6 Ways to Make This a Cash Holiday!

6 Ways to Make This a Cash Holiday!Every year when the holiday season hits, it seems as if there is a race to drain our wallets. Don’t succumb! Let’s not use plastic to fund our season this year, and let’s not blow our budgets. It may require us to make some different choices, but it will certainly feel a lot better in January when we aren’t suffering the post-holiday financial hangover!

1) Make a Plan

I cannot stress this enough. Plan your budget, plan your gift giving, plan your event spending, plan your time. When we go into the holidays without a plan, we will become overwhelmed. And overspend. Does that bring you joy? Does it bring others joy? Then don’t do it! Determine what you realistically have to spend and decide how much of that amount you want to spend on gifts, parties, etc. I know it’s hard, but stick to it.

2) Cut Back

It is very important that if you find you don’t have the budget for all you would like to buy or do, that you make careful, conscious decisions of what to cut out. Decide which traditions are important to you and which ones you may be doing simply because you always have. If you buy Nutcracker ballet tickets every year, but your family really isn’t looking forward to going, don’t go. If you have a lot of holiday events you will be attending, don’t buy a new outfit for every event—work with what you have and buy a piece or two to jazz up what you already own. Pare back your holiday meals to the food that actually gets eaten—all too often we are throwing away perfectly good food.

3) Do Less Gift Giving and More Sharing of Time

See if certain friends and family may be willing to forgo the exchanging of gifts this year and instead exchange some quality time. By next year, you may have forgotten the token gift your girlfriend gave you, but my bet is you will remember going to see a free concert in the park with her.

4) Choose a Meaningful Gift

Sometimes we tend to overbuy because we KEEP buying! Choose a gift—ONE gift—that you want to buy someone and then STOP BUYING! It’s so easy to keep picking up little trinkets here and there, but resist the urge. All of those little things do add up rather quickly.

5) Plan Your Meals

November and December seem to fly by, and it becomes so tempting to pick up a pizza here and order in Chinese there. Instead, make a simple weekly meal plan that you can stick to. Even if you are just heating up a frozen pizza, it’s still less expensive than takeout. Plus, one weekly trip to the grocery store has to be a lot less stressful than 7 mad dashes to already packed fast food chains and carry out establishments.

6) Pat Yourself on the Back

It may be hard to not overspend, but you will thank yourself later. And honestly, you’ll feel more at peace with yourself through the holiday season. Take a little time to put your feet up, enjoy a mug of cocoa and congratulate yourself for making positive changes in your spending!

Photo Credit: iClipart

Inexpensive Gift Wrap Ideas

Gift box

The holidays are just around the corner, and the holidays mean all sorts of things to gift wrap. Get creative and think outside the box this year—literally—and wrap your packages stylishly, as well as inexpensively! Here are some ideas to get you started.

1) Newspaper End Rolls

Check with your local newspaper to find out if you can purchase an “end roll.” This is the paper that is left over at the end of a press run. It’s not enough for the newspaper to use for another run, but it’s PLENTY for you to find other uses for. They come in varying lengths, and you can usually purchase them dirt cheap. This plain, usually off-white paper can be used to wrap literally hundreds of presents. Use it plain or let your imagination (or your children’s imaginations) go wild embellishing it. Think of all the things you could do with paint, markers, stamps, stickers…the list is endless!

2) Newspaper

Newspaper topped with a bright bow makes for a pretty presentation. Use the comic pages for a whimsical touch!

3) Fabric

Have some fabric left over from a sewing or craft project that you don’t know what to do with? Use it as gift wrap! This works especially well for odd sized items. Simply set your gift in the center of the fabric, pull the fabric up around it and tie with a pretty ribbon or cord.

4) Old Sheet Music

If you have a small box to wrap, old sheet music is ideal. This one is especially fun when used to wrap a CD!

5) Things Found in Nature

Pinecones, evergreens and dried flowers all look very pretty when used as package toppers—and they’re free! All it takes is a little ingenuity and a good eye to come up with some innovative, natural ideas to spiff up your packages.

6) Odd Bits of Craft Ribbon

If you don’t know what to do with those leftover bits and pieces of ribbon from a craft project, use them to tie a colorful bow or to wrap around a package.

7) Part of the Gift

Instead of a bow, top a package with an item that is part of the gift. If the gift is mixing bowls, use a set of measuring spoons. Giving a book? Add a pretty bookmark to the outside of the package. How about tying a coordinating scarf around a box containing a sweater?

Use a few of these ideas and not only will you spend less on this year’s gift wrap, but you will also impress your gift recipients with your creativity!

Photo Credit: iClipart

Kmart’s Big Layaway Giveaway!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kmart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you seen the Christmas trees on display already in the stores? I went shopping this weekend and saw them all over the place which is a little shocking since it isn’t even October yet, but on the other hand it’s also a good reminder that it’s a great time to get an early start on shopping for holiday gifts.

Kmart Big Layaway Giveaway

We have a large family and there is just no way that we could do all of our shopping in only the month or so before the holidays without killing our budget so we definitely have to spread our purchases out over time.

Kmart Free Layaway Grid 09_12.jpg

If you also need help making the most out of your budget then I highly recommend taking a look at the free layaway program at Kmart. You can put all of your favorite items on layaway and spread out your payments over time plus you won’t have to worry about the store running out of your favorite toys and gifts while you save up the funds for them. The best part is that you can manage your layaway online if you want and you can enter Kmart’s Big Layaway Giveaway where there is a winner in every store, every week!

Kmart Toys for Layaway

You’ll find layaway programs at a few other stores like Toys R Us, Best Buy and Walmart, but these other stores have minimums, they limit the merchandise that qualifies for the layaway program, and most of them charge transaction fees.

Kmart Televisions for Layaway

Head on over to your favorite local store or shop online where you can also put things on layaway. Some of my favorite things that I’d like to put on layaway include the fun toys shown above, or a new TV for the playroom. Don’t forget, simply by putting your purchases on layaway, you’ll have a chance each week to have your remaining balance paid off!

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Wine Baskets and Wine Gifts

Looking for the perfect type of gift to give someone but not exactly sure what kind of gift would be best? There are plenty of different wine baskets and wine gifts to choose from, all of which have something to offer to anyone who enjoys a good glass of wine every now and then.

The wine baskets that are available offer some of the finest and most delectable wines that anyone would be interested in tasting. There is such a selection to choose from, making it easier to pick the particular basket that is best for the recipient who will be receiving the gift. There are some baskets that come equipped with both fine wine and selected cheeses. Some even come in unique containers like the stainless steel colander pictured above. The included cheeses all go well with wine and you’ll quite an assortment featured in the gift baskets, like the heavenly sounding Parmesan peppercorn cheese, along with assorted nuts and olives.

This gift basket includes all the necessary ingredients for a romantic Tuscan dinner. Other gift baskets that are available include selections of fine wine, ranging from Charles de Fere Cuvee Jean-Louis Blanc de Blancs Brut to Lucinda & Millie Cabernet Sauvignon and more. Snacks found in these baskets include sea salt crackers, assorted nuts, fruits, cheese wedges and much more. With these types of gift baskets, it is much more about quality than quantity and you will find that all items in each of these assortments are made of the highest quality and finest ingredients.

Disclosure – this is a sponsored guest post written by a contributing author.

4 Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Gifts

At one point or another, you have probably received something you do not want nor need for Christmas, your birthday, or some other occasion. What comes next after feigning enthusiasm and gratitude?  Here are some great ways to get rid of unwanted gifts so they can belong to people who will truly benefit from such items:

1) Donate it.

If you have received clothing, food or personal care items, you may want to consider donating the gift to a homeless shelter or a charity organization. You may not find any use for a baggy sweater—but someone else sure will.

2) Re-gift it.

If you receive a gift you aren’t too fond of or you know you won’t use, store it in a box or container along with other gifts you can save and give to someone else on another occasion.

Remember: Don’t give a particular gift to someone who knows the original gift giver. Also, be sure to take off any name tags or other forms of personalization since the recipient doesn’t need to know the truth!

3) Sell it.

If you aren’t going to use a gift that you’ve been given, then why not make some money off of the item so you can get something that you can use instead? Try selling the unwanted gift on Craigslist or eBay, or even at a yard sale.

If you have received a gift card from a store you don’t shop in, why not try out a site like as PlasticJungle or Cardpool? These sites allow you to buy, sell and exchange gift cards for as much as 90% of their retail value!

4) Freecycle.

They say that another person’s trash is another person’s treasure. On Freecycle.org, that really is the case. You simply need to advertise the item you don’t need or use, and someone who does want it will arrange to pick it up at your house. No money is exchanged. You can give away a brand new set of plates, a beat up couch, or even blank CD cases.

If you’re considering using any of the above mentioned tips, exercise some caution. If the gift giver is someone you see frequently, you may want to keep the gift around for a while in case he or she asks about it or looks for it in your home!

Photo Credit: iClipart

5 Practical Tips for Buying Gifts for Your Guy

Have you ever spent a large amount of money on a present that your husband never even used? Are you completely and utterly clueless every time you need to buy him a Christmas, birthday or anniversary gift? My husband is super hard to shop for and with Father’s Day coming up I thought I’d share some practical tips to remember when buying gifts for your guy:

1)  Plan ahead.

Many people go over budget because of last minute gift shopping. Teach yourself to start planning ahead, and think of gift ideas for your husband or significant other at least a month before the occasion. You might just spot a special promotion or deal if you do your research ahead of time!

2)  Ask him for his wish list.

The best way to ensure that you’re getting your guy a gift that he’ll actually like and use is by being straightforward and asking him what he wants. If you want your gift to be a surprise, then ask him for his wish list a few months beforehand.

3)  Be practical.

You may want to get your man something romantic or over-the-top for his birthday—but you’d be surprised at the number of guys who would appreciate receiving something practical. Upgrade his old shaving kit to a newer, nicer one. He’ll likely be very happy to receive something he can use on a daily basis.

4)  Consider giving him a gift card.

When in doubt, a gift card is always a great choice of gift. Why not get your husband a gift card to his favorite coffee shop, restaurant or sporting goods store? Does he love TV shows and movies? Who wouldn’t love a gift card to Fandango?

5)  Prepare him something homemade.

If you feel that your guy already has everything he needs and wants, then consider giving him something homemade and from the heart. Put together a basket full of his favorite snacks, as well as some funny and useful trinkets from your local dollar store.

Photo Credit: iClipart

(All posts may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.)

Review: Pieced Plush Toys from Red Envelope

Red Envelope carries lots of great gift items and they’ve just added almost 400 new items to their website for the fall season.  I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to review this fabulous pieced plush robot that was personalized for my oldest son.  My three boys (two age six and one age seven) are young enough that they still want plush toys to play with and sleep with, but they’re also old enough that they don’t want anything they would consider to be “for babies” or “for girls”.  Well this plush robot is PERFECT for them – they love robots and Jacob is so pleased that it has his name on it and everybody knows who it belongs to so there is no fighting over that.

The robot is very well made with adorable embroidered features and durable stitching, plus he’s got a bean bag bottom so he can sit up on his own.  Jacob’s favorite part is the patch front pocket where he can hide his little trinkets, and my favorite part is that he loves it so much!

In addition to the robot you can also choose personalized lion or owl plush toys, or lots of other fun kids room decor items like personalized signs, vintage inspired toys and wooden piggy banks.  There are so many wonderful gift items to choose from, but I particularly love these kids personalized pillows that allow you to choose hair color and skin tone in addition to personalizing with your child’s name. 

You’re sure to find something for everyone on your gift list at Red Envelope, and all of their unique gift items come with a satisfaction guarantee!

Disclosure – Red Envelope provided me with the plush toy described above for the purpose of facilitating this review.  I received no compensation for this post and all thoughts and comments are my own.

6-7mm Pearl & Crystal Necklace and Bracelet $10 Shipped

My husband is one of those ‘wait til the very last minute’ kind of Christmas gift buyers so I’ve found that it’s always best to help him out a little bit in that department.  So far “he’s” gotten me a cool hard sided carryon suitcase and a pair of earrings, but I think he’ll be happy to know that he also just got me this beautiful Pearl & Crystal Bead Necklace and Bracelet set for only $9.99 shipped!  The three strand necklace and bracelet retail for $99 and are on sale right now for only $29.99 BUT you can take $20 off with promo code [coupon code=”8″ /] and get the set for just $9.99 shipped.  I love Super Jeweler because they stand behind their stuff with a 60 day money back guarantee, and I love all the great stuff ‘hubby’ is getting me this year 😉

B1G1 Free Zoobooks Magazine for Kids


ZooBooks 2 for 1 Black Friday Cyber Monday

Here’s a hot deal that is only good this week – from November 23rd through December 1st.  Buy one Zoobooks magazine subscription for $29.90 and get a second subscription for another child for FREE!  Zoobooks is a fabulous high quality, glossy magazine for kids that helps turn their love of animals into a love of reading. 

This is an excellent gift idea for kids, check out the Shopper Strategy Holiday Wish List for more gift ideas and inspiration!

Ray Ban Unisex Sunglasses 4 Styles $59.99 Shipped!

Get your choice of four unisex styles of Ray Ban designer sunglasses for only $59.99 shipped!  That’s a whopping 57% off the retail price of $139.95 and these RARELY go on sale.  Grab yours quick before they’re all gone!

These fabulous sunglasses would make a great Christmas gift for a special someone, or check out the Shopper Strategy Holiday Wish List for more gift ideas.