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Aug 262013
 August 26, 2013  Posted by  Features, Hot Deals, Shopping
pool noodles

The bargainista part of me just loves all those end-of-season sales. I get bargain-priced holiday wrap, Halloween decorations and more. Summer’s end brings similar deals —  you know what I mean if you’ve ever walked through the pool/outdoor area of any Target, Walmart, Christmas Tree Shop, etc. Seeing all of those sale signs makes you want to grab a cart and start throwing stuff in.  But before you fill that cart, keep a few things in mind.

  • How low will they go? I’ve seen plenty of stores go down as far as 75% off, but keep in mind, the pickings can get pretty slim by then. If you really need something and the 50% or 60% off price fits your budget, you may want to go ahead and pick it up. If on the other hand, the item is just for the fun of it, you may want to hold off and see if it’s still there when the prices drop. You may also want to consider asking a store manager when sale items will be shipped out so you don’t miss it.
  • Where will you put it? If you’re lucky enough to have storage space in a garage, shed or basement, great. If not, do you really want to be moving that big inflatable pool box from room to room and corner to corner for the next nine months? In addition, be sure not to store it so well you forget about it or can’t remember where you put it. You’re not really saving money if you never get to use your fun new toy.
  • Will you actually use it? That 75% off is no bargain if the item is going to sit in the corner of the garage for the next five years.

Consider re-purposing items for a real bargain:

Kiddie pools

For just a few dollars, you can get an end-of-season plastic or inflatable kiddie pool and use it all winter long. Personally, I prefer the inflatable for storage purposes, but either will work.

  1. These make great art stations for the kids. No more play-dough, paint, moon sand or other stuff ground into the rugs or floor. Put all supplies and your child in the pool for self-contained fun.
  2. While at the store, pick up a couple bags of those plastic balls that float. Toss them into the pool to create a homemade ball pit for your little one.
  3. Use the pool for a container garden. It’s pretty easy to make a raised garden out of a kiddie pool and way cheaper than the $100 or so you’ll spend on a traditional raised garden. You can find several websites offering instructions on how to achieve this, such as this one and this one.

Pool noodles

These little tubes of foam have countless uses. Here are just a few of my favorites.

  1. Worried about a little one falling out of his or her new big bed? Slide a pool noodle under the fitted sheet on both sides of the bed for affordable bed rails.
  2. Put on hangers to help prevent creasing and hanger dents in clothes.
  3. Make a matchbox car racetrack.
  4. If you have a Star Wars fan, you’ll have to make some of these easy light sabers.
  5. Place them inside of tall boots to help them keep their shape.
  6. Know someone who has a hard time holding playing cards? Try out this simple card holder.
  7. Using a serrated knife, cut several pool noodles into roughly 2 inch slices. You’ll end up with many mini-noodles. Dump them into that discount kiddie pool you picked up to create a noodle pit.
  8. If you’re really crafty, turn one into a two-sided draft stopper for doors.


You can find these for 99 cents or less per pair. They have a variety of uses.

  1. Use at the gym when showering or walking around the pool
  2. Use when traveling to be comfy on long flights and for easy on and off at airport security.
  3. Send them to the dorm with college-age kids for showering.
  4. Cut into squares to put under the corners of uneven furniture or wiggly appliances.
  5. Cut into shapes or leave whole for kids to use as stamps for painting projects.

Heidi McIndoo

is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, author, and bargain hunter. She loves saving money and finding great deals, and can’t help but share the wealth when she does. She also loves all things food: baking, cooking, buying, eating, and more. She’s written about nutrition and healthy eating for Parents, Woman’s Day, All You, Prevention, and more. She enjoys teaching people how to eat both nutritiously and deliciously. And, in her two latest books she does just that — When to Eat What and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to 200-300-400 Calorie Meals. She lives with her family in the Metro Boston area.

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