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Shopping gluide: Right place, right time

Whether it's purchasing clothes online, seeing a movie, or taking a nap, there's always a better time to do it. Here's a guide to saving minutes, money and more.

Best time to buy clothes online: Wednesdays and Thursdays. Instore sales are typically on the weekends, when everyone goes out to shop, so to be competitive, online shopping sites start their sales earlier in the week. A recent study of online store sales by ShopItToMe.com found that Wednesdays and Thursdays are now the best time to find the steepest discounts-on average, Wednesdays and Thursdays have become the days when retailers put the most new items on sale.

Best time to buy appliances: Yes, there are the usual assorted holiday sales. But wait for the double whammy when Energy Star offers rebates and your state enacts a tax-free week, says Jill Notini of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Go to the Energy Star website (energystar.gov) and click on "Rebate Finder" to check for a list of rebates in your area. Also, as part of the stimulus package, the government enacted an appliance rebate program for purchasing Energy Star-efficient appliances. As of October, every state has been allocated money for rebates. Check with your state energy offices. (Your state also may be paying "bounties" for turning in old, inefficient appliances; ask your local electric company.) Go to the Federation of Tax Administrators' website (taxadmin.org) to find out when tax-free shopping weeks are planned for your state.

Best time to go to the supermarket: Most people go when the sales ads come out late in the week, or on the weekend, when they have time. But Wednesday is really the best day to shop, according to the National Supermarket Association. Stores are the least crowded, the selection is most plentiful since shelves are stocked, and sales are still on. The one exception is inner cities, where Sundays and Mondays are the best time to shop.

Best time to go to the bathroom when you're at the movies: Have you ever sat in a movie having to pee but holding it in because you just didn't want to miss anything? And then, when you finally go, something really important happens. Well, no more. Check out runpee.com. It lists current movies with time recommendations for running to the bathroom without missing much. If you forget to check ahead, you can check from your phone during the show-the site recently went mobile!

Best time to see that always sold-out movie: You're most likely to get into a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday matinee. Plus, you get the bonuses of cheaper tickets and possible concession stand promotions. If you want that crowd experience, go to a Friday or Saturday 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. show. Most theaters let you buy tickets online as soon as the schedule comes out-anywhere between seven and 14 days in advance. If you don't want the plot spoiled by water-cooler conversation, go the afternoon of the first day it opens.

Best time to take a walk: After dinner. It will help you digest your food better, make it easier for you to skip dessert, and is a nice way to relieve stress, which will give you a better night's sleep.

Best time to take a nap: Studies show that napping increases alertness, speeds up motor performance, improves accuracy, boosts creativity and reduces stress, among a host of other benefits. The trick is finding the optimum time: the period of day when your REM sleep and slow-wave sleep are perfectly in balance. Sounds complicated, but it isn't: Go to the Nap Wheel at saramednick.com/htmls/book/napwheel.htm. It figures out when the best time to nap is, based on the time you got up.

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First printed in the Feb. 17, 2010 issue of Woman's Day magazine. For videos, recipes and more, visit the Web site at www.womansday.com.