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Saving on Black Friday without spending much money!

black friday imageSome of my friends thought I was crazy to go shopping on Black Friday. They talk about not wanting to fight the lines and crowds. However, if you know what deals you are going for and stick to a few stores, you can’t go wrong! I also refused to go on Thursday, wanting to send a message to stores that they should be closed!

I have a few favorite stores I love to go to each year – Target and CVS. Target often offers special items just for Black Friday. I always can get my boys cheap pajamas and hat and glove sets. The pajamas are often in sets that are created solely for Black Friday. CVS offers tons of freebies (you just split your purchase up and use your Extra Bucks right away!).

My strategy:

1) I go through the newspaper (or online) sale fliers and my favorite blog, “Kosher on a Budget,” beforehand.

2) I create a detailed list before heading out to shop (be sure you record the price each item should be).

3) I am careful what goes on my list. I try not to buy anything we don’t need or usually buy anyway.

4) I also try to keep my gift expenses low for the kids, because I know they usually get holiday money and gifts from relatives. We are not really in a position right now to buy any splurges!

Here are my savings for the day:

Amazon:

Amazon has a deal offering 30% off one book: I have only seen this deal for Black Friday. The deal is still good until Nov. 30. See the post “30% off Amazon book code…” on Kosher on a Budget. I saved $3.99 on a book for work.

Amazon also offered many magazines at $5, including my favorite “Real Simple.” See the post “Discount Mags Black Friday sale – 100 Magazine subscriptions starting at $3.50 per year” on Kosher on a Budget. My last renewal was $32.99 from them!

Total Amazon savings = $36.98

Target:IMG_1340I went here first, because I know that my favorite items (the pajama sets) go quick! Not so quick that I got up early or went Thursday night, though! This year the sets were $5 each and for some reason they rang up as $3.50 a set at the register! Normally a two-piece set in the children’s department on sale would be $10. You cannot beat that! (Savings = $26 since I bought for four kids.)

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They also have gloves and hats on sale each year. I got the boys each a new winter hat (2 for $4) and a set of gloves (2 sets of 2 pairs for $4). So each boy got a new hat and gloves for $3 per kid! These sets were previously $5 a set and higher when not on sale! (Savings = $3)

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All regular-priced clothing in the store was 40% off, so I was able to get my boys each a long-sleeved shirt ($4.80) for weekends and myself two long-sleeved shirts ($7.20 each). I also got a package of socks (10 pair) for $5 (regularly $10.49). (Savings = $27.89)

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50% off select frames: Three were normally $2.00, I got them for $1. The other was $4.99; got for $2.50. (Savings = $5.50)

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The Lego movie: My boys have been anxiously awaiting this to come out. I got it for $9 (Was $9.99 on Amazon instant video or $18.99 before Black Friday. However, it is $8.99 as of Saturday eve on Amazon, if you want to get it now!) (Savings = $9.99)

Red card 5% discount = $5.15.

Total Target savings = $77.53

To find out other ways you can save at Target, see my post “Why I love Target!”

Old Navy:IMG_1347The whole store was 50% off! I had looked at the sale flier ahead of time and saw that they had boys’ half-zip pullover sweaters for $8.47 each. I only have one sweater for each of the boys, so I thought this would be great to get. I could not find them at the store, but found this lighter sweater instead, for the same price. The boys loved wearing them for Shabbos. They will get good wear out of them for school, too!

Total Old Navy savings = $33.88

CVS:IMG_1338

CVS had lots of freebies this holiday. Not quite as many as in past years, but I am not complaining! This year it was paper towels (on sale for $1.99), various chocolate candies (I chose Hershey’s, on sale for $.79), AA batteries (on sale for $4.19), and a set of two toothbrushes (on sale for $2.00). That’s $8.97 of free stuff!

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Buy one get one free: I got my boys each a fleece blanket for their beds (buy one at $9.99, get one free) and got two remote control cars (buy one at $12.99, get one free) for my gift drawer. See my post “Happy Birthday to you, and you, and you”  for how to create one. So for $5 each, I got a warm blanket for each of my sons, and I got each car for $6.50! I did have to go to a second CVS for two more blankets (the closest store only had 2), but it was worth the trip! The boys loved them and even had fun using them for dress up! They will add some needed warmth for them at night this winter!

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Other sale items: Tuna for $.66 a can ($.69 regularly at Aldi, but for name brand it was a savings), a polish gift set for a friend ($3.88 on sale, $3 ExtraBucks back = $.88), and a remote control helicopter for my older son for Chanukah ($8.88, regularly $19.99).

Total CVS Savings = $56.23

OfficeMax:IMG_1348

OfficeMax is one of my favorite stores. They have great sales every week, put many items on clearance and have a great rewards program. See my post on “Get rewarded for shopping – updated” and “Recycle your ink = earn money.” Recently our printer broke, and I had $50 in rewards to go towards a new one!

Sharpies – I got a metallic 6-pack for $3. This set is normally $10.49!

I also got a 16 MG memory card for our camera for $6.99 (regularly $39.99). We currently have a small one which really only allows us to take 10-15 pictures at once! I had been hoping they might go on sale because the regular price was way to high!

Total OfficeMax savings = $40.49

Total savings for my Black Friday adventures: $245.11. Considering I spent less than $200 that is awesome!

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Grocery savings, Other savings tips

 

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The best $10 a month I spend – Dropbox!

A few years ago, right around report card time, my laptop got one of those horrible trojan worm viruses. It hid all of my files and I couldn’t access anything even though I could see the files were somewhat still there. It took me hours to do research and figure out how to bring them back. Shout out to Bleeping Computer for helping me solve this awful problem!

But back to my story… After this I went out and bought an external hard drive, for fear of losing my files again. I had eight years of digital photos and all of my teaching and personal files on that computer! The hard drive worked great, right up until a month or two after the warranty and then for some reason it stopped turning! We took it to Best Buy and they said it could not be fixed for any reasonable amount of money. It would be a couple thousand dollars to recover the data! That’s was the last straw! I also had lost about a 100 ebooks from Scholastic (that luckily they reloaded for me on their website, but now I have to take the time again to download them!). I would not be relying on an external hard drive or any device again!

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

I had heard of Dropbox, but had never tried it. I decided it was worth looking into. With Dropbox, a cloud storage solution, you can get up to 2 GB of space for free. You can then earn more free space by referring others and sharing Dropbox via social networking sites and completing other activities. However, even with that extra space, it was not enough to store all of our files and photos.

So for $9.99 a month, I get 100 GB, which is more than enough. However, there are higher plans that can accommodate 200 and 500 GB. They also have business plans for multiple users.

Why should you try it?

  • Gives you the peace of mind that all of your files are protected and backed up.
  • You have the ability to share files and folders with others. This has been great for accessing my husband’s files. He doesn’t need to keep sending me certain files I need when he updates them; I just click on the link on the first email he sent me with that file.
  • It is easy to set up.
  • It works without you doing much. You just put everything you want to be backed up in your “Dropbox” folder on your computer. It backs up files any time you create new ones, make changes, delete files, etc.
  • You don’t have to remember to back up your computer on a certain schedule. It does it every time your computer is on.

Definitely worth that $9.99 a month! Give it a try and let me know what you think! FYI – I am using a PC; I hear from friends with Macs that backing up your information is done differently.

Note: I am not working for Dropbox and receive no benefits from posting this information!

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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Other savings tips, Reviews

 

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Summer savings guide

Summer Fun

With our current predicament of job uncertainty for both my husband and I, spending as little money as possible this summer has become even more important. This is the first summer since my little boys were small that we have all been home, too. That means more expenses than usual – food, excursions, utilities, etc. Here are the tips I have discovered so far for doing summer on the cheap:

Ahead of time:

Prepare for summer the summer before. Buy towels, hats, etc. at the end of the season so you have them for the coming year. When all the kids are in camp, we needed a lot of swimsuits and towels to avoid doing laundry every day! It helped to shop ahead.

Get some of your essentials at the dollar store. Sunglasses and water bottles are best to get at the dollar store because my boys lose them often. I don’t have to feel bad when this happens if I have only paid a $1! See my post on “Are “dollar stores” really a good deal?”

Watch throughout the spring and summer for sales on swimwear. Last year I got rash guards and swim trunks for a great price at the end of the season for my boys for this year. They actually still fit into their size from last year, but I am ready when they need a size up! Good online stores to check include The Children’s Place, Land’s End, and L.L. Bean.

Stock up on sunscreen before summer is here. Last year with all four of my boys in camp every day, we went through a ton of sunscreen. On top of that they broke out from many brands, even Aveeno, which you would expect not to be a problem. They have excema, which can make their skin break out more than usual. Luckily I found out about The Honest Company. I love their products! Their sunscreen is a great consistency, has no bad or perfume smell, and my boys don’t break out or scream in pain from it.

You can try a free sample pack (you pay only shipping). Then you can sign up to receive a bundle every month. The Essentials bundle includes five of their products. (They also have a Diaper & Wipes bundle and Health & Wellness bundle, too, with other choices of products.) I can’t afford to order a bundle every month, but get them a few times a year. You can choose how often you want them delivered. Every time I order, I get a sunscreen, so I am ready for summer!

Be on the watch for great deals on memberships to local attractions. These deals usually don’t occur during the summer. For the St. Louis Science Center’s 50th anniversary of their planetarium, they had a sale on memberships – $50 off! It has been our best purchase ever! See my post “Become a member!”

Early summer or (late spring):

Plan ahead for where you would like to go. The first week of summer that I was home, we had no official plans or schedule. We were making it up on the fly. This really made the days long and me stressed! Putting together my Summer Bucket List really helped because now I have done the research ahead of time and can either choose activities for the whole week or the night before. See my post “Summer Bucket List (aka Camp Mommy).”

Take advantage of the many free or cheap excursions in town. These include:

Watch for sales on crocs and sandals! We were fortunate to get new crocs (fake brand) a few weeks ago at “Five Below,” of all places!

Throughout:

Pack food wherever you go. Even if you won’t be there for long, pack at least a snack and water. This helps with cranky kids and avoiding high cost emergency food purchases.

Take advantage of your local library. We have been going to their great events all summer and check out books and movies each week while we are there. It is so nice to have the time to do this and with the summer reading programs, we all earn prizes for reading! We are enrolled in the county’s program and the local Jewish library’s. I have not updated my Summer Reading programs post, but see last year’s here.

Look out for ice cream coupons. We have found ice cream coupons in our coupon mailer that comes in our mailbox every week. Check local calendars, too. Here in St. Louis, we have a calendar called the Town Planner. It is mailed to families every year and has coupons tailored for your area. They also have coupons on their website. Another source for ice cream coupons is your local Valpak. These come in the mail in some areas and they also have a website, too. You might not always find coupons for the location you want, but sometimes the drive can be worth the savings! You might also earn ice cream coupons from your Summer Reading programs.

Forget about your thermostat timer. Keep your thermostat set as if you are not home and then adjust as you feel it is too hot in the house! See my post Saving money and energy on Shabbos.”

Use your birthday freebies. If your birthday falls in the summer, or if your kids’ do, be sure to sign up for those birthday freebies! See my posts:

Enjoy your summer and share your summer tips in the Comments section!

 

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Summer 2013 Dollar (or Free) Movies

5 Movie Tickets for 1 Day

I am sorry to post this so late, but this summer I have all my kids home, which means less time to blog and do my own things! However, there are so many great things to do in the summer, many of which are cheap. Summer movies are great to avoid the heat and perhaps see some movies on the big screen that you missed the first time around.

I have updated last years’ list of theaters that offer free or cheap movies. These are typically only offered during the summer. But check your local theater’s website, because they may offer other promotions like senior discounts, mom and baby viewings, concession discounts, etc., year-round.

I have culled sources from across the Internet to provide you a comprehensive list. If you find a theater offering a program that I missed, please let me know! Participating theater state locations are provided for each listing so you don’t have to click on all of them one to see if the program is being offered near you!

CarmikeSummer Kids Series. This theater chain offers $4 movie combo, which includes movie, popcorn drink, and snack. Some theaters start June 3 while others start June 10; days vary by theater. Participating locations vary each year. Be sure to look at both sections below the general information to see if there is a participating theater near you. Some locations even have showings more than once a week. They have participating theaters in 33 states: AL, AR, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO (Warrensburg), MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, and WV.

Cinemark TheatresSummer Movie Clubhouse. $1 per show or $5 for 10 shows if purchased in advance. They have participating theaters in 37 states: AL, AK, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, MN, MO (Kansas City), MT, NC, NM, NV, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV and WS. Click on your local theater for details.

CinemaworldSummer KidFest. June 7 – Aug. 1, seven days a week. FREE for kids, adults $2 or donation of non-perishable pet-food item. Schedule may vary by location. Locations in FL and RI.

Classic Cinemas Wednesday Morning Movie Series. $1 per ticket. Runs June 12 – Aug. 7. Multiple theaters in IL.

Clearview CinemasClearview Cinemas Kid’s Club. July 10 and 11 – August 22, 2013. Wednesdays and Thursday, Tickets FREE. Schedule of movies varies by theater. Participating locations in NJ and NY.

Cobb Theatres – Free Summer Kids Shows. Their website does not have details for this program except to check your local theater for a schedule. Locations in AL, CO, FL, GA, and VA.

Dickinson TheatresSummer Vacation Movie Series. Prices vary between FREE and $2 per ticket. Select the theatre near you and then click on the box with SVMS. This will then lead you to the flier for that theater. Locations in AR, AZ, KS, MO (Lee’s Summit and Kansas City), NE, OK, and TX.

Georgia Theatre Company Summer Movie Series. This series is offered for $1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays in June and July. Participating locations are in FL, GA, SC, and VA.They are showing the entire Harry Potter series of movies, as well as other favorite animated kids’ selections.

Goodrich Quality TheatersKids Summer Movies. Begins June 10, Monday through Friday. Tickets $1. Participating locations in IN, IL, MI, and MO (Jefferson City and Columbia).

Harkins TheatresSummer Movie Fun. Less than $1 per ticket. Locations in AZ, CA, CO, OK, and TX. Click on your preferred theater for their schedule and movies listings. Shows start as early as May 27.

Malco Theatres Kids Summer Film Fest. Runs June 4 – July 31, 2013, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. $2 per ticket. Locations in AR, KY, MS, and TN.

Marcus TheatresKids Dream Summer Film Series. Runs June 18 – Aug. 15, 2013, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. $2 per ticket. Locations in IA, IL, MN, ND, NE, OH, and WI.

Marquee CinemasKid’s Summer Movie Program – June through August, start dates vary by location; Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tickets FREE. Participating locations in CT, FL, KY, NC, NJ, NY, PA, VA,and  WV.

Muvico TheatersFREE Summer Film Fest. June 11 – Aug. 15, 2013, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. Locations are in CA, FL, and IL.

Regal CinemasSummer Movie Express. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, $1 per ticket. Start dates vary by location. Participating locations are in AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MO (Fenton, Hazelwood, and Springfield), MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, and WV. Great Escape Theaters are now owned by Regal Cinemas.

Wehrenberg TheatresFamily Summer Series. June 5 – Aug. 15, 2013, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tickets FREE. Locations in IL, IA, MO (Chesterfield, St. Charles, O’Fallon, South County, Des Peres, Arnold, and St. Peters), and MN.

* For more summer family activities, click on the links here or on the “Family ideas” category on the right menu and/or click on the “Family Fun Outside the Home” page on the top menu bar.

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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Family ideas, Other savings tips

 

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Free Bowling and Skating – Summer 2013

The year has gone by so quickly and it is time to start making summer plans with the kids. This will be the first summer I have had in a while home with my children. They are excited about “Camp Mommy.” I hope they won’t be disappointed!

Below are FREE bowling and roller skating opportunities to take advantage of this summer.

Kids Bowl Free:

Kids can receive two free bowling games a day for the entire summer thanks to generous bowling alleys across the nation (they also have locations in Canada). Shoe rental cost is not included. Check out their website for information on getting your school involved, locations, and frequently asked questions. The age limit is determined by each bowling alley. Dates also vary by alley, but some go from April until October!

There is also an option to sign up for a family pass (for the adults), but it is not necessary to receive your child’s free games. This may be a good deal if you go multiple times over the summer with your kids. You will have to figure it out based on how many times you think you will go, and the cost per game and for shoe rental at your participating bowling alley.

AMF Summer Unplugged:

AMF offers their own summer bowling program for kids. Kids 15 and under get two free games every day of the summer (from May 13 – Sept. 2). Again shoe rental is not included and a family pass is available for purchase. AMF has locations in ALL BUT 14 states in the United States. This year there is no need to print coupons or vouchers; they will give you a membership card on your first visit. And if you forget your card, they can look you up!

Brunswick Bowling:

Brunswick also has a summer bowling program for kids. Students 18 and younger can receive one free game of bowling in June, July, and August. For children 12 and younger, you just add them to your Bonus Zone profile (a rewards program and email newsletter). Children 13 -18 should create their own Bonus Zone account. Brunswick has locations in 18 states and Ontario – Canada.

KidsSkateFree logo

Kids Skate Free:

According to their website, skating is:

  • A fun way to increase muscular strength and cardiorespiratory endurance.
  • A way to burn anywhere from 330 to 600 calories per hour!
  • Great for improving balance and flexibility.
  • A fantastic source of aerobic exercise.
  • A key to weight control.
  • Easy to learn.
  • A great tension reliever and enthusiasm builder.
  • An excellent way to help maintain good health.

The website features a tool for finding a location near you, frequently asked questions, and other information. Times and days vary by location.

For more ideas of fun things to do with your children, check out the:

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Family ideas, Other savings tips

 

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Back to school: Jewish learning resources

Normally at this time of year, I am starting to get things ready for the school year and setting up my classroom. However, this will be my second year working for the Child Abuse Prevention Program at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. I don’t need to get my own classroom ready, but it is always great to find good resources for my own children. It is so helpful to have websites to go to for accessing holiday ideas, projects, information sheets, etc. for different things my children are studying.

For this post, I wanted to provide Jewish resources that you could use whether you are a parent, homeschooler, or teacher. You might even find them helpful for your own reference if you have no children at all! While this post will not save you money, it will sure save you time and energy when you want to find an activity or idea!

Chinuch.org

This is one of my favorite Jewish resources. I used it a lot when I taught preschool as well as third grade. I also found some great additions and activities for our family seder last year. You can search for materials based on age (early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, special education, administration, or kiruv) or by topic (which includes Torah, Hebrew language, Interactive classroom, Yamim Tovim, Halacha/Dinim, Arts and Crafts, and more). This site, which is sponsored by Torah Mesorah and the Avi Chai Foundation, allows educators to upload and share a variety of resources with other educators and parents. The resources often include not just instructions, but typed resources (or pdfs) ready to copy or change as needed. Many include photos as well. Additional resources include clip art, forums, audio/video, Olomeinu archives, and more. Their database grows daily!

Organized Jewish Home

I have mentioned this blog before, as it has some great resources and articles. The author is a homeschooling Orthodox mom who writes about many topics of interest to frum families: menu planning, holiday preparations, activities for kids, organization, recipes, and more. She posts resources for each parsha that are particularly helpful if you homeschool or if your children attend a public school and you want to supplement their Jewish learning. She also has a “Shalom Bayit Book” that is somewhat similar to my Family Control Journal. See my post on “Starting a Family Control Journal.” Check it out and let her know I sent you!

Central Agency for Jewish Education, St. Louis (CAJE)

This is the website for our local Jewish education agency. They have a section for Teacher Resources that is helpful for families as well. It includes Beginning of the Year materials, board games, Shabbat materials, holiday materials, Hebrew letter review materials, Hebrew prayer materials, links to other teacher resources, and early childhood resources. I can’t wait to use some of the Hebrew ideas and board games with my own children!

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Do you know of any other great Jewish education resources? Please share them in the Comments section!

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Email and online tips, Family ideas

 

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Kosher Birthday Freebies T – Z

Geoffrey's Birthday ClubHere is the last installment of my kosher birthday freebies as promised. I also have included a few additions at the end. Enjoy all these great birthday freebies!

The Children’s Place – By signing up for their Birthday Club, you will get a special coupon for your birthday and your child’s.

Toys “R” Us – When you sign your child up for Geoffrey’s Birthday Club, your child will receive a special birthday card and gift (until he or she is 10). Last year the gift was a $3 gift certificate for use at the store. You can also get a birthday call for your child from Geoffrey. If you shop at the store on or near your child’s birthday, they will give him or her a crown, balloon, and special announcement broadcast to the entire store.

Walmart PictureMe Studio – You can receive a free birthday portrait collage from Walmart when you schedule a birthday appointment.

Walt Disney World – NOTE: Walt Disney World used to offer free admission on your birthday. This promotion has been discontinued.

World Market – This is my favorite birthday freebie! By joining their World Market Explorer Rewards program, you will get a birthday surprise. Last year it was a coupon worth $10 to use at their store. You will also receive coupons via email throughout the year. You also get a 10% off coupon just for enrolling.

NEW ADDITIONS

If you have already signed up for the rewards on my previous Kosher Birthday Freebie posts, check out the latest additions I have added today (I also added them on the corresponding posts):

Benefit Cosmetics – Sign up on their Facebook page to receive a free Birthday Brow Arch!

Krispy Kreme – I could not confirm this on their site, but other sites state that you can receive a free half dozen glazed donuts and a coffee mug with either coffee or soda in it for your birthday! Their sign-up for their Friends of Krispy Kreme does ask for your birthday. Check with your local kashrus agency for the certification of each store and location Krispy Kreme is sold.

Pottery Barn Kids – When you join Pottery Barn Kids’ Birthday Club, your child will receive a personalized birthday card and you will get 10% off one item during your child’s birthday month. This club is for children ages 9 and under.

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