Category Archives: Shopping

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.

6 Free Shipping Hacks to Keep Gift Costs Down

FatWallet Free Shipping WeekIf you’re still planning on doing the majority of your last minute gift shopping online and are starting to panic about getting good value on shipping costs, then you’re thinking right. Remember last year when many millions of packages didn’t make it to holiday celebrations on or before Dec. 25 … even though stores said they would. Well, keep in mind, online shopping set massive records this season already, and postal workers are actually delivering packages on Sunday this year.

If you really want to avoid the last minute store rush late next week, standing in long lines, driving around for far away parking and dealing with over-worked cashiers, get that shopping done by this Friday, which just happens to be Free Shipping Day. 

Did you know that 76% of online holiday shoppers buyers say free shipping most influences their gift purchases (FatWallet survey). These six free shipping hacks will help you take advantage of online discounting and secure on-time delivery.

Six Free Shipping Hacks

1. Shop Free Shipping Day on Friday, Dec. 18

This may seem like the most obvious way to secure free shipping on gifts, but, although thousands of stores will offer huge discounts during this event, few will drop their existing spending thresholds to free. However, many may drop the threshold to a more reasonable spending requirement. For stores that do offer free shipping for this event, make sure you read any restrictions that may apply. Keep in mind that there are dozens of stores that offer free shipping all the time and others that offer a flat fee year round. In fact, you may be able to find free shipping right now.

2. Haggle

If you can’t find free shipping offers for a particular store and don’t want to buy extra items to meet their minimum spending threshold, contact customer service and ask how to get free shipping. Your chances are pretty good this time of year the customer service representative will share a coupon code with you that can be used in checkout to allow for a shopping discount. Even if your haggling just gives you expedited shipping at a lower cost, it can be worth a couple of extra minutes to secure it.

3. Buck up

If you’re shopping on a retail website that requires you to spend a specific amount of money to get free shipping (like Walmart, which offers free shipping with $50 spent and 3% cash back), do some quick math and decide whether paying the shipping cost is a better value than buying more stuff to meet the minimum spending threshold.

4. Site to Store

One way to avoid online shipping costs is to choose in-store pickup (if available at checkout). Yes, it may seem like a stretch to save money avoiding shipping by having to go to the store, especially this time of year. But, if you’ve procrastinated and expedited shipping is the only way to get your item, this could save you time, money and your tooshie! It’s also a good way to take advantage of online only coupons and deals and for avoiding shipping costs for items that can only be bought online. 

5. Subscribe

Some shopping subscriptions including free or expedited shipping with membership. Amazon Prime is $99 a year and offers free two-day shipping on most items. Members also enjoy other exclusive benefits, and Fatwallet shoppers can get up to 10% Amazon cash back. Shoprunner which charges $79 a year for free two-day shipping and returns from hundreds of top stores, like Hugo Boss. You can do a 30-day free trial, or you may be eligible for a complimentary subscription if you use an AMEX card.

6. Compare Store Offers

One store might offer an item with free shipping but sell it for a higher price than another store that doesn’t offer free shipping. That’s easy math unless you can find coupons and rewards that make one clearly better than the other. If you can stack coupons with cash back by shopping through sites like fatwallet.com, which offers cash back from more than 1,700 stores and often features increased cash back during holiday seasons, you choice can be a no-brainer, especially if the credit card you use offers cash back, too.

Do you have any free shipping hacks? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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.

 

Parents vs. Kids – Back to School Shopping INFOGRAPHIC

Teens want clothes, and smartphones. Parents agree, somewhat.

An annual Back to School Shopping Survey from FatWallet.com asked American parents to chime in about shopping for their kids’ school needs. What’s topping their 2015 shopping lists? For both parents and kids (what parents “think” kids want), clothes and shoes will be a top purchase, especially for Nike. 9 in 10 parents plan to spend as much, or more than last year on back to school items. Parents also shared surprising insights regarding whether students should have their own laptopstablets and smartphones. It could be a good year for kids that want these items.

Back to School laptop deals better than Black Friday.

In last year’s survey, parents ranked back to school sales for laptops and tablets as being better during Black Friday. However, this year they claim the laptop deals are better during back to school sales, ahead of both Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals. It’s not a stretch, as most deal hunters know the holiday deals are usually focused on cheaper, older computing products. Discounting in July and August can be better on high quality models with a broader selection (add student discounts up to $150, and back to school laptop deals are a no-brainer).

The INFOGRAPHIC below shows this year’s spending trends for back to school shopping (you can grab the embed code below the image).

parents vs kids back to school infographic

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Full Survey Results (*TNS Global):

9 IN 10 PARENTS WILL SPEND THE SAME OR MORE THIS YEAR ON BACK TO SCHOOL.

Q: How much do you plan to spend on school related supplies and products this year?

  • 27% – More than last year
  • 62% – Same as last year
  • 11% – Less than last year

8 IN 10 PARENTS WILL BUY NEW APPAREL FOR THEIR CHILDREN THIS YEAR FOR SCHOOL.

Q: Which back to school shopping items are you planning to purchase this year?

  • 20% – Laptop, tablet or computer
  • 77% – School Supplies
  • 80% – Clothes and shoes
  • 15% – Smartphone/Cell Phone
  • 41% – Textbooks

Note: Last year, supplies slightly outranked clothing and shoes, while this year the need for laptops has risen 33%.

MOBILE SHOPPING ON THE RISE FOR BACK TO SCHOOL, UP 700% FROM 2014.

Q: How do you plan to shop for school related supplies and products this year?

  • 37% – Online Retailer Sites
  • 16% – Online Coupons/Cash Back Sites
  • 7% – Mobile Shopping App (only 1% in 2014)
  • 91% – In Store

SWAG STILL RULES THE THE SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS OF THESE PARENTS.

Q: Which of the following items do you think kids “want” most for starting school this year?

  • 13% – Laptop
  • 9% – Tablet
  • 16% – Smartphone
  • 13% – School Supplies
  • 41% – Clothes and Shoes

Note: According to parents, more kids want laptops than last year, up nearly 100% (7% in 2014).

NIKE IS THE FRONT-RUNNER FOR BRANDS PARENTS SAY KIDS ASK FOR THE MOST FOR SCHOOL.

Q: Which brands do kids ask for the most for school?

  • 41% – Nike
  • 31% – Apple
  • 22% – Under Armour
  • 19% – American Eagle
  • 18% – Levi’s
  • 17% – Converse
  • 16% – Forever 21
  • 15% – Samsung
  • 12% – Adidas
  • 6% – Pacsun

Note: Parents think kids want Apple brands twice as much as they want Samsung.

7 IN 10 PARENTS SAY STUDENTS NEED THEIR OWN LAPTOPS AND TABLETS FOR SCHOOL..

Q: As a parent, what age group does it become more helpful for students to have their own laptop or tablet?

  • 5% Grade School (K-5)
  • 27% Middle School (6-8)
  • 47% High School (9-12)
  • 20% College
  • 1% Wait to buy their own

2/3 OF PARENTS SAY LAPTOPS ARE BEST SUITED TO HELP STUDENTS LEARN.

Q: Which product is better suited to help most students with their school work?

  • 65% – Laptop
  • 14% – Tablet
  • 12% – Desktop Computer
  • 2% – Smartphone

BACK TO SCHOOL SALES GRADE HIGHER THAN BLACK FRIDAY FOR LAPTOP AND TABLET DEALS.

Q: Which sales event is most likely to have the best deals on a new Laptop or Tablet for a student?

  • 37% – Back to School Sales
  • 31% – Black Friday Sales
  • 10% – Cyber Monday Sales
  • 4% – December Holiday Sales
  • 6% – After Holiday (or New Years) Sales

Note: 13% offered that other sales have better deals than the bigger holiday sales events.

2/3 OF PARENTS SAY IT’S PRACTICAL FOR TEENS TO HAVE A SMARTPHONE

Q: As a parent, in what age group does it become practical for students to have a Smartphone?

  • 3% – Elementary (9 or younger)
  • 16% – Pre Teen (10 -12)
  • 38% – Early Teen (13-15)
  • 34% – Late Teen (16-18)

Note: Only 7% said students should wait and buy their own smartphones, down form 16% in 2014.

 

Note: *The national survey conducted online by TNS on behalf of FatWallet.com in June 2015 was fielded among 1,000 adults ages 18 or older, 50% male / 50% female.

Best Things to Buy in May

MAY SAVINGS TIPS!

MAY-trends-2015-blog

May brings an abundance of  savings opportunities, especially on big ticket items like laptop and tablets for mom (or yourself), summer vacation packages and hotel bookings, appliances, mattress sets and more. Mother’s Day spending has grown to be one of the top 5 sales events of the year (for more than just moms) and Memorial Day sales feature a week long of deep discounting on items like mattressess, large appliances, furniture and high-priced outdoor living products like grills and patio sets. Add in primetime for vacation booking, and May presents itself as a power shoppers paradise when you know the inside scoop.

Although many book ahead, May officially kicks off vacation booking season. Direct travel retailers and online travel agents ramp up discounts on summer vacation packages, hotels, vacation rentals, car rental discounts and even local deals and coupons for regional savings on family activities and events. FatWallet’s annual vacation spending survey reports that 8 in 10 Americans will go on vacation, with almost 60% taking vacations this summer – See full results and INFOGRAPHIC (*TNS Global).

The study also reported that vacation bookings made with mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) will increase by more than 50% this year. Smart shoppers take advantage of rewards, especially cash back, where FatWallet members can add savings from more than 100 travel sites and take advantage of a limited exclusive cash back increase to 8% from Priceline and Expedia, the highest online cash back available for these OTAs.

Here’s when to shop for the best things to buy in May:

Mother’s Day Sales – not just for moms:

In the past few years, the trend has been that moms want a day off, stress-free time and to be able to spend time with family, hopefully outdoors. That’s where local deals from sites like Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local, etc. can really make for the perfect storm of a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift that offers deep savings. Whether that be a spa day, dinner and a movie, or more adventurous activities, local deals are a smart go to.

  • Flowers & Gifts: flowers, candy, books, crafts & supplies, jewelry
  • Home & Garden: cookware/kitchenware, pots, plants, tools, feeders, outdoor decor
  • Gift Cards: restaurants, retail, craft/fabric stores, electronics
  • Local Deals: dinner and drinks, spas, events, activities and getaways
  • Tech: tablets, smartphones, laptops, cameras

Tip: Not sure what to get mom…Gift cards let moms go shopping for “free”. FatWallet features dozens of stores offering Mother’s Day discounts on e-gift cards–many with additional cash back savings, including Starbucks cards, iTunes gift cards and American Express.

Vacation Packages and Hotel Deals

Early May offers the magic 50-day mark for best prices and selection on summer travel bookings. Find coupons and special offers that stack with cash back from more than 100 online travel retailers (OTAs, metasearch and direct bookings).

  • Travel Deals with spring discounts on flights, cruises, hotels and car rentals
  • Local Deals offer savings of 50% or more on restaurants, amusement parks, museums, concerts, spas, golf courses and other vacation activities going on at your destination.
  • Luggage deals can be found 30-50% off clearance (stackable with cash back specials)

Tip: Use an OTA, like Expedia or Priceline, to help you cut down your research time and take advantage of limited time 8% cash back on hotel deals, the highest cash back for hotels on the internet!

Sports and Outdoors Deals – will run amuck:

  • Sports: golf, cycling, baseball, athletic apparel/shoes
  • Outdoors: fishing, cycling, running, camping, swimming, hiking

Tip: Many sports equipment items have trade-in value, especially golf clubs, bicycles and even some fishing gear which can save you up to 20% when upgrading (if you’ve taken care of your stuff).

Memorial Day Sales – shop them early to nab better stock:

This holiday has become the official kick-off of summer sales (or spring clearance – take your pick). That said, it is a premium time to grab discounts on big ticket items for the home, especially these listed below:

  • Home Furnishings: mattresses, furniture, bedroom sets, patio sets
  • Appliances: complete kitchen sets, refrigerators, freezers, washers & dryers, stoves/ranges
  • Clothing: kick-off of Summer Clothing Deals collides with Spring Fashion Clearance
  • Travel: Summer vacation bookings and hotel specials for a holiday weekend getaway

Tip: Like Black Friday, Memorial Day sales now start early with some a full week ahead–this provides those with holiday plans a chance to cash in on this big savings event.

Sales for Graduation and Wedding Gifts

Grads and newlyweds are celebrating new beginnings and need stuff. Retail sales events leading up to Memorial Day often feature savings on these items and many top stores will increase cash back to help you save more when purchasing gifts.

  • Apparel and Accessories: clothing, shoes, suits, dresses, jewelry and watches
  • Electronics: laptops, tablets, smartphones, HDTVs, wireless gadgets
  • Home and Kitchen: small and large appliances, decor, bath and bedding

Tip: Look for huge Memorial Day discounts from retailers that stock these items.

What to Buy in September: 2014 Shopping Trends

Best time of year to shop clearance and shop early!

2014 shopping trends

When is shopping early, smart? Waiting for “after clearance” clearance can produce the absolute lowest price, but settling for what’s left will sacrifice selection, and most likely quality. This is where jumping on Labor Day sales and summer clearance deals on the bigger ticket items for the home, patio furniture, grills, lawn mowers can save you big bucks on great stuff…ditto for back to school clearance items. Apply the same tactic for incoming fall fashion, with new selection of styles (prime color and sizes) fully stocked at Labor Day discounts. Here the savviest online shoppers will snatch up these bargains quickly, taking full advantage of first choice and then stack on additional cash back (there’s always a sale), creating some of the best deals of the year.

September also kicks off the countdown to Black Friday (2 months until early Black Friday deals begin…Yikes!). But that’s a ways off and on the heels of your fantasy draft comes real football, making a deal now on a new HDTV more urgent. With late summer prices on big screen TVs (40”-60”) hovering around the same pricing we saw before the Super Bowl, why wait until the season is half over. The savings will be comparable, as will laptops and smartphones (yo RedZone fanatics). Microsoft Store and Newegg offered spectacular September laptop deals last year, and FatWallet’s Tech Week raises the savings game this year with increased cash back from HP, Dell, T-Mobile, Newegg and other top tech retailers from 9/2-9/8.

Labor Day Deals, Summer Clearance and Final Back to School Deals

Expect multiple weekend sales in excess of 50% off Home & Garden items this time of year with summer “closeout pricing”.

  • Outdoor Furniture: (limited choices on patio furniture clearance and back yard accessories at 50% off or better)gas grill deals
  • Clothing: (summer clothing and shoes at 50-80% off)
  • Sports & Outdoors: (deep discounts on baseball, golf, camping and fishing gear and apparel)
  • Grills/Grilling: (Up to 50% off w/2-burner grills under $100)

Last chance for back to school clearance savings:

  • Dorm Furniture: (futons, small appliances, bed/bath linens will all be on sale at bigbox stores)
  • Tech: (laptops, desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, software)

Tip: Early bird gets the deal, and the pick of the litter, but these Home & Garden deals sell out fast.

Fall Fashion and Autumn Seasonal Sales

Autumn’s new fall fashion trends sales hit their full stride mid-month. Expect deep discounts on jeans and pants, long sleeve tops and coats, shoes and fall sports apparel.ankle boot deals

  • Clothing: (long sleeve shirts, pants, jeans, sweat shirts)
  • Outdoorwear: (jackets, hoodies, work boots, sweats)
  • Footwear: (ankle boots, fall casual shoes, clearance running shoes, socks)
  • Sportswear: (golf, football, cycling, hunting, fishing)

Tip: Try shopping for fall fashion early during Labor Day sales to nab the biggest selection of styles during store-wide discounts from Levi’s and American Eagle.

Early Holiday Travel Deals and Packages

This is the best time to book in advance for the best choice and lowest package deal savings on your Thanksgiving and Holiday family travel.holiday travel deals

  • Airfare: (start looking eight weeks out to get a good price and seat)
  • Hotels: (stay at business hotels during the holidays for cheap rate rooms and non crowded pools)
  • Car Rentals: (look for discounts when bundled with hotel bookings)
  • Local Deals: (check Daily Deal sites for travel activity deals)

Tip: Start monitoring prices now – sign up for low price alerts for your holiday destinations and keep tabs on FatWallet’s Deal Discussion forum for some of the hottest travel tips and insider tactics for finding the mega savings.

What to Buy in August: Shopping Trends 2014

Laptops/Smartphones Rule Back to School Tech Deals

The majority of August shoppers will take advantage of Back to School sales for items our kids will need for the start of school (those in the south and southeast can benefit from even more savings from tax free weekends: (see Sales Tax Holiday guide). But back to school discounts can also be applied to needs and/or upgrades for the home and home office, as well. It’s sort of Black Friday in summer for clothing, laptops, office supplies and travel deals (especially luggage and hotel deals).
August Shopping Trends 2014
Some of the best tech deals all year are found in August on laptops and computers (with a much bigger selection of student models than on Black Friday and Cyber Monday) during Back to School sales – NEW SURVEY reveals “parents overwhelmingly say laptops more suited to help kids learn vs. tablets”. Shoppers will find dozens of full featured laptops starting around $250, more than adequate for most students, and many professional needs as well. FatWallet members get additional savings in our annualBack-to-School Cash Back Sale, from stores like HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple and Newegg, who’ve offer cash back through FatWallet, often increased during back to school promotions. Use the Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide and this smart Student Laptop Buying Tips to help you choose the right model for your needs.

The end of the month brings other money-saving opportunities, like increased cash back when buying online textbooks (w/15+ stores that include cash back on new, used and textbook rentals), end-of-summer clearance sales (clothing, shoes, swimwear, hotel discounts, grills and outdoor products) and Labor Day sales offering store-wide discounts from most major retailers–look for these sales to kick in during the last week of August through the holiday weekend.

Back To School Deals

Not just for kids…this seasonal shopping event is long and can be very prosperous for a variety of family needs, including the bonus of cash back increases and exclusive coupons and giveaways all month long.

  • Tech: (laptops, tablets and iPads, cell 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, brasswinds, drums, percussion, guitars, etc.)
  • College: (luggage, furniture, lighting, rugs, small appliances, storage)

Tip: Get up to $100 back from many brands via student and teacher discounts (10-20% off) on computers, software and other supplies with a school ID.

End of Summer Clearance Deals and Labor Day Sales

End of August burns up with big price drops on “most things summer” and these sales really get a boost from Labor Day discounts-look for sales a full week before the actual holiday.

  • 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: Waiting to shop for back to school items can be very good for family budgets, saving hundreds, if you’re willing to settle for what’s left in inventory the last week in August and into September.

Student Laptop Buying Guide 2014

lToday, students of every age have one need in common: access to a computer. The computer is essential for child development, but laptops have become the ultimate learning tool for students offering the most convenience, power, connectivity and versatility in one portable package.

With a little planning and research, confident purchases are nearly as easy as buying school supplies. If a new laptop is on your back to school shopping list this year, the online shopping experts at FatWallet.com offer these tips to help you meet your budget when looking to buy the right student student laptop and help you save even more during their annual cash back sale.

Laptops vs. Tablets

  • While tablets are extremely portable and have their uses, they can’t match the efficiency and versatility that laptops offer for everyday school work. If your budget allows for both, students can use a tablet in tandem with a laptop (or desktop computer) but today’s laptops are designed to meet all the demands of researching, writing, printing and communicating while offering much more streamlined designs for portability-most often leaving the tablet for fun and games. Plus, many schools do not allow tablets and it can be difficult to find tablet versions of textbooks.

Size Matters

  • Choosing the right size and weight for your student laptop is important. It be light and easy to carry in a backpack, but large enough to house acceptable power and plug in options. Models that are 15.6 inches or 17.3 inches provide big enough screens for work and study, while still weighing in the very portable 5- to 7-pound range.

Good Memory

  • A 250GB hard drive with 4GB DDR Ram is standard on today’s models and adequate for the majority of school use. Adding a hard drive with 7,200 RPM to increase performance cost effectively. If your student finds out that he or she needs more memory, adding it yourself is an easy and cost-effective DIY upgrade.

High Resolution

  • Today’s student use laptops for a variety of graphic-intensive applications, like HD video streaming and light 2D gaming. Most newer laptops have plenty of power for both and unless gaming is the ultimate goal (let’s hope not), you can save between $100 to $200 by opting out of the dedicated graphics card.

Power Up

  • Most dual and quad-core laptops provide plenty of battery power for a normal students’ daily activities without the need to lug a power cord along. And now, since students use iPods or smartphones for email, music and other simple applcations like social media, they’ll use less laptop battery power. Four to six-cell lithium-ion batteries are vwry efficient and standard.

Avoid This

  • You can save money on the initial purchase by opting out of bundled anti-virus protection, extended warranties or even the Microsoft Office Suite. There are several free, high-quality anti-virus and office productivity software available online. As far as warranty, it will most likely be a longer one when you buy directly from the brand versus a box store. An extended warranty isn’t that necessary since most defects generally show up before the original warranty expires.

Stack Savings

  • Deal hunters reap the biggest savings. Student discounts (will need a student’s school ID) provide extra savings from many of the major computer makers and software brands, like Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, Adobe and Sony. Plus, stack those savings with timely bargains, cash- back rewards and exclusive online coupons from tech deal sites like FatWallet.com. The website works with most major sellers like HP, Dell, Best Buy and Newegg to help increase back-to-school savings.

Credit is King

  • Using a credit card for laptop purchases provides all the consumer protections associated with credit card use, some card companies include additional cash back savings, and using a Visa or American Express card will extend your warranty an extra year.

You can find and tweeting about suds and other substance @brentsheltonnow.

What to buy in JULY: Shopping Trends 2014

Best time of year to buy laptops, and hit the big summer sales.

”bestJuly is traditionally one of the best times to find deals on laptops and computers (2nd only to Black Friday/Cyber Monday), but there is also good reason to hit storewide sales, including a huge mixed bag of savings from early/extended 4th of July sales thru to mid-summer clearance, with just about every retailer participating in a variety of shopping categories. This, combined with pricing competition from a rapidly growing trend to use mobile tech over traditional computer products, like smartphones and tablets, present the perfect storm for consumers to nab a deal ahead of the long back-to-school shopping season.

During July sales events, we can expect notable price drops on outdoor toys and games for the pool and yard, patio/party supplies and summer clothing bargains. Other July savings include final clearance on furniture, mattresses (especially during 4th sales), tools/tool boxes (Father’s Day leftovers for the DIYers), and health and fitness products. Once the weather gets really hot, and it will, keep an eye on price drops for air conditioners and fans (box, floor-standing and ceiling fans) and expect them to sell fast, if not sell out completely. July shoppers can stack these savings with increased Cash Back from more than 100 top retailers throughout July. And NOTE: Back to School is the second longest seasonal shopping event of the year. Except for textbooks, start monitoring prices in early July to help you land a good deal and assure you get the stuff your kids actually want before your stuck buying what’s left in stock.

Read below for this months shopping trends:

4th of July Deals

”toolStarting in late June, the weekend before holiday celebrations, retailers blast out week long deep discounts during Independence Day Sales, allowing consumers to buy what they need in advance to having fun with family and friends.

  • Patio/Party: (furniture, decorations, flags, dishware, lighting/candles)
  • Outdoors: (camping, fishing, grilling accessories, patio furniture & accessories)
  • Air Conditioners: (window AC units and installation discounts, fans, shades, etc)
  • Summer Outdoor Toys: (pool and water toys, swings, yard games, etc)

Tip: Shopping the weekend before is smart for all the right reasons…selection, savings and having items in-hand to enjoy during your holiday.

Summer Deals and Cash Back Sale

”toolJuly heats up with a variety of savings that tops out with double cash back from 100s of top stores.

  • Sports/Outdoors: (golf, cycling, running, baseball, camping, fishing, swimwear)
  • Workout Equipment: (treadmills, weights, yoga accessories, workout apparel/gear)
  • Audio Tech: (ipods, mp3 players, boom boxes and accessories, earbuds, speakers)
  • Big Appliances: (microwaves, refrigerators, stoves, laundry, AC)
  • Furniture: (couches, chairs, dining room sets, bedroom sets, outdoor furniture)
  • MISC: (tools, paint, summer clothing, suits, jewelry, some grills and patio furniture)

Tip: Start looking for summer product pricing to start hitting clearance in mid-July as retailers start to restock for back to school and early fall sales events.

Early Back to School Deals

”toolThe savviest online, and FatWallet, shoppers flock to the web for some of the lowest pricing of the year on laptops and computers, as well as early retail sales featuring Back-to-School needs, ahead of the August in-store rush.

  • Tech: (laptops, tablets and iPads, cell phones and iPhones, PC’s)
  • Supplies: (writing supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, art supplies)
  • Apparel: (uniforms, shirts, blouses, jeans, shoes, jackets, hoodies, shorts)
  • Dorm Furnishings: (luggage, furniture, lighting, rugs, small appliances, storage)

Tip: Check our Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide and/or Student Laptop Buying Guide for smart money-saving buying tips and a comprehensive overview of the most important components and features before you make such a big investment.

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