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The nice weather can certainly entice even the most frugal customers to break out their wallets, but the truth is, summer is not the prime time to make big purchases.
“Retailers are only halfway through the year, so they’re not inclined to discount,” Jeff Yeager, savings expert and author of “The Cheapskate Next Door,” says. “People are enjoying vacation so [stores] know they will spend.”
Instead, penny pinchers will be best served by putting most purchases off until the fall, which Yeager says is a much better time to find deals on popular products. But, if you don’t want to put a complete moratorium on spending over the next three months, here are the ten biggest product categories you should refrain from makes purchases on this summer.
1. Outdoor Grill
If you’ve yet to make it out to your local home improvement store to pick up a new grill, you may want to break out the old one this summer.
“The best time to purchase either an outdoor barbecue grill or a lawnmower is prior to summer or shortly after the season ends,” Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, says. “Pick up a new one on clearance in September or October.”
2. Landscaping Materials
Similarly, you might want to hold off on starting that garden you’ve been thinking about growing in your backyard. In addition to being pricey this time of year, seeds and sod will grow much better come September.
“Everyone gets a green thumb in the summer,” Yeager says. “But in most climates, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle.”
Instead, stock up on gardening supplies in the fall when retailers lower prices in an attempt to empty out their shelves to make room for pumpkins, gourds and cornucopias.
3. Summer Blockbusters
Summer is the season for big blockbuster movies, but tickets to these flicks aren’t exactly cheap. According to the National Association of Theater Owners, the average cost of a movie ticket, jumped from $5.80 in 2002 to around $8 last year. The high price means a family of four might be better off waiting for a movie to come out on DVD.
If you really believe a movie is a must-see, take steps to secure a discount.
“Sign up for local movie theater e-newsletters for coupons,” Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert at Kinoli, a network of personal finance websites, says. “You may be able to enjoy buy-one-get-one free and other discount deals using your credit card.”
Other saving strategies include looking for great two-for-one deals from Groupon or Living Social and monitoring a movie theater’s Facebook page for specials.
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4. Visits to the Ice Cream Shop
The hot summer weather can certainly cause some cravings for a triple-scoop ice cream cone, a hot fudge sundae or even a banana split, but priced to order, frequent visits to your favorite ice cream shop will cost you.
Instead, keep splurges to a minimum and “pick up a gallon of ice cream from the grocery store,” says Schrage. This will ensure you get more scoops for your buck. You could also skip the sweet treats entirely.
Indulging a sweet tooth can also lead you to pack on a few pounds. Check out this MainStreet roundup to find out which fast food desserts contain the most calories.
5. Seasonal Fashion
Summertime may require a change in wardrobe, but you shouldn’t go out right now and stock up on the latest fashions.
“Every season a new fashion trend makes its way onto runways and glossy magazines,” Woroch says. “These trends come and go quickly making any seasonal fashion investment a waste.”
Instead, she suggests sticking to basic pieces that can be swapped out with existing articles of clothing. You can also break out old bathing suits, shorts and sundresses in lieu of splurging on a whole new summer wardrobe, then buy your wardrobe for next year in Fall when these items have gone on clearance.
6. Bottled Water
The heat may also increase your water consumption, but frugal consumers should get their drinks from faucets or a good filter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, drinking the recommended amount of water out of a bottle can cost consumers up to $1,400 a year. Comparatively, drinking tap water costs 50 cents annually.
“It’s one of the few items that is cheaper [in the summer], but the fact is, you don’t really need it,” Yeager says.
Want another reason to ditch the plastic? A study from the non-profit organization the Environmental Working Group found many bottled water companies aren’t as transparent about their sources as they should be.
7. Travel Experiences
You don’t have to forgo a vacation entirely to keep costs down this summer. Airfare and hotel accommodations become a lot more affordable if you skip out on unnecessarily expensive activities and look for free attractions in your locale of choice.
“Mountain towns are full of things to do that don’t cost a lot like camping, hiking, fishing and bike riding,” Woroch says. You can also keep beach costs down by skipping out on the jet skis and simply building sandcastles.
If you can’t afford to get away, don’t be afraid to plan out a nice stay-cation for your family.
“Check out your state’s tourism website and discover a wide variety of fun activities in your own backyard,” Schrage says.
8. Vacation Supplies at Your Destination
When you’re getting ready to go away this summer, don’t forget to pack all of your toiletries. Necessities like toothpaste, toothbrushes and shaving cream all tend to cost more in hotel gift shops. It’s also equally important to double-check your beach bag. For instance, you’ll want to bring sunblock, sunglasses and beach towels from home.
“These items are significantly more expensive at retailers located in areas that thrive on tourism,” Schrage says.
9. Designer Beach Towels
You can keep costs down by buying new beach towels in the Fall when retailers look to get rid of their leftover inventory. But don’t let deep discounts persuade you into buying designer beach duds. Luxury brand towels can sometimes cost twice as much as some quality economy class towels, Woroch says.
“I recommend buying beach towels at the end of the season from stores like Macy’s or Kohl’s or even heading to warehouse stores like Costco that have great deals right now,” she adds.
10. Super-Expensive Sunscreens
Similarly, you can keep it simple when it comes to sunscreens.
“You can avoid pricey name brand bottles because generic and store brand sunscreen is just as effective,” Woroch says. “As long as the product boasts a broad spectrum UVB and UVA protection, you and your family will be safe while saving up to 30%.”
You can learn more about sunscreen options in this MainStreet article on FDA guidelines concerning the product.