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 stores.
Leftover summer goods, clothes, and gear
The pickings will be slim, 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 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. In other words, you are replacing or selling something you have so you can trade up, or purchasing an item you rented or borrowed but found you could really use your own, or buying bigger sizes for growing kids, etc.
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.
Jeans and denim
School is well underway, so retailers may have discounts on their leftover stock of jeans and denim jackets, skirts, or dresses.
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.
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.
Appliances 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, I tend to buy an appliance when the one I have 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 and gas or electric ranges at a little more than 15 years.
For example, the average refrigerator lasts around 15 years. So, if yours is approaching this time, you might buy one on sale and store it in the garage until needed, or retire your current frig to the garage as a backup storage space or “cold cellar” for fresh vegetables and beverages, or simply sell or giveaway the one you have and replace it with a new one.
Furnace air filters and batteries
Furnace air filters and batteries 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.
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.
Garden trees, perennials, bulbs & seeds
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.
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 and food, too.
Here is some helpful tree information from the City of Seattle:
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).
Peruse the sale table at local nurseries 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. (Whew.)
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.
Local Fruits & Vegetables
Apples, winter squash, sugar pumpkins are great options for buying locally at a farmers market or u-pick farm. And buy fresh cranberries at a local farmers market, or you’ll buy them later from Ocean Spray; they freeze beautifully for holiday preparation later.
National Apple Month
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. For a hands-on experience, don’t miss AppleLooza, the annual apple tasting event at U-District farmers market held every October:
Halloween Candy, Décor & Costumes
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 or 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.
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 ideas:
Another trick is to hit second hand stores such as Goodwill for retail costumes—since people rarely re-use a costume, you can sometimes (but not always) find good quality costumes at a discount.
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 or deal is a good one.
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