Plan Your Shopping Budget for the Year: A Monthly Strategy

With the New Year here it's time to set realistic home shopping budgets. We'll explore how to budget for household expenses on a monthly basis for the year.

Pink and Yellow Color Coordinated Pillows and TowelsPhoto by: iStock

Is your wallet feeling a little empty after the holidays? Now’s the perfect time to plan your shopping budget — and get more for less. With some extra planning and a little delayed gratification, you can get ahead and give yourself more money at the end of the month. Here’s a monthly shopping strategy to help you do it.

Shopping Sale

When it comes to planning your shopping expenses, it’s good to keep in mind a few guidelines from the start:

1. Special Months
Food manufacturers and produce organizations love having special months dedicated to their products. For example, National Beef Month and National Dairy Month. If you have a lead on when those months are, then you can be certain you’ll save money on special sales.

2. Holidays
Holidays have “sales” written all over them. Stores are always on the lookout to bring customers through their doors. It doesn’t matter if it’s Presidents Day, Labor Day or Halloween. If there’s a holiday, there’s sure to be a sale.

3. Seasons
A change of season pretty much means clearance. Old seasonal goods need to move out of the way to prepare for the next season. (Translation: sale!)

4. In-Season Produce
Keep up on when certain produce items are in season. They will be on sale at that time. (For example, apples in September.)

Shopping Bags

Now for your monthly strategy…

The holiday season is over, and January’s a great time to take advantage of all the sales to move out Christmas inventory. Winter clothing — coats, sweaters, gloves, scarves — also go on sale at this time. Retailers hold their annual “white sale” on bed linens and towels. January is National Beef Month and National Soup Month. Time to stock up on beef and soup!

Look for sales on TVs because of that big football event. It’s also National Canned Food Month and National Hot Breakfast Month — a great time to stock up on items in both those categories. And with love in the air, you can expect sales on chocolate items after Valentine’s Day, too.

It usually takes just a touch of cabin fever to get most of us thinking about vacation. With spring on the horizon, it’s no wonder you’ll find a lot of great deals on luggage. It’s also National Frozen Food Month, which means you can really clean up at the frozen food aisle. Speaking of cleaning, look for sales on household cleaning products too…’tis the season for spring cleaning!

If you’re one of those last-minute tax filers, April is a good time to save on tax preparation software.

In anticipation of summer, plan for sales on lawn and garden products. Retailers are also starting to clear out their spring clothing racks to make room for the newest summer styles. And get ready to fire up the grill -- not only is Memorial Day coming, it’s also National Barbeque Month and National Hamburger Month. Stock up on condiments, chips, plastic ware and, of course, hamburger meat.

It’s time to moooove on over to the dairy aisle of your local food store —June is National Dairy Month. That means savings on eggs, butter, cheese, ice cream and, of course, milk. And while you might think of January as the best time to get a good deal on a gym membership, a lot of fitness facilities — facing heavy competition from summer weather and vacations — are looking for ways to keep members coming through their doors.

July comes in with a bang with July 4th celebration sales on meats, sodas and assorted picnic items. You’ll also be singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in July because it’s National Hot Dog Month. This is all bittersweet, however, as retailers usually start putting their swimwear and outdoor furniture on clearance.

All good things must come to an end, and for kids, that usually means summer. Back to school is a great time to save on school and office supplies, as well as bigger ticket items like laptops.

Labor Day ends the summer, and with that, look for sales on grills and various home appliances (ovens, dishwashers, washers and dryers…) as merchants start clearing out their inventory for the arrival of new models.

Even though Halloween isn’t until the 31st, October is still full of treats. Denim and other back-to-school clothing starts going on sale, while car manufacturers begin clearing out previous years’ models. It’s National Apple Month, and a great time to stock up on all those apple(ish) items — apple sauce, apple juice, etc. And if bobbing for apples isn’t your thing, all of that trick or treat candy goes on sale.

Pass the potatoes and send over another slice of pumpkin pie, please — the table is full with food savings in preparation for the holidays. Turkey, stuffing, baking supplies — it’s a cornucopia to be thankful for. And when you’ve had enough food, you can burn off all those calories shopping and taking advantage of Black Friday sales.

With the holiday season in full swing, it seems like everything is on sale — clothes, electronics, food and, quite often champagne, in preparation for the New Year.

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