6 Last-Minute Shopping Tips for Procrastinators


Saving Dollarsand Sense

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Procrastinating shoppers are running out of time and many are turning to Starbucks to save Christmas.

The popular coffee chain expects to top last year’s sales of over 2 million gift cards on Christmas Eve alone, which amounts to approximately 1,500 cards per minute.

While Starbucks gift cards can be as affordable as you need them to be, last-minute shoppers often become less price sensitive as time runs thin, and instead focus on convenience. However, just because you’re running out of time doesn’t mean you should disregard your budget! Here are several ways to take advantage of convenience and save money at the same time.

Shop at midnight.
Whether you’re slammed at work, busy with social obligations or running from school recitals to holiday parties, you don’t have to worry about fitting shopping into your busy day. You can take advantage of extended hours at select stores and shop late at night or super early in the morning, when crowds are sparse and you actually have time. Kohl’s, for example, is open 24 hours every day between now and Christmas Eve. Toys ‘R Us will remain open from 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23, through 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. And select locations of Target stores will be open until midnight from Sunday, Dec. 21 through Tuesday, Dec. 23.

Use mobile coupons.
To compete with other stores, retailers will be running plenty of sales and promotions leading up to Christmas. Don’t assume the store sales are the best deals you can get, however, and download a coupon app like Coupon Sherpa for extra savings. You can easily find additional discounts like $25 off $100 from Aeropostale; $10 off $50 from Cabela’s; and $15 off $50 from Macy’s. If you’re shopping at Walmart, be sure to download their free store app and take advantage of the Savings Catcher tool, which gives you money back via gift card for any product you purchase thatâs priced less at a local competitor.

Pick up in store.
Amazon is offering same-day delivery on Christmas Eve if orders are placed by 10 a.m. for customers in 12 major metro areas. That’s a great option for city dwellers but for the rest of us, in-store pickup is the next best thing. Target customers can order items for same-day store pickup as late as 5 p.m. on Dec. 24. Toys ‘R Us can have items ready in under an hour in some cases, while orders placed online at Kmart can be picked up at either Kmart or Sears locations. Look at the fine print and make sure the items you order are eligible and available.

Get free shipping on rush orders.
While rushing shipping tends to put people into panic mode considering the high costs, select retailers who are looking to capture last-minute sales will offer free or deeply discounted expedited delivery. Most of these offers come with order minimums, but with stores like Macy’s, Sears and Best Buy offering free delivery for orders placed on Dec. 22, you can likely find something for everyone on your list and meet or exceed these minimums, anyway. Just make sure you order by the cutoff times. For example, orders placed through Macy’s must be submitted by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.

Send an e-gift card.
When time is tight, you can’t go wrong with a gift card (just ask Starbucks!). Luckily, you can find gift cards pretty much everywhere these days, from your local gas station to the grocery store down the street. Some stores offer printable gift cards which you can include in a card or themed package, or you can send an e-card directly to the recipient’s inbox. You can even save on these printable and electronic gift cards by shopping at GiftCardGranny.com. For example, shoppers can save 11 percent on printable gift cards to Starbucks; 10 percent on e-cards to Banana Republic; and over 12 percent on Regal Movie Theater gift card codes.

Shop smart at the airport.
If you’re flying home for the holiday, take advantage of the airport’s shopping outlets. Though many of these retailers won’t offer big savings, you can often find a variety of goods to choose from for everyone on your list. If you’re worried about overpaying, check prices using RedLaser or Amazon Price Check apps. I found comparable prices at Brookstone and Best Buy’s gadget kiosk at the Las Vegas airport, so those are safe shopping stops. Look out for sales, too. I recently received 50 percent on a golf jersey for my husband at the Pro Shop at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

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. For more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

How to Make Christmas Trees Last Longer


Saving Dollarsand Sense

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.

Girl Scouts Cookie Oven Review


Saving Dollarsand Sense

This Girl Scouts Cookie Oven Review is part of the new 2015 Hottest Toys series that I will be sharing here on Saving Dollars and Sense that will highlight each of the hottest toys for the 2015 holiday toy season.

Girl Scouts Cookie OvenGirl Scouts Cookie Oven Review

The Girl Scouts Cookie Oven is all about putting the fun back into baking!

No longer do young girls have to worry about using the family over – with the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven they can bake their own cookies right before their very eyes!

With a heating element that preheats the Cookie Oven in 5 minutes, the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven lets children experiment, bake and learn all at the same time. With new technology that actually bakes rather than simply heat up, and all the measuring utensils that your young chefs will need to make their own cookies, the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven is the only child oven that you will ever need to consider!

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Features of the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven

  • 10 x 18 x 10.8 inches
  • 8 – 15 years
  • Real working oven
  • Preheats in 5 minutes
  • NB: Contains Heating Element, NOT A TOY

Is the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven Worth Buying?

It is worth repeating this point, because some people see a colourful toy oven and think it is nothing more than a prop. The Girl Scouts Cookie Oven is a real working miniature oven with an electric element that could give severe burns to someone who touched it.

For that reason, the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven should only be bought when playtime can be monitored, children are slightly older, or there are no very young children in the house. It is not worth taking any risks with this kind of appliance.

That all being noted, when you consider the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven for what it is, it’s absolutely superb.

The oven heats up extremely quickly, and children can see their cookies baking before their eyes. Unlike many traditional child ovens, the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven boasts a new system that actually bakes the cookies rather than simply warming the dough. This is a huge difference, and makes it immediately stand out when compared to other cookie ovens on the market.

As with any toy of this nature, if you are able to give it the time it will require, then it is an absolutely fantastic toy for children.

It teaches them about measurements, about baking, and gives them control over ingredients. The problem arises if you don’t have the time to teach your child how to safely use the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven.

This isn’t a toy to be left in the playroom, but one to be held aside for certain times.

For parents who are willing to play with their children and those looking for a cookie oven, you will not find a superior product.

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Read all of the 2015 Hottest Holiday Toy Reviews to learn which toys are the right choice for you.

LEGO Elves The Elves’ Treetop Hideaway 41075 Review


Saving Dollarsand Sense

This LEGO Elves The Elves’ Treetop Hideaway 41075 Review is part of the new 2015 Hottest Toys series that I will be sharing here on Saving Dollars and Sense that will highlight each of the hottest toys for the 2015 holiday toy season.
LEGO Elves The Elves Treetop Hideaway 41075LEGO Elves The Elves’ Treetop Hideaway 41075 Review

Emily Jones was just a normal girl taking a stroll through her Grandmothers garden when she stumbled upon a magic portal.

This portal transported her to a magical world a long way from home – in The Elves Treetop Hideaway!

Make this stunning 500 piece setting, and then go exploring this new world with Emily as she meets Azari Firedancer and Farran Leafshade.

Cook food over the fire and use the magical bucket lift to send food up to Enki, the adorable panther cub belonging to Farran! Finally, ask for The Elves help as Emily needs to find her way home.

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Features of the LEGO Elves The Elves’ Treetop Hideaway 41075

  • Ages 7 – 12
  • Includes 3 mini doll figures
  • Emily Jones, Azari Firedancer & Farran Leafshade
  • 505 pieces

Is the LEGO Elves The Elves’ Treetop Hideaway 41075 Worth Buying?

The LEGO Elves collection is quite firmly and unashamedly aimed at girls aged 7 – 12, and this Treetop Hideaway set is no different.

On completion, the set is incredibly colourful and engaging, and the design of the leaf and flower arrangements manage to convey some sort of mystical and fantastical sense of magic. The set is surprisingly packed with features, despite only being a 500 piece set.

The Treetop Hideaway includes the magic portal, the bucket lift, parting leaf curtains, a bed, a table, chairs, a ladder bridge and even a secret compartment. This, on top of including 3 figures and a pet panther, mean that the Treetop Hideaway is packed full of content.

For fans of the LEGO Elves series, Emily Jones is a particularly welcome inclusion. Despite being the main character and our portal into The Elves world, Emily is not included in the majority of LEGO Elves sets, so the Treetop Hideaway may see increased demand simply for Emily’s inclusion. Those that do buy will be rewarded with a challenging, but not difficult, assembly, and even some secret magical tricks that won’t be spoiled here.

The chances of many young boys being interested in the LEGO Elves Treetop Hideaway are low. Although the assembly would be fun, the content and colours simply won’t be inviting to too many young boys.

For this reason, people considering the Treetop Hideaway as a present or gift should only be buying it for fans of the LEGO Elves or girls aged 7 – 12. Outside of that, you run the risk of wasting a superb LEGO set on someone who won’t appreciate it for all that it has to offer.

For the right person, this is a brilliant set.

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Read all of the 2015 Hottest Holiday Toy Reviews to learn which toys are the right choice for you.

How to Earn Extra Cash for the Holidays


Saving Dollarsand Sense

extra cash

I have hesitated for a long time to write this post.

It’s strange because I have already written about so many personal things, and yet this one thing has been about the hardest for me to write to you. Because honestly… I have been afraid that it won’t be well received by you or that you might misunderstand my intention.

I often write about the different strategies we have used to save money and get out of debt.

One of the best strategies for getting out of debt is finding new streams of income.

I have done it all from babysitting, yard work, garage sales, Craigslist, Online Surveys, and Blogging to name a few.

I have felt a heavy burden to write this post for so long that today I have decided that I am just going to go ahead and put the information here for you to decide what you would like to do with it.

I pray that you will understand that my intentions are to help those that might need to know about this thing I have been doing to earn a full time income from home and hopefully this information will bless you and your family too!

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Today I want to share something that I learned about a little over a year ago that has helped me earn enough money to be able to call it a full time income today!

In fact, I have been able to pay for Christmas last year, a couple family vacations, Richie’s graduation and graduation party this year!!

As most of you know, I started using essential oils pretty regularly a little over a year ago.

I have shared several times here and on social media how I have been using them and how you can start using them too. It is no secret that I am a fan of essential oils.

I often share recipes and special offers here with all of you because I am confident that you will love them too once you learn to use them to replace other items in your home.

I began to hear about them several years ago and bought a bottle of lavender one day on a whim from a health food store and never used it.

When I decided to finally give them a try, it was because I was at the right time in my life to hear truth when it showed up as my friend Rachel Holland. She knew where I was in my journey to wellness and was so sweet one day to send me a message on Facebook letting me know that that particular month would be the perfect time to order a premium starter kit because if I did, I would save on all my oils AND get an extra free bottle of Frankincense and Sacred Frankincense, which were two essential oils that I had been researching and knew I wanted to add to my life.

It was near the holidays so I bit the bullet and made health and wellness my gift that year.

Here is the thing. I didn’t really know what I was doing ordering that kit.  Yes I had read some great things about essential oils, but I still wasn’t really sure.

To be perfectly honest, I mostly bought the kit on a hope and prayer.

I felt the urging in my spirit that this was what I needed to do, and I am so glad I listened to it.

I once heard someone talk about their health from the perspective of being like one of those birds that have their heads in the ground.

When you have your head in the ground, you don’t even realize anything is wrong.

Once you pull your head out of the ground, a whole new world opens up to you and you begin to see things you never knew existed before.

That is how it has been with me since we began slowly adding more and more essential oils and products into our home.

I always thought I was living a pretty healthy lifestyle. But the more I learned the more I came to the realization that I was barely scratching the surface.

Now I can’t help but talk about my journey with essential oils because the more I learn about this stuff the more excited I become to share with everyone I talk to, and that includes all of you :)

After a while, I had friends who were curious to try the oils too. So my friend Rachel helped me find my personal sign up link that I received automatically when I ordered the premium starter kit.4462553_s

I gave a couple people my link to sign up and the next thing I knew I was getting a paycheck in the mail from Young Living that was MORE than the oils I was purchasing that month!

I was so thrilled to be helping others get their hands on such awesome essential oils, earning enough money to cover the amount I wanted to spend each month was a bonus I hadn’t really been expecting.

In the last year since I really began to share, I have gotten to a point that I am earning a full time paycheck each month!!!

The other night I was talking with my hubby about how I had no idea when I ordered my kit that I had the potential to earn as much as I have.

It has been such a blessing for us that I just couldn’t keep it to myself any longer!

If you have been looking for a way to add to your household income or simply earn enough to get your essential oils purchases covered, I am happy to help you learn the way!

You could easily earn enough extra cash to cover the holidays if you want to.

It is up to you how little or how much time you want to invest, but I have seen lots of people find financial freedom while sharing something so valuable with others.  It really is quite fulfilling to know you are helping so many learn the path the wellness.

We have special members only groups where everyone shares and asks questions as well as tools that make things easier to get going.

If you are ready to join me in this adventure, please send me an email and I will help you get started right away.

Just to give you an idea of how much money you can earn….

How to Get extra cash

Young Living will send you a check for $50 for each friend that you help order a premium starter kit.  Plus for a limited time I am offering and additional $5 for each person you help, for a grand total of $55+ for each friend you share with that orders a premium starter kit.

  • Share with one (1) friend who orders a Starter Kit – Earn $55+ Thank You Check!
  • Share with three (3) friends who order a Starter Kit – $165+ Thank You Check!
  • Share with six (6) friends who order a Starter Kit – $330+ Thank You Check
  • Share with ten (10) friends who order a Starter Kit – $550+ Thank You Check

Young Living Income Disclosure Statement

Need extra cash for the holidays?  

Just order your own premium starter kit today and you will also get your personal share link to start earning!

Thank You checks are sent around the 20th of each month, so you still have two months to earn.

If you really hustle, you could potentially earn enough money to cover the cost of Christmas this year.  How cool would that be?!!

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Feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all krsawicki@yahoo.com :)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon


Saving Dollarsand Sense

This Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon Review is part of the new 2015 Hottest Toys series that I will be sharing here on Saving Dollars and Sense that will highlight each of the hottest toys for the 2015 holiday toy season.

Star Wars- The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium FalconStar Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon Review

As Star Wars: The Force Awakens prepares to hit our screens in Dec 2015, fans around the world have already started getting excited for the next instalment. As a result, it’s no surprise to see Star Wars toys starting to make a strong reappearance.

The iconic Millennium Falcon, perhaps one of the most memorable features of the original Star Wars trilogy, is making a return in the new movie, and parents everywhere will be secretly hoping that their child wants their very own Millennium Falcon.

This was the toy that defined a generation, and it’s time for a new generation to see what all the fuss was about!91ZA5Ecvl2L._SL1500_Features of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon

  • Millennium Falcon starship
  • Shoots 2 nerf rockets
  • Lights up and makes sound effects
  • Includes Chewbacca, Finn and the droid BB-8 figures
  • Ages 4 and up
  • Requires 2 AA batteries
  • 5.2 x 22 x 16.6 inches

Is the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon Worth Buying?

The most obvious difference between this Millennium Falcon and the toy that was on every child’s list for Santa in the 70’s is the two oversized nerf rockets that now defend the ship.

While parents and ardent Star Wars fans will probably question their inclusion, nerf rockets are a welcome addition to any child in any situation, so it’s no surprise that they have included them here.

The inclusion of 3 figures is also extremely welcome. In Chewbacca, you have one of the most important members of the Star Wars universe, and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.

Finn is set to be the hero of the new film, so while some fans won’t be fully aware of who he is now, he is a main character and an excellent choice for figurine inclusion. Lastly, BB-8 the droid who looks to be an upgrade on R2-D2. These are not throwaway figures, and including them is a big plus.

With pop open sections for the bridge and the gunroom, the Millennium Falcon is well suited to enthusiastic and creative play. The ship is well built and substantial in size, making it instantly attractive to most children interested in recreating a daring escape, a fight with the forces of the dark side or a lasts second jump to hyperspace!

There is every chance that the Battle Action Millennium Falcon will be bought by just as many collectors as it is by parents for their children, so this could be difficult to put your hands on closer to Christmas.

If you want to get one, you would be well advised to get it early, because there won’t be many left by the time the film comes out!

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Read all of the 2015 Hottest Holiday Toy Reviews to learn which toys are the right choice for you.