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  • Morning Coffee: Shopping deals at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls

    T.J. Maxx and Marshalls sent me a couple of gift cards to check out their stores. I didn’t have time to look for clothes for myself, but I did pick up some Star Wars action figures for the boys at 35% off regular retail price, and a boy’s winter jacket for almost half off regular retail. If you’re still looking for bargains, it’d be worth checking out these stores for discounted holiday gifts. You may also want to enter their “Carol-Oke” contest, which will give one lucky winner a $5,000 shopping spree, just for singing their favorite holiday carol (ends 12/20).

    Amazon’s Holiday Lightning Dealstoday include quite a few toys, DVDs and jewelry again. You can see all of the day’s Lightning Deals in Toys hereand Electronics here.

    Staples is offering $10 off any digital picture frame 7 inches or larger, today only. You can use this coupon in store or online.

    For most retailers, tomorrow is the last day for standard shipping orders to arrive by Christmas so many are offering free shipping. FreeShippingDay.com has a list of retailers who are offering free shipping tomorrow (minimums may apply).

    I got an email yesterday from P&G eSaver stating that starting January 1, 2010, their coupons will no longer be available for Kroger-affiliated shopper cards, including Ralphs. Although I rarely used the P&G eSaver coupons, I’m still a little disappointed. I do hope it doesn’t mean that P&G is going to start cutting back on coupons in general!

    For locals: The LA Times reports that through December 23, you can get a free cupcake when you donate a new, unwrapped toy at any SusieCakes.

    Being Frugal reminds us that the most important thing about holiday parties are the people, not the things. Having just attended the fifth annual Christmas party for what started out as a breastfeeding support group, I can attest to the truth of that! I am so grateful to still be in touch with women I first go to know when our oldest children were only weeks old.

    I love the message in this post at The Happiness Project: Let go of perfection and do it anyway. I struggle with perfectionism myself, so I could really relate. I too have found that life is still good even when things aren’t perfect.

    No Purchase Required is giving away a $25 American Express Gift Card. Ends 12/18.

    My Four Monkeys is giving away a $100 gift card to Kids Foot Locker. Ends 12/18.

    There are some fascinating ways of saving money. Over at Under $1000 per Month, they’ve stopped by buying soda and tonic water and instead are making their own “soda” using kefir.

    It’s illegal to throw batteries into the trash here (since 2006, I think), so I’ve been collecting the used alkaline batteries as we recover them from toys and such. Until recently, I’d planned to take them to IKEA, but I discovered that they no longer accept such batteries. However, it turns out that you can take them to these Jiffy Lube locations in Los Angeles. You can also search Earth911 for a disposal location in your area (though it may not include all locations; it didn’t list Jiffy Lube for me). (Hat tip: GovGab.)

    NYC Recession Diary is giving away $50 American Express Gift Cards. Ends 12/18.

    Kroger shopper card holders can load $6 in Huggies coupons onto their card from Softcoin.

    Get a printable coupon for $1.50 off 2 Rosetto frozen pasta (coupon link is at bottom right; expires in 30 days). (Via Printable Grocery Coupons and Deals.)

    Banner via MySavings.com – Read my MyPoints review!

    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer’s full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

    The Fine Line Between Frugal, Green, and Clutter-free

    I’ve actually been thinking about this topic for a while now. Most of the time, being frugal and being green go together. If you’re frugal, you generally buy fewer items, you drive less often, you reduce, reuse and recycle. Because of this, your home is also generally less cluttered.

    But as I declutter my home, I find that the line between these areas becomes very fine. There are many things that I might need someday. It wouldn’t be frugal or good for the environment to have to buy them new all over again. But keeping these things around makes my home more cluttered. It also increases the possibility that I’ll forget I have these items and buy new ones anyway.

    I’m still finding a balance that works for me. But I would love any tips you have to share, because this is definitely an area that I struggle with.

    Tip for Saving Money When Paying Bills Online

    When paying bills online, instead of printing out the confirmation page, take a screenshot of it. You’ll save the cost of paper and toner, and you’ll save the environment at the same time (and save yourself from having to shred the paper later on).

    I discovered this tip by necessity because my computer isn’t hooked up to a printer (I use my husband’s computer when I need to print) and it’s always bothered me that I haven’t been printing all of the confirmation pages (not that it’s been a problem, but I’m compulsive that way).

    Get Screengrab for Firefox here. (Note: I couldn’t find a free version for Explorer.)

    P.S. If you’re not paying your bills online yet, what are you waiting for? It saves time and money and is super easy to do!

    Save the Earth One Small Step at a Time

    Having kids has made me more environmentally conscious. I’m not about to switch our house over to solar power or buy a hybrid vehicle when we’re not due for a new car, but I look for little things that I can do. Here are 10 easy ways to conserve resources (and save money – it’s nice how they often go together):

    1. Find other uses for your grocery bags. I always carry plastic grocery bags in my diaper bag for disposing of diapers. I also put a plastic bag on the kitchen counter to collect veggie scraps, egg shells, and other discards while prepping meals. (I don’t garden – otherwise I’d save the organic scraps for compost.) Paper grocery bags are great for transporting things (I use them to tote things like lunch or large files to and from work). I also keep a paper grocery bag in an inconspicuous corner of my house to collect things to be donated to charity. When it fills up, I put out another bag, and after a few bags have accumulated, we drop them off.
    2. Run several errands at once to minimize gas usage. I plan my trips so that I take the most efficient route (which also saves me time). I love the idea of walking or riding a bike, but only the post office is within walking distance of my house.
    3. Run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine. The dishwasher is actually more efficient than hand washing, so you don’t have to feel guilty about using it. (I have to admit, though, that I’ve been known to run half loads just to get the kids’ stuff sterilized.) And don’t stuff the washing machine since that will reduce the effectiveness of the agitation. Just use less detergent instead.
    4. Use cloth grocery bags or reuse paper/plastic ones. I need to work on this one since I have plenty of paper grocery bags stored up that I always forget to take with me.
    5. Turn off lights in unused rooms. This one truly is a matter of habit and one we’re pretty good about. An older child could be designated “light monitor” in charge of making sure unneeded lights get turned off.
    6. Reuse paper. Paper with blank space is great for lists or drawing. Junk mail can be used as packing material. The Sunday comics can be used as wrapping paper (twine makes a nice “ribbon” to give it a finished look).
    7. Swap with friends. Instead of buying new toys or DVDs, swap with friends for a set period of time. The kids in both families will have “new” toys to play with or movies to watch and both sets of parents will save money. For the adults, have a clothes-swapping party. Get your girlfriends together for a potluck and tell everyone to also bring clothes and accessories that don’t fit or that they don’t wear anymore.
    8. Shop at farmer’s markets or buy locally grown produce. You’ll be buying produce that’s in season so it will be reasonably priced (and taste good too). The environment wins because less energy was required to bring the produce to you (due to the shorter distance). And some farmer’s markets have family activities (one near us regularly has a pony ride).
    9. Make your own (natural) beauty products. It’s easy to make your own masks, scrubs and conditioners. Also, consider using fewer products and less of them. You’ll spend less money and generate less waste that ends up in landfills.
    10. Give to friends and to charity. When you no longer need something, if at all possible, give it away. Friends with (especially babies) will love getting your child’s gently worn clothing. Ask around to see if someone else can use your old couch, or list it on a site like Craigslist. The Salvation Army is one charity that will pick up bulky items.