Oct 16, 2014

How To Save Your CASH When Buying Gifts For Kids!

Oct
16
2014
Thursday

Save Money On Kids Gifts


Gifts for kids are unarguably one of the biggest expenses each holiday season.

And especially for those of you who are like me and have the “love language” of gift-giving. If I see something that I know that someone I love wants, it is SO HARD for me to resist buying it for them. And I love my kiddos. A lot. :)

So I really have to be careful with what I spend during the holidays on them… and THANKFULLY I have my financial-whiz husband who totally keeps up with our budget each month!

So what do you do about kid gifts? How can you still give them things they will love and not have to take out a second mortgage?

Here are a few ideas that I hope are helpful for all of us:

1. Stick to a well-defined budget.

I’ve created a super simple holiday budgeting spreadsheet to help you do this! Just open up the spreadsheet, click on “File” then “Make A Copy” to be able to edit it.

First, figure out exactly how much you can spend TOTAL on gifts.

Then, write down the name of each person you need to buy for, and how much of that budget can go towards each of them. When you are done, the number in “How much room you have left in your budget” should be $0.

As you buy presents, put down what you bought in the correct spaces, and then put how much you paid for it. Everything will add up and you’ll see if you went over budget, met your budget, or were UNDER budget (which would be awesome!) :)

It’s truly amazing how quickly buying gifts here and there add up, so if we can see exactly where the money is being spent, it really helps.

2. Watch the deal sites (like Surviving The Stores) THROUGHOUT the year!

Don’t wait until a few weeks before Christmas to purchase! Keep your eyes open for awesome deals throughout the year and grab things when the prices are low. I see deals like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals all throughout the year (although not ALL AT ONE TIME like on BF & CM) and I post about the best ones here on STS!  Be sure to subscribe for email updates and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s going on in the deal world!

Just remember to write everything you buy down because it’s super easy to forget what you have already purchased and how much you have spent.

3. When buying for your own kids, let them know their budget!

It’s so much easier when they understand how much things cost and can really weigh their decisions based off of prices (definitely a valuable lesson to learn!) Obviously, this wouldn’t work for younger children, but it’s much easier to stay frugal with younger children (in my experience), than with older children.

So let’s say that your budget for each child is $100. Each child can write down as many gifts on their wish list that they want, as long as it adds up to $100. They can either choose that 1 American Girl doll that they want, or a few less expensive presents.

I would also recommend giving them a budget that is LESS than what your “real” budget is so that you are able to find some fun surprises that you know they will love.   :)

4. Pare down your gift-giving.

One of the pins I’ve been seeing going around Pinterest is this one:



I LOVE this idea!! Basically how it works is that each child gets something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read!

Such a great way to keep things focused away from just “what am *I* getting”.

5. Focus on reaching out.

One of the things that we love to do with our kids each year is pick out a gift to give to a family in need from the Gospel For Asia gift catalogue. You can give rabbits, oxen, water wells, all kinds of things! The kids have a blast figuring out what to give and they see that the holidays aren’t just about what THEY can get.

6. Utilize garage sales.

Whether it’s HAVING a garage sale with old toys to pay for new toys, or GOING to garage sales to look for toys, garage sales are BIG helps in saving money on kid gifts during the holidays! We’ve found lots of great items at garage sales that just needed a little TLC… and even some brand new in-the-box items that we were able to regift! Don’t forget about the consignment shops like Once Upon A Child and the Just Between Friends sales too!

7. Shop clearance throughout the year.

Especially the Target 75% off Toy Clearance that comes around each January and July! This is where I get about 90% of the presents for my younger kids, and usually end up spending around $50 TOTAL for $200 worth of gifts! Toys and clothes go on clearance all the time, ESPECIALLY after the holidays, so consider leaving some room in your budget this year to grab things for NEXT year! :)

8. Check the pawn shops and Craigslist.

These are great money-savers for budgeting for the older kids who likely have more expensive tastes (like drum sets, XBOXes, and cameras). And, contrary to the stigma, pawn shops are NOT just places that have stolen items (actually, that’s likely more common on Craigslist now). Pawn shops make sure that an item hasn’t been reported stolen before putting it out to sell.

9. Sign up for the Daily Deal websites

There are lots of great websites that have new deals every day, or every week.  You can find deals on *almost* anything through the sites!

The sites that I’ve listed below are the ones that I’ve personally used and would recommend.  You can click on each link to sign up for that website so that you can get their emails letting you know what’s on sale.

RACHEL’S DAILY DEALS TIP: I highly recommend getting a “deals-only” email address for signing up for these company newsletters.  For example, I could get [email protected] so that all of my “deals” emails go there and don’t get mixed up in my personal inbox.  Then I can check that separate email address when I need to.

What about you? What are your best tips for saving money on kids gifts?

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Oct 15, 2014

15 Halloween Candy Alternatives From The Dollar Store!

Oct
15
2014
Wednesday

Halloween Candy Alternatives From The Dollar Store!


If you’re planning on passing out something other than candy this year (whether it’s on Halloween night or during a fall festival) then check out all of these great candy alternatives that I found at my local Dollar Tree (btw, you can find the current Dollar Tree Coupon Match-ups here!)

Halloween Candy Alternatives Themed Spin Tops

1. Halloween Themed Spin Tops – 12.5¢ per top

We were at Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago and the prize for finding the stuffed turtle around the store (does every Trader Joe’s do the turtle thing?) was that the kids got to pick a colored spin top from the treasure chest. I thought to myself, “oh, they’re going to be so disappointed” but they played with those things all afternoon!

Halloween Candy Alternatives Generic Tops

2. Regular Spin Tops – 12.5¢ per top

If you head over to the party favors section, they have regular spin tops too!

Halloween Candy Alternatives Sticker Boxes

3. Halloween Sticker Boxes – 5.6¢ per sticker box

Halloween Candy Alternatives Straws

4. Pumpkin Straws – 20¢ per straw

I don’t know what it is about straws, but my kids get so excited when they find straws in the pantry!

Halloween Candy Alternatives Glow Bracelets

5. Glow Bracelets – 14.3¢ per bracelet (if you get the one with 7 instead of 5)

Not only do kids love anything that glows, but it has the added benefit of helping to keep them save as they walk through the neighborhood.

Halloween Candy Alternatives Erasers

6. Halloween Erasers – 8.3¢ per eraser

Halloween Candy Alternatives Pencils

7. Halloween Pencils – 8.3¢ per pencil

Chances are that most parents didn’t stock up on school supplies when the prices were super low in August (maybe you should let them know about Surviving The Stores! :) ) so extra school supplies will be appreciated!

Halloween Candy Alternatives Girl Bracelets

8. Girl Princess Bracelets – 8.3¢ per bracelet

These were by all of the Halloween costumes at the front of the store and I thought they would be perfect to add to a grab bag or treasure chest! I know my 5 year old girl would be thrilled to get one of these.

Halloween Candy Alternatives Play Dough

9. Play Dough – 12.5¢ per can

Halloween Candy Alternatives Mardi Gras Beads

10. Mardi Gras Beads – 12.5¢ each necklace

I found these over by the party favors and my kids love them! This probably wouldn’t be as fun of a treat for those in Louisiana, but for all of the other states it’s a little bit more of a novelty. :)

Halloween Candy Alternatives Grow Capsules

11. Grow Capsules – 5.6¢ per capsule

I’m not quite sure how to divide these up… maybe cut them out in groups of 3? My 8 year old boy thinks these are the greatest things ever.

Halloween Candy Alternatives Bloonies

12. Bloonies – 25¢ each

These are a little more expensive than the other options, but so much fun!!

Halloween Candy Alternatives Foam Stickers

13. Foam Stickers – 1¢ each sticker

Halloween Candy Alternatives Cups

14. Plastic Cups – 25¢ each cup

Halloween Candy Alternatives Spider Rings

15. Spider Rings – 2¢ each ring

These would also be great to add to a grab bag or treasure box. I’m always surprised at how often my kids pick little things like this over what I would consider to be a nicer toy.

Other posts you might like:

Top 20 DIY Costumes

20 Ways To Decorate With Pumpkins

How To Make The Best Pumpkin Pie EVER

For all of the latest hot deals, printable grocery coupons, store deals, restaurant & retail coupons, freebies, samples, and a lot more be sure to sign up for the Surviving The Stores Email Newsletter, Like STS on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter & Pinterest!

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Oct 13, 2014

How To Make Candied Pecans (or any nut!)

Oct
13
2014
Monday

How To Make Cinnamon Candied Nuts






I remember the first time I saw a kiosk at the mall with candied nuts. I was in college and the incredible smell immediately drew me in.

They were offering samples, and OH MY!! Yes, they did taste as good as they smelled.

“Um, how much did you say it was for one of the small cone-shaped bags? $5? For one small bag?  No, thanks. Maybe later.”

How I wish that I would’ve known that I could make the same goodness at home with just a few ingredients! On second thought, it probably was good that I didn’t know because I would’ve eaten this stuff by the BUCKETS.

Candied nuts are super easy to make, everyone is happy to get them as a gift for the holidays, AND you can even “paleoify” them for your Paleo friends! (Paleoify is a word, right? If not, it should be!)

You can also play around with the amount of sugar and cinnamon in the recipe below. Some people prefer the coating to be lighter, and some prefer it to be heavier.

Cinnamon Candied Nuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of your favorite nuts
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, OR raw honey
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ - ¾ tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
  2. Put the egg white and water in a large glass bown and beat until frothy
  3. Add the nuts and coat well with the egg white mixture
  4. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt
  5. Add the sugar mixture to the nuts and egg white mixture and stir well to coat evenly
  6. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and spray with choice of cooking spray
  7. Transfer the nut mixture into a single even layer on the cookie sheets
  8. Bake for around 60 - 80 minutes, stirring EVERY 15 minutes!
  9. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and transfer the nuts to another bowl or cookie sheet so that they don't stick to the parchment paper
  10. ENJOY!

 

Here are some great jars if you want to give this as a gift this year! Just tie a cute ribbon around the top and everyone will love it!

 

For more great ideas, follow me on Pinterest!

Visit Rachel @ SurvivingTheStores.com’s profile on Pinterest.

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Oct 8, 2014

Homemade Apple Sauce With Essential Oils!

Oct
8
2014
Wednesday

Homemade Apple Sauce With Essential Oils






I’ve been experimenting lately with all of the different ways to use essential oils, and one of my new favorite things to do is add them to food.

I have some yummy recipes using essential oils in the works to post (tonight I made gluten-free pumpkin brownies with clove and cinnamon!) so be sure to come back regularly (or just follow me on Pinterest or Facebook) to see when I post a new essential oils recipe!

This applesauce recipe below is absolutely amazing. The lemon helps to keep it from turning brown, and the drop of cinnamon adds such a nice flavor!

Homemade Apple Sauce With Essential Oils!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Snack
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel and core your apples (this handy tool here makes it super easy!)
  2. Chop the apples into about 8 large chunks per apple
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large pow and bring to a low simmer.
  4. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes
  5. Let cool, then mash with a potato masher or puree with an immersion blender

Plus, lemon and cinnamon are great for all kinds of other things too!

Cinnamon is thought to promote healthy cardiovascular and immune function, and acts as an antiseptic.

And lemon has all kinds of great uses!

Uses For Lemon Essential Oil
 


  • Use 1–2 drops of lemon essential oil to remove gum, oil, grease spots, glue or adhesive, and crayon from most surfaces.
  • Combine 2–3 drops of lemon essential oil with water in a spray bottle to help cleanse and sanitize surfaces.
  • Place a drop of lemon essential oil on oily skin or blemishes to help balance oil glands and minimize oil production.
  • Soothe corns, calluses, or bunions by rubbing lemon essential oil on the affected area morning and evening.
  • Massage lemon essential oil into cellulite to help improve circulation and eliminate waste from cells.
  • Add lemon essential oil to your morning tea or breakfast shake for a refreshing pick-me-up.
  • Inhale lemon essential oil or place a few drops on a cotton ball to replenish your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Add 10–15 drops of lemon essential oil to a gallon of carpet cleaning solution to help pull out stains, brighten carpet and rugs, and leave a fresh smell in the room.
  • Add several drops of lemon essential oil to a chicken marinade for a delicious dinner.
  • Place a few drops of your favorite citrus essential oil on a cotton ball and put in the refrigerator to help eliminate odors.

 

Follow me on Pinterest for more natural remedies and healthy living tips!

Follow Rachel @ SurvivingTheStores.com’s board Natural Remedies & Healthy Living! on Pinterest.

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Oct 7, 2014

20 Unique Ideas For Gifts in a Jar!

Oct
7
2014
Tuesday

Top 20 Gifts In A Jar Ideas!!

It’s usually around this time of year that many of us watch our list of people to buy gifts for grow and grow…and we wish that we had a creative, meaningful, handmade gift idea that people would love without making a huge dent in our wallets!  I am always impressed by gifts in a jar- they are unique, personal, pretty and useful at the same time :)

Here are 20 of my favorite gifts in a jar ideas with my top 5 unique ideas at the top!

Just click on any of the images below to repin them to your Pinterest account! And don’t forget to…

Follow Me on Pinterest

1.  Pamper Yourself Gift Jars- These adorable jars filled with bath and body items are perfect for so many people…and they are filled with items that we often can buy for FREE or deeply discounted with coupons!  What woman wouldn’t love this gift, and how much fun would they be just to put together?!?

 

2.  Apron in a Jar- Do you have a recipe that you are known for or want to flaunt?  Turn it into a shabby chic gift super easy by printing it out on a cute note card and placing it in a jar with a sassy apron!  The recipient will love it and it couldn’t possibly be easier!

 

3.  Play Dough Snowman Jars- Do you have any children on your lists whose parents swear up and down they do not have room in the house for one more toy?  This idea is perfect and can be used to keep kids busy on a snowy day at home!  The recipe for the playdough is simple, and decorating the jars can be a fun craft that your own kids can help out with!


 

4.  Sewing Kit in a JarIf you have a crafty person on your list, this is a great gift idea!  It’s just so pretty to look at…I would have to use it as a decoration because I would feel bad taking  anything out of it! :)


 

5.  Homemade Pancakes in a JarEdible gifts in a jar are really popular, and your options are endless!  You can put anything from dry ingredients for cookies, cocoa, soups, breads, or in this example pancakes, along with instructions in a cute jar with embellishments and you are set!  It’s such a great way to give a handmade gift that people will actually use…and it won’t set you back more than a few dollars and a little bit of your time ;)


 

6. Cinnamon Honey Butter In A Jar


 

7. Cowgirl Cookies In A Jar


 

8. Curried Lentil Soup In A Jar


 

9.  Dulce De Leche In A Jar


 

10. 365 Hugs In A Jar


 

11. Butterscotch Pecan Cookie Mix In A Jar


 

12. White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge In A Jar


 

13. Double Chocolate Brownies In A Jar


 

14. Hot Fudge In A Jar


 

15. Sugar Scrub In A Jar


 

16. Homemade Salsa In A Jar


 

17. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quick Bread In A Jar (and I love that they used a milk jug!)


 

18. Spiced Pecans In A Jar


 

19. Homemade BBQ Sauce In A Jar


 

20. Caramel Bourbon Vanilla Sauce In A Jar

Find gifts in a jar labels here!

Follow Me on Pinterest

For all of the latest hot deals, printable grocery coupons, store deals, restaurant & retail coupons, freebies, samples, and a lot more be sure to sign up for the Surviving The Stores Email Newsletter, Like STS on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter! Be sure to also follow our recipes and other DIY finds on the STS Pinterest Page!

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Oct 3, 2014

20 Ways to Use a Toothbrush

Oct
3
2014
Friday

It's for so much more than just brushing your teeth!



Looking for ways to use old toothbrushes?  Did you buy enough toothbrushes for a small country when they were on sale and now need to employ them in your home?  Here are 20 ways you can get some use of out those toothbrushes.  Just make sure if you plan to use an old toothbrush to clean it thoroughly before using it.

20 Ways to Use a Toothbrush

1.  Scrub Vegetables Clean

A toothbrush is just the right size for scrubbing off dirt from potatoes, carrots and other vegetables.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

2.  Remove Scuff Marks

If your favorite shoes have scuff marks on them, simply use a toothbrush (with toothpaste)  to scrub the scuff marks away.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

3.  Clean the Silk off Corn

Silk on corn was meant to be removed not eaten.  So before boiling or grilling corn, go over it with a toothbrush to remove any lingering silk.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

4.  Clean Crayon from the Walls

If your mini Picasso used your walls as a canvas then remove the misplaced masterpiece with a toothbrush and some elbow grease.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

5. Tame Unruly Eyebrows

A toothbrush is the perfect size to brush your eyebrows!

20 ways to use a toothbrush

6.  Clean Your Fingernails

You carry tons of germs around with you everyday under your fingernails.  Kick them to the curb by scrubbing your nails with a toothbrush.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

7.  Scrub the Soles of Shoes

If you happen to step in something unfortunate, you can use a toothbrush to effectively scrub away the transgression.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

8.  Remove Scuff Marks from Floors

Grab your toothbrush and toothpaste and get scrubbing…the floors that is!  Easily remove scuff marks from floors with only a toothbrush and toothpaste.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

9.  Clean Grout

Mildew takes up residence in grout.  Evict it with a toothbrush and a little scrubbing.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

10.  Apply Hair Color

Using a toothbrush to apply hair color will help you apply more evenly and with less mess.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

11.  Clean Small Appliances

Use a toothbrush to clean little spaces on your small appliances like coffee makers, toasters, etc.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

12.  Clean a Hairbrush

Use a toothbrush to brush your hair brush clean!

20 ways to use a toothbrush

13.  Cleaning Sinks and Countertops

A toothbrush is just the right size to clean up yucky messes and toothpaste drippings in your sink and small countertop messes.

20 Ways to use a toothbrush

14.  Clean Nooks and Crannies

Small awkward spaces are easy to reach and clean with a toothbrush!

20 ways to use a toothbrush

15.  Clean Car Interior 

Use a toothbrush to clean all the hard to reach spaces and knobs in your car.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

16.  Clean a Keyboard

Use your toothbrush to clean up and sanitize your keyboard.

20 ways to use a toothbrush

17.  Spot Clean Carpets

Clean up little spots of juice on your carpet with a handy toothbrush.

 

20 ways to use a toothbrush

18.  Clean blinds

Use your toothbrush to clean off your blinds easily!

 

20 ways to use a toothbrush

 19.  Clean Jewelry

Get your jewelry sparkling again by using a toothbrush to scrub it until it shines!

 

20 ways to use a toothbrush

20.  Spot Treat or Remove Stains from Clothing

Use a toothbrush to remove stains or spot treat stains before washing clothes.

Visit Rachel @ SurvivingTheStores.com’s profile on Pinterest.

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."