Friday, August 29, 2008

The Art of Shopping the Internet for Freebies and Deals - Laura Stover

More and more people are turning to the Internet in order to find deals on all kinds of items they want or need for their homes. Many of the deals and freebies that they come across are not even available in traditional retail stores. The fact that the Web can display so many different item and service options really helps the consumer quite a bit. It makes shopping quicker and more convenient. It also saves retailers money that would be spent moving product from a warehouse to the retail section of a store. In the process of shopping, consumers also find plenty of freebies and deals that are enticing to a customer. Many of these deals are only offered online. The reason they are only offered online is because it is more economical to promote certain deals by way of the Internet versus local stores. Even if a consumer is required to pay shipping charges, online shopping can be cheaper than in-store shopping. The reason why is because a product can be packed and shipped directly from a manufacturer to a person’s front door. This eliminates the step of unpacking the product and displaying it in a store front-in some cases.

As mentioned earlier, the other huge benefit of online shopping would be that of convenience. Instead of paying to fill up your car with gas to drive to a place to pick an item up you would be paying to have it sent to you. When people shop online they will usually come across several different types of online freebies and other types of special offers. One of the most popular incentives is to offer free shipping of orders greater than a certain dollar amount. Another incentive would be to receive a percentage off of an order booked online, or to receive a free item with an online order. There are several ways to find online shopping promotions, freebies and discounts. You can search individual shopping sites, shopping comparison sites, or online auction sites. You will want to search for vendors who have the highest level of online reputation as possible.

You may able to find freebies and discounts when you search in your web browser as well. For instance, maybe you are looking for “free Karaoke software” for turning your computer into a Karaoke machine. This search will lead you to many choices of Karaoke plug-ins that you would download, along with song files to play. Online shopping also makes it easier for you to receive written software and audio files. You can conveniently order and pay for digital versions of books which you can receive immediately usually for no shipping charge. You can also receive music audio files as well for no shipping charge and you do not need to wait to receive these files. Other items that can be sent to you immediately over the internet in some kind of digital or audio form include sheet music, copies of photos, and more. You may also be able to receive movie tickets immediately online, as well as coupons for items that you can obtain a discount for in participating brick-and-mortar types of stores. Online shopping has opened up a world of opportunity for people. One of those is the advantage of receiving online discounts, freebies, and other Internet promotions.

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To assist you in gathering the necessary information for a successful shopping experience, there are websites devoted especially to your cause. These newfound genius sites not only compile all of this useful information for you, but they organize it into categories. From clothing and accessories to CD's, gifts and coupons, 88malls Online Shopping Catalog. got your shopping needs covered!

How to Save Money at the Grocery Store - Audrey Okaneko

How to Save Money At the Grocery Store
By: Audrey Okaneko

I love going to the grocery store and looking at my receipt to see how much I saved. The best I’ve personally done is 70% and I’ve only been able to do that once. I really try to save between 30% and 40% when I visit the grocery store, if possible.

In addition to the tips below I also shop at a grocery store that gives me gasoline discounts. Each time I spend $50 in groceries, the store gives me 3 cents per gallon off on my gasoline. My car usually will take 13 gallons. At 3 cents per gallon off, it’s another 39 cents I’m saving when I shop. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but if I fill my car 26 times per year (every other week), in a year I’ve saved $10.14. That ten dollars comes to me just for shopping at a store that has great prices to begin with.

Here are several of my tips for saving money at the grocery store:

1. Buy day old meat. If you freeze the meat it will hold for several months. Sometimes I can save 50% on the cost of the meat by buying day old meat. This applies to poultry also.

2. Buy bread at outlet stores if available. Again, I save 50% by buying the day old bread. I keep bread in my refrigerator, so it will last many days. If you don’t have an outlet store, compare the price of store bought bread with the price of day old bakery bread.

3. Watch the store sales. I try very hard to not run out of items so that I only buy items when on sale. For example, we make spaghetti at least once a month. I use Prego sauce as a base. I buy it when it’s on sale, knowing I’ll use it in the next month.

4. Use coupons. If I see a coupon for a product I use, I cut the coupon. If your store offers double coupons, shop on the days your coupons will be doubled. If you can buy an item on sale and use a coupon, you’ll save even more. Consider trying a different brand, if there is a coupon and it will cut your overall grocery bill.

5. Grocery stores tend to put the higher priced items at eye level. Check the top and bottom shelves to see if a different brand or different size might be a better price.

6. Compare brands. Don’t be afraid to try store brand products. One of the major manufacturers is making the store brand product. I actually save quite a bit of money on mayonnaise by buying the store brand. We bought a small jar of the store brand and liked it. Now it’s all we use.

7. Shop with a list. Try not to impulse buy. Stick to your list. I try to only impulse buy if I find something on sale that was not in the circular and it’s an item we use.

8. Plan your shopping. We have one store in town that always sells eggs for a dollar a dozen. I seldom find them at the grocery store for that price. I make a plan to buy eggs while in the part of town where this store is. I plan ahead so I don’t run out of eggs prior to going to this one store.

9. Buy in bulk if the price is right. We use real butter in my home. I buy 6 pounds at a time. I put it in the freezer and it keeps for months. I get the best price buying butter in bulk this way.

10. Always check price per unit, or price per ounce. Larger does not always mean a better price. Laundry detergent is a great example. I’ve been able to buy 3 smaller containers for less than the cost of one larger container.

Once you begin seeing the savings, you’ll begin to look forward to shopping just to see how much you can save!

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Audrey Okaneko is mom to two girls. She can be reached at audreyoka@cox.net or visited at www.recipe-barn.com

Check Out Our Cake Topper!

Back View
Charles, Rona and Marcus


Lynn's Little Creations at Etsy.com did a terrific job!

Even Marcus, our teenager, was impressed!

Check out these proofs of our cake topper!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why Choose Chocolate Wedding Favors? - Linda Ellison

Most brides want to find just the perfect set of wedding favors for their own reception, as they know that this is one aspect of their event that will be remembered forever – after all, this is the one thing that guests will be taking home with them!

Choosing chocolate wedding favors has become a hot trend among brides, and with good reason. After all, who doesn’t like chocolate? Handing out seeds may mean nothing to guests who don’t garden, bottle stoppers are typically useless for those who are not wine drinkers, and key chains can be somewhat cheap and tacky. And who keeps coasters with photos of people on them? These types of gifts get old after not very long.

However, most brides choose personalized wrappers for their chocolate wedding favors, and these can really match the theme and tone of your wedding, and the bride’s and groom’s personalities as well. For example, if you’re both nature lovers, there are designs with flowers, beach scenes, autumn scenes, and the like. If you are a modern bride who wants something truly different and unique, many designs are simple with an art deco feel. There are also many candy bar wrappers that are traditional and elegant as well. As an example, if you were to visit The Knot or FavorsAndWraps, you would find a wealth of unique designs for wedding, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, baby showers, and every other event you can think of, with a wide range of artwork, color schemes, lettering, and everything else. Choosing chocolate wedding favors is much easier when you find that perfect wrapper that really expresses your own personality, your own taste, and makes your wedding reception so very unique.

Another great reason that brides often choose chocolate wedding favors is because they can double as a centerpiece, allowing you to save a few dollars on your wedding budget. For example, if you take your beautifully wrapped candy bars and fan them out in a circle in the middle of the table, they are now a gorgeous centerpiece as well as a take-home favor. Chocolate wedding favors can also be part of the table’s place settings; put one in the middle of each guests’ plate as a beautiful welcome to the table. And if you do this, you will be sure that each guest gets their own favor and no one is overlooked. Just make sure the kids don't have them before their dinner!

Just a word of warning when using chocolate wedding favors – you should always maintain the manufacturers’ original label so that guests can see if they are allergic to any ingredients, and you may want to forego any items with nuts as so many people have a sensitivity. Make sure they're kept refrigerated before the event as well.

Yes, chocolate wedding favors is a trend that is here to stay, and with good reason. They are favors that virtually all your guests will enjoy, can truly express your own personality, and can add some color and beauty to your table settings as well.

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Linda Ellison is a freelance writer who specializes in trends and lifestyles. Her previously published fiction works, including the Dana Ford Mystery Series, have been on bookshelves nationwide. Visit www.FavorsAndWraps.com to read more about the latest trends in wedding favors.