Get ready to spend -- state sales tax holidays are now

For many people, summer's end marks the beginning of the back-to-school shopping season. It also sparks a season of sales tax holidays across the country -- limited stretches of time where the sales tax is dropped on selected items. For those ready to shop, you'll have to act soon: many of the states' tax holidays are this weekend (see our list below to see if and when your state is offering this generous break).

If your state isn't offering a sales tax holiday, don't despair. Many major retailers including Staples, Best Buy, Walmart and Target all want to help you spend money by offering back-to-school deals. Staples is offering sales on school items and other discounts store wide, as well as free shipping for online orders of more than $50. Walmart is promoting sales on school items and free shipping on some online orders. Target is offering 10% off when you spend at least $100, as well as free shipping for online orders of $50 or more. A current promotion of Best Buy offers no interest payments for 18 months on purchases of $249 or more when using the store credit card. So if you live in one of the states that doesn't have a sales tax -- Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon -- enjoy the sales.

Most of the time, the tax holidays are tied to heading back to school, but some states, like West Virginia use the holiday to encourage shoppers to buy energy-saving appliances. Be a careful consumer and check your state's site before heading out to shop -- some states, like Missouri are allowing towns and counties to opt out of participating.