10 Penny-Pinching Shopping Tips

penny pinching shopping tips

I grew up shopping at yard sales and thrift stores and I loved it how cheap I can find gently used nothing.  I even had a yard sale monthly run where I highlighted all the yard sales in my area and I spent my Saturday morning shopping. Find a good bargain can be addicting and fun!

But then one day I happened to walk into a department store at the mall when they were having a sale and my world was changed.  I walked out of the store with Ralph Lauren shirts for my kids that only cost me $5 and they were brand new not gently used.  So that is when I started trying to figure out ways to save a penny or two at department stores.

Here are my Penny-Pinching tips that have saved us more than a penny when shopping for good quality clothes. I found these stats interesting that JCPenney recently conducted and discovered: 95 million Americans (2 in 5) say they usually wouldn’t even pick up a penny if they saw it on the sidewalk. But that doesn’t mean Americans think the penny is worthless. In fact, quite the opposite. Nearly nine in ten Americans still keep pennies around either in their home, a piggy bank or their purse (89%) and say that pennies can come in handy (88%). Almost three-quarters of Americans (73%) say the penny is an important part of our currency and should not be eliminated.

10 Penny-Pinching Shopping Tips when Buying Clothes

1. Sign up for their mailing list.  We travel a lot so we are not always around when the sales hit at the store or when the coupons come in the Sunday paper so store mailers that come to my email are a huge help. These mailer inform you of all this sales happening and sometimes they even have online discounts that you can’t get in store, so shop online instead.

2. Clip those coupons from the Sunday paper. Now with smart phones you don’t even need to print off a coupon you can just pull up the coupon from your email on your phone, they scan it and bam you have your discount. This is so convenient because I’ve had this happen to me lots of times where I forget to walk out the door with the in-store mailer and when I get to the store I don’t have my coupons.

3.  Catch the BIG sales.  Most stores have sales the same time of the year figure it out and wait to go shopping then. When you combine their summer sale and their in-store coupon you end up saving tons of money.

4. Use promo codes.  I do some of our shopping online and before I go to the website I look online for promo codes that might be floating around the world wide web. Many times it’s just free shipping codes but those save you some money especially if your order is big but not big enough to get their “free shipping for order over $150.”

5. Shop out of season.  We do tons of out of season shopping and this is where we save tons of money. Again, pair these of out seasons rack sales and your coupons and sometimes you’ll get quality clothing for less than $8.

6. Go to outlet stores.  Especially go to outlet stores when they are having big sales.  I once walked out of the store with a big name brand dress that once cost $175.00 and it only cost me $12.00.  I couldn’t believe it because there was nothing wrong with it. Make sure to ask if they have coupon booklets and grab one.

7. Buy one size bigger clothing for your growing children.  We do this a lot and it ensures that they can wear it for longer.

8. When it’s your birthday or your child’s b-day ask for a gift card from your favorite store.

9. Ask if they have Rewards Programs. I didn’t realize this until a couple of years ago. Not only are saving money while you purchase the item but the dollars used to purchase those items will save you money in the future. Lots of stores have reward programs where you earn points for the dollars spent and they even have days where they double your rewards.

10. Go to clearance racks. Sometimes they are not labeled clearance but find the place where they put all of the clearance clothes. Many times  but not all clearance clothing items have a button missing or in some way “damaged” so make sure you inspect the clothing on the clearance rack.

Hopefully you enjoyed our penny-pinching tips! Everyone can remember the joy of finding a penny and picking it up. At least I can, especially now that my little guy is thoroughly filled with wonder when he finds a penny on the street.  So when did the penny lose its luster?  At JCPenney, we’re making it worth something again.  JCPenney’s new “Get Your Penney’s Worth” campaign is designed to remind people of the power of a penny and the retailer’s commitment to making sure every shopping experience is worth their time, money and effort! I love all of JcPenney’s sales so checkout below the huge BOGO specials going on for their “Penney Days”.

penny pinching

JCPenney is launching promotional offers called “Penney Days.” Penney Days will include “buy one, get one” specials available in store and on jcp.com. The first week-long Penney Day BOGO event will start Feb. 28 to March 5, allowing customers to purchase any item from the Company’s The Original Arizona Jean Co.® and purchase another Arizona item for just one penny (excluding footwear). Throughout the year, additional Penney Day promotions will include one-day-only specials that feature a unique in-store item for just a penny with no additional purchase required so keep an eye out for more information!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of JCPenney. The opinions and text are all mine.

Things I Will Not Be Trying From Pinterest

Pinterest is chock full of awesome ideas but sometimes when you find yourself scrolling down picture after picture with your eyes glazed over, you stop at an image and think, SERIOUSLY.  These are some things that I will NOT be trying from Pinterest because the reality is “ain’t no body got time for that”.

These may butter your biscuit, so take a peek.

spinach crust


Spinach Pizza Crust– I’m all about trying different gluten free pizza crust but I’m drawing the line here.  Just in case it floats your boat you can get the recipe here.

white house

Three boys all under 11 years of age live in this house.

Enough said.

But one day when they are all gone I will have an ALL white house, just because I can.  You can check out this home here.

sandwich cake

Seriously, now this one screams–Ain’t nobody got time for that. It’s pretty though!  See for yourself here.


This looks so cool and my boys would probably beg me to make this for them, but the reality in our home is it would take ME days to make.  My boys would probably first try jumping over it and miss, smashing half of it and then they would fight about who gets to play with it first and pull it apart until it was no longer recognizable. Been there, done that–not doing it again. The pin is here.


Hmmm, no comment.

skirt tulle

This is cute and would probably look adorable on a little girl and apparently models in Paris can pull it off but I’d look like cotton candy with legs.  See for yourself here.

I’m crafty and I love cooking, decorating and fashion but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Ninja Party Fun: Decor, Games and Food

ninja party

My son woke up this morning and jumped into my bed and with a big grin and said, “Guess what, it’s my birthday.”  I rolled over in a groggy state of mind and in my smoker (I don’t smoke) morning voice, I replied, “It’s your birthday party not your birthday we already celebrated that last week. So, happy birthday party day to you.”   I hated to burst his bubble but this can be so confusing for kids so I wanted to correct him because last week was the day of his birthday breakfast celebration which we do every year.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been buying my boys birthday cakes because my neighbor is an awesome baker.  She made us this amazing dinosaur cake a few years ago. Did you take a peek? I told ya, she’s good.

This year it hit me how my little boys are becoming young men.  It’s beautiful and sad.  But the reality of it got me thinking so I decided to make their birthday cakes again.  I made all of their cakes up until a few years ago.  I’m normally not sentimental in that way, but for some reason it’s getting to me how big they are getting.

I enjoy making their fun cakes and I’m not sure for how much longer I’ll be able to make it for my 11 and 8 year old boys. So, I made this cake for my little ninja.

I’m a bit rusty, but I think this ninja cake turned out great! Can you tell if it’s fondant or frosting? It’s what I call faux fondant.  It’s actually frosting but it’s made to look like it’s fondant.

ninja cake

Ninja Party Fun: Decor, Games and Food

This ninja party was a huge hit with my son.  He loved every minute of it! The jumping, kicking and fighting was the perfect party for our little energetic guy and his friends.

ninja party for kids

My oldest son helped me tons with the games and activities we had planned.  We started off our time with tattoos.  I’m always surprised at what kids get excited about, but apparently they love tattoos.

My husband put up a laser beam obstacle course for them. Can I just tell you, they kept coming back to this activity after every game we played. It was a huge hit!

laser beam party game

Look at their faces, they were loving it! The object of this game was to go through the beams without touching them. Most of the kids touched it at some point, but we just looked away. 🙂

ninja game

ninja games

And I couldn’t help myself, the picture below is too funny–and some kids were just doing their own thing (off to the right).

ninja game

We then started our martial arts training performed by Sensei Tuten.  Their Sensei had them practicing all sorts of ninja moves. Look at their faces, they were taking this seriously.

ninja party activities

I love this picture!

ninja party for kids

We also played a ninja balloon game. Again, another simple activity that the kids loved. They all wanted to try several times. The object of the game was to keep the balloon up in the air. We set up two teams and one person from each team would take turns coming up. Once someone dropped it, a new set of team members would come up and compete.

ninja party games

We got all of their wiggles with some laps. This helped them get some energy out before we went inside for some indoor activities.


We had water bottles waiting for them inside.  I made the ninja labels on it, hopefully at some point I can get that up here on the blog for you.

ninja party water bottles

Their party favor bags had these cookies inside of them along with plush ninja stress balls and tattoos.

ninja cookies

They ended up using the bags for their piñata loot. I also made the tags for the party favor bags.

ninja party favors

The kids came inside and worked on their Ninja Names.  It was hilarious to see what kind of names they came up with.  Another big hit activity that had them rolling on the floor laughing.

ninja names

Then we had some more friendly competition.  The kids were around 7& 8 and for the most part they didn’t mind the friendly competition.  We played a chop stick game.  I placed the same amount of chips on each bowl and they had to race to eat all of them first with their chopsticks.  This would be a fun minute to win it game for a crowd.

chopstick minute to win it game

ninja activity for kids

We then made some ninja stars from popsicle sticks and once they all had one made, we went outside so they could hit the target.  Though this was simple, the kids still needed help so make sure to have another adult around or give your self more time on this activity.

ninja star game

Then it was time for the piñata.  I made our piñata but not completely from scratch.  Since it’s virtually impossible to get generic non cartoon character piñatas here I bought one and striped off the face and added my dragon to it.  I downloaded the coloring page from the web, colored it in and glued it on.

diy dragon piñata

The kids had fun hitting it with a ninja sword.

ninja party piñata

I think it turned out great!  One year I decided not to do a piñata and my kids gave me grief about it so I bought one this time around.  They are lots of fun but sometimes it can be a headache trying to organize the kids.

piñata for kids

We came inside for cake and they ended up eating it outside inside the laser beam, lol. Told you they loved that activity.

I love that he’s beaming!

ninja cake

Here we are with the birthday boy!

ninja party fun


My son had a blast! I’m thankful that everything turned out great. My biggest fear was the cake but it was not just cute, it was moist and delicious.

ninja cake

Halloween Costume Ideas for Me

I am so excited a friend of mine is putting together a Costume Party for the ladies!

Dare I say, a Halloween Costume Party.

We are a part of a huge missionary community here so I walk on egg shells when using this term, Hallow……  So not to be offensive and to be all inclusive I usually say Harvest instead of Halloween. My parents didn’t let us celebrate Halloween so I am used to it but we do let our kids dress up for Halloween.

I love, love, love to dress up. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to a costume party since I moved to this country.  We’ve thrown some fun mystery dinner parties that my husband put together for my birthday but not a costume party where you can come as whatever you want.

So needless to say, I am EXCITED!  I just spent the past hour or so, looking for some costume ideas. This is what I came up with for easy no sew type of costumes that I think I could pull off.

If you are new here and you don’t want to miss our fun posts follow us via FacebookTwitter or  email.

halloween costumes for ladies

I really want to go with the Downton Abbey type of costume though I don’t think I can pull off being as pale as they are. I am a little on the tan side.  If I do go with this costume idea I may go with more of an evening gown look.   The Dorothy costume would take some work putting together and the rest would be really easy to pull off.

Oh, decisions, decisions.  There’s even going to be a prize!!!

What do you think I should go dressed up as?  Stop by my Facebook page and let me know here.

These are all pinned on my Halloween Pinterest Board plus more stop by and check it out. Frida Kahol costume image is via Oh Happy Day!

Christmas Shopping On a Budget Challenge and Tips

shopping on a budget

Christmas Shopping on a budget is definitely a challenge.  For those of us who have done this before, I know you totally agree. Christmas time can be a stressful time for a lot of families, especially if you have more than one child to shop for. Stressed caused by sitting in holiday shopping traffic, spending stress, trying to find the right gift stress, just so busy stress…..  Well, I recently found a way to relieve some of that stress, by doing some online shopping.

Have you heard of Cookie’s Kids?  I recently had the opportunity to shop there and I was amazed at how inexpensive their name brand clothing is. This was my shopping challenge.

The  Christmas Shopping on a Budget Challenge:

  • Shop for my 2 boys 5 and 8.
  • Do online shopping at Cookieskids.com.
  • Total should be under $35
  • Buy quality items.
  • Buy more than one thing for each of them.

Does it sound impossible? I will show you what I was able to do with $35 for my Christmas shopping.

I decided to focus on pajamas but there was more to be had, see below. My boys look so adorable in pj’s I am not sure if it’s because I know it means bedtime is coming soon and that makes them even more adorable, he, he, he. Regardless, they look absolutely heavenly in pajamas.

christmas shopping on a budge

I bought them each a pair of Carters pj’s but that’s not all. Keep reading to see everything I got for a total of under $35. This pair of pj’s were only 6.99.

christmas shopping on a budget

One of the great features about Cookieskids.com is they have a size tool for those of us who need to figure out what size your child wears. It’s near the bottom where the price and size options are located.

christmas pajamas

Two pairs of name brand pajamas were only $16 so I still had some money to play with. I added a fashionable cardigan sweater for our little guy that only cost me 9.99. And a long sleeve U.S. Polo Assn shirt for only $7.99.

christmas shopping on a budget

If you have been doing the math you realized by now that I am over $35 but when I went to their website I signed up to receive their newsletter because it would enter me to win an Ipad.  Well, in my inbox this is what I read one morning “Can we give you $10 Mari? Duh, yes of course. I remembered that email as soon as I started my online shopping and I pulled it up and grabbed the code to get my $10 discount.

Christmas shopping on a budget

I used it at checkout and my total for all four items was $33.96 and I got some bonus items: $25 Restaurant gift card and Parents magazine subscription for free! You can see my online shopping story here.

Are you amazed?  I most definitely was amazed at how much I was able to purchase and we will definitely be shopping at Cookieskids.com {#CookiesKids} again.  They also have a huge selection of toys and accessories!

Now you can also save, use this code at checkout : inspiredbyfamilymag
The details on the code: 10% off sitewide! Exp 12/21/12

5 Tips for Budget Christmas Shopping

  1. Create a budget- Figure out how much you can spend, write it down and stick to it.
  2. Price Compare- Go online and look into where you can find the same items at a cheaper price.
  3. Look for discounts- There are many online resources that offer codes for discounts at stores. You can also subscribe to a stores mailing list and they usually notify you when sales are happening.
  4. Don’t overdraw – If you do the math you end up paying double or triple for that $5 blouse because you overdrew.
  5. Make a list of the items you are needing to purchase.

Cookieskids.com has an amazing story on how they got started:
In 1972, a young man named Cookie and his brother Marvin went into business together. They rented a 1600 square foot store in Jamaica, Queens, fixed it up, bought inventory and Summer and Fall, and opened a day after Thanksgiving with a full stock of holiday toys. The toys were a success and they put the extra money toward buying children’s clothing for the next season. When that did well, they bought more clothing. The business was on its way.
As the brothers Cookie, Marvin and Sonny, who had come in as a third partner in the business, began to open new stores in new locations, inventory expanded. Besides the latest fashions, our customers wanted shoes, toys, backpacks and accessories and we were prepared to deliver.
By the late 1990’s there were six superstores throughout the NYC area, and though they previously had different names, by that time they were all named Cookie’s Kids. Also in the late ’90s came an important addition to Cookie’s Kids’ inventory: school uniforms. It was the steady success in uniform sales that paved the way for founding CookiesKids.com in 2007, which originally sold uniforms and soon after the entire Cookie’s Kids Inventory.

You can find Cookieskids.com at  any of there 7 stores in the NYC area in Bronx, Brooklyn and Jamaica as well as online at CookiesKids.com and via their social networks.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and CookiesKids.com #CBias #SocialFabric”