This post comes from Benjamin Glazer at partner site DealNews.com.
The New Year is upon us, and after all that shopping you likely did during the holidays, you may be looking forward to giving your credit card a rest. But January is an excellent month to bag deals like winter apparel or early Valentine’s Day gifts.
So before you resign yourself to steering clear of stores altogether this month, check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in January, which we compiled from our extensive archives. (You can also make your life in 2016 a little easier, too, if you sign up for the DealNews Select Newsletter, and have the best deals of the day delivered to your inbox instead.)
Resolve to buy discounted fitness equipment
Looking to start the New Year with a new physique? Retailers are there for you, offering deals on sports and fitness equipment. While we don’t necessarily see more deals after Christmas, we definitely see better sitewide discounts from a range of vendors, including sporting goods stores and department stores that sell lots of fitness goods.
Last year, stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, Sears and NordicTrack had after-Christmas discounts of 25 percent to 50 percent on select sporting and fitness goods, including additional discounts on items that were already on clearance. Groupon even had sales of up to 90 percent off fitness deals. Sales included everything from bats and balls to free weights, as well as lots of fitness trackers.
This is also traditionally a good time to get deals on gym memberships. Look for gyms to at least lower or even completely waive sign-up fees; if they don’t outright offer it, ask for it. The best deals will also give you a month or even two months for free. If you’re willing to pay for a full year upfront, the gym is more likely to be receptive to your requests for discounts.
Spring for winter apparel
Most of the United States has enjoyed downright springlike temperatures right through December, which was terrible news for retailers selling outerwear. But their loss is your gain: With all of that leftover inventory and prime outerwear buying season over already, retailers will be discounting coats and sweaters like crazy. Outerwear deals were picking up earlier than ever this year, and we expect discounts to be the best we’ve seen, as the traditional winter clearance season begins.
Apparel deals notably dominate after-Christmas sales. Last year, some of the most popular sales during that time included discounts from Nordstrom, Target, Banana Republic and Columbia. Sales went as high as 70 percent off select items (at Amazon), with most discounts around 40 percent or 50 percent off, plus additional discounts on clearance items.
Visit our national parks, free of charge
Jan. 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in celebration, admission will be free at all 409 national parks. While a large number of America’s parks are already free of charge, notable parks that are waiving their fees include several of the most-visited in the country, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Olympic National Park. You’ll save roughly $12 per person if you’re arriving by foot or bike, or about $20 to $25 per vehicle.
Keep an eye out for early tax software deals
While tax-filing software and service deals will get better as the season goes on, we saw Editors’ Choice deals as early as January last year, which is good news for early bird filers. The quantity of deals could increase in February, though, if you want more options.
The best deal we saw last year knocked TaxACT State and Federal to just $12, which popped up in February and several times in early April. Throughout the season, including January, we more typically saw deals drop to the $20 to $25 range, or up to 50 percent off. That usually resulted in about $10 to $20 off the retail price for software from H&R Block and TurboTax.
Regardless of when you buy, be aware of whether the package you’re buying includes the cost of submitting your state returns; frequently, these services will charge extra for state return preparation, and if it’s included in the cost, that might make it a better overall deal.
Get an early start on Valentine’s Day gifts
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Fortunately, after-Christmas sales will continue to provide some amazing sitewide discounts from Swarovski and Blue Nile, each cutting 50 percent to 60 percent off select items. January also sees numerous discounts on diamonds and pearls from retailers like Szul and WinPearl. And lots of those department store end-of-year sales will include jewelry and accessories.
Also, keep an eye out for Valentine’s Day flower sales from 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora to start just before the end of the month, as well as chocolate sales from Harry & David and Godiva. These sales will cut prices 20 percent to 25 percent sitewide, or will offer free shipping (or both).