While the summer doesn’t officially end until late September, August signifies the end of lazy afternoons by the pool and beach getaways for many people. Unlike June and July, August doesn’t have any big barbecue or gift-giving holidays, but that doesn’t mean stores aren’t offering consumers great deals on a number of different items.
August is the second-highest consumer spending period of the year — after the winter holidays — which could mean shoppers are taking advantage of some of the best sales of the year. Of course, not everything on store shelves this month is a good buy. Read on to discover the items you should and should not buy in August.
BEST: BACK-TO-SCHOOL SUPPLIES
If you have school-age children, are a student yourself or are teacher, you’ll most likely purchase back-to-school supplies in August. Retailers like Walmart and Target roll out savings on back-to-school shopping throughout much of the month, but for even steeper discounts on back-to-school supplies, wait until the last week of August to buy. Look for essentials like lunch boxes, backpacks, crayons, binders, markers, glue sticks and more. You can also save big on home items like rugs, decor, bath towels and lighting that are great for the dorm or your home.
Don’t know what back-to-school supplies you need to buy? Walmart posts a list from each local school at the front of the store indicating which supplies each grade level needs a few weeks before school begins. They also give teachers an opportunity to create an online wish list for extra items needed for the classroom so parents can contribute if they desire. Target’s School List Assist is another online asset for teachers wishing to post classroom needs.
Even if you’re not in school, you can take advantage of back-to-school sales on tech. According to market intelligence firm NPD Group, the first three weeks in August is the best time to buy notebooks or laptops. Sales on printers, computer paper, small appliances and storage solutions are some of the other sweet savings to capture this month.
As families turn their attention to the upcoming school year, popular tourist destinations in the U.S. see far fewer crowds. The lull often coincides with a drop in pricing at attractions and hotels, as well as lower prices on gas and airfare during the second half of the month.
Here are a few ways you can take advantage of lower prices on travel in August.
Take a road trip: August gas prices should fall in the range of $2.45 to $2.65 per gallon, with a nationwide average of $2.55, according to GasBuddy’s Fuel Price Outlook. By choosing a destination you can reach on a single tank of gas, the total travel transportation cost for your family vacation is less than $80 if you have an average sized tank of 15 gallons.
Think tropical: Hurricane season runs from June 1 through the end of November, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid a trip to the tropics. August typically brings few hurricanes to destinations in the eastern Caribbean like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You won’t even need a passport to travel to either destination, as they are U.S. territories.
Take a cruise: Last-minute cruise deals are a hotbed of savings at any time of year as cruise lines seek to fill ships. End-of-summer deals are especially sweet for destinations that include the Caribbean or Bermuda, where you can enjoy savings of 60 percent or more.
Go Disney: If the kids have been clamoring for a trip to Disneyland, August might be the time to go. The last two weeks of August see single day admission prices at the value price of $97 from Monday through Thursday. Save even more with the purchase of a Southern California CityPASS. The multi-attraction ticket includes a three-day Disney Park Hopper Ticket with one Magic Morning early admission (value approximately $300), one-day admission to Legoland (value $98) and one-day admission to SeaWorld (value $88.99 to $94.99) all for the price of $353.
WORST: FALL FASHION
New fall fashions are sometimes included in back-to-school sales, but you should buy only what you need and replace the bulk of your autumn wardrobe after Thanksgiving when fall clearance sales are in full swing. The money you’ll save will let you buy quality pieces to add to a capsule wardrobe that will have you stepping out in classic style for years to come.
Before shopping, review your wardrobe. Pull everything in your closet out onto your bed and analyze it one piece at a time. If it doesn’t make you feel confident or happy to wear, put it in the giveaway pile — even if you paid way too much for it. After all the clothes in your closet have made it either back on the rack or on the stack of giveaways, analyze each piece you’re giving away to see what it is about it that left it lacking. Knowing what you don’t like will help keep you from making the same mistake this time around.
WORST: A NEW TV
If your child needs a small TV for his dorm, you can find deals on TVs that won’t leave your wallet wailing. But if you’re in the market for a 50-inch model to catch all the action on your favorite sporting events or dramas, you’re better off waiting to buy.
The best time of year to buy a TV is during Black Friday sales, according to Consumer Reports. The second best time is a week or two before the Super Bowl, which falls on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. Purchasing an “older” TV model is another way to save. A study conducted by Consumer Reports and Gap Intelligence, a retail and e-commerce market research company, found that the price of a particular Samsung television went from $1,100 when it was released in April to less than $900 five months later in anticipation of Labor Day sales. The price dropped to $780 for Black Friday. As the TV hit clearance racks 15 months after it made its debut, the price dropped to an all-time low of $650.
Beware before jumping on closeout prices on TVs that are being phased out, or you might be paying for technology that you won’t be able to enjoy for years to come. For example, 3-D TVs are no longer being produced by companies like Sony, Samsung, LG or Panasonic, although you’ll still find some in your local electronics shop for as little as approximately $2,000. TV channels dedicated to 3-D viewing have all but disappeared, and although you can find a couple dozen Blu-Ray 3-D new releases, that number is expected to dwindle in coming years.
There’s other ways to keep the price of a set down when you’re TV shopping. First, don’t get upsold on extras like cables or an extended warranty. It might be tempting to have everything you need when you get home with the set, but you can pick up accessories for less on Amazon. You can also save by shopping at stores like Costco that automatically extend manufacturer’s warranties, or by using a credit card that provides extra coverage.
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