6 Tips for Shopping Farmers Markets

6 Tips for Shopping at the Farmer's Market

If you want to support your local economy AND get some fantastic fresh veggies, there is no place like the farmers market. When local farmers come together and offer their wares, you have the best local food selections right at your fingertips. Since this cuts out the middleman, you can often find some fantastic deals. To make your visit to the farmers market more enjoyable, here are a few tips:

1)Be Comfy

Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk. Wear comfortable shoes, and dress in layers if the day starts off cool. You can always remove a layer as the day begins to heat up. An umbrella or a jacket can come in handy if you run into a shower as well.

2) Bring Your Own Bags

Although some farmers will bring a supply of sacks, it helps them out if you bring your own bags. And you would hate to miss out on some yummy goods if you have no place to put them.

3) Know What You Want

The sights and smells of a farmers market can be so enticing that you overbuy. You may want to visit the market once before you actually do any buying to get an idea of what they sell. The next time you visit you can come prepared. Keep in mind, however, that the offerings do change based on the season. Make a list of what you would like, but be flexible based on what’s for sale.

4) Come Early

If you want the best selection, get to the market early. Once a vendor is out of a certain item, that’s all they have until next week, so don’t miss out!

5) Get to Know the Farmers

It really is nice to get to know more about where your food is coming from. There are often friendly folks who are more than happy to tell you about what they have for sale, what’s particularly good and what they may have in the future. In addition, the more you visit a given vendor, the more likely they are to throw a freebie you way once in a while. They are also usually good for some wonderful tips on how to prepare the food they sell.

6) Use Your Finds Quickly

One of the greatest parts of the farmers market is how fresh the food is. Use or preserve what you buy quickly so that it offers you the most nutrients AND you don’t waste anything by having to throw it away.

Photo Credit: iClipart


Get The Real Deal from RetailMeNot


RetailMeNot, the most widely used online coupon site in the United States, today announced the launch of its new online magazine, The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.

The Real Deal by RetailMeNot is a lifestyle magazine that delivers daily shopping, fashion, beauty, parenting, personal finance and seasonal advice to help consumers get more out of their shopping experience for less.

To celebrate the launch, visitors to The Real Deal by RetailMeNot can share the online magazine with their friends to be registered to win a $25 Starbucks gift card. From March 6 to March 15, RetailMeNot will be giving away 20 gift cards per day for all 10 days. The more you share, the more chances you have to win!

Featured sections of The Real Deal by RetailMeNot include:

  • Savings Campaign –advice from well-known thought leaders helps consumers become smarter shoppers and empowers young people to own their economic success.
  • Weekly Coupon Roundup – published on Tuesdays, this series features a curated roundup of RetailMeNot’s best coupons of the week, often themed around a holiday or seasonal event.
  • Seasonal Gift Guides – from Valentine’s Day to Christmas and every holiday in between, this series makes gift giving easy by highlighting the hottest products in each category and matching them to the best deals.
  • Trae’s Tips – Trae’s articles are a blend of news reporting and opinion, and range from product roundups to shopping tips.
  • What’s In Store – In this series The Real Deal by RetailMeNot editors talk to insiders at well-known retailers and ask them all the questions consumers want to know.

Check out The Real Deal by RetailMeNot by visiting http://bit.ly/ZiihGw.


5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

I’m a huge fan of online shopping – I’m a work at home mom with five young kids so I don’t get out an awful lot, plus it’s so much easier to compare prices and find exactly what I want online. Not to mention the savings in time and gas. Here are five simple tips to help make sure that you’re being safe while shopping online.

1) Buy from reputable stores

Always shop with reputable stores and online sellers. If you’re shopping at a site that you’ve never heard of before, you can always check them out at independent organizations like TRUSTe or Better Business Bureau Online to make sure they’re legitimate and don’t have lots of complaints against them.

2) Don’t give much information

No reputable seller or retailer will ever ask for your password or social security number. Always give out as little information as possible, and never send your credit card information via email because it is not secure.

3) Look for the padlock symbol

Websites that use secure online store software will display a padlock symbol in your web browser’s address bar to indicate it is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted and safe to transmit your private data. Also be sure that the web address starts with https:// instead of http:// for your protection.

4) Make sure your browser is updated

Whether you use Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer or some other web browser, be sure that you keep it updated to the latest version. Having an up to date browser ensures that you have the latest and best protection available. Check your browser settings to confirm that you have the latest version.

5) Use malware protection

Install malware protection software like Norton Internet Security or Bitdefender to protect your computer from attacks that could stem from an unsecure online shopping session. Although malware can’t protect you from all attacks, it can provide you with a good baseline of protection.

Photo Credit: iClipart


6 Essential Shopping Tips for Black Friday

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Black Friday brings out the shopping adrenaline in die hard shoppers like no other day! A little preparation can make that very busy day more fun, more productive, and less stressful.

1) Scope Out the Sales

Check out the various retailers’ ads to find out what the deals are. You’ll find many online sites that will give you a heads up beforehand so you know where the best deals will be. Check online store sites as well as newspaper inserts.

2) Make a Schedule

Find out what time the stores you want to visit will be open. Map out a strategy to hit the stores based on those times and their locations so that you aren’t doing unnecessary driving.

3) Be Comfortable

Few things ruin a shopping trip faster than being hungry, thirsty, tired or having sore feet. Get some sleep the night before, eat before you go, pack snacks and water, and wear comfortable shoes. It’s going to be a long day and you can expect stores to be crowded and lines to be long.

4) Charge Your Cell Phone

This is especially important if you are shopping with a group. Be considerate of other shoppers—things will be noisy enough without you chatting on your cell phone—but it sure comes in handy if you’re having trouble locating a group member in the crowds.

5) Be Safe

Don’t make your wallet accessible to others. Keep it close to your body—use a fanny pack or a bag with a strap that crosses your body to hold your wallet. Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Don’t leave your purchases in plain view in your vehicle. Put them in the trunk, or at the very least, cover them with a blanket. If at all possible, stop at home throughout the day drop off big ticket items.

6) Enjoy the Day

Remember that today will not be a day to plan on doing things quickly. Be patient with store employees and with other shoppers and drivers. Enjoy the hustle and bustle AND the deals you are finding!

Photo Credit: iClipart


Shopping for Uniforms From CookiesKids.com

You’d think that it would be easy to get our kids dressed and out the door for school in the morning since our county has a strict uniform policy, but somehow the kids are able to turn it into a stressful ordeal many mornings. One of my boys will only wear shorts, one will only wear pants, my girls refuse to wear the pretty dresses and skirts I buy them, and one prefers to wear only navy all the time. It can be pretty difficult at times to make sure there is enough clean to match everyone’s preferences. Now I know that life could be much tougher around here if they didn’t wear uniforms for school so I’m really not complaining, I’m just amazed at how much effort it can take to put five kids in navy or white tops and khaki or navy bottoms five days a week.

In the past I’ve done most of our school uniform shopping at the local big box and department stores, but they only have their uniforms out for small period of time and there is never much differentiation – flat front pants in navy or khaki, cotton or polo shirts and a couple skirt styles. Well with five kids in school it can be hard to purchase everyone’s uniforms in the month or so they’re on display at the store, and I can’t stand the limited selection.

I only recently heard about Cookie’s Kids, it’s been around for 40 years, started by three brothers – Cookie, Marvin and Sonny – in Queens, New York. The chain expanded over the years and began to sell uniforms in the 1990’s then went online in 2007. They have an extensive assortment of school uniforms available in a wide variety of colors and sizes and I was pleasantly surprised by their prices. The entire nine piece wardrobe shown above, including backpack and lunchbox, is less than $100! For a mere $97.96 you could outfit your daughter with lots of great mix and match pieces just in time for school.

Since my girls won’t wear anything other than pants and knit shirts I’m thrilled that they’re able to show a little personality with these great No Fuze Basic Twill Skinny Pants and the French Toast “Welt” Stretch Pants with Faux Patent Belt (shown above).

My daughter loved these pants with the belt so much that she didn’t want to take them off after these pictures, she insisted that I should let her wear them to bed so she’d be ready for school in the morning.

The twill skinny pants were also a big hit because they fit and feel like jeans. The only thing they have in common with “regular” uniform pants is the color and the girls love them. These also have a bit of stretch to them which makes them comfortable and wrinkle resistant.

I also got the girls each a French Toast Fitted Knit Polo with Picot Collar from Cookie’s Kids and ended up with a total of $41.96 or about $21 per outfit which I think is terrific. Check out my whole path to purchase in my Google album here and be sure to follow Cookie’s Kids on Facebook and on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and specials.

Disclosure – I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and CookiesKids.com. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #CBias #SocialFabric


5 Hobbies That Can Help Pay The Bills

5 Hobbies That Can Help Pay The Bills

If you’re looking to earn a little money to help make ends meet, then why not put your passions, skills and abilities to good use?  Here are some hobbies that may be able to help you out financially:

1) Photography

Digital photography has opened a lot of new opportunities for individuals with a good eye. If you’re comfortable with handling a camera, you may want to consider a casual career in photography. You can take occasional jobs covering weddings or birthdays, or even shoot family portraits during the holidays.

2) Writing

There are a number of ways to make some dough if you have a way with words. Start putting together some writing samples and dive into the world of freelance writing. Try submitting articles for newspapers, magazines and even websites. You may even want to consider starting your own blog on a topic you are very familiar with, then later start selling ad space on your site.

3) Sewing

Crafters tend to do great on sites like Etsy, there are also other ways you can earn a little money on the side if you’re handy with a needle and some thread. Put out an ad on your local newsletter or bulletin board promoting your willingness to mend blouses, shorten pairs of pants, and sew curtains.

4) Shopping

So shopping may not seem like an obvious skill or talent to bring in money—but you may just be surprised! With a little research, you may be able to land the occasional mystery shopping gig to help pay for your next tank of gas or the occasional lunch out. Another option for shopaholics (with a good sense of style) is personal shopping. Try starting out by offering your services to senior citizens or busy mothers in your neighborhood. If someone compliments you on your outfit, be sure to hand them a business card!

5) Organizing

If you take pride in your overly organized ways, why not consider a freelance career as either a professional organizer or even a virtual assistant? People nowadays have too much clutter, as well as way too much information to deal with. Consider charging an hourly rate and you may have found a great profession to help you pay the bills.

As you can see, even the most seemingly insignificant hobbies or skills can result in a little extra cash when put to good use. List down your skills and passions and see how you can make the most of them!

Photo Credit: iClipart

(All posts may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.)


Top Tips to Stop the Spending

Do you find yourself regularly resolving to quit the spending habit? Here are some ways you can stop the spending—without having to deal with any complicated budgets.

1. Leave the credit card at home.

That’s right—start paying for everything with cash or a debit card. Credit cards make it incredibly easy for you to spend on unnecessary items. By paying with cash, you’ll be forced to use only what you have. After all, you can’t use your credit card if you don’t have it with you.

2. Know the difference between a need and a want.

Before making a purchase, make it a point to ask yourself if you need that item or if you merely want it. Of course, you shouldn’t deprive yourself completely of the things you want—but stopping to think about your purchases will make you more aware of your spending habits. If you are really considering making a purchase, give yourself a day or two to think it over. If you forget about the item in a few days, then maybe you didn’t really want it after all.

3. Keep a record of everything.

Get a notebook and keep a written record of every single thing you’ve purchased for the day, no matter how big or small they may be. It may seem like a taxing task at first, but you’ll be able to see spending patterns you weren’t aware of before. You’ll also be able to see areas that you may be able to spend less on.

4. Stick to a grocery list.

Write down every single thing you need to buy from the grocery store—and follow the list. As hard as it may be, don’t pick up unnecessary items! If you really want a particular item, make a mental note to include it in your next grocery list instead.

5. Don’t use a shopping cart.

Whenever possible, use a shopping basket or carry your items with your hands instead of using a shopping cart. You’ll be less tempted to buy things if can’t carry them.

6. Bring a packed lunch to work.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare a few sandwiches in the morning. You’ll save a significant amount of money on your lunch if you do away with taking out from a store or eating at a restaurant.

It isn’t easy, but do your best to stick to these six tips. Who knows? They might eventually become habits.

Would you like to share any of your tips for stopping the spending?

Photo Credit: iClipart


Six Secrets for the Frugal Shopper

Are you new at living frugally? Yes, the life of a frugal shopper may seem daunting at first. However, don’t feel overwhelmed just yet. The great news is that you can take a few small steps and you’ll already be making a dramatic impact on your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are some top tips for the frugal shopper:

1)  Plan ahead.

Always have a plan in place before heading out the door. In order to avoid making unplanned purchases, know exactly where you’re going and have a list handy containing the errands you need to do and the items you need to buy.

2)  Refrain from making impulse purchases.

Do you ever aimlessly walk around the mall only to end up buying something you don’t really need? The best way to deal with these impulse purchases is to put the item down and leave the store first. Do you really need a particular item? Give yourself at least twenty-four hours to decide if an item is something really worth buying.

3)  Use coupons.

Coupons are a great way to get discounts and deals on just about anything. Take the extra time to search for coupons for your favorite stores. You can find coupons in mailers, newspapers and even on the Internet!

4)  Join a Wholesale Membership Club.

One way to save money on your groceries is to buy them in bulk. Wholesale Membership Clubs like Costco and Sam’s are a great place to get deals on meats, vegetables and bulk items.  Just make sure that you’ll be buying enough to make up for the membership fee.

5)  Shop at thrift stores.

Thrift stores are a wonderful place to get clothing, furniture and other household items at extremely low prices. You’ll find mostly secondhand goods—but you’ll also find barely used and brand new items. Remember: Some thrift stores are better than others.

6)  Do your research.

If you are making a large purchase like an appliance, furniture or even a car, spend some time comparing prices and reading reviews. Get quotations from various stores to see where you can get a better deal. An informed shopper is a smart shopper.

Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself saving a great deal of money. Keep in mind that shopping frugally is not a punishment, but a way of living a simpler and more economical life!

Photo Credit: iClipart


Buying Products vs. Experiences

So the other day, my friend and I went out for the afternoon. I had a little bit of extra cash, so we went to lunch and to the mall. When we came home, I noticed something very different about our shopping styles – we had both spent about $100, and I had 4 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, new makeup, a makeup bag, and leftovers from lunch, while my friend had 2 shirts and a new eyeshadow to show for her day out.

It got me thinking how easy it is to spend money and have nothing to show for it, and conversely, how important it is to make sure you’re buying physical things. While we both had a wonderful day out, when you’re trying to save money you must avoid buying experiences, and shop for actual things. While we both went out and got our nails done, I got a $10 paint and she bought a $35 french manicure – same experience, way different price tags. The same thing happened all throughout the day – I bought a new compact from Clinique (who has free gift days all the time) and got a makeup bag full of trial-sized mascaras, eyeshadows, and lip stains all for $25, while my friend stopped at a side vendor (you know, the ones who come running up to you launching their speech about the magical product) and got one glittery eyeshadow pad for the same price.  The number one thing to keep in mind when you’re out with people who like to throw around money is that you can always (and usually should) say NO. While I don’t recommend lecturing your friend in the middle of Macy’s on spending smart, by laughing off her suggestion of buying matching purses you can keep the mood light and your bank account full. Say no to any upgrades, up-selling, or upsizing that you are tempted with – small coffees and junior sized popcorns are just as satisfying at just a fraction of the price.

Some people think that there is no way to go out and have fun without blowing way too much money, and that they have to sacrifice a social life for savings. However, with coupons in hand and some strong self-control, you can easily turn a fun girls afternoon into a productive shopping day!

Photo Credit: iClipart


Shop and share with friends online at zuuzs

Get up to 30% off, plus you can earn money back on all your online purchases when you shop with zuuzs!  Even better, you can shop with friends at all your favorite online stores and everyone will be rewarded.

You can easily share your hot deals and great finds with friends and family and earn money back on your purchases while you have a good time shopping.  For example, eBags is one of my favorite online stores and if you click through from zuuzs to do your shopping you’ll get an additional 20% of your purchase plus 3.3% cash back!  Within 24 to 72 hours after making an online purchase, the cash back reward is deposited into your FUNdz account.

The reward percentage varies for each store at around 1.2% cash back for WalMart and up to 15% cash back for Overstock.  Invite your friends to join you by sending them ‘shopvites’ so they can earn rewards too!  You won’t pay any more than you usually do, and you can even use any store loyalty programs that you would normally, the only difference is that you’ll also be earning cash back while you shop.

Today is the last day of zuuz’s holiday gala giveaway where they’ve given away an awesome prize every day since the first of the month.  They’ve been giving away awesome prizes like gift cards, a Garmin Nuvi GPS, and yesterday’s Canon PowerShot Elph camera.  Don’t miss out on today’s giveaway of a Kindle Fire.  All you have to do is register for a free account at zuuzs and you’ll be entered to win.  Get an extra entry for connecting your Facebook account, and another for every friend that you refer who joins.  You can also follow zuuzs on Twitter or like them on Facebook to stay informed of upcoming specials and events.

Disclosure: This post is part of a compensated campaign for zuuzs. All opinions are my own.


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