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Best Things to Buy in April

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2020 at 5:39 pm
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Every month, there are certain things that go on sale. April has a lot to offer, including some interesting freebies. It helps if you know where to look and when to shop. Here are some of the things to buy (or to get for free) in April.

This year, Tax Day is on April 15, 2020. That is the due date for filing your 2019 federal income tax return. Most people do not enjoy working on their taxes, and some worry about how much money they will have to pay. To make the day a little brighter, fast food places, restaurants, coffee shops, and more may offer a tax day freebie. Check your favorite store’s website to find out what the freebie will be.

The best time to buy holiday items is right after the holiday is over. Easter Sunday will be on April 12, 2020. You may start seeing baskets, plastic eggs, Easter grass, chocolate bunnies, and Easter decorations at a lower price shortly before Easter Day. The prices will drop more after Easter. Stock up on nonperishable Easter decorations for next year – and save money doing it.

Visit a National Park for free! National Park Week 2020 starts on April 18 and ends on April 26. All entry fees are waived on April 18. There will also be special days during the week to highlight the different ways everyone can enjoy national parks.

April is a good month to buy clothing. The least expensive way to do it is to visit thrift stores. You may find some really nice clothing there that someone else decided to get rid of while Spring Cleaning. Retail stores often start their Spring clothing sales in April. Before you shop, check their sales paper for coupons. Visit their website to find coupon codes for online shopping.

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Save Time with Spring Cleaning

Posted on Sunday, March 15th, 2020 at 3:26 am
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It’s that time of year again! While there are some people who enjoy Spring cleaning, others do not look forward to it at all. Fortunately, there are some ways to save time with Spring cleaning.

Freshen up your refrigerator with a box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. It has sodium bicarbonate in it that absorbs odors and stops flavor transfer. This helps keep your foods tasting fresher for a longer period of time. For best results, start by giving the inside of your refrigerator a good cleaning.

Door mats collect dirt, salt, sand, and other things that you don’t want tracked through your home. You can quickly and easily clean outside door mats by spraying them with your garden hose. Leave them in the sun to dry. Use a vacuum to clean the door mats that are inside the house.

It is time to clean the winter dirt off the windows! The quickest way to do this is to raise the blinds or remove the curtains. Use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean your windows – streak free. Some people have windows that can be opened into the home for cleaning. Don’t forget to give the outside of the window a good cleaning.

Take advantage of having so many open windows and clean your oven. Start by wiping out the inside of the oven with a damp sponge or cloth. Remove the oven racks and wash them individually with warm, sudsy, water. Rinse them off, and return them to the oven when they are dry. You should do this every four months.

Reusable grocery bags are great for the environment. They do require some maintenance, however. Turn them inside out. Run them through the washing machine regularly to remove food and bacteria. This will work well with canvas or cloth bags.

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Ways to Save Money While Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 at 12:19 am
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You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with friends without spending too much money. The easiest way to save money while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is to plan ahead. You can have fun while being frugal!

Assign a Designated Driver

Will you and your friends be drinking alcohol? If so, then you need to assign a designated driver ahead of time. Ask a friend who enjoys being social but doesn’t drink alcohol. Another good option is public transportation. Some places will offer free bus or train rides the night of St. Patrick’s Day. You save money by not having to pay a rideshare service’s raised rates on St. Patrick’s night.

St. Patrick’s Day Discounts

Restaurants and fast food places often offer freebies, or discounts, on St. Patrick’s Day. Obtaining the freebie may require you to wear something green. Check the websites of your favorite places to eat and look for a St. Patrick’s Day deal. Bars are very likely to hold a Happy Hour in the afternoon or early evening. Some coffee shops have their own version of Happy Hour. Show up at the right time, and you can save money on both food and drinks.

Avoid Expensive Parking

St. Patrick’s Day parades are fun to watch. The cost of parking your vehicle, however, can be horribly high. Avoid parking in makeshift lots that are run by a random person. They might charge more than the parking garage! Public transportation will be inexpensive, but might be crowded. If you are lucky, you might be able to walk to the area where the parade will be taking place.

If none of that sounds appealing, you can always stay home and watch a livestream of the parade on your computer. Your local news channel might broadcast the parade on TV. This is a great option if the weather is cold and rainy.

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How to Prevent Food Waste and Save on Groceries

Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2020 at 1:43 am
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One often overlooked way to save money on groceries is to do what you can to prevent food waste. This strategy forces people to look at food differently than they may have before. It is a bit of a learning curve, but the savings are worth it!

Buy Frozen Food

Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh produce. It is also less expensive, and lasts much longer. This is great for families who aren’t always good at eating fresh fruits and veggies before they go bad. Put frozen fruit into a smoothie. Pair frozen mixed vegetables with a protein for dinner.

Use Up Wilted Produce

It is entirely possible to rescue wilted produce and turn it into part of a tasty meal. Cut wilted carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and other root vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever spices you enjoy. Put them in the oven for a nice snack or a side dish for a meal.

Salvage the Good Stuff

Is your broccoli past its prime? Cut away the bad parts – and save the core. It can be cut into small pieces that will be just as flavorful as the florets would be. The same is true of celery, carrots, zucchini, and root vegetables. Turn the small pieces into a vegetable soup. Have your tomatoes seen better days? Make them into pasta sauce, and add some chopped zucchini bits.

Do a Food Waste Audit

How much food is your family throwing away? Find out with a food waste audit. Write down all the food that ended up in the trash for two weeks. Keep your grocery receipt and find out how much money you wasted. This simple process could open your eyes to how much food waste is happening – and motivate you to reduce waste.

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March is Frozen Food Month

Posted on Monday, February 24th, 2020 at 2:06 pm
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March is Frozen Food Month. It is a great time to stock up on the frozen foods that your family enjoys eating. You may want to check your freezer and find out how much room you have before March begins.

The easiest way to get the best savings from Frozen Food Month is to look for coupons for frozen foods around the end of February. More coupons can appear as the month goes on. Some of these coupons could be from manufacturers of frozen foods. Check the website of your favorite frozen foods brands. They could be offering printable or downloadable coupons in March.

Plan meals. Frozen foods last longer than fresh ones. To make the best use of the frozen foods you buy in March, it is a good idea to start with a meal plan. Doing so helps you figure out what kinds of frozen foods you should buy, and how many you will need. For example, frozen hamburger patties could be served with frozen french fries. Supplement it with a fresh vegetable, or a salad, and dinner is served!

Not sure how to make a meal that includes frozen food? A website called Easy Home Meals can help. You will find plenty of recipes there. Search for recipes by brand, ingredient, occasion, meal, or the time it takes to prepare the meal. Most, if not all of the recipes, centers around a frozen food item.

Don’t forget to take a look at the social media of your favorite brands that make frozen foods. There could be useful advice posted there about how to find more coupons, new frozen foods that have recently been released, and potentially some contests, sweepstakes, or giveaways. You may also find a new ideas on how to use frozen foods in ways that are new to you.

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Unexpected Ways to Save Money on Food

Posted on Monday, February 17th, 2020 at 2:08 am
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Frugal shoppers know that using coupons, getting the grocery store’s loyalty card, and checking the sales papers are all good ways to save money on food. The next step is to use some unexpected ways to save money on groceries. Shop smarter! Here are some tips to try.

Don’t grocery shop while you are hungry. Many people make the mistake of doing their grocery shopping while they are feeling tired or hungry. This causes people to buy more items than they typically would. Grocery stores that sell hot foods, or have a buffet set-up, can be very tempting if you skipped lunch or haven’t had dinner yet. For best results – eat first, and shop after that.

Shop alone. This is especially good advice for parents. Children tend to want to add things to their parent’s shopping cart that aren’t on the grocery list. One or two extra items, each trip, can really add up. If possible, do your grocery shopping while the kids are at school. Another option is for one parent get the groceries, while the other watches the children.

Check the bottom shelf. There is a trick that grocery stores play on customers. The more expensive items are placed at eye level. If you want to save money, take a look at the products on the bottom shelf first. Chances are, there is a version of what you need that costs less than the ones the store wants you to buy.

Meat is a good source of protein, but it can also be expensive. If your budget is tight this week, consider substituting meat for black beans, lentils, chickpeas, or edamame. Peanut butter also contains protein, and you can find brands that do not add a ton of sugar to it. A carton of eggs often costs less than a pound of meat.

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Amazon Expands Acceptance of SNAP Benefits to Washington

Posted on Thursday, February 13th, 2020 at 11:48 am
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Amazon allows customers to use SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online for home delivery in New York State and now the greater Seattle area, with the rest of Washington soon to follow. This is a pilot program, and could potentially be expanded to add more states in the future.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries in the greater Seattle area are now able to use their nutrition benefits to order groceries from Amazon as well as other participating retailers and have them delivered directly to their door, thanks to a pilot program launched with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

SNAP recipients in the rest of Washington will soon have access to the pilot program, and SNAP recipients in New York state have also been shopping online since 2019. This is the first time that hundreds of thousands of SNAP recipients in Washington can redeem their grocery benefits online.

In addition to enabling SNAP EBT as a payment method, Amazon has made Amazon Fresh and Pantry available to Washington SNAP recipients without a Prime membership and free shipping available, just as it did in New York last year.

It should be noted that in this pilot program SNAP EBT can only be used for SNAP-eligible food items that are shipped and sold by Amazon.com. To make this easy, Amazon has placed a “SNAP EBT eligible” label near the product name. This is due to government requirements about what items can be purchased with SNAP – either online or in a physical store.

This pilot program could make grocery shopping easier for people who are eligible for SNAP and who live in either the state of New York or in the greater Seattle area. Those who do not have a vehicle or access to a reliable public transit system can use the Amazon program.

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Papyrus is Closing all its Stores

Posted on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 at 9:01 am
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Papyrus, a popular stationery chain, will be closing all its stores in the United States and Canada. This is due to its parent company, Schurman Retail Group, filing for bankruptcy in January of 2020. All 254 Papyrus stores will close. This will impact around 1,100 workers.

At its peak, Schurman Retail Group had 500 stores across the United States and Canada. In addition to Papyrus, it owns Paper Destiny, and American Greetings/Carlton Cards. A spokesperson for Schurman Retail Group, told Cleveland.com that the majority of Papyrus stores will close in the next few weeks.

You may be able to get some really good deals if you visit the Papyrus website. Everything is on Sale 30% – 80% off the lowest ticketed price. There is a 30% off sale on cards, wrap, stationery, ribbon, gifts and collectibles. There is also a 40% off sale on select cards and wrap, party supplies, albums, and journals.

As of January 24, 2020, all sales are final. Papyrus is no longer allowing exchanges or returns. However, they will accept returns through February 3, 2020, for merchandise sold prior to January 20, 2020. Papyrus is no longer offering special orders, gift wrap service, custom printing & personalization. The Papyrus reward program and all benefits have been terminated. Gift cards will be accepted through February 23, 2020.

If your local Papyrus store is still open, it would be a good idea to visit it as soon as you can. You are likely to find that the products will be offered at a big discount. It is common for stores that are closing to try and sell off the remaining products as fast as possible so they don’t have to deal with excess stock after the closure.

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How to Get the Best Deals in February

Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 at 11:07 am
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The month of February gives frugal shoppers a lot of opportunity for saving money. There will be sales on holiday related items, seasonal clothing, mattresses, and more! Most of these deals will only last for a limited time.

Super Bowl Sunday

February 2, 2020, is Super Bowl Sunday. Are you planning to host a party? Save money by cutting up fresh vegetables instead of buy pre-packaged ones. Consider making chili, a dish that can serve several people at once. Ask guests to bring their own beverages. Avoid ordering pizza. The pizza delivery places will be bogged down with orders on Super Bowl Sunday, and your guests may end up waiting a long time for their food.

Valentine’s Day Gifts

February 14 is Valentine’s Day. Some stores will start to put out their Valentine’s Day candies, cards, and gifts at the end of January. For the best deal, wait as long as you can before making those kinds of purchases. The price will drop as you get closer to the holiday. In general, stores will deeply discount their Valentine’s Day items on February 15 – if not on Valentine’s Day itself.

Buy some Valentine’s day cards for your loved ones (such as your parents, siblings, children, spouse, or partner). Store it away until next year. Don’t buy more chocolate than you and your family can reasonably expect to eat in a short span of time. Avoid buying boxed Valentine’s Day cards for your kids to hand out next year. Many schools have stopped having Valentine’s Day parties.

President’s Day Sales

President’s Day is on the third Monday in February, and is part of a three-day weekend. Mattresses typically go on sale that weekend. You may also find furniture sales, sales on winter clothing, TVs, and more. Check the sales papers and the store websites before shopping.

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How to Save Money and have a Social Life

Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 at 11:07 am
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Your budget is tight, but your desire to have a social life is strong. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to give up spending time with friends in order to avoid going into bankruptcy. Here are some ways to save money and have a social life.

Take advantage of happy hour! Many bars will hold a happy hour with special discounts on food and drinks. The menu may be limited, but generally will still have some variety. The lower prices during happy hour make it less expensive to go to a bar and spend time with friends. Not in the mood for alcohol? Some coffee shops have their own happy hour specials that include discounts on certain coffee drinks and pastries.

Look for free events. Warm weather encourages people to go outside. Most farmers’ markets do not charge an entry fee. They are good places to find fresh produce and listen to live music. Some cities will hold free concerts in local parks. Your local library might have a book club that you can join for free.

Do your friends enjoy playing games? There are several video games that can be played online for free. Start with the games that everyone has already purchased for a night of fun that doesn’t require anyone to leave their homes. Dungeons & Dragons is a wonderful way to spend an evening, either in person, or through the internet. If your friends live close by, you can invite everyone over for a board game night.

Have a movie night! Invite your friends over to watch a movie that you own, or one that is on the streaming service that you have a subscription to. Make some inexpensive snacks. Popcorn is a good one! Ask your friends to bring drinks. Rotate through so each friend gets a turn to host.

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