What to buy (and skip) in August

Posted at 3:43 PM, Jul 27, 2016

The start of a new month is signaled by more than simply turning a page on the calendar. In the retail world, it marks the beginning of new price cuts on a fresh set of products.

Before you hit the stores or web for some end-of-summer shopping, here’s your go-to guide for what to buy (and skip) in the month of August.

Buy: Back-to-school supplies

First up on your August shopping list should be school supplies. Academic products hit store shelves in July, but sales will be better in August — particularly as the beginning of school approaches. Look to back-to-school sales at department stores and office supply chains for deals on backpacks, pens, pencils and other essentials. And as with any sale event you see in August, remember to apply relevant coupons and coupon codes.

If your state participates in a back-to-school state sales tax holiday, use that window to buy laptops, backpacks and more tax-free. Florida residents, for example, can make clothing purchases of $60 or less per item tax-free between Aug. 5 and 7.

For a full listing of participating locations as well as dates and details for your state, see the Sales Tax Institute.

» MORE: What to splurge (and skimp) on for back-to-school

Skip: Toys

In August, school supplies are a go, but toy purchases are generally a no. If you’re in the market for a new toy, gaming system or children’s electronic device, hold off for now. Wait to make these types of purchases until late fall. You’ll see deeper discounts during the holiday shopping season, particularly on and around Black Friday.

Microsoft, for instance, will release its “sleeker, slimmer, sharper” Xbox One S 2TB console in the beginning of August, but being an early adopter of this new release also means you’ll likely pay full price for it.

Buy: Outdoor products

With summer coming to a close, you probably aren’t planning on doing much work in the backyard. But that’s exactly why outdoor maintenance products will reach low price levels in August. Buy these items now so you’ll be prepared for next year. If you need a new lawn mower, for example, take advantage of the big deals you’ll find over the next few weeks.

Right now, select patio furniture and outdoor decor is up to 50% off as part of a seasonal clearance event at Lowe’s. The End of Summer Clearance at Joss & Main features discounts that exceed 50% off on outdoor dining and seating sets.

Skip: iPhone

Pump the brakes on a new iPhone purchase for just one month longer. By all accounts, Apple appears to be gearing up to release the new iPhone 7 in September at the tech company’s annual keynote address.

New iPhone releases mean two things. First, there will be a new phone with fancy new features on the market that will instantly make your iPhone 6S out of date. Second, Apple and third-party retailers generally drop prices on previous iPhone models in the wake of a new phone, making September a great time for a deal.

» MORE: What to buy every month of the year

Buy: Summer clearance

As autumn draws near, it makes sense to want to add some sweaters and sweatshirts to your wardrobe, but before you swipe your card, think again. Prices at the start of any given season are generally higher than at the middle or end. So the price tag on that comfortable sweater you’ve been eyeing might not make you feel so warm and fuzzy.

On the flip side, now’s a perfect time to purchase summer clothing and swimwear. Since the warm season is coming to a close, retailers are trying to clear out old inventory to make room for winter weather necessities. If you’re going to buy any clothes this month, you’ll be able to save more on summer staples than winter wear. Swimsuits, for instance, will mean deep sales. As Victoria’s Secret phases out its swimwear collection, prices are reaching rock bottom.

Bonus: National Garage Sale Day

Great deals this month may be closer than you think. That’s because the second Saturday in August is National Garage Sale Day. This year, that’s Aug. 13. Lots of bargain hunters will be looking to sell or buy during this annual end-of-summer event. Look for offerings around your neighborhood and community.

One more tip

Labor Day and accompanying sales are around the corner. If it isn’t essential for you to make a major purchase in August, hold off until massive discount events arrive on and around Labor Day weekend. This year, the holiday falls on Sept. 5, but you can expect sales to begin a week before that.

Labor Day is renowned for its mattress and appliance deals. Last year, Best Buy took up to 30% off major appliances, 1800Mattress discounted nearly every mattress by up to 60%, and furniture price cuts reached 70% at Overstock.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @courtneynerd.

The article What to Buy (and Skip) in August originally appeared on NerdWallet.