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The best things to buy during fall

When it comes to a great deal, timing can be everything.

After dancing up an appetite at the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival one year, I couldn't decide whether to splurge on pizza or french fries. Just as I was agonizing, the vendor's table fell over and a huge bin of fries fell into the grass. I paid for the pizza and she let me take a big handful of free fries from the top of the pile.

Is that gross? It doesn't matter, because timing helps even when you're not eating food off the ground.

According to FreeShipping.org, now is the best time to buy the following items:

*Bathing suits. You won't find the best selection, but you'll find the best deals. Just in time for swim class!

*Back-to-school electronics. You don't have to be a student to take advantage of the great deals on leftover laptops, computers and calculators.

*Bicycles. New models come out in September, so prices on the "old" ones get cut.

*China and flatware. Wedding season is over, so demand isn't as high.

*Horses. Yes, seriously. People ride less in the winter, and boarding them through the season is expensive. You can get good deals on boats right now for similar reasons.

*iPods. Start looking for deals on MP3 players. The newest models are timed to come out as Christmas shoppers hit the malls, so prices will come down on the previous generation of gadgets.

*Landscaping supplies. Garden centers are making room for Christmas trees and discounting summer's plants, trees and shrubs.

*Local fruits and veggies. Homegrown season is here! You'll find great deals on local produce and -- yum! -- apple cider.

*Patio furniture. The first week of fall is the best time to buy, as retailers move patio furniture out to make room for Christmas decorations.

*Summer clothes. Stock up for next year or shop wisely for things you can wear now and through the winter. Look for things like tank tops and short-sleeved shirts, which can be layered underneath other items of clothing. Stick to blacks, whites and neutral colors.

*Vacations. Outside of Labor Day and Thanksgiving, the travel season slows down. Kids are in school and many folks have already exhausted their vacation budget on summer trips. Book trips for September, October and November and you may find some great deals on airfare, cruises, hotels and resorts.

*Wine. Vineyards have their harvest in fall, too. That means the latest vintages are out, the selection is great and some retailers will mark down their overstock.

e-mail: schristmann@buffnews.com or call MoneySmart at 849-4612. Follow the Diva at www.Facebook.com/DiscountDiva

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