Buying early can help just as much as waiting around for a sale and buying late. As long as the item won’t take up too much space or perish, why not purchase it on sale weeks or months before you use it? My Grandma Jo did this every January. While the rest of us were wallowing in our Christmas loot, she headed to the stores to stock up on greeting cards. I used to roll my eyes when she proudly relayed how many dollars she saved on the Santa-splashed cards – 75 percent off, of course. Now, I realize my grandma was one savvy spender. Continuing in that tradition, here are nine things you should always buy on sale. Clothes Online discounters, brand-name outlets, secondhand stores. There are a bevy of choices when it comes to buying below-market clothes, including many pieces from the current season. Seasonal swings during the year force retailers to discount merchandise to push it out the door before the new threads arrive. At other times, retailers have sales to stay competitive. Most people have bought a swimsuit by July Fourth if they are going to, so that’s when you start seeing bikini sales. (Same for grills, outdoor furniture and air conditioners.) In August and September, clothes for boys and girls are marked down heavily because retailers want to get a slice of the back-to-school spending spree. That means major competition and red-tag madness. During the rest of the year, there are SmartBargains.com, Overstock.com, Nordstrom Rack, Loehmann’s, Camarillo Premium Outlets, Ross, Buffalo Exchange, Out of the Closet and Aaardvark’s Odd Ark. Groceries I hate the idea of coupon clipping as much as the next person. Penny pinching 25 cents here or 75 cents there never seems worth the hassle. My time is too precious, I tell myself. But devoted coupon clippers regularly save hundreds of dollars. Got your attention now? Kevin O’Connor, who lives in Montrose and is the techie behind BargainsLA.com, spends 45 minutes every weekend clipping about 20 coupons and sorting them in his organizer. Trips to the grocer take a little longer than they would if he wasn’t checking to use coupons, about an hour to an hour and a half. O’Connor knows the staples of his household – cereal, laundry detergent, bread – and watches for these items to go on sale. Then he pairs the sale, usually requiring a frequent shopper card, with his coupons. “I’m waiting for a card deal plus the coupon,” O’Connor said. “That’s when I’ll jump on it.” He prefers shopping at Ralphs or Vons because they double coupons. But, O’Connor notes, Albertsons lets shoppers buy a single item at the sale price even if the tag says two for $4 or three for $7. Other grocers offer similar bargains, so ask the manager at yours. O’Connor consistently knocks 50 percent off his bill, or $100 per week. That adds up to savings worth the time. Televisions The field of electronics makers is so crowded – I can rattle off a dozen brands in my sleep – that competition is intense. That means consumers benefit from frequent sales. And not just during the typical markdown periods of the winter holidays, Super Bowl and March Madness. “Retailers are interested in attracting customers year-round,” said Jason Oxman, a spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association. Sales of digital TV sets are particularly heated because manufacturers want to get in on the buying frenzy. This year, about 30 million couch potatoes will swap out their old sets for new, high-definition ones, the consumer association predicts. But not all sales are created equal, partly because there is an incredible array of options and features in today’s televisions. Figure out what you want, then comparison shop for the best price. Pets Why spend big bucks on a designer dog or fancy feline when there’s a pooch or tabby waiting to be adopted at the local pound? At Long Beach Animal Control, it costs $105 to take home a kitty that has been fixed, microchipped and vaccinated through the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Dogs are $125. Furniture When’s the last time you saw a couch you just had to have? Uh-huh. Didn’t think so. Better to visit multiple stores, create a price range, and wait for your preferred lounging apparatus to go on sale. Big-ticket items with long style cycles such as furniture do not move very quickly, so you won’t miss out by waiting. The couch I bought at Macy’s was featured in its sale circulars for three years after I bought mine. Your patience will pay off big time because 10 percent off $1,000 is a heck of a lot more than 10 percent off $10. Sheets Like with furniture, you should be able to anticipate need and avoid last-minute impulse buys. Department stores frequently mark down sheets, which have a long shelf life (it is cotton, after all). Look for sheet sales during storewide holiday sales. And you know they use every holiday under the sun as a reason for a sale. Jewelry There is such a big markup on bling – 100 percent or more – that there is often room to haggle. Aim for 10 percent because you can often get it. If you are not in a rush, wait for the winter holidays and Mother’s Day. This is when jewelry goes on sale big time because everybody knows diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Gym memberships If you miss out on the annual sign-up discounts in January, when gyms compete to attract those newly determined to exercise as part of their New Year’s resolution, don’t fret. Gyms run promotions a few times a year, and most offer free trials lasting from one day to one month. If you don’t sign up after testing a gym out, wait a few weeks because they will often send you a letter offering membership for less than they pitched at the tryout. You can occasionally talk one gym into matching the price of another gym if the amenities are comparable. Check your human resources department at work because many companies offer gym deals. The thinking is employees who work out are healthier and happier, so their doctor’s bills are slimmer, and they work harder. Holiday decorations Retailers don’t have room to stash strings of holiday lights and inflated snowmen after the winter holidays fly by. So they mark down anything red and green to get it off their hands. If you have more room than retailers in your attic or basement, you can take advantage of the sales. At the minimum, check out Stats & Fishbecks in Pasadena. Their faux Christmas trees and strings of lights are popular. The store is transformed during the holiday season with all the decorations. If you can’t wait, TJ Maxx has holiday decor at a discount starting in July. Now that’s a list that would make Grandma Jo proud. [email protected] (818) 713-3735160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! All in good time. Nearly everything – even the iPhone – eventually goes on sale. But certain items go on sale so often that you should never pay full price. The trick to making sales a staple of your shopping diet is patience, according to bargain hunters and marketplace masters. “A little bit of delayed gratification can go a long way,” said Helen Malani, a shopping expert at the West L.A.-based Shopzilla, a Web site that compares the price, rating and shipping fees of more than 30 million products from about 90,000 stores.