There are good and bad days to buy certain items at any time of year
Timing is everything if you're trying to get the best deal on a computer, airfares, cars and even stocks.
Surveys indicate that there are days and times of the month when you are more likely to get a bargain. Online retailers, for instance, lower prices on Mondays for many products because that's when workers are back in front of their computers and trolling the Internet, according to Extrabux.com, a price-comparison website.
Of course, Black Friday, which already happened this week, and the following Cyber Monday are the exceptions. Experts predict that retailers — online and traditional stores — will be luring shoppers in with steep discounts. Nevertheless, for all those other times of the year you shop, it's a good idea to keep in mind that when you buy determines how much you pay.
"Every dollar counts in this economy," said Jeff Nobbs, co-founder of Extrabux. "If you don't need the item tomorrow, there's no reason not to wait a few days and save some extra bucks."
Here are the best times to buy certain items:
— Computers, electronics and video games: Extrabux, along with CamelCamelCamel.com — which alerts consumers when prices fall on Amazon — recently looked at prices over the past two years for thousands of products sold by online retailers.
The lowest online prices for computers and other electronics appear on Mondays, when consumers are most likely searching for them. This is also the day that electronics manufacturers tend to offer rebates, and retailers pass them onto consumers, Nobbs said.
You can save up to $50 shopping for a computer or TV on a Monday rather than on a Friday, he said.
Retailers also slash camera prices on Mondays, Nobbs said, hoping that will entice consumers to their sites and to browse bigger-ticket items at the same time.
— Jewelry and apparel: Women tend to shop online in midweek, Nobbs said, and prices on jewelry are at their lowest on Wednesdays.
Brick-and-mortar retailers such as the Gap and Old Navy start marking down clothing items Thursday in anticipation of weekend shoppers, said Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings adviser. She suggests you shop Thursday night and Friday morning before all the sale items are picked over.
— Airplane tickets: The cheapest day to fly domestically is Wednesday, when there are the fewest travelers and the most available seats, said Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare.com, a travel website. Tuesday is a close second, he said, followed by Saturday.
The best time to buy a ticket, however, is Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern time, Seaney said.
He explains that typically on Monday night, one airline will post its sale and then the other airlines play catch-up the next morning. By the time the sales hit the reservation system, he said, it's about 3 p.m. The deals usually only last until sometime Thursday.
Seaney is now studying international tickets. The early conclusion: Flying Monday through Thursday will save you $60 to $80 more on a round-trip ticket than if you travel on Friday or the weekends.
— Cars: The time of the month, the time of the year and the time in a car's life cycle have an effect on a vehicle's price, says Carroll Lachnit, features editor with Edmunds.com, a car information website.
It's better to buy a car near the end of the month, for instance. Dealers might be a car or two short of meeting a sales goal to earn a manufacturer's bonus, Lachnit said, and be willing to give a discount to reach the target.
You can save money by buying a current-year vehicle in late summer or early fall, when the next year's models begin hitting the showrooms, she said.
Cars also undergo remodeling about every five years, and discounts are available on vehicles manufactured just before the makeover, Lachnit said. Toyota, for instance, redesigned the Camry for 2012, so you can save money by buying the 2011 model, she said.
Or save money by buying a car that's being discontinued. Of course, Lachnit added, you will have to explain to your friends why you bought a car that the manufacturer killed off.
— Stocks: Avoid selling stocks on Mondays during bearish markets, said Jeffrey A. Hirsch, editor of the Stock Trader's Almanac. That's because the market often will fall on Friday, Hirsch said, and if there isn't good news over the weekend, stocks continue to slide on Monday. You don't want to sell when prices are dropping.
On the other hand, Monday is a good day to buy equities because they're cheaper.
In both bear and bull markets, stocks tend to get a boost at the beginning and end of the month, and slightly in the middle, Hirsch said. That's when 401(k) contributions come out of paychecks and are invested, which can push up stock prices, he said. So if you are buying shares, he said, try to avoid these times.
Eileen Ambrose is a personal finance columnist at the Baltimore Sun.