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!