Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Christmas With Strategic Shopping: The Twelve Months of Christmas Review

This post contains affiliate links. I make a commission on each purchase made through the link. 

I am a member of the Strategic Shopping Promo Team for Candy Foote's two strategic shopping ebooks. I chose to review the ebook titled, Christmas with Strategic Shopping: The Twelve Months of Christmas. Yes, I am very well aware that Christmas is over. However, as Candy would say "Christmas is always coming." Have you started preparing for next year? I can honestly say that I have! Before I begin my review, I want to tell you a little about Candy and her other book.

Candy Foote is a Christian mother of twelve and homeschool veteran with 21 years experience who learned over the years how to save money by shopping smarter and frugally. She offers workshop classes on her website which is filled with free information. You will find Candy's other ebook for sale titled, Strategic Shopping, on her website. She enjoys helping others live a quality life by teaching them how to save money.

Strategic Shopping is a 143-page step-by-step guide that teaches you strategies about how to save money on brand name "real" food groceries, prescriptions, couponing, coupon policies, discounts and rebates, stockpiling, and more. By utilizing the strategies in Candy's book, you will learn how to get rock-bottom prices, FREE items, and even see how she had stores pay her to shop! It shows you how to create a shopping plan and when to make purchases in order to get those rock-bottom prices. There is a lot of information in this book! The book also includes coupon binder printables in the appendix.
Strategic Shopping:

Now, let's move on to the bulk of my review. Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday of the year, but it can often be a source of stress due to last minute plans and shopping. My husband and I have been discussing ways to save money. I try to shop ahead of time throughout the year, but it never fails Christmas shopping piles up in December along with my never-ending to-do list. I am also known for going to the "extreme" when planning birthday parties, anniversaries, Valentine's Day gifts, Easter baskets, and Christmas celebrations. We end up spending a fortune and often accumulate more credit card debt which can cause a great deal of stress on us and our finances. We are still paying off Christmas present debt from last year and the year before. Unfortunately, we had to eliminate many people from our shopping list this year which made this particular gift-giver feel terribly sad.

Next Christmas WILL be different. I have a plan thanks to Candy Foote's strategic shopping techniques. I know that sounds corny, but she truly motivated me to make some changes in my life going into the new year. I immediately implemented the suggested ideas. I look forward to finding fantastic deals especially from now until the end of March. I am already constantly checking the clearance shelves in every store keeping watch for those rock-bottom prices. My six-year-old daughter is helping me shop sales too! I couldn't believe that we found the perfect color Christmas glass ornaments (blue and silver) discounted at 90% off at Big Lots last week for only 40-50 cents per package. Furthermore, each package contained 12-24 high quality ornaments! It makes sense to buy after the season and use the items next year.   

Book Description
The 62-page recently released ebook was downloaded in PDF format on my computer and iPad enabling me to read it anywhere or anytime I desired. I occasionally skimmed the pages of book to remind myself of my shopping goals when out and about running errands.
Christmas with Strategic Shopping: The Twelve Months of Christmas

Christmas with Strategic Shopping: The Twelve Months of Christmas is a month-by-month guide revealing tips and strategy techniques for saving money in preparation for Christmas and other celebrations. Each chapter represents a month of the year.

Book Includes:
  • Christmas at the Foote House Family Stories
  • Month-By-Month Chapters Detailing and Discussing Strategy Techniques, Tips, and Advice
  • Monthly Shopping Goal Summaries
  • Fifteen Pages of Basic Christmas Notebook Printables
The titled Christmas notebook printables give you the option of recording your own ideas in one convenient place. The binder printables contains the following titles:
  1. Notebook Cover
  2. Numbered Christmas Card List
  3. Christmas Decorations
  4. Size Sheet
  5. Christmas Crafts and Projects
  6. Homemade Gifts
  7. Christmas Baking
  8. Christmas Eve Plans
  9. Christmas Activities
  10. Christmas Songs, Poems, and Play
  11. Christmas Eve Dinner
  12. Christmas Dinner
  13. Christmas Party Plans
  14. Stocking Stuffers
  15. Gift List
Note: Please remember that you choose what you what to print out and that you can always print in grayscale if necessary. A minimal amount of color was used to create the printables.  

My Thoughts
I have to say . . . I absolutely LOVED reading Christmas with Strategic Shopping! One aspect of the book that draws in my attention is that each chapter of the book begins with a glance into Candy's family life during Christmas time. I thoroughly enjoy reading about how others celebrate Christmas. The author tells you how her "mega" family celebrates Christmas by listing some of their favorite activities, projects, classic Christmas movies, traditions, gift-giving opportunities, and more. Her "Pitch In Jar" idea is similar to the Christmas Jar activity we do every year enabling us to give to someone in need. Many connections were made to the author's ideas especially with regards to Christmas traditions and activities. The stories set a conversational tone to the book. Candy is straightforward and honest letting you know ahead of time that they strive to focus on the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus). The family stories are noted with asterisks at the top of the page and labeled as, "Christmas at the Foote House." I can sense her passion for Christmas celebrations as I read about the joyous occasions in her stories.

I really appreciated the simplicity of the writing format. The format of the ebook makes it very easy to read in a short amount of time which is great if you are a slow reader like myself. The author utilized short paragraphs, spacing, bulleted numbering, lists, and summaries. The text was also a reasonable size and font. It was a quick yet informative read!

The insightful tips and strategies were outstanding! I have used a Christmas gift box for years. I collect items I purchase on sale, but never thought to dedicate an entire closet to gifts which would be needed if I used the described methods in the book shopping during the monthly sale cycles. I never knew about some of the mentioned sale cycles and now I can save even more money by paying attention to them. Candy says strategic shopping is about having a plan and timing. I know what I am shopping for and now I know when to buy those items at the lowest price possible. I made a list of Christmas presents we buy every year. It included movies, books, games, winter clothes, pajamas, ornaments, baking items, crafts, and music. I already have three games, several dolls, a pair of house slippers, four books, and more in my gift closet box after watching sales closely. Candy taught me to track the sales noticing the discount percentages of 50-75-90% off.

I loved that the author included gift basket ideas which can be used for a variety of celebrations. Easter baskets go on sale in April. I never thought to purchase Easter baskets and paint them for use as Christmas baskets until Candy recommended it. I learned a lot reading this book. Did you know that cleaning supplies go on sale in April? That was news to me! Cleaning supplies are so expensive especially without coupons. I will be stockpiling when I notice those rock-bottom prices. I also learned that higher priced ticket items need to be bought in May and that we need to avoid the temptation to buy those items if they aren't necessary. I had to remind my husband to wait when he mentioned buying a new cell phone to replace his old one. Why pay more when you can get it for a lot less? 

Furthermore, Candy wants to help you become more organized during the holidays. She provided the actual Christmas notebook printables she uses in her binder as a guide. I do prefer lined printables, because I have sloppy handwriting without them. However, I went ahead and printed the sheets out to put in my personal Strategic Shopping binder. I also listed the Christmas activities and baking that I want to do with my family each year eliminating the doodled notes I keep finding on numerous pieces of paper and napkins scattered around the house.
Cover Printed in Grayscale
Another one of my favorite features of the ebook would be the step-by-step numbered summaries for each chapter indicating the monthly shopping goals. The summary is a reminder of what I should be doing and of the important items to be on the lookout for when making purchases during that specific month. I didn't have to print out the entire book. I decided to print out the summaries placing the pages behind the appropriate month of the year tabs in my binder in addition to my Christmas notebook printables.

I will continue implementing the suggestions and advice offered in this book in hopes to spread out the cost of Christmas spending throughout the entire year rather than scrambling to buy gifts in December. Furthermore, I made a list of the items purchased so that I would remember them as gifts for other occasions. I want to make a sale tracking sheet for the stores in my area to help me recognize when items are 50, 75, and 90% off, because sale times can vary a bit depending on your location.

I no longer want to feel the guilt after overspending each Christmas. Putting my plan in action was the key to making wise gift-giving decisions without impulse buying at the last minute. I believe with my new plan, I will be able to buy for everyone on my list instead of figuring out who I need to cross off the list. These preparations will help reduce stress around the holidays allowing me to spend quality time with my family while keeping more money in my pocket. I really wanted to organize my Christmas binder prior to reviewing this book. Candy inspired me to start that project. 

Current Sale Prices 
Strategic Shopping is currently available for $6.99 and Christmas with Strategic Shopping is the affordable price of $3.99. The ebook bundle price for both books is only $8.99. You can find the products listed in her store.
Strategic Shopping Ebook Bundle
Be sure to use the 20% off discount code which is offered until Sunday, February 2nd. The coupon code to be used at checkout is 20%OffEverything.

I recommend Christmas with Strategic Shopping: The Twelve Months of Christmas to both novice and experienced shoppers who have a strong desire to prepare and plan ahead in order to save money on Christmas gifts for the future. In fact, I strongly recommend both of Candy's Strategic Shopping books.

The Christmas with Strategic Shopping book will also appeal to individuals wanting to become gift-givers on a limited budget. Candy offers ideas in her book on how to encourage your children to serve and give to others instead of thinking of themselves first. She doesn't see Christmas gift-giving as a "burden." She teaches her children to think of others first which is something that I truly admire about the author.

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