The Ultimate Amazon Shopping List: 50 Things You Should *Always* Buy On Amazon

 

 

Do you love shopping Amazon? 

 

Me too! ūüôā¬†

 

For many of us, Amazon offers easy savings (and convenience) on thousands of items, delivered right to our door. But it’s important to know what items really are great prices, and which items are worth heading to your local store for.

 

 

My general rule of thumb is to check Amazon for anything I would make a quick trip to Walmart for, because so many items end up being less money, with no stress. 

 

I love that.

 

 

Here’s a peek at my Ultimate Amazon Shopping List ~ I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list too!

 

 

And to make our lives a little easier Рyou can even print your own FREE Printable Amazon Shopping List HERE!

Amazon Daily Deals

1 . Amazon Gold Box

2 . Amazon Lightning Deals

 

 

Amazon Prime Deals

3 . Free eBooks

4 . Free Movies

5 . Free Music

6 . Free Photo Storage

 

 

Arts, Crafts & Sewing

7 . Crafting Supplies

**Amazon carries an HUGE variety of crafty goods Рfrom Colored Pencil sets to bulk construction paper and Sewing Machines!

I also think Amazon usually has a better deal on a Silhouette machine than other stores  РI absolutely love mine!

 

 

 

Automotive Parts & Accessories

8 . Auto Parts

*Besides major auto parts – we also see really good deals on windshield wiper blades pretty often!

 

 

Baby

9 . Baby Wipes

10 . Diapers

*Both the diapers and wipes often have coupons you can clip, plus an extra 20% Savings if you’re a member of Amazon Family! ¬†Learn more about Amazon Family and get a Free 30-Day Trial ūüôā

 

 

 

Beauty & Personal Care

11 . Drug Store Makeup and Makeup Remover Wipes

12 . Olay Regenerist

*This is my absolute favorite moisturizer and Amazon always carries it for way less than Walmart after you subscribe and save, plus they frequently offer a coupon which makes the price even better ūüôā

13 . Pads/Tampons  (compare to Walmart)

14 . Razor Systems or Disposable Razors (when they offer a $3 or $4 off coupon they can be great deals!)

15 . Shampoo & Conditioner

16 . Teeth Whitening Strips   (compare to Walmart)

17 . Toothbrushes (the bulk packs)

 

 

 

Clothing, Shoes & Jewelery

18 .¬†Children’s Hair Bows

19 . Crocs

20 . Scarves

21 . Toms

 

  

Electronics

22 . Cell Phone Charging Cords

23 .  Cell Phone Cases

24 . Photo Memory Cards

 

 

Gifts

25 . Gift Cards

Grocery & Gourmet Food

26 . Coffee Pods

27 . Snack Foods when they include special discounts

*Check out all the current Amazon Grocery Coupons here!

 

 

 

 

Health & Household

28 . Batteries

29 . Some Cleaning Products

30 . Dishwasher Tablets

31 . Disinfectant Wipes

32 . Laundry Detergent

33 . LED Lightbulbs

34 . Mr. Clean Magic Erasers  *Also check out the generic eraser sponges!

35 .¬†Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap

36 .¬†Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap

37 . Vitamins & Supplements

Kitchen & Dining

38 . Cuisinart Knives 

39 . Kitchen Gadgets and Small Appliances

40 . Rubbermaid Containers (watch for Lightning Deals on these sets!)

Luggage & Travel Gear

41 . Luggage

42 . Tents (wait for a sale on these Рthey come around all the time!)

 

 

 

 

Paper & Plastic

43 . Paper Towels

44 . Toilet Paper

45 . Trash Bags

 

 

Pet Supplies

46 . Cat Food

47 . Dog Food

 

 

Reading Materials

48 . Books

49 .  Magazine Subscriptions  *Check out the magazine deal of the day each day!

 

 

 

Toys & Games

50 . We see soooo many good deals on toys and games¬†on Amazon, especially around Christmas. ¬†Keep an eye on the hottest¬†“Movers and Shakers” to catch the biggest sales on popular toys and games!

Some items we often see deals on:

 

 

Can’t get enough AMAZON?¬† Here you go . . .

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The Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget Week 4: Pantry Shopping, Menu Planning & Beware The Mega Sale (+ GIVEAWAY!)

 

Congratulations to¬† e..e..er@hotmail.com (CrockPot Winner) and m..a…9@aol.com (Instant Pot) for winning the giveaway! Thanks so much to everyone who entered ~ I so wish I could give you all a crock pot and an instant pot and I loved reading all of your favorite dishes!¬† 🙂

 

Have you been working to transform your grocery budget with us this month? 

 

I hope you’ve saved a bundle!

 

This is our last week in the series, but I think these three little tips can really help you save big.

 

Let’s get started . . .¬†

1. SHOP YOUR PANTRY.

If you haven’t learned this already,¬†this can change your grocery budget.

 

Before you run out to the store and spend a bundle, I want you to really (really, truly) shop your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you can make using what you already have.

 

Do you have chicken and pasta? Make up some chicken noodle soup. A little ground beef and tacos? Taco Tuesday is perfect.

 

And before you race to the store for one more item you really don’t need, consider doing a 1 week no spend challenge and really tackle that grocery budget.¬†We saved hundreds of dollars trying this out a few years ago, and I’m already thinking about a group challenge coming in in March¬†(so get ready.) ūüôā

 

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2. Don’t turn a Mega Sale into a Mega Mess

 

Good gravy, this can be huge.

 

When Kroger (or Publix, or Target, or¬†wherever) has their crazy deals, it can be so very tempting to grab them all even if you’ll spend¬†way more than your grocery budget.

 

To grab all the deals.

 

To not pass by a single thing that has the lovely blue tag screaming “I’m-a-mega-sale-price-so-you-really-need-me.”¬†

 

But your job as you’re whittling down your grocery budget is to focus on spending a¬†little of your grocery budget on the deals, but not¬†more¬†than your grocery budget.

 

Okay?

 

However, even to the best of us it sometimes happens.

So what do you do when you’ve spent too much?

1. Give yourself grace.

If you’ve overspent already, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Give yourself grace, determine to focus more on your total budget the next time you shop, and be thankful you have a nicely stocked pantry.

2. Determine to use what you’ve bought.

Once you’ve overspent, there’s no going back, but you can¬†make a plan to use what you’ve bought (saving money in the long run!)

3. The next time you shop, be mindful of what the “deals” really are.

An easy example of this was on the Quaker Oatmeal. The Quaker was priced at $1.89 after the Mega Sale. However the store brand was $1.50,¬†and there was a $1/2 Kroger ecoupon on Kroger Oatmeal. Definitely the best price! Next time you shop, be really cautious of the “Mega Sale” deals to make sure they really¬†are your best prices. If they’re not, pass those by (and remember stores like Aldi may offer a better deal every day!)

 

Guys, I’ve said it a jillion times here, but there is¬†no other area in your family’s finances¬†that you have complete control over.¬†You can’t lower your car payment or mortgage or¬†electricity¬†bill today, but you can choose how much you want to spend at the grocery store.¬†

 

And last but not least . . . 

3. MAKE A MENU PLAN AND STICK TO IT!

Guys ~ I cannot tell you the value of having a menu plan.

 

It’s huge.¬†

And starting next Monday (2/6/17), we’re starting a Countertop Cooking Challenge and I would just¬†love for you to join me.

 

My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering us her VERY best prices for a few days only to the very first people to sign up using the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I want you to be included! 

HERE’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU SIGN UP:¬†

  • Weekly menu plans for the entire month
  • A set of slow cooker menu plans
  • A set of whole foods menu plans (those are the ones we’re using right now)
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • This month, because there are 5 weeks in the month, you’ll actually get access to FIVE WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.13 per week!

>>>USE THE CODE EARLYBIRD AT CHECKOUT TO GET THE BEST PRICE ~ THESE ARE THE LOWEST PRICES YOU’LL FIND ON THIS MENU PLAN!<<<

 

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Here’s how the prices breakdown:

Determine to make 2017 the year that you transform your family’s grocery budget ~ you can do this!¬†

 

Wanna make this a little more fun? It’s clearly time for¬†a giveaway!¬†

Because I love you (really, I do!) I’m giving away ONE Instant Pot and ONE Crockpot¬†this week to two lucky winners who sign up.

Here’s how to enter to win:

So, pull up those big-girl-panties and let’s get ready to save big in February ~ we can do this. ¬†I would love to hear how you’re doing on your grocery budget too, so leave a comment to share!

 

 

Note: this giveaway is not sponsored by anyone, just a way for me to thank you for keeping up with PPP. So thankful for you! Giveaway will end 2/2/16 at 10 PM Eastern Time. 

 

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The Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget Week 2: Coupons, Sales and Resourcefulness

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Note: this is a four part series we’re doing each week this month ~ go¬†HERE to start with week 1.¬†

 

Are you tackling your grocery budget this month with me?

 

I’m so glad I’m not alone! ūüôā

 

The biggest thing I discuss in coupon classes that I feel is so very important and absolutely need you to hear today is this:


There is no other area in your family’s finances that you have such control over than your grocery budget.

 

You can’t change your car payment. (At least, not easily.)

 

You can’t drop your mortgage by 50% this month.

 

You can’t skimp on your health care costs. Or your utility bill. Or how much you pay for your cell phone.

 

But every single week, you decide how much you spend at the grocery store.

 

You know what I love about that?

 

you. have. control.

 

{I like control.}

 

{ahem.} ūüėČ

 

You decide where you want to shop and exactly what you want your money to do every single time you shop.

 

I just love that. 

 

So, start off with last week’s tips.

 

And then?

 

Tackle these two strategies too.

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1. Use a coupon AND a sale.

Please, please, PLEASE hear me on this one!

While coupons can save a ton of money, your goal is to use a coupon almost exclusively¬†when it’s combined with a sale to see the largest amount of savings at the grocery store. ¬†(Remember, the secret is in the sale!)

 

So, if you have a $3 off coupon, you want to WAIT TO BUY THAT ITEM until that item goes on sale.

 

Did you hear that?

 

Honestly, 30%-50% of my grocery savings comes from shopping the sales ad ~¬†not just using coupons. While a $1 off coupon is pretty amazing, a $1 off coupon combined with a 50% off sale makes for some smokin’ hot deals.

 

Note: the only store I don’t think this is true at is at Walmart who doesn’t tend to have sales that are significant at all. When you shop there, ALWAYS use those high value coupons!

So ~ print your coupons, organize your coupons, and then watch the ads for the very best sale on what you’re looking for. (See all the PPP store sales included over HERE.)

 

You can do this.

 

And #2.

 

This is huge.

 

Are you ready?

 

2. BE. RESOURCEFUL.

 

Folks, this tip alone could save you $20 this week.

 

Don’t believe me?¬†

I spent just under $100 this week for enough groceries to make 6 meals at home (plus scored an extra roast since they were Buy One Get One Free this week!) 

 

Let me show you how.

 

Yesterday I went to the store with my Eat at Home Cooks grocery list (remember, these go up in price¬†tonight, so order soon if you’re interested.)
While I¬†love her lists, there were a few things there that aren’t regular purchases for me and would have been ¬†pretty large expenses on my grocery budget this week, so I got a wee bit creative. First, I looked through her list and checked my pantry, fridge and freezer to see what I already had in stock (easy, right?)

 

Then, I did this while I shopped: 

 

1. on the list ~ cranberries (not in season and only found in the frozen aisle or as whole cranberries in the dried produce aisle.)

Because I was determined to only spend $100 this week, and a big bag of whole cranberries would cost me $8.99 (eek!), I grabbed a 6 pack of small Craisins that happened to be on sale for $1.50.

Now, they won’t be the same as cranberries (but I couldn’t find them at my store anyways), and for $1.50 instead of $9 I’m pretty sure our Pork Chop, Veggie and Cranberry Sheet Pan will taste just fine. (Honestly, I could have probably omitted them completely but it just sounded so good!)

 

2. on the list ~ cajun seasoning ($6.99 ~ eek!)

Many spice blends can be made at home, and since we don’t use that one all that often it’s way cheaper for me to use what I already have at home. I looked up this Cajun Spice Mix on All Recipes, and sure enough have everything in my spice cabinet I need to make that one pretty easily.

 

3. on the list ~ 2 tsp sesame seeds (also $6.99)

I really struggled with this one (because I knew the sesame seeds would last through several recipes), but I realized that in 20 years I can’t remember even once cooking with sesame seeds, so they aren’t a necessary staple at our house. I also knew that my kids aren’t big fans of sesame seeds, I could care less whether they’re there or not, and my husband would never know the difference.

 

Honestly? I’m like this every time I shop, and with just about everything we use.¬†

 

I constantly think of ways to use less ~ like using rags instead of paper towels, plastic grocery sacks for trash instead of large bags, and cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

 

This has changed some in the last few years as we have a little more money and a lot less time, but when I can, I still try to be resourceful as much as possible.

 

Most seasoning packets, mixes and even cleaning supplies can be mixed up at home, costing you a fraction of the cost.

 

You probably have lots of items already in your pantry that you use before buying one more thing, so this week I want you to constantly think of ways to be resourceful and use what you already have. Remember ~ you have control over what you spend, so see how much you can save with this one simple trick!

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Ready to get started?

 

Use¬†your coupons with a sale as much as possible, and always be willing to think out of the box when it comes to your grocery list. You totally have control of this, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!

 

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And don’t forget, today’s the¬†last day to get access to Eat at Home Menu Plans before they go up in price tonight.¬†Head on over HERE and check out Tiffany’s Menu Plans ~ they’re as little as $1.15 per week right now, and I really do just love mine.¬†(Honestly, they’ve saved me at least $100 this week, and our family has eaten well. See a peek of me making yesterday’s meals over HERE!)

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: Week 1

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Anyone else ready to tackle their grocery budget this month? 

 

You’re not alone!

 

After Christmas I always feel like it’s a great time to reign our grocery budget in, so¬†today is the perfect day to start.

 

Each Tuesday for the rest of the month (going right up until February 1st), I’ll be sharing the Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget, including tips to help busy families transform their grocery budget (even if you don’t have tons of time to clip coupons.) I’ll also include pics of what we actually buy, so you hold me accountable too. ūüôā

My biggest tip?

Start with a great menu plan.

(THIS is the one I’ve been use¬†and I. love. it. Highly recommend if you’re looking for one! AND, starting next Monday we’ll be doing¬†the Countertop Cooking Challenge with this program. Use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout to get the lowest price!)

Ready?

Let’s¬†get started . . .

 

 

1. First things first ~ determine your grocery budget.

Before you start really tackling your grocery budget, look at what you’ve spent over the last few months on groceries and decide how much you’d like to cut your grocery budget.  Expect to save about 20% on your grocery bill over the next month as you’re building your pantry with basic staples, and you should see significantly larger savings in the next six months.

 

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2. Decide how much you want to spend each week on “stockpile” items.

Remember that just about every item in the grocery store will go on sale within six to twelve weeks, so purchase enough non-perishable items when they‚Äôre on sale so that you won‚Äôt have to purchase those items again at full price. When I see a great price on something I’ll purchase as much as my grocery budget can afford, so I’m not paying full price when it’s not on sale.¬†

 

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3. Know your prices.

Goodness, this is probably my biggest frustration ever when talking to folks who spend too much on groceries!  So many people naively go blindly into the grocery store with a list in hand (or maybe worse, with no list at all), without even considering what’s on sale. This is the easiest way to spend way too much at the grocery store, and you can easily save big if you just put a little forethought into shopping!

 

Can I just tell you the easiest thing you can do EVER to reduce your grocery budget is to know what really is a good price? By determining a stock up price (at the very least just for produce, dairy and meat products?) and only buying items at their stock up price, I’m betting you can cut your grocery bill by at least 1/3 each week.

 

And above all else . . . 

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shop with a grocery list and menu plan. 

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When I’m completely on track, I use Tiffany from Eat at Home Cook’s Menu Plan and¬†love. it.¬†Before shopping I go through her list, shop¬†my stockpile, and mark off what I can by shopping my pantry before heading to the store. It’s quick, easy, and I get my grocery shopping done in record time.

 

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Head on over HERE and check out Tiffany’s Menu Plans ~ through next week they cost as little as 1.13 per week when you use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I really do just love mine. If you’ve tried them out in the past I’d love to know if they’ve worked for you!

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Here’s what our grocery shopping looked like this week . . .¬†

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(My big splurge this week was on those pre-sliced apples for $4.98. I know it’s WAY too much to pay, but my kids gobble them down like candy and I love that they have an easy healthy snack ready whenever they need it!)¬†

I followed Tiffany’s Menu Plan exactly, shopped my pantry before heading out, shopped at Walmart (gasp!) and spent $45.99 for all the groceries I’ll need to make 5 meals + 1 dessert.

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(Note, I’m using the Whole Foods option this week¬†~ made the Chicken Florentine Quesadillas last night and they were¬†fantastic,¬†and her slow cooker beef tacos are cooking up in Mrs. Potts right now.¬†Success!)

 

 

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So, start with your grocery budget, know your prices, and make a menu plan and grocery list ~ I know you can do this. 

And starting next Monday (2/6/17), we’re starting a Countertop Cooking Challenge and I would just¬†love for you to join me.

My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering us her VERY best prices for a few days only to the very first people to sign up using the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I want you to be included! 

HERE’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU SIGN UP:¬†

  • Weekly menu plans for the entire month
  • A set of slow cooker menu plans
  • A set of whole foods menu plans (those are the ones we’re using right now)
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • This month, because there are 5 weeks in the month, you’ll actually get access to FIVE WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.13 per week!

>>>USE THE CODE EARLYBIRD AT CHECKOUT TO GET THE BEST PRICE ~ THESE ARE THE LOWEST PRICES YOU’LL FIND ON THIS MENU PLAN!<<<

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Decide today to really transform what you’re spending, and I promise you’ll see success. Leave a comment if you’re joining us, and (if you feel comfortable) let me know what you’re spending so we can all decide to stick together and transform our finances in 2017.

 

Happy penny pinching! 

 

Looking for more ways to change your grocery budget?

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Top 10 Christmas Budget Busters

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It is so easy this time of year to pull out that credit card, plunk down a few more dollars, and spend so. much. more. than you planned for this year. 

 

But you don’t have to.

 

Here are 10 Christmas Budget Busters that can completely whittle away your Christmas savings, so take a few minutes today and make sure your spending is in check.

Top 10 Christmas Budget Busters

1. Shipping.

Do. not. pay. for. shipping.

For real.

Most stores offer free shipping with pretty minimal purchases this time of year, and almost all stores allow you to pick up in store for free as well. With shipping costing easily $6-$10, you could easily blow your budget with a few unexpected purchases.

And, don’t forget Free Shipping Day is 12/16/16¬†~¬†it might just be worth waiting for!

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2. Stocking stuffers that cost too much.

In our house my kids love their stockings, but I work really hard to keep the cost of stocking stuffers to a minimum. 

Go HERE to see my list of 101 stocking stuffers all $1 or less.

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3. Gifts to just fill under the tree.

My kids typically ask for a few big (and a few small) items each year.

But oh so often, I’m tempted to buy them extra things just so they have more to open under the tree.

They don’t need any of it.

This year I’m really sticking to giving them the few things they really want, and then¬†letting it go.

I hate the clutter come December 26th, and they really don’t need much of anything.

Skip those extras this year. 

(Download my free Christmas Made Easy Checklist to track your Christmas List and Expenses as you go.)

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4. Unnecessary family and friend gifts.

If you have a large extended family, consider as a group doing a white elephant gift exchange or choosing “secret Santas” ~ everyone will have just as much fun, and your whole family will drastically cut down on Christmas¬†expenses.¬†

 

And, if you¬†love blessing people who bless you throughout the year (UPS drivers, garbage truck drivers, mail carriers, etc), consider baking a yummy treat for them instead of purchasing a gift this year if purchasing gifts isn’t in your budget. A small act of kindness can go a long way to bless someone’s day!

 

Side note:A few years ago I shared how just about felt gived out by the time December was over. I realized that much of this was because while I happily said yes to every place to donate early in the Holiday season, by the middle of December I was done: and so was my budget.

Since then my husband and I have an honest discussion about what we want to give together so that we can choose to give to those that we both feel most passionate about. (To see more on giving over the holidays, check out The Advent Conspiracy.)

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5. Paying too much to trim your tree.

I love Christmas decorating.

Like, I. love. it.

But, I get almost all my decorations 90% off AFTER Christmas, unless I find them at the Dollar Tree.

If you don’t have just what you want right now for Christmas,¬†be patient.¬†

Wait until December 26th (December 27th is even better), head out to the stores, and score some amazing deals for¬†next year’s Christmas tree.

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6. Spending extra to decorate your home.

Just like it’s way too easy to spend too much on tree trimmings, home decor can get out of hand at Christmas.

Fluff up what you already have on hand, head outside for some fresh greenery, and keep things simple by not over doing Christmas clutter.

 

7.¬†Deals that are ‚Äútoo good‚ÄĚ to pass up.

Sometimes I come across a deal (or two, or three?) that I think is just ‚Äútoo good‚ÄĚ to pass up.¬†

But unless it’s something someone really wants for Christmas, it’s just not worth ruining our budget for.

 

Skip those ones you really don’t need, determine to stay on track, and make Christmas more about the season than stuff this year.¬†

8. Purchasing extra gifts after you are done.

Once you’re done shopping,

you’re done shopping.

Determine this year to get your Christmas list checked off, and then don’t go back to purchase more items that your family really can live without.

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9. Wrapping paper.

Get wrapping paper 90% off at Target and other stores in January ~ last year we had to wait until January 4th, but don’t miss that one this year.

10.The Christmas feast.

Last but not least, be mindful over the next few weeks of deals as you plan for Christmas.

Inevitably every store in town will put ham, turkey, veggies, and more on sale, so your mission this Christmas season is to watch for those deep discounts.

Go HERE to do a quick search of the best sale items on just about everything at your local store, and determine to stick to your budget before spending too much this year.

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What else would you add to the list?¬†I‚Äôd love to hear your thoughts ‚Äď also check out the Ultimate Guide To Building a Better Grocery Budget. You can do this!

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Free Budgeting App + Giveaway at 9PM Eastern Time

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Have you tried the Budgeting App Every Dollar, created by the Dave Ramsey team? 

 

It’s an online program that includes a free app allowing you to easily manage your budget, no matter where you are. 

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From your computer or phone, you can . . . 

  • Create your first budget in less than 10 minutes
  • Add and split transactions
  • Set and achieve your money goals

Here are a few reasons to try it out . . . 

1. It’s free.

What have you got to lose? ūüôā¬†

 

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2. Create your budget from your computer or tablet.

Just create a free account and lay out your monthly budget on your computer or tablet.

 

You’ll also get a free Guide to Budgeting when you sign up, so if you have no idea where to start, you’ll be walked through every step of the way.

3. It automatically updates everything for you.

Once you’ve gotten started, ¬†Every Dollar will automatically update your totals while you work through your expense list, and easily gives you access to ‚ÄúBaby Steps‚ÄĚ to encourage and motivate you along the way.

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4.¬†Once your budget is set up, you can add in purchases as you go from your phone, almost creating a ‚Äúvirtual‚ÄĚ envelope system.

What I think is genius about this program is that you and a spouse could both set up accounts on your phone, and both people can keep up with what’s really being spent. If you’re both willing to really determine to track your spending, this adds in so much accountability and will help you work towards your goals together!

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5. It might just change your financial future.

If you’re not tracking your budget, you have¬†no idea where your money is really going. Choosing to stick to a budget really will transform your finances, because you’ll know¬†exactly where¬†your money goes each month.

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This is an easy way to start working on that for free which I love. Head on over HERE, sign up for your free basic account, and let me know what you think!

 

 

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BONUS: I’m super excited because the Dave Ramsey team gave me THREE Rachel Cruze Budgeting Wallets with Clip Systems to give away to 3 lucky readers (wow!)

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Go HERE to check them out, and join me at 9 PM Eastern Time on Facebook live to enter the giveaway. I’m so impressed with the quality of this wallet, and think you’ll love it too. Go HERE to enter to win at 9PM Eastern Time!¬†

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This is a sponsored post from Dave Ramsey, however all opinions are my own. I really did try it out and love it, and think you’ll love it too!


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How Much Do Real Families Budget For Christmas?

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A friend of mine once asked: “How much do¬†real¬†families budget for Christmas gifts for their children?”

 

Yikes.

 

If there was ever a question I didn’t want to get into at Christmas,¬†that¬†would be the one.¬†

 

It did get¬†me thinking though‚ÄĒand after sixteen Christmas mornings with a few of the cutest kids running around our home, our family has¬†learned a thing or two.

 

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1. Decide when your children are young what Christmas will look like for your family.

 

Goodness, I wish I could tell every momma of a one-year-old¬†that¬†they¬†simply¬†don’t need to¬†spend more than $20 (at the very most!) on that little one.

 

Babies have as much fun with the boxes as they do the actual presents . . . and my bet is a few family members will add a bundle of gifts to their Christmas treasures.

 

By choosing to purchase less when they’re little, you’re paving the way for your child’s future expectations.

 

If you shell out $500 in gifts to a four-year-old, just imagine what their expectations will look like when they’re fourteen.

 

Start simply.

 

Be different.

 

Determine when your kids are young that Christmas will be about more than dozens of gifts under the tree.

 

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2. As your children get older, continue to keep it simple.

Remember the thirty-two bins of toys you hauled to the thrift store last summer?

 

That may have been because your kids simply received a few too many gifts on Christmas morning.

 
Instead, choose a few items that your child will love and let the rest go. Before making a single purchase, consider if the gift will end up in the bottom of the toy bin in a week or two.

 

If¬†so, your child probably doesn’t need it to begin with.

 

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3. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. (Really.)

Be okay with doing things differently.

 

Inevitably, on Christmas day when neighbor kids race outside with Christmas treasures, my kids have occasionally felt a wee bit disappointed.

 

‚ÄúWhy did Santa like them better than me?‚Ä̬†

 

That, folks, especially with young children, is a tough one.

 

Our answer has been that Santa checks with parents before he hands out the Christmas gifts, and since our children know we choose to live differently, they seem satisfied with our answer.

 

(And trust me, if you saw our home, you’d have no doubt¬†that our kids have¬†plenty.)

 

Rather than trying to make Christmas special for your child by keeping up with someone else, encourage them to make Christmas special for another child. 

  • Adopt an Angel Tree child and let your kid choose gifts for them.
  • Donate food to a local food drive and let your child help do the shopping.
  • Fill an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox to send¬†to children who may get nothing else this Christmas.

 

And on Christmas morning, be the parent who plops down on the floor to help build that new Lego set. (Your undivided attention will be more valuable to your child than any Christmas gift. I promise!)

 

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4. Christmas will change as your family changes.

What Christmas morning looks like this year in our home is different than what it looked like fifteen years ago.

 

Our finances have changed¬†and¬†our kids have changed,¬†so¬†we’ve made adjustments along the way.

 

For Christmas this year, we’ll spend around $125 on my nine-year-old, thanks to some incredible deals I’ve scored shopping early (and she will have¬†plenty).

 

Christmas for my sixteen-year-old will look a little different, though, and he’ll probably get a few things he needs,¬†in addition to some fun gifts.¬†(Gifts for a sixteen-year-old just cost more. I haven’t figured out a way around that!)

 

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5. No matter¬†their ages,¬†set a budget for each child’s Christmas.

 

Don’t be tempted by a last-minute deal to fill up space underneath the tree. Instead, decide your limits ahead of time, and stick to them¬†this year.
Don’t go beyond your budget to make Christmas special for your children.

 

Instead, make Christmas by creating lifelong memories, choosing unique gifts just for your kids, and making your home just the place your children want to be on Christmas morning. 

 

Especially if your children are little, think small because that sets the expectation for the next year.

 

Determine to make Christmas special by enjoying family traditions, and know that the choices you make today pave the way toward financial freedom in the future.

 

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50 Ways To Make $20 Before Christmas

50 Ways To Make $20 Before Christmas {50x$20=1,000 earned}

With Christmas right around the corner, this is the perfect time of year to start saving some Christmas cash, so you can enjoy the Christmas season and January without extra bills too.¬†And, if you’re willing to work a wee bit, I think you can totally fund your Christmas account, $20 at a time!

 

Here are a whopping 101 ways to make $10 before Christmas. (You can do this!)

 

$10 x 20 = $1,000 earned

Not too shabby right?

 

Let’s get started. ūüėČ

 

Sell your stuff.

1. Garage sale – sell 20 items for $1 each.

Think of it as an everything’s $1 sale – if you have bigger stuff, sell it for more!

2. Head to the consignment store.

I recently made $70 in just two hours this way ~ just a few items can earn you $20 fast!

3. Sell a few items on Facebook.

Have a local Facebook group? Find a few things to sell in those.

4. Sell books on Amazon.

5. Sell electronics on Amazon.

6. Sell DVDs on Amazon.

Amazon makes it super easy to sell things on line – just type in what you’d like to sell, ship it to them (for free!), and get paid with an Amazon gift card.¬†Easy!

7. Sell gift cards you won’t use.

Have gift cards you’ll never use? Visit Cardpool.com where you can sell your gift cards. You won’t get the full face value but you will get a decent rate, so this is a great way to save if you can’t use a gift card you’ve been given.

8. Sell plasma.

Honestly, this would be a tough one for me to do but is a great way to help someone in need and earn a little cash. Check out this article to learn more.

9. See if you have any money available from Unclaimed Property (I’ve had several readers find more than $100 there!)

10. Sell toilet paper rolls on eBay.

11. Or sell drink tabs on eBay.

12. Or even used tennis balls. (Who knew?)

13. Sell gold or silver. 

14. Help a friend and sell their stuff for them, and charge a small fee.

15. Upcycle a thrift store purchase and sell for more money.

Sell your services.

16. Babysit.

Have kids at home? Offer to babysit for a working mom to earn extra income.

17. Paint something.

Love painting? Charge $100 to paint a room – odds are someone else would love to have that project done for them, and it’s an easy way to learn some extra cash!

18. Offer to clean a house.

19. Do yard work.

Lots of folks have yard work that needs to be taken care of, especially in the fall. Offer to rake up some leaves, weed or mulch a flower bed, or plant a tree or two.

20. Walk a dog, or two.

Live in a neighborhood with many pets? Offer to walk your neighbors pets while they’re away at work each day.

21. Take online surveys or try out Swagbucks.

You won’t quickly earn $100 through online surveys, but each time you take a survey you can earn a dollar or two. The only site that I’ve consistently heard excellent reviews about is¬†Pinecone Research¬†~ and don’t forget to take advantage of ways to earn for free on Swagbucks too!

22.  Go shopping.

If you shop regularly (and don’t have small children), you can sign up to be a mystery shopper at local stores in your area. Check out ways to earn as much as $25 per shopping trip over HERE.

23. Wrap gifts for someone.

24. Offer to decorate someone’s home for Christmas.

25. Bake homemade Christmas goodies for someone.

26. Grocery shop and menu plan for someone.

27. Take photos for someone.

28. Tutor someone who’s struggling in an area you’re good at.

 

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29 . Give music lessons.

30. Create a craft and sell on Etsy.

31. Offer to organize someone’s pantry and charge $20.

32. Substitute Teach

You can’t beat the hours on this one if you children are already school age

33. Start a blog ‚Äď ¬†Learn¬†How I Make a Full Time Income as a Stay at Home Mom¬†~if you want to start one crazy inexpensively, use Bluehost as your host for just $3.95. (This one won’t earn you $20 fast, but if you’re willing to keep at it it can be well worth the time you invest.)

34. Submit Grocery Rebates ‚Äď my favorites are Ibotta, Mobisave, Checkout 51

Get a seasonal job.

35. Drive ‚Äď drive for Uber or work as a Delivery Driver

36. Get Paid to Shop & Search Online¬†‚ÄstSwagbucks, Ebates

37. Get Paid for Your Opinion ‚Äď Try¬†Pinecone Research

38. Sew 
If you can sew, offer to hem or alter something for a friend ~ people are always looking for these services, and $20 could add up quickly this way.

39. Evaluate Web Sites

Sites like User Test pay up to $10 each when you try out their products

40. Fix errors on Google

Learn more at Leap Force

50 Ways To Make $20 Before Christmas {50x$20=1,000 earned}

Save $20

Take¬†a 5 day spending “fast”.

41. For 5 days don’t eat out.

42. For 5 days only eat what’s in the pantry.

43. For 5 days skip Starbucks, a movie, or even a Redbox rental.

We seriously cut back our expenses for one month, and it was amazing how much we saved simply by really focusing on trimming our budget as a family!

44. Skip meals out for 2 weeks.

45. Give up cable. (If you have Amazon Prime take advantage of their free movies instead.)

46. Skimp on your cell phone plan.

47. Cancel your landline if you don’t need it.

48.¬†Call your internet provider and ask if you’re getting the best price.¬†

49. Give up your gym membership.

50. Save all your lose change until Christmas ~ easy way to find $20 without even missing it. 

What other ways can you think of to earn cash for Christmas? I’d love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share!

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Looking for more money saving tips? Here you go:

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10 Secrets to Saving on Back to School Clothes

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As the first day of school comes creeping up on us once again, it’s time to hit the back to school sales for new clothes and shoes. ¬†Besides keeping an eye out for specials – there are some other good ways to save money on those back to school wardrobes. ¬† Check out these 10 secrets to saving on back to school clothes shopping!

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1. Have a Try-On Day

Have a day where the kids try on everything in their drawer/closet to take stock of what’s actually needed. ¬†Make a pile of keepers and a pile of clothes they’ve outgrown (or just don’t like anymore) to donate to Goodwill or take to a consignment shop.

This is a great place to start because you’ll need to know what size they’re in before you head out to shop regardless. ¬†And it will also give you and your child an opportunity to talk about what styles they no longer love, so you can avoid those if you’re shopping without them.

2. Sell Used Clothes at Consignment Stores

And speaking of taking piles of unwanted goodies to the consignment store… they’re also an excellent place to shop for new-to-you clothes for back to school! ¬†(See how I made $70 in 2 Hours cleaning out my youngest’s closet)

So many times you can find really nice brands for Walmart prices at consignment stores. ¬†And if you take in gently used clothing before you shop, you can score a chunk of in-store credit to bring your bill down even lower ūüôā

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3. Shop your local thrift store.

Thrift stores can be gold mines when it comes to back to school shopping. For instance, for my high school son I’ve picked up Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie, and Banana Republic brands all for $4 or less at Goodwill, and after he’s seen the prices on clothing at the mall he’s willing to try them out for me.

There are certain days when you can save even more Рlike Half Price days.  Check out more Secrets to Saving at Goodwill here!

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4. Take advantage of Tax Free Weekend

In addition to other ways to save on back to school shopping – make sure you head out on Tax Free Weekend to do the bulk of your store shopping if you can!

Depending on your state’s sales tax, that could save you as much as 10% extra off things like clothing, shoes and even computers!

 

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5. Don’t miss Old Navy Sales

Old Navy is SUCH a good place to shop for kids’ school clothes.¬† ¬†They have fantastic sales and coupons that you can stack for great deals! ¬†You’ll want to sign up for Old Navy emails so you don’t miss the best sales and coupons – and to make sure you get the best value, check out this post of 10 Secrets to Saving at Old Navy here!

6. Maybe swing by an Outlet Mall

Planning a little trip to the Outlet Malls can be a good way to knock out all your back to school purchases in one swoop. Just beware of going in thinking everything is a good deal. The best way to start a trip to an outlet mall is to check out the website for specials and coupons Рand set yourself a budget before you go.

Some outlet stores are actually “Factory Stores” and carry cheaper items made for them that are sometimes a slightly lesser quality than retail stores. (T-shirts may be thinner, dresses may not have a liner, etc…) While with kids clothes that probably doesn’t matter so much – just something you may want to think about going in. ūüėČ

 

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7. Don’t miss T.J. Maxx, Ross and Marshall’s

I love-LOVE shopping for any name-brand clothes at stores like T.J. Maxx, Ross and Marshall’s. ¬†I can’t imagine to paying Mall or department store prices for the good stuff when it’s at least 50% less at these overstock stores.

It’s also an awesome place to pick up name-brand athletic shoes!

If you’re new to shopping these kinds of stores – find out how to maximize your savings in this post 10 Things You Need to Know Before Shopping T.J.Maxx¬†(I love Tip #1!)

 

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8. Children’s Place

The Children’s Place is a greaty shop-from-home option! I love how The Children’s Place seems to know exactly when I’ve just about given up on running all over town trying to pinch every penny on back to school clothes shopping. ¬†Because it’s always right about then they send me an email that says “60% OFF the entire site + Free Shipping”!

Sign up for Children’s Place emails and take advantage of those sales to get sturdy, colorful basics for the kids sent to your home for a great price. ¬†(I love Children’s Place bottoms because they have the adjustable button tabs on the inside of the waistband – so you know they’re going to fit without trying them on!)

 

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9. Have a Clothing Swap with Friends

If you have friends with kids around the same age as yours Рset an afternoon or evening to get together and swap clothes.  And if you have friends with older kids, let it be known that you welcome hand-me-downs!

10. Local Consignment Events

Check into local consignment events! While this might not be happening right before school starts Рkeep an eye out year round for the local consignment events in your town.  I posted some that I knew of back in the Spring Рbut find more consignment events in your area here!

 

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10 Back to School Shopping Tips for Office Depot & Office Max

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10 Back to School Shopping Tips for Office Depot Office Max

I love back to school shopping season! ūüôā (See all the Office Depot/Office Max penny items HERE this week.)

 

In fact, I love it almost as much as Christmas shopping season, because the deal hunting is everywhere, and you can easily save up to 99% with awesome stores like Office Depot offering some crazy good savings.

 

But, if you’re new to shopping (ahem,¬†saving) at Office Depot, there are a few things you need to know to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, so I figured we needed a little Office Depot saving course.¬†Let’s get started with these 10 back to school shopping tips!

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1. Office Depot and Office Max are the same store.

So, if you see someone mentioning a sale at Office Max, those items are also on sale at Office Depot. And, vice versa.  Learn more HERE.

2. You need to sign up for an Office Depot/Office Max rewards account.

Sign up for Office Depot/Office Max Rewards to take advantage of the best deals at Office Depot & Office Max. It’s free to sign up.

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3. Here’s how Office Depot/Office Max Rewards work:

  • When you purchase a rewards item at Office Depot/Office¬†Max, you’ll get a certain amount back in your Rewards account.
  • The Reward is in the form of a store rewards certificatet, only to be used at Office Depot/Office Max.
  • The Reward won’t show up in your account for¬†up to 5 weeks after your purchase.
  • At checkout, when giving your rewards account information you automatically get the reward (no extra rebate form to fill out.)
  • So, let’s say this week you buy a ream of paper included in the Rewards special for $6. You’ll pay $6 out of pocket, and get a $5 rewards back in your account. The reward won’t show up for a few weeks in your account, but when it does you can use that certificate to shop for anything at Office Depot.

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4. Especially during the Back To School season, Office Depot offers huge loss leader discounts on specific items in the store.

Watch the very front page of your Office Depot flier to find crazy savings on specials all year long, but especially July-September. For example this week (7/17/16 – 7/23/16), score 1¬Ę spiral notebooks, 1¬Ę pencil pouches, 1¬Ę 3 pack erasers, and even 1¬Ę glue sticks.

 

To get that savings you’ll need to spend $5 in the store, but that’s going to happen more easily ¬†than you think. (Keep reading!)

 

5. Take advantage of bonus rewards offers to also score the penny items for a steal.

Okie dokie guys,¬†here’s my secret trick. It’s one of my very favorite back to school shopping tips EVER. ¬†To get the penny items I mentioned in secret #1, you need to spend a minimum of $5.

 

But.

 

Here’s a little work around (you’re welcome!)

 

You can purchase any item that includes Bonus Rewards at Office Depot to bump your total up to that $5 minimum, then get the rebate back.

 

Clear as mud?

 

Here’s an example using this week’s sale items (running 7/17/16 – 7/23/16)

Buy 1 Office Depot Brand Multipurpose Paper, $6 each
Buy Papermate Mechanical Pencils 12ct ‚Äď $1
Buy (3)¬†Spiral Notebooks (Wide or College Ruled) ‚Äď 1¬Ę
Buy (3) 2-Hole Pencil Sharpeners, Assorted Colors ¬†‚Äď 1¬Ę
Buy (3) Vinyl Storage/Pencil Pouch, Assorted Colors I ‚Äď 1¬Ę
Buy (3) Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers, Medium, Pack Of 3/4 ‚Äď 1¬Ę
Buy (3) Scholastic Glue Sticks, 0.32 Oz., White, Pack Of 4¬†‚Äď 1¬Ę

  • Pay $7.15 out of pocket, Get $5 in Office Depot/Office Max Rewards
  • $2.15 total after Office Depot/Office Max Rewards

The sales vary each week at Office Depot/Office Max ~ go HERE to see current sales and scenarios. 

6. Earn rewards when you recycle ink and toner cartridges.

For every ink or toner cartridge you recycle, you’ll get 200 Rewards points (like $2 back) when you spend $10 on a qualifying purchase in one month.) Learn more HERE.

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7. Watch for Office Depot coupon codes.

Use sites like Coupon Sherpa or Retail Me Not to see if there are additional coupons available at Office Depot/Office Max. For example this week you can save $10 off your $50 or more purchase ~ love that!

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8. Sign up for Office Depot/Office Max texts and emails to get additional savings. 

9. Get free delivery from Office Depot/Office Max online when you spend $35 or more.

Or, order online and have it your items available to pick up in stores to get free delivery as well.

 

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10. Office Depot’s chat is awesome.

If you have any issues with your rewards account or any other questions, try Office Depot’s online chat (look for it on the top right hand side of the screen over HERE.)

I used it earlier this week, and they set up my Rewards account while I was online, and even gave me a 1000 bonus for starting things up (like $10!)¬†That won’t likely¬†happen for everyone, but I was pretty impressed.

 

Looking for more Back To School Shopping Tips? Here you go:

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