Personal Finance

Best big-ticket items to buy in the fall

Find the deals before the year ends

Shoppers carry away discounted items from a Best Buy store in Naples, Florida.
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Looking to replace the grill you worked into the ground this summer? If you're smart you'll start shopping now, rather than wait until the warm weather rolls around next year.

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Same goes for lawn mowers and patio furniture. That's because these and other pricy items go on sale between September and the end of November, when demand is low and stores need to make room for new, 2016 inventory. The benefit to you? Saving hundreds of dollars.

By Lucy Maher, special to CNBC.com
Updated 30 Sept. 2015

Cars

A Fiat Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee is seen at a dealership.
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Dealers slash prices on 2015 inventory to make room for new 2016 models hitting lots in early fall.

In addition to lower prices, dealers often rely on incentives, like cash-back offers and low interest rates to clear their lots of existing-year models.

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In September and October, according to car-buying site Edmunds.com, the average manufacturer's suggested retail price discount on current models is 9 percent, compared to 4 percent for 2016 models. Wait until December, and your discount rises to 10 percent. Of course, by then, selection will be limited, and you may have to settle for a color you're not wild about.

Grills

Malin Holm | Getty Images

Loath to buy a grill now only to watch it collect dust all winter? You may want to think twice, said Mark Di Vincenzo, author of "Buy Ketchup In May And Fly at Noon."

After the summer grilling season, sellers are eager to clear out older models to make room for those with newer bells and whistles. The catch? Limited selection. "The longer you wait, the deeper the discounts," said Di Vincenzo. "But the selection will get worse because new grills won't be shipped to stores until the spring."


Computers

Mike Kemp | Getty Images

Like cars, new-model computers start to line store shelves in September and October, after chipmakers like Intel have released their new processors. Throw in annual back-to-school sales and you can score a new lap- or desktop for hundreds off the manufacturer's suggested retail price. You may also get a deal on "bundled" packages, such as a laptop and wireless printer. Prices are dropped further on Black Friday, but you run the risk of reduced selection.

This year may be especially kind to folks looking for bargain PC prices: with consumers migrating to tablets and mobile phones, computer sales are in a slump, which may prompt sellers to slash prices even more than planned. Second-quarter shipments fell 9.5 percent year over year, according to research firm Gartner.

Bicycles

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Bikes, including high-end models, go on sale during the offseason, with discounts reaching 30 to 50 percent. An even better deal? Buying a bike from a local retailer's rental pool.

Household appliances

Whirlpool washing machines for sale at the Airport Home Appliance store in Concord, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Major home renovations typically take place in the spring, but the best time to replace that old dishwasher is in the fall. That's when space must be cleared for new inventory, prompting manufacturers to slash prices of existing models. What's more, many appliance sales fall under a quota system, meaning you'll want to time your visit to the end of the month when additional savings may be offered.

Before you head to the store, read up on efficient technology like Energy Star that can save you money on utility bills. You may find that you can save more money in the long run on a slightly less discounted model of washer/dryer or dishwasher that uses less water and electricity than a more traditional one.


Lawn mowers

John Deere lawn tractors sit on display at Klein Equipment, a John Deere dealership in Galesburg, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

If you've spent all summer battling your grass, the last thing you want to do is invest in a shiny new lawn mower. But this is exactly the time to do so, since lawn mowers take up a lot of floor space, forcing retailers to slash prices to make room for household gear like leaf and snow blowers.

Patio furniture

Spaces Images | Getty Images

In many areas, outdoor seating typically goes on sale right after Labor Day, when folks are heading indoors to do their lounging and entertaining.

Waiting longer into fall will likely result in larger discounts, sometimes upward of 50 percent, as retailers make room for winter merchandise and holiday décor. And if you don't mind a few scuffs and dings, you can negotiate deals on floor models with local retailers looking to clear inventory for the winter.

Cruises

Carnival cruise ship Destiny in port in Key West, Fla.
Karen Bleier | AFP | Getty Images

If you're among the thousands of travelers planning a cruise next summer, don't wait to book. Early bird rates of 25 to 50 percent can be found by those willing to place their deposit nine to 12 months in advance. After that, demand increases and so do prices. Another benefit to booking early? You get your pick of itineraries, dates and cabins, as well as potentially lower airfares.

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Conversely, October is a good month for procrastinators as cruise lines slash prices on unsold cabins on holiday sailings.

TVs

A shopper looks at televisions in a Best Buy store.
Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

If you're a football fan, chances are the turn of fall has you salivating for a new tube. Di Vincenzo says you should hold off until the days leading up to Black Friday. That's when sales of off-brand sets reach their peak.

"Sometimes larger, brand-name TVs will sell for huge discounts of 35 percent or more, but often there will be a very limited number of those deals," he said. "And they're gone within five minutes of a store opening." Depending on the retailer, some of the deals you see in store will be available online, with free shipping.

It's difficult to predict what kind of discounts retailers will offer this year, but if 2014 was any indication, you can expect savings of well into the hundreds of dollars. Last year Amazon dropped the price of Sharp's 60-inch AQUOS 4K Ultra HD display to $1,799.99, a discount of $500. And Target offered a 49-inch LG Electronics 4K display for $999.99, a $250 markdown off the manufacturer's suggested retail price.