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YOUR MONEY: Best things to buy in August

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:57 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:59 PM CDT
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Information provided by RetailMeNot.com

While it falls at the end of summer, August is a new beginning. Every year, it marks the transition back to school. And this year, it marks the transition back to in person school for many students. Even adults are going through a similar transition back to the office — and experiencing the need for new clothing, shoes and even lunchboxes.

Retailers are transitioning, too, moving summer items to the sales racks and moving fall to center stage with boots, jackets and other cooler-weather staples.

All of this sets the stage for smart buys, as stores will be trotting out the deals for back-to-school and end-of-summer clearance shoppers alike.

Top Tips for August Shopping

Before we get into what, exactly, to buy in August, here are some tips for how to shop wisely, no matter what you’re purchasing:

  • Check if your state has a tax-free shopping weekend: More than a dozen states will hold their tax-free shopping weekend this August, and if yours is on the list, you’ll enjoy waived sales tax on eligible purchases. Eligible items tend to be those of the back-to-school variety, but that doesn’t mean they’re just for students; some states include electronics, clothing, backpacks and shoes in their tax-free weekends. That gives you plenty of options for stocking up on essentials.
  • Shop end-of-season clearance sales: Expect retailers to mark down everything summery, from clothing to outdoor products to camping equipment. Knowing that shoppers’ priorities will change with the weather, retailers will move all that stuff to the clearance racks and price it to sell. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale runs through the first week of August and holds plenty of deals on summer fashion. Plus, check out retailers like Overstock, Old Navy and Cabela’s to find patio furniture, summer clothing and outdoor equipment marked down.
  • Consider last-minute back-to-school deals: If you are comfortable with taking a risk, wait until right before school is back in session to snap up any remaining notebooks, lunchboxes, dorm items and other common items on students’ shopping lists. At this point, retailers will be eager to offload them. You may not want to use this tactic for items you actually need, as the shelves will be largely picked over by this point. But it can be a smart way to get essentials you know you (or your kids) will use next year at much-lower prices.

The Top 5 Buys for August

In addition to following the general tips above, consider making these purchases in the month of August:

1. Tech

August will see a flurry of deals on tablets, laptops and headphones, as retailers know that parents are on the lookout for upgrades. Check out Apple’s 2021 back-to-school offer, which includes free Airpods and discounts on select products.

Best Buy’s Deals of the Day are also a treasure trove of savings, but they change every day — so start checking now for any items on your wish list. Need inspiration? These are the most sought-after tech items for students this year.

Even if you’re not a student, you can take advantage of retailers’ tech discounts. In fact, this will be the last time before Black Friday that you see a lot of popular tech on sale at the same time.

2. Summer Clothing

While clothing racks will be filled with tempting, cozy items (think denim jackets, scarves and boots) that will have you smelling the pumpkin spice, we suggest taking a walk over to the sales rack (or online sale section) of your favorite clothing retailers. Shorts, tees, summer dresses and sandals will be marked down for you to store away for next year (or wear during those awkward still-hot weeks in September).

If you need new fall clothing, check back when retailers start stocking the shelves for winter (in October). Or make sure to shop retailers’ back-to-school sales, which will drop the prices on denim and other more fall-friendly attire.

3. Home Goods and Outdoor Furniture (+ Grills)

Two factors make August a good time to shop for your home. First, retailers are pushing dorm decor for college students, making it a good time for anyone to buy throw pillows, affordable seating, desks, trash cans, shower curtains and more.

College students get a little extra, thanks to the Bed Bath & Beyond College Savings Pass, which gets students 20% off all college purchases.

Second, retailers are trying to sell all summery products, which means patio furniture, patio umbrellas, outdoor dishes, outdoor rugs and grills will be on sale. In fact, August is a good time to shop for grills, because prices will start falling, but selection will still be decent.

4. Outdoor and Gardening Items

Campgrounds and national parks saw a surge this summer from the scores of travelers eager to take road trips as the pandemic waned.

Things will start looking quieter soon, however, so head to Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Walmart and other purveyors of outdoor equipment and see what’s on sale. Expect to find deals on portable grills, tents, hammocks, chairs and more.

Prefer experiencing the great outdoors from home? The gardening department at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s will also start marking down weed wackers and lawnmowers, as well as gardening tools, as colder weather looms. They’ve got to make room for all that giant Halloween decor, after all!

5. School (Or Office) Supplies

Whether you’re actually headed back to school, outfitting your home office or just really like school supplies, now is the time to buy pens, folders, art supplies, lunchboxes, backpacks, book bags and more. As with clothing and electronics, these deals aren’t just for students. At no other time of year will retailers have such a large selection at such low prices. Check Target for everything back-to-school. And check out Amazon’s back-to-school selection for tons of necessities. Amazon is known for offering bulk deals on everything from art supplies, to notebooks, to printer ink, so smart shoppers will stock up and reduce their back-to-school shopping bills for the next year.

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