9 Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Food Deals

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All the optimism surrounding lower gas prices may be clouded by record-high food costs, according to consulting firm Customer Growth Partners (CGP). While retail experts are predicting between 4 and 4.5 percent increase in holiday sales this year, CGP is estimating more modest growth (3.4 percent) due in part to rising food costs.

The timing of these increases is especially harsh as millions of Americans prepare to host Thanksgiving dinner next week. Turkey prices alone have jumped 12 to 14 percent (per pound) since last year, according to the USDA’s Turkey Market News Report. To avoid letting these costs gobble up your Thanksgiving budget, check out these nine savvy tips.

1. Compare turkey prices online.
Prices on Thanksgiving groceries like turkey and canned veggies can vary significantly from store to store, so it pays to compare costs. Plus, many stores will offer to price-match their local competitors while others will offer discounts on a turkey based on a single trip or overall spending. You can access most grocery store circulars online for quick comparison so you can plan your shopping trip and avoid driving all over town.

2. Get cash back.
Several mobile apps have popped up offering cash-back for grocery purchases, including Thanksgiving dinner essentials. SnapiBotta and Checkout 51 enable shoppers to snap photos of their receipts and get cash back once they reach a certain amount. $5 back on Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkey, $0.50 back on asparagus or $0.25 back on butter represent just a taste of the offers available. These apps are free and can be used year-long to save on groceries.

3. Keep it simple.
Planning is easier than doing, so don’t allow yourself to go overboard when designing your menu. Keep it simple with the dishes you typically serve since new, exotic dishes can require expensive ingredients and result in a higher grocery bill. Stick to a single type of meat instead of buying a turkey and a ham, and calculate how much meat you actually need before buying the main course. Typically, one pound of meat per person is plenty, plus any amount of leftovers you want. For more tips on finding a turkey for less (or even free!), check out this article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

4. Get clipping (or printing).
Using coupons to save on Thanksgiving groceries is hardly groundbreaking, but these days you don’t have to rely on newspaper inserts to get manufacturer’s deals. Websites like CouponSherpa.com offer a roundup of grocery coupons based on your location, so you can easily find and print coupons based on your shopping list. You can also search for specific product coupons, like $1 Ocean’s Spray Fresh Cranberries or $0.40 off two tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.

5. Bake your own pie.
Cooking from scratch is the cheapest way to save on any meal, but lack of time is often hard to overcome. Ultimately, boxed stuffing and canned gravy won’t break your Thanksgiving budget. Where you really need to focus your do-it-yourself skills is on dessert and baked goods like pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Prices at the bakery are marked up 100 to 300 percent which will send your grocery costs soaring. If dessert isn’t your speciality, ask a friend or family member to cover this part of your menu.

Pumpkin Pie Recipes

6. Buy whole produce.
Whether you’re serving roasted broccoli, honey-glazed carrots or sauteed brussel sprouts as your signature veggie dish, buying whole produce will save you up to 40 percenton the prepackaged stuff. Sure, it’s going to require a bit more effort to wash and chop everything, but doing so will not only boost your budget: it will also enhance the flavor of your dish.

7. Go with frozen.
If your signature dish or dessert features an out-of-season fruit or vegetable, consider buying frozen instead. Frozen produce is cheaper than fresh and because it’s flash-frozen at peak ripeness, you still get all the flavor and nutritional benefits. Turkeys are also a better buy frozen: you can save up to 40 percent by opting for a chilly bird. Just remember to allow sufficient time for thawing and brining, if you choose to do the latter.

8. Bulk up your alcohol purchase.
If you’re serving alcohol at your Thanksgiving dinner, considering buying in bulk to save. VONS will give you a discount of 10 percent when you buy six or more bottles of wine, for example. You can often save 30-percent off liquor store prices when you shop at warehouse club stores for booze. Finally, don’t pass up boxed wine: for the equivalent of $5 a bottle, you can stock up deliciously drinkable wine at a huge discount, and serve it in a carafe to fool your guests! Check out this roundup of recommended boxed wines from Wine Enthusiast.

9. Snag doorbusters for cookware needs.
As if preparing for a house full of guests isn’t stressful enough, coming up short on baking dishes and other cooking essentials can send you into panic mode. Instead of running to the grocery store where cookware is marked up by 40 to 60 percent, take advantage of pre-Black Friday deals. Retailers will be promoting doorbuster offers on small kitchen appliances and cookware all week long, and Kmart opens their doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving. There, you’ll have access to deals like a CorningWare 7-piece bakeware set for $19.99.

Guest Post by Andrea Woroch who is a nationally-recognized shopping 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.

Christmas Budget Calculator

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Use the Christmas Budget Calculator to determine how much you need to save each week to pay for everything cash this year!

Check out the Christmas Budget Calculator here.

 

How to Make Christmas Trees Last Longer

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5 Ways to Make Christmas Tree Last Longer

 

Tips to Extend the Life of Your Christmas Tree

 

This such a magical time of year with the lights, decorations, and of course the Christmas Tree!

Because we love this time of year at my house, I try to make it last as long as I can!

In fact we usually host our final holiday party the weekend after the New Year. As you can probably imagine, having a tree this long can lead to droopy branches and piles of needles on the floor.

In order to keep our tree looking its very best long after Christmas has passed, we use the following tips.

1. Choose the right tree.  The first thing to do to make sure your tree has the longest life span possible, is to choose the right tree from the very start. Sometimes these trees have been sitting around for several days before you see them.  There is also the distance it took for your tree to get from the tree farm to your local tree lot. You’ll want to choose one that looks fresh. Look at the branches, are they sagging?  Check the needles by rubbing you hand across them. If they easily fall off, you’ll want to choose a different tree.

2. Prepare the Tree. Make sure you have a fresh cut on your tree trunk before.  Once a tree has been cut down, the sap naturally seals it from being able to take in anymore water.  It only takes the sap about 3 hours to completely seal off the trunk making it impossible to take in any more water. This is why the fresh cut is so important. Most tree lots offer this service free of charge.  They might forget to tell you about it, so just ask.  They have the saws and it really only takes a couple extra minutes to do.  Cutting at least 1 inch off the bottom give the tree the best possible chance of being able to soak up the water.

3. Lots of Water. Keep your tree stand full of water at all times. Water really is the key to keeping your tree alive as long as possible. If you allow the tree stand to run out of water, the tree will once again send sap to build the barrier you got rid of when you made sure there was a fresh new cut on the trunk.  Remember, it only takes 3 hours for the sap to seal the trunk.  This means it will not soak up anymore water even if you refill the base again, so it is very important not to allow it to run dry at all.

4. Location, location, location. Choosing the right location for your tree will determine how long the tree will last. You will want to keep your tree away from any direct heat sources such as furnace vents or fireplaces as these will dry the tree out faster. It is also a good idea to avoid direct sunlight.

5. Replace your bulbs. Choose to use newer LED bulbs on your tree. They do not give off as much heat as older bulbs and will help keep your tree from drying out as fast. You can also choose to use less bulbs as a way to keep even more of the heat off the tree.

Using any or all of these tips will help extend the life of your tree.

I suggest following them all to keep your tree looking its best all through the holiday season.

Stores Kick-Off Black Friday After Halloween: New Retail Trends

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Before you had a chance to put away Halloween decor, retailers were already promoting deep discounts on holiday goods to woo shoppers before Black Friday. Optimistic predictions about the holiday shopping have made stores eager to capture consumer dollars. As the National Retail Federation estimates the holiday season accounts for up to 40 percent of annual store sales, it’s no wonder retailers are pulling out all the stops to get us to spend our money now and maximize profits.

Learn how to save more this holiday season, whether you shop now or wait until after Thanksgiving, by reviewing this six new retail trends.

Black Friday Starts Now
Black Friday Creep isn’t new, but the degree to which it’s creeping is at an all-time high: Both Amazon and Walmart kicked off Black Friday-like deals this past weekend. Amazon’s “lightning deals” are two weeks earlier than usual, and Walmart’s 24-hour online deals are about a month earlier than last year. To take advantage of these deals, monitor these websites as often as you can, or set up price alerts on products you want usingPoachIt.

Stores Stay Open on Thanksgiving
For those waiting until the big shopping weekend, retailers have started announcing their Black Friday — er, Thanksgiving — opening times. Macy’s made headlines when it announced a 6 p.m. Thanksgiving opening, with Kohl’s, Sears and Best Buy following its lead. Kmart will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving, and stay open for 42 hours straight. Meanwhile, Costco, TJMaxx and Nordstrom made their own headlines by refusing to open on Thanksgiving, offering customers a more traditional Black Friday experience.

Price-Matching Gets Fierce
Many retailers are taking their price-matching policies a step further this season with aggressive price adjustments offerings. In addition to giving price adjustments on their own sales, they’re offering adjustments when a competitor’s price drops, too. This means you may qualify for a price adjustment or store credit if you notice a recent item you purchased goes on sale or becomes available for less at another store. This is why it is important to compare prices, track price drops and ask store associates about their policies on meeting competitors’ pricing.

Free Holiday Shipping – Is It Really Free?
Target’s recent offer of free shipping on all orders through Dec. 20 is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to delivery options from stores. In most cases, shoppers must meet a minimum order threshold to get the perk. To avoid delivery fees, consider ship-to-store options from stores like Sears and Walmart, or check sites like FreeShipping.orgfor available coupon codes. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Free Shipping Day on Dec. 18, as this year’s event offers free shipping with no minimum order requirement and delivery by Christmas Eve from hundreds of online stores.

Free Online & No-Money Down Layaway
While layaway programs arent exactly new, many stores are waiving start-up fees to encourage participation. Walmart, Kmart, Sears and Toys ‘R Us are all offering free layaway this holiday season. Kmart is offering a No Money-Down Layaway for in-store and online purchases with no minimum order required, and provides Shop Your Members with extra five percent off of toys, sportings goods and more. Review program details to ensure you can pay everything off before the deadline or you may incur a cancellation fee.

Extended Return Policies
TJMaxx announced an extended return policy for the 2014 holiday shopping season, with stores accepting returns through Jan. 23, 2015, for items purchased between Oct. 19 and Dec. 24, 2014. Extended return policies are common for retailers to give gift recipients time to consider exchanges and returns, it’s always wise to check for deadlines, exchange options, potential return shipping and restocking fees before making a purchase. For frequent online shoppers, a new service from Return Saver offers a $49 subscription-based return shipping service with FedEx to alleviate those return shipping costs.

Guest post by Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognized shopping 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.

Home Depot Security Breach Worsens

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The-Home-Depot

I shared with you a while back about the Home Depot Security Breach, the latest retailer to join those that have already been hit.

After the big Target Security Breach during the holidays last year, I have already had to cancel and replace my debit card three times now due to fraudulent activity.  Thankfully my bank is well aware of the seriousness of the situation and they are very proactive in their approach to keep my accounts safe.

I appreciate the Free Credit Monitoring that Target and Home Depot have offered.

I am also using my own FREE Online Credit Monitoring service that requires NO credit card information.  I recommend signing up now to be safe should your information be stolen during this holiday shopping season.

Last night I received an email from Home Depot warning me that my email address had also been stolen during the Home Depot Security Breach.

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So what does this mean?

Well according to Home Depot, not much. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be proactive in protecting ourselves.

As home-improvement giant The Home Depot revealed that hackers stole more than 53 million customer email addresses during their security data breach, customers need to be on guard for possible email phishing scams.

“If you receive emails from The Home Depot or other groups in the coming weeks, you need to carefully scrutinize if they are authentic or not,” said Andrew Johnson, GreenPath Communications Manager. “If you are in doubt, call the Home Depot customer relations department or initiate an email with your questions.”

Johnson reminds consumers, that often, phishing email scams will have typos and will have a different email address than that from the inquiring retailer. “Be very careful about clicking on any links in a suspicious email,” he continued.

Hackers often use persuasive emails to try and fool customers into providing additional sensitive data, like social security numbers, credit card numbers and passwords, under the guise of making their account more secure.

Steps Identity Theft Victims Need to Take

Read 4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft to prepare yourself should the worst happen.

About GreenPath Debt Solutions

GreenPath Debt Solutions is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt, student loan debt, and bankruptcy concerns. Our customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961. GreenPath operates more than 55 offices in 12 states.  They also deliver licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). The company also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Saving Dollars and Sense Holiday Gift Guide

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I am happy to announce that the Saving Dollars and Sense 2014 Holiday Gift Guide is ready!

Sometimes finding the perfect gift for that special someone on your Christmas List can be difficult especially when you really want to give them the right gift that they will love.

I have searched all over the internet for the very best gift ideas for everyone on your list!

Just choose the category below that describes the person you are looking for and check out all of the things I personally recommend.

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Don’t forget to check the Online Coupon Code Database before to find the best coupon codes to save on your purchases throughout the holiday shopping season.

Search for the best Holiday Gifts for everyone on your list.

I know we are all looking for the best way to celebrate the holidays without over spending.  I hope you’ll find this resource helpful to you!

Use this page to search for the perfect Christmas Gifts and Deals for everyone on your list.

You’ll also find lots of FREE Christmas Recipes, Homemade Christmas Gifts, FREE activities for kids and more. New posts will be added daily throughout the coming weeks leading up to the big day.  

You can find all of the Christmas posts here.

I should also let you know that my busiest days of posting holiday deals are Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday so I hope you’ll join me on those days too as we will have a special live shopping event which will span across all of our favorite social networking sites!!

Online Coupon Codes Database - Before you shop at any store, search the coupon code database to make sure you aren’t missing out on additional savings.