How to Coupon

National School Lunch Program Might Help Your Kids

Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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School LunchThe start of a brand new school year comes with a lot of expensive purchases. Families who are low-income might struggle to provide their child with a sack lunch five days a week. The National School Lunch Program might be able to help your kids by providing them with a healthy lunch at school.

The United States Department of Agriculture found that both children and adults were food insecure in 9.9% of households with children (in 2013). That comes to 3.8 million households.

The World Health Organization states that food security is built on three pillars. One is food availability, which means a person is getting a sufficient quantity of food on a consistent basis. Another is food access, which means a person has sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. The third pillar is food use, which has to do using food based on a basic knowledge of nutrition and care as well as adequate access to water and sanitation.

Those who lack even one of those three pillars are food insecure. They are not able to consistently obtain the nutritious food that their body needs. The National School Lunch Program can help prevent food insecurity by providing a nutritious lunch to children who come from low-income families.

Any child can purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children who come from families who have an income of at or below 130% of the national poverty level are eligible for free meals. Children who come from families with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals. Students in that group can be charged no more than 40 cents for their meal.

Do you think your family fits into those eligibility requirements? If so, you can apply to have your child be part of the National School Lunch Program. Schools send school meal applications home with students at the beginning of each school year. It is also possible to apply later in the school year.

Parents can ask someone at their child’s school for an application for the National School Lunch Program. Sometimes, schools will offer parents information about the free and reduced lunch program at the time that they sign their child up for school.

If your family is already qualified for other types of public assistance, it is possible that your children may already qualify for the National School Lunch Program. Families that are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits need to be aware that their children already qualify of the National School Lunch Program. Parents who are eligible for unemployment compensation may also find that their children qualify for free or reduced lunches.

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Free Kids Events in August

Posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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crayonsThe new school year will begin towards the end of August. What are you going to do to keep your kids busy until then? Bring them to a free kids building, crafting, or other fun event. There are plenty of them happening in various chain stores. Find one near you!

LEGO Stores
LEGO offers a free monthly mini model building event for kids ages 6-14. Parents need to register their kids if they would like them to attend the event.

August 4 or 5, 2015: Kangaroo Mini Model Build – Kids will put together a mini model of a kangaroo.

Pottery Barn Kids
Pottery Barn Kids has story time events that take place on Tuesdays from 11:00 to 11:30 in the morning. Kids that become a book club member receive a special gift after they attend five story times.

Pottery Barn Kids is also holding a special event called “First Day Photo Booth”. It has already started and will continue through Thursday, August 20, 2015. Gather your kids and have them take a fun “first day of school” photo, complete with props. Share the photo on Instagram with #adventurebegins, and Pottery Barn Kids will donate $1 for every photo shared to the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.

Home Depot
Home Depot has free kids workshops where kids can put together a project that they get to keep. They also get a free certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin. Registration is required.

August 1, 2015: Chalkboard Door Hanger – Kids put together a door hanger that has a functional chalkboard on one side.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow has free kids workshops where kids can build, and keep, a wooden project. Kids also get a free apron, goggles, and a patch. Registration is required.

July 25, 2015: Hawkeye’s Quinjet – Kids will build Hawkeye’s Quinjet. This is part of their “Avengers Assemble” projects.

August 8, 2015:
Hulk’s Tank – Kids will build Hulk’s Tank. This is part of their “Avengers Assemble” projects.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers kids craft events every Saturday for kids ages 3 and up.

August 1, 2015: Friendship Day Keepsake – Kids will decorate two people shapes with tissue paper, yarn, and wiggly eyes.

August 8, 2015: Keeping Cool! Door Hanger – Kids will decorate a paper door hanger that looks like an icy drink. It comes with a sign that says: “Keeping cool in my room.”

August 15, 2015: Summer Breeze Wind Chime – Kids can decorate a wind chime with strings of beads.

August 22, 2015: Animal Antics Paper Pal! – Kids create a paper animal to play with.

August 29, 2015: Bug Buddy – Kids create a bug out of pipe cleaners, puffs, and wiggly eyes.

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Tips for Reducing Coupon Clutter

Posted on Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 at 3:34 pm
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Are you struggling to cope with your accumulated coupon clutter?  Try some of these tips that will help you stay organized and reduce clutter.Coupons can help you save money on your grocery bill. Collecting coupons can, at times, feel almost addictive. Eventually, you are going to end up with a lot of coupon clutter. You don’t have to let the clutter spread across your home. There are ways to reduce the coupon clutter.

How to Organize Your Coupons

Create a Coupon Binder
Some people, who dabble in couponing, can get by with an envelope of coupons. Those that are edging toward extreme couponing are going to need a coupon binder. You can purchase them from some grocery stores. Or, you can make your own from a three ring binder and several sheets that are designed to hold baseball cards.

After you obtain your coupon binder, the next step is to organize your coupons into it. Remember to periodically check the expiration dates of the coupons and remove the ones that have expired. Take the time to add newly clipped coupons into the binder as soon as possible.

Keep Up With Your Coupons
One thing that helps reduce clutter is routine. Pick a day that you are going to organize your coupons, and set aside a few hours to do it. Get your scissors, and recycle bin, and start clipping the coupons you need. Immediately after that, put those coupons into your coupon binder. Get rid of the coupons that have expired.

This type of routine will reduce coupon clutter because it prevents the papers from piling up. You won’t ever have more than a week’s worth of coupon clutter to sort through, clip, and organize.

Start Using Digital Coupons
The quickest way to reduce coupon clutter is to go digital! Instead of printing out and clipping paper coupons, load them digitally onto your favorite grocery store’s loyalty card. Often, the same coupons are offered in digital and in printable format. In addition, many stores will offer special coupons that are only available digitally.

Some stores have their own apps that help you to save money. These offers can be in the form of coupons or presented as special deals that are only available for people who use the app. Target has one called Cartwheel. Starbucks has one, too. Many grocery stores also have their own app that helps you save money.

Stop Gathering Extra Newspapers
Many extreme couponers get into the habit of collecting extra newspapers. They do this so they can gather more than one copy of a coupon.

Typically, it is the Sunday paper that includes all the coupon inserts. The problem is the newspaper is being delivered daily. All those extra papers can create a lot of clutter. Save money by canceling your extra subscriptions – and reduce coupon clutter at the same time.

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Why You Shouldn’t Push a Cashier to Take a Coupon

Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2015 at 5:17 pm
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grocery checkout, extreme couponingIt can be frustrating when the cashier at the grocery store refuses to accept one of your coupons. Some people feel embarrassed when their coupon is rejected. Others feel the need to make a loud fuss in an attempt to push the cashier into accepting that coupon. There are some very compelling reasons why you shouldn’t do that.

It’s not the cashier’s fault.
In almost every case, it is not the cashier’s fault that he or she cannot accept your coupon. Sometimes, the reason why your coupon was rejected has to do with the store’s coupon policy. The cashier is not the person who made that policy. He or she has no power to change it.

The cashier could get in trouble.
The drawer that the cashier is using will get audited at the end of his or her shift. The purpose is to make sure everything matches up and that the correct amount of money is in the drawer. If your loud insistence pressures a cashier to take a coupon they weren’t supposed to accept – that cashier is going to get in trouble later on that day. Is saving $0.25 really worth the possibility of someone getting fired?

The store could lose money.
When a store accepts a coupon, it is doing so because it can get some money back from the company that created the coupon. The store can send in manufacturer coupons for redemption. This allows the store to give you a discount without having to lose money themselves. If you push a cashier to take a coupon the store cannot redeem, that means the store will lose money.

As I’ve already mentioned, this situation can lead to the cashier being reprimanded or fired. It can also influence a store to create a more restrictive coupon policy. Do you like the store you are shopping at? If so, then you shouldn’t do things that will not only make it lose money but also will make it harder for you to use coupons there in the future.

You could be committing coupon fraud.
Coupon fraud is illegal. You could get into trouble for committing it – and so could your cashier. Trying to use a coupon that you know is expired is an act of coupon fraud. You become aware that your coupon is expired when the cashier informs you about it. Pushing him or her to accept that coupon anyway simply isn’t legal.

People will judge you.
Don’t be the person that makes everyone else’s grocery shopping experience take longer than necessary. The people who are behind you in line want to get their shopping done so they can do other things. They aren’t going to like you if you yell at the cashier and hold up the line.

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Does Kohl’s Cash Confuse You?

Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Kohl'sThere are many different types of coupons that stores offer to customers. Kohl’s uses something called Kohl’s Cash. Does Kohl’s Cash confuse you? A quick review of how Kohl’s Cash works could help you be less confused and a lot more informed about this unique coupon policy.

A man who lived in San Jose, California, was very confused about how Kohl’s Cash worked. The way he calculated how his Kohl’s Cash would affect the total cost of his purchase, and the way the cashier’s register calculated it, didn’t match. The man felt that he ended up paying $6 more than he expected to.

He wasn’t the only Kohl’s customer who was confused by how Kohl’s Cash worked. There was a lawsuit filed about it. In June of 2015, Kohl’s agreed to settle a complaint that alleged that customers in Fresno, Riverside, and Shasta counties, in California, were charged more than prices advertised on store shelves and signs. The lawsuit also alleged that Kohl’s did not adequately disclose information about their Kohl’s Cash program.

The best way to keep up with the rules about Kohl’s Cash is to check the Kohl’s website before you shop at the store. Coupon policies can change, so it helps to make sure you understand it right before you shop.

Kohl’s Cash can be earned by customers who are shopping in Kohl’s stores. It can also be earned at the kiosks or online. Kohl’s Cash is offered during events that run periodically.

Kohl’s Cash is earned on the purchase amount after all applicable discounts are applied and before tax is applied. In short, you have to spend a certain dollar amount – after the coupons and other discounts are deducted from your purchase – in order to earn Kohl’s Cash. Spend less than that amount, and you do not qualify for Kohl’s Cash.

Customers will receive a $10 Kohl’s Cash Coupon for the first $50 in purchases. An additional $10 in value will be added to the coupon for each additional $50 spent in a single transaction. In short, if your total purchase amount (after the coupons and other discounts have been deducted) is $50, you will receive $10 in Kohl’s Cash. If you spend $100 (after the coupons and other discounts have been deducted), you end up with $20 in Kohl’s Cash.

The part that seems to have confused some people is in how the Kohl’s Cash is calculated into the transaction. Kohl’s Cash will be applied prior to percent-off total purchase discounts. Keep that in mind when you try and figure out how much you will save. You should also be aware that Kohl’s Cash has an expiration date on it – and cannot be used after that date has passed.

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Unexpected Side Effects of Extreme Couponing

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Extreme couponing can be exciting when you begin.  However, there are some unexpected side effects that you might experience.Extreme couponing became popular around the same time as when there was a TV show about it. It takes a lot of effort to do this type of couponing. The best thing about extreme couponing is that it can, potentially, save your family a lot of money on groceries. On the other hand, there are some unexpected side effects that you need to be aware of.

Disadvantages of Extreme Couponing

No More Free Time
Extreme couponing takes more time than you might expect. You need to find, clip, and organize coupons. Some extreme couponers have so many coupons that they require a three-ring binder, and many plastic inserts designed for baseball cards, to keep track of them all. You must go through all those coupons often and get rid of the ones that have expired.

In addition to the actual collection and organization of coupons, you also need to spend time doing a lot of math. It takes time to figure out which stores have the best deal on what product, and to find out if you have coupons that can make that deal even better. Don’t forget to check your favorite coupon websites for news about great sales.

If all of this sounds exciting and fun to you, that’s great! You’ve found the perfect hobby for yourself. Your free time will be used on it, and you might unexpectedly lose time to do your other hobbies.

Extreme Couponing Fatigue
Some of you might feel exhausted just by reading about all the effort that extreme couponing requires. Even the people who find it fun can get burned out after a while. This is true of any hobby. There are times when you are going to need to set it aside and take a break.

People who have jumped into extreme couponing do not usually expect to experience extreme couponing fatigue. One thing you can do when it hits is stop doing the parts of extreme couponing that make you unhappy or stressed out.

Feeling Like A Hoarder
One immediate issue that comes up with extreme couponing has to do with the bulk shopping it often involves. Where are you going to put all those groceries?

If you haven’t planned ahead, your home could quickly become over cluttered, and you might start to question if you have become a hoarder. You might feel embarrassed to invite people over because you don’t want them to see the state of your house.

One solution to this problem is to donate some of your surplus to a local food bank. Another great idea is to set up some industrial strength shelves in your garage or basement. Set up your stockpile on those shelves. Your kitchen and living room can go back to normal again!

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Beware of Coupons that Sound Too Good to be True

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Did you find a coupon on Facebook that sounds too good to be true?  That's a good sign that you should stay away from it so you don't get scammed.Find the best coupons, and you will save the most money, right? It is understandable why people would get excited about a coupon that saves them $100. Coupons like that are too good to be true. Here are some tips about how to avoid getting scammed.

Avoiding Fake Coupons

Recently, there was what appeared to be a deal that would give people a $100 ALDI promo coupon. It said that people could get this $100 coupon if they spent more than $120 and completed two more steps online. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

This deal was offered on a Facebook page that had the ALDI logo on it. People were asked to give personal details (such as their name, address, and phone number). They were then asked to leave a comment and share the ad on Facebook. People were also asked to sign up for credit cards and other subscriptions on order to qualify for this coupon.

You probably can guess what happened. The $100 coupon never arrived. It was all a scam designed to obtain people’s information for the purpose of identify theft.

How can you avoid being tricked by a coupon that sounds too good to be true? First, you need to realize that just because you see a store’s logo on a Facebook page, that doesn’t mean it really is connected with that store. Anyone can post a logo.

Second, before you give out any personal information, you should check with the store that is supposedly offering the coupon. In this case, people could have called up their local ALDI and asked if they were really giving out coupons that would save people $100. Believe the answer that the store manager gives you.

Third, you could rely on your “gut feeling”. The coupon said it would give people $100 in savings if they spent at least $120. Stores don’t make coupons that result in the store taking such a big loss. If it sounds too good to be true, it is very likely a scam.

Another, similar, scam involved a fake coupon for Kroger. In this case, Kroger posted a warning on their Facebook page about the fake coupon. They made it clear that the coupon was not affiliated with Kroger and tried to warn people against sharing their personal information with whoever was behind the scam.

The Coupon Information Corporation points out some signs of a coupon scam. One question they ask is “Does it sound too good to be true?” If so, then that coupon is a scam and you should stay away from it.

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Free Kids Events in July

Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Fireworks clusterThe kids will be out of school in July and enjoying their summer vacation. It won’t be long before they start complaining that they are bored and need something fun to do. Fortunately, there are plenty of free building, crafting, and other fun events that will take place in stores in July. Your kids can create something and then play with it after the event is over.

Fireworks
The traditional way to celebrate the 4th of July is to go watch a fireworks display. Many places will offer this free of charge. Bring something for the kids to do while they wait for the sun to go down, and don’t forget the bug spray.

The place where you live might have a 4th of July Parade that your family can enjoy. Parades are free to attend. Get there early so you can find a good place to watch it from.

LEGO stores
LEGO stores offer a free monthly mini model build for kids who are between the ages of 6 and 14. The event is offered “while supplies last”.

July 7 or July 8, 2015: Whale Mini Model Build – Kids will build a mini model of a whale.

Home Depot
Home Depot has free workshops for kids on the first Saturday of each month. These event are for kids ages 5 – 12. Kids will receive a certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin. They also get to keep the project they build. Registration is required.

July 4, 2015: Build a Minions Scooter – Kids will build a scooter that has minions riding it.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow has free kid clinics. Children who attend will receive a free apron, goggles, and a patch. They will also get to keep the project that they build. Registration is required.

July 11, 2015: Black Widow’s Sky Cycle – Kids will build Black Widow’s Sky Cycle. This project is part of Lowe’s “Avengers Assemble” inspired projects.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free craft events on Saturdays. These events are for kids ages 3 and up.

July 11, 2015: My Aquarium – Kids will create and decorate an aquarium out of paper plates and art supplies.

July 28, 2015: Jumpin’ Jellyfish – Kids will create a colorful jellyfish from pipe cleaners, a foam bowl, and other art supplies.

July 25, 2015: Stay Cool! Sun Visor – Kids will decorate their own sun visor that they can wear.

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Free Father’s Day Coloring Sheets and Crafts

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 at 6:54 pm
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Need a quick and easy craft or card for you kids to give their dad on Father's Day?  Start with some of these!Its always adorable when the kids make Dad a Father’s Day gift. Bigger kids may have an easier time with this than little kids will. However, all kids can color. Here is a quick list of where to find some free, printable, Father’s Day coloring sheets, simple crafts and cards.

Father’s Day Coloring Pages, Crafts & Cards

Crayola.com is a great place to start when you want to find coloring sheets that are designed for a specific holiday. Its a brand name, and a website, that you can trust. Here are just a few of the Father’s Day coloring sheets they offer:

* Daddy Bear shows a picture of a large bear who is wearing a tie. A smaller bear brings him a rose.

* Father and Son Having a Catch hows an image of a dad and his son playing catch. The son is throwing a baseball to his dad, who is about to catch it in a baseball glove.

* Father’s Day – Hungry Dad shows an amusing picture of a rooster and a smaller chicken. The little chicken is eating a sandwich. The rooster is eating a gigantic sandwich! At the top, it says “Happy Father’s Day”

* Fishing With Grandpa is a drawing of a little boy who is holding a fishing pole. His grandfather, who is wearing a fishing hat, is right next to him. They are standing on a pier and doing some fishing. This one would be a good choice for kids who want to honor their grandfather on Father’s Day.

Disney Family is another name you can trust. They have coloring sheets and simple crafts that connect to specific holidays. Some of the crafts might require the help of an adult.

* Nemo and Marlin Father’s Day Frame is a colorful frame that features Nemo and his dad, Marlin, from the “Finding Nemo” movie. It says “Happy Father’s Day” at the top of the frame. Glue the frame onto cardboard to make it more durable. There is room for a photo to go into the frame.

* Mickey and Pluto Father’s Day Coloring Page shows a drawing of Mickey and Pluto in their backyard. Mickey is getting ready to use the grill. He trips over Pluto’s bowl. Pluto is ready to catch and eat the hamburgers and hot dogs that Mickey is dropping.

* Lion King Father’s Day Card comes in two parts. A bigger kid will be able to put it together themselves. The outside of the card shows Simba. It says “I just can’t wait”. The inside of the card shows Mufasa and Simba. It says “..To be just like you”. There is room for a child to write his or her name.

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Couponing Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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There are certain mistakes that everyone makes when they begin using coupons.  Have you made any of these common mistakes?Coupons are easy to use and a good way to save some money. They are a simple way to stretch your grocery budget by at least a couple of dollars. Unfortunately, coupons can also be super frustrating. Here is a quick list of coupon mistakes that almost everyone has made.

Couponing Mistakes to Avoid

Left Coupons at Home
You’ve got your grocery list in one hand and your reusable bags in the other. You manage to find everything you were hoping to purchase. You get to the register and put all your groceries on it. That’s the moment you realize that you left your coupons at home!

There’s not much you can do about it now. However, there are ways to prevent it from happening again. Put your coupons into your reusable bags. Assign a family member to hold the coupons while you are shopping. Or, get digital coupons online and connect them to the loyalty card of your favorite grocery store.

Forgot to Check Expiration
Almost all coupons will have an expiration date. Once that date passes, you cannot use the coupon. Some people feel sad that they failed to use a really good coupon in time. Others feel embarrassed when the cashier announces that their coupon has expired.

Everyone has made this mistake when they began using coupons. Doing it once can be considered a “learning experience”. Don’t make a habit of trying to use expired coupons, though, because that can be considered coupon fraud.

How can you avoid making this mistake again? Take the time to check the expiration date on each and every coupon you plan to use. Do it right before you leave home to go grocery shopping.

Didn’t Read the Coupon
This is another mistake that many people make when they are rushed for time. You grabbed a coupon from one of those dispensers that is attached to the doors in the frozen food aisles. It looked good, so you quickly picked up the product it was for and finished your shopping.

When you get to the register you discover that the coupon in your hand, and the brand of product you picked up, do not match. Or, even worse, you got the brand right but the coupons is a “Buy 1 Get 1 free”. It’s too late now to go pick up that second product.

The simple way to avoid this common coupon mistake is to take the time to read the coupon. What brand is it for? How many does the coupon require you to buy? Is the amount you have to buy worth the discount the coupon gives? These are important things to find out.

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