How to Coupon

How to Understand the Wording on Coupons

Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Clipping CouponsA new year inspires people to make the resolution to start saving money. One good way to save money on groceries (and more) is to use coupons. Those who are new to couponing may find the wording on the coupons, the abbreviations, or the “coupon language” to be confusing. Here are some descriptions of what all that confusing jargon really means.

One Per Transaction
The coupon says “one per transaction”. This means you can use that coupon one time as you make your purchase. For example, let’s say the coupons saves you $1.00 when you buy three bottles of a certain brand of dish soap. The “one per transaction” coupon means you can use it on exactly 3 bottles of dish soap from that brand.

It also means that you can’t use a second, identical, coupon to save one more dollar on 3 more bottles of dish soap during the same transaction. To get around this, some people get back in line after making their first transaction with 3 more bottles and another coupon. They are now making a new transaction.

One Per Customer
This means that the coupon can only be used one time by an individual customer. Let’s say the coupon also says “buy one box of cereal, get one free”. You are allowed to purchase two boxes of that cereal, use the coupon, and get one for free.

What if you have another, identical, coupon? You can’t use it. It says “one per customer” and you already used one. Some people get around this limitation by sending their spouse through the check out line with two more boxes of that cereal and one more copy of the coupon.

Buy One Get One Free
This lovely phrase is often shortened to “BOGO”. If you see this on a coupon it means you will get something for free at the time that the coupon is used. For example, the coupon might say “buy one can of tuna, get a second one free”. You pay for one can of tuna, use the coupon, and are given the second can for free.

The thing to be aware of are the limitations on the coupon. You have to be certain you have picked up the correct brand of the product the coupon is for. The coupon might limit you to only certain sizes of that product. Make sure the get the right ones!

Redeemable At
This phrase is very confusing! It makes people think they have to use the coupon at the store listed on the coupon. However, the coupon is actually saying that the store listed on it carries the product the coupon is for. You can use that coupon at any store that also carries that same product.

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Free Apps that Can Help You to Get Fit

Posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Couple at gymAre you hoping to lose weight, eat healthier, or exercise more this year? There’s an app for that! Actually, there are several apps that might help you reach your weight loss and health goals. Here are a few that you might want to check out that are free to download.

Lose It!
This is quite possibly the most appropriately named weight loss app out there. It can be downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play. The Lose It app is available on Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle, and the Web.

The Lose It app helps you set goals for weight loss, exercise, macronutrient intake, blood pressure, sleep, and more. It also offers you a plan that may help you to achieve those goals. Calorie counting is very simple with this app. It has a database of thousands of restaurant, grocery store, and brand-name food for you to put into your calorie tracker. These are just a few of the things the Lose It app can do.

MyFitnessPal is an app that can be downloaded for free from either iTunes or Google Play. It is a calorie counter and diet tracker.

This app gives you access to the world’s largest nutrition and calorie database that includes over 4 million foods. You can browse through those foods and quickly add them to the food diary that is in the app. The web and mobile versions of this app sync automatically, so your food diary will always be up to date. You can sign in at the MyFitnessPal website with either your Facebook or email account.

The iRunner app is available to download for free from iTunes and Google Play. This app is a running workout and cardio tracker that can be used to monitor your indoor or outdoor training. It can track distance, route, speed, heart rate, and time. The app can be used with pedometers like Fitbit and Jawbone UP.

It has built in GPS and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support. You can use the app to plan and map your route while jogging, running, or walking. It gives you voice feedback, in-workout pictures, online workout access, and more. This app comes from iTMP Technology Inc., who have several other exercise related apps that you might be interested in.

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What to Buy in January

Posted on Thursday, January 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Woman sleeping on white backgroundAre you tired of shopping yet? There are some awesome annual sales that happen in January that you can take advantage of. One great way to save money is to make sure you buy things during the annual sales. Miss the sale, and the prices will go back up! Here are some things that you should buy in January.

In 1878, a Philadelphia department store held the very first “White Sale”. The purpose was to bring in customers during a time of the year when sales tended to drop off. At the time, all sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding, were white in color. The “White Sales” still go on today, but may have a different name. It’s been quite some time since all bedding and towels were sold in just one color!

January is a good time to get new pillows or to buy a new bed set. Need some new sheets? This is the month to buy them. You will probably find sales on towels (for both kitchen and bathroom), too.

Socks and Underwear
Victoria’s Secret usually has a big sale on bras, underwear, and everything else they sell in January. In general, this influences department stores to also have a sale on similar items. Somewhere along the way, socks got included in these annual sales. January is a good time to go replace socks, bras, and underwear that have worn out with brand new ones.

Visit a National Park
January 19 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is one of the “Fee Free” days offered by the National Park Service. January is a good month to plan a vacation to a National Park. In addition to January 19, there are more “Fee Free” days coming up in 2015. They include: February 14 – 16 (President’s Day weekend), April 18 – 19 (opening weekend of National Park Week), August 25 (National Park Service Birthday), September 26 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Fitness Equipment
Did your New Year’s Resolution include a desire to get fit and lose weight? That is one of the most popular resolutions that people make in January. It just so happens to be the same time of year when fitness equipment goes on sale. If you were planning on buying a treadmill or an elliptical machine, now is the time to make that purchase.

Christmas Decorations
The first week of January is the very end of the after Christmas sales. This is your last chance to pick up a replacement string of lights, some extra ornaments, or a brand new plastic tree, at a very low price. It might be a good idea to make sure you have the storage space for these items before you head out to the stores.

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Free Kids Events in January

Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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art suppliesYour budget might be a little strained after all the holiday spending is over. Fortunately, there are some craft, building, and other fun events for kids that are offered free of charge. Some will require parents to register their children ahead of time in order to attend the event. Others allow kids to just drop in. Here is a list of some upcoming free kids events that will take place in January.

Pottery Barn Kids
Pottery Barn Kids stores will have a “Noon Year’s Eve” event for parents to take their children to on December 31, 2014. Kids can celebrate the new year without having to stay up late. Kids get to decorate and keep a 2015 memory box and use noisemakers when the clock strikes noon.

Home Depot Kids Workshops
Home Depot offers free building events for kids who are between the ages of 5 and 12. Parents must register their child for the event. Kids will receive a free Workshop Apron, commemorative pin, and a certificate of achievement. They also get to take home the project they made.

January 3, 2015: Learn how to build a mini sled – Kids will put together a small sled.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free craft events for children who are 3 years of age or older. No reservations are necessary. The events start at 11:00 in the morning and end at 3:00 in the afternoon.

January 3, 2015: Beary Warm Earmuffs – Kids will put together earmuffs that look like fluffy bears.

January 10, 2015: Sweet Dream Catcher – Kids will put together their very own dream catcher.

January 17, 2015: Crafty Catapult – Kids will use craft sticks, tape, and a plastic cup to make their very own little catapult.

January 24, 2015: My Friends Photo Board – Kids will decorate a photo board that has clothespins on it. The clothespins can hold photos of their friends.

January 31, 2015: Masquerade Mask – Kids will decorate their own masquerade mask with a variety of craft supplies.

LEGO Store
LEGO store offer a Mini Model Build event once a month. It is for children who are ages 6 to 14. The event begins at 5:00 in the evening (and is offered “while supplies last”).

January 6, 2015: Alien and Space Dog – Kids will put together a mini-build of a green alien and his green space dog.

January is a good month to get into the habit of taking your kids to story time events. Your local library might be offering free story time events on certain days. Some Barnes & Noble stores have story time events once a week. Pottery Barn Kids stores also offer story time events. The best way to find out more details is to check the store’s website.

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What to Buy at the After Christmas Sales

Posted on Thursday, December 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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clear christmas ornamentThe holiday shopping season doesn’t end after Christmas is over. The day after Christmas is typically when the after Christmas sales begin. If you aren’t tired of shopping, it can be worth it to check out these sales. Pick things up for a low price so you won’t have to pay full price for them next December.

The way to get the best deals at the after Christmas sales is to limit your purchases to things that you will actually use. Another good choice is to buy things that you will use as gifts for loved ones next Christmas. Avoid buying things on a whim just because they happen to be on sale. Here are some suggestions of the best stuff to buy at after Christmas sales.

Need a wall calendar for your home or office? Would a paper planner be more useful to you than one that is in your smartphone? The price of calendars drops dramatically as soon as Christmas is over. If you are not picky about the artwork on the calendar, you may want to wait a little longer to buy one. Some stores will sell all their leftover stock of calendars for as little as a dollar as we get closer to New Year’s Eve.

Replace Broken Decorations
The after Christmas sales are a good time to pick up replacements for the holiday decorations that got broken this year. Did a string of lights burn out? Get a new one now! It will cost a lot less than if you wait to replace those lights next December.

Browse through the ornaments that are still in stock and see if they would make a nice addition to next year’s tree. Sets of colorful, round, glass ornaments could replace the ones that fell off the tree and shattered this year.

Christmas Cards and Wrap
The very best time to buy boxes of Christmas cards is during the after Christmas sales. The price will drop to the lowest of the entire year. Are you someone who has a long list of people that you send Christmas cards to every year? You can save money buy purchasing a box or two of Christmas cards now. Store them away for next year.

Have you run out of Christmas wrapping paper? Buy a few rolls now for next year. You won’t find it at a better price than during the after Christmas sale. Stock up now!

Christmas Candy
If you didn’t receive enough Christmas candy this year, go ahead and buy some from the after Christmas sale. It is not advisable to stock up on candy or store it away for next year. Some if it may expire before then. Limit yourself to the amount of candy that you honestly believe that you and your family will eat before it goes bad or gets stale.

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Tips on Wrapping Gifts

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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man holding a christmas giftThe holiday season requires a lot of gift giving. Those gifts are going to need to be wrapped. Should you wrap them yourself, or have someone else do it? When is a gift bag appropriate? Here are gift wrapping tips that can help you to manage your time and money this holiday season.

The gifts you purchase, or make, for friends and family members are going to need to be wrapped. Gift giving is part of many holiday traditions. Part of the giving includes letting the person unwrap the gift and be surprised by what is inside. It can be difficult to tell if wrapping the gift yourself is the best idea or if having someone else do it is a better idea.

You have gift wrap at home.
One way to determine if it’s best to just wrap the gifts yourself is to consider if you have enough supplies to make that happen. Ideally, you have a bunch of gift wrap leftover from last year. Or, you already purchased gift wrap to be used this year. The money it cost has been spent, so you may as well make use if the wrapping paper. If you are really terrible at wrapping gifts, it might be best to ask a family member to do it for you.

Pay someone else to wrap for you.
You just bought a lovely gift for someone. Before you leave the store, ask the cashier if the store offers free gift wrapping. Stores that do not normally wrap gifts will give customers that option in December. The person wrapping the gifts is, more than likely, an employee of the store. Hang onto your receipt. Some stores will only offer free gift wrapping to customers who spent money in that store.

Other stores will let charities send some people over to wrap gifts. They will happily wrap your gift for you in exchange for a donation to their charity. This service is not free, but the cost may fit within your budget.

Will you be ordering a gift online? Look closely when you get to the check out. There may be an option that allows you to pay a little extra in order to have the store pre-wrap your gift.

Use a gift bag.
When is it appropriate to use a gift bag? A gift bag is a great option when you need to wrap an oddly shaped gift. For example, it can be quite difficult to wrap a teddy bear because of its shape and softness. Put that teddy bear into a gift bag instead. The gift will look lovely. Make sure to fill the inside of the bag with tissue paper so the recipient cannot immediately see what is inside the bag.

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Frugal Gifts for the Geeks in your Life

Posted on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Movie PoprcornThe geeks in your life can be a bit difficult to shop for. You might not be very familiar with the video game, movie, TV show or book series that they love. It may be impossible to know what they already have. What can you do? Try one of these frugal ideas for gifts for the geeks in your life.

Movie Tickets
There’s always going to be a much-anticipated movie coming out that relates to fantasy, science-fiction, superheroes, or video games. Contact the theater that is located nearest the person you want to buy the gift for. The theater might be able to sell you some pre-paid movie passes that can be used throughout the year.

Game Time
You can easily purchase a gift card that corresponds to a specific video game. It can be used to purchase game time. Some video games require a subscription. The money you put on the gift card can pay for part of, or all of, the next month’s subscription fee.

There is another way to give the gift of game time. Create a “coupon book”. Each coupon represents an uninterrupted hour of time in which your spouse or child can play a video game. Be prepared to honor those coupons when they are turned in. Make an effort to prevent all disruptions during that hour.

In-Game Purchases
What if the geek in your life doesn’t play a video game that requires a subscription? You can still buy him or her a gift card for that game. The money will be used on in-game purchases.

The specific details will vary from one game to the next. It could be for a virtual pet for one of their characters, a digital pack of cards, a special “skin” to make their character look cool, or be used to unlock an area in a game. Some of the smaller online games require players to put in real-world money in order to purchase special items that will make their gaming experience a more successful one.

You can’t go wrong with a t-shirt that has a logo, image, or saying from someone’s favorite video game, movie, TV series, or comic book. Before you make that purchase, find out the person’s favorite thing and their clothing size. Keep in mind that a medium size in a men’s t-shirt is not the same as a medium size in a women’s t-shirt.

Not sure where to look? Start at ThinkGeek and see if you can find something there. Some department stores will have geek appropriate t-shirts in the men’s section.

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Ideas for Frugal Stocking Stuffers

Posted on Thursday, December 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Bright red Christmas stocking with presentsThe presents are wrapped and sitting underneath the tree. Now, what are you going to fill the Christmas stockings with? Purchase too much, and you could wind up going over your budget. Here are some ideas for frugal stocking stuffers that are appropriate for children.

The orange is a traditional stocking stuffer. Oranges were rare in early America. The orange was a treat and also a sign of prosperity. Put one or two into your children’s Christmas stockings. You might already have some in your refrigerator.

Candy Canes
The candy cane, with its red and white stripes, is another traditional stocking stuffer. Buy one box of candy canes and put some into each of your children’s Christmas stockings.

Foil wrapped chocolate Santas and snowmen make excellent stocking stuffers. There is something special about holiday candies that are eaten on or around the holiday they were made for. Again, you can buy one package and have enough Christmas candy to split between everyone’s Christmas stockings.

Christmas Cookies
This one is a super easy (and frugal) idea for families that love to bake batches of Christmas cookies. Collect up a variety of the different types of cookies you made. Put the selection into a resealable plastic bag. Gently place it into the Christmas stockings near the top so the cookies won’t get broken or smashed. What if you aren’t a baker? You can split up a package of gingerbread men cookies the same way.

Toddlers will love to find a small, Christmas related, board book in their Christmas stockings. These durable little books are built to withstand the wear and tear that toddlers give their belongings. Older kids might prefer a paperback book that includes their favorite character. You can curve the book a little bit in order to make it fit in the Christmas stocking.

This stocking stuffer will give the kids something to do after the excitement of opening presents is over. Buy one package of play-dough. Put one plastic container of one color into each child’s stocking. For best results, try and give each child their favorite color (if possible). Later on, if you happen to come across play-dough that has been mashed into the carpet – you will have a clue about which child did it!

New Winter Wear
Keep everyone warm on Christmas, and the days following it, with new hats and gloves. They can be folded up to fit inside a Christmas stocking. The new winter wear can replace the gloves that got lost in the snow and the hat that doesn’t seem to fit well anymore. You were probably going to have to buy replacement hats and gloves anyway. Why not add them to your children’s Christmas stockings?

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How to Care For Your Christmas Tree

Posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Christmas treeDid your family get a real Christmas tree this year? Make sure that you are properly caring for it. Doing so can help prevent it from drying out and save you the money of having to buy a replacement tree. Here are some idea that can help you to properly care for your real Christmas tree.

Caring for your real Christmas tree is important. Part of the reason is aesthetic. You want your tree to look good for the photos on Christmas morning. The biggest reason to care for your real Christmas tree is safety. A dried out tree is at risk for becoming a fire hazard.

The National Christmas Tree Association has some excellent advice for caring for your real Christmas tree. They point out that more than half your tree’s weight is water (when it is first cut). To properly care for your Christmas tree, you will need to diligently replace the water that the tree loses. Doing so will help prevent your tree from drying out.

Your tree should be displayed in a traditional reservoir type stand. The reservoir is where the water will go. You can minimize needle loss if you make sure your tree always has a good amount of water. Once you get your tree home, you are going to want to place it into the water as soon as possible.

How much water does it need? This depends on the size of your tree. The National Christmas Tree Association says that your stand should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. They also note that you should use a stand that fits your tree. Don’t try and whittle down the trunk of your Christmas tree in order to force it to fit into a stand.

The National Fire Protection Association has some good advice about Christmas trees and fire safety. They point out that the risk of fire is higher with real Christmas trees than with artificial ones. Real trees that are kept moist are unlikely to catch fire unintentionally. The biggest risk is with real trees that have dried out.

What causes a dried out tree to ignite? The most common cause is electrical failures or malfunctions. Other fires happen because there was a heat source that was located too close to the tree. Decorative lights with line voltage can also cause fires. Every year, there are some Christmas tree fires that are started by candles.

Is your tree already dried out? That can happen if you put up your tree before Thanksgiving. It might be safest to replace it with a fresher Christmas tree that has not dried out.

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Tips for Selecting a Christmas Tree

Posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Christmas treeDoes your family prefer real Christmas trees to the plastic versions? One of the benefits of getting a real tree is the lovely scent it creates in your home. What kind of tree should you get? Real Christmas trees require care and maintenance. Here are some tips that will help you select the right tree for you and your family.

Where to Find a Tree
The National Christmas Tree Association has a tool on its website that will help you to locate a tree farm that is in your area. Type in the name of your city and state. Select how many miles from home you are willing to travel. The “default” setting will show you Christmas tree retailers that are within a 60 mile radius from where you are.

Is there a Christmas tree lot in your neighborhood? You might be able to find a nice tree there. However, if you want your tree to be as fresh as possible, the tree farm is the place to go. This is because the trees in lots have been shipped there, while the tree in the farm is one you will cut down yourself.

Be Prepared
How big a tree is too big? Before you leave the house, take the time to measure your space. You need to know the size of the room the tree will be displayed in. Measure the distance from floor to ceiling. Next, measure the width of the space you expect the tree to fit into. Bring those numbers with you to the tree farm.

It is recommended that you dress warmly when you visit the tree farm. You will be spending a lot of time outside as you hunt for the perfect tree. Wear comfortable shoes and old clothing. Family members who will be cutting down the tree, and loading it onto the car, need to wear gloves to protect their hands.

Look for Signs of Dryness
Ideally, you want a tree that is fresh. Trees that have started to dry out are not going to last as long as the fresh ones. Avoid trees that have excessive needle loss. Skip the ones that have a lot of needles fall off when you touch the branches. Outer branches should be pliable. If they snap when you bend them, it is a sign that the tree is drying out.

After Care
Your Christmas tree is going to need water shortly after you get it situated at home. In general, tree stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Keep your tree away from major sources of heat. Heaters, fireplaces, and direct sunlight can dry out your tree. It is possible for a real tree to ignite. Make sure your tree has plenty of water so it does not dry out.

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