Whenever seasons change, stores want to make room for new inventory. As a result, you can score some great deals as retailers clear the shelves with marked down prices. In August, this means stocking up on summer gear at steep discounts and taking advantage of back-to-school sales.
There are a few things you might want to hold off on buying, or else you'll be at risk of seeing the same items at a much lower cost only a few weeks or months from now. Here are a few of the major categories broken down into what you should -- and shouldn't -- buy this month:
Because students are headed back to high school and college at the end of the summer, this is an ideal time to find laptop computers on sale. There are also good bundle options available with laptop sales, where your purchase could also include a gaming console, gift card or software. You'll find laptops all along the price spectrum on sale, so figure out your budget and do your research online to see what is available.
Skip: Phones and Tablets
Over the past few years, we have come to expect major announcements and product debuts in the fall from Apple, Android and other smartphone and tablet companies. Hold off on any purchases of phones or tablets until new models are introduced; that way you can potentially save hundreds of dollars by buying (only slightly) older versions.
Summer and seasonal items:
Buy: Swimsuits, beach towels and outdoor entertaining items
Stores need to clear the shelves and get ready for fall and winter inventory, so August is the perfect month to stock up on summer items for next year. Swimsuits and beach towels will be marked way down, and bigger ticket items like patio furniture, pool equipment and grills are also available at a discount. If you see yourself needing to replace any furniture or outdoor appliances for next summer, think ahead and get the shopping done now.
Skip: This year's trends
One word of caution when stocking up on summer essentials: Make sure they are just that -- essential. Try to resist trendy, "of the moment" items, because there's no guarantee you'll still love them a year from now. Stick to the basics in classic and timeless colors and designs, and resist gimmicky or popular things.
Buy: School supplies, clothes and the office
Back-to-school sales make August a smart time to shop, even for those without children in school. School supplies are available for a lot less, so after your school shopping is done, stock up on what you might need for your office in the coming year, like printer paper, binders and even storage solutions.
Major stores have sales on clothing and shoes to outfit students for the new school year. Take advantage of these deals, and for even more rewards you can do your shopping online and combine sales with coupon codes or cash back.
Skip: Upcoming fall and winter sales
While end of summer deals are worth taking advantage of, there are two major shopping holidays quickly approaching: Labor Day, and of course Black Friday and the holiday season. You can usually get good deals on mattresses around Labor Day, and this year's car models will go down in price after new cars hit the lots in the fall.
If you're looking to buy a new television or major appliance but can hold off for a few months, Black Friday will be the best time to get these at the steepest discounts. It's hard to be patient, but your wallet will thank you.
Buy: Fall getaway
If you'd like to save some money, a great time to head off on vacation is after kids go back to school. In August, start looking around for September and October deals as resorts enter into an off-season and try to entice travelers with low rates.
Skip: Holiday arrangements
On the flip side, w ait a little bit longer before booking your travel arrangements for Thanksgiving and the holidays. September and October are known as the best time to buy the cheapest airfare for flying during the holiday season.
Jon Lal is the founder and CEO of coupons and cash back website BeFrugal.com, which saves shoppers an average of $27 per order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 4,000 stores.
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