How to Find the Best Late-Winter Deals

The holidays are over, but you can still score big savings with these strategies.

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The holidays might be over, but shoppers are still searching for the best deals in the aftermath of a furious shopping season. As stores restock inventory, many of them will have markdown sales to clear the store of surplus stock from the holiday season.

Markdowns do not necessarily mean the best product for your dollar, but research can help you pick between the bargains and the throwaways. Here are a few tips for discount shopping that will have you prepared for any future purchases:

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Purchase seasonal items after the season. Now is the perfect time to pick up deeply discounted holiday items like wreaths, ornaments, lights, and other holiday related items. Stores stocked up and now they need to liquidate as much of the product as possible since space is always a premium. It's not uncommon for you to find things slashed by 50 percent, 75 percent, or even 90 percent as the days go on. A few years ago we picked up the bulk of our Christmas tree ornaments at deep discount from retailers like Michael's and Macy's.

Monitor online deals. Online retailers want to continue the momentum from the holiday season by pumping out a solid stream of good deals, many of which will be available online. Online buying has become very popular because it allows you to compare prices, stores, brands, without having to leave your home. You can keep track of bargains being offered, and keep it in mind for future, since some stores offer competitive pricing. There are also deal sites that offer coupons or cash back rewards.

Avoid the bandwagon. Buying items when they are in high demand guarantees it'll be hard to find a bargain. This is basically the corollary to the first tip! Try to buy flowers and jewelry around Valentine's Day and you're guaranteed to pay full retail price, because everyone else is. Your only recourse is to either shop very early, if it can be stored easily, or shop after the season. Also, shopping for these items months before the holidays means you can avoid the skirmish at the store.

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Be at the right place at the right time. The time of year plays an important role in items for sale, which can be helpful knowledge for any shopper. For example, the day of the week plays a role in airline ticket prices. Tuesday evening through Thursday are the best days to buy tickets, and scheduling flights out on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday will help with lower prices. As we begin to enter Spring, items such as winter gear, lawn mowers, and computers tend to have bargain prices.

Remember coupons. Finally, before you make any purchase, especially one online, look for a coupon. You can usually secure significant savings by doing a little Google search for coupons and promotion codes or going to a big aggregator like RetailMeNot.com. Vendors often have coupons for dollars off or free shipping, both of which can save you a few dollars on your purchase. If you take a few minutes, you never know what you'll find. It's easily one of the best return on your times you'll ever have and you'll feel clever finding it.

While bargains are never guaranteed, these tips will help shoppers begin the search for future purchases. Also, knowing these tips means you can avoid Black Friday and other popular shopping days, which encourage large crowds and more frustration. Make your new years resolution to shop like a professional.

Jim Wang writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com. When he's not tackling money issues, he's usually looking forward to his next vacation and writing about it at Wanderlust Journey.