10 Things to Do to Avoid Holiday Debt Later

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Kmart made headlines recently as the first retailer to advertise for holiday shopping. While it may seem ludicrous to think about the holidays before the summer season officially ends, it’s actually smart to get started now. In fact, the National Retail Federation found that 40 percent of consumers started holiday shopping before Halloween in 2013.

I know that most of us would rather not think about the holiday shopping season just yet, however taking some time to educate yourself now will help you have a successful holiday without going into debt.

Here are 10 Things to Do Now to Avoid Holiday Debt Later.

1. Sell your stuff.
While spring may be synonymous with cleaning, fall is also a good time to declutter and sell anything you no longer want especially since you can stash the earning away for gift shopping. Large items like furniture is best sold through Craigslist or via local Facebook buy-sell-trade groups. Clothing can be sold at local consignment shops or online atRecycleYourFashions.com or thredUp.com. Finally, you can sell old gadgets for cash through Gazelle.com or NextWorth.com.

2. Track flights.
If you’re flying over the holidays, it’s wise to start looking into flights now. Typically, the sweet spot for the best airfare deals is six to four weeks before your desired departure date, but the holidays are another animal. As you begin researching, use the “flexible date” feature to compare rates among departure and return dates. This will help you pinpoint the cheapest dates to fly and lock in your time-off request early. Don’t forget to track prices using Yapta.com; this way, if you notice the flight price drop after you book, you can request a credit from the airline.

3. Buy discount gift cards.
In addition to being the most highly-requested gift for seven years in a row, gift cards can actually save you money when you buy them at a discount. Websites like GiftCardGranny.com have thousands of gift cards to popular retailers, with savings like 25-percent off Starbucks gift cards. You can also sell any unwanted gift cards for cash, and get up to 92 percent of the card’s value back to put toward your holiday shopping budget.

4. Eliminate excess spending.
Whether it’s weekly takeout, weekend spa appointments or too many morning lattes, there is always room in your budget to cut back and boost your holiday savings. Review your spending over the past several months and identify areas where you can cut back. Keep in mind, some of the excess purchases you eliminate now doesn’t have to be forever.

5. Stash your savings.
Whenever you skip a spending opportunity, put what you would have paid into a savings account specifically for your holiday shopping budget. You can open a Christmas Club-type account at your bank or local credit union, or go online to SmartyPig.com, a free service that helps you stash away cash for any purpose. Ultimately, putting your savings in a place where it’s not easily accessed will help you avoid dipping into it for unrelated purposes.

6. Anticipate hidden costs.
Budgeting for gifts and travel is a no-brainer, but often we forget about the hidden costs of the holidays. Things like postage for holiday greetings, White Elephant gifts for corporate parties, or tips for all the helpers in your life. It’s these expenses that send our budgets in the red, so prepare for them now to avoid surprises. Holiday packaging can be purchased on the cheap from dollar stores, while White Elephant gifts can be a re-gift from something you already own. For advice on tipping etiquette, check out these guidelines from Emily Post.

7. Consider side hustles.
Now is a great time to look into earning extra cash. This will help you avoid living on Ramen Noodles until after the holidays, plus it might expand into a legitimate gig beyond the holiday season. Sites like eLance help you find companies in need of freelancers, while TaskRabbit connects you with people who need assistance with small tasks like grocery shopping, dog walking or handy work. If you have the flexibility, a part-time retail job not only offers extra cash but also an employee discount for gifts.

8. Round up your rewards.
Between social events, back to school shopping and family getaways, you likely racked up quite a few points on your credit card over the summer. Use those points to offset your holiday spending by turning them into gift cards. You can give these cards as gifts or use them to pay for gifts at specific stores. Sometimes, credit card companies will offer these reward gift cards at a discount, so keep your eyes peeled for these deals.

9. Start scouting and collecting gifts.
Now is a good time to start scouting for gifts and note their selling price. If you find a really good deal right now, buy it! Picking up a few gifts over the course of two to three months will limit the financial strain you may experience when buying multiple presents during the peak shopping season. If you’re researching online, be sure to look for coupon codes to score discounts or free shipping.

10. Research layaway thoroughly.
The main reason for early holiday shopping ads is to promote retailer layaway programs. While putting coveted items on hold and paying them off over time seems like a good strategy, you need to be careful about the program’s fees. Startup and service fees can range from $5 to $10, and if you need to cancel for any reason, there’s a fee for that, too. Stores like Walmart do not offer layaway for online items, nor do they price match in-store items with their online prices, meaning you could pay more for a gift than you need to.

This guest post has been provided courtesy of Andrea Woroch, is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

Free Gifts in a Jar Book!

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Pick up a copy of Gifts in a Jar FREE today!

Looking for ideas for thoughtful, decadent, and inexpensive gifts? 

Food in Jars is just the resource you’ve been looking for! This guide features dozens of mason jar recipes, which make wonderful gifts, sure to be enjoyed by family, friends, co-workers, teachers, and neighbors. Inside, you’ll find detailed recipes and instructions for all sorts of handmade recipe in a jar gifts, including 
• Cookie Mixes 
• Snack Mixes 
• Soup Mixes 
• Sauces 
• Seasoning Blends 
• Bath Salts and Body Scrubs 

We’ve got everything you need to know to create these quick and easy treats. Let’s get started! 

*Saving Dollars and Sense Tip: Amazon prices are subject to change without warning, please make sure you are paying the price you expect before completing the checkout process.

Order yours here while you can still get it for such a low price.

Zaycon Fresh Bone/Skinless Chicken Breast $1.89 lb!!

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I just got word that Zaycon Foods is bringing back the ever popular chicken breast to my area for just $1.89 per pound!  You might want to see if they are coming to your area any time soon too.

Zaycon Foods is coming back to my area and bring their famous bone/skinless chicken breast with them!

This is perfect timing for me because we eat a lot of chicken at my house and I hate having to pay the grocery store sales prices when I know I can get higher quality chicken at much better prices from Zaycon.  Seriously if you look at my menu plans each week you’ll notice that chicken is an ingredient in about half of our meals so I need to find great deals on chicken.

I stock up whenever I find boneless skinless chicken breast on sale for less than $1.99 a pound, and I only find it this low through Zaycon!

Their chicken sales are limited supply and only available while supplies last!

Sign up and secure your order here.

Also if you are totally new to Zaycon Foods and just not sure how it all works or what you will be getting, check out this video:

This is my box from the first time I picked up my Zaycon chicken:

This is my 40 pound box of chicken

They deliver 40 pound boxes of Boneless Skinless chicken breast to you for around about $1.89 (sometimes less) per pound.

The chicken I received is 100% natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients.

This chicken is FRESH (never frozen).  In fact when I picked up my chicken they told me it was butchered just four days before!

What is Zaycon Foods?

They are a privately owned company based in the state of Washington. The company was founded in 2009 to bring fresh meats and other products direct to consumers at wholesale prices. The founders have extensive experience in sales, business management and the grocery industry

Why would someone buy from Zaycon Foods?

Quality: They only sell what they eat themselves— high-quality, healthy food products
Price: Fresh, high-quality retail food products sold for wholesale prices
Customer Service: Exceptional service all along the way, from order to reminder to convenient, efficient pickup

How does it work?

When you sign up here you’ll be able to see if this program is in your area or find out when it will be in your area.  Then when they have a scheduled event they’ll email you to see if you want to order anything.

Once you receive your box you will need to trim the fat off the chicken and separate it into freezer bags.  These pieces of chicken were huge!  So I put 4 Pieces of chicken per bag and ended up with  bags of chicken.

Here is a great video that my friend Jasmine made to show what to do with your 40 pound box of chicken when it arrives.

Where do I sign up?

You can sign up with Zaycon Foods here.  As soon as there is going to be an even in your area they’ll let you know.  This is THE only time they will send you an email.

If you see that they have not made it to your area yet sign up anyway because when they see enough people from the same area sign up they know they need to bring an even to you!

I am very happy with the quality of the meat I received.  And I love knowing that I am feeding my family better choices than the cheap meat I can get at my grocery store.

Have you ever purchased your meat in bulk before?

Starbucks Coffee $4.65 a Bag!

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There is a HOT Starbucks coffee deal right now at Target that you will want to grab if you love Starbucks!

Get a $5 Target Gift Card when you buy three bags of Starbucks Coffee.

Use the printable coupon below and you can get Starbucks Coffee for just $4.65 per bag.

*Hot Deal Plan*

Buy 3 Starbucks Coffee Bags for $20.97
Use this $2/2 Starbucks Coffee printable coupon
Spend $18.87 plus tax out of pocket, Get a $5 Target Gift Card when you buy 3
$13.97 ($4.65 each) after coupon and gift card

$2.00 off two Starbucks Packaged Coffee products

Check out all of the current Target Deals before you head out to shop.

Thanks Money Saving Mom!

Like Twice Now Pays $10 For Shoes!

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In case you didn’t know, I love the online consignment store Like Twice!

I would have to say that almost my entire wardrobe of clothes has come from this store over the past year.  Even though the clothes are used, you would never be able to tell other than the fact that the prices are up to 90% less than you would expect to pay (some are new with tags still on them).

If you are new to Like Twice you can get a FREE $10 credit to shop with here.  There are plenty of items to choose from that are under $10, essentially making them free with your credit.

Not too long ago they even added handbags!

I was thrilled to learn that Like Twice is now adding shoes to their store and offering an extra $10 free credit to every order that includes accepted shoes!

The additional credit is only available now through October 31, 2014.

6pm.com Coupon Code (20,000 Available)

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One of the best ways to save on Shopping Costs, is by shopping stores that offer items at discounted prices. What is even better is if you can find a coupon to save an additional amount of money.

6pm.com has just released a new coupon code!

You’ll have to be quick to use it because there are only 20,000 codes available. This is a great way to save on back to school shoes, clothing or accessories. Just use the coupon code 6PMEU91720141077 during checkout to save 10% off your purchase.

*Coupon valid on the 6pm website until 11:59pm PDT on 9/17/14 or until 20,000 shoppers have used the code. Cannot be combined with other offers or applied to previous purchases. Discount is applied before taxes and shipping, if applicable.

Shop early for the best selections.