The fall months are a great time to make some big investments. Of course you’ll always want to do your research ahead of time – there are lots of ways to waste your money this month, too. While Labor Day sales are often terrific, it’s the savings after Labor Day that are really impressive.

Car Sales

The 2015 cars are already on the lot, and that means the 2014s have to go. If you’re shopping for a 2015 vehicle, this is certainly not the best the time to buy. Paying top dollar right at the top of the model year isn’t going to impress your financial manager, but saving a huge amount on last year’s model can score you a huge amount of savings.

When you’re buying a 2014 vehicle, what out for a few things. Car dealers are looking to clear the lot, but they certainly don’t want to lose money. Keep an eye out for hidden fees, extra “requirements” like extended warranties, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the dealership isn’t willing to work on a real deal. It’s far better to go to a different dealership than to be stuck with a lemon of a car or loan.

Patio Furniture

The summer brought beautiful patio furniture to lots of stores. Now that the fall is officially under way, the patio sets need to go, and stores are slashing prices. Look for deals in stores that only hold patio furniture seasonally. Big box stores and discount retail shops will likely be offering pretty terrific deals on tables, chairs, umbrellas and cushions.

One thing to watch for, however, as you’re picking out a new set are returns. The store has to get rid of all of their patio furniture, even the items that others weren’t satisfied with. Since the return policy can be dicey on sale or clearance merchandise, be sure that the box you’re taking hasn’t been opened and that the furniture you’re buying hasn’t been previously used or scraped up before turning over your credit card.

Post Labor Day Sales

There are two big dead times for retail stores. The first is in January, following the budget-busting holidays. The second down time is in the fall after school starts. The big sales over Labor Day and the back-to-school sales on clothing are usually just the beginning of the savings in retail stores.

Christmas items start coming in later in the fall, but the sweet spot for savings is right after the big Labor Day sales and before November. Complete your holiday shopping now and you’ll be shocked at how much you can save by buying well before the holiday “savings” kick in.