What to Buy in October

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Lit jack o' lanterns, close-up

When most people think of October, they think of brown, yellow and red leaves and bright orange pumpkins. Retailers think green. To them, the start of the fourth quarter represents hope that end-of-the-year sales will boost their bottom lines.

But because October falls between the back-to-school and Christmas shopping seasons, knowing what to buy this month is anything but a no-brainer. But if you know what to look for, you can save a lot of money in October.

Here are some October-related tips that smart shoppers need to know:

Shop online. Next to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the weekend before Halloween has some excellent “pre-Black Friday” sales. Are the sales as good as what you’ll see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? No. But you’ll see everything from clothes to electronics on sale for as much as 30 percent off.

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Go to the new car lot. You thought there were good deals on 2012 models in September. They’re better in October. And even better in November and December. That’s because car dealers are very eager to get rid of 2012 models, but the selection will only get worse in November and December, so you may not want to wait that long.

Buy jeans. Retailers look to sell jeans during back-to-school sales in August and post-back-to-school sales in September. The jeans that haven’t sold by October are discounted even more, sometimes by as much as 40 percent. And expect discounts of 50 percent or more during fall seasons when denim is not expected to be a big part of fashion trends. Why? Less demand equals lower prices.

Look for camping gear. Big-box retailers and outdoors stores often discount sleeping bags, lanterns, tents and other camping gear in October that didn’t sell during the peak camping season. October is also when campers often sell their equipment, and the selection of used stuff is best now. Fall garage sales offer the best prices.

Beware of diamonds. October is when many jewelers receive their biggest shipments of the year, so selection is best then. But October is when lots of people begin shopping for diamonds they plan to give for Christmas, so prices typically aren’t good then.

Don’t skip the produce section. October is a great month for produce, especially if it is in-season. In-season produce is more plentiful, and grocers don’t want to watch it rot in their stores, so they often put it on sale. Fruits and vegetables that are in-season in October include apples, cranberries, honeydew melons, oranges, peaches, Bartlett pears, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and spinach.

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Hit the road. With the summer a distant memory, travel deals are easier to find in October. Airfare and hotels are cheaper in places as diverse as Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, Beijing and  Washington, D.C. Not only that, but the weather in these and other places ranges between warm and mild, and there are fewer tourists to get in your way.

Don’t neglect your health. Flu season begins in November, but it takes two weeks for the flu shot to start working, so get one in October, and it should protect you throughout much of the flu season. Drug stores and doctor’s offices typically charge $30 for flu shots, but some insurance companies will pay for them, and local health departments sometimes don’t charge for them – as long as supplies last. So don’t wait until November.

Longtime journalist Di Vincenzo wrote the New York Times best seller Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There. Last month, he released an app based on that book called WHEN. An all-new second edition on the best time to buy things, called Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00: More of the Best Times to Buy This, Do That and Go There, was released on Sept. 11.