As a financial planner, the new year always brings me questions from others about what they should focus their money and energy on, as many people see January as a fresh start and a time to set themselves up for financial success in the months ahead.
“When is the best time to buy things?”
This is a question I’m often asked during the new year period. Shopping smart is all about thinking a little bit ahead — and the new year is a great time to stock up on certain products. Tackling these items in January sets you on solid financial footing to build on over the next 12 months.
Here are nine things you should consider buying or investing in during the first month of the year:
1. Winter Clothing and Gear
January is prime time for post-holiday sales. Plus, depending on where you live, there are cold weather months ahead, which means you may be able to get some wear out of your new clothes. Look for discounted coats, boots, gloves, hats and scarves from last season — you may be able to update your winter wardrobe at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at other times of the year.
January is also an excellent time to replace worn-out gear before the deepest, coldest parts of winter set in. Investing in some new warm layers sets you up to enjoy the outdoors all the way into spring.
2. Gym Memberships and Fitness Equipment
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is getting healthier through diet and exercise. You may think that means gym memberships and workout clothes will be marked up in January, but that’s not always the case. Many gyms and fitness companies will bombard you with deals for memberships and equipment in January. Take them up on it!
Lock in a discounted gym membership to motivate yourself to stick to your workout goals this year. Or put together your home gym — look for significant savings on treadmills, weights, yoga mats, fitness trackers and more. Investing in your health is one of your best financial decisions.
3. Home Goods
A white sale is a sales event where white goods like sheets, towels, linens and other household goods are offered at steep discounts. In January, white sales are traditionally offered, as retailers want to clear inventory after the holiday shopping season ends. White sales help sell excess sheets and towels piled up in stockrooms over the holidays.
If you’re considering sprucing up your home for the near year, now is a great time to stock up on new linens and household staples.
4. Holiday Decorations
When the New Year arrives, holiday decorations get slashed as much as 50-75% off as stores rush to clear out inventory. While it may seem months away (and it is!), January is a great time to stock up for the next holiday season.
If you can store the items, consider buying lights, ornaments and everything you need for this year’s holiday season. Having decor on hand makes holiday prep faster, more accessible and more affordable year after year.
5. Tax Prep Services
The new year kicks off at the beginning of tax season. Though you have until April 15 to file, it’s to your advantage to start planning early.
Getting your tax preparation done early has multiple benefits. You can file as soon as possible and get your refund faster (or have more time to pay your bill, depending on your situation). You also have more time to contribute to retirement accounts, HSA and pre-tax commuter benefits to lower your tax bill.
You also may be able to save money by getting ahead of the curve.
Look for tax prep services already advertising deals on filing your return and maximizing deductions. Meet with your accountant or financial planner in January to start compiling all necessary documentation. The longer you wait, many accountants may not have available or may charge a higher fee. The same goes for some tax preparation software.
6. Insurance Policies
January is the perfect time to review all your insurance policies so you don’t get caught without adequate coverage this year. This includes evaluating health, life, homeowners, renters, auto and disability insurance plans. If you need to, make any needed adjustments in coverage or premiums.
You can also save money on new policies. In some cases, insurers will run winter promotional pricing on bundles or first-time policies to bring in new customers. See if you can reduce any premiums by taking advantage of promotion deals for January. Planning and reviewing your coverage ensures you’ve locked in protection for you and your family.
7. Flights and Other Travel Packages
After the holiday season travel rush, January is a great time to lock in a flight or vacation package before peak season kicks in.
A good rule of thumb is to book your flights out around 3-5 months before you plan to go on vacation. So, if a spring or summer vacation is in your future, now is a great time to get discounted while airline sales are hot. Some travel websites allow you to bundle hotel and flight packages for even more savings.
The new year is a natural time to think about your money habits and organize your finances for success. It’s an excellent time to set your annual financial plan (and check in on your progress) and start laying the groundwork now so your money works hard for you all year.
This includes reviewing your investing portfolio, retirement plan or putting your savings to work. Interest rates are still elevated for certificates of deposit and high-yield savings accounts, which can help you maximize the interest you earn.
9. Car Maintenance
January’s winter weather can take a toll on vehicles, so getting yours serviced and protected against the elements is crucial. Tires lose pressure and tread in cold temperatures, while shocks and struts wear out faster on ice and snow. Windshield wipers, batteries and antifreeze may need replacing as well.
The beginning of the year is an excellent time to get on top of preventative maintenance before problems leave you stranded. Many mechanics offer winter service specials, too. You should also try saving up for any auto repairs or upgrades you may need later in the year. Building your car savings account means you won’t get caught short.
I’m a Financial Planning Expert: Always Buy These 5 Things Right After New Year’s
Taking care of these critical items or stocking up on certain products in January sets you on the road to financial savings and success all year.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I’m a Financial Planner: Always Buy These 9 Things in January