Cars in a row
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The start of October means we finally (FINALLY) get a break from sticky summer days. It’s also a sign that we’ll soon be heading off to weekend football games and pumpkin carving sessions. Before your schedule fills up with too many activities, make sure you set aside time to do some shopping.

There are plenty of sales to take advantage of in October. Depending on where (and when) you shop, you can save as much as 25 percent on clothing and other items.

Halloween goodies

October is the prime time to stock up on Halloween provisions. But this is one case where the early bird doesn’t get the worm. The closer we get to Oct. 31, the more likely we’ll see lower prices on candy and decorations.

“Halloween costumes will be on sale starting about a week before Halloween,” says Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and founder of shefinds.com.

Just don’t wait too long to start shopping. As the days go by, the most popular costumes sell out. If you don’t plan ahead, you could be left scrambling and trying to find something to wear at the last minute.

Of course, if you want to prepare for next year, the best deals will appear on Halloween and the day after the holiday. By that point, Halloween pop-ups, party supply stores and major retailers like Target usually mark down candy, themed home goods and decorations by 75 to 90 percent.

Columbus Day sales

Retailers use any holiday as an excuse for a sale and Columbus Day is no exception. This year, the holiday falls on Oct. 8, so prepare for discounts on everything from clothing and shoes to mattresses.

Department stores can be a goldmine for Columbus Day deals. Last year, select items at Bloomingdale’s were 25 percent off. Shoppers could save between 15 and 25 percent at both Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.

Home goods stores should have sales this holiday weekend, too. In the past, stores like Crate & Barrel, Pier 1 Imports and Pottery Barn have had Columbus Day promotions.

To avoid missing out on any of the deals this month, sign up for email alerts. Or check your favorite retailers’ websites throughout the first week of October.

Air conditioners and outdoor furniture

The summer heat has finally subsided. That means retailers will begin offering deep discounts on fans and air conditioners. Whether you need a backup unit or you simply want to plan ahead for next year’s heatwave, now is the time to buy window A/C units or an extra box fan.

Another item retailers mark down as the temperature drops is outdoor patio furniture. If your summer barbecues wore out your patio tables and chairs this year, October is a great time to purchase some replacements.

Don’t forget about your green spaces, too. “Winter approaching means that many stores will be trying to get rid of their outdoor plants,” Madhok says. Keep an eye on prices at places like Ace Hardware, Lowe’s and Home Depot as they clear out their summer merchandise.

Tacos

Oct. 4 is the holiday hard and soft shell lovers have been waiting for — National Taco Day. While it may sound like a gimmick, many restaurants and retailers offer great deals on the dish all day.

In 2017, fast food joints like El Pollo Loco and restaurants like On the Border offered deals on tacos and other items. Taco Bell already announced that it’s offering a $5 taco gift set and commemorative t-shirt. Check out your favorite taco spot to see what they’re offering on Oct. 4, or simply pick up a taco (or two or three) to celebrate.

Fall travel 

Fall is referred to in the travel industry as “shoulder season,” and it can be the best time to take advantage of low flight and hotel prices. These costs often skyrocket during spring and summer months.

The Points Guy recently outlined some of this year’s best shoulder season deals, which include trips to domestic cities like Chicago and Boston and European hot spots like Copenhagen and Barcelona. If you have some vacation days to use before the end of the year, early October is a great time to book a last-minute trip before the holidays begin.

Fruits and vegetables

You’re probably already planning to head to your local pumpkin patch to pick out your perfect jack-o’-lantern this month. But don’t miss out on great deals on other fruits and veggies. Whether you shop local farm-fresh markets or the supermarket produce aisle, apples, grapes, eggplant and kale are in abundant supply.

Some of the year’s best produce is harvested in October, so take advantage of low prices and fresh inventory by stocking up on beets, cabbage, broccoli, corn, squash and sweet potatoes. Yum!

 2018 car models

The newest cars started hitting dealership lots in September. That means dealers are looking to offload 2018 models. If you’re in the market for a new car and the one you’re considering doesn’t have too many significant upgrades, 2018 models may be thousands of dollars off in October, Madhok says.

If you can, shop around dealerships at the end of the month. Since salespeople will be trying to meet their monthly quotas, it may be easier to negotiate.

Summer clothing

Some trendy items may not be in style the next time summer rolls around. But October can be a good time to pick up staples like tank tops, shorts and swimsuits. Layering those items with warmer pieces can make summer dresses and tops functional throughout the fall.

With most retailers, it’s possible to get extra discounts on top of summer clothing that’s already on sale. Look out for deals early in the month of October for the best style and sizing selections.

Don’t forget to check out online retail offers, too. “Make sure you check cash-back sites like eBates or Topcashback.com to get extra cash back on top of any sales retailers are having,” Madhok says.

Whatever you decide to stock up on this month, consider a cash back credit card for even more savings.