Whether it’s oil, uranium, rooftop solar, luggage or refrigerators, it turns out there’s a best time to buy stuff.
With Black Friday coming up, it's a good time to think about when to buy things.
Like the best time to buy oil is at the peak of a U.S.-Saudi oil war, like the one we won earlier this year.
The best time to book a flight is 54 days in advance, preferably at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
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The best time to buy rooftop solar is as soon as possible after your state starts up a rooftop solar incentive program, as the amount of funding allotted is finite.
The best time to buy insurance is a month before your present policy expires.
And the best time to buy uranium is when Russia and the United States are offloading old atomic weapons.
This tends to depress the market. Until recently, about 10 percent of our electricity came from burning uranium from these old weapons in commercial nuclear reactors.
But for ordinary consumers, the best time to buy stuff depends on the stuff. Consumer Reports actually tracks these times and comes out each year with their Best Time To Buy Things calendar.
Most times it’s just once a year, like buying carpeting in April or bathroom scales in January. But sometimes there’s more than one time that is best for something specific, like for big screen TVs — anytime in November, December and January.
Some of the notable timing for stuff is:
January — bathroom scales, elliptical machines and treadmills, linens and sheets, TVs, winter clothing, motorcycles, cellphones
February — mattresses, winter sports gear, humidifiers, Broadway tickets
March — boxes of chocolates, digital cameras, computers, luggage, golf clubs
April — carpet, computers, digital cameras, sneakers, cruises
May — baby high chairs, house paint, strollers, refrigerators
June — indoor furniture, summer sports gear, elliptical machines and treadmills, tools
July — camcorders, decking, siding, house paint
August — air conditioners, snowblowers, yard furniture, dehumidifiers, backpacks
September — computers, printers, lawn mowers and tractors, paint, wine, holiday airfare
October — gas barbecue grills, cameras and computers, lawn mowers and tractors, jeans
November — gas barbecue grills, TVs, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), camcorders, candy
December — blu-rays, e-book readers, headphones, kitchen cookware, major appliances
Things change a bit if you’re buying stuff online.
While there are still months that are better for buying certain things online, the day of the week seems to make a bigger difference.
This probably results from there being better days for sending e-mails. The best time to send an e-mail is the middle of Wednesday, followed closely by Tuesday. There are never big savings on Sunday.
Finally, December is the best time to buy champagne which is good, since we’ll be toasting the New Year and hoping we can afford a whole bunch more new stuff.
Jim Conca is a longtime resident and scientist in the Tri-Cities, a trustee of the Herbert M. Parker Foundation, and a science contributor to Forbes at forbes.com/sites/jamesconca.