Every month of the year, certain items are discounted due to overstock, holiday sales, or transitions from one season to the next. Here are the shopping highlights for October in Seattle-Tacoma area stores. Of course, we think the best way to save money is not to spend it! But, when you need or want to, plan your spending to take advantage of the times of the year when what you buy is at the lowest possible price.
- Special events with shopping discounts and deals include Halloween (October 31).
Discounted seasonal items to buy in October
Leftover summer goods, clothes, and gear
The pickings will be slim by now, but you can find screaming deals on all kinds of summer products such as patio furniture, barbecues, gardening tools, fans and portable A/C’s, summer clothes, and outdoor recreational goods such as bikes and camping gear. The trick now is to make sure the sale item is still in good condition (not soiled, broken, or missing parts). But more importantly, make sure it’s something you will really need next year. Maybe you want to replace something you have for a better model or purchase an item you rented or borrowed but found you would prefer to own, or you need to buy bigger sizes for growing kids.
Jeans and denim
Since school is underway and retailers may have discounts on their leftover stock of jeans, as well as denim jackets, skirts, and dresses.
We think the best frugal policy is to pick up holiday décor AFTER the holiday, when you can get steep discounts on leftovers. This doesn’t work for Halloween candy, of course. In this case, shop early for best selection and shop around for the best price. The best buys are usually at a big retail store such as Fred Meyer and Costco. It can also be a good candy-buying strategy to wait for October 30, or the morning of October 31 to pick up last-minute candy at a discount—but the pickings are typically very slim. If you want specific types of candy, go earlier than later. If you don’t care (any candy will do), buy it on October 30-31.
Halloween décor and costumes
For costumes, we mostly like to pull together something from our closet, with perhaps some makeup or face paint and relevant hair styling or hat. At our “mother ship”, you can find over 100 Halloween costume ideas. Another trick is to hit secondhand stores such as Goodwill for retail costumes—since people rarely re-use a costume, you can sometimes (but not always) find good quality used costumes at a good price.
Black Friday has somewhat lost its luster. Retailers try to outdo each other and come out earlier and earlier with deals on goods from cookware to electronics, appliances, toys, and you-name-it. To stay on top of your needs and avoid impulse buying, keep a running list of things you need, and some that you “want”. I find “wants” lose their appeal the longer they stay on the list, and some simply get crossed off. In any case, October is a good time to do some shopping research and compare prices. Check Amazon, Costco, Nordstrom, and other big retailers. Staying in the know about current prices helps you decide whether a discount is a good one.
If you plan to fly off to visit relatives or vacation in a warmer locale for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you generally want to buy your plane tickets more than 30 days ahead to get the best prices.
New products to buy in October
New and Used Cars
Fall to winter is the best time to buy a car. New car prices are lowest at the end of the month and the end of the year (October-December). If a used car is your goal, it’s also a good time to buy, when the buyers of new cars want to trade-in or sell their older model. If saving money on transportation is your goal (rather than owning the latest model at the best price), then buying a used car is always the better deal. Shop wisely and get a guarantee from a dealer or have a reliable mechanic check out the condition on a private purchase.
Appliance dealers start to discount outgoing models in fall, though prices tend to be lower in November leading up to Black Friday. So, in October the strategy for buying appliances is to “pre-shop” to learn the prices and features of different models. When you get ready to buy, you can recognize the really good deals. However, most of us tend to buy an appliance when the current one breaks down, which can be any time of year. In fact, appliances often give up at the least opportune time, such as just before a big party or while you’re gone on vacation. Another home appliance buying strategy is to estimate the machine’s untimely death. Many large appliances have a lifespan of 10-15 years, including washers, dryers, dishwashers, freezers, and garbage disposals. Microwaves generally give out in less than 10 years. Gas or electric ranges usually last a little more than 15 years. So, if you have an appliance approaching it’s average end-of-life span, you might buy one on sale and store it in the garage until needed. In the case of a refrigerator, you could buy a new one and retire your current frig to the garage as a backup storage space for cold beverages, or to use as a “cold cellar” for fresh vegetables. Or, simply sell or giveaway the appliance you have and replace it with a new one.
Furnace air filters
Furnace air filters are a good item to buy in October or November. Change your air filter as soon as the furnace starts firing up again for winter. A clean filter helps the furnace run efficiently, as well as keeps the air in your home healthy.
Batteries are another good item to buy in fall. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors when daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday in November. It’s also a good time to check and change out the batteries in emergency lights and flashlights, including those in your emergency kit(s).
You do have an emergency kit, right? If not, please put it on your to do list. We’ve got a lot of helpful Emergency Preparedness Info.
Most people get married in summer. For the frugal-minded, a fall, winter, or spring wedding can be less expensive. You can find discounts on almost everything, including wedding dresses, printed invites, and venue rental.
There are many great nurseries throughout the Puget Sound region to buy plants and seeds. Ask around on Neighborhood.com or search Yelp for a nursery nearest you. While you might find some cheaper prices at box stores, we recommend establishing a relationship at a local nursery. The staff are enthusiastic about plants and can offer advice on the best plants for your landscape and microclimate, whether you live in Snohomish or Puyallup Valley, Bothell, North Bend, Bremerton, Hilltop, or Capitol Hill. This information will pay off in healthier, low maintenance plants that give you the most bang for your buck. Peruse the sale table and look for leftover perennials (plant once, re-grow every year) that have been marked down. The trick is to examine the plant closely. Look for telltale signs of strength. The leaves are likely wilting or have dropped. But do the stems seem sturdy? I love peonies. But the plants are quite expensive. About 10 years ago I took a risk and bought a bedraggled peony that showed some strength for less than half price and stuck it in the ground. Still blooms every year to this day!
Flowering bulbs and seeds
Fall is also the time for planting flowering bulbs that will come up and bloom in spring (daffodils, grape hyacinth, tulips). By the way, this includes garlic bulbs. You don’t have to have a vegetable garden, you can plant some foods in your landscape, including garlic as well as many herbs (rosemary, bay leaf, and thyme, to name a few). Finally, peruse the seed rack and pickup discounted seed for spring planting. New seeds come out around the first of the year. But this years seeds, if stored in a cool, dry location will sprout reliably next year.
In the Pacific Northwest, October-December is the best time to plant trees. They will get plenty of winter rain and develop a strong root system before the weather warms up (and dries out). Consider planting fruit trees, which offer all the beauty of a tree, plus food! Here is some helpful tree information from the City of Seattle:
Washington grown produce in season includes:
- Apples. If you buy apples at a local farmers market or u-pick, you’ll find many varieties not typically found at grocery stores. Be sure let the farmer know your intended use: fresh eating, apple pies, baked apples, apple juice, applesauce, etc. They’re your best guide to choosing the right apple. Check here for varieties of apples grown commercially in Washington State.
- Cranberries freeze beautifully for holiday preparation later.
- Winter squash and sugar pumpkins are great options for buying locally at a farmers market or u-pick farm. Where to find u-pick pumpkin patches and farm stands.
- Find a farmers market in the Puget Sound region.
- More info: Vegetable Seasonality Chart (wa.gov) and Fruit Seasonality Chart (wa.gov)
Calendar of upcoming shopping and sales events
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