Saving On Your Energy Bill During The Holidays

Posted on December 4th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

Christmas lights

Last week, our family took a drive to look at some Christmas decorations in the area. We found one home that had probably the largest, most elaborate (and beautiful) display I think I’ve ever seen. One of my first thoughts was wondering what that family’s electricity bill looked like for the month of December. My next thought was that even though we don’t put up lights to attract neighbors to come stand outside our house, we do use more electricity.

So here are a few tips to help keep that electricity bill in check while you participate in the festivities of the holiday season.

1. Use LED lights. Did you know that LED lights use 90% less electricity than do regular Christmas lights? It’s worth making the switch.

2. Limit the time your lights are on. The goal is to have them on for six hours or less. So, turn them on when it gets dark and off when you head for bed.

3. Maximize the lights you have. Unless you’re reading or need more lighting, use your tree lights and turn off all the other lighting in your living room. I like doing that because it’s pretty and festive, plus it saves energy.

4. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. My parents taught me this one! And, I have done this religiously throughout my life, as a result. But you know how difficult this is when you have children? They leave the lights on all the time, even during the day! So, I’ve added, “Did you turn the lights off?” to the list of questions I ask after, “Did you flush?” It would be funny if it weren’t so real. In any case, we are getting much better at that now.

What do you do to save on your energy bill at this time of the year?



Thrifty Ways to Take Off (and Keep Off) Those Holiday Pounds

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 by Discount Debbie


set scale back

I saw various versions of this very funny meme on Facebook right around Thanksgiving. We joke about the holiday ten pounds almost like we do the “freshman fifteen,” right? And while many of us don’t actually put on an additional ten pounds, we can definitely feel our jeans suddenly feel a bit snug.

Some years I’ve done better than others in terms of putting that weight on to begin with. But this year, I can feel it a bit. When I went running last weekend, it was as though I could feel the sweet potato pie dragging me down. 😉 But rather than feeling bad about the additional weight, I just decided to do what I know to do while I enjoy this season.

1. Make sure exceptions are just that, exceptions. We all want to enjoy those creamy mashed potatoes, the sweet potato biscuits and, of course, the pie. I sure did! But, in reality, I had made exceptions leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s the real problem. We don’t put on ten pounds at one sitting. It’s all the exceptions before and after that meal. So, I decided that I’d quickly get back to my normal eating and work out routine so that my jeans feel back to normal by Christmas (or sooner). I expect to make exceptions again for our Christmas dinner, but that won’t be a problem as long as I’m back in my routine between now and then.

2. Keep moving, even on vacation. Maybe it’s too cold or icy to run outside. Throw in a workout DVD. Dance around with your children for 20 minutes. The weather is nice enough for us at this time of the year that I got onto the trampoline with my children the other day. That was after an impromptu soccer match in our backyard. 🙂 It’ll burn a few calories, keep your body moving, and be fun to exercise with your family.

3. Don’t think about food. It seems that the more we work on being careful with our food/calorie intake, the more likely we are to think about food and our bodies. Just have fun and allow for a few well-deserved exceptions. They are more fun that way.

How do you manage your weight around the holidays?


Bonus Holiday Gift Card Deals!

Posted on December 2nd, 2014 by Discount Debbie

Holiday Gift Cards

If you’re planning on buying a gift card for a loved one this Christmas, you now have even more reason to do the same for family and friends this season. Many companies are offering “bonus” cards with a gift card purchase. That is, if you buy a card, they’ll give you another card or credit for yourself. It’s a great way to give a gift, if you ask me. 😉 Check out the list below!

Barnes and Noble
Buy $75 in gift cards or eGift cards, receive a $10 eGift card free
Get a $20 gift card when you spend $100 to $299. Use promo code HARVEST

Get a $10 Promotional Card when you buy $50 worth of gift cards

Black Angus
Get $10 in e-Bonus Bucks for every $50 in gift cards that your purchase

Bonefish Grill
Buy $100 worth of gift cards, get a $20 bonus card

Boston Market
Receive a $5 bonus card when you buy a $25 gift card

Get a $20 bonus offer for every $100 gift card purchase

Buca di Beppo
Receive a $10 Reward Card for every $50 in gift cards that you buy

California Pizza Kitchen
Purchase $100 in gift cards, and get a $20 Promotional Card

Purchase $100 in gift cards, get a $20 bonus card

Children’s Place
Get a $10 coupon when you make a $40 gift card purchase

Get a $10 bonus card when you buy $50 in gift cards

Claim Jumper
Receive a $10 Reward Card for every $50 in gift cards that you buy

Get a free Value Basket for every $25 in gift cards purchased

Don Pablo’s
Buy a $25 gift card, get a $25 gift certificate

Fleming’s Steak House
Get a free $20 gift card for every $100 gift card that you buy

Golden Corral
Receive $5 in Bonus Bucks for every $25 in gift card purchases

Half Price Books
Get a $5 bonus card when you buy a $25 gift card

Joe’s Crab Shack
Receive $30 in coupons for every $25 spent on gift cards

Kona Grill
Receive a $20 bonus card for every $100 in gift cards

Macaroni Grill
Earn a $5 Grazie card for every $25 gift card purchased

Maggiano’s Little Italy
Spend $100 on gift cards, get a Bonus card for up to $20 off a $50 food and drink purchase, plus a subscription to Food & Wine Magazine

Max and Erma’s
Get a $5 Bonus Card with a $25 gift card purchase

Morton’s Steakhouse
Buy a $250 gift card and receive a $50 Reward Card

Snag a $5 reward card when you buy a $25 gift card

Olive Garden
Get a $10 bonus offer when you purchase $50 or more in gift cards

Outback Steakhouse
Get a $20 bonus card for every $100 in gift cards purchased

Receive a $10 bonus card when you purchase $50 in gift cards

P.F. Chang’s
Purchase $100 in gift cards, get a $20 Bonus Card

Red Lobster
Purchase a $25 gift card online, get a $5 bonus coupon

Red Robin
Get a Free Movie Ticket when you buy a $25 limited edition gift card

Ruby Tuesday
Buy $25 in gift cards get a $5 bonus card. Buy $50 in gift cards, get a $15 bonus coupon. Includes free shipping, too

Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes
Earn a free meal pass for every $50 in gift cards purchased

Steak and Shake
Buy $20 in gift cards, get a $5 certificate

Texas Roadhouse
Spend $30 or more on gift cards, get a $5 eGift Card

T.G.I. Friday’s
Get a Bonus Bites card for every $25 that you spend on gift cards

Tony Roma’s
Get $15 in RomaBucks for every $50 in gift cards purchased

It’s true that it’s better to give than to receive. But you have to admit that it’s fun to receive a little something while you’re giving! 😉

Will you be purchasing any gift cards this season?

Frugal Cooking Substitutions

Posted on November 26th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

cooking substitutions

It’s time to start cooking Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve started your preparations. No one wants to head over to the crowded, chaotic grocery store now, right? But, what do you do if you don’t have enough eggs or didn’t realize that your recipe called for “apple pie spice?” What is that, anyway?

Here’s a little list that should help you make practical, frugal substitutions just in case you don’t have exactly what your recipe calls for at any time but especially today!
Allspice 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Apple pie spice 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, and either 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, ginger or cloves

Bay leaf 1 whole = 1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves

Bread Crumbs, dry 1 cup =
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 cup ground oats
1 cup crushed potato chips

Buttermilk (sour milk) 1 cup =
1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoons vinegar (white or cider) or lemon juice (let stand 5 minutes before using)
1 cup milk plus 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup mild-flavored soy milk, plus 1 tablespoons vinegar (white or cider) or lemon juice (let stand 5 minutes before using)
1 cup plain or low fat yogurt
1 cup sour cream

Coconut milk, canned 1 cup = 1 cup whole milk

Cornstarch (for thickening) 1 tablespoon =
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon granulated tapioca
1 tablespoon potato or rice starch
1 tablespoon arrowroot
4 teaspoon instant tapioca

Cream, half-and-half 1 cup =
1/2 cup whole milk, plus 1/2 cup light cream
7/8 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
3 tablespoons oil plus enough milk to equal 1 cup
1/2 cup coffee cream plus 1/2 cup milk

Cream cheese 1 cup =
1 cup pureed cottage cheese
1 cup plain yogurt, strained overnight in a cheesecloth

Garlic 1 clove, small =
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon instant minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic salt (reduce amount salt called for in recipe)

Pumpkin pie spice 1 teaspoon =
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!


Get Ready For Black Friday

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by Discount Debbie

black friday

Does anyone remember the time when Black Friday was a one day (or maybe weekend) event that actually began on the Friday after Thanksgiving? It now begins, for some people, before they have even had their slice of pumpkin pie. Black Friday has shoved its way into our holiday feast and called itself grey Thursday. What a sad way to blur our beloved Thanksgiving holiday. Can you tell how I feel about the whole thing?

I don’t go out Thursday night and I hardly ever go out on Fridays anymore (except to go get my clearance turkey). 😉 However, I do understand that it’s possible to get some amazing deals. And, I love a good deal. So if you’re a grey Thursday/Black Friday shopper, more power to you. Here are a few tips to make sure your time and money are well spent.

1. Do Your Homework. Scour the ads and websites of the stores you think you may visit for the specific items you’re looking for. There will be plenty of items marked “sale,” “price cut,” or something more dramatic to get your attention. Just check the prices and you decide on the best deal.

2. Prioritize. It’s going to be crazy out there. I know. Just call me “Captain Obvious.” I say that to say that if you have a list, start with the item you want most just in case you can’t get to everything.

3. Divide and Conquer. Go with friends or family and divide up your list to get a better chance of snatching all the good deals you’re after. Plus, if you make sure you each grab a hot cup of something, then it might feel a little more festive while you’re out there in the frigid temperatures!

What do you do to plan for your big Black Friday adventure?

Don’t Stress Over Thanksgiving Prep

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

Thanksgiving Prep

Thanksgiving is one week away! One week! How did that happen? If you’re like me, you can’t wait for fall to arrive. It seems to be an eternity, waiting for the season to change. Then, you are thrilled when the weather finally begins to get cool and it “feels like” the holidays. Then, about a week before Thanksgiving, you can’t believe how fast the time has gone! This happens to me every year. Along with that “I can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving” comes the slight panic over all that has to get done before that day. Here are a few tips to help you (and me) enjoy more and stress a little less on the big day.

Plan Ahead

There’s not too much time to plan ahead right now. However, just making sure that you know exactly what needs to be done one week in advance makes a difference. Make sure you know (and even write down) what you need to buy for all the foods you’ll be preparing, all the supplies you may need, all the projects (aside from the usual cleaning) that you want to have done before the guests arrive next Thursday.

Do Whatever Can Be Done Early

Most pies and desserts can be made the day before. Some cleaning and organizing can be done several days before (unless you have little ones who will get into whatever you’ve just organized).

Get Help

Older children can help set the table, clean, and entertain little ones. Friends might enjoy coming over a little early to chat while helping with final preparations.


Remember that your plans and expectations are not shared by your guests. So rather than letting your expectations taunt you on Thanksgiving, enjoy time with family and friends even if you didn’t get to make everything you’d hoped or decorate exactly as you had envisioned.

What else do you do to ensure that Thanksgiving is more fun than stressful?


Plan Ahead: Thanksgiving Clearance

Posted on November 18th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

Thanksgiving Clearance

My ideal shopping is done with a hot cup of coffee in one hand as I sit bundled up with a computer on my lap and packages arriving at my door. If I could buy all my groceries that way, I would! 😉 However, there are just a few exceptions to my ideal and those usually involve the word “clearance” and getting amazing deals on food.

I know that what we all have on our minds right now is preparing for Thanksgiving and buying Christmas and holiday presents. So, allow me to shed a little happy light on your frenzied preparations. I encourage you to think about both what you’d want to get at clearance prices for Thanksgiving next year, like decorations, decorative paper plates and napkins, baking cups and what you could use the day after Thanksgiving!

While I enjoy getting ahead of the game by getting clearance items for the following year, I get much more excited about clearance items I could use once Thanksgiving has come and gone. Especially if that item is food.

We rarely think about food as a clearance item. However, several years ago a manager in the meat section of my local grocery store told me that they considered ham and turkey to be holiday items, just like all those Thanksgiving decorations. So when those decorations get marked down 40% or 50%, so does the turkey and so does the ham.

I realize that those words may not be music to the ears of people who endure eating turkey one day a year. But for the rest of us who love turkey (especially all the fun meals you can make with all the leftovers), this whole thing is pretty exciting! 🙂

Turkey can be stored in a deep freezer for up to one year. For the last couple of years, I have bought as many as I could fit in our freezer. The turkey in my freezer now is one I bought after Christmas. It’s an organic turkey I got for $0.49/lb. It will be this year’s Thanksgiving turkey. Then, on the morning after Thanksgiving, I’ll head over to my grocery store to pick up several to stuff in my freezer for this next year. One of those will be our Christmas turkey and the rest we’ll eat throughout the year. When thrifty means yummy, you know you’ve done something right!

This has been a public service announcement. You’re welcome. 😉

Do you ever buy turkey the day after Thanksgiving?

Hot Deals

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by Coupon Cathy

wrapping paper

I’m a firm believer in buying whatever wrapping paper, tissue paper, and ribbons on December 26 for the following year (or years, depending on how much you buy). However, if you are in need of wrapping paper for this Christmas, be sure to get it on sale. Right now, you can get a great deal on wrapping paper at Rite Aid. Check out the other great deals on the list below.


Buy 3 Holiday Gift Bags $1.99, regular price
Buy One Get Two Free through 11/8
Final Price: $0.66 each, when you buy 3

Buy 3 Holiday Wrapping Paper $1.99, regular price
Buy One Get Two Free through 11/8
Final Price: $1.00 each, when you buy 3

Buy 3 Holiday Tissue Paper Packs, 20 sheets $2.49, regular price
Buy One Get Two Free through 11/8
Final Price: $0.83 each, when you buy 3

Buy 2 Cream of Wheat Instant Hot Cereal, 3 pk $1.00, regular price
Use one $1.00/2 – Cream of Wheat Products (
Final Price: $0.50 each, when you buy 2


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toddler Hoodie (reg $15.00) $1.50, clearance price
Final Price: $1.50

The Sunday Target mailer will include an in-ad coupon: $10.00 off a select household or baby purchase of $40.00 or more. Included brands are Cottonelle, Scott, Dixie, Kleenex, Viva, All, Huggies, Solo and Snuggle. This coupon will also be available as a Target mobile coupon. Text STOCKUP to 827438. Get the hot deal below on Huggies products when you stack the $10.00 Target coupon with printable manufacturer coupons.

Buy 3 Huggies Jumbo Pack Diapers $8.99, regular price
Buy 2 Huggies Pull-Ups Night-Time Jumbo Pack, 20 ct $7.99, regular price
Use one $10.00/1 Household/Baby Purchase, $40.00 or more, in-ad Target Coupon
And use three $3.00/1 – Huggies Diapers  (
And use two $3.00/1 – Huggies Pull-Ups (
And use one $2.00/1 – Huggies Pull-Ups Product, TARGET COUPON (
Final Price: $3.19 each, when you buy all 5

Buy 4 Huggies Jumbo Pack Diapers $8.99, regular price
Buy 3 Huggies Wipes, 56 ct $1.97, regular price
Use one $10.00/1 Household/Baby Purchase, $40.00 or more, in-ad Target Coupon
And use four $3.00/1 – Huggies Diapers  (
And use three $0.50/1  – Huggies Baby WIpes, 32 ct or larger (
Final Price: $2.62 each, when you buy all 7

Have you started your holiday shopping yet?

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