shopping

How to Build a Gift Closet Without Breaking Your Budget

Your son comes home from school on Thursday and announces he’s been invited to a birthday party. And it’s tomorrow. I’ve been there! And I have your solution in just two words: gift stockpile. It’s pretty simple. Learn the best time of year to buy everything, and when you find a deal on a giftable item–anything from a blender to a Nerf gun–buy it when the price is low, and save it for later. In the long run, it’ll save you time and money. Here’s how I do it:

I load up on bins when they’re on sale and make a bin for each of these categories:

  • Baby Shower Gifts
  • Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts
  • Kids Birthday Gifts
  • Teen Birthday and Graduation Gifts
  • Teacher, Friend, and Neighbor Gifts

Next, I fill up my bins!

1. Baby Shower Gifts

babystockpile

Diapers from your couponing stockpile: Diapers and wipes are like liquid gold to a new mom. Raid your couponing stockpile and give some of those diapers and wipes you get at rock-bottom prices as a shower gift. If you don’t have a stash of diapers already, let’s get you started. Once a month, you can find Huggies for under $3.50 per pack and Pampers for under $5 per pack at drugstores like Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS. If you have a pregnant friend, follow MGM Qpon Queen to find coupons for Huggies, Pampers coupons, and other diaper deals!

Baby Gap extra 40% off clearance: Stock up on sleepers when they are under $8. In-store clearance prices are better than online clearance prices.

Tip: the last markdown prices end in $0.97. Follow your local gap on Facebook to find out when the sales happen in your area.

The Children’s Place online “Monster Sale”: Get baby clothes for as low as $0.99! Sign up for TCP emails to find out when the “Monster Sale” takes place. (Plus get $10 off your next purchase just for signing up!) Online prices are better than in-store, but don’t pay for shipping! Free shipping happens so often that if The Children’s Place isn’t offering it the day you shop, it’s worth waiting a day or two and checking back to see if shipping is free another day.

Target holiday clearance: I’ve seen holiday-specific pacifiers, bibs, onesies, and sippy cups marked down 70-90% after holidays! Buy that reindeer onesie or patriotic pacifier, and save it away for the friend that’s due in that season.

2. Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts

weddingstockpile

Kohl’s + Kohl’s cash + coupon code stacking: Watch for deals at Kohl’s on small appliances or bed and bath items. Black & Decker appliances have been as cheap as $14 (for a $40 appliance). Toasters or coffeepots often go on sale for only $4.99. The big bath towels get as low as $3 each at Kohl’s, so when they hit that price, stock up!

Black Friday deals on small appliances: Many stores including Macy’s, JCPenney, and Walmart have doorbuster deals on small appliances on Black Friday, making it a great time to stock up on wedding gifts for under $20–sometimes as low as $5 each. And thanks to mail-in-rebates, there’s also a sprinkling of hot appliance deals all year-round. Just a few months ago, I got a $50 slow cooker, electric skillet, and blender for only $10.

Victoria’s Secret reward cards: Take advantage of the Secret Rewards promotion in March/April in order to get VS items for FREE for any brides-to-be who show up in your life. There are $10, $20, $50, $100, or $500 reward cards available. You can request 1 reward card per household per day during the month the program runs. Just mail your request in and they’ll send you a card a day. You’ll have one month to redeem your rewards. Learn everything you need to know about Victoria’s Secret Secret Reward Cards. Also shop the VS semi-annual sale in January and June where you’ll find panties for as low as $3.99. Lingerie is up to 50% off, and good quality pajamas are only $24.99. I have various sizes and styles in my stockpile.

Target Home Clearance: Peruse the end-caps for clearance deals.

Tip: Most Target locations mark down their home section on Thursdays.

3. Kids Birthday Gifts

kidsstockpile

Hollar for great-priced, high-quality toys: Load up on toys, stuffed animals, art supplies, games, and T-shirts, all for under $5 at Hollar! Hollar has a lot of brand-name toys and crafts (like Melissa & Doug). Your first order ships free when you spend $10; otherwise, shipping is free when you spend $25.

Amazon Lightning Deals: Another place to watch for great deals on toys. Act fast–Lighting Deals really do move like lightning! Make sure to add the item to your cart, sign in to your account, and enter payment info before the deal goes live. That way, all you have to do is check out, and you’re not at risk for losing the toy before it sells out–sometimes in less than 90 seconds!

Tip: Join Amazon Prime (free 30 day trial here) and you’ll get to shop most Lightning Deals 30 minutes before deals go live for everyone else.

Target semi-annual toy clearance: Usually starts on the second or third week in January and again in July at Target; you’ll start seeing 30% off on toys. The sale then goes to 50% off and quickly to 70% off. Eventually the leftover toys hit the end-caps, and they sit at 90% off. Items go so fast! If there’s something you really want, it’s best to get it at the 50% markdown. The good stuff is gone once it hits 70%. During the rest of the year, shop Target on Thursdays, because that’s when they mark down their toy section.

Tip: Stock up on arts and crafts items like crayons, construction paper, scissors, markers, etc., during Back-to-School sales and clearance sales after school begins.

4. Teen Birthday and Graduation Gifts

teengiftsstockpile

Raise.com for discounted gift cards: Get a 12-15% (average) discount on gift cards at Raise.com for stores you already frequent. In fact, if you’re not using Raise.com yet, you’re missing out! Let the teen in your life pick out their own gift. You can choose gift cards from iTunes, Best Buy, Sephora, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, and a lot more.

Cosmetics deals at Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid: Find high-value coupons for new products at Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid. Keep an eye out specifically for brands like Maybelline and Revlon and items like nail polish and mascara. Also look at Target! Text BEAUTY to 827438 to get a coupon to use at Target. For the girl who likes brand-name makeup, you can find deals at Sephora, too! I like to stock up during their semi-annual sales in April and November. I also like to buy their value sets, which include a mix of items of the same brand.

BestBuy.com deals: This electronics giant isn’t just a great place to get a giant flatscreen TV. Watch for Best Buy sales a few times per month on headphones, appliances, and computers. Sometimes you can even haggle for a better price at Best Buy. And if you find a better price online, Best Buy is one of a handful of retailers who will price match Amazon.

Back-to-school sales/clearance on dorm stuff: Give an incoming freshmen a head start on their space in college. You’ll find comforters, pillows, and basically anything a student needs to set up their dorm room. Back-to-school sales are in full swing from July to September. Check out Target and Ikea clearance sales in September for some of the best deals.

5. Teacher, Friend, and Neighbor Gifts

teacherstockpile

Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale in January and June: Stock up in-store or online on hand soaps for as little as $3.25, and Wallflower refills for $3. Lotion and body cream are $3.75, and candles are up to 50% off. Bath & Body Works items make great gifts for my kids’ teachers and also for times when I forget a friend or a neighbor’s birthday. Late gifts are better than no gifts, right?!

Accessories deals at JCPenney: Find deals on jewelry, scarves, gloves, or flip-flops. JCPenney does in-store “penny deals” where items like towels, tank tops, and makeup bags are only $.01.

Wine Case Discounts: If you have the sort of relationship with your child’s teacher where this would be welcome, wine is a thoughtful gift. Want to save money at Whole Foods? Get a 10% discount when you buy 6 or more bottles.

Join a wine club so you always have a bottle on hand: Check out Club W, where you get your first 3 bottles of wine for $28.41, plus shipping. Try Lot 18’s Tasting Room where you can get 6 wine samples for just $9.95 shipped. Heartwood sometimes sells 6 bottles of wine for under $6 each. Make sure some of those bottles make it into their gift stockpile bin!

And that’s how I did it! I save an average of 45% on the total cost of my annual gifting–and that includes my own children’s gifts! For the last three years, I’ve saved about $700 per year.

5 Ways to Save on School Uniforms

School Uniforms come with a love/hate relationship for most people. Many districts say that they save parents money, plus there is no more stress over what to wear everyday or that someone else has more fashionable clothing.  While those are all great, buying a line of clothing that is like work attire for children is expensive.  Now they have school clothes separate from play clothes.   That’s double the clothing (not to mention double the laundry).

If you need to get new uniforms on a budget, here are a few ideas on how to save on school uniforms.

Save on School Uniforms

1.  Consignment Sales/Good Will

We are in the middle of back-to-school consignment season.  You’ll find many uniform racks in almost every sale running in your city.  Many times these will be brand name items (Lands End etc.) for over 50% off the regular price. Go one step further and head to Good Will.  Our local stores have a large selection of uniform apparel and all start at $2.79 per item!  My girls need uniform pants and a polo shirts to wear with their American Heritage Girls uniforms each year, this is where we grab them.

2.  Coupon Codes & Cash Back

Look at going new with a number of online deals various sites will run during back to school season. You’ll also find deals specifically on uniforms at Old Navy, Target, Walmart and a number of other retailers.

Before shopping online, always look for a coupon code and make sure to GO THROUGH EBATES FIRST to earn cash back on your entire purchase.

3.  Attach Your Own Insignia or Patches

Many times school uniforms are just khaki pants with a polo shirt.  If your school requires special insignia, ask if there are local embroidery shops that have the pattern.  Rather than buying from a special school shop that has things already made (and costs a fortune), grab your own apparel and take it to a local shop or do it your self.  To save more, make sure to have all your clothing in the same order.  Many shops offer a discount when it is a the same logo repeated.

4.  Start a Uniform Exchange

Be a problem solver and start a uniform exchange to help everyone out!  You aren’t the only family needing uniforms, so band together and swap uniforms with others to get the sizes you need.  This is incredibly easy to do, just invite folks to meet at a person’s house or even at the school and have items ready for swap or sale.

5. Shop Ebay

The consignment sale king online doesn’t miss a beat with uniforms either.  You’ll find a ton of options on ebay and some even for bulk sales where you could get everything you need in one order.  Be careful to not order uniforms that have insignia already on them, this can be costly to cover up or replace.

Do you have any other tips on how you save on school uniforms?

Craft Store Coupons

Check out these coupons to save on crafts this week. Keep in mind that many stores take competitor coupons. Grab 20% off your total purchase at Jo-Ann’s this week including sale price items.

Craft Store Coupons:

Michaels

-40% Off Any One Regular Price Item PRINTABLE (exp 7/29)
-60% Off + Extra 10% Off Sale Price Hampton & Oxford Street Custom Frame Collections PRINTABLE (exp 7/29)

Jo-Ann Fabrics

-20% Off Total Purchase (sale & reg price) PRINTABLE (exp 7/24)
-$2.49 yd. Cozy Flannel Solids PRINTABLE (exp 7/24)
-40% Off Total Purchase of Outdoor Fabrics PRINTABLE (exp 7/24)
-40% Off Any One Regular Priced Item PRINTABLE (exp 7/24)
-65% Off Your Entire Custom Frame order PRINTABLE (exp 8/2)

Hobby Lobby

-40% Off (1) Item At Regular Price, PRINTABLE

Target run 7-15-17 Only $105

One of my favorite things about shopping at Target is the free gift card deals. People often ask me how I can afford to do Christmas like I do (remember 8 siblings most of whom are married with kids and some of the kids have kids). The answer is two fold…1- coupons for everything and 2- Target gift cards I get through out the year. This was our latest haul.

I haven’t been shopping in almost a month so we needed quite a bit of stuff. With the exception of perishables this should tide us over for another month or so. So here is the receipt: (be forewarned it’s a long receipt and I had to piece it together LOL)

Yes that bottom line figure says $174. And it doesn’t look like I saved a whole bunch. But let’s break it down some. A big part of the $174 was stuff on clearance (remember my post over the weekend here about checking your clearance sections?) so that makes a huge difference. Then I was able to use coupons and Cartwheel on top of the clearance items.

Next thing to note is that I got $20 back in gift cards and I bought a $25 Starbucks gift card. So this brings my total down to LIKE $130ish.

Then we have the online and app rebates here:

This brought my total down to $120. Then I submitted a $15 rebate for the vitamins here which will bring my total down to a whole whopping $105 for a month (more or less) of non perishables and health goods.

Tax Free Weekends

Can you believe Back to School time is almost here again? For more savings on all the supplies you need, you might want to take advantage of the Tax Free Weekend offered in participating states.

Check out the list of Tax Free weekend dates, and mark your calendars! It does tend to get a bit crowded, but it might be worth it, depending on what’s on your shopping list.

Note: Georgia and North Carolina are not having Tax Free Weekends this year.

Before shopping, print out the BACK TO SCHOOL BUY PRICE LIST.

Tax Free Weekend

ALABAMA: 7/21-7/23
Clothing ($100 or less), Computers ($750 or less)
School supplies ($50 or less), Books ($30 or less)

ARKANSAS: 8/5-8/6
Clothing ($100 or less), School Supplies

CONNECTICUT: 8/20-8/26
Clothing and Footwear (less than $100 ea.)
(official dates have not been released but it is assumed…)

FLORIDA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing ($60 or less), School Supplies ($15 or less)
Computers ($750 or less)

IOWA:  8/4-8/5
Clothing & footwear ($100 or less)

LOUSIANA: 8/4-8/5
First $2500 of personal property taxed at only 3% rate

MARYLAND: 8/13-8/19
Clothing & Footwear ($100 or less)

MISSISSIPPI: 7/28-7/29
Clothing & Footwear ($100 or less)

MISSOURI: 8/4-8/6
Clothing ($100 or less), Computers ($3,500 or less)
School Supplies ($50 or less)

NEW MEXICO: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & Shoes ($1oo or less), Computers ($1,000 or less)
Computer Software and Accessories ($500 or less)
School Supplies ($30 or less)

OHIO: 8/4-8/6
Clothing ($75 or less), School Supplies ($20 or less)

OKLAHOMA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & footwear ($100 or less)

SOUTH CAROLINA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & Footwear, Computers
School Supplies, Bed & Bath Linens
(no price limits)

TENNESSEE: 7/28-7/30
Clothing ($100 or less), Computers ($1,500 or less)
School Supplies ($100 or less)

VIRGINIA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & Shoes ($1oo or less), School Supplies ($20 or less)
Hurricane Prep Items & Energy Star Appliances

School Supply Buy list

Image result for back to school supply

The back to school deals are starting! Pretty soon there will be a ton of deals in stores for school supplies. I wanted to give you a buy price list of what you should be looking to pay for certain items.

Although some schools haven’t put out their supply lists yet, you can guess what will be on them: pencils, markers, binders, and more. Go ahead and start buying now so you won’t have to pay top dollar the week before school starts.

Remember that you can also price match name brand items (not store brand) at Target, Staples, Toys R Us and Best Buy, so keep that in mind if some stores sell out of items.  Staples also runs a 110% PRICE MATCH POLICY with school supplies that makes for an ever better deal!

If you don’t need these items, consider donating. There are lots of kids in need and schools always welcome supplies.

Note: Some of these items can end up being much cheaper with store promos, but the prices below are the general sale prices to watch for. Get the printable list here.

Pencils, Erasers, Pens
No. 2 Pencils, 8-10 pk: 1¢-79¢
Mechanical Pencils, 10 ct: 99¢
Pencil Pouch: 1¢
Pink Erasers, 2 pk: 50¢
Pencil Top Erasers, 12 ct: 1¢
Pens, multipacks: 1¢-$1.99
Gel Pens, 2 pk: $1.50

Arts & Crafts
Crayola Crayons, 24 ct: 25¢-50¢
Crayola Markers, 10 ct: 75¢-97¢
RoseArt Markers, 10 ct: 62¢
Crayola or RoseArt Colored Pencils, 12 ct: 50¢-97¢
Watercolor Paints, 10 ct: $1

Highlighters & Sharpies
Bic Highlighter, 5 pk: $2
Sharpie Highlighter, 5 ct: $1
Sharpie Permanent Marker, 5 ct: $1.99

Notebooks
1 Subject: 17¢-49¢
3 Subject: $1.44
5 Subject: $1.88
Composition Books: 50¢-$1
Mini Composition Books: 20¢

Folders
Pocket Folders: 1¢-15¢
Poly Folders: 39¢-42¢
File Folders: 25¢

Binders
1″ Binder: 25¢-99¢
Zipper Binder: $9
Paper Clips, Pushpins or Binder Clips: 33¢-$1

Paper
Filler Paper, 100 Sheets: 25¢-75¢
Copy Paper, 500 Sheets: FREE-$1
Writing Pad, 80 Sheets – $2
Construction Paper, 100 Sheets: $1.50-$2

Index Cards
3″x5″ Lined Index Cards, 70-100 pk: 1¢-48¢

Adhesives & Staplers
Glue Sticks, 3 ct: 67¢-99¢
School Glue, 4 oz: 1¢-50¢
Scotch Invisible Tape, 3 pk: $2
Stapler: $3
Mini Stapler: $1

Scissors, Rulers, & Other Equipment
Backpacks: Up to 50% off
Protractor: $1
Scissors: $1
Ruler: 5¢-35¢
Dry Erase Marker, 4 pk: $1-$3
Manual Pencil Sharpener: 1¢-39¢
Bic Wite-Out, 2 pk: $1