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A quick note (not dead!)

I know posting has been verrrry sloooowwwww here lately, and I apologize. We were dealing with some family stuff, and right now we are in the middle of one of those storms which is predicted to grind life to a halt here in the south.

My entire Facebook feed looks like this:
Southerner: I have milk and bread!!
Northerner: You know, we have storms worse than that in the summer.
Southerner: But ice! Tree branches! BRB, doing laundry!
Northerner: Get some salt trucks, wimps.
Southerner: POWER OUTAGES! CHARGE ALL THE THINGS!

So… yeah. Back in a few days, I hope.

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The easiest way to do Toys For Tots

Once those Amazon toy clearance deals start (very soon… probably next week), longtime readers know I seize the opportunity to re-stock my gift closet with cheap finds. Some of it gets donated this year, but a lot of it I’ll just put away and pull out to donate next holiday season.

If you want to make sure kids in need get to have a great holiday, but you don’t have the time/energy/money to shop, here’s a fantastic way to help out with as little as $5: Tanga is accepting Toys For Tots donations in $5 increments, and they’ll match customer donations up to $10,000. Toys For Tots isn’t necessarily your thing? You can choose to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, instead. Either way, your money goes twice as far, it’s fast and easy, and ’tis the season.

Thumbs up, Tanga. Thanks for doing this again.

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Send Sandy relief straight to Staten Island

Kudos to alert and pretty Want Not reader Dallas for pointing out that Staten Island assemblyman Matthew Titone has actually set up an Amazon wish list for his district, meaning you can hop online and instead of just donating money, actually purchase needed items. If you have Prime, so much the better (hooray for faster).

The list isn’t particularly sexy—it’s mostly garbage bags, socks and undies, and batteries—but it’s all supplies you’ll know end up with people in desperate need, and you can provide fast, concrete help with just a couple of clicks.

[Edited to add: Here’s a second registry, this one for Brooklyn relief, if you prefer. Or if you’re just so pretty that you want to do both.]

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Another angle on time vs. money

Over the next few weeks I hope to 1) get back into the groove of working normally (before the holidays = working crazy and post-holidays has = not working enough) and 2) get to the backlog of advice requests y’all have sent my way.

Let’s start with the following from lovely reader Caty:

Could you possibly, sometime after the holidays maybe, share with us how you weigh the time you save shopping online versus (maybe/sort of) saving a few bucks in store? For example, according to the Target flier this week, there’s a particular toy I want to give my 3 year-old that is $10 cheaper than the Amazon price. It’s sold out on target.com and while our Target had the toy last week, there’s no guarantee it will be there when I get a chance to stop by/after I call to see they have it and the last one sells before I get there. To me, it’s totally worth spending the 10 extra bucks on Amazon considering a) Free Prime (thank you very much!) b) the time I would spend actually going to the store and c) I am physically and mentally incapable of spending less than $100 in the bricks and mortar Target store. Spending $10 extra is not exactly frugal money-wise. But it’s frugal time-wise. Which is better when you’re already crazy and have neither much time nor money? WWMD?

I think you’re especially pretty today.

I’m happy to share my thoughts on this, though I think Caty is so very pretty she actually already answered her own question. Let’s get to it. (more…)

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On the savings life, and how you can win

So, those of you who were around last year will remember that I went to Save Up in 2010, too, and once again, I am humbled by this event—so many smart folks, all in one place, all sharing their goal of spending smarter and helping others do the same. It’s pretty awesome.

One of the things we’re all being asked to do today is share our savings stories with our readers. Me, I’ve always had my story pretty well outlined on my About page, but I don’t think it’s all that remarkable. (Hey, the sad reality is that half of all marriages end in divorce, and financial difficulties in the aftermath are practically a given.) There are some folks here who’ve dug themselves out of much worse holes than I’ve ever been in, and you can tune in to see some of their presentations later today. There will be a couponing class presentation at 3:15 Eastern, and savings stories start at 4:15 Eastern.

And here’s the best part: If you RSVP through this link before those sessions, you’ll be entered to win an iPad 2! Let’s get someone from Want Not winning that baby, please—I want bragging rights. (And also to come over and play with it after you get it.)

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A quick Savings Pledge update

I just wanted to give y’all an update since first asking you last month to take the Savings Pledge with me. If you recall, I invited you to check out the Savings Pledge app on Facebook and consider committing to saving a certain amount of money each week as part of an overall drive by Savings.com to save America 5 billion dollars. This is about setting a personal goal—both in how much you want to save and whether that’s truly money in the bank or earmarked for a specific purchase—but I tried to sweeten the deal a little by offering to use your commitments to influence how much money I would donate to my locate food bank at the end of the year, above and beyond the money I’ve already committed to save.

At the end of July, I counted 68 Want Not readers who let me know they had pledged. I had committed to set aside one cent for every confirmed pledge per online purchase through the end of the year (so, I placed an order with Amazon on July 30th and put $.68 cents aside when I did it). As of today, I’ve only set aside $3.86 in that fund (that’s donations per online purchase, and it changed as the number of pledges changed). I’ve decided to round it up to a full $1 per online purchase I make from now through the end of the year. This is because I am bad at math I’m generous. Or something. Ahem.

How are you doing on your savings pledge? Have you committed? Will you?

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A quick bit of clarification on the Savings Pledge

Last week I invited you to take the Savings Pledge with me, and to be honest I am kind of stunned by how few of you responded. I mean, I assume you’re here because you like saving money, so it occurs to me that the problem may not be the pledge, but what you might think it obligates you to do.

To recap: I asked that those of you who are fans of Want Not on Facebook consider going there and signing the Savings Pledge as part of Savings.com’s effort to save America a billion dollars. The idea is that you proclaim an amount of money you want to save each week, for whatever purpose you like. In return, I offered that those of you who sign up and leave a comment saying you did on this post would be counted up, and for every reader who commits until the end of July, I’ll be setting aside a penny for my local food bank every time I spend money online for the rest of the year.

If 100 of you sign up, that’s a buck every time I shop online. 1,000 of you, and it’s $10 every time I shop online.

So here’s a little more information about the Savings Pledge, for those of you who are hesitant:
1) It doesn’t do that Facebook Connect thing where you have to authorize it to access your account.
2) In fact, it’s completely anonymous. Signing up gets you a couple of general demographic questions to answer, but no real identifying info is requested or recorded. I can’t even see who’s signed up.
3) There is no contract or obligation here; it’s just a declaration for you to make to help you in your own savings pursuits.

If you are not a Facebook user, I will accept a comment to the effect that you are personally pledging to commit to saving money, even though you can’t “sign up” via Facebook.

C’mon, folks. It’ll be fun; we’ll all be saving together. And the more you (sign up and) save, the more money I’ll be giving to charity. I hope you’ll consider it.

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Come take the Savings Pledge with me!

Those of you who’ve been around a while may remember that last year I was named one of the Savings.com 2010 DealPros, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy and pretty. It also means that through the magic of partnering with a larger organization, I’m now able to bring you even more deals and sometimes extra-super-awesome giveaways and such.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected for 2011 as well, which means now I feel extra pretty, and all kinds of additional awesomeness will be coming your way here at Want Not, too. But most immediately, I want to invite you to join us in the Savings Pledge.

Over on the Want Not Facebook page (you are a fan of Want Not on Facebook, right?), you may have noticed there’s a new application tab for the Savings Pledge. The theory behind it is simple: Those of us who work to bring you deals and tips want to help you really commit to making a difference in your savings, and we want it to be fun and doable at the same time. Also, we’re doing it, too. In fact, let me tell you some more about that. (more…)

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Saturday deals

Goooood morning! The sun is shining! The birds are singing! And I apparently snagged a bulk deal on exclamation points!

Sorry. I’ve… had a truckload some coffee. Ahem. Let’s see what’s up today, shall we?

Over at Coldwater Creek, they’re featuring a 50% off code on the site. But we can do better than that—use coupon code FBPARTY through the 19th to get half off and free shipping on your order.

Today’s deal at Graveyard Mall is an extra 60% off and free shipping on a select assortment of items with coupon code June60ship. They have some nice brass accent pieces and some cute coasters, so take a look.

This weekend you can take 20% off your order at Eddie Bauer with coupon code DAD20. I won’t even tell if you’re not buying something for Dad. Meanwhile, over at Gap, coupon code SUMMER will take an additional 30% off sale items this weekend.

There’s tons of sneakers discounted at 6pm.com today, and their reduced shipping is still in effect—just $2.95 for your entire order!

Finally, if you’re in the mood for something philosophical, my latest post is up over at Tree.com; you can go review my pros and cons of online-only banks to see if one of them might be right for you.

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Pro credit card and not ashamed

Regular readers know that unlike many money-savers, I am not anti-credit in the slightest. In fact, I am unabashedly pro-credit-card, provided you use it just like cash, paying off the balance every month.

And that’s what I’m talking about over at Tree.com, much to the dismay of Dave Ramsey fans everywhere. Heh.

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