The best time to buy everything
From televisions and toys to cars and computers, how you can save big by knowing when to spend.
By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer

NEW YORK ( - Attention tightwads.

Do you spend two hours to save five bucks on airline tickets? Still devote half the living room to a rack component stereo system, waiting for just the right time to buy that smaller, better sounding set-up?

Wait no more. From TV's to travel to a new Toyota, we've found the best time to get the best deal on just about everything.

Air tickets

For all the seeming complexity that goes into the price of airfare, the answer to when some of the cheapest tickets can be found is surprisingly simple: Wednesday.

That's when airlines release their available seats for the upcoming weekend and the weekend after, says Travelocity's Dominique Phillip.

Phillip, along with other travel agents, said it's still best to book a domestic flight at least two weeks in advance, and even further ahead for international travel. But if the two-week window isn't an option for you, she advised delaying the purchase even more, to a few days before you fly, as fares from 14 to 7 days ahead of departure tend to be the most expensive.


While the blowout sales on electronics tend to cluster around the holidays, even cheaper deals on TVs can be found in the spring beginning in April, according to Stephen Baker, who covers electronics for the marketing and research firm NPD.

That's because for most Japanese companies the fiscal year ends in March. Baker says they time new-model year releases with the new fiscal year and offer discounts of up to 20 percent to clear out old sets.


It's best to bundle up when looking for the best deal on a house, as reduced demand and lackluster appearance can lead to a better deal in winter.

Because no one wants to pull the kids out of school for a week or haul boxes when it's 40 below, most homes go on the market in the spring, with sales closing in the summer.

The average home price during these months is higher as well, according to Stephanie Singer of the National Association of Realtors.

Although Singer says the homes sold in the spring tend to be larger, that might not make up for the difference in price. She says homes sold in the winter lose some "curb appeal" because the landscape is dormant.


It's still true that good deals can be found in late summer/early fall, when carmakers release new models and dealers want to get rid of last year's leftovers.

But a good price may also be wrangled at the end of every month. That's because dealers are under pressure to book sales. If they exceed monthly sales targets set by the manufacturer, they are rewarded by getting more of the hotter, better selling vehicles the next month.

"There's a benefit to [dealers] making their quotas," said Jack Nerad, editorial director at Kelley Blue Book and author of the "Complete Idiots Guide to Buying or Leasing a Car."

You can fine-tune your timing even more, said Nerad. He recommends shopping when the dealerships aren't crowded, like early mornings, midweek or the winter, to avoid "getting short shrifted" from the sales staff.

Video Games

For the best selection, the holiday season is the time to buy, if only because that's when gamemakers release the bulk of their lineup, according to's game guru Chris Morris. But to save a few bucks, Morris said to wait a month or three, as "The hysteria has typically died down by then."


Before and, especially, after the holidays is obviously a good time for toys. But August is another promising month, according to Sheliah Gilliland, a spokeswoman for Gilliland says summer toys, like swimming pools and playground equipment, take up a lot of space and retailers are willing to let some things go for up to 65 percent off to make way for the holiday rush.


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