This post courtesy of Wired magazine, which paid me to write three pieces for its current How To issue, then cut all of them. If you're getting ready to make a big purchase, first check this calendar to see if the time is right to buy...
August: For the best bargain on a new car, snap one up in late summer when sellers are anxious to make room for the coming model year. Be warned, though, you’ll be less likely to get the exact color and feature options you want, as inventory will be getting scarce.
December: If you want the hottest car, don’t buy when new models first appear in September and October. Wait until the holiday season. “Cars are not the top choice for Christmas presents, and dealers can start getting hungry watching the traffic to the local Wal-Mart or Costco,” said Paul A. Eisenstein, publisher of TheCarConnection.com.
December: Single people, or couples without children, can bargain well in the cold months. “Early winter can be a good time for first-time buyers in normal market conditions because they may be able to find a more motivated seller,” said Walt Molony from the National Association of Realtors. “The downside is inventories often are lower too.”
Springtime: Families will do best by shopping in the spring, so they can move in summer, before the start of the next school year. And they will have the most choices. “The heaviest volume for sales is spring and summer,” said Molony.
June/December: The market slacks off in early summer and early winter. “During those times, competition for customers is high since that is when consumers have gotten used to buying systems,” said Richard Shim of market research firm IDC. “Therefore, to remain in the game vendors have to be aggressive with prices.”
December: The traditional holiday season sees the most sales and lowest prices. “Black Friday has possibly the best price on TVs, and then the month following it is usually a good bargain month,” said Riddhi Patel of research firm iSuppli.
Throughout the year: Vendors may offer specials at select times of the year. “There are also retail and manufacturer incentives offered during special events such as the Super Bowl, the week before Mothers Day/Fathers Day, national holidays, etc,” said David Naranjo of DisplaySearch.
September/October: Like cars, new appliances tend to debut in the early Fall, putting pressure on stores to clear out old inventory. "Big-ticket items such as ranges and washing machines typically hit the sales floor in September and October," said Lauren Hackett, a spokesperson for Consumer Reports. "Last year's models tend to go on sale at roughly the same time to make room for the new arrivals, making those months best for getting that high-end, stainless-steel range at a lower price."