Monday, May 9, 2011

Gymboree.....Great Deals, Smart Steals!


I know it's been a long wait, so I hope this post is worth it! These strategies I have learned and used myself since before my daughter was born (about 8 years). I hope my knowledge helps you in clothing your children in quality clothing at a cheap price!

Gymboree is considered a mid-priced brand, but in Eugene, it ranks as one of our higher end offerings. Gymboree is owned by a company that also owns Janie & Jack (high end) and Crazy 8's (lower end). Gymboree falls in the middle. Each of these stores has similar offerings that will mirror Gymboree's deals. This post will focus on Gymboree's deals.

Gymboree Vocab:
1) Gymbucks, these are offered several times a year. You earn Gymbucks with a $50 purchase (and in increments of $50 past the initial $50). You earn $25 in Gymbucks for a later transaction. To redeem these in the future, for every $25 you have in GB's, you spend $50 and get to redeem $25. So a future $50 purchase would cost you $25. You can redeem and earn as many Gymbucks as you want during any redemption period! I often walk away from the store spending $50, but getting $250 in retail clothing and earning my Gymbucks. Try to stay in increments of $50, if you are at $45, spend $50...if you are at $80, consider gifts or other things to get you another Gymbuck!
2) Gymboree Rewards, this is a FREE program offered by Gymboree. Similar to a loyalty shopping program, it tracks your purchases earning you gift certificates each time your purchases reach $250. They will email these to you so watch for them, they only come quarterly so they can surprise you! The best part of this program is that you get first access to sales and promotions and you will get more coupons! You also get to redeem Gymbucks early, which is good because selection is at it's best early!! Check with your local store, but typically you can shop/hold days in advance netting you the best selection on those clearance rack finds!!
3)Gymboree coupons, these are typically mailed every few months, but I haven't figured out if purchases trigger more coupons (typically they do), so if you need to pick up a pair of socks or undies, it wouldn't hurt to sift through their bargain bins for those items and make sure they use your rewards card at check out. Coupons that get mailed usually include a 30% off regular price purchase, 20% off purchase (full/sale priced items) and a $ off coupon, the last one was $15 off $60. These one can vary. You can use these in conjunction with Gymbucks redemption periods. Gymboree has also started placing coupons in national magazines (Parents, Parenting, etc.)
4) Red Balloon Sale, a great time to stock up! This sale usually brings out merchandise from a variety of seasons/styles (think huge rummage sale) and the prices start at 99 cents, so a great time to stock up! Any sale at Gymboree is good one...pick through racks to see what they have and you might land on some great deals! Many times items aren't always marked down immediately at sale time, so check to make sure the price you are seeing is really the price, you might be pleasantly surprised!
5) Gymboree Outlet, never shopped one? You are truly missing out! These are located at many outlet malls including Woodburn and Lincoln City. What you will find? Major sale racks as well as newer arrivals. They often offer Gymbucks offers, but call before shopping because you don't want to shop outlets without earning them! It's so easy to stock up at outlets you want to earn your Gymbucks there!! The only catch is that Gymbucks can only be REDEEMED in regular retail stores. However, if you use my strategies it's still a good deal! You will typically find prints from lines that debuted in the regular retail stores landing a year later in the outlets. So....if you had a line that you just loved, wait a year and find it at the outlets!
6) Gymboree Sizing/Lines, Gymboree (in my experience) is great for stocking up because they typically run a bit big. It's easy to buy sizing ahead because you know you will find a season in our temperate climate to use it! Gymboree lacks in basic cotton knits as many items are embellished, so if you find basics that are in colors your child likes, stock up! For example, my daughter loves their pull on knit pants, whenever I see these on loss leader racks I stock up!

A couple of strategies for Gymboree....10 to be exact:

1) Sales + Coupons + Earned Gymbucks = Great Deals!
Gymboree runs some incredible sales (be early!) either in store or online, remember that being on the West Coast is a bargain shoppers dream! When sales go live on the East Coast (usually around Midnight), we get it at 9 p.m. (while the East Coasters are sleeping you get first dibs!). Look for sales when you have coupons. Gymboree typically mails out coupons so it is essential you use these in addition to existing sales. When you combine existing sales with great coupons and earn Gymbucks then you have a winning combination for a good deal!
2) Gymbucks redemption is always scheduled with the latest line debuting for that season (holiday outfits, season changes, etc). If you really want to splurge use your Gymbucks on the newest lines, but if you want to save money, head to the sale rounders! This is a great time to stock up items you need in the future (think 1 year ahead). If redemption happens in the Summer, the Winter (deep discount) and Spring lines will be on decent markdowns, typically 40-60% off retail before your Gymbucks, I always stock up on pieces for the following year. Gymbucks can be redeemed online or in store!
3) I will tell you this only because I have seen it done (depending on your desire to be ultra-ethical, this is a bit of a gray area). You can buy and/or sell Gymbucks. They typically sell for about 1/2 of the face value. If you have a $25 Gymbuck, they usually sell or you can buy for $12.50. Makes a bit more sense to use it, but if you just don't want to, consider this route!
4) All stores offer extra perks to their card holders. I don't have the Gymboree Visa, but I will say that it is wise to find a credit card that gets you perks for items you normally would get (always pay those cards off!!). If you are looking to get some nice perks and have a limited clothing budget, this might be something to check into.
5) Don't buy anything at Gymboree that isn't on sale. They have enough items that get marked down that it never pays to pay full price at Gymboree...items hit the sale rack so quickly that it's worth the wait. It never hurts to ask if they have back stock (in the back of the store) for an item you are looking for. I have notices substantial pricing differences between items in store and on-line, so it doesn't hurt to do a bit of price comparing. I will say, that typically the store has the lower priced items and more selection of lower priced sale items. You will typically find the best items at the cheapest prices at the brick and mortar location. If you buy a full price item, find out what the period of time is you have for a price adjustment if it goes on sale, this store has such fast turn around on new lines, you might be able to get an adjustment!
6) Meet and schmooze (kindly) associates. This is a good rule anytime you shop! If the associates start recognizing you, they will typically offer you services that the general public may not get. They may offer sizing or pieces that can't be on the floor that are deeply discounted, if you offer to send in a written compliment they might offer you a's worth a request or a check! As a past retail associate, I have played both sides of that deal and it works well for both parties!
7)Gymboree items are great on the resale market, so if your items are in good quality after use, then sale away!
8) You can buy coupons on eBay for Gymboree and might be worth it if you hope to make a larger purchase!
9)Gymboree often times runs weekly specials in the Spring, Summer, Winter that are for specific items (tanks, pj's, outerwear, etc). This is when they typically discount a category of clothing in hopes that you purchase complimentary pieces. This is called "loss leading". They take a loss on an item, hoping it will result in additional sales, don't let it! Buy what is on sale (if you need it) and supplement with other clothing lines or coordinating pieces when Gymboree puts them on sale, typically within a month of the deal.
10)Gymboree offers the best sale of the year the day of Thanksgiving (online) and in store the day after. For the record, I HATE POST HOLIDAY I love online options! If you have read well, you will remember that online sales open at 9 p.m. PST, so you can shop the Turkey Sale on Wed. night at 9 p.m. Last year the sale was disappointing, but for the previous 6 years, the sale has been phenomenal! Save a coupon for this sale as many items are deeply discounted (typically fleece separates) and you typically can earn Gymbucks during this sale too, so you get items cheap, you get them cheaper with coupon and you earn Gymbucks, it's the best combo ever and a GREAT time to stock up!

In addition to this post, I have 2 fabulous coupons for the first 2 readers that comment on my Facebook page about what they learned by reading this post!

Happy Saving!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gigi Hill Exclusive FREEBIE & Tips on this Great Lifestyle Line!


I’ve got a closet full of bags, totes, purses, etc. and I have nothing to carry that really works well with what I have. The main problem? Nothing inside those cavernous containers organizes my goods well unless I have to buy a separate liner/insert to wrangle all my goodies. I knew I had turned into my mother when I had about a pound of change in the purse I just cleaned out. I remember (fondly!) once a week cleaning out her purse and then getting to keep anything that wouldn’t fit in the change section, I was rich! I swore I would never let my purse look that way and know I am a mom and I’ve discovered….Gigi Hill, so my purse doesn’t have to look that way!

Gigi Hill is an amazing new company that features stylish, versatile and organized handbags and handbag accessories. I’m telling you, these ladies did their homework when designing this amazing product line. You get what you pay for and you won’t be disappointed! Fun finds with a hint of vintage thrown in the mix make for a very chic line that coordinates well with your busy lifestyle!

These bags are sold exclusively through consultants or through home purse parties! This is a new line that is just being introduced nationally and you can be a trendsetter as they are just being released to the public My good friend, Tonya Reichenberger (many of you have joined her on Facebook) has become a Gigi Stylist! I hope you will join her on Facebook, schedule a party or check out what they have to offer… won’t be disappointed!

I love to share great deals, good finds and quality items that simplify your life. This post isn’t a screamin’ hot deal alert, but it is the kind of item that I like to invest in for the long run because over time I won’t need to replace the product (saving me money!). Sometimes you just can’t argue price vs. quality when a product can truly simplify your life and this product will do just that!

Now, I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I didn’t share how you can get your hands on this product at a bit of a discount right? I am the person who won’t pay full price for anything….so here goes!

My Top 5 Tips For Buying Discounted Products From At Home Party Consultants:

1)Host a Party! The best thing about doing this is you get FREE and REDUCED prices on all kinds of great items! It’s a chance for you to hang out with friends and score some great deals on a wonderful product. Don’t need a particular product? You give gifts don’t you, it’s worth it to host a party to have gifts for your friends/family for inexpensive or free! Stretch those gift dollars! Gigi Hill has a great incentive party plan, host 3 parties in a year and get a $150 gift card! This is a great incentive and would go towards some nice gifts for you or a friend.
2)Go to a party! Hostesses get the best party perks, but guests are typically offered a decent discount on a particular product for the nightly special too. For April, customers can get a rolling Audrey bag (in cow print) for just $135, down from $225! If you are looking to build a bag/suitcase wardrobe this is a great deal.
3)Catalog Party, it’s not a lot of work for you, but the benefits are good! Take a few catalogs to work with you or show some friends (set up small display in your workspace), you get the benefits of host credit, but you didn’t have to host an actual party.
4)Tell your consultant what product you are interested in adding to your collection and ask them to advise you of upcoming specials/deals on that product. Gigi Hill does exclusive fabric colors that do change. They consistently keep fabrics that coordinate so they may offer a special on a fabric/color that is running low or that is not selling as fast. Take advantage of these company sponsored discounts!
5)Barter/Trade….I love to trade goods/services with friends in exchange for products I need! If you have a friend who sells or represents products with an at home business or who owns a small business, they may be interested in bartering with you for products or services you need. I love to barter my marketing/design skills, organizing strategies or money saving tips…I get things that I need using the skills I possess to land a great deal and my friend does too!

Exclusive Deal for Facebook Friends/Blog Followers:
Schedule a Gigi Hill party in May with Tonya and get a FREE small Scarlett bag just for having a party! This is a FREE $20 gift for you in addition to all your other hostess benefits and credit towards your 3 parties/$150 gift card promo! You can't go wrong sharing with friends, connect with Tonya on facebook!

Also, don't forget you can scoop up the Rolling Audrey in cow print for just $135 (regularly $225) through April and the Rita Wallet (a great starter staple piece) is on sale for $35 down from $49! These are limited time deals, so contact Tonya if you want to purchase any of these good deals!

You can scroll to the bottom of my blog under links for the Gigi Hill direct link! Happy Browsing & Buying!

Happy Saving & Partying!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Clothing....Ways to Save!

Hello Savers!

I need clothes. I love clothes!! I buy clothes (only on sale!). Why? Because I can. And you can too!

These tips have been learned through my own savings education, working retail, understanding retail clothing cycles, basic customer service strategies and planning ahead. I hope you will use and think about these tips the next time you are looking to save money!

I admit, my past is filled with the joys of clearance clothing racks. My mom and I often joked (many years out of high school when I could see the humor in it) that I never had a prom/homecoming dress that didn't come off a major mark down clearance rack. I guess you could say I started the cheap clothing spotting early in life. I didn't care that my dress might be the "only one worn at my school", was it really worth the $200 price tag when I got my sporty little (well puffy sleeves weren't little...ha, ha) for just $20! Oh yes, I could spot a bargain a mile away! Those of you who grew up here will remember Emporium....I bought 80% of my school clothes on their annual before school sidewalk sale, I knew I could get more for my $ and did! My best deal EVER was a pair of Guess jeans for just $12 back in early 1980. I will never forgot my moment of coolness when I showed up at school in what was probably $60+ jeans that I had purchased in Seattle (they were ahead of the fashion trends in Springfield, OR) I was able to be ahead of the trends at a steal (and those of you who knew my dad, paying for fashion wasn't at the top of his list!), I never had the coolest clothes, but I will never forget my Guess jeans (or the great dad I had!!)

Anyway, funny past stories, aside...I learned about how to buy clothes for cheap at a young age and have perfected it into a bit of a science which I hope to share with you today!

I spent 3-4 afternoons a month shopping 2nd hand too. I loved that! I will say, my experience with second hand shopping (with Craigslist and eBay on the move) is that these stores don't have the quality they once had, so this post is about 1st purchase merchandise.

My Top 5 Retail Tips:

1) Buy in the off-season and plan ahead. Need a coat in the fall? Guess what, so does everyone else! Supply and demand warrants top dollar right when you need something, but wait a month or two and they clearance out quickly! Retail moves in 2-4 cycles (dependent on area/season). In Eugene, our stores aren't huge, but companies change stock quickly so we see sales happen fairly quickly on items as new merchandise comes into stores. If you see something you like, chances are that it will be on sale in a few weeks, so wait! I always buy my daughter's clothes almost a year ahead of time. I know what she likes and we keep a fairly simple wardrobe (lots of dresses/skirts) so that it is easy to stock ahead. I keep 2 boxes for extra clothes in my closet so that I can add to it as I find items that she will use! If space is limited, gather what you can and always stock up on staples (socks/underwear) when you find them on good sales, they will always need them! The nice thing about Oregon is that our weather is such that items can be layered and worn most of the year, so even if you don't quite guess size correctly, chances are it will get worn at some point. Examples: I buy Christmas dresses at Macy's for the following year (in 1 size up), coats/lightweight jackets (whenever I see them on sale in a size up), basic pants/tops in a size up for the following year as I see them go on sale. My child doesn't always have the most current styles (sometimes!), but you can't if you are really looking for the best deals. When school rolls around or a new season, we might buy something "current" with a good coupon so she can have something currently released mixed in with good staples purchased on sale. If your child likes a certain clothing line...stock up on their basics. My daughter loves Gymboree's basic pull on cotton knit pants, I buy every color when I see them at $4.99 or less because they are a great basic and will get used!

2) COUPONS! For clothes? Yes, you better believe it! Almost every retailer offers coupons at one time or another...some more than others! The best ways to get coupons is to sign up on Facebook as a fan, sign up for email newsletters from your favorite stores, open a store credit card (they give customers their best deals), sign up for mall e-newsletters (which feature multiple store deals), sign up for the catalog and sign up for any "rewards" plans offered by stores. These rewards programs (are usually free) and open you up to more coupon opportunities. For Gymboree, you get to shop 1 day early on sales and you get additional coupons. Many national retailers are also starting to put their coupons in magazines...woo-hoo! Parents, Parent & Child, Real Simple have all featured Gymboree coupons recently!

3) Know your stores & associates! I typically shop about 5-6 stores. I know their stock and sales cycles and I know what days mark downs happen. How do I know? I ask! It's free (but the extra savings offers are priceless!) information that most associates will openly share with you! Shopping a handful of stores is helpful because you know what you like, the more you shop the more coupons you typically will receive (helps to pay with a card and PAY OFF), paying with a card gives them more info to track your purchasing and coupons follow! It's also important to know final sale (.97 ending and no returns-Gap)so you can plan your purchases well, but also to know return policies because most stores offer a refund if an item goes on sale within 7-21 days. If the price drops and you have your receipt they will credit you the difference. Especially important when making a large item purchase! See a full price item you like? Ask the associate when mark downs happen! Looking for a basic piece that isn't on the floor (remember Eugene is limited to sizes at stores), ask if they keep back stock of items. Recently, I asked at a store about items in sizes I needed and was told because of my repeat business, though the merchandise wasn't going to be made available to the general public, I could have a look at the items. It helps to become a "regular" at the stores you like to shop at for access to items not seen by the public. It never hurts to offer an exchange of a comment card, call to manager, etc. if they will provide an extra level of customer service. As a past retail associate, I would give my best and most friendly customers access to perks, coupons, etc. in exchange for a kind compliment to my's worth the request and Macy's/Gymboree/Gap are superb with customer service requests!

4) Clearance Racks/Special Sales
Stores have 2 sections in each department. The front of each section is the new, full price merchandise. The back sections are the sale/clearance racks. I don't even look at the full price, if no sale sign exists it's off-limits for most of my shopping trips. I head right to the clearance rack with my coupons as I can get more bang for my buck! I am a Macy's card holder and 1/month I get 4 coupons, 2 being $20 off a $50 purchase. Do the math..these are golden! I took my husband shopping the other night as he needed to stock up with my 2 high value coupons. He hadn't shopped with me for awhile (we went to Macy's) and he was shocked at how well we did! I broke my goods into 2 lots of $50 so I could use both coupons. The associate was happy to ring separately. I saved $40 alone on the coupons and as each item we purchased was on sale, saved close to $120 off regular price! Macy's has a 1 day sale each month...BEST time to shop this store is the day of that sale when most clearance racks are an additional 50% off! This is amazing and deals can be had in all departments!

5) Pace Yourself, Shop Small...Shop Often!
It's easy to want to get sucked into a great deal and want to stock up and do if you have the cash to do it or put it on a card and pay off at the register (or when you get home!). No deal is a good deal if you are paying interest on the purchase! Visiting your stores you love often helps you grab bargains when they first happen, it also gives you "regular customer" status at your favorite stores which might earn you favor with your favorite associates! Tucking a few things away here and there over the year make for money savings throughout the years! This also allows you to pace your budget with what you need. Buying all your clothes at the beginning of school isn't the way to go...tucking items away as you see them is fun to unpack them when the time comes and you know you got a good deal because you bought them on sale!

A couple of notes on stores/quality:

Buy the quality you can afford. I have lots of friends who will never shop Gymboree because it is too expensive...however, what are you paying for? Quality to some extent, stain resistance, etc. It's worth it to pay for quality in the long run because you will end up having the piece for longer! I don't buy anything at Gymboree ever full price, but I have gotten some killer deals there because I planned ahead (earned Gymbucks), used their coupons (which are awesome!) and really sought out good deals and paid what others would pay at a lower end store, but the items will last longer!

Great stores for quality/customer service: Gap, Gymboree, Lands End, LL Bean, Mini Boden, Hanna Andersson. (Hanna has an outlet in Lake Oswego that I visit several times a year...great deals and amazing quality! Gymboree has an outlet at Woodburn that I also can earn Gymbucks there, but only redeem at regular retail stores, but it's a sweet deal!).

Stores that offer great coupons, quite often!
-Macys (newspaper coupons on 1 day sale, credit customers, mailers, facebook)
-Old Navy (online, facebook, credit customers, in store offers)
-Mini Boden (buy 3 get 1 free promos, must sign up for catalog to get this offer!)
-Lands End (facebook, catalog sign up...lots of good offers, free shipping!)
-AAA customers, pick up a coupon book at the customer service counter at Woodburn for some sweet deals!
-Gymboree (best to buy during Gymbucks promo or large coupon 30% off times)

This is a drop in the bucket of what I have learned, but I hope to share more tips with you in the future and that you try out some of these tips!

Enjoy & Happy Saving!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coupons-Where to Get 'Em & How to Store 'Em!

Hello Savers-

You have heard me say it over and over again...whatever time you have for couponing will earn you a kick back. If you only have 10 minutes a week apply it, if you have 2 hours apply it. Whatever time you can devote to coupons/saving money will pay you back great dividends!

However...nothing is worse than using precious time to store/organize your money saving tools if you don't have a way to organize and USE those tools! Everyone has ideas and suggestions for what works to store their coupons. They are your coupons so store them whatever way works for you. Make your own or buy a product designed for this. Personally, I love the Couponizer because it works for me. I need a way to quickly organize my coupons and I needed a product that would be portable enough that I could carry it around. This product offers me both of those benefits at a decent price. It also comes with a 100% guarantee! You can't go wrong. You can pick one up at: it costs around $19.95 (some options). Use Code: Combo1 or visit to check for current codes, a 15% off code just expired last week. They are also on Facebook and you might be able to pick up a coupon code there!

Grocery Coupons abound everywhere! A few places to pick up coupons are: entertainment books, coupon inserts in the Sunday papers (some people purchase the Oregonian for Sunday delivery only...extra coupons!), off product packaging you have purchased, in pull dispensers at the grocery store, in Wednesday Register Guard grocery store flyers, and a variety of websites! Coupons get dispensed on websites typically at the beginning or end of each month. Once they are printed they are gone so it doesn't hurt to print when you see some and then save until you need them! Many companies require you set up software on your computer to print the coupons (it's typically safe), however these can include viruses, make sure you have virus protection software running. I recommend setting up an account for your deals/coupons with a specific email address. This protects you from spam to your regular mailbox! I find many of my "printable coupons" online from several blogs that I love to follow. Those include: Frugal Living NW and Thrifty NW Mom as well as Deal Seeking Mom. Those are the top 3 that I use. I follow them on line and on Facebook. I probably get 85% off my printable coupons from these 3 blogs and I am feel you will have success if you follow them too! A small caution on the printable coupons...they are not accepted everywhere and it is ANNOYING!! Companies try to stay ahead of the fraud game and as stores move to more printable coupons some larger retailers need to figure out a process...for now don't bother at WINCO..they won't accept them and you may want to check with the store before making large purchases with printable coupons they will accept them...nothing is more frustrating than being refused at the check out!

Another thing retailers are doing is allowing you to load "ecoupons" to your grocery rewards cards. Cellfire is one I have heard of and Safeway seems to have all types of ecoupon promotions. Check out their website for more information about this!

Did you know that grocery stores typically really discount items 1 time in a 12 week period? For example..if you see pasta on sale, scoop it up because it won't be discounted for another 3 months. This is one way to stock and save!

Amazing News on the coupon front!!! Frugal Living NW is coming to Eugene this Saturday for a coupon class! I would put my $ on it that this will be an amazing class full of amazing $ saving tips. I purchased my admission, but now I can't lucky blog reader can go in my space! Just let me know via an email to and I will tell you what you need to know. Want to sign up? Visit: to get all the information.

Happy Saving!

Summer H.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saving-Each Day!

Hello Savers!

Just a reminder that I post savings tips (usually daily!) on my Facebook page, so join me there if you want timely tips for saving that are usually time sensitive!

I do promise to start posting here a bit more with savings tips that can be applied every day and on many of the things you do or purchase, but the focus on the blog is more of tips that aren't as time sensitive. Either way, I am happy to share my tips that I learn!

Some of you know, but as issues happen in your life you may or may not have more time to coupon and/or save money. Any time that you put into this will pay off. If you have 10 minutes or 10 hours a week, you can reap the benefits of money saving opportunities as you begin apply the strategies I talk about in this blog.

A few months ago, I featured a holiday savings team and many of them learned new tips and tricks for saving money....whatever time you have to devote is time that will pay you dividends in the end!

My next blog post will deal with creating a gift stash...I can't wait to offer you some ideas to build a gift closet. Gifts can break the budget or can be amazing, if you plan ahead! I will be looking to answer your gift giving questions let me know if you have any gift giving or gift storage questions as I am always looking for questions you have to make the blog posts personal to my readers!

Happy Saving!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Tip #8- 5 Cheap Gifts that don't scream it!

I had a great meeting with my savvy savings team this weekend. We all discussed how the stores have really been looking for business early this year. The day after Thanksgiving is almost passe this year with all the bargains they have handed us early! We have been shocked at all the freebies or cheapies that have been available to consumers this year! It's nuts and we have all been able to get a haul for nothing.

So, maybe you haven't done your shopping yet and budgets are limited? You don't have time on your side as much now as you only have 30-ish days until Christmas...this post is for you! This week I focus on 10 gifts that are cheap, but don't look it! Plus, they are easy to acquire and don't take a lot of time for those of you who haven't jumped on the coupon bandwagon yet.

Gift #1- Magazine Subscriptions...super easy to get and give! You can select a very targeted magazine or a general one that anyone would love. The best thing is that you can most likely get one for under $10 and your recipient will get to think of you 12 times over the next year every time they get it! Cool, huh?

Gift #2- Gift of time. I talked about this earlier in the year, but this is truly a rarity this day in age. It won't cost you a dime and your recipient will LOVE IT! You can make up a cute certificate for babysitting, closet organization, car washing, yard work, etc. Pick something you are good at and give it!

Gift #3- Meals To Go. Shop the sales for cool dishes or cooking pans and make up a meal in a dish and gift it. They get the pan and the's easy, but doesn't cost a lot! My hot pick for this is the Le Creuset combo pack at Hartwicks that runs around $30. It includes a 9x13 baking dish as well as a square baker. They often run coupons for $5 off this price point so for around $25 you can get 2 high end baking dishes. Make 1 dessert and 1 casserole and woo-hoo, you have 2 gifts done and who wouldn't want a free treat with bonus!

Gift #4- Consumable Gifts with a theme. This is a great way to put together a very fun and easy gift pack on short notice. You could pick a movie theme (gift card for Netflix or Blockbuster, popcorn, candy, etc. They have cute popcorn tubs in the red dot section of Target) or Oregon treats (grab some Oregon made treats-cheese, smoked salmon, Euphoria truffles, etc)..a fun treat for someone who has everything!. Everyone loves gift baskets, so shop sales and apply coupons when possible and you can get a lot of cool stuff for hardly anything. If you have specific themes you would like ideas about, please let me know! I would be happy to give my feedback.

Gift #5-Handmade gifts. It's easy, yes it takes time, but sometimes these are the perfect gifts for those who have everything! Usable gifts are awesome and kids can be corralled to help with these types of gifts on a rainy day! Bookmarks and ornaments are easy to create. I love to find cool frames for cheap (coupons or discounts, etc) and then blow up a picture I have shot during the year to fill the's a special gift that is cheap!!! What do you enjoy making or doing? Handmade gifts don't have to require crafty skills, the photo idea is super easy and you don't have to be crafty. I think people often think homemade=crafts, but not necessarily, think outside the box and save $!

And 5 tips to save even more without really trying:
1) Buy things on Wed this week that may be Black Friday discounts later...take in you receipt and get the refunded difference. Most stores have at least a 7 day price drop guarantee!

2) Take advantage of the Pacific Time Zone and start shopping at 9:01 p.m. on Wed for stores that start their holiday sales on Thursday!

3) Visit for online promo codes that work and for free ship codes to help you save more!

4) Use the coupons that I refer you to on FB...for example, the $10 off a $10 purchase for Hallmark allows you to get at least a few things for FREE!

5) Visit and shop the local social networking deals from sites such as Mobba, Eversave, Groupon, Living Social, Gilt Group, Rue La La, etc. Many of these sites give you sign up credits and referral credits and it is a great way to get some nice freebies and cheapies this holiday season!

Happy Saving!

Summer H.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Tip- #7....How To Save $ without Trying!

Hello All-

These week the tips are short and sweet....kinda like your time. I realize I devote more time than average to saving $, but I don't want to spend my hard earned money if I don't have to and I hope these tips (which require very little time) will allow you to see that saving $ is super easy!

Tip #1-internet shopping is easy for the holidays! It requires very little of you as you don't have to leave your house! Great deals are to be had on line and if you are a West Coast reader the best tip I can offer is our time zone! You see most stores start their sales on Thanksgiving Day at 12:01 EST, which for us equates to 9:01 PST...start your shopping on Wed. night before Thanksgiving and beat the rush. You will get 1st pick at merchandise and you won't have to stand in line!

Tip #2-many online stores will offer free or discounted shipping at certain price points. If the store has a brick & mortar or affiliate in the area...get what you need to get the free ship and then return what you didn't need. Examples: Gap offers free shipping with $50 purchase. You need $25 worth of stuff, buy $50 and return the other $25 to Gap next time you are at the mall. Savings: approx. $8. You buy from Lands End (you can return to Sears), so that would save you money too! Don't see a discount for reduced or free shipping! Try or go to and type in store info for potential deals...still no luck? Click on the "live help" button found on most retail sites. Tell the retailer you want to go with them, but can get the product from a competitor that is offering free shipping, can they help you out? It never hurts to ask. Savings: $5-25 easy!

Tip #3-search for promo codes or click through a rebate site for additional savings! This season the stores are being extremely competitive. Visit or click in the store and promo code in a search engine and check your might get lucky and save between $5-100 or more depending on what you are buying! If you want to go the rebate route, check out or similar site that if you click through their site before purchasing a portion usually 1-3% of your purchase gets applied back to you in a refund check. You can combine these sites with existing promo codes you have. I like to say it's my 3 part online shopping model:
1) Search for promo code
2) Click through rebate site
3) Make purchase/apply promos!

If you do these 3 steps with every online purchase you will save $ and it is so easy!

Tip #4-Have you jumped on the group buying fad this year? Why ever not?? Groupon, eversave, Mobba....just to name a few have outstanding deals at usually 50% or more and they change every day or every few days guaranteeing you maximum bang for your bucks this holiday season! Many of the sites such as Groupon also offer internet deals that anyone can take advantage of regardless of what city you live in. Recent ones have included Gap, Coldwater Creek, Lands End Canvas, Regal Cinemas and I am sure more to come. When you can get deals like that, you don't have to shop the mall! Refer your friends once you have purchased and earn referral credit too getting even more free!!! It's so my Facebook page for updates if you just want to make it easier on yourself too!

Tip #5-Take advantage of all the great freebies out there. I am seeing them everywhere, but mostly restaurants jump on with deals this year. Many restaurants will offer you a $5-10 bonus card (to be used in Jan/Feb when sales slow) if you buy a gift card now. Here are some savings examples: my family went to Red Robin last week for dinner. They have a Buy $25 gift card, get $5 Bonus Bucks running right now. I bought the gift card on the way in (go to the's faster and service is better than the front staff...can you say grouchy??...oh yes!). Anyway, buy the gift card on the way in, get the bonus card and apply the gift card to your dinner. You are buying it anyway, you might as well get a nice freebie on the side! You can't use the bonus bucks until January, but I will give it to my daughter in her stocking...we ate out and I got a free gift out of the deal! Or buy the gift cards for people and get the rewards for yourself or a gift for someone's called killing 2 gifts with one bow (or something like that?....ha, ha).

I hope these tips will help even the non-savers in my readership. These tips have saved me tons of $ and don't require much effort. Happy holiday shopping! I'll be snoozing on Nov. 26 thanks to these deals, hope you will be too!