Find steals on everything, just by buying out-of-season. That $50 Halloween costume? Get it for $25 on Nov. 1. A $10 pack of detailed Valentines will be $2.50 on Feb. 15. And the $90 leather boots will be a mere $22 come spring.
Spend less money just by waiting it out.
After Holiday Sales
The day after a big holiday, like Valentine's Day, Halloween or Christmas, stores mark down everything, sometimes as much as 75 percent off, to clear the shelves for the next holiday.
After Valentine's Day, stock up on Valentine's cards and envelopes for next year. They're paper, the never go bad. Pick up a few bags of heart-shaped or pink-wrapped candy to snack on.
After Halloween, of course, you'll find discounts on costumes and decorations at big box stores and the temporary seasonal Halloween shops. Look for costume components - like hats, wigs, makeup, capes, wings, masks, accessories - instead of complete costumes. These pieces can be used as the foundation for future costumes. Buying costume kits is a bit of a risk, since preferences and sizes can change quite a lot over the course of a year. Also pick up decorations, party supplies, and any other non-perishable items you can use next Halloween.
After Christmas, stock up on ornaments, lights and other decorations, linens, napkins, paper products, wrapping paper, toys, gift sets and gift baskets (but check the "best by" date for food items), holiday or winter clothing. Pick up deeply discounted gift items and stocking stuffers for next Christmas, or to give as gifts throughout the coming year.
Department stores always discount seasonal clothing at the turn of a season. For example, now that fall is is full effect, summer clothing will have been demoted to the clearance rack.
Buying clothing out of season is a cinch if you know what size to get for next year. Because fashions change so drastically from year to year, retailers don't want to keep this year's fall fashions in stock for next year, so they slash prices by 50 to 75 percent to rid themselves of seasonal merchandise.
If you're buying for kids, you'll have to estimate what size your child will be wearing next year. Hold up the item and eyeball it. If it looks a little big, go for it. Your child can always grow into it. If it looks a little small, or if it looks a lot big, forget it. If your child won't ever be able to wear it, it isn't just not a good buy, it's a downright waste.
As with anything you buy, on sale or not, carefully examine the item before you pay for it. Look for damage, missing parts or pieces, and check that the item corresponds with the packaging. This is especially important after the holidays, following the mad rush of crazed shoppers and a wave of merchandise returns.