Best Time to Buy Everything

For the past year I have been showing you ways to make the most of your money via our Best Time to Buy series. And if you have been paying attention you probably noticed some shopping trends within the series, some shopping lessons if you will. Here are a few to refresh your memory.

  1. Grocery shop seasonally.  One of the absolute best ways to save money on your grocery bill is to purchase items that are in season. Not only will these items taste better if they are purchased in season, but the prices will ease that grocery bill greatly.
  2. Buy last year’s models when newest models are introduced. When new products arrive in store that always means last year’s models have gone on sale in the months before. If you’re a true gambler the best bargains are always had on last year’s models once the latest and greatest products have arrived.
  3. Shop for holiday items after holidays are over. The day after Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc. are always great shopping days to purchase items directly related to that holiday. For example Halloween candy? It drops greatly in price the day after Halloween, and if you were to plan ahead you could purchase some of the more generically packaged candy, freeze it, and use it for stocking stuffers the following month all at prices up to 80% off of regular retail prices.
  4. Plan and shop up to a year ahead for future projects, vacations, etc.  Ultimately the best way to save money is the plan your life ahead of time, especially if you can plan things up to a year in advance. Home improvement projects, family vacations, and even getting ready for the newest driver in your home can all have their budgets cut dramatically if you carefully plan using our Best Time to Buy lists.

Speaking of the Best Time to Buy Lists, here are a few items that you can find from each list. For a more comprehensive list with an explanation of why these items are listed under each month feel free to click the links below. I’ve also created a downloadable item for you to if you would like to have a more simple summary. Enjoy!

Best Time to Buy Everything

Best Time to Buy – January
White sale items, workout and sports gear, treadmills, ellipticals, winter wear, electronics, especially televisions and home theaters, furniture, bicycles, boats, gas grills, carpeting, digital frames, office furniture

Best Time to Buy – February
Jewelry and fragrances after Valentine’s day, cameras, video games, weddings, cruises, furniture, boats, gas grill

Best Time to Buy – March
Windbreakers and rain coats, winter coats and outerwear, winter sports gear (especially skis), gardening tools, luggage, golf clubs, perfume, boats, gas grills, frozen foods

Best Time to Buy – April
China and cookware, winter gear, houses, car accessories and parts, vacuum cleaners, laptops, televisions, winter fabrics, sneakers, furniture, repositioning cruises

Best Time to Buy – May
Party and grill supplies, patio furniture, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, mattresses and box springs, cookware, summer hand bags, totes and swimwear, athletic shoes

Best Time to Buy – June
Hardware, home fix-it tools and materials, suits, paint, carpeting, vacuum cleaners, dishware, champagne, summer fashions, gym memberships, movie tickets

Best Time to Buy – July
Air-conditioners, major appliances, home decor, furniture, computers, summer wear, kid’s back to school clothing, craft supplies, grills, Broadway tickets

Best Time to Buy – August
Air conditioners, outdoor furniture, grills, camping gear, garden plants and flowers, lawn mowers, swim wear, school supplies, laptops, white sales, storage cleaners, MP3 players, dehumidifiers.

Best Time to Buy – September
Air conditioners, school supplies, shrubs, trees, and other plants, wine, bikes, cars, repositioning cruises, outdoor furniture, grills, and camping gear, holiday airfares

Best Time to Buy – October
Cars, Fishing Gearing, Cookware, Holiday Airfares, Toys, Re-Positioning Cruises, Large Home Appliances, Air Conditioners, Shrubs, Bushes, Bulbs, Gas Grills, Jeans, Health Insurance

Best Time to Buy – November  Halloween candy and goods, home goods, toys, personal grooming products, televisions and other gadgets, winter staples, turkeys, furniture, wedding dresses, custom cards, photo books, etc.

Best Time to Buy – December
Food serving and storing pieces, holiday greeting cards, cars, off-color cars, shrubs, bushes, bulbs, wedding dresses and wedding gear, tools, champagne and sparkling wine, HDTV’s and home theaters, popular gift items such as perfume, tees, sweaters, jewelry, billfolds.

Download and print a list of all the tips and The Best Time to Buy for everything!

Kelly K.

Money Lessons from Santa

It’s the last week before school gets out in my area for winter break. And like most, my kids are buzzing with excitement about the idea of getting out of school for a couple of weeks, seeing family members they see not so often, and yes…gifts arriving from Santa. One day a few weeks ago, I’m not quite sure how it happened, we started discussing the inner workings of Santa, his workshop, and lessons that could be learned from the stories about this jolly man in is flashy red and white suit. I thought some of their observations regarding Santa and money were pretty spot on, and I thought I’d share them with you.

Money Lessons from Santa

You Have to Believe to Get Presents

“If you just believe. If you just believe. If you just believe…just believe…just believe.”–Believe from The Polar Express

Everyone knows that once you stop believing in Santa Claus the stockings stop being filled. It’s common knowledge. What’s not so common knowledge is that success first comes from the belief that you will be successful. This is not to say that some days you won’t have doubts, I mean I even doubted Santa Claus after one morning of discovering stocking stuffings I know that I had seen before in my parent’s closet. However, without that initial belief there is not even a possibility of presents or success. And this especially holds true when it comes to financial success. So if you want to perhaps get out of debt, or want to retire early, or want to pay for in its entirety your kids college education, the first thing you have to do to get started is believe that in fact you can accomplish your goal; you can have the presents you so desire.

Oprah Winfrey perhaps says it best, “You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.”What do you believe you can do?

Learn to barter.

Okay. What my children actually said was, “If you want cookies, leave people a present and they will leave cookies for you.”After I digested what they said for a second I realized they were talking about bartering. When my kids were little bartering was one of the first financial lessons I ever taught them. If they wanted the latest toy or book or gadget I would say to them, “What are you going to give to receive said item?”And the negotiations would begin. We would barter.

As a blogger I have learned to use this bartering tool quite heavily. I’ll write this piece for you if you do this graphic for me. Or, I’ll promote you if you promote me. Or I can work on your back end of your website if you give me a discount on some pictures. Thinking about providing what you have to offer to someone for what they have to offer can be a beautiful way to save money that costs you nothing more than time. Santa sure knew what he was talking about when he started that cookies and milk exchange for toys.

Staying on the “Good”list is important.

We all know that Santa keeps a list of those who were naughty vs. those who were nice. Nice kids get presents, and naughty kids? They get coal. This most directly can apply to your finances as well. Good credit? It gets you that loan you want for that project or new home or college education for your kids. Bad credit? It gets you what anyone who has suffered through the trials and tribulations of bad credit knows it gets you. Almost nothing. Do your best to stay off of that naughty list now will you? After all, Santa is watching.

Generosity is the key to the Ho-Ho-Ho.

It cannot be denied as per the accounts of many witnesses that Santa is a jolly fellow, “He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf…”So what makes this man so very happy that his tag phrase is his laugh, “Ho! Ho! Ho?”I mean he lives in the miserably cold north pole, he and Mrs. Claus never had time to have a family of their own, and I’m sure he must have a horrible crick in his neck having to look down upon his very short labor force all day long. For most people in the world, his lifestyle would take away the, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

However, Santa seems to do one thing that keep his jolly on the upside. He spends his entire life taking care of the wants and desires of the children of the world. He is generous to a fault and spends every waking moment working tirelessly monitoring the movements of these children hoping his incentive of presents guides them to the path of good and not bad. I think perhaps the joy he gets that one morning a year when he’s home after a long magical night of fulfilling dreams watching the surprise and delight of little children must be what keeps the “Ho! Ho! Ho!”in his repetoire. There’s a great lesson to be learned here from this jolly man, and I think it is perhaps be generous to others.

What are some other financial lessons that can be gleaned from Santa Claus?

Peace, joy, and love to you and yours this holiday season.

Money Lessons From Santa

Kelly Kinkaid

Santa Claus image courtesy of gubgib / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Carrie Smith Knows Money

Carrie Smith is another one of those bloggers that I discovered everywhere when I started writing in the financial blogging world. When I got to know her a little better through a women’s financial writers group on Facebook, I decided that she would be a perfect candidate for the Knows Money series here on The Centsible Life. I asked her to be part of this great and she happily agreed. So without further ado, here is Carrie Smith.Carrie Smith Knows Money

How did you start writing about finance and what motivates you to continue to write about finance?

I started writing about personal finances after I spent 4 years working at H&R Block as a tax professional. Every day I saw many of the same clients come to me with very similar same tax questions and money problems. I started my blog as a platform to reach more people and help answer the daily questions we all face when it comes to finances.

What are the 3 most important tools you use for blogging?

The top 3 tools I use for blogging are:

  • WordPress for publishing the content
  • Google Docs for writing and editing my blog posts
  • Twitter to interact and share content with my audience

What is the best and worst financial decision you ever made?

They’re actually one in the same. When I was 23 I purchased my first home, with no down payment and no idea of what I’d gotten myself into. I lost a lot of money and time trying to fix it up and keep up with the mortgage payments. I was, as the saying goes, “asset rich and cash poor”. While it was the worst decision to make financially, it was also the best. I learned that just because it’s the American Dream, that doesn’t make it right for me.

What is the single best piece of financial advice you ever received?

The best financial advice I’ve received, is a quote my dad used to say, “When your income exceeds your outgo, your upkeep will be your downfall”. Whether that means spend less than you earn or increase your income, the principle lesson is still the same. You can’t get ahead by spending more money than you make.

If you could write about something other than finance what would it be?

I’m very passionate about careering coaching and helping other people cope with their jobs. I already share career advice on my blog, even though it’s not directly related to personal finances, but if I could focus my writing about careers and jobs more often, I definitely would.

What 3 bloggers do you read and why?

  • Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com – Pat’s advice is straightforward and extremely helpful for anyone wanting to make extra money by working online. His income reports are an awesome testament of how transparent he is about his income and wanting others to succeed financially too.
  • Alexis Grant from AlexisGrant.com – I am fortunate enough to work on Alexis’ team and she’s a true inspiration when it comes to making a living doing what you’re passionate about. She’s the one who inspired me to start my freelance writing business so I could have more freedom to travel.
  • Hassan Osman from PartTimeWebpreneur.com – I’ve been following Hassan’s writing for over a year now. He gives very valuable advice for people like me who are trying to balance being an employee with building an online business. I love his drawings and sketches which makes it much more exciting for a visual person like me.

Carrie Smith

Carrie Smith

A financial writer who writes about all things money, debt, career and travel
Careful Cents
At Careful Cents, she helps people get out of debt and find a career they love.

Do you have any follow up questions for Carrie? Leave them in the comment section below!

Knows Money is a series focusing on a variety of great writers in the financial blogging world. Be sure to check out each writer’s blog for more information about them and finance. If you know someone you would love to know more about, feel free to offer your suggestions in the comment section.

Kelly Kinkaid

Creating Holiday Family Traditions

Everybody seems to have them, holiday traditions that their family seem to follow. People like family traditions for many reasons, but probably the main reason why families love family traditions is that family traditions can create a sense of security in a world that for many seems uncertain, and they are especially important in the healthy emotional development of children.

“Traditions give you this reason for being,”says Sylvia Yuen, director of the Center on the Family at the University of Hawaii. “You understand your place in the universe. All kids need structure in their lives and this offers continuity — past, present and future — the idea there will be a tomorrow, no matter what happens.”

Creating Holiday Family Traditions

In my family we have a few holiday traditions we like to follow. We all get and wear new, matching Christmas pajamas, we have a Christmas Eve party in which we all get dressed up, and we decorate sugar cookies for Santa. Here are a few more examples of holiday tradition from some of my blogger friends:

Tina from Madhatter Mom plays “Find Baby Jesus”in which the adults “give the kids a flashlight and tell them they need to search all the rooms starting upstairs. The kids love it and somehow baby Jesus is always found under the tree.”

Connie from Brainfoggles eats “Feast of the Seven Fishes”every Christmas Eve.

Julie from Juliverse  celebrates by Hanukkah by creating a theme each night such as “picnic night, movie night, crafting night, etc.”

Tina from Life Without Pink with her family rides the Strasburg Railroad to Santa’s Express, watches Christmas Vacation every Christmas Eve, and has a huge family reunion at the beginning of December where they play White Elephant. “There is literally 35 people or so that play!”

Robin from Simple Green Organic Happy fights to stay awake every Christmas Eve to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The Centsible Life’s Kelly Whalen‘s favorite tradition is buying a new tacky decoration every year for her front yard.

And as I mentioned in “Holiday Shopping on a Budget: A Guide for Large Families”, my friend Kristin of The Redneck Diva celebrates her family tradition of Festivus.

Creating Your Own Family Traditions

In creating your own family traditions I’ve provided some guidelines to help you get started.

  • Keep in mind that family traditions should be something that you and your entire family can enjoy.
  • They don’t have to be costly.
  • They don’t have to be time intensive.
  • They do require a commitment to carry through with the plan.
  • Sometimes family traditions can change. For example your son at 12 may decide that he’s too old to wear pajamas that match his sister and his mom. I’m not saying that my 12-year-old did that, but yeah, my 12-year-old did that.

What are some holiday traditions that your family enjoys? What is your favorite? What do you enjoy the most about the traditions within your family?

Kelly K.

How to Combat Allergies Cheaply

“I have horrible allergies.”

To make that statement alone this morning feels like the understatement of the century, for to simply describe what I have as “horrible allergies”would be like calling Ryan Gosling “cute.”My allergies are so bad that this morning after last night’s attack my lips, the space between my lips and my nose, and my nose are raw. The kleenex with lotion my husband lovingly bought me feels like sandpaper. Speaking of my nose, it looks like it has been punched as it is swollen to double its size, and I have two black eyes. I took not one, not two, not even three, but four Benadryl’s last night to calm whatever was attacking me. And all of these results are after 2 years of allergy shots and the below used regularly tips on How to Combat Allergies Cheaply. But that explanation is so long and comes off as overly dramatic, so I simply tell people, “I have horrible allergies.”

However, this is the first horrible attack I’ve had all year. This is a pretty good feat as I run outdoors all of the time outside, I spend vasts amount of time at soccer fields, and I enjoy red wine in front of a warm fire pit outside with friends on a regular basis, all no-no’s for allergy sufferers with allergy lists such as mine. (“You don’t have an off outdoor season,”said my allergist the last time I got tested for allergies.) So what do I do to combat allergies? Well lots of things, and I’ve summed them for you in what I call How to Combat Allergies Cheaply.

How to Combat Allergies Cheaply

Buy a Neti Pot.

This is the most expensive item on my list, so I thought I would get it out of the way. A neti pot is a device shaped like a small tea pot used to irrigate the nasal passages. I use it after every time I spend some time outdoors, so that whatever I have breathed in doesn’t have time to fester and set me off. I used to use the, now don’t be grossed out, wet finger up my nose method, but I find that the neti pot to be more thorough about cleaning out the allergens to prevent future attacks.

Shower after all outdoor activities.

I don’t shower before I run or head to the soccer fields. (You’re welcome to those of you around me during those times.) I shower after to rinse off all of the allergens that may be clinging to my body or hair. Also if I have been outside in the evening I take a quick shower before entering my bed for the same reason.

Don’t Sleep with Fido.

Now I know all of you love your pets. I love my dog Jack fiercely, despite being told never to have a furry pet, but Jack in bed with me? That will never happen. In fact he’s not even allowed on my bed or on the furniture, and he’s barely allowed in my bedroom despite the fact he falls in the “hypo-allergenic dog”category. You see the little furry animals that we love and adore and offer us unconditional love in return also bring in with them on their fur all of the allergens that you desperately need to avoid from the outside. Keeping them off of the beds and out of your bedrooms can help provide you with a safe zone in your house up high. So what do you do about the down low parts? Well that is covered in the next step.

Keep your décor simple and solid.

There’s a reason why my entire downstairs is covered either in hardwood floors or tile, and I don’t have big fluffy drapes all over my house. Carpets and drapes are perfect traps for allergens, and it is far easier to clean off what you have tracked in from the outdoors from solid surfaces, than it is from carpet and fluffy drapes.

Think Hepa Filter.

Every vacuum I own has a hepa filter in it, and I have found that it makes a huge difference in keeping the allergens trapped to the confines of the vacuum. Now some experts suggest running some sort of hepa filter device regularly, but I have never needed to go that far in my own home. However, if you get desperate, try it and let me know how it goes.

Keep your house clean and clutter free.

Now I know you guys are perfect housekeepers, cough-cough, but really this step is pretty important to the serious allergy sufferer. Dust? It’s bad. Mold? It’s worse. And a house that is not vacuumed, cleaned, and dusted regularly (meaning once a week people) creates an environment made for allergens to thrive.

Change your air filters regularly, and wash your sheets once a week in extremely hot water.

Now these items fall under the keep your house clean and clutter free category. However, these two items are two of the most important steps in the keeping your house clean and clutter free category, so I thought they deserved their own step. Air filters are great at trapping allergens, but only if they are changed regularly. And washing the sheets regularly not only gets rid of dust and other allergens, but washing them in super hot water kills those pesky dust mites that cause havoc with your nasal passages.

Make your spouse do the outside chores regularly.

It was part of my husband’s vows. “I vow to do all of the lawn mowing, leaf raking, gutter cleaning, garage sweeping, etc. regularly.”Okay. Maybe those part of the vows weren’t said out loud, but they definitely were part of his subtext. And it is important to keep all of that taken care of on a regular basis by someone else so that mold doesn’t have the opportunity to grow and end up in your house creating havoc. However for the serious outdoor allergy sufferer such as me, (Remember “you don’t have an off outdoor season?”), it it critical that I not do any of those things in order to stay well.

Now if you like to search around on the Internet there are a ton of other ways to prevent allergies attacks from happening. However, in How to Combat Allergies Cheaply, I offered up the ones that I in my many, many years of allergy suffering experience love the most and have worked the best. So how did I end up with such a severe attack last night if I’m so careful and these steps work so well? Well lets just say I decided to bring down all of my Christmas decorations from the dusty, dusty, dusty attic all by myself, and I’ve spent the past 3 days cleaning them and putting them up. Though I have to say it was totally worth it. Don’t you agree?

How to Combat Allergies Cheaply

Kelly Kinkaid

“Woman With Cold Blowing Nose” by David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pivotal Financial Moments 18 Years In

It is Thanksgiving today, and one of the things I am most grateful for happened this past Monday 18 years ago. My husband and I got married. I know. I can hardly believe 18 years have gone by so quickly. And when you say 18 years don’t you think of someone older with teen aged kids at least? Oh wait.

Anyway, when thinking about all of the years in comparison to where we are now I can’t help but think about some of the turning points in our years together in regards to our financials and where we are now. I will be forever grateful for these points, and during this Thanksgiving season I will be giving thanks for the lessons I have learned while being married for so, so, sometimes it feels like forever, so long.

Pivotal Financial Moments 18 Years In

Pivotal Financial Moment  – Credit Card Debt

The first pivotal moment happened within our first month of marriage when we sat down to pay our bills for the first time together. Bill paying was pretty simple at that time. We had only a few bills to worry about such as rent, utilities, food, and I had small credit card debt. When I say small I mean I carried a balance of $347 that up to that point I had been paying the minimum. However, when we sat down to pay our bills my husband had such a conniption about that $347 debt you would think that debt would have been much, much larger. In fact to this day when friends of ours get married and talk how their spouses came to the marriage with tens upon thousands of credit card debt, he still nods his head knowingly as if he had married into the same predicament.

That conniption he threw set the tone for the rest of our marriage. And what he demanded we do with that debt the first month of our marriage also set the tone. We took my pay check, which was just under $400 at the time, and completely paid off my debt in one fail swoop. And we haven’t had credit card debt since. “I don’t have credit card debt,”he said with absolute resolve and righteous indignation 18 years ago, and to this day we haven’t.

Pivotal Financial Moment – Bargain Shopping

The second pivotal moment came when my mother-in-law said some strange words to me. You see I am a bargain shopper. I was raised by the quintessential example of all bargain shoppers, my mom, aka the original tightwad,  and for me it feels absolutely unnatural to pay full price for anything. It takes time to bargain shop the way I was taught to do it. It takes planning, you have to think about the long term future, and if you think you can decide you need some black pants one day, can go into one store, and buy the first pair of pants that you like, you are sorely mistaken. My husband, however, was not raised that way. His mother said to me one time, “I shouldn’t have to shop the sales.”

I was so confused by her words. You see I don’t look at bargain shopping as a “have to”as if it is something the lesser than among us do. I look at it as the smart thing to do left only for the privileged few of us who are superior money managers. I look down upon those people who don’t know how to make the most of their money. I feel sorry for them that they wasted unnecessary monies on items for which they could have easily paid half price. And when you tell me you like something that I’m wearing or compliment my new wreath on my front door I proudly say “thank you,”and in my head I’m thinking how great I am as bargain shopping because most would have paid $100 for their wreath, and I with all of my skill and bargain shopping prowess paid one quarter what they did. I’m totally obnoxious about saving money, and at that point when my mother-in-law said to me, “I shouldn’t have to shop the sales,”I knew it was my mission in life to retrain my love, my husband, regarding shopping and how to make the most of his money while doing so. After all I couldn’t be married to someone who would waste my money on full price items now could I?

Pivotal Financial Moment – Living on One Income

Probably one of the most important pivotal moments happened when we decided to buy our first home. We were both working full time at that point, my husband as an auditor at what is now called one of the Big 4 accounting firms, and I in marketing at an oil company. We had no kids, we had no debt, and we were making a very nice income. When we told my parents that we were thinking of buying our first home they gave us some very good advice. “Buy a home as if you were buying only with one of your incomes.”Now this idea kind of burst our bubble a little bit in the size of homes at which we were looking, but in thinking about what they said it really made sense. After all buying your first home on only one income really had the potential of giving us some freedom. What we discovered is that it actually did.

You see when you live on one income, you have the freedom to make choices that you otherwise wouldn’t. For example, my husband could afford to take on a little more risk with a job change as we knew that our living expenses would always be covered by the back up income. Also, by pocketing our second income for many years, I was able to stay home with my kids for a while without too much of a lifestyle change. Many, many times in the past 18 years we have been grateful to have the flexibility that deciding to live on one income has given us. And it probably was the smartest financial decision we’ve made to date.

In thinking about your own life as an adult what are some pivotal financial decisions that you made either negatively or positively that you are grateful to have made? Take some time to reflect, and in the comments sections I’d love to hear what you are grateful to have learned this Thanksgiving.

Kelly Kinkaid

The Best Money-Saving Apps for Holiday Shopping

For many of you holiday shopping is underway, and for me one of the most useful money-saving tools I use to make the most of my money during the holidays is my mobile phone. More specifically I really like a bunch of mobile apps that I have found, and I thought I’d share a few with you. Here are what I believe to be some of the Best Money-Saving Apps for Holiday Shopping.

The Best Money-Saving Apps for Holiday Shopping

Weekly Ads
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPad Android
I used this mobile app just the other day while I was out and about trying to figure out where I could get the best deal on a Christmas present I was looking for. “With weekly ads for 96,000+ stores for 100+ retailers accessible in seconds”it was super easy to find what I was looking for.

Coupon Sherpa  
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android
Coupon Sherpa’s mobile app offers in-store mobile coupons and printable coupons. The in-store mobile coupons for me is key as I’m more likely to use these than carry a giant binder around with my coupons. However, for those stores that don’t have an optical camera, Coupon Sherpa can hook you up with a printable option.

BFAds.net
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPod Touch
There are a ton of websites and mobil apps out there that promise to expose the secrets of future Black Friday sales. Though through the years I’ve found my favorite to be BFAds.net. Therefore I downloaded the BFAds.net Black Friday app and have enjoyed it. What I like most about this app is that you can create shopping lists using the app to keep yourself organized for black Friday shopping.

For more Black Friday app options check out PCMag.com’s 10 Best Black Friday Sites.

Living Social
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPad, Android
On the go or out and about? Using this mobile app you can find deals using to many local stores and restaurants while you are out already shopping. Just buy the deal offered to get great discounts, the deal is available on your phone, and you show it to your local retailer.

Groupon  
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Mobile Web
The Groupon mobile app works much like Living Socials app, and I especially love the fact that I don’t have to carry around printed coupon to get the deal that I’ve purchased online.

Buzzillions
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, Android, Windows, Palm, and Blackberry
The Buzzillions mobile app pulls in product reviews from all over the web about products that you are thinking about buying. Just scan the product you are looking at in using the barcode or use the search function on the app and read about what everyone who has ever bothered putting a product review on the web thinks about the product you are researching.

SnapTell
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Android
“Snap a picture, or scan the barcode of any book, DVD, CD, or video game sold in the US or UK, and within seconds get links to Amazon, Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, IMDB, and more. Use the application while you are shopping to find more info, compare prices, buy the product, or remember the product for later.”It doesn’t get much better than this mobile app for price comparison research.

Key Ring  
Cost: Free For iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry
When using the Key Ring mobile app you can scan in all of your store loyalty cards, enroll in new loyalty programs, and keep track of them all in one place, your mobile device. It’s super convenient.

Decide.com  
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPad
This great mobile app with it’s simple “buy now”or “buy later”feature helps you to know if you are buying a product when the price is too high or just right. It can also help you make your shopping decision by letting you know when a newer model is coming out soon.

iSlick  
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPad, or Android
iSlick’s mobile app offers real time deals as they are happening by pulling from the web and the opinions of other users of iSlick. Like to notify people when you find a great deal? Islick also offers a feature in which you can add deals that you find. Simply go to the deal page, pull in the image, review, and submit your find. It’s a great social networking mobile app for bargain shoppers.

Gas Buddy
Cost: Free
For: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows, Blackberry
If you’re holiday shopping this year you could probably use any break that you can get, and what a better way to make sure that you are making the most of your money than by making sure you are getting the best price you can on gas. Gas Buddy’s mobile app shows you all of the nearby gas stations in your area, and what they are charging for regular, midgrade, premium and diesel gas.

Which money-saving mobile apps are your favorites to use to help you this holiday season?

Kelly Kinkaid

Did you like this post? If so check out these other posts about holiday shopping.

Joan Otto Knows Money

A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend for the first time and speak at the Financial Bloggers Conference, #FinCon12, in Denver. One of the very first people I noticed was a woman, now known to me as Joan Otto, sitting at the check in table. She was friendly and super nice, and for some reason she looked familiar to me. The next day I noticed she was still there…and again she was there the next. It was really starting to bug me that I couldn’t place her face, and I really wondered who this amazing volunteer was.  Taking a quiet break in my room one of the conference days, I jumped over to our Financial Blogger Women’s group on Facebook, and then I realized…wait! That woman whose face I couldn’t place was Joan Otto from Man vs. Debt. Deciding that I needed to get to know her better, I e-mailed her and asked her if she would be interested in being part of our Knows Money series, and she happily agreed.

Joan Otto Knows Money

How did you start writing about finance and what motivates you to continue to write about finance?

When I joined the Man Vs. Debt team in late 2011, I actually didn’t start out by writing for the site. Though my experience is in journalism (13 years as a reporter and editor), I was originally doing a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff, like project management and customer service.

Baker and I had the idea that I’d write a couple of posts for the site and introduce myself to the community, and sort of play it by ear. I did, and our story was incredibly well received, so we just kept going, so much so that Baker and I now split the primary writing roles, with me having the bulk of the posts!

I’d say that what keeps me going is twofold. First, I’m living the life. For at least the next two years, our family’s biggest focus will be paying off debt, so writing about it is not a problem in the slightest. It also definitely helps keep me accountable, to be documenting our progress against the debt to a community of tens of thousands of people each month.

But looking beyond that, I’d say I keep going because I truly believe that sharing my story, and the stories of our community members, is how I can most help other people who are struggling with too much debt and too much crap in their lives.

I’m not a counselor or a financial professional, but one of the biggest lessons I took from journalism is that personal stories make a difference. You don’t have to be “somebody special”to have a story that can change lives. You just have to be willing to share.

What are the 3 most important tools you use for blogging?

  • My Personal Story: My personal story is the biggest tool, honestly. I’ve owned and written for several major blogs in the past decade, and in all of them, my own experiences were the single biggest driver in my success!  Specifically on Man Vs. Debt, that means I share the dirty details of our family’s war against almost $90,000 in consumer debt (not including our mortgage), complete with all the numbers.
  • WordPress: As far as technology, of course there’s WordPress, though I think people get too hung up on what platform to use, honestly. I’ve run successful sites on any of a handful!
  • HTML and CSS: More specifically, I think having a solid working knowledge of HTML and CSS is a must for any blogger, on any platform.

What is the best and worst financial decisions you ever made?

It’s funny, the single worst financial decision I made is really not one thing. In fact, unlike most people with major debt, I don’t have a “big purchase”- a house, a boat, a car – that led to the debt; for me, most of it was due to medical issues.

In my case, the worst decision was assuming that the little things, like the $5 in convenience-food lunches and snacks every day, didn’t matter. They did. I was so proud of myself for not having the expensive car or the pricey vacations that I didn’t notice for quite a few years the hundreds of dollars being bled away each month by a book here and a bag of chips there. Realizing that was a major key to our turnaround.

The best? Deciding to not only pay off all our credit cards, but to commit as a couple and as a family to being debt free FOR LIFE. We don’t intend to ever take out another loan or mortgage or open another credit card. I’m not saying that’s the choice for everyone, but I’m emphatic in saying it’s what works for us. Having that big picture to look toward of a debt-free future is amazing.

What is the single best piece of financial advice you ever received?

It’s probably this, from Man Vs. Debt’s founder, Adam Baker: Find your “big why”for what you’re doing. No one gets out of debt “because debt is bad.”Not really.

You get out of debt because there is something deep down that compels you to act and think differently. In our case, we needed the career flexibility that would allow us to homeschool our 12-year-old daughter, who has Asperger’s and who was withering in our school system. When we had that solid “why”in place, our progress became almost unstoppable – $30,000 in debt paid down in a year and a half, and no signs of stopping till it’s all gone!

If you could write about something other than finance what would it be?

I actually do! Our passion is unschooling – homeschooling that doesn’t involve assignments, tests, or much that looks like traditional education – and I write about our family learning lifestyle on our personal blog, Our School at Home.

I have a dream of someday being kind of a “modern homemaker”blogger. My family and our life together are my passions, and all the other stuff – finance, education and more – is tied into the vision I have for what being a woman means in the 21st century!

What 3 bloggers do you read and why?

  • Paper Great.com: This is going to sound corny, but my husband’s blog is far and away my favorite read. It’s called Papergreat, and it’s about old books and ephemera. He can take the tiniest scrap of paper tucked inside an old envelope and tell an interesting story about it. He is definitely the person who motivates me to be the best story-teller I can be.
  • Bohemian Bowmans: I read a ton of homeschooling and unschooling blogs. Probably the top one in that category is Jessica Bowman’s Bohemian Bowmans. Jessica is just drop-dead authentic and honest – and FUNNY!
  • Post Secret: And I don’t go a week without checking out the Sunday Secrets on Postsecret. It’s kind of my reality check – an addictive one at that!

Joan Otto Knows Money

 Joan Otto
Editor and Community manager for Man Vs. Debt
Our speciality is paying off your debt and selling your crap so you can do what you love!

Do you have any follow up questions for Joan? Leave them in the comment section below!

Knows Money is a series focusing on a variety of great writers in the financial blogging world. Be sure to check out each writer’s blog for more information about them and finance. If you know someone you would love to know more about, feel free to offer your suggestions in the comment section.

Kelly Kinkaid

November – Best Time to Buy

For the past year I have been offering up my monthly Best Time to Buy list, and this is my second to last installment. Next month I’ll have a surprise for you, but for now let me tell you, November? November is a great time to get some shopping done. You don’t believe me? Check out November’s Best Time to Buy list and tell me I’m wrong.

what to buy in November

Halloween Candy & Goods   Halloween is over! And for the first few days of this month you can find discount bargains on all things Halloween including candy. This would be a great time to buy various chocolates and put them in the freezer for the future stuffing of stockings. At least that is what Santa does.

Home goods Cookware, dinnerware, etc. all start to really go on sale this month. Look for great bargains to make your tables beautiful for the upcoming holidays.

Food Apple, squash, sweet potatoes, and turkey all are at good prices this month. And if you enjoy turkey, now is the time to buy an extra and put it in the freezer as per Bankrate.com turkey prices will rise as much as 30 cents per pound in December.

Toys Neighborhood Toy Store Day is November 10, 2012 this year, and many locally owned retailers in order to celebrate the unique items that can only be found at neighborhood toy stores offer demonstrations and discounts this day. Look for specials in your areas.

Personal Grooming Products  Shavers, massagers, etc. are usually on sale at the beginning of this month. It’s time to stock up on all of your personal grooming needs for the year.

Televisions and other gadgets Door buster sales and Black Friday deals are sometimes the best prices that you can find on newer electronic products during the year. However, even better prices can be found on last year’s models. So watch those advertisements for whatever you may be looking for.

Winter Staples Discounts on hats, scarves, gloves and other items can be found leading up to Black Friday, and often times if you try to wait until the season is over these items might be gone. So if you find a good price this month, jump on it. Though if you like a gamble, the best deals on these products can often be found later in winter.

Furniture Sales of 20-30% off can be found this time of year on furniture at stores such as Walmart, Target, etc. Furniture sales at bigger furniture retailers often happen in January, so if you don’t find what you want this month, you only have to wait another couple of months.

Wedding Dresses  Not that many people get married between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and retailers are more open to negotiations for wedding dresses during this lull in sales. But don’t wait until after Christmas as there are a lot of engagements that happen over the holidays.

Custom Christmas Cards, Photo Books, etc. During this time of year a lot of online retailers offer big bargains on custom cards, photo books, etc. Look for buy one get one 50% off, free shipping, and other great discounts this month regarding theses goods.

Everyone who has ever tried to make the most of their money knows that in order to get the best bargains on certain goods, timing is everything. So in order to help the readers of The Centsible Life get their bargain timing down to perfect, I have created a “Best Time to Buy list for each current month. Use these lists to make the most of your money through out the entire year.

What are you shopping for this month?

Kelly K.

Teach Children to be Charitable

For some people being charitable comes to them naturally. They seem to almost be born with the gift of empathy, and always seem to know when to help and the why for them is innate. But for many learning to be charitable is not a natural gift, and in raising my own children I wanted to make sure that if it was not a natural gift, that it was at the very least a learned one that they could incorporate into their adult lives to help them become well-rounded individuals. Because being charitable I believe is an important lesson to me to teach my children, I am constantly looking for new ways to teach them this skill. Here are a few ways to Teach Children to be Charitable that I’ve discovered over the years.

Teach Children to be Charitable

Help children make giving to charity a habit.

When my children were old enough to get an allowance we set up a very particular system. My children were required to divide up their allowance into three categories, spending, savings and charity. Every year at the end of the year, December, my kids got to pick a charity that was relevant to them to donate their money to. Not surprisingly they most of the time picked charities that were relevant to them. For example they loved to use their money to adopt an angel off of the Angel Tree, a gift giving charity organized by the Salvation Army. They would pick a child the same age and sex that they were at the time, and they carefully took the time to think about what they would want if they were like these less financially fortunate children. And I could see them really getting something out of that charitable experience, if only giving them to think about how lucky they were to be able to have the life that they have.

Tell children your stories about the importance of charity.

Our Angel Tree shopping trip has become a yearly tradition for my family, and I’ll never forget the year that I saw the understanding of the impact she was making really click for my daughter. You see my own mother came from a family with very little means. She had many holidays in which they barely had enough to eat and dress themselves, let alone receive holiday gifts from their own parents. So a few years ago while we were shopping we started to include my mother, who also has always adopted children and elderly angels for the Angel tree over the years, in these trips. On one of our first shopping trips together my mother made a simple comment to my daughter about how she knew exactly how it felt to be that kid on the block waking up Christmas morning to nothing. You could see as she told her own story to my daughter, that the importance of what my daughter was doing really clicked within her young mind. You could see her putting a face on the children she was shopping for, and the face was her beloved grandmother. To this day my daughter really takes the time to think about the people that she is giving to whenever she decides what to do with her preciously saved allowance.

Teach children to notice those in the world around them who could use charity and kindness.

There are always people around you that could use your kindnesses, whether they be friends, neighbors, or complete strangers. Every time I notice someone who could use some help I take the opportunity to talk to my daughter about what these friends might be needing, and what could we do to help them. Through these lessons my daughter has learned to create care packages for friends in hospitals, cook for neighbors experiencing a crisis, and donating time to do things like shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks for our more elderly neighbors. Through these acts of kindness, my children are learning that the world around them includes them and does not revolve around them. Teaching them to give of their time and money helps them to become a greater part of society which is an important aspect necessary to become a more charitable person.

Involve your children in extracurricular groups that involve them in charity.

I am a runner, and I like to run in various races around town. I find that it motivates me to keep running, but at the same time I know that every race that I enter, a portion of my running fees goes to whatever charity that race is representing. A couple of month’s ago my daughter and I signed up to run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Now lets suffice it to say that my daughter? She does not enjoy running. (That might be the understatement of the year.) So about a half a mile into the 5K, she started complaining. I initially started trying to motivate her with typical you can do this type of talk. But then I mentioned briefly the sign that she was wearing on her back, “In Celebration Of Aunt Bev and Aunt Brenda.”She started to ask questions about why we run these races, why that sign was on her back, and she started making connections that these races were bigger than just her and her run. Her whining about running stopped for a while, (Yes. Only a while. She really hates to run.) and later that day I heard her proudly talking to her father about running for the moms and daughters who no longer were able to run. The experience of the extracurricular activity had had an important impact.

Teaching your children to be charitable is an important financial lesson to teach your children. What are some other ways that you are teaching your children to be charitable?

Kelly Kinkaid

Image courtesy of [Clare Bloomfield] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net