For many of us, post-holiday recovery usually requires tightening up the belt for a while - cutting out extra spending such as shopping, getting takeout, and spending on anything that isn’t truly necessary for survival. It’s a time to reevaluate your finances and make any necessary changes to get back on track with your financial goals.
And while the holidays may have done a number on your bank account, credit card, or (gasp) savings account, there are the recently passed stimulus checks keeping everyone afloat. I know of people who’ve already received $1,200 and others who are expecting to receive even more money because they have a bigger family. This provides much needed financial relief and gives them just a bit more breathing room in January.
Have you evaluated your finances yet? If you have, and as long as the condition of your finances doesn't require a complete spending freeze, there are some items you should think of buying. You'll find stuff available for deep discounts in January that, if you can afford to buy now, will save you money for the rest of the year. Here are five to consider.
This category shouldn't really be a surprise. Deciding to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle has been a cliche New Year's Resolution for as far back as anyone can remember. While demand for fitness equipment is higher than usual because of health resolutions, competition is equally as high, driving prices down anywhere from 30-50%.
The only concern with buying pricey exercise equipment, even at a discount, is whether it will actually be a good investment for you. Buying a cheap treadmill and then letting it collect dust and take up space is just another waste of money.
When we bought our house, the old owner gave us their elliptical machine that was collecting dust in the garage. I looked online and they were being sold for $1,000. $1,000 that they are just giving away!
That’s why you really need to put some thought into the equipment you buy. Take some time to talk to other people who have used the equipment and ask them about their results, likes and dislikes. If you don't have the cash (please don't go into debt) or space for large equipment, consider purchasing smaller accessories along with fitness DVDs. A yoga mat and some dedication is all you really need to have a fit and healthy body.
(Some) Electronics and Appliances
New electronics and new models of old electronics are typically introduced to the market in the first few months of the year. This doesn't apply to all electronics, of course. While this year's Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 won't be decreasing in price anytime soon, other items such as some laptops and televisions will be dropping in price this time of the year.
Home appliances will experience the same "new model" phenomenon, as well as the efforts of retailers to purge excess inventory leftover from the holidays. As with any electronic device, check out Consumer Reports and other online reviews before you purchase. Be wary of prices that are too low - this could be a sign the item is unwanted, and for good reason.
Trending with electronics, new furniture lines are introduced in the first few months of the year, enabling deep discounts on past years' lines. Most major furniture stores will feature huge sales in January and February, also counting on big purchases from early tax return filers. So if you need a new couch, dining set, or bedroom set, now's the time to get it. Many furniture retailers also offer no payments and 0% financing for up to 12 months. It’s an opportunity to set aside the full amount a little at a time, so ask about the option if you don’t want to pay for it in one lump sum. It's not wise to go into debt for new furniture, but if you treat store financing plans like layaway, you'll be able to save the full purchase price in increments while avoiding any financing fees. Beware that if you don't pay in full before the 12-month deadline, the interest rate shoots up.
That’s why I suggest you buy furniture on credit only if you already have the money saved up. This way, you are only taking advantage of a free loan. If you get a loan because you don’t have the cash available, then you are going into debt to buy the furniture and that’s not good.
This isn’t January specific, but the savings are always great so you have to take advantage. Christmas decorations being on sale is obvious, but you have to actually buy them this time of the year to save.
Same with winter clothes, because retailers are starting to clear out inventory to make room for what you want to wear in spring. Stuff for winter sports will also be going on sale soon. This is more towards the end of the month, but you could score sports equipment that could be marked down by as much as 50% off.
I bought a pair of ski boots one year this way. I was eyeing a new pair after Christmas that year, but the boot was released that season and selling for full price. By the end of January, they knocked the price down $100. Same pair, way cheaper.
What winter sports do you enjoy? Start doing your research now and just wait for a sale. Chances are good that you’ll score an amazing deal pretty soon.
Admission to National Parks
This might seem out of line with the rest of the categories, but there's a link. On January 20th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all national parks will feature free admission. Some national parks are free all year round, but on this day, even major parks such as Yosemite and Grand Canyon will be open for free. With the pandemic lockdown, this year will be a little different because you need to make sure the park is open before you go. On the other hand, this year is the perfect year to enjoy the outdoors because it’s just safer to stay distanced from others out in the open. If you need a mini-vacation this winter for your family, consider visiting a beautiful national landmark you haven't seen yet. At $12-$25 per person, this is a huge saving if you bring the whole family.
January is a month to tighten the belt on spending and get your budget back on track. While you're planning what to spend your money on this month, consider some of these purchases you might already be planning to make, and get in on the savings.