August is a huge month for many stores. If they haven’t already, they will be clearing out the lawn, garden, and summer activity merchandise to make room for (you guessed it) Christmas! While it can be tempting to fill cart after cart of 75% off goodness, some things are better left on the shelf. Here are our picks for sales that are the best buy, as well as a few purchases you had better put off until next year.
Go Ahead and Buy That….
1. Lawnmower, tiller, or leaf blower – They are about as cheap as they are going to get this year, and unlike other mechanical items that tend to depreciate when newer models come out, lawn and farm equipment just gets more valuable with age. Provided you have the place to store that dirt-cheap roto-tiller until next season, you can expect to save up to 40% on brand name models.
2. Lawn Furniture – Storage is again an issue with this type of buy, but if you were already in the market for a new patio set, it’s foolish to pass up discounts as large as 60% or more. If the exterior designer in you is worried about fashion trends, go ahead and buy the most modestly-patterned cushions for your new bench or lawn chairs. Remember, you can always skip things like throw pillows and outdoor rugs and stick with the major pieces that will outlast any seasonal “look.”
3. Summer Toy – Pool floaties, sandboxes, swing sets, and ride-on toys can get very expensive when you need them. Why not buy ahead of time for these items that are basically one-size-fits-all? If you need an upgrade to your outdoor play arsenal, go ahead and snag what you’ve been eyeing for a deep discount.
You Might Not Want to Bother with These….
1. Seeds and annuals – It’s nice to think that we can safely store a packet of seeds or keep that one-time flowering plant alive through the winter. The fact is that many of us with good intentions fail to pull it off, leaving you with dead vines in your house and a box full of moldy or have-sprouted seeds. The exception to this rule is if you plan on using seeds right away. (The Aerogarden now lets you use your own seeds with their customizable kits. You might also get a few months of herbs out of a window-planter full of your sale-priced seeds.)
2. Easy-set Pools – They look nice in their clearance-marked boxes, but those blow-up pools that everyone adores can go through trauma during storage. It’s not unusual to find that a winter in storage has resulted in mouse-bitten plastic or warped hardware. Unless you can keep it in a temperature and rodent-controlled facility, leave this pool in the store. (This doesn’t not even address the fact that most “cheap” pools will still cost you in chemicals, filters, water, and maintenance.)
3. Bathing Suits – Swimwear goes dirt cheap in August, seeing markdowns of around $20-70 per piece to as low as $3 per piece! Before you get excited about snagging that hot bikini for less, however, strongly consider both the fit of the suit next year (people do gain and lose weight from year to year) and the style. Some hot summer looks never make a comeback, and you won’t want to be sporting something so “last-year” trendy that it’s obvious. (Guys may have a little more leeway on this one, provided they are sticking with a plain style of swim trunks.)
So go ahead. Get a little crazy with your spending during the final markdowns of the warmer months. Just remember, if you can’t use it or you’re bound to lose it, it’s not a deal at all!