What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in August

Are we officially at the end of summer? Well, Hobby Lobby seems to think so. Last week, with the temperatures blazing at almost 100 degrees in Colorado, Hobby Lobby had filled the front of their store with pre-lit Christmas trees! And the aisles were full of Christmas items, too. Next year, I expect to see Christmas decorations at Easter. But this does mean you are going to see some great clearance deals soon, on items you can hardly believe are already on sale. (See also: Shopping Calendar: The Best Time to Buy Anything)

Without further ado, here are the best and worst things to buy in August.

What to Buy…

And here are the deals in store for you this month.

Back-to-School Is On

This is the time to grab your kids' school gear cheap. Of course, the usual clothing and school supplies, including backpacks, will be on sale. Also look out for great deals in places like Gap, American Eagle, Aeropostale, Buckle, and even Levi's. You'll also find deals on everything from dorm furniture to cheap storage. As usual, electronic deals for students will be popular, including laptops and accessories. And remember, tax free holidays in many states give you additional savings between August 1-3.

Target Slashing Toys

At the beginning of August, you'll see clearance deals in Target on a ton of toys, board games, and action figures. Target's aisle ends have been filled with 30% off deals, and a quick jaunt through a few of their stores yesterday revealed 50% and 70% stickers being applied with great abandon. Christmas is almost certainly going to happen again this year, so take advantage of these deals now and get more back for you gift buck.

Smaller LCD TVs Are Priced to Sell

Perhaps the college kids are the reason behind the TV pricing insanity, but smaller-sized TVs (up to 42 inches) are dropping in price by the week. As hard as it is for some people to believe (or admit…like me) that 42 inch TV you paid $1500 for can now be picked up for $299. And it will be the higher-quality LCD, not plasma. You really can afford to put a big TV in every room in the house now. (Although, do you really want to?)

Patio Deals Aplenty

There is still plenty of good weather left for grilling, but the big retailers don't want that patio furniture cluttering their aisles. They'd rather you took it off their hands, and they're cutting costs to make it a very attractive proposition for you. Now. You can pick up bargains of 40% to 60% off, and stores like Target, Walmart, and Sears will continue slashing prices throughout August. As always though, the longer you wait, the less choice you'll have. But when the 90% off sales hit at the end of the month, you'll be laughing all the way to next year's BBQ.


As the summer sales heat up, swimwear once again makes it into the clearance racks. If you're in the market for a new bathing suit, grab it now. Last minute vacation shopping later in the year is not the time to get your swimwear. You'll be disappointed.

Grills Are Flavor of the Month

August is one of the best months to get your grill on, and some of the monster grills and smokers will be on sale this month. As always, the longer you wait, the less choice you will have. Expect to see gas and charcoal grills on sale for up to 50% off, and even more by the end of the month.

Summer Clothing

Tees, shorts, and flip-flops are already being cut by 25%-30% as the stores start to swap out summer gear for the longer sleeves and covered toes of fall. That's good news for many of us, especially people like me who wear tees the whole year round. By the end of August, you'll see 75% off a lot of these summer clothes, but as always, the cheaper prices come with less choice.


This is starting to become a regular on the "what to buy" list. As technology gets less expensive, and new models replace old ones very quickly, you can take advantage of the tech deals that bring laptops in at record low prices. Just $300 can buy you a machine with a decent spec, and for the extra few hundred, you can get a PC laptop that will give a $2000 MacBook a run for its money. As always, shop around and look for rebates. You can also get great extra discounts on display models, as long as the warranty is intact.

Lawn and Yard Supplies

My grass has been green for just two months. So it makes sense that the stores would now start deeply discounting lawn, yard, and garden supplies at a hectic rate, right? Well, by now the prep work, fertilizing, and raking is pretty much done, with the next big date on the calendar being fall preparation. If you need a new hose, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, or even a stockpile of seeds, now is the time to go shopping. If you want a pool for your backyard, this is also a great time to go shopping.

What to Avoid

Don't bother with any of this stuff. Just know that eventually it'll move to the "What to Buy" category.

Everything Apple

Not the delicious fruit, but rather the expensive tech. Apple has a very strict product release schedule, and new models typically come out in late September and early October. That means you will not see good deals on Apple products until we get much closer to that time of year. Then, the next generation of products will ensure price drops on the current models.

Smart Watches

This time last year, smartphones were to be avoided. Now, it's smart watches' turn. They're just not at a place yet where they are mass-market, feature-packed, and reliable, and thus the price is not good. If you're seriously looking into a smart watch, wait a few more months.

Fall Clothing

The stores will be starting to stock up on fall clothing, and you won't see any discounts on these yet. The long sleeved sweaters and warm jackets will be hot items for many, and those who like to stock up on the latest fashions early will pay the price.

Do you have any purchase plans this month? Let us know in comments!

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Guest's picture

I was planning to make my own patio furniture out of left over lumber, but the low prices may sway me to purchase... we'll have to see.

Guest's picture

I like buying when things are just not in season. It sucks though that its hard to buy school clothes for the boys early simply because the are growing so much. We have no clue what size the will be a month or so from now so we tend to have to wait until the last minute.

Guest's picture

Comprehensive list! I also suggest you to buy traveling packages for domestic destination for mid to end of August now. As we approach the Labor Day on September, the flights and hotels will raise their prices and keep it that way. If you want to travel for cheap, I suggest you to do it now since most people are holding off for next month and many agencies are offering discounts during this off-peak period. And referring to Apple, if you plan on upgrading your Apple device make sure you sell your old gadgets now before their values depreciate when the new models kick in the fall.

Max Wong's picture

Apple gives a student discount + free printer, ipod, whatever through school bookstores or online--look under apple for education for their deals for students, teachers, and grandparents of students. For example right now students will save $200 on a mac + get a $100 gift card.