Consumer Comeback Blog

Bargain Hunters: How to Know the Best Time to Buy

Budget crunchers know that timing is everything when it comes to finding a bargain. As consumers head into the holiday spending season, the fall can be a great time to save on big purchases such as model year-end cars, but not ideal for smaller purchases like electronics and winter weather essentials.

If your car has traveled its last mile and replacement makes more financial sense than repairs, now is the time to hit the car lots. Car dealerships are busy making room for 2013 models and many dealers are eager to make a deal on year-end inventory.

Consumers looking for a bargain should remember that credit scores play a big part in determining your ability to finance a car and the interest rate you will pay on a car loan. Before browsing cars, check your credit report to make sure all information is accurate.

Stepping into a car dealership is daunting to anyone trying to adhere to a budget, but Kiplinger’s Personal Finance says that flexibility is the key to more savings. If you won’t leave the lot with anything but a silver Honda Accord, good luck. Small cars, especially popular models like the Accord are hard to find this time of year. But open-minded car buyers willing to consider a variety of vehicles may have more wiggle room to make a deal.

Families searching for roomy vehicles are in luck, because Kiplinger’s reports that this is the best time to buy large sedans, SUVs, and minivans. Gas prices put small cars and crossovers in high demand, but many lots can offer discounts of 10-14% on family haulers still in the inventory.

Consumers who do their homework know that they can get a good deal on cars that are due to release a redesigned model. For example, the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima will release a redesigned model for 2013, so dealerships are eager to move the 2012 models. However, car buyers who plan to trade in or resell their cars in another few years should be aware that buying the old body style will affect its resale value.

While October may be a great month to shop for 2012 vehicles, according to, shoppers would be wise to avoid making purchases in the following areas:

  • Personal electronics – If you want the latest model tablet or smart phone, Bankrate recommends waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday or after the holidays, but you can save 15-20% on older models of personal electronics now.
  • Winter boots and coats – It’s tempting to buy these winter essentials once the weather becomes more crisp, but these items are at their best prices after the holidays in January and February. However, lighter jackets and coats for fall will be on sale this month. In some parts of the country, that’s all you need.
  • Tools: You will find better sales on tools in November and December, but October is a great month to buy air conditioners and garden supplies
  • Lingerie, jewelry, and perfume: These luxury items will go on sale for the holidays, but they remain full price in October. A better deal can be found on fall clothes and back-to-school items like denim and long-sleeve shirts and light sweaters.