Archive for the ‘Holiday Shopping & Saving’ Category

Why I’m Thankful for Thanksgiving Shopping

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Thanksgiving may be a time for being appreciative, but few shoppers are truly grateful for Thanksgiving deals.  Instead, Buy cosmetics during your Thanksgiving shoppingmost shoppers are eager for Thanksgiving to pass so that they can jump right into Black Friday.  But what I’ve learned over the years, however, is that there are plenty of great Thanksgiving deals that you can enjoy with shorter lines and thinner crowds.  In fact, pre-Thanksgiving shopping can really be a great opportunity to stock up your pantries or your gift stash for future use.  Here are some oft-overlooked pre-Thanksgiving deals that are definitely worth a second glance.

Cookware – Target has a few great deals this week, including a 6 quart stock pot for $10 and an 8 piece cook set for $20.  This may make a great wedding gift or as a holiday gift for friends who can stand to upgrade their kitchen ware.  I love it because it will also be helpful for anyone preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  If you’re looking for something a bit more high-end, Overstock.com has an Analon 13 piece set for under $150, but the price is set to expire at the end of today so you’d better act fast.

Airfare – You may think that the holiday season is an expensive time to fly, but you’d be surprised at what great deals can come up.  Farecompare.com has a holiday fare finding tool that will help you find the best deals around the holiday season with a single glance.

Cosmetics – Believe it or not, women want to look good all year round, and cosmetics deals often start before the holiday shopping frenzy.   Keep an eye out for free gifts with purchase (consider getting your sister or mother cosmetics as a holiday gift while you keep the free gift!)

Food – You may be struggling to complete your Thanksgiving menu before thinking about your Christmas or Hannukah feasts (or avoiding the stores entirely if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner), but your admirable focus may actually be missing out on some great menu ideas for the future.  As always, it’s worthwhile to check out what printable coupons are available this month so that you can already start planning your December holiday menu.  Some of my favorite sites are RedPlum.com and Coupons.com.  It’s also a good idea to purchase an extra turkey while it’s on sale (or, in many cases, free) during the Thanksgiving shopping rush, so that you can feed your next crew.  Finally, remember that pumpkins have quite a long shelf-life, so if you want to have pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie in December, you may want to buy an extra one now.

Furniture – If you find it hard to think about decorating when the holidays are in the air, you’re not alone.  Furniture retailers recognize that this is a ‘down’ season for furniture shopping, and many are willing to offer shockingly low prices to drum up some business.  Check out Macy’s and Overstock.com for all types of furniture, and Jennifer Convertibles for couches that are priced-down for their upcoming Veteran’s Day sale.

Good luck with your pre-Thanksgiving shopping!

Your November Shopping Guide

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Whether you’re already thinking about holiday gifts or just focusing on making it through Thanksgiving, you’reFind great deals on barbecues in November probably not thinking about what to buy for yourself right now.  But though your selflessness during the season of giving may be admirable, it’s still important to take a moment to think about what you may need, since there are aplethora of great deals available in November, and it’s a shame to let them go to waste, only to realize what you truly need in the coming weeks.  So, while you head out to find the perfect holiday gift, consider this November shopping guide and think about whether you want to buy for yourself while you can – or whether you can take advantage of November deals to stuff stockings in the near future.

  • Wine.  A staple of most holiday meals, wine can be purchased at notably lower prices in November, which is considered the end of the fall harvest.  You’ll find new bottles begging to be tried for low prices and old bottles begging to be sold at discounted prices to make room for the new bottles.
  • Wedding dresses and bridal paraphernalia.  Your wedding may not be until the summer – but bridal retailers know that.  Since the late fall is not a popular wedding (or engagement) season, many wedding-related items are on sale now, when brides may not be on full alert.
  • Costumes.  Seldom will you find costumes cheaper than you will during the post-Halloween sales.  The racks are probably clearing out already, but it’s still worth taking a look, just in case there’s something your children can wear next year (or this weekend when they play dress up).
  • Produce.  Every month has produce that’s at its peak, and November is no exception.  If you’re planning your holiday menus, think about using the following seasonal produce – apples, oranges, pears, spinach, cauliflower and mushrooms.  In fact, many things made with apples, pears and mushrooms freeze beautifully, so don’t hesitate to buy extra and get a jump on your Christmas or Hannukah cooking early.
  • Barbecues. You’re probably wondering why there are barbecues still available in November, but you’d be surprised.  Grills that haven’t been sold since the summer are just wasting space in most stores, and they’ve likely been marked down to their lowest price possible.  If you’re planning to buy a grill next summer, might as well spring for it now.
  • Lawn mowers.  The same reasoning applies to lawn mowers as it does to barbecues, and these normally expensive items can be found with significant discounts this month.  Be aware that you may need to compromise on the model if the one you’ve been wanting is sold out.
  • Photo gifts.  Snapfish is offering amazing deals this November, but you may want to join their Merry Deal Reveal to get updates about their daily specials.  Shutterfly also has pre-holiday specials, but again, membership can make sure that you get all of the updates.  Now may also be the time to print out your summer pictures if you haven’t already done so.

Happy November shopping!

Labor Day Sales & Freebies Available Now

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Labor Day weekend is only a few hours away, but you needn’t despair if you haven’t solidified your plans yet.  With great sales going on both in stores and online, there’s plenty of deal-chasing that can be done this weekend.  Here are some Labor Day sales worth checking out:

BareNecessities.com is offering 50% off all clearance items through September 7th (now that sounds like a deal), and a buy 2 bras, get 1 free Labor Day sale (no expiration dateLabor Day sales are HEREisgiven, though it probably expires after the weekend).

CVS.com has an online special offering $10 off a non-prescription purchase of $50 or more, plus free shipping with coupon code LABORDAY50.

Gap.com has free shipping through September 11th on all purchases over $50.  Use coupon code GAPSHIP50 at checkout.

Gymboree.com is running its Fill-A-Bag sale with 30% off storewide until September 5th.  $5 shipping is also available for a limited time.

JCPenney.com has free shipping on orders over $49 with coupon code 49WORKS through September 11th.  Not valid on furniture.  And don’t forget that all shoes at JCPenney.com ship free.

JosABank.com is reducing their clearance products by another 50% through Labor Day weekend.  There are some great deals here if you’re looking for men’s dress clothing.

Kohls.com is offering 15% off all purchases and free shipping on orders over $75 with coupon code SAVEON75, which expires today, September 2nd.

Macys.com has free shipping on all orders over $99 until September 6th as well as some great Labor Day sales that are online only until today, September 2nd.  You can also get free shipping through September 7th if you purchase a minimum amount from specific companies.  For a full list of these deals, click here.

OldNavy.com is offering 20% off a purchase of $100 or 25% off a purchase of $150 for all online purchases through September 6th with coupon code ONSAVEBIG.


And while you’re online, why not sign up for some great freebies that may not be available when the Labor Day sales are done?

A Tax Holiday is Coming Your Way!

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Let’s face it – we spend lots of money in the summer because (1) the days are longer (which means more time toTax Holidayhit the stores), (2) the kids are out of school (and begging for stuff), and (3) school is just around the corner (which means that you’ll have dozens of things on your back-to-school list).  With all this spending going on, it’s such a relief to have a tax holiday, and fortunately there are many of these bonanzas going on in August. Check the list below to see if your state is among the lucky ones.  If so, make sure to head to the stores during the sales tax holiday to save big.  Pair your tax holiday with coupons and in-stores sales for extra savings.  Be aware that not all items are exempt from sales tax (even during the tax holiday) and that local sales tax may still be applicable.  Still, the savings can be big – so enjoy your tax-free shopping!

State Tax Holiday Dates Applies To
Alabama August 6-8 All clothing up to $100 per item, computers priced up to $750 and school supplies priced up to $50 per item among other items.
Connecticut August 15-21 Clothing and footwear costing less than $300 per item.
Florida August 13-15 All clothing priced under $50 per item and all school supplies priced under $10 per item.
Illinois August 6-15 Clothing, footwear and school supplies priced up to $100 per item.
Iowa August 6-7 Clothing priced up to $100 per item.
Louisiana August 6-7 All purchases of tangible items costing under $2,500 with the exception of cars and restaurant purchases.
Maryland August 8-14 Clothing and footwear costing up to $100 per item.
Massachusetts August 14-15 Most items costing under $2,500.
New Mexico August 6-8 Clothing and footwear priced up to $100 per item, computers priced up to $1000, computer software priced up to $500 and school supplies priced up to $15 per unit.
North Carolina August 6-8 Clothing and footwear priced up to $100 per item, computers priced up to $3,500, computer software priced up to $250, sports equipment priced up to $50 per unit and school supplies priced up to $100 per unit.
Oklahoma August 6-8 Clothing priced up to $100 per item.
South Carolina August 6-8 Most clothing, footwear, school supplies, computers and baby items.  Some house wares are also included in the tax holiday.
Tennessee August 6-8 Clothing and school supplies priced up to $100 per item and computers priced up to $1,500.
Texas August 20-22 Clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced up to $100.  All accessories will be taxed.
Virginia August 6-8 Clothing and footwear priced up to $100 per item and school supplies priced up to $20 per item.


Last Minute Father’s Day Deals & Freebies

Friday, June 18th, 2010

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably worrying about the upcoming Father’s Day which is only 3 days away. Chances are good that if you’re still searching for Father’s Day deals, you haven’t yet found that perfect gift…or any gift. But fear not! Even though there are only a few hours to go, you’ve still got plenty of time to take advantage of great Father’s Day deals. OK, you may not have plenty of time, but you definitely have some – so read on and get to work!

  • Free ice cream. If your father isn’t reading this post, you can bring him a free ice cream from either TCBY or tasti-D-lite, both of which are offering a free small cup or cone to dads.  Of course, you need to be a father to get the free ice cream – but if you’re not, you can always take your father out to the store to enjoy his free treat.
  • Free collage print. What father doesn’t love a collage made of pictures of his children (or grandchildren), or of family memories from way-back-when.  Create the collage at Walgreen’s online and have it mailed (you’ll pay for shipping, and it may not get there in time), or pick it up in-store so that it’s totally free.  Use coupon code GOBIG8X10 to get your print for free.  This coupon code is good until Saturday, June 19th.
  • Free breakfast at Ikea.  Take your father to the closest Ikea and get a free breakfast between 9:30 and 11am.  While you’re there, the kids can make you (or grandpa) a free picture frame, at participating stores.

Of course, if you don’t want to give only a Father’s Day freebie, you can also take advantage of some great deals going on now.  Some of my favorites include:

  • Watches from Overstock.com.  You can save 5% on your purchase if it’s your first time at Overstock.com, and you can take advantage of some of the great sales they have in their clearance section.  Plus, your dad will probably appreciate the gift (even if he has a watch).
  • An iPod from eBay. I’ve found that eBay is one of the best places to buy an iPod (or any mp3 player) because you can bid your price and possibly win an auction for an extremely low bid.  If your father doesn’t currently have an mp3 player, he’ll likely enjoy it, as it’s great for the commute, working out or just tuning out ‘background noise’.
  • Busted Tees from Brad’s Deals.  Having given out dozens of t-shirts myself, I can tell you firsthand how people just love getting cute t-shirts.  While some of their shirts are a bit risque, many of them are extremely hilarious and if your father has a sense of humor, he will love one.  Shipping costs almost as much as the t-shirt, but it’s still a great gift for under $20.
  • Even if buying these Father’s Day gifts today won’t ensure that they’ll arrive on time (though you may be able to choose expedited shipping), you’ll be able to tell him that something is on the way.  And that definitely counts for something if you ask me!

    Happy Father’s Day,

Got an Unwanted Gift? Make the Most of It!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

If you’ve received an unwanted gift this holiday season, you can rest assured you’re not alone.  I myself was lucky enough to receive only 1 ugly sweater this year.  But of course, I find it equally difficult to be enthused over my new fishing rod (mostly since I haven’t gone fishing since I moved away from a viable source of fish).  So this year, like every year, I find myself asking- unwanted_giftwhat can I do with that dreaded unwanted gift?  Is there a way to get something out of it?  To dispose of it without hurting the giver’s feelings?  Here are some things that I’ve tried in the past, as well as some new suggestions from some of my clever friends.  Hope they help you turn an unwanted gift into a welcome item.

- Sell it online. Surprisingly, this may be one of the best ways to get rid of unwanted gift.  For example, I may not be able to use a fishing rod where I live, but someone who lives along the shore may be thrilled to buy it from me at a discounted price.  And believe me, I’ll be happy to sell it, so that I can make money and keep my closet clean.  You may not believe it but you can even auction unwanted gift cards on eBay.  Definitely worth checking out.

-  Offer it at a garage sale. If you live in a warm location or don’t mind waiting until the summer, why not try to unload your things at a garage sale?  You’d be surprised how your junk can quickly become someone else’s treasure.

-  Donate it. Is your unwanted gift something that you can donate to another person?  Perhaps someone a little bit less fortunate than yourself?  Though I’m not sure exactly where I can donate my fishing rod, there may very well be some charities that would be happy to take it, and to write me a tax-deductible receipt for this purchase (which, incidentally, is almost as good as cash).

-  Swap it. You may not want your new lamp, but you may enjoy your friend’s unwanted cheese platter.  Why not host a swap-night through which your friends – and friends of friends- can enjoy exchanging unwanted gifts?  In the old days, someone might host an ugly sweater party, but in today’s day and age, there’s no reason to limit it to just ugly sweaters.  Trust me, you have no idea what treasures you may find in someone else’s unwanted gift pile!

Exchange it. Few gift recipients actually think about exchanging unwanted gifts, but if you know where it was purchased from you may be able to get store credit back.  If you’re not sure where it came from, you can always try hinting to the giver, and hoping for the best.  Or, be direct and explain the problem.  There’s a good chance that your hideous slipper socks came from Target, and that you can get something you really want with the store credit.

-   (And finally) regift it.  It stands to reason that if you got an unwanted gift, it may have been somebody else’s reject (it may have even been a few other people’s reject).  The question is, however, if you know someone who can use that gift.  And I don’t mean someone you can just pass it off to, but someone who can actually use and enjoy it.  It’s unlikely that someone you know will enjoy those reindeer antlers, so don’t even think about regifting them.  But don’t worry- you’ve just seen that there are other options…

Do you have any other ideas about how to get rid of unwanted gifts?  I’d love to hear them!

Happy Holidays,

Billy

11 Inexpensive Last Minute Gift Ideas for Any Occasion

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Still haven’t finished your holiday shopping? You may be surprised to learn that I am also a last-minute shopper from time to time. But the holidays aren’t the only time that people scramble for a last minute gift. Whether you’re a husband who forgot an anniversary, a daughter who forgot her mother’s birthday, or you’ve forgotten to get a thank-you gift for your child’s teacher, there are plenty of reasons why someone might need a last minute gift- and plenty of inexpensive ways to solve this dilemma. Here are some of my favorite last minute gift ideas:

gift card1- While some gift-givers may feel like a gift card is a cop-out, I have no doubt that everyone loves receiving a gift card. There’s nothing quite like splurging on yourself (with someone else’s money) or appreciating not having to pay for something that you’d otherwise have to shell out for. Some of my favorite gift cards are to restaurants, gas stations, bookstores, or even the coffee bar you know your loved one frequents.

2- There are a few reasons why magazine subscriptions are at the top of my last minute gift list. Firstly, they are always available, and there are always deals on great reads. Secondly, they provide long-term enjoyment. Thirdly, you can order them online without having to run out to the store and pick it up when you’re already in a rush.

3- Depending on the nature of the gift, candy can be a cheap and easy gift. Throw some Hershey Kisses onto some kind of serving platter, and you can have a gift for under or around $10. Same thing if you fill a small vase with M&Ms or Skittles. Great for teachers or friends with a sweet tooth.

4- Stores like Bath & Body Works often have deals on their smaller soaps- pair two or three together for an inexpensive gift for any woman or teenage girl. Of course, if you can stock up on these when you know they’re on sale, you can always have a last minute gift on hand.

5- It’s easy to find great deals on books, so if you know an author that the gift recipient likes, a book can be a quick and easy last minute gift. If you’re not sure what book to get, consider a bathroom reader or a cookbook- those are usually welcome by women who are bored of their recipes- and by men who can select recipes for their partners to cook.

6-  Everyone appreciates a new CD. Everyone appreciates it more if it’s exchangeable locally, in case they don’t like that artist or already have the CD selected.

7- With infinite options, you should have no problem finding a bottle of wine for the recipient to enjoy. If you’re really in a rush, choose something from your own wine rack.

8- If you need a last minute gift for a child, art supplies are the way to go. I try to stock up when there are sales (back to school sales, for example). But even if you haven’t stocked up, you can probably find something at a discount (stickers are also a great option, and they’re really inexpensive).

9-  Hair accessories are another inexpensive gift that is great for little girls. And possibly teenage girls, depending on your selection.

10- Who doesn’t love a tray of home-baked or gourmet cookies? Kids love cookies because they’re junk food, adults love them because they’re yummy (and accessible and they didn’t have to make them).

11- Most people I know (ok, everyone I know!) enjoys watching movies from the comfort of their home.  Choose a 1-3 month online DVD rental subscription (depending on your budget), and let the recipient enjoy. Who knows, he (or she) may even invite you over for a night out!

Happy Holidays,

Billy

How to Save on Holiday Entertaining

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The shopping is nearly finished, you’ve started to wrap the presents, and you’ve even begun writing some of the cards.  But now that the dust has settled, you may be wondering how you’ll be able to afford holiday entertaining and the gifts that have already been purchased.  If you’re like most people, serving macaroni and cheese won’t be sufficiently sophisticated.  So how can you save on holiday entertaining without sacrificing on taste or ambiance?  Here are 7 ways to save- try one, and you’ll save a little.  Use them all, and you’ll be amazed at how much money stays in your pocket.

1- Host a pot luck dinner. If you’re hosting 20 of your closest family members and friends, there’s no reason not to ask them to pitch in.  Chances are good that your guests would otherwise spend money on a hostess gift.  Since you probably don’t need another vase or creamer pitcher, why not just ask your guests to bring a side dish or salad instead?  Getting everyone to help out will save you on holiday entertaining and also reduce the anxiety associated with preparing dinner for 20.

2- Ditch the expensive decorations. There’s absolutely no reason why you need to shell out money for fancy candles, table sparkles or other standard décor items.Ditch the expensive decorations  Instead, enlist your children to find pinecones, beautiful leaves or other free items to decorate the table with.  If you don’t mind going for a homemade look, encourage your children to create holiday art projects or hand-drawn cutouts to sprinkle across the table. If you don’t have young children, consider decorating the table in unexpected and inexpensive ways- scatter a handful of jelly beans across the table to create a splash of color, light up some tea lights or simply drag out your fancy napkin rings to create interest at the table.

3- Buy in bulk. Few would argue that buying in bulk will save you a bundle on your entertaining expenses.  And, if you play your cards right, you may even have extra paper goods or food items to use in the future.  (Just make sure that you don’t opt for the Santa plates or Rudolph napkins).  If you shop at wholesale clubs like Costco or BJ’s, be aware the not everything is cheaper in bulk.  Pay attention to prices on things like produce and dairy, as these items may actually be cheaper in other stores.

4- Go green. Using paper goods is one of the most obvious holiday entertaining ideas- but it’s also one of the most expensive.  If you’re inviting a manageable crowd, consider using real dishes, glasses and silverware, and breaking out the cloth napkins instead of paper ones.  Using real dishes and napkins will not only help you save, but will help save the environment as well.

5- Make recipes that require items you already own. There’s no better way to save money on holiday entertaining than to shop your own pantry closet.  Got two bags of noodles?  Why not serve sesame noodles?  Got some canned pumpkin?  A pumpkin pie it is!  Take a few moments to search your cupboards before heading to the store.  It will likely save you significantly on your holiday menu.

6- Cut back on the alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can be a significant part of the holiday entertaining bill.  In order to reduce these expenses, ask guests to bring their favorite drink (especially those who are not bringing any food), or offer mixers instead of straight-up alcohol.  It may require a bit more work to make the drink, but the result will be both fun and financially responsible.

7- Remember that less is more. Most people think that one of the underlying principles of holiday entertaining requires the host to prepare everything in their cookbook.  Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.  One of my favorite holiday entertaining ideas is that less is more.  Instead of cooking everything you’ve ever made, choose a few of your favorites.  Your guests will be satisfied and you’ll have done a fantastic job on a few select dishes, instead of serving too many lukewarm dishes because you didn’t have enough room in the oven.

Happy Entertaining,

Billy

It's Not Too Late to Enjoy Online Dating Deals This Season

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Are you nervous or sad because you’re about to spend the holiday season alone?  Or maybe you’re looking for the perfect gift for a friend who hasn’t yet found that special someone?  Either way, I’ve got the solution to your problems (don’t I always?!)- why not take advantage of online dating deals NOW, so that you can find your companion before the holidays arrive?

As it happens, Chemistry.com is offering 3 months for the price of 1. For around $50, you can give yourself or your friend what is potentially the best gift on earth- the gift of love.

You may never have thought about online dating as a viable way to meet the right person.  But Chemistry is different because it offers technologically-based matching which is designed to offer more relevant matches than online dating sites that allow singles to search for their own partner.  online datingChemistry allows users to view up to 5 potential matches a day.  Just think about it- with 15 days until New Years, that’s 75 potential suitors, and only one of them needs to be of interest.

If Chemisty isn’t the ideal online dating service for you (or the friend you’re thinking of), you can consider gifting online dating memberships to other sites.  Perfectmatch.com offers a gift membership which is around $110.  Likewise, Match.com offers a 3 month gift membership option which can be purchased only by calling their customer service center.  Don’t be afraid to read online dating reviews before you make your selection so that you can make sure you’re choosing the best service for you or your loved one.

There are millions of singles looking for love online- and it’s not too late for you to become one of them.  Why spend the holiday alone when you can take advantage of some great online dating deals while taking control of your future?

Happy Dating,

Billy

Save on Digital Photo Gifts and Printing this December

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Tired of getting your father a tie clip as a gift, or purchasing yet another book for your mother?  Looking for a unique holiday gift for a friend, family member or loved one?  Since private journeys to space won’t be readily available for another few years, you may want to consider something a bit more practical and affordable.  Some of my favorite unique holiday gifts are photo gifts.  And I don’t just mean your face plastered on the side of a mug.  Today there are some really fabulous photo gifts- and some great deals on these unique holiday gifts, so that you can gift a truly one-of-a-kind present while saving some of your pennies for a rainy day.

My favorite digital photo printing company is Snapfish, a subsidiary of Hewlett Packard.  Their user-friendly website makes it extremely easy to find and produce creative digital photo gifts, or even just to print out your digital photos extremely quickly.  Snapfish is always offering a plethora of promotions, but you have to know to look for them or you may miss out on savings.

Below are some great ways to save on digital photo gifts or digital photo printing from your recent (or future) holiday adventures.  Keep in mind that it may be worthwhile to process several orders depending on how many photo gifts you want to buy, in order to make the most out of each promotion. (To actualize these savings, simply enter the coupon code in the shopping cart during checkout).

- 30% off gifts under $20.  Coupon code 30GIFT20.  Expires on December 31, 2009.

- 20% off the entire site.  Coupon code HOLIDAY09.  Expires on December 31, 2009.

- 30% off calendars. Coupon code 30CAL2009.  Expires on December 31, 2009.

- Free shipping on orders of $30 or more.  Coupon code 30SHIP09. Expires on December 31, 2009.

- $10 off orders of $35 or more. Coupon code XPCOUP1209. Expires on December 31, 2009.

Oh, and one more thing- Snapfish is offering additional daily deals through Christmas.  So check out their site or sign up for their daily deal emails for a chance to get additional savings on unique holiday gifts or prints that you may want this winter.

Happy Printing,

Billy