One of my favorite things about this time of year is relaxing outdoors with a good book and an ice cold pitcher of lemonade, so having a nice patio set is definitely important to me. However, outdoor furniture can be extremely expensive. In fact, it often seems as though patio furniture can be more expensive than regular furniture! If you’ve got sticker shock from shopping for outdoor furniture, don’t let it get you down – there are several ways to save big on your next patio set!

1. Sign up for deal alerts

If you’re waiting for sales to pop up on new outdoor sets, sign up for email alerts so that you don’t miss any deals. There are several sites out there that offer deal alerts such as DealCatcher, which sends you emails for the latest deals based on your keywords. Another site is DealAlerter, which allows you to select particular items and emails you when their prices drop. I’ve used both of these sites and must admit that I get pretty excited when I see those emails come through!

2. Shop off-season

If you can manage to hold off on purchasing your outdoor furniture until later in the summer, you should be able to score a pretty good bargain. Many stores such as Target and Walmart start marking down their summer goods as early as the end of June. These big box stores need to start clearing out summer goods to make way for back-to-school items, which usually get set up in July. Last July at Target I found several lounge chairs and a fire pit marked 75 percent off! If you’re familiar with shopping sales at these stores then you know the merchandise goes very quickly once it goes on clearance. I’ve found it easiest to just call every morning and ask if that section has been marked down.

3. Purchase piece by piece

If you’re not opposed to having a mismatched set, purchasing piece by piece may be a great option for you. Instead of buying an entire set, watch for deals on individual pieces. I’m not saying to buy items that are completely different. After all, you may not want a wicker table with plastic chairs or vice versa, but a set of chairs with a different table or ottoman may be a smart way to go. Not only will you be able to grab items as you see them get marked down, but you can continuously purchase items as your budget allows. Perhaps start with the chairs and then find a table. After you get the basics, you can begin to pick up the fun additions such as umbrellas, outdoor rugs, ottomans and decorative items.

4. Buy used

One of the easiest ways to save money on outdoor furniture is to buy a pre-owned set. There are so many places to find deals including flea markets, yard sales, Craigslist and estate sales, which can be a great place to find quality furniture, among other items. Because estate sales are usually due to unforeseen circumstances such as divorce, bankruptcy or, unfortunately, death, you’ll often find items that the owner was never intending to sell, and are therefore in very good condition. Last year I found several pieces of furniture for a steal as well as some great, high quality knick knacks for under $25. Although some secondhand items may have a bit of wear, you’ll pay a fraction of the price of a new set. To find estate sales in your area, check out EstateSales.net or Craigslist.

5. Check your local grocery store

When shopping for patio sets, most people check out the usual spots – big box stores, hardware stores, and garden shops – but often overlook one particular type of store – the grocery store! When I was shopping for new patio furniture I spotted a great deal on a set at my local Tom Thumb, so I decided to check out all of the grocery stores in my area and was pretty surprised to see just how many outdoor-living items they carried! Many of these items periodically go on sale with the regular weekly ad, though they may be unadvertised. The selection will definitely vary from store to store, but you may end up finding a bargain where you wouldn’t have expected to.

6. Revamp your current furniture

If you’re longing to replace your current furniture simply because you’re tired of it or you just want something new, then consider revamping instead of repurchasing. As long as the frame is still in good shape, there are numerous ways that you can update an existing set. Options include spray painting it or adding new pillows or cushions. Many people cringe when they hear the word spray paint, but you might be surprised at just how much of a transformation a can of paint can really make. To spray paint your current set, start off by cleaning it and removing as much of the dirt as possible. Next, use sandpaper to sand any areas with chips or scratches to get a smooth surface. Now you’re ready to paint. For less than $10 you may be able to get a new look without actually buying a new set!