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Winter’s Best Buys

Deals on used cars, cameras, linens and more are heating up. Lock in discounted prices now before they melt away.

By the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine

Yes, deals abound on before the holidays, but you can save money on plenty of things all winter long—particularly electronics. Here are 10 things whose prices thaw during the chilliest months.

DECEMBER: Used Cars

Now is the time to get the lowest price on a used car. As demand dwindles, dealers are anxious to move cars off the lot before year’s end. For the best selection, though, shop for a used car in April after dealers have filled their lots with vehicles that were bought at auction.

DECEMBER: Charitable Donations

Although any season is the “best” time to help the less fortunate, don’t let the New Year dawn before you remember to give back. Charitable opportunities abound this time of the year. Plus, you can get a last-minute tax break if you donate before year’s end.

DECEMBER/JANUARY: Weddings

From dresses to reception halls, you’ll save a bundle with a winter wedding, according to Denise and Alan Fields, authors of Bridal Bargains. It’s the industry’s slow season, so don’t be afraid to haggle your way to even lower prices. You might find people are willing to make a deal.

DECEMBER/JANUARY: TVs

The first two weeks of December are the best time to buy brand-name and high-end HDTVs. Now, no-name HDTVs are strongly discounted through early January, says Jeff Contray, managing editor for dealnnews.com. However, the last weeks of January leading up to the Super Bowl are typically bad times to buy HDTVs. If you hold out until February (or early spring), you’ll see a dip in prices on older models as retailers try to make room for new models.

JANUARY: Linens

It may be cold outside, but you can make the indoors warm and comfy—and save money in the process—by shopping department stores’ “white sales” in January. It’s not uncommon to find discounts of 10% to 60% on sheets, blankets, towels and more (and not just in white!).

JANUARY: Gift Wrap

With prices marked down as much as 75%, post-holiday sales make a great time to stock up on gift wrap, ribbon and tags. Look for neutral patterns that you can use year-round to make the most of these deals. You also can find deep discounts (up to 90%) on holiday decorations and artificial Christmas trees.

JANUARY: Carpet and Floor Coverings

Few people buy carpet in January, so that’s the time to snag a discount as dealers try to drum up business, says Alan Fletcher, author of The Complete Carpet Buying Guide. Make your purchase by Feb. 15, though. As people start receiving their tax refunds, business—and prices—pick up again.

JANUARY: Furniture

New furniture hits showrooms in February, according to the American Home Furnishing Alliance. That means you can save 10% to 50% in January as retailers make room for the new inventory.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY: Digital cameras

With the Consumer Electronics Show and Photo Marketing Association convention at this time of year, new camera models start arriving at retailers. That means deep discounts on last year’s perfectly good merchandise.

ALL WINTER LONG: Real estate

Most people don’t shop for houses in the winter. But lower demand equals lower prices. You’d usually sacrifice selection by house-hunting in winter, but in a lagging market—and lots of foreclosures—bargain hunters should have plenty to choose from.

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