YOUR MONEY: What to buy in January
Whether or not your holidays were everything you wished for, January kicks off a new year and a new month – and a new host of smart seasonal buys.
To help anyone whose New Year’s resolutions include saving money, we used our internal discount data to calculate average discounts January shoppers can expect in popular categories – and zero in on the best five categories to shop this month.
Plus, to give you a shopping road map, we’re updating our Holiday Hangover page with the best New Year deals, promo codes, cash back offers and sales in real time (through Jan. 10).
The 5 Smartest Things to Buy in January
Whatever you need to (or want to) buy in January, there are sales to shop and smart buys to make.
1. Personal Tax Software (Average Discount: 30% Off)
It might be hard to believe that tax season is once again upon us. Employers are required to send W-2s by Jan. 31. And, as soon as yours arrives, that’s your signal to file.
Note that the IRS may not begin accepting and processing returns until a bit later (it started accepting returns Feb. 12 last year). However, you can start your e-file process with your online tax software of choice early, and your return will be transferred to the IRS whenever it’s ready for it.
Filing as early as you can is a smart move from a budget standpoint. Online tax software companies often offer early-bird discounts in January, in hopes of attracting filers and wooing them away from their competitors. In fact, many online tax services allow you to import a previous year’s return from a competitor to make switching over extra easy.
- TurboTax: Through Feb. 15, file simple returns for free (including expert-help and full-service options).
- H&R Block: Get up to 30% off DIY online tax-filing services.
- TaxAct: Get up to 50% off online tax-filing service with early bird pricing.
2. Computers and Electronics (Average Discount: 26%)
As they do during many long holiday weekends, electronics retailers will offer deals during the long New Year’s Day weekend. Check out Best Buy in particular – it’s offering up to 50% off clearance and open-box items through Jan. 16.
Another great savings opportunity lies at the very end of the month – TV sales for the Big Game. Black Friday TV deals were a bit lackluster this year, with smaller discounts and fewer marked-down sets compared to years past.
So we have our fingers crossed for the weeks before the Big Game (Feb. 13) this year. Traditionally, retailers mark down higher-quality sets (bigger screens and OLED) in late-January, knowing Big Game shoppers are looking for a primo viewing experience. Check out Walmart, Best Buy and Target for the best deals in the weeks before the game.
3. Health & Beauty (Average Discount: 25%)
Early in the month, look for Ulta, Sephora and department stores to run sales to offload their holiday-themed gift sets and palettes. Later in the month, look for refresh-themed sales geared at helping you look your best in the new year.
And, of course, don’t forget to shop lotions and fragrances at the Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual sale (which runs through Jan. 17).
When it comes to health products, January is one of the best times of the year to buy fitness trackers. So check out sales from Fitbit as well as any retailer (hint hint: Amazon) that carries smartwatches and fitness trackers. You’ll also find plenty of deals on at-home gym essentials (including dumbbells, mats and resistance bands) from sporting goods stores like Academy Sports + Outdoors and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Home & Garden (Average Discount: 18% Off)
New Year sales (which often run the first week of January) are filled with home goods deals. Many of the deals right at the beginning of the year will be on seasonal items. For example:
- World Market is offering Christmas clearance deals on seasonal decor.
- Check out the Micheal’s weekly ad for Christmas clearance items in early January.
- Overstock and Wayfair are known for their early-year clearance specials.
And don’t sleep on those New Year mattress sales. Traditionally, sales extend from late December into the first week of the year. Pay special attention to Mattress Firm, Purple, Nectar Sleep and other in-store and online mattress sellers. You’ll likely find king-for-a-queen pricing, free pillows with purchase and discounts galore.
After the New Year sales pass, get ready for January “white sales.” White sales are a retail tradition that stretches decades back. The term refers to the span from mid-to-late January when stores discount bedding and towels. While retailers often don’t use this term anymore, they still offer sales. Check Pottery Barn, Brooklyn Bedding, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and any retailers that sell items for your linen closet.
5. Gifts (Average Discount: 19%)
Don’t for one second think that gift-shopping ended with the holidays. January is the season of SELF-gifting. Perhaps you didn’t get what you wanted this year and need to spend that refund you got from making a return. Perhaps the item you wanted just came back into stock after months of supply-chain tie-ups. Or perhaps you need a pick-me-up after another unprecedented holiday season. You have plenty of options.
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