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Smart shipping strategies

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, Community Manager

The cost of shipping is often overlooked, but can take a big bite out of your holiday budget.  According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend about $700 on holiday expenses with only $26.10 earmarked for cards and postage.  Since we have so little set aside for shipping gifts, we'd better get on the ball and ship early if we want to get the gifts there in time for Christmas.

Here's an example of how seven days can save me $23.75 on shipping my Grandma's Christmas gift.

holiday shipping dates and costs

If you’re still buying books in book form and need to ship them, don’t forget to ask about a “media rate.” The post office offers special pricing for sending all types of media including books, film, manuscripts, sound recordings, video tapes, CDs and DVDs. If the 3-pound box from Denver to Pittsburgh qualified for the media rate, it would only cost $3.16 to ship. 

And since you time is valuable too, be sure to plan your visit to the post office.  In 2009, the Postal Service saw its busiest day on December 14, with 830 million pieces of mail entering the system. This year's busiest day will probably be Monday, December 13. 

For international shipping costs and deadlines visit And, if you’re shopping online, consider placing your orders on Free Shipping Day. On December 17, hundreds of merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. For a list of participating merchants visit

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Submit your regifting story today!

The 5th AnnuaRegiftable.coml Regifting Story Contest is underway at! Share your regifting stories and videos now through December 31, 2010 for a chance to win prizes valued up to $500.

Even if you don't have a story to share, it's well worth your time to stop by and read the latest entries and vote for your favorite. 

Visit and share your story!

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Last minute gift ideas

With Christmas right around the corner, the mad dash to the mall is on. For many it is crunch time to check off the final items on their gift list, wrapped and placed under the tree or delivered in time for December 25. The holidays usually present a shopping frenzy, which is why it is understandable many people put off the madness until the last minute.

One up side to procrastination is many retailers offer great last minute deals. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American consumers will spend an estimated $688.87 billion on holiday gifts this season, so the extra discounts are well worth the wait.

Finding the perfect gift at the last minute may be difficult, but the experts at MMI are here to help ease the tension with the following gift ideas.

Buy gift cards - Gift cards are great gift options for all occasions. You can either choose a gift card from the recipient’s favorite store or a generic gift card such as VISA or American Express. Gift cards give recipients the option and freedom to buy something they’ll love. Just be sure to check the store’s policy before you buy. Most gift cards are invalid after a certain date and cannot be redeemed for cash.

Create personalized gift certificates - A great gift isn’t always something tangible. Sometimes giving someone your time is the best present. Get creative this holiday season and create free personalized gift certificates. You can create a gift certificate good for 20 hours of free babysitting or free cleaning services for a month. Visit to create your own personalized gift certificate.

Offer homemade treats - Give your loved ones a heartwarming treat from the oven. Bake homemade sweet bread, gingerbread cookies, or mini raspberry cupcakes. Deliver the treats in festive containers. Your family and friends will be pleasantly surprised with the edible delights. For recipe ideas download the free Cheap Eats eBook.

Regift - Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to find great gift ideas. Sometimes it’s as nearby as your own closet. Skip the crowded malls and high prices and consider regifting this year. Acceptable regifts include any unused gift. For successful regifting, make sure you don’t regift to the original giver and give a regift that someone would actually enjoy. For more tips and ideas on regifting, visit

The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends and nothing shows affection more than something meaningful from the heart. Great gifts don’t have to come packaged in decorative holiday wrapping. Consider making a charitable donation to a charity in the recipient’s name. Choose an organization that has the most meaning to the recipient.

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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