Frugal Ramblings

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Hipsters to the Rescue: Teacher Gift Ideas Needed (+ Cute Bath & Body Works Hand Soap Idea)

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Check out this email I received from Hip2Save reader Melissa -

It’s that time of the year again when we have to start thinking about Christmas gifts for children’s teachers. I have a 4 year old who goes to preschool and I really want to give Christmas gifts to all his teachers. He has 5 teachers in his classroom. I am in a dilemma…what is an appropriate budget?

With that being said, if you’re looking for an affordable gift idea for teachers, neighbors, friends, and more, consider making “We Wash You a Merry Christmas!” hand soaps using this printable template and Bath & Body Works hand soaps (currently on sale 5/$18 or 7/$24) or whatever hand soaps you like! Then just add some ribbon and a personalized note and you have a super cute and frugal gift idea! :)

If you’re planning to shop online, you may want to use the promo code FA143271 to score $10 off a $30 or more purchase + Free Shipping on a $50 order (expires 12/7). Or the promo code WILDVANILLA to score 20% off your entire order (expires 12/31). Or you may want to use the code DOLLARLOVE to score $1 shipping when you place a $25 order.

Now it’s your turn…what are your frugal but thoughtful teacher gift ideas? And, if you’re a teacher, we’d love to hear what gifts you appreciate most! :)

(Thanks, Melissa!)

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The Results Are In…YOUR Top 10 Most Wanted Holiday Shopping List Items (+ My Best Deal Finds!)

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I can’t believe that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here… not to mention that Christmas is just around the corner! :) As you know, I recently asked Hip2Save readers what items were on your Holiday Shopping list and received over 575 comments on that post! So, after reading through all the comments, I’ve compiled a post including YOUR Top 10 Most Wanted Items based on the results, plus I’ll share my deal finds for these items! Here’s an overview…

#1 Most Wanted Item – iPad
#2 Most Wanted Item – Lego Products
#3 Most Wanted Item – TV
#4 Most Wanted Item – Laptop
#5 Most Wanted Item – PlayStation 3 or 4
#6 Most Wanted Item – Xbox or Xbox 360
#7 Most Wanted Item – Wii or Wii U
#8 Most Wanted Item – Disney Infinity Game, Figures, Accessories
#9 Most Wanted Item – Camera
#10 Most Wanted Item – UGG Boots

(To see deals for the Top 10 Most wanted Items, click the link below “Read More / Post Your Comments”.)
Read More / Post Your Comments »

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Millions of Graco Strollers & Travel Systems Recalled

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Do you own a Graco stroller? Well, please take note that 11 Graco & Centruy-branded strollers with a manufacture date from August 1st, 2000 to September 25th, 2014 are being recalled due to the folding hinge on the sides of the stroller which can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard.

Owners of the strollers are urged to contact Graco for a repair kit, which will be available starting early December. Go here for more details on this recall or to verify if your stroller is included in this recall. You can also order the repair kit by entering the model number or by calling 1-800-345-4109.

The recalled models include:
Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate Model Strollers and Travel Systems.

(Thanks, Penny Pinching Queen)

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New Video: Hip2Save Behind the Scenes

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* If you can’t see the video, click here.

So today’s video is different than most as it’s not about deals (sorry!). Instead, I give you a behind the scenes look at what life is like as a mom, wife, and blogger. Watch the video to see what I’m up to during the day and on the weekends. I even show you what I truly look like on a busy blogging day – still in my pajamas with un-brushed hair and a make-up free face. Pretty scary! ;)

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Reader Holiday Deal: Big Savings at PetSmart

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Holiday Deal (sent in by reader, Amy)…

PetSmart has gift cards available that include $100 in coupons. They can be for ANY denomination!

I put $6 on one so that I could purchase a holiday stocking which also has $10 in coupons, along with the yummy treats.  (NOTE from Collin – I actually spotted various other Pet Holiday collection packs that include $150 worth of coupon and some of these packs start at just $5.99, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these).

PetSmart typically has great sales between now and Christmas. Last year for Black Friday they had all the treat stockings 50% off, including the ones with the coupons and the treats you can use the coupons on.

(NOTE from Collin – be sure to check out the PetSmart Black Friday deals here AND the PetSmart Black Friday ad scan here!)

Coupons in the Holiday Pet Collection Packs (exp 1/31/15)

$2.50/1 any GNC Pets Dog Supplements and Shampoos (excludes trial sizes)
$1/1 GNC Pets Dog Treats
$2/1 any CONAIR Product
$2/1 any Furminator  Shampoo or Shed Cloth
$2/1 any Nature’s Miracle Shampoo
$10/1 any Drinkwell Ceramic Dog Fountain
$10/1 any KONG or Top Paw Wire Crates
$10/1 any Top Paw 65 sq ft Food Storage
$1/1 any Grreat Choice Waste Pick-Up Bag Dispenser or Pick-Up Bags
50% off 1 package of Shout pickup pads
(With purchase of any gallon sized pro-strength product)
$10/1 Pawsitively Clean by BISSELL Carpet Cleaning Machine Rental
$3/1 Pawsitively Clean By BISSELL Stain & Odor Product
$2/1 any Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Product, 32 oz+
$10/1 any KONG or Martha Stewart Pets Dog Bed
$5/1 any Top Paw Dog Collar
$10/1 any PetSafe Pawz Away Mini Barrier
$1/1 ToysRUs or PuppiesRUs Dog Toy
$2/1 any Martha Stewart Pets Dog Toy
$1.50/1 any Nylabone Dog Toy (on $5.99+ purchase)
$5 off any grooming salon purchase of $20 or more
FREE Puppy Playtime Session ($10 value!)
25% off Private Training Classes (up to $60 off!)

Coupons in the Gift Card Booklet (exp 2/28/15):

Save $2 on any Grreat Choice dog or cat dry food
Save $3 on any Simply Nourish dog or cat dry food
Save $3 on any Authority dog or cat dry food
Save $2 on any ExquisiCat cat litter
Save $10 on machine rental when you buy any Pawsitively Clean by BISSELL full size machine formula
Save $3 on any Pawsitively Clean by BISSELL stain and odor prduct
Buy any Petsmart 30 min or 1 hour private training session save 50%
Save $4 on any FURminatir Grooming Tool
Save $2.50 on any GNC Pets dog or car supplements and shampoos
Save $1 on any GNC Pets dog or cat treats
Save $5 on any Litter Genie Plus Pail
Save $5 on any Purina Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System
Save $1 on any Marineland food or water care
Save $1 on any Marineland plant item
Save $1 on any Marineland canister filter media
Save $2 on any Marineland desktop kit under 10G
Save $5 on any Marineland desktop kit 10G and over
Save $3 on any Marineland penguin or emperor filter
Save $4 on any aquatics ornament $9.99 and up
Save $4 on any gravel 25lb bag
Save $4 on any artificial plant $9.99 and up
Save $3 on any fish purchase of $10 or more
Save $3 on any power filter cartridge pack
Save $5 on any aquatic heater 50-300 Watt
Save $3 on any Top Fin cleaning tool
Save $3 on any Top Fin Gravel Vac
Save $2 on any All Living Things reptile bulb
Save $4 on any All Living Things dome lamp
Save $5 on any Top Dog Groom Package bath or full groom at the grooming salon
Save $2 on any pet expression at the grooming salon

Coupons in the Treat Stockings:

Save $2 on any Dentley’s Traditional Rawhide (exp 3/15/15)
Save $2 on any Dentley’s Combination Rawhide (exp 3/15/15)
Save $2 on any Dentley’s Compressed Rawhide (exp 3/15/15)
Save $2 on any Dentley’s Nature’s Chews including bones, ears and bully (exp 3/15/15)
Save $1 on any Dentley’s Granulated Rawhide (exp 3/15/15)
Save $1 on any Dentley’s petholiday Rawhide or Chew (exp 12/24/14)

PLUS – now through December 28th, spend $35 on dog or cat food, treats, rawhide or cat litter AND get a $5 coupon on your receipt valid on your next in-store purchase of dog or cat food, treats, rawhide or cat litter.

For more information on the Hip2Save Holiday Tips & Deals series and to learn how you can participate in the fun, click here!

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Does the Amount you Spend on a Gift Matter?

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With the holidays quickly approaching, I often receive emails from readers regarding whether the amount that you actually spend out-of-pocket on a gift should be given any merit. In other words, if you are able to snag a great gift for super cheap (or even free) after sales and/or coupons, should it be worth any less in the eyes of the gift recipient versus a gift that you paid the full price for?

Check out this email I received recently…

Have you ever posed the question: what’s more fair…spending the SAME amount on everybody at Christmas or making it LOOK like you spent the same amount on everybody? Or should kids have equal NUMBERS of things to open, regardless of amount spent?

If I received a gift from someone, and I knew they redeemed a deal on it, or got it on Black Friday as a door-buster, I would not be offended if I knew the giver spent much less on me than on someone else (in fact, I’d be proud they were such a smart shopper, and feel flattered that they worked so hard to get my gift at an extra value!). But is it fair to spend less on one child or person?

Here are my thoughts…

It shouldn’t matter whether you spend $50 or $2 or whether you get something free! The money that you put into a gift is NOT the important part, what really should count is the thought behind the gift. Plus, doesn’t snagging a great deal or even scoring something for FREE require time and energy?

As harsh as this likely sounds, if someone ever makes you feel uncomfortable regarding a gift you give them or someone else, I would not consider them a “real” friend. We are all here to help one another and our families stretch those hard-earned dollars and save money where we can. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with that! In fact, other people should commend you for your efforts.

Being able to pay it forward with free or inexpensive products you receive is NOT something any of you should be embarrassed about. Be proud of the gifts you’re able to give — no matter the cost! :)

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree or disagree with me? 

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What Items are on Your Holiday Shopping List?!

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Can you believe that Black Friday is less than 2 weeks away!? With that being said, I would love to know what items are on your Black Friday or holiday shopping list this year! Please share the items that you are most hoping to score a deal on this year and then I’ll read through the comments and compile the Top Ten Most Wanted Black Friday Items and list any bargains I can find. So…get to sharing! :)

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Reader Holiday Savings Tip: How to Prevent the Post-Holiday Toy Avalanche

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Holiday Savings Tip (sent in by reader, Charla)…

My holiday shopping stays in check by having a plan. I’ve found my biggest holiday over-indulgence was kids’ presents. Not only are kids just so fun to shop for, there are so many great deals year-round. I found that shopping the sales early led to a mountain of gifts and ultimately over-spending. Then a few years ago I heard a rhyme that completely changed how I shop for my kids. For the holidays, each kid receives:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.44.29 PM
Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

Additionally, Santa brings one gift. With this rhyme in mind, I plan my shopping and stick to my plan. Of course I still look for deals on these items, but it keeps all shopping in check (and prevents the post-holiday toy avalanche).

Note from Collin:

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on this topic. Last year a reader emailed in with the following question and it generated lots of discussion…

How many gifts do you give your kids for Christmas? My husband thinks I give our kids too much. I give them about 15 each from us and they get big stuff from Santa. I also give about 6 gifts to the whole family like games. Do you think this is too much? I don’t want to spoil my kids with stuff, but I want them to have a great Christmas!


* For more information on the Hip2Save Holiday Tips & Deals series and to learn how you can participate in the fun, click here!

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Spread the Word about Your Business…

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With the holidays upon us, I thought it might be fun once again to create a place for all of you to share your small and/or home-based businesses (i.e. Etsy, Avon, Scentsy, etc.) with other readers and/or to offer Hip2Save readers a special discount on products that you sell. I have posted this quite a few times now on Hip2Save and it has always been quite a hit!

OK, so have at it and feel free to share your small business with the Hip2Save community! :)

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Reader Holiday Tip: Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer Turned into Advent Calendar

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Holiday Tip (sent in by reader, Maria)…

Once our two daughters reached their teen years, we found that their Christmas wish lists became shorter, while the items on the list became more sophisticated (read as “electronic”) a/k/a more expensive. The good old days of small and sometimes inexpensive gifts were a thing of the past.

Last year, I decided to make countdown calendars (a/k/a Advent calendars) for my girls so that I could give them small items everyday for 24 days, and then one or two larger items from their wish lists on Christmas morning. The “calendar” wasn’t really a calendar at all. It was separately wrapped items numbered 1-24 and set out all around the living room where we place our Christmas tree. This year, I am planning to decorate an over-the-door shoe organizer; most of them have 24 pockets already and the pockets will accommodate many different sized items.

The possibilities for countdown calendars are pretty much endless, and can be super elaborate to super simple. Pretty much anything can be used to create this fun-to-make and fun-to-receive item. To fill the “calendar,” I have already purchased the Pez dispenser Target gift cards that Collin featured, as well as The Body Shop Groupon Offers. I have also been saving samples received in the mail throughout the year. Small makeup, lip glosses, little lotions, little nail polishes, perfume samples and the like are absolutely perfect for my girls’ countdown calendars. Some of the pockets will include play money that my girls can cash in when their study abroad trips come up next year.

For more information on the Hip2Save Holiday Tips & Deals series and to learn how you can participate in the fun, click here!

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