Get a jump start on your holiday greeting cards–and save time and money while you’re at it!

I love the holidays, and every year around this time I swear I’m going to stay on top of everything I need to get done. But inevitably, the one thing that always plagues me is getting those holiday cards out before the holiday itself passes.

I always dread sitting down to write out the cards and eek! gasp! even worse—the envelopes.  But this year, I’ve found a way to tackle this task, and save money at the same time! I’m now using a service called Send Out Cards, that lets you create all sorts of fabulous greeting cards via a web-based application, and then the awesome folks at Send Out Cards print out the card, stuff the envelope, put on the postage and send the card for you. It’s like having your own virtual personal assistant!

If you’ve shopped for greeting cards lately, you know how out of control the prices have gotten. Cards are nearly up to $4.00 or $5.00 sometimes…and I don’t know about you, but having time to go to the store to pick out a card is not a luxury I have anymore since my baby came along.  And the cards on Send Out Cards typically cost about 99 cents—a HUGE savings! Postage costs the same as it would from the post office—but—once again, I don’t have to go to the store to buy postage, I can just replenish my account whenever I need to with a few clicks of the mouse.

So…what could be easier than popping onto your computer, choosing a card, selecting your recipient from your Contact Manager, and clicking on Send?  Not much in my book!

It’s truly one of the biggest time and money-savers I’ve found—not to mention I love being able to create my own custom cards. I actually had bought Minnie Mouse themed “thank you” cards for my daughter’s first birthday this year, but ended up taking them back to the store and using Send Out Cards instead—I added a photo of her “cake smash” on the front of the card, and friends and family just loved it!

You can choose from an enormous selection of cards (or make your own), and then personalize it by writing an individual message one by one, or you can even set up a card campaign to send the same card to multiple people. I may use that option for the holidays this year to make things even easier.  The system has a wonderful Contact Management system–also great for having easy access to an address book online!

I use Send Out Cards for birthday cards, condolence cards, thank you cards—everything you can think of, it’s just so incredibly convenient and cost-effective. And while sending an email greeting might be easy (and free), isn’t it nice to receive an actual card in the mail once in a while? I know it means a lot to me when someone takes the time to send me a physical card. Not to mention, you can easily add gift cards or affordable gift items along with your card.

Send Out Cards is super easy to use, and I was so lucky to sign up with Kerry Palmieri and Debbie Shulman of UnitedWeSendCards. These gals are wonderful Referral Specialists, there to help every step of the way with anything you need. It’s rare to find people so willing to take the time to help—but these ladies truly go above and beyond in that regard.

You can even test the program free! Just pop over to their website to send a free greeting card.

If you try it out, let me know what you think! I bet you’ll love it as much as I do.  And why not get a head start on those holiday cards…

Save 50% and support Breast Cancer research with Shoe of the Day at QVC

If you’ve noticed all the pink and breast cancer ribbons abounding lately, here’s why: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a lot of companies are jumping on the bandwagon to help support fundraising. As mentioned in my last post, Aveda Institute of South Florida is holding a Cut-a-Thon on October 10, 2010, and here’s another company to add to the list: QVC.com. Every weekday, they’ll offer name brand shoes at 50% savings, with the net proceeds going to benefit breast cancer research and education.

The featured shoes today are Cape Clogs Patent Leather Open Back Clogs marked down from $95.00 to $47.50, and DKNY Leather Slip-on Flats with Chain Detail marked down from $189.00 to $94.50.  This is a great way for you shoe-a-holics to get your fix at a discounted price, and more importantly–shop for a wonderful cause.

The only tricky thing is, I didn’t see anywhere to sign up for a daily reminder email. So, you have to remember to check back daily for the daily deal. 

Let me know what great deals you’re able to score from this incredible offer!

Get a salon service by top stylists for only $20.00 and help fight cancer at the same time at the Aveda Institute Cut-a-thon

I’ve been looking for ways to cut back (no pun intended) on my beautifying costs, and a friend of mine recently suggested I try Aveda Institute of South Florida. She goes there, and actually I have another friend who swears by them (and both have absolutely gorgeous hair!)

I’ve currently been paying $38.00 at my salon, JUST for a haircut–no blow dry, no styling (that would be another $20.00 or so). It’s highway robbery, but I love my hairstylist, and if I have a bad hair day, it’s a MAJOR deal to me.

But, I decided I would give Aveda a try, because I really need to find ways to save money. Usually you can get a haircut/blow dry for about $20.00. Big difference. The catch? These are stylists-in-training, and it can sometimes take a bit longer for the haircut or styling since the students “check in” with their coaches along the way.

Well, I’m willing for it to take a little longer, if it means more money back in my wallet. (Not sure the hubby would agree, he already complains that it takes too long when I go to the salon to beautify. Oh well!)

And even better, on October 10, 2010 (oh wait, that will be 10-10-10, LOL) Aveda Institute of South Florida in Davie is sponsoring a “Cut-a-thon”, where all proceeds from their services will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

They’ll be bringing top Aveda stylists from Miami to Palm Beach, and are offering haircuts, style/blow drying, manicures, pedicures, and 30 minute focused massage, all for $20.00 each. Appointments are available from 10am to 6pm. Simply call 954-990-0484 to book your service.

The Aveda Institute is located at 4186 S. University Drive in Davie (click here for a map).

I already booked my appointment–will let you know how it goes–and I decided to get the full shebang, haircut and blowdry for $40.00. So I’m still paying less for more, and it all goes to a good cause to boot. That’s shear genius, if you ask me.

Move over ebay…and make room for penny auctions!

Riddle me this: when does a penny cost 60 cents?

When you bid on penny auctions, that is. It’s one of the hottest new trends out there, and can be a great way to score items like iPads for waaay less than the going price (maybe $50.00 or less). A friend turned me on to Quibids (short for “Quick Bids”), where you can get electronics, gift cards, travel related items, kids toys and more, for mere pennies. 

How is this possible, you ask? Could it be? Well. It’s true. Each bid is only a penny.

BUT.

Here’s the catch: you have to pay each time you bid. And you have to purchase bids in advance. And the cost of each bid is 60 cents. So while the bidding increments increase by only a penny (or in some cases, 2 cents or 10 cents, you have to pay attention), that bid is actually costing you 60 cents, not a penny.

So…why bother with a penny auction? Well here’s the best way to be successful. You have to be willing to pay full price for your item--which you have the option to do if you don’t win the auction–and all of your bids get applied.

So for instance, say there’s a $100 gift card for Target –(and this happened to me). I knew I would spend $100 at Target for something at some point anyway: groceries, holiday gifts, etc. So I decided to bid on it. And I got in a bidding war with someone, and the price went all the way up to $70.00.  Now, I wasn’t the only one bidding, so it may have cost me $50.00 in bids. But that $50.00 in bids was applied to the cost, and I still walked away with a savings of $30.o0 on that gift card.

So far I’ve gotten a $10.00 Amazon card for about $.20 (2 bids, so really it cost me $1.40), a $25.00 Target card for about $4.00 (and it cost me about 5 bids, so that’s about $7.00 total) and the $100 Target card for $70.00.

And unlike ebay, people can’t snipe you at the last second–because extra time is added to the auction every time someone bids.

Here are my tips if you’re going to try Quibids (I can’t really speak for other auction sites, and be careful because some will scam you!):

  • Be willing to pay the full price on your item. 
  • Only bid on ONE item at a time. I made the mistake of bidding on a few at once, and lost a few dollars that way by losing on both auctions.
  • Don’t bid before the item gets down to the last few minutes. It’s a waste of your bids. People wait until the last 10 minutes or so. And I usually bid at the last couple of seconds.
  • Know in advance how much you’re willing to spend on bids. And make sure you have enough bids in your account.
  • Research what similar items have sold for in past auctions. That will give you an idea of what you might need to spend in bids, and when to start bidding. And it will tell you how much other bidders are willing to spend.

Another good thing about Quibids is, if you don’t win your auction, you can still buy the item and apply your previous bids to it. So at least you don’t lose the money you’ve already bid. Here’s some info from their site to explain further:

Each bid costs just $0.60. Bids are available in Bid Packs of 40, 75, 300, 600 and 800 bids. These bids are pre-paid and placed in your Bids Account. Each time you place a bid, one bid is deducted from your Bids Account, and a maximum of 20 seconds is added to the timer each time someone bids. This gives enough time for someone else to make the decision to bid if they’re interested. This is similar to the “Going Once…Twice…SOLD” approach of auctions.

If you are the top bidder when the timer reaches zero, you win!  You then pay the ending auction price plus shipping.  If you do not win, you lose your bids that have been placed; however, we offer on most auctions a “Buy it Now” feature! This feature allows you to put the money spent in bids on the item towards buying the item.  An example is illustrated below: 

Let’s say you spend 30 bids trying to win a $30 product, but you don’t win it. Your 30 bids are worth $18, so if you exercised the “Buy it Now” for that item, you would pay the value price of $30 less the $18 in bids you spent trying to win the item. Thus, you could go ahead and buy the item for just $12 in this example.

I have scored some good deals on gift cards (that’s what I like to get the deal on).  I know Quibids recently started offering cruises in their travel deals, which I might look into at some point. But do your research first–make sure the Buy It Now price is what you’d be willing to pay so you don’t end up spending more than your budget allows.

Also Quibids limits the amount of auctions you can win within a certain time period. It was previously no more than 3 within 48 hours. So double check on that as well. I found out the hard way about that because I wasn’t paying attention.

It’s definitely a great way to score some good deals, but you have to be patient, and willing to fight for your item (don’t try to do this at work, when you might be in the middle of something else!). And be careful–it can be addicting!! Luckily I’ve taken a break from the auctions for now, but the holidays are coming up, so I know I’ll be back on there soon to try to score some Amazon and Target gift cards!

Happy Bidding!