Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘money’ Category

November 17th, 2014 at 10:24 am

Online Shopping Tips


Online shopping has become a popular way to handle the purchase of holiday gifts. It’s an easier and quicker way for busy people to shop. If you are new to online shopping, here are some tips to help you become a savvy online shopper!

  • Companies often offer sales online that they don’t offer in store. Coupled with coupons you might be able to use, you can not only save time, but money as well, by shopping on their website.
  • Create an account on sites you shop the most. This makes purchasing easier because your information (shipping, billing, order history, etc.) will be securely stored in the account. Additionally, you’ll be able to check your order/shipping status, facilitate returns, and sometimes even contact customer service through live chat or a direct account function.
  • Sign up to get emails from companies you frequently purchase from. They will send you exclusive emails with sales and coupons to use for future purchases. It can make a big difference when you have a significant percentage off your total!
  • Don’t throw away packaging and receipts once your item arrives. Most companies allow you to send the item back in it’s original packaging for a full refund with free postage. Sometimes you decide the item isn’t exactly what you wanted, sometimes there’s an issue with the item itself, or sometimes it doesn’t fit or work the way you need it to. Don’t get stuck keeping an item you don’t want or need.
  • Early Black Friday sales are already being posted, and even more appear on Black Friday itself. The best day to shop online is Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving. It is a good day to find significant sales of up to 40% or 50% off!

Also, you can earn cash back from your online holiday purchases (and any other time of year as well) by signing up with Ebates is paid by a number of popular online retailers to drive sales on their online platforms. Each retailer offers a different percentage of cash back, some on certain items or type of purchases, some on your total purchase of any items. Walmart is one of the major participants, so you can earn cash back from buying Garanimals!

Some great sites to monitor for online sale information are:

Brad’s Deals

Penny Pinching Mom

Saving with Shellie

Passion for Savings

I plan on getting A LOT of shopping done this way for Christmas! How about you?




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September 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am

Making Money Through Consignment Sales


As kids grow up, you end up with a lot of extra clothing and items you won’t use anymore, but are still in excellent shape. One way to make some money to put towards new things is by selling your gently used clothing and other items at a consignment sale.  The ones I have participated in run in the fall and spring. I want to share a few tips to help prepare you for selling used items.


Most sales ask you to provide hangers for your items. They do not typically return these, so you need to collect them throughout the year. I have a tote where I store hangers from when I purchase items. If I need other types or sizes, I recruit family and friends to save them also.

Collecting Clothing

I have two totes that are labeled Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. I collect clothing each time I clean out the boys closets. As I put these items away, I make sure they are in good condition, with no stains, rips, or holes. I fold them neatly and store them until I am ready to sell. This also gives you time to make any repairs like loose buttons, frayed hems, etc.

Non-Clothing Items

Depending on the type of consignment sale, you can sell gently used toys, home decor, small appliances, bedding, etc. Everything should be in good working condition, clean, and show little to no wear. Make sure all pieces are kept together and are packaged efficiently if necessary.

Tagging and Pricing

Each consignment sale has different rules on how to tag and attach pricing to your items. Make sure to use enough details in your tag descriptions so that items and tags can be matched up if they are separated. A good rule for setting pricing is by determining what is approximately 25-50% of what the item originally retailed for. Be sure to get all the details on any pricing requirements or suggestions from the person who handles the sale coordination.

A Good Set of Tools

Here are a few things that help me in my preparations:

  • Good Scissors
  • Masking Tape
  • Decent Pen
  • Black Sharpie
  • Batteries (Everything that runs on batteries needs fresh batteries or it won’t be accepted)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Cleaning Wipes
  • Goo Gone
  • Baggies (in various sizes)

Donate What You Can’t Sell

It’s a nice gesture to donate what you don’t end up selling, and you will keep house clutter to a minimum, allowing for more storage for new items you may need.

Happy selling!

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August 4th, 2014 at 10:10 am

Organizing Your Finances

Managing Your Finances

Wouldn’t you like to stop worrying about your finances? Making a plan and getting organized will help you understand your financial situation and lower your stress. I am constantly amazed at how many people find a budget so difficult to manage. Even people with an endless income can use a budget to manage their money and keep track of their spending and saving.

Here are some ways to get organized in the money department:

Create a budget. List all the different categories that you may spend money on. I like to get more specific but others do well with general categories. Take control of your money and assign realistic amounts to each category. Pay attention to categories that you have some control over and can use coupons or specials savings on ~ Eating out, groceries, utilities, and clothing.

Set goals for your finances.  Think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, 5 years, or even more. Set up ways to save for those goals. It is great to get the kids involved in these ideas too.  Also think about retirement and what you want to accomplish savings wise.

Set up a way to keep track of your finances. This may be done online, through spreadsheets or apps, or with pen and paper in a finance journal. Find what way works best for you.

Search online for ways to save and organize. There are tons of coupons and saving strategies available on the Internet. Most companies have some sort of loyalty program, app, or newsletter signup where you can be alerted when there are savings available. When making a big purchase, do research online to find the best price possible. Buying pre-owned or used items such as furniture, cars, etc. can cut prices significantly. Create a “savings strategy” and stick to it. I.e. Every week you clip the newspaper coupons, do an online search and print, and organize your coupons in a booklet or folder so it’s readily available when you shop. Set up an email account just for savings, and have all your newsletters and coupon emails in one place.

Make sure your family is on board. Make sure everyone is part of this process. If you are the only one trying to save money, the other family members will still make trips out to eat, keep the lights on in unused rooms, and plan extravagant vacations.  If you are all on task, more money will appear in your savings and all your financial dreams will come true!

How do you manage your money?

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March 14th, 2014 at 9:55 am

The Best Times to Buy Things

MONEYSAVINGSAs I’ve said before, saving money is all about planning. To buy big items, a lot of the planning is when to buy. The following list shares when to buy what to get the best deal.


  • Clothing
  • Carpeting
  • Furniture
  • Office supplies
  • Fitness equipment
  • White sales of linens, towels, etc.
  • HDTV’s


  • Cell phones
  • Furniture
  • Fragrances
  • Electronics
  • Furniture


  • Chocolate
  • Luggage
  • Golf clubs
  • Gardening Tools
  • Winter gear
  • Televisions


  • Sneakers
  • Digital cameras
  • Warm weather clothes
  • Laptops


  • Party Supplies
  • Refrigerators
  • Mattresses
  • Cookware
  • Sneakers & athletic apparel
  • Mattresses
  • Outdoor furniture


  • Swimsuits
  • Lingerie
  • Dishware & cookware
  • Tools


  • Power tools
  • Furniture
  • Home decor
  • Paint


  • Kids clothing
  • School supplies
  • Computeres
  • Fall fashions
  • Swimwear
  • Yard equipment
  • Camping supplies


  • Lawnmowers
  • Cars
  • Bikes
  • Shrubs & trees


  • Jeans
  • Grills
  • Appliances
  • Vacuums
  • Winter gear
  • Auto supplies


  • Candy
  • Televisions
  • Wedding dresses
  • Everything (Black Friday)


  • Champagne
  • Pools
  • Toys & electronics
  • New model cars
  • Outerwear

Sometimes, waiting a little while until an item goes on sale can yield big results! What do you like to wait for to get the best price?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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March 11th, 2014 at 10:13 am

A Few Apps That Save You Some Bucks

piggy bank

Looking for ways to save when you shop? Here are a few apps that can help you do just that.

RetailMeNot  is a coupon site that houses hundreds of offers for discounts and freebies. Browse by store or category and get promo codes or printable coupons that save you real money. Visit the site before you head out or sign up for emails bringing the deals to you.

Are you a frequent shopper? How cool would it be to get rewarded for just visiting a store? Get the ShopKick app and head out to your favorite store. When you go in, the app lets you know about products and promotions going on in the store. Earn kicks (points) just for walking in and trade in the kicks for gift cards.

Need to shop for car repairs? How about an app that can help you find a good mechanic? Put your car’s make, model and year into RepairPal and the site will recommend local repair shops and provide estimates on common repair procedures. It’s pretty interesting to see the range of prices for standard services.

And don’t forget GasBuddy for getting the lowest price on gas in your neighborhood.

We all love to shop. On the other hand, we also love to have a healthy savings account. With the SavedPlus app,  the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Set up a plan so that when you spend, a predetermined percentage (5%-20%) is automatically sent to a savings account. It’s similar to banks that round up debit card purchases to the next dollar and put the difference into a separate account. Depending on the percentage you choose, this app will build up your savings a lot faster.

Go forth and save.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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March 7th, 2014 at 7:41 am

25 Easy Ways to Save Money

Image-1We all love saving money, but sometimes it feels like it is so much harder than it really is. Here are 25 quick and easy ways to save money that will really show a difference over an extended amount of time!

  1. Set a budget
  2. Never be afraid to ask if you can get a better price
  3. Write a list before you go to the store
  4. Shop for presents all year long
  5. Cut back on convenience foods and plan ahead for meals
  6. Sign up for customer rewards programs, especially at places you frequent
  7. Shop for school supplies all year long
  8. Make your own cleaning supplies
  9. Buy holiday decorations a year early when they are discounted
  10. Make coffee at home instead of picking it up at the coffee shop
  11. Change the temperature on your thermostat a degree or two
  12. Have dinner at home instead of eating out by freezing meals ahead of time
  13. Prepare for travel by using deals online
  14. Visit the library instead of the book store
  15. Buy clothes at thrift stores or yard sales
  16. Make homemade gifts
  17. Instead of going to the movies wait till it is out on DVD and rent it
  18. Plan a weekly menu
  19. Get organized and cut clutter
  20. Swap items with friends – toys, movies, books
  21. Look over your insurance policies
  22. Price match at stores
  23. Shop Online
  24. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
  25. Use Coupons

Have you read my Beginners Guide to Couponing Series?

Where to Find your Coupons

Organizing Your Coupons

Maximizing your Coupon Use

Surviving the Checkout Lane

Creating and Maintaining your Stockpile

And there you have it, some quick and easy ideas that you can save money!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.


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October 8th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Never Pay Full Price Again With Smart Shopping Apps

I just did a Google search on the keywords “coupon shopping” and it returned 163 million results. That’s a lot of information. The couponing industry has come a long way from clipping money savers from the Sunday paper.

Now you can find an app that does the work for you. Have your eye on a particular jacket? You may love it, but not enough to pay full price. No problem, just download the Hukkster button to your browser and click it when you find something you like online. You’ll get notified when the item goes on sale. Wow – that’s easy.

Then there’s RedLaser. It’s a phone app with a variety of features that lets you save money and time on shopping. Looking for a favorite toy? Check out who is selling it locally and for how much. Then if you want you can order it through the app and have it waiting for you at the store. Or, if you are in the store and want to comparison shop, just scan the barcode and the app will quote competing retailer prices. You’ll never pay more than you should again.

A bonus feature of RedLaser lets you scan a food item barcode and discover if there are any allergens in the ingredients. Having nut allergies myself, this is really helpful.

There are many ways to shop and lots of apps out there that let you to search, collect, compare, check in, scan, get alerts, share, review, and of course, buy. It makes clipping coupons the old fashioned way seem so quaint. On the other hand, sitting down with the circulars and a pair of scissors sounds absolutely relaxing.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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August 9th, 2013 at 9:35 am

Making a Will

The dreaded Last Will and Testament. Even though this document will be one of the most important things you will ever complete, most of us procrastinate this task and sometimes never complete it. As parents we do everything we can for our children and it is hard to think about not being around to take care of them.

One way I always justified my procrastination was, “What is the probability of my husband and I both dying in an accident?” One thing I never thought about was the implications of my death and the personal inheritance that I leave behind. For example, if my husband gets married after my death, half of his inheritance then becomes the new wife’s and completely could not be passed on to my children. Something as simple as a will can put measures in place that account for any inheritance.

The hardest part of the will process is choosing who will we appoint as a trusted guardian for our children. Maybe we don’t want to offend someone by not choosing them, or we truly have no idea who to choose. There are a lot of tough decisions to make.

I recommend consulting an attorney as they can guide you through drafting a will that portrays every wish you have. One of the reasons I never did this in the past was because of cost. Depending where you live, a simple will may cost a few hundred dollars to draw up. The  money you may save your estate could be way more than that. Plus, attorneys think of things you would never even consider. One of the most interesting things I learned was that you can have one person in charge of physically having your children, and another person in charge of managing your children’s finances. This is a great thing to do when the people who make the best guardians might not be the best money managers.

Try to make this your goal for the remainder of 2013… to secure your family’s future in the case of an unfortunate incident.

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.



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October 29th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Teaching Kids the Value of Money

I often thinking about how to effectively teach my boys about money. In today’s world, they often see us swiping a “magic card” that pays for gas, food, treats, and experiences. They don’t realize that there is only so much money that come out of that “magic card” to pay for the things we need and want. They don’t see the mechanics of earning it, deciding how to spend it, save it, or even what amount to donate in different capacities.

Learning how to manage our money is something that is developed mostly through trial and error during experience, but as a parent it is our duty to help those trials and errors be backed by good judgement.

One of the best ways to start the trial and error is by letting them deal with money as children. What is better than an allowance that they can determine what to buy. This experience lets them see how they can save their money (to get something bigger) or spend it. Sometimes they will spend it fast and learn that they don’t have money left to spend on other things.  You can also lend them money as parents, which simulated debt in the real world on a kid level.

I also like to use our allowance to help the kids learn to give. I remind them of things they may want to give some of their money to and always let them put it in jars if they ask. I talk about the things that their father and I donate to, but also explain that there are other ways to donate by volunteering and supporting events.

I am always amazed how their eyes twinkle when they are given that allowance, but become so critical about how to spend it. I hope they truly are learning about the value of a dollar.

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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