Best and worst things to buy in September

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The Best Things to Buy in September

Now that the kids are back in school and your summer vacation is over with, your mid-year budget can finally recoup from the host of expenses the summer months bring.

But don't breathe that sigh of relief just yet.

It's September — and that means that the holidays are just around the corner, whether you like it or not. But don't let upcoming parties and holiday shopping put you in debt at the start of 2017. Here's how to keep as much money in your pocket as possible this fall, so you're ready for the holidays.

RELATED: 10 items you should never buy online:

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Flowers

Although it may be more convenient to purchase flowers online, if you have time, it's best to locate a local florist near the person you want to send flowers to. According to a study by Cheapism.com, you're more likely to pay less and receive a better bouquet for your money when you use a local florist. 

Photo credit: Getty

Furniture 

You may not realize it, but when you purchase furniture online, you also have to pay for delivery and surcharge fees. In order to avoid paying these unwanted costs, it's easier to get it in person. For example, when buying furniture in-store, you're able to negotiate a better price and maybe even convince the salesperson to throw in free delivery. 

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Groceries 

Much like shopping for flowers, it is best to purchase your groceries at an actual grocery store. When you purchase them in person, you have the opportunity ensure you are choosing the best meats, produce, etc. -- something you can't do when ordering online.

 Photo credit: Getty

Swimwear 

As beach season rapidly approaches, you probably want to invest in a few new swimsuits. However, before you make that online purchase you'll want to heed this warning. Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot, says, " Fit can fluctuate even among suits from the same brand...  and many online retailers don’t allow swimsuit returns if the packaging has been opened or there’s evidence the suit has been worn." 

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Social Media Followers 
We get it, social media is addicting.  While it may be cool to have over 10,000 followers, buying them can be risky. Depending on the social media site you are using, the followers you purchase can be deleted if they are considered spam accounts. 

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Prescriptions 
Unless advised by your doctor, you should avoid buying medicine online at all costs. It can be tempting to get off-brand products, but you may be unknowingly purchasing illegal or counterfeit drugs. 

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Cars
The internet has made it possible to cut out the middleman when dealing with major purchases, but sometimes, that salesperson is needed. If you're buying a car for the first time, it may be best to get it at a dealership. When you get a car online, you're taking away the opportunity to test it out first and negotiate a better deal. 

Photo credit: Getty

Knockoff Accessories 
While getting counterfeit bags and jewelry is cheaper than buying the real thing, you should do so with much caution. Oftentimes, these items are sold on unsecured sites which can lead to either your computer getting a virus or your identity being stolen. 

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Pets
While you can find an array of pets being sold online, it is always safest to purchase one in person. Much like furniture, you may have to deal with excessive delivery fees, and what's more, your pet can get sick or even worse. 

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Fragile Items
If you're truly invested in a fragile or irreplaceable item, it's highly recommended to buy and pick it up in the store. This cuts out any chances of a delivery person dropping and breaking your prized possession. 

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Best Things to Buy in September

It seems September is all about transportation — with some gadgets thrown in. From Labor Day car sales to cheap airfare, these are the best deals this month.

1. Cars

Labor Day weekend is considered to be one of the best times to buy a car, and the entire month of September is chock-full of financing and other car deals direct from dealerships. As next year's models begin rolling in, current year vehicles must be moved out. You'll see a number of offers designed to entice buyers, including zero down and 0% APR financing.

Keep in mind, however, that many of these finance offers from dealerships are reserved for buyers who meet high credit standards. Find out exactly what the requirements are before committing to a loan.

Find Out: Are Banks Open on Labor Day?

2. iPhones

Every September, the famous Apple keynote is held. During this time, Apple historically announces the new iPhone. So if you want a new iPhone, now is the time. The iPhone 7 is expected to be released in late September, so you can get a brand new one with the best features, or get a steep discount on older models as they'll be discounted to make room for newer models. And don't forget to look for the best iPhone deals on older models from eBay, Walmart and Best Buy, according to Benjamin Glaser from DealNews.

3. Cheap Airfare

Cheap Flight Day has just passed, but that doesn't mean all the cheap flights are gone. You can certainly find cheap flights year-round, depending on the purpose of your travel. However, September is the month to buy your tickets if you plan on heading out of town for Thanksgiving, Christmas and all other holidays later this year. Summer vacations are over, but the mad rush of the holidays hasn't begun yet. That makes this month the perfect in-between time to grab plane tickets for less.

4. Bicycles

The best bike deals can be found in September when you're less likely to be outside riding anyway. Retailers don't want a store full of bikes just sitting around and taking up precious space, so they'll slash prices to clear them out. It's a great time to grab a bike as a gift — stash an early Christmas present away — or upgrade your own ride for the coming spring. Just make sure you research your new ride, so you don't buy a completely outdated model.

5. TVs

As the fall semester begins, college students in dorms or small apartments are probably looking for a decent-sized TV set. "September is traditionally a stellar month for deals on 32″ 1080p HDTVs," said Glaser. "Not only will deals be abundant for this category, but they'll be at the lowest prices of the year. Last year, they hit an astounding $110, though $150 is a safer bet. These small screens are perfect for a dorm room or first apartment."

But if you can't find a low price on the TV you want, Glaser recommends waiting until November for some Black Friday deals.

RELATED: 12 sneaky ways Amazon gets you to spend more:

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1. Data-Driven Upsells

Amazon uses a highly sophisticated algorithm to recommend the right products to the right customers, at just the right times. The company has access to data that allows it to analyze behavior from customers and use this information to recommend products to other shoppers with similar profiles.

According to Vadim Bichutskiy, director of data science at Innovizo, Amazon has pioneered a data-driven strategy for cross-selling and upselling.

"As an avid reader, I buy lots of books on Amazon, and on many occasions I have taken advantage of its ‘Frequently Bought Together’ and ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ features," said Bichutskiy. "Not only did I enjoy the books, but I never would have known about them without these recommendations."

In fact, Amazon attributes 35 percent of its revenue to cross-selling.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / Twin Design/Shutterstock.com

2. Free Shipping Offers

Amazon offers customers a few different ways to score lightning-fast shipping. You can pay $99 a year for an Amazon Prime membership, which gets you free, two-day shipping on most items and free, two-hour delivery in certain areas. If you don’t want to pay for an Amazon Prime membership, you can spend at least $25 on books — or $49 on other qualified items — for free shipping.

Free shipping isn’t free for Amazon, and the company has to make up its losses somehow. The idea behind the free shipping offers is to incentivize customers to pay extra for Prime Memberships or get them to increase the number of items in their carts. And the strategy works. Revenue from these incentives offsets Amazon’s annual shipping costs, which Forbes estimated at $11.5 billion for 2015.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock.com/AdrianHancu

3. Amazon Prime Membership

Amazon Prime is a customer loyalty program that was originally designed to get customers to spend more. According to a report by the market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), 40 million people in the U.S. have Amazon Prime memberships. As a result, they can take advantage of incentives like free expedited shipping, same-day delivery in certain areas, unlimited video and music streaming, early access to lightning deals, access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library and discounts on diapers, video games and more.

Once you pay for an Amazon Prime membership, you will likely stop shopping at other stores in order to take advantage of all the benefits. According to the report, Amazon Prime members spend a jaw-dropping $1,500 a year with the retail giant, compared to non-Amazon Prime shoppers, who spend just $625 a year. Still, this program isn’t a direct money-maker for the online retailer. According to Fortune, Amazon Prime has become a tool for acquiring new customers and building loyalty, so the company can make money off members in other ways, like video streaming and cross-selling.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / Hadrian/Shutterstock.com

4. Prime Instant Video

Amazon Prime members have access to Prime Instant Video, which lets them stream popular shows, such as "Transparent," "Boardwalk Empire" and "Girls," along with movies like "The Big Lebowski," "When Harry Met Sally" and "Mad Max: Fury Road."

Prime Instant Video doesn’t actually make the company money. However, Amazon has discovered that Prime members who use the free video streaming service are 10 times as likely to rent or buy movies from Instant Video as non-Prime members. So, once customers get into the habit of streaming free videos, Amazon has a chance to sell them on renting or buying videos that aren’t available for free.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock.com/Geber86

5. One-Click Ordering

Amazon actually owns the patent for 1-Click ordering, which has generated billions in revenue for the retail giant. Once customers' credit card payment and shipping information are stored on servers, they can simply click once to place orders without going through the checkout process.

This frictionless ordering system is another way in which Amazon disconnects customers from how much they are actually spending and encourages impulse buying.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock.com/TommL

6. Dash Button

Amazon offers more than 70 “Dash Buttons,” which allow customers to reorder common household items like detergent, paper towels, diapers and pet supplies with the click of a button. Dash Buttons connect to Wi-Fi and can be placed anywhere in your home, so you don’t need to get on a computer or smartphone to reorder — just press the button, and you’re done.

Dash Buttons might seem like a convenient service offering, but many people think they are just another Amazon trick to disconnect customers from the truth of their spending habits. And because Amazon limits the brands offered through Dash Buttons, customers aren't necessarily getting the best rates on items they need.

The customer pays a price for convenience, and Amazon reaps the rewards.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / Amazon.com, Inc.

7. Kindle Promotions

The next time you see a promotion running for an Amazon Kindle, think twice before buying, as the “deal” might actually cost you in the long run. According to CIRP, Kindle owners spend an average of $1,450 per year at Amazon, compared to $725 for customers who don’t own Kindles.

In a press release, CIRP co-founder Mike Levin said, “Similar to Amazon Prime members, Amazon Kindle owners are better customers. They also shop more frequently and buy more expensive items on average.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / Erlo Brown/Shutterstock.com

8. Prime Day

Amazon’s Prime Day is a 24-hour event during which members enjoy access to a wide array of products at below-average prices. To lure more customers into taking advantage of this promotion, Amazon offers a free, 30-day Prime membership, so anyone can participate in the event. By selling more Amazon Prime memberships, Amazon can increase its cross-selling opportunities and profits.

According to CNN Money, in 2015, Amazon Prime Day sales shot up 93 percent in the U.S. and 53 percent in Europe.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / Ttatty/Shutterstock.com

9. Lightning Deals

Amazon’s Lightning Deals can be found throughout the website and on the Gold Box page. These deals are limited to one per customer and usually have very short expiration dates. Along with making the offers time sensitive, Amazon creates a sense of urgency by displaying status bars that show the percentage of deals already in shoppers' carts and the percentage still available.

Amazon is notoriously reticent about how much revenue it gains off these deals, but the company is known to double-down on the strategy during certain holidays. For example, Amazon doubled its lightning deals to 30,000 during the 2015 holiday season, and customers jumped at the chance to score flash deals on electronics, TVs, jewelry and toys.

Amazon Prime members were also treated to 30-minute-early access to Lightning Deals. This discount is yet another way that the company can profit off its memberships.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / dennizn/Shutterstock.com

10. Amazon Echo

In April of 2016, Amazon reported a staggering $29.1 billion in revenue, representing a 28 percent increase over the same period last year. A huge portion of these profits comes from Amazon capitalizing on “the internet of things” with products like the in-home personal assistant, Echo.

Costing about $180, Echo is a wireless, voice-operated speaker that features artificial intelligence. It’s always ready to listen and can do anything from play music and games to set alarms, perform math equations and look up facts online.

Additionally, Echo allows customers to have hands-off access to Amazon — and blindly purchase items from the company’s website. Echo even has a friendly persona named Alexa, so you feel less like you're interacting with a company and more like you're shopping with a friend.

Amazon hasn’t released sales figures, but CIRP estimates that more than 3 million Echoes have been sold since June of 2015.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / Giuseppe Constantino/Shutterstock.com

11. Amazon Prime Now

The latest addition to Amazon’s speedy delivery options, Prime Now offers items in two hours or less. This service is free for Prime members but limited to certain cities and zip codes. Prime Now is just another way in which Amazon promotes its Prime memberships and keeps customers from spending money at other retailers.

Amazon Prime members can use Prime Now to have groceries, household items, office supplies even gifts delivered right to their doors. And the company's investment in faster delivery services has paid off — in April of 2016, the company reported a 15 percent increase in sales to $22.7 billion. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he will continue to invest in new warehouses and data centers, as well as additional services for Prime members.

Photo credit: AP

12. Third-Party Sellers

It’s become so easy to order products through Amazon that most customers don’t bother to find out from where their merchandise is actually coming. So, instead of housing products in expensive warehouses and losing money on free shipping, Amazon has started employing third-party sellers.

Amazon’s Marketplace allows smaller business to sell to millions of shoppers under the Amazon umbrella. It’s estimated that independent sellers now account for 44 percent of Amazon’s worldwide sales. Meanwhile, the company just sits back, relaxes and cashes in.

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Worst Things to Buy in September

Sometimes it's just better to wait. Here are a couple of things you should avoid buying in September, so you don't waste your money.

1. Appliances

Labor Day appliance sales will be tempting, but waiting until October or even November to make big appliance purchases will be even better for your bank account, according to Glaser.

"If you can wait until November, Black Friday will offer better sales, with discounts that take up to 75 percent off the same items," he said. "On average, about 35 percent of Black Friday appliance deals are marked Editors' Choice — only 15 percent of deals see that distinction throughout the rest of the year."

2. Winter Clothing

I know you've just started coming to terms with the fact that summer is almost officially over, and fall fashions have arrived at retailers — but winter clothes are also starting to appear. From winter coats to some fashionable UGG boots, now is not the time to fall victim to high prices for warm winter styles. Instead, wait until January or February when winter clothes are significantly marked down.

So, whether you're ready to upgrade to a new iPhone or are planning holiday travel in advance, now is the time. But be careful not to waste money purchasing items that will be on sale next month for Black Friday.

Keep Reading: Times It's OK to Buy Used Instead of New

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