What to Buy in August -- and What to Skip


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August is all about back-to-school deals. Even frugal shoppers without school-age kids can find big discounts this month on items such as electronics and office supplies. This is also the beginning of the end of summer, so August bargains include seasonal products. Here's a shopping list filled with cut-rate prices this month.

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Some states offer tax-free shopping on select days in August. In most cases these sales tax holidays apply only to select goods, such as clothing and school supplies. Check your state government's website for dates and restrictions. This could be a good time to make a big-ticket purchase such as a computer or energy-efficient appliance.

backpack with school supplies
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School supplies of all kinds will be discounted or promoted with coupons in the coming weeks. Look for August deals on paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, glue, rulers, calculators, folders, and binders. Now's the time to stock up for a small business or home office, as well, with discounts on items such as chairs, desks, and file cabinets in addition to office supplies.

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Consumers will see August deals on summer merchandise as vendors look to clear the racks for fall inventory. This is the best time and probably the last chance until next summer to buy a truly cheap swimsuit. If you have children at home, buy that kiddie pool now for next year. Grills will also be deeply discounted this month.

family shopping for kids' clothes
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This is the perfect time to jump-start kids' fall wardrobes. In a school clothes price comparison last year, Walmart emerged the cheapest and Old Navy was also a top pick for price, quality, and trendy designs.

student standing with boxes of dorm stuff
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College campuses are gearing up to usher in a new crop of freshmen. If you have a college-bound student at home, look now for discounts on dorm essentials and decor sold by retailers such as Walmart, Target, and dollar stores. Even if no one in the family is near college age, take advantage of August deals on storage containers, linens, and other items for the home (the first week of the month is National Simplify Your Life Week).

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In addition to all the typical supplies, a new laptop is on many college students' shopping lists. Laptops will be on sale this month and many retailers will be offering discounted bundles that might include software, a case, and even a printer. Don't forget, these savings can benefit anyone, not just college-bound students.

man starting up lawn mower
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Homeowners in most parts of the country won't need lawn mowers for much longer, so watch for retailers to mark them down. Gardening tools and other landscaping implements, such as tillers and weed eaters, also go on sale this month. Outdoor furniture and decorative yard items, on the other hand, are likely to see greater price cuts (up to 90 percent off) in September and October.

camping gear
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With the end of summer drawing near, many retailers will begin to discount this year's tents, sleeping bags, cooking stoves, and the like. Snag some August discounts on camping gear in time to fit in one last trip before school starts.

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By August most people have already finished their summer travels and are setting their sights on fall getaways and holiday travel. The lull makes this month a good time to buy new luggage to replace that ancient piece held together with duct tape.

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The late summer harvest yields fruit such as apricots, blueberries, grapes, mangos, melons, nectarines, kiwis, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon, all of which will be ripe and cheap. Readily available vegetables include corn, cucumbers, bell peppers, beets, eggplant, green beans, green onions, lettuce, okra, radishes, summer squash, and tomatoes. Make the most of August produce with these recipes.

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Look for free or deeply discounted waffles for National Waffle Day on Aug. 24. Denny's, Waffle House, and Bob Evans all have offered discounts and coupons in the past.

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