Palmetto Parent 2010 December Issue : Page 22
Under the tree and under budget! Story by Chris Worthy Photos by Cindy Hosea TOP: Shawnette Leach and daughter Maya sew some of their Christmas gifts they will give this year. RIGHT: Jean Chamblee shows an Escobar guitar, one of the new items avail-able at Goodwill Industries. BOTTOM: Homemade crafts and baked goods always make special gifts. How to keep your family’s holiday shopping list from breaking your bank account S hawnette Leach is getting creative this Christmas season. “I taught for 10 years and I just quit my job in May,” said Leach, an Irmo resident. “We’re definitely not living the way we used to.” Leach is a stay-at-home mother to Maya, 5, and Kori, 3. She is taming her Christmas shopping budget by sewing and crafting gifts for her daughters, and heading to the kitchen to create tasty treats for family and friends. “I like to bake and craft and I’ve been experimenting with breads,” she said. Leach makes pound cakes and will present some lucky recipients with gifts of homemade ciabatta bread and infused oil. Even for those not as crafty as Leach, there are plenty of unique and thrifty ways to keep the holiday shopping list from www.palmettoparent.com December 2010 22 Palmetto Parent
Under the Tree and Under Budget!
<font size=3>How to keep your family’s holiday shopping list from breaking your bank account</font><br /> <br /> Shawnette Leach is getting creative this Christmas season.<br /> <br /> “I taught for 10 years and I just quit my job in May,” said Leach, an Irmo resident. “We’re definitely not living the way we used to.”<br /> <br /> Leach is a stay-at-home mother to Maya, 5, and Kori, 3. She is taming her Christmas shopping budget by sewing and crafting gifts for her daughters, and heading to the kitchen to create tasty treats for family and friends. <br /> <br /> “I like to bake and craft and I’ve been experimenting with breads,” she said. <br /> <br /> Leach makes pound cakes and will present some lucky recipients with gifts of homemade ciabatta bread and infused oil. <br /> <br /> Even for those not as crafty as Leach, there are plenty of unique and thrifty ways to keep the holiday shopping list from breaking your family’s bank.<br /> <br /> <b>Shop the sales</b><br /> Jenny Martin’s website, www.southernsavers.com, has garnered a large and loyal following in the Southeast, offering printable shopping lists and coupon links for grocery stores and drug stores, as well as a host of other bargains. Martin, a Columbia resident and the mother of three girls ages 5 and younger, does the legwork for shoppers who want to find the best deals.<br /> <br /> “If there’s a deal out there, we’re doing our best to highlight it,” Martin said. <br /> <br /> Though Martin’s site primarily focuses on grocery savings, she does offer information about online deals and gifts ideas that can be had in local stores for a song. For Christmas gifts, Martin said there are plenty of bargains to be found.<br /> <br /> “There are tons of great photo deals,” she said. <br /> <br /> Martin often lists online and drug store photo-book specials, some of which require only the cost of shipping.<br /> <br /> “It’s a great present for a grandmother or grandfather,” she said.<br /> <br /> Groupons — group coupons from www.groupon.com — are new to the Upstate but are now available in Greenville.<br /> <br /> “They come up with a deal locally,” Martin said. “They are at least 50 percent off. The deal only happens if enough people buy it and you aren’t charged if the deal doesn’t happen.”<br /> <br /> Groupon purchases are for gift certificates that Martin said generally expire one year after purchase.<br /> <br /> “When you refer people to Groupon, you earn free credits,” Martin said. “The fun part is that there are Groupons for online companies.”<br /> <br /> Martin also encourages shoppers to search for printable coupons for toys and big-ticket items and to consolidate shopping trips to save time and money.<br /> <br /> “Remember that big stores like Target and Walmart will price match,” she said. “It’s a massive time saver.”<br /> <br /> And even if stores don’t advertise a price-matching policy, Martin said some will do it.<br /> <br /> “It never hurts to ask,” she said.<br /> <br /> Sometimes, gifts can be added to a regular grocery list. Martin said body washes, nail polish, lipsticks and other personal-care items are often available at no charge when a sale is combined with a coupon. Those items can then be made into gift baskets or donated to charities.<br /> <br /> <b>Surf the Web</b><br /> Barry Boone has a deal for all sorts of online shopping. His site, www.currentcodes.com, lists coupons and promotional codes for a wide variety of online retailers including eBay, and some stores that allow for online ordering and in-store pick up.<br /> <br /> The savings are easy and can be significant.<br /> <br /> “You know how you get to the end of the shopping cart and there’s a place for a coupon code,” said Boone, who is based in Texas. “If you don’t have one, you’re missing out.”<br /> <br /> Boone’s site is free and gives visitors the option of searching by item or by merchant. Soon, the site will allow visitors to enter an item and search for the lowest price. <br /> <br /> “We’re hoping they can come to us and find a code in the database to save some money,” he said. “If they know they are searching for toys, they can click on our toys category and find all the coupons for stores that sell toys. You can see where the big coupons are and then see if they sell the product.”<br /> <br /> And Boone is selective about the retailers included.<br /> <br /> “I’d rather stick with the companies that I know are reputable,” he said. <br /> <br /> <b>A unique opportunity</b><br /> If you are looking for jewelry, designer clothing, antiques, vintage items, toys, musical instruments or collectibles for holiday gifts, Goodwill stores might have exactly what you’re looking for — or the perfect gift you never even considered.<br /> <br /> Crystal Hardesty, director of marketing and public relations for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, said many people fail to consider Goodwill stores for Christmas shopping, but they might be surprised by what fills the shelves.<br /> <br /> “We have a lot of jewelry for adults and teenagers,” she said. “It’s a great spot to find unique things. We get a lot of clothing items that still have the tags on them and we get a lot of books and toys that are in excellent condition. Some of the hot toys will come to use just barely used by a child who outgrew it quickly.”<br /> <br /> Because stores are stocked with donations, inventory is constantly changing and can include almost anything. Hardesty said classic and new toys are available, as well as exercise equipment, sports equipment — think golf clubs under the Christmas tree — and instruments that didn’t quite suit their original owners. She said one shopper was surprised recently when she found just the gift she was looking for: a trumpet.<br /> <br /> “Every single item is unique,” Hardesty said. “You never know what you might find. It’s always a treasure hunt.”<br /> <br /> And while finding that special gift at a rock-bottom price, shoppers are also helping put people to work through education, training and job placement. For the fiscal year ending June 30, more than 4,300 people were helped with employment training and placement by Goodwill in the Upstate and Midlands of South Carolina.<br /> <br /> “It all happens because people donate and because people shop,” Hardesty said.<br /> <br /> And everyone, no matter what their bank balance, can find unique bargains at Goodwill stores. Hardesty said shoppers often shy away because they think only those in need shop at the Goodwill.<br /> <br /> “Goodwill is for everybody,” she said. “We welcome everyone and we appreciate what they do to help get people back to work.”<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <font size=3><b>Make the most of your holiday dollars</font></b><br /> Looking to save some money when buying gifts? Jenny Martin, a Columbia resident who operates www.southernsavers.com, and Barry Boone, who operates www.currentcodes.com, offer these tips:<br /> <br /> •Use a coupon if one is available.<br /> <br /> •Shop online if you have trouble avoiding impulse buys in a store.<br /> <br /> •If you find an item online that is sold in a brick-and-mortar store near you, call the store to compare prices. Often, the same retailer will have different prices in stores and on line.<br /> <br /> •Be aware that high shipping and handling fees can negate lower online prices. On Dec. 17 — often the last day to order for Christmas delivery — many online retailers will offer free shipping. <br /> <br /> •Double check the final order screen before placing an online order to make sure all prices are correct.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <font size=3><b>How you can learn more</font></b><br /> Here are links to the online resources mentioned in this story:<br /> <br /> •Southern Savers, www.southernsavers.com, offers printable shopping lists with coupon matches and links to printable coupons. Free or low-cost gift items are noted frequently and those items often make welcome additions to gift baskets or as donations to homeless shelters, women’s shelters and more.<br /> <br /> •Current Codes, www.currentcodes.com, offers links to a vast list of online retailers with a variety of discount offers. <br /> <br /> •Shopgoodwill.com is an online auction site similar to eBay. The site offers items donated to Goodwill stores across the country. Listings include original art, antiques, toys, designer shoes and purses and more. For local store locations, visit www.goodwillsc.org.