Everything has a season. . . right?

By Mir
August 2, 2006

My darlings, I have been neglecting you. I am sorrowful over it. It is not that I don’t love you or that you’re not pretty (because I do, and you really are), but sadly, my love of The Bargain has been slightly overshadowed of late with other things. Like travelling. And getting ready to travel again. And peeling the velcro children off of me while they beg me not to go away a second time.

Please forgive me for not living up to my usual responsibilities in finding you fabulous and quirky freebies and deals, and for neglecting my advice pile. Here! I will make it up to you! I’ll answer a question right now!

Mir, you are indeed pretty and smart!

We will need some new kitchen appliances in the next year or so. It’s not going to be an emergency purchase (hopefully), like when the freezer dies and you must get a new one before everything thaws.

How can we make sure we find good prices on appliances? Specifically, I’m wondering if there is an “off season” of the year when we might be more likely to find good deals on a fridge, stove, microwave, or dishwasher.

We bought our car in the fall (a model that was not being continued the next year) and it was thrilling to save literally thousands of dollars compared to… oh, compared to some other car we could have bought but didn’t. Now I’m loving the whole “off season” concept even more than before, and trying to save money this way on as many purchases as possible.

Mayhem Mama

I’ll confess; this one took some deep thought.

Like, I read “freezer” and then I thought “ice cream” and from there I wondered if I had any ice cream and then I discovered that I did and then I couldn’t do any more thinking that night (on account of the ice cream headache).

(The things I put myself through for you people, I tell you what.)

So. We all know about the seasonal deals on cars. Cars have model years; at some point, the old ones must be cleared out to make way for the new ones. Even mattresses have different covers depending on the year, and sometimes get clearanced to make way for new styles.

Do appliances have a “hot season?”

The first thing I came across made perfect sense to me: According to this CNN article (which quotes The Dollar Stretcher, although I was unable to find the reference on their site), December to February is the best time to find a deal on a major appliance. The reason is simple and applies to many other big-ticket items as well; everyone is tapped out from holiday shopping, and merchandise just isn’t moving. So think President’s Day Sale or whatever. Chances are excellent you can find a deal in the cold, broke winter months.

On the other hand, what I was able find at The Dollar Stretcher was this month-by-month buying guide wherein May is crowned as the pinnacle of cheap appliance availability, owing to Memorial Day blowout sales. Later, I found this appliance buying guide which claims that it’s really refrigerators that are the Memorial Day stars, with microwaves and room air conditioners being easier to find in the spring, and washer/dryers taking center stage in September.

Now. You know I adore The Dollar Stretcher. I do. But I disagree with some of this.

I’m okay with the Memorial Day sales thing. But my experience is that air conditioners are best purchased in the fall, if you can wait that long, to get clearance on whatever’s left. Also? If you want a small microwave? September, baby, after all the college kids have finished their back-to-school shopping. Same principle.

And I have no idea why washers and dryers would be cheapest in September. I’m not saying it’s not true, just that it doesn’t make any sense to me. When in doubt? I’d stick to the post-Christmas timeframe when sales are slow. You know I’m all about negotiating, and your sales clerk is going to be much more flexible in January when everyone is at home recovering from the Christmas Blitz.

The Dollar Stretcher also mentions some other tips, like looking for “scratch and dent” items, and although that’s not season-dependent, it’s a great suggestion. Do you really care if your washing machine has a scratch? You do? Oh. Um. How nice for you. Ahem. Yes, well, for those of you who can deal with a small cosmetic blemish in return for some money off, that’s a great way to go. Many major retailers have a “back room” or other area specifically for these items.

The truth of the matter is that you’ve already put yourself in exactly the right position: You don’t need to run out and buy something right this instant. Keep your eyes open and do your research, and when the right deal presents itself, pounce.

And then? Celebrate with some ice cream.


  1. This is timely, since I’m pretty sure our refrigerator died this morning.

    Oh, why can’t it be May?

  2. We are near the end of a complete renovation of a house, but aren’t quite ready for the appliance install; however, we bought our appliances in June because GE had a rebate that ended July 1st and July 3rd they had an across the board price increase on their appliances. Just by buying them in June we saved about $300. In addition we almost always buy appliances off the internet because we can buy from warehouses instead of stores (thus avoiding the brick/ morter charge) and if it’s out of state no state sales tax, which can really add up on larger purchases. Even paying for shipping we save.

  3. I like Sears for appliances – in the last 6 years we’ve replaced our dryer, stove, refrigerator, and washing machine there (it’s an old house with frugal previous owners).

    Sears always seems to have sales going on so I don’t know about seasonal sales, but one tip I’ve heard is that if a price ends in 99 cents, it means it will go on sale anytime during the year. If it ends with 97 cents, that price is the lowest it will ever go unless it is discontinued.

    I also believe in buying EnergyStar efficient appliances whenever possible – you save the money later in operating costs, and in my area we just got $100 back on our washer because it’s an energy efficient front-loading model.

    Also Massachusetts is having tax-free days in the middle of August (Mir, you might want to cover that) and that’s handy for large purchases. We bought our mattresses last year during the tax holiday.

  4. My husband got a lot of our stuff from Lowe’s. When something is scratched or dented, they pull it out to the middle of the floor and stick a sign on it with a much lower price. They are usually dirty from neglect, so people overlook them as ‘lesser than,’ but they work just the same, have the same warranty, etc. He often goes Lowe’s hunting where he is not looking for anything, just seeing what he can find for cheap in the aisles. A good time to go here is Sunday morning. The downside is you can get addicted, and we have a storage room full of fancy bathroom accessories that we will never use, but they were extremely cheap.

  5. I love scratch and dent appliances. And inspect everything as it comes off the truck in case the delivery people add another. They dented the side of our flat top stove and after checking that it wouldn’t effect the performance, we negotiated another $100 off the price. It was going between two cabinets so we didn’t mind the scratch but they really didn’t want load it back up and come back with a new one. Always see if you can get free installation and delivery too, everything is negotiable.

  6. Hmmmm…everything has a season, eh? My husband and I are in desperate need of a dehumidifier but can’t afford one at about 150-200 bucks a pop. We just got married and got our first apartment together but…it has major humidity problems and we’re extremely worried about mold.

    Anyone have any ideas? Anything would be appreciated since we’ve already asked about everyone that we know of…

  7. Like everything else, appliances have model years as well (it just isn’t KNOWN by its model year). So if say October is the month that the companies start putting out the new years models, it may very well be that September is the month that they start giving better deals to the stores to move out the older models in inventory. I don’t know for sure, but it makes sense in light of what dollar stretcher is saying.

    Also, “seasonal sales” seem to me to be “shifting” at the retail level. Such as Summer Clothes used to go on sale at the end of summer, but now it seems July is the “end of season” as by the end of July beginning of August we are alredy “previewing” fall clothes, back to school items etc. So the sales that would have customarily been in August have already past.

    jess, if I were to venture a guess (and of course this depends on where you live), but a dehumidifier would most likely be cheaper in the off season… meaning end of summer (when everybody theoretically who wants one already has it).

  8. Jess, beg, borrow, ask friends and family for early christmas gift$$, but GET a dehumidifier.

    We found the best price on HD’s web site and they matched it at the store (no shipping and better price–$150 out the door, top model, large reservoir and permanent drain compatible).

    Not having to scrub black mildewey walls with bleach every 3 days all winter—PRICELESS!!! (I was dumping 3-5 gal a day–can you imagine?!!–but no mildew/mold since! yeah!)

    Be aware, they have different skew numbers on the website than in the store, so you need to get a knowledgeable manager to help, but they will honor the price.

    p.s. we bought ours with christmas money and a gift from a friend who was tired of seeing us all sick.

  9. Thanks, you two, for the advice. I hadn’t thought about online price matching in-store and I haven’t checked HD’s site. I’ve checked other sites and they seem quite expensive. I’m going to check HD’s site right now and we’ll keep an eye out for end-of-summer deals since we’re getting there soon!

    Thanks again!

  10. We just built a house and my husband bought all stainless steel, name brand appliances like monogram, used, off of e-bay. He drove from Utah to Colorado to pick up our double ovens! Our appliances are beautiful and we paid a fraction of retail.

    Also our local radio station has a website with free classifieds. http://ksl.com There are hundreds of appliances for sale there. Any time I need anything I look there first. Find out if there is one where you live then you won’t have to pay shipping.

  11. Hey- also check out discount appliance stores (Appliance Direct in central Florida, for example) and Sears outlet stores (they’re scattered around the country). Some models are returns, some are scratch and dent, and some seem to be brand new with nothing wrong at all. You save a mint there, especially if you go when they’re having a sale on top of their already low prices.

    …also, if you don’t want stainless steel apps and you live in a city with a Craigslist, keep an eye out there in the Household section. People often move in and replace their nearly-new appliances with stainless, and unload their discarded ones there.

  12. May I recommend that everyone who is looking for appliances check out their local Habitat for Humanity store? Builders who get stuck with appliances often donate rather than return ship some really nice stuff that is brand new. Bonus that your dollars help with Habitat for Humanity. My mom saw a new stainless dishwasher at our local one on Saturday for 75.00…

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