Category Archives: Shopping Tips

Sales Tax Holiday Brings Back to School Savings

August brings Tax Free Weekends in 16 states.

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.  Local sales and use tax may apply. Retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items that are legally tax-exempt during the Sales Tax Holiday, both in store and online (see links to details for each state in the schedule list below).

Tax-Free-Holiday-blogThe really good news for folks in these states looking to get their kids a new laptop is that parents now rank back to school sales ahead of Black Friday, or any other sales event, as the best time to find laptop deals. (see FatWallet’s annual Back to School Shopping survey). Since the majority of retailers in states offering the sales tax holidays will honor tax free purchases online, FatWallet shoppers have the advantage of to quickly compare hundreds of back to school deals, and add cash back from more than 1600 stores to sweeten the savings!

2015 Sales Tax Holiday Schedule

Alabama clothing – $100
computers – $750
school supplies – $50
books – $30
August 7-9
Arkansas clothing – $100
school supplies
August 1-2
Connecticut clothing and footwear – $100 August 16-22
Florida school suppies
clothing – $100
supplies – $15
computers – $750
August 7-16
Georgia school supplies
clothing – $100
supplies – $20
computers – $1,000
July 31 – August 1
Iowa clothing – $100 August 7-8
Maryland clothing & footwear-$100 August 9-15
Mississippi clothing & footwear – $100 July 31-Aug. 1
Missouri clothing – $100
computers – $3,500
school supplies – $50
August 7-9
New Mexico clothing – $100
computers – $1,000
computer equip. – $500
school supplies – $30
August 7-9
Ohio clothing – $75
school supplies – $20
instructional material – $20
August 7-9
Oklahoma clothing – $100 August 7-9
S. Carolina clothing
school supplies
August 7-9
Tennessee clothing – $100
school supplies – $100
computers – $1,500
August 7-9
Texas clothing, backpacks and school supplies- $100 August 7-9
Virginia clothing – $100
school supplies – $20
August 7-9

(updated July 16, 2015)

States not participating in Sales Tax Holidays include: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

What to Buy in JUNE – Smart Shopping Tips

June: Best savings on items for DIY HOME IMPROVEMENT Projects

JUN-trends-2015-blogIf April showers brings May flowers, then June brings summer projects, hopefully finished “pre-heat”, and the best time to upgrade tools and DIY project needs on the cheap. In fact June could be coined “guys appreciation month” as big home, yard and garden sales events kick off the first week of June and run consistently through the 4th of July. For the second year in a row, FatWallet’s Tools Shopping Survey (results) ranked Father’s Day sales the best time of year to find deals on tools, edging out Black Friday, and any other seasonal retail events. Dads like, and need, tools and the majority of us will gift ourselves by saving big on a wide selection brands’ power tools, cordless combo kits, yard & garden tools, automotive tools and tool storage boxes.

But the savings don’t stop here. The rush to beat the heat creates some of the years best savings and rebates on paint, stains, home improvement materials, yard and garden and patio products also fit the bill. Shoppers can also expect lucrative discounting on sports and outdoor gear and apparel for fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, golfing, biking and swimming with competitive pricing on top brands throughout the month. It’s a good time to look for “value” purchases in quality products vs. the “cheaper” quality products you’ll find from Black Friday deals on similar items.

Early June is also prime time to find deals on regional summer fun via online local deals ahead of vacations and staycations. Plus, if you’re schedule is flexible, last minute vacation packages can bring big savings, especially on hotel booking which feature the highest cash back available through FatWallet for a limited time..

Savings tips for what to buy in June:

Father’s Day Deals are more than just for dads:

For many of us, Father’s Day is about spending time with dad, then taking advantage of the sales for ourselves. Here’s what to expect big savings on leading up to June 21.

  • Tools & Auto: (power drills, cordless combo tool kits, yard & garden tools, automotive tools and parts, tool storage)
  • Sports & Outdoors: (golfing, fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, biking, swimming)
  • Electronics: (laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras, streaming media, wireless devices)
  • Local Deals: (auto services, restaurants, golfing, movies and health/fitness services)

Tip: Taking advantage of online local deals via Groupon, Amazon Local and Living Social are a good way to save 50% or more on a fun day with dad and the family.

Home Improvement Deals heat up this month:

The rush to beat the heat on those DIY home projects create a perfect storm for homeowners looking for materials on a budget. Here are the items that can be found at the hardware store (and online) with some of the best discounts of the year.

  • Paint & Coatings: (interior and exterior for walls, ceilings, floors, fencing, decks, garage and house)
  • Materials: (hardware, faucets, light fixtures, wall board, shingles, fencing, wood, etc.)
  • Tools: (saws, power drills, combo kits, storage, ladders, mowers, trimmers and gardening tools)

Tip: Look for bigger savings of both money and time by shopping online and utilizing free in-store pickup, or better yet when available, free home delivery (and haul away of your old items as needed).

Saving money on Graduation/Wedding Gifts:

Spring clearance and special June sales (Father’s Day, Home Improvement sales, Summer Travel deals) have hidden savings when it comes to buying gifts. Often you can stretch an in-store discount to combine a few gifts with home needs in one purchase, if you shop smart.

  • Home: (dishware, cookware, bedding, small appliances)
  • Flowers, Gifts: (flowers, gift baskets, frames, photo albums, jewelry)
  • Clothing: (jackets, hoodies, pants, long sleeve shirts, rain coats, spring colors)
  • Travel: (caribbean vacation packages, hotel and car rental deals, summer event tickets

Tip: Look for items that qualify as gifts during other seasonal sales (this is actually a great money saving strategy for buying early holiday gifts, as well).

How to find last minute SUMMER VACATION deals:

If you’re flexible, finding last minute summer vacation deals is about being flexible with dates and destinations. Plus, FatWallet features added savings of cash back from +100 travel sites including Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity,,, and Orbitz.

  • Airfare: Bundling airfares with hotels as a package should get you there and back at a bargain if you’re willing to come and go at off hours.
  • Hotels: Get cash back along with the best vacation packages staying in hotels like Hilton, Marriot, Westin, Ramada and more.
  • Car Rental: Look for free rental car upgrades, one-way discount codes and rental car packages.
  • Local Deals: Find 50% or more off local events, activities and getaways + cash back!

Tip: Rule of thumb for booking last minute is when you see an acceptable rate (factored in all taxes and fees), book it!

Cheap SUMMER FAMILY FUN via local deals:

FatWallet Local Deals provide daily deal shoppers a one-stop resource with all the available offers from Groupon, Living Social, Gilt City and other sites in more than 150 cities, including savings on hundreds of timely national deals. Perfect for summer events and cheap meals on the road.

  • Activities & Events: (concerts, sports, theme parks, museums, arcades, movies, bowling, etc.)
  • Beauty & Spa: (half off hair cuts and color, manicures, hair removal and spa packages)
  • Food & Drink: (coupons for pizza, burgers, drinks and a variety of full course meals)
  • Health & Fitness: (gym memberships, pilates, yoga, golfing, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc.)
  • Shopping: (50% and more off select products and services year round)
  • Travel: (complete vacation packages, hotels stays)

Tip: If your traveling, look at these deals a week or two ahead to save a ton of money on vacation, or just visiting family and friends.

You can find  and tweeting about retail trends @brentsheltonnow.

4 Tips for Booking Better Hotel Deals

Vacationers seek tools to help find travel savings from online hotel deals and summer vacation packages in May.

hotel-deals[via Newswire] Mid-May, just outside of the “30 days to summer” mark, is when travel retailers and agents ramp up vacation bookings with a variety of packages, specifically discounted to fill up seasonal inventory. Consumers can spend hours sorting out options, looking for the best savings that also fulfills their travel needs. This year, 42% will spend more than $1500 on their next vacation and 72% book vacations 1-6 months out, with 12% who do not book ahead and just go and take what’s available. ( Vacation Spending Survey)

The majority of vacationers will book online, especially hotel rooms where 2 out of 3 bookings are made via the internet, and almost 7 in 10 are same day hotel reservations made via mobile device. In fact, hotel reservations are the #1 online travel sales revenue resource. As mobile searches for hotels and reservations are on the increase, surprisingly more than 67% of mobile searches occur at home or work, with only 17% on the go.

While 81% of travelers find hotel reviews important and 49% say they won’t book without reading reviews, travelers say site usability is even more important to them. Time is money, and finding resources that cut the average 20+ sites travelers visit before they book is a big advantage. These four smart tactics can ease the pain of sorting through hundreds of booking possibilities to find hidden travel savings.

SPECIAL SAVINGS BONUS: FatWallet is offering the highest cash back from hotel booking sites with 8% from both Priceline and Expedia through Memorial Day – Priceline is increasing that to a whopping 16% cash back on Thursday, May 14.

TIP: Use OTA (Online Travel Agents) or Metasearch sites to compare value – save time.

One advantage of using an online travel agent is that they do the research (or search) for the best available hotel rates for you. These sites include well known OTAs like Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. They have access to the majority of hotel inventory (available rooms) and often negotiate exclusive hotel deals that you can’t find anywhere else. Metasearch sites are similar (TripAdvisor, Kayak, Trivago), but they aggregate hotel deals from both hotels and OTAs, giving travelers a quick overview of “all” the booking possibilities available to them. Using one of these sites can help travelers trim down the time it takes to research and find the lowest rates, or the best value. Sometimes location and/or amenities are more important than the final price, and these sites help travelers vet out the best booking scenario for each specific trip.

Tip: Book rooms with free cancellation, then monitor pricing.

This is a great savings tactic if you can be flexible with your hotel choice and have the time to monitor prices. Do the normal research and book the best hotel deal you can find with “cancelable rates” (best to double check that the room you want to book offers free cancellations, especially at check-out). Then, watch pricing of all hotels in the area you’re willing to swap out. Chances are quite good you’ll find a better deal, so now you can cancel the original booking. Even you don’t find a better deal, you’re ready to travel.

TIP: Last minute booking offers deep discounts for flexible travelers.

Booking spur-of-the-moment short trips, weekend getaways or friends and family visits last minute can lead to big savings, if you’re willing to take what’s available. You can find much cheaper rates by utilizing the “tonight” listings feature when visiting online travel agents (, Expedia, Travelocity), as most hotels will make it worthwhile to book you same day in order to fill their rooms. Mobile apps like HotelTonight and Jetsetter are built to help last minute travelers find deep discounts on unsold rooms, and offer ease of use on the go. Waiting for last minute booking discounts for longer, expensive trips and family vacation can be risky and not advised for the best hotel experience.

TIP: Before booking, click through cash back and coupon sites to add more savings.

Adding rewards and coupons is a smart thing to do every time you book a hotel room online, or for that matter, anytime you make an online purchase. These sites provide access to coupon codes from hundreds of travel booking sites that can save you instant money on purchases (including hotels, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines and vacation packages), let alone at thousands of retailers for travel needs and everyday items. Unlike most coupons sites, Cash Back shopping sites also share their profits with you in the form of rewards like cash back, or points. Rewards simply offer travel bookers extra money off their purchase, although it’s not always instant savings. Some sites, like and offer both coupons and cash back.

Note: Cash Back can be a big advantage if you’re earning cash back year round as the money you’ve been saving with all your purchases can be used as vacation spending money!! Or booking money. A free browser tool (FatWallet Express) will remind online shoppers when cash back is available so they don’t miss out on any added savings.



What to Buy in April 2015: Savings Tips

April Shopping Trends – “Where to dig up the deep savings”

APR-trends-2015-blogSpring sales bloom big for home owners in early April with deep discounts on a variety of items including cleaning supplies, vacuums, patio products, yard maintenance, home renewal and automotive maintenance. Boomers will lead the way in spending, the power shoppers in spring making up more than half the total CPG sales, including vacation spending.

It’s a good month to stretch tax refunds on big ticket items as sales are competitive offering savings up to 50% off. Shoppers can utilize free inshore pickup and take advantage of online pricing that stacks nicely with increased cash back throughout the month. And, expect continued sales on tech, especially tablets and wearables, and it’s a good time to upgrade mom’s smartphone (see our annual Electronics Shopping survey). Predictions for “What to Buy in April” below:

Easter Sales kick off a month of savings on these items:

  • candy, gift baskets, and TOYS (outdoor items, games, bicycles, video games)
  • spring fashion deals light up the first two weeks of April

Summer Travel savings heat up after Easter:

  • April offers the magic 50-day mark for best prices and selection on summer travel bookings
  • Luggage deals can be found 30-50% off clearance (stackable with cash back specials)

Home, Yard, Garden and Auto

  • Man Standing beside a Wagon with Bagged Mulchcleaning supplies and cleaning tools, vaccums, shopvacs
  • DIY home repair, maintenance, power washers
  • fertilizer, spring plants, garden tools, hoses (big savings on outdoor watering products)
  • patio and grilling products (great time to stock up on charcoal)
  • TIRES (up to half off this month), cleaning products, audio and accessories

Mother’s Day Deals for early-bird shoppers:

  • Late April (vs. May) is better deals on jewelry and kitchen/cookware.
  • Mom’s want to upgrade. Special targeted sales for select smartphones, tablets and laptops surface in late April.
  • Double up savings from dozens of top retailers during Mother’s Day cash back sales

What to Buy in March 2015: Savings Tips

MAR-trends-2015-blogFor consumers, March comes in like a lion with two solid weeks of savings opportunities before we “lamb” it down for two consecutive four day weekends of March Madness. So if you’re a baller, shop early, or in early April if you win the pool. Seriously, minus a true big holiday sales event apart from sporadic St. Patrick’s Day deals, early March brings a variety of category deals via the end of winter clearance as it ushers in spring with continuous weekend sales designed to help you treat cabin fever with some new stuff.

FatWallet helps you make more out of second half of the month with their annual Spring Fashion Deals followed by a March Mania Cash Back Sale, featuring more than 100 retailers increasing cash back from March 17-30. Add increased cash back to these deal categories to run the savings score up on your March purchases and stretch those tax refunds for “What to Buy in March”:

Smartphone Deals: Like CES and the other winter tech convention, the Mobile World Congress makes its call the first weekend in March, bring with it news of all the new mobile tech due out at some point this year, with some sooner than others. Expect announcements of new Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones, a new HTC One M9, and a host of other smartphones from Motorola’s Moto line to Sony’s Experia and several new budget smartphones to compete in the cheap LTE segment. What does this mean for consumers following the event? Expect a fire sale of last year’s models as cell phone brands and carriers scramble to move older inventory via a captive audience during the heavily watched March Madness. Add that a new Apple Watch starts taking orders April 1st, putting more pressure on the Android market to sell units at discount.

Electronics Deals: Prices continue to drop on electronics as new 2015 models start to creep into retail inventory. This is especially enhanced this year with TV deals, as the first big crop of 4K TV deals get pushed to clearance. The price reductions have been significant following Super Bowl sales and continue to drop for both off-brand 4K TVs and bigger name brands. Recent price slides include a 50# Changhung 4K TV for under $600, a 51” Samsung Plasma under $350, and Panasonic 4K TVs 40% off. Shoppers can expect to save as much as 50% leading up to March Madness, as well as scoring some of the best deals of the year on TV accessories and cables from tech stores like Newegg, Parts Express and Monoprice, all featuring massive clearance sales for those willing to dig a little bit. These stores can save you more than half of what you’d spend for big brand name cables and accessories…the Fatwallet tech nerds know their deals when it comes to this stuff!

Winter Clothing Clearance melts into Spring Fashion Deals: The picked through top brand outerwear can be found at outlet prices 50-80% off for quality thermals, pullovers, coats, boots and high performance gloves from REI, Moosejaw, Cabela’s and others. Big box will continue their clearance sales as well (of note last year: Kohl’s offered Extra 30% off & Free Shipping for Kohl’s Card Holders + $10 Kohl’s Cash for Every $50 Spent), though the focus early March will shift to Spring Fashion deals. These early sales may not bring clearance pricing, but retailers will offer discounts to get a jump on the seasonal apparel starting around 20% savings. Plus, early spring fashion shoppers have the luxury finding the styles, colors and sizes they want and a full use of the season to wear them. Spring shoe deals feature a variety of discounts for running shoe deals from stores like FinishLine, New Balance Outlet and Nike, that featured deep clearance discounts of 50% or more and free shipping offers with qualified purchases last year on last year’s shoe styles.

Outdoor Sports and Equipment: Ski/snowboard/hockey/sakting equipment and accessories clearance heats up as the snow melts. Lat season’s Bicycles and accessories get discounted to make way for newer models for spring and summer activities making for a good time to upgrade and save a bundle, if you haven’t in a few years. Sports Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other stores will feature sales pre-draft for NFL gear, pre-season for MLB opening day celebrations and, collegiate sportswear discounts on hoodies, hats and jerseys as bracketology takes center court.

Travel Deals: Last minute Spring Break packages and March Madness hotel deals trend early this month. Late March will bring the beginning of early summer vacation deals, hotel discounts and car rental specials. Proactive summer vacation bookers will take advantage of late March travel deals that bring better options for location, seat selection and lucrative early-bird specials/inclusions.Luggage deals are packed this month as well, stackable with the clearance add-on savings, and double cash back from FatWallet’s March Mania Cash Back sale.

Tax Software Deals will be trending again in late March as those alarms start to go off for procrastinators, the closer we get to April 15. The majority of 2015 software can be found for 50% off, and often for free (with filing charges). For insider tax tips, visit FatWallet Finance forum where experienced DIY filers share tactics on how to get the most out of deductions, tax software and refunds. Office Supplies go onside at the end of the month and into April, creating one of, if not the best time of year to stock up on school supply basics and home office supplies and equipment.

Valentine’s Predictions Call for Smartphones and Sweets: Fun Facts

Heart made of few dollar papersWith consumer confidence on the rise as we enter February this year, the forecast for Valentine’s spending is looking to flirt with history, possibly exceeding the $20 Billion mark for the first time. Strong year over year trends for shoppers to buy non-traditional, expensive tech items as Valentine’s gifts like smartphones and tablets helps lead to this conclusion. Add a new survey from our sister company,, which reported that 38% want smartphones as a Valentine’s gift this year. Read more

When to buy a TV: January vs. Black Friday Deals

Comparing the top 10 TV Deals from Super Bowl sales and Black Friday

TV-deals-post-lrConsumers can save an average of 20% during retailers’ Super Bowl sales in January, but they may save even more during Black Friday sales events. That said, those TV doorbusters aren’t always the most full featured TV models, while the TV deals we see in January are focused on selling TVs that will provide an awesome sports viewing experience. So, depending on budgets and individual needs, the debate on which TV deal is better is going in to overtime.

It’s hard to know when to buy a TV. There are TV deals posted in FatWallet’s Hot Deals forum every day of the year, and the majority of those need be good ones, or that savvy community will call it out…quickly. FatWallet’s annual TV Buyers survey reports that 1 in 4 will buy a new TV in 2015 and of those, Black Friday is when they are most likely to buy, but Super Bowl ranked 2nd best time to buy a TV (NOTE: 2014 survey ranked Super Bowl #1). Read more

What to buy in December 2014

 What to buy in December? …or When!

DEC-deals-2014Online shoppers spend more money in December than any other month. FatWallet’s Holiday Spending survey confirms as consumers say they plan to spend more money during December sales than on Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals this year. They’ll spend the majority of money on gifts and food, and overall, 78% will spend the same or more than last year. (See INFOGRAPHIC for more results.) Smart shoppers will look to stack discounts to make this big spend pay off, especially during FatWallet’s holiday cash back sale with hundreds of top stores increasing cash back throughout December. Read more

INFOGRAPHIC: Shoppers Rank Cyber Monday Deals and Savings

A new national survey about Cyber Monday shopping behavior from (*TNS) reports that shoppers think Cyber Monday deals ranks #2 only to Black Friday deals. The survey also reveals that 54% of 2014 Cyber Monday shoppers plan to buy holiday gifts, while 1 in 4 will shop Cyber Monday sales looking for “gifts” for themselves. 26% will start looking for Cyber Monday discounts early on Sunday, and while 38% will jump to shop Monday morning, 32% expect to shop after Monday during Cyber Week (Tue-Fri). Visit to compare all the hottest holiday deals (and Black Friday deals) and make them even better by adding cash back from retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kohl’s.

*The national survey conducted online by TNS Global on behalf of in OCT 2014 was fielded among 1,000 adults ages 18 or older.

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What to Buy in NOVEMBER: Shopping Trends 2014

NOV-deals-2014While we wait for the 2014 Black Friday ads to start leaking, retailers are wasting no time kicking off holiday sales (even in October). The term “EARLY” stacks well for consumers this year, and aligns nicely with FatWallet’s Black Friday Predictions.

SO WHY SHOP EARLY? Early sales will be the lead for “What to Buy in NOVEMBER” and smart shoppers will rejoice by taking full advantage of retailer member perks like gift card bonuses, added rewards and early access to doorbusters. Early holiday shoppers also get best selection of hot items and products retailers want to move, like previous version tablet and iPad deals, HTDVs, toys and video games, with several ways to stack discounts (free shipping, coupons, cash back sales) to possibly, run the early sale price below what we’ll see come Thanksgiving Day (the real Black Friday kickoff). Read more

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