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sales taxesI've never considered moving to Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon as a way to avoid paying local or state sales taxes, but I see how it can be tempting — especially to retirees looking to save money.

Other than some local resort areas in Montana, those four states don't have local or state sales taxes, giving residents and visitors plenty of reasons to shop there.

Some states make up for low or zero sales taxes with high income taxes. Oregon has no sales tax but high income taxes, while neighboring Washington state has high sales taxes but no income tax. In theory, it could pay off to live and work in Washington state and buy everything in Oregon.

But which states should you avoid for high sales taxes? The Tax Foundation recently put out a mid-year report of state and local sales tax rates, combining the state and average local sales tax rates for each state.

Highest sales taxes in the Bayou

The full list is in the report, but here's the top 10 states for combined local and state sales tax rates, followed by the combined rate: ...continue reading

back to schoolSummer festivities are still in full swing, but back to school time is right around the corner.

When you go shopping this time of year, you'll likely notice a change in the atmosphere. Instead of bathing suits and red, white, and blue picnic plates, there are lists, glue, and paper. The stores are stocking up on all of the new pencils, notebook paper, planners, and backpacks. The smell of new pens waiting to be opened, pencils ready to be sharpened, and the feeling of a perfect folder, all shimmery in the plastic – it’s intoxicating.

Childless adults might lament on the passing of time and remember childhood, but luckily, you don’t have to have children to take advantage of all of the back to school sales and specials. Even if you don't have children, here are some ways you can take advantage of back to school sales.

Office Supplies

Now is the time to stock up on the basic must haves for your home office! Just because you don’t have children of your own, doesn’t mean you don’t need a fun folder or binder to spice up your office. Also, by taking advantage of these sales you can purchase school supplies and donate them to a local shelter or school program that gives away backpacks full of supplies to those children in need who can’t afford to get their back-to-school basics. This will make your donation dollars stretch further.

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wedding giftsI attended a wedding this summer — as many people do this time of year — and buying wedding gifts is a big part of the event.

While we spent what I considered to be a reasonable amount of money, I was a little surprised to learn that men spend more on wedding gifts than women do, according to a survey by Ebates, a cash back and coupon website. I'm frugal, and I'm not fond of shopping. Am I more likely to spend more on wedding gifts than my wife? I don't think so.

Men spending 2X on wedding gifts

The survey found that a majority of women said they spend $25 to $100 on wedding gifts, or about half as much as the $50 to $250 that men said they spend.

Women, however, shop smarter than men, with 32 percent of women using coupons and cash back to buy wedding gifts, the survey found. ...continue reading