Crisp and cool autumn weather is making its way across the country and while your first instinct may be to hit the stores for a new rake or leaf blower, you might find it's savvy to consider some money-saving moves instead. So we asked three of our top analysts to tell us their favorite game plan for fall. Read on to learn what they said.
Amanda Alix: Have you been hankering for a new car, but worry that the recent glut of car buyers means you won't get a good deal? Well, autumn is here, and the arrival of new 2015 vehicles puts you in the driver's seat as dealers get more aggressive about selling leftover 2014 stock.
Though deals on old model-year cars often begin when new models hit the showroom floor in August and September, the motivation to move older vehicles off the lot shifts into high gear as the year wanes. That makes fall a perfect time to save $1,000 or more on last year's model.
To get an even better deal, try shopping at the end of the month, when incentives and bonuses for sales staff are apt to be in overdrive. If you don't get the price you want in October, waiting until later in the season just might do the trick.
If you'd rather shop used, you're in luck: Used car prices have been dropping since summer, probably due to the high activity in the new car market. Because of all those new-car sales, many dealers are overrun with used stock. Better yet, analysts expect prices to drop further by the end of the year.
Matthew Frankel: Summer just officially ended [well, recently], so the holidays may be the last thing on your mind right now. However, one of the best money moves you can make is to gradually set aside money now to pay for holiday shopping and vacations.
Setting aside money now to pay for large holiday expenses prevents you from having to pay for them all at once, or even worse, charging them on a credit card. According to one report, half of consumers use their credit cards to finance holiday purchases, but just one-third plan on paying the bill off in full afterward.
If you charge $1,000 worth of gifts on a credit card at 18% interest and pay $50 per month toward the debt, you'll end up paying nearly $1,200 in full. And if you just make the minimum payments, this amount can climb much higher.
Instead, since there is roughly nine weeks until the holiday shopping season starts, try setting aside a little bit of money each week (or every other week, depending on when you get paid). Getting out of the holiday season without building up debt will be an excellent way to start 2015.
Todd Campbell: Thanks to Amanda, you can take your new-to-you car on a bargain-hunting trip to buy summer seasonal goods on sale.
The fall is the perfect time to nab a great deal on that $1,500 riding mower you've been coveting or snag a deep discount on that rod iron patio set. Big box retailers typically host seasonal items in the same spot, so they've got a big incentive to push summer items out of the way to make room for snow blowers and artificial Christmas trees. You can use that to your advantage and score deals on everything from leftover perennials to barbecue grills. A quick spin over to the sporting goods department can save you some money, too. That's because summertime sports equipment for golf, fishing, soccer, and baseball get their prices slashed at this time of year. You may even be able to fill the trunk of that car with some new camping equipment at a fair price.
Before heading home, make sure you walk through the clothing section too because department stores are eager to replace shorts, short-sleeve shirts, and bathing suits with fleece-lined khakis, wool sweaters, and winter jackets. Once your bargain hunting is done, the savings you earn by buying out-of-season items may even help kick-start that holiday saving that Matthew recommends.