Category Archives: Buying Guides

10 TV Deals To Make 50th Super Bowl “Golden”

4K TV Deals Offer Best Big Game Experience

TV-Deals-Super-Bowl-postTV prices continue to drop coming into January, aligning with those consumers who ranked Super Bowl sales as the best time to buy versus Black Friday TV deals (see FatWallet survey). In fact, many current TV deals are better than TV prices from November, especially 2015 4K TV models and higher quality name brand big screens featuring high refresh rates (120Hz minimum for optimum sports viewing). This is, in part, due to what’s coming post-CES, when 4K (UHD) gets a massive upgrade to newer SUHD, HDR, modular TV and a rollable OLED — “rollable” as in a 4K TV that rolls up like a big poster (can we get a rollable smartphone?).

What’s more? People are streaming their TV programming like never before–3 in 10 now stream the majority of TV content, which is up more than 20% from 2015 (and that’s a whopping 7 in 10 for those under age 30). The new Apple TV, Roku 4K TV, Amazon Fire TV are selling like hot cakes, not to mention word on a newer Sony Android TV. All have voice command functionality and a plethora of apps to keep you busy for a lifetime. This includes watching the Golden Super Bowl (50th) via the CBS Sports Channel/App, which can be found on Roku, AppleTV, XBOX One, Windows 10, and Chromecast. You an also watch it online for free or via the NFL mobile app (if you have Verizon). Pregame starts Sunday morning, Feb. 7, and runs through the first half, a ColdPlay halftime show, those ads, the second half and post game late Sunday night. Don’t know about you, but a big new 4K TV sounds like a much better experience than a smartphone!?

Top 10 TV Deals for Big Game upgrades:

4k-uhd-XBR-55X810CDell: Sony 55-inch 4K Ultra Smart HDTV (XBR-55X810C)
Specs: 4K UHDTV (2160p) display with 3840 x 2160 resolution, 4x HDMI, 3x USB, 16:9 image aspect ratio, 2 x 10W Speakers
$998 (was $1498) + $250 Gift Card, Free Shipping and 1.5% cash back
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Rakuten: 
Samsung 40-inch 4K UHD Smart LED UN40JU7100Samsung UN40JU7100 40-Inch 4K
Specs: 33% off,  3840 x 2160, 240Hz, UHD Upscaling, 4x HDMI, 3x USB, Mobile to TV Mirroring, DLNA, Smart TV with Apps, S-Recommendation and Full Web Browser
$997.99 (was $1,499.99) with free shipping and 1% cash back
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Sony 55 LED 4K UHD Smart TVBest Buy: Sony 55-inch LED 4K UHD Smart TV
Specs: 4K UHDTV (2160p) Display with 3840 x 2160 Resolution, 4x HDMI, 3x USB, 16:9 image aspect Ratio, 2 x 10W Speakers
$999 (was $1399) with free shipping
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Samsung 55 4K SUHD JS9000Samsung: 55-inch 4K SUHD JS9000 Series Curved Smart TV
Specs: Curved 4K SUHD TV with Edge Backlighting, Smart TV with Apps, S-Recommendation and Full Web Browser, 3D, 4x HDMI, UHD Dimming
$2499.99 (was $4999.99) with free shipping and 1% cash back
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VIZIO 70 Class 4K Ultra HD LED Smart TV - M70-C3Sam’s Club: VIZIO 70-inch Class 4K Ultra HD LED Smart TV (M70-C3)
Specs: 3840 x 2160 4K UHD, 240 Hz refresh rate with Clear Action 720, 5x HDMI, 1x USB, V6 Six-Core Processor, VIZIO internet apps plus
$1,698 (was $1,848) with free shipping and 1.5% cash back

Samsung 55 Class LED 4K Ultra HD Smart 3D TVBest Buy:  Samsung 55-inch Class LED 4K Ultra HD Smart 3D TV
Specs: 2160p, Smart, 3D , 4K SUHD, smart remote (TM1560B), one pair of 3D active glasses (SSG-5150GB), One Connect Mini, 4x HDMI, 3x USB
$1,799.99 (was $2,299.99) with free shipping
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Samsung 65 1080p Smart LED HDTV UN65J6300TigerDirect: Samsung 65-inch 1080p Smart LED HDTV (UN65J6300)
Specs: 1920 x 1080 Resolution, 120CMR refresh rate, 16:9 aspect ratio, built in Wi-Fi, Quad-Core, Bluetooth, 2x 10W Speakers, 4x HDMI, 3x USB, one-year warranty
$1,099.97 (was $2,799.99) $23-$50 Shipping

Sony 65 LED 4K Ultra HD Smart 3D TVBest Buy: Sony 65-inch LED 4K Ultra HD Smart 3D TV
Specs: 2160p, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR compatible, 4x HDMI, 3x USB, stand, touchpad remote (RMF-TX100U), one-year warranty
$1,999.99 (was $2,599.99) Free Shipping


Budget Beaters:

LG 55 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV (55LF6000)Walmart: LG 55-inch 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV  (55LF6000)
Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD, 120Hz refresh rate, Real Cinema 24p, 2 x 10W speakers, Dolby Digital decoder, 2x HDMI (2015 Refurbished)
$379.99 (was $550) with free shipping and 2.5% cash back


Walmart: 
Hisense 40-inch 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV (40H3e)Hisense 40 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV 40H3e
Specs: 1920 x 1080 Full HD, 60Hz Refresh Rate, True 16:9 aspect ratio, 8ms response time, 178-degree viewing angles, 3x HDMI, 1xusb, LED Backlight (2014 Refurbished)
$139.99 (was $259.99) with free shipping and 2.5% cash back

 

4K Drone Alternatives:
If you live near Levi’s Stadium (San Francisco, site of this year’s 50th Super Bowl), there are other ways to view the game in 4K. Although, due to severe legal ramifications, we do not recommend this drone deal for fly-bys over any public attended event.

Rakuten:  DJI Phantom 3 Pro Quadcopter Drone with 4K UHD VidCamDJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter Drone 4K UHD Camera
Specs: GPS Navigation, Four Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs), Auto-Takeoff/Landing, Return to Home, 4K Video, 12MP Stills, 94-degree Wide Angle Lens, DJI Pilot App: Camera Control, Live 720p Monitoring (Android/iOS )
$1148.99 (was $2249) with free shipping and 1% cash back

New Year Shopping Guide: What to Buy in January

5 tips to know what to buy in January

4k-tv-deals-januaryIt’s always nice to kick the new year off with some goals — resolve to do things better, stay focused, be smarter about your health and wealth. One sure way to keep your wealth in good order is to save money whenever possible, and there are numerous ways. The key is to make saving a habit, or better yet, a lifestyle by spending to save. If there’s cash back available, a coupon, discount, points or rebates, grab it every time. These will add up to significant savings over the course of a year, and just making sure to get cash back can make for a nice little nest egg to use during the 2016 holiday gift buying season, a vacation, or that coveted item you don’t really need, but want really bad. 

The other big key to saving money and making your wealth stronger is to buy smart. Hold back on the impulses, compare prices for the things you need, and know when to buy. Here are a few items to purchase in January:

Woman in fitness apparel sitting and listening to musicHealth and Fitness Deals:  The new year brings a reset of goals and aspirations to live better, healthier and smarter. Retailers respond with savings on a variety of items to help consumers get off to a good start. If your resolution includes better fitness, this is the best time of year to take advantage of huge discounts on fitness equipment, gear and related sports apparel with savings of 25-50% off at stores like Sears, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Those looking to track their progress should find prices similar to holiday sales on wearables and mobile apps, as well as steep discounts on gym memberships. January also brings excellent sales and discounts on health supplements, vitamins and diet foods so it’s a great time to stock up on the cheap for the months to come.

Little Boy Lying in Bed Wrapped in a ComforterJanuary White Sales:  In the late 1800s, marketers created sales after Christmas to move inventory on bed linens (which were only white) as these types of items didn’t sell well during the early winter months. Today, traditional January white sales are generated to move inventory on both bed and bath linens, and more recently expanded to a variety of household items like full bedding sets and window treatments. Unlike Black Friday deals on mostly lower quality linens, January White Sales bring big discounts up to 50% off both lower and higher quality sheets, towels and other textile items for the home from big box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond, to name a few.

Two women doing their taxes on a laptopEarly Tax Software Deals:  This is the best time of year to buy tax software, with big discounts starting as early as December. According to the IRS, the number of early returns filed in January 2015 was up 25.6%, and the number of e-filers were up 27.9% with self prepared tax filings up more than 20% at 7.5 million (vs. 5.8 million filed by tax professionals.) The majority of tax software retailers like H&R Block and TurboTax offer their best discounts of the year for early filers, including up to 10% cash back savings from FatWallet on both desktop and online tax software solutions for both personal and small business tax filings. The FatWallet Finance forum community also provides expert tax advice, tax tips and the newest filing tactics to help early filers save the most money possible on their tax returns.

Super Bowl TV Deals:  In 2015, 1 in 4 Americans said they would buy a new TV and 17% of those said it would happen in January to the advantage of Super Bowl sales (see full 2015 TV Buying report). In fact, late January brings the perfect storm for some of the best HDTV deals following CES (Consumer Electronics Show) when all the major TV brands introduce new models for the year, signaling the beginning of clearance of last year’s models. Consumers will have opportunities to shop for a variety of 50-60″ 1080p HDTVs in the $400-500 range and 40-60” 4K TVs in the $300-800 range, with average discounts around $200 and a much wider selection than what we see during Black Friday TV deals.

Winter and outdoor apparels: Shopping for your winter sports gear and outdoor apparels in January gives you the opportunity to save big – since warm weather has made the sales of these things to decline and retailers want to get them off their stocks as quickly as possible. You could shave off up to 60% from North Face, Under Armour, and Timberland among others when you purchase in January.

One more savings tip…

Valentine’s Day Gifts: The last two weeks in January offer a great time to find Valentine’s Deals and get shopping out of the way and save some money doing it. Although there will be sales closer to this holiday, the majority of deeper discounts happen much earlier, especially on items like jewelry, fragrances, clothing and tech products such as smartphones and tablets. Early bird V-day shoppers can expect savings upwards of 20% over later sales in February, including booking travel and flower deliveries way ahead of time.

December Buying Guide – Holiday Gifts and More

December Buying GuideOnline shoppers spend more money in December than any other month, even when Cyber Monday falls on Nov. 30, like this year. There are more sales each day and weekend than any other month, and more items shipped than any other month. At its heart, December is big consumer spending, especially on holiday gifts for kids. In fact, 9 in 10 parents will spend the same or more than they did a year ago, and 70% will buy each of their children 3 or more gifts. Add to that 61% of adults will buy their significant other at least one gift, that’s a lot of money moving around this season. (See the FatWallet Holiday Gift Buying survey and INFOGRAPHIC for more data.)

Some of the hottest gifts that kids want are toys and video games. They also want clothing, shoes, tablets, smartphones and laptops (who wouldn’t) and retailers know this, so expect to find post-Black Friday tech deals in abundance. Adults’ big gift desires this year are for clothing, shoes, jewelry and vacations. A smaller percentage would also be happy with mobile devices, TVs and new computing devices. Both kids and adults rank gift cards as one of the most wanted holiday gifts. Shoppers for the majority of these items will be pleased to know that these are high on the list of what to buy in December.

December Buying GuideCyber Week Deals:  We’ve all heard of Black Friday creep, yes? Well Cyber creep goes the other way as the days after Cyber Monday are now referred to as Cyber Week. Big retailers will feature huge store and category discounts from 10-50% off. This is the perfect time to stack these discounts with shipping offers and cash back. Often you can get the majority of your gifts purchased at one store and cash in on all the savings opportunities. Here’s a short list of 20 retailers offering FatWallet members cash back on gifts during Cyber Week.

 

December Buying GuideGreen Monday Deals:  The second Monday in December is quaintly called Green Monday. It offers a second round of store-wide discounts this month that focus on items for the home and kitchen, like cookware, bakeware, dinnerware, cutlery and glassware. Although the enormity of clothing discounts won’t match what we saw on Cyber Monday, look for one-day store exclusives and buy-one-get-one specials on Green Monday. This may be your last chance to get the hot selling models and styles, if they aren’t out of stock already.

December Buying GuideFree Shipping Day (or week): Really, this event is an alert that you are running out of time to get items shipped for Christmas. Some stores have already decreased, or eliminated, their spending threshold for free shipping, and many other stores that get listed as participants aren’t decreasing their shipping offer at all on this day, but there are dozens of stores that offer free shipping or flat rates year round (see full list). With that said, the reason to pay attention to this event is that it represents the last round of online sales and discounts; many will rival BlackFriday and Cyber Monday as retailers make one last push to clear inventory. It’s a good time to find cheap electronics and computer accessories, batteries, holiday decorations and clothing.

December Buying GuideGift Cards: Late December and right before Christmas break is the best time to buy gift cards, or e-gift cards. Not only will dozens of stores offer gift card discounts (e.g. $100 GC for $80), especially for restaurants, movies and local entertainment, but you can also get cash back on many gift card deals. Anyone looking for gift card discounts should read the fine print, especially when trying to apply cash back to the initial purchase or during redemption.

December Buying GuideDecember Clearance: This event starts promptly the day after Christmas and includes huge 50-90% discounts on holiday decorations, wrapping paper/bows/tags, dinnerware, food and candy. Clearance (or End of Season) shoppers should also look for decreased pricing on off-brand, fall and winter clothing and shoes, toys, small electronics and small appliances. Tap into FatWallet’s Hot Deals forum no later than Dec. 26 for insider savings on these items as the deal hunters love this time of year and share tips willingly.

November Buying Guide: Tech, Tock, Tech, Tock

What to Buy in NOVEMBER

NOV-trends-2015-blogThe clock is ticking (or is that teching?) as we await the majority of 2015 Black Friday ads to surface. Retailers are in full motion with early sales announcements, ads and events this month. Some are just offering “Black Friday” deals all month long, including Amazon (Prime members get advance access to over 30,000 Lightning Deals this month) and Newegg (discounts tech items in Black November deals event), Walmart (November Rollbacks), while huge events like the Home Depot Black Friday Appliance Event and a Groupon 12 days of doorbusters get more focused on timing. Smart shoppers will take advantage of retailer incentives to get you to shop ahead of Thanksgiving weekend. Incentives like increased cardholder rewards, gift card bonuses with purchases and early access to doorbusters will all tempt our wallets this month, and stack nicely with cash back for additional savings.

The other main advantage to early shopping is that you’ll be getting the pick of the litter, meaning your chances of getting the color, size and style you want is better than waiting. And you can get some, or all, of your shopping out of the way. The downfall is that these early sales are very selective. The retailers hold all the cards for when and what they want to drop prices on vs. during the main Black Friday events when shoppers have the advantage to compare all the deals in all the Black Friday ads at the same time. In fact, the latest Black Friday shopping survey reflects this sentiment, as 4 in 10 say Black Friday offers the best deals and savings of the holiday, ranking well ahead of Cyber Monday, early November sales and December sales. This despite 42% that said they were unhappy with stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. Of course, even stores that close their doors will have deals and doorbusters available online.

Here are the best things to buy in November:

tablet-deals-smartphonesConsumer Electronics: This year the gamut of electronics products that will see significant price drops will be mystifying, to say the least. If you’re buying new, you’ll want to do some research, specifically for tablets (see our new tablet buying guide and kids tablet guide). Our Black Friday predictions forecast 50 tablet deals under $50, and some current tablet prices are in that range now, as are higher quality models like this Apple iPad Mini 3 $100 off at Best Buy. Other items like older smartphones are the hot pre-Black Friday item retailers want to clear out as the new iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Google Nexus 6p and a host of others await doorbuster status. Another older item seeing exceptional sales right now is for older streaming devices, with the Chromecast I, last year’s Apple TV and Roku 3 all trending right now at 25% off or more.

Acer-Laptop-Aspire-E5-573G-59C3Laptops: According to parents, only Back-to-School laptop deals are better than Black Friday laptop deals (see survey data and comparison of deals). However, with newer high-powered tablets available (iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4) and prices on more popular 2-in-1 hybrid laptops dropping leading into this holiday season, that thinking may all depend on what level of computing device you’re looking to buy. Our Black Friday predictions tell that shoppers should expect older low-feature laptops and notebooks under $100 and touchscreen models under $200. Add older MacBook Pro available for $700 and perhaps this Black Friday will be a good time to save hundreds of dollars upgrading this for you and your family. For example, this Lenovo 10″ Yoga 2 in 1 laptop is currently $100 cheaper than it was in August.

Xbox-one-limited-bundleVideo Game Deals: Expect Xbox One bundles for $250 (current low price nestled just under $300) come Black Friday, and PS4 deals bundles around $350, but don’t be shy about keeping your eyes open for select deals early (like this Get an Xbox One bundle, Get a game free deal announcement from BFAds). Black Friday will produce some of the biggest savings of the year on new video games like Fallout 4, Assasins Creed Syndicate, Star Wars Battlefront and Call of Duty: Black Ops III from our own Holiday Video Game Guide). Expect 25% off the latest games and 50% or more off earlier titles for Xbox One, PS4, Wii U and PC.

LEGO-City-Police-Museum-Break-inToy Deals and Baby items: All the major retailer holiday toy books are out and the sales have begun. While these offer early shoppers some decent incentives to save some money early (best of note include: Toy R Us book of awesome, Walmart Toy Book and LEGO Holiday Catalog), they can’t compete with Black Friday Toy deals. Last year Kohl’s and Kmart offered dozens of brand’s toys for half price and Target offered 40% off all LEGO sets. The early sales just don’t fit this kind of mass discounting. Baby items are a different story as early November tends to be a prime time to find deals for these products, especially baby clothing as families get geared up to have the kids looking good for Thanksgiving dinner. Stores like Carters and Oshkosh Bgosh, along with dozens of others, will offer 50% off baby and kid apparel during Veteran’s Day sales and increased cash back at 100s of clothing stores, to boot!

October Buying Guide: What to Buy Pre-Holiday

OCT-trends-2015-blogTricks to finding savings that “treat” pre-holiday spenders. 

Last year we compared October shopping to smashing pumpkins (the act of, not the band). You can get a cheap thrill, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. But thanks to Apple, Amazon and an ever-earlier smattering of holiday retail news, that is likely to change. Some retailers make Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals happen every Friday and Monday leading up to the real shopping events; in fact, that’s already happening. Will we see yet another Prime Day before year’s end? UPS promised shipping surge pricing this holiday, making shipping costs rise the longer we all procrastinate. So is October now the best time to buy holiday gifts?

Let’s just say that with a growing number of better early sales presenting competitive savings and the opportunity to get it shipped cheaper, October has a lot more to offer than fall clearance items if you know what to buy. Here’s our October Buying Guide:

Tablets: 

Apple iPadPrices will be really good during October for tablet and iPad deals. With Apple’s pre-mature announcement and impending October launch of a new high-end iPad Pro, Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite and a new “stocking stuffer” $50 FIRE tablet, and Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S2, the tablet market is prime for gigantic discounting, especially on older tablet/iPad models (we’re expecting a “Fire HD” sale soon). Typically we see pre-holiday promotions of up to 20% off tablets, but with this newer technology en route, even Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 and higher-end 2-in-1 laptops should see discounting well ahead of Black Friday this year.

Home and Garden Clearance:
October grill and patio accessories saleFor most of the country, there is still agreeable weather to enjoy weekends entertaining at home with tailgating parties and backyard fires. Big fall sales offer October shoppers one last chance at final clearance (what remains) with discounts as much as 75% off grilling accessories, patio furniture, propane-heaters and other outdoor accessories that will be at their lowest of the year. Homeowners will also be outside “winterizing,” and retailers typically respond with great savings, from clearance on lawn seed, fall fertilizers, rakes, deck and house paint and storage organizers to store your garden tools and products for the winter. It’s also a chance to save money and stock up for next year on sale items like lawn spreaders, cultivators, hoses and pots. And expect some early pre-sales on snow removal equipment as those items move into inventory.

Holiday Home Prep:

Columbus Day sales and other Oktoberfest-like weekend sales promotions will be worth your attention, especially if you’re in the market to make use of deals on higher end appliances, furniture, cookware and home theater products to prep for Thanksgiving events. Interior projects like flooring, rugs and window treatments get a savings boost during these sales as well.

Travel Deals:

FatWallet October Travel DealsIf they haven’t started booking just yet, holiday travelers will want to keep on eye out for promoted holiday discounts on airfare, hotels and car rentals before the better selections of seats, rooms and auto choices get booked up. Fall vacations and cruises can be found readily available and very cheap if you’re schedule is nimble. It’s off-season, but still warm and dry enough in many destinations to get choice accommodations at a cut rate. Travel bookers should always take advantage of cash back from more than 100 travel sites by shopping through FatWallet and seek insider travel tips and tactics for finding the best rates, credit card hacks and other savvy ways to stack travel offers via FatWallet’s Travel Discussion.

Halloween:

Deals on Halloween costumesEarly shoppers can find comparable Halloween deals and better selections through last-minute and after-Halloween clearance sales. For example, Newegg (an unlikely source because its known primarily for tech deals and coupons) offers costumes and costume accessories up to 70% all month, free shipping coupons and up to 2% Newegg cash back through FatWallet. Sites like HalloweenCostumes.com are already offering up to 90% off plus 7.5% cash back, and big-box stores like Target, Kohl’s, Home Depot and eBay all have early discounts of up to 50% off with additional cash back on Halloween deals.

Clothing and Denim:

2015 Fall FashionOctober is a good time to save on clothing, especially denim jeans and men’s shoes, as fall fashion hits full stride early this month and clearance sales crop up towards the end of the month. Women’s fall fashion sales are prominent and expand beyond celebrity-backed clothing and jeans, with savings on boots, handbags, jewelry and other apparel and accessories all month. Stack your savings with additional cash back from 500 apparel stores. Expect Cyber Monday-like discounts of up to 40% from online brands like Levi’s, AERO, 7 for All Mankind and Lucky. Stores like Macy’s, Old Navy and Kohl’s will offer similar savings for men, women and kids. Also, top sports and outdoor stores like Cabela’s, REI and Bass Pro Shops will feature sales on outdoor sports apparel and gear for hunting, hiking and other fall activities.

 

New iPhone 6S Buying Guide – You Have Options

iphone 6s buying guide

When the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released in 2014, your ordering options were simple: shell out $199 or more with a two-year mobile contract…done! All that has changed. You can now lease an unlocked iPhone as part of a monthly carrier installment plan, which leads to ownership, or buy it outright, again unlocked. In the end, the actual iPhone 6S is the same no matter where you buy it, and although the prices may vary some (perhaps much more come Black Friday), the carrier performance can be drastically different depending on your location.

Here’s a guide to your options for ordering or trading in a new iPhone 6S through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Or you can take advantage of Apple’s new monthly financing programs and choose your carrier while upgrading almost at will. (Bookmark this iPhone 6S Buying Guide for more updates of options as they develop.)

AT&T:

AT&T Next 18 phone plan lets consumers pay off iPhones with monthly financing (24 months total). Customers can upgrade to new iPhones for free every 12 months (requires a trade-in of current iPhone on contract). AT&T also offers other options that allow device replacement and currently have trade-in credits of up to $300. Or, if switching from competitive carriers, you may be eligible for credits of up to $500. Next 18 costs $27 per month for the new 16GB iPhone 6S and $55 per month for average costs of unlimited talk/text and 2GB of data. The 24-month total cost will set you back $1,970.

AT&T DEALS: Get up to $50 in Cash Back from FatWallet

Sprint:

Sprint iPhone Forever is a 22-month lease program. You pay only $15 per month for a new 16 GB iPhone 6S with trade-in of your old smartphone or $22 per month if you don’t have a trade-in. Final cost of the lease is $330 with a trade-in or $484 without trade-in. Any additional cost to purchase the phone after the lease agreement is unknown at this time. Average costs for unlimited talk/text and 1GB of data will cost you $45 per month. The 22-month total cost will set you back $1,410 with the initial trade-in or $1,564 without trade-in.

Sprint’s $15 DEAL: Get up to $125 in Cash Back from Fatwallet

T-Mobile:

T-Mobile Jump On Demand is an 18-month lease program. It costs $20 per month to lease a new 16 GB iPhone 6s. That’s a total of $360 at the end of the program. After 18 months, you can turn in the phone and pay nothing more or pay an extra $164 and buy the smartphone outright for a total price of $524. That’s below Apple’s retail cost of about $650. Average costs for unlimited talk/text and 1GB of data will cost you $50 per month, making the 18-month total cost $1,560 to lease or $1,724 to own the phone. T-Mobile is also offering floating values for trade-ins.

T-Mobile DEALS: Get up to $37.50 in Cash Back from FatWallet

Verizon:

Like AT&T, Verizon offers an installment purchase plan on a 16 GB iPhone 6s for $27 per month for 24 months, after which you own the phone. Verizon is also currently offering up to $400 on trade-ins. Average costs for unlimited talk/text and 1GB of data will cost you $50 per month, bringing a total 24-month investment of $1,848. TIP: You should be able to bargain for 2GB of data for the price of 1GB if you make your purchase on a call versus online or in-store.

Verizon DEALS: Get up to $37.50 in Cash Back form FatWallet

Apple:

For the first time in its history, Apple is offering direct monthly installments from the Apple Store (no-interest contracts are financed through Citizens One). Customers have two choices:

  1. A general installment plan for the 16GB iPhone 6s for $27 per month, and after 24 months ($648), you own the phone
  2. A new Apple iPhone Upgrade Program where customers can pay $32.41 per month, which includes the AppleCare+ extended warranty service (customer care and phone replacement). You can  then exchange the iPhone at the end of 12 months for a new model by restarting the 24-month contract (final phone cost of $778 after 24 months).

The best part here is that now when you buy an iPhone through Apple, it comes UNLOCKED, allowing you to shop for the mobile carrier of choice.

In conclusion: Apple seems to have thought this out well. Having the peace of mind to be able to upgrade to a the newest iPhone every 12 months, replace it or trouble shoot technical issues with customer service for free, and move around to the mobile carrier that has the best signal or best deal may be worth a few extra bucks.

That said, Apple does not participate in offering Cash Back through FatWallet, and cash back can add considerable savings when your purchasing a big ticket item like cell phone deals (get up to $125 in cash back) and accessories.

The new FatWallet Express is the “easy button” for online shoppers to assure cash back on every purchase online, and FatWallet Cash Back Shopping App for the same savings opportunities on their mobile devices.

 

 

 

September Buying Guide – Labor Day Sales bring summer clearance

Consumers cash in big as retailers make space for holiday

SEP-trends-2015-blogWe don’t think of Labor Day as an opportunity to shop and save, but maybe we should. Like President’s Day and Memorial Day sales, retailers have lengthened Labor Day sales into a 10-day marathon resulting in some of the best prices of the year on a wide variety of items. It’s the official kick-off of summer clearance that happens to coincide with Back to School clearance…and…the clearing of other big-ticket inventory, like appliances, mattresses and patio furniture. Launching in late August, Labor Day events set the tone for deep discounting throughout September, which can be fruitful to a families’ yearly budget — if you know what to shop for from the buying guide below.

What to buy in September (and Labor Day):

Summer Clothing Clearance: Whether tagged as Labor Day or End of Summer sales, this is the perfect opportunity to buy T-shirts, shorts, sandals and swimwear at the lowest seasonal prices, from 50-75% off retail at both big box and branded stores, like AERO, Levi’sNike and PacSun. As well, you’ll get cash back and an extra month or two of use wearing outdoors while still having fairly new apparel to wear next summer. This includes sunglasses being offered at the lowest prices of the season…which, btw, can be worn all year round!

Back to School Clothing and Tech Clearance: Parents who waited to buy school supplies and clothing, especially jeans, will save a lot of money in September, up to 25% more than in August and July. The risk is whether they’ll find styles, colors and sizes they want. Hitting back to school sales the last week of August during the Labor Day events should be your solution. Expect the same additional savings ops on laptop deals and some tablets, and upcoming smartphone releases will offer the lowest prices of the year on older cell phone deals this month, especially older iPhones.

Yard, Grills and Patio Furniture Clearance: You’ve stretched that old lawn mower, gas grill and patio set to the brink…good job! Now comes the pay-off. Starting Labor Day and lasting all through September, home and garden items see huge discounting from 20% to 60% off, including savings on other accessories like seat cushions, grilling utensils and weed whackers. But don’t procrastinate; these items sell fast, and stores clear out inventory as soon as possible to load up for holiday items.

Appliances and Mattresses: Every big holiday sales event offers discounting on the big ticket home items, and Labor Day is no different. In fact, it may be better as prices for most of last year’s appliances, except refrigerators, come down with the stocking of new models in the fall. Ditto for mattresses. Expect savings of 50% or more and the lowest prices we’ll see until Black Friday — this applies to power tool deals, as well.

Fall Fashion: Although we’ll see some discounting of fall apparel during Labor Day sales, waiting until mid- to late September to shop for fall fashions will pay-off more because summer inventory has cleared out and sale prices will focus on fall apparel. Look for discounts to start at 20% off and ramp up to 40% off by the end of the month for boots, jeans, jackets and sweatshirts, with added savings of cash back from more than 450 stores.

Sports and Outdoors: Expect deep discounts on baseball, golf, camping and fishing and similar sports apparel and gear. It’s also a good time to shop for bikes and gear. Add in the first early sale pricing for hunting apparel and gear, including one of the best times to shop for guns and ammo deals from the top sporting goods stores like Cabela’s, Walmart, Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops.

Holiday Travel Deals:  This is the best time to book in advance for the best choice (timing, selection) and lowest package deal savings on your Thanksgiving and holiday family travel. Many of the travel sites offer up to 50% off on airfare, hotels and packages. Add travel coupons and cash back from more than 100 travel sites by shopping through FatWallet. It’s a good practice to start monitoring prices ASAP, and keep tabs on FatWallet’s Travel Discussion forum for current travel tips and insider tactics for finding the best rates, credit card hacks and other savvy, stackable travel offers.

Best Tablet Deals – Back to School or Black Friday?

b2s tablet deals

While American parents ranked this year’s Back to School sales best for finding tablet deals (and laptop deals), ahead of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday (see Back to School Shopping Survey), comparing pricing on tablets is all about timing. Sales for many computing devices fluctuate by the week, and often that unbelievable deal sells out so fast-gone in less than 24 hours. Add that both Back to School and Black Friday shopping seasons now last for weeks and the moniker of “best”, or “better” gets fuzzy.

That said, the key to cashing in on August’s tablet sales comes from stacking discounts, taking a sale-priced item and factoring in any eligible to save more from student discountstax free holidaysFatWallet cash back, rebates (both instant and mail-in), coupon codes, and free shipping offers. As well, pre-owned and refurbished tablets really help families on tight budgets and often stack with these same eligible discounts. When this shopping tactic is part of your back to school strategy, the prices on tablets, and most other items, can often dip under that crazy Black Friday deal from last November (see FatWallet’s back to school sales promo for the best current savings).

Top 5 Back to School Tablet Deals vs. Black Friday:

Dare to compare the best tablet deals? While a few of the top tablets from Matt Swider’s Best Tablets of 2015 list on TechRadar made our comparison, we focused on 5 popular tablet brands to see if current low prices hold up to their Black Friday tablet deals.

Apple: iPad Mini – iPad Air

apple ipad air 2• Current iPad Deals: One of the best Apple iPad Air 2 deals (16GB) we found yesterday was on Amazon for $435. Amazon also lists an iPad Air for $350. Staples comes in with the lowest iPad Mini 2 (w/retina display) at $279, while Walmart is offering the original iPad Mini for $199. Of course, you can find numerous sites offering iPads pre-owned and refurbished for at least $100 off the prices above, including one of your best bets for a low price at eBay.

• Black Friday iPad deals: Just about every store (and their brother) had an iPad deal last November, many with in-store gift cards and as doorbusters and Best Buy just marked down all iPads by $100 (see all the loot). If we exclude these perks and focus on 16GB wifi only models sale prices (add $100 for each memory upgrade), you could get an iPad Air 2 for $499 from everybody, iPad Air $299 from HHGregg, iPad Mini 2 for $239 from Staples, and the iPad Mini for $199 from Walmart. Many major retailers offered additional in-store gift cards as an incentive to buy from them, however some of these were limited quantity doorbusters.

Amazon Fire HD 7

Kindle-Fire-HD-7-back-to-school• Current Amazon Fire HD 7 deals: The going price for Fire HD 7 is $139, $99 for an HD 6, $179 for a HDX 7″ and  $379 for a HDX 8.9″. This pricing is pretty consistent from Amazon, to Best Buy to other retailers offering Kindles. Note: Most Amazon Fire HD models are on back-order for early fall delivery and includes special offers for Prime members (see features for all Fire HD models in this longest scrolling page ever).

• Black Friday Amazon Fire HD 7 deals: Last November you could get a Fire HD 7 8GB for $118 at Frys while Amazon offered it form Black Friday thru Cyber Monday for $109, Fire HD 6 8GB for $79 at Best Buy matching Amazon’s price, and current prices of $179 for a HDX 7″ and  $379 for a HDX 8.9″ were status quo 9 months ago.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7″

galaxy-tab-4-back-to-school• Current Galaxy Tab 4 deals: Gamestop leads the way with a $149 price tag on the 8GB model, while the GeekSquad at Best Buy has refurbs for $129. Kmart has the 16GB model for $199 and is offering a back to school promo of 6% increased cash back.

• Black Friday Galaxy Tab 4 Deals: Last November you could get a Galaxy Tab 4 8GB for $149 from several retailers including Adorama and Toys R Us. Office Depot had the 16GB model for $199, while Best Buy delivered a flat 25% off all Galaxy Tab 4 tablets.

Microsoft Surface 2

Microsoft-Surface-2-back-to-school• Current Microsoft Surface 2 deals: The Surface 2 16 GB model is difficult to find, but the Surface 2 32 GB is readily available with Newegg bringing a Throwback deal of $284, while for a few more dollars you can nab the 64GB model from Sears for $319 +3% cash back.

• Black Friday Microsoft Surface 2 deals: Last November you could get a Surface 2 16 GB for $299 from several retailers, and MicroCenter offered the 64GB model for $449. Tiger Direct came down to $799 for the Surface Pro 3.

Dell Venue 8

dell-venue-8-back-to-school• Current Dell Venue 8 deals: The Dell Venue 8 Pro 32GB is currently available for $189 – add this 40% off  offer in FatWallet Hot Deals forum and you can pick one up for $133.50 w/code, +2% cash back for FatWallet members who shop through the Dell page.

• Black Friday Dell Venue 8 deals: Last November, both Dell and Adorama offered the Venue 7 for $99 (one of the best Black Friday tablet deals of the year), while Dell and TigerDirect had the Venue 8 32GB for $149, and MicroCenter had the Venue 8 64GB for $249.

Conclusion

Apples to apples? It takes some savvy home work to compare Back to School tablet deals with Black Friday tablet deals. The nice thing is that retailers really want to move current tablet inventory before new models hit in November, so monitoring prices during August will usually pay off for finding similar tablet deals we found last holiday.

Can Back to School laptop deals beat Black Friday?

back to school deals

According to parents, back to school laptop deals are better than Black Friday deals. Parents ranked Back to School sales for laptops and tablets ahead of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in our Back to School Shopping Survey. There could be several reason for this ranking, including the sheer selection this time of year, as Black Friday tends to offer a very select group of older, slower laptops. The 2014 crop of Black Friday laptop deals was impressive for super low prices, with perhaps the lowest prices we’ve ever seen. Feel free to check out the Top 10 Black Friday Laptop Deals from 2014. It included an Asus 11.6″ Laptop w/ Intel Processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB HDD for $99!

It seems no two laptop deals are exactly apples to apples when it comes to price, speed, memory, etc. In fact, any given week, the prices can fluctuate. The key to cashing in on August’s big computer sales period is by stacking reduced prices with other savings incentives. This includes student discounts, tax free holidays, rewards like FatWallet cash back, rebates (instant and mail-in), coupons, and free shipping. Even refurbished laptops can solve budget issues, and save students up to half. It all adds up to saving families $100s, and savvy parents will stack to the ceiling to find the best deal on this big ticket expense (see FatWallet’s back to school sales promo for the best current savings).

Top 5 Back to School Laptop Deals vs. Black Friday:

How exactly do Back to School laptop deals stack up against comparable Black Friday deals? We take a look at 5 popular brands to see if we can get a frame of reference to either confirm this, or if it is just perception.

Acer Laptop Aspire E 15.6″ Touch Laptop

On sale for $260 at TigerDirect (+2% cash back) Acer Laptop Aspire E5-573G-59C3Featuring: Intel Core i3-5005U Dual-core 2 GHz, 4GB Memory 500 HDD 8GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 5500 1366 x 768 Windows 8.1 (includes free Windows 10 upgrade, McAfee 2015 Multi-Access and $70 mail-in rebate + Acer $30 mail-in rebate)

Black Friday Deal: Although half a slower processor speed, this deal for $349 from Newegg featured included Intel Core i5 4210U (1.70GHz) 4GB DDR3L Memory 500GB HDD Intel HD Graphics 4400 1366 x 768 Windows 8.1 (TigerDirect offered a slightly faster Aspire model for $750)

HP Pavilion 15.6″ Laptop  (15-p100dx)

HP Pavilion 15-p100dxOn sale for $399 at Best Buy (+1% cash back)
Featuring: 15.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop,  Intel Core i3, 6GB Memory,  750GB Hard Drive, Black Licorice, Windows 8.1

Black Friday Deal:  $549 from Best Buy last November, Office Depot offered a non-touch screen HP Pavilion model with only 4GB Ram at $299 ($350 off). Also, RadioShack had a Special Edition HP Pavilion 8GB RAM 1TB HDD w/ Beats Audio + $50.00 Gift Card for $599.

Lenovo Y50-70 15.6″ Touch Laptop

Lenovo Y50-70on sale for $948 at Lenovo (+3% cash back) +free shipping
Featuring: Intel Core i7-4720HQ Processor (2.60GHz 1600MHz 6MB), 15.6″ FHD LED AntiGlare Backlit Multitouch (1920 x 1080), 16.0GB PC3-12800 DDR3L SDRA, 512GB SSD, Windows 8.1

Black Friday Deal: Lenovo Y50 4K Gaming Laptop w/ Core i7, 16GB, 256GB SSD for $1,089.99 (currently listed at $1,143 at Newegg).

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 12″

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 12On sale for $780 at eBay (+up to 3% cash back) and free shipping
Featuring: Intel 4th Generation Core i5 Processor (1.9GHz), 12″ (2160 x 1440) Touchscreen Display, 128 GB Storage Capacity, Windows 8.1 Pro (does not include keyboard accessory, so technically it’s a tablet that runs Windows). NOTE: Student and Faculty get a 10% discount shopping through Microsoft Store, +4 % cash back from FatWallet.

Black Friday Deal: TigerDirect offered the same Surface Pro 3 spec model last November for $800.

Apple MacBook Air 113.3″ Laptop

Apple MacBook Air 11On sale for $900 at Best Buy (+1% cash back)
Featuring: Intel Core i5, 4GB Memory, 128 Flash Storage, students and educators can take an additional $100 off by registering a valid .edu email account here and following the emailed instructions to receive a one-time use coupon code.

Black Friday Deal: Basically the same model was available at Microcenter for $950 last November.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, it is pretty hard to compare exactly Back to School laptop deals to Black Friday deals. What we can say is that Back to School laptop deals tend to be very similar to the previous years Black Friday prices. If you are in the market for a new laptop, Back to School sales are worth a look. If you don’t seen anything, you can always wait for Black Friday.

August Buying Guide – Back to School Sales Events

Buying Guides

1 in 5 parents expect to buy student laptops during Back to School sales

AUG-trends-2015-blogExperienced consumers know there are big savings opportunities from the hundreds of back to school sales in August, whether for students or basically everyone. In fact, back to school discounts far transcend deals on school needs, catering to savings on needs and/or upgrades for the home, home office, and even work. Think of it as a precursor to all those early Black Friday deals throughout November, with different retail events happening bi-weekly, but without the build up to one big holiday shopping weekend. It’s a good time to buy clothing, shoes, laptops, office supplies and nab travel deals.

The key to cashing in on August sale items, as well as any big seasonal sale, is by stacking sale prices with discounts, rewards, rebates and coupons. Some key resources for this August buying guide on finding additional savings:

  • Tax Holiday Weekend Guide:  16 states will participate in a sales tax holiday, offering the opportunity to purchase certain school supplies, computers, books and clothing free of state sales or use tax.
  • Laptop Deals:  A one-stop resource to compare all of the best laptop deals, or review all of the best computer deals and accessories.
  • Student Discounts Guide: Have a student ID?–use it to save as much as $100 on an Apple or other PC, software, and other school related supplies.
  • Teacher Discount Guide: Have a teacher ID?–use it to save as much as $100 on an Apple or other PC, software, and other school related supplies.
  • Textbook Buying Guide: A comprehensive list of online stores offering heavily discounted textbooks (15+ stores that include coupons and cash back from FatWallet on new, used, rentals, digital and buy back).
  • Back to School Cash Back Sale: Dozens of of stores increase cash back throughout August for savings on just about everything, including needs for students.
  • Paper Vs Tech: Find out if switching to digital textbooks will save students money in the long run.

Some of the best laptop and tablet deals of the year happen in August, as is evident from the parents we surveyed, ranking back to school sales as the #1 time to find good deals, ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is not only true for price, but for selection as well, especially on higher quality models that will serve students a better and longer learning experience. And while 20% of parents noted they’ll be buying a student laptop, 65% agree laptops are “the” best tool for their students to learn. Here’s a closer look at what to buy in August this year:

BACK TO SCHOOL DEALS

A month long seasonal shopping event that can be very prosperous for a variety of home, school and work needs.

  • Tech: (laptops, tablets and iPadscell phones and iPhones, PC’s)
  • Supplies: (writing supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, art supplies)
  • Clothing: (uniforms, shirts, blouses, jeans, shoes, jackets, hoodies, shorts, hats, socks)
  • Textbooks/Books: (buy and sell online: new, used, rentals, digital)
  • Musical Instruments: (woodwinds, brass winds, drums, percussion, guitars, etc.)
  • College: (luggage, furniture, lighting, rugs, small appliances, storage)

Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for student and teacher discounts, often adding and additional 10-20% off computers, software and other supplies with your school ID. Here is some great information for those who are partial Apple products

END OF SUMMER CLEARANCE  – LABOR DAY SALES

The final week of August kicks off another round of seasonal clearance as back to school sales wrap up and summer clearance takes the stage, right through Labor Day discounts.

  • Sports/Outdoors: (golf, cycling, running, baseball, camping, fishing, pools)
  • Clothing: (shirts, dresses, shorts, sandals and accessories)
  • Swimwear: (suits, shorts and swim accessories)
  • Grills/Grilling: (gas and charcoal grills and accessories)
  • Patio Furniture: (outdoor furniture, umbrellas, seat cushions, lawn chairs)
  • Travel: (Hotels weekend discounts/packages, Vegas deals, luggage)
  • MISC: (some yard/lawn tools, paint, fans, wine)

Tip: Willing to settle for what’s left in inventory? Waiting to buy school needs the last week in August and into September can lead to even better savings.

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