7 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays Now

Christmas And New Year Holiday Table Setting. Celebration. PlaceWith the kids back at school and the weather changing come thoughts of the impending holiday season. With the shape of the economy today, many families will be cutting back on their holiday spending. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the festive time of years gone by, just that it will take planning and ingenuity. Here are some ideas on ways to get a jump-start on planning the holiday celebration.

Make a detailed holiday budget include everything that can be thought of that will be an expense. Start with what is already known. Looking at last year’s expenses will show where you splurged and overspent and give you clues as to how to shave dollars out of this year’s expense. Don’t forget to include things like cards and postage. Estimate the cost of the entire meal being planned from appetizers to desserts. If travel will be a big part of your the holiday, estimate your travel expenses including gas, airfare, accomodations, food, etc.

Review those items to be reused from previous holidays. Check the lights and replace bulbs instead of buying new strings. If one need new items, try to shop for them before the actual in-store holiday season (stores have set times for different holiday promotions to begin) and take advantage of early sales.

Taking holiday pictures at an earlier time will avoid the high prices of last minute photography sessions. If you normally use a family photo for greeting cards, you can sometimes get a better deal in the off season.

Include the family
Make saving this season a family affair. Talk with the kids on ways to save cash for the holiday spending.

Make lists
Lists are an excellent way to prepare for shopping. A detailed shopping list will keep you focused on the items that you’ve budgeted for, while helping you to avoid buying temptations.

Shop early
Avoid the stress and strain of overcrowded malls and stores. Shopping early gives you the time to comparison shop and purchase items on sale or at a discount.

Keep track of spending
It is always a good idea to keep holiday money separate from the rest of the household budget. This will keep you from dipping into cash that is earmarked for household expenses and will likewise help you to stay on budget.

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5 Steps for Scoring Great Deals No Matter What You Are Buying

Shopping Bags

As a consumer, you want the best value for the price you pay. Unfortunately, there are many things out there that can entice you and keep you from making the best purchase. How do you score great deals when you buy? This article provides a 5-step guide on how you can improve your buying techniques.

Determine What You Want to Buy
Many consumers buy blindly. When you buy, you have to know what features you want to be in the product. For example, if you want a notebook computer, make sure you know what specifications you need. Maybe you want one that is lightweight, has a 250-GB hard drive and a 2.5 GHz processor because you are always travelling. Specify the features necessary in the product you want to buy and write them down. This will direct you when you encounter different suppliers. What you want to buy should be in accordance with what you need.

Research on the Item You Want to Buy
Researching on the item you want to buy ensures a cost-effective way of buying. By researching, you are able to compare products and prices. You are also able to learn about options that are not immediately apparent. The internet provides a great deal of information. Filter through the data using the specifications listed in step one. Take your budget into consideration and eliminate items that go beyond your budget.

Look Out for Great Extras
Companies or shops sometimes offer discounts or additional items when you buy their products. In the long run, this can even give you some income if you get an extra item for free and sell it online. However, always take into consideration the quality of that extra item. Is it functional, or is it given only because the company cannot sell it?

Buy in Bulk
The economics of scale used by large companies can also be used for personal buying. When large companies buy, they buy in bulk because the cost is much cheaper. If you really need large quantities of a particular item or you simply need the same item over a period of time, have an estimate and buy in bulk. Again, go back to your list. Buy in bulk, but only according to what you need and your budget. Use caution, however, and don’t buy more than you can store!

Learn to Negotiate
There are shops that do not allow for bargaining but many others have some wiggle room in their pricing. When negotiating, ask for the lowest reasonable price. This way, there is some room for gaining a deal at a price lower than the original. Be confident when negotiating a deal, but make sure to be polite. Sellers do not appreciate a rude customer. If you negotiate successfully, you might even get discounts for subsequent purchases.

Scoring a great deal needs preparation, fast thinking and courtesy. Remember these steps and you can save money every month!

Tips for Making Space to Create a Pantry Stockpile

Organized Kitchen PantryOrganizing and maintaining a pantry can be a lot of work, but it does have its advantages. By bringing a little bit of order to a pantry and making space to stock up non-perishable food and other ingredients, a pantry can actually save a lot of money in grocery bills. It’s quite simple to achieve this end, first by de-cluttering the pantry and then reorganizing it. In order for a panty to have satisfactory results, several factors need to be considered: the designated amount of space for the pantry, the food items used most often, and willingness to spend money to organize it, to name a few.

Put Some Items in Kitchen Drawers
The most important thing to do to make some space in the pantry is to rearrange the kitchen drawers so that some of the stockpile can find home in those drawers, allowing more space in the pantry. If the pantry doesn’t look cramped after this initial stage, it should then be determined which food items are to be stored where. Based on the food items that are used most often, the pantry should be arranged in as accessible a manner as possible, depending on the type of food and who it is for.

Consider How Often Certain Items Are Used
Sometimes, non-perishable food items such as canned soup or cereal get used less frequently, so it would only follow that they can be stored up high, or behind other items. In doing this, shelves with higher traffic are not cluttered with infrequently used items. It is also wise to determine the location for bulk perishable food items. It can be a second freezer or a chest freezer, which can be organized similar to organizing the pantry, in which items used most often are more accessible. In terms of organizing the pantry, a stair step shelf or a hanging door organizer can add more space. Both of these may involve spending money if you do not have these types of shelves on hand. Pest prevention must also be an ongoing effort in the pantry, as mice and bugs are common problems. This may involve repackaging food into plastic containers which are more durable than the plastic bags most food is packaged in.

Plan Ahead Before Buying New Items
The key to maintaining a good pantry is to plan ahead. This of course means setting aside space for new items, keeping the space organized, and buying items when they’re on sale. This can especially help in emergency situations. It’s rather tempting to buy everything that comes on sale for a good price, but its advised to ignore unnecessary temptations and only purchase the food that will be used—and only buy what can be stored in the pantry.

There’s no sense in buying in bulk if there’s no place to store it. When buying a new food item in bulk for storage, it is a good idea to try it first, or it will go unused in a corner of the pantry. Another key to managing the pantry is to always remember to rotate new and old items, which will ensure that less food is wasted from expiring.