Archive for the ‘Holiday Savings’ Category

Holidays on a Budget & Ways to Make the Season Easy

November 19, 2015

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be stressful, too, since many budgets are squeezed to the max. Lifestyle expert, Emily Kaufman, has some tips on how to survive the holidays on a budget using the latest technology, apps, and some old-school ideas to make preparing for the season easy.

Emily Kaufman - Holidays on a Budget 2015

Smartphones Come to the Rescue During the Holidays.   Smartphones have become a part of our daily life and are a great tool to stay on top of your budget this holiday season. During the holiday shopping rush, mobile banking app alerts are a great way to stay on top of your budget. They can help you manage your accounts while you are on-the-go. In fact, according to Bank of America’s second annual Trends in Consumer Mobility Report, more than half of Americans have tried mobile banking and a majority of users are receiving mobile alerts that can flag a low account balance (which can help avoid overspending), unusual activity and deposits received into your bank account.

Bank of America is seeing an increasing interest in mobile alerts with customers receiving more than 1.5 million push alerts each day. You can download their app or find out more at BankofAmerica.com.

The report also found that nearly three-quarters of Americans actually sleep with their smartphones nearby and 35% say it’s the first thing they reach for in the morning which may be especially true if you’re traveling during the holidays and using your smartphone alarm to wake you up in the morning.

Bank of America - Mobile Banking Study 2015

Ways to Save if You’re Going Home for the Holidays. Staying with family and friends is a great way to ease your budget if you’re headed home for holidays since staying in a hotel will definitely add your travel expenses. If you’re hosting guests during the holidays, you can give your guest room an easy and inexpensive spruce up that not only helps your guests get a good night’s sleep, but also protects your mattress and pillows over time. AllerEase zippered mattress and pillow protectors create a barrier between you and allergens like dust mites, pollen, and pet dander that can disrupt your sleep and collect in mattresses and plush bedroom surfaces. These protectors and pillows create a clean comfortable sleep environment, so guests rest easy during the holidays. They also make great gifts! Get them at Target, Kohl’s and Walmart and online at Aller-Ease.com.

AllerEase Pillows and Mattress Covers

How to Find Great Holiday Deals. A lot of deals can be found when you shop locally and YP has an easy-to-use app that is the “go-to” authority on the best local shops and businesses for holiday shopping at home or when you travel. You can maximize efficiency and do more in less time with all the info you need in any U.S. city or town right at your fingertips on your mobile phone. You can download the YP app for free at Google Play, Apple for mobile and the Apple Watch. You will also love the gas-finder feature that helps you find a gas station that has the cheapest tank of gas in your immediate area. You can find out more at YP.com.

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Online Shopping Still a Great Source for Last Minute Gifts. If you’re short on time for holiday shopping, you can order great gifts online and a new trend you’ll see this season is companies that use a NOT-com web address.

Driftaway.coffe and BetterBox.life

Driftaway.coffee, (that’s dot-coffee, NOT dot-com) is perfect for the person who has everything. For as low as $36 for 3 months, Driftaway has a personalized coffee subscription that’s a great tasting gift and is customized to fit your coffee preferences. Also, check out Betterbox.life (that’s dot-life, NOT dot-com). BetterBox has gift box subscriptions specifically designed to inspire you each month and has themes like gratitude, mindfulness, and improved sleep – all designed to make life happier.

So don’t stress about the holidays when you have new ways to navigate through the most wonderful time of the year.

Holiday Tech, Toys, & Gifts for Kids of All Ages

December 4, 2014

Emily Kaufman Holiday Tech Toys Gifs MC120814 480x272

Dreaming of sugar plums is a thing of the past and with Christmas on its way, most kids have visions of the latest hi-tech toys and gifts dancing in their heads. Busy mom, Emily Kaufman, has some holiday gift ideas from hi-tech to low-tech to fit almost any budget and fun gift ideas for kids of all ages.

The Hottest Toy This Holiday Season. Each year, there is a gift that is at the top of every boy’s wish list, but this one is so much fun, that boys, girls and kids of all ages will want one. Hot Wheels has designed the first-ever flying car! The Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk can race on land and fly through the air, with its 360-degree remote-controlled steering and sleek style. Street Hawk climbs up to 200 feet in the air and performs all sorts of aeriel stunts. It’s also easy on the holiday budget at just $59.99 and is truly the ride of the future! You can purchase the Street Hawk on Walmart.com.

FireShot Screen Capture #851 - 'Street Hawk I Commercials I Hot Wheels

Batteries Not Included. Since sixteen of the 20 toys on Walmart’s ‘Chosen by Kids’ Top Toy List are battery-powered, “Batteries not included” are three little words that can put a damper on Christmas morning. But not all batteries are the same and when they are left in toys and other electronic devices for long periods, they can leak and the corrosion can destroy toys and gadgets. Energizer has solved the problem of leaking batteries with Energizer® MAX® – a long-lasting battery with Power Seal technology so make sure you have them on hand for the holidays.

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Also, Energizer LED flashlights and headlights make great stocking stuffers for kids of all ages. Headlights are lightweight so you can keep your hands free for outdoor family adventures and exercise, reading a book or do-it-yourself projects around the house. Find out more at Energizer.com.

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My Very, Very Busy Day! – Book for Kids with Cats & Dogs.   Banfield Pet Hospital has created its first-ever children’s book titled “My Very, Very Busy Day!” that was written to entertain and educate children by focusing on what it means to be a responsible pet owner. The book highlights how to properly care for a pet and the importance of pets receiving regular preventive veterinary care in order to remain healthy and happy. “My Very, Very Busy Day!” is available nationwide at all 880 Banfield Pet Hospital locations for a suggested donation of $10 to Banfield Charitable Trust, which provides preventive care to pets in need. “My Very, Very Busy Day!” tells the story of two four-legged friends, Captain Noodles and Kitty, as they venture through daily activities including a very important six month check-up at the veterinarian.   “My Very, Very Busy Day!” includes Banfield’s “Best Friend Promise” for children to sign which signifies their understanding of what is needed to keep pets healthy and happy, as well as their promise to become a responsible pet owner.

Book Cover Final

Finally, don’t forget that some of the best gifts are homemade or involve giving the gift of your time. In today’s busy world, time is one thing that is in short supply for families and friends. An offer to babysit or even providing a coupon for cleaning windowsm, washing the car, or shoveling snow will always mean a lot to overwhelmed moms or dads.

Five Ways to Save: Last Minute Holiday Travel & New Year Getaways

November 29, 2011
Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom

Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom

With the holidays looming, millions of Americans will line up at airport terminals grimly hoping that they’ll survive their air travel experience with their bank account intact after all the extra fees.  If you booked your holiday travel in advance this season, domestic airfare was expected to be down 1.4 percent overall, with tickets averaging $302, as opposed to $306 last holiday according Bing Travel. But if you’ve waited until the last minute to book your holiday travel plans, you still have options.  The Travel Mom, Emily Kaufman, has valuable advice for everyone traveling this season to avoid the ho-ho-hums of holiday travel.

Travel Tip #1: Road Trips vs. Air Travel Can Save Thousands of Dollars for Families.  If you’ve waited until the last minute to book a flight, you’re going to have a challenge finding a great airfare Christmas week but there still may be time for New Year getaway deals.  Driving instead of flying can save you two ways – a family of four can save thousands of dollars in airfare even with the price of gasoline on a road trip. You’ll also save hundreds of dollars on luggage fees.

Travel Tip #2:  Book a Reservation at an All-Suite Hotel vs. Standard Hotel.  Savings is about getting more bang for your buck so stay at a hotel that gives you more value than just a standard hotel like an all-suites hotel.   Embassy Suites Hotels is the only full service hotel that gives you a two-room suite for the price of one room.  This holiday season, they are also giving away a $10,000 online shopping spree.  You can enter to win at EmbassySuites.com and you receive one entry for every night you stay between now and January 31st.

Travel Tip #3:  Never Pay for Breakfast.  If you book the right hotel, you should never have to pay for breakfast which can save a family of four several hundred dollars over a one-week vacation or trip.  Look for hotels that provide a breakfast as part of the lodging fee, like Embassy Suites that includes a free cooked-to-order breakfast.  This can be a significant savings when you travel with kids.

Travel Tip #4: Get Local Deals at Your Drive-To Destination through Tourism Websites.  No matter where you live, road trips are a trend this winter because of the savings.  Recent holiday travel polls show that Americans are sticking with their cars instead of braving airport hassles and are choosing closer to home getaways for winter breaks.  Connecticut, the Closer Than You Think state, is a great drive to destination and a fun winter escape with four different areas for snowboarders and skiers of all levels. Places like Mohawk Mountain have seven ski lifts and snowmaking capabilities plus affordable packages for children starting at $27 a lift ticket. Beyond the slopes, there’s Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration and a free planetarium show at Mystic Seaport.  You can find lots of getaway ideas and discounts at dozens of area hotels, restaurants, attractions and shops at CTVisit.com.

Travel Tip #5:  Don’t Forget to Use Travel Reward Programs to Save. Travel reward programs and credit card rewards have more ways to use points for travel items outside of hotel rooms and airfare and include activities and meals when you arrive.

The biggest trend is that overall, travel spending for holiday travel is up from a year ago and 41% of people traveling are spending $500 or more.  Also, travel technology and the latest apps that make travel easy are trending in travel.

Don’t forget to use defensive flying tips BEFORE you board the plane.  That means use technology first to find out about delays in advance and have a back up plan including phone numbers or email addresses programmed in your phone so you can let your family know about delays – especially if you have someone picking you up at your destination.  Also, make sure you have a boredom buster bag for the kids with games, books and electronics so they don’t cranky.

2010 Holidays on a Budget: Making Them Special

December 8, 2010

December 2010:

Tara Aronson, Lifestyle Expert

Making the Holidays Special on a Budget 2010 View Video on Vimeo.

It’s the most wonderful time of year but now more than ever it can also be a frustrating time financially with the economy weighing heavy on everyone’s mind. But there’s no need to cancel Christmas or your holiday spirit because you can still make the holiday season special — even on a shoestring. Believe it or not, Gallup’s initial poll of Americans’ 2010 Christmas spending intentions finds consumers planning to spend an average of $715 on gifts.  But budget minded elves can save $325 by harnessing Santa’s secret to making the holidays memorable even when money is tight.  You just have to be creative – from planning holiday parties to giving great gifts that work – you can plan a Christmas that’s 50% off the projected spending amount and still have lots of great memories to last a lifetime.  Lifestyle Expert, Tara Aronson has some tips to make the holidays memorable when money is tight.

Host a Holiday party for under $25.  You can definitely host a holiday party for under $25.  It’s simple and easy to do with an old-fashioned pitch-in or potluck themed party where everyone brings a dish.  Your guests supply great hors d’oeuvres, casseroles or holiday cookies and you provide the party space and drinks – sodas, punch or even some of the budget wine that’s available.

New Ways to Save Online
The average Christmas gift budget for 2010 is $715 and you can save 50% of that budget with one simple idea.  Instead of buying a gift for everyone in your family or circle of friends, use the old fashioned Secret Santa idea and draw one name so you buy one gift instead of ten or more.  This is a great way to save and everyone will appreciate the savings.  Just in case you want to get a little personalized something for everyone on your list, here’s a new spin on an old fashioned gift giving idea that saves time and money.

At PearTreeGreetings.com, you can craft personalized cards and gifts. There are hundreds of designs and colors to choose from in a price range from $.85 to $1.25 per card.  You can also design personal stationery that’s a unique and personal gift for anyone on your list.  It’s easy to upload your photos, write personal greetings, and your cards arrive within a few business days printed on beautiful thick card stock that’s 100% post-consumer recycled.  The unique and personalized designs make a cherished memorable gift.

Now this is one of my favorite ways to save money online. At Pig.com, you can earn up to 15% cash-back on purchases and $5 will be added to your online Piggy Bank just for signing up.  This website gives you cash back on purchases made at 1,000 of the most popular online stores and there’s no limit to the amount you can earn. Once at least $10 accumulates in your piggy banks, you can cash out and collect real dollars.  You can also earn $5 just by referring other friends and family to the website.

Christmas Gifts that Don’t Cost a Dime.  You know if your budget is super tight one of the most priceless gifts you can give is the gift of time.  Classic gift ideas that won’t cost a dime are coupons for the gifts of “time” like “5 hours of Babysitting” – “Movie Night @ Home” – “One Hand Car Wash for Dad” or even a “Day at the Museum.”  Also, check out Craigslist.com under FREE and who knows what you might find.

Give More.  Spend Less.  Get Family & Friends Involved in Spirit of Giving and New Traditions. Make those Homemade or Personalized Christmas Cards and make it a family affair.  Also, the whole family can get into the spirit of giving by adopting a charity each year like the Heifer organization.  $20 buys a Gift of Chicks and your gift will help provide a family in need with a starter flock of 10 to 50 chicks that will lay 200 eggs a year – a steady source of nutrition and income for a third world family.  Also, start a new tradition of volunteering during the holidays – this could be volunteering to help serve Christmas dinner at the local mission, caroling at a nursing home, or assisting with pet adoptions.  Also, designate a Make Room for Santa Day and have the kids clean out closets of old clothes & toys that are then donated to a local mission or homeless shelter.  Finally, create an ornament for the tree for each family member (perhaps a child’s school picture) and don’t forget the pets.  This ornament collection grows throughout the years.

2008 Last Minute Holiday Travel Tips & New Year Getaways

December 7, 2010

December 2008:

Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom

The holiday travel season is in high gear but there’s a lot you need to know before you travel, especially if it involves taking a plane.  The Travel Mom, Emily Kaufman, has invaluable advice for everyone traveling this season to keep your spirits holly jolly. Now more than ever, travelers are seeking more value for their money, but if you think people are shying away from travel for the holidays because of the current economy, think again.  Recent surveys revealed that people still want to travel and one trend is an increase in leisure travel spending. (TripAdvisor® 10-01-08)  In fact, 61 percent of travelers plan to visit a beach destination in 2009 and 60 percent plan to go city sightseeing so traveler’s are ready to pack their bags and getaway.

Legoland’s Holiday Block Party – December 20-31, 2008. You know the holidays are all about family fun and one of Emily’s favorite holiday places for her family is just 30 minutes north of San Diego at Legoland California and now it’s home of the world’s largest LEGO tree.  It’s 30-feet tall and made of more than a quarter of a million LEGO bricks. Make sure you don’t miss the life-sized Santa and reindeer also made of Legos. It’s just part of their annual Holiday Block Party from Dec. 20 through Dec. 31 where you can have a blast with rides, shows and even nightly fireworks.  Of course, Legoland is a fun place year round as well.  For the latest information on everything happening at Legoland California, go to http://www.legoland.com/california.htm.

Make Technology Your Friend when You Travel. The key to last minute travel is to make technology your friend.   Use the Internet to save time and check in and print your boarding passes to bypass long airport lines.  Program important phone numbers into your cell phone including your travel agent, airline, hotel, and car rental company.  Also, don’t forget the travel assistance hotline of your travel insurance provider that is your lifeline to help you in unpredictable situations like flight delays or cancellations. Now more than ever, it makes sense to protect your trip with travel insurance and you should check around for the best plan.Emily recommends http://travelguard.com/ that offers a plan called My Travel Guard and it’s ideal for deal-seeking or last-minute travelers because the closer you are to your departure date, the lower your travel plan will cost you.  Travel insurance protects your investment if you have to cancel for something like an illness, injury, or even a death in the family. It also includes emergency medical evacuation if you have a medical issue while on vacation or traveling.  And if you’re worried about the problems that occur over the holidays when capacity is jammed, TravelGuard safeguards you for things like flight delays, cancellations or lost luggage and holiday gifts.

Escape Winter with a Getaway to the Cayman Islands. One of the best things about going to the Caribbean at this time of year is that you get to escape winter.  Imagine starting the New Year on a beach? The Cayman Islands is the perfect place to do that!   Emily loves the Cayman Islands because not only is it just an hour from Miami, but it is a perfect place for families, they have beautiful beaches, turquoise waters and it’s the only place she knows where you can swim with stingrays.  Now if you like sea turtles, they have over 16,000 of them at Boatswain’s Beach and  some that weigh six hundred pounds!   There’s something for everyone in the Cayman Islands as they host jazz festivals, kid’s camps, even world-class cooking events; and its easy to get to with non-stop service from New York, Chicago, DC, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Newark, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Boston, among other cities.  You can find out more at http://www.caymanislands.ky/

2008 Making the Holidays Special on a Budget

December 7, 2010

December 2008:

Tara Aronson

The holidays are a special time of year and now more than ever it can also be a frustrating time financially with the economy weighing heavy on everyone’s mind. But there’s no need to cancel Christmas or your holiday spirit because you can still make the holiday season special — even on a shoestring.  Lifestyle Expert, Tara Aronson, has some secrets to making the holidays memorable even when money is tight.

Throw a Party for Under $25:
Sound too good to be true?  Not if you get back to old-fashioned ideas, you can definitely pull together a party for around $25 if you get creative.  Just work as a team with your family and friends and have a pitch-in or potluck themed party where everyone brings a dish.  Your guests supply great hors d’oeuvres, casseroles or holiday cookies. You provide the party space and drinks.  Since a lot of friends may be in the in the same space financially, everyone will love getting into the holiday spirit and saving money at the same time.  Make sure you keep it simple and just stick with traditional crowd pleasers like a Merlot and Chardonnay that pair well with holiday appetizers and cheeses.  Carlo Rossi offers these varietals at price points to fit most any budget In their large 1.5 liter format, there is plenty of wine for all your guests to enjoy and you can easily keep any leftover wine for future occasions. Carlo Rossi also makes a ready-to-drink Sangria that, when added to a few other ingredients and heated, makes a festive treat to sip and makes the house smell great.  Here’s their famous Hot Mulled Wine recipe for the holidays:

Hot Mulled Wine Recipe: 4 cups Carlo Rossi Sangria, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup pomegranate juice (or apple juice, if desired), 3-4 dashes ground cinnamon, 1 orange, sliced into wheels.

Directions
:
Heat over low heat until sugar has dissolved.  (Can keep warm over LOW heat in a crock pot, if desired).  When ready to serve, ladle into coffee mugs and garnish with cinnamon stick and additional orange wheel.  Makes 4 + servings. NOTE: For large parties, keep adding more Carlo Rossi Sangria and sugar & water (to taste) to last the entire night.  For a complete wine list of Carlo Rossi varietals go to http://carlorossi.com.

Old Fashioned Decorating Tips:
Keep decorations simple and don’t go overboard. If you have decorations from last year, don’t feel like you need new ones.  The Old-Fashioned Christmas with popcorn and paper chain garlands involving the kids keeps it special and inexpensive.  Your guests will love being taken back to their childhood when they see these cool decorations.

Quick Tips for Holiday Cleaning Before the Party:
When it comes to cleaning for guests, I have some quick tips.  If you have kids, get them involved with easy tasks. Since there are really only two rooms that need to be guest-ready – the bathroom and the living room – have one child clean any clutter in the living the other can wipe down the sink, basin and mirror with disposable wipes in the bathroom to help make both rooms ready for company.

Also, If you have pets, here’s a new tip that I just discovered that really helps reduce pet hair everywhere.  You know, brushing your pet’s coat regularly is a good start to keeping shedding under control but it is more effective to have the right tool like Bamboo’s FurBuster Professional De-Shedding Tool.  It grabs and removes the loose hair and undercoat which means less hair on the carpet, couches and your clothes.  It’s also a great gift idea for friends and families with shedding pets of all sizes available nationwide for about $25.  For more great gift ideas for your pets, go to http://bamboopet.com/

Ways to Save on Gifts:
Here are some great gift ideas that don’t cost a dime and that will really make Christmas Special. I like it because you can also involve the kids in giving when they don’t have money to spend.  At Tara’s house, they give gift “Coupons” that are all about giving our time to one another.  Family photos are also great gifts for friends and family.  Place them in a nice frame and you can pick them up for $5 to $25. Finally, parents shouldn’t stress about the gifts for kids this holiday season.  Less really is more so focus on getting one really nice gift for each child (and set a budget limit).  And just so your kids don’t feel like they’re getting less, wrap lots of little inexpensive gift items (and include things they many need) so that way there’s lots of presents to open during the holidays.