What to Buy and What Not to Buy in March

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MARCH DEALS

The weather may be variable, but retailers stick to a seasonal schedule no matter what, and that means savings for smart consumers. March is the time to focus on filling the larder, spring cleaning, and prepping for warmer weather. Many February deals may still be in effect, albeit with smaller selections on goods such as winter apparel and Valentine's Day chocolate.

BUY: VALENTINE'S DAY LEFTOVERS

While the last half of February saw a decent selection of discounted chocolate after Valentine's Day, the treats still on the shelves in March will be discounted further -- think 50 percent or more off chocolate with a Valentine's Day theme. Don't expect much choice, though. And don't go looking for cut rates on sexy lingerie -- more attractive deals generally pop up in June.

BUY: FROZEN FOOD

March is Frozen Food Month, so manufacturers and grocers pump up promotions on frozen meals and other foodstuffs. Use coupons during ongoing supermarket sales to stock up on frozen edibles. Staples such as frozen vegetables are long-lasting and nutritious building blocks for fast and cheap meals.

BUY: BREAKFAST AND SNACKS

March is chock-full of food holidays and deals on popular edibles. In addition to the month-long celebration of frozen food, March 7 is National Cereal Day, March 14 is National Potato Chip Day, and March 23 is National Chip and Dip Day -- all opportunities to find even better-than-average savings in the grocery aisles. National Pancake Day falls on March 8, bringing freebies at restaurants such as IHOP, which usually gives away short stacks of its famous buttermilk pancakes.

BUY: SEASONAL SPORTING GEAR AND APPAREL

Ski and snowboard season is coming to a close, so take advantage of retailers' need to clear out old merchandise and make room for the new. Lower prices on skis, snowboards, and accessories make these wares good to buy in March. Ditto for heavy winter duds -- jackets, hats, and sweaters fall deeper into the clearance bin.

BUY: SUMMER DURABLES

It seems counterintuitive, but March is a good time to buy an air conditioner. Unsold inventory from last year must be cleared out for the new models, and really, who needs an air conditioner in March? To drum up demand, retailers are motivated to cut prices. The same logic holds for barbecue grills.

BUY: LUGGAGE

Now that snowbirds have returned and winter travel season is over, it's time to replace that old suitcase. Consumers will find luggage bargains in March, when the gap between winter and summer travel means sales slow and new models roll in. Be on the lookout for deals throughout the month.

BUY: FOODS IN SEASON

Eat healthfully and cheaply by cooking seasonally. Foods to buy in March include nutritious greens such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, asparagus, and lettuce while winter's bounty of root vegetables such as parsnips, radishes, leeks, and shallots is still available. Artichokes, avocados, peas, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, and oranges are also plentiful throughout the month. Find everything you need to make a roasted vegetable dish or a colorful salad.

BUY: ANDROID SMARTPHONES

The Mobile World Congress meets the end of February, and big names such as Samsung and HTC typically launch new handsets around this time. If you're in the market for a new smartphone and willing to settle for an older model, you should start seeing discounts as new models hit the market.

DON'T BUY: OTHER ELECTRONICS

In general, March is not the best time to buy most electronics. With the Super Bowl long gone and the holiday rush a distant memory, March just doesn't cut it as bargain time for TVs, especially.

DON'T BUY: GYM MEMBERSHIP

Gym memberships are also a bust in March. Gyms are still packed with clients trying to meet their New Year's resolutions while getting ready for bathing suit season. Try to work out at home until summer, when the great outdoors beckons and gyms try to entice people inside.

DON'T BUY: VACUUMS

The vacuum industry is well aware that consumers are raring to get a head start on spring cleaning in March. Turns out, the best time to score a vacuum deal is November. Never mind. Get a jump-start on spring cleaning without spending a dime by using common household items that are probably already on hand. And keep an eye out for coupons on cleaning supplies.