Next to the holiday season, back-to-school shopping season is the biggest retail event of the entire year, and we’re smack-dab in the middle of it.
Americans will spend almost $76 billion – that’s $674 per household – prepping their kids for the school year ahead, according to the National Retail Federation. Yes, you can find some truly unbeatable bargains on school supplies right now, but if you’re able to look ahead – past September, past the holidays and all the way to next summer – you can find many things for as close to free as they’ll ever be. And depending on the weather in these coming weeks, you can probably enjoy most of them right now, too.
[See: Avoid These Common Pitfalls During the Back-to-School Shopping Trip.]
Snag a swimsuit: If you’ve had a decent summer, filled with dips in the pool and body surfing in the ocean, then chances are, your swimsuit has seen better days. There’s no better time to pick up a fresh one than now, not only because trying them on feels easier with sun-kissed skin, but also because you’ll never see prices this low. Women’s suits at Old Navy are up to 74 percent off, which means you can score a one-piece for as little as $12 and separates from $5. Plus, H&M has pieces starting at $5, too ($4 for kids).
Pick up some patio furniture: No retailer wants giant glass tables or wicker chaise lounges taking up room (and gathering dust) on their floors all winter, so they do whatever they can to move them out now. Lowe’s, for instance, is running a patio furniture clearance sale, where pieces are marked down by half. Pottery Barn has discounted its outdoor furniture by up to 60 percent (and if you sign up for its email list, you can take another 15 percent off). Pier 1 Imports is also selling some of its summer inventory for up to 70 percent off. While you’re thinking of your outdoor space, set the mood by picking up some new lighting to go with it. Both Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot are offering up to 30 percent off some outdoor lighting.
[See: 12 Ways to Be a More Mindful Spender.]
Pump up the jam: You may be moving your parties inside, but that’s exactly why outdoor speakers are going on sale. Crutchfield is offering up to $150 off outdoor sound systems during its end-of-summer sale event, and Best Buy is offering up to $129 off. Sears also has some cool models on sale, including a set that resembles rocks for $116 (regularly $160) and a set that can be hidden in-ground for $98 (regularly $140).
Replace your air conditioner: If you’ve been only barely tolerating the “wub-wub-wub” of your old air conditioner all summer, now’s the time to invest in one for next year. Most units are on sale at Best Buy now, but some portable ones (the kind that come on wheels) are currently up to $275 off – that’s 45 percent off. Walmart has a vast air conditioner clearance section, too, including one Frigidaire unit (that also heats) for $275 off the list price.
Sleep well: Retailers may be going after the college market with the markdowns on bedding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cash in on those deals, too. Macy’s and Kohl’s, for example, both have hundreds of bedding sets on sale, many for as much as half off. You’ll sleep well with those deals.
[See: 10 Money-Saving Websites to Check Before Shopping.]
Adopt a hobby: Almost anyone can stand-up paddleboard, and with the sales going on now, you can own your own setup. Some boards are 25 percent off at West Marine, while you can save up to $300 on boards at Eastern Mountain Sports. Or if you’d prefer to stay on dry land, REI and Cabela’s both have tents for up to 40 percent off.
Toast your summer: It’s sad that the summer season is ending, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s this: Wine sellers are trying to clear their shelves to make way for the new harvest, so now is the time they typically mark down older (but not dusty) vintages. Wine.com, for example, currently has more than 4,500 wines, from years 2012 to 2015, on sale, many up to 50 percent off. For more immediate gratification, FreshDirect.com will take 40 percent off any bottle with the promo code WINE40.