8 Best Buys for Fall! Thursday, Aug 29 2013 

As the kids get back to school, it’s time to ramp up for another beautiful Autumn.  The cooler weather, the gorgeous foliage, you have to admit, Mother Nature really outdoes herself around here in the Fall.  With that in mind, read on for phenomenal deals your local stores have to offer as we say goodbye to another Summer.

Air Conditioners – I don’t know about you, but after this year’s blistering summer heat, I’m ready to give my air conditioner the appliance equivalent of the Medal of Honor.  If your air conditioner is ready for a replacement, September is the perfect month to shop for it.  Home Improvement Centers nationwide use September as the month to rid themselves of their summertime stock, and they will slash their prices big time to get it out the door. 

Charcoal Grills and Lawn Mowers – Every store that sold charcoal grills and lawn mowers this summer now has the challenge of getting rid of some very bulky excess inventory.  Keep your eyes open for some super sales that can slash prices by as much as 40% in some stores. 

Swimwear – I know I’m dating myself here, but when did swimsuits start costing $200 or more?  Call me crazy, but I really hate spending that much money on an item of clothing that weighs 2 ounces.   Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for mega sales on swimwear that can reduce prices by 50% or more.

Travel and Airfare – Whether you’re considering a cruise, train trip, flights to exotic locales, you name it – travel agencies consider September the top month for discounts on travel.  If you’re in the market for a fabulous trip at fantastic prices, get to your local travel agency and see what they have to offer – you’ll often find prices are reduced by 25% or less!   On a related note:  If you’re planning on traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, the best time to book and buy your tickets is 6-8 weeks prior, aka now.   If getting over the river and thru the woods to grandmother’s house involves a jumbo jet, get those tickets soon to ensure your biggest discounts.

Shrubs and trees – your local garden nursery was probably doing a booming business during the summer, but still has lots of bushes and shrubbery to get rid of before the weather gets colder.  Scan the circulars and snag some serious deals, often for 50% off.

Cars – At car dealerships across the country, next year’s inventory typically arrives in September.  What does that mean to you?  Sales on this year’s models, that’s what!  Dealerships are ready, willing and eager to get rid of the glut of this year’s models still on their showroom floors.  Get in there, show no fear and snap up a deal!

Cookware – if you’re in the market for some new cookware, Autumn is the month to snag it.  Department stores are clearing their current inventory to make way for some new holiday offerings, and that means that they need to offer some fabulous sales to make some space.  Time for you to channel your inner Julia Child and get yourself some new pots and pans!  Bon Appetit! 

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Slash your Back to School Budget in Half! Saturday, Aug 10 2013 

According to the National Retail Federation, families are spending nearly $700 per child for back to school costs!  This includes $400+ for clothing and shoes, $100 for supplies and over $200 for electronics.  Even crazier, that $700 estimate is about $85 more than parents spent last year.  If you’re one of those parents whose finding that getting the kids ready for another school year is costing the same as your average mortgage payment, read on for some proven tips to cut that figure in half, effortlessly.

The Clothes – we all want our kids to be comfortable and feeling stylish.  But if your budget is as strapped as ever (and whose isn’t?), I suggest a new clothes-shopping strategy that will fill your kids’ closets with the name brands for easily 75-90% off.   Hit your local thrift stores and consignment shops, where every single name brand that you kid loves is waiting for you, in fantastic shape, at rock-bottom prices.  Five dollars for name-brand jeans, two dollars for fantastic tops, $8 for coats and often $5 for beautiful shoes still in their original boxes, never worn.   Trust me, find a fabulous thrift store near you, and try outfitting your child with a name-brand wardrobe they will adore, for a fraction of what you spent last year. 

The Supplies – I could be dating myself, but when I was a kid, the back-to-school supplies list was a half-page long, consisting of a notebook, number two pencils, and if you felt like going over the top, perhaps some pens.  These days, a Kindergartner’s back-to-school list of “necessities” reads like a 72-point NASA pre-launch list.   Do yourselves a favor, and take that list first to your local Dollar Store, where aisles of school supplies await you, often for 50% or more off the usual retail prices.  If there’s anything you need that you can’t find at the Dollar Store, then head to the office supply chains to get the remaining items on your list.   With that strategy in action, you’ll easily spend 25-50% less than the national average.

The Electronics – Now I know I’m dating myself here, but when I went to school, all the way from Kindergarten to graduating College, the only sophisticated electronics I really needed to get for myself was a calculator, which I think I got for free from the bank.   Now I realize the list of kid-adored, “get-it-for-your-child-or-they’re-destined-for-failure” electronics has exploded in recent years, and it’s all incredibly impressive.  However, might I be bold enough to suggest that the typical American student (from ages 5-18) really doesn’t need their own cell phone, iPad, Kindle or laptop to succeed?    Unless your third grader has a conference call scheduled over their lunch break (doubtful), or your Kindergartner needs to check the Weather Channel app on his iPhone before venturing out to recess (also doubtful), extravagant electronics purchases do not guarantee a successful, thriving student.  Just about every home has a computer (if not, hit the library down the street), and every school out there has a sophisticated computer lab that’s more than adequate.  As for the phones, computers, Kindles and iPads, kids can use the phone and computer at home and the library.  If they truly feel that they need certain electronics as a teenager, let them pay for it themselves with the money they make over the summer – and tell them that they can find last year’s “gotta have” models for about 80% off on Craigslist. 

Happy Back-to-School season, everybody!  Here’s to another fabulous year of learning!