Holiday Shopping Tips

In a few short weeks shoppers will be getting up before the sun to snag some of the best deals of the year. With holiday shopping a little planning goes a long way.

holiday shopping tips

While you are enjoying that second helping of pumpkin pie, take a few minutes to create a shopping strategy, so you can be a savvy shopper this holiday season.

Set a budget

If you don’t have a budget you will always overspend! Before you do anything else, create a holiday budget and don’t forget to include things like wrapping paper, gift bags, tape, and shipping costs.

Make a list

Make your holiday gift list before you start shopping. I write down the names of everyone we purchase gifts for and then next to their names I add several gift ideas.

This helps me avoid purchasing items that are a “great deal” for no reason.

Ask for ideas

I like to give gifts people will enjoy. For some family members this is very easy, however, I have a few of those very hard to shop for people on my shopping list.

Instead of spending money on something they might not want, like, or even need, I ask their parent/spouse for gift ideas. Once I have a few ideas I’m able to search for the best prices on those items before I buy.

Search for the best deals

Once you have your gift list, make your shopping list. Thankfully stores share their holiday shopping deals before Thanksgiving. This allows you to plan your shopping trip prior to leaving the house.

I search the sales flyers to find items I want to purchase at the lowest prices. Don’t forget to check online too! Often retailers will offer deep discounts when you purchase online and you can have the gifts shipped directly to the recipient.

Discover Deals, Discover’s online shopping portal, is a great way for cardmembers to save time and money during the holiday season. In fact, from November 1 through December 31, more than 65 merchants will offer holiday Cashback Bonus® for cardmembers that purchase items through Discover Deals.

Sign up for loyalty programs

Many stores offer loyalty programs that are free to join and provide you with coupons and discounts. I have a dedicated email I use to sign up for these programs so my personal inbox isn’t swamped with offers. I often save 10% or more on my purchases just by sharing my email address.

Shop with a friend

Shopping is more fun with friends anyway right? Friends can also help keep you accountable to stick to your list and stay on budget. You can also divide and conquer in the big stores to save time and score all the early bird deals.

Shop outside the big box (stores)

I love Target (probably more than most) however I also like to find unique gifts for family and friends. I often shop at antique stores, consignment stores, Etsy, and eBay to find one of a kind gifts at great prices.

Just remember to allow a little extra time for shipping if you are purchasing from an individual seller online.

Pack a snack

Bring a bag of nuts, a piece of fruit, or energy bar with you in your purse. It makes for a quick snack and can hold you over until it’s time to stop for lunch. You don’t want your shopping trip derailed by a grumbling stomach!

Maximize your savings with cashback rewards

Choosing a credit card that offers cashback rewards is another smart way to shop during the holidays. From October through December, Discover cardmembers are eligible to receive 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in combined purchases through, at department stores and clothing stores, when they sign-up.

Stick to the plan

It is very easy to catch holiday shopping fever. The music, the flavored coffee, the bright red sale signs in the store windows can tempt us to go overboard during the holidays.

Challenge yourself to find the best prices this holiday season and maximize your rewards and savings. Spend wisely and remember that the best gift you can give your family this holiday season is your time.

What are you best holiday shopping tips? 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Safer Transactions with EMV Technology

This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.

This week I was running errands and realized that many of the stores I shop at regularly are using the new chip-enabled terminals to process my card.

My card has a chip and if you are curious to know if your card has one, look for the small silver rectangle on the front of your card.



If your card has a chip and the store has a chip-enabled terminal, instead of swiping the card (as we’ve done for years), insert the card into a slot at the bottom of the terminal.

Discover EMV technology

Our bank credit card number has been stolen multiple times this year, so I’m excited about this extra layer of security when I’m shopping.

Here’s how the EMV technology works.

  • Harder to Duplicate: The chip helps prevent card cloning
  • Data Authentication: Validates the card is genuine every time it is used
  • Cryptography: Keys are used to generate unique data for each transaction

It seems like I’m hearing about hackers obtaining card information for hundreds of thousands if not millions of consumers on a regular basis. These chip-enabled cards provide an extra layer of protection against fraud at point of sale.

Discover has been sending customers chip-enabled cards for the past several months and you can learn more about their roll out and customer benefits on the Discover website.

Also if you are a Discover card holder and love Apple Pay (what’s not to love about Apple)  you are now able to add your Discover cards to Apple Pay.

Not only do you get all the great benefits of Apple Pay, U.S. cardmembers also receive an automatic 10% Cashback Bonus®, on in-store purchases made with their Discover card using Apple Pay, through the end of the year.

I know we do the bulk of our shopping in November and December, so this is a great way to increase your Cashback Bonus while doing holiday shopping.

Discover it Miles, Miles and Escape cardmembers using Apple Pay will be eligible to earn an extra 10 Miles per dollar on in-store purchases.


The best part is that you continue to receive all of the same great protection, services and benefits offered by Discover, including:

  • $0 fraud liability guarantee
  • 24/7 access to U.S. based customer care centers
  • Rewards that are earned through their card’s current rewards structure

If you aren’t familiar with Apple Pay it’s a pretty fantastic technology that allows you to pay with your iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad. It is simple to use and works with the cards you already have on the devices you use every day.

The holidays are a great time to create a spending plan and then use your Discover card to earn Cashback Bonus for even more savings. Visit the Discover website for more information about EMV technology and Apply Pay.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Creating a Side Business: Fiverr Challenge

The last several weeks have been very expensive. We’ve had unexpected expenses like our air conditioner breaking, pool filter needed repaired, taxes, an unexpected large bill, braces, an expensive plumber visit (thank you Cora for using EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF TOILET PAPER) and we’ve tapped into our savings to cover the costs.

I’ve been looking for ways to earn some extra money and decided to join the Fiverr Hustle challenge.


For the next two months 10 personal finance bloggers (that’s me- go team!!) will be competing against 10 lifestyle bloggers to see who can create the best side business on Fiverr.


Fiverr- Say What???

If you aren’t familiar with Fiverr, it is a website where people can buy and sell services starting at $5. I wish Fiverr would have been around back in the late 1990’s when I was selling on eBay. I was a stay-at-home mom with two kids in school/ preschool and had plenty of time on my hands to do extra work, but I didn’t really have the ability to go to work all day in an office.

People sell everything from proofreading, editing, formatting, design, voice overs, virtual assistant work, to pet models. I’m thinking about signing our dog Miles up for a gig or two!

While most gigs start at $5, the trick with Fiverr is to offer something basic for $5 then upsell to a more expensive offering. (I’ll show you what I’m doing farther down in the post)

I’ve purchased items on Fiverr in the past for my own businesses, but I was always hesitant to sell on Fiverr because I didn’t know what to sell and I wanted to charge more than $5! However, once I understood that you could offer other gigs for additional money I realized this was a great way to help bring in some extra money and pay for all these darn house repairs!

The Challenge: My Team!

The challenge part is what makes it really fun. I’ve teamed up with the personal finance bloggers (see below) to compete against some awesome lifestyle bloggers. I’ve read most of their posts and we have our work cut out for us!

Here’s what the personal finance team is doing.

I know this is a detour from our usual recipe, DIY, and money saving content on the site, but I receive many questions from people every week asking how they can make money on the side and not work outside the home.

I’m going to be honest with you, I have no idea if this will work! I’ve never tried it before, but if it does and puts extra $$ in our bank account I want you to know about it so you can do it too!

My Fiverr Hustle

If you want to drive more traffic to your website via Pinterest check out this free service from Fiverr

It actually took me several weeks to figure out exactly what services I should offer on Fiverr. I spent a lot of time on their website looking at the services offered and trying to figure out what I realistically had time to do and I liked to do!

Then two weeks ago when I was at a conference speaking about Pinterest, it hit me. I LOVE Pinterest. I love pinning, I love helping people learn how to use it for their business or even for personal organization. It’s something I do almost every day and find it enjoyable.

So I’m offering to help people grow their Pinterest for my Fiverr gig. I created a four page PDF that helps companies and bloggers who aren’t using Pinterest at all (or maybe aren’t using it correctly) get started the right way.


The best thing is that it is FREE! Fiverr has given us coupon codes so people can purchase a $5 gig from us (one of our teammates, or any other vendor on Fiverr) for free!

Use the code HAPPYHW2015 on Fiverr to get a free $5 voucher to use on any service.

I also have a few other Pinterest services available for more than $5, which is how I hope to really turn this into a great side hustle and build that savings account back up!

Finally, this wouldn’t be a challenge without a winner at the end! In order to win I need your votes! I don’t expect you to vote for me if you don’t love my idea, but if you do every vote helps!

You can vote for me here!

I’ll be reporting back in a few weeks to let you know how my gig is going and how I’m trying to increase orders on Fiverr!

This post is in partnership with Kasai Media and Fiverr, all opinions are my own. 



This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Five Financial Tips for College Students

This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.

Did you know that 84% of all undergraduates have at least one credit card*?

Since statistics show that your college student is likely to obtain at least one credit card while they are away at school it is important to educate them on the benefits and dangers of credit.

Five financial tips for college students

Here are five things you should discuss with your college student before they leave home, so they don’t find themselves strapped with credit card and student loan debt when they graduate!

Help them create a budget before they go to college.

Did you know that 84%* of college students say they need more information on financial management? I’ll be the first to admit that I did a terrible job educating my kids about money until a few years ago. We either had money or we didn’t and that dictated our lifestyle.


Helping your child create a budget BEFORE they go to college is one of the best high school graduation gifts you can give to them. If you haven’t created a budget before here are some free budgeting resources to help you get started.

Discuss smart credit card purchases before they go.

Items like gas, food, school books, and school supplies are expenses most college students incur every year. These are great items to charge and then pay off every month because they are in the budget.

Things like cosmetics, pizza delivery, video games, movies, and pay per view are probably not in the budget so remind them to leave the credit card in the dorm if they would be tempted to spend it on things they can’t afford.

Credit cards are not free money.

When my kids were little and would ask to eat out I would often respond, “We don’t have the money this week.”

Inevitably one child would shout from the back seat, “That’s okay, just use your credit card.”


Make sure your college student has the ability to pay for his or her purchases just like they would with a debit card or cash. Remind them that if they can’t pay for their purchases at the end of the month, they will end up paying significantly more for those purchases because of the interest.

Keep it simple and only have one card.

Help them understand that multiple cards means multiple bills each month and a pretty high balance at graduation. If your child does not have experience with budgeting, tracking expenses, and paying their own bills every month, multiple cards is probably not a good thing.

Discuss the different credit card options with them and help them make the best decision for their financial goals and future.


The Discover student credit card rewards students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with a $20 Cashback Bonus®  every year. Discover it® chrome for Students offers an automatic 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to$1,000 in combined purchases quarterly. Students also receive 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Discover it® chrome also has no annual fee, which is great, because what college student needs and extra expense every year? 

Remind them to look over their bill every month.

A few years ago I got into the habit of blindly paying my bill every month without looking over the charges. Then one month I realized we had been billed for a service we cancelled several months earlier.

While your credit card probably does a great job of catching fraud, it is easy for smaller charges to slip through the cracks, especially if there was a free trial involved.

Help your kids read through their first several bills and look for errors. Make sure they know when the bill is due and remind them to pay it on time so they aren’t paying late fees and interest.

For a young adult, good credit can help buy a car, rent an apartment, or even obtain a mortgage. But financial mistakes made in college will live with your child for years after they graduate.

It’s never too early to start discussing financial responsibility and budgeting with your children. The earlier you start, the more likely they are to take those principals with them when they go away to school.



This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.