How to Save

Where to Find the Early Black Friday Sales

Posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Get your online deals today!Last year, people were shocked when they learned that some stores were starting their Black Friday sales around the same time many families would be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. This year, things have gotten even crazier. Some of the Black Friday sales have already begun! Here is a quick look at some of the Black Friday sales that you can shop today.

Amazon
Amazon started their “Countdown to Black Friday” sales on Saturday, November 1, 2014. Part of the sales include not one, but two “Deals of the Day” every day, through December 22, 2014.

People who use Twitter can now add the items they see on Twitter to their Amazon.com shopping cart by clicking on the product link in the Tweet. Amazon Prime members will get early access to several deals.

Walmart
Walmart also started its Black Friday sales on Saturday, November 1, 2014. They are offering “more than 20,000 Rollbacks” on items from groceries, to toys, to electronics.

Deals typically reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will start on Walmart.com on Monday, November 3, 2014. Walmart is also offering free shipping to a customer’s home. Or, customers can have items shipped, for free, to a Walmart store (where the customer can go pick up the item).

Target
Target is offering free shipping on all Target.com orders from now through December 20, 2014. There will be Daily Deals offered through its Cartwheel app from November 2, 2014, to December 24, 2014. Cartwheel will offer 50% off a different toy every day.

Target launched “Wish List” on October 31, 2014. Kids can add items to their own list. Parents can share that list with friends and family. You can save 10% on your Wish List items on one day of your choosing (before November 26, 2014).

Office Depot
Office Depot (and Office Max) started its “Your Holiday Workshop” campaign on November 2, 2014. It offers individuals and businesses a “one-stop shop” with an assortment of gifts they can buy for people on their lists.

Office Depot also started their “Every Monday is Cyber Monday” event. There will be special deals on their website on November 3, November 10, November 17, and November 24, 2014. Early Black Friday deals will be available via their website from November 2 – 15, 2014. You can sign up to receive notifications about Black Friday in-store deals and events.

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How to Get Rid of Extra Halloween Candy

Posted on Monday, October 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Candy CornHalloween is coming up soon! Have you stocked up on candy to hand out to all the little trick-or-treaters? Many families buy more bags of Halloween candy than they need just in case they end up with an abundance of trick-or-treaters. What if you end up with a lot of leftover candy? Here are some ideas that will help you get rid of it.

Give by the Handful
One easy way to make sure you get rid of all your Halloween candy is to give more than one piece to each trick-or-treater. This plan works best in towns or cities that put a “curfew” in place that signifies when kids must stop trick-or-treating. One hour before the end of the night start giving handfuls of candy to each trick-or-treater. Hand a few pieces to their parents, too.

Put the Candy Outside
Another easy way to get rid of excess Halloween candy is to put it outside. Pour all the leftover candy into a large, plastic, bowl. Put that bowl outside on your porch immediately after the hours for trick-or-treating have ended. There is a good chance that older trick-or-treaters will happily help themselves to the treats. For best results, choose a bowl that you won’t mind “losing”.

Bring it to the Break Room
Halloween is over and you ended up stuck with bags of leftover candy. Consider bringing the extra candy to work. Put it on a table in the break room for your co-workers to eat and enjoy. Put a post-it on the bags of candy that says “FREE”. Who doesn’t love to find free treats in the break room? Your generous contribution of candy could improve the mood of your co-workers.

Add the Candy to Baked Goods
One way to use up leftover Halloween candy is to find ways to add it to baked goods. Planning on making some chocolate chip cookies? Chop up the small chocolate bars that your kids brought home from trick-or-treating. That chocolate will take the place of chocolate chips. Or, make M&M cookies and use up all those little bags of M&Ms.

Got a family gathering to attend shortly after Halloween is over? Candy corn can be added as an edible decoration to the top of a cake. They turn a regular cake into a festive, fall, cake. Add some of those marshmallow pumpkins, too.

Cupcakes can be decorated with some of the extra Halloween candy. Sprinkle on some M&Ms. Plant a lollypop into the top of a cupcake. Those of you who are talented bakers might find a way to put a fun-size candy bar into the middle of a cupcake. Be creative, and you can get rid of the extra Halloween candy.

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Save Money on Your Halloween Party

Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Halloween cookiesHaving a Halloween party this year? The cost of throwing a party can get really expensive. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to lower the cost of your Halloween party. Here are some easy ways to save money and still have a fun Halloween party.

Plan ahead!
Don’t leave your party planning until the last minute. The less time you give yourself to purchase supplies and decorations – the more likely you will end up spending extra money out of desperation. Make a list of the things you will need. Start comparing prices. Which is less expensive, the decorative plates and cups from the dollar store, or a bulk order of them from an online website?

Use the ones from last year.
Go check to see if you happened to have stored away the leftover paper plates and plastic cups from last year’s Halloween party. See if you stored away a tablecloth that is orange (or fall colored). Use what you already have, and you won’t have to spend money on stuff you didn’t really need.

While you are at it, see if you can find last year’s Halloween decorations. One of the cool things about Halloween is the people tend to save the decorations that they put in their yard (and the ones in their home) and re-use them. Decorate your yard and porch a day or two before your Halloween party. It will add to the atmosphere without costing you anything!

Try the dollar store.
Dollar stores are great places to find frugally priced party items. They may have plastic, reusable, plates that are decorated for Halloween. You might find plastic cups that look like skulls or that have pumpkins or bats on them. Sometimes, you can find ice cube trays that make ice that is shaped like a skull, pumpkin, or bat. Get enough for your guests this year, and save the decorative plates and cups for next year’s party.

Repurpose the pumpkins.
Carved pumpkins make great decorations for Halloween parties. Put a battery operated candle in them and dim the lights. Or, place a row of carved pumpkins along the length of your driveway, with candles in them, to guide guests to your home.

Will there be food?
How fancy will your Halloween party be? Most people can get away with setting up a table filled with appetizers and individual sized desserts for guests to pick at. Put drinks into an ice chest to keep them cold. Make sure you have enough to accommodate the number of guests you have invited.

One of the biggest expenses at any party is the alcohol. An easy way to lower your costs is to clearly state on your invitation that soft drinks will be available, and that guests are welcome to bring along a beverage of their choice. Everyone will know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

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What to Focus on for Fall Cleaning

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Subjects  for sanitary cleaning a houseMany people put a huge effort into spring cleaning. Did you know that some people also do fall cleaning? It makes sense when you think about it. Both of them occur at the changing of a season. There are certain things that need extra care when the weather changes from hot to cold. Here is a quick look at what to focus on for your fall cleaning.

Wash the Windows
People tend to spend a lot more time indoors when the weather is cold. Fall is a good time to give your windows a really good cleaning (before it gets too cold to do it). You can use a glass cleaner or soap and water, whichever you prefer. Don’t forget to go out and clean the dirt off the outside part of your windows. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the windows. This will help avoid annoying streaks.

Replace the Furnace Filter
When was the last time you got new filters for your furnace? This is the sort of thing that people forget about while the weather is hot. Chances are, the filters that are in your furnace right now are old, dusty, and in need of replacing. They may have been sitting in your filter since last winter!

Some don’t see changing the furnace filter as a priority. Keep in mind that a filter is necessary because it helps clean dirt and dust out of the air. A dirty filter can’t do as good a job as a nice, new, clean one can. Before you head out the door to buy new filters, take a minute to check what size your current ones are.

Check your Chimney
Does your home have a fireplace? It has probably been months since you used it. Fall is a good time to have a professional come over and inspect your fireplace. He or she can make sure that the stove flues are not blocked and might even clean the chimney for you. The purpose, of course, is to make sure you can safely use your fireplace when the weather gets cold.

Examine the Detectors
The battery on a smoke detector doesn’t last forever. The same is true for a carbon monoxide detector. In fall, the weather gets colder, so people close all their windows and run their furnace (or fireplace).

You can prevent a tragedy from happening if you make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, or enough smoke detectors, now is a good time to get them.

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The Best Things to Buy in October

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Princess CostumeWhat should you buy in October? There are certain sales that happen annually. The very best time to buy anything is when it is on sale. October is kind of a strange month for sales because it is too late for summer items and a bit too early for sales on Christmas decorations. Here are some tips on what to buy in October.

Halloween Costumes
If you are willing to wait to purchase your Halloween costume until a few days before Halloween, you could end up saving a lot of money. The selection won’t be as diverse as it is right now (when prices are at their highest). One way to get a great deal is to wait and then shop at the Halloween stores that “pop up” for a few months and disappear at the end of October. They will be very motivated to sell their stock when we get closer to Halloween.

Another option is to take advantage of online sales and coupon codes. The one disadvantage to this is that you won’t be able to try on the costume before you buy it. Don’t forget to take the shipping price into account. Compare that total price with what the same costume costs at a local department store.

Toys
October is a great month for people who need to purchase toys. The hot items of the summer will be on sale. Check to see if the toys that your children have been begging you for, but that you couldn’t afford to buy a few months ago, are on sale. The annual toy sale gives you a wonderful opportunity to stock up on Christmas gifts for the the children in your life.

For best results, pick a store that you have a loyalty card at. Go to their website and download digital coupons for the toys you are planning to purchase. Check their weekly sales paper and make sure you shop while the toy sale is going on.

Jeans
The back-to-school sales are over. If you still need to pick up a few pairs of jeans for yourself, or your children, October is a good month to do it. Stores tend to end up with more jeans in stock than they would like now that school has started. Check their sales papers to see when the jeans go on sale.

Gardening supplies
Very few people are looking for gardening supplies right now. We are heading into the colder weather that most plants don’t handle very well. Now is a good time to purchase gardening supplies for next spring’s garden. Replace the worn out gloves now, and pick up a few extra planters. It will cost more money to do the same thing if you wait until spring.

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Free Kids Events in October

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Creativity lesson(preschool activity)Every month, there are several stores that host free kids events Some of the events involve building a project, and others give children the chance to make some art. This is great for parents who want their kids to participate in these creative activities. Here are a few free kids events to check out in October.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow has free building events for kids. They are held on Saturdays. Every child who participates will receive a free apron, goggles, and patch. They also get to build a wooden project. Registration is required.

October 11, 2014: Haunted House – Kids will build their own spooky Haunted House project.

Home Depot Kids Workshops
Home Depot offers free building events for kids who are ages 5 – 12. Each child will receive an apron, a pin, and the wooden project they create. Registration is required.

October 4, 2014: How to Build an EMS Truck – Kids will make a wooden project that looks like an EMS truck.

LEGO Stores
LEGO has a free monthly mini-build project for kids ages 6 – 14. It starts at 5:00 in the evening and is offered “while supplies last”. No registration is required. You might want to get there early, though, before they run out of mini-builds.

October 7, 2014: LEGO Monster – Kids will put together a mini-build of Frankenstein’s monster

Disney Stores
Disney Stores will have a Halloween Dress Rehearsal Event. It will take place on October 5, 2014, and October 6, 2014. There will be a costume parade and games. This event is for children ages 3 and older. Children are asked to come dressed as their favorite Disney character.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free kids art events on Saturdays. They are for children ages 3 and older. These events begin at 11:00 in the morning and end at 3:00 in the afternoon.

October 4, 2014: Making Music Drum – Kids will create and decorate their very own handheld drum.

October 11, 2014: Fire Safety Fido – Kids will put together a cute dalmatian named “Fido” who wears a firefighter’s helmet.

October 18, 2014: Bunny Reading Pointer – Kids will decorate a craft stick pointer that looks like a bunny. It can be used to help a child read or as a bookmark.

October 25, 2014: Spooky Sweets Holder – Kids will make a paper candy holder that is shaped like a black bat.

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Save Money on Banned Books

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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LibraryDid you know that September 21 – September 27 is Banned Books Week? It is when bookstores, libraries, and avid readers focus on books that have been banned, for whatever reason, by people who disapproved of them. You might be surprised by how many popular authors, and classic books, have been banned. It is often suggested the people purchase a book that had been banned during Banned Books Week. Here are some tips to help you save money on some excellent books.

Visit the Library
Your local library is a great place to visit during Banned Books Week. Many libraries set up special displays that feature books that have been banned. The displays often include some of the reasons why a certain book had been banned. It is very interesting to learn about! Of course, the books that you borrow from the library are free. Just make sure that you return the book on time so you can avoid paying a late fee.

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg offers over 46,000 free ebooks. You can find free epub books and free kindle books, that can be downloaded or read online. This is a great place to look for books that are considered to be Classics, that are often assigned to students to read in school, and that have been banned. Here are a few titles I found that have been banned:

* Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale by Herman Melville
* The Call of the Wild by Jack London
* The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Audible.com
Do you prefer to listen to books instead of read them? Audible.com has over 150,000 titles of audio books (and more). You can get a free trial to their service and one free audio book. There are two membership plans to choose from after your free trial runs out. One gives you 1 book a month for $14.95. The other gives you 2 books a month for $22.95. Here are a few titles of banned books that I found at Audible.com:

* The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It is narrated by actress Claire Danes.
* Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It is narrated by actress Selma Blair.
* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is narrated by actress Sissy Spacek.

Barnes & Noble
Purchase any 3 kids’ books, and you can get a copy of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for $8.99. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, is on sale in hardcover for $15.61. These books are among the many children’s books that have been banned.

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Tips to Save Money on Fall Clothing

Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Second hand shopThe weather will soon be changing from the heat of summer to the coolness of fall. It is almost time to swap out the warm weather clothes in your closet for the cold weather ones. Some people simply go out and buy a whole new wardrobe when the seasons change. Instead, you can save money on fall clothing by following these tips.

What do you already have?
Before you head out the door to go shopping, take the time to figure out what you already have at home. There are some things that will carry over from one season to the next. Try on jeans to make sure they still fit. T-shirts are great in both summer and fall. Maxi dresses will be comfortable for a few more weeks.

The next step is to dig out your fall/winter clothing and start trying things on. Consider donating things that no longer fit you. Don’t forget to go through your “work clothes” and determine which ones are going to be comfortable and appropriate as the weather cools off. Make a list of the type of clothing you need to replace for this fall (and write down the amount you think you will need).

Try the Thrift Stores
You never know what you will find at a thrift store! The clothing you purchase there will be at a much lower price than the department stores. Thrift stores typically have a lot of sweaters to choose from, plenty of jeans, and a variety of slacks, skirts, and dress shirts that would be appropriate for the work place.

Before you make a purchase from a thrift store take the time to try it on. The size on the label might not be correct. It is possible the item has shrunk or been stretched out. While you are at it, take a close look at the clothing. If you see stains or rips, put it back and choose a different one.

Use Your Discounts
Start by shopping at the stores where you have a loyalty card or the store’s credit card. Customers who have them are often treated to special discounts. Check the store’s website before you head out the door. Are they having a sale of the kinds of clothing you need for fall? Do they have coupons you can bring in? Use all your discount options to help you save money.

Don’t forget to check the stores Clearance section! It could include discounted clothing that is appropriate for cooler weather. Or, you might find an inexpensive top that can be paired with a sweater or jacket that you already have.

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How to Make Your Own Caramel Apples

Posted on Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Candy ApplesApples are in season during the month of September. It won’t be long before you see caramel apples sold at the grocery stores. They always look so good! The price, however, isn’t usually so nice. You can save some money if you make your very own caramel apples.

It sounds so easy. Just add caramel to an apple, add a stick, and you are all set! Do you know how to make caramel? Cooking Light has an easy to follow recipe that will make 16 caramel apples. You will need:

* 16 wooden sticks
* 16 small apples (chilled)
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup light colored corn syrup
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 cups half-and-half
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 candy thermometer

Cooking Light recommends you push the sticks into the top of the chilled apples, and then put the apples back in the refrigerator. Leave them there until the caramel is ready.

Next, you need to make the caramel. Start by putting the sugar, corn syrup and water into a large saucepan. Boil it. Stir until it is dissolved. Then, boil it more until it turns a light golden color. This can take about 9 minutes.

After that, combine the half-and-half and the salt. Slowly stir that mixture into the pan. Boil this mixture until the candy thermometer reaches 235 degrees. Stir frequently. This can take 45 minutes.

When it is ready, remove it from the saucepan. Pour the caramel into a bowl that is sitting in a hot water bath. This will help prevent the caramel from stiffening up. Hold each apple by the stick and swirl it into the caramel. Place the caramel apples on a baking sheet that is lined with wax paper. You may want to return the caramel coated apples to the refrigerator in order to help them cool faster.

Some people prefer “plain” caramel apples – the ones that have nothing more than caramel added to them. A salted caramel apple is a popular choice. Others like to eat the fancier versions of this fall treat. If you are going to add stuff to your caramel apples, you need to plan ahead.

What would you like to add to your caramel apples? Some favorites include chocolate chips, sliced almonds, mini marshmallows, coconut flakes and M&Ms. Put each one of those items into its own bowl.

Roll a carmel coated apple into the ingredient of your choice right after the apple has been dipped into the caramel. You need to add things before the caramel has had the chance to harden.

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Save Money on September In Season Produce!

Posted on Monday, September 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Pumpkin SquashThe best time to buy fresh produce is when it is in season. That is when the prices are at their lowest of the entire year. Of course, it helps if you know what produce to look for when you are ready to go grocery shopping. Some of the produce that is in season during the month of September is the same as what was in season for August. There are also some new additions to enjoy!

What’s Going Out of Season?
It is time to say goodbye to a few of your summer favorites. Strawberries are heading toward the end of their season. Watermelon and cantaloupe are on their way out, too. Mangos and summer squash will no longer be in season when the calendar flips to September.

Are any of these foods among your favorites? You might still be able to get a good price on them at the grocery store if you move quickly. The last of them will sell out soon. Once that happens, you will have to wait until next year for them to come back in season and be at their freshest.

What’s Still in Season?
Berry lovers can take comfort in knowing that there are some berries that are in season during both August and September. Blackberries and blueberries will still be fresh in September. It might be nice to toss some blueberries into baked goods as the September weather cools down.

Carrots and apples, two healthy foods that are easy to toss into school lunches, will also stay in season for September. Oranges, a favorite snack to bring to your child’s soccer game, is another fruit that is in season during both August and September. Cucumbers will stick with us for a while, too. Now is your last chance for a year to freshen your water with sliced cucumbers (or to use those slices as part of a beauty routine).

Pumpkin, which came into season in August, will continue to be in season for September. Get ready to start seeing lots of pumpkin flavored drinks, pastries, breads, and anything else you can think of. There are those who feel that Halloween is the perfect time to start serving pumpkin pie.

What’s New in September?
Peaches and plums are now in season. Parents can substitute them for the oranges or apples that their child is tired of eating for lunch. Mushrooms and garlic are in season during September. Now is a good time to try out a “from scratch” pasta sauce recipe. Those who enjoy spicy foods will be happy to know that September is when chili peppers are in season. The hot spices can feel really good when the weather starts to get cooler.

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