Posted on 12/17/2013 12:30 EST
Slippery fingers, multi-tasking gone awry, impromptu iPhone baths -- whatever the reason, mark these words: Inevitably your iPhone will break. Few and fortunate are the owners who remain unscathed by the fate of the crack of death, a blank screen, or fragments scattered across the crime scene.
What's the cheapest and quickest way to fix an iPhone? Options range from DIY to extended warranties to professional at-home repair.
(Android users, keep reading. Although the information below is intended for iPhones, many of the suggestions are applicable to other devices.)
Before considering any cheap guerilla methods, check whether your iPhone is still covered by the standard, one-year
AppleCare warranty, which includes 90 days of phone support and one year of hardware repairs. Accidental damage is not covered.
Did you buy AppleCare+? Costing $99 (only available within 30 days of purchase), it extends the duration of your warranty to two years from purchase date. AppleCare+ covers all standard warranty features and repairs for two incidents of accidental damage -- with a $79 fee attached to each. The only accidental damage not covered is due to, or after, opening the device yourself (to you DIY-ers, MacGyver at your own risk).
A review of AppleCare+ at Macworld details various pros and cons, ultimately concluding that an iPhone-specific AppleCare+ warranty is worth the price. It's a relatively hassle-free process that passes for cheap, in that it usually pays for itself with the first repair (especially if the iPhone must be replaced). And by the way, Apple stores provide in-house repairs, which cuts wait time from days to minutes.
iFixit offers cheap help for broken iPhones and Androids (as well as other electronic devices). The site's specialty is user-submitted
"DIY Repair Guides" that offer step-by-step
repair procedures, supported by photos and a list of needed tools.
iFixit also sells tool kits and spare parts. Tool kits range from $19.95 (for a sewing kit!) to $79.95 (includes any and all tools an industry pro could possibly need to make electronic repairs). Spare parts may seem relatively inexpensive (and come with a six-month warranty), but a quick price comparison shows that parts can be purchased from sites such as eBay and Amazon for much less. (Tip: Look elsewhere for cheaper replacement parts and then invest in a device-specific tool kit or a general one if you plan to rely on DIY repair often.)
iFixit's detailed guides, Q&A sections, and forums provide user-friendly resources for cheap iPhone repairs. The large user base is evidence enough that DIY fixes, especially for small problems, can be completed quickly and efficiently.
iCracked bridges the gap between personalized tech repair and DIY repair. In addition to offering an extensive list of iPhone repair tutorials posted on You Tube, iCracked's DIY department sells all-inclusive
tool kits that include guides, parts, and tools for fixing specific iPhone problems. For example, the cracked screen DIY tool kit includes a replacement screen, the necessary tools, and detailed instructions. It sells for $99.89, which, all things considered, is a cheap price for an iPhone repair. (The same type of replacement kit goes for $159.95 on iFixit.)
DIY aside, iCracked's primary service is personal, at-home tech repair. Billing itself as the "AAA for iPhones, iPods, and iPads", iCracked runs iTech, a service that sends a certified repair technician to you who repairs your device right then and there. Just answer a few questions about your device, problem, and location on iCracked's website, and all iTechs within a 50-mile radius are notified. Interested iTechs contact you with pricing (they set their own) and other details. If there are no iTechs in the vicinity, just use the company's mail-in service for iPhone repair.
Posted on 12/17/2013 9:00 EST
This week's top picks for family & kids deals include an infant toy sale and a matching doll & girls clothing set.
1. Infant Toy Sale 50% Off
Save 50% off select infant and preschool toys for today only! Great gift ideas!
Infant Toy Sale
(Amazon - 50% off)
2. Dollie & Me Girls Clothing Matching Set 67% Off
These corresponding outfit sets include two matching looks: one for a young girl and the other for her doll. Shipping and returns are free.
Dollie & Me Girls Clothing Matching Set
(Groupon $19.99, 67% off from $60.00 - $40.01 savings)
Posted on 12/16/2013 13:14 EST
Unless you're a flight attendant or pilot, you may not find airplane travel to be the most comfortable way to get around. And with the holidays looming, the experience may be fraught with still more crowds and unpleasantness. We found 10 cheap items to carry on board that can ease the pain of flying.
1. Thick socks.
Airplanes cabins are never the right temperature; most often they feel like the inside of a meat locker. A good pair of thick socks can help. After slipping off your shoes, thick socks will keep your feet warm during a particularly chilly flight. They can also protect your feet when walking barefoot through security.
2. Pashmina scarf.
A scarf is a versatile and cheap travel accessory, and we found pashmina scarves on Amazon
in 22 different colors for just $8.49 each. One seasoned traveler we spoke with notes that a good pashmina scarf can keep you warm on a cold flight, serve as a pillow when folded up, and distract nervous flyers with fiddle-prone
3. Eye mask.
If you plan to catch a few winks on the plane, an eye mask that blocks out the light ensures a sleep-enabling
4. Earplugs or white noise app.
Flights can be filled with chatty seatmates and crying babies, never mind the engine roar. A cheap pair of earplugs can shield you from these aural irritants. Alternatively, download a cheap or free white noise app and listen with your headphones during the flight. White Noise Lite
by TMSOFT is free for iPhone users; an upgraded version goes for $1.99.
5. Reusable water bottle.
Buying food or a bottle of water in the airport is expensive. The same goes for the cost of in-flight
food and drink. While many travelers pack their own snacks in a carry-on
, no one brings liquids because you can't take them through security. But stay hydrated you must, and the best way to save a bundle is to bring your own empty, reusable water bottle and fill it up on the far side of security. One business traveler we spoke with said this cheap travel accessory is her No. 1 must-have
for any flight. As a frequent flyer in and out of the Denver airport, she reports that each terminal has a designated place to fill reusable bottles. Moreover, think how many plastic containers are saved each time you fill a reusable one. Go cheap and go green with this travel accessory.
6. Lotion and chapstick.
lotion and a tube of lip balm keep your skin fresh and lips moist on a long flight. Because cabin air tends to be particularly dry, use these two cheap travel items frequently.
7. Travel car seat.
Our research into the best cheap car seats
found one travel-friendly
model: the Evenflo Tribute DLX (starting around $55). This car seat garners much praise for an incredibly light weight (9.11 pounds) and dimensions that fit into an airplane seat and through the airplane aisle. You save money at your destination by forgoing a car seat with your rental car that can cost upwards of $8 to $13 a day
. And it's yours to keep for less than the cost of a week-long
car seat rental.
Everyone we spoke with regarding comfortable airplane travel said a small travel pack of tissues is a required accessory, especially with kids in tow. Not only can the chilly in-flight
air make your nose run, but you can use the tissues to wipe down the tray and arm rests, catch chewed-out
gum, or clean up assorted spills and messes.
Forget about those bulky tablets and laptops for keeping track of the time as you hustle through the airport or fidget in a cramped seat. A watch on your wrist is an unobtrusive, albeit old-fashioned
, device that serves its purpose without fuss.
10. Toothbrush and toothpaste.
Airplane travel can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Literally. After snacking and then maybe taking a snooze, use the on-board
restroom to freshen up with a quick brush.
As a general rule of thumb, airline travel is rarely hassle-free. Expect it, deal with it, and move on. It helps tremendously to have a positive attitude and to be polite and cheerful to those around you. This can go a long way towards making the experience more comfortable for everyone. Better yet, it's free.
Posted on 12/16/2013 10:51 EST
This week's picks for top technology and entertainment deals are an iPod Touch, a Canon digital camera, and an iPhone case.
1. iPod Touch 17% Off
Get the iPod Touch 32GB in an array of colors at 17% off retail for a limited time at Best Buy.
(Best Buy $249.99, 20% off from $299.99 - $50.00 savings)
2. Canon Powershot Digital Camera 47% Off
This powerful digital camera has a 2.7-inch TFT color LCD with wide-viewing angle monitor plus more features. Available in silver, black, blue, and pink with free shipping.
Canon Powershot Digital Camera
(Amazon $69.00, 47% off from $129.00 - $60.00 savings)
3. iPhone Case 71% Off
These flexible, impact-resistant cases are made from silicone and printed with distressed images of American city and state flags for iPhone 4/4S and 5/5S models.
(Groupon $9.99, 71% off from $34.95 - $24.96 savings)
Posted on 12/13/2013 14:31 EST
Although today is Friday the 13th, fellow Cheapists are hardly deterred from celebrating the holidays. Find deals at e-commerce sites while learning the rules concerning sales taxes for online purchases. Get a gift from the local dollar store for your dog or try the DIY route instead. Name-your-price websites may pique your interest, and try on a pair of budget headphones to go with your ultra-cheap, yet reliable, Android tablet.
Five bucks will buy you a pair of earbuds (over-the-ear headphones cost a bit more) to accompany your cheap mp3 player
. We consider sound quality, cords, and reliability.
We have two new videos this week: Cheap Refrigerators & Cheap Dishwashers.
New Blog Posts:
Some state laws require retailers to collect sales tax on items shipped to states where they have a physical presence. See where Internet shopping at several popular sites adds to your bottom line.
Holiday gifts fit for the recipients needn't cost a bundle -- just head over to the dollar store. We shine a spotlight on ten types of gifts and where to get them.
shopping is coming into vogue and spreading into arenas like travel, merchandise, concert tickets, and more. Get acquainted with the ins and outs of this bargaining technique.
There are many cheap gifts to give to your favorite pooch this holiday season. From stocking stuffers to calming aids, we have it covered.
The common perception is that Amazon is the cheapest online retailer for many products, but the lack of price-matching
and coupons is the bane of many bargain shoppers. Read our post to learn the details.
Cheapism has covered best cheap Android tablets under $200. What about the ultra-frugal
crowd or those who only need a tablet occasionally? Check out our four top picks for ultra-cheap
Posted on 12/12/2013 12:01 EST
The first tablet to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of the general public was the iPad from Apple, whose price tag made a tablet under $100 seem like a pipe dream. An iPad is still a triple-digit proposition, as are several other high-end tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tabs. Amazon shook up the tablet world with its Kindle Fire, a very good, functional tablet that costs several hundred dollars less than the iPad and other popular competitors. Barnes & Noble has also released a Nook tablet that is priced in the Kindle Fire's ballpark.
Insignia Flex 8
Many consumers are drawn to these name-brand devices, either at the high end or in the middle of the price spectrum, but we found several ultra-cheap tablets under $100 that consumers appreciate for what they are.
- One of the best deals running right now is for the Insignia Flex 8, on sale at Best Buy for a mere $99.99, half its usual sticker price. Buyers say the build quality is good and the price hard to beat.
- The E Fun Nextbook 7P12 will set you back only $69 at Walmart, where more than 1,000 reviews give this ultra-cheap tablet four or five stars. Users consider the Nextbook to be an excellent basic device, and many report having bought one for their children or grandkids.
- Walmart shoppers who have picked up an RCA 7-inch tablet have positive things to say in reviews of this model, as well, particularly given its $69.99 sticker price.
- The Visual Land Connect 9, a 9-inch tablet for $89, also at Walmart, earns slightly more tempered praise from buyers. Reviews say the budget tablet works just fine and the relatively large screen is a welcome feature, although some express disappointment with responsiveness and image quality.
E Fun Nextbook 7P12
There's no doubt that tablets under $100 are an impressive value, but predictably, tablet makers cut corners to keep retail prices so low. The processors that power these ultra-cheap tablets are fast enough to get simple jobs done, but are not on par with processors found in higher-end tablets from Samsung and Apple. Most tablets under $100 have a single-core CPU that runs at about 1GHz, whereas more expensive tablets use dual-core CPUs running at 1.2GHz to 1.5GHz.
RCA 7-inch Tablet
Pricier tablets generally sport better screens as well; that is, with higher resolutions and true HD compared with the typical 800x480 resolution found on entry-level tablets (although the Insignia Flex 8 boasts resolution of 1024x768). Expensive tablets also contain more built-in storage: 16GB to 32GB versus the 4GB to 6GB commonly found in budget models. Note, though, that ultra-cheap tablets mitigate this disparity by including SD card slots that increase their memory. And finally, most tablets under $100 do not include cameras, as their upscale counterparts do.
Visual Land Connect 9
Budget tablets are built on Android 4.0 or newer operating systems, as are pricier versions. Almost all tablets at the bottom of the price scale include USB 2.0 ports, and some offer Bluetooth connectivity. Mini HDMI ports are rare but not unheard of (the E Fun Nextbook, for example, has one). A tablet could hardly be called a tablet without a touchscreen and Wi-Fi capability, and these essentials are present in tablets under $100.
Some people may still prefer to shell out hundreds of dollars on a tablet, but anyone in the market for a second device, or one for the youngsters, won't sacrifice much in performance or quality by stepping down to a cheap Android model. It may be a tiny step slower than the big-name machines, but will serve its purpose.
Posted on 12/12/2013 8:30 EST
If you're like me, Amazon consumes your front doorstep, especially as the holidays near. In the month or so beforehand, I get a big brown box or two several times a week. As an Amazon Prime member, I have even ordered just a package of batteries or new socks for my toddler during the rest of the year simply because I will have it sooner than if I had to find time to stop for "just" that. And until now, I've always thought that shopping Amazon wasn't only more convenient, but that it was cheaper, too. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.
Lesson learned after I researched a variety of products, ranging from slow cookers to kids' tricycles. I found that, across departments, the sticker price on Amazon is often a few dollars lower than the retail store. But it is the lack of coupons and price-matching at Amazon that makes this mega-retailer less the deal than we think it is. Sure, the item is shipped right to our front doors, which saves time and possibly more money by foreclosing the possibility of impulse buys once in the store. But on the whole, Amazon isn't saving us much, if anything, on the items in our carts.
This is especially true when comparing Amazon prices against those of certain retailers that are notorious for an ongoing flood of coupons -- Bed, Bath and Beyond and Kohl's are prime examples. In fact, I have a pile of BB&B coupons on my desk right now because the chain is especially gracious about accepting expired coupons, and often more than one per transaction. I also know I can bank on at least one, if not more, new Kohl's coupons nearly every week, typically one to use now and one for later.
Kohl's cash, an occasional promotion that offers $10 store credit to spend the following week for every $50 you shell out, is another lucrative way to save big bucks over what you would pay at Amazon. By the time you combine the coupons, last week's Kohl's cash, and the store's already low prices, you wind up with some true steals. For example, my husband recently scored two pairs of leather boots for a fraction of the price he would have paid had he ordered them online at Amazon. The sale price at Kohl's was similar to the price of a comparable pair at the online competition, but with a coupon worth 30 percent off and another $5-off bonus coupon we received, he acquired two pairs for the price of one on Amazon. Granted, shoes and clothes are not necessarily Amazon's strong suit, but replace the example of the boots with toys, household items, or small appliances and the scenario is the same.
Other retailers, such as Target and Best Buy, compete with Amazon by offering a price match guarantee. In other words, if you see the item for less at Amazon, these vendors will match the lower price. This is a particularly good deal because you also avoid shipping fees.
Shipping costs factor significantly in the Amazon prices versus retailers' prices equation. An Amazon Prime membership ($79 a year) includes free shipping on Prime items, which means you don't have to worry about the total amount in your shopping cart. However, if you are not a Prime member, your cart must total $35 (a $10 increase over the previous $25) to qualify for "super saving" shipping. If you only want something small or several low-cost items, shipping fees apply and boost the unit cost of each. Under this scenario, Amazon prices are more expensive than many big-box stores and others that aggressively discount with coupons and specials.
When you need something at a store that rarely offers coupons (e.g., Lowe's or Dick's Sporting Goods), however, Amazon could be your ticket. Prices are often comparable, and if the bottom line exceeds the $35 threshold (for non-Prime members), having the item shipped right to your front door is hands-down the better deal. It's hard to put a dollar value on convenience.
Amazon also holds the upper hand on products that make it to Today's Deals and Lightning Deals. These specials are Amazon's equivalent to a coupon system. The problem? You can't count on a certain item being discounted when you want or need to purchase it. When you do find a deal, though, the savings can be substantial. This, however, is the exception to the rule. Sigh.
Posted on 12/11/2013 10:21 EST
Most households already do a lot to keep their pets happy, safe, and healthy. During the holidays it's nice to wrap a few presents for the furry members of the family, as well. Inexpensive dog gifts can show love and bring comfort to a pet without stretching budgets too thin. Cost is relative, of course, but from homemade doggy treats to a new memory foam bed, there's something for every dog.
Dog owners who frequent Petco and PetSmart might start their search by checking Cheapism's in-depth comparison of prices, rewards programs, online platforms, and services. Although PetSmart came out ahead in the services category (e.g., daycare and veterinary care), Petco generally posts lower prices, operates a more appealing e-commerce site, and maintains a more rewarding loyalty program.
Here are several ideas that will do you and your favorite dog proud:
Sometimes it's the little things that count the most, and stockings are often filled with these. Treats, new bones or toys, and a trendy new collar all make good stocking stuffers for pets. Sneaking in a few vitamins might be a good idea, too (they'll thank you later). Perhaps inspired by the cookies left out for Santa, some pet owners have taken to baking holiday dogs treats. Check here
A New Home.
Dogs often become attached to their homes, but sometimes after years of use it's time for a change. Although a new home may be scary at first, it quickly will provide safety and comfort. One master with dimes to spare has installed television, automatic water and food dispensers, temperature-controlled
rooms, and a sound system into the dogs' home
. The rest of us, though, can provide a favorite dog with an everyday holiday gift that is right-sized
, warm, soft, and cheap. Personalize the home with a picture of yourself and a pillow made out of an old piece of clothing. The familiar scent will help keep the pup at ease.
After a long walk or a big day at the park, a quick bite and long nap are in order. But when aches begin to plague an older furry companion, resting on a worn-out
mattress just won't do. A memory foam bed can be pricey, but mature dogs with joint problems will be forever grateful. High-end
holiday gifts start with TempurPedic-branded
dog beds, which range from $275-$425. Large pet-centric
chains, along with Amazon, offer more affordable orthopedic memory foam beds for less than $40.
Getting outside and enjoying a brisk walk is important for dogs no matter the time of year (smaller dogs might appreciate a vest or sweater during the winter). A new ultra-comfy
leash is an excellent holiday gift for a dog. Wag.com
leashes that stretch to avoid stress on the dog's neck and garner four- and five-star
reviews from owners. Leashes start at $17 but the site regularly offers discounts (search for a code if you don't see one) and includes free delivery on orders greater than $49.
The holidays can be hectic for everyone, including pets. With guests running around, new smells filling the air, and the excitement of gift-opening
, all the activity can be a lot to handle. Pet Expertise
offers several options designed to calm anxious, scared, or hyperactive dogs, from training tips and collars to shirts, music, and diffusers filled with "dog-appeasing pheromones." Calming sprays, shampoos, and treats are also available at some pet stores.
Posted on 12/10/2013 12:00 EST
In the art of negotiation the question of whether to state your bottom line first is a frequent topic of discussion. During most shopping excursions there's really no issue because the price is the price. But that tradition is changing. "Name your price" shopping is in, and oftentimes consumers can name the price they're willing to pay for things like concert tickets, electric guitars, and hotel rooms. It's up to the seller to decide whether to accept the offer.
A new member of the "name your price" crowd, Greentoe lets users place an offer on new merchandise and retailers decide whether the offer is good enough. Greentoe currently features products from five categories: baby, home theater, appliances, music (instruments, headphones, and microphones), and photo. Select the item desired -- a dryer, say, or Fender guitar -- and enter a price that includes the cost of the item, tax, and shipping. Greentoe uses a color-coded
meter to advise whether or not an offer will be accepted by a retailer. Users are usually notified within one to three days if they scored at their named price. All products come with a guaranteed 14-day return period that may be extended depending on the retailer.
We spoke with Joe Marrapodi, a co-founder of Greentoe, who told us that users often place winning bids that are 7-12 percent less than the asking price for the product on Amazon and 18-22 percent less than the average price at the top 10 retailers. Although shoppers don't know who the seller is until the transaction has been completed, Marrapodi says "they are reputable companies" known to consumers. Often these retail stores cannot legally advertise an item for less than a set price but are willing to sell it for less and make a small profit.
invites travelers to name their own price when booking hotel rooms, rental cars, and airplane tickets. The catch: The buyer doesn't know which hotel, rental company, or airline will bite until the bid is accepted. For rental cars this is a smart way to save because the vehicles are generally of very recent vintage and in good condition no matter the company. When bidding on airplane tickets travelers can only choose a departure date (takeoff is guaranteed between 6am and 10pm) so they must be extremely flexible to make bidding worthwhile. For lodging, users specify a region and a star-rating
for the hotel they desire before entering a bid. If the bid is accepted the deal is locked in, but a counteroffer may be possible if the bid is rejected; otherwise, users must wait 24 hours before bidding again on the same selection.
Naming a price for hotel rooms is a relatively safe proposition thanks to the proliferation of online resources that take the mystery out of the bidding process. Sites such as Better Bidding help travelers get the best deals on hotels (or cars) using Priceline or Hotwire, the latter a site where bids aren't accepted but hotels and rental cars are offered at a discount and the company name remains hidden until after booking. Forums on Better Bidding are broken down by state, and commenters offer productive strategies and tips, as well as past winning bids. With the correct technique Priceline bidders often can know in advance which hotel they will be assigned (or at least narrow the options to just a few). The Bidding Traveler lets users search for hotels by city or town and check-in/check-out dates and see hotel retail prices, which Priceline bids have been accepted, and which hotels are available given the specified region and star rating. A post on the travel forum Flyer Talk suggests best practices for naming your price for hotel rooms via Priceline.
Shows and Sporting Events.
Lastly, Score Big
features tickets or sports games, concerts, and theater shows with prices set by the buyer. Spectators can search by city and event type and available tickets pop up in tiers depending on proximity to the stage or field. Prices vary depending on the popularity of the event, and are accompanied by a 10- to 60-percent-off sign indicating the expected deal. Users choose an event, an approximate ticket location, required number of tickets, and the per ticket offer price. In addition to indicators for the accepted price range, a color-coded
meter shows the likelihood of an offer being accepted. Once an offer is placed, it is immediately accepted, countered, or turned down. Bidders must wait 24 hours to place another offer on tickets in the same location if a deal isn't reached.
Posted on 12/10/2013 8:30 EST
Stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and presents for teachers are generally relegated to the "inexpensive" column at holiday time. Then it turns out you need to buy a lot of them, and as the numbers mount, the prices don't seem so cheap anymore. Dollar stores are the ideal shopping solution -- they carry gift-worthy items that are always less than $20 and often cost no more than $5 or $10.
We checked out Family Dollar and Dollar General for ideas about holiday gifts that will appeal to many people on your list.
Increasingly dollar stores are trying to be on trend with toys, gift items, and holiday décor, says Bob Giles, a vice president at Family Dollar. That means, for example, stocking popular brand-name toys because kids know the difference between the real thing and the wannabes. Bottom line: Shopping the dollar store aisles lets holiday gift givers save money without seeming chintzy.
Large Building Blocks
1. Toddlers might be too young for Legos, but they still like to build. Family Dollar sells a bucket of 25 large blocks for $5. This might be a bit bulky to stuff in a stocking, but it's sure to get a workout once retrieved from under the tree.
2. Believe it or not, Cabbage Patch Kids are making a comeback. Retailers such as Toys R Us are selling them for up to $35, but you can find the dolls at Family Dollar for $10.
3. Action figures are ever popular with boys, and dollar stores are full of them. You can find Power Rangers at Dollar General for $7 and large Marvel toys like the Hulk and Iron Man at Family Dollar for $12.
4. If you're ever stuck on what to give a young boy, try anything with wheels. Racing cars, demolition trucks, motorcycles, auto carriers with cars are available at dollar stores for $5.
5. For girls of a certain age, Monster High dolls are glamorous yet bizarre -- an enticing combination that makes them immensely appealing. Pick up one at Family Dollar for less than $15, which beats the price at big-box chains. Dollar stores also stock accessory sets, tagged at about $5.
Emerson Touch 4 GB MP3 Video Player
6. Older kids (in the ‘tween and teen years) are notoriously hard to please. Dollar stores come to the rescue with over-ear headphones, another blast from the past now back in vogue. Family Dollar sells a neon-color set that comes with a 4 GB MP3 player for $20; less adorned versions go for $5. If a cell phone or tablet is the centerpiece holiday gift, dollar stores can help out with tablet accessories and cell phone covers in fashionable colors for less than $10.
7. Active kids will appreciate basketballs, footballs or soccer balls. You can spend up to $35 a piece at venues like Sports Authority, but dollar stores carry these items for $10 or so. Games are always a hit with active kids. Family Dollar sells a variety of table-top games, including air hockey, pinball, pool, and foosball, in the $10-$20 range.
You've probably been invited to any number of holiday parties, so hostess gifts are on order. With the current emphasis on style trends this year, dollar stores are stocked with a good selection of items that would not be out of place at higher-end
8. Candles create a cozy holiday atmosphere, and mercury glass is totally of the moment. A set of small candles in mercury glass holders carries a $10 price tag at Family Dollar. Large candles with scents like gardenia or apple cinnamon fetch $5 at Dollar General.
Ferraro Rocher Chocolates
9. The time-honored gift of edible treats is always appropriate for hosts, teachers, and colleagues. Ferraro Rocher chocolates look classy in their gold duds and sell for $3-$4 at dollar stores. Russell Stover chocolates packed in tins cost less than $5 and tins of Pirouette wafers go for about $3… and the list goes on. Suffice it to say that dollar stores can be a life saver when you need these small tokens of appreciation at holiday time.
10. Heighten the effect by packing the gifts in a pretty, reusable bag or an attractive box that you can buy for a dollar (some come in sets). If you need gift wrap and neglected to stock up last year when prices plummeted after the holiday season, dollar stores are there for you with wrapping paper at about $3 a roll.
Gift Shopping Tips.
In case you're feeling overwhelmed, Leah Ingram of Suddenly Frugal
offers several tips that can help you sail through the shopping season with your budget intact.