Merry Xmas Wallet: 10 Money-Saving Tips For Holiday Shopping

There are only a few days left before the Big Day.  Below REAL SIMPLE magazine details 10 very effective money-saving tips for holiday shopping:

1. Ask for a discount.  Before you check out, ask a salesperson whether there are any advertised sales you’re unaware of―stores often keep extra coupons on hand.

2. Pay it forward. Instead of buying friends and relatives another filler (I have to get you something, although I don’t know what to get you) gift, make a donation in their names to a charitable organization. (Search for your favorite causes at sites like,, and A personalized greeting card will announce the contribution to them―without revealing the actual dollar amount.

3. Keep your receipts. Sales crop up throughout the holiday season, and there’s a good chance the item you buy today will be discounted―sometimes as soon as the following week. Most major retailers will give you a price adjustment up to ten days after the original purchase, as long as you have the paperwork.

4. Use cash. Credit cards have a funny way of blurring how much you’ve spent, whereas doling out the actual paper allows you to keep track of exactly where you are within your budget.

5. Shop online. Many websites have exclusive holiday sales that aren’t available in stores. To get the most bang for your buck, focus on sites like and that offer free shipping―even on returns.

6. Scour the web for coupons. Type the name of your chosen retailer plus the phrase “coupon code” into your search browser, and you’re likely to find deals that range from a percentage off the total purchase to free shipping.

7. Don’t discount discount chains.  Pricey brand-name merchandise that doesn’t sell in stores often ends up at markdown meccas like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Loehmann’s, as well as online discount stores such as (Outlets, including Nordstrom Rack and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, are also great destinations for high-end merchandise at a fraction of the original price.)

8. Consider buying in bulk. Snapping up more than one or two of the same item―such as books, clothing, and cosmetics―may earn you a discount, especially at stores that are liquidating.

9. Avoid opening store credit cards. Stay strong when the salesclerk offers you a discount on your purchase for opening up a store card. While it may be tempting in the moment, the interest rates on those cards tend to be steep, and opening up lots of accounts can affect your credit rating down the line.

10. Gift a favor. Time really is money. Wrap up a hand-made I.O.U. promising your pal a weekend of babysitting, pet care, or house-cleaning. Then make sure to keep insisting that they take you up on it.

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Give A Little (Or A Lot)

Do you want to make a difference in 2009 without reaching deep into your pockets?  Check out these websites to see how you can help someone in need this holiday season:

* allows users to Surf Selflessly this holiday season, because with every online search through, the company donates a penny to the charity of your choice.

* assists teachers who are in need.  Teachers create wishlists through this site and donors can use the site to recycle those old Jane Eyre & Grapes of Wrath books that are collecting dust on your shelves.

* GivingTree Gift Cards, are a MasterCard product.  When you forgo the traditional gift card and give a GivingTree Gift Card, 10% of the prepaid Mastercard value goes to the charity of the recipient’s choice, while the other 90% can be used wherever MasterCard debit is accepted.

* is a website that allows you to adopt a library, school or village.  Even the smallest contribution to this program will go to building a library or school is places like South Africa or Cambodia.  Even better, your online gift will be matched through the end of the year.

Happy Holidays With Free Calls From SKYPE

Skype, is a Voice-over Internet Protocol program, or VoIP,  which allows you to speak over the Internet rather than just typing something in an email.  Using a computer and the Skype software, you can make free long-distance and international Skype-to-Skype calls to other computers connected to the Internet running the Skype software.  The other great thing about Skype is that you and your friends/family can connect a video camera to your respective computers and you can video chat.  The software also allows you to make local, long distance and international calls to landlines and cell phones for dirt cheap prices.  In fact, there are many people who are using VoIP software programs like Skype and Vonage, in lieu of landlines.

So this holiday season, if you are looking for a cheap and practical gift for your loved one that doesn’t live a car ride away, send them a computer video cam and tell them about Skype.  Free to download and easy to use; what better than the gift of connectivity with your loved ones.

Host Your Own Four-Star Dinner Party

Eric Ripert, an uber-famous New York chef and Michelin star recipient, has created an online opportunity for you to recreate the taste of his three-Michelin star restaurant, Le Bernardin, with his new website,  Ripert has planned to post a series of dinner menus, based on the season that include two canapes, first course, main course and dessert.  In addition to the menus, Ripert also outlines planning tips for the party and includes a printable shopping list and schedule.  After your hugely successful debut as a Top Chef, Ripert is encouraging guests to share their stories and photos and to submit photos of their food for a contest, where the winner will receive a camera from Olympus.  To find out what menu Ripert is sharing for the winter season, go to