I grew up in a household where the early bird got more of everything good. So whether it was enrolling in school, picking out my deli sandwich, or choosing a winter coat, I was raised to do it early. However, in the last few years I have slowly started to realize some great deals only come by waiting. With these six items in particular, the longer you wait, the better they get!

1. Tickets (sports, concerts, plays)

In the entertainment industry, an unsold seat is an empty seat producing zero revenue. For this reason, it has become customary to offers tickets at a discount as the start time approaches (movie theater tickets being the notable exception here).

Ticket discounts cheat sheet:

  • NFL tickets: Wait until 1-2 days prior to score discounts of 30% or greater. For big game ticket discounts, try Seat Geek.
  • Sports tickets (general): Wait until the game has started for discounts of 50% or greater at the box office (or from independent ticket resellers, a.k.a. scalpers, who haven't sold their whole quota pre-game time).
  • Concerts and plays: Wait until noon the day of for discounts of 50% or greater (even for Broadway shows!). Calling or visiting the box office is often the best avenue here.

2. Travel (airlines, train, hotel, rental car)

In the same way, the travel industry similarly treats unsold seats as pending lost revenue. Whether you’re shopping for a package trip or standalone services, a bit of strategic searching can often net you lucrative discounts.

Travel discounts cheat sheet:

  • Hotel rooms: Discounts of 25-50% are common the day of, or for walk-ins.
  • Rental cars: You’ll find the biggest discounts by lurking around deal-finder websites like Priceline, Kayak or Hotwire, where rental car companies go to list unsold vehicles at the last minute. If you fancy daily rental car rates at less than $10, this is where you want to go.
  • Train tickets: Just watching Amtrak's Hot Deals page is one of the best ways to find deals of 25% or greater.
  • Plane tickets: Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotwire are great examples of your go-to resources to find discounted flights. You may have to endure more layovers or early/late departure times, but it can be worth it if you find a great ticket for 40-60% off list price.

3. Seasonal/holiday items

Here at KCL, it’s no secret that half our anticipation for a changing season or concluding holiday is the sales. The savings can be as high as 80-90% for post-holiday items in particular (candy, costumes, traditional fare).

But pre-season and pre-holiday savings can be pretty great too, as retailers and grocers fight to win customers from their competitors by offering great discounts and coupons to lure us in.

4. Meat and seafood

There are several tricks to getting lower prices (by as much as 50%) on meat and seafood by waiting until the last minute.

Meat/seafood cheat sheet:

  • Shop mid-week, when grocers are marking down last week's meat/seafood shipment to make way for this week's shipment.
  • Shop any night after the dinner hour has ended to scoop up cuts that are about to move past their prime (but are still good for another few days!).
  • Shop right after the holidays to snap up discounted meat and seafood cuts.

5. Garage sales/farmers’ markets

It takes a lot of work to put on a garage sale or host a farmers’ market. Typically by noon or 1:00 PM the day of, hosts and vendors alike are ready to call it a day and donate what hasn't sold.

This is a great time to swoop in and do some bargaining! Expect discounts as high as 75% for farmers’ markets, and as high as 100% (a.k.a. "free") at garage sales.

6. Holiday gifts

If you tend to wait until the very last minute to shop for your holiday gifts, you can often catch panicked retailers in the midst of marking down extra inventory that hasn't yet sold.

Discounts of 50% or more are not uncommon with big box home goods stores, boutique mall stores, and department stores.


6 Things You Should Wait Until the Last Minute to Buy