Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Buy Christmas presents by redeeming your points

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 7:14 Comments Off on Buy Christmas presents by redeeming your points

When you think of redeeming points, do you automatically think only of air miles?  Well, chances are pretty good that you have more than one “points card” that you get for being a frequent shopper at favorite stores.  And many of those stores will allow you to redeem those points for free products you can choose from a catalog, discounts on purchases and even exchange for gift cards.  But most of these companies don’t exactly volunteer that you can exchange those shopping points for anything good, so you need to get on it!

First, go through your wallet and find all those frequent shopper cards you have that track how much you spend (and no, you probably don’t want to know how much you have spent on each of them!!!)  Then, armed with your cards, check out the websites for each company and see what kind of perks you can get with those points you have earned.

If it isn’t a card that you receive a statement for, chances are pretty good you have probably racked up a fair bit without even knowing it, especially if it is something you use frequently, such as while grocery shopping.  You may need to phone their head office to find out your points balance, if you don’t have access to it, then find out what those points are worth.  You could be surprised at what you could exchange those points for.  Or next time you are in each store, a customer rep can help you find out about what your points balance is, and what you can get for it.

This is a great way to stretch your budget over the holidays, especially since it is essentially “free money”.  So be sure to take advantage of it, especially if there are people on your gift list you weren’t able to afford to buy anything for.

And don’t forget, if you are in the giving spirit, most places have charities they work with where you can simply donate all your unused points to charity…. this is what I have done on multiple occassions to support everything from a local children’s hospital to the SPCA, and I know the donation is appreciated by all.

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This was posted under category: Holidays, Shopping

Use those KBToys gift cards immediately

Sunday, December 14, 2008 17:09 Comments Off on Use those KBToys gift cards immediately

If you haven’t heard, KB Toys is going out of business, which means that if you have a KBToys gift card, you will want to use it ASAP.  The stores are still accepting gift cards as payment (but are not issuing new ones), which isn’t the case for all businesses going bankrupt.  But since stores can close their doors at anytime, it is best to use those gift cards NOW!

More info here on the Consumerist.

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This was posted under category: Shopping

Are you haggling to get a better deal?

Friday, November 21, 2008 1:33 Comments Off on Are you haggling to get a better deal?

While some stores don’t seem to be swayed when you try to strike a deal, many surprisingly are.  Here are some tips for haggling so you can get the best deals.

Damaged/Open packaging
If you are buying something that has been previously opened, ask if you can get a deal on it.  Stores have a much harder time turning over goods with opened and damaged packaging, so you can usually save an extra 20-30% off the retail price.  You can even ask them to open the packaging while you are in the store so you can check and make sure all the pieces are still in the opened package… if anything is missing, you can usually get an extra discount… and if it is just a manual, you can often download a copy of it online or request one from the manufacturer.  You can also ask the cashier to mark on the receipt that you purchased an open product if it is something that might have been returned because it didn’t work.

Dated product
If the product is nearing its expiration date (and you know you will use it before that date) ask for a discount. This is especially true for perishables, such as dairy products.  Sometimes if the date is close enough (expires within a day or so) they might even gift it to you for free, especially if you alredy have a cart full of other groceries you are buying, since the section manager might view it as a good will gesture, knowing you are purchasing a significant amount of other groceries too.

Already Reduced
If something has already been reduced (whether it is perishable, or something that is out of season, such as a pair of shorts in December) ask if they can discount it any further.  And it doesn’t hurt to do a price check… if it is clothing, it could have been hiding on a rack when a service person went through with their price gun to show further price reductions, which is a frequent problem in chain department stores.

Meat department deals
Many grocery stores will go and reduce meat that is nearing the best before date.  So become familiar with your grocery store policies, such as if they discount them 2 days before the best before date.  Shopping first thing in the morning you will have a better selection for the meat, then just ask the meat manager to put the discount stickers on them before you go to pay.  It is a great deal, as long as you remember to eat them or freeze them before the best before date.

Price adjustments
Many stores, particularly for clothing, have a policy where you can being your receipt back for a price adjustment if it goes in sale within the next X number of days, usually 14 or 30 days.  Just remember to take your receipt back for the price adjustment!  Most stores offer this simply because most people do not get around to returning for the price adjustment, and if they do, chances are pretty good they will end up buying something else when they come back too!  So be sure to ask if there is a policy, and then watch the sale flyers to see if it goes on sale, then make a point of going back and getting your receipt adjusted.  If you want to skip out on the holiday crowds, plan your trip either as soon as the store opens or closer to the closing time.

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This was posted under category: Grocery shopping, Holidays, Shopping Tags: , , ,

Stock up on your holiday gift bags now to save money

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1:03 1 Comment

Buying gift bags can really add to your holiday budget.  And when you wait until closer to Christmas, it will be harder to find those inexpensive gift bags and you will be stuck paying more for them.  And as a bonus, nearly all store-bought gift bags come with a tag attached to the handle, so you don;t have to spend extra money on gift tags or cards. 

Take a tally of the gifts you have already purchased and see what you need to either gift wrap or gift bag them.  Then hit your local dollar store or other place that is known for cheap gift bags, and buy what you need now…. you can even get ahead of the game and wrap them after you buy the bags too, saving you time when Christmas gets closer and there never seems to be enough time. 

Still have some gifts you need to buy?  You can also stock up on a few extra seasonal bags – or you can get some generic solid colored bags that would also work for birthdays, anniversaries and any other gift-giving ocassions you may have coming up.  Silver is always a safe bet as is most shades of green and red. 

Don’t forget the tissue paper if you top the gift bags with colored tissue paper.  The seasonal colors always seem to be sold out at the dollar store by the time December rolls around, and it can be very hard to make a Christmas gift look festive when hot pink tissue is peeking out of the gift bag!

Don’t forget white tissue paper works just as well.  So when you purchase any clothing items, even if they aren’t for a gift, ask for a bit of tissue paper.  Then you can save it for topping on Christmas gift bags too… or use two of your freebie white tissue papers and one colored one in the middle, so you can save a lot of money this way too.

 When should you start?  Now!  Black Friday is when you will start to see the least expensively priced gift bags start to sell out.  And let’s face it, it is far better to pay $1 a bag this week than $5 a bag a week before Christmas when the stock of bags has been picked over just about everywhere.

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Save money by buying Christmas gifts after Christmas

Sunday, November 16, 2008 4:35 1 Comment

Everyone starts stressing out about Christmas shopping as Thanksgiving approaches, especially when everyone is on a tighter budget this holiday season.  Here is one way to bring down the cost of your holiday gift giving.

An easy tip, if you don’t mind braving bargain hunting crowds, is to save your holiday shopping for those friends and family members you will be seeing after the holidays until after Christmas Day.  You can often find great bargains as stores are trying to clear out of all kinds of gift baskets, gift sets and any kind of gift that is with holiday packaging.  So this means that gorgeous gift set you were eying up before Christmas could be as much as 75% or 80% off when you purchase it after Christmas. 

So next time you look at your Christmas shopping list, see who you could purchase gifts for after the Christmas season instead of before.  You can translate this into either saving more money, or being able to get more bang for the same amount of money you had budget for those people.

Want to take advantage of the after Christmas sales even more?  Suggest to some family members or friends that it might be better to do gift exchanging after Christmas…  you don’t have to come out and tell them that it is because you want to be able to get their gifts on sale.  Instead, just say the time is so busy right before Christmas that it makes more sense to exchange them afterwards when things aren’t so busy… and if you have kids, you can suggest that you should do it so they have something to look forward in the post-Christmas time period.

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Black Friday Survival Guide for Getting the Best Deals

Friday, November 14, 2008 21:18 3 Comments

Are you ready for the challenge of a crush of shoppers on the number one shopping day of the year, Black Friday?  The day after Thanksgiving is the best day to get those bargains and deals for those coveted Christmas presents, but for those who have never had to stand in line at midnight the night before, this Black Friday Survival Guide is for you.  We will teach you the tricks of the trade so that you can score the best deals while keeping your sanity (somewhat!) intact while doing it.

To help you in the Black Friday mall madness, we have three new exclusive MomsBudget Black Friday worksheets at the bottom of this page, so you can get yourself ready, and plan out your best plan of action for the big shopping day.  Please share this with friends and family so they can make the most of their shopping day too!

  • Arrive early.  Yes, this is a case of the early bird gets the worm, especially if the good deal you are after only has limited quantities available.
  • Check opening hours.  Just because you know the store usually opens at 9am, don’t assume that it will be the same time on Black Friday.  Double check because you don’t want to show up for that hot deal at 9am only to discover they opened their doors at 5am and have been sold out of your hot deal for hours already.
  • Are the deals time-sensitive?  Make sure you are there at the correct time for specials only available at certain times of the day.  If there is a door crasher at 11am for a specific microwave, don’t expect them to honor the price if you are there at 8am or 1pm.  That said, there is nothing wrong with stalking out the item early, so you can be sure to get one!  Just be prepared that some stores won’t put the items on the floor until the specific door crasher time, meaning you will need to be ready to pounce when it comes out of the stock room.
  • Watch for flyers.  Not all the stores will put out their flyers on the same day, so you might get one flyer in the Sunday paper but another might not arrive until Tuesday or Wednesday.  Use our Black Friday Price Tracker to keep track of prices for individual items as each flyer comes in, saving you time later when you would otherwise be hunting through a stack of flyers to remember who had the best price on that Nintendo DS.
  • Eat a good breakfast.  You will need your energy!  This is not the morning to let your dieting win!
  • Bring a bottle of water.  You don’t want to have to stop for a drink, and bringing a bottle of water means you can sip while in line while you wait, rather than standing there thinking about how hot and thirsty you are!
  • Park closer to the exits and not the entrances.  If the store you are going to has difference doors for exits and entrances, go to the exit.  First, most people will naturally park near the entrance, meaning you can get a better parking spot near the exit (and you can often enter through the exit too).  Secondly, you will be closer to your vehicle when you leave, meaning less time carrying your bags and an easier getaway so you can get to the next store on your list.
  • Be aware of pickpocketers.  Do you know that pick pockets will take advantage of the huge josteling crowds to rip off your wallet?  So if you carry a purse, put your wallet in the little zip pocket inside AND zip up the outside zipper as well.  Not bringing a purse but have a coat?  Zip it into the inside breast pocket.  And get rid of all those excess cards in your wallet, since a larger wallet is easier for a thief to find and grab when they reach into your purse.  And dump out your unneeded change… you don’t need the added weight!.
  • Can you shop online?  Some stores will allow their Black Friday deals to start at 12:01am that day, so you could get all your shopping done before the store opens their physical doors.
  • Dress comfortably.  Wear your most comfy shoes and skip the jacket for a sweatshirt that you can tie around your waist if needed.  The stores can get HOT with so many people.
  • Try the divide and conquer method.  Instead of you and your hubby going together to each store, why not split it up so you will each spend less time shopping.  Or one stands guard with the cart (preferably in one of the lesser crowded places, such as luggage or garden supplies) while the other grabs the items and brings them back… getting a cart through the crowd can be crazy!
  • Doing a lot of shopping at one store?  Visit the store the right before closing the day before Thanksgiving (or on Thanksgiving if it is one of the few open), so you know exactly where all the items are before you get there with all the crowds on Friday.  Just because you know where those iPod Nanos are usually doesn’t mean they will be there on Friday, they could have a huge display at the opposite end of the store.  If the store is large, they might have a store map available, which you can then make notes on about where specific things are located.
  • Is it worth the money being saved?  If the big ticket items you want are being sold in multiple places for nearly the same price (say, within $5 of anything $100 or $150 or more), you might want to go to the store you think will be much less busy, both because it will ultimately take you less time to buy the items, and there won’t be nearly as many people to get through.  So instead of going to BestBuy for that item, go to a smaller local store instead. 
  • Baby steps for the uninitiated!  If this is your first time shopping on Black Friday, you might consider starting off later in the day, or skipping the major big box retailers.  Crowds usually decline throughout the day (all those people standing in line need all night need to sleep!)  Or go along with a friend who is a veteran of Black Friday sales if you want to shop at the same stores. 
  • Know your prices and back-up places to shop.  If that gaming system is the cheapest or has the best bundle at one store but is sold out, know which place has the second best price so you can try there next.  Use our MomsBudget Black Friday Price Log so you know which stores have the next-best prices incase your first choice (or even your second choice!) is sold out.
  • Be nice.  The person who is nice to the salesperson is much more likely to get what they want than the customer who swears and curses.  When something is sold out, a salesperson is much more likely to give you a better deal on an alternative product if you are nice than to the customer who is cursing a blue streak at them.  Remember it is busy and if a salesperson doesn’t want to help you because you are being a jerk, he or she can easily keep occupied with the many other customers needing help until you go away!
  • Get a babysitter.  The last thing you want is whiny kids along for the shopping trip.  Not only is it too busy to keep an eye on them properly, chances are pretty good the crowds will make them upset or cranky.  So get a babysitter so you don’t have to add dealing with your kids into the whole Black Friday shopping mix.
  • Have a shopping list.  Make up your shopping list so you aren’t tempted to buy things you really don’t need, just because you think it’s a good deal.  Use this handy list so you know exactly what you need to buy, and your budgeted cost for each recipient, just incase you decide you want to buy something else on the spur of the moment.  Use the Moms Budget Shopping Plan Printable!  If some of the items aren’t in sales flyers, you can also use our Gift List Worksheet to remind you of what you planned to get each person, along with the budget for each as well.

Here are three worksheets from MomsBudget, and how you can use them to make sure you make the most of your shopping day.

Black Friday Price Tracker

Black Friday Price Tracker

As each Black Friday flyer comes out, go through them and record all the prices for each of the items you need to buy. Then the day before, you can sort through and see which stores have the best prices for each item you need.

Black Friday Price Log

Black Friday Price Log

Once you have completed your Price Tracker, use this worksheet to put the best price for each item, as well as the 2nd and 3rd best prices, so you have a backup plan incase something sells out.. this way you won’t overpay somewhere else because you couldn’t remember who had the 2nd best price.

Black Friday Shopping Plan

Black Friday Shopping Plan

Once you know what you need to buy where, use this worksheet for listing all the items you need to get at each store, including the price and section of the store it is in. Also checkboxes for if you got it, it’s sold out, or you need to ask where to find it. Use one for each store.

We will also be posting links to the most popular Black Friday flyers as they are released online, so you don’t have to wait for them to arrive in your mail or newspaper (please comment with additional flyers if you see them!).  Be sure to bookmark this page and sign up for our RSS feed so you are on top of everything for the most successful bargain hunting shopping day.

Following these tips should help you survive the mass hysteria that greets shoppers on Black Friday.  And this year could be worse, because so many people are trying to save as much money as possible, so bargain hunters will be out in full force.
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This was posted under category: Holidays, Shopping