Stay Under Budget This Holiday Season

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.

Are you still searching for the perfect Christmas gift this season? If so, don’t buy a selfie stick! According to Discover’s Holiday Shopping Survey 2015, 55% of respondents intend on returning this gift after Christmas!

Holiday spending is up this year, after declining in 2014, and I’d love to share with you a few ways for students (and everyone else!) to stay under budget yet still give meaningful gifts this season.


Create a Budget

The best way to stay under budget is to have a budget before you start shopping. Figure out how many gifts you need to purchase this year and the total amount you can afford to spend.

Challenge yourself to find awesome gifts that are also great deals and commit to staying within your budget this year.

Shop Online

I’m a huge fan of getting all my shopping done from my living room and avoiding the traffic and crowds. When I shop online I’m able to price check all my items before I hit the order button and I always search for deals and free shipping.

Most major credit card issuers offer an online shopping portal, like Discover Deals, which gives you cash back when you shop at your favorite stores after connecting through the Discover Deals site. With Discover, you can redeem those credit card rewards for a statement credit or a direct deposit.

Getting cash back is one of my favorite ways to save.

Make it Yourself

Over the past four years we’ve featured hundreds of DIY gifts on this site. Even if you aren’t a glue gun ninja, we have gift ideas that are simple enough for a child to make.

Homemade gifts are meaningful and allow you to add a bit of your own personality to the gift. They are also a great way to stay under budget. Many of the homemade gifts we feature are under $5!

Remember Your Rewards

Don’t give up free money! If your credit card isn’t rewarding you for making purchases it’s time to get a new one!

If you have a student in the family, the Discover it® chrome for Students card gives cardmembers:

  •       2% Cashback Bonus® at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 of combined purchases quarterly
  •       1% Cashback Bonus on all other purchases
  •       The ability to pay with your Cashback Bonus on

It’s silly to not maximize your savings with credit card rewards! You don’t have to look for a coupon code, search for free shipping, or shop at multiple stores for the best deals. If you are spending you’re getting rewarded, it’s the easiest way to save!

The Gift of Time

Even though spending is up, for some, there might not be enough room in the budget for gifts for everyone on their shopping list.

The gift of your time could be the best gift of all. When my kids were younger, I would have LOVED for someone to offer to babysit so I could go to the grocery store alone!

Everyone has a special talent or skill that could help someone else this holiday season. Shovel snow, wash a car, weed flower beds, walk the dog, babysit, bring them a meal, fix something on their house, paint a room, or organize a closet, these gifts are truly appreciated and are free to give! They’re also my favorite gifts to receive!

Don’t forget the cards! I didn’t get around to sending Christmas cards out this year (again) but I LOVE receiving them! I love seeing pictures of friends and family from all over the world, it’s something I really look forward to receiving each year.

What is your favorite way to save this holiday season?


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

Fiverr Challenge: Update

You can still get my Pinterest tip sheet for free if you are a new Fiverr user. Use the code HAPPYHW2015 on Fiverr and my five page Pinterest tip sheet is totally free!

In October I shared with you that I was attempting to earn money selling a service on Fiverr.

Since I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, I create a Pinterest for Business tip sheet to sell. In this five page PDF I share the tips I used to help grow my Pinterest account to almost 30k followers without spending hours every day on Pinterest.

My free Pinterest gig on Fiverr. Learn how to grow your pinterest followers with my free five page tip sheet.

Some of the tips I learned directly from the folks at Pinterest and other tips come from three years of pinning growing my own business on Pinterest.

When deciding what I would sell on Fiverr, I realized that my time was very limited, so it would be hard to sell a service that required me to spend a significant amount of time on each gig, especially when my first gig was only $5.

I decided that if I could create something that was valuable and able to be used over and over, I could invest my time initially in creating the product and then once I started getting sales I could send them my already created product, hopefully maximizing my time/ earnings ratio.


What is Fiverr?

If you haven’t used Fiverr before, it is a website where people can buy and sell services starting at $5. People sell everything from proofreading, editing, formatting, design, voice overs, virtual assistant work, to customized phonics worksheets for kids.

Gigs on Fiverr start at $5 and you can offer additional services for more money.

My Results


I’ll have to admit, getting started on Fiverr was actually harder than I expected. It took me a while to get my first sale. To date I’ve made 21 sales and was able to get an additional higher value gig sold too.

I recommend paying my friends, family, neighbors, etc to buy the gig when you first start out. It takes 10 sales to reach level one status, and  I saw my sales increase quickly when I was able to reach it.

Once I hit level one, I unlocked a host of new Fiverr features including:

  • Creation of up to 15 Gigs
  • Extra Fast Gig
  • 4X Gig Extras ($5, $10, $20, $40)
  • Gig Multiples (max. 10)

You achieve level one seller status when you are active on the site for 30 days and completed at least 10 orders while maintaining excellent ratings and a great track record.

After level one, you can reach level two and top rated seller. Each level provides the seller with new features and benefits that will help increase sales.

Next time, I will also use a video to help promote my gig. I don’t particularly like making videos, however it seemed to help other sellers, so I think it’s worth it.

The Challenge: My Team!

I didn’t participate in this challenge alone. Several awesome personal finance bloggers also started a side business on Fiverr. Their gigs are all still available for FREE- so check them out.

My Fiverr Hustle

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

It’s not too late to grab my Pinterest tip sheet for free!

You can grab Pinterest tip sheet for free if you are a new Fiverr user. Use the code HAPPYHW2015 on Fiverr to get a free $5 voucher to use on any service, but I’m hoping you’ll use mine!

This code only works with new users, so make sure your email account has not been registered with Fiverr previously in order to receive the discount.

You’ll see the place to input the code during check out.

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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!

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.

Holiday Shopping Tips

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.

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.