July 28, 2015

23 Must-Do Financial Moves for August

Read more about What to Buy in August

Summer is winding down and life is about to gear up again. If you've been lazy about minding your finances over the last couple of months, it's time to get back on track.

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Whether your goal is to spend less or save more, doing these 23 things now can help you make the most of your money.

SAVE ON SHOPPING

August is an ideal month for picking up bargains on certain household items. We have the skinny on all the things you can buy this month without blowing your budget.

  1. Scope out mattress sales
    Labor Day will be here before you know it, but August is when retailers start advertising upcoming sales. Towards the end of the month, you'll want to be on the lookout for big savings on mattresses, with discounts running anywhere from 30% to 60% off.

  2. Get ready for winter weather (yes, really)
    If you live in an area where the snow sets in early and lasts through the spring, a snow blower may be on your wish list but not top of mind this time of year. However, you could find a great deal since demand is low and so are the prices.

  3. Get grilling for less
    A grill is a staple of any backyard barbecue and if you've been missing out so far this summer, August is a prime time to buy. It's typical to see prices drop as much as 50%, with accessories discounted up to 70%.

  4. Trade in your worn-out linens
    January is traditionally the best month for white sales but if you missed them this year, you can still save some money this August. Sheets and towels are usually included as part of back-to-school sales, and you can cash in even if you don't have a student at home.

  5. Stick with seasonal foods
    If your weekly grocery bill is getting out of control, limiting your list to foods that are in season during the month of August is an easy way to cut spending. Apples, blueberries, avocados, grapes, peaches, and strawberries are just a few things that tend to hit their lowest price point around this time, depending on where you live.

  6. Stock up on wine
    August is harvest season for wineries in many parts of the country and the abundance of wine means lower prices for consumers. If you want to get a first-hand look at how wine is made, schedule your trip this month since vacation package prices tend to jump in September and October.

  7. Pick out next summer's swimwear
    Clothing sales start to get underway in August in advance of the back-to-school season, but they usually don't see their lowest point until September and October. There's one exception, however: swimsuits. If you're a savvy shopper, you should be able to get swimwear for the whole family for anywhere from 40% to 70% off.

  8. Swap out that old patio set
    Outdoor furniture is another great buy for August as many retailers begin making room for their winter inventory. The closer it gets to Labor Day, the more you'll see prices start to decline.

GET READY FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR

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August is that time of year when students are preparing to return to the classroom, which usually means a big strain on their parents’ wallets (and those students who are able to take over their finances for their first time - good luck on your first day of college, freshman class!). Here are some money-saving tips to get both parents and students prepared for back-to-school costs.

  1. Cash in on tax-free savings
    With the back-to-school shopping season heating up, many states encourage you to get in on the buying action with sales tax holidays. Although the guidelines vary from state to state, some of the things you can buy tax-free include school supplies, clothes, and computers.

  2. Score dorm gear on the cheap
    It's estimated that the average college student spent $916 on school supplies in 2014, and a lot of that cost centered on outfitting their dorm room. If you want to save on furniture, Wal-Mart and Target are the top picks for inexpensive finds.

  3. Use a rewards card for office supplies
    Whether you're a teacher, student or parent, back-to-school season means buying the usual assortment of supplies, but you shouldn't spend more on them than you need to. Using an office rewards credit card when you shop is an easy way to rack up points on the things you buy, which can translate to savings on future purchases.

  4. Replace an old laptop for less
    If you're thinking of buying a new laptop for yourself or your student, August is a perfect time to pull the trigger. Specifically, you'll see the best deals later in the month when retailers slash prices as part of pre-Labor Day sales.

  5. Map out 529 plan distributions
    With the academic year at most colleges kicking off in August, parents who've been saving in a 529 plan should be looking at how they're going to put the money to use. As a reminder, 529 accounts can be withdrawn tax-free when you're paying qualified education expenses, including tuition, fees, and room and board.

  6. Review your financial aid package
    If you're planning to use loans or grants to finance your college costs, you don't want to wait until class is in session to find out how much you'll need to kick in. Taking a close look at your award letter in the first week of August gives you time to plan your budget and appeal your aid package, if necessary.

  7. Open a student bank account
    Whether you're working your way through school or being bankrolled by your parents, you need a safe place to keep your cash. If you don't have a student checking account yet, opening one before heading off to campus in August is a must.

  8. Get a student credit card
    The college years are a great time to work on establishing your credit, and a credit card is the easiest way to do that. August is a good time to open a student credit card, but just keep in mind that if you're under 21, your parents may need to co-sign.

MORE MONEY ODDS AND ENDS

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To finish up, we've got a few more tips that can help you hang on to more of your hard-earned cash this August. Here are the most important financial steps to cross off your to-do list before September rolls around.

  1. Plan a road trip
    Historically, August is one of the busiest times of the year for vacationers, and everything from flights to hotels will be more expensive. On the other hand, gas prices begin to decline as the summer winds down, which is a great incentive to get behind the wheel for a quick getaway.

  2. Schedule an eye exam
    August is National Eye Exam month. To encourage more people to get their eyes checked, optometrists and eye care centers offer plenty of deals on exams, glasses and contact lenses. If you've noticed your vision is getting a little blurry, you'll see your way to savings by booking an exam now.

  3. Splurge on a new car
    If you've had your eye on a new set of wheels, you'll want to brave the August heat and hit the car lots now. Statistically, sale transaction prices are 2.4% lower this month versus any other time of the year.

  4. Check your credit report
    You can get a free copy of your credit report three times a year through AnnualCreditReport.com; if the last time you checked yours was back in April, you're due for a refresher in August. Be on the lookout for account errors or suspicious activity, which could be a sign of fraud.

  5. Plan ahead for September quarterly taxes
    If you freelance or own a business, the IRS expects you to pay your tax obligations throughout the year in four equal payments. The next due date is coming up on September 15th but ideally, you should be prepared to have your check ready by the end of August.

  6. Round up receipts for summer expenses
    April is still months away but with the summer winding down, August is a good time to look for tax breaks. For example, if you moved in June to start a new job or you sent your kids to summer camp in July, you may be able to get a deduction or tax credit on next year's return.

  7. Review health insurance options
    Open enrollment is the small window of time you have each year to make changes to your health insurance plan, and for many employers, it takes place during August and September. If you need to add someone to your plan or adjust your coverage, plan ahead for it now.

FINAL WORD

In the midst of wrapping up last-minute summer plans and getting ready for a new school year, it's easy to lose track of your dollars and cents. Fortunately, the tricks and tips we've outlined here serve as an easy-to-follow guide for saving more in August and beyond.

More from CreditDonkey:


What to Buy in August


Creative Ways to Save Money

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