I used to live RICH on only $18k/year for a family of 3. One of my main tricks was taking advantage of seasonal sales cycles and stocking up on items when they were at their lowest points!
But it’s hard to know when stores are putting out items at their lowest points.
Do you just go by the sales flyers? Or is there an easier way?
There’s a MUCH, MUCH easier way. 🙂 After cataloging sales for a couple years, I’ve come up with a perfect list for you: Sales Cycles: What to Stock Up On and When.
This sales cycles list will help you know exactly what to buy, month by month. Save your money and try to only buy the things you need in this certain month to maximize your savings. That’s not always possible I know, but the more you do this, the better you’ll get at it and there’s tons of tips below to help. 🙂
Yearly Sales Cycles: What to Stock Up on and When
In order to save the most amount of money, you want to stock up when things are at their rock bottom prices.
The general rule is: for non-perishables and shelf-stable food, stock up for 3 months. Figure out how much of the particular thing your family goes through in a 3 month period of time and stock up that amount.
Everything you buy is usually at it’s absolute lowest price once every 3 months. So, if you stock up a 3 months supply of something, you won’t be forced to overpay on that item and can get by until the item goes back on sale.
All things Christmas on sale. Christmas toys, wrapping paper, gift cards, gift wrap, bows, bags, ornaments, stockings, gifts. It’s all 50% off. That’s the best time to shop actually, so there is always still the good stuff left.
Weeks later, it’ll start going to 60% off, 75% off, 90% off, but by then, everything is picked over. So, shop the day after to about a week after Christmas at the 50% and you’ll score the best deals.
If your smart about it, you can have most of your shopping done for the next year, a whole year early! This is how I personally save MASSIVE amounts at Christmas time. A few new friends pop into your life during the year, no problem. Your budget is not even dented yet!
China ware. If you’re looking to buy china ware, wait until January. Worst time to sell it; best time to buy it!
Small appliances. OK, so I know that most people think Black Friday is the best time to purchase…well…everything. But it’s not. You’ll score the best deals on small appliances in January as Christmas is over and stores are making room on their shelves for the newest models. I know…it’s SO last season.
Diet Foods (think New Years Resolutions) This is the best time for diet food grocery sales cycles – Healthy Choice, South Beach, Lean Cuisine, Special K, Kashi, Slim Fast, 100 Calorie Packs…
Super Bowl Sunday. You’ll see things like soda, chips, dips, cheese, sandwich items, crackers, snacks, hot wings
Seasonal Produce. Oranges, pears, grapefruit, tangerines, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, kale, kiwi, avocado, cabbage, spinach
Winter Health. Cold medicines and vitamins
National Canned Food Month: canned fruit, vegetables, meats: tuna, chicken, salmon, pie fillings
Superbowl Football Game Day Foods: chips, salsa, refried beans, party munchies, dips, cheese, sandwich items, crackers, snacks, wings, cut fruit & veggie trays
Frozen Foods: pizza, chicken nuggets, fries
National Hot Breakfast Month: Malt O Meal, oatmeal, Eggo Waffles, syrup
Valentine’s: boxed and bar chocolate, Hershey’s, flower arrangements, candles, after V-Day sales are good too. Stock up cards for your little ones for the following year!
Chinese New Year: soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, noodles
TV’s and home theater systems
Exercise equipment: sporting goods stores run sales on discontinued items and last year’s models in February. Great time to stock up on those soccer cleats or baseball jersey. Have a guy in your life? Your next years’ Christmas present can be snagged at rock bottom prices at these sales!
Seasonal Produce: artichoke, asparagus, raspberries, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, kale, kiwi, avocado, spinach
Air conditioners / Fans: since it’s technically still winter, it’s the last thing on your mind, right?! It shouldn’t be. You’ll find clearance tags and great deals on ‘summery’ supplies.
Frozen food continues to be on sale. Things like frozen meals and entrees, veggies, side dishes, desserts, and juice concentrate.
March Madness things like soda pop, chips, dips, cheese, crackers, wings, cut fruit & veggie trays
After St. Patrick’s Day clearance decorations and food (corned beef, cabbage, eggs, ham, etc.)
Seasonal Produce like artichokes, asparagus, avocado, Haas, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, fennel, kale, leek, lemon, lime, mushrooms, onions, orange, peas, radish, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, and tangerines.
Garden Supplies and Rainwear
Winter Clothing Clearance Items
Luggage: planning a summer vacation? Luggage is at its best prices in March.
Skiing Equipment: winter is just about over; spring is beginning…that means clearance for all those winter supplies.
Houseware items: If you’re looking for a new pots/pan set, now’s the time to buy!
Baking supplies such as sugar and spice and everything nice, baking mixes, flour, chocolate chips, and refrigerated cookie dough
Earth Day items such as natural and organic foods and personal care products, reusable bags and water bottles, Energy Star appliances, LED lighting
Seasonal produce such as mushrooms, onions, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, grapefruit, peas, rhubarb, strawberries
Easter: ham, eggs, etc.
Clearance: after Easter sales are the time to stock up on decorating, baskets, etc. for the next year.
Winter shoes, slippers, socks, hosiery: it’s all going on clearance now to make room for spring items. Now is a great time to check your local shoe stores for deals as well as your favorite retailers online.
Memorial Day supplies such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, chips, dips, S’mores, and even things like suntan lotion and insect repellent
Gardening supplies such as plants, flowers, seeds, railroad ties, fencing, watering cans, plant food, soil, weed killers, mulch
Seasonal produce such as artichokes (my favorite!), asparagus, avocados, beets, corn, green beans, onions, peas (pod), potatoes, raspberries, strawberries
Cinco de Mayo items like Mexican food ingredients, tortillas, sauces, salsa’s, corn husks, seasonings, etc.
Paper products such as paper plates, cups, plastic utensils, napkins, paper towel
Mother’s Day is also in May and many stores will offer different specials for special meals, flowers, jewelry, etc.
Auto repair shops and tire specialty stores are offering great sales on tires this month.
Want to upgrade your TV? This month is the best month of the year to do that. Grab last year’s model at a fraction of the cost. Check those clearances and shop around.
Fourth of July foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ sauce, ketchup, condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, potato chips, dips
Seasonal produce like apricots, blackberries, blueberries, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, boysenberries, cherries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, honeydews, raspberries, onions, summer squash, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon
Father’s Day foods like meat, steaks, etc.
Dairy like milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, ice cream, and so on. Be on the lookout for in-store dairy coupons and booklets.
Albertson’s usually runs a spend $100, get $20 Catalina coupon
Men’s clothing is on sale. Nothing says Happy Father’s Day like a new shirt or tie. Score the best deals in men’s clothing this month. Years ago when I was married, I would go to Sears (in their actual stores; not online) and pick up a ton of great deals on men’s clothing. They would have jackets for $10-$20 and men’s Dockers for only $4.95 (the bigger sizes do better on eBay). I would buy in bulk to resale and make a ton in profits!
Tools: check Sears, Harbor Freight, and other hardware stores for some great deals.
Floor coverings and rugs
4th of July BBQ items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, other meats, BBQ sauce, ketchup, condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, potato chips, dips
Back to School supplies such as crayons, pencils, folders, binders. This is my favorite month for Back to School items. Staples has some of the best deals of the whole season going on in July, so start shopping now! Check out those weekly ads and you can score some great deals. My favorite are pencils for a penny! Oh yeah!
National Ice Cream Month….boo yah!
Seasonal produce: some pears will be on sale, green beans, blueberries, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, figs, garlic, grapes, nectarines, red onions, Valencia oranges, peaches, bell peppers, , summer squash, tomatoes, plums, potatoes, watermelon
Technology: iPods, iPads, iPhones, CD players, DVD players, and the like are all on sale in July. Yes, there REALLY IS a ‘Christmas in July!’
Speaking of Christmas in July, scour the ads, check online, walk down the clearance toy aisles, and your likely to see some fantastic toy deals. Perfect time for scoring those Christmas presents on the sly. Most people think Christmas in July is a myth. I tell you, sometimes, its BETTER than Black Friday. I know, gasp right.
Back to school supplies such as erasers, pens, crayons, paper, binders, backpacks, notebooks, markers, note cards, penny deals are this month (YAY). Search the blog every week for the current Staples deals!
Back to school snack foods. Things like cereal, granola bars, fruit snacks, fruit drinks, peanut butter, jelly, deli meats, pudding cups, Kraft sale, ice cream, General Mills cereal.
Seasonal produce such as Avocados, peppers, pears, beans, berries, cherries, corn-on-the-cob, cucumbers, eggplants, figs, seedless grapes, melons, onions, peaches.
Clearance items like insect repellent, sunscreen, and charcoal (any end of summer items) patio sets, etc.
School supplies: stores like Staples, Target, and other retailers are starting to stock their shelves with school supplies and they are running some fabulous sales! Every year, I get all my school supplies during August.
Staples has a lot of penny sales during this month as well. I have my kids go with me. If the limit is say 2 per item. I have my kids pay, their limit is 2. They are customers too and what checker can resist receiving a penny from a little child! They get to pick out supplies on the cheap.
It’s a lot of fun. I love motivating them for school in simple ways. They look forward to shopping for school supplies.
Department store cosmetics
Jackets/Coats: Okay, really…who’s thinking about coats in August?! Well, I am! I’m quite literally obsessed with coats. I already have 28 of them in my closet, and every year, I just “have to” have another one…or two. 🙂
Back to School supplies through Labor Day such as pens, pencils, backpacks, erasers, folders, binders, dividers and snack food items like cereals, granola bars, and breakfast items
Diabetes supplies such as glucose meters, Glucerna cereal, diabetic care
Seasonal produce such as apples, artichokes, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, apples, bell peppers, chili peppers, grapes, onion, Valencia orange, pears (Asian, Bartlett), pomegranate, squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, winter squash. I’ve even started seeing produce like cauliflower and broccoli on sale right now for 99¢ a head.
Fall cooking ingredients like soup making products, comfort foods like chili, chicken pot pies, and pork & beans, baking (a 5 pound bag of sugar was on sale this week at my local store for $2), etc.
Summer clothing is starting to be clearanced out this month (generally after school has begun).
Some winter clothing accessories like scarves.
Fall Fashion: stores continue to begin to stock their shelves with coats and that means a nice 30-50% off for you!
A new car: okay, maybe not NEW, but last years model for sure. For over a decade, I worked in banking. I know that the minute you drive that brand new model off the lot, you lose $2k right off the bat. If you REALLY want to save money. Buy a car that is 3-5 years old and has no more than 30,000 miles on it. That is the best bang for your buck. It’ll last you a long time and someone ELSE lost those thousands of dollars in the first years of owning a brand NEW car.
Halloween candy, costumes, fresh & canned pumpkins, apples, caramel apple ingredients, and other Halloween accessories
Baking items like canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, baking chips, pie crust, sugar, chocolate chips, etc.
Seasonal produce such as almonds, apples, artichokes, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, yams, cabbage, chard, cranberries, chestnuts, lemons, spinach, winter squash, parsnip, pears, pomegranates, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
Seafood – it’s Natural Seafood Month
Dog Food – it’s Adopt a Shelter-Dog Month
Misc. things like Quaker oatmeal (get it as low as free to 30¢ a box), cold/flu, and toys.
It’s also a great sales cycles month to shop ahead for Christmas gifts. I never wait until December to buy Christmas gifts. You’ll find the BEST deals July – October!
Pre-Black Friday Deals: ringing in 4th on the list, aside from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas in July, the weekend before Halloween and continuing through Halloween you’ll find some pretty amazing pre-Black Friday deals. During these sales cycles, you’ll see everything from clothes to toys to electronics up to 30% off! Shopping for Christmas gifts in December is the WORST time you can possibly buy if you want to save money!
Jeans: retailers expected to sell a ton of denim jeans for back to school, but they didn’t sell enough. Good news for you: they’re heavily discounted. Check Sears and JC Penney’s (in the actual stores; not online) this month for some fabulous deals! I’ve seen them as low as $4.95 at Sears and $6.95 at JC Penney’s.
Holiday staples like turkey, canned pureed pumpkin, soup, spaghetti sauce, stuffing mixes, Del Monte fruit, boxed potatoes, broth, ham, gravy mixes, ready-to-bake rolls, frozen pies, cranberry sauce, gelatin, marshmallows
Seasonal produce like apples, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, tomatoes, cranberries, kiwis, lemons, oranges, pears, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, yams
Baking Supplies like nuts, chocolate chips, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut, cake mixes
After Halloween clearance sales are the time to stock up on things for the next year.
Misc. Items like Black Friday, crackers, cocoa, coffee, tea, cheese’s, butter (which you can freeze), salami’s
Linens and bedding
Women’s shoes: great time to stock up during these sales cycles. Remember that as an adult, your foot size doesn’t change, so if you have a particular brand and style of shoes that you like to keep one pair on hand every year, feel free to STOCK UP for years to come if you find them at a great deal!
Christmas dinner items such as Egg Nog (eww gross!), deli platters, ham, instant potatoes, gravy mixes, rolls, frozen pies, cranberry sauce, Jello, and marshmallows.
Baking items such as flour, sugar, butter, cream, cake mixes, brownie mixes, muffin mixes, breads, pie crusts, and whipped cream. Per reader Anna, seasonings are also usually half off this month. Great sales cycles time to stock up for the year as they have a long expiration date! Thanks Anna!
New Year items such as crackers, party trays, salami’s, cheese’s, butter, dessert mixes, and more.
Canned foods such as soup, broth, condensed milk, vegetables, fruits, and spaghetti sauce.
Thanksgiving Clearance. Purchase next years’ Thanksgiving decorations, extra table settings, and turkey carving products now once they’re at least 50% off.
Misc. things you’ll see are photo deals, more toys, and batteries.
Thanksgiving decorations and foods: if you like, say olives or Stove Top Stuffing year round, these sales cycles are a good time to pick them up. Anything Thanksgiving related will be on sale. Check the products expiration date and purchase accordingly to supply your family for 3-6 months of those products. Doing so, will keep your grocery bill down.
Children’s clothing: these items are on major clearance! You’ll score some great deals. Remember to check Sears and JC Penney’s for some great clearance deals. They usually have snowsuits that retail upwards of $50-$60 for only $5-$6.
Resell them on eBay or Craigslist and make some money! I sold children’s clothing for many years and that is exactly what I did. People pay more for brand name clothing, even more so with tags attached. Get yourself a clothing rack off Craigslist to store the clothes on and your good to go.
If you want to have these lists all printed out for you by month to put in your budget binder, you can download them below. 🙂
Download the monthly sales cycles Stock Up List here.
If you’d like some blank sheets to add things to them, here’s a set of blank printable sheets to write in. <3
Download the Stock Up Lists to fill in here.
Learn to Save More
When to stock up and when to pass on a deal – includes a free printable to take to the store with you!
Wanna know how to request more coupons? – how to request coupons directly from companies
Be sure to also check out my 30 Day Money Saving Tricks Series here. It’s full of more ways to save money.