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How to save more at summer clearance and back to school sales

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You need a plan to save more money on summer clearance and back-to-school sales. Follow these simple steps to determine what you need to buy now and declutter at the same time.

Late summer and early fall is time for clearance and back-to-school sales. When you shop these sales, think about other times during the year you would use the sale merchandise and stock up while prices are extra low. To get the most savings out of clearance and school supply sales, think ahead, take stock of what you have and what you need.

Take inventory before you shop
Take inventory before you shop annagold12/Morguefile.com

Take inventory before you shop

Before you hit the clearance and school sale racks, you need to take inventory of your summer clothes and seasonal items such as lawn equipment, sporting goods, camping supplies, patio furniture, pool supplies, gardening supplies, grilling equipment and children's summer toys.

As you take inventory, keep the activities that you enjoy in the summer months in mind and make a list clothes and other summer season items you need. This will become your clearance sale shopping list.

As you take your personal inventory, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is missing or lost? Do you need to replace it or buy parts?
  • What clothes do you need to replace because they are uncomfortable or look dated?
  • What did you put off buying this summer because the price was too high? Do you still want those items?
  • What supplies are you low on that you could store for the winter, like pool chemicals or garden fertilizer?

Declutter while you plan to save money

While going through your belongings and making the shopping list, keep a box or large bag nearby to use for the things you no longer want but are in good condition so you can donate them to a charity. Remember to document what you're giving away by snapping photos with your phone or making a list of the items that are in excellent condition. You can get a tax deduction for those items on this year's tax return.

Have a garbage on hand as well and use it to dispose damaged or worn items that shouldn't be donated. Now is your opportunity to purge your household of clutter as well as to plan to save more at summer clearance sales.

Typical summer clearance and early fall sale items
Typical summer clearance and early fall sale items Adam Berry/Getty Images

Typical summer clearance and early fall sale items

The following is a list of merchandise that is typically on clearance or sold at a good discount in late summer and early fall. Look these items over for more ideas for taking advantage of end of sales at this time:

  • Computers
  • School shoes
  • Convenience food items for lunch boxes
  • Summer produce (freeze what you will not use immediately)
  • Garden seeds (most if not all will germinate next year)
  • Swim suits and beach towels
  • Short sleeved shirts and shorts
  • Sandals, water shoes, flip flops
  • Light jackets
  • Party supplies
  • Water toys
  • Lawn rakes
  • Gardening tools
  • Outdoor toys
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Grills and related supplies
  • Summer makeup shades (the colors look great year-round)
  • Tents, coolers and other camping gear
  • Sunscreen, bronzers
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