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The best time to buy anything

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Best time: Always
Is it always a good time to buy a mattress? It is if you ask Nancy Shark, executive director of the Better Sleep Council, a consumer education project supported by the mattress industry. "There really isn't one best time to buy a mattress. Retailers always have sales and are always doing their own thing," she says. "The emphasis should be on looking for the best level of comfort and support within your budget. A mattress is a really personal choice based entirely on individual preference. In terms of shopping, look for store services, delivery, and removal of old bedding, and be sure to test out the mattress before buying."

Real estate
Best time: Spring
Buying and selling season starts in March and goes through the summer. Spring invigorates the real estate market. "In the spring market, homes look the best, grasses are green, flowers and trees are in bloom. There's a whole new energy out there after the beginning of the year," says Tom Stevens, immediate past president of the National Association of Realtors. Because spring is historically the time of the year when inventories are highest, competition is at its peak, as well. A contrarian shopper may find negotiating more to their liking in the fall and winter.

Best time: Fall and winter
The market for recreational vehicles works somewhat like that of autos. "The model years change over like cars, so there is some special availability of the previous years product during the fall," says Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers of America. Throughout the winter there may be some show specials that dealers offer or other incentives to entice people to buy.

Best time: October and November
Retailers open up the toy chest in October and November to kick-start their money-making season, says Reyne Rice, toy trend specialist of the Toy Industry Association. "This is the time of year for games and puzzles," she says. "Retailers will usually do a buy one, get one free promotion." If you're buying a gift for someone, the important thing to consider is whether it's appropriate for the recipient rather than its status as the hottest new item. "It's more important to buy something that they'll love," Rice says.

TVs/home theater
Best time: Winter holiday sales and January
For home theater items, in general, the holidays are a good time, says Morris. New TV models that were announced earlier in the year at the consumer electronics show in January arrive in stores in August and September. They drop in price a few months after their debut, as well as knocking down the price on the older models.

Vacuum cleaners
Best time: April and May
Most new vacuum models come out in June, says Ritchey. The prices on the older models start winding down as winter comes to an end, just in time for spring cleaning.

Best time: Winter
Getting married during the off-season can net big savings. Demand for wedding services wanes during the very cold months -- or if you happen to be in a tropical climate, the very hot months -- and that can work to your advantage. Read 7 ways to save on an off season wedding for tips on a winter-wonderland wedding, or sweltering summer nuptials, as the case may be.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Jan. 28, 2007
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