6 Ways to Get Your Christmas Shopping Done Early

ways to get christmas shopping done early

Christmas is only a few months away! The next few months are going to be busy for many families. The back-to-school season is approaching as well as football season. The holidays will be here before you know it. Christmas isn’t on the mind for many families until towards the end of November. Many families wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to complete their shopping. Some may complete it all at once and some may complete it throughout the end of November and during the month of December. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars all at once to complete your Christmas shopping, why not shop throughout the year?

First, you’ll want to make sure you have your list ready of people that you need to buy for throughout the year. Then, create a budget of how much you’ll be spending for each person, and what he/she may like or want.

How to Shop for Christmas Presents Throughout the Year (Instead of All At Once) AND Save Money, Too!

1. Shop for 1-2 People Each Month

If you set aside money each month for 1-2 people on your list, chances are, you won’t go into a huge amount of debt by getting all of your shopping completed month by month. Budget for about $50-$100 a month for 1-2 people and do this each month until you are finished shopping.

2. Shop the Clearance Aisles

Just about every store has a clearance aisle. You can score some pretty great items at a low price on the clearance racks. If you see items on the shelves that you think your recipient will like, purchase the items and put them in the gift closet and save them for Christmas.

3. Use Rewards Points

If you have any accounts earning rewards points, use your rewards points for Christmas presents! This includes any credit or debit card rewards, Pampers Rewards, Kellogg’s Family Rewards, or other rewards.

Related: Ways to Earn Extra Cash or Rewards This Summer

4. Re-Gift

If you have new items sitting around your home unopened, consider putting them away for someone that may need or want it. Just make sure you don’t give it back to the same person that gave it to you! Re-gifting is not a bad idea if you know you don’t love the item or if you know you’ll never use it.

5. Shop for Brand New Items at Thrift Stores

You can find brand new items at thrift stores at a low price. You’ll be able to tell since the items usually still have the tag hanging on them or the item is still in the box. You’ll pay way less for the item at a thrift store than you would at a retail store.

6. Shop the Lightning Deals at Amazon

I check Amazon just about every day. This doesn’t mean I buy something every day, but I do browse through the Lightning Deals at Amazon to see if there’s anything that would make a great Christmas gift. Many of the times you can get deeply discounted deals on items through the lightning deals if you catch it at the right time!

Remember, you don’t have to go into debt in December because of Christmas gifts. If you plan your shopping ahead of time and complete your shopping throughout the year, you’ll save money and have all of your shopping done early. Then, you can enjoy a less stressful holiday season!

Giveaway: Tomorrowland HD Digital Codes (Two Winners)

Tomorrowland_Title Treatment

Dreamers Wanted…Disney invites you to an incredible world of epic imagination where anything is possible. Buckle your seat belt, as the director of The Incredibles takes your family on an action-packed thrill ride. Join former boy genius Frank (George Clooney), optimistic, science-minded teen Casey (Britt Robertson), mysterious Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and the brilliant David Nix (Hugh Laurie) in a world of pure Disney imagination. Tomorrowland transports you on an inspiring and magical journey of wonder and adventure to a place where if you can dream it, you can do it.

Tomorrowland Giveaway

In celebration of Tomorrowland Blu-ray + Digital HD Combo Pack Release Date on Tuesday, October 13th, I’m giving away 2 free Tomorrowland Digital HD Codes to two lucky readers. Giveaway open to US residents, ages 18+ only. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

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Five Ways to Transition Your Wardrobe from Summer to Fall

clothes folded up in a retail store

Fall is right around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about switching out your summer wardrobe for your fall one. Just because the weather is turning cooler doesn’t mean that you need to put all of your summer clothes away and go buy all new ones for fall, however. Not only would this take a huge chunk out of your bank account, but it would leave your closet feeling stuffed as well. Instead, save yourself time, money and hassle with these five tips for transiting your wardrobe from summer to fall.

1. Layer with Cardigans and Blazers

Extend the life of those summer tank tops and sleeveless blouses with cardigans and tank tops. All you need is a few simple cardigans in colors you wear frequently and a blazer or two in a professional navy, gray or black and you’ll be able to wear your favorite summer T’s long after the weather turns cool. Cardigans especially are very affordable and widely available so don’t be afraid to buy several.

2. Add Thick Tights or Leggings

Think fall marks the end of sundresses? Think again. Add thick tights and leggings underneath your favorite sundresses as well as a cardigan or blazer on top and you’ll be cute, fashionable AND warm all fall long. Tights and leggings are a great way to make summer dresses into a whole new look. I recommend buying a few different pairs in grey and black, but don’t be afraid to throw in a brightly colored pair occasionally as well.

3. Roll Up the Hems

The transition from summer to fall can be tricky. There are plenty of days when it isn’t quite warm enough for short sleeves, but it isn’t quite cool enough for long sleeves either. Plus, the temperature can vary widely throughout the day. Stay comfortable by rolling up your long sleeves or pant legs into cute cuffs. The cuffed pants with heels look is very “in” right now, and it’s a great way to stay comfortable all season long.

4. Add a Scarf

Scarves are one of my favorite fashion accessories, and one of the best parts about dressing for fall. Something as simple as adding a scarf can really dress up your outfit or make it more playful. You don’t have to wear thick wooly scarves to stay warm either. You may just be surprised how warm a light, airy scarf will keep you when you wrap it just right. Check out Pinterest for unique and creative ways to tie your scarves. There are so many ways to tie them that you can create all sorts of looks no matter where you are going.

Amazon has a great selection of affordable scarves to choose from!

5. Switch Up Your Footwear

Don’t put away the sandals just yet. When it comes to footwear, anything goes! Wear flip flops with jeans and t-shirts or tall boots with sundresses and cardigans. During the short time between summer and fall, anything goes! Don’t be afraid to mix and match and see what types of unique combinations you can come up with.

Do you have summer clothes you aren’t ready to put away just yet? What other tips do you have for making your clothes last?

Five Ways to Earn Extra Cash


Whether you have back to school supplies, birthday presents or unexpected medical expenses to pay for, chances are you will need some quick, easy cash at some point in your life. Don’t rack up your credit card and don’t mess with an unscrupulous pay day loan company. Use one of these five great way to earn some quick cash instead. They won’t provide you with an extra, sustainable income, but they will get you the cash you need fast.

1. Sell Your Unused Belongings

Do you have extra furniture, clothes, toys, collectibles or other home items lying around your home that you don’t want or need anymore? Sell them in a garage sale, to a consignment shop, or on a site like Ebay or Craigslist. Not only will you declutter your home and help someone who needs those items, but you’ll make some quick, easy money too!

2. Sign Up for Inbox Dollars NOW and Earn $5

Join Inbox Dollars right now and you’ll earn $5 in your account just for joining! Then, you can do things like read emails, take a few surveys, play games, or shop to earn more. Once you reach $30 in your account, you can request payment!

3. Donate Plasma

Are you a relatively healthy individual? If so, you could make big bucks by selling your plasma. Depending on where you live, reputable companies may pay you as much as $20-$50 per visit, and you can usually go twice per week. Your body replenishes itself quickly so you aren’t out anything except an hour or so of your time. And for $50, I’d say that’s an hour well spent!

Related: Creative Ways to Make Money on the Side

4. Babysit, Pet Sit or House Sit

Babysitting, pet sitting and house sitting are all great ways to make some quick, easy money without too much work. Depending on the arrangement, you could work from your home or theirs, full time or part time, once in a while or on a consistent schedule. This option is especially great for stay-at-home moms who are home all day anyway.

5. Take Online Surveys

You can take online surveys for cash and rewards from the comfort of your own home. I like using my rewards from surveys for birthday and Christmas presents. My favorites are Toluna, Vindale Research, and Pinecone Research!

Related: Ways to Earn Extra Cash and Rewards

All of these ideas are super easy to do, and there is no wait time to find a job or get paid.

Could you use a little extra cash in your pocket? Which one of these are you going to try first?

7 Ways to Build An Emergency Fund

ways to build an emergency fund

If you are trying to save money, then you’ll probably hear about the importance of having an emergency fund. An emergency fund is just that – a fund set aside for emergencies only. You never know when you’ll need to use the emergency fund (your car breaks down, your AC goes out, etc.) Whatever the reason, the money will be there if you set it aside for a rainy day. Many experts will say that it’s a good idea to save at least $1,000 in an emergency fund if you are starting out. Then, once that fund is set and you’ve paid off your debts, you can always add to it and create a solid emergency fund of up to 3-6 months expenses.

Funding your emergency fund doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are a few ways to build your emergency fund.

1. Earn extra income.

Find a second job or work a few side jobs. Work a few extra nights a week and add the extra money to your fund. You can even try babysitting, mowing lawns, washing cars, etc.

2. Sell your belongings.

Go around your home and start finding items that you and your family can live without. You’d be surprised with how much you can find. Then, either sell those items at a yard sale, online through Craigslist or eBay, or consign the items.

Related: 5 Easy Steps for Throwing the Perfect Yard Sale

3. Avoid Eating at Restaurants.

If you are in the habit of eating fast food on a regular basis, I challenge you to add up your restaurant expenses for one month. Then, try to cut that amount in half, or avoid eating at restaurants at all.

4. Set up automatic payments.

Treat funds going into an emergency fund “like a bill” and set up automatic payments from your checking account. You don’t have to add a lot, but start small, maybe $25 each month. Set the payments up automatically and have it go to your savings account each month. You can increase this amount if you’d like until your emergency fund is where you want it to be.

5. Cut your grocery bill significantly.

Food can be one of the highest expenses in your household. Create a budget for food and stick to it. Most food budgets I’ve seen run around $200-$400 per month for a family of 4. Use coupons to save even more at the grocery store.

Related: The Best Places to Find Online Printable Coupons

6. Shop at thrift stores instead of retail stores.

Thrift stores are a great place to find items you may need or want. Instead of paying full price for items at a retail store, shop at thrift stores. I actually buy the majority of my children’s clothes at thrifts stores, paying only $1.79 per item. This beats paying $10-$15 per item or more at the mall or other retail stores!

7. Earn extra income through online surveys in your spare time.

Look into online surveys that pay for your time. Here’s a list of survey companies that you could sign up for to earn money or rewards for completing surveys.

Having an emergency fund in place can certainly help on a “rainy day.” Start as soon as you can to get your emergency fund in place.

Do you have an emergency fund in place? What tips would you add to the list?

Giveaway: Aladdin Diamond Edition Digital Download Code

Disclosure: I received an Aladdin Digital Code at no cost in exchange for a post.


Climb aboard for a magical carpet ride with nonstop laughs, action-packed adventure and Academy Award®–winning music that will make your heart soar (1992: Best Music, Original Song, “A Whole New World,” Original Score). Now for the first time ever, a whole new world of Disney’s Aladdin is revealed in a whole new way on Blu-ray and Digital HD—with never-before-seen bonus!

In celebration of this new release, I’m giving away 2 Aladdin Diamond Edition Digital codes! Use the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win! Giveaway open to U.S. residents ages 18+.


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Ten Halloween Costume Ideas You Can Make Yourself

halloween costume ideas

Think you have to spend a fortune to get great looking Halloween costumes for your children? If so, think again! Not only can you save big on Halloween costumes by finding them on sale, purchasing them secondhand and handing them down between siblings and cousins, but you can also save a bundle on your children’s Halloween costumes by making them yourself. Here are ten fun and frugal Halloween costume ideas that are cute, easy, and most importantly–cheap!

1. Black Cat

For an affordable Halloween costume purr-fect for girls of all ages, a black cat costume is the way to go. All you need are black leggings, a black long sleeve t-shirt, and black shoes. Accessorize with ears (felt triangles glued to a black headband), a tail (stuffed black pantyhose pinned to the pants), and black eyeliner whiskers. Easy, cute and cheap!

2. Ghost

There are few DIY Halloween costumes as popular or as well-known as the classic ghost costume. All you need is a sheet, a black marker, and a pair of scissors! Choose a white sheet for a classic ghost look or a colored sheet to create one of the Pacman ghosts!

3. Construction Worker

Does your son have a tool belt and a tool box in his toy chest? If so, pair them with a pair of jeans and a white shirt, and you’ve got an inexpensive and creative construction worker Halloween costume. The tool box can even double as his candy basket.

4. Princess

Your daughter loves playing princess on the other 364 days of the year, why make Halloween the exception? If she doesn’t have a pretty princess dress already, a flower girl, Easter or other church dress can work just as nicely. Then, all you need is a tiara and a wand, which you can always find cheaply at Halloween costume stores, toy stores or the dollar store.

5. Hockey Player

Do your children play any sports, such as hockey, basketball, or football? If so, dress them in their uniforms for Halloween! You already have everything that you need, and they are sure to look great.

Related: 7 Ways to Save Big on Your Kids Halloween Costumes This Year

6. Dancer

Is your daughter taking dance? If so, have her be a dancer for Halloween. You know the costume will be comfortable, look adorable and fit well, and you won’t have to spend any extra on it either. Be sure to do her nails and hair so she’s all glammed up for the big night.

7. Waitress

Do you have any old waitressing uniforms lying around from your days of working in a restaurant? If so, maybe your children would love to be a waitress for Halloween. All they need are jeans, a plain t-shirt (the messier, the better!), your apron, and a notepad and pencil. One order of Halloween candy coming right up!

8. Ninja

For your overly energetic young boys, how about a ninja costume? Dress them in black, tie a belt around their waists, and send them running down the streets with their fake plastic swords. They are sure to have a ball, and better to have them running down the sidewalk than crashing through your house!

9. Pumpkin
The pumpkin costume is another fall staple, and it’s incredibly easy to make. If you are dressing a baby, simply take a men’s large tshirt, place it on the baby, and stuff it with newspapers or rags. Secure the bottom by tying it and draw, glue or attach a felt face to the front. Adorable!

Related: 8 Frighteningly Cheap Homemade Halloween Decorations

10. Spider
Lastly, why not try an eight-legged spider costume on for size? Dress your children in black, and then use old black panty hose or leggings stuffed with newspaper or plastic bags to create additional legs, which you’ll pin to your child’s sides. You can even use fishing wire or string to connect the extra arms to your child’s sleeves, so all of the arms move when your child’s do. This costume can be as silly or as scary as you and your kids prefer.

Are you making your children’s Halloween costumes this year? What are they going to be?

5 Ways a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Save Big

stay at home moms save money

In this uncertain economy, many stay-at-home moms are saving big by adopting smarter shopping habits, stricter budgets, and eliminating unnecessary luxury items. Like these moms, you can make some small changes in your life in order to save more money. As financial expert, Suze Orman, suggests, “By taking care of yourself financially, you will truly be able to take care of those you love.” You can be a money-saving mama, more financially in control, and with a bigger budget for the things that matter most.


You don’t have to become one of those coupon-clipping moms from the television, but you shouldn’t avoid clipping altogether. Some women treat coupons like they’re a full-time job. Others take one afternoon a week to clip the coupons they’re most likely to use.

Coupons are for more than groceries. You can find coupons for everything from brand name electronics to clothing. You may find a valuable drugstore promo code or travel savings. Check in your weekly newspaper and online for coupons. Sign up for email alerts from your favorite brands and you may find money-saving coupons are randomly emailed to you.

Related: Best Places to Find Online Printable Coupons

Kids Eat Free

Many websites offer free meals for kids, when the adults in a family order from the regular menu. Instead of paying full price for everyone, try to only eat at those restaurants that offer free meals for children.


A strict budget is essential when you’re living on a single income. Create weekly and monthly budgets, with areas for projected and actual spending. This shows you where you’ve saved and how much. If there’s a surplus of money, put it into your savings account for a future vacation or larger home payment.

You can visually see where funds are being allocated and how much spending money you have for the week. You may find that you’re overspending on unnecessary expenses and not enough on your mortgage and car loans. For instance, if your husband travels frequently and is consistently overspending when parking at Newark, it may be a good idea to invest in a monthly parking pass.

Related: How to Create a Budget That Really Works

Prepare Meals at Home

Student lunches typically cost around $3, for an average monthly spending of $60. This $60 could help pay a bill or add to savings, so why not pack your children’s lunch? If you’re already couponing for inexpensive groceries, than you have the low-cost items on hand to prepare meals at home.

If your kids prefer what’s being served at school, try and find out if you can mimic those recipes. Another great way to get kids on board is to allow them to pick out a lunch pail with their favorite characters depicted on it. Your husband should be a little easier to sway. He likely finds your homemade leftovers more appealing that what they’re serving in the office cafeteria.

Related: 5 Reasons You Need to Start Meal Planning Today

Trim the Fat

Easily the best way to add a couple hundred dollars to your monthly savings is getting rid of luxury items you don’t need. If you’re paying for a monthly cable television subscription, complete with subscription channels, you’re costing yourself upwards of $250 a month. You should consider downgrading or cancelling this service altogether.

It’s important to not overspend on your credit cards either. Avoid luxury items, by keeping credit cards tucked away for emergencies only. Spend only what you can afford and then save the rest of your money. This is one of the best ways to build a savings and save your family some extra dough. Who knows? If you follow these tips, you may just find yourself relaxing on a beach for a quality family vacation soon.

Disclosure: Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

Zulily Deals 9/30-10/8

Here are a few great deals zulily just released like Sistema and Nino Bossi!

Live Today Through October 2nd

Get Up to 60% Off on Juicy Couture at zulily! Shop Today and Save!

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Save Big During Randalls Stock Up Sale!

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Randalls. All opinions are mine alone. #AStockUpSale #Randalls #CollectiveBias

It’s Randalls Stock Up Sale and there are plenty of deals going on in-store! It’s the perfect time to stock up your favorite brands like Yoplait, Nature Valley, Progresso and Hamburger Helper!


Randalls is a family favorite of ours because it’s located right around the corner from my in-laws house. There are many times we need an item or two and the convenient location along with the great prices are the reason we shop there!

Randalls has these awesome deals during their Stock Up sale, but you can be sure to check out what great deals are available at your local Albertson’s, Tom Thumb, and Safeway, too!

  • Honey Nut Cheerios, $1.88
  • Progresso Traditional and Light Chicken Noodle Soup, $1.28
  • Yoplait Original Strawberry, $0.48
  • Yoplait Greek 100 Vanilla, $0.88
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Oats N Honey Granola Bar, $2.48
  • Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper – Cheese Burger Mac, $0.88
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch, $1.69