered the Great Recession of 2009-12 has spurred coupon sales like little else has done. No matter what is on the "to buy" list, look for coupons. Check out Manufacturers web pages or check out many of the aggregator web sites. These web sites, many of them highlighted on this site do the hunting for you. They have become great tools.

Another coupon source that is developing and will undoubtedly grow over the next year is cell phone coupons. Companies like CellFire.com will send coupons to your cell which will then be scanned at the cash register. There is a slight learning curve on how to best use these, but this is the future and gaining wider acceptance, especially among the younger demographic.

GROCERY STORE

The truly savvy family food shopper develops menus around what is in season. This keeps costs down and provides fresher food for the family. Stores have gotten very sophisticated about procuring fresh food all year round from many parts of the country and the globe. Without getting into the relative merits of this practice, the following fruits and vegetables should have low to moderate pricing in January.


Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Grapefruit, Leeks, Lemons, Oranges, Papaya, Tangelos, Tangerines.

Also look for your local supermarket to offer 'loss leaders' in meats and other items. Buy in bulk to save money. To find out more about techniques and strategies to save money at the supermarket, we humbly suggest you buy our 'Frugal Yankee Guide to Supermarkets'. There are so many savings tips in it, it'll more than pay for its cost.

HOME REMODELING

No one goes to the store to buy a gallon of remodeling, but if you have the money for a household upgrade, think about doing it right now. Interior work is cheaper January through March. There a several reasons. Many folks blew their extra cash wad on gifts for the holidays and many are simply not thinking about doing anything with the economy as it is. Perhaps, spring will spur thoughts of upgrades, but until that happens, the remodeling business is slow. Naturally this means contractors are looking for work. In this economy, a home owner with money and a project is much desired. You can negotiate, drive tough bargains and get more value for the money.

By the way, exterior jobs are cheaper in the fall rather than the spring and summer.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS


May be a remodeling job is in the offing, may be not, but household interiors can get spruced up more cheaply in January than just about any other time of the year.
January is the traditional time for "white sales". Discounts of 10% to 60% on sheets, blankets, towels and more are in many department stores. In the old days these sale were for white linens, but now colors abound. Perhaps you may not need these sales, but if someone in our family is getting married or setting up a new house, consider buying now and gifting later. Also think about that college student about ready to graduate and setting up their first apartment. They'll not be thinking about the ways to make it 'homey'. That's what parents and aunts are for.

Here is a home improvement industry fact, few people buy carpet in January. When business is slow, that's the time to snag discounts. When looking at doing this, not only do your homework on pricing, but look for extras negotiated into the deal. For example, free or low installation, or perhaps adding a room at even a more significant discount.

Another item to look at is furniture. The American Home Furnishing Alliance asserts new furniture begins to arrive in stores in February. January then becomes the time to empty the showrooms. Price discounts between 10 to 50% are common.

One fact to keep in mind about this and many of the items discussed, as soon as tax rebates begin flowing, consumer spending increases. As that increases, the deals start to melt away.

HOUSING

The recession has really zapped the housing market. Winters have been a traditionally slow time for moving inventory and with slower times comes lower prices. Winter is a good time to buy if you can. However, with a smaller inventory, the choice of housing may not be as good, but in this economy with foreclosures still on the rise and the economic outlook for the average American still uncertain, there will be more deals than normally. Bargains can be had.

One old piece of Frugal Yankee wisdom about buying real estate in the winter. Whether you're buying or thinking of buying, when there is no leaves on the trees, it is easier to see the lay of the land, how close your neighbors may be and imperfections will be easier to spot.


WEDDINGS

We all know that spring and summer is wedding time. The industry is gearing up right now. Conventions, bridal events will start popping up all over the place. Even though this is an industry that plans way down the road there are still some deals for dresses and reception halls, but not for long. The longer one waits the costlier it gets.

CONCLUSION

In January, deals can be had, but two things are evident. The first is, if the industry is slow, the prices will be lower. The businesses involved need cash flow. Keep that in mind as you discuss any purchase. A break even deal is better than no deal at all.

The other factor is once tax rebates start flowing in, consumer spending increases and the deals will slip away. It is a question of timing.

Be sure to sign up for the Frugal Yankee Newsletter, a compendium of tips and ideas all designed to save money and enjoy life.

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