By Alexandra Gekas
While sundresses, sandals and beach gear may be on your mind right now, you should be thinking about making some less-obvious buys when it's warm out. That's because the summer offers some of the best deals of the year on items like cars, grills and furniture. Read on to learn where you can get steep discounts this season and help your bottom line over the rest of the year. Photo credit: Thinkstock; iStock
Summer is a great time to get a new set of wheels because it's the end of the annual production schedule and peak selling season. That means there are lots of rebates, incentives and additional buyer programs to save you around 10% to 15%, according to Sarah Lee Marks, automotive consumer advocate and founder of car-buying guide MyCarLady.com. Just get on it as soon as possible. "The model year build cycle has become considerably shorter, so cars come with better incentives earlier in summer rather than the historical Labor Day sale," says Marks. A good way to find the best deals? Search the Internet, pay attention to TV ads and direct mailers and compare models, offers and dealership ratings, recommends Marks. Photo credit: Thinkstock
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If you can't get a grill in winter (when they're cheapest because it's the off-season), get one right after the Fourth of July or in September when retailers are trying to move leftover stock to make room for next year's models. During these periods, you could save as much as 30%, according to Andrew Schrage, consumer expert at the personal finance blog MoneyCrashers.com. If you're looking for a mid-priced grill, he recommends buying it from a brick-and-mortar retail store rather than online, since shipping costs usually negate any savings you may receive on the retail price. But if you want a high-end grill, look to the Internet, which has a better selection. "Either way do your research online first and narrow down your choices based on the specific features you want," says Schrage. Photo credit: Thinkstock
Apple computers and tablets and PC laptops come with steep discounts and incentives during the summer to gear up for the pre-college rush. But there are even more deals to be had. While Apple gives teachers and students of all ages a 10% discount on computers year-round, from June to September they throw in a $50 to $100 credit for the app store-the biggest perk Apple offers all year, according to Yung Trang, president of TechBargains.com. Even school faculty and staff, PTA executives and parents of college students are eligible to cash in. Microsoft, on the other hand, offers a free Xbox 360 with any laptop purchase over $699 every summer, both in-store and through third-party retailers like Best Buy. "They do this to sell more Windows laptops and also get a younger audience to use their console over gaming systems from Nintendo and Sony," says Trang. The Xbox is worth $199, so if you're already in the market for that and a laptop, take advantage of this offer. Photo credit: n/a
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New models are released annually in August, so retailers tend to clear the previous year's models in July. Buy then, and you'll save between 30% and 60%, according to Schrage. "When I shop for furniture, I check out a few local outlet stores and compare their selections to what I find at RoomsToGo.com," says Schrage. Just beware of interest-free and no-down-payment offers. Retailers attempting to sell low-quality furniture often use that tactic, warns Schrage. And avoid going-out-of-business sales for the same reason. Photo credit: Thinkstock
When it comes to refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, you're most likely to get up to 50% in savings in September before new models hit shelves in October. While Schrage recommends shopping online for big household appliances, he suggests taking exact measurements of the space the item needs to fit in and factoring in shipping costs to make sure it's still a deal. "For in-store purchases, wait until the end of the month when sales quotas are due, and never buy the extended warranty," he adds. Photo credit: iStock
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Second only to January prices, gym membership fees are lowest in summer when gyms are struggling to sign new members. "With the New Year's resolution crowd waning and nice weather enabling more outdoor sports, gym membership sales plummet in summer, so gyms are more willing to offer discounts and incentives during this time period," says Joanie Demer, co-owner of TheKrazyCouponLady.com. While savings vary from gym to gym, there's room for negotiation. "Go later at night when there are fewer salesmen around. Ask for the lowest price and negotiate something lower, mentioning not being able to spend quite that much or lower prices or better perks at one of their competitors," recommends Demer. "Also remember to include why you'd prefer that gym (more convenient hours and location, for instance) to show them that they're your first choice, but you need a better price. If they won't budge, go elsewhere." Photo credit: iStock
Although prices first drop on winter boots and coats in the spring, when there's a bigger selection available, you can still get discounts from 50% to 90% when summer rolls around. "Keep a lookout at clearance racks for jackets, sweaters, scarves and rain boots. If you need winter coats and boots, shop mid-spring to early summer," recommends Demer. Photo credit: iStock
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Traditionally, TVs are discounted before big annual events like the Super Bowl and Black Friday. This year, Trang expects prices on TVs to fall just before the Summer Olympics. It's a great excuse for retailers to hold a sale because "the newest TV technology with higher refresh rates and a sharper picture create a better viewing experience for sporting events," he says. And with the Olympics broadcasting in 3D for the first time, stores may discount 3D TVs enough for more buyers to afford them. "Plus, TV sales have slowed and retailers are looking for any catalyst to jumpstart sales," Photo credit: Thinkstock
The hottest months of the year aren't when homeowners want to be cooped up inside doing manual labor, so July is generally a good time to stock up on paint. "Not too many people are interested in undertaking a major painting project in summer, and therefore the prices of paint are lower. The discounts vary by retailer, but Sherwin-Williams has a preferred customer program which allows you to receive 10% off every purchase," says Schrage. "Or if you know a professional painter, ask him to call in your order using his business account, and you can receive their discount." Photo credit: fotolia.com
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When filling your kids' back-to-school needs, buy enough supplies for the whole year, since summer offers the most for your money. "School supplies are 75% cheaper in late July to early September than at any other time of the year," says Demer. In fact, stores slash prices even more in September on anything that hasn't already sold. "To get the best deal, sign up for email updates from your preferred retailer. You'll find that many back-to-school supplies are available for free after rebate," says Schrage. Photo credit: Thinkstock
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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