Black Friday

Tomorrow is the biggest shopping day of the year, commonly referred to as Black Friday. Shopping on this day can be an overwhelming experience, so it’s best to go with a plan! First, either call or check the websites of your favorite stores. Some will be opening as early as 4am! Make sure you prioritize the order you will visit stores, as the best deals expire fairly early in the morning, and obviously the selection goes down very quickly with so many shoppers. Check online or in your local newspaper for coupons for additional savings. And, most importantly, set a budget for the day. I like to do this by taking out in cash the exact amount I’m allowing myself to spend. That way, when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s easy to go overboard with so many good sales. Happy shopping!

Holiday shopping tips

Holiday shopping can be stressful and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few helpful suggestions. First, always walk to the back of the store – that’s where the clearance items are. It’s best to start there. Also, you may not think you can bargain at a department or retail store, but you can! You can’t haggle on the price, but you can definitely ask stores to match prices of other stores. If a store has the item you want on sale but not in your size and another store has the item for full price and in your size, ask them to call the other store and honor the sale price – most of the time they will. Lastly, find out what day of the week your favorite stores do their markdowns. I know Gap and other similar stores do markdowns on Wednesdays and Thursdays. That’s when they get their new shipments in. Department stores often have Sunday sales, so look for markdowns on Saturday evenings. If you’re strategic, you’ll get the best sale items before they run out. Happy holiday shopping!

I also added some Turkey Day recipe ideas.

Limited

Sorry for the last minute notice, but I just noticed a coupon online for The Limited. It’s $15 off your purchase or $30 off a purchase of $100 or more. If you just google Limited coupon, you will surely find it. Hurry though, it’s only good through tomorrow!

Coupons can be such a great thing! If you’re planning on a purchase, searching online for a coupon like this one can really help with the cost. But be careful – don’t go out and buy something you don’t need just because you have a coupon! It’s always good to consider each and every purchase, even when it’s a great deal.

Sales Tax

Living in DC, I’m lucky to have two states nearby. Maryland, Virginia, and DC all have very different personalities, and it’s fun to take advantage of all of the opportunities. While I absolutely love DC, I usually decide to shop in Maryland or Virginia when I’m buying clothes or especially when I’m buying large purchases. Why? Sales tax. DC has an unusually high sales tax, and it definitely can add a lot to your total bill. Especially when buying furniture, electronics, winter coats…expensive items. You wouldn’t think that just a few percentage points higher would make a big difference, but like so many other things, it can really add up! I realize not everyone has the luxury of choosing which state in which to shop, but if you do you should definitely give it some thought! Happy Shopping!

Outlet shopping!

Nothing is better than finding great deals on quality things! Yesterday, my friends and I piled into the car and drove out to the outlet mall nearby. While none of us can afford to shop, we all need suits for upcoming interviews for summer positions. At my suggestion, we all set a reasonable budget, and we were on our way! I personally brought my budget in cash so there would be no question as to how much I had spent. This is a good idea for controlling yourself in such a tempting environment. Outlets are a great idea for finding high quality pieces at affordable prices. I ended up with a $350 suit and a $120 pair of shoes for a grand total of $200! A savings of $270 is not too shabby. Most cities have an outlet mall within about an hour or so, so check them out and have fun shopping!

Local Brewery

Tonight I celebrated the end of the week with a few friends from school. Instead of going to the trendy, expensive part of town, we decided to hit up a bar in our neighborhood that brews their own beer. What a great decision! We went, of course, at happy hour time. We shared 2 appetizers and both had two local beers. Each bill? Just over $10! So, my suggestion for today – explore your neighborhood and see what little places you can find. I love these little places because they’re appreciative to have your business. They also want to sell their own brew, so they’ll usually have great deals and you get to try something other than the usual domestic choice. So look up your friendly neighborhood establishments, and have a great beer for me!

Gourmet Cheese

Living frugally doesn’t mean giving up the finer things in life, it just means being more creative about getting them. Down the street from me is a gourmet wine and cheese shop. I’ll talk about the wine sometime in the future. They have a cheese counter that sells amazing, very expensive cheese. I went in one day and told the guy behind the counter that I appreciated fine cheese but couldn’t afford it. He let me in on a little secret. When they get down to the end of a large block of cheese (after cutting pieces off for people), they can’t keep it in the case any longer because it may be too small to fit the next order. So they cut these remnants into smaller pieces and sell them to frugal folks like myself. Once a week, I go in and ask for the remnants – for 99 cents a piece, I get to enjoy amazing pieces of brie, chevre, and gouda. They’re pretty healthy sized pieces too! So, find your local cheese shop and ask the person behind the counter if they’ll sell you the remnants. When you have your friends over and serve them your gourmet find, they’ll never know you only spent 99 cents!

Coffee

I’ve always had a great love for coffee, but it’s turned into an obsession now that I’m back in school. I get up at 6 every day and usually go to bed around midnight, so I definitely need my caffeine fix every morning. The problem is that this obsession can get a little pricey. My amazingly thoughtful boyfriend was kind enough to get me a generous Starbucks gift card as a going away gift when I moved to DC. While it was much more than he should have spent, Starbucks can quickly add up, so I use it only on days when it’s absolutely necessary. Every other morning, I bring my own. I made a trip to Target to get a coffee maker and travel mug, both on sale of course. I buy Starbucks coffee, which is about $10/pound. Not bad considering that it lasts me around a month. At my local market, I found flavored syrup for a very reasonable price. Now, each morning, I make my own tasty coffee with vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon – whatever mood strikes me that day. I’d estimate that filling my travel mug costs around 10 cents per day. This is a vast improvement from $5 per day! So, get out there, invest in some reasonably priced supplies that will last a long time, play around, and you’ll figure out how to make a cheap tasty treat to start your day!