Karen Hellier

Freelance Writer, Coupon Lady, eBay Entrepreneur: Helping You Save Money and Work From Home

Latest Posts

30 Things I Got For Free and How You Can Get Free Stuff Too

I got all of this, plus more, totally free in December and January!

I love getting things for free. Each time I get something for free, a little jolt of happiness runs through me. I know that may sound crazy, but it’s fun, isn’t hurting anyone, and makes me happy. I am tired of hearing people say,”Nothing is free these days.” There really are things you can get for free. You just have to look for them and pay attention.

All of the items above are items I got for free over the past two months. I will break things down for you and explain how I got each of these items for free, and hopefully, this will start you on a journey of getting free items yourself.

I love getting a free donut at Dunkin Donuts with my AARP card when I order a large or extra large coffee!

I love getting a free donut at Dunkin Donuts with my AARP card when I order a large or extra large coffee!

Free Donuts at Dunkin Donuts

If you are age 50 or over you qualify to join AARP. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen many of the free donuts I have gotten. I am obsessed with Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee. There isn’t a Dunkin Donuts near me. I have to drive 25 to 35 minutes to towns surrounding mine in order to find a Dunkin Donuts. Once a week I take a trip to area thrift stores to purchase items to resell on eBay. And all of towns that have the thrift stores I shop in have a Dunkin Donuts in them. So that is my treat on thrift shopping days: a French Vanilla coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and when I show them my AARP card after having bought a large or extra large coffee, I get a free donut!

Doesn’t sound like much to you? A donut at Dunkin Donuts costs 99 cents. If I did this once a week for one whole year, it will save me $51.48. I know donuts aren’t healthy, so I don’t do it EVERY week, but even so, it can save me 99 cents every time I have a craving for a donut.

How can you get free donuts at Dunkin Donuts?? Read below…

If you aren’t 50 years old yet, but your mom or dad is, encourage them to join AARP and when you go out to Dunkin Donuts together, they can get a free donut for you, or the grandkids!

I am writing this in February 2018 and if you follow the link below (copy and paste, or just google “join AARP”), you can join AARP for $12.00 for a year and your spouse will get a free membership. The regular cost is $16.00 annually. And no, I am not getting any benefits from referring you to AARP. I just think it’s a wonderful service for anyone age 50 and over. Beyond free donuts, the travel deals and discounts at restaurants are totally worth the membership costs.

https://join.aarp.org/aarp-brand-clean3-hero3/?keycode=UAZMB11&gclid=CJmEl_vQh9kCFZCZgQodOH8AsQ&gclsrc=ds&tc_tm_meth=MAN&tm_ver=3.1&tc_tm_xg=sbrand&tc_campaign=SBRAND&tc_channel=SEM&tc_vendor=Google&tc_tm_uid=AARP5A748E9AD8C80&tc_tm_visitid=AARP5A748E9AD8D2E&tc_tm_version=aarp-brand-clean3-hero3

Here are some examples of free samples I get in the mail every month!

Here are some examples of free samples I get in the mail every month!

Freebies in the Mail

I love getting snail mail that isn’t bills, don’t you? These items above are all free from a website that I have recently discovered, and they don’t make you jump through hoops or fill out surveys to get free stuff.

How can you get stuff like this free in the mail? Sign up for it! Here’s the link to that website which is called Sweet Free Stuff.

http://www.sweetfreestuff.com/

 

Free items from Kroger and IGA every Friday on Freebie Friday!

Free items from Kroger and IGA every Friday on Freebie Friday!

Friday Freebies at IGA and Kroger

This picture shows the free items I have gotten from IGA and Kroger. Both stores give items away every Friday. You have to download the app for each store on your phone, and then on Friday, make sure to go to the app for each of those stores if you have one near you, and download the free item. The coupon to get the item free automatically goes to your store card, and all you have to do is pick up the item and when the cashier scans your card, the price of that particular item comes off of your bill.

IGA will let you pick up the item Friday, Saturday or Sunday of each week, and Kroger gives you two weeks to pick it up. That’s especially nice if you can’t get to Kroger every week. Once I wasn’t able to get there for awhile and I picked up 3 items in one day, all of which were free! That was a fun day.

The next three items below also came from IGA. Periodically, IGA offers items you can earn points. Shoppers can earn one point per dollar spent in the store.

Free dishes were available as a special promotion at IGA.

Free dishes were available as a special promotion at IGA.

There were a variety of dish sets being offered for points. I shop at more than one store and often find IGA’s prices in my area to be higher than others so I don’t buy a major amount at IGA. In spite of that, my husband and I earned enough points to get this free bowl which matches the dishes that I entertain with. And this free orange mug. Orange is my favorite color and now this mug is one of my favorites.

The clear rectangular container is part of a promotion that is going on right now. You may wonder if I need this? I have plenty of storage containers. Someone once told me to never say no to anything free. Well, I don’t agree with that because sometimes that means you end up with just a lot of clutter that you will never use and it gets in the way of living a productive and positive life. BUT in the case of these glass storage containers, they make very nice containers to give food gifts in. Wrapped with a ribbon, and filled with cookies or candy for Christmas or a birthday gift, I have a very nice gift for friends or family members.

How can you get free stuff at grocery stores? Pay attention to promotions stores near you offer. Ask staff if they have a free item program, or a points program to earn items or free turkeys during the holidays. By all means, if you ahve a Kroger or IGA near you, sign up for their Free Item Friday Program by downloading the store app to your phone.

Harbor Freight gives coupons for free items in their store fliers.

Harbor Freight gives coupons for free items in their store fliers. Here are a few recent ones I have gotten.

Harbor Freight

Not only does Harbor Freight offer a 20% off coupon in pretty much every ad they print, but they also offer coupons for free items. You have to purchase something else, anything else to be able to use the coupon to get the free item. But I perused the Harbor Freight store shortly after it opened in my area and here is a picture of some of the items you can purchase in order to use the coupon. None of these cost over $1.99. When I got enough of these for our house, I got more to give to relatives in stockings for Christmas.

Here are only a few of the free items I have gotten for free over the past few weeks. My favorite free item is the mini flashlights because we have a guest room and need one for each nightstand in there. I also got one for my car and my nightstand.

Now of course once again you don’t want to go get a bunch of stuff you don’t need. But the tarp is nice to have and we didn’t have one. I got my husband a Multimeter for Christmas because when I asked him what it was and showed him the coupon, he told me he actually needed one. Um, okay, it was free and he needed it. That’s one of my favorite kind of gifts to give!

How can you get free stuff at Harbor Freight? The coupons are in most Sunday papers and they do require you to buy one other item in order to be able to use the coupon to get something free. But there are plenty of items at Harbor Freight that you can buy that every household needs. Below are only a few that I took a picture of, and none of them cost more than $1.99. Who doesn’t need an extra pair of scissors or a mini flashlight for their car or guest room? And if you don’t need it, I am sure you know someone who does!

(OOPs, by the way, the 6 piece drawer organizers were not $1.99 or less. They just happened to be on the table where I was arranging the other items.)

Items that cost $1.99 or less at Harbor Freight that will allow you to use the coupon for a free item!

Items that cost $1.99 or less at Harbor Freight that will allow you to use the coupon for a free item!

 

A free lunch at Zaxby's can be yours if you sign up for the Zaxby's Birthday Club! It was delicious!

A free lunch at Zaxby’s can be yours if you sign up for the Zaxby’s Birthday Club! It was delicious!

A Free Lunch is a Real Treat

I have saved the best for last. Last year on my birthday I decided to eat for free all day long. I had a blast and the people I met during the day at each of the food establishments seemed to enjoy celebrating my birthday with me. The way to accomplish this is to head to the website of all of the restaurants you enjoy and sign up for their birthday club. Then you will get sent a coupon via email or in the mail for either a discount or a free meal on your birthday.

One of the nice things about this is that two of the restaurants give coupons that are good for the whole year. They are Jersey Mike’s and Zaxby’s. So one day in the middle of December when I went Christmas shopping, I used my Zaxby’s coupon and treated myself to lunch and it was a very nice break in the middle of a busy day.

How can you get a free lunch at Zaxby’s or another restaurant? Sign up for their Birthday Club online.

If you would like to read more about how I spent my birthday, you can find the article here:

https://delishably.com/misc/How-I-Ate-for-Free-All-Day-on-My-Birthday-and-You-Can-Too

Hopefully, this post has taught you some new ways to get free stuff. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have gotten free stuff from other sources. Youc an click on the word comment above this article and it will bring you to the comment section.

And don’t forget, if you share this post on social media using the sharing buttons below the post, AND leave a comment as to which social media sites you shared it on, you will get 1 entry into this month’s drawing for each!

 

Announcing the Winners of the January Blog Drawing

Prizes for the drawing this month on the Karen Hellier blog

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are all staying warm and cozy on this January day. It is 37 degrees here in North Georgia, but I love it because I think Winter should be cold so that we enjoy the warmer months more!

The Winners of the January Blog Drawing Are:

Okay, on to what I am sure you are all anxious to see: the winners of the January drawing on the blog.

Without further ado, here they are:

1st Prize: $25.00 Amazon gift card: Linda Ramos

2nd Prize: $15.00 Starbuck’s gift card: Anne Ripley

3rd Prize: Avon hand cream and lip balm: Ceci Brown

Congratulations to all of the winners, and thank you all for subscribing to this blog and sharing the posts. I hope that each and every one of you wins a prize at some point. I will be posting the next drawing toward the end of this month. But keep sharing the posts that you like this month in order to get extra entries into the monthly drawing.

I am currently working on a post about how to get things for free, so I am sure you won’t want to miss that. I get free things every month. Some come in my mailbox, some I use coupons for and some I get by just paying attention. I will be publishing that soon, so stay tuned, and have a good week!

How to Get Entries Into the January Blog Drawing

Prizes for the drawing this month on the Karen Hellier blog

It’s time once again for the monthly drawing. There’s only a short window to enter this month as the contest ends on Wednesday, 1/31 at midnight Eastern Standard time!

As you can see to the left, the drawing this month will be for the following prizes:

Prizes for January 2018

 

1st prize: A $25.00 Amazon gift card

2nd prize: 1 $15.00 Starbuck gift card

3rd prize: An Avon hand cream and lip balm

There are 2 ways to be entered into this drawing to win a prize:

  1. Sign up as a subscriber to the Karen Hellier blog

and/or

2.If you already are a subscriber, or you have just subscribed and want more chances to win, share the posts on the blog by using the sharing buttons below each post, and then leaving a comment below the post that you shared that month stating which social media sites you shared it on.

And new this month, I am giving extra chances for the drawing for any post you share within the month of the drawing. So, any posts you share from my blog that I posted in January, that you ALSO leave a comment on under the post will get you extra chances into the drawing. 

It’s important to mention that you must share from the social media icons directly below each post AND leave a comment under that same post about which social media sites you shared it on. Contacting me separately to tell me which sites you shared it on will not get you into the drawing.

How to Leave a Comment

I have had a few people contact me to tell me they couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment. Having trouble finding out how to leave a comment? Go to the top of each post and click on the word “comment” and that will take you to the comment section.

Thanks, and good luck to all of my subscribers in this month’s drawing. I wish you all could win!

Avon?

And if you are wondering why I give so many Avon prizes, I am an Avon representative. If you would like to browse the Avon catalogs to see what they have to offer currently, you can visit my website here:

www.youravon.com/khellier

 

How Creating a Price Book Can Help You Save Money on Groceries

Using a simple notebook as a price book can save you tons of money at the grocery store! I created a comparison chart of grocery store prices and was amazed at the results!

I love to grocery shop! Yes, I know, from what I have heard I am in the minority here, but there’s always been something special to me about buying food to nourish my family. Once I discovered how to use coupons correctly, I became addicted to saving money at the grocery stores. So today I want to share with you the value of creating a “price book” which will help you save money on your groceries.

What is a Price Book?

What is a “price book” you may be asking? It’s simply a notebook in which you keep track of all of the items you and your family use regularly, and what the normal price is for those items are when they are NOT on sale, at every store you would consider shopping in.

I always advocate that shoppers go to more than one store to take advantage of the store sales in each store, therefore never paying full price for an item. But I also know that is not always feasible. So a price book allows consumers to compare pricing between all of the grocery stores in their area to find out which store has the items that they would normally buy at the most inexpensive price. So if you only have time to go to one store in a given week, you know you will be shopping at the store with the lowest prices in your area.

An example of a price book to compare grocery store prices. This will help you save money at the grocery stores!

An example of a price book to compare grocery store prices.

My Price Book Experiment

To show you how large the current difference in pricing can be, I took a few hours on Friday and went to three stores in my area to compare prices. Although I consider myself a savvy shopper, I was quite surprised at the difference in prices between these three stores. I did this when we first moved to town a few years ago, and so have been shopping in the least expensive store, and shopping the other stores for sales. But my price book is messy so I started a new one giving examples of just a partial list of items I buy regularly.

In my area, there are three grocery stores that are located within five minutes of each other: A Walmart Superstore, Kroger, and Ingles.

I wrote down a list of approximately 25 items that we use regularly in our household. Since there are just two of us in our home, we probably use fewer products than a family with children or pets so if you have a larger family than just two, you will probably have more products and are spending more money on your weekly groceries than we do.

Please keep that in mind when you see the results. If you have children, you will be spending/saving more money than we do since you will need more items to feed and care for a growing family.

Would you rather pay $1.48 (Walmart), $1.79 (Kroger) or $2.78 (Ingles) for this same jar of spaghetti sauce? A price book helps you discover the least expensive prices so youc an save money on groceries!

Would you rather pay $1.48 (Walmart), $1.79 (Kroger) or $2.78 (Ingles) for this same jar of spaghetti sauce?

My Comparison Shopping Items

Here are the results of my creating a price book to compare grocery prices:

Item                                                    Walmart Price                       Kroger Price                              Ingles Price

  1. Tide 100 oz.                                    $10.77                                   $11.99                                       $16.88
  2. Activia Greek Yogurt 4 pk.              $3.47                                    $3.99                                        $4.48
  3. Florida’s Natural Orange Juice       $2.94                                    $3.49                                        $4.18
  4. Crest Toothpaste 6 oz.                    $1.96                                    $2.19                                         $2.68
  5. Colgate Toothpaste 6 oz.                 $1.60                                    $1.89                                         $2.68
  6. 2 Liter Bottle of Coke                     $1.60                                    $1.79                                         $1.98
  7. Progresso Chicken Soup                   $1.58                                    $1.67                                         $2.48
  8. V-8 Juice 64 oz.                              $3.43                                    $3.99                                        $3.48
  9. Pantene Shampoo 12.6 oz.                $3.84                                    $4.19                                        $4.98
  10. Ken’s Honey Mustard Dressing/Dip $2.98                                    $4.79                                        $4.78
  11. 1 Lemon                                            50 cents                                79 cents                                    88 cents
  12. 1 Head of Lettuce                            98 cents                                99 cents                                    $1.68
  13. 10 lb. bag of Russett Potatoes         $3.99                                    $3.99                                         $4.98
  14. Pillsbury Brownie Mix                       $1.98                                    $2.19                                          $1.58
  15. Ragu Spaghetti Sauce                      $1.48                                    $1.79                                          $2.78
  16. Meuller’s Angel Hair Pasta              $1.38                                     $1.49                                          $1.98
  17. Belvita Breakfast Cookies                $2.98                                     $3.69                                         $3.81
  18. Smart Balance  Spread                    $2.78                                     $2.99                                         $3.48
  19. Store Brand Large Eggs                  $1.68                                      $1.69                                          $1.69
  20. Store Brand Butter                         $2.56                                     $2.79                                          $4.48
  21. Arnold Multigrain Bread                  $2.96                                     $3.29                                          $4.29
  22. Pillsbury Ref. Pie Crust                    $2.50                                     $3.19                                           $2.98
  23. Eagle Brand Sweetened Milk           $1.64                                      $2.59                                           $2.58
  24. Carnation Evap. Milk                        $1.00                                      $1.59                                           $1.98
  25. Bayer Baby Aspirin 120 ct               $6.36                                     $6.39                                           $8.98

Total Amount:             Walmart: $68.94              Kroger: $79.43                  Ingles: $96.75

Would you rather pay $3.47 (Walmart), $3.99 (Kroger) or $4.48 Ingles) for this 4 pack of Activia

Would you rather pay $3.47 (Walmart), $3.99 (Kroger) or $4.48 Ingles) for this 4 pack of Activia yogurt?

Price Differences Between 3 Stores

The difference between shopping at the least expensive store on my list and the second least expensive is $10.49 each week. If you did this each week for one year, you would be spending an extra $545.48! Now, in this case, that store is Kroger and if you use gas points and get gas at Kroger you will get a small amount of that back in gas points ( you get 1 point for every dollar spent, and for every 100 points you get 10 cents off a gallon the next time you get gas). But we are still talking about a difference of at least $500!

What I Could Spend $500 on Besides Groceries

There are a lot better things I can think of to spend $500 on than giving it to a grocery store! An extra $500 in my budget could get me:

  • 5 nice dinners out with my husband
  • 1 round-trip plane ticket to visit my relatives in Connecticut
  • 3 nights in a hotel on a road trip
  • 1 nice nest egg in my bank account for emergencies

What I could Spend $1,446.12 on Besides Groceries

Now, if I shopped at the most expensive store instead of the least expensive store, I would be spending $27.81 more each week. That doesn’t sound like all that much but over the course of one year would add up to $1,446.12! Again, there are many more things I would rather do with that money than give it to a grocery store. That extra $1,446.12 in my budget would get me:

  • 14 nice dinners out with my husband (more than 1 a month)
  • 3 round-trip plane tickets to visit my relatives in Connecticut
  • 9 nights in a hotel on a road trip
  • 1 seven-night cruise to the Caribbean
  • 1 really nice nest egg for emergencies

You may think I am exaggerating about that cruise but seriously, I just looked this one up. Smartcruiser is offering a 7-night cruise in a balcony room on either the Regal Princess or Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas for $839 per person. When you include taxes and tips, that $1,446.12 that you gave Ingles in extra grocery money could pay for a one week cruise! Seriously, would you rather give your money to a grocery store or use it to go on a nice warm cruise or some other vacation???

The money you save on groceries may even be enough to send you on a cruise vacation!

The money you save on groceries may even be enough to send you on a cruise vacation!

 

The Advantage of Keeping a Price Book

The purpose of this post is just to show you how much money you can save on groceries if you keep a price list and know the prices at your local stores. It’s important to update your price book and monthly is good, even every six months is helpful to check on the standard price of items you purchase regularly. Not everyone has the time to do this, especially if you work full time and have a family. But creating a price book even once, and updating it annually will help save you money.

Now you may not think this list was realistic because maybe you purchase store brand items every week, and never buy brand name items. This was only a sampling of items that we use in our household. I try to buy the least expensive item I can as long as we like the product. And I do use many brand name items because I have coupons for them which makes it less expensive than the store brand.

I actually got prices on many other items but had to cross them off the list because all three stores either didn’t carry the same size/brand and it wouldn’t work for this example. But this price book will work even if you only use store brand items. The important thing is to know which store carries items that you buy at the least expensive prices.

In the examples above, I used the three stores that are most local to me. This doesn’t mean I am promoting that everyone shop at Walmart, or not to shop at Ingles. When my husband heard the results of my experience creating this price book, he asked me why anyone would shop at Ingles. I told him there are many reasons including:

  • because they have never compared prices between stores
  • because they like the store and know where everything is
  • because they are comfortable there and don’t want to learn a new store

But in the interest of saving money, I would much rather shop at the least expensive store for items I need that aren’t on sale in a given week, and then shop for just the sale items at the other stores.

So, there you have it my friends: the importance of creating a price book so you know for sure which stores in your area have the best prices on items you buy for yourself/family on a regular basis.

If you are interested in creating your own price book to compare the cost of groceries in your local area, continue reading below.

How to Create a Price Book

Creating a price book is fairly easy. All you need is a notebook, a pen, and approximately one hour for each store you would consider grocery shopping at in your area. If you live in a town that only has two stores grocery stores in which to shop, then it is fairly simple. A town with 3 or more stores will require more time.

When considering which stores to shop in, you also must consider how much gas it will cost to go there. If there are three stores within a short radius of each other, those would probably make the most sense to shop at and check prices at, rather than two in town and one 45 minutes away.

Step 1

Take an ordinary wire-bound notebook with college ruled pages as you can get more items on each page. You can usually get these notebooks for less than a quarter during back to school days in August and September so I always stock up.

Step 2

Open the notebook up to the second page so you have two clean pages to work with. On the left write the word Item, then make a column for each store you want o go to. Using a ruler keeps things in straighter lines but that’s not really necessary unless you have three or more stores. Leave the larghest space in the item column so youc an write the size next to the item.

Item                                  Walmart                        Kroger                     Ingles                              Publix

Step 3

Then go through each of your cupboards in your kitchen, bathroom and cleaning closet and write down on a separate piece of paper all the names of items that you would purchase regularly.

Step 4

It’s best to keep the same types of products in the same area on your list so that when you go to the stores to write down the prices, you will find the items you need prices for all together and aren’t going from the produce department to the laundry detergent area to the paper goods area.

For instance, produce may be the first area you come to in most stores so you would have that as the first area in your price book:

Apples

Bananas

Oranges

Cucumbers

Lettuce

Mushrooms

Onions

Potatoes (5 lbs.)

Spinach

Tomatoes

Next could be health and beauty items:

Dial soap bars (8 pk)

Crest toothpaste (6 oz.)

Edge shaving cream

Neutrogena bar soap

Oil of Olay Moisturizer

Pantene shampoo (12.6oz.)

Secret Deodorant (1.7 oz)

Then grocery items

Bumble Bee Tuna (6 oz.)

Sugar

Flour

Campbell’s Crm, of Mush. soup

Progresso Soup

Cheerios

Quaker Oatmeal

Ken’s It. Salad Dressing (8 oz.)

Lay’s Potato Chips

Ritz crackers (20 oz.)

Cleaning & Laundry

Comet

Scrubbing Bubbles

409 Spray

Windex

Bounce dryer sheets (80 ct)

Tide Det. (100 oz.)

Step 5

At each store, walk around to every department and write down the price of the item, including the ounces or pounds. You should do this on the same day to get the base price of that day.

To do this correctly, you will need to plan a day to just do price checking. If you do plan it on your regular grocery shopping day, and you need to grocery shop, go to the store you think is the least expensive last so you can get your shopping done after recording your prices and your food won’t go bad as you head to other stores for price checks.

Step 6

Keep the price book updated in case prices change.

How often you update your price book is up to you, but knowing your prices can really help you save money on groceries.

Here’s an example:

I know that I can get one of my husband’s favorite snacks at Walmart for $1.50. Because of my price book, I know that is the least expensive price in my area for these Harvest Snaps snapeas. But I also know that Ollie’s Bargain Outlet sells the same item for $1.29. I also know that a 12.6 oz. bottle of Pantene shampoo costs $3.84 at the least expensive store in my area. And at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet it costs $2.99. If I have a coupon for one of these items, I can sometimes get it cheaper at my local store because Ollie’s does not accept coupons, but without a coupon, Ollie’s has the best price.

The closest Ollie’s to me is about 40 minutes away so in terms of gas, it wouldn’t make sense (or cents!) to go to Ollie’s every week to buy these items. But when I am at Ollie’s during my adventures at nearby thrift stores, I stock up on a few bags of these peas, and the shampoo if I need it.

Knowing prices helps you save money on groceries!

Knowing prices helps you save money on groceries!

 

Enter the Monthly Drawing for Subscribers

Each month hold a drawing for my subscribers. If you are not already a subscriber, please subscribe to my blog by putting your email address in the space offered. You will receive an email each time I publish a new blog post you will be entered into the drawing for the month you subscribed.

Want More Drawing Entries?

Want more entries? Simply share each of my blog posts using the social media buttons below. Then leave a comment underneath the post as to which social media sites you shared it on, and you will get 1 drawing entry for each social media share as long as you are a subscriber AND leave a comment underneath that post during the current month. To access the comments, go to the top of the post and you will see the word “comments.” Click on that and it will allow you to leave a comment.

Thanks for reading and happy saving!

 

 

 

Announcing the Winners of the December Blog Drawing

You can win one of these prizes in the December drawing on this blog!

I am sorry it has taken me awhile to announce the winners of the monthly blog drawing on my blog for December, but I have not heard from the winner of one of the prizes yet. So, I will just say if you are a subscriber to this blog, and your email address begins with the word “ebay”, and is a gmail address, please contact me asap so I can send your prize through snail mail.

 

The other two winners are:

Starbuck’s gift card: Debra Oehlberg

Avon products: Sarah Hauta

 

Thanks everyone for sharing the post and I wish you all luck in the January blog drawing which will be the last week of January!

In the meantime, stay tuned for more money saving posts, and soon to come, some information about working from home.

Have a good week!

Just to clarify: winners have 30 days from the time their name is posted as a winner to claim their prize!

Announcing the December Drawing on the Karen Hellier Blog

You can win one of these prizes in the December drawing on this blog!

You can win one of these prizes in the December drawing on this blog!

I am hoping that all of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful day on the 25th, filled with love and laughter and the joy of being with those you care about most in this world. The Christmas season is my very favorite time of year. And I try to keep Christmas and the spirit of giving in my heart all year long. To that end, let’s talk about the December drawing!

3 Prizes in This Month’s Blog Drawing

The photo above shows the three prizes in this month’s blog drawing. The first prize is a $25.00 Amazon gift card. Second prize is a $25.00 Starbuck’s gift card. And third prize is an Avon hand cream and candy cane lip balm! The contest will run from December 27th through December 31st at midnight. I will announce the winners during the first week of January.

How to Enter the Blog Drawing

To enter,  if you aren’t already a subscriber to my blog, you can enter your email in the top right-hand space and you will be entered into the drawing, and doing that will also allow you to be notified each time I post a new article about saving money or working from home. The space for your email won’t show up in your phone, only on your computer. You will earn one entry for subscribing. If you want to earn more entries…

If you would like more entries, please also click on any of the sharing buttons below the blog post to share the drawing with your friends. THEN, and this is important, you must also leave a comment below in the comment section telling me which social media site(s) you shared this post on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) You will earn one entry for each site you share this blog post on.

If You Are Already a Subscriber

If you’re already a subscriber, scroll down to the bottom of this blog post and click on any or all of the sharing buttons to share this post with your friends. THEN, you must also leave me a comment in the comment section below and let me know which social media site(s) you shared this post on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You will get one entry for each site you share this blog post on. But remember, it’s not enough to just share this post. You must also leave a comment below to get entries into the drawing.

 

Enjoy the rest of your holiday week, and if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, check out the previous blog post about my December 26th Christmas clearance shopping trip. It was a wonderful day filled with bargains and savings galore! Make sure to leave a comment if you found any successful after Christmas bargains yourself!

And have a Happy New Year!

Save Money on Christmas Gifts: Start Shopping on December 26th

Shopping Christmas Clearance Sales on December 26th Can Lead to Great Savings!

Learning By Example

My mom was a professional shopper. Okay, well not really, but she seemed to be a professional shopper to me when I was growing up! Every Christmas morning, the tree was surrounded by piles of presents. mostly for my brother and I. And I was always amazed at the number of wonderful gifts my mom had managed to give us for Christmas, and yet money was tight.

As I grew older, she shared her secret with me: she shopped the sales all year long and put the gifts away for the next December 25th. And she started on December 26th each year.

I learned from the best and I do the same thing. So on the morning of December 26th each year, I get up early, put my Christmas red and green clothes on, and head out to the stores to go Christmas shopping!  Not only do I find fantastic sales of 50 to 60 % off Christmas gifts for the following year, but I also find great deals on:

  • Christmas wrapping paper
  • Christmas cards
  • Ribbon
  • Bows
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Christmas gift tags
  • Christmas decorations
  • Christmas books (for children and adults)
  • Paper goods such as napkins, paper plates and cups

Stockpile Year Round Supplies

I will let you in on a little secret: I stockpile many of the above items in various red, green and gold colors and use them year round. While Christmas scenes are plentiful on wrapping paper and paper goods, I gravitate toward solid colors that I can use at different times of the year other than Christmas. Birthday presents can be wrapped in red, green or gold paper all year round and with a white bow added, they don’t look anything like a Christmas package. Solid red or green paper plates and napkins can be used year round when company comes, and no one has to know you bought them for half off on the day after Christmas. You can buy these in bulk and put some away for next Christmas, and keep the rest for year-round use.

Save Money on Wedding and Baby Gifts

There are also wonderful Santa Claus figurines, elves, candles and a variety of other Christmas objects that make great gifts for next year. And if you know of anyone getting married in 2018, a box filled with beautiful ornaments and Christmas decorations makes a wonderful wedding shower gift. I received such a box at my own wedding shower and it has always been one of my favorite presents. Most newly wedded couples don’t have a lot of Christmas decorations to decorate their new home so a box of decorations and some special Christmas tree ornaments make a very thoughtful gift.

That is also true of anyone you know who may be pregnant and expecting a baby next year. You can fund a plethora of Christmas ornaments that says”Baby’sFirst Christmas” on sale after Christmas and if you purchase one, you have one gift already bought for next year.

Heading Out Early to Save Money

Well, I am on my way to the stores bright and early. I will share all of the goodies I saved money on when I return.   If you can’t make it to the stores on December 26th, there are usually plenty of sales still going on over the next week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so just keep your eye out for markdown sales over this whole week. Not only can you save money on sales at department stores but don’t forget grocery stores and pharmacies also have great markdown sales after Christmas.

Do you save money by shopping ahead each year on December 26th? Please share the deals you got in the past, or that you get this year in the comment section below.

Happy saving and Happy Holidays!

Part 2

Today is December 26th and I must say I had an absolutely wonderful time shopping at the Christmas clearance sales. Everything was 50 to 66% off. I spent 7 hours and went to the following stores:

  • Dollar General
  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Five Below
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Kirkland’s 
  • Marshall’s

And I got some amazing deals, not only for next Christmas but for household and other holiday use as well. Here’s a list of what I got:

For Christmas:

  • 1 train set for my husband                                                          
  • 1 set of sprinkles for Christmas cookies
  • 1 flameless Christmas candle
  • 3 Christmas Mugs
  • 1 set of Scented angels for the tree
  • 2 Christmas oven mitts
  • 3 Christmas ornaments for friends
  • 2 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper
  • 1 gold Christmas bow for a wreath I have
  • 2 pre-lit 18 inch Christmas trees
  • 4 packs of mini Christmas ornaments
  • 4 packages of Christmas cello wrap
  • 1 package of pre-wrapped Christmas gifts
  • 2 packages of small gold ornaments
  • 2 packages of Christmas cookie cutter lights
  • 6 packages of Christmas napkins
  • 3 packages of Christmas paper plates
  • 9 Christmas plastic hostess plates
Items that were on Christmas clearance but can be used year round!

Items that were on Christmas clearance but can be used year round!

Year Round Items

  • 6 Bottles of Gingerbread Softsoap ( I don’t care what the scent is, I will use it year round)
  • 1 deer spoon rest
  • 2 Men’s gift sets I will use as birthday gifts
  • 1 extension cord
  • 5 rolls of wrapping paper in red, blue and silver
  • 1 ten pack package of boxes
  • 2 packs of bows
  • 1 small skillet with cookie mix
  • 1 mug with tea set
  • 1 mixing bowl with deer
  • 6 packages of tissue paper ( I will use this to ship my eBay packages)

Even people who don’t celebrate Christmas can take advantage of the after-Christmas clearance sales as you can see from the list above.

Today was so much fun. I wish I could do this once a week because I love saving money so much! But December 26th only comes once a year. I will be checking out the clearance sales in other stores as I go out and about this week. Did you get any good after Christmas deals this year?

 

 

 

 

10 Inexpensive Birthday/Christmas Gifts Your Mother Will Love

Gifts for Mom don't have to be expensive

It’s almost Christmas, and maybe you have all of your Christmas shopping left to do. Or maybe you have most of your gifts done, but still haven’t found one for that very special woman on your list: your mother?!

Well, today is your lucky day because I have created this list of great gifts any mother would love. And the best part is that these gifts are gifts from the heart and won’t cost you much money. This is a money saving blog after all!

Because some of these gifts are a gift of service, you won’t actually be buying anything to wrap. But if you want some ideas to add to these gifts that your mom can unwrap, I have a list at the bottom of this post.

Here’s your list of gifts your mother will love, not in any particular order:

1)Give Your Mother a Day Off:                                                                                                                                             If your mother has a job, you can’t actually go into her workplace and do her work for her. BUT, you can take over her home responsibilities for a day on her day off. Does she have younger children at home or grandchildren that she takes care of? That day you will be the one taking care of the little ones. Does she have errands she only has time to do on Saturdays like grocery shopping, going to the post office or volunteering to clean the church? On her day off, you get to do her errands for her. And that will give her a day to do something fun like maybe go to lunch with a friend.

2) Give Your Mother a Maid for a Day:                                                                                                                          This one comes at no cost to you because YOU are the maid. Tell your mother you are going to clean her house for the day. She will need to make a list of all the chores she would normally do on her cleaning day. And then you show up with cleaning supplies in hand and clean her house. This works best if she isn’t home, otherwise she may feel bad and want to start cleaning with you, but that ruins the gift.

3)Make your Mother Her Favorite Meal:                                                                                                                           Is your mom the person who does most of the cooking in her house? Whether you live at home or not, you can make her favorite meal either at your house or hers. If there are a lot of family members, you need to feed the whole crew, so your mom doesn’t have to cook that day. If she and your dad are empty nesters, you can make the meal for the two of them. And if she lives alone, you can suggest she invite a friend over to eat dinner with her, and you cook, serve and clean up. Make sure you create enough food so there will be leftovers for her to eat another day. That’s a bonus gift for your mother that will bring back sweet memories of something you did for her.

 

Even if you're not that great a cook, something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and bread will make a great meal for mom!

Even if you’re not that great a cook, something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and bread will make a great meal for mom!

 4) Create Something for Your Mom:                                                                                                                                 Are you a crafter? Do you make jewelry or sew, knit or quilt? Your mom would probably love to have something you made with your own two hands. In high school, my daughter knitted me a scarf to match the ski jacket I had. Six years later it is still one of my favorite gifts. Each time I wear it, it makes me feel loved because she made it for me.

5) Take Your Mother on a Day Trip:                                                                                                                                       Is there a place within two hours of where your mother lives that she has wanted to go to? Shopping at an outlet mall? A special exhibit at the local museum? A walk on the beach to look for special shells or sea glass? If so, you can make her dreams come true by whisking her away for a day trip. If the venue has an admission price, check out Groupon for discounts before you go.

6) Treat Your Mother to a Makeover:                                                                                                                                Does your mother live near a department store with a makeup counter? Take her there and ask for a makeover, but be prepared to purchase at least one of the products used because the salespeople at cosmetic counters work on commission and that would only be fair to purchase at least one item from them in exchange for the time they took with your mother. If you know someone who sells Mary Kay products, they may be willing to come over and give her a makeover. Again though you should plan to purchase at least one of the products used. Or maybe you are great at applying makeup and could give your mom a makeover yourself.

7) Give Your Mother a Massage:                                                                                                                                    Unless you are a trained massage therapist, it’s probably not a good idea to actually give your mother a massage yourself. But if she enjoys a massage check Groupon for discounted massage coupons. Or check for salons that offer back and shoulder massages for $1.00 per minute. Malls also have these services which are sometimes called, ‘Chair Massages” and the customer sits face down in a slanted chair and gets their backs, shoulders and sometimes their hands and arms included in the massage. This type of massage is often the choice of people who don’t like full body massages anyway. And you can get a nice massage for your mother for $10 to $15. If she is getting a massage at a mall, take her for a nice cup of tea when she’s done, and that experience will make a nice gift.

8) Create a Scrapbook for Your Mother:                                                                                                                       Most moms are sentimental and love remembering things that they shared with their children. Do you have access to pictures of when you/your siblings were growing up? Or pictures of she and your father? Or pictures of a special event that happened? Creating a scrapbook is fairly easy, and places like Michael’s, AC Moore and Joann’s have coupons in the weekly Sunday papers that you can use to purchase scrapbook supplies. And a book of memories is a perfect gift for mothers. Hobby Lobby has a weekly coupon you can download on your phone for 40% off any one item that’s not on sale. If you don’t have the time or money to create a whole scrapbook, do one page that is 8 inches by 10 inches, add some pictures and a few sentimental thoughts and put it in a wooden frame. She will love it, and appreciate the time you put into creating it.

A sentimental scrapbook is a perfect gift for mom!

A sentimental scrapbook is a perfect gift for mom!

 

9) Take Your Mother to a Concert:                                                                                                                                   Often there are free concerts for the public offered within a community. Check local publications for free concerts. Do you live near a college? College music departments often offer free concerts. Are there any churches near where your mother lives that offer free concerts? If you have the money to spend at a local venue, check out Groupon for discounted ticket prices.

10) Give your Mother a Coupon Book Filled with Things you Know She Would Love:                                                This could include one free walk for the dog, one free computer lesson, one night of doing the dishes, etc. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can make up a coupon book for a combination of the above other nine ideas! This gift for mom is also fun because it includes a series of events, not just a one-time thing.

In my family, it was always fun to have something to unwrap at Christmas, even if it was a gift card. We used boxes, so the recipient actually had a gift box to unwrap. If you want to do that for your mother’s gift, you can create a certificate on the computer stating what her gift is, and fold it to fit in a small gift bag or box. Dollar Tree has a package of 3 boxes for $1.00, so a folded piece of paper would fit nicely in one.

 

Dollar Tree stores sell packages of 3 small boxes for $1.00!

Dollar Tree stores sell packages of 3 small boxes for $1.00!

Or, you could also add something inexpensive to go with the certificate which would be larger to wrap like:

  • A key ring with a musical note on it would pair nicely with a gift of a concert.
  • A can of lemon-scented Pledge would be a cute gag gift to go with a day of housecleaning for her.
  • A small jar of shells with a ribbon around it to go with a certificate for a day at the beach together.
  • A small candle with a box of her favorite tea will pair nicely in a box with the gift of a massage.

Okay, I think you get the idea. Gifts like these that come from the heart not only are more creative than just a gift certificate or a pair of slippers, but they will provide a memorable experience that will stay with your mother for a long time and provide her with a gift she will love!

 

 

Announcing the Winners of the November, 2017 Drawing

Prizes for the November,2017 blog drawing.

Hello Everyone!

I am sure many of you are getting ready for Christmas…tis the season. I just wanted to make the announcement of the winners for the November drawing.

The November winners are:

1st Prize Restaurant Gift Card: Karen Rhyne

2nd Prize CVS Gift Card: Kara Woods

3rd Prize Avon Surprise Box: Sue Schleif

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the rest of you who participated. The next drawing will be coming soon.

I just want to mention that two out of the three winners had multiple entries because they shared on more than one social media site. So don’t forget, the more you share, the more chances you have to win a prize!

People have been asking me why I give things away each month. Well, why not? I love getting free stuff and I am pretty sure all of you do as well. So it’s just an extra gift for all of my subscribers: the chance to win something free every month. If you aren’t yet a subscriber, subscribe to the blog today so you won’t miss the next drawing.

Have a wonderful day and good luck to all of you in the December drawing!

The November Blog Drawing is Here

Prizes for the November,2017 blog drawing.

Prizes for the November, 2017 blog drawing.

Sorry this is so late in the month but it’s time again for the drawing on my blog. I LOVE Christmas (I have even been known to have been called “Karen Christmas”) and to kick off the Christmas season, I am still having two prizes, but am also adding a third so there will be three drawing winners this month.

November Drawing Details

The entry period for this drawing is November 24th through November 30th. The winner will be announced on this blog on December 1st.

Prizes:

1st – a $25.00 gift card to be used at any of the following restaurants: Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse Cheddars, Yard House, Bahama Breeze.

2nd – a $25.00 gift card to CVS

3rd – a  5″ by 8 ” surprise box filled with Avon items (of my choice)

How to Enter the November Drawing

If you aren’t a subscriber to my blog already, enter your email in the top right-hand space and you will be entered into the drawing, and doing that will also allow you to be notified each time I post a new article about saving money or working from home. You will earn one entry for subscribing. If you want to earn more entries…

To get more entries, you can also click on any of the sharing buttons below to share the drawing with your friends. THEN you must also leave a comment below in the comment section telling me which social media sites you shared this post on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

If you already are a subscriber, scroll down to the bottom of this blog post and click on any or all of the sharing buttons to share this post with your friends. THEN, you must also leave me a comment in the comment section below and let me know which social media site you shared this post on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). So, it’s not enough to just share this. You must also leave a comment below to get entries into the drawing.

This drawing is different from previous drawings because the more you share using the social media buttons below, the more chances you have in the drawing. This would be a great way to save money on a Christmas gift if you win a gift card, or the box of Avon goodies, and give it as a present. Good luck to everyone who enters the drawing this month.

Take a second look at the previous post for updated pics…

After entering, take a look at the post below this one and you can see all of the fun I had at the Black Friday sales on Friday at CVS and Rite Aid. I added some extra pictures of all of the free stuff I got. If you missed these sales, remember these stores for Black Friday next year.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram as “Kouponkaren thrifts and saves” to see the deals I find as they are happening!