Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

What I'm Thankful for This Holiday

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

At Thanksgiving dinner, someone asked my Gramma why her finger was splinted. She told the story of how she got the injury and all I could feel was gratitude.
Gratitudephoto © 2009 Kate | more info (via: Wylio)
My Gramma lives in the midwest. She's been taking the bus for years even though she has a license. Last month when she was coming home from the market she got off before her usual stop to get in a little exercise. She tripped, fell and landed on her right side. Her hand and arm broke some of her fall but not enough to protect her face. She was wearing sunglasses and they broke when her face hit the sidewalk, tearing the skin in the corner of her eye.

After the fall, she wasn't aware enough to dig her cell out of her purse. Fortunately, someone drove by and saw her lying there. The woman drove Gramma home, helped her inside and stayed until Gramma cleaned some of the blood off her face. Gramma is not sure how long she was on the ground. She doesn't remember the car ride to her house. She doesn't remember the woman's name. We're sure she must have blacked out.

The doctor visit afterward showed she had fractured the bones around her eye socket. Luckily there was no glass in her eye from her sunglasses and no bone fragments to worry about. She landed on the opposite side of her torn rotator cuff that she had surgery on last year, which is also lucky because that shoulder still gives her trouble. Her eye doctor says she won't need plastic surgery, she's healing well on her own. Her finger probably broke and didn't heal properly which is why she keeps it in a splint. But if that's the extent of her lasting injuries, we'll take it.

What happened to Gramma could have been so much worse. She doesn't live in the best neighborhood. An elderly woman; alone, injured and possibly unconscious is the perfect storm for something really, really bad. This holiday season, I am most grateful for the kindness of strangers.

9 Ways to Save: Sticking to a Holiday Budget

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This holiday will be the first we're creating an actual budget. I'm pretty good with finding deals and not overspending for gifts. Last year I bought gifts for 9 people for $120 total. It wasn't easy to do but it was worth the time to be able to get gifts for everyone and not just immediate family. 

But this year we're making a plan. We're not buying for everyone. I'll be doing a lot more baking. I'm also scouring the web all the time looking for deals. Several things have been working for me so far so I thought I'd share my strategy with you.

Piggy Bankphoto © 2009 Carly Watson | more info (via: Wylio)

Nine ways to save money this holiday season

1. Daily deal sites
These are popping up like weeds! So far, I have joined 13. Not all sites have offers in every market yet, but the larger sites have deals posted just about everywhere. Lots of the deals may be offered in a specific city but can be used anywhere. For example today's San Diego Groupon side deal is for $20 worth of calendars or printed gifts from Pulp Factory for only $9. Lots of these sites offer the option to buy the deal as a gift so be sure to search the city your recipients live in. 

These are some of the sites I've signed up for:
The Foundary (gorgeous kitchen and home items)
The Daily Save (San Diego only)
Daily Deal (San Diego only)
Rootz (deals from socially responsible companies)

So many of these deals are good for teachers, coaches, babysitters, the postman or anyone you want to give a little something without spending a lot.

2. Gift card swapping sites
I have a $100 gift card to a store that I don't usually shop in. I didn't know what to do with it so I started looking into swapping sites. Most of the offers I got were for $78 cash or $81 credit on Amazon which isn't bad for something that I've had in my wallet for almost a year. Many of the sites also sell discounted gift cards. The percentages may not be a lot but every little bit helps. Here are a few of the ones I found:

Plastic Jungle
Gift Card Granny
Swap A Gift
Gift Card Rescue

3. Sites that give cash back on purchases
These are best for people who do most or all of their shopping online. The cash back site acts as a shopping hub. Search for the store you want to buy from and follow the link. You'll earn a percentage of your total back and the site will cash you out when you reach a certain dollar amount. 

Occasionally a featured store will offer extra cash back for a limited time. I did a quick search and Piper Lime and Barnes and Noble are both offering 8% cash back through Ebates (up from 2% and 4% respectively). Cash back combined with coupon codes makes for great savings. Shop At Home has a great deal for dining out. $25 gift certificates are usually 80% Off at! When the $25 certificates went on sale last year for $2 I bought a ton and got cash back into my account. 

4. Turn points into rewards
These sites work best for internet surfers. I've earned a lot points through both sites by spending about an hour a month on them. Lately my points are increasing fastest from MyPoints because of all the coupons I print. Download the toolbars for faster earnings and redeem your points for gift cards. Most of the gift cards I've used for giveaways on this site I earned this way. No money out of pocket!

My Points

5. Swap gently used
There are so many Wii and DS games Tyler wants for Christmas. I'm hesitant to buy them full price in case he either doesn't like them after all of they're too hard (which has happened before). Swap Mamas and ThredUp are both good resources for trading all things child related. 

6. Schedule family visits after the holiday
Since both our parents are divorced, the holidays are always a juggling act. We usually end up in at least four places between Christmas and New Year. When I was working for Godiva, this was totally advantageous. Phil and I would schedule to meet with one set of parents after Christmas and I'd hit the day after sales hard. I'd go into Godiva when the doors opened and snap up all the nicest boxes of marked down chocolates and gifts (they should all be half off the morning after Christmas unless they've changed policies). I was able to get giant boxes for a fraction of the cost.   

7. Plan ahead for next year
I know the stores are insane in the days after Christmas but a little hassle goes a long way in terms of planning for next season. I haven't had to buy Christmas cards, wrapping and tissue paper, gift tags, gift bags, paper plates for cookie trays and treat bags in 2 years because I spent a good half a day hitting all the day after sales. It's helped so much not having to include those items in my budget. 

8. Amazon
There's a reason the site is labeled a retail giant. They know how to do things well. Between the Lightning Deals and Deal of the Day there are opportunities for big savings several times a day.

If you know someone who is getting an MP3 player, you can take advantage of the $5 album sale and free music. If they repeat last year's offer, you'll be able to download one free holiday song per day starting December 1st. When I bought my mom an iPod Shuffle I loaded it with music before I gave it to her and she loved it. Amazon's free shipping through their Amazon Mom program increases the savings.

9. Shop Black Friday
Stores are moving up their deals and offering them before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Almost all the big stores have 'accidentally' leaked their ad scans online already. If you make a detailed list and go out with a plan and the stores you want to shop broken down by location and when they open, you can save big.

Saving money has turned into a labor of love. It does take time but it's so rewarding. I hope some of these are helpful for you. If you have a frugal idea for cutting holiday expenses that I missed please share!  

**UPDATE Groupon is sending out advance emails of big holiday offers. There's a really good one for later this week that I know will go FAST. Sign up ahead of time so you're already a member!
*Some of the links above are affiliate links. This is not a compensated or sponsored post.

Fa La La La LONG- My Christmas CD Collection

Monday, December 1, 2008

I absolutely LOVE Christmas music. The music fills me and reminds me of the real meaning behind the season. I have been known to listen to a song or two outside of the holidays.

My mom started the tradition of putting on her Christmas CD's after the Thanksgiving dishes were all washed and put away. I used to think she was crazy, but now it seems the holidays go by so quickly I need to squeeze every minute out of them so I break mine out then too.

This is the time of year I really miss living in the midwest. As I type this I'm copying all my music to a playlist on my iPod (Hello Apple? You people are freaking geniuses!). Walking on the beach listening to White Christmas is kind of a cruel joke. Shorts and flip flops in December is unnatural. Yeah, I know, boo hoo. I'm sharing my collection and a few songs here then asking for your help.

Who doesn't love Harry? This CD has all his signature style: jazzy, upbeat and mellow.

I listened to some of this CD at Borders last year and instantly fell in love with it. I'd never heard any of Diana's music before. She has an amazing voice.

I grew up on Motown. This CD was one my mom had as a record.

She had my dad take all her Christmas records and record them on tape. Not a small cassette tape, the big giant spools of tape on a deck.
My dad was so proud of his "media center!" There was no "shuffle" setting so the tape would play over and over and I would complain because I'd memorized the order of the songs.

I bought this CD at Kohl's as part of their Kohl's Cares. It's so good! Christmas Time makes me cry almost every time I hear it (tearing now). I wish it was in the Seeqpod library but this song is good too.

No Christmas library is complete without the King. This CD has played on repeat for hours and I've never gotten tired of it. What a voice!

More Motown. This one has a lot of Supremes and Temptations.

And this does too, along with the Jackson 5 (when they were normal).

This was a Costco find. I love this woman. She's beautiful and talented and her voice is perfect for Christmas music.

This was the first Christmas CD I bought. Stevie Nicks' version of Silent Night is my absolute favorite.

A Cheryl Crow and Mary J. Blige duet? Yes please! This compilation is great.

Sensing a pattern? I really love the idea that these CD's support a cause. And ya gotta love Run DMC.

I try to add a new CD every year and would love your input. What CD do I need to add to my collection? What are your favorites?

'Tis the Season

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We may not have as much as we did last year but we have enough. Not everyone can say the same. If you know a family who may need help this holiday season, 5 Minutes For Mom is taking nominations. They are also hosting giveaways with prizes from the same sponsors donating to the families in need. I really like what these ladies do. Many of the promotions they run really make a difference in a families lives. Take a moment to see how you can help.
copyright melanie sheridan 2009 template design by Studio Mommy (© copyright 2015)