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The best and worst things to buy in October

This is the best time of the year to consider buying a mulching lawn mower that can eliminate the need for raking leaves. (Special to The Forum)1 / 2
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October brings cooler temperatures, colorful foliage and cute little goblins trick-or-treating for candy at month's end. It also provides some savings opportunities for shoppers. But don't be tricked. With Black Friday and holiday sales looming on the horizon, there are some items you're better off closing the door on and waiting a few weeks. Read on to find what you should skip and what you should buy to save money in October.

BEST: A NEW ORLEANS VACATION

New Orleans can be one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the U.S. But visiting in October compared to other times of the year might provide some savings opportunities. Travel experts recommend traveling to New Orleans during Halloween when accommodation prices fall an average of $202, said Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and savings expert for Offers.com. "That's 34 percent less than hotel rate averages in Mardi Gras."

BEST: SEASONAL PRODUCE

Summer isn't the only time to buy fresh produce for less. Look for acorn squash, apples, butternut squash, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, all of which are freshest and cheapest during October, said Hollenbeck.

When you see a good deal, buy in bulk and freeze the produce to enjoy through the winter months. Check out October sales on apples during National Apple Month. Freeze apples whole or in slices on a cookie sheet, then transfer them to plastic bags once they're solid. Use the frozen apples for tasty cobblers, pies or applesauce into the new year.

BEST: A MULCHING LAWNMOWER

As lawn care season rolls to an end, you might be looking forward to not thinking about mowing for a few months. Now's the time you'll find the best discounts of the year on lawnmowers, according to Consumer Reports.

Look for mulching lawnmowers that can eliminate the need for raking leaves and prep your lawn for the cold weather ahead. The machines reduce clippings and leaves to a nourishing mix of carbon-rich leaf particles and nitrogen-laden grass clippings. Popular Mechanics recommends getting a self-propelled, rear-wheel-drive model to make light work of mulching your leaves.

WORST: COSMETICS

"Cosmetics of all types are a bad buy in October, and that means both drugstore and department store brands," said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews, a comparison shopping site. "The reason? A surprising number of drugstores and beauty brands will offer huge discounts on Cyber Monday," she said. "Many of these brands only go on sale during Black Friday or during bi-annual friends and family events. If you buy cosmetics in October, you could end up paying about 30 percent more."

WORST: A USED CAR

Not all used cars are bad buys, but as hurricane-flooded cars make their way out of Texas and Florida to unsuspecting consumers in other parts of the U.S., you're at higher risk of getting a lemon.

"Flood-damaged vehicles that have been repackaged and dressed up are a common scam after major weather events like what we've seen recently," said Willie Hall, a detective sergeant with Arizona Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General, in a news release.

A flood-damaged car should have a salvage title, but scammers fake the title. Buy a vehicle history report using the car's VIN that can reveal flood damage info. Use your eyes to discover silt and mud in places where scammers probably didn't take time to clean. And believe your nose if something smells "off."

WORST: IPHONES

If you want to save money on your Apple products, Sakraida also recommended passing on the new iPhones in October.

"Many people don't realize that even new iPhones eventually see deals, and you might not need to wait that long for a discount," she said. "At the very least, we expect to see the iPhone 8 come with gift cards of up to $250 during Black Friday, while December will bring straight discounts." More difficult to predict is when the iPhone X will go on sale. "It's almost like a new product line," she said. "However, history tells us that we'll likely see a discount of some kind on the iPhone X within the first six months."

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