I hope that all of you have been enjoying your summer. My family has enjoyed many wonderful days filled with playing in the park, play dates and barbecues.
These next few weeks of family fun will become a bittersweet memory for me as both of my children will be headed off to school in just five short weeks, with my youngest beginning pre-K. It’s hard to believe, but summer is drawing to a close for students; school starts Aug. 7 for Columbia County and Aug. 13 for Richmond County. Now is the time to start cleaning out closets and looking at the school’s supply list to figure out what you need to purchase for your children and prevent unnecessary buying.
With the Fourth of July holiday on Wednesday, many people are planning to stay home to celebrate with a cookout and perhaps attend one of several local firework shows. Some of them are even lucky enough to be able to watch the fireworks from the comfort of their own backyards.
Having parties can be stressful and expensive, but you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great party spread if you watch the sales ads this week. The best sales of the year happen this week on all your barbecue needs. Items to look for include barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, marinades and hamburger and hot dog buns. You should also find some great deals on paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, soda, sunscreen, insect repellent and even fireworks. I found a great selection of themed party supplies at several Dollar Tree stores.
There will also be some great meat deals this week. Hot dogs, hamburgers, ground beef, ribs and steaks will be featured as loss leaders. I prefer to stock up on meats when they are at 30 percent to 50 percent off and separate larger packs into smaller meal-size portions to freeze. I love stocking up on these types of meats this time of the year because they are perfect for feeding large crowds, grilling and quick-fix meals.
Once the Fourth of July is over, there are a few national promotions to consider. July is National Baked Bean Month, Hot Dog Month, Blueberry Month and Ice Cream Month. Ice cream coupons have been plentiful this year in newspapers, magazines, Web sites and on Facebook. Combining them with sales will give your family some great treats for these hot summer days!
I’ve also noticed some great clearance finds around town. At Target, I found birthday party supplies. The boys selection included a large amount of Star Wars loot bags, favors and party accessories. I also found markdowns on blankets, on-the-go activity pads and photo albums. Many stores are getting ready to bring out new fall merchandise and beginning to mark down spring and summer clothing, but bigger discounts will begin next month. However, if you are a common size, you might want to consider buying early for the best selection.
According to All You magazine, July is the best month to buy furniture. New lines start coming out at the end of the month and stores are anxious to move older models out to make room. Look for sales ads and don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially if you see any slight imperfections. You’d be surprised how noticing a small ding, scratch or tear can knock 10 percent to 20 percent off the price tag.
Blackberry and blueberry season is in full swing, and many places in North Augusta will let you pick them yourself. My family planted a small container garden and we are enjoying homegrown tomatoes. Local produce is plentiful right now, so try a nearby farmers’ market for some great deals on local veggies. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller about his growing practices.
Vegetables in season this month include tomatoes, summer squash, garlic, okra, onions, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumber, corn and green beans. Fruits include watermelon, pears (Asian and Bartlett), blackberries, blueberries, figs, grapes, plums, peaches, nectarines and some varieties of oranges.