Dec 11, 2011

Saving Money By Making Homemade Coupon Books To Give!

Dec
11
2011
Sunday

It seems like every time I turn around in the house I’m tripping on a toy, or clothes left on the floor, or a book, or a game, or a video game… I’m truly thankful for the things that we have, but at the same time I just want to shout “NO MORE STUFF!!”

And buying more “stuff” to end up on the floor just seems like a ton of money completely wasted. And you guys know how much I REALLY don’t like wasting money!

So what are some other creative things we could give?

One of the neat things I’ve run across this year is the idea (I think maybe I saw some buzz about this on Pinterest recently) of giving experiences instead of physical gifts. Things like a family membership to a local zoo, or a day at a ropes course doing zip lines and high ropes.

And my FAVORITE way to give experiences as gifts for just about any holiday (this same idea works great for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, & Father’s Day too!) is to give homemade “coupon books”.

These “coupon books” are completely your own creation and you can have a ton of fun coming up with different ideas…

  • “This Coupon Is Good For… Movie Night With Dad”
  •  ”This Coupon Is Good For… Sweeping & Mopping The Kitchen Anytime”
  •  ”This Coupon Is Good For… A Back Rub”
  •  ”This Coupon Is Good For… One Night Out To Eat At Your Favorite Restaurant”
  •  ”This Coupon Is Good For… 20 Tokens At Chuck E Cheese”

No idea is too crazy, and the possibilities are endless!

And here’s the best part… the work has pretty much been done FOR YOU!!

My friend Jen, over at Balancing Beauty And Bedlam, has created these AWESOME customizable Coupon Books that you can type in and print right from your home computer. No design experience necessary at all! :)

Just head over to Jen’s site to print your Homemade Coupon Books!

Have you ever tried this idea? Have you ever RECEIVED a coupon book from a loved one?

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:



Christmas Homeschool Fun
: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

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."
Dec 9, 2011

Saving Money By Shopping Garage Sales

Dec
9
2011
Friday

The other week I stopped into the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class at our church. I’m not part of the class right now, but I sat down in the back and watched a little bit of the video with everyone (oh my goodness, it was AWESOME… you guys have got to watch his video series if you haven’t!)

Well, one of the things Dave was talking about in the video was the different between buying from a company and buying from an individual. When you buy from a company, they are only looking at their bottom line. If the company paid $90 for an item, there is pretty much no way that they are going to sell it to you for less than that. You might be able to haggle them down a little, but not lower than $90.

Now let’s say that someone bought that same thing (Dave uses the example of a bike so that’s what I’ll go with) for $100. They never ride that bike and it just sits in their garage for a year or so. They bump into it every time they pull the car into the garage and find that it’s always in their way and since they never use it, they decide to put it in their yearly garage sale.

It’s still in perfectly great condition, but this person is now just concerned with getting that bicycle OUT OF THE WAY. For the most part, they don’t care that they paid $100 for it. It’s in their way, and they want it gone.

So how much do you think you can get that bike for now? Maybe they’ll price it high at $40? Maybe they REALLY just want to get rid of it and so they are willing to go down to $10 or $15. You never know!

But FOR SURE you will be getting a much better deal than you would by buying it new.

And if it still looks like it’s in new condition, then there’s no way the child (or adult) you’re giving it to will know that it was from a garage sale!

You can check your local newspaper for garage sale locations, but don’t forget about checking Craigslist too! Many people list their garage sale there each week.

What have you found at garage sales that make great gifts? Any tips for finding the best bargains?

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:



Christmas Homeschool Fun
: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

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."
Dec 6, 2011

Saving Money On Holiday Traveling

Dec
6
2011
Tuesday

Is holiday traveling something you avoid like the plague? Something you enjoy? Something you tolerate?

Whatever feelings you have towards traveling, one thing is for sure… it can be EXPENSIVE!

So here are a few ways that you can travel during the holidays and not go broke! :)

1. Drinks

Can you believe how much a bottle of water costs at the gas station? Most of the time it’s more than $1.00… for just ONE bottle of water! Instead, buy a 24-pack of bottled water before you leave at $3.50 or less with coupons!

If you want to be really frugal, you can get a couple of gallons of water (or fill empty gallons up at home) and bring plastic cups for everyone (and sippy cups for the kids) to drink from during the trip!

2. Food

Packing your own cereal, fruit, lunch meat, cheese, peanut butter, and bread can save you TONS of money when traveling! It’s definitely worth it to keep refilling the ice in the ice chest to keep the food cold. Instead of buying bowls, we buy a bag of paper cups that we use for drinking as well as for cereal in the mornings when we travel.

Another idea for food on the road is to make beef jerky at home before you leave! Buy rump roast and have the butcher slice it thin, then add your favorite seasonings and put it in a food dehydrator to dry. A food dehydrator is a little bit of an investment, but something that is very worth it! You can make all kinds of great dried snacks with a food dehydrator (apples, pineapple, blueberries, veggies, beef jerky, etc…)

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can make jerky in the oven!

3. Hotels

If you’ll be staying in a hotel, sites like Priceline help you to find the best hotel deals, and typically their prices are MUCH better than going through the hotel website. Priceline allows you to pick a star rating, pick the amenities you want, and then name your price. They assign you to a hotel (you don’t get to choose), but we have used the “name your price” method and it’s worked out great for us! My recommendation is to always go a star above what you think you might want.

Be sure to check out my post on how to get the best deals with Priceline (there are a few tricks!) :)

4. Pack An “Extras” Bag

It drives me NUTS when we go on a trip and end up having to buy something that I have a cabinet FULL of at home. Like toothbrushes. Or toothpaste. Or a razor. UGH!!

So my recommendation for all of us (me included) is to have a small duffle bag that stays in the trunk of the car/van with extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shampoo, etc. so that you never have to go pay full price somewhere when you’re on a trip!

Which brings us to…

5. Make A Packing List

Yes, yes, all of my turmoil could’ve been avoided if I would’ve just made a list to pack from. I know. I get it. I’ll remember to make a list one of these days.

6. Bring Your Medicine Cabinet

Another extra expense that you don’t have to have while traveling is medicine. Just make sure you bring your most important items with you when traveling so you don’t have to run out and buy them AGAIN.

What do I bring with me? Oh, what most people would bring… Activated Charcoal, Colloidal Silver (we make our own), and OF COURSE Wild Oregano Oil!! ;)

7. Keep An Expense Log

It works with eating too. Whenever I write down exactly what I eat, I’m MUCH less likely to eat things that I shouldn’t.

Writing down EVERYTHING that you spend a cent on while traveling really does help to keep expenses to a minimum.

8. Daily Deal Sites

If you know where you’re going to be traveling to ahead of time, then be sure to check out the daily deal sites for that area. You can find discounts on hotels, restaurants, and entertainment (most of the time for more than half off!)

AND

9. The Entertainment Book

I love the Entertainment Book and you can get one for pretty much any major city. If you are going to be staying any length of time in a particular city then I would definitely consider purchasing an Entertainment Book to save while you’re there!

Be sure to check out all of the awesome Holiday Traveling Tips over at Mom’s Travel Tales too!  I’ve been learning a ton reading her traveling series!

What’s your #1 tip for saving money while traveling?

Check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:

 

Christmas Homeschool Fun: 1+1+1=1

Christmas Decorations: Songbird

Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama

Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales

Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom

Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

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."
Dec 5, 2011

10 Ideas For Saving Money On Buying Gift Cards!

Dec
5
2011
Monday

I can’t think of an easier gift to give someone than a gift card. I love giving well thought-out presents that I planned and searched for, but sometimes, well, sometimes I just want to take the easy road.

And that’s OKAY.

But we can take the easy road AND save a little bit of money doing it too! :)

Here are my top TEN ways that you can save money on gift cards:

1. Use a discount gift card service! A couple of my favorites are Plastic Jungle and GiftCards.com. And at Plastic Jungle, not only can you BUY gift cards for less than their value, but you can SELL any used gift cards to them that you may having laying around!

2. Buy a gift card that gives you a bonus! There are so many companies offering BONUSES for buying their gift cards this year. Pick a gift card that gives you something back too. :)

3. Give a gift voucher instead! Why not take advantage of all of the great daily deal vouchers that we post all the time here on STS? You can print out the voucher on a nice piece of colored cardstock too if you want to. AND, one thing I love about this, is that if someone lives in a different city than you, then you can watch the Groupon, Eversave or other daily deals for that city and give them something that supports a local business in their area!

4. Check the daily deal sites for half off deals! Half off at The Body Shop… Old Navy… Amazon… Whole Foods… all of these half off discounts have been available in the past few months from one daily deal site or another. Watch Surviving The Stores for these great deals from January through December and save up those gift cards to use as gifts!

5. Use Swagbucks CONSISTENLY throughout the year! If you’re just now signing up for Swagbucks, then this isn’t really going to be helpful for THIS year. But be sure to sign up NOW so that you are prepared for grabbing awesome FREE gift cards for NEXT year! Instead of using a typical search engine, you use Swagbucks to search the web and earn points for doing so! Then you can use those points to get FREE gift cards to places like Amazon, Macy’s, Starbucks, & a TON more!

6. Earn Gift Cards Referring Friends To Shop It To Me! Shop It To Me is actually a pretty helpful service if you are looking for deals on specific name brands. Just sign up, enter the brands you are looking for, and they will send you the deals they find for those specific brands. But the best part is that you get gift cards for referring your friends! For every 10 friends that sign up with your link you’ll get a $10 gift card to a place of your choice!

7. Buy Gift Cards Through Ebates For CASH BACK! Everyone is using Ebates for cash back on their online purchases, right? Well, you can also use Ebates to buy Gift Cards and get CASH BACK too! For example, let’s say you wanted to buy a $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card for someone. You’d go to Ebates and see that they currently have 8% cash back for B&N purchases. You purchase your gift card through Ebates and you’ll get $4 back in your Ebates account in a couple of days!

8. Buy Gift Cards With Your Coins! Did you know that if you get a gift card from a Coinstar machine instead of getting cash that you don’t have to pay a fee? Get the whole family to dig in the couches, under the beds, and between the seats of the car and round up all of your loose change. Then use that to buy a gift card at a CoinStar machine!

9. Sign up for My Points! My Points is a survey company where you earn points for taking surveys or doing other things on their site (like signing up for offers). Each thing you do on their site gets you points, and then you can redeem those points for gift cards!

10. Don’t forget to check eBay! Where is the first place people typically go to sell something online? Yep, either eBay or Craigslist. I personally feel more comfortable with eBay since there is at least *some* protection there from fraud. People sell gift cards for discounted prices all the time on eBay so I would definitely take a look there too.

And don’t forget that presentation is everything! :)

 

So here’s the question I want to know… if you could have a $100 gift card anywhere, where would it be? :)

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:



Christmas Homeschool Fun
: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

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."
Dec 5, 2011

Saving Money On Extended Family Gift-Giving

Dec
5
2011
Monday

What kind of gift-giving traditions do you have in your family?

Does it seem to anyone else like the cousins and nieces and nephews just keep multiplying? Oh, I guess that’s because they ARE multiplying, huh?

Buying for multiple extended family members can add up QUICKLY. Let’s take just 10 extended family members, at $25 per person, and just that adds up to $250 and you haven’t bought anything for your spouse or your own children yet. WHEW! That’s a lot of extra money!

Here are a few ideas for keeping down the costs of extended family gift-giving.

1. Draw Names/Secret Santa

Source: etsy.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

Here’s how it works… you put everyone’s name into a hat and draw a name of someone to get a gift for. The amount you can spend is already set, and you draw as many names as there are people in your immediate family. So if you have two adults and two kids in your family, then you’ll draw two adults and two kids names! If your limit was $20 for each gift, then you’ll only be spending $80 total instead of that $250 (or more).

2. Do a white elephant type exchange where everyone brings one gift.

 

Basically, everyone brings a gift that they think someone would enjoy (or, if you want to have fun with it, then everyone can bring something that they think would be funny, or however this type of exchange would best fit with your family). Then you draw a number and go in order opening one gift at a time. You can “steal” someone else’s gift and force them to open a new one, or you can open a new one yourself!

It’s my absolute favorite Christmas party game!! And I would definitely recommend having a kid exchange and an adult exchange (probably separately).

I also think this would be a ton of fun using gift cards! Everyone would bring a wrapped gift card of a certain amount to the family gathering. Then the game would be played just like any other time, but with gift cards instead!

3. Make It A Game

 

See who can get the best gift with the LEAST amount of money! One day, when Ryan and I have a slew of grandkids, this is what I want our family to do! You can mix this one up with some of the other ideas to (like a white elephant exchange or a secret santa).

Basically, the goal for each gift is to try to find the BEST gift for the LEAST amount of money, with a maximum spent of around $10 or so. I personally think this would go awesome with a white elephant gift exchange. :)

4. Set a gift limit amount.

Source: google.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

If your family just isn’t into the family games, then consider at least just setting gift limit amounts. Chances are, if you’re feeling the financial gift burden, then others in the family are as well. A limit of $5-$10 is plenty for children, and possibly just consider forgoing gifts for other adults in your extended family altogether.

5. Have everyone give an edible gift!

 

What about doing a family cookie exchange? I remember one year I made homemade fudge for our extended family’s gifts and it was a HIT. It was super inexpensive and looked fantastic. You can find ALL KINDS of fun fudge recipes on Pinterest too! :)

How has your family saved money on extended family gift-giving? Do you just forgo it altogether or have you found another creative way to save?

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:



Christmas Homeschool Fun
: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

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."
Dec 3, 2011

Saving Money On Holiday Gift Wrapping Paper!

Dec
3
2011
Saturday

Top DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas


Now that the gifts are bought WITHOUT going into debt and WHILE staying on budget, here are a few ideas for how to wrap them for less.

As with most of the articles I’ve posted so far, the 2 best ways to save are to (1) Buy on clearance and (2) Make it yourself.

You guys already get the whole buying on clearance thing (the week AFTER Christmas is going to be your best bet for grabbing some awesome wrapping paper deals).

And as far as making it yourself goes, well, once again, I’ve found a good portion of my frugal wrapping inspiration from Pinterest! Seriously, go sign up if you haven’t already! :)

First off, and probably the easiest way to save, it to get a HUGE roll of 200 feet (yes, FEET) of brown paper from Amazon for only $24! Then you can use it to wrap pretty much any present no matter how big or how small, and you should definitely have enough to last you through many holiday seasons!

Do you have any old maps in your closet? Maybe an outdated atlas? Just use red, green, or blue ribbon to make it festive and put it to good use!

Oh my!! I absolutely LOVE this idea!! Print sheet music onto regular white copy paper for smaller gifts and use it to wrap your presents! You can find all kinds of free public-domain sheet music to print too!

This next one would obviously take a little longer, but would be super fun for kids to do! And you can add some dye to the paper to make it different colors!

Wrapping your gift in a pillowcase is such a great idea! And what could be better than one that you made yourself?

And if you’re going to go for the paper bag look, here’s a fun way to dress it up with big cut-out names!

I love these stamp ideas below too! Just click on a picture to find more instructions on how to make it.

What about all of you? Which ideas inspire you? How do you save money on wrapping paper each year?

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."