Archive for the ‘General’ Category

5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Shopping Hassle

Holiday shopping can really be a hassle. Not only are you dealing with all the rushing around, bargain hunting, last minute plans, crowds and traffic, but there’s also safety issues, budget concerns, and how to make sure you’re getting the most value for your money.

Here are 5 short videos that give strategies for shopping in stores and online that will work for you – not only during the holiday shopping season, but throughout the year – with tips on when, where, and how to shop to receive the most bang for your buck with the least amount of hassle.

Hassle-Free Holiday Shopping - Personal finance expert Carmen Wong Ulrich gives tips to stretch your holiday shopping dollars & get the most bang for your buck. Discounted gift cards, price matching, Black Friday, and online shopping tips.

Holiday Shopping Survival Tips - Between overcrowded malls and strict return policies, the shopping season can be stressful. Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen gives CBS’s Rebecca Jarvis her smart shopping survival tips for the holidays.

Pay with Paper or Plastic for Gifts? - It is better to pay with cash, credit card, open new accounts, lay-a-way? Wall Street Journal Columnist, Wendy Bounds gives tips on best ways to pay for holiday purchases from gift cards to electronics to apparel and pitfalls to watch out for.

Scouring for Holiday Sales -CBS business and economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis, gives her top Web sites & mobile apps to find the best bargain-basement holiday shopping deals.

Saving on Holiday Shopping - Holiday shopping? Some creative and easy tips to, stretch your dollar, stay in control of your spending & save money while enjoying holiday gift-giving from’s Stacy Johnson.

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9 Black Friday Shopping Apps

Smart phones and technology can help make your shopping easier, especially on Black Friday (doesn’t THAT sound nice?). Here are video reviews of Black Friday and other shopping apps that can help you save time and money:

Tech reviewer Matts MacIntosh shows two phone apps to find coupons and locations that accept them, find apps and track their price changes, scan bar codes and then located the best deals. He reviews Yoowza!, AppSniper and RedLaser: reviews three and evaluates the performance of these three apps designed for shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals . Find out if  the cost of these iPhone & iPad Touch mobile apps are worth their potential savings:

The Daily App Show reviews The Find, a mobile app that ties online and offline shopping together. You can price compare, scan bar codes, locate products and save information to save money. For iPhone and Android:

Crazy Mike from walks you through the features of THI Friday iPhone App, a free money-saving app:

Owen Robbins from KRRS Systems reviews the money-saving and coupon app called, The Coupons App for iPhones, iPad, Android devices. They also feature Black Friday deals:

More Black Friday Savings strategies in our posts:

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The Special Deal Days of Holiday Shopping


The holiday shopping season continues to start earlier in the year, and that means a growing number of “special shopping days” with more deals and discounts from retailers and online outlets. This is a greater opportunity for you to save on those items on your gift list. But with more and more sale days, it may be quite a challenge to keep your spending in check during the holiday shopping season. The keys to staying in control are:

  • plan ahead
  • know the best days to shop
  • research and price compare ahead of time
  • use coupons and promo codes
  • stick to your budget

Here are the 12 traditional big sale and discount days for holiday shopping:

November 10 - Neighborhood Toy Store Day - This day of awareness was initiated to help shoppers find the best children’s toys on the market and encourage shopping in your  local community. Check out this website with resources: Neighborhood Toy Store Day. 

The Day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday - In the United States, Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often even on Thanksgiving night, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. Sales are announced weeks ahead of time, and doorbuster deals are offered in limited quantities, which means advanced planning is essential to get the most from these bargains. More to find big savings in our post: Black Friday, Cyber Monday Money Saving Tips

The Saturday following Thanksgiving - Small Business Saturday  - Small Business Saturday reminds us to shop at locally-owned neighborhood stores. Boutique independent shops can offer some unique choices, quality goods and caring service.

The Monday following Thanksgiving - Cyber Monday - This marks the start of Cyber Week, where online shopping deals are continuous right up until the very last holiday minute, especially if you know where and how to search for bargains. By shopping online you save on gas and parking fees. Watch for sales, and use promo codes for discounts and free shipping offers. 7 Cyber Monday Shopping and Safety Tips.

End of November or in December - Chanukah – The first day of the eight-day holiday of Chanukah changes from year to year, but check your calendar and watch for new offers, specials and promo codes before that first day and and throughout the eight days of Chanukah. More tips to enjoy your holiday celebration in our post:  8 Ideas for a Happy Hanukkah Party on a Budget.

Second Monday in DecemberGreen Monday - eBay coined the term “Green Monday,” which does not refer to anything ecological, but rather, refers to the busiest online sales day of the year and the busiest shipping day in the country, with sales reported to bring in over one-billion greenbacks. More savings tips in this video:  Green Monday

Mid-December – Free Shipping Day - The U.S. and Canada’s Postal Service’s Annual Free Shipping Day,  is a one-day, online-shopping event when literally thousands of merchants offer free shipping promising delivery by Christmas Eve, and many merchants offer additional special promotions and discounts. More on participating retailers, special offers in this post on Free Shipping Day .

Third Thursday in DecemberNational Regifting Day - Regifting can be a budget-friendly option for gift-giving and is a more environmentally friendly option. Additionally, National Regifting Day conveniently coincides with the time that many businesses are hosting holiday office parties. One word of caution: be sure you don’t regift the gift back to the person who gave it to you originally. More handy tips in this video on The Art of Regifting.

Saturday before Christmas Day – Super Saturday - This is the second biggest retail shopping day of the year. The Saturday before Christmas is called “super” because it’s the last weekend chance for shoppers, which makes it super for retailers. Along with extra incentives and doorbuster deals being offered through the weekend, shoppers may also find a wide range of retail prices with tons of impulse items priced on the higher side while items that haven’t moved previously may be priced to sell. More in this video: Super Saturday Holiday Shopping

Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve - Two more intense days for sales at brick-and-mortar stores. This is the final opportunity for shoppers browse for gifts in order to give them in time for Christmas Day, and it’s the last chance to move inventory before final end of year markdowns. But though you may be facing a time crunch, it’s still possible to find deals. How-to tips in this video:  Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips.

December 26Kwanzaa – This seven-day celebration starts the day following Christmas and ends on January 1. This week is loaded with post-Christmas and end-of-year discounts being offered, but pay special attention and you may find extra coupon codes and discounts added to address this specific holiday. Ideas, crafts, recipes and gift ideas in our post: 7 Kwanzaa Celebration Ideas.

Day After Christmas and Post Christmas Deals: The day after Christmas is now considered to be a close contender with Black Friday as one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Shoppers are in stores with gift exchanges and returns, and using gift cash and gift cards while taking advantage of end of season sales for items like winter gear, clothing and coats. It’s also a good time to find rock bottom prices on holiday items you might want to stock up on for next year’s holiday season like wrapping paper, holiday cards, and decorations. Discounts are usual offered through January 1 as retailers need to move last year’s inventory to make way for new spring stock. Make the most of your post-holiday shopping with the tips in this video on How to Snag After-Holiday Deals.

 More on how to get the most for your holiday shopping dollar:

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Halloween (on a Budget) Party Ideas


It’s easy to make Halloween a Haunted Spectacular event! We’ve got all the goo, ghosts, goblins and more you’ll need to create a budget-friendly Halloween party, including costumes, Halloween decorations, Halloween party food, drink ideas, recipes, and more.  Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween!

Want to put together a quick Halloween party without a lot of fuss and expense? No problem:

Halloween Food and Party Ideas – Halloween doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be fun!  ”Garage Sale America” author Bruce Littlefield gives budget friendly food, party decoration and yard transformation ideas.

Halloween Party in an Instant! - How to create a quick, creative and affordable Halloween party with pointers from  Christopher Hughes, Co-Founder of One Hour Parties.

Halloween Finger Food - A new twist for Spooky Halloween Finger food, Breadstick Witch Fingers. This simple recipe idea from Arlene of, is fun to make, quick and easy.

Three easy Halloween decorating ideas from HDTV’s Jennifer Perkins:

Halloween Glow In The Dark Bat Tree - Glow-in-the-dark bats make a fun, but not-too-scary, party accent.

Halloween Outdoor Decor - Spook up your yard for Halloween in just a few short hours with these easy decorating tips.

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Tips - It’s easier than you think! Here’s an introduction to pumpkin carving, featuring tools of the trade and tips on pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern preservation.

Crafter Karen Weisman gives tips to turn your tabletop into an almost instant Halloween scene:

Halloween Spiders? Easy to Make! - Spiders are a classic Halloween decoration!  See how easy it is to make spiders out of nothing more than pipe cleaners.

Table Pumpkin Patch? Easy! - Easy-to-make pumpkin patch for a children’s (or anyone else’s!) Halloween or fall party decorations.

An Easy lightning-quick idea –  just the thing for any last minute Halloween costume:

DIY Statue of Liberty CrownHow to Make a Statue of Liberty Crown for July 4th or Halloween, a fabulous must-have for any costumed celebration!

And… not-to-be-missed: our previous Halloween post:

Wallet-Happy Halloween - 12 EASY tips to make your Halloween holiday a haunted hit while keeping your budget happy.

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Seasonal Crafts From the Kitchen & Yard

Setting a festive mood or bringing excitement into your home to enjoy some seasonal cheer doesn’t require a big wallet or bank account.

Sometimes the mementos everyone appreciates the most are the ones that came right from home, handmade from the little things found right in your backyard or kitchen. Here are some fun, eco-friendly and budget-friendly do-it-yourself craft projects that use and re-use simple materials you may already have on hand so you can bring the outdoors in to appreciate all season long.

How to Make Shrunken-Head Apples - Perfect for Halloween! A festive and seasonal DIY decor idea, that’s fun and easy to create: shrunken heads from apples. Float them in a bowl of punch, mount on sticks or make a garland and display by the front door. The video instructions say to leave them in the sun for several days to dry, but you can also leave them in a 225 – 250-degree oven for 6 – 8 hours or till dried.

How to Make a Corn Husk Doll - Candace from shows how to make DIY dolls from corn husks in this clip. A charming activity for kids to do. Decorate a wreath with them or string together and drape across a holiday dinner table top or spruce up a doorway.

Squash & Gourd Luminaries, DIY - Candace Give the Season a warm glow with these unique DIY luminaries from nature. How-to in this video from the Holiday Crafts show in the DIY Network hosted by Michele Beschen.

Wax Leaves for Decoration, DIY - Amanda Warford presents a crafty idea to bring the outdoors in.  This clip shows how a simple dipping in wax will preserve leaves to enjoy all winter long. Use them to create mobiles, collages, garlands or wreaths.

More DIY projects and ideas to get the most from what you already have:

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Wallet-Friendly Fourth of July

The Fourth of July…

What’s the perfect holiday for easy fun and easy on your budget, too? As Louise Sacco Reilly, from puts it, “The Fourth of July is a dream holiday for frugal people: no one expects you to bring gifts and the entertainment is free!”

Fireworks, parades, block parties – so much is available for a great celebration, and we here at have brought you tips on how to make the most of this favorite summer holiday with videos full of money-saving and high-style July Fourth party ideas to put you in a festive mood and let your patriotic flags fly!

Wishing you a happy and safe July 4th!

Backyard Getaways and Parties – Martie Duncan, founder of Martie Parties, gives easy and elegant ideas for any budget in this clip.

Watch Fireworks – Right on your computer! It’s safe and free – over two-minutes of nothing but fireworks!

Flowers – Simple & So Elegant – International floral entertaining expert, Biggy Wolff, shows simple and festive ideas – great anytime, even for a July 4th party!

Homerun Summer Parties – Clever baseball-themed party ideas for less – and perfect for a July 4th celebration, too!

Make a July Fourth Piñata - Okay, we admit, we’ve suggested this video in other posts before, but that’s because it’s a really fun idea for ANY celebration – and SO EASY to do! (make at least a day ahead).

Red White and Blue PartyBetter’s shopping expert, Nicole Camarata, gives super pointers to make it great and on a budget!

More in our post: July 4th Frugal Fun

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July 4th (Frugal) Fun


The Fourth of July in the U.S. is a time for celebration, and most folks will be enjoying the warm long summer’s day off with picnic treats, grilling on the barbecue, outdoor and backyard fun, and fireworks. Here are  videos with ideas to add more festive fun to your day, party or event: Celebrate with budget-friendly craft activities to keep the kids happy, delicious recipes for tasty treats, and patriotic decorations for the table, (and yourselves). Have a fun and safe July 4th!

Tasting & Table Setting

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers – This recipe for juicy grilled portobello mushroom burgers from Vegetarian Times Magazine Editor, Mary Margaret Chappell is one that everyone will love! Put your favorite burger toppings on and enjoy!

Grilled Fresh Tomatoes – Paula Deen shows her easy recipe for grilled fresh tomatoes with garlic, parmesan cheese, thyme, and olive oil… ummm!

White Chocolate Dipping - Make your fourth of July party festive & delicious with white chocolate dipping! Kendra Arch of Cake ‘n Crumbs shows easy budget friendly ideas everyone will enjoy!

July 4th Centerpieces or Party Favors - Simple flower arrangements make perfect centerpieces or party favors for any budget. Floral Designer & Stylist Nico De Swert shows a festive idea suing a Pottery Barn item, but using supplies you may already have on hand would work well, too.

Design with Paper to Spruce Up Your July 4th Party - Inexpensive ideas to dress up your 4th of July setting, including centerpieces, table coverings, gift bags, food serving, hostess gifts & more, from Director, Creative Services at Kate’s Paperie, Alton DuLaney.

July 4th Crafts:

DIY Statue of Liberty Crown - How to Make a Statue of Liberty Crown for July 4th, a fabulous must-have for any Fourth of July celebration!

July 4th DIY Flags – Easy, inexpensive, fun DIY craft even the very youngest can do from the  Educational Art Institute.

DIY Pinwheels and Poppers – Crafty Creations from the Abilene Public Library show easy steps to create July 4th fun.

And finally:

The Sparkler- A July 4th party isn’t complete without a sparkler! Here’s a slow-motion, up-close look at the beauty of a single sparkler – a safe way to celebrate and enjoy!

Don’t miss these additional July 4th Party-on-a-Budget ideas in our post:

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Fresh Food Saving Ideas to Stretch Your Produce Dollars

This post was inspired by’s third annual Frugal Festival which was held in Los Angeles, CA. The festival’s theme was “Food” and also provided support to the L.A. Regional Food Bank.

In general do-it-yourself is always the more economical way to go. Sometimes, like in the case of plumbing, electrical work, or car mechanical tasks, attempting DIY may end up costing you big in trouble and bucks unless you’re a seasoned veteran. But once you learn a few simple rules about cleanliness, preparing your own food will rarely – if ever – get you into any real trouble (Just don’t forget to turn off the stove).  It’s an undisputed fact that even if you do not use coupons, and even if you pay no attention to sales and markdowns, preparing your own meals is  healthier and will end up being a real money-saver.

Our Food, Cooking, Drink, Recipe Channel and Coupons & Grocery Channel are loaded with amazing tips on how to get the most gourmet bang for your supermarket, couponing, dining-out, and cooking dollar, but in this post, we’re focusing on some unique “frugal” food preservation strategies.

I consider myself a “nothing cook.”  Just as an artist may need to see the paint colors or the collage pieces before getting inspired to put something on the blank canvas, I draw inspiration from what I see in the fridge and pantry to create dishes. Essentially, I take what is there and make something from nothing. When my children were toddlers, a friend mentioned to me that she saves every leftover, no matter how small. She said, “To them (the toddlers) this 1/8 cup of rice and peas is a whole meal.”  Ever since then, I save just about everything, no matter how small, even now with the kids long gone from my kitchen. There are some occasional times when I don’t end up using the leftovers, but most of the time, those little leftovers serve as inspiration to create a whole meal. A tiny bit of fresh basil leaves get slivered into an omelet. A few pieces of bell pepper edges, celery ends, and a raddish or two becomes a slaw. A little piece of ginger gets sliced and put in the freezer for a stir-fry at another time.  Tired cilantro stems get blended up and frozen in an ice-cube tray for future sauces. And, one of my all time favorites: air dried grape tomatoes, all shriveled up with concentrated sweet flavor, perfect to slice up and top off some cream cheese or goat cheese on crackers… you get the idea.

For me, it’s really more about creativity and respect for nature and it’s gifts that drives my focus on a “waste not” attitude in the kitchen… but no matter what the inspiration, nature or money-saving, the pay-off is: DIY in the kitchen is a far more budget-friendly and healthy way to go.

Here in these videos are some amazing tips on food preservation that are easy to do, and with summer and fall’s bounty soon to surface, it’s a perfect time to hone up on ways to preserve now, so you can take advantage of in-season lower prices and produce’s peak freshness, to enjoy abundant inspiration all year long.

Food In a Frugal Lifestyle – Writer W. Hodding Carter has written a series on frugality for Gourmet Magazine which stemmed from his facing the truth about his family’s living beyond their means. See how the family tackles the food budget.

Making Fruit Leathers – Stop wasting food; preserve the height-of-the-season bounty for later by making fruit leather for pennies compared to what the store-bought costs! Step-by-step guide to making fruit leather from the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service’s Julie Cascio, gives details.

Drying Vegetables – Drying your own Vegetables is a great way to stretch your grocery dollar & enjoy fresh seasonal flavor all year. Julie Cascio from the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service, shows step-by-step instructions.

How to Dry Herbs - Easy DIY to enjoy seasonal prices and preserve the flavors of summer by drying fresh herbs & spices to use through the rest of the year. Author & host of PBS’ “Garden to Table,” P. Allen Smith shows how.

Freeze Fruit, Save Money – Buy fruit when it’s on sale, freeze & enjoy all year! You can use the technique shown in this video for all types of fruit – we’ve even done it with grapes! Try it with veggies, too! Dani Spies from shows how simple it is.

How to Freeze Tomatoes - Save money or stretch your own garden crop while you enjoy garden-fresh tomatoes all year long by freezing them! Simple to do.

Ready to Use Frozen Pepper Patties – Freezing is a way to take advantage of in-season prices for fresh produce, but freezing partially prepared recipe ingredients in small ready-to-use batches not only is good to keep your savings going all year long, but shortens your food prep time, too! This example from is a bright addition to any freezer pantry.

Stretch Your Groceries, Stop Tossing Tomatoes - Donna Miller from Miller’s Grain House shows how saving a little here and there will add up to a lot on your table and in your piggy bank! This simple kitchen tip is a perfect example of kitchen frugal!

More Food Money Saving Tips in our Posts:

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Make Mother’s Day Magnificent (and Budget-Friendly)

U.S. Mother’s Day is in May, on the second Sunday of the month.

You can make mom feel appreciatedand give her a marvelous day without breaking the bank or draining your wallet with these Mother’s Day ideas that any and every mother would love:

Mother’s Day Brunch for 6, Under $35 - Please Mom and your wallet by preparing this easy Mother’s Day brunch; 3-course, serve 6, under $35. Celery, Pear & Hazelnut Salad; French Toast & Berries; Blackberry Bellini. Grace Parisi, senior recipe developer for “Food and Wine” magazine gives recipes.

Make Mother’s Day Special - Treat mom to a special Mother’s Day without breaking the bank. The Shopping Queen, Fatima Mehdikarimi gives ideas on flowers, dining, luxury and a top tech idea to make Mother’s Day special.

Outside the Box Mother’s Day Gifts - Mother’s Day with a twist. Not-so-typical gift ideas that can also be budget-friendly. Six Minute Style’s Susan Doherty presents five fabulous outside-the-gift-box ideas for mom. She’s gonna love this.

10 Perfect Priceless Mother’s Day Gifts - writer Linda Lowen gives 10 perfect priceless gifts that children can give and mom will love for Mother’s Day.

DIY Mother’s Day Spinners - An easy, bright and cheerful DIY project for young children to make. Perfect for Mother’s Day and will continue to delight mom all Summer long from Crayola Creative Workshop.

Duct Tape Roses for Mom - Make a Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers out of duct tape! Easy, fun and pretty DIY from Duck Brand duct tape for mom! Simple tutorial shows how. Make it useful by using a pen for the stem!

DIY Paper Photo Wallet - Every mom loves sharing pictures of her family. This easy DIY papercrafted tri-fold wallet will display all her favorite pics in style. Crafter and author of Christmas Papercrafts, Corinne Bradd, shows how to create a brag book using paper and a series of simple creases.

More on making Mother’s Day wonderful in these related SLTV posts:

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Give Mom the Best and Your Budget a Break for Mother’s Day!

It’s easy to give mom the best!

From easy recipes, to beauty or spa gift basket ideas, to decorating ideas – we’ve got so many amazing affordable ideas for Mother’s Day we just couldnt single any out!

So let yourself go and create nothing less than wonderful for mom… you’ll be glad you did!’s categories are brimming with the best ideas to create a day Mom will love:

For more specific gift ideas, check this blog post:

These posts mention  great resources for nice discounts and even free fun local activities:

Mother’s Day Fact: Mother’s Day started as part of a women’s peace movement dating back to the USA’s Civil War… more here.

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