How I Save Money Over The Holidays

Hello, everybody! Today I am going to discuss how to save money over the holidays! Or at least, how I save money over the holidays. 🙂 Holidays such as Christmas can always break any budget, but hopefully with the following tips, you can keep some green in your wallet all December long! : )

Buying Holiday Cards at Dollar Tree or Costco

This year was the first year ever that I did photo cards! I find that Costco has a great deal on holiday cards this time of year. A whopping 50 cards for $14.99! Plus four free small  2018 calendars with your order of the Christmas cards! Keep in mind that you may have to be a Costco member to order these cards, but other websites like Shutterfly offer deals on holiday photo cards as well, so always keep a  sharp eye out on your options for photo cards!

Of course, if you cannot afford a small fortune of $14.99 for Costco photo cards, there is always another great way to score wonderful holiday cards! Your local Dollar tree has packages of holiday cards (mainly for Christmas, I have found in the past) which you can buy! I believe the one I have bought in the past was a pack of 20 Xmas cards for a buck! If you truly want to go the frugal route for holiday cards this season, Dollar Tree has got you covered! 🙂 They even sell fancier Xmas cards for a dollar each and have 2 for $0.50 Xmas cards in their card section. Just find whatever works for you! 🙂

Buying Xmas Decorations at Thrift Store

Why pay retail for something you have to store in boxes all next year after the holiday season? Thrift stores are a great way to stock up on Christmas and other holiday decorations for your home! Unless a store is having over 50% off Christmas decorations sale, there is no need to buy Xmas decorations for retail prices. Thrift stores have you covered! Heck, the Fancypants Thrift Store by my house even sells Christmas cards of all kinds too! You can even pick up working Christmas lights for cheap! Outdoor or indoor lights a plenty. 🙂

And speaking of thrift store Christmas decorations…

Invest in a Fake Tree

YES, I know fake trees are horrible for the environment, but if you can’t afford a Spendypants real Christmas tree each year, then buying a fake tree is the way to go! For the first time, I just got a look at the prices of real Christmas trees and boy, was I ever shocked! They’re $20+ dollars for a dying tree! Ridiculous. Having a fake tree on hand each year is sounding a lot nicer, don’t you think? However, if you pay retail for a fake tree, it can be hundreds of dollars! Worse than buying a real tree! Sure, you only pay those hundreds of dollars only once for a new fake tree, but if you go to thrift stores, a lot of them will have fake trees already for sale and at a bargain price for one! My local Goodwill was selling fake trees fo $45.00, but that price right there is only a ONE TIME FEE instead of buying a real christmas tree for that price every year. So everyone… that is what I call A SCORE!

You can always check Ebay, Craigslist, or other buy/sell websites as well and I’m sure you will find some gently used fake Xmas trees as well for a great deal too! 🙂

When buying gifts, ALWAYS Budget, Budget, Budget! Or buy throughout the year!

And stay on budget! No going over! Some credit unions or maybe even banks like Golden 1 have what they call a Santa Saver account. I don’t really have one yet, but I think they work similarly like this: Every month, your bank/credit card union takes a certain amount of money out of your checking account and puts it into an account called a Santa Saver account. This money you can’t touch until the holidays and can be spent on gifts for your friends and family or on yourself. Pretty cool, huh?

But about the budget thing… ALWAYS stay on budget when buying gifts. If you go over budget, you could be squeezed out money wise by the end of the month or heck, even in the middle of the month and you are going to have a hard time. Guaranteed. So it’s always important to have a budget for gifts and not go over it to avoid that situation with your bank account.

When I buy Xmas gifts for my family, I always have planned expenses for the month and amount of money I cannot go past in order for me to okay money wise throughout the month. It helps me out immensely! And that’s why budgeting is important. 🙂

Or if you are also like me, you can buy your Christmas gifts throughout the year and stuff them away until Christmas. This right here is an AWESOME way to save money by the time the holidays roll around! I do this every year for my cousin’s White Elephant Gift Exchange Gift so I do not have to buy everything at once during the holiday season. Works beautifully. 🙂

And also, you can even THRIFT YOUR GIFTS! If you know how your friends and family feel about thrift store stuff (and I’m hoping their views are positive), there is nothing wrong with thrifting stuff to give as holiday presents! In fact, I have already thrifted LOCBrotherA’s and LOCNiece’s gifts from Goodwill. 🙂 I have also given thrifted items to LOCAunt and her children as gifts for them as well! Always a good time finding gently used things as gifts for freinds and family!

Make Holiday Goodies at Home

And what is Christmas without holiday sweets and goodies to nom on? 😀 Unless you are in pinch for time, make your holiday foods at home instead of paying a premium price for them at the grocery store! You’ll get more bang for your buck, plus all of the extra holiday goodies for yourself! Okay, and for your family and kids if they wish to partake in them as well. 😛 There are so many holiday recipes you can make that it is almost more fun to bake holiday goodies at home anyway instead of buying them! Check out Pininterest for some great holiday recipes or search for holiday recipes on cooking blogs!

When searching for holiday recipes on Pinterest or cooking blogs, be sure to read the comment section first to see how people’s cooking experience went with the recipe to see if the recipe might be a dud or not. Nothing is worse than buying ingredients for a recipe and finding out it sucks in the end after all of your hard work preparing it. > .<

“Something They Want, Something They Need, Something to Wear, Sometime to Read, and maybe an experience!”

So, if you have a Facebook account , you may have read about this method of giving gifts to children. They method goes like this: “Something They Want, Something They Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read”. This is a great 4-gift method to give children who have too many toys already. It also cuts down on clutter which minimalist me loves. 🙂 If I had kids, I would probably do this gift giving method with my kids.

I also put down an experience as well because what better way to make memories during the holidays than doing something memorable with your family? You could go on a trip to a far away location or somewhere local where your entire family can have fun at! It has to be a very special thing though because it is a Christmas present to your entire family after all. Doesn’t have to be pricey either unless you want it to be though. 🙂

Shop Holiday Clearence Sales

And this is the best part of the holiday season I find! HOLIDAY CLEARENCE! Sure, you have to store everything you bought until next year, but all of the holiday stuff is marked to clear in most stores, so if need anything like wrapping paper to ornaments, holiday clearance sales are a must to go to!

I believe in some places in Europe and in Canada, they have a day called Boxing Day on the 26th where stores have crazy bargains on everything and is just like our Black Friday, or Black November people are calling it now. Now for my fellow Canadian readers and European readers, if you decide to go to this Boxing Day, only buy what you need and don’t spend all of your holiday money you got from family members on stuff you will forget about next year. Heck, even sock away your holiday money for a rainy day for when you really need to spend it is what I would recommend. Or to really get a bang for your buck, shop at thrift stores that day and see if they are having any special Boxing Day sales! If you are an avid thrifter, thrift stores is where you can score some great gently used stuff for cheap!

In Conclusion…

So I think that is it! Now you know my holiday secrets to saving money are! 😉 The holidays don’t have to always make you burn a hole in your wallets for stuff you don’t really need when you are totally prepared for the holiday season! Always plan accordingly and stick to your frugal roots! Being frugal is cool even during the holidays and throughout the entire year!

How do you save money during the holidays?

My Favorite Things to Buy at Dollar Tree!

Just so you know… Everybody I know who is frugal LOVES dollar stores! I mean, everything in them is a dollar! Who can say no to something you really want in a dollar store, or Dollar Tree? I know I can’t! When I see something I want, sometimes I just buy it because it’s only a buck. I mean, who can beat that? Not Amazon, that’s for sure!

But I do have my most FAVORITE things I like to buy at Dollar Tree though and I’m going to share them with you today!

Greeting Cards

Now THIS is far by my most favorite thing to buy at Dollar Tree. Greeting cards! For every holiday and occasion, you can pick up greeting cards here for 2 for $1.00 or $1.00 a card! They have both options! I always buy my holiday cards and birhday cards here for my friends and family! I could never send all of these cards out for the price I get for the, at regular department stores or grocery stores insead of Dollar Tree. You can also pick up packets of Thank You cards as well in case you have to send those out! There are also blank cards too in little packets! 🙂

So if you need a greeting card for a special occasion, Dollar Tree is the place to go! It’s the most frugal way to buy cards!

Candy Bars

So when you are at the grocery store or some kind of department store, there is always a candy rack by each register you go to. Buuuuuy soooome caaanndy… says the store. So you go and reach for the candy until… you see the price of it! Eek! 

Well, at Dollar Tree, the regular sized candy is only $0.89 a pop! Yes, you heard me right. 89 cents a pop. Now compared to other stores, that’s a screamin’ deal if you just want to buy a regular candy bar! If you want more candy for your money, that is where the bulk sections of candy in the Frugalpants Grocery Store and the bagged candy come in. 😉 But for this example, $0.89 for a full sized candy bar is a good deal! There is also a candy section at Dollar Tree where you can buy a lot more candy in small amounts for a buck! But buying candy in bulk this way is not the way to go, I find. Like I said earlier, stick with buying candy in bulk or buying the bulk bags if you want a better deal. But Dollar Tree does offer some weird for a great price though! Heck, I even saw circus peanuts in the candy section once! Woohoo! Ther’s also “movie theater” candy in little boxes as well! Can’t beat that!

Decks of Playing Cards

Why spend $3.00 for a single deck of playing cards in a store when you can buy a 2 pack of playing cards at Dollar Tree for a buck? However, these cards have the big font on them which is good for people who don’t see well. Also at my Dollar Tree now, I noticed that they also sell casino cards from real casinos if you don’t like the bold faced cards 2 packs with the big font on them. I bought a pack of those and they are great! Great way to pick up some playing cards for those fun family nights together playing whatever! 🙂

Toothpaste

So… I must confess… I still use kid’s toothpaste. Why you ask? Well, I just can’t stand how spicy or the flavor of adult toothpaste tastes like in my mouth. It just doesn’t click with me. Same goes for mouthwash. So instead of buying those fancypants $2-$3 tubes of kids toothpaste at other stores including the Frugalpants Grocery Store, I buy about 5 tubes of sparkle fun toothpaste for a buck each at Dollar Tree! You can also buy adult toothpaste as well at Dollar Tree! And guess what? They have name brand toothpaste here! Great way to stretch your dollar further shopping for toothpaste at the dollar store! 🙂

Operation Christmas Child Supplies

Okay, I’m not going suggest you do this next category, but I enjoy participating doing Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Boxes. OCC is a part of Samaritan’s Purse which is a religious organization and charity that helps people who are victims of tragedies, war, and poverty. They have a program called Operation Christmas Child where they give out shoe boxes full of toys, hygiene supplies, school supplies, and clothes to kids aged 2-14 and the children love them! Even though I am not religious in the slightest, they do give these boxes in the name of Jesus and pray over them A TON before they reach the hands of children. But in some countries, they can’t tell the kids about Jesus or Christianity because of *insert reason here*, but the kids get the shoe boxes anyway. I don’t really care if the organization turns the kids into little Christians so as long as they get toys, hygene supplies, and clothing because these children are so poor that when they receive a shoe box, that is the first gift they have received in their lives. In their lives! Being the spoiled American that I am, I think that is pretty crazy. : (

So every time I pack a shoe box, I try to pack it extra special for each child. This year, I did seven shoe boxes, but with LOCMom’s help, we will have eight altogether! 🙂 Pretty cool if you ask me! I can’t wait to see where these boxes end up going! 🙂

The reason why I mention OCC is that Dollar Tree is a GREAT place to pack a shoe box and get supplies for them there! Now I try not to get the kids junk, so I always go for the name brand toys and things that will hold up over periods of time for the kids. Things like toothbrushes, floss, bars of soap, wash cloths, decks of cards, etc. But all name brand! 🙂 It’s a great way to stretch your money further for shoe box supplies! 🙂

Party Supplies

Ah yes, party supplies! For a buck each, you can deck out your house for parties purchasing streamers, ‘Happy Birthday’ signs, balloons, goody bags, etc. You name it, Dollar Tree has it! They even have colored party supplies, so if you want your napkins matching your plates, Dollar Tree has got you covered!

Holiday Decorations and Goodies

And if you want holiday decorations for whatever holiday is coming up, Dollar Tree will probably have it! I find so many fun holiday stuff like napkins, paper plates, plastic holiday trays, holiday stickers… Anything holiday related really! Like Christmas is coming up, so our local Dollar Tree has all of their Christmas stuff out already! Crazy, I know… But if you want something for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc., Dollar Tree is always my go-to place to get it!

Stickers

As a person who still mails greeting cards, I like to decorate them with stickers. Notice how much those fun stickers cost in the regular stores by the greeting cards? Unreal, right? O _O Well, at Dollar Tree, all of the stickers are only a buck for a single sheet that has plenty of sticker s on them to go crazy with! Some stickers even have Disney characters or cartoon characters on them! It all depends! I only put this category here if you like stickers or like to use stickers in crafting. As for me, I love them. 🙂

Gift Wrapping Supplies

Oh my gosh, have you SEEN how much gift wrapping supplies are at Dollar Tree? Wrapping paper, colorful creative bows, gift tags – the works! Ever greeting cards. 😉 All there! Forget spending a bunch of money on gift wrapping stuff at Target or the drug stores… You want to head to Dollar Tree for all of that! Stretch your frugal dollars further folks! Your wallet will thank you and your friends and family will love you gifts just as much! 🙂

Helium Balloons

Ah yes, helium balloons! Balloons for all occasions! There’s birthday balloons, star shaped balloons of all colors to “decorate” your main balloons, baby shower balloons, congratulatory balloons… So many ballons! For example, these ballons are so popular that a Dollar Tree I went to in Napa, CA while visiting LOCAunt and LOCUncle and all of the Graduation Day balloons were put on reserve and they had run out of helium because of their popularity! Of course, this was the messiest store in the most extreme case of a Dollar Tree I have ever been in, but my point remains! Dollar Tree has great helium balloons and for a dollar each, you can build a nice little balloon bouquet for cheap compared to supermarket helium balloon prices! They even have your stereotypical party balloons in the party supply section if you want use those balloons in your balloon bouquet also. 🙂

Name Brand Air Fresheners

I have bought Renuzit and Glade air fresheners at Dollar Tree and they are just as nice as the ones in the stores! In fact, they even sell Glade air sprays as well! However, I wouldn’t trust the Dollar Tree brand air fresheners in any form since they are all made in China. You just never know what is in that stuff. : ( I don’t just buy anything from the Dollar Tree. 🙂

Glassware

I haven’t taken a good look in this isle for a while, but the glassware is pretty basic, but great for getting for parties or special occasions! Especially if you order in bulk online! 🙂  I have seen wine glasses, beer mugs, and regular cups and they are all pretty nice. Of course, I like going to thrift stores like Goodwill for more variety in my glassware, but Dollar Tree is a good place to shop if you want newish and cheap glassware for your party or special occasion you are planning! 🙂

And I think that is it for my recs! Or at least, that is all I can think of that seem to be rockin’ deals! I just love my local Dollar Tree and would love for you, my readers, to take advantage of some of the deals in dollar stores like Dollar Tree as well! Now you know my dollar store secrets, haha. 🙂

What do you buy at dollar stores like Dollar Tree?

My Thrifting Secrets! Right from the horse’s mouth!

So as you well know, as a frugal person, I absolutely adore thrifting! A-DORE IT! It saves you money and plus you can find treasures for pretty sweet prices!

However, I do have a method to my madness. 🙂 And I will be sharing with you, my readers, that! Well actually, they are a series of rules I stand by when thrifting and I hope that if you follow these rules, they will help you out scoring great dealsat your local Goodwill, or thrift store also! I usually shop Goodwill, but these rules can apply to any thrift store.

Let’s begin!

Rule #1: Always come into a thrift store with an item in mind or with an open mind!

I always frequent my local Goodwill with an item in mind at first because if you don’t, thrifting can get spendy if you let it. I always like to go to thrift stores to find items that you need for a lot less than retail. For example, I needed a stapler and at Goodwill, I found a Made in USA stapler that worked beautifully when I loaded it up with staples at home! Or I found some paper trays I needed for holding some of my paper stuff for under two bucks and they were just as adequate as new ones, though a little banged up. But the point is they don’t have to be perfect if they work for me in the long run! If you don’t mind gently used items to make your home more homey, or if you get lucky, gently used items that are still in their package and got tags on them, thrift store items are for you!

Or you can always come into a thrift store with an open mind! We thrifters call this “hunting for treasure”. 😉 We like to call our hauls, or items, we find at the thrift store “treasure”. Because it basically is! We hunt for things that we might love in a thrift store and when we find it, we have OFFICIALLY found treasure! Fun times all around!

Rule #2: Go on your smartphone and check the internet to see if you are getting a good deal on an item

Now, this is the reason why thrift stores like Goodwill mark stuff up. It’s because of those resellers/pickers that put their cheap finds on the internet for a decent used price to profit off of it. Now, I do not mind people doing this depending on where you got your item from a specific thrift store. Like, for example, if I listed an item I purchased for almost nothing from a local animal charity on the internet for more than what they were asking for, I would feel a little guilty about that. It just depends on the thrift store you purchase your item from. But if you got the item from some corporate thrift store like Goodwill and re-listed it for higher online, then go for it! No guilt there because they make a bunch of money anyway. 😉 However, I do not resell items I find at thrift stores for cheap because I leave that to the actual resellers/pickers. They can have all the fun, haha. 😉

But another reason as to why you check for prices on your smart phone at the thrift store is that the thrift store might be charging for it too much or charging the item for a retail price. This is what we treasure hunters want to avoid when shopping at our local thrift stores: retail priced items. It’s no fun shopping for items that are already marked up as “regular price” because it takes the fun out of our treasure hunting. And who wants that? That’s why if you are not sure about an item that’s marked kind of high, go on Amazon or Ebay on your smartphone and price check that item! Thrift stores hate it, but you gotta’ know if something is a good deal when you may happen to see it!

And for the extra feeling of feeling as high as a kite after thrift store shopping, after bringing your treasure into your home, look up your treasure online to see how much everything is new. I guarantee you’ll feel REALLY good after you find out all of the good deals you’ve gotten at the thrift store then! 🙂

Rule #3: When buying clothes, always inspect them for rips and stains! And wash them as soon as you get home!

Thrift stores offer cheap bargains, but they also have these cheap bargains in clothing as well! Why pay retail when you may find a t-shirt at a thrift store for cheap with maybe with the tag still on it? 😉 Oh man, is the tag-still-on-it feeling the best feeling ever! The smaller thrift stores may not have a lot to offer clothing size wise, but popular thrift stores like Goodwill will have a lot of clothing to choose from! At my local Goodwill, clothing is sorted by size and by color. It makes for easy shopping and finding your correct size of clothing.

Regarding Goodwill, before the clothes make it to the floor, they are inspected for rips and stains. Goodwill is very good about this and makes sure most of the stuff that is put out to sell is nice looking and not dowdy. Well, there are some ugly clothes in there, but it will usually look impeccable, haha. 😉 But sometimes some clothes with stains or rips slip through the cracks, so that is why you have to be extra careful when buying clothes at thrift stores like Goodwill. ALWAYS inspect the clothes for stains or rips before purchasing because once these clothes are purchased, there are usually no refunds on them like regular department stores. All you can do is donate them back if you do not like them, so be sure the clothing is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT fit wise or stain/rip free wise before buying it. I know the clothing is cheap, but also don’t go buying a shirt that is too small just because you think it’s cute because then you wouldn’t be being frugal then. 😉 No one wants to be a spendypants! 😛

And after you get home with your new clothes, WASH THEM! You never know where these clothes have been or who wore them last, so be sure to clean them thoroughly. Follow the washing instructions on the clothes always if you want your newish clothing to last forever and you should be good to go!

Rule #4: Speaking of inspecting stuff, inspect physical items for damage as well

And let’s not forget about inspecting physical items before buying them. ALWAYS inspect physical items to see if they are broken! Goodwill is famous for having broken items on their store shelves because so many people handle them when they are out on the sales floor. I will use Otter Box cases as an example. I usually run into used Otter Box cases at Goodwill and they are always broken. I mean, the case is intact, but do you know what is always missing or broken on them? The plastic screen! All new Otter Box cases come with a plastic screen attached to the screen part of the case and if it is ever broken off or damaged, that is when you know not to buy it. So it always helps as well to know what an item looks like new before purchasing something at a thrift store.

Also, if you plan on purchasing an electronic device, ask one of the thrift store’s employees if you can test it out first before purchasing it. You don’t want to shell out 20 bucks for an item that is broken as soon as you try it out at home, so never be afraid to ask about these kinds of items! 🙂

And as for hats, bed sheets, and blankets go, I have read in the past that some people acquire bed bugs or lice from them! :C However it is rare, but it happens to some people and that rare occurence could happen to you if you are not careful. : ( So if you are interested in buying one of these items or two, REALLY inspect them for that kind of stuff. Even ask the store about their policy and rules about these things to see if they truly inspect these items well or not before hitting the sales floor. Nobody wants a lice or bed bug infestation in their house or in their hair! : (

Rule #5: Don’t buy that expensive bag in the case. It could be a fake!

Now, I know us ladies love having expensive hand bags. Well, at least, I like the ones under 100 bucks, haha. 😉 But instead of buying new, a great way to get a wonderful designer bag is through a thrift store! But BUYER BEWARE. Some of those pricier bags behind the counters of thrift stores and Goodwills could be masking as clever fakes the staff at thrift stores can’t seem to pick out from the real designer bags. Unknowingly because of this, they will mark up the fakes anyway to a re-sellable used price (Ebay style pricing, ahhhh! O _O;;; ) and sell them to the unknowing public.

So when eying a spendypants bag behind a counter of a thrift store, go to your smartphone and look up in a search engine to see if the brand of bag that you are wanting has many fakes in circulation. I think fake bags are always tacky to wear, but if you do not mind the bag possibly being a fake, then go for it. But I always prefer spending money on a REAL used handbag instead of a fake because I find it just makes one feel better about the purchase. But since the bag is at a thrift store anyway, it wouldn’t matter in the long run if it was real or fake because the profit from it would benefit the thrift store. But if you don’t like bags falling apart on you, buy the real deal! Real bags tend to be built to last than their fake counterparts. Plus you can say you own a real ‘X bag’ here and make all of your friends jealous because of the great deal you got on it at the thrift store! 😉

This rule also includes other designer items as well like sunglasses, wallets, shoes, and whatever other designer things famous designer brands design. Better safe than sorry! 🙂

Rule #6: Don’t buy board games for retail price! Go to the thrift store for them instead!

At my local Goodwill, they have mainstream board games coming out the nose! Why pay retail for these games (up to like, 10-20 bucks a pop retail price), when you can get them from a thrift store for under 5 bucks? Or at least, that is what I find they are charging for these board games at my local Goodwill. 🙂 People are always getting rid of board games, so it’s never a bad deal to find them used at thrift store for next to nothing!

But before buying used board games, ALWAYS inspect them to see if all of the pieces are there! Consult the internet for how many items or pieces are needed to play a particular board game so you will know what to look for in the game box before buying it. You will thank yourself later!

And when you get home, you will be as high as a kite when you realized you got a newish board game for next to nothing and it is STILL just as fun to play used as it is brand new! Money saved! 🙂

Rule #7: The addiction is real! 

And once you get hooked on thrift stores, or a thrift store you really like, you tend to get addicted to it! Thrifting can be a great way to save money on gently used stuff and it also can be a curse on your wallet! If you go too many times a month because you are bored or just want something to do without having a specific item to buy in mind, you may have the chance to overspend in a thrift store… O _O Trust me, it has happened to me plenty of times. Still happens, haha. I can be such a spendypants at thrift stores particularly at my local Goodwill.

So whenever this happens, be mindful about what you buy. Only buy an item if you are going to use it! Or in a minimalist fashion, when you buy a new item, follow the “one in, one out” rule. For example, today I went to Goodwill and bought some pretty blue glass cups. I plan on using these cups to replace my other thrifted cups that have slight damage to them on some of the glasses. That is an example of the “one in, one out” rule. 🙂 Works every time! 🙂

So all in all, be mindful! Always use what you buy and never hoard anything just because it is “pretty” or “cool looking”. Treasure that you find at thrift stores should always be considered treasure and lovingly used in the long run. It should never be hoarded away in a box in your home somewhere never seeing the light of day, in my personal opinion. Unless you happen to pack it away in storage for a holiday or special occasion and it is lovingly used each year, then in this instance, this does not count. 😉

And… I do believe that is all I can think of for the rules I go by when thrifting!

Abide by these rules and you too shall reap the benefits of buying gently used things for almost nothing and always loving what you buy at thrift stores because it is all treasure after all! It is also a great way to save money and never have to pay full price for ANYTHING! That’s right, ANYTHING! Well, maybe not anything, but you get what I mean. 🙂

What are the rules you shop by when thrifting?