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Jan 5 lynn little

January 04, 2001

Plan major purchases around seasonal sales



One way families can stretch their resources is to take advantage of seasonal sales. This can be difficult - products and services never seem to be on sale when you need them most. However, taking a long-range view of your family's needs and planning major purchases to coincide with seasonal sales can lead to substantial savings.

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Not all businesses follow a timetable for sales. Some follow a timetable unique to their products or their company. Various factors, such as the economy, excess inventory or special purchases, will influence a business' decision to have sales at other times of the year. That's why it's important to keep an eye on prices throughout the year.

Remember that price is not the only consideration when making purchases. Quality, warranty coverage, availability of quality service, dealer reliability, and other factors are also important considerations.

You may find the following guidelines helpful:

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HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Know your family's needs and wants. Buy only what is in your family's financial plan. A purchase is only a "good buy" when your family needs it and can afford it.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Whenever possible, buy off-season. As a general rule, seasonal items - such as winter coats and swimsuits - are less expensive during pre-season promotions and late season clearances. Also, certain goods, such as household linens, are traditionally sold at reduced prices at certain times of the year.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Consider shopping at the start and the close of a big sale. You generally find the best selection when a sale begins and the lowest prices when the sale ends.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Be sure the sale price is really lower - it may be the regular price at another store.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If possible, take a copy of the advertisement with you when you shop for specific sale items. This will help you check price, model, size and sale dates. If the sale item is not available, see if the store offers rain checks.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Examine sale items carefully. This is especially important if the items are seconds, irregulars or slightly damaged.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Consider your expenses, such as transportation, baby sitters and the value of your time and energy, when shopping for sale items.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Find out the store's policy on rain checks, returns and exchanges.

Armed with your list of needs, you should be much better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities to get good buys throughout the year.

For a consumer calendar, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, Md., 21713. Mark the envelope "Sales."

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

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