This may seem like a strange topic, but when we get into the hot part of summer its often the best time of the year to go shopping for cold-weather goods.
A few idea on how to get the most for your money are implied in this approach which distills down to “Buying when other people aren’t...”
We use our list of “seven major systems” for guidance:
Housing, for example, is somewhat seasonal. As you know, Elaine and I are on the lookout for our next place to move. Not that we aren’t deliriously happen on 30-acres in the Outback. It’s just that within 10-years, even with oxygen and an AED on the property, the sanity of two people age 80-something doing battle with 30-acres and 3,00 0square feet will stop making sense.
Toward this end, we’ve been looking at cycles related to housing.
The first is “city cycles.” These are of no particular length, but you can see if when you begin to study cities.
Take Michigan, for example. The homes up there are very cheap. Detroit you can find a home for next to nothing. Sure, lots of risk, but that’s where returns come from. The big problems in Michigan and the upper Midwest relate to infrastructure things like lead in the drinking water. But, we’re mindful that Detroit still has wall-to-wall potential.
If you can imagine a world situation where we were to lose a major city on one of the coasts to something like a La Palma earthquake/tsunami, or an enemy attack of some kind, re-pioneering a city like Detroit is a lot like an “out of the money stock option” to consider.
After “city cycles” (Seattle’s was Boeing-based, if you remember that far back, now it’s Amazon-based), then we look at the 11-year cycles in the economy.
Then the annual cycles. Families tend to move in the late spring to summer which means the “buyer’s market” is likely just going into the holidays over winter. Late November with a mid-December closing, for example
Countercyclical thinking applies to locations generally, too. If you want to move into a resort area known for this or that, shop early in the off-season. Rentals don’t “hold well.” We have looked at several areas, including up around Grand Junction, Colorado and Payson, Arizona.
South of Grand Junction there are tons of winter sports areas (
Telluride, for example or Durango, south of there) so we’d expect Colorado prices to pop when the first flakes fall. Grand Junction is a kind of halfway point between there and Denver. Summer sports are getting popular there, as well.
Payson is the ‘escape from the heat’ for Phoenix so the place is littered with seasonal rentals that lease out in the summertime. Time to shop these seems to be winter.
This doesn’t promise you a spectacular deal, but it is one more way of shading the odds a bit more in your favor.
With fall already on the horizon, I’ve been looking at yard vacuums. Not fans of mindless hours on a leaf-blower, we’ve been shopping Craigslist since mid-Winter for this fall’s leaves makes. A spring sale makes sense, so long as you drain the carburetor and use stabilized gasoline. It only takes one visit to the power equipment emporium to blow-up any seasonal savings.
Food goes the same: Although we didn’t put in a “summer garden” this year, a fall garden looms. Since we like the cooler weather plants (and the more-comfortable gardening that goes with it) things like broccoli and kale such are coming up on the list.
Transportation purchases have an annual cycle that’s easy to spot: When the new models come out, dealers are looking to move the previous year’s inventory, so late summer (next month) to early fall for a new car.
A special footnote, about interest rates, though: If you buy a car, shop interest rates. You may find the “new model year” with dealer incentives and better rates will buy you a newer ride than a leftover model with fewer incentives.
Communications is not particularly seasonal, except that after Christmas in January and February you can get spectacular computer deals. If you’re thinking about a new high-end i7 machine for the desk, this would be when to step up.
In the meantime, we’ve been watching for the next sale Amazon has on Echo Dot‘s. The reason is that as long as the web holds together, voice control of lights is dandy plus if you’re aging (as we are, like it or not) the Dot’s become an “all-house intercom,” They can be had for $39 a pop.
Once you get several hooked up, all you say is “Alexa drop-in to Kitchen” for example. When I’m working on a column (as this morning) I can chat with Elaine in any of several rooms. Quite handy and a safety feature at our age. We’re not too worried about privacy…got nothing to hide and some things to gain.
Energy: Countercyclical? Sure – now’s when to be shopping for deals on cordwood for the fireplace for this coming winter. Almost too late for this year, but mark it on the calendar for the late spring 2019. Wood lots don’t like to carry over too much product. Outside in the weather, stored wood uncovered can lose some of its heating potential in ultimate BTU’s released. You also lose significant BTU output if you burn green wood. Dry wood holds BTUs…uncovered outdoors? Not so much. As decomposition sets it…
Environment: There are several times of the year when “sales” are on for things like clothing. Since the world has done away with anything resembling fashion or style, buying winter closeouts in the spring and buying next year’s summer clothes in October, or so, makes a bit less sense than ijt once did. When the heat breaks, be on the lookout for closeouts, nevertheless.
January and early February are populated with “white sales.” These come about from chain stores wanting to get rid of winter products (blankets and quilts) so they don’t have to carry inventory into the summer months. Online retailers are changing the face of local retailing and impacting the number and depth of sales in many categories.
Mid Spring and mid Fall are the best times we’ve found for travel. The summer is when families go on vacation and bully for them. We’re no longer so keen on the sound of screaming me-me’s in our hotels, so we love to travel when they are safely locked down in schools.
I happen to be a fan of Disney parks, though I haven’t been to one in probably 10-years. Going from memory, the “big” changes and maintenance are done in fall when the kids are in school. So if you’re going to binge-ride Space Mountain, might want to call ahead to see if all the rides are all going. Seems intuitive that the best time would be mid to late April. May if you want the fresh paint on everything.
Vacation Bookings: Next winter’s ski cabin would make sense in April or May. And, if you’re going to charter a boat in the Northwest, then the best deals would be in early winter. Spring for a summer Caribbean charter. Get’s hot…
In any case, there are only two kinds of cruise ship deals: Those made really early in the year for the following late-summer and fall/winter – deal shop. OR, put yourself on several email lists for last-minute deals. Cruise ships (and airlines) know that once the ship undocks (or a plane takes off) the unsold inventory of cabins (or seats) is 100% perishable and that potential revenue can never be recaptured.
Don’t know why I mentioned all this, except to say most people don’t take notes on when they get good deals and bad. And that gets me to the idea of a “life notebook.”
This is where you sit down and keep track on a month=by-month basis of what works well. The cost of air conditioning service is usually highest on the hottest days of the year…the providers know if you’re calling, there’s probablyan element of desperation. Most A/C service is best done when temps are in the low 70’s (F) range, but in many areas of the country you can see that for a couple of days in April or early May.
Many people don’t look at the 10-day weather forecast or the 30-day prog charts. We’ve found these invaluable in spotting the best “comfort time” to be working on anything.
Humans are, by nature, cyclical in behavior. It works well in some cultures to run by a lunar calendar (see The Chronicle Project’s work and also notice the Chinese lunar orientation) in our headlong rush to burn out planetary resources, we’ve moved into a credit-card balance cycle….which we’ll get into in the economics discussion next…
Write when you get rich,