No, I’m not talking about timing the stock market to buy and sell shares.  I’m talking about timing the retail market before making any purchases.  This is the absolute best approach to saving money.

When you buy when you need something right now you are forced to pay full price – the last minute rarely leads to any savings – and you often get a poor selection because you don’t have time to shop around.  I experienced this recently when I had to quickly purchase plane tickets – expensive with no seat sales.  Sure you can sometimes get last minute deals but often the selection and quality may not be up to par.

If you’re not in a hurry you can:

  • wait for a sale
  • check out the coupon books you get in the mail
  • get promotional codes
  • find a good deal shopping online
  • save up and pay cash instead of using your credit card
  • research all your options

Grocery stores and most retail stores generally have a cycle of when they offer popular items on sale.  If paper products or tomato sauce are reduced every three or four months you can take advantage of it.  Figure out the cycle on what you buy the most of and stock up until the next sale.  Sales and BOGO’s on many products from shoes to bedding have regular recurrences.  If you wait for them, you can save big time.  I keep a list of things I want/need with notes on size or other details so I’m prepared.

The most expensive time to buy clothes is when they are just coming in to the stores for the new season.  You could have saved a bundle on a winter jacket or boots last January, but if you wait until next month those savings are gone.  Generally, in Canada, by the time summer rolls around all the sandals, shorts and swimsuits are already on sale when we’re ready to buy them, and it’s a bit tricky buying children’s clothing a season or two ahead when you don’t know what size they’ll grow to, but you get the idea.

One of the reasons (besides procrastination) I wait until the last minute to buy Christmas gifts and décor is because everything is considerably reduced.  (In fact last year we didn’t even have a tree set up until a few days before Christmas because I was waiting for a good deal.)  The better option is to buy things throughout the year when good buying opportunities present themselves (I’m really going to work on this – maybe next year).

Timing is everything.  You can make purchases without deadline pressure and you are probably doing a good job budgeting for your purchases.  The result is less stress and more money in your wallet.

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6 Comments

  1. Financial Uproar on August 18, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Since I’m clearly a classy individual, I buy most of my clothes at Wal-Mart when they reduce them to pennies on the dollar. I just bought $7 shorts and $15 jeans.

    One of my friends complains that Wal-Mart never puts anything on cheap for the ladies. Anyone else have an opinion on this?

  2. krantcents on August 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I am starting to buy more and more online. I am able to find lower prices and save sales tax in most cases. I see it as a reward for waiting days or a week for the merchandise.

  3. Market Maker on August 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Getting timing right in the stock market is much more interesting though! 🙂

  4. The Wealthy Canadian on August 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Call me a penny pincher, but my wife and I still look at grocery flyers and take advantage of coupons when we can.

    Sometimes coupons can be difficult because the bargains are not always for healthy foods.

    We also make sure that we bring our rewards program cards (Air Miles + BMO Air Miles Gold Card for example) so we can accumulate points for travel.

    I also tend to buy clothes at Wal-Mart. Last year, while on vacation, I bough 5 t-shirts at Old Navy at $2.99 a pop. I’m wearing one of them now as I type this comment! 🙂

    Nice post!

  5. Jean on August 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Timing us definitely everything and just about everything in this world revolves around timing. Funny how that works out…. Anyways I’ve never been one to do too much shopping for clothing, whenever I do buy clothes I am price conscious though. I guess you can say I have an inelastic demand for most of the items I purchase. Whenever I’ve bought clothing I somehow manage to find nice ones at a bargain.

    -Jean

  6. Phil on August 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Just paying attention to prices in the grocery stores around one can make a whole lot of difference as well. For instance I know I can save a few bucks on certain frozen meals in Target or Walmart vs the local grocery store. I find that the local grocery store beats those big box store on steak. It can’t hurt to look online for coupons either for certain goods especially for the manufacturers coupons that can be used anywhere.

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