Best and Worst Things to Buy in July

Here’s how to save money long after those Fourth of July sales end.

 

The scorching month of July is the perfect time to enjoy the comfortable, climate-controlled world of a shopping mall. Even better, retailers offer a plethora of deals throughout the month, beginning with Fourth of July sales and continuing with Christmas in July or “sizzling summer savings” promotions.

You can find some goods and services at their lowest price points of the year in July, but not everything is a bargain. In fact, some goods and services are downright bad to buy in July. Check out what you should buy and what you should avoid in order to save more money this summer.

Best: Jewelry

With Father’s Day in the rear-view mirror, jewelers have to rely on methods other than gift-giving holidays to bring consumers into the stores. As a result, you can find great jewelry for cheap during July.

Are you thinking of spending the rest of your life with that special someone? A clearance priced engagement ring might not seem romantic at first glance, but the look on your beloved’s face after getting the best your budget can buy definitely will be.

Helzberg Diamonds has diamond engagement rings up to 55 percent off regular retail with some prices under $400. Finance your purchase for six months for free or spend a minimum of $749 or $1,499 and get 12 or 36 months free financing, respectively.

Enjoy savings of up to 50 percent off at Kay Jewelers. Stock up on heart shaped rings or pendants, which you can pick up for as little as $47. Put 20 percent down on a purchase of $500 or more and get up to 12 months interest-free financing.

Jewelry stores aren’t the only place to find deep discounts on bling. Macy’s has charms for as little as $3.76, which is 70 percent off their original price. If you don’t have a Macy’s nearby, you can still cash in on the deal by ordering online. Buy $49 or more and your order ships free.

Best: Barbecue Grills

The best time to buy a grill is after Labor Day. However, July is the time to strike if you want to use the grill for summer cookouts. Grill prices are highest before Memorial day and steadily decrease in price from July through September.

Today’s grills offer many more fuel options than gas and charcoal. Enjoy grilling, smoking, searing, baking or roasting with barbecues fueled by infrared heat, electricity, pellets or wood, as well as charcoal or gas.

Pellet grills make it easy to master barbecue techniques without having to worry about burning or drying out your meat. Simply add the pellets to the pellet box and set the temperature on the grill. Although the grill is as simple as using your convection oven, hardwood pellets in cherry, maple, mesquite and hickory add outdoor flavor your kitchen just can’t deliver.

Kamodo grills are among the most versatile. Based on ancient clay cooking vessels found in China, current models are usually made from ceramic, stainless steel or cast aluminum. Vent systems let you control airflow to maintain temperatures from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit for a wide range of baking, grilling and smoking applications.

You’ll start to see lower prices on grills beginning with Fourth of July sales and continuing throughout the summer. Don’t just bite on the lowest price, though, or you might not be getting the best deal. Here are a few things to look for according to Consumer Reports:

  • Burners: Look for grills with 10-year warranties on the burners. Burners are the most commonly replaced part.
  • Construction: Look for stable construction that won’t tip or spill hot coals. Paying a little more for a better-built grill that you can use season after season means you won’t be shelling out money to replace it next year.
  • Safety: Check for sharp corners or edges that can snag clothing or cut your fingers. Test out the lid handle to make sure your fingers won’t come too close to a hot surface when you’re grilling.

Related: Cheap Foods to Throw on the Grill This Summer

Best: Patio Furniture

Swapping out your patio furniture is a great way to give your home an upgraded look. Discounts of 50-90 percent and overstock selections intersect in mid-July, so you can get a great deal on the patio furniture you want.

Head to your local Home Depot, Kohl’s, Macy’s or even Kroger supermarkets to deck out your patio with outdoor furniture fashions. You’re not limited to what you see in the local store, either. Order online and have it shipped to the store at no extra charge.

Consider your outdoor space to get the most value for your money. If you live in a windy area, wrought iron furniture won’t blow around. However, it’s harder to move around if you like to rearrange.

Tubular aluminum offers lighter weight and all-weather durability. Pair it with removable all-weather cushions that will stand up to harsh summer sun and freezing winter temperatures.

Wicker won’t last more than one season in wet or sun-baked climates, so choose resin wicker instead. Although lower quality pieces have a shiny finish, high-quality resin wicker is hard to tell from the real thing without touching it.

Pick up furniture covers to protect your investment from sun and weather damage. Choose from covers geared toward individual chairs or chaise lounges or large ones designed to go over an entire set of table and chairs.

Best: Ice Cream and Frozen Treats

Dessert lovers, rejoice: July is National Ice Cream month. Skeptical shoppers should know the special designation is not just another retail gimmick to get you to spend more money.

The special title was given in 1984 by Ronald Reagan, who also set aside the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. Reagan cited ice cream as a “perfect dessert and snack food.”

Look to store ads and social media sites to find coupons on brands like Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Graeter’s and Lindy’s. Remember to celebrate National Ice Cream Day on July 16. Check out the hashtag #NationalIceCreamDay to find deals and ideas and to share your ice cream selfies.

National Ice Cream Day isn’t the only frozen treat holiday in July, either. Look for grocery sales organized around these special days:

  • July 7: National Strawberry Sundae Day
  • July 17: National Peach Ice Cream Day
  • July 23: National Vanilla Ice Cream Day
  • July 25:  National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

Also See: The Best Budget-Friendly Ice Cream Spots in 40 Cities

Worst: Travel

Hoping for a summer getaway before the kids head back to school? You’ll want to pump the brakes on your daydream. Although you might see sale prices on everything from airfare to hotels, July is one of the most expensive months to travel.

Take flights for example. A round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Albany, N.Y., on Southwest Airlines can run you as much as $615 per ticket when you fly during tourist-heavy July dates. But if you book your flight now for a trip during Autumn break in September or October, you could pay as little as $176.

Family travel during summer vacation puts hotels, tours and attractions at a premium. You’ll experience some of the highest prices of the year at popular summer destinations like beaches and Disney parks. Summer crowds also mean you’ll spend much more time waiting in lines, which equals less bang for your buck.

July sees no days when you can get into Disneyland for the value price of $97. July weekends and Fourth of July come with peak pricing of $124. Wait until late August or autumn break to enjoy smaller crowds and value prices at both Disney parks.

If you’re set on booking a last-minute vacation, there are bargains out there — if you’re willing to brave the heat. Summer is actually off season in locations like Phoenix and Tucson where prices are at the cheapest of the year. Although you’re likely to encounter temperatures of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the dry heat is ideal for heading to a water park, seeing museums or dining at sunset on mist-cooled patios.

Worst: Elective Surgery

Most elective surgery isn’t covered by health insurance, making it a sizable out-of-pocket purchase. If you’ve been saving up for a lift, tuck, replacement or other procedure, you might want to wait — if you can, of course.

Things are least likely to go as planned in July when recently graduated medical students start their residency programs. The month is the time when the most mistakes and fatalities resulting from errors occur.

Summer is also the busiest season for having surgery. Workers utilize time off around the Fourth of July weekend to have maximum recovery time before having to head back to work, and students opt to go under the knife before classes resume.

In July, you’ll also be competing for the operating room and the attention of staff with the influx of summer accident victims. Trauma cases increase dramatically during summer months due to firework accidents and outdoor adventuring mishaps.

If it’s possible to postpone your procedure, wait until after Labor Day when the hectic summer pace slows down. Operating room schedules aren’t as tight, giving you more options to schedule your procedure at a place and time that will save you the most money.

Although most people don’t think about shopping for the best prices on elective surgeries, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get the most for your money. Use HeathcareBluebook’s online tool to find what fair pricing is for your procedure so you can better negotiate your hospital bill. For example, you could save thousands of dollars on a laser eye surgery procedure in Los Angeles, where prices range from $1,600 to about $5,000.

Worst: Back-to-School Supplies

With many schools starting fall sessions in August, it’s tempting to stock up on back-to-school items in July. However, you’ll end up spending more than if you wait until August sales kick into gear. According to Forbes, consumers spend more during back-to-school season than they do at any other time of year except the winter holidays.

Like any good rule, delaying school supply purchases has its exceptions. Alabamans, for example, can buy back-to-school supplies, clothing and computers tax-free during the state’s “Back-to-School” Tax Holiday on the third weekend of July. During this event, residents can buy clothes, sports gear, computers and school supplies without paying the 4 percent state sales tax. Some, but not all, municipalities waive city tax as well. Check the Alabama Department of Revenue website to find the nearest town where you won’t pay any tax at all.

Tennessee is another state where you can pick up tax-free deals during in July. Shop for up to $100 in clothing, $100 in school supplies and $1,500 towards a computer not for use in business or a trade on the weekend of July 28.

In about a dozen other states, tax-free days happen in early August, coinciding with back to school sales. Like Tennessee and Alabama, tax free items usually include clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks.

August is a better time to shop for a computer than July. New models hit stores between June and August, meaning you’ll find deep discounts on older models. The best computer deals appear during the months of July, August, November and December.

Look: 35 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Items

Worst: A New Car

You might hear Fourth of July sales trumpeting big car savings, but don’t bite — early summer is one of the worst times to buy a car. You’ll find much bigger savings as the year rolls on.

New models start shipping to dealerships in late summer, meaning steep discounts on last year’s models as dealerships make room for new inventory. Deals increase toward year’s end when quarterly and yearly sales goals loom.

The best day of the year to buy a car is New Year’s Eve, according to TrueCar. Dealership and sales people are vying for year-end sales bonuses, netting an average 8.3 percent savings. While that might not seem like a high percentage, it adds up to nearly $1,700 on a 2017 Honda Accord that costs $20,443.

The last day of the month is also a good time to save money on automobiles because dealerships are closing in on their end-of-the-month sales goals.

Find More Deals: 16 Yearly Sales to Add to Your Calendar Right Now