Shopping Last-Minute for Mom? Here Are 10 Ways to Still Stay on Budget

We've got your budget — and your status as Mom's favorite — covered.

Forgetting to pick up something for Mother’s Day can really cost you — and we’re not talking about the hot water it could land you in with Mom. Express shipping or rush flower delivery isn’t exactly cheap and hitting up the closest retailer before you hightail it to that fancy restaurant is a surefire way to overpay. That’s not so say spending beaucoup bucks on Mom is a bad thing, but we’re pretty sure she wouldn’t want you busting your budget for the big day — especially because some upcharges can be avoided.

Here are 10 ways progeny tardy to the party (and on a tight budget) can avoid overspending this Mother’s Day.

1. Skip Delivery …

Because it’s going to significantly up the amount of money you’re throwing down for Mom. Overnight shipping can easily cost $20 or more, so consider in-store pickup.

That goes for flowers, too. Most florists up the delivery charge on (and the closer you get to) prime petal days, so to avoid an upcharge, pick up an arrangement at your local grocer and deliver it to Mom yourself. (Pro tip to bank for next year: If you want to avoid paying uber-dollars for flower delivery, arrange for Mom’s bouquet to arrive early. It’ll be a nice surprise and save you a chunk of change.)

2. … Unless You’ve Got Amazon Prime

The online retail giant is currently offering free same-day and one-day shipping to prime members in over 5,000 cities and towns with qualifying orders over $35. You can check the website for full details (and to see if your city’s on the list.)

3. Shop Your Credit Card Issuer …

Issuer reward portals are known for offering bonus points, miles or cash back on seasonal purchases from their partners. We’re talking 5% back at popular brands and, better yet. 15% back on flower delivery. If you’re lucky, you’ll even find a coupon code or discount to pair with the bonus rewards you’ll ultimately receive.

Just don’t let the lure of all those rewards lead you to overspend. That’ll defeat the purpose. Plus, high credit card balances can skew your credit score. You can see where you currently stand by looking up two free scores on Credit.com.

4. … Or Use Your Rewards

If you can’t avoid going over budget, consider using credit card rewards to fund Mom’s gift. You can redeem points or cash back for a statement credit, so long as your program permits. Or trade those rewards in for a gift card Mom’ll love. Some issuers will even let you use rewards to pay for purchases directly on partner sites, like Amazon (more on the most flexible rewards credit cards here).

5. Look for Discount Gift Card Deals

Sites like Gift Card Granny and Cardpool resell gift cards at discounted rates and their offerings are pretty expansive. So whether you’re looking to give Mom a gift card or save on the night out, these marketplaces could be worth checking out.

6. Cook

Because you’re probably going to have a hard time getting a reservation at this point anyway. Make mom’s favorite food — or, if she has expensive tastes, keep it simple. We’ve got some suggestions here that’ll help you keep a holiday meal to $5 per person.

If you are committed to taking mom out, you can still find ways to save. There are some brunch alternatives that will spare you from breaking the bank — and you can also use a restaurant rewards credit card to at least get some kickbacks on a fancy meal.

7. Find Some Freebies

They’re certainly out there. From a complimentary mimosa during brunch at a DoubleTree to a gratis red velvet cake donut and small coffee at LaMar’s to a free entree with drink purchase from Hooters (yes, you read that right), plenty of places are willing to give mom a treat. Search online for deals near you. (Remember, terms apply.)

8. Hit Up the Dollar Store

You can usually find a large selection of greeting cards, wrapping paper, tags and ribbons for 99-cents or less.

9. Get Crafty

It’s the thought that counts so skip the luxury retailer and put in a little elbow grease. There are plenty of DIY Mother’s Day projects floating around Pinterest and, if you’ve got two left thumbs, check out some video tutorials on YouTube.

10. Work Your Lateness

Certain things, like flower or food delivery, are going to cost extra when you’re up against the wire, but there’s still a chance your last-minute shopping spree could pay off. Retailers with excess inventory might be inclined to offer discounts, especially on holiday-branded items. Scope out clearance sections and search online for last-minute Mother’s Day deals.

Pro tip: If you find an online-only deal, skirt high shipping fees and/or a mom-tastrophe by sending the item directly to mom’s house. Next, print out a picture of your gift and tucking that image into the greeting card you picked up at the dollar store. That way, Mom will know it’s on the way.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Note: It’s important to remember that prices for products and services frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms cited in this article may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with the company directly.

Image: PeopleImages

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12 Ikea Shopping Hacks

ikea-shopping-tips

There’s something thrilling about going to Ikea. The big blue and yellow sign, the smell of Swedish meatballs and cinnamon buns in the air, and the dizzying amount of merchandise are enough to make your head spin. Everything looks amazing and you want to buy it all (or at least I do!). Here are 12 hacks to keep your spending in check.

1. Peruse the Website 

Because being in an Ikea store can be overwhelming, take a few minutes to go through the Ikea website before you head to the store. The site also has lots of deals that you might miss when you’re physically in the store.

“Look up your local Ikea’s store webpage because there are always special deals you may only learn about from seeing them online,” Josh Elledge, founder of smart shopping site, SavingsAngel.com, said. 

2. Make a List 

Ikea.com offers online shopping lists so you can get organized before you go. Because let’s be real, we’ve all headed to Ikea to look for a bedside table and left with a car full of stuff and a big credit card bill to show for it. Lisa Batra, the founder of My Kid’s Threads, the online marketplace where parents can buy and sell designer children’s clothing, suggests adding the locations of each item to your list. 

3. Sign Up for the Moving Program

If you’re planning a move and intend to make a big Ikea purchase, take advantage of their moving program where they’ll give you a 25% off coupon on your next purchase of $250 or more.

4. Check the Sales

Ikea stores usually have a special sale one day a week, so call ahead to ask what day that is and plan accordingly. The sales vary, but they are usually an extra percentage off certain items or categories.

“I have found the best time to visit Ikea is early in the morning on the weekdays — Monday happens to be my favorite due to fresh inventory and less crowds,” Batra said.

“Household furnishings are least expensive in December, same with cookware and tableware. They’re most expensive in May and June,” said Brett Graff, leading expert on all things home economics at TheHomeEconomist.com and publications like the Los Angeles Times.

5. Be Prepared

Graff pointed out that Ikea can be a workout. “We make better spending decisions when we’re not distracted, so wear comfortable shoes, have a snack and a water bottle on hand,” he said. “Leave the kids at home, they tend to ask for things and get tired.”

When it comes to bags, it helps to bring your own. Batra always brings her own bags since you’ll have to pay for them otherwise. 

6. Become an Ikea Family Member

“The Ikea Family program is a no brainer because it offers exclusive (and often generous) discounts on select products,” Elledge said. In addition to special discounts, often in the 15-20% off range, and extra time in Småland (the ball room), the program entitles members to free coffee and tea in the restaurant, early sales announcements, 90-day price protection, BOGO frozen yogurt and, every once and a while, the chance to win gift cards.

7. Enter Through the Exit 

When you arrive at the store, Batra recommends entering through the exit door, which will put you in the warehouse. “You’ll have your list ready with the locations all mapped out so you’ll be in and out in a jiffy!” she said. “This tip has saved me countless hours and dollars in my pocket. Plus it allows me to bypass all the eye candy throughout the store.” 

8. Visit the ‘As-Is’ Section

Another advantage of hitting the warehouse first, according to Batra, is the “As-Is” section, which is nearby. She suggests finding out when your local store restocks the “As-Is” section, which in her experience is usually on Mondays. If you are not familiar, the “As-Is” section contains discounted items that are already assembled. These items have either been used for display or were returned by other customers. The price is generally right and you don’t have to put the items together (but you do have to squeeze them into your car!).

9. Stay on the Straight & Narrow 

Ikea is a prime example of a store that is designed to entice shoppers to buy, buy, buy. The winding path ensures that you see (and hopefully want) literally every item in the store. Instead of following this designated path, follow the “shortcuts” signs to get to the areas you need to visit more quickly. Also, consider putting the Ikea app up on your phone because it provides a handy map. 

10. Watch for ‘Last Chance’ Tags 

It’s OK to veer off your path if you happen to see a yellow “last chance” tag on something that intrigues you. That tag indicates that the item is about to be discontinued. There is usually a discount being offered as well, so consider snapping it up!

11. Keep Those Booklets 

You might be inclined to toss those instructional booklets once you’ve assembled your purchases, but Elledge recommends hanging onto them so you can get free replacement of broken parts.

“All you need to do is visit your local Ikea store and show them the parts you need,” he said. “To make the process much easier, use your booklet to ID the product and exact part number. Because of this benefit alone, Ikea is my go-to store for most furniture items.”

12. Consider Ikea Delivery 

So many stores offer free shipping that Ikea’s $59 delivery fee might seem pricey. But, if you are buying more than your car can hold, that fee is much more reasonable than renting a U-Haul. The $59 fee can increase based on the distance from you home to the store, but it does not increase based on the size of your order.

Remember, whether you’re redecorating your digs, buying a new home or furnishing an apartment, it’s important to stay on budget. High levels of debt can wind up hurting your wallet — and your credit score. You can see how your current debt levels are affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.

Image: theJIPEN

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