Reading the Market: How to Find the Right Time to Make Big-Ticket Purchases
Big-ticket items such as cars or lawn equipment are major investments and if you purchase at the wrong time, you might end up paying much more than you expected. Factors such as time of year, hour of the day, upcoming holidays, what season you’re in, and other things can have a huge impact on whether the prices of these items go up or way, way down. If you buy at the wrong time, you could end up overpaying by hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars, depending on what item you’re looking for.
Not to worry, though. Planning ahead when you’re ready to make an investment purchase can help you score some great deals on pricey products. Here are 5 tips to help you find the best times to buy your next big-ticket item.
1. Think ahead.
Prices for many items go up if they’re seasonal or if there’s an increased demand. If you want to buy lawn equipment, for instance, don’t wait until the lawn-mowing season to do it. The best time to buy new lawn equipment is at the end of summer or in the fall, when the weather gets colder and people are less likely to be out doing yard work. However, used lawn equipment can be found any time of year and can even be common during the spring as people are clearing out last year’s clutter.
The best method, in this case, is to plan what you’re going to buy in advance so you can purchase it when it makes the most sense. If you know you’re going to need a new lawnmower next summer and can afford to wait a while, make a note to check back on prices when the demand is lowest. If you need one as soon as possible, know that you might have a better chance only looking at used items.
2. Know when new products are coming out.
Retailers tend to push out new products in cycles. If you know when the newest items will hit the shelves, you can plan on older overstocked items or retiring models hitting the secondhand market. Different industries have different cycles, but many push out new products around a big event such as an auto show or a shift in season. Automobiles are especially prone to price fluctuations depending on when new models come out.
If you’re looking to buy new, the best time to buy is usually at the end of the model year or during a holiday weekend sale. Events such as Black Friday can come with steep price cuts if you’re willing to wake up early to shop. Check back frequently around the time the model year ends: a retailer might have a discount on a specific item even outside of store-wide sales.
Store closings are another great chance to find bargains on big-ticket items. Check your local paper for any shops that might be closing or search online for closeout sales in your area.
3. Keep a consistent eye on the market.
If you know the type of product you’re looking for will be snatched up quickly, it pays to check the market frequently to see when one comes up for sale. Whether you’re buying new or used, some retailers allow you to set up email alerts when something you’re searching for pops up. If you don’t have access to a service like this, make it a point to check back throughout the day or week so you don’t miss a good deal.
Again, if you need the product quickly, be prepared to pay a little more or settle for a used item rather than waiting for a better deal that might not come any time soon. It’s better to have the equipment you need when you need it rather than to hold out for a perfect price.
4. Know the going rate for what you’re looking for.
Doing some research on different models beforehand will save you time and money in the long run. Know approximately how much you’re willing to pay for an item in advance: it will give you the ability to act quickly when it comes up for sale.
Look at both new and used prices to get a good idea of both ends of the spectrum. What seems like a good price and what’s way too much? Once you have a ballpark figure of what you can expect to reasonably pay, you can easily identify good deals and snap them up quickly.
Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Big-ticket items rarely come cheap unless there’s some sort of defect. It’s okay to ask the seller questions about why a price is unusually low but in general, steer clear of anything that looks suspicious.
5. Browse when others aren’t looking.
Time of day matters. Deals are less likely to be snatched up late at night. Checking the market during off-hours will give you an edge when the item you’re looking for comes up. Many secondhand sellers will post listings during the day when they’re awake and it’s convenient for them, but that’s also when many other people will be browsing. It’s a good idea to check at different hours of the day to determine the best times for what you’re looking for.
Knowing the time zones of the sellers you’re following can also give you an advantage here. This can apply to either new or used retailers: if a website has announced an upcoming sale, knowing where they’re based allows you to check out the deals the moment they start.
While it’s exciting to make a new purchase and you might be tempted to snap up the first deal you see, a little patience goes a long way. Doing some research into pricing and sales before you buy can save you a lot of money and score you a better item.