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Best time to shop -- spring bargains

Spring

Cell phones
New cell phones hit the market all the time. "If you are a new customer or someone who has switched from an existing contract, obviously you'll get the best deals. It's kind of frustrating for the existing customer," says David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com. Waiting six months for the gleam of newness to wear off can also net some deals on new phones.

Search the Web for deals as well, Carnoy says. "You can find codes for each carrier. There's a lot of stuff that you just don't know about. Sometimes you'll be able to find a certain code that you'll be able to give either on the phone or in the store that will entitle you to something you wouldn't have known about."

Cookware
"There are two big seasons for cookware and cookware promotions," says Hugh Rushing, executive vice president of the Cookware Manufacturers Association. "One is in the spring, in April and May, coinciding with the graduation and wedding season. The other is in October and November with promotions in regard to the holidays."

Flowers
"Even though flowers are available year-round, they are at their best quality and most beautiful when they are grown in their season, no matter where they're from," says Carol J. Caggiano, former board member of the Society of American Florists.

It's very difficult to say which flowers will be less expensive at a certain time of year because we're in a global market. Sometimes flowers from other parts of the world are actually cheaper, says Caggiano, also a consultant, educator and designer. "I'm always afraid to mislead the consumer and say this is the time to buy this flower and it will always be less expensive."

"I've been in this industry for 40 years, and it used to be very seasonal, but nowadays there is so much that can be done. For instance, sunflowers used to be only a summer flower, but now they're available all year and the price doesn't vary much."

Though there are no hard-and-fast rules for buying flowers, there are some guidelines to follow.

"One of the times tulips are at the most prevalent and least expensive is in February, so we can buy tulips very affordably. Because they are grown in glass houses, and that is when the growing conditions are at their best," Caggiano says.

"And peonies are abundant in May, although we do get winter crops from New Zealand that are wonderful."

To save money, don't get hung up on a particular variety and look for flowers that are in profusion in the store. "Usually if there's a lot of it, that means it's a good time, like grapes in the grocery store. When you see them piled high and in a prime spot, they're probably very good quality and a reasonable price," says Caggiano.

Refer to the shopping list for seasonal flowers throughout the year but keep in mind the month refers to their growing season in the U.S.

Tires and auto supplies
"The first is in April, which is National Car Care Month. Then in fall, specifically October, we have Fall Car Care Month," says Lauren Fix, host of DIY Network's "Talk2DIY Automotive."

"During April and October you can find promotions such as buy three tires, get one free. Or maybe they'll offer free roadside hazard warnings. Also, depending on the time of year, you can find things such as free oil changes at certain service places or a free checkup of liquids and vital systems at no charge in order to make you safer on the road," says Fix.

The Car Care Council established both months to increase awareness of car maintenance in preparation for summer and winter. "The Car Care Council found over $62 billion in undone maintenance in cars on the road today. Nine out of 10 vehicles that are on the road today have something wrong with them," Fix says.

Vacuum cleaners
Most new vacuum models come out in June, says Diane Ritchey, editor of Home Appliance magazine. The prices on the older models start winding down as winter comes to an end, just in time for spring cleaning.

Other bargains in spring
Boats, daffodils, ham, irises and spring produce such as asparagus and broccoli.

Also:   Month-by-month

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