6 Surefire Ways to Save Money this Christmas


Make a Budget – Once you set a budget, stick to it. Figure out how much you can spend realistically this year on Christmas. Once you figure that out, decide how to split it between each recipient.
Pay Cash – Whatever you do, if at all possible, do not use credit cards. Paying with cash will make you think before you buy and you will have to figure out if its worth spending the money on the item you are  buying.
Make your own Gifts – It doesn’t have to be tough to make your own gifts. There are many easy projects out there, even ones for the kids to make. And what grandparent wouldn’t love a homemade gift from their grand-kids? And save even more money by using things you already have at home, scrap material, old clothes, glass jars all are great things to stash away for Christmas gifts.
Track your Spending – Make sure you keep track of what you spend. It might be worth it to get a little notebook to keep receipts or just to write down what you bought so you know when you have hit your limit. You can also refer to it when you are getting ready to spend money.
Buy used if you can – Buying used doesn’t mean you aren’t giving the best. Some used, like for instance on Amazon, are as good as new. Check out the deals on Craigslist too. But always check and make sure it works before you buy anything. Ask if you can plug the item in if electrical and check out everything before you buy.
Wrap with magazines or newspaper – This is not the biggest money saver  but it does save enough to make it worth the effort. Try making your own bows, its easy and all you need is magazines and staples. Make your own wrapping paper from shopping bags or newspaper.

Coupon Savings

1098658_12760034Sometimes coupons can add up to some hefty savings. Last night I was at the store and after coupons, I save $30. My total went from $78.00 down to $48.00. All because I checked out the sales and clipped coupons before I went to the store. So you have to put some effort into it but it is definitely worth the effort.

Here are some coupon sites that will help you get on your way to some great savings.

moneysavingmom.com – Helping you be a better home economist.

247couon.com – From books to pet stores to clothing.

dealcatcher.com – Catch the best deals online.

redplum.com – Sweeten the deal.

coupons.com – Free coupons.

And for advice on how to get the most from your coupons and how to combine offers with coupons to save more check out this site – grocerycouponguide.com

Back To School Budget Tips

back-to-schoolA new school year is just around the corner and many parents are crunching the summer budget to try and find supplies for their kids. Here are a few budget tips for when you do your school supply shopping:

1. Find your child’s school supply list at local department stores and only buy what’s on the list. Your kids can survive a year without all of the ‘extras’ they see on TV.

2. When it comes to glue, always but Elmer’s and never spend more than thirty cents a bottle.

3. As for crayons, markers and colored pencils, Crayola is the only brand worth buying. Don’t be tempted by the cheaper prices on Rose Art supplies, you get what you pay for. Their crayons are waxy and the color’s are barely visible on paper and that’s just the start of the trouble. Spend a little more and get Crayola. Some teachers and schools even require it.

4. Go through your house and look for items on your child’s list that they could reuse or recycle. Find the pens and the pencils that are laying about from the previous year.

5. When it comes to big ticket items like backpacks, this is where you shop around. Check discount stores, grocery stores, office supply stores. Look wherever you shop. You never know where you might find a great deal. Backpacks come in a variety of qualities, and the price doesn’t necessarily mean a better bag. Regardless of the color, design or character your child might want, what you are looking for in a backpack should be a black bottom in a dense fabric.

Additional tips can be found at Helium. Good Luck!

How to Save Money at the Bar – Drinking your way Through the Recession

860700_56793699Some days its nice to just get out with friends and enjoy conversation over a few drinks. And there is nothing wrong with going out to your local bar for a drink or two with your buddies, but if your not careful you can find yourself blowing your whole budget on one single night on the town. We all could use some help on saving money at the bar.

Here’s some helpful tips on how to drink like a king on a pauper’s budget:

  • Ask the Price – Bars do not show prices because they know if you realize how much you’re paying, you are much more likely to order less expensive drinks and order fewer drinks. Before ordering a drink, ask how much it’s going to be, and see if they have a price list available so you can get something that you can afford.
  • Don’t Buy a Round – In some social circles, it’s a custom for everyone to buy one round for the group. Just keep silent and don’t offer to buy a round.
  • Know Your Drinks – Get the most bang for your buck by ordering the drinks with the most alcohol. Long Island Ice Teas are your best bet.
  • Attend Happy Hour – Usually at happy hour you can get some beers and wines at cheaper prices than normal.
  • Avoid Cover Charges – Make sure you hit bars that do not have a cover charge.
  • Skip the Food – Unless they have a happy hour menu, otherwise the food at a bar is expensive for the small portions you get.

The Art of Garage Saleing

garage-saleLast weekend my wife and I went to over 21 different garage sales looking for good deals. It was really the first time that I had been exposed to such madness. I was a greenhorn in a whole new world. After a few sales under my belt, however, I was ready to go. Here are three things that I learned that will make your garage saleing experience successful.

1. Have a game plan: I’m always a fan of a plan. Knowing what you’re looking for and where you’ll be going is essential to making your time effective. Check out craigslist for garage sales in your area, or keep an eye out for those colorful signs and directions.

2. Have a sidekick: Having someone to ‘garage sale’ with you is of paramount importance. They can serve various important purposes while you are on your adventure. They can be a spotter, finding garage sale signs. They can be a navigator, helping you find those mapquest locations. They are also a great ‘protector’. What I mean by protector is they keep you from spending money on the things you really don’t need, preventing a further perpetuation of the garage sale ‘junk cycle’.

3. Stay hydrated: Bring water and snacks (and buy lemonade from the sweet little girls at the garage sales). Taking care of your body while you are saleing is pivotal to having a fun and healthy experience.

We’d love to hear from you and add any tips you might have about how to make garage saleing an amazing experience.

6 Tips to Help You Save Money on Dry Cleaning

1000115_42973077Everyone is looking for ways to save money in this economy and if you work in an office, you probably have a hefty monthly dry cleaning bill. Here are some helpful tips on how to save money on dry cleaning.

  1. Apply Makeup, hair spray, and perfume before getting dressed. They can all stain fabrics. Allow these cosmetics to set for at least 5 minutes before getting dressed.
  2. Omit odors at home. If your sweaters are a bit stale(but not stained), use heat-activated dryer sheets, such as Dry Cleaner’s Secret.
  3. Spot-Clean. If you get a small stain, treat it immediately with a product like Oxiclean Spray-A-Way and save yourself an emergency trip.
  4. Check your local newspaper for coupons and deals. Cleaners generally offer discounts(10 to 33% off) in the spring and fall.
  5. Practice Moderation. Overcleaning can decrease clothings longevity, so dry-clean only when necessary. You might get away with cleaning a wool suit once or twice a year, and wool sweaters and skirts may be worn up to six times before you need to send them out.
  6. Wear a machine washable shell under your jacket to protect it from perspiration stains.

Hotel Deals

1175645_51196225Shopping hotels is no fun when you are trying to get a good deal. Well its just no fun, but when you need a hotel, you have to face your fears and get that dirty work done. Below is some helpful sites to help you find the best deals.

Hotels.com is a great place to start. You can sort them by price, guest rating, hotel rating, or hotel name. The guest reviews are sometimes disappointing but very helpful none-the-less.

Orbitz – They divide the hotels by sections in the city, which is very convenient when you are looking for a specific area to stay in. The problem I have been coming up with is that the price for the hotels at Orbitz has been considerably more expensive than if you just go to the hotels site.

IgoUgo – They will compare up to 11 sites with one click to help you find the best deal. They give you helpful reviews from guests who have been there, making the choice easier. They also have travel forums, a community blog and a way to create a trip journal that you can share with others.

Cheap Tickets – A great user-friendly site, easy to navigate and helpful. The prices weren’t the best but reasonable.

Overall Hotels.com had the best site for navigating around and definitely had the best deals.

If you know of a hotel in the area you want, with a great reputation, just go to their site and see what deals you can get there. They usually have special deals for people with AAA, AARP or for Government/Military personel. And often times the deals you get directly from the site are better than the hotel sites.

Crazy & Fun Flash Drives

Spending time on the internet looking for a flash drive, I found that there are so many crazy fun flash drives out there. Here are a few of the ones that I found, but there are so many more out there, go find the perfect one for you and make life a little more fun.

Jewel Guitar Necklace USB Flash Drive


Hamburger USB Drive


Fruit Plate Cake USB Drive


Fortune Cookies USB Drive


Robot USB Drive


5 Ways to Help You Save Money

1. Americans, on average, buy 250 cups of espresso from coffee shops per day. With all of that money spent, save a little at least one day a week:  Mcdonalds is offering Free Lattes every Friday from 7am – 11am, no purchase necessary. And they are pretty good. You have the choice between, hot or iced, vanilla, mocha and a few other flavors and whole milk or skim. That will save you a few bucks every week.

2. Make a monthly trip to Walgreens. Each month they have Free After Rebate items. Check out what they have, most of the items are things you will use at one time or another if not daily. Also if you get the rebate in the form of a Walgreens card you get a 10% bonus on top of the rebate. I usually do this and then keep the Walgreens gift card until the next free after rebate items are offered, that way after the initial time of paying, you are only using the gift card. No more out of pocket!

3. Grocery Store Trips: Lately while making my way through the stores, I have seen so many items marked down. I don’t know how long this will last because the store will make adjustments and not order so much due to the fact that customers aren’t buying as much. But while there are steals and deals, take advantage of them. I have found so many items for half price or cheaper due to it being close to date. Also you can still use coupons on these items, making them sometimes free. For meat, if you freeze it right away, it will keep for a couple months.

4. Buy the Sunday newspaper. Every Sunday they put out ads and coupons. I have noticed that more companies are offering coupons due to the economy and they need people to buy their products. Also you can find a ton of coupons on line too. Check out Coupons.com for more help.

5. Check out Gasbuddy.com before you leave. Gas Buddy can help you find the cheapest gas in your city and help you stay away from the most expensive gas prices. If you are planning to travel outside the city, even if its just 40 miles, check to see if there are better prices so that you can stop and fill up on the way. The difference of a quarter a gallon really ads up.

Keep checking back here for more money saving tips.

Want Free Books? All You Do Is Review

Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you’re like me and enjoy reading (or just having a lot of books on your bookshelf that makes it look like you like to read) Thomas Nelson is looking for bloggers who are willing to read books and review them on their own personal blogs and on a consumer product website like Amazon or Yahoo.

I signed up and it was easy, simple and free. I haven’t received my first book yet, but a friend of mine is doing the same thing and has been doing so for about two months. The process is simple and the books are yours to keep. A program at Harper Collins is also available to read ‘tomorrow’s books, today’ but the reviewers are selected at random and each reviewer is not always chosen. The books come out monthly.

Thomas Nelson is a book company that is getting into the blogosphere and giving bloggers an opportunity to generate readership and reviews for their products. They’ve made the process simple and interactive and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to review some of their products right here on Hack-a-Life and other sites.

Do you know of other companies or sites that are giving bloggers chance to review their books for free? Let us and others know in the comment section!