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December 26, 2012, Bedford NY
By Jonathan Winter
Today is the day after Christmas. For anyone who has ever shopped, they know that this is the best shopping day of the year. Why? Because just about no one wants to purchase anything today (or for about the next two months for that matter), and today many people actually want to return what they gifted, or received as a gift just yesterday.
My friend Jeff, a New York businessman, religiously shops at Brooks Brothers today, because every year they have some sort of great, once-a-year sale, and he shops for most of his business clothes for the whole year on this day.
The Brooks Brothers sale has taken on many forms over the years. Last year it was 50 percent off, store-wide. This year it is 30-50 percent off most items, plus an additional 15 percent off on December 26th, bringing total savings of 45 to 65 percent.
To be clear, this is a legitimate 45 to 65 percent off. When Brooks Brothers runs a sale they do not mark their prices up only to mark them back down on sale day. Further, they do not have a sale every other month, a trick retailers use to convince you that their regular price is their sale price. In other words the Brooks Brothers sale is a proper sale.
You say, “Jonathan, I don’t care about Brooks Brothers. I wear jeans, not suits!” Yes, me too, but the concept applies to just about anything. Just to set the scene, think through these questions and their answers to see if you agree…
When is the best (meaning least expensive) time of year to buy a lawn mower? In the Fall;
When is the best time of year to buy firewood? In the Spring;
When is the best time of year to buy new car? In the Summer;
You can take this and apply it to much bigger purchases:
When is the best time to buy a house? In the Fall (many people don’t want to buy during the school-year because their children will have to switch schools mid way through).
When is the best time to have a wedding? In the Winter (I know some things are priceless, but I threw this in just in case you don’t have an unlimited wedding budget).
When is the worst time to buy a lawn mower? In the Spring;
When is the worst time to buy firewood? In the Late Fall;
When is the worst time to buy new car? In the Fall (this is counter intuitive, but the new models have just come out, bringing in droves of customers.
And the big stuff:
When is the worst time to buy a house? In the early summer, many buyers are frantic and want to take possession before Labor Day.
When is the worse time to have a wedding (financially)? May
Finally, when is the worse time to shop at Brooks Brothers? Late Summer, just before the Fall school season begins.
Are you buying your inventory of life’s supplies at the best or the worst possible time? If you are like 90 percent of the US population, you are buying at exactly the wrong time – right before you (and hundreds of millions of other Americans) need it. My friend Jeff plans and saves all year for the December 26th Brooks Brothers sale, but he also bought his house in the late Fall, got married in the winter and buys his firewood in the Spring. He is doing well financially and has a life that, he estimates, costs him about 20 percent less than others. Not bad for a few minutes of work each week.
Special note – with some things you just need to buy now and pay full price:
These include emergency and essential services such as: medical attention, bereavement services, the after hours plumber (for the mid-Winter pipe-burst), etc. Just about everything else is fair game.
10 minutes a week to greater financial success
All it takes is 10 minutes a week to review what you’ve purchased and to ask yourself, “could I have bought this at a different time of year?” This allows you to train yourself to think differently. My review time is Sunday afternoon. I go online and review my, and my family’s, debit card purchases for the week. Some times I find that I have been bad and bought something at the worst possible time. But this is far less frequent than before, and probably more frequent than in the future. This process is a journey of continuous improvement.
So whether you’re going to the “Brooks Brothers after Christmas Sale” or purchasing a snow blower in March, knowing in advance that you’re going to buy the product and then planning the timing of the purchase, will save you tens of thousands of dollars (maybe much more) over the coming years.
Until next time.