By Mark Di Vincenzo
Mark Di Vincenzo is a journalist with 24 years of experience and a New York Times best-selling author. Mark blogs via Contently.com.
The first few weeks of December can be a great time to save money as retailers drop prices to lure Christmas shoppers, but you can also find terrific deals during the last week of the year — and in January.
Here are 10 obvious — and not so obvious — things to buy after Christmas:
1. Christmas stuff. Artificial trees, bulbs, wreaths, stockings, cards and wrapping paper are all at least 50 percent off after Christmas, and some of these things are marked down by 75 percent or more if they’re still around in January. Smart shoppers look for solid silver, gold, red or green wrapping paper that can be used year-round for birthdays, graduations and weddings.
2. TVs. New models arrive in stores in August and September, and stores lower prices three or four months later on the older models, as well as on some of the newer ones, which go on sale if holiday sales slumped.
3. Jewelry. Post-Christmas sales often beat the pre-Christmas sales. Regardless of how Christmas sales went, January usually is a good time to buy jewelry. It’s one of the six non-gift giving months – the others are March, April, July, August and September – when you’re more likely to see real sales on jewelry, as opposed to the “sales” in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, high school and college graduations, June weddings, and Christmas.
4. Video games. New games often come out in time for the gift-giving holidays, but don’t expect to find many on sale in November and December. They’re in demand then, and retailers know shoppers will pay full price for them. Look for sales starting in January, especially if holiday sales were disappointing.
5. Cameras. Camera makers often release new models in January (and February), when the biggest trade shows of the year occur. Unless you must have the latest and greatest cameras, you’ll find good deals on last year’s models during this time.
6. Bicycles. Some of the best sales of the year occur in January, when many stores discount bicycles by 30 percent or 40 percent after the holiday shopping season. They need to make room for new models that often arrive in February and March.
7. Motorcycles. January might seem like a lousy time to buy a motorcycle In much of the country it’s cold out, and roads are booby-trapped with ice patches. In fact, sales for new motorcycles are very slow in January, and that fact causes some dealers to offer good sales to move their inventories. And this has a trickle-down effect: People who buy new motorcycles in January often will sell their used ones right afterward.
8. Boats. Manufacturers say dealers typically offer their best prices of the year during the winter boat show season, when attendees can be convinced by good prices to buy. Buy in January, when it’s cold and fewer people are thinking about going out on the water, because when the temperatures rise, so do prices.
9. Trees. Not buying them — but having them cut down! Post-Christmas credit card bills arrive in January, and who wants to write a check to a tree removal company unless a big limb is lying on your roof? As a result, tree companies are hungry for business in January, and prices are lower, especially if you let the businesses know they have competition for the work. An added benefit to having this work done in January: No leaves to rake up afterward.
10. Houses. Yes, houses! Late December and early January are the best times of the year to buy a house. During this period, fewer buyers are willing to trudge through nasty weather looking at homes, so there’s less competition and few, if any, bidding wars. And sellers tend to be more motivated to sell and more willing to accept a lower offer than they will be in the spring, when there are more serious buyers, some with sizable tax refund checks on the way. January sellers tend to be eager sellers. After all, they’ve decided not to wait until the spring, when their properties probably will show better and attract higher offers.