Since 1971, Memorial Day has been celebrated as an extended weekend away from work–and the unofficial start of summer. It's time to get that grill going, dust off your patio set, and break out the white jeans you've had stashed away all winter.
More recently, Memorial Day has also turned into a second Black Friday for retailers, each offering loads of sale events in stores and online, and each promising to save you heaps of money. Lots of these sales will run for a full two weeks, starting a week before Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, and continuing until the end of the month.
As always, though, not every marked-down product is actually a bargain. In fact, you can sometimes get the same product a lot cheaper by waiting a few months—or even just a few weeks. And of course, if the for-sale item is not one you need, you're better off leaving it in the store. But, if you know what to shop for and you're careful to stick to what you need and can afford, you can find some great deals.
Let's take a look at what to buy and what to skip this Memorial Day weekend.
Buy: Outdoor essentials
Get ready to welcome summer with outdoor gear like grills, lawn mowers, mulch, ladders, and more, which may be marked down as much as 50% at stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. Online retailers, like Wayfair and Overstock, host similar events and may offer free two-day shipping in honor of the summer season kickoff.
You're going to see lots of crazy-low deals on gaming consoles, laptops, and tablets around Memorial Day weekend. But, unless you need one now, it's better to wait it out. You'll find even better deals on electronics during Black Friday season, when retailers are looking to clear out last year's models to make room for the newer inventory. If you need your electronics sooner than November, you may consider waiting until July, when many retailers host "Black Friday in July" events that feature steep discounts on electronics.
Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to spruce up both the inside and outside of your home with new furniture. You can snag a great deal on a fully-loaded patio set, pick up a comfortable sofa, and even swap your old mattresses for new ones, all at great prices. You may need to use a coupon code to qualify for the reduced price, so be sure to check out a retailer's website before hitting the store.
Don't make the mistake of picking up a new TV in May just because you found one at an excellent price. Most marked-down TVs you'll find around Memorial Day are older models with outdated features. You can find much better deals on newer models in November or January.
Buy: Wedding registry gifts
Department stores, like Macy's and JC Penney, offer discounts on household essentials, like coffee makers and blenders, in advance of the wedding season. You'll also find markdowns on these items at specialty stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond. If you've got any weddings to attend this summer, pick out a registry gift now to save big.
If you're looking for a new set of wheels, wait until after June. You'll find the hottest deals on cars between July and October, when dealerships are trying to move old inventory and make room for the newer models.
Preparing the family car for a summer road trip? You'll find the year's best prices on tires around Memorial Day weekend.
Don't splurge on swimwear and other summer apparel just yet. Wait until June, or even mid-summer if you can swing it, for the steepest discounts.
Buy: Spring apparel
Retailers have been displaying their warmer-weather line for months now. That makes the end of May a perfect time to stock up on spring wear.
Skip: Power tools
You'll only have to wait a few weeks for the hottest deals on power tools. Father's Day sales usually start at the beginning of June, and they offer deep discounts on power tools and other outdoor power equipment.
Buy: Appliances and home décor
Retailers and manufacturers alike offer markdowns on large household appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens, at the end of May. Hold onto your receipts, as you may need to mail them to the manufacturer for a cash-back rebate. You can also score a deal on home décor products, like light fixtures, flooring, and kitchen essentials, at Memorial Day sale events.
All that glam won't glow so brightly if you have to drain your wallet to pay for it. Skip the diamonds this month and wait until late summer, when the jewelry business is at its slowest and retailers put some of their products on sale. If you can wait even longer, push off your purchase until the end of February, when jewelry prices are at their lowest.
Now that you know what to buy and what to skip this Memorial Day, you can kick off the season of poolside barbecues and aimless road trips by snagging some great deals!
Your Turn: What was your best Memorial Day find ever? Tell us all about it in the comments!