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Map Out a Year’s Worth of Shopping Right Now

We’ve probably all regretted buying something too hastily, but the opposite can also happen — you pass up a sale, and then see the item for a much higher price later.

To save your wallet the dings of mistimed shopping trips, we studied trends and asked experts when the products you’ll be shopping for will go on sale throughout 2017.

Appliances big and small

If you’re in the market for a stove or dryer this year, holiday weekends will mean discounts. Mark your calendar for Memorial Day (May 29), Labor Day (Sept. 4) and Black Friday (Nov. 24).

Over Labor Day 2016, Best Buy, Lowe’s and H.H. Gregg all took up to 35% off select major appliances. During Memorial Day 2016, Sears marked vacuums and floor care down by 30% online and in store and offered discounts on major kitchen appliances.

There are other ways to save, too. When manufacturers release a new, top-end appliance, they often discount their old top-end, says Mark E. Bergen, chair in marketing at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. You’ll just have to do without the latest features.

“As you’re purchasing, you want to think about what a good deal means,” Bergen says. For some, it’s trendiness. For others, discounts.

Clothing

Department stores always seem to have clothing on sale, but deals improve at the end of each season. Retailers “want to charge the most to consumers who want to have it early,” says Rebecca Hamilton, a marketing professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Stores clear out inventory seasonally, so winter clothing goes on sale just before spring, spring clothing before summer and so forth. If you’re content without the latest trends, shop the clearance rack for end-of-season savings.

Electronics

The day after Thanksgiving produces a wealth of deals on tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles. A NerdWallet analysis of 2016 Black Friday deals found that some products cost hundreds of dollars less on Black Friday than just weeks prior. If you’re gunning for a specific popular item, reserve your purchase until then.

Bear in mind that Apple keeps to its own sale timetable. The company hosts a keynote event each September, and discounts on previous models of its devices usually follow.

After the Sept. 2016 iPhone 7 unveiling, Best Buy offered $100 off the iPhone 6S or $200 off the iPhone 6S Plus with a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless or Sprint. Bergen recommends you begin monitoring prices of old models as soon as a new phone is announced.

Holiday decorations

With seasonal items, procrastination is key. The longer you wait to decorate, the better. And for the absolute best deal, wait until after the holiday to capitalize on excess inventory. It won’t do you much good for 2017 holidays, but you’ll be ready for 2018.

Target’s 2016 after-Easter closeout featured discounts of up to 70%. Similar deals happen after Christmas, Halloween and Fourth of July.

Home goods

Like appliances, home goods go on sale during holidays. And the prices of some major purchases, such as furniture, are negotiable. Browse online, then buy in store. Try to knock some money off the price or ask the salesperson for free delivery.

Bergen says negotiating works especially well if the retailer thinks it might lose your business. “Don’t be afraid to go into a furniture store and say, ‘I’m going to go see a competitor; is there anything you can do to make it worthwhile?’” he says.

Travel

The best time to book a flight in the U.S. is on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern time, according to travel meta-search engine FareCompare. At this point each week, the site says, airlines have released their sales and competitors have matched prices. It recommends buying U.S. domestic tickets three months to 30 days before departure.

If you’re looking to go abroad, Rick Seaney, CEO and co-founder of FareCompare, says 2017 is the year to visit Europe. Terrorism jitters, Brexit and the strong dollar have dropped prices to seven- or eight-year lows, he says.

… And everything else

January is an ideal time to budget for the household spending a new year brings. As a general rule, purchase products off-season for the best shot at a discount. If you can’t plan a purchase, compare prices and look for coupons.

One last tip? Bergen recommends learning sales cycles. Retailers such as Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret host regular annual or semiannual sale events at the same time year after year.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

Video: When To Build Credit For Your Kids

MoneyTips

When teens ask for money, turn the request into a teachable moment by instructing them about credit. In the video above, Rod Griffin, Director of Public Education for credit-reporting agency Experian, explains why people need to learn about building credit before they reach adulthood, and how to help your kids establish good credit.You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips.

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/video-when-to-build-credit-for-your-kids

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Video: When To Build Credit For Your Kids

MoneyTips

When teens ask for money, turn the request into a teachable moment by instructing them about credit. In the video above, Rod Griffin, Director of Public Education for credit-reporting agency Experian, explains why people need to learn about building credit before they reach adulthood, and how to help your kids establish good credit.You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips.

How Stuck-in-the-Middle Parents Can Afford College

All parents want to pay for their kids’ college, but many families find themselves too wealthy to qualify for financial aid but too strapped to pay out of pocket.

If that’s the case for you, financial advisors agree you should prioritize retirement savings over paying for college. After all, your kid can take out federal student loans, but your nest egg won’t grow itself.

Still, if you’re set on covering your child’s tuition, you have two options: Get a student loan for parents or tap your home’s equity, if you have any.

Which is best? There’s no easy answer when your kids’ education, your own financial future and your home are at stake. Think through the factors below to help you decide what to do.

Take out a federal student loan for parents

You can borrow money for your kid’s college with a federal direct PLUS loan. To apply, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The form will also make your child eligible for grants, scholarships, work study and federal student loans.

Pros of PLUS loans Cons of PLUS loans Option to defer payments while the student is in school. 6.31% fixed interest rate. Flexible repayment plans. 4.28% loan fee. Loans are discharged upon death of the parent or child. $2,500 annual tax deduction limit for student loans.

Private lenders also offer parent loans. Going the private route may be best if you have excellent credit. A high credit score may qualify you for a lower interest rate than you’d get with a federal parent loan.

However, private loans don’t offer all of the benefits that federal loans do. Families should turn to private loans only if they’re in a strong financial position and have a large emergency fund, says Betsy Mayotte, director of consumer outreach and compliance at American Student Assistance, a Boston-based nonprofit.

Consider tapping your home equity

With home values high and mortgage rates low, it’s a great time to use your home equity, says Kevin McKinley, a financial planner and principal/owner of McKinley Money LLC in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

There are three ways to unlock your equity:

  • A home equity line of credit, or HELOC.
  • A home equity loan, often referred to as a “second mortgage.”
  • A cash-out mortgage refinance.

Depending on how you tap your equity, there are pros and cons to consider. For instance, you’ll have to pay closing costs if you refinance your mortgage.

Pros of tapping home equity Cons of tapping home equity Low interest rates. Increased risk of foreclosure if home values drop or you can’t make payments. Get a tax deduction for all the interest you pay, in most cases. Could count against future financial aid eligibility.

Tapping your home equity is risky because you’re putting one of your most valuable assets on the line. If you can’t make the payments or your home’s value declines, you could lose it.

“You don’t want to take out equity to the point where if the housing market drops, all of the sudden you’re underwater,” Mayotte says.

Despite the risks, tapping your equity may be a better deal than a student loan “when it comes to just straight dollars and cents,” McKinley says. But he also acknowledges an emotional component involved with using home equity.

“Some people are uncomfortable with the notion of mortgaging their home,” he says. “If that’s the case, they should just get student loans.”

Next steps

This decision is weighty enough that it’s worth consulting a financial advisor. Feeling confident about the way your family pays for tuition will help you keep calm as you face one of the biggest transitions as a parent: sending your kid off to college.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: teddy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @teddynykiel.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

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