The Best Time to Buy…Everything

Best Time to Buy Groceries and More

I was once caught in a terrible rainstorm on OSU's campus and found myself contemplating the relative merits of spending $18 on an OSU umbrella at the college bookstore or walking another mile and a half in the downpour.

Even though I was a starving graduate student at the time, I coughed up the money. But it was a great lesson in knowing the right time to buy something. (Always buy an umbrella when it's sunny out!) So here is a breakdown of days of the week that are the best times to buy many of the items you need:

Best Time to Buy Groceries: Sunday Evening

Buy your groceries on Sunday evenings. The crowds will be smaller, the fresh items that must be sold before the end of the day will be going on sale just before closing, and most importantly, you can use that day's coupons from the Sunday newspaper together with the store sales—which generally run from Wednesday through Tuesday. Don't forget to do some competitive ad price matching.

Best Time for Entertainment: Monday-Thursday

Go bowling (or a similar entertainment option) sometime during the week and take advantage of the empty lanes and the fact that the owners are trying to get more people in with specials.

Best Time of the Week to Rent a Car: Tuesday/Wednesday

This is the best time of the week to rent a car. Business travelers are usually on the road Sunday night or Monday morning, while rentals for vacation peak Thursday through Saturday. So take advantage of the slow time and rent your car midweek.

Best Time to Buy Gas and Airline Tickets: Wednesday

Gas prices are generally lowest on Wednesday, as demand is higher on the weekends. Also, fuel up in the morning to take advantage of the fact that gasoline is densest when it is cooler out—and pumps charge you by volume rather than density.

Used in combination with other fuel saving techniques and one of the best gas rewards credit cards, and you'll really be saving.

You also want to purchase airline tickets on a Wednesday about three weeks before your trip. Airlines tend to make price changes on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings, and three weeks prior to a departure date is when the airline is scrambling to fill seats.

After that three-week mark, however, you will often find that prices go back up again as seats become scarcer.

Best Time to Buy Clothes: Thursday

Retail clothing stores often put out their newest stock on Thursdays in order to prepare for the weekend sales. Go in on a Thursday morning, and you may be able to find “current” clothing that is now discounted in order to make room for the new merchandise coming in.

Best Time for Farmer's Markets and Department Stores: Late Saturday

If you're going to the local farmer's market, try to time your arrival for close to the end of the sale. The farmers and vendors don't want to have to bring home a great deal of drooping produce, so they're willing to barter on prices just to get rid of the stock.

Though the selection isn't as good in those last 15-30 minutes of the market, the deals can make up for it.

If you want to get something from a department store, do your shopping on Saturday evening. Going to a department store is hardly a date night activity, so you'll have the benefit of a mostly empty store.

In addition, many department stores have Sunday sales, and they will have merchandise already marked down when you cruise in Saturday evening.

As with any other aspect of saving money, the most important thing in making purchases is planning ahead. If you know the best time to buy, you'll never find yourself facing the terrible choice of an umbrella you need but don't want or a possibly catching a cold that you don't want or need.

What about you? Do you buy certain things at specific times during the week to save some money

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Last Edited: July 24, 2017 @ 1:11 pm
About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.


  1. 20 and Engaged says:

    I try to go grocery shopping on Thursdays since that’s when some of the 8 hour sales are.

  2. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    The only issue about waiting til late on Saturday market produce is that chances are your options will be limited since farmers will be selling out (hopefully for them) so be sure you’re flexible about it.

  3. Kathryn C says:

    great tip on buying airline tix. Going to sun valley and was going to buy my ticket today but will wait till wed!

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Have you tried Bing Travel’s price predictor? It’s great too in helping to nail down a good flight.