Karen Hellier

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

Tag Archive: save money

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?





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.


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!

Announcing the Contest Winners for the September Contest

Announcing the winners of the September Contest at karenhellier.com

Sorry this is late everyone but due to Hurricane Irma, we did not have electricity or the internet yesterday and into today. This is the first time I have had the chance to announce the winners of the September contest.

Contest Winners

Now, the information you have all been waiting for: The winners of the September contest on this blog are:

Sarah Hauta: Winner of the $25.00 Walmart gift card

Arline Culp: Winner of the $25.00 Starbuck’s gift card

Congratulations to the two of you, and thanks to all of you who joined as new subscribers. If you didn’t win a gift card this time, do not despair, I will be having a contest on this blog every month. Stay tuned for upcoming contests.

Upcoming Blog Posts

And I have some great blog posts coming up on various subjects including a post on selling on eBay and a post about how living in a tiny house can save you money. I went to the Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past weekend and had an amazing time talking to people there about the realities of living in a tiny house. I took a lot of pictures that I think you will enjoy.

You Can Follow Me on Instagram

I have been saving lots of money the past few weeks and will be posting my deals on Instagram. These deals are more individual and are too small to write a whole blog post about which is why they are on Instagram: short and sweet with a picture.

If you are on Instagram and want to see individual deals I get that you may also be able to find at your local store, you can follow me on Instagram at koupon_karen_thrifts_and_saves.

Are you on Instagram? Feel free to leave your Instagram name below with a comment about what you post about the most and maybe you will gain some new blog readers as your Instagram followers!




8 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

I am a huge fan of using coupons to save money on groceries. In fact, when I lived in Connecticut, I used to teach classes on saving money with coupons. If you are someone who loves using coupons and would like some extra tips, I added a link to an article I wrote about saving money with coupons at the bottom of this article.

But I also know there are many people who find the whole coupon thing too time-consuming and don’t use them. This article is for you so please keep reading!

Below are my top eight tips for saving money without using coupons.

  1. Check out the Sales at all of the Stores you Plan to Shop at Before you Leave your House

Who wants to pay full price for an item when you can get it at a discount? Certainly not me, and hopefully not you. If you purchase the Sunday paper, go over all of the sales fliers and make a list of what you want to buy before you go to the store. Being organized helps you save money at the grocery store because you are not aimlessly wandering around looking for things you might need.

If you don’t buy the Sunday paper, go online and check out the weekly store flyer (s) and make your list from that so you will be prepared.

And to save money: stick to your list!

2) Buy Items Only When They Are on Sale

If you make a habit of purchasing items at the grocery store only when they are on sale, you will find that you never have to pay full price for most of what goes in your grocery cart! Now, this is not always true for perishable items that you can’t freeze well, such as produce. But for the most part, if you buy items only when they are on sale, you will save money.

3) Stock Up

This is true for coupon users as well, but it you can purchase enough products when they are on sale to tide you over to the next sale, then you will have cupboards full of items that you never paid full price for.

Example: The IGA near my home had Coke on sale for 4 for $4.44 this week. My husband drinks Coke and sometimes it is hard to find it on sale. Without a sale, Coke is usually $1.59 to $1.69. So, knowing that there should be another sale on Coke SOMEWHERE near me in the next 8 weeks, we purchase enough to get us through 8

IMPORTANT: Did you know if there is a sale on something where you get 4 for $4.44, or 2 for $5.00, etc. you usually don’t have to buy the number they suggest??? Many people get caught by this. Unless the specific sale signage says,”Must buy 4 or 2″ to get that price, you can buy 1 single item and still get the sale price. Or in the case of 4 in a sale, you can buy 2 or 3 if you want.

The store advertises it that way to trick consumers into thinking they HAVE to buy that many in order to get that price. They are sneaky that way because it brings in more money for them. Make sure you check with the cashier or store manager if you have any doubts, but grocery stores rake in a lot of extra money by suggesting a certain number of items that consumers think they have to buy.

4) Plan Your Menus Around What’s on Sale

I once read a statistic that said you could save 30% off of your grocery bill each week just by planning your weekly meals based on what’s on sale at the grocery stores.

For instance, if you were planning a beef roast for your family one week, but can’t find it on sale, buy another form of beef instead that you can find on sale. Thinking of serving lamb chops but find a sale on pork chops that week? You will save money if you buy what’s on sale and serve that instead.

The same holds true for other products that would go with your main dish…if you want a salad, see which is less expensive: romaine lettuce or head lettuce. How about tomatoes: is there a sale on a certain kind? Planning for mashed potatoes? Check sales on Idaho, Red or Yukon Gold. Every penny you can save really adds up when you get to the checkout lane.

5) Be Willing to Shop at A Few Stores Instead of Just One

I know this is hard for many people, but each week the different stores in your town have different sales. By being willing to check out the sales at more than one store and shop in two or more each week for their sale items, you will save money.

You don’t want to spend a lot of extra money on gas though because that would defeat the purpose of saving money on your groceries. So this will only work in areas where there is more than one grocery store to choose from.

If you do live in a town where shopping us limited, but there is a certain store with something you use on your way to work, or on the way to drop your child off at a dance class or swimming lessons, use that trip to stop and grab the sale item(s) so that you aren’t going out of your way.

6) Shop at the Stores That have the Least Expensive Prices on Items You Buy if you Run Out

The easiest way to do this is to make a price notebook of things you usually buy and write down the price the item usually sells for at each store when it is not on sale. Your price notebook page could look like this:

Item                                                   Stop & Shop           Walmart          Shop Rite    Big Y

Maxwell House Coffee 24 oz.                 $6.77                     $5.98              $6.24         $6.99

Knorr Noodles and Sauce                       $1.25                      $1.00               $1.00         $1.39

Secret Deodorant   1.7 oz.                     $2.09                     $1.74               $1.79         $2.19

Soft Soap Liquid Soap  7.5 oz.              $1.49                         $.99              $1.29         $1.59

The list should continue like this for every item you buy on a regular basis. Then, on the weeks you run out of a certain item, you know the store that carries that item for the least amount of money and you can go there to purchase it or add it to your list when you shop there for sales if that item isn’t on sale that week anywhere else. This list should be updated every six months.

7) Check the Markdown Shelves

Most supermarkets and Walmart Superstores have a markdown shelf or bin. You can get amazing deals by getting in the habit of checking them every time you shop. Stopping by the markdown area every time you shop will save you money, especially on items like bread, pastries and grocery items that will store well or can be frozen.

8) Don’t Shop with Your Credit Card

Carrying cash and using only cash to shop for your groceries will keep you within your budget better than if you pay with a credit card. Paying with credit, especially if you have a lot of credit available on your credit card, means you won’t be all that concerned about how much money you will spend at the store. So, that beautiful looking chocolate cake with chocolate chips on it may find its way into your cart.

But paying with a limited amount of cash, and preferably just enough to cover your groceries will keep you focused on your goal. You won’t be as tempted to purchase that cake, or any one of a number of extra goodies if you pay only with cash and don’t want to be embarrassed by not having enough when you get to the checkout lane.

Tips on how to Save Money with Coupons…

Hopefully, these tips will help you rethink your grocery shopping strategy and save money at the grocery store. If you use coupons or would like to start, here’s an article that will help you with that:


Do you have any other ideas on how to save at the grocery store without using coupons? Please leave a comment below.

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