16 Frugal Christmas Gifts: Give the gift of savings

As per readers requests, here is a roundup of a bunch of good money saving gifts.  What makes a better gift than one that saves money? This is a collection of very useful frugal items that would make great “pay it forward” Christmas presents… give the gift of frugality.

Frugal Laundry Drying Racks: I built a large indoor rack for drying our laundry, but these are cheap, simple and easy ways to get started… perfect for apartments!

Compact Air Dry Rack with 79 feet of room to hang stuff: $49

Compact Collapsable Stainless Air Dry Rack, great for apartments, on sale for $29

Chrome Collapsable 11 rung air dry rack, another apartment favorite, $25

Economy Accordion Drying Rack In Wood/Vinyl, 11 rung, on sale $15

16 rung/30 feet, over the tub air dry rack, $22

Sweet collapsable tripod air dry rack with tons of line space, Only $31

Frugal Must Reads: (The tightwadd gazette is like a bible for frugal living and Dave Ramsey is right up there with it in terms of usefulness and importance).

The Tightwad Gazette 1, 959 pages of penny pinching tips, on sale for $5

The Tightwad Gazette 2: 293 pages of more penny pinching tips, $4

The Tightwad Gazette 3: 272 pages of even more penny pinching tips, $5

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: The book that set us in the right direction, Only $5

Lastly, Here is a useful stocking stuffer:

Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap, Great for Home Made Detergent, ON SALE FOR each $1

Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor, Find Your Electricial Phantoms and Save on Utilities, On Sale for $20

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Frugal storage solutions

Frugal storage solutions: With the holiday season officially here, I’m sure we will all be accumulating more “stuff” (especially clothes and toys!) again this year. And the real challenge is how to organize it all after the holidays are over, without spending a ton of money. One of our readers, MaryAnne, recently sent us her ideas on how to be frugal while organizing! Here are some of her great ideas for you:

Hi! I’m MaryAnne, the crafting-addicted mother of three from mama smiles! I spend my days creating fun with my three young children (nearly 4, nearly 2, and 3 months old). My blog is a mix of crafting, activities for young children, sewing, parenting, and frugal living, and I’d love for you to drop by and say hi!

I appreciate a well-organized home, but most commercial storage options are expensive. Here are a couple of low-to-no-cost solutions I’ve come up with that use items most people already have in their homes:

  • Shoe boxes to create compartments in drawers. This works especially well for children’s small clothing, as well as socks and underwear. Since they are hidden away in drawers, it doesn’t really matter what the boxes look like. Of course, you can decorate them if you want – it’s a good way to keep the kids busy on a rainy day.
  • Frugal storage solutionsTake and toss food containers to store toys and other small items. The food-grade plastic makes it especially safe for storing children’s toys, and the clear sides make it easy to see what is inside. The lids fit snugly, and they usually stack nicely if you pick one brand and stick with it.

Use and toss toy storage

Other tips:

  • Go through belongings frequently and donate things you don’t need.
  • Look past marketing labels. In my experience, prices jump as soon as something is labeled as craft or toy storage. I use a computer hutch as my sewing machine cabinet, and shoe racks as toy bin shelves.
  • Cardboard boxes make great storage bins for items that don’t need a secure lid. You can even cover them to make them look pretty.

What are your favorite frugal storage solutions?

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Frugal Homemade Gift Idea: Etching Glass

Frugal Homemade Gift Idea: Etching Glass. We are dedicated to bringing you Free / Frugal Christmas Presents this holiday season, and I am excited to share a great guest post with you, describing an awesome homemade gift idea. Thanks to Kerrie Koupon Kueen – More than just coupons – for sharing this idea!

Kerrie says, I did this for four presents last year. They were a big hit and now I love making Christmas gifts. I etched some casserole dishes for my family. I bought a four pack of dishes for around $30 at Walmart. The cream, I bought (Armour Etch) at Hobby Lobby. It is $20, so make sure you bring a 40% coupon. You can get them in the paper or you can sign up for their weekly ad and get them sent to your email. [Money Savin’ Momma here – looks like you can also get a good deal on the Armour Etch at Amazon here.]

ArmourSo basically I got 4 gifts for $42 (that’s with the 40% Hobby Lobby coupon). And I have a lot left over for other gifts. My friend that told me about this says that she etches her name on all her casserole dishes so when she makes a meal for someone or brings a dish to a potluck, she knows she will get her dish back! This year I might monogram a vase for a gift.

Etched Glass

Here are the directions from the bottle:

1. Cover the glass or mirror with Contact brand vinyl. Next, trace your design through carbon paper onto the vinyl [or you can use stencils to trace in on]. Cut out the design with a hobby knife and peel off pieces of the vinyl to create a stencil. Where the vinyl is removed will become the etched design when you are finished.

2. Overlap the outside edges of the stencil with masking tape to protect he surrounding glass from the etching cream.

3. Apply a thick layer of Armour Etch Cream brushing up and down, then left and right to spread the cream over the entire stenciled area. Allow etching cream to remain on glass 5 minutes.

4. Wash off all traces of Armour Etch Cream with ordinary tap water. Remove the vinyl and thoroughly clean the glass using window cleaner.

Money Savin’ Momma here: If you have more questions about how to do this or want more information, be sure to contact Kerrie Koupon Kueen. Check out her great site for other deals too!
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Disney Rewards VISA: Earn a Free Disney Vacation

Disney Rewards VISA: Earn a Free Disney Vacation (or at least a cheap Disney vacation!)– We love to share how to get hot freebies and how to save money with our readers! Angela from Savvy Mom Finds recently shared with us how her family earned a CHEAP Disney vacation! It just may help you get a free or cheap Disney vacation too!

Free Disney vacationAngela says: Exactly a year ago, we took our first real family vacation — to Walt Disney World. We had traveled with the kids before, but it was always to visit family out of state; we had never gone somewhere just for ourselves as a family. We had been looking forward to our Disney vacation for quite some time — in fact, it was five years in the planning. The best part about our vacation? It was almost free.

When our son was born six years ago, we applied for a Disney Rewards VISA card. There are lots of rewards programs out there, but we settled on the Disney Card when we had children and realized that the Disney vacations were coming. With the Disney Rewards VISA, you earn 1% in Disney Dream Reward Dollars on every purchase made with your credit card. For every $100 you charge, you earn one (1) Disney Dream Reward Dollar, and one (1) Disney Dream Reward Dollar is worth $1 when you redeem it at Disney.

Disney Rewards VisaFor five years, we used that card for nearly every purchase we made: groceries, gas, household items, baby stuff, utilities, doctor’s bills — everything went on that VISA. In return, we amassed enough Disney Rewards to pay for most of our vacation. I scoured the web for the best vacation deal possible (Mousesavers is a great start) and redeemed all of our rewards to pay for it. We opted for an all-inclusive package — seven days at a Disney resort, seven days of tickets, and a dining plan that included all of our meals. It was like a dream vacation for the kids, and we were so happy that we could give them a week of magic. We would not have taken such an extravagant vacation if it had not been for the rewards points. Our Disney Rewards covered about 80% of the total cost. We could have gone for completely free if we had opted for a value package, but we figured after five years of waiting for a vacation, we could afford a little splurge. And five years is the magic number for maximizing your Disney Rewards — they begin to expire after five years. When we hit the five-year mark, we cashed them in — we didn’t want to lose a single one.

Now, I understand that there are those who have problems with credit cards. If you don’t pay off your balance every single month, then the rewards cards just are not worth it. The interest charges will negate any rewards you accrue, and you aren’t being a savvy consumer. In the fifteen years we’ve been married, my husband and I have always been very diligent about paying off our credit cards and not carrying a balance, so they work for us. We’ve had several different kinds of rewards cards in the past, but now that we have kids, it’s the Disney Card for us. After taking one vacation on rewards points, we’re already saving up rewards for another Disney trip we’re planning a few years in the future.

There are more benefits to our Disney Card than just earning rewards:

  • We can redeem our rewards to pay for most anything Disney — not just a vacation, but merchandise, too. Rewards can be used at our local Disney Store or at the Disney Store online, but I prefer to save them all up for vacation.
  • As cardholders, we’re entitled to special Disney discounts and offers. For example, the vacation package we chose was a special deal offered to Disney Rewards VISA cardholders only. Also, right now, Disney cardholders can earn $30 in free gas from Texaco and Chevron when they pay for gas at the pump with their Disney VISA.
  • We receive special cardmember benefits in the Disney Parks (we got a free 5×7 family photo with Mickey and Minnie).
  • Cardholders always receive a 10% discount at the Disney Store with qualified purchases of $50 or more.

There’s NO ANNUAL FEE, and new cardmembers get a bonus of 25 FREE Disney Dream Reward Dollars after their first use of the card (that’s like 25 dollars — FREE). If you want to learn more, please check out the Disney Rewards VISA website for complete details.

Angela is the author of Savvy Mom Finds, where she shares her favorite tips, tricks and fabulous finds to help you save money.

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Free Fun for the Holidays: Tree Trimming Night

Free Fun for the Holidays: Tree Trimming Night. One of the challenges during the holidays is trying to save money, while still creating meaningful family traditions. Heather at Inexpensively recently shared with us a wonderfully creative, and inexpensive, way to do just that during the holiday season:

Free Fun for the Holidays
Heather says: Tree Trimming Night is a fairly recent, but sacred tradition in our home. It is the one night every December that we set aside for just our immediate family. The evening is not about the gifts. In fact, they often completely forget that they do get a present that night – a new ornament to add to the freshly trimmed tree.

Each year, we spend December doing the World Tour of Christmas – visiting one family group one night, another on a Sunday afternoon, even more family for the weekend. We have had as many as 7 Christmas celebrations in one season. Between the family celebrations, the school plays and the holiday parties, we were exhausted and never had an evening to spend alone as a family.

I found myself trying to work in family time with my girls by hitting Christmas at the Zoo or Children’s Museum, spending more than we wanted in a desperate attempt to create memories for my girls that didn’t involve presents or the chaos of a loud, boisterous family. It finally occurred to me that we were allowing the perfect opportunity to slip by year after year.

We have always decorated a Christmas tree, but it was usually thrown up one evening after dinner or attended to in the midst of a busy day of laundry, dishes and shopping. Now, we set aside one evening in early December for Tree Trimming Night. I fix an appetizer buffet so we can munch while we decorate, and the girls go to town placing their favorite ornaments on the family tree.

Our only expense is a 6-pack of Santa Coke bottles that I just couldn’t resist working into our new tradition. When the sodas are empty, the food is consumed and the tree is sparkling, I take the girls’ picture in front of their handiwork. I have even used the Tree Trimming Night photo for our holiday cards rather than expensive holiday portraits (keeping it frugal, yo).

The girls are already asking when this year’s Tree Trimming Night will be. I’ll have to pick a night that works into our schedule and add it to the calendar soon. We have a variety of annual traditions, but this is probably my favorite! My team and I will be sharing even more of our ideas for frugal fun around the holidays at Inexpensively as we countdown to Christmas.

Heather Sokol is the married mother of three beautiful, active girls who have created in her a Montessori Mom, Scout Mom, Allergy Mom and avid coupon clipper. She shares deals and advice for living life Inexpensively and reports progress on learning to be a grown up at Just Heather.

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