Guess who's back! Back to school and work, that is. It's that time of year when stores are stocked to help you wrap up summer vacation and launch back into your daily grind. Here's what is — and isn't — worth your money this month. 

What to Buy in August 

Apartment furnishings. Back-to-school sales aren't just for students. Look for deals on small-space furniture and décor, says consumer expert Andrea Woroch. Check your usual big-box stores as well as Overstock and local furniture showrooms. (Adulting tip: Go for well-built items in a neutral palette that don't scream "freshman dorm room.") Small kitchen appliances like coffeemakers, microwaves, toasters and blenders will also see markdowns. 
Home office essentials. If you've been meaning to re-stock (or start) a home office, it's a good time to buy large items like printers and computer monitors, says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge. While you're at it, pick up paper goods, pens and stationery, and home organization tools on the cheap. 
Laptops, tablets and bags. "There are two times out of the year when tech is a good sale, and back-to-school is one of them," Woroch says. (The other is Black Friday/Cyber Monday.) Look for back-to-school markdowns on basic laptops and tablets, as well as laptop bags, messenger bags and totes to cart around your new gadgets. 
Second-hand housewares. It's the tail-end of the summer moving season, meaning those packing up may be selling off unneeded housewares before changing addresses. Woroch suggests checking local listings (Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, for example) for new-to-you home furnishings. 
Travel deals. It's not too late to book that last-minute summer getaway. If your travel dates and destination are flexible, look for flash airfare sales from carriers like Southwest and Frontier this month. Based on last year's data from Slickdeals, Bodge says these deals generally apply to one-way tickets. So remember to factor in return airfare and any boarding or baggage fees to make sure these deals actually lower your travel costs.  
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale treats. The annual Nordstrom blowout runs through Sunday, August 5. Find markdowns on all your favorite brands across apparel, bags, shoes, makeup and skin care. This fall preview is a great time to change out your work wardrobe and, for Woroch, stock up on chic home goods for upcoming birthday and holiday presents. (Can't go wrong with gifting an Anthropologie candle set.) 

What to Skip in August 

Fall apparel. Step away from the sweaters! Retailers might be setting up displays with denim and coats galore, but resist the urge to buy fall trends until October (with the exception of your Nordstrom finds). By Columbus Day, merchandise that's been on racks for a few weeks will drop in price. 
A new phone. The rumor mill is abuzz with predictions of what new Apple products will be announced in September. But one constant Woroch expects: "When Apple releases new models of the iPhone, you'll not only see drops on older [Apple] models, but also on Android as well." Wait a few weeks, and you can score a new phone at well under the iPhone X's $1,000 price tag. 
Outdoor entertaining. Patio furniture, outdoor dining sets and grill prices begin to drop in August. But waiting until Labor Day could pay off in several hundred dollars in savings off these big-ticket items, Woroch says.