Shop out-of-season items and save

By Julie Bawden-Davis

Sure, it might seem counterintuitive to buy an air conditioner in January. But maybe it shouldn't.

Buying when merchandise is likely to be discounted can be a great way to save more on your major purchases. Here's a month-by-month guide on finding deals on out-of-season items:


While New Year's resolutions to get in shape run high, retailers may compete for your business by offering sales on exercise equipment and outdoor gear. This is also a good time to find bargains on home items, such as linens, carpeting, flooring and air-conditioners.


Furniture can be a good deal this month as retailers make room for new spring designs. Also be on the lookout for opportunities to snap up deals on summer items like garden tools and barbecues.


Take advantage of the warming temperatures by seeking sale prices on winter sports equipment and bargain ski packages. Also look for cheap outerwear. March is also frozen-food month -- seriously -- so don't be surprised to find special promotions in the freezer section.


Visit thrift stores this month to see what bargain basement-priced treasures spring cleaners have donated. This can also be a good time to take advantage of great deals on snow blowers, and you may find favorable prices on car parts, including overstocked snow tires.


Mattress manufacturers ship new models to retailers this month, so it's a great time to find an inexpensive mattress. Other home goods that go on sale this month may include cookware, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners.


With wedding bells in the air, dishware tends to go on sale this month. Also find discounts on "dad" items such as tools, hardware and television sets.


After Independence Day, expect discounts on outdoor furniture. This is a good time to buy "older" models of electronics like computers and cameras too, as new models come out in the fall. You may also find some really good deals on spring suits.


With summer soon winding to a close, find steep discounts on warm-weather clothing such as swimsuits, sandals, shorts and sundresses. Take advantage of price cuts on camping gear to be ready for next summer.


As much of the country readies for winter weather, lawn mower prices dip. Car dealers are also eager to clear out the lots in preparation for next year's models, and now is the time to buy holiday airline tickets.


Trees and shrubs go on sale this month as nurseries clear out summer stock. Many trees and large shrubs do well when planted early in the month. Don't forget to look into heavily discounted Halloween costumes toward the end of the month.


If you're in the market, this month is a great time to buy a discounted wedding dress. You might also find deals on recreational vehicles, and the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events feature oodles of electronic specials.


While holiday gift promotions abound, you might be surprised to find you can also get good prices on used and new cars, motorcycles and small appliances at the end of the year. You may save a bundle by contracting for pool cleaning this month too.

While there will always be instances when you can't wait to make a purchase, a little bit of planning can make a big difference when you have some time. Shopping with an eye on the calendar is a great way to minimize your costs and maximize your savings throughout the year.