Category: Shopping

Gifts That Pamper and Rejuvenate

Stress can be bad for the body, contributing to depression, anxiety, hypertension, and even obesity. Unfortunately, more than half of working adults and 47 percent of all Americans say they are concerned with the amount of stress in their lives, according to a survey from the American Psychological Association. Canadians, too, are feeling stressed. The North American research company Ipsos found that stress affects 76 percent of the Canadian population.

Reducing stress can be especially important during the holiday season, which, thanks in part to its hectic nature, tends to produce extra feelings of stress. Gifts that pamper, relax and rejuvenate might be the ideal fit for those who need a little rest and relaxation.

· Aromatherapy: Studies have shown that aromatherapy, or breathing in certain scents, can trigger reactions in the brain and affect emotions, mood and memory. Specific essential oils can help relieve stress, induce relaxation and even promote better sleep. Scents such as lavender, lemon or yuzu, bergamot, ylang ylang, and jasmine can promote relaxation in many people.

· Candles: The combination of subtle, low flickering light and relaxing aromas can make candles soothing gifts. Put together an entire gift package with decorative candle holders or a nice tray on which candles of various heights can be placed.

· Plush robe: Sometimes lounging around the house is all that’s necessary to create a soothing atmosphere. A plush robe that is luxurious and comfortable will help that someone special unwind after a long day or after sleeping in on the weekend.

· Home aquarium: Stress can melt away watching underwater life flick and flitter through the aquarium. Combined with soothing bubbles and the gentle hum and splash of the filter, it is easy to see how having a fish tank in the home can alleviate stress. Make sure the gift recipient is able to care for the fish and select low-maintenance species.

· Bed linens: Treat someone special to the gift of added relaxation in the bedroom. Buying bed linens is often a chore and an expense that people put off. Pima cotton, silk, satin, or sateen sheets can be cool, comfortable and soothing.

· Facial treatment: A massage session can be relaxing, but so can a facial. There’s something serene about having a professional apply products and rub areas of the face and temples. Stress will slip away in an instant.

Pampering gifts can help ease anxiety, tame stress and help anyone feel more relaxed and happy.

Set and Stick to Your Holiday Budget

The chance to give gifts and spend time with loved ones makes the holiday season a special time of year. But for many people, the holiday season often leads to overspending.

A 2016 survey from the American Research Group found that American shoppers anticipated spending an average of $930 on gifts that holiday season. Data from T. Rowe Price confirms that parents are spending between $400 and $500 per child each year. In 2015, CPA Canada conducted a random phone survey of 1,004 adult Canadians and found the average adult planned to spend $766 on holiday gifts.

Although these numbers can reflect an overwhelming sense of generosity, many times excessive spending is based on a desire to outdo gifting from the year prior – sometimes at the risk of personal finances. Some people are taking drastic measures to make holidays over-the-top, with some delving into emergency savings while others withdraw prematurely from retirement accounts. Budgeting for the holiday season can help shoppers keep their finances in check.

Determine spending patterns

An examination of receipts and spending habits from previous holiday seasons can help individuals establish budgets for the current year. Make a list of all expenses – even the ones that extend beyond holiday giving. These may include expenses such as gym service fees, homeowner’s insurance, traveling expenses, gift exchanges at work, and more. Extra costs can add up and should be factored into holiday budgets.

Try to recall if your spending last year felt comfortable or if you were paying off credit cards long after the holiday season had ended. If it’s the latter, resolve to make adjustments.

Establish a budget that fits

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all budget. Figure out if there is extra money this season or if times are tight. This will help you plan accordingly and avoid overspending. Shifting priorities can help free up some cash. If children are interested in this year’s hot (and likely expensive) gift, cut back on holiday travel or entertaining. Instead of buying gifts for coworkers, buy a drink during a night out.

Use the holidays as an opportunity to sell

Collectibles, gently used toys, video games, action figures – all of these items may be collecting dust at your home, but they might be coveted by other shoppers. Rely on the season for spending to make some extra income that can be cashed in for your own holiday purchases.

Set up an account and track spending

Establish a separate account strictly for holiday spending. This can include a credit card only used for gifts and entertaining or a savings account at a bank or credit union. You won’t know what is going out of your account unless you keep careful tabs on it. Tracking spending is the biggest key to sticking with a budget, according to the financial advice group The Balance.

Holiday budgeting can be challenging. But with some effort, it is possible to avoid debt and still enjoy a happy holiday season.

Holiday Budgeting Tips for Savvy Consumers

Sticking to one’s budget is important all year long, but doing so during the holiday season can be especially tricky, when expenses run high and festive cheer makes it difficult to put the brakes on over-spending.

To get a better handle on your spending this holiday season, consider the following simple tools and tips.

Make Plans

Decide exactly what your plans are for this season. Will you be traveling? Will you be hosting a dinner party? What does your holiday shopping list look like? Add budget line items for all the associated expenses and put a price cap on each one.

Add it Up

Seek out tools that help make the logistics of staying within budget simple, such as desktop and printing calculators like Casio’s HR-100TMPlus, a 12-digit printing calculator with a large, easy-to-read display. It is especially well-suited for organized budget planning, as it offers special keys for tax calculations and has two-color printing, enabling shoppers to color code positive entries as black and deductions or purchases as red. For additional information on Casio’s portfolio of calculators, visit Casio.com.

Take Steps to Save

Make more space in your budget during the holiday season with smart strategies. Use free apps to help you score deep discounts on favorite retailers. If you’re crafty or handy, consider DIY-ing certain gift items and greeting cards. Suggest a day of volunteer service at your workplace in lieu of a gift exchange.

Don’t Get Impulsive

When you’re in the store aisles, it’s easy to make impulse purchases, particularly during the holidays when every display is designed to make you spend. Make a shopping list and then adhere to it.

To start 2018 on the right foot, spend no more than what you intended to using tech tools and smart strategies.​​​​​​ (StatePoint)

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How Being An Early Bird Can Benefit Holiday Shoppers

Come the end of the often hectic holiday shopping season, many people resolve to begin shopping earlier in the following year. While such resolutions can be hard to keep, shoppers would be wise to consider the myriad ways they can benefit by starting their holiday shopping earlier than they’re typically accustomed to doing.

Deals

The more time shoppers give themselves to find gifts for their loved ones, the more time they have to comparison shop and find the best deals. Retailers often offer steep discounts during the holiday season, but such deals may pale in comparison to those that can be had throughout the rest of the year. Holiday shoppers who begin shopping early can always skip buying in late summer or autumn if they think better deals can be had once the holiday season begins.

Shipping

By shopping early, shoppers can choose the least expensive shipping option offered by online retailers, potentially saving substantial amounts of money as a result. In addition, shoppers who start early won’t have to worry about items failing to arrive on time, a common source of stress for last-minute holiday shoppers.

Credit score

Another advantage to shopping early for holiday gifts is it allows consumers to protect their credit scores by spreading their spending out over several months instead of doing so in the handful of weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In a survey examining debt associated with the holiday season, MagnifyMoney found that the average holiday debt in 2016 was slightly more than $1,000. Credit card debt can negatively affect consumers’ credit scores, especially if balances are not paid in full when bills are due. Shoppers can avoid such situations entirely by shopping early using only disposable income to make purchases instead of credit cards. Such financial flexibility may not be possible for shoppers who wait until the holiday season has begun to start shopping.

Time

Shoppers can save more than money by starting their holiday shopping in advance of the holiday season. In spite of the popularity of online shopping, many people still visit traditional brick and mortar retailers to do their present buying. Such stores can be overwhelmed with shoppers between Thanksgiving and Christmas, leading to long lines and lengthy searches for parking. Shoppers are far less likely to encounter big crowds and crowded parking lots if they get their shopping done before the dawn of the holiday season, saving themselves substantial amounts of time as a result.

Shoppers who commit to getting their holiday shopping done early can save money and time and protect their financial reputations as well.

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Plan A Day To Shop Local Fairs, Shops And Stands 

Autumn is tailor-made for getting out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors. With crisp temperatures perfect for strolls or sightseeing and breathtaking scenery awash in bright autumnal hues, autumn landscapes make for the ideal backdrop for weekend plans, including shopping excursions. Fall is a great season to enjoy festivals, farmer’s markets and craft fairs, as merchants look to liquidate inventory before they prepare for the rush of the upcoming holiday season. Cities, towns, hamlets, and everything in between will host their share of open markets and more with great deals to be had, and fall is an ideal time to visit local shops and stands.

Fall Farm Produce

Fresh produce Farms big and small are bursting with produce come the fall. You can find the last vestiges of summer crops mingling with the first fruits of autumn. Grab the last of tomatoes and start thinking ahead to apples, squashes, lettuces, and grapes. You can even get an early start on pumpkin season — both for cooking and carving.

Seasonal Foods

Stock the car with reusable tote bags and scour the farmer’s markets for seasonal finds. Chances are you also might pick up some extra treats, such as fresh honey or canned jams. Food finds As plants are harvested, many items are turned into delicious treats. No autumn shopping excursion is complete until you smell a fresh-baked apple pie or some apple cider doughnuts. Corn breads and fritters, cranberry snacks and wines from nearby wineries also are easy to find in autumn. These items make welcome additions to your own pantry, or bring a freshly made treat to a friend or family member’s home when paying a visit. Also, don’t miss the food-related festivals that pop up on community calendars in the fall.

Fall Goods

From garlic to potatoes to pumpkins to cheeses, many seasonal items are on display. You also can sample these foods in interesting applications and make a day of gathering recipes and supplies to enjoy later. Crafts, jewelry and décor Include a trip to a craft fair, where local vendors come together to display and sell their wares, on your weekend schedule.

Autumn Crafts

Handcrafted items make thoughtful and unique gifts, which can be tucked away for giving later in the year. Booths at these types of events tend to be diverse. Spend the day strolling town squares or closed-off city centers, and you may find some hand-fashioned jewelry or home-crafted artisanal soaps. Those eager to enhance their homes’ décor may find unique items like painted signs, knit afghans and much more.

Shopping local shops, farms and fairs is a great way to enjoy the fresh autumn air while supporting local businesses.

Money-Saving Shopping Tips For Savvy Shoppers

Sticking to a budget when shopping can help shoppers stay out of debt and avoid buying items they don’t need. But staying within budget is a challenge for many shoppers, especially when they come upon items that are hard to resist.

Breaking the budget is imprudent, and savvy shoppers know it’s oftentimes unnecessary. By employing a handful of money-saving strategies on their next shopping trip, shoppers can have their cake and eat it, too.

Embrace Coupons

The days of clipping coupons from store circulars or catalogues may s eem like a thing of the past, but shoppers can still use coupons to save substantial amounts of money. While national retailers may be unlikely to offer customers coupons, many small local businesses still utilize coupons to compel shoppers to visit their stores. Small businesses may not have the advertising budgets to promote their coupons as much as their larger competitors, but savvy shoppers willing to put in a little work may find their diligence rewarded with discounts. Scan local newspapers or peruse small businesses’ websites for coupons.

Try Negotiating

There was a time when negotiation was a big part of the shopping experience. While that time has long since passed, many retailers, particularly small, locally owned businesses, may be open to negotiation. Small business owners can often be found working in their stores, so budget-conscious shoppers should not hesitate to speak with business owners or managers in an effort to negotiate sale prices.

Shop at The Right Time

Retailers must make room for new products by unloading their existing inventory. Study industry trends to determine when retailers mark down items as they try to clear room for new products. For example, clothing retailers tend to discount summer clothing as autumn approaches, making late summer a great time to shop for swimsuits and other warm weather apparel.

Be Flexible

If a certain item just won’t fit into your budget, try to be flexible and find a similar item that’s more affordable. When purchasing big-ticket items such as appliances, apply this approach by looking for last year’s models instead of the newest models on the market. Last year’s models might still be an upgrade over your existing items, and retailers tend to greatly reduce prices once new models are introduced to the market.

Savvy shoppers working within a budget can still find great deals without accruing debt or spending more money than they’re comfortable spending.

 
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Successfully Switch Auto Insurance Providers

Once drivers purchase an auto insurance policy, many simply let the policy renew each year. But with a little digging, drivers may be able to reduce their insurance costs considerably. According to the Insurance Information Institute in New York, consumers should ask themselves if they’re happy with the cost, service and coverage of their existing policies whenever it’s time to renew. If they are, they should stick with their existing policies. However, if customers feel things can be better, then it’s a perfect time to see what’s available. Many driver advocates advise shopping for a new policy every two or three years. When it comes time to switch car insurance companies, follow these steps and remember to avoid gaps in the coverage.

• Compare apples to apples. When shopping for new policies, consumers should compare the same features offered by various providers, including coverage types, deductibles and any limits. Keep a copy of your existing policy’s declarations page so that all quotes can be accurately compared to the existing policy.

• Research any cancellation fees. Before switching over, find out if there are any cancellation fees associated with an existing policy.

• Eliminate coverage gaps. Eliminate gaps in coverage by ensuring a new policy begins the moment the existing one ends. This prevents potential financial ruin should a driver get into an accident without any insurance during a gap period.

• Take note of any lifestyle changes. Be sure to list anything that can affect the cost of coverage, such as anti-theft devices on the vehicle, window etching or updated driving habits.

• Explore union or group affiliations. Drivers who are members of particular clubs, professional organizations or something similar may be eligible for special policies with certain providers. Make a list of any affiliations and contact the organizers to see if they have relationships with auto insurance providers. Law enforcement personnel or veterans may be eligible for certain discounts as well. Some insurance carriers only cover police officers or former military. It pays to look into these discounts.

• Consider small companies. Just because they don’t advertise as much as some of the more well-known providers does not mean small insurance companies are not capable of providing sufficient, affordable coverage. There are plenty of reputable small companies that offer excellent rates to drivers willing to exercise their due diligence.

• Check with the existing provider, too. Drivers can discuss their current rates and coverage with their existing insurance company, who may offer suggestions on reducing coverage or even offer lower prices in an effort to hang on to customers. Consider these possibilities before switching. Shopping around for a new automotive insurance policy may help customers cut rates and increase coverage.

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Find the Right Father’s Day Gift

Father’s Day is an annual celebration of fathers and the contributions they make to their families. Dads get their due on Father’s Day, when sons, daughters and wives typically give dad a few gifts to show their appreciation for all he has done for them and how much he means to them.

Finding the right Father’s Day gift is not always so easy. No two fathers are the same, so while a silk necktie might bring a smile to one father’s face, such a gift may fall flat with other dads. By asking themselves a few questions in the weeks before their dads’ big day, Father’s Day shoppers can narrow down their options and find gifts that Dad will appreciate.

What are Dad’s hobbies?

Even if your father or husband loves what he does for a living, a gift that indulges one of his favorite hobbies may be just the thing to make this Father’s Day extra special. Outdoorsmen may prefer some new camping or fishing gear, while fathers who have an artistic side may prefer some new paint brushes and canvasses. If Dad’s a car guy, book a day at a nearby racetrack where he can race around the track and embrace his inner race car driver.

What does Dad need?

Sometimes the best gifts are what a recipient needs as opposed to what he wants. If you no longer live at home, ask your mother if there’s anything your father needs that would make his life easier or more enjoyable. If you live at home, pay close attention to your father to see if there’s anything that could lighten his load. For example, if Dad loves spending time in the garden, take a sneak peek at his gardening tools and replace any that have grown dull or rusty.

What does Dad want?

For the Dad who doesn’t seem to need anything, consider something he may want that he’s never had before. If Dad loves to cook but has never had formal training, enroll him in a cooking class. If Dad loves a local sports team but hasn’t been to a game in years, purchase tickets to a game and go with him to make the day even more special.

Is Dad a techie?

Dads with a love for technology are living in the golden age of gadgets. Father’s Day shoppers looking to satisfy their fathers’ love of technology have a host of possibilities at their disposal. Even if Dad is an early adopter who tends to get all the latest gadgets before anyone else, the tech industry evolves so rapidly that you’re bound to find something new on Dad’s wish list that he hasn’t purchased yet.

Finding the right Father’s Day gift can be challenging. But shoppers who stop to think about their father and what makes the family patriarch happy can unearth a host of gift ideas that Dad is sure to love.


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Guide to Shopping Smart for Prom

Graduation and prom season can be an exciting time in a teenager’s life. This time in a young person’s life marks a rite of passage and a pivotal time bridging childhood and adulthood while giving students the opportunity to let loose and celebrate their academic successes. Prom also serves as a way to make memories with a group of friends who may go in different directions after graduation.

Many students are eager to begin planning their prom experiences as early as possible. Promgoers may want to begin browsing stores and shopping for prom apparel in the months leading up to the big night, but it’s important to follow a few bits of advice before making any prom purchases.

· Pay attention to the rules implemented by the school or venue. It’s time to follow one last directive before graduation, and that means heeding the requirements for prom attire and any other rules they may have. Some schools implement dress codes, so learn if your school has one so you do not spend money on clothing that will be inappropriate. School personnel have the right to refuse entry to the prom if dress guidelines are not met. Choose a private occasion, such as a graduation party, if you want to wear something less traditional.

· Shop early and shop sales. Waiting until the last minute to purchase prom dresses or tuxes is not ideal, as the pickings might be slim. Begin your search early so you have more options and more time to find attire that fits your budget.

· Shop further away from home, if necessary. Broaden your horizons to shops and retailers outside of your town, if necessary. This may guarantee that your attire isn’t a carbon copy of what everyone else is wearing – or a complete duplicate of another student’s outfit. Look for independent retailers, such as mom-and-pop boutiques, which may carry more unique and diverse offerings than big retailers. Such stores may offer more personalized service as well, such as alterations and tailoring.

· Fit clothing to your current size. Some students hope to lose a little weight prior to prom. But it’s best to avoid purchasing a gown or suit in a size you hope to be, as it’s easier to alter clothing to smaller sizes than make sizes bigger.

· Browse magazines for inspiration. Professional stylists are often behind the amazing looks of magazine spreads. Take inspiration from their ideas, but also make the looks your own with some modifications. It may be a different accessory or a different color pairing. Don’t be afraid to take a magazine to a store and ask if they have similar pieces.

· Be open to new ideas. Sometimes the clothing you see on the pages of magazines may seem to be the ideal style for you, but keep yourself open to other cuts, colors and designs. An outfit you never imagined wearing may end up being the perfect fit.

· Know store return and exchange policies. Formalwear is frequently governed by different rules from casual clothing. All sales may be final, or there may be a small window of time for exchanges. Keep your receipts in a safe place and be aware of return policies, in case prom plans change.

· Consider renting or borrowing. Niche businesses have sprung up that enable customers to rent gowns or suits for a day or two. The costs may be less than purchasing new outfits. Otherwise, see if an older sibling or a friend may have promwear you can borrow.

Prom season involves shopping trips to find the perfect promwear. Start early and design a plan of action to guarantee you have the time to find affordable attire you will really love. TF164982

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