Aug 14, 2013

Getting The Best Hotel Room Deals With Priceline!

Aug
14
2013
Wednesday

Best Hotel Room Deals On Priceline


How To Get The Best Hotel Room Deals

Ryan and I were introduced to the “name your own price” section of Priceline several years ago and now we almost never stay in a hotel without going through Priceline. (I say “almost never” because I go to a few conferences each year and those are always at a specific hotel.)

So what exactly is Priceline?

Priceline is a travel website like Orbitz and Expedia where you can make reservations for hotels, rental cars, and flights. BUT, they have another fun aspect to it where you can name your own price instead of going with the prices shown! You can pick any price you want and they will check their system to see if a company (hotel/rental car company/airline) would be willing to go that low.

But there is a catch…

You can’t choose which hotel you stay in, which rental car company you use, or which airline you fly when you use the “name your own price” option. You pick the quality you want, or the size car you want, and then Priceline assigns you to a hotel or car rental company that meets your selection requirements.

We have scored some incredible deals by using the name your own price section of Priceline and I wanted to share some of my best tips & tricks for getting the absolute best deals on hotels by going through the steps that we take when we’re looking for a hotel room.

Step 1:

Head over to Priceline and click on the hotel section under the part that says “For Deeper Discounts – Name Your Own Price” (you’ll need to scroll down a little.)

Priceline Name Your Own Price For Hotels

Then enter the city that you want to stay in and the dates that you will be staying there.

Albuquerque Priceline Hotel Bid

Step 2:

I used Albuquerque, New Mexico as the example and this is what shows up on the Priceline site when I type in Albuquerque:

Albuquerque Priceline Stars and Raings

You can see all of the different areas around Albuquerque and the different star ratings available for the areas.

For this example I’m going to go through the steps like I want a hotel that’s at least 3 1/2 stars and I want to stay somewhere east or north of Albuquerque (that would be zones 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, and 12).

Step 3:

Now that I know where I want to stay and which star rating I want, I’m going to go to a different section of Priceline to see a general discounted price for hotels with that star rating.

I’m going to open up a new window in my browser and go to the Priceline homepage again. But this time I’m going to click on the button that says “Search Express Deals”.

Priceline Search Express Deals

(Have I lost you? I know it seems like a lot, but getting $150 or more hotels for only $45 per night is definitely worth it!)

Put in all of the same information that you put in the first time (the same city and same dates). This is the screen that should show up after you do that.

Priceline Express Star Ratings

When the new page comes up, you’ll click on the box next to the icon that shows 3 1/2 stars. You’ll also click on the area that says “Locations” and click on the zones that you narrowed your areas down to in step 2. There will not be numbers next to the locations in this step, so you’ll just have to count out and click the right ones.

Priceline Albuquerque Express 59

As you can see, there’s only one hotel in my zones that matches the 3 1/2 star rating and they have it reduced to $59 per night with an express deal (which means you can get it lower than that with the name your own price section!)

Step 4:

Go back to the Priceline Homepage again. This time you’re going to type in your city and dates of travel right into the main text box at the top of the Priceline page.

Priceline Hotels Main Text Box

There’s a box at the top of the page that lets you choose star ratings, so for this example I will choose 3 1/2 stars again.

The zone locations in this section aren’t very accurate (they all say “Downtown Albuquerque – Airport”) so click on the button that says “Map View” at the top right of the page.

You should now be able to see on the map which hotel(s) are in the area of the city that you want to stay in.

Priceline Map View Hotels Uptown

For this example, it shows the Sheraton Uptown for $114/night and the Albuquerque Marriott for $179/night.

*Chances* are that you will be getting one of these two hotels when you actually bid on your room.

Step 5 (OPTIONAL):

One of the websites that I like to take a look at when I’m looking for hotel rooms on Priceline is BetterBidding.com. It’s set up like forum and you can click on the state that you will be staying in and then search for your city.

People get on this forum and let everyone know what price they paid for a certain star rating in cities across the country.

When I went to BetterBidding.com, went to the New Mexico section, and searched for “Albuquerque Uptown” there were 33 results that came up and the first 3 results were for 3.5 star hotels in Uptown Albuquerque.

Better Bidding Albuquerque

Just in case you can’t read it from the picture, the information on the forum is:

  • 3.5* Albuquerque (Uptown) Albuquerque Marriott – $55 on August 17, 2013
  • 3.5* Albuquerque (Uptown) Albuquerque Marriott – $62 on Feb 16, 2013
  • 3.5* Albuquerque (Uptown) Sheraton Uptown Albuquerque Hotel – $62 May 27, 2012

My best guess with my current information is that I would end up getting the Marriott (the one that’s listed at $179/night in the regular price section) for somewhere around $50 – $60.

At this point you might want to go to Google and read some of the reviews for these two hotels to make sure that you are okay with either one (since you have no guarantee on which one they will assign you to).

Step 6:

Now that you have a good idea of which hotel you will get and what your target price is, you can head back to that very first “Name Your Own Price” page (it should still be one of the tabs in your browser if you opened up a new window for step 2).

I am going to select zone 12 (Uptown) and 3 1/2 star.

Priceline Albuquerque Uptown 3.5 Star

My first bid is going to be $40 – $45. I know that someone got it for $55 recently, and I know that the Express Deals price for a 3 1/2 star in this area is $59.

Sometimes low-balling it works and they accept it right away and sometimes you have to work your way up with the bid price (which I will go over in the next step).

But it’s always better to start low if you can, right?

If they accept your bid then GREAT! You’re done and you will be automatically assigned to a specific hotel (hopefully one of the ones that you thought you would be assigned to based on your research above).

Step 7:

If William Shatner isn’t able to negotiate your bid price then you’ll go back to your original screen to rebid, BUT you’ll have to either add a different area to choose from or add a star level down.

Because I’ve done my research ahead of time, I know which areas do not have any 3.5 star hotels available. So, I can safely add in those areas one at a time and increase my bid price as I add each area.

Based on the Express Deals page, I know that Albuquerque East doesn’t have any 3.5 star hotels available. So I can add that area to my “Name Your Own Price” page and rebid.

Priceline Albuquerque East Bid

I would raise it to $50 at this point but you can do smaller intervals (you can bid $46 or $47), just know that each time your bid is rejected you’ll have to add another area, and at some point you will run out of areas to add!

I continue with the same process of adding a new area without any 3.5 star hotels for each bid that gets rejected until one is finally accepted!

Once my bid is accepted I find out which hotel I am assigned to and I am automatically charged for the room.

Getting the best deals with priceline

I’d love to hear your Priceline experiences! Have you have good experiences? Bad experiences? What other sites do you use to find the best travel deals?

**Have you entered to win an iPad Mini yet?  You can enter our iPad Mini Giveaway HERE!!** (ends Dec. 16th)

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!

*Affiliate Disclosure: If you decide to use Priceline then I would love it if you used the underlined links in this post to do so! We make a small percentage from them if you click on the links in the post and reserve a room/car/flight. :) *

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."
May 2, 2013

Travel Apps – The Top 8 FREE Apps To Have For Apple Devices!

May
2
2013
Thursday

The Top Must-Have Travel Apps

I posted this last year and thought I’d repost it again this year before the travel season starts!

Last month Ryan and I made our annual drive from Texas out to California to visit family!  We do the crazy long 24 hour drive once a year and thankfully that’s all because it is a LONGGG trip with 4 kids in the back!

There were some apps that we found super handy while on the road and I wanted to share them with you guys because I thought they might be helpful for you as you do any last-minute summer traveling.

All of the apps below are completely FREE, although a few of them have upgraded versions that you can purchase (and I’ll let you know which ones we thought were worth it to upgrade). The description in the blue box is directly from the app’s iTunes page, everything else is my commentary.

Here are my top 8 favorite FREE apps that we used (and feel free to share your favorites in the comments too!!)


Wunderlist App

The first app that I think is a must-have when traveling is actually an app that’s a must-have for LIFE in general!

The Wunderlist mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch will boost your productivity. Organize your to-do lists on the go and synchronize them with your free Wunderlist account. View and modify your tasks on Windows, Mac, Linux,iPad, Android and the Web.

I would be completely lost without Wunderlist for my packing list! Not only can I put all of the items that I think of on my list, but I can share the list with Ryan so that he can add items to the packing list as he thinks of them too.

And the packing list stays completely separate from my grocery shopping list, cleaning to-do list, or Surviving The Stores to-do list.

I have tried out A LOT of to-do apps and Wunderlist is by far my favorite. It seamlessly syncs with my iPhone, iPad, and Mac so that I can add items to my lists no matter where I am.


Yelp App

I’ve known about Yelp for years but hadn’t really joined the whole Yelp bandwagon until recently… and I was definitely missing out!!

Looking for a burrito joint open now? An Irish pub nearby? A gas station you can drive to before your tank hits empty? Yelp for your iPhone or iPad is here to help. Use us to search for places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play then read reviews from an active community of locals in the know.

How do you decide where to go to eat when you are on the road? Many times we take the less expensive option of running into a grocery store and grabbing sale items for breakfast or lunch, but what about the times that you want to grab something to eat at a local place? Maybe you’re in the mood for a hole-in-the-wall Mexican Food restaurant that doesn’t break the budget.

Just open up your Yelp app and see what’s there! You can search for restaurants within a certain radius from where you currently are (or a city that you are traveling to), filter it by price, and by star ratings. We found some true hidden gems while on our trip that we wouldn’t have found without Yelp!


GasBuddy App

I’m sure lots of you guys have heard of (and use!) the GasBuddy app and it is definitely an invaluable tool on trips for budget-savvy travelers!

Find the cheapest gas on the go – for free! In one click, locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices. Never overpay for gas again.

Does it bug you guys as much as it bugs me to fill up with gas at one place and then drive down the highway and pass another exit that has it for 15¢ cheaper?

When your tank is getting low, just pull up GasBuddy to see the BEST gas prices reported by other GasBuddy users in your area!


Priceline App

I’ve posted before how much I love Priceline. We use Priceline pretty much any time we travel and have always been very pleased with the results. If you haven’t already, be sure to read my post on how to get the best deals with Priceline!

The Priceline App offers a simple way to book hotels and rental cars when you’re on the go. All reservations are backed by our best price guarantee. Choose your exact hotel and rental car, or Name Your Own Price® for deeper discounts. Plus, take advantage an exclusive Tonight-Only® Deal for extra savings on same day hotel reservations.

Are we the only ones who decide at the last minute where we are going to stay? I really like having the flexibility to just stop driving at whatever town we can make it to. If we think we can make it to Albuquerque in one day but we get to Albuquerque and say, “Let’s just drive all the way to Gallup!” then I like the freedom of being able to do that!

Priceline lets us be able to NOT plan ahead and still get great deals on hotels. You can do pretty much anything you can do on the regular Priceline site with their app, including the Name Your Own Price section which is where we always get the best deals. :)


iExit Full Version
(99¢) or iExit Lite App

I originally download the iExit Lite FREE version and loved it so much that I paid 99¢ for the full version! GASP! Yes, I actually PAID for an app, I know I know… hard to believe, right? :)

Y’all – this app is AWESOME!!

iExit tells you what’s at upcoming exits in real-time when traveling on a major highway in the US. It displays restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and more by exit as well as on a map. Once you have found a place you like, get directions or call with one touch. iExit tells you what’s coming up in real time when driving on the interstate. It’s designed to easily communicate which upcoming exits have what you need, whether that’s gas, a hotel, a rest area, or specifically a Starbucks.

Let’s say you’re driving through the middle of nowhere (which was pretty much our entire trip out to CA) and you are starting to get hungry. You’re fine with a fast food place and you see an exit sign that advertises a McDonalds at the next exit. It’s not really what you are in the mood for, but you are so hungry that you don’t want to take the chance of not having another option for another 60 miles.

Enter iExit! Just pull up the app and it will tell you ALL of the exits that are up ahead and exactly which restaurants are at those exits. So in the example above, you open the app and see that there’s a Boston Market, Subway, and Chipotle just 5 miles up the road!

We used this app CONSTANTLY on the trip, especially with where to take the bathroom breaks with 4 kids in the car! :)


Groupon App

If you haven’t signed up for a Groupon account yet, you’ll definitely want to sign up for one a few weeks ahead of a trip!

Many times we just think of Groupon in relation to deals that are close to where we live, but if you know exactly what cities you’re traveling to then you can look at the deals in those cities a few weeks (or even months) before you go there to see if there are any good Groupon deals for restaurants or hotels that you might want to grab.

And now with the Groupon NOW section you can pull up the deals that you can redeem right then at any major city that Groupon covers. It’s perfect for last-minute decision travelers like us. :)

Groupon features deals on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 500 cities and eleven fiefdoms around the world. Our unbeatable deals typically weigh in at discounts of 50-90%, ensuring a level of access to your city that’ll put the mayor in a jealous rage. Daily deals are signed, sealed and delivered to phones each morning, while thousands of deals on demand can be found in real-time, ready for immediate use with Groupon Now!


Trapster App

Okay, PLEASE don’t think that I’m endorsing speeding with this app. AT ALL!

But am I the only one who has been on a road and had absolutely no idea what the speed limit was? I WANTED to go the speed limit, I just hadn’t seen a sign in a while!

Or what about those “speed trap” towns where the speed limit jumps from 60 to 35 in the blink of an eye? Wouldn’t it be nice to know when those towns were coming up?

Trapster is a great app to have in your app arsenal to check when you’re unsure about the speed limit on the road, or want to check for any speed trap areas!

Install Trapster today to transform your driving experience. As you drive, your mobile phone alerts you to speed traps, red light and speed cameras, accidents and other roadway hazards. Download and join the world’s largest driving community with over 15 MILLION Trapster users.


Shoeboxed App

I didn’t have this app before our California trip, but I’m SOO thankful I found it before I went to a blogging conference at the beginning of this month!

If you do any kind of traveling for business then this app is another must-have in my opinion. Especially for me… Ryan gets on to me all the time for not keeping track of my business receipts like I should. He’s the finances person in our family (and I majored in accounting, weird huh?) so it throws everything off for him when I don’t have the receipts.

Well now there’s Shoeboxed which is a service you might want to consider signing up for (they have a free version) and a FREE app that goes with it!

Snap a picture of any receipt and Shoeboxed will turn that receipt into useful, portable and searchable data within 1 business day or less. Turn this data into an expense report or Excel spreadsheet in seconds. Or send this data to dozens of accounting and bookkeeping tools from your secure online account with a click of the mouse. Shoeboxed is a FREE service. Premium Plans optional and include a 30-Day free trial.

Yep, no more worrying about keeping track of every receipt and business card that I receive when I’m at a conference! I just take a picture of the receipt or card as soon as I receive it and within a day or two all of the data from the receipt or card is inputted in my Shoeboxed account.

I’m happy because if I lose a receipt it’s okay, and Ryan’s happy because no matter what I end up bringing home in my wad of receipts that I stuck in my purse, he has all of the data from them already! :)

They have a “forever free” option where you can upload 5 documents per month, but if you think you might need more than 5 receipts per month scanned (i.e. if you have a lot of business expenses) then be sure to sign up for the 30 day free trial of their premium plans!


BONUS #9: FREE Wi-Fi Finder App

This is one that I found this year and since we work wherever we travel it’s a lifesaver for us!

Instantly find FREE Wi-Fi Internet hotspots wherever you are in the world online or offline!

JiWire’s Global FREE Wi-Fi app uses your iPhone’s GPS and network triangulation capabilities to locate free Wi-Fi Internet access.

According to the reviews, it also shows all of the free wi-fi spots that you can get with Comcast and you can’t filter those out.  So if you’re not a Comcast customer that might get frustrating.

If you generally know which restaurants typically have free wi-fi though then you can filter through the results yourself to find the ones that are truly free (and of course, you can always call a location before going too!)  :)

What travel apps could you not live without?

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."
Apr 4, 2013

The Swimming Diaper Secret! {How to Reuse Your Swim Diapers!}

Apr
4
2013
Thursday

The Swimming Diaper Secret! {How to Reuse Your Swim Diapers!}

**I posted the post below back in 2009 and though it might be useful to repost this year since I get questions about this issue a lot!!  :)

———————————————————————————————

How much do you spend each summer on swimming diapers? It seems that every pool and waterpark now requires all children under age 2 to have them… and if you swim a lot during the summer the cost can add up pretty quickly (even when you buy them with coupons!)

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about the cost of swimming diapers and she said, “Oh, I just wash and dry mine and reuse them.”

Wait…. WHAT???

So I thought about how the swim diapers really are more like thicker underwear since they don’t absorb at all very well. And since we are coming up on a family vacation to the beach where we will be going through LOTS of swim diapers I thought to myself, “What could it hurt to try it?”

So I did. And it worked. Exactly like my friend said it would. After a cycle through the washer and dryer they are pretty much just like new…and the elastic is still just as stretchy. Yay!!

Let us know if you have tried this and if it has worked for you too!


Related articles:

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!

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."
Nov 14, 2012

Five Tips For Surviving Black Friday

Nov
14
2012
Wednesday

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is almost here again? Turkeys, naps, football, yummy food, and SHOPPING!

I absolutely love going out on Black Friday each year. Not necessarily for the deals (I do the majority of my Black Friday shopping online!), but to PEOPLE WATCH. People watching is one of my favorite things to do, and Black Friday is the perfect time to do it. :)

I typically just go to Walmart since it’s the closest store to me… they will price match other ads (if there’s anything I plan on getting), and there are plenty of people to watch there!  ;)

If you are planning on participating in the Black Friday craziness this year, here are my top 5 tips for surviving Black Friday:

1. Make A Holiday Shopping Budget

Yes, just like ANYTHING else that we spend money on, we need a budget for holiday shopping too.

It’s so easy to just grab all of the great deals that we see, but if you get too many great deals you can still go WAY over budget!

I highly recommend determining exactly how much you can afford to spend this holiday season and then take out that amount of CASH (or a certain amount each month).

Then make all of your holiday gift purchases (the in-store ones) with cash.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of online shopping, then you’re definitely going to have to be more disciplined to stay on track.

You might even want to consider asking your bank if they have any prepaid credit cards that you can use (not to mention that it’s safer to use these online anyway!)

For a great printable holiday budget check out this great (and simple, of course!) holiday budget from Simple Mom!!

2. Make A Per-Person Gift List

List out exactly what you want to buy for each person on your list.

Or at the very least the maximum you can spend on their gift.

Then make sure that your list doesn’t add up to more than your holiday gift-giving budget!

Things sure seem to add up quickly when you do this and I’m always shocked at what my final total is when I add everything up. And then I have to go and adjust the amount that I was thinking of spending WAY down.

Then, when you get to the store, STICK TO YOUR LIST! If you’ve already reached your spending amount for someone, don’t buy another gift just because it’s a great deal.

There are also some great Christmas Planning List resources over at Christmas Your Way!

3. Make Your Shopping List

Hopefully we’ve made this a little easier for you with the Black Friday deals lists!

Just look through the Black Friday ads and match up the items on sale with people on your list. Remember NOT to get an item that doesn’t match up to something that you are already planning on purchasing if you are trying to stick to a budget.

Remember that the stores will be using their best marketing strategies to try to get you to buy more and they will have other items in very strategic locations around the best deals. RESIST!! :)

4. Make A Store Plan

Now that you know exactly what you are going to buy, make a plan for the stores you want to go to!

First check the opening times of the stores you want to go to, prioritize, and map it out. If you HAVE to be at one store when it opens at 5 am, then you probably don’t want to go to another store across the city at 4:30 am.

Be sure to also check the number of items available for a specific promotion. Sometimes each store will only have a few of the “doorbuster” items, so be prepared with a back up plan if the product you are wanting to buy is out of stock when you get there.

If you can, bring a friend (or a few friends) with you so that you can be in two (or more) places at once! I know at Walmart each year, they unwrap the doorbuster displays all at the same time, so it’s helpful to have a friend there who is grabbing the items from your lists on one side of the store while you are on the other. (Or bring a friend to stand in the crazy line while you grab the deals for both of you!)

While not everything can be price-matched (like store brand items), you CAN still price match at Walmart for pretty much anything on Black Friday! This is super helpful if the items on your list can be found anywhere, and Walmart will price match right there in the check-out lane!

5. Make Your Purchases Online Instead

Black Friday in-store shopping isn’t for everyone. And it really might not be for MOST people.

Well, there’s a solution! You DON’T have to miss out on all of the great deals!

If you’d prefer to shop in your PJs (although in my city people go to the store in their PJs anyway!) then you can do the majority of your Black Friday shopping right from the comfort of your home.

Just check out the “Shop Online” buttons on the Black Friday Deals page!

Also, many of the online stores will be starting their Black Friday ads online on THURSDAY, so you might just be completely done with your shopping by the time Friday hits.

Black Friday Resources:

  • Retail Coupons page – many retail coupons are still valid on Black Friday so print any that you need before you go!
  • Black Friday Deals Page – if you are looking for the ad scans, top deals, or link to online shopping check out this page!
  • Black Friday Coupon Codes – we have a whole page with coupon codes just for Black Friday! I’ve put this up at the top of the page under “Coupon Codes” so that you can find it easily!
  • Black Friday Deals Category - whenever I post a new Black Friday deal, I add it to the Black Friday Deals category.  If you’re wanting to ONLY follow black friday deals, be sure to add this page to your bookmarks!

**And be sure to follow Surviving The Stores on Facebook, Twitter, and the Email newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of the latest Black Friday deal news.**

Photo credit: djLicious

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."
Feb 21, 2012

Saving Big on Kids’ Items At Consignment Sales – 6 Tips For Success!

Feb
21
2012
Tuesday

Tips For Saving At Kids Consignment Sales


Kids’ consignment sales can be a fabulous way to stretch your budget!    Most items are priced to sell at 75% off retail, and many sales have special discount sale times, when the prices go even lower!  These sales tend to offer both kids’ and maternity clothes, lots and lots of toys, books and homeschool materials, and baby equipment like activity mats, diaper bags, strollers, car seats, diapering paraphernalia, and cribs.

Here are a few tips for maximizing your kids consignment sale shopping trip!

1.  Find a Sale

Before you can go to a sale, you have to find one!  The most popular one is Just Between Friends which is a nationwide series of consignment sales.  Plus, there are other local consignment sales like the one I just went to called Divine Consign (in the DFW area).  I’d recommend doing a google search for “kids consignment sales” in your city (or the closest “big city”).

2.  Check For Discount Days

Most sales have different pricing schemes for different days.  For example, at the Divine Consign sale that I just went to all items are full-price at the presale, which is generally open to consignors, volunteers, first-time moms, and teachers.  Then, they have a couple of markdown days where many items are discounted first at 50% off and then on the last day at 75% off!

3.  Plan Ahead

It can be so easy to get carried away and overspend at these sales.  Try these strategies to help you stay in budget!

  • Go with a list!  Go through your kids’ drawers and determine what you have already for the upcoming season.   Write down their sizes, and don’t forget shoe size!  You might also want to consider measuring your kids for pant length, shirt length, and waist measurements since clothing sizes can vary so greatly between brands.
  • Set a budget.  Decide how much you want to spend, per child, and stick to that!  Bring a notepad, calculator, and pencil and write down each item that you buy and add it up as you go so that you for sure don’t go over.  Better yet, only bring CASH so that there’s no possibility of going over-budget!

4.  Know When To Shop

Bigger Kids – Take note of your sale times and strategize to get the optimal deals.  At sales in my area, there is less selection of clothes for bigger kids (starting about 3T), so there are often slim pickings if I wait until the ½ price sale.  I’ve learned to go on the “presale” days to shop for my big kid.   I’m still getting them for as much as 75% off retail!

Little Kids – Consignment sales tend to be bursting at the seams with clothes for little ones.  Rather than pay full price, I return to the sale on ½ price night (and sometimes the 75% off sale too!) to pick up clothes for my little one.  There are always plenty of little clothes left!   I do peruse through the littles’ rack during the presale, just to see if there’s something absolutely darling for which I don’t mind paying “full price”.

5.  Don’t Overlook The Toy Deals

It can feel like Christmas with so many toys everywhere!  It can be really easy (for me!) to overbuy when it comes to toys, so I recommend setting a specific toy budget within your consignment sale budget.   Check to make sure the toy works, and that it has all its pieces.  There are generally lots of toys left by the time the ½ price sale starts, but I like to check the room during the presale for any nicer toys that might be already priced really well.  Be prepared to get there early though if you want first pick!  Many times shoppers are lining up an hour or more before the sale starts to grab the best items.

This past time, we SCORED a Kinect Roller Coaster for $15 ($50 new).  But I also picked up several bags of My Little Ponies for half-off later.  It was nice to only pay $1.50 for a bag of ponies!

6.  Bring A Basket

If you’re planning on doing your clothes shopping for the next 6 months until the consignment sale comes around again, then be sure to bring something on wheels to carry all of the items you want to buy!  Our arms are only meant to hold so much, so unless you’re using it as a workout opportunity, bring something to push or pull around to put everything in!

Sarah graduated from Baylor with a major in bioinformatics and is now making that degree work hard by raising her two kiddos and keeping her husband relatively well fed.  In her quieter moments, she can be found riding her horse and blogging at Renaissance Mama (though not usually at the same time)
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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."
Jan 3, 2012

Several Budgeting Resources For 2012!!

Jan
3
2012
Tuesday

Cutting back on your monthly budget is always one of the biggest new years resolutions every year.  I guess in general people overspend on the holidays (hopefully none of you did! :) ) and try to hunker down in January to live off as little as possible to make up for the excessive November and December spending.

So, I thought I would use this week’s Survival Tip Tuesday post to tell you guys about a few great resources to help with your budgeting goals for this year.

1.  Mint

Mint.com Mint.com is owned by Quicken and gives you a one stop place to see all of your banking information for FREE.  You add your checking accounts, savings accounts, paypal accounts, mortgages, credit cards…. and they give you a complete summary of your spending.  You can set up a monthly budget for different categories and Mint will give you updates on if you are meeting your budget or going over.

And the best part? (…at least for me)  I didn’t have to do a THING after I created my account and entered my info!!  I can log on at any time and it pulls all of our updated info so that I can see exactly where we are financially at all times.  Yeah, I’m not very good at keeping up with financial information that I have to enter on a daily, or really any kind of regular basis.

They have bank-level security on their site, so it is extremely secure.

You can sign up for your FREE Mint.com account here.

2.  Manilla

 Another great FREE option for having all of your accounts in one place is Manilla.com!  It works very similarly to Mint, is also extremely secure, and adds the feature of being able to add in all of your rewards accounts, loyalty programs, Groupons (yes, you can see your available Groupons there!), Netflix subscriptions, and more.

Manilla grabs the information from all of your different accounts and consolidates it into one organized website. It lets you know your current balances, payments, upcoming bills, rewards points available, etc… all in ONE place!

You can find more information and sign up on the Manilla Website.

We are actually signed up with both Mint and Manilla because I really like the features of both (and they are both FREE)!

3.  Budgeting Spreadsheets

Overall Budgeting Spreadsheets

There are a ton of options for budgeting spreadsheets that you can download to your computer.  Here are a few that were listed on Get Rich Slowly, but I’d definitely recommending heading over to see the full list of budgeting spreadsheets:

  • Of Zen & Computing has a very bare-bones budgeting spreadsheet that you can use with any spreadsheet program for free.
  • Pear Budget is a GREAT online tool for having a budget that’s completely done for you where you don’t have to mess with a spreadsheet at all.  There is a fee of $4.95 per month, but you can get that fee waived for each friend you refer to their site.  You can also do a free 1 month trial to test it out, AND you don’t have to input any credit card info for the trial which is nice!
  • Microsoft has many different finance templates for Excel including several spreadsheet templates for budgets!  The ones I saw (there are several) looked really nice with pretty colors and everything.  :)

Grocery Spending Spreadsheet

I remember the first time I saw my friend Stephanie over at Couponing 101‘s grocery spending spreadsheet (yes, we are friends in real life too!)  :)  I was completely blown away!  She has EVERYTHING that she spent on her grocery listed out by week, as well as how much she would have spent, and how much she saved.  WOW!

Sound complicated?  Actually it’s not complicated at all because she has the spreadsheet set up to do all of the adding, subtracting, and percentages for you.

You can click here to download the Grocery Spending Spreadsheet.

Meal Planners With Expense Tracking

Erin over at $5 Dinners has a ton of great meal budgeting resources (of course!)  If you’re looking for ways to help with keeping tracking of what you spend for specific meals, check out this great list of meal planning resources!

Not only does Erin have a Grocery Shopping List with Meal Plan and Expense Tracking printable, but she has handy printable organization sheets for overall meal planning, pantry staples, and even planning for your garden!

What do you use to keep track of your budget each year?  Do you use an online website, spreadsheets, or pen (or pencil) and paper?

Let us know what you use in the comments below!

*NOTE:  The giveaway has ended.* 

This post is part of the Survival Tip Tuesday series! Be sure to check out more Survival Tip Tuesday articles!

Official rules: There will be ONE winner for the $25 Amazon Gift Card!  Limit 1 entry per person. This giveaway will end on Wednesday January 4th, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST.  The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted via email. No purchase necessary to win.  You must be 13 or older to enter and have a mailing address within the United States to enter.  Odds of winning depend on number of comments. Employees of Surviving The Stores are not eligible for participation.  CrossNetwork Media, LLC is not liable for any injury or damage to persons and/or things as a result of the acceptance of the prize offered. This contest is in no way associated, administered, sponsored or endorsed by Facebook.  Feel free to also check out our disclosure policy!

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."