You don't have to wait for the epidemic known as Black Friday to save money on big-ticket household items — I’ve just found a few enticing bargains on grills and big screen TVs. Speaking of epidemics, this week I’m sharing ways to get your flu shot for free. Plus: how you can feed the hungry while scoring a deal on a restaurant meal.
Grills and Big Screen TVs
Retailers are clearing out summer items to make room for fall and winter merchandise, so you can find sizzling deals on grills.
For example, Sears has put all its barbecues and smokers on sale, with savings of $100 or more on Kenmore, Char-Broil, and Kitchen Aid brands. The Kenmore Elite 5-Burner Stainless Steel Gas Grill, normally $1,199, has been marked down to $799.99.
At Home Depot, two Brinkmann grills, which cost $599 and $446 this summer, are now selling for $499 (Vertex Sear 6-Burner Dual Fuel Gas) and $399 (Smoke N’ Grill 5-Burner Propane Gas Grill With Smoker).
(MORE: Savvy Flea Market Shopping)
In its recent article, “The Myth of the Black Friday Deal,” The Wall Street Journal found that October is the best time to buy a flat-screen TV, based on a survey of more than 50 retailers by the consumer-price research firm, Decide.com. According to the Journal, the average price of a Samsung 46-inch "Professional" LCD television last year was $1,159 in October; on Black Friday, its average price was $1,355.
Jon Abt, co-president of Abt Electronics, a large store in suburban Chicago, told me, however, that you can find big-screen TVs on sale pretty much year round.
One more household-products shopping tip: Best Buy and Target just announced they’ll match the price charged by certain online retailers during the holiday season.
The Best Buy price-matching program has already started, but it won’t be available during Black Friday week, Nov. 18-26, or after Dec. 24. Target’s holiday season price matching will start Nov. 1 and continue through Christmas Eve. Visit the websites of these chains for details about exactly which competitors they’ll match.
Free Flu Shots
The flu season can begin as early as October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It takes about two weeks for a flu vaccine to offer protection, so if you haven't already gotten your shot, now's the time.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), if you're over 65 and have Medicare Part B, you can get free flu shots at pharmacies and stores that ordinarily charge $20 or so.
(MORE: Avoiding Sticker Shock at the Drugstore)
If you’re younger, look for a free flu shot clinic offered by your city, county or state health department. Some flu shot clinics require appointments; others are walk-in. To find one, search online by typing in "free flu shot" plus "health department" and then the name of your city, county or state.
Get a Free Meal and Feed the Hungry, Too
For the past few years, when you order one of the classic pasta dishes at the Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant chain, you get a second order of the same dish for free to take home — a $12.95 savings. This month, Maggiano’s is also donating the equivalent of your free meal to Feeding America, the hunger-fighting charity.
And on Monday (Oct. 22) every Maggiano’s customer will receive a free classic pasta dish to take home, regardless of what they order; the restaurant will make the same donation to Feeding America.
Not a bad way to feed your tummy and your soul.