Archive for December, 2011

Post Holiday Blues: 10 Inexpensive Ways to Abolish the Funk

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Post Holiday Blues: 10 Inexpensive Ways to Abolish the Funk

Let’s face it. Crawling relentlessly back to work after fun-filled weeks of indulging in homemade sweets and festive family fun is less than merry. Faced with a bulging belly, a stack of credit card receipts and an insurmountable work agenda, it’s easy to unconsciously slip into a funk. Add to that the frigid cold weather and grey skies, and you have yourself a case of Post-Traumatic Holiday Disorder (PTHD).

Gawking at an overwhelming pile of garbage leaves you paralyzed, and the thought of dead tree removal crushes your spirits. Well, as life moves forward with schedules, deadlines and cleaning, there is a way to combat this seasonal depression. Instead of an expensive trip to the tropics, beat back the ghost of post-holiday melancholy with some mood-altering tips. And welcome your psyche into a new year without further tipping the scale of debt.

1. Get Exercise. Your expanded waistline will thank you. Bundle up and go outside for a walk. The sun is bound to come out and shed some uplifting Vitamin D on your skin. Short on time? Hit the gym. Fifteen minutes on the elliptical or bike is enough to release those precious “feel good” hormones. Better yet, learn how to ski or snowboard. Distract your mind with the “double whammy” of learning a new task and boosting adrenalin at the same time. For the snowsports virgin, go to snow.com for a Peaks Rewards free membership. Earn points on purchases and redeem them for free lift tickets, ski school lessons and exclusive discounts at participating resorts. Additionally, the site walks you through planning a ski or snowboard outing.

2. Listen To Music. Heard just about one-too-many renditions of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”? Switch it up. Play some uplifting jazz at your work desk or rock out to your favorite tunes while hitting the treadmill. Music enriches your environment and enhances your mood. Just make sure to choose uplifting tunes so you won’t pull yourself further down into the dumps. Sick of your tunes? Stream free online music at pandora.com.

3. Express Gratitude. Do you still hear Frank Sinatra whispering into you ear, “…have yourself a Merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light…”? There’s a reason for that. Maintaining a “light” heart is the key to elevating your spirits. Even more so after the celebrations are over. Turn a chalkboard into a family gratitude board. Every morning, jot down a reason why you are thankful. Use this as your mantra throughout the day. For inspiration, visit “Zen Habits” for grateful hints.

4. Recycle. Garbage pile got you down? Instead of paying for trash removal, exercise your appreciation for the Earth by recycling your holiday garbage. Stockpile used bows and barely wrinkled wrapping paper for use next year. Cardboard boxes stash great for future shipments and birthday presents. Lastly, glass bottles and aluminum cans…well, that’s a no-brainer.

5. Watch a Funny Movie. Put a new spin on date night. Movies are an inexpensive way to escape reality, if only for a fleeting moment. Funny movies make you laugh, further fueling contentment. Grab a bowl of popcorn and a cozy spot on the couch! Laughter reduces stress while ramping up the body’s immune system. Choose newly-released Indy films or fashion your own weekly Sundance Film Festival by watching free Indy movies here.

6. Daydream. Plan your summer vacation and envision yourself sipping margaritas on the beach. Daydreaming allows your mind to take a break and releases tension. A few minutes of daydreaming leaves you refreshed and renewed. As an added bonus, daydreaming enhances productivity, allowing you to better tackle that pile on your desk. Use your lunch break to go one step further and visit Away.com for vacation ideas, travel advice and rate comparisons.

7. Sleep. Sleep and mood are joined at the hip so get horizontal and catch up on some much-needed Zs. Most adults require 7-8 hours of shut-eye to feel fully rejuvenated. This allows the body time to stockpile what’s needed to tackle the next day. Oh, and remember the “feel good” hormone (serotonin) I was talking about? A sound night’s sleep boosts serotonin levels, heightening your mood.

8. Start a Project. Turn holiday pictures into a scrapbook. Highlight the stand-out events of the year. Scrapbooks and photo albums archive lasting memories you can turn to for a boost at any time. Save up to 50% on photo books at Shutterfly. Or, forget about the holidays and take up knitting, sewing or any other hobby you put on the back burner. Go here for 101 Hobby Ideas.

9. Eat Healthy. Your body deserves a break too. Concentrate on foods loaded with vitamins and curb your addiction to sweets. Controlling your blood sugar and regulating your vitamin intake eliminates the moody ups and downs. Visit “Today Health” for tips on elevating your mood with foods.

10. Surround Yourself With Joy. Avoid Negative Nellies and converse with uplifting people instead. Hanging out with a sulky co-worker only contributes to the blues. Negativity is contagious, but luckily so is happiness. For added ammunition to battle pessimism read “6 Tips for Dealing with Negative Nellies.” Still, to guarantee optimism, surround yourself with children. Their goofiness and light-hearted nature makes you soon forget your woes and forces you to live in the moment.

This post is from http://thekrazycouponlady.com/2011/12/28/post-holiday-blues-10-inexpensive-ways-to-abolish-the-funk/

Save Money and Make Your Own Onaments!!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

DIY Painted Glass Ornaments…

I am getting my last minute shopping done for the holidays and wanted to make something for my relatives. I came across the this idea to make custom glass ornaments. It is so easy anyone at any age can do it and costs very little! That is what I love the most.

Supplies:

You first need to buy some glass or plastic ornaments that can be filled, some acrylic paints, and some little plastic cups.

Step #1:

First, take the top of the ornament off and put aside for later decorating.

Step #2:

Then squirt some acrylic paint around inside the top of the ornament and let drip down the sides. I usually try limit the colors to three or four. Do not panic if you ornament does not look like you think… give it time to develop into a beautiful ornament.

Step #3:

Now turn the ornament upside down into a paper cup.  Make sure that you do not spill any paint as it is acrylic and stains. Now watch as the colors swirl together to make a wonderful masterpiece.

Step #4:

As the ornament dries, I take the topper of the ornament and bedazzle it!

Dip the topper in glue and spread glitter all over it till covered. Make sure you do this over a plate or trash can as it can get messy very quickly.

Step #5:

Once the ornament and topper are dry, take a piece of ribbon of your choice and create a hanger for the tree. This is a great gift for relatives, friends, and coworkers. I usually put them on the outside of gifts to make them look more festive.

Have fun decorating and post your finished ornaments!!

Photos provided by Thrifty decorating at http://thriftydecorating-nikkiw.blogspot.com/2011/12/diy-painted-ornament.html

10 Easy Tips to Save Money This Christmas

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Want to learn how to save money on gifts this Christmas and not feel like a Scrooge? According to this year’s National Retail Federation holiday survey, the average American will spend close to $700 this season on gifts, cards, decorations, and the like. This is one time when you want to be below average — way below. In fact, if you are in debt, just say no to gift buying this holiday. There is absolutely NO reason for you to go further into debt buying gifts for others. There are 13.6 million Americans who are still trying to pay off holiday debt from last year. Don’t join them by digging yourself into a deeper hole.

If you are going to buy gifts this year, the key to avoiding a holiday season that drains your bank account is to start planning early. Here are the top 10 money saving tips for steering clear of holiday debt and starting the new year in better financial shape:

1.  Plan it. Before you shop online or enter the chaos of the shopping mall, take 10 minutes at home to create a spending plan that lists who you need to buy for and how much you will spend.

2.  Use discounted gift cards. How would you like $100 worth of gifts for $80? You can purchase discounted gift cards for hundreds of online/offline retailers including the Apple Store, Radio Shack, Sears, Home Depot, and others. Discounts are usually 5-30 percent off the face value of the card. Check out GiftCardRescue.com and GiftCards.com.

3.  Use social media. Before you start shopping, start following your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook. Many companies offer discounts exclusively to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends. A quick search of their recent posts may reveal money-saving discount codes.

4.  Barter via online chat. When you’re shopping online, look for a “chat” or “live help” button. Tell the customer service rep you’d like to shop with them but you want a 15 percent discount. Ask them to check with their manager or you will abandon your shopping cart and click over to their competitor. This won’t work all of the time, but when it does it will save you money.

5.  Find discount codes and coupons. I never buy anything online or in the store without trying to find a discount code or coupons first. I’ve literally saved hundreds of dollars and it doesn’t take more than a minute.Simply search your favorite coupons website like “KansasCityCoupons.com” and get the best deals for your money.

6.  Get cash back. If you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars this year on gifts, you might as well try to get a few bucks back. I’ve used ebates.com (affiliate link — all proceeds will go to charity) for some time and have received several rebate checks.

7.  Bring on the envelopes, chuck the credit cards. Leave your credit cards and debit cards at home.  Allocate an amount of money for each gift, and put that money in separate envelopes marked with the recipients’ names.

8.  Give group gifts. When exchanging presents within large groups of people, even “token” gifts can really add up.  Try a “white elephant” exchange, a secret Santa strategy, or going in with co-workers on a gift for your boss.

9.  Make a promise that you won’t buy anything for yourself. When you’re shopping for gifts, it’s easy to be tempted to buy for yourself.  Make this season about others, not you — and remember that the items you want will likely be less expensive during the after-season sales.

10.  Avoid the “10 percent off, buy more” phenomenon. Stores often offer great deals when you sign up for their credit cards, but beware the high rate of interest these cards charge and ask yourself if you’ll really be saving money in the long run.  And don’t spend more than you intended just because you’re now getting a discount on your purchase.

If you follow these money saving tips, I guarantee you will put more green — and less red — into holiday shopping this year.

(christmas tree image by wolfsavardCC 2.0)

8 Tips For Online Coupon Clipping

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

“A solid coupon strategy can help you save up to 30 percent off your bills”, says Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com. Here’s how to harness the power:

1. Stick to coupons for things you really use. Trying another brand is fine. Buying something you know you won’t or shouldn’t eat is a waste.

Americans tend to throw out about 27 percent of consumable food, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While this includes grocery stores and restaurants, the family refrigerator is also a culprit. One quick way to slice into your food bill is to buy only what you need.

2. Pick a couple of favorite coupon sites and hit them regularly. Issuers offer “10 times the coupons available on manufacturers’ Web sites,” says Stephanie Nelson, who runs CouponMom.com.

Be sure to hit them early in the month, because sometimes manufacturers instruct the issuers to cap the number of coupons they distribute, says Steven Boal, CEO and founder of Coupons.com. Get there early and you get first pick. And don’t be afraid to check back several times a week to see if any new coupons are added. “New offers come in and out almost every day,” Boal says.

3. Target the manufacturer sites of your favorite brands. It takes a little more time than just visiting several coupon issuers. But this is a great way to find coupons for the products that you regularly use.

And if you’re willing to provide your e-mail and/or snail mail addresses, you can often receive additional coupons, Nelson says.

4. Layer coupons with store specials and sales. “Combine every possible savings opportunity,” says Nelson, whose site summarizes weekly specials in the local grocery stores. “That’s strategic shopping,” she says. And it helps to know which stores sell various items at the cheapest base price.

It’s also a good idea to find out if any of your favorite stores will match their competitors’ offers.

5. Visit store sites. “A lot of people don’t realize that all supermarkets have Web sites,” says Lisa Lee Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart magazine. Shoppers can use these sites to find out about weekly specials, as well as store coupons.

Ditto for drug stores and big-box retailers. Many times you can combine those store coupons with manufacturer coupons to save even more on one item, Nelson says.
6. Ask about double coupons. Call your favorite grocery and drug stores and get the rules on double coupons. Some stores double them as a matter of practice, others only on certain days, while some never do it. Usually, there is a limit, such as doubling everything up to 50 cents or 99 cents, Nelson says. Learn your store’s policy and you’ll know when a 50-cent coupon might be worth more.

7. Join the store’s loyalty card program. The card gets users a discount on certain items at checkout. The trade-off: The store tracks what you buy. In return, the retailer will mail or e-mail you coupons for products that you regularly use or even for generic items, like fresh fruits or vegetables, Nelson says.

8. Opt in for mailed offers, newsletters and offers for special deals. Want some additional coupons from manufacturers or issuers? Sign up and you shall receive.

But read the site’s privacy policy. You want to know what information it collects, whether it shares your personal data and with whom.

“Sign up for everything,” says coupon clipper Jamie Howard, who estimates she saves 30 percent weekly with coupons. “For me, it’s worth the effort.”

And while the discounts and offers are great, if the spam becomes too much, “I unsubscribe immediately,” she says.

A favorite clippers’ trick: Use a separate e-mail address just for coupon offers, Freeman says. That way, if that address gets spammed, your personal e-mail address is still protected.

This information is provided by Dana Dratch with www.bankratecom

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/8-tips-for-online-coupon-clipping-1.aspx