Cherry-pick winter's low prices for stuff you can use in a few months: clothing, cruises, champagne, camp, convertibles.
All shopped out? I hope not. Post-holiday sales and seasonal discounts can really prop up your spring and summer budgets.
Judicious use of seasonal or clearance sales helps keep wedding costs in check. Early-enrollment discounts make it cheaper to send your little Jacques Cousteau to marine science camp. And if you've decided this is the year to get yourself that sports car, why pay retail?
It isn't all champagne and Corvettes, mind you. Some deeply discounted "winter" clothing can outfit your family in summer, too. Your wedding-gift dollars go a lot further in the clearance section at Bed Bath & Beyond. And true frugalists do most of their Christmas and birthday shopping at this time of year.
"January is a huge, huge opportunity: Everything is on sale. They've got to get it out of the store," says Mary Alice Haney, editor-in-chief of ThisNext.
Shop now, in the winter, and save next summer. Here's how.
FOR THE HOME
I always associate this time of year with the "white sale," i.e., towels and other linens. But according to Savings.com, January and February are good bets for discounts on a ton of things.
Among them: office furniture, boats, home theater/HDTV setups, wedding items, boots and winter wear, gas grills, bicycles, cookware, video games, hardware, champagne, electronics, jewelry, linens, mattresses, patio furniture and party supplies.
(Note that some of these discounts began before January and continue past February. For more information, go here.
"Wedding items," "champagne" and "party supplies" — are you listening, engaged couples?
Categories like jewelry and hardware might lend themselves to wedding-attendant gifts. Your groomsmen might enjoy an all-in-one tool more than a pair of cufflinks, and some bridesmaids prefer pendants to picture frames. Or choose from other gift-y things that stores are trying to offload: spa items, photo albums, watches, candles and art books.
While you're at it, peek in at the January white sale and post-holiday clearances for tablecloths, serving dishes and other reception supplies. Celebrity chef/caterer Lulu Powers is seeing linen napkins for $1 each plus "crazy sales" on glassware and other items suitable for a wedding banquet.
Or, for a casual patio party come July. Powers is a big fan of using the extraordinary in the everyday. "Don't keep the linen napkins and champagne for special occasions. Enjoy it," says the author of "Lulu Powers Food to Flowers: Simple, Stylish Food for Easy Entertaining."
About that champagne: It's not always cheaper at this time of year. While some merchants find themselves with leftover bubbly on Jan. 1, "it's not the rule (that) all retailers overbuy," says Tom Wark of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association.
But it's definitely worth a few calls to wine merchants in your area. Those going the no-alcohol route should watch for clearance prices on sparkling cider; you can probably find it at salvage grocery stores, too.