The 7 Worst Things to Buy in January

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Patience often pays off.


Key points

  • Most large household items, like appliances, furniture, and mattresses, go on sale during Presidents’ Day. Wait until February to buy these things.
  • January is usually peak winter — and peak winter travel. If possible, wait to pick up winter gear and luggage until after the season ends.
  • January is a hot time for fitness gear and gym memberships. But if you’re not already a gym regular, you may want to skip the expensive gym contracts this month.

It can take weeks to recover from the holiday season. And that goes for your personal finances, too. But just because you spent a little too much in December doesn’t mean your needs — or wants — disappear in January.

Once you’re done buying for everyone else, it can feel like it’s finally time to tackle a few things on your own to-buy list. But while January can be a great time for some purchases, you may want to avoid buying any of these seven things.

1. Large appliances

The holiday entertaining season can certainly highlight any deficiencies in your home appliances. But while your oven may have limped through Christmas cookie season, it’s not — quite — time to buy a new one. Instead, you should consider waiting just a few more weeks.

Why? Three words: Presidents’ Day sales.

What our previous leaders have to do with home appliances, we may never know. But February’s nationalist holiday is one of the best times to find deals on everything from dishwashers to washing machines.

2. Furniture

This is another area where it could pay off big to wait a few more weeks. As with home appliances, furniture stores frequently have huge sales around Presidents’ Day. A little bit of patience this January can save you hundreds, if not thousands, in February.

3. Mattresses

Yep, you guessed it: Mattresses are another big sale item in February, so hold out on replacing yours until the sales hit next month.

We’re just a few weeks from peak winter for most of the country (yes, even in the South). And that means peak demand for snow gear and tools. Unfortunately, it also makes now perhaps the worst possible time to pick up any winter gear you may need to replace. If you don’t have a pressing need for new skis or a snowblower, you may be better served waiting until March when end-of-season deals start to drop.

5. Jewelry

Before the wrapping paper hits the ground Christmas morning, your favorite stores have already started to stock up on Valentine’s Day essentials. But while the aisles may be full of pink hearts and chocolate everything, the big sales events likely won’t kick in until February.

At the very least, it may be late January before we start seeing the best deals on Valentine’s Day go-tos like fine jewelry. If you have your eye on something sparkly this year, you’ll likely get the best price by waiting until next month.

Pro tip: Don’t blow your budget on jewelry, and never buy fine jewelry on credit. Most jewelry is like a new car: It will never be worth as much as it is the moment you buy it. And that goes double if you’re paying interest fees on it! A thoughtful, carefully chosen gift is always better than an expensive piece of bling you had to go into debt to buy.

6. Luggage

Some things, like televisions, go on sale during high-demand times (think Superbowl sales). Other things — well, don’t.

Luggage is at its best price when travel demand wanes, which is typically during the shoulder seasons (that’s March/April and August/September). And with most holiday deals at an end, you’re unlikely to get your best price if you pick up new luggage this month.

So unless you’re one of the many folks whose airline lost their luggage last year, wait until the end of the season to pick up your new set.

7. Gym memberships

All right, so this one isn’t as simple as “don’t buy this.” That’s because January can actually be a great time to join or renew a gym membership if you’re already someone who regularly goes to the gym. There are usually some great promotions as gyms try to capture the New Year’s Resolution crowd.

But — if you’re a member of the New Year’s resolution crowd? You may want to wait.

Many folks (and I’m not saying this will be you, but I’m not note saying it, either) tend to jump headfirst into a pricey gym contract while their motivation is high. Then, as the enthusiasm for the “brand new you” wears off, that gym membership will see less and less use. But if you signed on the dotted line, you’re still on the hook for the fees — likely until the next new year.

Skip the January gym membership unless you know you’ll put it to use. And good news! January happens to be a great time to pick up some home fitness gear. You can do a lot with a few exercise bands and some weights.

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