Where to get a deal this winter

Love is in the air and so are the savings. February’s best buys are a mix of Valentine’s essentials, travel, taxes and—most surprisingly—canned food.



There are more than 23,000 jewelry stores in the U.S., which collectively sold an estimated $2.8 billion of merchandise last February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most of that was thanks to Valentine’s Day.

While you can save on diamonds this month, it’s more likely going to be earrings and bracelets, not engagement rings. If you’re determined to buy a ring this month, the Jewelry Information Center says halo settings are trending right now. You can find discounts on this popular setting, which comprises a small circle of diamonds around a center stone. Be sure to confirm that the diamond originates from a legitimate, industry-regulated source.

Be sure to keep the store tag on the jewelry until you are sure you or the person you’re giving it to wants to keep it. Many times retailers won’t exchange or accept return of an item without the tags attached and a receipt.


Another popular Valentine’s go-to gift is perfume, a product that offers some of the best gift-with-purchase deals. You can get more bang for your buck with a fragrance gift set—though if your sweetie has a signature scent, you’re probably best sticking to it and buying a bigger bottle. When you compare unit price, you’ll find you’re typically paying just a little more for twice as much product.

An indirect way to save on perfume is to make it last longer. Perfume can lose its potency or turn bad if exposed to light and heat. Store perfume in a cool, dry, dark place like a dresser drawer. The bathroom is actually a bad place for perfume because of the humidity and constantly changing temperatures.

Last-minute travel

The main reason a February trip to Europe is such a steal is because it’s cold out! Fortunately, if you choose your destination wisely, you can enjoy an affordable vacation without the crowds. Look for airfare deals to one of the major cities, like London or Paris, where there are plenty of museums, galleries and cafes to duck into for warmth.

It’s also Carnival season, and many countries in Europe go all out with celebrations. Festivities often begin weeks in advance, all leading up to Fat Tuesday, which this year is on March 4. Venice, Italy, is home to one of the most famous Carnival celebrations. Venice hotel rates were down 7% last year and are expected to remain low all winter. You can also join the party in areas of France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.

Hawaii’s peak travel season starts mid-March, so you may be able to squeeze in a warm-weather vacation before airfare and lodging prices start to rise. Just beware of traveling on or around Presidents Day, Feb. 17, when fares rise because of high demand.

Tax prep software

Every year tax-software companies get more creative to get you to file with them. This year is no exception. File with TurboTax and opt to get a portion of your federal tax refund in the form of an Amazon Gift Card (it must be an increment of $100). That will add either 5% or 10% to your gift card, depending on which TurboTax software you use. If you use TurboTax Deluxe, put $500 of your refund toward an Amazon gift card and TurboTax will make it $550.

To get your refund as soon as possible, file electronically and choose direct deposit. You can check the status of your refund on the Internal Revenue Service website within 24 hours after it receives your e-filed return, compared with four weeks after mailing a paper return.

Canned food

February is Canned Food Month, making it a good time to stock up on pantry staples. Compare unit prices; you can usually save a lot with the family-size option.

While canned foods have long shelf lives, they don’t last forever. High-acid foods like tomato products typically last 12 to 18 months. Low-acid foods like canned meats last two to four years. Always check expiration dates.

If you have a disaster-supply kit, now’s a good time to take advantage of sales and swap out food before it expires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends having at least a three-day supply of non-perishables, particularly canned foods with a high liquid content. Don’t forget a manual can opener.

Source: Market Watch

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