january

January is well known as the month consumers tighten their proverbial belts and go on spending freezes. But let’s face it: we still spend money. After all, who can resist 75% off Christmas decorations and wrapping paper for next year? Even if you’re not quitting your shopping habit cold-turkey this month, there’s still reason to be careful about what you buy to get the most out of your money. Here are a few things that are typically best to purchase in January.

#1: Linens

“White sales” are a tradition that started in 1878, when a salesman by the name of Wanamaker decided to do something about the slump in his household good sales every January. At the time, all linen came in one color (it may have also had something to do with the fluffy white stuff on the ground). Modern retailers sell bedding in many different colors these days, but you’ll still find “white sales” that offer all types of household linen at 30-60% off.

#2: Gym Memberships

Fitness-related New Years’ resolutions make January a heavy sign-up month for health clubs. Rather than drive up prices, the wealth of competition among gym chains creates some of the best deals you’ll find all year. Many gyms will wave the sign-up fee, offer 1-2 months ‘on the house,’ or include free personal training. Just be sure to read your contract thoroughly – some gyms have picky cancellation policies and hefty termination fees if you decide to quit a few months down the road.

#3: Fitness Equipment

This is also an effect of anticipated New Years’ resolutions, plus retail overstocks on treadmills and other equipment carrying over from the holidays. You’ll find the best deals on fitness gear closer to the end of the month as businesses rush to eliminate their surplus for the next season.

#4: Winter Apparel

Retailers are always one step ahead, so they’ll be scrambling to reset their sales floors with spring fashions by the end of January. If you live in a colder climate, January is only the middle of the dreary winter months, so you’ll still get plenty of wear out of the coats, sweaters, and boots you snag at rock-bottom prices the last few weeks of the month.

#5: Furniture

January is your month if you’re in the market for a new couch – yet another example of retailer strategies to increase sales on high-ticket items during the winter slump. Big-box stores are where you’ll find the greatest savings, often 40-75% off base price.

#6: T.V.s

T.V.s aren’t something you typically shop for after the holidays, but you might want to think again. In anticipation of the big-reveal at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, major retail prices on the soon-to-be-second-best and mid-range models are lowered to clear space for new products. Market watchers predict discounts up to 35%.

#7: Credit Cards

Although I don’t recommend purchasing any of the above items on a credit card, January is a good month to knock out some old debt by taking advantage of new credit card offers. Transferring balances to a credit card with a lower interest rate – and a few months of free financing, to boot – might actually help you get out of debt sooner. Credit companies offer some of their best deals (say, 0% for 6-12 months) on balance transfers this time of year, in addition to cash back and other rewards.

You shouldn’t see these deals as an excuse to spend money you don’t have, but there’s no harm in making your money stretch a little bit farther.

What other deals are you seeing this month?