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It’s the holidays and as we know… tis the season to spend spend spend! How do we get the gifts we want without breaking the bank? Good luck there, it’s been harder this year than other years it seems like!

I thought I’d post a few hints of things I’ve used this week and share the great deal stories with you! (Thank goodness the kids don’t read my blog!)

1. PRICE MATCH: Nothing can do you better than this. You got a store you prefer or is closer or you have a reward card for? Shop there! Show your loyalty. Price match if they do that and thank them for it!

Deal of the week price matching: Circuit City had Rock Band for the Wii on sale for 89.99. Yes, the whole kit and kaboodle. Game, drums, mike, and guitar. Score! But my people, we’re Best Buy shoppers. So we snagged Rock Band for the Wii and went to Customer Service at Best Buy. Price Match!

2. REWARD CARDS: Some people complain about these? OK, so I’m one of them. I have an entire wallet that is nothing but these stinking reward cards. Because I was sick of rifling through them trying to find the card for the location of the moment… I alphabetized them. Gotta tell you, it’s OCD but it WORKS. I can easily find cards which makes Christmas shoppers waiting in line so happy. But the deals I get are amazing!

Story of the week: Back to Rock Band. Actually this is my mother’s story. She picked up Rock Band at Best Buy for my kids. They price matched it down to 89.99. She had $10 in reward credit which means she got Rock Band for the Wii for 79.99 plus tax. She had them swipe her card, so that gives her 79.99 in credit towards more reward money! Fantastic! It’s like free coupons!

3. KNOW YOUR REWARD PROGRAM: OK, so it’s not just swiping your cards. You need to know what is offered. You can get more fantastic deals this way. CVS gives you money on the bottom of your receipt for buying certain items. Plan your shopping around that, and you get free money every time you shop. That can add up. Let’s face it, we all use toothpaste and soap and toilet paper. (If you don’t, please don’t share. Yikes!) Until just a couple of weeks ago Best Buy had a deal where if you buy two ink cartridges at a time, you got free paper. I haven’t bought paper in years. I’m rather depressed this is gone. I am debating writing to them.

Story of the week: OK, shush. Yes I did some major Best Buy dealing. I noticed Best Buy has a new deal with their reward club. For gamers (hello have you MET me?) you get crazy extra points for your gaming purchases. What do I use Best Buy for? Games and DVDs. Games are costly. I can build up reward credit faster? Yes I want in! Best of all, when I told a friend about Rock Band, she let me swipe my card. Hello 89.99 on my card! And it’s bonus extra points!

4. USE COUPONS: Talk about good deals. You guys know I coupon like mad on triple coupon days at the grocery store and of course there’s CVS. Through saving on things like that, I can free up more money for gifts. But not all coupons are for food and hygiene items. Look around.

Story of the Week: Through Best Buy’s reward program I scored myself a $20 off a Guitar Hero game. Including Aerosmith complete with Guitar. I happen to like Aerosmith. I mean come on, it’s Aerosmith. He may look goofy but he’s awesome. Plus my best friend’s met him. That’s hot! That got knocked down to 49.99 this week. You betcha, $20 off and I got it for 29.99. WITH GUITAR! So now my kids have a great gift that I used the last of their money for and we can get all the Guitar Hero games now because we finally have a guitar. Woot! (There’s issues with Rock Band and GH playing nice with each other’s equipment.)

5. GIFT CARDS: Maybe it’s May. You have an extra $50. Go buy yourself a gift card and save it for holiday shopping. Maybe someone gave you a gift card. Use it for holiday shopping. Gift cards are a great way to put money aside. Also, you can sometimes get good perks. This week CVS has a deal where if you get $15 in iTunes gift card you can get money off Batman. Basically instead of paying $20 for Batman, you pay $25 and get Batman with $15 in itunes gift card. It’s not bad. A lot of restaurants are giving deals where if you buy so many gift cards, they’ll give you a bonus $5 one for yourself. (Or as an additional gift.) You can then give gift cards or just keep them for your use throughout the year.

Story of the week: I had a gift card to Barnes and Nobles. I love books. I love books a lot. There’s one I wanted. But my reading list is out of control so I could hold off. We don’t have a Barnes and Nobles near me (well it’s an hour away but I don’t normally go near it when I head towards DC). So I’d kept this thing in my wallet since May when my MIL sent it to me. I kept meaning to use it online and just didn’t. I had aspirations to come up with a really great purchase, and the one I considered my mother went ahead and got me. I decided to instead use it on some kid books for the boys for Christmas. (It’s OK, I actually want to read these books myself so I really did score there. The book I wanted I’ll just wait and buy from the author when I get it autographed. My TBR bookcase is really out of control.)

6. Watch for “Buy this and get that” deals. Sometimes this is pointless stuff you don’t need. Why would you need some of the things they do? But some stores offer you cash and others offer you goodies. By knowing these deals and shopping accordingly when it works into your buying, you can get more bang for your buck. Bath and Body Works is giving away free plus lambies with any purchase this week. (There’s a coupon for it.) Maybe you just need some $1 fingernail files for some gift bags. Get your free lambie and stick it in a kid’s stocking, or a friend’s fun little gift bag, or keep it for yourself. Just a good example.

Story of the Week: I hit up the cologne area in Macy’s. My husband has been wanting some new cologne. I guess he’s tired of the same old stuff. He has three that he uses regularly. None are real expensive. Two are by Avon and the other is a drug store pickup. I think they smell yummy, so am just fine. What do I know, I’m just his wife, right? That’s fine. He’s never had a nice cologne and he’s been complaining for a few months. So I decided to try to get him something real. Something more age appropriate. (I guess the drug store brand is an old scent? News to me, I’d never even heard of it till I met my husband.) I have been hemming and hawing over this cologne thing for a while. I picked out a scent I like and the bottle was farking expensive. Not just expensive but farking expensive. My golly. But don’t you know? They have a gift set! It’s like almost nothing more than the bottle alone. No brainer there, right? So my husband gets a travel cologne (OK, I’m a sucker for those, makes for easier packing for me when we travel) and some aftershave gel. Hey, maybe his face will do better if he uses that. If it matches his cologne, maybe he’ll be more apt to use it! A girl can but only try, right? And I get the big bottle of cologne. But oh, the bargains don’t stop there! I got a giant bag, I mean huge. I mean I could probably climb in this sucker. OK, maybe not me, but I could probably stick one of my kids in it. What the heck do I need a new bag for? Dunno. We do travel a lot and bags are at a premium. So I figure that’s good. Or I can choose to give it to someone. This is the sort of thing I’m talking about though. Get creative. I’m thinking I’m going to keep it. My boys are getting older and we are getting to where we need another bag for them, especially in the winter months.

7. Don’t be afraid to look in unusual places. You’d be surprised at what you can find at a store when you really look. Sometimes you can score big. It’s not just Walmart out there. Many stores have seen the benefit of having a few items of all sorts.

Story of the Week: My husband informed me that this year I was going to get a handheld GPS if we could afford it. The boys and I love to go hiking for school. Geocaching is way fun and we’ve struggled to do this and not had a lot of success since we don’t have the right equipment. Plus we are always like “Gee, I wonder how far we walked today.” A GPS for hiking would tell us that. Nice. Plus, we’d never get lost, even in the woods. An added bonus! Especially since I have two scouts that love adventuring. I figured this would be no problem. Last year they were everywhere for like $75. Forget it. Not this year. They are the red-headed illegitimate step-children of GPS. You can’t find them anywhere. Surfing the Khol’s website i stumbled across… yes! Handheld GPS! OK, I knew they were mostly clothes and a few shoes and a tiny housewares section, but who knew they’d have GPS units? Nice ones, too! A plethora of handheld ones! And why was I at Khol’s again? Oh yeah, 20% off any purchase and free shipping over $100. Come to Mom! It’s been ordered and is on its way. As an added benefit… remember that free perks part I mentioned? I snagged the GPS and a box of KNex for the boys and ended up reaching a mark… well I’m getting $30 in Khol’s Cash to spend! Next week I can go buy some more stuff, and it won’t cost me a anything if I don’t go over $30! Yay! More stuff I can get for the holidays!

These are just some hot tips. They don’t come close to scratching the surface, but they are things that have helped me this week especially. I’m glad to have found them.

To be honest, this year has been hard. I’ve been pretty disappointed with the deals this year. Thankfully I’ve hit some good ones this week and really fleshed out all our gifts. We’re finally getting to the point where we have a decent Christmas shaping up.

Now, I need a decent gift for my husband. I wish I could work these deals for a Nintendo DS Lite for him. It’s what I wanted to get him. Darn those things never have good deals. 😦 He loves dark blue and that would be great if I could get him that. *SIGH*

I did enter a bunch of contests for free gift cards. Let me tell you, I wish that I could offer free stuff to all of you readers. That would be great. Goodness knows between all the things I dabble in… right? No one is offering me swag for give aways. But hey, if I win one of the contests I enter, just imagine the fun blog entry as I run around shopping! Woot!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and having much luck shopping for gifts! Next week is mega cookie baking week I think. Late next week. Maybe Friday?

Did you find any superb deals? If so comment and let me know!

–Lady O

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