September 29, 2010

Cheapout on Designer Items -- Online Sample Sales

It seems like there are great deals on all the sites right now, so I thought I'd just do an overview of all the sites I use.  These are great opportunities for bargains on high end items and the best name brands.

The idea?  In my mind, it's like going to the outlet malls, only the inventory turns over DAILY.  Each of the sites I look at gets new items daily, focusing on a few designers for a few days, and then moving on.  They each have a different focus as well.

The drawback? You have to be invited to join the sites, but joining is free.  Most sites offer a $10-$15 joining bonus if you accept an invitation from another member.

One King's Lane
This is a great site for household items.  Just as an example, today their sales include Chef Clad and Ultra Clad cookware that is all 50% off, bamboo towel sets that are 67% off, coffee table books, and artwork for the home.  If you want to join, you can click here for your invitation.  This one offers $15 for joining, and there are towel sets that are $15 right now--you'd only have to pay shipping.

Specializing in high end baby and children's items, Zulily will often have some really great deals.  Today's sales include Hartstrings, Petit Ami, Combi, Minki, and Petunia Pickle Bottom.  Remember that the deals change every day.  Click here to join.

The Mini-Social
This site is usually dedicated to high end children and baby items.  My favorite part is that they often have Melissa and Doug items and some other great learning toys, but I also love that they will offer really great boutique children's clothing for an unbelievably low price.  Remember that these sales only last for a couple of days before they move on to the next sales.  The link to the Mini Social is here.

Beyond the Rack

Beyond the Rack offers designer women's and men's clothing and shoes, and they offer a $10 joining bonus.  Today's sales include Steve Madden, Tom Ford, and Apple Bottom.  Sign up here for their page.

September 27, 2010

While We're Discussing Food...

As my blog has developed, I have focused on many different areas while trying to stick with my main theme--how to live on a budget, reduce your expenses, and get what you need for as little cost as possible.  Yes, many days are dedicated to shopping deals, but I have also spent time writing longer articles with a variety of themes.  If you're in between the bargains and have time, you may want to read back on some of the topics I've covered.

Some of my first blog posts focused on my philosophy and the bargain-hunter's mindset.  I went on to discuss how to find the best coupons and how, when and where to use them.  There are posts about how to develop a stockpile of food and household needs, and how to cook and freeze meals for later.  It also focuses on the central theme of saving money while being able to purchase and use more healthy ingredients and cutting back on eating out.

Here are some of my favorite food related posts.

Please let me know if there's a topic you'd like to see covered more, or one I haven't covered at all, or if you have any questions about anything.  While I do love finding and sharing bargains with people, it's not my only focus in life.  I've done a lot of trial and error and researching to find all of this, so it's nice to share with others.

If you have any great tips or hints to share, please do!  I'm always looking for new ideas.  Again, commenting on my posts is easy!  You can log in with about any account, and you can even comment anonymously to save some time or preserve your identity.

I'm coming up on a year of blogging and this is post number 337.  I hope to hit 400 by my one year blogoversary, and there will definitely be more coupons, freebies, and deals forthcoming.  Let me know what's on your list, and I can help you find it cheaper.

Community Resources -- Food

In continuing with my series on available community resources, I will be focusing again on the resources available in my own area. I hope that people from outside our area will still find the post useful for finding ideas on where to get help.  This post will focus on where to get free or low-priced food for your family.  Many people are faced with unexpected emergencies, or maybe the budget gets really tight some months.  Either way, it's good to know what resources are available near you. 

Even if this isn't information your family may need, please pass it along to others you meet.  If you are able, please consider donating time, food, or money to help keep these great organizations going.

Angel Food Ministries
This is a program that goes on nationwide, and it is available to people of all income levels.  Local charity organizations (usually a church) use group buying power to get groceries at a much lower price.  They put together a box of food that is supposed to be enough to feed a family of four for a week, and sell these boxes for around $30. 

They also have "special" boxes available that differ each month.  Over the years, this has developed from one regular box and one special to encompass those with special dietary needs, including gluten-free boxes and pre-made meals for seniors.

You can go to their website to find distributors in your area and the menu.  Many sites allow for online ordering, and most accept checks, cash, debit and credit cards, and food stamps.  There is only one distribution day per month, and you have to order and pay ahead of time, but it's a great way to get some quality meals for your family. 

In Ames, Food At First

The First United Methodist Church in Ames makes a meal every night of the week to serve to people in the community.  This meal is provided free of charge for all.  Here's a local newspaper article detailing a little more about the meal and how they make it all using donations from local businesses.  A HUGE thank you should go to all of the volunteers who work to prepare and serve the meals and to Panera Bread, which donates bread and rolls.

In Nevada, Food At First

The First United Methodist Church in Nevada serves meals two days a week, Monday and Thursday from 5:30-6:00 pm. 

Food Pantries

Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) in Ames provides many services for people with low or limited resources.  There are many distribution places throughout Ames and Story County.  You can find a list of the local food pantries HERE.  Again, please consider donating food items if you are able.

September 24, 2010

Free Museum Day Saturday!

The Smithsonian Magazine is sponsoring a free museum day tomorrow, Saturday September 25th.  I'm sorry I just found out about this, or I'd have shared sooner.  This is a nationwide event, with many museums participating.  In the Central Iowa area, this includes Terrace Hill (the governor's mansion in Des Moines), Living History Farms, and The Knoxville Speedway Museum in Knoxville, Iowa.

You do need to print out a voucher, but you can print the voucher and learn what museums are available in your area at this link.

Community Resources

I have posted before about using all the activities in your local library for ways to entertain children, but these also save a lot of money.  I was just telling a friend about some resources available in our community, and thought it would make a good series of posts.  Once again, I will focus on my own area, but most communities have similar resources--often it is just a matter of finding them.  In our area, the library help desk is a great location to learn more about community events and activities.

Let's start with parent education, early learning opportunities for babies and toddlers, and general family support.  LSI (Lutheran Services of Iowa) is extremely active in our area, with many great resources.  While many are put off by the religious-sounding name, their services are non-denominational.  Look for more information at the link above, but here is just a short list of the services available:
  • Crisis childcare in family emergencies.
  • PAT (parents as teachers)
  • People Place
  • MELD new parent groups
I want to focus on the People Place today, because it encompasses so many different types of help and learning.  The building itself has an extensive library of parenting books, magazines, and pamphlets, not to mention that the staff is friendly, helpful, and full of knowledge.  Even if they don't have the help you need, they can point you in the right direction to get it.

They also have several programs in the building throughout the week.
  • Monday mornings 9:30-11:30 are drop-in days, where parents are able to leave their children with quality caregivers for two hours while they read, chat with other parents, or use the library in the building.  The childcare is structured to provide some learning for pre-school aged children, with art projects, structured and free play, and a snack offered.
  • Wednesday mornings 9:30-11:30 are ABC (after baby comes) support groups, with the same childcare but also class offerings for parents.  These include topics that are pertinent to the pre-school stage of child development, including classes on family nutrition, positive discipline, early literacy, stress relief techniques, and many others.
  • Two Fridays a month are available for MELD new parent support group.  These are generally geared toward parents who are expecting a baby all the way up to parents of two year olds.  They offer a light breakfast and childcare as well.
  • Separate MELD classes are also offered for parents of children with special needs, and MELD is offered in Nevada on two Monday evenings a month.
  • Along with all of those programs, People Place offers special workshops at different times with a specific focus.  Class offerings change often, but this fall's schedule includes Make Parenting a Pleasure, Nurturing Healthy Sexual Development, and Care for Kids.  These classes start at the beginning of October, so call 515-233-1677 to register now.
  • They are funded through Early Childhood Iowa and generous donations from the community, but also request that parents give what they can to help defray costs.  
If you have any questions about the People Place, you can call (515) 233-1677 between 9-3 on weekdays or email peopleplace @  (remove the spaces)

    September 23, 2010

    Deals from my Inbox, 9/23

    Here is a list of the best deals I see today.
    • The Children's Place has a 20% off code (when you spend $50 or more) through 9/27.  Use code Y2C2010.  They also have an additional 40% off reduced fall items.  Click here for details.  Be sure to use MyPoints (2 points per dollar) or Ebates (3% cash back).
    • Des Moines area people only: Get $40 of gift cards for El Bait Shop for $20 PLUS get two free beers or soft drinks.  You are able to buy an unlimited amount of vouchers.  Buy through Travelzoo.
    • Get $10 off all Lee jeans and free shipping over $50--through 9/27.
    • has North Face, Ecco, Easy Street deals today, among others.  The Easy Street shoes are mostly in the $10-12 range.  Their deals generally last for one day only, but they rotate through.
    • Get 30% off Avenue coats and boots, with code AV101175 through 9/29.  You can also get 500 points through MyPoints with $74.99 or less or 1000 points with $75 or more.
    • Old Navy's Baby Sale ends today, get discounts, and also free shipping (over $50) with code ONSALE.
    • Get 20% off sitewide at with code LFFRIENDS through 9/27.
    • Charlotte Russe $5 sale.  All items on this list are $5 each with code SECRET5.
    • Staples has a coupon for $10 off $60 HP Ink, then you get your 10% rewards, plus $2 back when you recycle the cartridges.  Even better!  Get $5 rewards back per cartridge if you spend $59.  They will let you bring up to 10 cartridges per month, so if you have a few saved up, it's a great time to do it.
    I think we're done for now, but check back later for more deals.

      September 22, 2010

      Amazon Toy Deals

      I posted some last week, but many are still available. In addition to those, there are some other great savings opportunities that need to be passed along.
      •  The Little Tikes and Radio Flyer deals are still going on, though many items are sold out through Amazon (you have to buy through Amazon to get the free shipping).  Here's the post I did last week for a reminder.
      • The big shoe sale is still going on for the time being, though there isn't much left. 
      • New this week: $10 off $30 on select Playskool items.  I see Alphie (remember from when we were kids?) is $5 off right now, making him $39.88.  With the $10 off, that brings the price under $30.  This is on the list of hottest toys of the year, so there's no way it will get any cheaper than that.  The details of the $10 off $30 and the rest of the Playskool toys included in the deal are in the Alphie listing.
      • Beyblades have a 25% discount when you buy two or more.  This one and this one are around $7 each, but there are more in the deal.
      • Check out the Toys Outlet for even more items as they clearance the old to bring in the new.  I see a Mrs. Potatohead silly suitcase for only $10. 
      • One more!  There are toy coupons available to you.  I think they are individualized, but go check out this page.  Toward the bottom, there are links for many toy coupons.  I've found if I don't get the coupon I want, it helps to refresh and new ones may come up.  The good ones I see:  $5 off Chuck the Talking Truck, $5 off Scrabble Flash Cubes, $5 off Tonka Mod Machines.
      • I saw Chuck on the Playskool $10 off $30 link, so it may be possible to combine the savings and get $15 off.

      Happy Shopping!

      September 21, 2010

      Target Clearance Information

      It seems that the old clearance schedule is out the window. I'm not sure if it's the poor economy or a new company policy, but the Target stores near me are clearancing items at a MUCH slower rate lately.  Nonetheless, there are some good clearance items available at the Ames Target store.  My finds:
      • Backpacks 75% off!  Most backpacks are in the $3.50-$5.00 range right now, and there are MILLIONS of them.  My hint: look back in the luggage area for some of the more rugged backpacks like Jansport which are also 75% off.
      • School supplies 75% off.  Yes, and they still have quite a bit.  If you need folders, composition notebooks, pencils, pens, or 3 ring binders, go for it.
      • Many summer items finally at the 50-75% off level.  There aren't a lot, but the deals are great with what's left.
      • Kids clothes, and lots of them, at 50% or more.  Also a LOT of shoes for adults and kids.
      • Many clearance markdowns starting in the electronics department, especially in the camera area.  I'm guessing they're clearing out the older models for new one for holiday shopping, but take advantage while you can.
      • The dollar spot also has some clearance items left--the brown dot items are 50% off, and it's mostly educational supplies like workbooks.  Though not on clearance, they have really cute accessories for Halloween costumes for $1.  Foam swords, plastic shields and helmets were our favorites, and they had a lot of costumes for smaller pets in the same area.
      I am going to be a little absent this week as I try to get some fall cleaning done, but I will come and post if I hear of any really great deals.  

      Oooh, this is a reader-submitted bargain I want to share.  I almost forgot again. I'm not sure when the codes expire, but they're worth a try.  Looks like great savings.  Thanks again to my anonymous commenter.

      20% off at with coupon code STACK free shipping over $25, also save 15% at

      September 17, 2010

      Fun Family Activities

      I may spend a lot of time on this topic, but it's what my family does. We love to go and try out new events, and everything is an adventure.  A few weeks ago, we went to see a model airplane show.  I wouldn't have thought we'd all enjoy it, but we really did.  The learning that can come out from such an experience is awesome, too.  The best part of that show--it was free to get in, and only a few miles from our house. 

      Wherever you live, I hope that you are able to find all the family fun you can.  Make every weekend special for your kids.  I enjoy seeing things for the first time all over again through the eyes of my children.  Their excitement carries through for all of us.

      This weekend in our area, there are some really great events I've added to the calendar.
      • Center Grove Orchard has re-opened for the season, and they are having their Farmer Days celebration this weekend.  You can go on Saturday or Sunday, but they have the Amazing Chemistry Show three times on Saturday.  Need more incentive?  Like them on Facebook, and you can get a coupon for $1 ice cream cone.
      • It's time for another Sample Sunday at the farms near Woodward.  There are great farms in a small area just outside of Woodward, Iowa that serve up some delicious samples and home-grown family fun.  There's always good music, good food to taste, and lots of animals.  Go in any order you like, but make sure you visit all three farms: Picket Fence Creamery, Northern Prairie Chevre, and Prairieland Herbs.  It looks like they are having a treasure hunt this weekend.
      • It is also the last weekend for the Des Moines Renaissance Festival.  This one comes with a higher entrance fee for family fun, but it can be great for a change of pace.  There are discount tickets available at area Casey's and HyVee.  It's pirate weekend.  ARGH!
      • There are a lot of activities going on at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines as well.  Most are free admission.  Here is a list of all the activities, but I see a Paint Horse show and Every Family Rocks--which looks like fun, but comes with a REALLY steep entrance fee.  You can get $8 tickets at Dahl's before the show, or $15 at the door.
      • If you're in Southwest Iowa or don't mind traveling, this would be a terrific weekend to watch the hot air balloon races.  I remember these fondly from when I was growing up.  There's nothing better than some pancakes and hot cocoa on a frosty September morning, then watching the balloons launch with the sunrise.  Click the link for the schedule of events.
      Whatever you do this weekend, have fun!  I'll probably be away from the blog for the weekend again, but back on Monday with more great deals.

      Amazon Kids Shoes Sale

      I know this sale is a popular one every season when it comes around. Amazon has 70% off a lot of kids' shoes and boots. This sale is new as of this morning, but I already see a bunch of sold out styles.  Check out the boot/shoe sale here.  I'll post some of the best deals, but be sure to look for yourself.

      I love this one, where you can get some really expensive name brands for discount store prices.  Don't forget to look at the Friday Sale while you're there.

      September 16, 2010

      New Batch of Organic Printable Coupons!

      I always love the coupons from Mambo Sprout. Here is the latest bunch.

      Deals from my Inbox, 9/16

      Here are a few more great deals going on right now.  Don't forget to check out the calendar, there are lots of great fun events this weekend.
      • Free shipping over $25 at with code FREESHIP231 through 9/28
      • Zulilly has tons of good sales going on right now, including 3 different sales dedicated to boys only.  I know it's hard to find cute boy stuff, and it's all 60% off right now.  You have to be invited, so consider this your invitation.  Click on the link to register and see sales.
      • has all designer clothes, shoes, and bags "up to" (hate that phrase) 75% off.  Most of their sales are one day only, so check it out HERE.  I will freely admit that I know nothing of designer stuff for adults, so I don't know which are good deals.
      • Gluten free chocolate chip cookies for $4.49 (looks like a dozen). has it, but it looks like it's through  Here's the link.
      • The Steal of the Day at Family Video is four Dirty Harry movies for $8.99.  
      • Michael's exclusive coupon deal, with three great coupons.  Click for 15% off total order, 40% off one item, and 60% off custom framing.  Free doll party event on September 25, and I'll add it to my calendar.
      • Free today from Daily Steals, but 4.99 shipping, it's a pizza and cake cutter with tongs.
      • Get 50% off ELF bestsellers, with purchase over $15.  Use code BESTSELL through 9/20.
      Come back for more soon!
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      $5 Veggie Tales Live Show Deal!

      It's not in my area, but if you are near one of the lucky cities, get $5 tickets to a Veggie Tales live show.  Here are the towns included:

      • Shreveport, LA
      • Little Rock, AR
      • Dallas, TX
      • Witchita, KS
      • St. Louis, MO
      • Cincinnati, OH
      • Lynchburg, VA
      Use code LIVEFIVE at ITickets.

      Amazon Radio Flyer and Little Tikes Deals

      Amazon has most Little Tikes on sale 25% off for their 40th anniversary.  Some of the items have already sold out, but there are still deals to be had.  While 25% generally isn't good enough for my cheap ways, these items are sturdy and long-lasting and rarely go on sale.  The link will take you to all their items, but here are some of my favorites.

      The Radio Flyer items are marked down even more, some are more than 50% off.  If it's pink, you're in luck--those seem to be marked down further than the standard red.  Here are three of the most discounted, but check the link for other deals.

      The best part of these markdowns is the free shipping--even without Prime, these are over $25 and qualify for free super saver shipping. Free shipping on such large items is a huge savings, as anyone who has ordered large items online can attest.

      If you don't have Prime yet and missed my post yesterday, you can get 3 months of free prime with Amazon Mom, which will get you through the holiday shopping season.

      September 15, 2010

      HOT Staples Deal with Coupon

      Staples has a great deal for 4 days only. They've got their "breakroom" supplies on sale, but then a coupon for $20 off a $60 order. Some of the deals that I found look stockpile-worthy when you're basically taking an additional 1/3 off the price.  Here's the full list, and some of my favorites are below.
      • 12 rolls of Bounty for $6.  It shows double that in their sale flier, but that link should work for $6.
      • $13.99 for 20 big rolls of Charmin.
      • Windex is also showing as BOGO.
      • I hope this coupon code will work for everyone. 8758-2132-8518-2362 Let me know if you are able to use it successfully. 

      Amazon Mom

      I guess those really great Amazon diaper deals were really great for Amazon as well. They're now offering a program called Amazon Mom.  All you have to do is sign up, tell them you are a mom (or caregiver), and start reaping the benefits.  What are the benefits?  Here's their FAQ, but the big points that I see are:
      • Free three month membership in Amazon Prime.  I may have mentioned my love for Prime a million or two times.  This allows you to get free two day shipping on ANYTHING you order from Amazon.  No more paying for shipping or looking for enough products to get you up to the $25 minimum. 
      • 30% off select diapers and wipes!  They have 15% off with subscribe and save, but if you join Amazon Mom, you'll get an extra 15% off.
      • Email alerts with sales and deals on the items you are buying.
      • Not to mention, the diapers are coming straight to your house.  Sometimes that's the best part of Amazon.

       It almost makes me wish I had one back in diapers...almost.  :)

      September 14, 2010

      Name Brand vs. Store Brand

      I know many people are extremely brand loyal, and that often makes it harder to use coupons.  I'm always willing to try the store brand if it will save me money, but I've found that if I watch for sales and use coupons, I can buy the name brand for close to the same price.

      So, what do you think?  What are the name brands that you can't live without? 

      What are some good store brand items that you use? 

      I'll answer my own questions. 

      • We use a lot of Fastco (Fareway store brand) products.  Their dairy products seem to be very good and we actually prefer their string cheese, though we'll only use Anderson Erickson cottage cheese and sour cream.
      •  At Target, we have been pleasantly surprised by a lot of the Up & Up brand products.  Their drawstring garbage bags are actually much tougher than either Glad or Hefty.  Target occasionally has coupons for their products in their printable coupon section, so you can save a lot of money with their store brands.
      • Tide for us is non-negotiable, but I am able to pair Target coupons with manufacturer's coupons, and I only buy when they are also offering the $5 gift cards with purchase.  The biggest thing for me is to make sure to buy when there are coupons and sales and keep a couple of jugs ahead of our usage.  
      So, let's hear your answers.  Can I help you find the good deals?

      September 13, 2010

      Monday Deals 9/13 (part two)

      There are so many good deals that I had to do another post. Here we go with some freebies and deals again.
      • 40% off photobooks at MyPublisher, with code 2040WIN.  Actually, it looks like you get 20% off orders over $50 and 40% off orders over $100.  If you use the code for an order over $100, you also get automatically entered into a drawing for $1000.  
      • Here's a great code for Lane Bryant if you have a big order you need to make.  025002652 will get you $75 off an order of $225 or more.  That's 1/3 off your order, but it expires TOMORROW.
      • A one week code for One Step Ahead: buy any Halloween costume, get 15% off any order of $75 or more.  Use code HALL15.  It looks like you don't have to spend all $75 on costumes, so use it for any other things you might have been wanting. 
      • $10 off $50 at Office Depot with code 39142816 through 9/16.  They're also doing 50% back in rewards for any paper purchase.
      • Coldwater Creek has $20 off any pants, and you can use coupon code WHH3098 to get an additional  20% off your order.
      • is having a pretty good sale.  Save an additional 15% off with code CT15.  This flatware set will be under $18.
      • Some good Dove coupons.
      • $10 and $5 Norelco coupons.  They say Father's Day, but they do print.
      Happy Shopping!

      Amazon Fall Blowout Deals

      These are just some of the deals that I have found, but be sure to go and take a look at the overall Fall Blowout link in my previous post.  I tend to find things that are of interest to me, and they might be different than what you want/need.

      First of all, this Garmin Nuvi deal is incredible.  It's the Gold Box deal of the day, so get it now if you want it.  All the way from $350 to under $100, this isn't going to last very long today.  It even has speech recognition.

      Now, for the Fall Blowout deals.  Many of these are going to be good for a little while, so you have time to look around and decide.  I don't mess around much unless it is 75% off or a really good deal on something that isn't normally this low.  The Calphalon deals are really good.  Don't forget that all these clothing items should also be an additional 15% off if purchased through Amazon.

      Some of these items look like great gifts for the gift closet.  What's your favorite deal?

      Monday Deals 9/13

      Some great new deals came in my emails over the weekend.  We had a fun and busy weekend, and are looking forward to even more fun next weekend.  If you know of any fun free or low cost family events, please let me know.  I try to get as many as possible over into the calendar, but sometimes I learn of things last minute.

      I also love to hear about the deals you find.  These are the ones I know about today, but please share if you know more good deals.
      • Amazon is having their Fall Blowout Sale.  I will check for specific deals later and post some in a new post.   Right off the bat, I see an additional 15% off clearance clothing and some cute boots that were around $13.99.

      • At Bath and Body Works, they have Wallflower for $6 and candles 2 for $10.  All of their signature collection is buy 3 get 2 free or buy 2 get 1 free.  Some codes I found to help: SHIP3 for $3 shipping on orders of $50 or more.  THXAUG will get you $10 off $40 and free shipping if you spend $50 or more.
      • Hanes has BOGO1/2off sale for men's underwear and Cuddl Duds (long underwear for women).  The coupon code I found says it's good through 2011, so try 472824 for 10-20% off, depending on how much you spend.  (Looks like 10% off $50, 20% off $100 or more.)
      • This one is for today only.  Dockers is having a one day sale with free shipping and 20% off your entire order.  I don't see any coupon code for this sale, but you may need to go through this link (it's not working for me right now, but I'm guessing they're just really busy.
      • Staples is having a week-long sales event, with up to 70% off.  I didn't really get a chance to look over the sale to see if there's anything good in there.
      • Old Navy has their baby sale, with 40% off all maternity styles $20 and under, and up to 40% off most baby items.
      • Lands End has 1/2 off backpacks and lunch boxes.  That link should also get you 20% off outerwear and free shipping, though it's today only.
      I have more to share, but will send this one through for now.  

      September 10, 2010

      State Fair Events This Weekend

      Some of these are already in my calendar, but it looks like there are a ton of events going on at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.  Here's the official list with directions:

      Sep 10 - 12, 2010
      Dog Show
      Sep 10 - 12, 2010
      Iowa Open Appaloosa Congress Show & Futurity
      Sep 10 - 12, 2010
      Native American Art Show and Sale
      Sep 11 - 12, 2010
      13th Annual Greater Des Moines Militaria Collectibles Show
      Sep 11 - 12, 2010
      Flea Market
      Sep 12, 2010
      12:00 PM-TBD
      Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association Fall Sale

      My family will be kicking it around Boone at Pufferbilly Days. Whatever you do, have a great time and enjoy the cooler weather. Go Cyclones!

      Take Care of Your Computer

      Here's a real cheapout. Computers are expensive, so make sure you are protecting yours the best you can.  I saw notice of a new email virus that is going around, so I thought it was a good time to pull out the post I did about taking proper care of your computer.
      • Link to the Here You Have virus article on
      • Link to the official Cheapout post on virus protection, including some awesome free services.
      • And some reminders:  Don't open links in emails if you aren't expecting the item from someone. 
      • Don't automatically click a link, even if the email looks official.  You can check out where the link really goes by hovering over it with your mouse before clicking.  The real link will show up in the bottom left corner of your browser window.
      • If it seems to be from your bank, paypal, or ebay, go directly to the site to find the information they're supposedly sending.  These are the most common "phishing" scams.
      • Whatever anti-virus program you are using, update it and scan regularly.  The only way that your program can protect your computer is if it knows the latest exploits to search for.  It can't detect and remove malicious programs if you stop the scan so it doesn't slow down your computer.
      • Don't forget to do your Windows updates!  They regularly fix "backdoors" or holes that the hackers have discovered.  Patches are good.  If you aren't good at remembering, set it up to update automatically.  You can ask it to notify you first and put off the update for a little while, but get it done.

      Free Sample Shout Color Catcher

      We have used these, and they work great!  Right now, fan them on Facebook, get a free sample and some great coupons.

      Saturday ONLY! $4 Leggings at Old Navy

      If you're a leggings fan, Old Navy will have $4 children's and $6 women's leggings. It's Saturday only, but it's available in store and online.  I'd anticipate these selling out fast at this price, so make sure you're ready to go early.  More info on their Facebook page HERE.  If you're spending a lot, ONSAVE20 will get you 20% off $100.

      Children's Place Sale and Coupon

      The Children's Place is having a sale this weekend, and there's a 15% off printable coupon or code you can pair with it.  The coupon is good through September 12 only, so get shopping!  The code is H2C2010.  There is a whole big page of $5.99 and up sale deals, but their 3-in-1 jacket (love!) is $10 off online only this weekend.  15% extra off brings these jackets to only $33.57 for the toddler sizes. 

      September 9, 2010

      Deals from my Inbox, 9/9

      I've got some great deals in my inbox right now, and wanted to share with everyone.
      • My Publisher is having a mystery sale today only, use code MYSTERYA at checkout HERE
      • Shutterfly has 75 free prints with code PRTS75 through 9/15.
      • has some great deals today.  I see 60% off Birkenstocks, up to 75% off Betsy Johnson and mens' and womens' jeans.
      • For Des Moines people, you can get 6 Yoga, Jewelry-making, or Photography classes for $15 if you go through Travelzoo HERE.  It looks like you can have the classes spread out a bit and also can mix and match, read the details for yourself.
      • Free shipping and 20% off at with code MYSOAP20.  I've never shopped here, but I just peeked at some Tide.  It's about $2 higher than I normally pay, but there's a $1 coupon you can also use.  This brings it down to $10.71 for the 100 oz bottle, with no sales tax or shipping costs.  Get 5 points per dollar through MyPoints.
      • 40% off sale styles at Ann Taylor with code NEW40
      • I've now found another invitation only kids shopping site that has some great sales, rotating through all the time.  Try out Zulilly, if you haven't already.  They had some great Learning Resources sales earlier this week.
      • $1 coupons for any Horizon organic dairy products
      • Right @ Home usually does one giveaway per month, but they are doing it weekly through September.  Try your luck here to be one of the first, and be sure to sign up for their emails to be among the first notified.
      • I think this has to be the last for the day, but there are two great new samples from Vocalpoint, Kashi and Downy.  You'll need to register if you haven't already.  (oops, Downy's already gone)
      I hope to share more deals tomorrow.  If you live in the area, don't forget this weekend is Pufferbilly Days in Boone.  It's always a fun event, and the weather looks spectacular for this weekend.  Enjoy!

      Crocs Deals

      The Crocs Outlet has three codes right now that are stackable. 
      • Use SHOESFORSCHOOL for $5 off kids' shoes.
      • Use HEALTHMAG for 15% off, including at the Crocs outlet.
      • Use springfreeship (yes, lowercase) for free ground shipping.
      • The summer sandal sale has BOGO half off sandals here.  I tried the 15% off and free shipping codes on the BOGO sale, and they all worked together.
      The Alice style are $15 each in the outlet, and they have a few other pairs of shoes for $9.99 and less.

      September 4, 2010

      Amazon Movie Deals for September

      I somehow neglected to check out the movies section when I was scanning for all the deals Amazon has to offer for the month of September. This month looks good for overall discounts, not just one movie here or there, but whole sections of movies.  It might be a good time to pick up any gifts you were planning for the holidays.  Here's what I see so far, but you may want to look for specific movies I may have missed:

      • First, and this one is TODAY ONLY.  All six Rocky movies (I-V and the new one) for $32.99.

      • Then, through September 20th, there are many movies that are 60% off.  You can check out the "Today's Deals" section on Amazon for more details.
      • Most of the movies also come with $4 credit for on demand TV and movies.

        September 2, 2010

        What Shall We Do This Weekend?

        Where did the summer go?  It seemed like I was just posting all the sanity savers for summer, and now there's a chill in the air, the leaves are starting to change, and my big girl went back to school this week.  With the three day weekend coming up, I find myself trying to decide what to do.

        All my readers have help from me, right over there on the upper right corner of my blog.  I try hard to keep the calendar packed with free or cheap activities that are family-friendly.  I like to have a lot of choices for getting out and having fun with the family, and if I'm doing the research, I may as well add it in for others to use.  Local readers will receive more benefit, because I tend to focus locally.  Maybe if I post about our local apple orchard or pumpkin picking, it will give out-of-area readers ideas of where to search for similar places. are some of the events that I know about in our area this weekend.  The summer festivals are all drawing to a close, but many of the places listed in the summer sanity savers are still available.
        • This upcoming weekend, Madrid is having their Labor Day festival.  Check out the calendar of events HERE.
        • Living History Farms is having a special event all weekend, with an old-fashioned baseball game at 2 pm on Sunday.  It's not free to get in, but you can buy 2 for 1 tickets if you use Tropicana rewards.
        • The Berry Patch farm in Nevada is open for picking blueberries and raspberries starting Friday.
        • The Des Moines Renaissance Faire also starts this weekend.  It's open for the three day weekend, then for the next two weekends.  See more about it in the calendar.
        • The Latino Heritage Festival is on Saturday and Sunday at Southridge Mall.  In previous years, it's been at the Blank Park Zoo, and we've always had a great time when we went.
        • One last highlight for this weekend: there is an Arabian horse show event all weekend at the state fairgrounds, with free admittance for the spectators.  It might be a great event to check out.
        • Center Grove Orchard is probably one of our family's favorite places to go.  I went for the first time many years ago with a class, and we've returned every year with our own kids.  There are more activities every year, including a petting zoo, an old schoolhouse, elk to feed, a giant slide, tractor rides through the orchard, and don't forget to pick some apples while you're there.  Next Saturday, September 11 marks their opening day.  Read more about it here.
        As we are moving into fall, what is your favorite fall activity?  We welcomed some cooler weather tonight by cooking s'mores over our fire pit in the backyard.  The bugs are still biting, but it's getting closer to pumpkin patch time.

        Great Target Coupon Opportunity!

        If you're like me, you've been stalking the Target back to school department, just waiting for those school supplies to hit 75% off.  I was in our local store today getting some extra items for our church outreach program, and I picked up a bunch of wide-ruled notebooks.  On the covers of all of them was a sticker that said "over $5 in valuable coupons inside."  That certainly got my attention, so I flipped to the last page and found this:
        • 75 cents off Life Cereal
        • $1 off 20-22 count Frito Lay products
        • $1 off two Kellogg's breakfast cereals
        • $1 off 4 pack of Danimals yogurt
        • 50 cents off Tropicana juice
        • $1 off any size Tide
        All expire 10/31/10, so there isn't a long time to use them, but Tide is $2 off at Target this week.  It might be a great time to stock up.  Remember that these are all Target coupons, so they can be paired with the manufacturer's coupons for even better savings.  The best part?  The notebooks were only 10 cents each.
        Some more great deals:
        • I've mentioned Right@Home before, but it's a great way to get coupons and freebies.  I was quick enough to get the last couple of freebie packs, and they are really nice.  This month will be free Ziploc® Brand Vacuum Freezer Starter Kit, one 15-count box of gallon size Ziploc® Brand Freezer Bags with the Smart Zip™ Seal, and one set of large rectangle Ziploc® Brand Containers.  Sign up to get in on their emails, and you might be quick enough to get the freebie as well.
        • Steal of the Day at Family Video is Roots for $14.99.  I don't normally post about these, but this seems like an incredible deal.  It's $37 on Amazon.
        • Kohl's has another 15% off 3 day shopping pass.  I can forward the email, or use code THANKYOU15 9/3-9/6.
        • Victoria's Secret is offering two great deals right now.  Get a free travel bag with the purchase of two bras, and they've got their Secret Garden products 8 for $35 with code VSGARDEN35.
        • The September 6 issue of People will have a $20 Aveeno Ageless Vitality coupon.
        • Babylegs, which I adore, is having a sale where you can get bundles of three pairs for $15.
        • is taking an extra 25% off their already clearanced shoes with code 25SALE.
        • Buy one, get one free mini photo books from with code minibook-3 through September 6.  25% off mousepads, with code mousepad-6, also pillowcase-3 for 25% off pillowcases, and magnet-17 for 25% off magnets.  Looks like all come with free shipping.

        That should be enough for now.  I have an in-store Target deal to post about and a few local weekend activities, so keep an eye out for those.

          Deals from my Inbox, 9/2

          Here is a second try at getting up all the deals I've found:
          • Free appetizer from TGI Friday's through September 8.
          • Woman Within is offering 40% off up to three items with purchase of five or more with code WW46899 through September 6.  It looks like they are also having some good sales to go along with it.  It's 40% off your first item, 40% off the second if you buy three or more, then 40% off the third item if you buy five or more.  Seems a little complicated.
          • Lands End savings, today only! Free Shipping + 20% off Fall Favorites + 30% off Kids’ bottoms + $5 off Shoes:  enter the Promotion Code SEPT2 and PIN 7210.
          • $5.99 hoodies from today only.  
          • Through 9/6, get 20% off $100 or 25% off $150 at Old Navy with code ONSAVEBIG.
          • Leapfrog savings, two different deals.  Get any book on this list  for $9.95 with code LABORDAY995.  This can also be printed and taken to any store.  Also print a coupon for $4 off any Tag book at the store.
          • Borders Rewards is doing "Overwhelming Offers" this week, and today's is $50 off Staples.  It hasn't started yet, so you may still be able to register to get it.  Tomorrow is half off a $100 gift certificate to Home Depot.  It's free to have a Border's Rewards account.
          That should do for this morning, will be back with more later.  There are tons of great sales and deals going on right now for the upcoming three day weekend, so look online if I haven't mentioned your favorite store.

            September 1, 2010

            Deals from my Inbox, 9/1

            I've found some more good deals to share, so here we go again.  Make sure to comment and let me know if one of the deals helped you.  I see a lot of looking going on, but I need a little feedback to let me know that someone actually found a deal that they could use.  Also, I love to have deals shared with me.  If you find something great, share it with the rest of us here.  The comments section is easy, you can even comment anonymously if you'd like.
            • The Mini Social has some cute toys and Pedoodles (great shoes) starting today.  Get there before they're sold out.  I've posted about this site quite a bit, so you can search my blog to find out more.  It also looks like they've got some great bags coming up later in the week.
            • Through Monday--New York & Co. $50 off $100 coupon, use promo code 1053.  $20 off $50 with code 1054.
            • Artscow free memo pads WITH free shipping!  I'm not sure if you need to go through Facebook, but this says it's a Facebook share.
            Well, this post has been sitting all day long not getting finished.  I'll be back with more tomorrow.

              September Casey's Coupons

              Just received these in my email, and they look pretty good.  Get $5 off any two specialty pizzas, or $1 off a dozen donuts.  These two coupons seem to have unlimited prints and are available throughout the month of September.

              You will want to go to the link to print them out the proper size.  Also, sign up to have them emailed directly to you.  It's just another one of those "spam" emails that I enjoy.

              September Amazon Deals

              I'm gearing up for the big shopping deals on Amazon, and I really think you have to start looking now for many items.  It's a new month, so there are lots of great places to look for new discounts.  Let me guide you through a few of the best.

              • This seller has a ton of really nice laptop/notebook bags for $4.99.  Check it out!
              • The lightning deals today are all in the GPS section.  If you're looking for a GPS, this will be a chance to get a great deal.
              • New September magazine deals.  Most of these will be good throughout the month.  There are links to the subscriptions that are $5 off and $10 off.  Remember that the price listed is BEFORE the discount.  It will subtract the proper amount when you check out.
              • Maxim is just $5 this month, and here are other subscriptions that are under $10.
              • Some Pillow Pets are under $20 here.
              • Also this month, save an additional 25% off American Standard faucets.  Again, the price does not reflect the extra 25% off.  It will come off at checkout.
              • Don't forget the Toy Outlet!  They are clearancing out toys in preparation for the holiday season, so there are many good deals to be had.  They add lots of new toys daily.
              • I post this every month, but you can get tons of free Kindle Books .  There is a Kindle App available for download for most devices if you haven't been lucky enough to get a Kindle yet.  Also, the brand new Kindle is now selling for just $189. 
              • Oh, and how could I forget the free MP3 downloads?  All the MP3 deals can be found here, with the free ones on the right side, and some $5 albums.
              Just a few of my favorite deals down here: