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Cedar Point Blogger

Monday
Mar172014

Spring Cleaning Twitter Party: March 18, 2014 @ 9 PM #SpringSavings

Spring cleaning: do people really do it, or is it all a huge conspiracy? Come find out, and share tips for making spring cleaning (if it is indeed real) as painless and frugal as possible! Plus, we have $300 in prizes to give away!

Join us on Tuesday, March 18th at 6pm PT/ 9pm ET in the #SpringSavings hashtag on Twitter!

Hosts: @mommyswishlist @savewshellie @savingsmania @sawickis

Prizes and sponsors: (2) $50 Amazon gift cards courtesy of Savings.com, (1) $100 Amazon gift card courtesy of Savings.com, (1) $100 Target e-gift card courtesy of Savings.com.

 

Monday
Mar172014

Consumer News: Amazon Prime Price Increase

Amazon.com has just announced that existing Prime members will now pay $99 per year on their annual renewal date and Amazon Student members will pay $49. If you are an existing Prime Member, you will be receiving an email from Amazon sometime today with this announcement and the date that your membership is set to renew.

 

Sunday
Mar092014

Buying in Bulk: Shopping Tips

Here are some great tips on how to shop bulk and save money:


Compare prices

Make a list of the items you might buy in bulk, or the ones you know you’ve seen at your favorite retailers, and visit each store to compare. Write down the prices for the bulk buys, and also write down the cost of buying the same item as a single. Then, do the same search online, and make sure to take shipping costs into account.

Do the math
Divide the price of the bulk package by the number of individual items in the package. For example, if there are 12 paper towel rolls for $9.99, each one comes to about 83 cents a roll. 

The bulk math is a tool you can use for any kind of purchase.

Then take that $.83 figure and compare it to what you’d pay for a single roll.

Then do the math for a three-pack or a six-pack of the same item, and bingo — you know if bulk pricing for that item, from that store, or which bulk item from which store, is worth your while.

If you have a coupon for the item, remember you’ll save more per unit if you use the coupon for a non-bulk purchase.

Be realistic about storage 
No matter how great a deal is on any product, you first need to make sure you have space to store the items.

If you’re in a small apartment, you might want to keep your bulk buying to a minimum — unless you have other small apartment friends who want to split the bargain with you. Or, get creative. No one says you can’t store extra toilet paper next to your dishes in the kitchen cabinets if you have the space.

If you have a larger home with a basement or a garage, or even a second freezer, buy away if the price is right.

Be realistic about expiration dates
We know that misunderstanding “use-by” dates and plain-old expiration dates leads to lots of waste.

But still, bulk food can go bad, so use common sense when you buy. Those delicious looking loaves of bread that you can get three-for-one and those half-priced veggies aren’t worth the extra money if you can’t eat it all before it spoils.

There are times when bulk perishables make sense. If you buy a gazillion tomatoes, for example, and you plan to head home to make a few jumbo pots of sauce that you can freeze, that’s great. We don’t advise trying to freeze the tomatoes. Okay, well, you can freeze tomatoes, but that’s one bulk buy on which I’ll take a pass.

Bulk Specifics
So what is a good deal? Like we said, you have to shop around and do the math. Here’s the lowdown on some common items sold in bulk packaging.

Meat: When all that uncooked protein is on sale, you can save a bundle. Just make sure you have a plan to prepare it, or you have a very large freezer. But you can’t just chuck the meat in the freezer in the supermarket’s packaging. Take some time to store your mass meat the right way.

Paper products: It’s one of the most commonly bulk-packaged products, and it all depends on the math. Just don’t count on the bulk packaging as a promise of lower per-unit pricing.

Diapers: These are almost always cheaper when you buy in bulk, but we repeat: do the math. Costco regularly offers coupons in the flier for $ off diapers.

Prescriptions: If you take any regular prescriptions, ask your doctor for a prescription for a 90-day supply rather than just 30 days. You’ll save on co-pays, and you’ll find some pharmacies have a cheaper per-pill price for bulk buys. Also, note that you don’t need to be a member of Costco nor Sam’s Club to get prescriptions filled at their pharmacies.

Big-ticket items: If you’re traveling and need train or plane tickets, or if you’re buying seats for a sporting event or Broadway (or other) show, you can find group discounts. Hotels will do the same. You can save 15 percent or more.

Insurance: It’s a different form of bulk pricing. If you insure your home and your car with the same company, you’ll get a discount.

Source: Consumerist.com

Sunday
Mar092014

What To Buy (And Avoid Buying) in March

FIRST, WHAT TO BUY…

There are plenty of awesome holidays this month. March 4th is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day in the UK). In the UK, Mother's Day is Sunday, March 30th. And we also have the spring equinox on March 20th. Let's take a look at some of the bargains that accompany them.

1. Chocolates, Chocolates, Chocolates

Something the stores never want hanging around are seasonal items, especially edible ones. Valentine's Day may be long gone, but the stores still have plenty of goodies on the shelves. And they want to get rid of it quickly! You'll see 90% savings on perfectly good boxes of chocolates and other candies, and all because they're in heart-shipped boxes and flowery red packaging. It's silly, but it's good for your wallet. (See also: 15 Reasons to Eat More Chocolate)

2. Frozen Foods

March is National Frozen Foods month. Who knew? That means you'll see a ton of great coupons in the circulars and discounts in stores. If you have space in your freezer, now is the time to use it up. Or grab yourself a cheap freezer off Craigslist and stock it up! Remember, these foods can last a year or more, but the deals don't ever last that long. (See also: Make-Ahead, Freezable Hot Breakfasts)

3. Intel-Based Laptops

If you need a new laptop for school, college, the workplace, or just to have around the house, now is the time to check out deals on Intel-based laptops. Now, there are several types of Intel processors, from the older Ivy Bridge and Celeron models, to the newer Haswell versions. Strangely enough, the better deals seem to be on the Haswells, so if you have $500 to spend, you can get a fast and reliable Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, or Sony laptop with a Haswell Core i5 or Core i7 processor.

4. Big Screen TVs

It won't be too long before 42" LCD TVs are given away free with boxes of cereal. Seriously, every year big screen TVs get cheaper and cheaper. A few years ago, a 60" 1080p LCD TV would have set you back a few thousand dollars. This year, you will get change out of $800. And those 4K TVs are also going to drop in price, too. If you have plans for a home theater, this is a great month to buy, especially if you're expecting a tax refund.

5. Luggage

Now's the time to stock up on travel gear. If past performance is any indication of how things will go this year, luggage and baggage deals kick into high gear in March. New luggage models (do people really care about the trendiness of their suitcases?) come out now, so old models are priced to move. From retail stores like Sears and Walmart to online retailers like eBags and Amazon, you should find yourself some sweet bargains. Hopefully, flights will be just as good to you. (See also: Packing Secrets From a Pro Traveler)

6. Snow Gear

If you like fresh powder, there's still time to enjoy it while wearing some snazzy new gear…and it doesn't have to cost full price. Just like last month, there are deals to be had on those big winter jackets, snow boots, hats, and all sorts of other stuff designed to keep the icy weather at bay. These deals won't last too much longer, so grab them now.

7. St. Patrick's Day Merchandise

Once again, the green beers will be flowing on March 17th — St. Patrick's Day. And as soon as the sun sets on the 17th, the stores start discounting St. Paddy's Day merchandise with a determination that would make the Little Engine That Could jealous. In the past, Target has quickly and massively discounted the green gear. Remember, until the 17th you won't see many deals, but after then you can scoop up the bargains and stock up for next year. (See also: Ways to Serve Potatoes on St. Patrick's Day)

8. Amazon Prime 

If you've been debating an Amazon Prime membership, now could be the best time to jump on it. Over the past year, changes have been made to Amazon Prime that have made it less of a deal than it used to be. For instance, the change to "add on items," which were once free to ship with Prime, but are now only shipped free if included with an order that brings your total over $25. Rumors have it that Amazon is going to hike the rates by 50% or more. Get in now, and enjoy free two-day shipping and a massive library of free TV and Movies to stream whenever you want.

9. Seeds and Plants

Of course, with frost and hard ground to contend with, you won't be planting a whole lot right now. But you can order what you need now and save 50% or more on seeds that will make your garden grow. (See also: Guide to Container Gardening)

10. Silverware and China

Wedding season is not until June. Christmas is over. The stores want to get some of their silverware and china stock cleared. If yourplates, bowls and cutlery are looking a little past their prime, now is a great time to refresh them all. And remember, the old ones can be donated to charity for a family that really needs them.

WHAT TO AVOID…

There's a lot of flimflam in March too. It starts at the beginning of the month with Oscar Night 2014, and let's not forget Daylight Savings Time on March 9th — one hour of sleep lost, one extra pot of coffee on Sunday. Let's see what we should be looking to avoid this month.

1. Sexy Lingerie

It's not the same as candy; lingerie is lingerie, and it is still popular despite Valentine's Day being over for another year. When it comes to sales, most lingerie stores follow the lead of the biggest and most infamous — Victoria's Secret. And as their semi-annual sale is in June, you should hold off on your shopping until then.

2. Xbox One Systems and Games

The Xbox One is still a hot item, but the discounts are coming in April. Now that the rush is over for Christmas, and the big fans have already picked up their systems, sales are on the decline. Microsoft doesn't want to see the PS4 gaining any more market share, and the best way to combat that is with discounts. Keep your eyes peeled, but don't buy anything just yet.

3. Spring Apparel

Spring is not just around the corner. But the stores have a different story. They're stocking up for spring right now, and they have no plans to offer any kind of discounts just yet. Spring gear is still priced at or close to the recommended retail price. Wait a month or two, and those prices will come down just in time for you to get a month or two of good use out of everything you buy.

4. New Smartphones

The latest models are everywhere, and they're full price. By all means use this time to start looking around for models you'd like to have, but hold your horses. Give it a few months and those full price phones will start falling in price.

5. Gym Memberships

If you're a regular at the gym, you should have seen the New Year's rush die down by now. But, it's far from over yet. People are still trying to fulfill that resolution to get fit, and gyms are not struggling to make their numbers. Wait a few more months. Once the sun is shining and people can run outdoors, they'll start hitting you with offers.

Are you planning to make any purchases in March? Where are you finding deals?

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Tuesday
Mar042014

SweetSwaps Twitter Party- March 4, 2014 #sweetswaps

We are so excited to be teaming up with Splenda, to bring you delicious ways to sweeten your life with Splenda! 
You can visit  www.365SweetSwaps.com for tips and recipes. Throughout 2014, SPLENDA® Brand is dishing out 365 ways to swap sugar for SPLENDA® Sweetener Products to save calories all year long!

The Motherhood is teaming up with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products for this fun Twitter party to share SPLENDA® 365 SWEET SWAPS™ tips and recipes! Join us to hear recipes, tips and other simple lifestyle changes that can lead to big results over time!

The Twitter Party is on  March 4, 2014 at noon ET. 

Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/sweetswaps to RSVP

Hashtag: #SweetSwaps

Prizes: Prizes will be randomly awarded to five participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $50 Visa Gift Card and an assortment of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products! Prizes limited to U.S. participants only.

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TheMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe and @EmilyMcKhann


You will learn, for example, that experts recommend that women consume no more than 6 tsp. of added sugar daily, but the average American eats 22.2 tsps! 

Replacing Sweets with Healthier Treats

  • Replace "like with like". This is a common phrase you'll hear from me, because I believe that we make the transition to healthier choices easier when we find better alternatives that are similar to things we already like. This is an old post with a bunch of sweet tooth ideas that are just a little bit different.
  • Learn to use fruit as a dessert. Think fruit crumbles or cobblers, lightly poached peaches, homemade apple sauce, fresh berries with cream, fruit salad, or fruit smoothies. One of my very favorite desserts is apples in a crumble dessert, with a dash of cinnamon.
  • Choose savory grains instead of sweetened ones. Sometimes a slice of warm bread and butter can satisfy as much as a sweet treat. Yes, it is made with grains which are still carbohydrates, but the effect on our body is so much better.

Use Less Sugar in General

  • Cut back on the sugar in your recipes. Start to cut back just a bit, perhaps 1/5 or 1/6 the amount, then 1/4, 1/3, even 1/2. See at which point you really start to notice a difference. Over time, you will likely find that you enjoy the less-sweetened version!
  • Be purposeful about cutting meals out of your regular routine that include sugar. If you usually eat a lot of pancakes with syrup, or muffins, or even things like sweetened baked beans, try cutting out one or more of those meals each week. Substitute with something more protein or veggie based instead.
  • Try other more complex flavors instead of just going with something sweet. Add fresh or frozen fruit, nuts, coconut, etc. to your oatmeal instead of just honey or brown sugar. Play around with various fresh fruits to add more natural sweetness to smoothies. Use nut butters and a sprinkle of cinnamon instead of jam on toast.
Friday
Feb212014

Review: Fiber One Fruit Snacks

As a family, getting enough fiber is something that we all struggle with. So when we got the opportunity to try the new Fiber One Fruit Snacks, we took it! We all loved the fruit snacks and will be making them part of our healthy eating routine. They are the best fruit snacks I've ever tried!
Friday
Feb142014

Recall: Graco Car Seats

Graco has recalled 11 models of Graco Child Car Seats (not infant) sold from 2009 to 2013 are being recalled due to the buckles not unlatching properly, making it difficult to remove the child from the seat. This increases the risk of injury in a crash, fire or other emergency when a speedy exit from the vehicle is required. Graco did mention in this article that they are offering an improved replacement harness buckle to affected consumers at no cost. Go here for more details on this recall.

The recalled models include:
Cozy Cline, ComfortSport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size4Me 70, Smart Seat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite, and Argos 70.

Thursday
Feb062014

Forget Your Coupons? These Stores Can Help!

If you forget your coupons, these stores can help!

Michaels: There’s probably one of the chain’s ubiquitous 40% off one item coupons stashed next to the cash register. “I’d say 90% of the time they’ll open a drawer under the register and pull out a coupon and scan it,” blogger Kyle says of his wife’s shopping trips to the craft supplies chain.

Old Navy: Asking for a coupon works less consistently, but does work sometimes. If you have a smartphone, you can also check it for in-store deals, which may be on the company’s Facebook page.

Jo-Ann: This craft chain also offers 40-50% off one item coupons weekly. If you forget yours, there may be one on a sale flyer sitting around the store, or just ask. The chain also has a smartphone app that you can use to pull up insta-coupons.

Bed Bath & Beyond: If the cashier doesn’t have a loaner coupon or you don’t find one sitting around the store, you can bring your receipt back to the store with your sweet 20% off deal and get a refund.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: Kyle shares the tale of a shopping trip when he pulled up a coupon on his smartphone, only to have the cashier offer an even better one. Handy! It may have helped that he had some raucous children with him.

Kohl’s: This store can scan e-mailed coupons from your smartphone. Don’t have one? The cashier may have scratch-off coupons, which add the fun of an instant lottery ticket to your shopping trip. Just ask.

JCPenney: Yes, they’ve re-embraced coupons. Look for a flyer when you enter the store, or ask a cashier.

Costco: Readers have told us that if you forget the coupon book that Costco mailed you, cashiers have spares. Ask nicely.

Source: Consumerist.com