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Christmas Gifts: How Much is Too Much?

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Christmas Gifts: How Much is Too Much?

I received this email from Hip2Save, reader, Lisa, and thought that it would make for a good discussion…

I was wondering if anyone else has this problem. 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!

What are your thoughts on this topic? How much is too much when giving to children or adults for that matter?

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Spread the Word about Your Business…

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Spread the Word Hip2Save

With Christmas just a few weeks away, here’s a great opportunity to share your small and/or home-based businesses (i.e. Etsy, Avon, Scentsy, etc.) with other Hip2Save readers and/or to offer readers a special discount on products that you sell.

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

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READER TIP: Rapid Response Strep-A Test Kit $34.99 Shipped (Save Time & Money)

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Rapid Response Strep A Test Hip2Save

READER TIP: About once a year my family gets Strep. About 2 more times a year we *think* we have Strep. I just found on Amazon where you can order Rapid Strep Tests to test at home. They are $35 for 25 tests, and have quite positive reviews. Just this morning I took my son to the doctor with all Strep symptoms present, only to find out he has a cold. My copay was more than 25 strep tests. Buying this kit one time pays for itself. Thanks Collin and Happy Thanksgiving!

Have any of you purchased this before? Thoughts?

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What Are Your Holiday “Buy it Now” Prices?

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Planning to host Thanksgiving dinner at your house this year!? I recently received the following email from reader Tammy and thought it would be great for Hip2Save readers to share what your price-points are for holiday items, such as turkeys, canned pumpkin, pies, and more!

I’ve been searching for the best price on turkey’s this year and the best price I’ve come up with is $0.69 lb. – seems high to me. Does anyone know of a better price? Thank you!

So once again, I am asking all of you to help out reader Tammy (and me!) by providing your “Buy It Now” prices in your area for some popular holiday items. If you have recently found a great deal on a holiday food item, feel free to leave a comment below listing the store where you purchased the item, the purchase price, and any other helpful information. Thanks so much!

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Budget-Friendly Tips for Packing and Sending Care Packages to Military Overseas

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Military Care Package Hip2Save


If you’ve ever considered sending a care package to a member of the military (or maybe you are just looking for some new suggestions and insider insight!), I thought you might find this email from a Hip2Save reader to be quite helpful…

I thought I would share one of my newest journeys into being frugal! My husband is currently on his 6th deployment, and with a toddler and newborn I wanted to be prepared for everything before he left, including being really organized about care packages. Before I started couponing, I would just go to the store and pay full price for items and ship them off, but now, with the help of Hip2Save, I managed to be frugal and smart about care packages.

Shipping costs:

There isn’t a way to get around this, but some helpful hints include:
Order free flat rate boxes, pay shipping costs, print labels, and arrange for pick up at your house. It actually saves a little more than a dollar per box as opposed to doing it at a USPS location, there is no weight limit, and you don’t have to waste gas on a trip.

Many places ship to APO addresses for free. Cheryl’s Cookies does and with the wonderful people on this site using my link, I was able to send cookies to my husband’s department for free!

Decorating the boxes:

In order to make the boxes more inviting, I used scrapbook paper and cute sayings/greetings to decorate the boxes. I gave each box a theme as well: the obvious holiday ones, but also ones such as “Date Night,” “We Are So Blue Without You,” “Breakfast in Bed,” and “Born to Run.”

Using Michaels coupons I was able to buy a pack of themed scrapbook paper and decorate over 30 boxes for less than $4!

Some of the themes:
Game night (hand-held games, dollar store puzzle books
Sweet Dreams (hot coco, personalized mug, blanket)
Breakfast in bed (cereal, chocolate milk boxes, pop tarts, etc.)
Born to Run: Fitness box (health bars, drinks, water bottle, workout clothes)
Date Night (copy of the first movie you saw together and one you are watching with the kids)
St. Patrick’s Day (everything green packaging)
We are so Blue Without You (everything in blue packaging)
Keep it Clean (Toiletries, towels, etc)
The final countdown (the last box….include plans for when your SO is home)

What goes in the boxes:

Food:
I planned ahead and made a list of what I wanted to include. This made couponing and shopping easier! My favorite deals included Hormel microwaveable meals (Target gift card deal paired with coupons), pull tab soups and canned goods, the Beef Jerky deals, and tons of granola bars, candy (avoid chocolate since it melts) and cookies… all almost free after coupons.

Other items:
A binder for my son’s artwork, sheet protectors, & envelopes for the “Open When” letters (free with Office Depot wrapp), Hanes socks and shirts (Target coupon, Cartwheel matched with a sale), free magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone, handheld games from Target toy clearance, Back to School Febreeze and Clorox wipe deals, new towel and sheet set (free after promotions at Kohls), tons of Shutterfly books, magnets, etc. that are freebies!

Some little things that made them special:
“Open when” letters to last throughout the deployment. Some ideas include:
Open when you need to laugh…
Open when you can’t sleep…
Open when you are frustrated….
Open when you need to feel appreciated…
Open when you want to be challenged…
Open when you want to know my favorite ten memories of us as a dating couple…
Open when you want to know my favorite ten memories of us as a married couple…
Open when you want to know my favorite ten memories of us as parents…
Open when you don’t feel well…
Open when you’re discouraged…
Open when you’re bored…
Open when you’re homesick…
Open when you’re halfway through deployment…

Tips:

1. Use ziplock bags (bought with coupons of course) for any items that could melt or leak (I used them for pudding and energy drinks I got with coupons)

2. Ship ahead of time… They can take up to 4-6 weeks to arrive so you want to keep that in mind in case they are date specific.

Some other deployment suggestions:

You can save money by pausing the deployed person’s phone plan

Stay active to make the time go by faster! There are tons of freebies and discounts for military dependents!
——-> http://militarybenefits.info/military-discounts/

Get the kids involved! We made a countdown board (using a tri-fold board from Office Depot) including a countdown calendar, a map of where daddy is, messages and pictures from daddy! We also used Kohls cash to get a recordable book so the kids could hear their dad’s voice every night!

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Spread the Word about Your Business…

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Spread the Word Hip2Save

With the Holidays just around the corner, I thought it might be fun 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 something similar in past years and it has always been quite a hit! :D

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

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Dr. Suess Themed Birthday on a Budget: Tips and Pictures from a Hip2Save Reader

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Guest Post by Hip2Save Reader, Callie – How to Host a Theme Birthday Party on a Budget

I thought I would share how I spent less than $60 on my son’s first birthday party! I love planning and crafting, but not spending, so I decided to plan early (most ideas were found on Pinterest) and hunt sales posted on Hip2Save! So, thank you for all of your help! The theme was Dr. Seuss and a huge hit!


Decorations:
I shopped Michael’s clearance advertised on Hip2Save and used the weekly 40-50% off items to purchase Dr. Seuss items in the back to school section. I was able to buy Cat in the Hat cutouts, various Seuss border trims, posters, and a wreath for my balloons for less than $10! These items served as food labels too! I bought the banner you advertised for around $8…but left off a birthday number so we could reuse it every year! I also bought Blue and red Paper plates, cups, balloons, table cloths, silverware after Memorial Day and 4th of July clearance! Finally, I used books, stuffed animals, and frames I already had to add to the theme! Spent about $23 total!

Goodie bags:
I loved when Hip2Save would note the Target dollar spot clearance! I bought Seuss Lorax themed mini notebooks, pencils, bracelets, stickers, dry erase boards, and blue stared baskets for $0.10 each! I used the stickers on mini bottles of dollar store bubbles too! I also used the Wrapp Office Depot free gift cards to get Cat in the Hat pencils for free! I then bought the holiday clearance candy and snacks…like individually wrapped Goldfish on 70% clearance. Spent a total of $8 for 14 goodie bags!

Food:
I love a theme and tried to be creative! Some highlights: I used 70% off Easter Goldfish for “One Fish, Two Fish,” $1/2 pasta coupon to make “oodles of noodles,” 70-90% off cake mix and frosting to make “thing , thing 2″ and “Lorax” tree cupcakes, couponed at Walgreens to get free cheesy chex mix (Lorax chex mix), free Chocolate Rock energy mix (yertle turtle mix), and free caprisons (pink ink drink). Other snacks were all purchased on holiday clearance or at least 1/2 off with coupons! We paid sale price for hamburger meat….and ended up paying a total of less than $25 for all the food and drinks!

I had so much fun that I am already couponing to the next birthday party! Even if a theme hasn’t been decided, I have found that sticking to basic colors, like red and blue for boy themes, and stocking up on clearance dessert mixes and candy are always a safe bet!

Also….I spent less than $25 on gifts thanks to target toy clearance and the Fisher Price deals posted throughout the year! Thanks again for all of your help! Click here for even more pictures.

Do you have any additional tips for how to save on a birthday party?! If so, please share them in the comments below!

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Hipsters to the Rescue: How Do You Entertain Teens Over Summer Break?!

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Check out this email I just received from Hip2Save reader Nancy:

I am not sure if you have posted about this in the past, but I just signed my 16 year old up for a monthly membership at my local YMCA. It was only $25 for a month membership (payable monthly, no commitment!) and she has access to all the Y facilities….pools, gym, classes, etc. I thought this was a great entertainment value and healthy too. I thought your readers might be interested.  I was shocked at the value!

With that being said, how do you keep your older kids entertained over the Summer? What ideas do you have to keep them engaged, active, and out of trouble ;-) …yet still able to have fun!?

Now it’s your turn… please share your HIP tips with us!

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Spread the Word about Your Business…

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With Summer in full swing, I thought it might be fun 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 something similar in past years and it has always been quite a hit! :D

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

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Creative & Affordable Graduation Gift Idea

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Looking for a creative graduation gift?! Check out this clever idea that was sent to me by reader, Jodi…

Hi Collin! My oldest is “graduating” from Kindergarten this year and as a surprise gift, I purchased the book: Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I am going to ask each of his teachers for the next 12 years to sign it and write him a little note. Then on his real graduation for his Senior Year, I will present the book as a gift to my son. Currently, you can purchase the book for $9.99 on Amazon.com. I thought this would be a pretty inexpensive and memorable graduation gift.

Do you have any clever (and affordable!) graduation gift ideas?

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