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The Master List: Good and Bad Buys in September

August 27, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under

As we enter early September, it’s a great time to make certain purchases. After all, one of the best ways to save money is to time the market on certain items so you remain in the driver’s seat in terms of negotiating power. It is with this in mind that I present the best and worst items to purchase in September.

Fall costs

The Good Buys in September:

Holiday Airfare

~ Will you be traveling home for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year? If so, book your airfare early as these high-demand flights will get nothing but more expensive as we get into October and early November. Also, coupon trends here at Rather-Be-Shopping.com show a big decline in travel coupons after September. Book now!

iPhone 5s/5c

~ Ahead of the much anticipated iPhone 6 release on September 9th, Walmart recently discounted the iPhone 5C to .97 cent with a 2 year contract. You can also get the iPhone 5S for only $97 with a 2 year contract. So for those who don’t need the newest and greatest phone (like me) opt for this sweet deal. Don’t want the 2 year contract? Check out what T-Mobile has going on that allows you to buy an iPhone 5S, make a monthly payment on it, and sign-up for a very affordable month-to-month plan that in many cases is cheaper than getting it from Walmart. Finally consumers are getting some solid choices when it comes to smartphone plans.

Mattresses

~ Mattresses notoriously go on sale in September. Labor Day weekend for whatever reason has become a rock star weekend for mattress sellers to offer amazing deals and consumers respond in droves. Easily save 60% off name brand, high quality mattresses, like Sealy, Serta, Stearns & Foster, and Beautyrest. If you and your back are in need of a new mattress shop the deals in early September and save a solid chunk of change.

Swimming Pool Stuff

~ As the weather starts to cool down, so does the market for swimming pools toys, equipment, supplies, and chemicals. Look for screaming deals in September as retailers look to get rid of inventory rather than having to store it over the winter months.

Patio Furniture/BBQ’s

~ Many retailers are slashing the price on both patio furniture and BBQ’s ahead of the cold weather when the market will really enter the toilet. A few of the best deal we have found are at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Orchard Supply, and Sears. Patio furniture will be marked at up to 50% off. Also look for similar deals on BBQ’s, seat cushions, outdoor fans, and garden decor.

Baseball Gear

~ My son just started playing fall baseball and was in need of a new bat as his old one was a little short as he seemed to have grown 6 inches over the summer. So off we went bat shopping at both Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The deals were simply amazing, not only did we find a $20 off $100+ coupon for Sports Authority, which was awesomely accepted by the Dick’s Sporting Goods cashier, but we also found some really sweet sales on gloves, training aids, balls, and baseball apparel.

This goes way beyond just big-box sporting goods stores too, look for deals at garage sales and places like Play-It-Again Sports which sells gently used baseball gear for pennies on the dollar. Bottom-line is that baseball is not being played in many places as football season ramps up, making September a great time to stock up for next spring if you have a ball player in the family.

Cars (2014 Models)

~ Toyota, Chevrolet, and Ford are offering 0% financing on many of their 2014 models in early September. Many auto makers also have special Labor Day sales and rebates making September a great month to shop for a new car. As dealerships work to clear inventory to make room for 2015 models, which typically start to arrive in late September and October, it increases your negotiating power substantially.

Summer Apparel

~ Last year, on Labor Day weekend, I made the trek with my wife and kids to a large factory outlet center a couple hours away. I was absolutely blown away with the deals on summer apparel and shoes. Specifically, American Eagle Outfitters was 50% off the ENTIRE store, no joke. Way better than any coupon they’ll have on Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Also, the Nike Outlet had t-shirts for $6.99, regularly $15, and over 50% off many pairs of shoes.

If you can’t make it to an outlet in early September to stock up for next year, then be sure shop online as many clothing websites will be running some great clearance sales in an effort to clear out Summer apparel. This is also a great time to stock up for next year if you have kids by buying stuff a size or two bigger.

Golf Clubs and Gear

~ The summer golfing season is coming to a close in September which leads to some great deals if you are in the market for a new set of clubs or various golf equipment like bags, shoes, gloves, and training aids. According to Golf Digest editor Bob Carney, you can easily save 20%-25% by buying last season’s models in September. If you are a weekend warrior like me you already know that last season’s clubs are just as good as next years.

“Some” Back-To-School Supplies

~ If you are like many and have procrastinated buying several of the items on your back-to-school list, you may be in for some sweet savings in September. Many big-box stores and office supply chains over bought certain items and now need to clear them off shelves, passing the savings along to you. Be sure to shop the clearance racks at Walmart, Office DepotTarget, and Kohl’s and look for deals on binders, pencil sharpeners, backpacks, and other items that didn’t sell well for whatever reason.

The Bad Buys in September:

Laptops and Tablets

~ As we enter September, we also enter a time of year when laptop and tablet deals are fairly limited, especially on newer models. Back to school sales are pretty much over and Christmas shopping has not yet begun. It is definitely worth your while to wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday at the end of November when the deals really come out of the woodwork.

Halloween Costumes

~ Our coupon trends show that over the past 5 years the best coupons from stores like Costume Express, Buy Costumes.com, Celebrate Express, and Wholesale Costume Club come out between October 1st and the 15th. We typically see coupons and deals in the 30-45% off range. Avoid the compulsion to buy your kid’s Halloween costume early and save money in October.

Fall Apparel

~ If you can wait to update your fall wardrobe until October or early November you’ll save a bunch of money. New fall clothing lines are just now rolling out and they are almost all being sold at full price. Here at Rather-Be-Shopping.com, we typically start to see 20-30% off coupons for new clothing lines in early October. Wait and save.

Wine

~ In the aftermath of the 6.1 earthquake that shook the Napa Valley, several wineries suffered significant losses to stored wine. Because of this shaker, the price of wine at these wineries may very well be rising. Look for your favorite Cabernet Sauvignons to be affected the most. If you start to see prices inflate, wait and buy when the dust has settled and the prices have come back down.

Hotel Room for Thanksgiving

~ The travel experts at Hipmunk.com say that it is best to procrastinate your Thanksgiving hotel room as travelers can save $50 on average if they wait until November to book. Hotels are notorious for lowering prices as we get closer to the holidays in order to fill empty rooms.

HDTV’s

~ While it may be tempting to go out and buy a big ol’ TV to kickoff the NFL and college football seasons, you’re much better served to wait for the famed Black Friday weekend to pull the trigger on a deal. Not only will you find better deals on name brand televisions, but also on the lesser known discount brands. November and December create the perfect storm for TV buyers as the deals are prominent in an effort to entice holiday shoppers and clear out models ahead of new TV’s being released in January and February after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


By Kyle James

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10 Things More Expensive This Fall & Tips to Fight Back

August 20, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

I recently read an article on CBS MoneyWatch talking about 10 things that are going to be more expensive this fall. Fairly interesting stuff for a dude like me who always tries to predict rising costs and figure out ways to divert said costs. What I found most interesting is the author had no problem spouting rising costs on certain items with absolutely no advice or tips on how to avoid them. Fairly typical I suppose. So I took it upon myself to research ways to not let these 10 things weigh you down this fall. Here is what I discovered…

Fall costs

Sandwich Meat

~ Wow, I love me a big ol’ fat sandwich loaded with meat, cheese, and veggies. Throw it all on a soft sourdough roll, some chipotle sauce, and I’m one happy dude. Turns out Kraft is raising the price on 50% of their products. They are raising their meats by 10% across the board this fall. The current cost of milk, pork, and chicken is forcing Kraft to raise their prices. Here is how to fight back:

  • A ham lover? Buy a whole or half ham and slice it thinly for sandwiches. Freeze what you won’t use within the week. You can get it for less than $2 a pound.
  • Do the same for turkey and roast beef. Buy and cook and entire turkey or roast, slice for sandwiches, freeze a ton of it and have cheap sandwich meat for months.
  • Buying in bulk, cooking, and slicing meat is especially a great tip if you have kids and are packing lunches every weekday.

Bacon…Yummy Bacon

~ Bacon is the duct tape of the kitchen, right? A new recipe just not working…throw in some bacon and you’re good to go. Pig farmers are hurting with high feed prices due to a major drought in most of the western U.S. and the result is bacon at a record high price of $6.11 a pound. Here is the single best way to save money on yummy bacon:

  • Buy Kirkland Signature brand bacon from Costco. It consistently ranks as the best bacon from Consumer Reports and you can buy four 1lb packages very reasonably price at $17.64 or $4.41 per pound. Almost $2 dollars cheaper than the national average. Use one package, freeze the other three for later. Bacon problem averted.
  • If you are not a Costco member then be sure to shop grocery store circulars and look for deals and coupons on a pound of bacon. Just yesterday our local Safeway had a sale for $3.99 a pound. When you see a deal be sure to stock up and freeze it.

Denim Jeans

~ According to CBS MoneyWatch, denim prices are jacked way up right around back-to-school season as manufacturers know many folks are buying. Here are some tips to save:

  • Thrift stores. The one cool thing about denim is it lasts forever and typically looks better with age. This makes shopping for denim jeans at your local thrift store a no-brainer. Most are usually stocked to the gills with jeans, name brand jeans mind you, and are sold for pennies on the dollar.
  • When buying denim new, always shop with a coupon, especially when shopping online. Retailers like Levi’s.com, Kohls.com, Lands’ End.com, and American Eagle Outfitters.com have some terrific coupon codes available to help you save up to 40% off your next pair of jeans.
  • Lastly, simply hold off on denim purchases until October when Rather-Be-Shopping.com will start to see an increase in holiday coupons, particularly for apparel stores.

Chocolate

~ When milk and cocoa goes up in costs, it makes sense that Hershey’s is going to raise prices, 8% in July to be exact. Mars did the same with a 7% increase. But chocolate lovers do not fret, here is how to still get your fix and NOT pay more.

  • Buy in bulk and save money by buying Kirkland Signature chocolate products from your local Costco. Stay away from name brands as those will consistently cost you more.
  • Stock up on name brand chocolates right after Halloween when grocery and discount stores are slashing prices to clear out their excess trick or treat chocolates. Put as much as you can fit into your freezer as chocolate will easily last between 6 and 8 months.

Electricity Costs

~ I have personally felt the increase in electricity costs this summer and the fact of the matter is rates will never go down. But here are a few solid tips to control your electricity costs and keep them as low as possible.

  • Look into solar. With the federal tax credit and increasingly lower costs to install solar panels at your home this is finally becoming a feasible solution for many Americans.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. This is a very frugal way to control your heating and cooling bill. By installing a programmable thermostat you can set it to only heat or cool your house when you are actually there.
  • My favorite tip is to plant a small tree in front of windows that directly get afternoon sunlight. I did this at my home and it is amazing how much cooler the rooms affected stay. Be sure to plant deciduous trees that lose their leaves in autumn so the sunlight makes its way through the window and warms the room during winter.

Starbucks Coffee

~ Starbucks raised the cost of their whole beans by 8% this fall. In actuality, look for all coffee to go up in price. This price increase is due to a big drought in Brazil which has really hurt the Arabica coffee bean industry. Lucky for you I wrote an article recently documenting 8 ways to save money at Starbucks. Here are a few of the key ways to save money and not let the increase in the price of a cup of java affect you.

  • Always use a Starbucks rewards card. If you buy coffee from Starbucks at least three time a year, you should get yourself a free Starbucks rewards card or download their mobile app. By doing so you’ll earn cool rewards like free drinks, free flavor shots, and free tasty treats. Totally worth the effort. Also, you’ll always get a free drink on your birthday.
  • Get a free or cheap refill at Starbucks. The next time you’re sitting in your local Starbucks enjoying a cup of regular coffee, hit them up for a 50 cent refill before you walk out the door.
  • Ask for less ice. The next time you’re buying an iced coffee, tea, or specialty drink, order it with only half or very little ice. You will basically get the next sized drink for the price of a smaller size.
  • Brew at home. Avoid the $4 cup of coffee altogether and brew at home for pennies per cup. Again, I am a huge fan of the Kirkland Signature 100% Colombian coffee. You can buy a 3 lb. can for around $15 at your local Costco.

Airfare

~ Ridiculous fees by both airlines and the TSA are the culprit for rising airfare costs. Booking for Thanksgiving? Do it NOW as cost will only go up. Here are a few ways to save on airfare this Fall.

  • When to book? Studies have shown that the best time to book your airfare is 3 to 7 weeks before domestic travel.
  • Best months to travel? If you can hold off your travel plans until January or February you’re going to save some serious cash on airfare. Specifically, 18% lower than normal in January and 15% lower in the month of February.
  • Cheapest day of the week to travel? For domestic travel, the cheapest day to depart is Friday and the cheapest day to arrive home is on a Monday.

School Supplies and Technology

~ According to the National Retail Federation, every back-to-school category will see an increase this year. Gulp, wow, really? That is totally astounding to my wife and I as we always score amazing deals and typically spend less than the year before. I document how we do this in my recent article 8 Genius (Yet Easy) Ways to Save on Back-To-School Shopping. Here are a few key takeaways from the article.

  • Shop Your Closet & Kid’s Backpack First. You’d be amazed how many supplies your child still has from the previous year. Always start by going through what you already got before you head to Target or Walmart.
  • NEVER Buy Everything From 1 Store. If you go into a single store and buy everything on your child’s list you’re bound to pay full price on stuff that is likely on sale right next door at a competing store.
  • Price Match Items. If you don’t want to drive around town looking for deals just price match items at Walmart or Target. They’ll happily price match screaming deals from Office Depot, Staples, Office Max, Best Buy and others.

Chicken

~ The simple chicken. So cute. So delicious. And apparently…so expensive. According to Reuters there is a breed of rooster here in the U.S. that is having fertility issues and leading to a decrease in eggs getting fertilized. You learn something new every day, huh? Here are some tips to fight back against rising poultry costs.

  • Chicken can be stored in your freezer for 6-9 months. Much longer than beef which tends to get freezer burnt. Buy chicken in bulk when you find it on sale. Many grocery stores and butcher shops will place boneless chicken breasts on sale for $2.99/pound or lower. So just be sure to shop the circulars and jump on deals when you find them.
  • Costco is another solid option for buying chicken, especially if you have the freezer space to store it.

Buying a Home

~ With rising interest rates and less housing inventory in many cities, homes continues to rise in value across the country making it more expensive for prospective buyers. Here are some handy tips for buyers:

  • Do your research. By knowing the local housing market like the back of your hand you’ll be able to decipher a good deal from an over-priced home. Talk to local realtors, talk to sellers, and talk to brokers and pick their brains. Once you know the market keep an eye out on new listings in your area and be ready to act on deals. Get pre-qualified from a lender as well so you move quickly with an offer.
  • Be patient. If you’re trying to buy a home and your offer is not accepted, have the mindset that it flat out wasn’t meant to be. Don’t get emotionally attached and move on quickly to the next opportunity. This is especially true if you’re looking for an investment property. Your patience will eventually payoff.

Ask the Reader: Do you have any more tips to save money on these products? Please leave a comment below and share your tip with the class, after all it is back to school time.

By Kyle James

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11 Brick & Mortar Stores That ACTUALLY Accept PayPal

August 18, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under

I started researching this article by reading stuff that talked about over 20 brick & mortar retailers that accepted PayPal on in-store purchases. I was like “Wow, that is cool! I had no idea so many stores did that.” Then I started digging a bit further. Made a bunch of phone calls and talked to a bunch of store reps. Turns out very few brick & mortar stores currently accept PayPal. So it’s actually [...] Continue Reading…

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4 Killer Ways to Consistently Beat (or Tie) Amazon.com Pricing

August 13, 2014 by Kyle 1 comment   •   Filed Under ,

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon.com and am a fairly loyal shopper. They have an amazing selection of products and their pricing is very competitive. But I am here to tell you that paying for Amazon Prime and doing all your shopping with them is not always going to net you the best deal. As a matter of fact, today I have four ways you can actually beat (or tie) Amazon pricing [...] Continue Reading…

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Chow Time: 55+ Restaurants Where Kids Eat For Free

August 6, 2014 by Kyle 1 comment   •   Filed Under ,

With three kids who seem to eat as if their stomach has a hole in the bottom of it, I am a big fan of restaurants and eateries who’ll feed them for free on specific days of the week. I mean, heck, if you’re going to go out for a family dinner, why not go somewhere where the kids can get their grub on at no charge. It is with this in mind that [...] Continue Reading…

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Get Social on Twitter and Save Money with These 10 Companies

August 4, 2014 by Kyle 6 comments   •   Filed Under

It’s kinda funny how social media works sometimes. Not only is it a great way to network and connect with people, but the ability to use it as a money-saving tool seems to be growing daily.

The reason for this post all started about a week ago when I was asked by Cameron Huddleston from Kiplinger.com if I knew of any solid ways to use Twitter as a tool to save money. Thanks to a killer [...] Continue Reading…

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I opened my latest AT&T bill and darn near fell out of my chair when I saw the total due. The reason it was so high was because we just added a second phone line for my home office and my introductory DSL promotion just expired. I knew it was time to get to work and get my bill lowered. Time to get ‘er done. Below is exactly what I did. You should do [...] Continue Reading…

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(Updated 8/11/14)

Have you ever been shopping online at your favorite store, add items to your cart, then decide to not make the purchase for one reason or another. Maybe it was just to expensive. Maybe the shipping costs were a deal breaker. Whatever your reasoning for abandoning your online shopping cart, some popular online stores are now sending a follow-up email to try and entice you back with a coupon or discount to complete [...] Continue Reading…

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So my 2 year contract with Verizon just ended and I was sick and tired of my wife and I paying over $130 a month for our 2 ancient and slow iPhone 4′s. The camera is total crap and I can walk to the closest Starbucks before I could pull up the actual location of the nearest one. Paying that much every month was killing me. Over $1,500 a year for 2 mediocre phones. [...] Continue Reading…

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What Name Brands Can I Find at Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls

July 15, 2014 by Kyle 2 comments   •   Filed Under

When I shop for clothing, while not often as I’m a dude, it is ALWAYS at a discount store. Typically Ross or TJ Maxx as we don’t have a Marshalls in my town. I mean seriously, why would you pay full price for name brand clothing and shoes when you can the same stuff at a huge discount. 95% of the stuff is first run quality and the brands are pretty darn amazing.

In the [...] Continue Reading…

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