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The best time to buy anything

If you're waiting until your refrigerator gasps out its last breath of cold air to shop for a new one, you could be missing out on a chance for big savings. Timing your purchases to coincide with manufacturer discounts, clearance sales and off-season discounts will take the stress out of finding a good price on almost anything.

We spoke with a few experts to get the inside scoop on the best times of the year to shop.

The best time to buy anything:
Air conditionersGas grills
Airline ticketsJewelry
Big appliancesLinens and bedding
Bicycles and outdoor gearMattresses
BoatsReal estate
Cell phonesToys
ComputersTVs/home theaters
CookwareVacuum cleaners

Air conditioners
Best time: Winter
Common sense prevails in the air-conditioning market, according to Diane Ritchey, editor of Home Appliance magazine. "Think about when they're most in use -- May through September. People feel the heat and they start to buy. The stock gets depleted, the demand is higher and so is the price. When cool weather comes around, most people just aren't into air-conditioner purchasing, so the demand drops, as does the price," she says.

Airline tickets
Best time: It depends
There really is no best time of the year to buy plane tickets. But, if you expect to travel around the holidays, always plan ahead because deals are hard find.

"If you can get a good deal for Thanksgiving and Christmas at any time -- buy it. That is their peak period and airlines have a limited inventory," says Neil Bainton, chief operating officer of Farecompare.com, a travel planning Web site that tracks airline ticket prices.

In general, for nonholiday domestic travel, Bainton recommends that travelers never buy tickets more than 90 days away from their departure dates. "You want to watch the 21-day mark because some carriers will file their lowest fares as a 21-day advance purchase. And then the next window is at 14 days, which you really don't want to go by unless you're feeling lucky, "says Bainton. Getting a good ticket price depends on the competition in the markets you're flying to and from and the supply of seats versus the demand.

Fares can change at the drop of a hat; airlines file updates to their fares three times per day: 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays, with one filing on Saturday and Sunday. "Most of the lowest fares are filed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Saturdays. It depends on the carrier and the market," says Bainton.

Big appliances
Best time: September and October
Just like the fall clothing influx, new models of major appliance models such as ranges and washing machines hit showroom floors in September and October, says Home Appliance's Ritchey. At about the same time, last year's models go on sale to make room.

"Critical timing and seeing the patterns of the retail world can make a huge difference in appliance shopping," says Ritchey.

Next: "... an ideal time to snatch up the previous year's model."
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