SWMO Deal | Free Horse Drawn Carriage Rides: Springfield, Missouri

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I LOVE Downtown Springfield, MO (Missouri)- so much to do, such great flavor!  I found this great freebie earlier and I thought I’d share it with you. 

Take a relaxing horse drawn carriage ride through downtown. Hear the relaxing jingle bells and hoofs as you tour downtown.

Date: Saturday, November 19th and November 26th

Start Time: 6 p.m.

End Time: 9 p.m.

Location: Park Central Square

Sponsored by the Downtown Springfield Community Improvement District.

For more information, click here:  It’s All Downtown Events

**Important: Just because this is free, it doesn’t mean you have to be cheap.  Be sure to tip the driver for providing such a great service!   

Ultimate Christmas Savings | Fun and Unconventional Ways to Save

Last week, we talked about how to make your holiday budget.  This week, we’re going to talk about how to save for the holidays.

The following is an excerpt from ‘Ultimate Christmas Savings … Because No One Needs To Know You’re Cheap’

Holiday Special:  Download the entire 38 page Ebook, along with our 17 document Holiday Organizer/Planner printables for just $10!

Want examples on what I’ve bought in previous years to see how I can help you cut your costs this season?  Download the free documents below!

Once you’ve set your budget, it’s easy to see how much you need to save. You should start saving early so that you can put away a more manageable amount of money each pay period.

To determine how much to put up each pay period, divide the total budget by the number of pay periods left between today and the date you intend to begin shopping.

Using an Online Bank to Increase Savings

I highly recommend setting up a savings account with ING Direct. ING Direct is one of the largest online banks in the country. One of their perks is that they allow you to set up unlimited FREE, interest-bearing savings accounts. You can name each account whatever you’d like and set up automatic transfers to each one. ING will then transfer the amount of money you chose on the date or cycle specified. After a couple of weeks, you won’t even notice this transaction!

The more effortless you make saving, the easier it is to put money away. There’s a pretty good chance that if you have to go to the bank, call them, or even log in to your online banking each week to make a deposit into savings, you will never get around to putting the money into that account.

But I already have a savings account at my local bank. Why do I need this?

· By keeping your savings separate, you are less likely to dip into them.

· ING accounts draw a higher interest rate than most banks.

· Your bank may not offer automatic deposits into your savings account.

· You may transfer your ING funds back to your bank at any time, but it takes 2-3 days for the transaction to process. This will prevent you from making impulse purchases with these funds. Studies show that up to 90% of all purchases would not be made if the customer was to go home and ‘sleep on it’ before making a purchase.

Still leery about having your money ‘two days away’? You can apply for a debit card. NOTE: This is only for the strongest willed shoppers. If you are dead-set on getting a debit card with them, lock the pin number and the card up immediately so that you don’t have instant access to it. By leaving it behind while shopping, you will curb impulse purchases and still retain instant access to your account.

To sign up for an ING Direct account, visit this secure address: http://www.thesensiblefamily.com/ingdirect

Unconventional Way to Save Using Gift Cards

If you’re like me, for some reason you feel that a gift card carries more value than cash. When I have a gift card for a store, I carefully plot how I want to spend it. I received a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card last year that took me months to spend. Any day of the week, I could have walked into that store and spent $25 cash, but I wanted to make sure that I got the most bang for my buck

I like to consider some department store gift cards the same as cash. Stores like Walmart, Target, and K-Mart can offer everything you need. In addition to merchandise and groceries, they also offer automotive care, vision care, and some even offer medical services. You also probably visit one of these stores on a regular basis. Why not pick up a gift card and add to it each time you do your shopping? You probably spend a fortune there already, so you won’t notice a few extra dollars.

But what if you decide to do your Christmas shopping somewhere else? No big deal! These stores also carry gift cards to other physical and online retailers- even restaurants, and you can buy these gift cards with your store gift card. Afraid you’ll run short on cash and need help paying the bills? You can use it to buy a pre-paid Visa or Mastercard. These cards might charge a small transaction fee, usually around $3, but well worth it in the overall scheme of things. (Note: Be sure to read the fine print before purchasing.)

Whatever you do, don’t tie your money up in gift cards for specialty stores. It’s not going to do you a lot of good to buy a Toys R Us or Best Buy gift card and be locked into paying their prices during the holiday season. Walmart and Target both offer price matching, so you’re sure to be able to take advantage of the lowest advertised sale prices.

Another good option for gift cards is Amazon.com. Amazon offers items for everyone on your list. They don’t just sell books anymore. You can buy everything from groceries to housewares to office supplies. Amazon also allows you to set up automatic gift card purchases under the ‘My Account’ tab. This will automatically purchase gift cards for you on a regular basis. Amazon also carries a handful of gift cards for other stores.

Using Swagbucks to Earn Amazon Gift Cards

If you take one thing away from this book, let it be this: Swagbucks is FREE, EFFORTLESS money!

Swagbucks is a search engine that allows you to randomly earn points, called Swagbucks, for doing searches. You can then redeem these points in their store for various prizes. The most beneficial prize is a $5 Amazon gift card for just 450 Swagbucks. Although the store is full of prizes, many take more points per dollar or cannot be combined with other discounts. The Amazon gift cards may be stacked together to make large purchases. You can even add them directly to your Amazon account so that you have a positive balance the next time you go to make a purchase.

To sign up, click here: Sign up for Swagbucks Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to download the plugin for your browser. This will add Swagbucks to the search bar at the top. All you’ve got to do is start searching and wait for your Swagbucks to accumulate.

Tip: Start searching for everything instead of typing in the address directly. If you are visiting Facebook, don’t type www.facebook.com into the address bar, type Facebook into the search bar, then click the link on the search page. This extra ½ second step will provide you with additional opportunities to win Swagbucks.

Note: I earn between $25 and $100 a month using Swagbucks by simply using their search engine!

Tanger Outlet Center | Free Coupon Book and 20% off Coupons

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If you’re headed out to Tanger this weekend, they’ve got a few specials going on.  You can print the coupon above (or on their Facebook page) to receive a free coupon book today.  If you’re not going today, they will be posting another hot Thursday offer on their Facebook page tomorrow morning.

You can also fill out this form to have a 20% off any single item at participating stores coupon emailed to you.

One-On-One Christmas Consultations by PHONE | Cut Your List in HALF!

Because so many of my readers are unable to attend a Christmas Savings workshop in person, I’ve decided to devote some time to answering your questions by telephone. We’ll go over the items on your list and I’ll tell you where and when to buy the items to take advantage of the best prices. Most of the items on your list will be cut in half- or MORE!

You can set up your appointment for a phone call or Facebook chat by filling out the form below.

Last year, I spent $909.15 on $2,206.55 worth of gifts.  To see them all, click here:        

In 2009, I spent $362.17 on $2,120.57 worth of gifts.  Want to see what I bought?  Click below:

Ultimate Christmas Savings | Make Your Budget

Christmas Cookies

It’s just 58 days until Christmas- are you ready?  The earlier you start and the more organized you are, the more you’ll save!

The following is an excerpt from the new ‘Ultimate Christmas Savings… Because no one needs to know that you’re cheap!”  If you’d like to purchase the full holiday download set for just $10, click here:

I spent $909.15 on $2,206.55 worth of gifts last year.  Click below to see what I got!

Taming the “B” Word

You know the word I’m talking about.. that’s right.. BUDGET. You probably don’t want to make one, just the mere thought of it makes you sick. But you need to do it. Without a budget, it can be easy to overspend. Budgeting should be empowering, not terrifying, which is why I’m going to guide you step-by-step through this nearly effortless holiday budget.

1. How much do you want to spend? This number should represent the largest amount of money you are willing to spend this season. You’ll probably change this in a bit, but you need a starting point. If possible, base it off of last year’s expenses. Take into consideration that this budget includes everything: gifts, wrapping supplies, foods, travel, etc. Write your budget here (in pen): ___________________

2. Go window shopping. What? What’s that got to do with budgeting? Everything is easier when there’s a Coach purse or a pair of Jimmy Choos at the end of the tunnel. Select a reward for yourself if you end the season under budget. This will encourage you to spend less and save more.

3. Will you budget by actual cost or retail price?. We’re going to be focusing on shopping for less throughout this book, so you need to decide how you would like to represent your savings.

Do you intend to base your spending off of the actual cost of an item or off of the retail price?

Example: If you have set a $20 limit on each person and you find a $20 item on clearance for $3, will you count that person asi completed with a $17 savings or will you keep shopping until you physically spend $20 on them? (I’ll tell you a secret.. no one will know what you paid for an item, they will assume it’s the retail price. A $20 gift is a $20 gift, no matter what you paid for it. You’ll obtain your savings goal a lot quicker if you stop spending when you hit the retail price of each item.)

4. Print the My Holiday Budget Worksheet (available below) or Develop Your Own

5. Divvy it up. Grab a pencil (and a big eraser) because now you are going to decide where every dollar will go. Glance over the worksheet and cross out any categories that don’t apply to you. Add any additional ones that you desire in the spaces provided.

Decide how you want to divide your budget between the categories. You may find that you need to adjust your overall budget at this time.

That’s it! You’ve officially made your holiday budget!

Next week we’ll work on finding some extra cash so that you don’t go into debt this holiday season.  Can’t wait?  Buy the whole book, along with the entire set of printable holiday planning pages?  Download your copy now for just $10!  (a $63 value).

My Christmas List | What I’ve Bought: Part 1

I’d like to take a few minutes to tell you what gifts I’ve purchased so far this holiday season, along with my current savings.  Many of these deals are no longer available, but several were posted here!

I normally don’t list items I’ve bought with credits, as I am a blogger and sometimes receive more credits than the average reader.  However,  this year I’m on a mission to see how far I can stretch the estimated credits an average referrer can use.

I’m really trying to cut back on the number of gifts we give this year, as we are in the process of buying a home and eliminating a LOT of clutter.

Item Retail Cost
EA Sports NFL Training Camp-Wii $39.99 $12.71 Paid in full with Swagbucks Gift Cards
Barbie Twillerbaby Play Set $9.99 $1.48 Mattel Sale
Barbie Twillerbaby Play Set (bought two) $9.99 $1.48 Mattel Sale
Polly Pocket $9.99 $2.48 Mattel Sale
Polly Pocket $7.99 $4.99 Mattel Sale
Steak and Shake Gift Card $10 $5 Saveology
Steak and Shake Gift Card $10 $5.99 OnSale
Farm Frenzy –DS $24.99 $6.48 Paid in full with Swagbucks Gift Cards
National Geographic Books $20 $10.00 Sale: $10- used $10 in free credits from Plum District
Dollhouse $49.99 $25.00 Sale: $25- used $25 in free credits from Eversave
Melissa and Doug Toys
$80
$38
paid $13.90shipping costs only, these were gift cards from SaveMore, bought with credits
Guitar Center Gift Card
$50
$25
Groupon Half Price gift card, paid for with Groupon

Credits

Total
322.93
$138.61
Adjusted Price after Credits: $35.32

If you’d like to learn how I shop like this, or how I bought $3,000 worth of items last year for under $400, register for the next Christmas Savings workshop on October 27th here:  Upcoming Workshops We’ll analyze your own Christmas list, cutting the cost of each item in HALF or MORE!

Can’t take a workshop?  Get the 40 page Ultimate Christmas Savings Ebook + the 18 page printable Christmas planner today for just $10 (a $63 value)! 

Walmart to Offer Price Guarantee

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Walmart seems to be trying to pull out all of the stops this holiday season in order to gain control of the market.

This morning, they unveiled a ‘Christmas Price Guarantee’.  They will be granting a price adjustment (in the form of a Walmart Gift Card, of course) on any item previously purchased that is advertised for less at a competing store.

As with any new Walmart policy, it seems to be poorly stated, which leaves plenty of room for interpretation.  (I sure wish they’d just send me a copy to once-over before they would post this stuff- it would save everyone a LOT of headache.)

Basically the policy states that:

  • You will receive a price guarantee on any item purchased from November 1st-December 24th (some areas of the release say December 25th) when you bring in a copy of the competitor’s ad.
  • You will receive a Walmart gift card, not cash back.
  • Will you receive the difference if Walmart puts its own items on sale for less?
  • You must bring the competitor’s ad in WHILE the item is on sale at the competitor.  By reading the release, it implies that you can do it anytime during the program, but the fine print implies that it must be during the competitor’s sale.
  • Does not apply to internet ads or Black Friday Ads
  • Valid on Layaway

And the fine print (from press release video):

Walmart Christmas Price Guarantee

What do you think about this?  It has promise to skyrocket the retailer’s profits if well executed.  It sure seems they are pulling out all of the stops this year! 

My Favorite Holiday Treats

 

I always get so many questions about my recipes, so I though I’d share some of my favorites with you guys. 

Skillet Cookies (these are extremely sweet if you have sensitive teeth)

  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Cook dates, sugar, butter, and egg over low heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Stir in rice cereal and pecans.  Make into small balls (ping pong ball sized) and roll into coconut.  This will be very hot- you can wait a bit for it to cool, but not too long or it will set.

Corn Flake Cookies (so simple and so yummy!)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups corn flakes

Cook sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter over medium heat.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour over corn flakes.  Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper. 

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • Bowl of confectioners sugar for rolling

Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well to form cookie dough.  Make into small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown (may take less time).  Roll in powdered sugar when cool. 

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies 

I think I’m going to love having this extra Saturday to prepare for Christmas.  It seems that if Christmas falls earlier in the week, I never get time to do the fun stuff.  The kids and I will start some baking tomorrow- and I’d like to try a few new things.

We normally make:

  • Peanut Butter Balls
  • Pizelles
  • Skillet Cookies
  • Mexican Wedding Cakes
  • Fudge (the old fashioned kind)
  • Sugar Cookies

I saw some neat recipes on the Today Show this morning- I thought the Struffoli with Honey looked very interesting.

What are your favorite Christmas cookies?  Please share them (and your recipes if you are so inclined) below!

Walmart Amazing Electronics Event | November 6th and 7th

In years past, Walmart has run ‘Super Saturday’ sales for the first 2 Saturdays in November.  These sales boast some pretty good discounts, and some items are cheaper than they will end up being for BF (Black Friday).

This sale starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, and the best deal I see is a $50 iTunes card for $35.  However, there is a limit of 1-2 per customer.  Their site says a limit of 1 on the item page, but a limit of 2 on the page announcing the sale.  I’m not sure how they’ll enforce it, so if you get an ad today, let me know what it says!

The other items listed are:

Compaq Laptop: $288

26” Vizio LED TV: $198 (GREAT price on an LED)

PS3 bundle- console+game+PS3 Move AND a $50 WM gift card: $399

Vizio 32” LCD TV: $298

Vizio 42” LCD TV: $498

Vizio 47” TV: $698

Vizio 55” TV: $898

Walmart.com Pre-Black Friday Sales

Rotating Electronics Holiday Banner

Walmart.com has just kicked off their Pre-Black Friday sale.  There are some pretty good deals, and remember that most items will ship to you for only 97¢ or to the store for free!

Some of my favorites are:

Viore 32” LCD TV: $299

Hamilton Beach 6 Speed Stand Mixer 12 Piece BakerEze Bakeware set: $49

PS3, Wii, DS, and Xbox games: 2/$30

Selected Video Games: B2G1

Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera: $379

Click here to see these and all 172 items!