With stores clamoring for your back-to-school dollars, knowing what to buy in August is the key to smart spending. Here’s your strategy to maximize savings by taking advantage of August’s sales.
As summer winds down there are BIG savings to be had on everything from groceries to home furnishings. There are some surprising false-sales, too. Check out the list below so you don’t get taken in by a deal that’s not really a deal.
As always, those with plenty of storage space will save the most by estimating their family’s needs for the next several months and buying in bulk. If you’re short on spots to stash bulk purchases, you can still save money by avoiding the fake sales and stocking up on the real discounts.
What to buy in August: Groceries
Lunch and snack items are steeply discounted this month. Look for sales on pudding cups, bread, cold cereal, waffles, frozen pancakes, and lunch meats. They all freeze well, so stock up if you have the space! (Don’t freeze pudding cups.)
Produce in season now includes apples, Haas avocados (the dark ones), green beans, berries, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, figs, grapes, melons, onions, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, squash, tomatillos and tomatoes. Find out how to save produce and stock up on these foods, too.
Teacher-requested supplies like disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and tissues are all on sale. Look for markdowns from Clorox, Purell, Kleenex and other major manufacturers. Check Sunday coupon sections for additional savings.
Other school supplies may look like they’re on sale, but be careful: most stores sell only a handful of items on true discount (packages of filler paper for 10 cents; 2 dozen pencils for 25 cents) but mark up other items to offset their loss (binders for $8, highlighters for $4). Before you buy, check out how to save money on school supplies!
Summer items have been heavily marked down as stores try to clear out insect repellent, sunscreen, and charcoal. You may find some great deals on picnic-related items but they’ll be marked down even more after Labor Day.
What to buy in August: Clothing
Kid’s clothes are a mixed-bag. Summer items are on clearance now while back-to-school clothes are crowding the racks. Watch those “sale” prices carefully: if your child doesn’t have to wear the latest designer labels you’ll score better deals at the end of the month.
Swimwear, sunglasses and flip-flops are at their lowest prices while stores make room for winter gear. Use these discounts to supplement your summer wardrobe or stock up for next year.
What to buy in August: Outdoor Items
Grills are finally on sale now that the grilling season is supposedly coming to an end. (We grill even in the middle of winter when there’s 6 inches of snow on our deck!) Grill accessories are a good deal now, too.
Camping gear is ready to move with discounts on tents, lanterns, sleeping bags, and fishing equipment. Not really on sale: coolers since football fans will be more than happy to pay top-dollar for new ones when the season starts August 9.
Outdoor toys like swing sets, badminton and croquet are all on sale. So are kiddie pools and pool toys.
What to buy in August: Housewares & Electronics
Storage and organization solutions are big sellers this time of year as college freshmen move into dorms and their mothers wonder how their kids will keep their dirty and clean clothes separate.
Linens of all kinds are seriously discounted, particularly lower-end sheets, mattress covers and toppers, and towels.
Mattresses are starting to show up in August sales over the last couple of years, though the selection isn’t as good as Spring when nearly twice as many manufacturers participate.
Laptop prices are hitting rock-bottom, especially now that Windows 10 is out.
Don’t buy furniture now, though. Stores discounted last year’s models already; the stuff that’s hitting shelves is at its highest price in August.
Skip new phones and tablets for now, too. Apple traditionally releases new iPhones in September and iPads in October. You’ll get better deals on older versions by waiting until the new releases are out. Not into Apple products? Wait anyway: other manufacturers will be offering great deals to compete with Apple’s new releases.
Don’t buy a TV now, either. The start of the NFL season sees many families willing to upgrade their TVs regardless of the price. Stores are interested in providing selections at this point, not savings. Tune into bigger savings later in the fall.
Knowing what to buy in August is the key to taking advantage of this month’s sales without getting suckered into fake discounts. And remember: shopping on your state’s tax-free day will help you save even more!
Note: This post first appeared in 2012. It is revised and updated annually to reflect current shopping and savings trends.