This story comes from our partner Zing!/Quicken Loans
Controlling your financial situation requires paying attention to where you spend and what you're buying. But to be really successful, you should start to consider when you shop as well. Implementing small changes like buying according to the best time of day, week or year, will make you more aware of overall financial habits and help you monitor spending. Prices fall in your favor when new models and updated software are introduced or discounts are launched. In order to get your goods at their best price, it may only require some strategic timing.
Generally, weekly sales at the grocery store begin on Wednesdays.
The best time to buy meat is on a weekday morning; specials are out because grocery stores are hoping to sell out by noon that day. When you find the meat marked down, buy in bulk. Save what won't be used right away and store it in the freezer -- this will make it last longer, save you future trips to the market and ultimately add up to save you money.
Prepared and baked products
If you're shopping for prepared foods, head to the store toward the end of the day. Items such as sushi and rotisserie chicken are discounted about an hour before closing. Bread and baked products are cheaper in the late afternoon or evening; prices are cut so consumers will buy it before it gets thrown out.
It's also always a good idea to buy seasonally and use canning or other preservation methods to keep foods fresh out of season.
The key for strategically buying electronic goods is keeping an eye on product cycles and pricing trends. When new items are put on sale, the older ones are discounted. This price adjustment typically occurs in January and February, so products like digital cameras, TVs and air conditioners should be bought toward the beginning of the calendar year. Computers, however, will be at their back-to-school sale prices during the end of the summer, so save up before July-September rolls around. Phone companies are on their own cycle, but it's safe to say that any new cell phone will be cheaper after just a few weeks on the market. One helpful hint regarding electronics: Despite popular belief that Black Friday brings the best values, these items are actually sometimes more expensive and are better priced closer to Christmas.
The best time for house hunting and buying fluctuate with the weather. The warm spring months are peak times for those interested in looking at potential homes, so if you're interested in investigating the housing market you should plan to bundle up and explore during the winter in order to avoid the rush. Because most people have plans for Christmas and Easter Sunday, these two days, respectively, are the prime times for scouting homes.
Cars and gas
The latest cars are usually introduced in September, so deals on previous years' models are around throughout the fall. The biggest discounts show up during the week between Christmas and New Year's, especially for the older and slow-selling ones. For gas, prices are best on Wednesday and worst on Thursday, when they're increased to take advantage of road trippers and travelers making drives over the weekend. Competition between gas stations occurs between 8 and 10 a.m. daily, so if you need to fill up the tank, it's better to do it on the way out in the morning to get the best value.
Buying in sync with the clock will bring you the best overall value for your purchases. It'll not only help you take advantage of the best deals and discounts, but will also cause you to think longer about each purchase and reduce impulse spending. Instead of just heading to the store for some occasional retail therapy, start marking your calendar for scheduled shopping trips so you know you're buying strategically!
Related stories from Zing!/Quicken Loans: