George Orwell, in his “1984” book, used the word “groupthink” to mean the making of sheep-like decisions as a group while discouraging individual thought. Well, here’s an antonym I call “Reverse-Think,” meaning to NOT think like the group.
Reverse-Think in consumerism is based on a simple idea. If few people want to buy something, the price will drop. If more people want to buy that thing, the price will rise. Just look at what has happened to the price of gold. If you want a low-priced coat, buy it when everyone else is buying a swimming suit. If you want a bargain on an air conditioner, buy it when everyone else is buying a space heater.
Well, January is a good time to save money using Reverse-Think.
The International CES (consumer-electronics show), held earlier this month in Las Vegas, is an important technology trade show with new stuff; smart-phone revenues alone are expected to reach $37 billion in 2013, up 16 percent from 2012. With new products coming out, prices on “old” stuff will automatically drop, possibly to prices lower than those of Black Friday.
So, generally speaking, don’t buy new technologies when the crowd does, rather use Reverse-Think and buy good stuff from last year.
The Super Bowl, Feb. 3 in New Orleans, causes high-end televisions to drop in price just before the big game. By not buying a TV at Christmas like the group-thinkers, you may get a January bargain on a Samsung 60-inch high-definition TV to really enjoy the football game — and to laugh at those witty commercials. Likewise, the grocery stores will have Super-Bowl sales on crunchy snacks, sodas, and pizzas etc. So stock up.
Now is the time to buy coats, boots, and other winter wear. If you buy good basic clothing, you won’t see your clothing go out of style in one season — or maybe never. Remember the ridiculous bell-bottom-pants era when Elvis’ trousers looked like he had a flared skirt hanging down from each knee? Extreme clothing styles are best left for Gene Simmons of Kiss. Will there be a cold winter next year? Well, yeah, unless Al Gore cancels it.
Buy holiday decorations and leftover supplies now and save them for next year. Hurry, that hideous but oh-so-cheap, yard blow-up of Santa taking a bubble bath is most certainly marked down. Buy wrapping paper, tree decorations, paper products, etc.
Christmas items are often the top purchases made early on Dec. 26. Will there be a Christmas next year? Well, yeah, unless the Politically Correct cancel it.
Reverse-Think means that sports equipment and outdoor gear will go on sale in the winter as well as bicycles, motorcycles and boats. Also, patio-chair cushions, hammocks, umbrellas and patio furniture will go down in price. Is January the time to buy that spa that you always wanted?
Home improvements are January bargains. There is a buying lull between when most consumers are broke after Christmas and when their tax-rebate checks arrive in the spring. This money gap means that contractors are now looking for work, so you can save money on painting, flooring and new carpeting. Handymen will welcome your business.
Ready to buy a house? Reverse-Think says to buy it in January if possible. The group-think time to buy or sell a house is in late spring and summer. Winter weather not only discourages the “Looky Lews” snooping through houses (often the neighbors from down the street) but also discourages the not-yet-serious springtime buyers from house hunting. With no traffic through the house, the anxious home seller will consider altering his terms or lowering his price.
Now is the time to get ready to sell your unwanted stuff. Many sheep-thinking people wait to prepare for their garage sale until the weather warms up. Baa —wrong. If you want to have a stress-free garage sale, now is the time to prepare by working on your stuff little by little.
So, get your garage-sale stuff ready now, and then wait for a beautiful spring day to haul it outside and make some money. Also, are you paying for storage every month? One year I paid $1,200 dollars to store a bunch of anonymous junk. Stop storing useless stuff. Work on your garage sale now; when warmer weather comes, you’ll make some money without sweating it.
And muchas gracias to you, George Orwell, for teaching us to think outside of the groupthink box.
Linda Hutchings is a Gilbert resident and a life-long frugal consumer — uh, cheap skate. Please reach her at: email@example.com. Send her your penny-pinching ideas.