Shop-O-Matic


Category: Shopping Advice (126)

How to get the most cash for old iPhones


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If you have an iPhone to sell, or are considering upgrading to iPhone 5, here are a few ways you can turn old hardware into cash. You could score up to $500 for some devices.

Unlocking: Maximize value by allowing your device to be used on any iPhone carrier. AT&T is allowing current and former customers to request device unlocks online for up to five iPhones per year. Read more from Apple about unlocking.

Verizon offers a tutorial to unlock old iPhones only in certain instances, but is now selling unlocked iPhone 5. Sprint does not unlock phones, but there are YouTube tutorials for fearless do-it-yourselfers. Google away.

Apple Recycling Program: Apple offers gift cards for old devices with value, and also will responsibly dispose of worthless ones for you.

Amazon.com: The online retailer offers three ways to sell your phone: Trade it in for an Amazon gift card, sell it to an individual or sell to professionals. You decided which option gets you the most cash.

GameStop: Get cash or store credit for iPhones, iPads and iPods. The retailer also sells the full spectrum of used Apple devices, including iPads for $299.

Please share other ideas on how to get the most for your old devices in the comments.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Free 6 months Amazon Prime and $3 MP3 credit for college students


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College students (or anyone with a .EDU e-mail address) can get six months of free Amazon Prime savings and shipping benefits through the Amazon Student program. Amazon Prime costs $79 a year. Signing bonus: Get a free $3 MP3 credit emailed to you after joining.

Sign up with an .EDU address and get 25 percent savings on college essentials and textbooks with unlimited two-day shipping on millions of items. There is no minimum order size. Plus, you can upgrade to one-day shipping for $3.99 per item.

Click here for the deal.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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How I saved more than $120 on groceries this weekend


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I saved more than $121 on my grocery bill this weekend by using coupons and a little planning. I paid just $27 for four bags of food and staples to stock my pantry.

Many ask me how I do it, so here's a quick primer to get you started on the road to super-saving:

Enjoy the City coupon books: I buy these to get the $5 off $30 purchase coupons good at Winn-Dixie. They also are accepted at many Publix markets as a competitor coupon. Enjoy the City books are on sale for 80 percent off through Tuesday.

Newspaper coupons: Buy at least two copies of the Sunday Sun Sentinel (here's a 50-cent off coupon) to take full advantage of buy-one-get-one-free sales. Use two coupons on BOGO sale items to get them for super cheap. Clip coupons for anything you use regularly and all coupons for free items. Then, hold them until the BOGO sales are held, which usually cycle every 10-12 weeks.

Store flyers: Winn-Dixie often has coupons in its flyer. Publix allows you to stack a manufacturer coupon with a Publix coupon or competitor’s coupon, but not both. (Be sure to grab at least two slick Publix flyers as you enter the store and combine them with manufacturer coupons. This is how you get items for nearly free. Learn more about Publix's coupon policy and be sure to follow the rules.

Online coupons: I regularly print at least two coupons from brands I use Coupons.com, Target.com, Whole Foods, on manufacturer websites and on Facebook.

Reward programs: Save big on on sales items with a Winn-Dixie reward card that also helps you save on gas at Shell with Fuel Rewards Network program. At Publix, which doesn't have a reward program, use Upromise e-coupons.

Match-ups: Use the weekly sales flyers which come in Wednesday's newspaper to match BOGO sales to your coupons, add in a few dollar-off coupons from Winn-Dixie, Doris Market, Whole Foods (often in the newspaper) and you're on your way to super-saving!

Let us know how much you saved!

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Hurricane prep: Five things you need to buy today


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It's never too early to plan for a hurricane. But chances are you haven't laid in a stash of supplies to get through a storm yet. With Isaac threatening, here are the five things you need to pick up at the grocery store today.

Calls to a local supermarkets reveal that many South Floridians are already stocking up on these items:

1. Bottled water; figure on 20 gallons for a family of four
2. 20 cans of tuna, chicken, beans, chili, hame, soups, etc. (don't forget the can opener!)
3. Assorted dry goods; peanut butter, powdered drink mixes, juices, cookies, crackers, chips, bread (freeze it)
4. Batteries in all sizes
5. Paper goods; freezer bags, paper towels, bleach

Make your own handy supply checklist with our SunSentinel Hurrican Planner tool.
Print out the list and bring it to the store.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Shopping online? Here’s some free money from Ebates, Upromise and RetailMeNot


If you’re shopping online, it makes cents to use rebate and coupon-code websites for your favorite retailers.

Sites such as Ebates.com, Upromise.com and RetailMeNot.com put extra money in your pocket, are simple to use and free to join. Check them out before you buy and get cash back at participating retailers including Macy’s, Walmart, Apple, Sears, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Target, to name a few.

You can score coupon codes and free-shipping offers, as well as retail coupons to be used offline.
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“It’s crazy not to use these sites,” says savings expert Mary Pat Pankoke, right, of Parkland. “They are going to give you a percentage back on what you are already spending, so get some of it back, even if it’s just sales tax.”

Each site offers unique ways to save. “Often, you’ll find additional coupon codes you can use when you check out, for even more savings that are exclusive to those sites,” says Pankoke, who teaches coupon classes around South Florida and writes about bargains at CouponClasses.com.

Karen Goldfarb, a Boynton Beach financial writer and mother of two, says she’s earned $180 using Ebates.com since 2009.

“It’s free money,” she says. “That’s pretty good just for clicking through their site to a participating retailer. It’s a no-brainer.”

Here’s how these sites work:

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Ebates.com: Register with an email address and click one of 1,500 retailers listed on the site to get an e-rebate on your total purchase. (Example: Get 8 percent back on a purchase at JC Penney and Kohl’s, or 6 percent at Macy’s.) There are no fees or forms to mail. The site claims to have saved members more than $100 million. It’s free to register. Plus, you get a free $10 gift card at Target or Home Depot when you join and make a $25 purchase at any retailer on the site. Checks for $5.01 or more in accrued purchases are mailed four times a year.

Tip: “Watch for Ebates bonus days, particularly around the holidays,” Pankoke says. “We used Ebates when purchasing Halloween costumes and saved about $40 because it was a double Ebates bonus day, plus they had a 20 percent coupon code advertised on the site.”

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Upromise.com: Register and start earning money toward college tuition (or opt for cash back) at more than 800 online stores (up to 5 percent back), 8,000 restaurants (up to 8 percent back) and travel (up to 4 percent back). Get credit for online purchases after clicking on a participating retailer. Link a credit or debit card and pay using that card at participating restaurants and earn cash in your account. Redeem your earnings into a high-yield Sallie Mae savings account, student loan, or 529 account, or request a check. Or, link existing college accounts. Transactions post in 30 to 90 days. Upromise and its partners have paid out more than $500 million, according to the site. Save even more with the Upromise TurboSaver.

Tip: Go to the Upromise site to activate digital coupons each month. The coupons will not lower your grocery bill, but rather the coupons’ value will be added to your account. “You can link your CVS or Winn-Dixie reward cards so when you redeem e-coupons the value will be deposited into your Upromise account,” Pankoke says. “Also, pick up a little green Upromise card at Publix and scan it to redeem e-coupons since Publix does not have a reward card.”

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RetailMeNot.com: The largest coupon site online, it’s made up of a community of bargain hunters who post promotional coupon codes and deals. Example: Use code NEONPINK at Victoria's Secret to get a free backpack with purchase. Another code (FALL12) offers $15 off a $100 purchase online. RetailMeNot also offers thousands of printable grocery and store coupons. Search for coupons without creating an account, but some content requires free registration.

Tip: Check here before you buy anything online to see if you can save something, even if it’s free shipping. “I use RetailMeNot to find printable coupons that can be redeemed at brick-and-mortar stores,” Pankoke says. “With those, I can save 20 percent to 40 percent at stores like Jo-Ann Fabric or Michael’s.”

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Shop for back to school at Sam's Club for free Friday-Sunday


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Get warehouse pricing on back to school necessities during Sam’s Club Tax-Free Weekend event on Friday through Sunday. Normally, you must buy a membership to shop at the wholesale club.

There is no surcharge on what you buy during the free event. A membership costs $40 per year.

Click here for the deal. There are locations all over Central and South Florida.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Exxon Mobil offers rebates of 15 cents per gallon


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Exxon Mobil is offering 15-cent rebates for 60 days or up to 100 gallons of gas when you register for a Speedpass.

The free device hooks onto your keychain and is linked to a credit or debit card account and allows you to quickly pay for fuel purchases. Once you register, the device is mailed to you.

Register by May 31 to get the offer, which is available at participating Exxon Mobil stations across Florida. Rebates appear as a credit on your monthly statement.

Click here for the deal. The offer ends on May 31.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Holiday shopping online? Tips on protecting yourself using public Wi-Fi


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With only nine days to go before Christmas, most American shoppers have more than half of their shopping left to do, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted BIGresearch.

“For consumers, the holiday season is more of a marathon than a sprint – typically starting the season strong, pace themselves in the middle and gearing up again in the final stretch, a trend retailers expect every year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a news release. “As the hours tick toward Christmas, retailers still have a few tricks up their sleeves to entice even the most extreme procrastinators looking to cross the final names off their lists.”

Nearly 37 million people had not even started holiday shopping as of late last week and less than 8 percent said they’ve finished their shopping.

Almost half of those will finish shopping online, said the NRF survey.

If you plan to shop on the web (2011 Free Shipping Day is Friday) take steps to protect yourself when making purchases on public Wi-Fi networks. If you surt and buy while hanging at coffee shops, restaurants or other store, might be at risk of being scammed or having your credit card information stolen, according to Green Armor Solutions, an information security software provider.

“Criminals can set up phony access points with names identical to legitimate ones, and use any one of several hacking techniques to steal data and money from users,” said Green Armor Solutions’ CEO, Joseph Steinberg.

Here are four tips from Microsoft on how to protect your privacy on public Wi-Fi networks:

Use a firewall: Some computers that run Windows Vista or XP have a built-in firewall that’s turned on by default. You can configure a firewall to better protect against viruses and outsiders trying to gain access to your information. For more information, see Windows Firewall.

Hide files: When you use a public Wi-Fi, network encryption is often out of your control. Check the privacy statement on the network's website to learn about the type of encryption used. If there is no privacy statement, it might be better not to use the network at all.
If you keep personal or financial information on your computer, consider investing in an operating system that includes the tools to protect your information through encryption.
To learn more, see Encrypt or decrypt a folder or file.

Don't risk it: If you’re not sure if the network is secure, don't type in credit card numbers or passwords. These measures provide some protection against casual hackers and identity thieves who prey on wireless networks. But if criminals are determined enough, they will eventually find a way to get around any security system.

Avoid typing sensitive information, such as your credit card number or other financial information, while using public wireless networks.

Tip: If you absolutely must enter credit card numbers while on public Wi-Fi, make sure there is a locked padlock icon at the bottom right corner of the browser window, and make sure the web address begins with "https:" (the "s" stands for secure).

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Justine Griffin on Twitter@SunBizGriffin and sign up for Deals text alerts.

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Shop and save at BJ's, Sam's Club for Memorial Day


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Planning a cookout for Memorial Day weekend? You can save up to 30 percent by shopping at a wholesale club such as BJ's or Sam's Club.

You usually have to pay for a yearly membership to shop at those stores, but we have a way for you to get in free or for a deep discount over the summer.

Click here for a free 60-day pass at BJ's Wholesale Club. It must be activated by July 4.

Click here for a 10 week for $10 deal at Sam's Club; sign up through June 5.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Save 23 percent on iPads, iPhones, other Apple products on Saturday


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Save up to 23 percent on Apple products, including iPhone and iPad, on Saturday, May 21 and every Saturday in June when you click through UPromise.com to the online Apple store using its Turbosave toolbar and a UPromise credit card. UPromise.com is an online college-savings service with 10 million members that you can join online for free.

This is a complicated scenario, so if you have any questions BEFORE you buy on Saturday, call UPromise Customer Care at 1-800-UPromise. I spoke to representative Nick Hajan who was extremely helpful in explaining how to get the savings offer, which was broadcast by UPromise President David Coppins on Twitter @dcoppins.

This week, UPromise.com is offering 10 percent back at Apple.com when you click through its site to shop. On Saturday, you can get an additional 10 percent off at Apple.com if you have the UPromise Turbosave toolbar installed on your browser and use it to click through to Apple.com to make your purchase.
Save another 3 percent when you pay with a UPromise credit card.
If you don't have the credit card, you can still save 20 percent.

The sale is at 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, May 21.

Doing the deal:

Click here to sign up for a UPromise.com account if you don't have one.

1. Download UPromise TurboSaver
2. Then register for Super Site Days promo
3. Once registered, make purchases at Apple Store Online from the UPromise website on Saturday for 20 percent cash back
4. Pay with your Upromise credit card for an extra 3 percent back
5. It takes 10-45 days for contributions to be deposited in your account.
6. Choose to leave the money in the high-yield account or request a check using a withdrawal form

Woo hoo! I ordered an iPad2 on Saturday and $162.81 will be deposited into my account (hopefully). Happy shopping.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Find cheap gas on your mobile phone and computer


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With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon, it makes sense to find a station with the cheapest gas prices. Try using the Sun Sentinel Mobile Gas Finder tool. This is a handy way to save at the pump. Just type in the city or zip code and get a list of filling stations and prices per gallon.

Also, check our Gas Calculator on your computer before you leave home.

BJ's Wholesale Club on Powerline Road in Fort Lauderdale usually has the cheapest prices for members. Don't have a BJ's membership? Click here for a free 60-day pass. It must be activated by July 4.

Print out two and that will cover you through September. That'll get you through the summer!

Also, don't forget you can get $10 off a $50 gas card at Publix through Wednesday.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Save even more with Walmart coupons


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Walmart has some fresh printable coupons for Maxwell House coffees, Glad Trash Bags, Cottonelle Bath Tissue and more.

The food prices are great at Walmart, but you can super-size your savings using coupons. Walmart updated and expanded its coupon policy in March. Print it out and bring it with you just in case a question comes up at the register.

Also, be sure to grab a copy of Sunday's Sun Sentinel. It will have more than $1,000 in coupon savings. You can't afford to miss it!

Click here for the deal.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Winn-Dixie expands Fuelperks! gas-savings program


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Winn-Dixie is expanding its Fuelperks! program, in which customers can save on gasoline purchases at Shell stations, by allowing unlimited purchases of "Bonus Reward" items.

Winn-Dixie's program, introduced in February, 112 grocery stores in South Florida, offers 5-cents off for every $50 in qualified purchases made when you sign up for a the chain's Customer Reward Card.

The grocery chain announced today that it is lifting one-item limit restrictions on the weekly bonus items. Before, you could have saved up to $8 on fuel with purchase of bonus offers that change from week to week. Now, customers can stock up on those items and earn unlimited additional 5-cents off.

Example: Purchase the bonus item of two jars of Smuckers Grape Jam or Jelly, and get additonal 5-cents off. Buy four, and you'll earn 10 cents, etc.

“Many of our customers are telling us they are saving 50 to 75 cents per gallon or more by shopping at Winn-Dixie. They will be able to earn more fuelperks! discounts — and faster — with this expansion of our fuelperks! rewards,” said Mary Kellmanson, Winn-Dixie’s group vice president of marketing in the press release.

Click here for more information on how the program works.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Winn-Dixie's "Make-a-Meal" deal offers $9 in free food with coffee purchase


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There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but you can score free breakfast at Winn-Dixie markets through April 5.

The grocery chain's new "Make-a-Meal" program gives you four free breakfast items valued at nearly $9 when you buy Maxwell House coffee and you use your Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card.

Purchase a 31 or 34.5 ounce can of Maxwell House coffee for $11.99 and get for free a box of Armour Sizzle & Serve Sausage, a can of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, a box of Quaker Quick Grits and a dozen large eggs. (The deals may vary slighly from store to store.)

In February, Winn-Dixie introduced a new customer reward program called fuelperks!, that offers a discount on Shell gasoline with grocery purchases.

Click here to find a store and see details of the promotion, listed on Page 12 of this week's circular. The deal is good through April 5.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.


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Target beats Walmart for low prices, retail surveys say


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Two recent retail price-comparison studies show that Target's prices are slightly lower than the world's largest retailer Walmart. That's surprising news to me.

According to a March story on CNNMoney.com, the retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners compared 35 brand-name items sold at both stores in New York, North Carolina and Indiana and found that Target's prices for the items was a whopping $1.94 cheaper than at Walmart. The survey compared milk, cereal and rice as well as clothing, home furnishings and health and beauty products.

A smaller study by Kantar Retail in January ecoed those results, finding Target's prices to be 2.8 percnet cheaper, but found that Walmart's prices on light bulbs, detergent and trash bags were cheaper.

Who's cheaper, Target or Walmart and in which store do you prefer to shop? I vote for Walmart.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Free one year Amazon Prime for college students ($79 value)


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College students (or anyone with a .EDU e-mail address) can get one-year of Amazon Prime shipping benefits for free through the Amazon Student program, a $79 value.

Sign up with an .EDU address and unlimited two-day shipping form Amazon.com on millions of items including text books. There is no minimum order size. Plus, you can upgrade to one-day shipping for $3.99 per item.

Unfortunately, Amazon Student does not give access to the new instant video service recently added as a benefit for paying Amazon Prime members.

Click here for the deal.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Save up to $8 on gas with new Winn-Dixie fuelperks! reward program


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Winn-Dixie stores today introduced a new customer reward program that gives a discount on gas purchased at more than 200 Shell gasoline stations in South Florida. With the program, you could potentially save up to $8 on a 20-gallon fillup.

Winn-Dixie's new fuelperks! program, introduced today at 112 grocery stores in South Florida, offers 5 cents off for every $50 in qualified purchases made when you sign up for a new Customer Reward Card. There is no limit on the amount of discount you can earn on Shell gas. You also get special savings on items in the store with the reward card.

The gas discount is cumulative. The more you spend, the more you earn. If you spend $100, you get 10 cents off, etc. You decide when to redeem the discount. Also, you don't have to spend $50 in one transaction. Purchases are tracked on your receipt and each time the $50 threshold is met, another 5 cents per gallon discount on gas is earned.

In addition, you can earn an additional 40 cent gas discount each week with eight bonus items offered. So, if you buy the eight bonus items (this week's items include Aquafina water and Frito Lay chips) and spend $150 on groceries, you could get a 55 cent per gallon discount on your next fillup.

(You can also earn fuelperks! shopping online at 700 stores like JCPenney, Gap, Best Buy and others.) The Winn-Dixie fuelperks! program was first introduced in Panama City, Jacksonville and Louisiana. Since 2008, Winn-Dixie customers have saved $12 million on gas with the program, according to a press release.

The new card, looks like a credit card and replaces the previous reward card.. Sign up for one at the store or at WinnDixie.com and one will be mailed to you.

Rewards are valid for up to 20 gallons of gasoline and may only be used while fueling a single vehicle. Just swip your card at Shell and the rewards are deducted from the price of gas.

Click here to learn more about the fuelperks! program.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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New Starbucks Mobile App lets you pay with iPhone, BlackBerry


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I just read on the Starbucks website that you can now pay for coffee using your mobile device with the free Starbucks Card Mobile App for iPhone, IPod Touch and Blackberry devices.

Pay for your drink or other purchases using the app by entering your Starbucks card number and your phone will then display a barcode you can use in place of your Starbucks card at more than 7,500 stores, including Target.

You also can check your balance, see tranactions, reload via your credit card and track your rewards. Flash your phone and get free coffee and tea refills, too, just like with your Starbucks Reward card.

I always grab my phone before my daily visit to the coffee house so now I won't even need money or a credit card! I just entered my Starbucks card number in two seconds and the balance magically displayed on my iPhone. Magic!

Great! Now where can I download that Macy's App?

"Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook and learn how you can win a Shop-O-Matic VIP Day of Beauty and $350 Sue Devitt Gift Basket!

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American Express offers exclusive deals with Daily Wish


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American Express card members can sign up for "The Daily Wish," an exclusive collection of offers and deals available in limited quantity on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It's sort of like Groupon for card members.

AmEx teams with national brands to give card members savings on everything from travel to electronics on a first-come, first served basis. Two weeks worth of offers are listed on the site. Sometimes specific products are offered, liked big-screen LED TVs, other times, it's shopping sprees for whatever you want at stores like Walmart.

Here's this week's offerings:
Tuesday: Noon: Spend $150 at Nautica.com and get $75 back (50 deals available).
Wednesday: Time TBA: $100 off an order of $200 or more at Kipling-USA.com (50 deals available).
Thursday: Time TBA: $100 back when you spend $200 or more at Walmart (150 deals available).

Here's how it works:
Sign up for Daily Wish. You must have an American Express card. On the sale day, the time is revealed for the offer and then you click the "I Want It" button and if you're one of the first, you'll get the opportunity to buy. Learn more from American Express.

Click here for the deal.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Walmart.com offers free shipping on 60,000 items through Dec. 20


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Walmart is offering free shipping on 60,000 items beginning today and will run the offer through Dec. 20. There is no minimum purchase required.

“Everyone’s trying to figure out how we can serve a customer that’s trying to save every penny they can,” said Steve Nave, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart.com told The New York Times in a Business Day story on NYT.com. “It’s the most competitive offer out there, and we’re pretty excited about it.”

Free shipping always sweetens the deal and it's hard to beat the prices at Walmart.

Click here to vist Walmart.com.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Ten to Spend: Personalized photo gifts for the holidays


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Create treasured keepsakes as a holiday gifts from Walmart for only $10. There are seven designs to choose from.

Choose from Season's Greetings Ornament ornament (red, white, gold, silver), a desk calendar, a cute mini canvas with easel (a 4X6 photo is printed on canvas), a Christmas photo stocking (choose from 15 designs), a hardbound journal or an 11-ounce coffee mug (add up to 15 images).

The great part is, you can do it all online and never leave the house!

Click here for the deal. Shipping is 97 cents.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Discover Card offers double cash back on holiday purchases


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Discover Card is offering double cash back (two percent) on online purchases of up to $1,000 made from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31. You have to sign up to get the special offer.

If your credit card is going to get a workout this shopping season, might as well get as much as you can out of the deal.

Click here to sign up.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Shop, save and earn a free AAA membership


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Become an American Automobile Association member and save on shopping, dining and travel and get other valuable benefits, too.

Besides counting on roadside assistance, Auto Club South members (Florida, Georgia and west and middle Tennessee) who shop online through AAA.com can earn virtual dollars toward free memberships in the auto club. Just a few participating merchants: Walmart, Best Buy, Macy's, iTunes, Starbucks, Staples, Office Depot, Petco. As we head into the holiday shopping season, now's your chance to rack 'em up.

Here's how the program works: Visit the AAA Dollars page at AAA.com/Discounts and register your card. Select a store and make your purchase. A percentage of your total purchase (from 1 percent to 7 percent) will be applied to your next renewal bill. Annual AAA club dues range from $17 to $80 per year.

Members also can flash their cards and get instant discounts at 160,000 stores, restaurants, theaters, pharmacies, entertainment venues, shops and hotels. Save 10 percent to 15 percent at Target, McDonald's, Payless, Dairy Queen, Denny's, Hard Rock Cafe and Miami Subs as well as Florida Panthers Hockey, Galaxy Skateways, Disney, Universal Orlando, Central Florida Zoo and SeaWorld. Try it! (We recently used our card to get free Bloomin' Onions at Outback Steakhouses until the chain recently discontinued the deal.)

The not-for-profit club has 51 million members and 1,100 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

We've been members for more than 20 years. Besides the obvious benefits of assistance for distressed motorists, AAA pays for itself with travel discounts, maps and savings on tickets to Disney World and other Florida attractions when you visit their offices.

In this case, membership truly does have its privileges.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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How to get free and reduced-price prescriptions at South Florida pharmacies


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Get free diabetes and antibiotic prescriptions and save with $4-a-month prescriptions on hundreds of drugs offered by many South Florida pharmacies. Plus, a handy web tool from the state helps you comparison shop for the best price before you fill prescriptions at your favorite local drug store.

Here are a few ways to save on the high cost of drugs:

Free prescriptions
Publix offers free diabetes medicine. Diabetics can get generic immediate-release metformin (500, 850, 1000 mg) for free, up to a 30-day supply of 90 tablets. There's no limit to the number of refills of free diabetes medication you can receive. Click here to learn more. Publix also offers free antibiotics such as amoxicillin, ampicillin and erythromycin, along with five others drugs. Click here to see the list.

The Prescription Assistant Program at PPARX.org or 888-477-2669, helps qualifying patients without insurance get the medicines they need for free or nearly free. The service offers access to more than 475 public and private programs, including nearly 200 offered by pharmaceutical companies, which give away more than $200 million in prescription medication to those in need each year.

Compare prices
Florida has a handy website where you can compare prices on medicines and save. Type in the name of the medication and the county where you live and the site offers a list of pharmacies and prices for that drug. MyFloridaRX.com

Reduced-priced prescriptions
Walmart has a pharmacy program where you can get a 30-day supply of drugs for $4 or a 90-day supply for $10. There are hundreds of prescription medications on the list. Click here to see the list. There also is a $4 Over-the-Counter $4 list, too.

Target also offers 300 generic drugs for $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply. Click here for the list.

Albertsons' Rx-tra Savings program, which costs a one-time fee of $10, offers 30-days of generic drugs for $4.99 and 90-days for $10.99 on 500 generic medicines. Click here to learn more about the program.

CVS's Health Savings Pass gets you 90-days of medicine for $9.99. Click here to view the 400 generic prescriptions on its list.

Walgreen's has a Prescription Savings Club, offering 400 meds for $12 for a 90-day supply. Click here to review its list.

Educate yourself
Read Consumer Report's excellent guide on how to get the best price on prescription drugs.

What are your strategies to save on drugs? Share your money-saving tips with us.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Score bargains at Habitat for Humanity's South Florida ReStores


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Wouldn't it be great if there were a home-improvement thrift store where you could score bargains up to 60 percent off? Well there is! The Habitat for Humanity ReStore offers great deals on building materials, tools, appliances, furniture, lighting fixtures and designer decor.

The four ReStores in South Florida have everything you need -- both new and used -- to build and decorate a house.

Plus, purchases come with an added bonus: What you buy helps build a South Florida home for someone who needs one.

“We cover the needs of everyone, from someone who needs a $10 table to designers who want $3,000 chandeliers for $400,” says Nancy Daly, the volunteer chairwoman of the Fort Lauderdale ReStore on Broward Boulevard

ReStore merchandise turns over quickly, so if you don't see much one day, stop back on another. Also, if you see a great deal, buy it. The item may not be there when you return.
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Here are a few examples of what was for sale on recent visits:

Fort Lauderdale, 505 W. Broward Blvd., 954-763-7771: Designer chandeliers and outdoor lighting fixtures for 40 to 60 percent off retail; new three-light halogen cable lighting kits ($20); new five-light monorail lighting kits ($40); new 60-inch contemporary glass-top table with four chairs ($250); new tan leather recliner by Natuzzi ($300); used Sub-Zero refrigerator ($750); new scratched and dented washers and dryer sets ($275); used GE Profile double-wall ovens ($100).

Boca Raton, 272 S. Dixie Highway, 561-362-7284: New cabinet hardware (99 cents each); tumbled marble subway tiles (40 cents each); new, boxed solid brass towel bars ($14.99); Canon copy machine ($299.99); Lexington wall unit ($1,199); Lexington wrought-iron and glass-top dining table with four chairs ($899); Jacuzzi tub ($1,499); new IKEA microwave ($179).

Liberty City, 2299 NW 77 Terrace, 305-637-4913: Roofing tiles (75 cents-$1 each); Mexican, porcelain and ceramic floor tiles (starting at 20 cents each); 3-by-3-foot marble tiles ($8 each).

West Palm Beach, 6831 N. Military Trail,561- 253-2290. (We didn't visit this store.)

Hurricane shutters: All the ReStores carry up-to-code shutters in corrugated steel, aluminum and plastic for $2 a foot.

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR: Click here to watch a video, meet the volunteers and see a photo gallery and read more about the Fort Lauderdale Restore.

The Fort Lauderdale ReStore, top, and Nancy Daly, left, shows Sheketha Lowery how to use a power drill in the furniture workshop. Photos by Sarah Dussault/Sun Sentinel.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Consumers pick Top 50 online stores


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The National Retail Federation's September issue of Stores magazine features its annual survey of the Top 50 online stores consumers like best.

No big surprises here. The Top 3: Amazon.com, Walmart.com and eBay.com.

Rounding out the Top 10 are BestBuy.com, JCPenney.com, Target.com, Kohls.com, Google.com (huh?), Overstock.com and Sears.com.

The survey, in its fourth year, collected responses from 8,486 consumers who provided their top two preferred online merchants and ranked three factors in importance: Price, free shipping, flexible return policies.

Click here to see the full list and read the article.

Three ways to keep up with the latest deals: "Like" our Sentinel Deals page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and get mobile alerts: Text DEALS to 23539.

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Rightcliq by Visa gets it wrong


A big, fancy press release announcing Rightcliq by Visa came across my desk today. The new service by the credit-card giant proclaims "Web shopping finally pulls itself together."

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So, I take the time to go to the site. I am a shopping blogger, after all. I watch the slick video. And then I press the big yellow ENROLL NOW button.

The self-proclaimed "personal shopping assistant" helps me by giving me a big, fat "SORRY!" message saying "Rightcliq doesn't support your browser." (Safari.) It then begins making alternate browser suggestions. Seriously? I'm going to install a new browser...so Visa can help me shop smarter and better?

Lots of bucks were spent on telling me (and you) how this new, free, online shopping tool is going to "revolutionize the shopping experience from browse, to buy to delivery on your doorstep." But Visa's "Smarter Online Shopping" service's failure to launch, literally, left me underwhelmed.

So, see ya Rightcliq. Maybe you'll get it right, next time.

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Save on groceries


A new guide in the September 2010 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, shares cutting-edge tips and tools to get the best deals on everyday groceries.

Slash your grocery bills by visiting these websites and clubs:

MyGroceryDeals: Find and compare current circular specials, then create printable grocery lists with one click and print coupons.

MamboSprouts: Check here for healthful recipes and coupons for organic and natural products.

Sam’s Club/Click ‘n’ pull: Members of the warehouse club can place orders online, then head to the store the next day to pay and pick up.

Use these mobile tools to make saving at the store easy:

CompareMe; Unit Price Compare: Available on the iPhone and Android respectively, these apps help you figure out which product and which size package offer the best deal.

Get mobile coupons even if you don’t have a smart phone. Sign up for text messages with coupon info for A&P network stores. To redeem a coupon, just respond to the text, and the coupon will be added to your loyalty-program card.

Grocery iQ: Powered by coupons.com, it creates grocery lists that instantly integrate the week’s deals and finds related coupons. Bookmark frequently purchased items to automatically add them to future lists.

Get groceries delivered to your door, just be wary of extra costs for the convenience:

Netgrocer and Amazon for organic food retailers. At Shop Organic you can choose vegan, raw, gluten-free or kosher among other categories.

eFoodDepot for foods from other countries. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Five ways to go green for Earth Day (and everyday)


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Today is Earth Day’s 40th anniversary and we offer a few fun and easy ways to go green, from energy- and money-saving tips from Florida Power and Light to local Earth Day celebrations to buying and making eco-friendly cleaning and beauty products. Save the planet (and money) man!

Home: Energy costs take a huge bite out of our budgets and our super-consumption harms the planet. Florida Power & Light offers these ideas and links for rebates and incentives to upgrade to more energy efficient appliances with home insulation; leaky air ducts; air conditioner; and major appliances (*Florida program only available through Sunday, April 25th).

Celebrations: There are family-friendly eco-events in Broward and Palm Beach counties on Saturday and Sunday.

Release ladybugs, see live marine animal shows and take a guided boardwalk tour at Earth Day 2010 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 24, at Daggerwing Nature Center in the South County Regional Park, 11200 Park Access Road, Boca Raton; 561-629-8760. Click here for more info.

Learn how to live more green and meet the recycling robot as the Broward County Waste and Recycling Division throws and Earth Day Extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 25 at Plantation Heritage Park, 1100 S. Fig Tree Lane. 1100 S. Fig Tree Lane, Plantation

Free trees: Coconut Creek residents can get a free tree and two plants per household on Saturday, April 24 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Government Center, 4800 W. Copans Road, Coconut Creek; 954-973-6756. Choose from seven different tree species. Click here for more info.

Chemical-free cleaning: Eco-Me Kits are a great holistic way to take care of your family, pets, home and body without the nasty chemicals. The kits contain everything you need to make your own cleaning products with common household items like baking soda, vinegar and essential oils. There are five starter kits: Eco –Me Body, Eco-Me Baby, Eco-Me Home, Eco-Me Dog and Eco-Me Cat. The kits range in price from $16.99-$36 at Amazon.com

Beauty: Cargo’s PlantLove line will really grow on you. This brand is serious about its Earth-friendly mission. The organic Natural Origin Collection includes lipsticks, foundations, eye shadows, blushers and bronzers, and they're all free of parabens, phthalates, petro-chemicals, synthetic dyes and fragrances. PlantLove’s colorful, groovy bio-plastic containers made are from corn so it won't take 100 years for these to return to Mother Earth once you toss them in the trash. The awesome Botanical Lipstick comes in 20 shades and the box is infused with wildflower seeds. Just wet it, plant it and watch 'em grow. Now that's truly green. Get 'em at at CVS.com through May 9 and get 20 percent off on all beauty purchases.

Books: “Just Green It: The Ultimate Consumer Shopping Guide” by healthy-home experts Lisa and Ron Beres is the black book on being green. The guide offers tips and advice on making eco-friendly choices and compares brand-name products side-by-side to help you make good environmentally-friendly purchases on everything from mattresses to baby food. Get it here.

Online resources: Visit the EcoMall. According to its website, EcoMall provides educational articles, a comprehensive list of environmental companies, products and services. The site offers listings of hundreds of sites on the Internet with green products. Find everything you could possibly need from A-Z.

When we recycle and reuse, we all win. As the Native American proverb goes: "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

Share you're favorite green tip with us. Best one gets an Eco-Me Body Kit!


-- Doreen Christensen

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Save big at huge kids' consignment sale in Coral Springs




990102680_012_0001.jpgAttention thrifty-minded moms!

Get ready to score some serious bargains on cribs, nursery gear, baby equipment, clothes, books, toys, and more at a massive consignment sale being held Coral Springs on Friday and Saturday.

The sale, put on by the traveling children’s and maternity consignment franchise called Just Between Friends, allows you to sell your stuff or shop for stuff and save. Or both! It’s too late to sell items at this event (darn!), but the organization will be back in the fall if you’re interested in selling your goods. You can learn more about the concept and shop till you drop from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Coral Springs Gymnasium at 2501 Coral Springs Drive.

Here’s how JBF events generally work: If you want to sell your stuff, bring new or gently-used kids and/or maternity wear to the selling venue set up by JBF. You set your own prices, tag your wares, drop them off at the sale site and Just Between Friends does the rest. You earn money (just like at a regular consigment store) on unwanted stuff you had lying around the house and/or you can shop for things you need for your family at super cheap prices. It’s a fantastic idea that helps families make and save bucks in these tough times.

Here’s a link to the sale.

Has anyone out there ever heard of Just Between Friends sales? We'd love to hear what you thought (and bought)!

-- Doreen Christensen

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Save $10 off $50 purchase at Amazon.com's Prom Shop



Searching for that perfect dress for prom?
Check out Amazon.com’s Prom Shop Sale. Through May 6, the site is offering $10 off when you spend $50 on hot looks by designers like XOXO, Teeze Me, Jessica Simpson, Rampage and others.
Many dresses ship for free, too. You get the 10 bucks off at checkout.
Click here for to go to the Amazon Prom Shop.

Also, check out Sun Sentinel fashion guru Rod Hagwood’s prom primer on the top 10 trends inspired by Hollywood’s red carpets. Click here to read Rod's piece.
In the meantime, just for laughs and giggles, click here to see what NOT to wear! A few are risque, so be warned!
-- Doreen Christensen

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Rebates are a just click away


ebates.jpgIf you make a lot of online purchases, you should check out the cash-back online website EBates.com.

The free service rebates a percentage of your purchases at more than 1,200 online stores and collects your savings into an account and then sends you a "Big Fat Check" in the mail. It's super convenient and easy. After using the site for several purchases, I got a check for $52.75 for buying things I was going to buy anyway.

Here's how it works: Register with an e-mail address, browse the 1,200 online retailers (like iTunes, Orbits, Sears, Barnes & Noble, Target, QVC). When you make a purchase, a percentage of it is posted into your EBates account after you pay for the item. After the money collects, you decided when to request a check. The site also offers deals of the day and coupons and sometimes can be combined with the rebate offered.

I recently was interested in buying an 80-hour iPhone battery for $79.95 from Brookstone.com. First, I logged into EBates, clicked on Brookstone, made the buy and received 6 percent cash back on the purchase. $4.79 was deposited into my account. Plus shipping was free.

There are more ways to get bucks, too. If you refer friends, Ebates.com gives you and your friends $5. There also are “Featured Coupons.” Today, Shoes.com offers 15 percent of your entire order and 8 percent cash back on your purchase. (As if I needed a reason to buy more shoes!)
-- Doreen Christensen

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Make money while you de-clutter!


It's almost that time again. Last year's New Years Resolution to get organized will be renewed again this year, although I have made some progress.

When I saw the needlepoint I hand-stitched for my daughter in her yard sale pile (after I got over the heartache) I got inspired. Since then, I have made four trips to a local consignment shop with items I still love or that are sentimental, but have no place in my current home. "Bite the bullet, Kathy, the memories will have to suffice."

Sometimes I go to Decades, 2661 N Federal Highway, Ft Lauderdale. I love that shop and have recommended it several times in this blog. The owners have a good eye and they price things to sell. Click here for more.

This time I took carloads to the Las Olas Mini Mall, 1517 Las Olas Blvd, which I also told you about in a previous post, click here. My vinyl LP collection, I don't even have a turntable...he's already sold 15 of them!! My mother-in-law's antique Italian prints sold the first day they were there. Go have a look, I suspect you'll be glad you did.

How do you keep up with your clutter? Do you have a favorite consignment store? Or do you sell things online? Donate? Yard sales? Or...heaven forbid...toss?

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Find OPI nail polish at Trade Secrets


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Manicures are costly so I try to stretch them out over a couple weeks, with a touch-up. But you need the same color for that. Many salons use OPI nail polish. This weekend, I found a treasure trove of OPI at Trade Secrets at Boynton Beach Mall. Much to my delight, they had one of my favorite colors, Bastille My Heart, a dark red with a hint of purple.

Better yet, buy the polish first ($8.50 at Trade Secret) and take it to your salon. Even cheaper -- do it yourself, but my hand is just not that steady!

How do you stretch your manicures and pedicures? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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BJs membership deal comes with coupons


BJs%20logo.gifWe were a Costco family. Until yesterday.

We live very close to a BJs and I was suckered in by the free trial membership. I went in with no intention of actually joining, but a friend told me they sell Pampers at BJs, a brand Costco doesn't carry. As the mother of two kids under two, that's a major drawback.

Anyway, I was going to go buy some Pampers and be done with it. But after a brief sales pitch by the woman in customer service, I was sold. For $45 I got a 14-month membership (with a money back guarantee if I don't like it) plus a $10 credit, lowering the membership fee to $35. Pampers.jpg

The woman handed me a plethora of coupons, $5 off Pampers, $3 off Bounty paper towels and on and on.

Here's the bonus: BJs also accepts vendor coupons, something this mother of two babies has plenty of! An hour and $228 later, I was out the door. My total coupon savings? $39.50, exactly the price of a case of Pampers! -- Missy Diaz

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Beauty samples, tips at Winn-Dixie


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Get beauty tips and free samples of cosmetic, hair care and skincare products at Winn-Dixie stores in Fort Lauderdale and Miramar on four upcoming Saturdays.

A beauty advisor will demonstrate products including Garnier, L'Oreal, Nailene and Olay, and the first 75 participants will receive a Winn-Dixie bag with product samples and coupons.

The beauty events will be at the Winn-Dixie stores at 1625 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale, and 17101 Miramar Pkwy., Miramar. Here are the dates:

Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009, from noon – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009, from noon – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, from noon – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009, from noon – 4:00 p.m.

I'd aim for earlier rather than later on Saturday, because only the first 75 shoppers get the samples! -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Cheaper Starbucks?


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Starbucks, slowly getting in tune with the economy, is offering tips on how to trim costs of your caffeine habit.

I write this, of course, as I sip my afternoon iced latte.

1. Don't believe the $4 coffee myth: Approximately 50% of our beverages are priced under $3 and more than one third under $2.

2. Bring your own cup and get 10 cents off your beverage.

3. Order a brewed coffee with steamed milk known as a Caffe Misto, instead of a Caffe Latte. That provides an average savings of 85 cents.

4. Get refills on brewed coffee for just 50 cents. Registered Starbuck card holders get refills on the house.

5. Brew yourself. Pick up a back of Starbucks whole bean coffee to brew at home for about 30 cents a cup.

6. Enjoy a coffee press for two. For about $3, any coffee we sell can be brewed through a coffee press, which yields four 8-oz cups and costs less than a grande.

7. Order pairings. For $3.95, order breakfast or a snack with coffee, a savings of about 90 cents.

8. Use your treat receipt, available through Sept. 30. Bring in your receipt from your morning purchase and in the afternoon after 2 p.m., get any grande cold beverage for $2.

Do you have your own methods to save on Starbucks? I know what you're going to say: Go to Dunkin Donuts or McDonald's. Just doesn't cut it for Starbucks addicts like me. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Do you haggle?


More Americans are haggling with their favorite retailers to save money in the recession, according to a new article in Time magazine.

Recession Haggling

One master haggler noticed an expired date on bacon and ended up getting it for free, the magazine reports. When you see such opportunities to lower a price, ask for the manager in a nice way, said Time reporter Sean Gregory on NBC's Today show.

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask because stores are trying to get rid of inventory right now, he said.

What do you do to haggle? I know Super Saver Kathy is good at this. Tell us how you haggle by posting here.

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Free backpack with $10 purchase at Office Depot


Office Depot is offering a free backpack with a minimum $10 purchase -- a special only through Wednesday, Aug. 12. Hey, pick one up and give it away to a kid you know or charity!

While you're there, pick up some of their other specially-priced items for school including:

Crayola 24- count crayons free with 10-pack markers

2 Pocket Paperports, 1” Binder, 2-pack scissors, and composition books, under $1 each. --

Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Ann Taylor jewelry 30% off


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Accessories often make the outfit. Add the right necklace to a plain top and you're more dressed up, more professional.

Ann Taylor can help with its 30% off sale in stores and online on jewelry, belts and sunglasses.

Here's a necklace on sale for $55, but there are others for much less. Some nice choices in belts and sunglasses as well. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Coach shoes on sale at DSW


Don't walk past them like I did: Coach shoes of all types and styles are on sale for $69.95 at DSW. Regular prices range from $178 to $198.

I went running by this find in the Boca Raton store, as usual making my way toward the clearance rack. Lots of shoes at 30 percent off and more in clearance and some in the regular aisles. But many are last season's rejects.

The real deal is at the front of the store: Coach high-heeled sandals, platform shoes and boat shoes marked down by at least half!

And here I was moaning about how the store was low on inventory -- nearly every shoe I looked at was sold out in my size -- I did still manage to find two shoes on sale and one just-had-to-have wedges for regular price.

At least I got my members' discount: $25 off of three pairs of shoes through a postcard I received from DSW. Sign up for free memberhip. You can earn points and get special deals.

There's nothing like new shoes to brighten a woman's day. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Ann Taylor 60% off sale


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White is an essential part of a summer wardrobe. Get this white top, perfect for the office or casual meeting, for only $9.98 from Ann Taylor.

Ann Taylor is having a "must have" 60% off sale. Among the marked down items are a few gems under $10.

Before you head to a store or online, check your closet and see what you're missing. Does that white shirt you had still look clean and crisp, or is it time to replace it? Now's your chance. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Flip video fun, inexpensive gadget


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I recently attended my son's college graduation -- a big day for him and the family -- and I wanted to capture it on more than my digital camera.

My friend H. recommended the Flip video. After weighing whether I should buy the basic version then on sale at Best Buy for $99 (regularly $149) or the upgraded HD version, I'm glad I stuck with the basic.

You get an hour of memory-card-free video on the basic Flip, and two hours on the HD version, which also works best on high-definition TVs.

I took plenty of video: my relatives, my son's graduation march, an interview with him afterwards and about his thesis project. And I only used a half hour!

This is a fun video camera that's easy to use, affordable and a different way to capture those special moments or make a YouTube video.

Do you have a Flip or other video? Would you recommend it, or not? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Shorts 25% off at The Gap


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Gotta have shorts in South Florida. Fortunately, shorts come in all styles and lengths these days. I like shorts that are comfortable and not too short.

The Gap has all varieties and they're on sale, marked down 25%, through Sunday, May 17. Stock up! It has already hit 90 degrees. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Wedge sandals perfect for summer festivals


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This spring and early summer is the time of South Florida's outdoor festivals, with SunFest in West Palm Beach and the Las Olas Wine Festival both tonight.

Dressing properly for a festival is key to enjoyment: The weather is hot so no jeans unless you're going late evening. Cotton sun dresses and light-weight clothes are best. And flat or cushioned shoes comfortable for lots of walking and standing are a must.

That's why wedge sandals at DSW caught my eye. The store and online have several varieties, in the $40-$50 range, both fashionable and easy on the feet.

So have some fun in the sunshine, hear some great music, drink some fine wine, but spare yourself blisters. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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CDs, DVDs 50% off at Borders


Just through Monday, April 20, find CDs and DVDs 50 percent off at Borders' clearance sale -- stores only.

In South Florida, there are stores in Boca Raton, Wellington, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura and Coral Gables.

At 50% off, you can really add to your movie collection or replace scratched CDs.-- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Coupons 101: Want to learn how to strategic shop?


If you are thinking about getting into couponing, but don't know how or where to start, it can be overwhelming. Let me walk you through it...step by step.

First of all, you need to start accumulating coupons. Where, you ask?

The Smart Source and the Red Plum inserts from the newspaper are the most popular, as are printable coupons from the Internet. You can get the inserts in your Sunday Sun-Sentinel. They also come in the free newspapers that sit outside of newsstands and some convenience stores.

Try to get 3-4 sets of the coupon inserts each week. Some folks buy as many as 8 newspapers on Sunday, but you can be creative, and find them in coffee shops and restaurant recyclers, etc. Leave them intact and write the date on the front of each booklet. DO NOT CUT THEM UP!! Too much trouble!!

Next, go to one of the websites that list the sale items by store, cross referenced with the date of matching coupons. I use couponmom.com.

Lets take CVS, for example. This week they are having a promotion on certain items, if you spend $15, you get $5 back in Easy Care Bucks (ECB.) The items in the promotion are listed in the CVS brochure found by the entrance of the store. I really don't look in the store brochures though, I find it goes much quicker just to print my lists from couponmom.

If you are a CVS shopper, then you should be a member of the Extra Care program. You carry a card with a bar code, or you can give the cashier your phone number to access your account. With this program you accumulate points, and get ECB to spend in CVS. And when you shop there, your cash register receipts sometimes come with a 'save $5 off $25' coupon on the bottom.

Sorry, if this seems tedious. That is just the background information, once you get it, you won't need to read it again.

Now comes the good part, the savings! Come with me to CVS!

1. While still at home, I checked the items I intended to buy on the CVS page on couponmom and printed it.

2. While still at home, I pulled the coupons (from the dated booklets, I keep in a file box, in dated folders) that go with the sale items that couponmom told me about, and paper-clipped them to my list.

3. I get out of my wallet my CVS Extra Care card, and a $5 off $25 coupon. Since I go to CVS a few times a week, I have a wallet full of $5 off $25 coupons. I clip these to my list.

4. At the store: I need to buy $15 of the promotional items from this weeks sale to get the $5 back. I need some snacks for my house, so I get 3 Baked Lays (on sale 2/$6) and 2 True North nuts, also 2/$6. I have enough coupons for both. (Also on the promo: Quaker Granola Bars, Tropicana OJ, Aquafina water.)

5. Before coupons, these 5 $3 items will total $15, so I'll get my $5 ECB. Now I want to get my shopping spree total up to $25 so I can get another $5 off, with my $5 off $25 coupon.

6. That's easy, 2 gallons of milk for the grandkids, and 6 small boxes of Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins that are on sale for $1 each. (I have $2 off 2 coupons from the 1/25 inserts, so these will be free after coupons.)

7. At the register, it's important to give the cashier your things in a certain order. First give your your Extra Care card. Then the items. After she rings the total, which in this instance came to $27, then give her your $5 off $25 coupon. Your total has to still be at $25 for the register to accept this coupon, so save your manufacturers coupons until after you give her the $5 off $25.

8. Then give her your manufacturers coupons. I had the Lays (3/08 insert) True North nuts ($1 off from 2/08) 6 Ritz / Wheat Thins (3/$2 off 2 from 1/25.)

A recap of the CVS shopping spree: Everything we bought was on sale, would have been around $40 at retail. Instead, I spent 11.88, but got a $5 ECBs to spend on my next CVS trip.

So I stocked my snacks drawer with 2 pks nuts, 6 boxes crackers, 3 bags chips...and got 2 gallons of milk, all worth $40, for $6.88.

The kids will have after school snacks and I didn't break the bank!

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Shrink your bills: Money saving advice


I got an email today that I just have to share with you. During fat times, we forgot some of the savvy consumer advice. Here is some good advice from the folks at www.shrink.com:

Use discount and coupon sites .

Check out www.Retailmenot.com and www.CouponCabin.com. Type in the store name for current discount codes or printable coupons. Not sure what other discount and coupon sites are out there? Click for more info.

Shop at stores that have favorable return policy and/or price match policy.

Costco is the champ of return policy and will will take back most items. Nordstrom has a price matching policy and a 14-days sale adjustment policy. Online www.Buy.com has a best price guarantee policy with a few restrictions. Before purchasing a big ticket item, question the return policy and if there are any restocking fees.

-- Shopper Girl

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Coupon Caddy: Coupon shopping made easy


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We are all looking to stretch our shopping dollars these days, but dealing with coupons in the grocery store can be a hassle even if you keep them filed in a handy organizer.

What about the coupons you are actually using? Often they get dropped or are hard to juggle. I love this List Caddy that hooks right onto your shopping cart. It holds your list, coupons, pen or pencil.

The price is right -- $3.99 plus shipping and handling. If you order three or more, you get a 15 percent discount. Buy List Caddy

XOXO -- Shopper Girl


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Oil of Olay fans: Sunday is deadline for Pro X rebate


Oil of Olay's new Pro-X line of products are hot and a $25 rebate is available if you purchase $50 worth before Sunday, March 8.

Get the rebate form by going to Olay.com. You need to download the form and mail it with the receipt by March 23.

Ellen tells Shop-o-matic that she loves the ProX line, which Oil of Olay advertises will "give you younger-looking, younger acting skin."

"I bought the Pro X Olay starter kit using a $10 off coupon (inside the product) and also sent in for the $25 rebate. I LOVE the new Pro X. I have always used Olay and always will," Ellen writes.

My shopping blog colleague Kathy was really smart: She used her CVS coupons to purchase ProX, plus sent in for the rebate. And she's beautiful, so it must be working. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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The girl in the green scarf frenzy


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My sister bought me the Sophie Kinsella series that begins with Confessions of a Shopaholic and she knows me well. Need I say more?

I am a shopaholic. Like Rebecca (Isla Fisher) in the movie, I love the smell of Italian leather, the neat piles of new clothes in stores and the display windows of NYC. Unlike Rebecca, I get scared away by a price tag in triple digits.

The movie is hardly a personal finance lesson. In fact, it has set off a blog craze. Other shopaholics have got to have that green scarf!

(Rebecca must have a green scarf for a magazine job interview but her credit cards are nearly maxed out. She's saved by a man at a hot dog stand who hands her $20 to get rid of her so he can get his lunch. The man turns out to be the interviewing editor.)

Yahoo! Answers says Patricia Field used a sample scarf from Dolce and Gabbana for the movie. Patricia Field
announces hold on, the green scarf is in the making! Film critic Caryn James says the movie makes her want to buy a green scarf: Huffington Post

Do I need a green scarf? Well, St. Patrick's Day is coming up.... -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds


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Shoes: Buy new or repair?


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When is it time to hang up a pair of shoes? Perhaps when they turn into tap shoes.

I wore my favorite Ann Klein black slides to the office last week and heard a "tap, tap, tap" as I walked. Sure enough, I had worn my heels through to the nails.

I thought about repairing. Fellow blogger Kathy tells me she just spent $17 to replace that itsy bitsy rubber piece on her heels. While it might be worth it for shoes otherwise unworn, my poor Ann Kleins were goners.

So off I drove to DSW in Boca Raton where I found some replacement Ann Kleins, not sandals but fairly comfortable high heels, on sale for $35. Of course, I still needed to replace my sandals. I found Aerosole's What's What brand, comfortable yet still stylish black slides also on sale for $35.

When do you give up on your favorite heels? Any recommendations on shoe repair? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Lunch Challenge: A confession


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I'm in the fourth week of my Lunch Challenge, and I have to make a confession.

I've been doing really well taking my lunch to work. (My friend E. challenged me to do so with the inspiration of a Sawgrass shopping trip with my savings.) Last week, I took my lunch to work twice and ate once in our printing plant's very affordable cafeteria ($4 for grilled chicken sandwich).

But I've been cheating. For as much as I save on lunch, I spend up to $30 a week on my Starbucks coffee addiction. I've cut back a bit by changing my morning drink and ordering only a tall.

I've also started to trick myself into saving on Starbucks: If I don't have the change available (coins, no dollars), I can't buy my coffee. How do you trick yourself into saving? We could all use ideas. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Budgeting: 7 things to avoid at the grocery store


ClassicRomaine1Text_F.jpgMarket Watch this week had an excellent article by Jennifer Openshaw about avoiding cash traps in the grocery stores. Processed foods often cost three times as much as the individual ingredients, such as bagged prepared salads, energy bars, bottled water and boxed rice products.

I know they're time savers. Sometimes we have to weigh our priorities...do we have time to make a salad from scratch AND help the kids with their homework?

I drink more water if I have bottled water in the 'fridge and can grab one on my way out the door. I buy it on sale, never pay more than $3.99 a case. I appreciate the convenience...I probably wouldn't grab a glass from the tap when I'm rushing out, late for work.

Rationalizing a bad expenditure, yes, I'm good at that. What do you waste money on?

Market Watch article: Cut your grocery bill: 7 cash traps to avoid at the grocery store

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Lunch challenge update: Stretch meals


Last week I learned how to stretch my lunches: I ended up buying lunch twice, but one day I saved half of it for the next day.

I'm entering week three of my friend E.'s lunch challenge -- take my lunch to work at least twice a week to put aside money for my passion, shopping. So far, I've saved $45. I'm only crediting myself half of $10 for the lunch I stretched.

With budgets tight and restaurant meal portions too much, anyway, it makes sense. I'd recommend cutting your restaurant lunch or dinner in half immediately when it arrives and asking for a takeout box. That way, you won't be tempted to eat the whole thing. This not only saves money, but helps your waistline.

What do you do to stretch meals? Post your advice here. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Lunch challenge update: the 1st week


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My friend E. challenged me to feed my shopping habit by cutting my lunch bill. This week went well: I brought my brownbag three times, had one free lunch, and grabbed a quick bite for under $10 one day.

The free lunch was courtesy of E., who had an inaguration party on Tuesday. I had some delicious egg white quiche.

My lunches have been healthier, too: turkey or ham sandwich on whole wheat bread and an apple. I added low-fat chips and pretzels to make my lunches more interesting.

So far, I have $31 for my shopping kitty, based on $10 for each lunch I brought to work and $1 for the Starbucks lunch, which cost me about $9 (with coffee).

I'm still a long way from a shopping spree at Sawgrass Mall, but it's a start. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds


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Buy one, get one free at J.C. Penney's


J.C. Penney's is offering a buy one, get one free deal on clearance items. Preview is today and Thursday with advertised sale Friday through Sunday, Jan. 25. So the time to go is today or Thursday before items are picked over.

The buy one, get one is a great time to pick up staples: exercise clothes, underwear, tops that go with everything.

Bring a relative or friend to a clearance sale. It's great fun. I remember one J.C. Penney sale with my Aunt J. from New York, one of the ultimate bargain hunters of the family, and when an item on a sale rack wasn't marked down, she talked them into dropping the price.

I'm betting Aunt J. will be at J.C. Penney's this week. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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The lunch challenge


So you know I have a shopping habit. I also have a lunch habit. I like to go out to lunch, especially during the workweek.

But it's expensive. A cheap lunch on Las Olas Boulevard is $10; it's easy to spend $15 to $18 at the nice restaurants.

So my friend E. issued me a challenge: Bring my lunch a few times a week and put the saved money aside for a trip to Sawgrass Mall.

I'm on Day 1 bringing my lunch today. It's even healthy. What do you do to put money aside for your shopping habit? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Bloomingdale's towels on sale


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It might be time to freshen up your bathroom with new towels and rugs. If so, Bloomingdale's has put many of its designer towels on sale for 20% to 50% off. These Charisma towels are on sale for $6.39 to $35.99. Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren towels also are included in the sale.

More select items are on marked down 25% to 40% on Bloomingdales.com. But I'd stick the the towels unless you must have Juicy Couture sweatpants. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds


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Chico's travels well


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When my sister had a business trip to India last year, she turned to Chico's travel collection for clothes that would cover tall frame, not wrinkle and look professional.

Besides being wary about travel conditions and restrictions, women need to be careful not to offend the culture they are visiting. Often that means covering up.

Chico's is having its winter sale, up to 75 percent, off on many items: sweaters, buttoned shirts, pants, jackets, and its travel collection. The store's jewelry is also discounted, with some 50 percent off if you buy one item at full price.

The Chico's bright colors and leisure look is not for everyone, but its store on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale has plenty of choices for the more conservative dresser as well. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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$5 off $25~CVS coupon good until Sunday 1/4/09


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Did you get your email from CVS with a $5 off $25 coupon attached? This is when I stock up on items I need anyway, like paper towels or Olay cleanser. And until Saturday midnight my favorite cereal is BOGO, and so is Maxwell House coffee. (BOGO is buy-one-get-one-free. New sale items start on Sundays, so check for other BOGO and sale items in the CVS Sunday ad before the coupon expires.)

I wish I could attach the coupon to this blog, but I contacted CVS, and they insist the only way to get the coupons is via registration in the Extra Care program. (The coupon I got in the email only works with my personal Extra Care number.) You must register your email address with them, as well, to get the coupons.

I know we all hate spam, but as far as I'm concerned, a $5 coupon is good spam!!

You can register your email address with CVS online.

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New Years resolution~Organize that closet


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It's that time of year again....New Years resolution time! What are we going to accomplish this year? I've given up on the ten pounds I've promised to lose for the last ten New Years. I might even have a ceremonial backyard burning of the old favorite jeans I have given up on ever getting into again.

Have you made a New Years resolution this year? Let us hear about your plans....maybe we can help each other, at least with moral support.

This year I am serious about getting my closet in order. With very limited space, it's going to be a challenge. But burning those old jeans might be a good start!

A previous owner lowered the whole closet ceiling to install a small duct for central air-conditioning. My first project will be to raise the ceiling behind the duct, and reclaim all that storage space.

Martha Stewart had some great suggestions for stretching closet space. (If I had a gazillion dollars and lots of employees, my closet would be great too, Martha. Can you tell I'm jealous? Insanely!!) Click on the link below to see Martha's suggestions:

Martha Stewart Closet Efficiency

Check back with our blog to see some of the things we're finding to accomplish the organizational miracle. Our first stop...next week, the Container Store.


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Christmas time is chocoholic time


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For chocoholics like me, Christmas is the time to enjoy the best in chocolate. If you're going to eat the calories, you might as well go for most delicious chocolate morsels.

Godiva is on sale everywhere: Barnes & Noble and department stores. You can pick up Ferraro Rocher chocolates in decorative Christmas tree boxes for cheap, too.

But my favorite are the locally made chocolates at Hoffman's in Palm Beach County. Hoffman's Chocolates' Greenacres store also does its annual holiday decorations and light display -- well worth seeing -- through 10 p.m. Dec. 30th. Lights and trains are turned on at 6 p.m. From I-95, drive west on Lake Worth Road. Address is 5190 Lake Worth Road.

For other store locations, see Hoffmans.com.

Of course, the best day to visit any chocolate store is the day after Christmas when everything is marked down. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Neiman-Marcus jumps to "after-Christmas" sale


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Somebody had to do it, why not a luxury retailer? Neiman-Marcus.com already has put up "after-Christmas sale" items on its Web site. If you've got the bucks, lots of designer clothing is 40 percent off on the site.

If not, go for the fancy Christmas ornaments and decorations. Dec. 26 is the traditional day to find the nicest of Christmas ornaments greatly reduced at department stores. Don't go to the discount retailers for this -- it's all gone. This is the time to go high-end.

My Christmas tree is looking pretty tired this year so I might be there. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Holiday shopping: When it's time to stop


We're down to the wire and no doubt many of us will be out there scooping up one more Christmas present.

When do you know it's time to stop shopping? Here are some red flags:

When you can't remember which store or mall you're in.
When you buy something for someone you hardly know.
When you buy your friend's dog a present -- just because.
When you max out a credit card and have no idea you were near your limit.
When the merchandise looks picked-over or returned (probably is).
When you buy a present, any present, for that person you forgot.
When it's Christmas Eve and the stores, mercifully, close for a day.

Then it's time to shop all over again (but heed above warnings!) When do you think it's time to stop? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds


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Salvation Army super sale on Christmas Eve


Salvation Army, which usually is in the business of collecting money for its good causes, is marking down its acquired furniture and other items at all its Broward County stores on Dec. 24.

Everything will be 50 percent off for this one day only at the six Salvation Army Family Super Stores, open from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The stores have clothing, furniture, household goods, sporting equipment, books, electronics and more.

The best reason to buy: All proceeds from sales at the Salvation Army Family Super Store go directly to the operation of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers.

Here are the Broward County locations:

1791 W Broward Blvd. 888 N University Dr.
Ft Lauderdale Pembroke Pines
954 463-3725 954-433-2160

310 N State Rd. 7 7707 W. Commercial Blvd
Margate Tamarac, FL
954 979-6999 954-721-0705

2300 SW 56th Ave.
Hollywood
954 961-7523

451 E Copans Rd.
Pompano Beach
954 782-3925

Shopping and doing good -- now that's a great concept. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds


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Check out istorez.com for deals


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Thanks to Lauren for directing us to istorez.com, a great Web site for all kinds of deals for that forgotten Christmas present.

For children, find "Deal of the Day" coupons for: ToysRUs. Just today, Dec. 22, there's $20 off the Rock 'n Go Pony, for example.

For that man in your life, what could be more welcome than the Festival of Corona Gift Basket featuring Coronas and other goodies fo $59.95 from Beergifts.com. Unfortunately, shipping will make it quite a bit higher at this point.

But istorez.com also offers free shipping deals. For the woman you're still trying to buy for, click on Talbots through the site and look at their 65 percent off items. Order by 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, to get free shipping.

So all is not lost and you don't have to pay extra for shipping if you look around. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Grab these last-minute gift ideas quick


Still haven't bought anything for mom? or your sister or best friend in New York?

Hurry and order online. Some ideas:

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At Overstock.com, there's one day left for free shipping and delivery by Christmas Day. Lots of ideas for women, especially. Check out the jewelry section. I like this sterling silver "Peace" necklace from Indonesia, only $35.99.

Have the holidays brought out the romance? Order that engagement ring or diamond stud earrings quick before it fades at Bluenile.com.

If all else fails, mom or grandma certainly would appreciate Christmas flowers. (Guys, remember that women want anything they can show off others: "See the flowers my son sent me?") Order this nice combo of Godiva and roses from FTD.com for $39.99.

Relax now: You've saved your relationships with the click of your mouse and your credit card. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Last minute? Find online shopping deals


If you're afraid of the malls and your relatives live in Wisconsin, online shopping beckons this weekend. Here are some ideas and deals:

For your young nephew or niece or grandchild: Amazon.com has toys 70 percent off and free shipping during the holidays.

For the tech nerd in your life: Cellphoneshop.net has some good deals on Bluetooths and car chargers.

For any woman who loves movies: Mamma Mia hands down the best chick flick of the year. Meryl Streep is unforgettable. The DVD is $24.49 on Amazon.com and $2.50 less on BarnesandNoble.com if you have a B&N membership.

For most anyone on your list: From a children's book to intellectual fare, I bought more books than any other gift this year using my 10 percent membership discount from Barnes and Noble, which also sent me a 15 percent coupon for one-time use.

For the youngster or teen: DVDs are always good. Wall-E for the youngsters and The Dark Knight for teens and up (a creepy Batman movie, be warned).

Order online no later than Monday if you want to get it there for Christmas. See! You did it and no crowds. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Dressy dresses 50% off at Macy's


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With New Year's Eve around the corner, this is the time to look for evening dress sales. Macy's 50 percent off sale -- some already 50 percent off on clearance -- is a pleasant surprise. Check it out this weekend. You never know when you might need a nice dress.

Unfortunately, some thoughtless shopper played a dirty trick on me. I found a magnificent little black dress by Anne Klein on the clearance rack, tried it on and loved it. (One of those dresses that fits like a dream.) But the tag was not marked clearance. Sure enough it wasn't marked down. At $168, sadly I had to pass.

Then, I got home and checked Macys.com and the dress is marked down to $107. Should I splurge? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Christmas rush: NY & Co. 50 percent off plus coupon


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We women are certainly done with our Christmas shopping by now (well, almost), so now it's time to shop for ourselves! All the last-minute men will be wandering the malls this weekend -- poor lost souls. (Hey, another reason to go shopping for the single ladies.)

Look for the Christmas rush sales such as New York & Company's 50 percent off everything plus another 10 percent with this coupon:

10% off coupon

Unfortunately, this coupon is only good at Wellington Mall. Fine print says "not Broward Mall." Use it Saturday or Sunday up to 2 p.m.

This, and right after Christmas, is a great time to update your wardrobe for work or play. This is a cute ruffled jacket from New York & Company.

I'm on it. You? Tell me what good deals you're finding out there. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Double check product number before ordering online


Black Friday weekend I finally broke down and ordered a large flat screen television. My TVs are so huge and heavy, I have to call in the troops to move one, or even to hook up an accessory. I don't want to become a statistic, one of those poor souls who gets a broken neck when the television lands on them.

I liked the Sharp Aquos model and Dell was advertising a great deal on the 42" one. On the Dell Website, there was a picture of a flat black TV with chrome trim, and underneath a headline that said 42" Sharp Aquos, 1080p HDTV. At $779 with free shipping, it seemed too good to be true.

I clicked on the picture with the Sharp Aquos headline and it took me to another screen where there was an order form with a long model number. I trusted the picture and headline and ordered what I thought was the 42" Sharp Aquos TV.

Delivery day...you guessed it...not an Aquos at all, but a shiny black plastic Sharp TV, which at $779, was pretty much the price I could have gotten this model on sale anywhere.

When I called Dell, they asked me to prove that I clicked on a Sharp Aquos picture, or pay a 15% restocking fee. I'm going to take this up with my credit card company, I'm hoping I don't have to pay the fee, but I sure have learned a good lesson.

Before you order anything online, find the exact model you want, and make a note of the model number. Do not trust the pictures on the website.

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Check CurrentCodes.com for Coupon codes when shopping online


Friday was the last day to order online in time for Christmas, but now is the time to catch a great sale on something you might want to give yourself....after Christmas. When ordering online, there is sometimes a blank on the order form form labeled coupon code. Don't you always wish you had a discount code to put in there? Well, now you might.

The New Yorker magazine tells us about CurrentCodes.com, "a one-stop shop for all of those special promotion codes for bargains, sales, discounts and more. CurrentCodes is expansive, listing promo codes for nearly 60 different retail categories totaling about 1,800 stores from clothing to cellphones to jewelry and travel."

Check it out. Before ordering online, make sure you look up the item and store, so you can apply a code for savings.

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$10 DSW coupon promotion


Shoe fav DSW apparently has teamed with Chevrolet in a promotion, offering a $10 coupon toward a purchase of $50 or more for anyone who test drives a Chevy Traverse Crossover. More importantly, enter the contest to win a DSW shopping spree worth $5,000.

Has American's automobile industry finally realized women are the ones making buying decisions?

Check out the promotion at Happy Shoe Year Sweepstakes.

Just don't drive in your high heels. Not that it's dangerous; it ruins your heels. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Up to 60% off at Crate & Barrel after Christmas


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If you, like me, have northern residents descend on you in January and February, it's time to spruce up for your guests.

A good way to do that are after-Christmas sales. One that could be good is Crate & Barrel's, which sent out a postcard advertising up to 60 percent off in its "winter clearance" sale starting Dec. 26.

I saw this Marimekko shower curtain that would look great in my guest bathroom, already on sale for $24.95 from $49.95.

So watch out for those after-Christmas sales. I know what I'll be doing Dec. 26. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Island City Art Walk - Wilton Manors - Dec 19th, 7-10pm


The Island City Art Walk will take place in Wilton Manors between 7 – 10 pm on Friday, December 19...twenty-six businesses will host over 35 fine artists along the one mile stretch known as The Drive. Many of the eclectic shops will offer special Holiday shopping sales. The local artists will display a variety of original works: paintings, photography and sculptures, all wonderful gift ideas.

Take a hiatus from the malls and join in the fun in historical Wilton Manors. The Island City Art Walk provides a free trolley and the participating business sponsors will be serving refreshments.

The Island City Art Walk is organized by Island City, Inc. and is sponsored by the following business members. Wilton Manors is situated between Sunrise Blvd. and Oakland Park Blvd. East of I-95 and West of Federal Highway.

Island City, Inc.
ICON . Chic Optique
Galanga Thai Kitchen . Art Frenzie
World Treasures . White Glove Antiques
Audace . To The Moon . E Coleccion
Copy This . Shades of The Past-Antiques
Juiceblendz . Bottoms & Tops . Trapezoid
Tracy Carroll Salon . Gelato Station
Java Boys . Naked Grape Wine Bar
The Precise Agency by SRJ . Urban Dwell
Designing Eyes Interiors/Boutique
S Squared . 78 degrees Spa
Georgie’s Alibi
Sozo Sushi Bar
Ellen Charapko Gallery

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Give a South Florida gift


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My friends Vickie and Tim had their Flamingo Park home on the Historic Flamingo Park home tour. I was put in charge of answering the door for visitors who came in droves.

Besides ideas in decorating your home, visitors may find local gift ideas on such tours. Vickie and Tim, for example, have put together a cookbook of 149 recipes from the residents' kitchens.

I had the opportunity to peruse the cookbook and it has some mouth-watering recipes that are beautifully illustrated.

The cookbook is $18.50 plus sales tax available by calling 561-758-5227 or e-mailing FlamingoFun@yahoo.com. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Designer handbags a deal at TJ Maxx


I've been to New York City and back looking high and low for the right purse. I needed a plain black purse, but I'm a little fussy. I want one where I can easily access my cell phone. It has to fit a reporter's notebook. It can't be too boring and it has to be well under $100.Kathy%20purse.jpg

Finally, I swung by TJ Maxx at 3722 N. Federal Highway in Lighthouse Point and found a great selection of handbags, many designer names including B Makowsky, Juicy Couture and Steve Madden. I chose a Kathy Van Zeeland for only $39.99; I saw similar purses on sale at department stores for twice as much.

My purse is similar to the one at right, but with a little more bling.

The store also had freshwater pearls for $14.99 and holiday wrapping paper for $3.99 a roll.

So TJ Maxx's motto of "Economize don't Compromise" holds up. And some breaking news:I overheard store managers say they're putting out newer handbags on Saturday (Dec. 6). I just couldn't wait any longer. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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NYC holiday markets beat department stores


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If you're foolish enough, like me, to head to frigid New York City on a winter holiday, at least visit the many holiday markets the city has to offer.

I went to the one at Union Square where I found painted cooper earrings by Bora from Greece for only $20 and a lovely silk-strewn necklace with a cascade of small gems for $47. You'll also find Christmas decor, unique leather goods and lots of fun gifts for children at the Holiday Market.

Similar markets can be found at Bryant Park, where you also can ice skate, Grand Central and Columbus Circle. So, wherever you land in the city, there is a holiday market to shop.

The markets feature booths from stores around Manhattan as well as the outreaches and independent vendors. While I wouldn't count on a return policy, I found the shopping experience more fun and interesting than the overcrowded department stores with faux sales (20 percent off and only $800!).

South Florida retailers might do well to copy this NYC idea. After all, our weather is much more conducive to outside shopping. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Where are you shopping on Black Friday?


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Been thinking about Black Friday, trying to decide what's my plan. I don't know about you, but 5am is not fun in my book. I'd rather pay double than get up at 4am!!

If I shop on Black Friday, it will be at Sawgrass Mills, or one of the other stores that will open at midnight on Thursday for the shopping frenzy. Right now I am buried in notes...trying to figure out what I might buy, and where I need to go to get it. I can't shop in that bedlam unless I'm organized.


A website that tries to make sense out of Black Friday for the consumer is BFAds.net. It has links for advertised sales, store hours, buying guides for laptops, televisions, GPS devices, and more. There are also message boards where you can post questions or past experiences and advice.

You can even register and work up a personal shopping list. And BFAds.net promises not to sell or share your email address. I'll bet they wind up with a lot of useful data though.

Where will you be on Black Friday?

We give you great shopping tops all year long! Bookmark us!

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Holiday cosmetics specials last all year long


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Each year about this time Santa Claus brings presents a little early for women: The cosmetic counter holiday specials

If you buy right, you might not have to buy makeup all year long. I'm still using the eye shadow from a holiday Estee Lauder special from a year ago.

This holiday season Lancome seems to have the best deal. For a $36 purchase, you can buy a Lancome case full of cosmetics for only $49.50, supposedly a $339 value. While a few items are decidedly small, the Lancome case has full-size lipsticks and a variety of some of its best products.

I spotted this deal at Nordstrom's. It's the holidays and time to put on a happy face, or at least a nicely made up one. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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A deal for frequent Starbucks visitors


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I just moved to a new office location and I'm already missing my neighborhood Starbucks. But I will seek out new Starbucks to continue my addiction. I can work anywhere as long a I can find a Starbucks. At right is their new hazelnut hot chocolate. Haven't tried it yet, but it looks good.

To ease the financial pain of my coffee habit, I bought a Starbucks Gold Card. The $25 card gives me 10 percent off all purchases for a year. As much a I frequent the coffee hangout, I thought it was worth the price.

I've had a similar card with Barnes & Noble and find it useful for the holidays when I buy books, CDs or DVDs for many friends and family.

It's similar in concept to buying a membership to Costco or BJ's, but I've avoided these. While there are good deals, I know I would buy way more than I should. So I mooch off friends with cards. Now I can repay them with a discounted coffee. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Michael Kors dress meets every occasion


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My friend E. from North Carolina was visiting this weekend for a special event. We had some time to kill so we headed to the Sawgrass outlet mall, of course.

We checked out the 50 percent sale at Coach and then Michael Kors outlet store. Coach has some great buys right now, but even at 50 percent off, their handbags are at least $100 -- too much for sensible girls like us who grew up in the Midwest.

But we soon found our bargain at nearby Michael Kors: The French rosebud dress in cream or red, for only $49.99. We liked the red version -- so we both bought it.

This may be the perfect dress. It fits like a dream and it does not wrinkle. It was wrapped up in a tiny Michael Kors bag and unrolled in perfect form -- great for travel.

Two friends shopping together can rack up deals at Sawgrass. We needed black stockings to go with the dress so we headed to Saks Off 5th. We found Donna Karan "invigorating" stockings for only $4.99. Since we bought them together, we even got half off one pair!

Now a diehard Floridian, I rarely don a pair of stockings. It's just too darn hot. But these were fantastic: I've got to go back for more.

All in all, a successful shopping day. Bring a friend with you: it can pay off in savings and laughs. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Retailers say "Happy Birthday"


It's my 39th birthday again and all week long I've been getting cards from my favorite retailers, or at least those I signed up for discounts by mail.

White House/Black Market sent me $10 off any purchase; I just have to use it by the end of the month. Same offer with Victoria's Secret.

Loehmann's sent me a birthday postcard with a 15 percent discount valid anytime during my birthday month. And DSW sent me a $5 off postcard, but the purchase has to be $19.95 or more -- a little cheaper but I do get discounts from them all the time.

If you're concerned about giving out your birthday when signing up for these offers, use the first day of your birthday month. My friend J does that and then gets a full month to use the birthday discounts. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Election Day sale at Kohls.com


No time to shop when we have lines to stand in to vote!

But after you cast your ballot today, check out Kohls.com for 15 percent off everything with only 99 cents shipping per item (unless there's special handling involved.)

Enter the code Election15 to get the special discount.

If you're a Phillies fan -- or know one, you could buy this World Series T-shirt through Kohls.com. Philly%20shirt.jpg

You also can enter to win a $10,000 grand prize in a Kohl's sweepstakes. First prize is a family vacation for four at a Disney World resort and tickets to Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba show in Orlando.

Let's see I've voted, so what shall I buy? Maybe I'll just enter the sweepstakes. It's my birthday week; maybe that's lucky. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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30 percent to 50 percent off designer shoes at DSW


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Put on your running shoes and sprint to DSW. The shoe store's sales racks are full of designer shoes -- Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Ann Marino and many, many more.

Most are dress-up heels and sandals -- great for holiday events. Get this: I bought two pairs of gorgeous shoes: a marbled shiny brownish black Ann Marino and sexy black pumps from Rampage for $35. OK, I had two $10 coupons DSW had sent me for being a loyal customer -- but still!

So don't wait until you need those satin with rhinestone pumps for the holiday party, go while you can get them el cheapo. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Save 10 percent at new Maine Cottage in West Palm Beach


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If you love the cottage look, celebrate.

Maine Cottage, which Furniture Today describes as a "specialist in upscale coastal home furnishings," has opened its first Florida store on Clematis Street.

The Grand Opening is today from 4 to 6 p.m., and the first 50 guests will get free Coastal Living beach towels.

The 5,000-square-foot store is also offering a 10 percent discount off all furniture orders until Nov. 1. Maine Cottage specializes in painted furniture like this (at left). Cool, isn't it? They also have rattan pieces that look like they came from grandma's porch. Say hello to Hasty, Beth and Annie, right, when you visit the store.

Maine Cottage is located at 312 Clematis Street West Palm Beach. Call 561-366.0033. See www.mainecottage.com.

XOXO -- Shopper Girl

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Sterling silver a steal at Kohl's


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Here's an easy gift for mom, the sisters or a good friend: Sterling silver jewelry, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, on sale for 65 percent to 70 percent off at Kohl's in Boynton Beach.

I overheard a man shopping for a birthday present for his wife. He was going to get her a Citizens watch -- also on sale. I wanted to scream at him: No! No! Something romantic, stupid. But I just let the saleswoman gently suggest a more elegant watch instead.

But back to the jewelry: lots of choices, both traditional and modern. Great for gifts for others -- or yourself! -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Layaway for the holidays and free coupons at Kmart


Layaway. Does it have a retro sound? Or do you even remember it?

When I was growing up, folks didn't use credit cards for everything. You either paid cash, or the poorer folks and teenage girls, would put the object of their desires on layaway.

It's back. Thanks to the credit crunch and the recession. My fellow, shopping diva Marcia Pounds, and I both saw ads for the retro practice this week.

Thus far, the only one I am able to confirm is layaway at Kmart, which Adweek.com says positions them as "the only mass discount retailer to offer a layaway service."

The TV ads, which started airing last week, are pitching layaway as a way to get buy gifts for Christmas.

Here are the terms, according to Kmart.com.

You can pay over 8 weeks. Just select your items and bring them to the layaway counter and make a down payment. You need to make payments every two weeks at the store. For more info and layaway fast facts, see www.kmart.com.

Another tip: You can get two $5 Kmart coupons when You sign up for kmart email.

XOXO-- Shopper Girl

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Get in the holiday mood at Crate & Barrel


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Whether it's Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, Crate & Barrel Outlet at the Sawgrass Mills mall is bound to get you in the holiday mood.

I stopped there on Saturday and found a beautiful table runner 50 percent off, only $19.95. I chose the Alexandra red design, but there's also one with autumn colors (see at right).

Then I found an irrestible item for $6.95: fanciful salt and pepper shakers in the design of snowmen. My friend M collects those for her friend M, so I may pass them on to her. If not, one of my sisters' is getting snowmen as part of her Christmas present.

The snowmen design also is available in a sugar and creamer for $12.95, appetizer plates for $14.95, and tapered candles - snowmen with tall winter hats, 2 for $5.95.

What a fun tabletop for the children in us during the holidays! And at a bargain price, of course. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Check out Sam's Club: $10 holiday deal


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Sam's Club announced today (Thursday, Oct. 16) that it's offering a $10 membership good for 10 weeks for families and businesses not currently members.

Consumers can sign up for Sam shopping privileges on two weekends, Oct. 17-19 and Oct. 24-26. Sam's Club stores are in West Palm Beach, Lantana, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Miramar and Miami.

Sam's Club, Costco and other discount shopping stores are likely to be busy places this holiday season when most of us are trying to S-T-R-E-TCH that dollar. Check it out. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds


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For love of belts, hats and jewelry


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If you have an overwelming appetite for accessories, For Love 21 is your destination.

The sister store to Forever XXI is at the Dolphin Mall in Miami. As my shopping sister Kathy recently wrote, we had a great time picking up jewelry, belts and other items -- mostly under $10 -- at For Love 21.

I tried on a cute hat and bought some belts, but passed on some really fun boots (why didn't I get those! Only $36.) What's great is that anything in this store won't do too much damage to your wallet.

Great place to find holiday gifts for the young fashionistas in your life. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Stroll Pineapple Grove in Delray Beach


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Looking for a fun afternoon with girlfriends?

Hit Delray Beach. Not the famed Atlantic Avenue, but NE 2nd Avenue, the entrance to Pineapple Grove.

I discovered that many great little shops and restaurants have opened up along Pineapple Grove. The street is a bit like Atlantic Avenue used to be: Full of unique shops and friendly and less expensive restaurants.

My friend M. and I had a fine breakfast of frittatas and french toast at Joseph's Wine Bar. After buying my quota ($20) of craft fair jewelry, I checked out the shops.

I found upscale jewelry and art at Spotted on 2nd, unique gifts at Conversation Pieces, Fatboy outdoor cushions at Museo (see right), and monogramed gifts for baby and children (lunchbox, $25, or backpack, just under $40). Pricey, but a unique present for the doting aunt or grandmother.

Met up with two friends, C and A, on Pineapple Grove and they also had a find: Kismet, a consignment shop with "gently worn" clothes. C found the little black dress she has been looking for, $35. Big shipment of designer dresses coming in Nov. 13, the shop told C.

So hit the boutiques in Delray Beach for an enjoyable day and you'll also be supporting small business, which makes the South Florida economy go 'round. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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The Dolphin Mall might be our new destination shopping center


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Last week I promised to let you know about the Miami mall a cute hip young fashion writer recommended. We thought we'd check it out first. It's an easy drive if you follow the Homestead signs driving south on the Turnpike. We didn't...don't ask.

Hardly an undiscovered gem, the huge parking lot was full, full, full. But, wow, well worth the drive. It's huge....and doesn't seem as picked over as local Sawgrass Mills.

It has some of the same big flagship stores as Sawgrass: Neiman Marcus Last Call, Off Fifth Saks Outlet, Burlington Coat Factory, T J Maxx, Marshalls, Bed Bath and Beyond. In total there are over 240 stores and restaurants.

Fellow blogger Marcia and I only had a few hours...we could have spent the whole day! Heck, you could spend a week there! We happened to walk in the entrance that took us to For Love 21, the Forever 21 accessory store. Huge selection, amazing prices. I bought a beaded necklace with a cheap charm on it, intending to replace their charm with an old locket I've had. Marked $4.95...scanned in at $1. Like a treasure hunt!

We ran out of time after Neiman Marcus Last Call...walking out for a previous engagement was sheer torture. The store signs were like the mythical sirens summoning us: Michael Kors, Coach, Calvin Klein, DKNY, DSW, Ann Taylor.....

But we'll certainly go back. And soon!

Dolphin Mall



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Spanx for $12!


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Suck it in girls, it's nearly the season for little black dresses and evening gowns. Thanks to Spanx founder Sara Blakely, you don't have to hold your breath all evening.

And thanks to Neiman Marcus Last Call at Miami's Dolphin Mall, you can buy the Spanx original design -- tummy control and flab smoothing to just below the knee -- for only $12, regularly $20.

Since inventing Spanx -- why didn't we think of that? -- Blakely has expanded her line to many varieties including textured tights, slimming apparel, bras and socks. Her black pencil skirt, a retro favorite this fall season, has a built-in liner to smooth and shape you. The "Bod-a-Bing" skirt, at right, is $68 at Spanx.com.

You go Sara. Women everywhere thank you. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Stephanie Nelson (Coupon Mom) to be on Oprah show Wednesday 10/8


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My fellow shopping diva, Shopper Girl, has nicknamed me Coupon Kathy, because I am having so much fun with my coupon savings. This weekend I profited $3 buying my daughter L'Oriel cleansing towelettes at Walgreens.


For me it's a challenge...some people do crossword puzzles or sudoku....I obsess over uncovering the cheapest necessities, or even free stuff! Maybe I need to get a life!!

Tune in to Oprah on Wednesday, 10/8, Stephanie Nelson (Coupon Mom) will be teaching Oprah's viewers how to cut their grocery bill in half!

I wonder how many of our readers are couponing? Let us hear from you....

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Ann Taylor tops for $19.99


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You can always count on Ann Taylor for work dress -- or play. Work and casual tops are on sale at Ann Taylor stores this week for as little as $19.99.

I snapped up two tops and a matching skirt at Ann Taylor store at CityPlace.

What I also like about Ann Taylor is the saleswomen are actually helpful. I found out, for example, that I fit in a medium/petite size top. I never thought a petite size would fit me, but many are not that different from a medium, one saleswoman told me.

That opens up a whole new world on the sales rack. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Coupons on Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, JImmy Choo


Ready to save more money? Then sign up today at Shopittome.com.
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This cool site is like having a personal assistant who browses the Web for you looking for the best sales and coupon alerts, including codes. You can get an e-mail alert daiily, twice a week or weekly.

You'll find discounts on brand names like Ralph Lauren, Prada, Jones New York, Addias, Dana Buchman, Jimmy Choo, Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor.

Ask for e-mail delivery on Fridays, when most online retailers mark down clothing, ShopSmart magazine suggests.


XOXO -- Shopper Girl

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Shutter pleat dresses are gorgeous, but BEWARE, they are in every store



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Back from Las Vegas...the rehearsal dinner and wedding were gorgeous, and it was great to visit with old friends. Saw the Beatles 'Love' Cirque d' Soleil show and 'Jersey Boys.' Highly recommend both!! Before I comment on LV shopping, I have a public service alert for sure, so you too don't have to live your worst nightmare.

Girlfriend to girlfriend, I feel it my duty to warn you about THE dress. Shutter pleats are the latest thing, so feminine, and surprisingly slimming. This is a great new look, and not terribly expensive, so you might be tempted to buy one.

The nightmare is that they are in every department store: Tadashi makes it, as well Adriana Papelle and various other designers. We saw it in Bloomingdales, Macy's, Dillards, etc etc. It came in moss green, light green, gold, khaki, eggplant, a shimmery gun metal grey, black and raspberry.



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How would you feel if someone had on your same dress at a nice wedding? Then think about how you would feel if there were FOUR of them! Yes, there were...not two, not three, but FOUR ladies wearing it at the Las Vegas wedding I attended this weekend. The fourth lady would not get in my picture!! She was so horrified, she avoided each of her twins, which was hard to do when there are four on one dance floor!!

The rest of the weekend, at the hotels throughout Las Vegas, we saw 'the dress' over and over, even in a long length for bridesmaids.

So, be warned, if you don't want to see yourself coming and going, avoid this dress at all costs!!!

I suspect you might be able to buy a gently worn one (one of the three in the picture) for a good price on eBay soon!!

I once wore the same dress as a coworker/friend to another coworker/friend's wedding. I lived through it....it's awkward though, no? Has this ever happened to you?

Do tell.....

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Ready, set, go!


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Retailers are no doubt anxious to get holiday shopping going. There's already evidence of it: Crate & Barrel. Crate & Barrel sent out an e-mail with corporate gift suggestions for under $20.

Nice stuff, too, such as a wine decanter ($19.99) and holiday plate (at right for only $8.95). Never mind the corporate gifts -- good for family and friends in what is likely to be a budget-conscious shopping season.

Retailers take notice: We want bargains this year! ('Cause that's all we can afford to buy.) Anyone agree? -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Wear basic black and load up on jewelry from Forever 21


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My hair stylist, Francesca Guerrera at Echo, lives in my condo complex. She's a glamorous Italian gal I often pass in the parking lot when I'm coming home from work tired and bedraggled. She's usually headed out, looking like a million: great dress, hair and makeup perfect, accessorized to the max.

My big Las Vegas wedding is this weekend, so I went in to get a last minute haircut. I was whining about my recurrent problem...my hatred of shopping for cocktail dresses, especially for weddings. If you read this blog, you already know about my problem. Once again, I'm out of time, and no new dress!!

You'll never believe...she let me in on a little secret of hers. "Take a plain simple dress and load up on jewelry from Forever 21 at the Boca Town Center. It's so cheap, even if it discolors in a few months, who cares? It'll look good at the wedding. Wear lots pearls and chains, all shapes and lengths, you'll look fabulous, and no one will ever know."

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I thought Forever 21 was for kids. Anyone else shop there? Have you been holding out on us?

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Road trip to Vero


A friend was driving to Vero Beach to check out a house -- under $200,000, by the way -- and invited me to tag along to go outlet shopping.

Vero Fashion Outlet is about an hour and a half away from where I live in Palm Beach County. Is it worth the price of gas? It was for me, because someone else was driving, and because the sales were fantastic: 50 to 70 percent off at most designer outlook shops.

My best buy: a $49 Max & Cleo dress marked down from $188 originally at the BCBG Max Azria outlet. I also found two tops I can wear to work for only $11.99 apiece at Calvin Klein and Van Heusen and buy-one-get-one-free jewelry at Jones New York.

Moreover, my mother benefited because I found her unusual narrow shoe size at Clark's outlet. If the shoes don't fit, I was told I could take them back to any other regular store closer to home. So I don't have to pay for any extra gas to return them. What a good deal!

Vero Fashion Outlet: Worth the trip, especially if your friend is driving. You might want to check out the houses, too. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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Coupon mania


Everybody’s clipping coupons these days. Why not? With the cost of groceries, every little bit helps.

The Sunday paper is, of course, the mother-lode of coupons. I found a $3 coupon for a L’Oreal cleansers and moisturizers, $1 off Pledge cleaning wipes and $2 off Revlon cosmetics – all products I already use.

That’s the trick. You don’t want to buy items just because you have a coupon.

The Internet is another source of coupons. Coupons is the main source. You can type in your zip code and fi nd coupons in your area. For our Delray Beach office address, I found these coupons: I found $1 off Perdue chicken breast strips, $1 coupon for Tylenol and $1 off Boston contact lens solution – darn! I just bought that!

You can also google a name brand and see if there’s a coupon available. All of this takes preparation for a shopping trip. But if done routinely, it could start to pay off.

Did you find a good coupon recently? Tell me where or post the link here. -- Marcia "Bargain Hunter" Pounds

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A personal stylist within the pages of a book


I'm a fan of InStyle magazine http://www.instyle.com/instyle/
I'm a much bigger fan of any help that gets me to that state of fabulosity (Kimora, thank's for coining that word). So when I heard that the magazine's editors created Instant Style, I had to buy.
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Although I know what looks good I don't always do justice while shopping or getting dressed (there have been a few fashion faux paux). If your fashion impairment has to do with putting an outfit together, then start turning these pages.

The book's useful layout is full of pictures and explainations on what works for different body types. There are tips on wardrobe pieces that are a must.

These suggestions won't be soon outdated because as every fashionista knows, classic pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories are timeless. Not that your wardrobe doesn't need the occasional update, but if you invest wisely, purchases go a long way.

The book retails for $29.95 at major book stores like Barnes & Nobles http://www.barnesandnoble.com/index.asp but there is currently an online offer for $23.96 and members pay $21.56. Check Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/ for prices ranging from $19.77 or less for used copies.

Wishing you a stylish life,
Heather.

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Coldwater Creek: Happy Returns


Remember when I told you about ordering some stuff on line and finding great bargains?

Well, the order came and everything fit except one pair of cropped pants. The legs were huge. The waist was huge. Just not a good fit.

So last weekend I tested the Coldwater Creek policy and attempted to return the merchandise to the Boca Raton store in the Terrace at Town Center. The experience couldn't have been better. The return went easy and I found another pair of pants that I never would have ordered on line.

The reason? My salesman -- Rene. Yes, that's Rene as in a man's name. He is one of the store managers and one of the most savvy sales people I have encountered in years. He gave me a great lesson on which style pants fit different body types. I ended up with a zipper front pant that fits like a charm.

The funny thing is Rene told me that the female customers often don't want a guy to help them. This is utter sillness. He doesn't go into the dressing room with you. He just gives his expert advice. And, to tell the truth, he was better than any of the female sales people I have come across in any clothing store.

Even my husband was impressed.

"I really enoyed that something experience," he said. "It's great to meet a sales person who knows what he is talking about. That's the way it used to be when stores cared about service."

Take my advice: If you go to Coldwater Creek in Boca, ask for Rene. You won't be sorry.

XOXO -- Shopper Girl

P.S. By the way, Coldwater Creek sales people work on salary, not on commission.

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Getting a deal at Sears on GE Profile


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Appliances and furniture have a strange pricing system that I swear is meant to confuse the heck out of us. Sale ads don't always mean the best price.

First some background: My husband, Carter, and I have been looking for a new range because the Jenn-Air that came with the house more than eight years ago is starting to act like it's taking its last breaths.

After checking with Consumer Reports and factoring in our needs, we came up with the answer -- the GE Profile 30-inch freestanding range with radiant cooktop and five burners. I fell in love with it because it has two ovens and the smaller top oven would meet most of our needs. The bottom oven is convection. And it matches our other appliances -- black and stainless.

Carter's dad was a Sears exec so we typically buy our appliances there. The list price is $1,949.99 and it was on "sale" a few weeks ago for $1849.99. It's a big purchase so we decided to wait a few weeks. Although it wasn't advertised on sale last weekend, we went again. The price? $1,754.99. The lesson? On a big purchase, check the price a few times to get the best price.

XOXO-- Shopper Girl

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Is shopping fun?


If you love to shop or hate to shop, you've got to chuckle at this video on the "Ease of Shopping." We have all been through it -- from having someone cut us off in the parking lot at the mall to Mr. Slowsky checking us out at the supermarket.

Enjoy!

Oh yes, there is an ad at the end, but you can always click off.

XOXO -- Shopper Girl

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ShopStyle's new Website


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Those who think they know what we want on the Web keep talking about a "sense of community." Translation? We want to be able to connect with others of like interests and share ideas and problems.

Shopstyleliving.com calls itself "the first social shopping site devoted to home decorating." I love the idea. It's a great place to shop, discover new brands and share ideas with family and friends.

One of my fave features is you can set price alerts. The site will send you an email when your selected items goes on sale. How cool is that? The site brings together all the current deals, promotion codes and free shipping offers in one place.

You can also assemble a Stylebook of your fave looks for a room, occasion or trend that you can share with others. You can upload your own blog or blog with others.

XOXO -- Shopper Girl

P.S. Here's a great daybed cover from Pottery Barn that was $79 and is now on sale for $54.99. Not your thing? There's plenty more. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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Candles on the Avenue is gone


Before you drive to your favorite store, make sure it's still in business. The economy has been taking a toll on some of the places that have been in business for many years as well as the short timers.

I drove from my home in Delray to Lake Worth a few Saturdays ago just to get some of my fave round candles at Candles on the Avenue. We had just been there around Christmas -- and there was brown paper on the windows. The Web site is unavailable.

Sorry to see it and owner Lori McConnaughay go. It was a pleasure to shop there. She always had great advice. Her best: If you use those round candles, allow them to burn for two hours the first time you light them so they burn properly from then on.

With gas prices in the stratosphere, my best advice to you: Call before you drive.

XOXO -- Shopper Girl

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Great red gas grill at Sears


My husband, Carter, and I have been looking for a new gas grill for several months. They were either too big, too small or too expensive.

Finally, we found one that's just right this past week -- a Kenmore red enamel grill at Sears, It has 608 inches of cooking space and three stainless steel burners that generate a total of 36,000 BTUs with the 12,000 BTU side shelf. It's sturdy and beautiful.
bbqgrill

Love the color. Love the features. And it costs only $249.99. The sale ended Saturday, but it's sure to be on special again. Look for the ads in the Sunday Sun-Sentinel.

Check your grill, and replace it if it's getting old. Remember, it's almost time for hurricane season and you may need a grill -- especially one with a side burner.

Sears offers a delivery and assembly service for only $60.

XOXO-- Shopper Girl

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Save bucks at Target


This weekend I learned a shopping trick by accident that I just have to share with you.

I was at Target looking for an organized black handbag. They had a lot of great looking bags, but most of them were what I call "dump" bags -- ones that have a central hole that everything dumps into.

One lonely Cherokee messenger bag was left on the shelf. It had an outside pocket for your cell phone, an outside zippered area with a pocket and room for credit cards inside, two pockets on the inside and a great central area that wasn't too wide. Problem was I couldn't find the price tag. A sales person came over to help and discovered the tag hidden inside. He checked with someone and said the price was right -- $22.99 -- and it was the last one left.

When I checked out, I told the cashier that this was the last one. My chattering saved me a ton of money. "Wait a minute," she said, "If it's the last one, it may be on sale."

She checked and another sales person put some numbers into the computer and came up with a brand new number: The bag was now only $5.74!!! That's a savings of $17.25.

So, next time you go to Target and you are buying the last of something, be sure to check with the cashier to see if it has been discounted.

XOXO-- Shopper Girl

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Angsana Going Out of Business Sale


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Angsana, a wonderful place to buy Asian and Indonesian imports, is going out of the retail business.

This is sad news for those of us who wanted to find designer-quality goods without hiring a professional. The store, located at 20 S. Swinton Ave. in Delray Beach always offered unusual furniture and a great collection of accessories that range from baskets to buddhas.

"This sale has been initiated only after careful consideration, as I have decided to focus Angsana exclusively in the area of design consultation," owner Michael Lipkowitz wrote in a letter to his best customers.

Most of the items are 20 percent off, but this weekend they will be reduced to 40 percent off. Different deals will be offered until May. Call ahead at 561 330-6676 to see what they are. Also see angsanaimports.com.

XOXO-- Shopper Girl

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Kate Moennig shops in LA



This is a cool shopping video. Check out Kate Moennig of TV's The L Word shopping on West Sunset in Los Angeles.

Her great ideas:

She buys men's clothing in small sizes and has it altered because she doesn't like what designers do to women's clothes.

If she likes the fabric but not the shirt, she wears it inside out.

XOXO--- Shopper Girl

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No deal


What's going on with retailers and their return policies?

Barnes & Noble recently changed theirs to 14 days. I bought a sweater from Forever 21 (I know, I'm fooling myself) and was told I could only return it for exchange -- no cash back or credit back to my card.

I know we're in a credit crunch in this economy, but these policies are getting downright unreasonable. What I bought at Barnes & Noble recently was a gift and I have no control over whether it gets returned in 14 days -- guess I should have noted that on the birthday card!

Like the NBC-TV show I say "no deal."

If I'm unsure of whether I'm going to keep a book or CD from Barnes & Noble, I won't buy it there.

Have you had the same un-customer-friendly retail experiences? I want to hear about them. -- Marcia Heroux Pounds

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Target's Global Bazaar


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Target's Global Bazaar, the store's limited edition program that featured exotic stuff with a global feel, is going more mainstream, according to HFN, a trade newspaper I read religiously.


You used to find it organized by country of origin, such as India or China. Now it is organized by color.

But the best news for shoppers like us: The prices have come down. I always liked the offerings but felt some of them were a little pricey.

There are great bargains at www.target.com with even cheaper prices.
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Check out the Yellow Bamboo vase that was $24.99 for $12.99 and the Dynasty Accent Tables that was $79.99 for $39.99

I don't care how they display it as long as the styles are cool and the prices are right.
How about you?

XOXO-Shopper Girl

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Get it free at Publix


My stylist was chatting away this weekend when she brought up the ever escalating food prices.

Here's something I just have to share. She was going on about buying cookies for her husband at Publix and said she noticed the price was 6 cents higher than marked on the shelf so she complained to the clerk. To make a long story short, they verified that she was right and gave her the item for FREE.

This is an old policy of Publix that dates back more than 20 years when the store first switched to scanners. I didn't know it was still being followed.

So, next time you go to Publix, make sure you jot down or remember prices and you too could get the item for free.

Let me know if you have any other ways to save money these days.

X0XO-- Shopper Girl

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Pushy sales people -- No help needed!



Is it just me or has shopping become like a game of dodge ball?

The last few times I have been browsing in furniture stores I felt like the sales people were more pushy than ever. Sure, we know that they are on commission, but this scenerio is getting like a skit from Saturday Night Live.

On one recent trip, five different sales people tried to "help" my husband and me. On another, it looked like two of them might come to blows over "helping" us. And we had no plans to buy.

The old "just looking" doesn't seem to work in these days with everyone scraping for a dollar. Do you have any advice? Let me know what works.

XOXO -- Shopper Girl

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Zen fountains, Betty Boop and cool fans


Ruinations has something for everyone - from $5 to $3,800. Flamingos. Betty Boop collectibles. Music boxes. Fountains. Buddhas. Beds. Venetian masks. Home fragrances. Lamps. Decorative portable fans. Custom arranging of silk flowers to fit your decor. Like the music playing in the background? They sell the CD.

The staff is friendly and makes you feel at home. It's a fun place to shop.

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One of the most interesting items in the shop is the Deco-Breeze fan ($180), a tabletop model with lamp base. Some of the most popular items are music boxes from the San Francisco Music Box Co., especially the witch from the Wizard of Oz ($150). And the egg-shaped Raku fountain ($360) is unusual and very Zen.

You can find fun items like the mom and baby pink flamingos ($19 and $31), picture frames in the shape of flip-flops ($7.75), Lampe Berger home fragrances ($35-$150, depending on the container) and a jewelry hanger manikin mannequin wearing Scarlett’s green velvet curtain dress from Gone Wwith the Wind ($44).

Coral Ridge Mall, 3200 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-566-4823; Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 12 noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
1428 NE 26th St., Wilton Manors; 954-568-1675Ö; Hours: 12 noon-8 p.m. daily; Touchingbeauty.com.

XOX0-- Shopper Girl

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Furniture bargains


OK, I'll admit it. My sofa is 10 years old and really needs replacement. But everytime I find something I like, the price scares me off.

If you are hankering for something new, the next few weeks may be a great time time to buy.

I'll try to spare you too much of the technical stuff, but retailers get a report from America's Research Group called the Furniture Buying Index (FBI). The latest report says it's down to 66. This means fewer folks surveyed could name a piece of furniture they wanted to buy within the next year. Bad news for stores. Good news for you.

The index hasn't dropped below it's critical level of 70 since Novemeber 2001 -- when it was 69.

Britt Beemer, the chairman of America's Research Group is advising retailers to "be extrememly promotional and resort to free promotions to get consumers to buy."

Let's hope they listen. And start looking for the bargains.

XOXO--- Shopper Girl

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When to shop Ikea



Last weekend my husband, Carter, decided that he couldn't wait any longer to visit the new Ikea store in Sunrise. He claimed he wanted to look for furniture, but I know deep in my heart that it was really the Swedish meatballs with ligonberries that was his siren call.

We left our home in Delray on Sunday afternoon to make the long trek out 595 only to find that traffic was backed up to the highway with potential Ikea shoppers. It was also backed up in the other direction along NW 136th Avenue.
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The only parking available was at the overflow lot at BankAtlantic Center, about 5 minutes from the store. We didn't want to fight the crowds and gave up. We drove to Stork's in Wilton Manors for coffee and dessert instead.

So when's the best time to go? An Ikea spokeswoman told me the best time to go is the middle of the week in the middle of the day. Got that? Let me know if it works.

-C.V.S.

P.S. I'll just have to wait to see if I can find these Superfin vases at $2.49 each that I saw on the Website.

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Making your own discounts



It's no news to any of us who pay the bills that we may be in a recession whether the White House or any of the pundits are ready to admit it.

My wonderful talior has been forced to close his store and take a job at the department store. Other small businesses with slow sales are likely to follow.

But, when business is bad, if you're a savvy shopper you may be able to save some money. My husband, Carter, and I were out shopping on Sunday and found a wonderful piece of art for the bedroom. I almost choked when Carter asked, "Is this your best price?" After all. it was a small shop, not an antique store. (I taught Carter that this phrase is the polite way to get an antique dealer to lower his price.)

No one was more shocked than I when the salesclerk said, "I can take 10 percent off."
The result: We saved about $23.

Try it. Just be sure to be polite and don't push if the person behind the counter says "No."

-- C.V.S.


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Rockstar parking at Town Center mall


Parents and grandparents with kids in tow now have rockstar parking privileges at Town Center mall in Boca Raton.

The mall will offer its best parking spots -- located in the designated Up Front Plus! parking area -- and free valet services to those visiting the mall with children starting Monday and lasting through Mother's Day.

Up Front Plus! parking is located at the mall's main entrance near the Grand Lux Cafe. Free valet services are located at the Legal Sea Foods entrance. Children 12 and under must be present and the services are subject to availability.

-- Jaclyn Giovis, Staff Writer

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Learn what's really green


Are you as confused as I am about all the green claims for products these days?

Manufacturers have found it’s chic to be green, but since because there is no federal regulation of the term we can’t always be sure it’s true.

One of the best guides to what is green and what is hype is the October/November issue of ShopSmart, a hip shopping guide from the publisher of Consumer Reports. “Smart Green Shopping for Your Home” concludes that “not all so-called green home goods are worth the money, or even particularly green.”

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The magazine reporters checked out wood furniture and cabinets, flooring, paint, carpet, accessories, light bulbs, appliances, sheets and towels and household cleaning products.

Here are a few of their suggestions:

Sheets and towels may say 100 percent organic on the label, but that only means the growing methods were pesticide free. They still may be treated with formaldehyde and chlorine bleach or blended with synthetics such as polyester. If the tag just says “natural” or “green” it may still have been chemically treated because there are no federal standards for the labeling.

Look for paints with the GreenSeal sticker (greenseal.org) that sets standards for echo-friendly goods to help you identify paints with low volatile organic compounds. VOCs give off fumes that are thought to be carcinogenic and can cause irritation of eyes, nose and throat.

Consider Pier 1’s new line of hand-painted, recycled glass bowls and vases that sell for $15-$35. The issue is on newsstands now.

C.V.S.

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Ikea: A billboard is up!


Ikea.jpgJust drove to Weston on 595 this morning and saw a billboard for Ikea.

Also saw their parking lot full of cars.

Soon, people, soon.

Yay!

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Ask and you should get



One of the biggest complaints I get from readers is that all the furniture they see in stores looks alike. But that's because they are typically shopping the big chains.

Want your decor to take some chances? Try shopping some of the individually owned shops where the owners aren't afraid to stock some unusual merchandise.

Be sure to ask some questions and you may be surprised how much service you get that isn't advertised. Some offer free design service. Others will allow you to take the product home on approval for a few days so you can decided whether it really fits in your decor. The owner may ask you to leave a check or a credit card number and only put it through if you decide you want to keep the merchandise.

Remember, don't be afraid to ask. You may be surprised at what you get.

C.V.S.

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Insider info on furniture buying



OK, I know most of you were boating, picnicking and having a heck of a lot of fun doing Labor Day weekend. Not me. Call it dedication. I was at Baer's in Boca Raton learning about the new collection from Better Homes & Gardens and Universal Furniture. (Read about it Sept. 15 in the Home & Garden section.)

Anyhow, while I was there, I chatted with Ira Baer about the ads that seem to be emphasizing lower prices. As we all know, the downturn in home sales has also slowed furniture buying. Baer told me that manufacturers are giving stores incentives on price so they can pass some savings on to the consumer. This is similar to what the auto manufacturers do to help move cars in a slow market. Stores are also trying to move out old product to make room for the new styles shown at the March High Point Market.

My advice: Now is a good time to go shopping for furniture bargains.

C.V.S.

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About the authors
Doreen Christensen has never paid full price for anything. If there is a way to save on something, she will find it and share how you can save, too. Doreen is a senior reporter covering consumer news, health, beauty and features for the online and print editions of the Sun Sentinel. A 32-year veteran of the newspaper, she previously was a senior copy editor on the universal copy desk. Doreen spends her time off hunting bargains, clipping coupons, gardening and traveling.

Justine Griffin covers retail and marine business for the Sun Sentinel. She is a Tampa Bay native who graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010. After spending a year covering crime in St. Augustine, Fla., she moved to Fort Lauderdale and made the switch to business journalism. When she’s not writing, she’s riding horses and spending time with her whippet puppy, Josie.

Marcia Heroux Pounds is the Sun Sentinel's workplace columnist when she's not shopping for shoes. She also writes about small business, which allows her to visit many of South Florida's unique shops and boutiques.

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