The Best End-of-Summer Sales

© Greg Sargent/Getty Images Travel Vacation Sale Event
© Greg Sargent/Getty Images Travel Vacation Sale Event

With all these back-to-school sales flooding the market, it feels as if the sun is setting on our summer state of mind. But here’s the thing: Labor Day is super late this year. It doesn’t actually take place until September 7, which means we’ve got a couple weeks left of that good old summer spirit. So to help you eke out a little more fun before the autumn chill sets in, here’s a roundup of the hottest end-of-season clearance sales.

Patio furniture

Modern Wicker Garden Furniture

© iStockphoto/Getty Images Modern Wicker Garden Furniture

Say goodbye to that rickety wicker chair you’ve been sitting in, and just barely tolerating, all summer long, and splurge on a cushy new patio set. Because retailers are looking to clear their floors and storage space to make way for, dare I say, leaf blowers, snowblowers and even holiday decorations, they’ll part with their patio furniture for peanuts. Home Depot is clearing out its inventory for up to 40 percent off, Lowe’s is unloading its collection of chairs, tables and rugs for up to 50 percent off and Pier 1 Imports has slashed its prices by up to 70 percent. For outdoor sectionals, check out Pottery Barn, which is currently offering several models for up to nearly $3,000 off. No, that’s not a typo. Oh, just think of the lounging you could do! Toss in a cashmere blanket and a good book, and you’ll be set well into fall!

Grills

Picnic, Grilling time, Grill

© iStockphoto/Getty Images 

For hardcore grillers, the outdoor cooking season never ends. So if you’re in need of an upgrade, and just think what you could do with six burners rather than just four, strike now while the sales are red-hot. Sears has gas grills for up to 50 percent off. Char-Broil has seared up to $40 off several models, and with a coupon code, you can take off an additional 15 percent (or up to another $55 dollars). Cuisinart grills at Best Buy are up to $46 off. And for your grilling accessories, such as grill grids or sausage baskets, try Sur La Table, which is clearing out its inventory for up to 75 percent off.

Bathing suits

Mannequins With Swimwear At Market Stall

© EyeEm/Getty Images Mannequins With Swimwear At Market Stall 

Trust and believe, there’s still time to swim, and even if it’s not for long, there’s always next year. The sales on swimsuits are just too good to pass up right now. Old Navy, for instance, has bikini bottoms and tops for $5 and $7, respectively (both originally $20), and one-pieces for $13 (originally $40). Macy’s has suits by Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Nike and Calvin Klein for over half off, plus an additional 15 percent off with a coupon code. Victoria’s Secret’s suits are up to 60 percent off. SwimOutlet.com has over 1,000 items on its end-of-summer sale list, including many that are 80 percent off. And while you’re at it, you might as well pick up a plush beach towel, too. Lands’ End has sprawling 78-inch-long polka-dot ones for $15 (originally $40), while Pottery Barn has a few for nearly half price, plus free shipping.

Shades

Sun glasses

© Flickr RF/Getty Images Sun glasses

You’ve probably abused your poor sunglasses by sitting on them, dropping them and tossing them in your bag, where they get scratched by sand. So now is the perfect time to consider replacing your old pair. After all, the sun shines all year long, and the sales on shades are gleaming right now. Bluefly.com has designer models, including Givenchy, Chloé, Dior, Jimmy Choo and Oliver Peoples, for up to 85 percent off. (Every single pair of Bertha shades, which retail for $450, for example, are now $59.) The Sunglass Hut has over 250 pairs on sale, including Ray-Bans, Pradas and Miu Mius. For a sportier look, OpticsPlanet.com has several Bollé models on sale for nearly half off until Labor Day. The prices are so good that it’s worth taking the chance, even if you can’t try them on. Besides, each of those retailers offers free returns.

Boards

Surfboards on beach Newquay, Corwall

© Flickr RF/Getty Images Surfboards on beach Newquay, Corwall 

You’ve watched your friends (in real life andon Instagram) riding the waves and paddling into the sunset. Now’s the time for you to get in on the action, as surf and stand-up paddleboards are on sale. Global Surf Industries is currently offering both types of boards for up to 60 percent off. For paddlers, L.L.Bean has many models for up to 20 percent off, while Overton’s has more than 50 boards on sale, most for over $100 off. For wave riders, Backcountry.com has brands, including Surftech and Lib Technologies, for up to 50 percent off. Of course, you can always just drop into your local surf shop, especially if you need guidance on selecting the right board. Some even sell gently used boards, a perfect introduction for kooks. (That’s surfer slang for beginner. Of course, you’ll learn that soon enough.)

Now get out there and have fun!

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

Written by Noelle Buhidar of U.S. News & World Report

(Source: U.S. News & World Report)

Summer Price Break! 5 Things That Are Actually Cheaper This Summer

© Jamie Grill Photography/Getty Images
© Jamie Grill Photography/Getty Images

For the most part, consumers are accustomed to seeing prices for a wide range of goods go in only one direction: up, up, and up. Often, this is simply the result of inflation and regular price increases. There are also freak price spikes like the current situation with eggs, which have risen dramatically of late thanks to the bird flu outbreak. And more costly eggs have in turn begun causing price increases everywhere from diners to bakeries.

Thankfully, from time to time consumers get to benefit from the occasional price decrease on goods and services—including some of their favorite treats. Here are five things you’ll actually pay less for this summer.

BACON

While bacon prices aren’t cheap by historical standards, they are significantly cheaper than in the summer of 2014, when they spiked amid low supplies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for a pound of bacon as of May 2015 was below $5, compared with $5.50 at the start of 2015 and more than $6 last summer. Overall, bacon prices fell 18% over a 12-month span.

GAS

After surging steadily through much of the spring, gas prices have dipped of late, hitting a national average of $2.77 for a gallon of regular at the start of the week, according to AAA. Drivers in nearly all states are paying at least 75¢ less per gallon compared with a year ago, and AAA estimates that cheap gas prices in 2015 have helped Americans collectively save $65 billion on fuel costs thus far this year.

OTHER PORK PRODUCTS

The same rise in the nation’s pork supply that’s caused bacon prices to retreat is lowering prices for pork chops, hot dogs, and the like. The American Farm Bureau Federation recently estimated that the cost of a typical July 4 cookout that feeds 10 people is 3% cheaper than it was a year ago. One of the reasons why this is so is that two of the main dishes—hot dogs and pork spare ribs—are 2% to 4% less expensive than they were in 2014.

AIRFARE

At the start of the year, researchers from the likes of Expedia predicted that flight prices would fall in 2015, if for no other reason than airlines would finally have to lower fares in the face of dramatically cheaper fuel prices. And while airfare prices depend on a range of factors—route, timing, demand, etc.—data from the flight search Hopper.com show that overall, domestic flights in the spring and early summer were 8.7% cheaper compared with the same time last year. The site also predicted that the trend will continue through the summer, with the average flight selling for $18 (or about 6%) less than in the summer of 2014.

DAIRY PRODUCTS

The USDA reports that national stockpiles of butter, cheese, and milk are all up significantly compared with a year ago, and prices for most dairy products—including yogurt, ice cream, and blocks of cheese—are down as a result. Bear in mind that some of the price decrease is based on how expensive dairy products were for much of last year. Butter consumption, for instance, has been increasing for years, and prices spiked to near record prices last summer through the fall.

Written by Brad Tuttle of Money

(Source: MSN)

Five Ways Road-Tripping Families Can Save Money

With four kids between the ages of 1 and 12, Loralee Leavitt is a cost-savings ninja when she hits the road.

Leavitt, who hails from Kirkland, Washington, estimates that she has gone on more than 30 road trips with her growing family, logging over 60,000 miles, to places like Utah, Colorado, Arizona and California.

From packing their own food, to staying in state parks, to scouring for last-minute hotel deals, the family has made an art of saving money. Their piece de resistance: A trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park that did not cost more than $400 total.

“It is easy to spend more than you expect,” says Leavitt, author of “Road Tripping”. “But if you prepare it right, it can be a lot of fun, and very cheap.”

More Americans are planning road trips around the United States. In fact, 65 percent of those polled report they are more likely to take a road trip this summer than they were last summer, according to a recent survey by booking site Travelocity. And when you single out parents, a whopping 81 percent said they were more likely to hit the road with the kids this year.

Be careful, though. While a domestic road trip might appear like an affordable alternative to traveling abroad, costs can easily spiral out of control.

A recent study by travel site Expedia found that Americans expect to pay an average of $898 per person for a weeklong trip within their own country, hardly chump change.

To keep a lid on summer road-trip costs, we canvassed financial planners for their best tips, culled from personal experience. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Use apps to your advantage

© Brennan Linsley/AP Photo

Not that long ago, travelers squinted at printed maps and missed exits. These days, there is no excuse for not using smartphone apps.

Google Maps, for instance, will get you from Point A to Point B without getting lost and racking up unnecessary mileage. GasBuddy will locate the cheapest local stations where you can fill up the tank. Apps like RoadNinja and Roadtrippers can tell you about local amenities and help plan your route, and HotelTonight or Hotels.com can locate last-minute lodging discounts nearby.

2. Get campy

Ditch the hotels, and stay in campgrounds, says financial planner Therese Nicklas of Braintree, Massachusetts.

By camping in state parks with her family of four for around $10 a night, and cooking their own food, Nicklas estimates they save about $150 every single day.

You don’t have to pitch a tent every night. Consider an occasional splurge at a hotel with a pool, hot showers and free breakfasts.

Diehard money-savers might enjoy so-called “dispersed camping” permitted in many national and state forests, where you set up away from designated campgrounds. No amenities, but no fees, either.

Also consider an annual pass from the National Park Service, allowing you access to more than 2,000 sites nationwide for $80.

3. Hold money-saving competitions

© James W. Porter/CorbisAdviser

Niv Persaud of Atlanta has an innovative idea: Make budgeting a game with your kids instead of a chore. “For each dollar they save, on coupons, special deals, or cheap gas, they earn a star,” Persaud says. “The one with the most stars at the end of the trip gets to pick the location for the next family vacation.”

4. Forget flights and car rentals

Whatever savings you realize by staying domestic could be wiped out by airline bookings and car- or RV-rental fees. So do what David MacLeod did, and schlep to your destination in your own car, even if it’s a long distance away. The planner from Fullerton, California recently took his family all the way from southern California to Montana in their trusty Honda Odyssey, saving $1,000 in the process.

5. Bring your own food

© Jack Smith/AP Photo

The silent killer of many family travel budgets: Eating out. Nip that in the bud with a cooler or two stuffed to the brim with snacks and quick meals.

“A simple gallon of milk, box of cereal, yogurts and fresh fruit can provide a great breakfast at 1/4 of the cost of eating out,” says Janice Cackowski, a planner in Independence, Ohio. She also advises eating out only at lunch, when restaurant prices tend to be much lower.

Above all, don’t be scared off by the idea of being in a car for so many hours with your kids. Magic occurs when families actually spend time with each other. “Something wonderful happens: You pay attention to each other,” says Leavitt.

Written by Chris Taylor of Reuters

(Source: Reuters)