Tag Archives: Shopping

Holiday and Black Friday Shopping Tips

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I remember getting up before sunrise and driving to the nearest mall the day after Thanksgiving hoping to score the “deal of a lifetime”. The tradition was fun and the deals were the best of the season. Once stores started offering ridiculous deals like TVs for $99, (even though they only had a couple per store) the fun tradition turned into a madhouse. Every year it seems like stores offer better and better deals earlier in the season and not just on one day. Here are some shopping tips to keep your sanity over the holidays and won’t have you waiting outside of a store at 3am on Black Friday.

Plan Early- For the most part the recipients of your holiday gift giving aren’t going to change drastically year to year. So why not get a head start on shopping? Each year I make an excel spreadsheet with the names of the people I need to buy for and how much I want to spend. I also jot down a couple ideas of items to pick up and once I purchase a gift I update the list. This year I have already purchased my Christmas Cards from Shutterfly at 40% off and picked up a great deal on a toy for Toys for Tots. It may be tempting to wait for a “blow out” deal a couple days before Christmas but remember selection will be limited and you will most likely end up spending more than you intended too. Since I do enjoy visiting the mall around the holidays, I usually leave the week before Christmas to pick up a few last minute items and shop for some great bargains for myself!

Check Blogs for Hot Deals- One of my favorite websites is http://hip2save.com. This blogger has her finger on the pulse of internet bargains. She has partnered with the Today show so I find that some of the deals she writes about sell out quickly because of her giant fan base. For example today she posted about a 25% off promotion at the Disney Store. This deal would be a great opportunity to pick up some personalized items for the kids (young and old!) on your list. Year round the blog can get a little coupon heavy with groceries. However, closer to the holiday shopping season, her posts are geared more towards holiday gift giving.

Online Shopping- Not only do you save gas and the stress of circling for a parking spot at the mall. Online shopping can be done at any time of the day!  You can also earn extra cash back with Ebates.com and know you are getting the absolute cheapest price by checking Retailmenot.com for coupon codes.  Since my family lives in another state I ship all my gifts to my Grandparents house which is so much easier than checking additional baggage on the airplane. Don’t forget to price compare the Black Friday Deals with online prices. You may find an equally attractive price online on Amazon.com or another online retailer. Try clicking on the Shopping Tab on the Google home page. Enter in the item you are looking for and Google will bring up multiple online and local retailers and prices.

If there is a deal on Black Friday that you absolutely must go to the store for here are some additional shopping suggestions.

  • Make a list of stores, items on sale and store hours.
  • Devise a game plan of which stores to go to first.
  • Fill up the car with gas the night before. Every minute of sleep is precious it’s going to be a busy day!
  • Shop with a friend! There might be a really long line, so alternate who is waiting in line and who is shopping.
  • Keep those receipts. Many stores will offer price adjustments if the price goes lower. There is a lot of excitement so holding on to those receipts isn’t a bad idea if you find yourself caught up in the hype.
  • Stay focused and consult your list. There are a lot of good deals out there, but is it a great deal for you or someone on your list?
  • Wear comfy clothes. Black Friday is not a fashion show, it’s shoppers on a mission!
  • Bring snacks. You may find equally long lines at Starbucks or any place other shoppers are grabbing a quick bite.
  • Be nice and relax. Remember Black Friday is an adventure. Some shoppers will run for items like their life depended on it. That doesn’t have to be you. Hopefully a positive attitude and some kindness will rub off on other shoppers.

Good Luck!

Searching for that Perfect Something

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Remember the days when we had to drive store to store to find the perfect piece of clothing or gift we wanted? Ultimately most of the time I settled for something not quite perfect, probably paid more than I wanted and left only slightly satisfied. Here is one of my favorite websites I use to find that perfect “something” online. 

Shopping for a specific type of shoe or piece of clothing? Try www.shopstyle.com. For example I put in “Womens Flat Brown Boot” in the search field. The Shop Style website then presented me with photos, prices and links of multiple options. Sorting by price, popularity and new items can speed up your search when you get a little overwhelmed by all the options. Other cool Shop Style features include setting sale alerts for items you want to watch or a sale alert for every item in your search criteria. If you find something you like and want more information or to purchase it, just click on the photo and viola you are directed right to that item on the store’s website. Don’t forget to check www.retailmenot.com and Ebates.com for additional discounts. 

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Amazon Wish List. The Internet is Your Shopping Mall!

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It’s no secret the holidays are one of my favorite times of year. I love the decorations, parties and who doesn’t love the presents!  When it comes to gift giving everyone loves a little direction. I will admit I am really hard to buy for. Even my husband who sees me everyday is usually at a loss for what I want on any given holiday. So in comes the Amazon Wish List!

The Amazon Wish List is my go to website when I’m creating any sort of registry or wish list. The thing that sets the Amazon Wish List apart is you can add anything from the Amazon website and any item from other websites. Setting up an Amazon Wish List is easy and your family will thank you when it comes time to exchange gifts! 

Step 1: Login or create an Amazon.com account.

Step 2: Go to Your Account and select Your Wish List from the drop down menu.

Step 3: Name your list. You can also make it private or share with only certain people. If you make your list public your friends and family can find the list by using your email address. 

Step 4: In the left column under Wish List tips, click on Add items to your List from anywhere. This link will allow you to download a button for your internet browser bar so you can add items from any website with the click of one button. 

Step 5: Start wishing! Your Wish List button should be to the left of the internet address bar. I went to Sephora.com and found a perfume I wanted to add to my list. I pushed the button and a pop up window appeared that looked like this. If you are shopping for clothing it’s also helpful to put a size and color into the comment section. 

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Ta-dah! My Wish List is now updated.

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Hope this nifty tool will help you receive the gifts you want and also help your family and friends stay sane around the holiday season!

Favorite Places: Have you been to your Library lately?

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ImageRemember life before iPads, email and Words with Friends people actually used to sit in one place and read books? Yes, it’s a bit of a foggy memory for me too. Books used to represent an adventure waiting for you to unfold.  Now tablets and mobile devices literally give you the world at your fingertips.

This week I want to share with you my love of the library. Given my short attention span it fills my quest for my ever-changing interests. Many librarians have told me “Wow, you must really love music” as I’m checking out 20 cds or “Ma’am we have a limit of how many you can take home”!

I’ve had 3 big moves in the past few years so I’ve been able to compare features from several libraries.  Eight years ago I was shocked to walk into my local New Jersey library and find current DVDs, music cds from top 40 to opera and a section of just New York Times best selling books.  I thought this is my tax dollars at work! Anyone who has ever paid property taxes in New Jersey can attest, sometimes garbage pick up twice a week just isn’t enough to feel like your absorbent taxes are going to something that is actually going to enhance your life.

When I moved to Washington DC I was excited to find out I could take hundreds of classes online for free with a real instructor and homework! The classes range from “How to be a Life Coach” to “Becoming a Property Manager”. Check with your library to see if they are a member of the www.universalclass.com website.

My next library experience was in North Carolina, I learned how to download books onto my iPad with an app called Overdrive. Digital books were especially convenient when I went to Morocco, who wants to carry a month’s worth of books in a bag? They have thousands of books available in digital form as well as audio books. At first I found it a little awkward to read on the iPad but eventually I got used to it. You can also change the background to sepia, which is easier on the eyes, and adjust the type size, font and brightness.  The books can be checked out for 21 days and automatically delete when it’s time to return them. If you check out the same book in the future, the app will remember where you left off. Every couple months I’ll sit down at my computer login to my library account and compare the digital download lists to the New York Times best seller lists. There is often a wait for the really popular and new titles. I waited about 3 months for Gone Girl. However there are still hundreds that are available for immediate download.  I read more now than I ever have.

I also learned to love audio books also available for free on Overdrive.  They are perfect for long drives in the car or during my daily 5-mile walks.  Sometimes top 40 music seems more like the top 10!

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I feel it’s only fair to mention the dark side of the library and maybe why some people stopped going in the first place! Overdue fines! I once had a fine of 17 dollars for a few DVDs and books that I took on vacation. In the long run I feel like 17 dollars is much less than what I would have spent if I purchased them all.  However, in the digital age you can always renew online. The only time I wasn’t able to renew my books or media online was when someone else was on the waiting list.

So how do you take advantage of all these amazing (and free) things at your library? To get a library card you need a current drivers license with your local address, or if you just moved bring in a utility bill with your name and address along with a photo id.  Don’t forget to ask about the digital media the library offers. When I signed up for digital book downloads I had to create a pin number at the library.  This is much easier to do when you are at the library rather than sitting at home ready to read some digital books.

Happy Reading!

 

My Online Shopping Arsenal

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Wendy’s Random fact : Online shopping transactions are expected to rise by 13% this year. (Which probably means more discounts for us!)

I’m a self-proclaimed professional shopper. To pay full price for anything seems like a bit of a failure. I’m always on the watch for good deals and new sites to increase my savings. Here are some links and tricks to supercharge your online shopping savings.

Shopping for clothes, shoes, cosmetics and household stuff

My first stop is Ebates.com. Once you sign up for an account you can start earning money on each online purchase you make. It’s super easy and all you have to do is search for the store you want to purchase from and click “Shop Now”. Ebates.com also lists coupon codes to help you save more money on your purchase. The website keeps track of the money you have earned by clicking through Ebates.com before you make your purchase and send you a quarterly “Big Fat Check” (Yup. That’s what it’s really called!) I’ve been shopping through Ebates.com for 2.5 years and so far I’ve received over $900.00 for just going to Ebates.com before I make my purchase. After checking out a washer and dryer in the store, I got online and saved even more money with Ebates.com and discount codes. By not making the purchase on the spot with the salesperson, I saved at least $400 dollars by comparison shopping online. It’s hard to walk away from what seems like a great deal at the time, but I figured I could always drive back to the store the next day if I didn’t find what I was looking for online.

My second stop is Retailmenot.com. This site doesn’t require an account, just search for the store you want to purchase from and check out the online discount codes. Sometimes there are different discounts than Ebates.com so I usually check both sites.

If I’m heading out to the mall I usually check printable-coupons.blogspot.com before I leave the house. This website lists loads of printable coupons, everything from Micheal’s coupons, Lord & Taylor, Kohl’s and Macy’s are just a couple of the printable coupons I use on a regular basis. Also check out their restaurant section, there are frequently coupons for fast food and chain restaurants.

Travel discounts

Most people know about the travel discounts offered by orbitz.com, hotwire.com or travelocity.com. However, sometimes it’s time-consuming to check each and every site.  At some point you actually need to leave for that vacation! So here is your new favorite travel buddy kayak.com! This site checks nearly all the other discount travel websites in addition to the airline webpages. Kayak makes it super easy to shop for flights, hotels and car rentals. Don’t forget to click-through Ebates.com before you book to save even more.

My parents have been AAA members since I was a kid. I  remember them going to the AAA office before a vacation to get trip directions and maps. Until a couple of months ago I didn’t even look to AAA.com for travel discounts, in the age of digital directions I didn’t think they could do much for me. Let me say I have left money on the table by not being a member! Marriott is my hotel of choice when travelling and I’ve been missing out on at least a 5% discount off the published rates. Live and learn. Needless to say I’m a member now! I also used AAA to save more money on my home insurance, prescriptions and 10% off my Sprint phone bill. I’ve gotten so into it I even installed an app on my iPhone that will notify me when a AAA discount is available nearby.  More about my favorite apps in another post!

If you are travelling to a major city be sure to stop in at the customer service desk of any Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s. They offer out-of-state visitors an additional discount shopping pass. The discounts ranges from 10-15%. They also will store your luggage or any packages for free. This is a life saver if you are trying to squeeze in some last-minute fun before your flight home.

Hope this posting will help you save on your future purchases and travels! Leave a comment on the page if you are looking for a specific item and I’ll try to suggest a couple options that could save you money.