From children’s toys in January to winter coats in July, every month offers an opportunity to save if you know what items to buy. Here’s your month-to-month guide to buying and saving in 2020.
One of your goals for the New Year may be to save more money. One way to do that is by timing your purchases correctly.
Knowing what to buy each month of the year to take advantage of deals can help you maximize savings. You can take it one step further by pairing sales and bargains with credit card and loyalty rewards. Here’s your guide to the best things to buy to save money, month by month.
See related: Holiday shopping and credit card guide 2019
How to save using card rewards every month of the year
What to buy in January
- Exercise equipment
- Planners and calendars
- Children’s toys
- Wedding items
- Gift cards
- Holiday decorations
January is a great time to stock up on things for your home, get organized for the new year and work toward your resolution to get in shape. It could also be a great time to snag a deal on a TV and other electronics.
“Many manufacturers announce new products and updates to their lines in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, and the previous year’s TVs drop in price shortly after,” says Casey Runyan, managing editor at Brad’s Deals. That could mean getting a big screen at a steep discount just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
- If you’re planning to buy any of these January items online, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card could be a good fit. Amazon purchases earn 5% back automatically.
- The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express could be a good choice for purchasing gift cards at grocery stores. This card offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to the first $6,000 in purchases annually, then 1% cash back after.
What to buy in February
- Furniture and home goods
- TVs (as stores try to sell off the remainder of last year’s stock)
The approach of Valentine’s Day puts gift-giving in the spotlight. But if you want to save money on jewelry, you’ll need to wait until after Valentine’s Day, says consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch.
- A good cash back option for these purchases is the Citi® Double Cash Card.
- This card allows you to earn 1% cash back on purchases as you make them, and 1% cash back as you pay them off.
What to buy in March
- Winter clothing and sports equipment
- Camping equipment and outdoor toys
- Valentine’s Day items, including décor, cards and gift bags
- Perfume and cologne
By March you may be looking ahead to spring, and it’s a good time to pick up savings on winter markdowns. March can also be a great time to fill out your freezer for less.
“Stock up during Frozen Food Month in March to score savings on frozen vegetables, frozen meals and other frozen items with deals around 30% off,” says Woroch.
- American Express® Gold Card is a good option to consider, as it offers 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases every year, then 1 point per dollar thereafter.
- You might also consider the Discover it® Cash Back card, which is offering a 5% cash back bonus back at grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS during the first quarter of 2020. The bonus applies to the first $1,500 in combined purchases. Remember to activate the extra bonus every quarter. Other purchases earn 1% cash back.
See related: Discover announces full cash back calendar for 2020
What to buy in April
- St. Patrick’s Day markdowns, including decorations, jewelry and party favors
- Car maintenance items
- Snow blowers, shovels and winter weather tools
- Marked-down Easter candy and decorations
Logan Allec, a CPA and owner of personal finance blog Money Done Right, says you should also be on the lookout for rock-bottom prices on winter coats.
“By April, it’s starting to warm up and winter coats aren’t selling as well,” says Allec. “As a result, you should be able to get a great deal.”
If you’re looking for savings on outdoor winter tools and equipment, a rewards card that offers cash back at home improvement stores could be a good choice.
- The Chase Freedom card, for example, included home improvement stores in its 5% cash back bonus category for the second quarter of 2019 on up to $1,500 in combined purchases every quarter following activation.
- You could also choose a flat cash back rate option such as Chase Freedom Unlimited, which offers at least 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
What to buy in May
- Barbecue tools
- Marked-down Easter decorations
- Early deals on summer clothing
- Small and large appliances
May is time to start thinking ahead to summer deals.
“Mattresses are usually at their best prices around the major shopping holidays outside of November and December,” says Runyan. Memorial Day, along with the Fourth of July and Labor Day, are better times to buy them on sale.
- The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card may be a good choice for May shopping.
- This card lets you earn 5% back on two categories of your choosing, including furniture stores, department stores and select clothing stores on up to $2,000 in purchases every quarter.
What to buy in June
- Lawn mowers
- Gym memberships
June is focused on Father’s Day, but you’ll also see sales for summer-related items as the Fourth of July approaches.
It’s also a good time to think about your winter travel plans when the weather starts to heat up, says Allec. Booking in June can help you lock in the lowest prices on holiday or winter travel.
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a solid go-to option for booking travel.
- This card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases.
- You get 25% more in redemption value when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to select travel partners.
Mark Jackson, travel expert at Brad’s Deals, says having both the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Freedom can add to your savings potential. “The cash back normally earned from the Freedom card can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points.”
See related: 9 travel rewards tips for cash back cardholders
What to buy in July
- Fourth of July decorations
- Winter coats
Summer is a great time to look for savings on classic clothing items as well as trendier pieces, says Kristin Gall, retail and shopping expert at Rakuten.
“You can never go wrong with savings on denim, t-shirts and classic sandals,” says Gall. “It’s also a great time to try trendy items that you would never purchase at full price.”
- The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is another pick for July purchases.
- The card offers 2% cash back at select U.S. department stores and U.S. gas stations.
See related: Amazon Prime Day: How cards can save you even more
What to buy in August
- Kitchen accessories
- Office and school supplies
- College textbooks
“The back to school rush peaks in August, and you can find super low prices on office supply and school supply basics,” says Woroch. “Many retailers like Staples and Office Depot roll out weekly discounts featuring deals like 10-cent folders or 50-cent packs of pens and notebooks.”
If you run a business, August could be prime time for saving on basic office supply essentials.
- For example, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services.
- With the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, you can earn 3% cash back in one of six categories of your choosing, including office supply stores (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year).
What to buy in September
- Summer clothing
- Swimsuits and pool toys
“The end of summer is when retailers need to make room for new fall merchandise, so you can expect discounts as high as 50%-75% on spring and summer clothing, shoes and seasonal outdoor items,” says Gall.
If you’re trying to get clothing on the cheap, you might consider a retail store card – but be selective. Many retail store cards charge higher APRs and are less rewarding than their traditional cash back counterparts.
- Two retail store card options that may be worth considering are the Capital One® Walmart Rewards Mastercard and the Target REDcard.
- Walmart shoppers can earn 5% back in stores for the first 12 months when they pay with Walmart Pay, as well as 5% back on Walmart.com, the Walmart app and grocery pickup and delivery purchases.
- Target REDcard users earn 5% back on purchases in Target stores and at Target.com.
Lastly, September may be the best time to buy Apple items. “This month is one of the only times of year to get a deal on iPhones, since it’s when Apple’s annual keynote takes place,” says Megan Horner, credit cards expert at Finder.com.
What to buy in October
- Patio furniture
- Lawn mowers
- Air conditioning units
- Mattresses and appliances (again)
- Fall clothing
“Once the shopping rush for school has died down, October presents one of the best times to pick up fall clothing for your kids and yourself at a discount,” says Woroch. “You can find better deals on sweaters, denim and basics around 30% off.”
- For the fourth quarter of 2020, the Discover it Cash Back card is offering its 5% cash back bonus at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com (on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%, activation required).
- That might be helpful if you’re planning to purchase a lawn mower or patio furniture at Walmart or Target or fall clothes from Amazon.
See related: How to maximize your cash back on Amazon.com
What to buy in November
- Halloween candy and décor markdowns
- Flooring and carpeting
You may also be tempted by Black Friday sales for electronics or children’s toys during the month of November, but steer clear of jewelry.
“Try not to buy engagement rings [from] November through February,” says Horner. “These are the most popular months for engagements, so jewelers usually don’t offer the best deals this time of year.”
If you’re planning to shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales online, Amazon may be your first choice.
- In addition to earning 5% back with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, Woroch says you can save money by using the Honey browser extension to shop.
- Honey reviews seller pricing on Amazon to help you find the best deal. You can also add items to a personal drop list through Honey and get alerts when those items go on sale.
What to buy in December
- Restaurant gift certificates
- Golf clubs
- Children’s toys
- Christmas markdowns, including trees, decorations, gift bags, cards and home goods
“December is a tough month to shop as prices are typically high across the board,” says Allec. “If you can, try to avoid any big purchases this month.”
- If you’re shopping department stores in December, consider the Chase Freedom or Discover it cards, which can offer a 5% cash back quarterly bonus on those purchases at this time of year (up to a quarterly maximum, activation required, then 1%).
- The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card could also be good for online shopping, since you can earn 3% cash back on those purchases, up to the combined spending cap of $2,500 per quarter.