What to Buy (and Skip) in August

Jul 30, 2021

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[Editor’s note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, in-store shopping may not be feasible, and some of these items may not be available.]

By the time August arrives, July’s Fourth of July sales are behind us, and September’s Labor Day savings are still ahead. So what deals happen in between?

Here’s your guide for what to buy (and skip) this month.

Buy: Back-to-school supplies

Whether you’re prepping for an at-home or in-person school year, back-to-school sales will be great in August, particularly as the beginning of school approaches. Look for these sales at department stores and office supply chains. Expect deals on backpacks, pens, pencils and other essentials. And as with any sale, remember to apply relevant coupons and coupon codes.

If your state participates in a back-to-school state sales tax holiday, use that window to buy some supplies sales-tax-free. Here's the full listing of 2021 sales tax holidays by state, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. Check for dates, details and to see if your state is participating.

Skip: Amazon devices

Amazon just hosted its Prime Day sale in June, so wait to buy Amazon-specific devices until the next major promotion.

Based on past sales, it’s likely we won’t see Amazon device discounts reach Prime Day-levels again until Black Friday in November. Black Friday also brings deep discounts on products like clothing, electronics and vacuums.

Spot your saving opportunities
See your spending breakdown to show your top spending trends and where you can cut back.

Buy: Outdoor products

With summer coming to a close, you probably aren’t planning on doing much work in the backyard. That’s exactly why outdoor maintenance products and patio furniture will reach low price levels in August. Buy these items now so you’ll be prepared for next year. If you need a new lawn mower, for example, take advantage of the deals you’ll find over the next few weeks.

Skip: Major household items

Skip appliances and mattresses. Labor Day and accompanying sales are around the corner. If it isn’t essential for you to make a major purchase in August, hold off until the big discount events arrive. This year, the holiday falls on Sept. 6.

Labor Day is renowned for its mattress, appliance and home decor deals. In the past, we’ve seen Lowe’s take up to 30% off major appliances and Bear Mattress offer $100 off any size Bear mattress online with a coupon code.

Buy: Summer clearance

As autumn draws near, it makes sense to want to add some sweaters and sweatshirts to your wardrobe. But prices at the start of any given season are generally higher than at the middle or end, so the price tag on that comfortable sweater you’re eyeing might not make you feel so warm and fuzzy.

On the flip side, now’s a perfect time to purchase summer clothing, shoes and swimwear. Since the warm season is coming to a close, retailers are trying to clear out old inventory to make room for winter weather necessities. If you’re going to buy any clothes this month, you’ll be able to save more on summer staples than winter gear.

Skip: iPhone

Pump the brakes on a new iPhone purchase for just a little while longer. Rumors are swirling that Apple is gearing up to release its new iPhone (or iPhones) soon.

If that’s true, a new iPhone release will mean two things. First, there will be a new phone with fresh features on the market that will instantly render your existing iPhone out of date. Second, Apple and third-party retailers generally drop prices on previous iPhone models in the wake of a new phone, making September a great time for a deal.

Bonus: Freebies

If you’re searching for special days to circle on your calendar, here are two: Aug. 6 is National Root Beer Float Day, and Aug. 24 is National Waffle Day. Expect plenty of food freebies on these days. Check for promotions on social media.