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A quick word of caution about gift cards

If you read no other article about consumer pitfalls this year, read this piece from Bob Sullivan about gift cards. Bottom line: these cards are increasingly attracting hackers, and your protections as a consumer are not guaranteed.

This is why I prefer to give Amazon certificates to folks, either via print-at-home or e-gift. Recipients can add the funds to their accounts right away, and then if by some miracle the thing they want/need isn’t available on Amazon itself, they can buy a gift card there (and then it’s their problem to deal with…) for use elsewhere. Easy-peasy.

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Mother your college student without them realizing

It’s now rounding the middle of June, and here in my house, this is known as “Stock up on dorm food” season. My kids (both! both of them, this time!) are gearing up to head to campus at the beginning of August, and my job for the next month or so is to accumulate what they’ll need to eat in the dorm when they can’t be bothered to hit the dining hall (or it’s the wee hours and they need power for studying).

Sure, I try to buy some healthy stuff, and then I also buy candy, and I buy stupid little microwavable cups of macaroni and cheese and ramen and I remind myself that they are young and healthy and this is the phase of life where they can eat junk and be okay.

But here’s my secret weapon, and you can laugh, but I’m telling you this is primo wisdom I’m laying down here: Buy your college kid(s) some Fiber One bars. Do it. They come in a gazillion varieties and they’re basically junk, but college students will all find that their… ahhh… digestive health… suffers a little in the dorm, at some point. And you can pack probiotics and such, but they probably won’t use them. They will, however, eat the Fiber One bars. Ask me how I know!

Right now (this may be a Prime-only deal; I’m not sure) Amazon has this 36-pack of Fiber One Brownies available for $13.94, which is already pretty good, plus there’s a clippable 25% off coupon, plus you can save up to an additional 15% more with Subscribe & Save, meaning you could be getting them for $8.36 delivered (under $.24/bar), and you don’t ever have to have a conversation with your supposedly adult kid(s) about constipation. Seriously, win/win.

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Heads up, EpiPen families

If you or a loved one uses EpiPens, you’ve likely been following the controversy about skyrocketing costs.

Good news! CVS pharmacies are now carrying a generic at $110 for a 2-pack. Still hardly chump change, of course, but you can fill out this form to potentially get another $100 off, too. Either way, it’s tons cheaper than the name brand.

Standard disclaimer: Discuss with your doctor, etc. But I’m jumping on this deal, because we need EpiPens and I’m sure as heck not paying $500 apiece for ’em.

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Cast iron with a bonus for Gatlinburg

lodge-smokyskilletIf you have a cast iron skillet on your shopping list, check this out: This year’s Great Smoky Mountains Lodge skillet is available right now for $30. That’s not a deal, but $15 of your purchase price will go to the Dollywood Foundation’s “My People Fund,” helping families affected by the recent wildfires in the Gatlinburg, TN area.

It’s a nice way to do a little good while making sure your cornbread is the most delicious.

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Don’t forget that today is #GivingTuesday

Today’s the day for charitable donations, and Cool Mom Picks found the perfect way to figure out where to give so that you can target your dollars to the causes that matter most to you.

As much as I like hunting around for good deals on stuff, I like opportunities to make my money do the most good even more.

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Do you dare to see your total?

I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but it was new to me, so allow me to share:

Apparently there’s a pretty easy way to see your lifetime total spending at Amazon. Just go to the “Your Account” section and click on “Download Order Reports,” then take the resulting .csv file into Excel or something similar and total it up.

download-amazon-reportFull step-by-step instructions can be found here.

My total was, uh, sobering. Ahem.

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Whether you’re doing holidays or basics

Just a quick FYI, if you haven’t noticed: Through the holidays (one assumes), Target is offering free shipping on every order, regardless of the amount.

That means you can hop on over there and take advantage of the current LEGO sale, and/or you can just stock up on snacks. Whatever. Plus if you spend $50+ on qualifying Home items, you can save an additional $10 with coupon code DECOR. If you are a neurotic forward-planner like me, this is a good time to start buying dorm stuff, because 1) it’s on sale and 2) no one else is shopping for it right now. (Hey, my youngest is leaving for college in 10 months. It’s not weird that I’m shopping for that. Stop looking at me.) You’ll also save an extra $10 off your $50+ food/beverage purchase automatically, or $25+ off your qualifying $100+ luggage/airbed purchase with code TRAVEL.

I’m a little bit petty, too, so sometimes when they go to free shipping like this, I do things like order a single packet of paperclips. Listen, we have to entertain ourselves as best we can.

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Heads up, Kindle users

So, if you’ve been buying Kindle books at Amazon over the last few years, today may be a fun day for you: Apple just settled an antitrust lawsuit via refunds to Amazon customers who bought relevant Kindle titles.

How do you know if you got some money? Go check your Amazon gift card balance to see if you’ve got credit. If you’re a big Kindle purchaser, chances are excellent you’ve now got money to spend (and it needn’t be on books).

Enjoy!

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It’s my favorite way to Get More

If you have a Discover card, don’t forget to check out your quarterly opportunity to Get More—every three months you can activate an added Cashback Bonus on certain categories. Signups for July – September are now open, and you’ll earn 5% on up to $1,500 worth of purchases at Home Improvement stores and Amazon.

Extra cashback at Amazon?? If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me up.

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The Want Not Review: Parent Hacks

Are you a parent? Do you follow Parent Hacks? Pretty much everything Asha Dornfest does is brilliant, and I am forever wishing her site had been around when my kids were tiny, because every tip she offers is both simple and genius. I mean… turn the bread the other way ’round to disguise the fact that you’re making a sandwich with the loaf heels and not have your kid complain? Okay, fine, maybe that’ll work on my teenagers, too.

parent-hacksNow Asha’s taken the best tips from the last 10+ years and put them into a best-selling book, perfect for your own use or as the newest parenting bible to give to new parents. She covers everything from MacGyver-esque baby-proofing to how to get the gunk out of the corners of the cupholders in your van. And yes, you will be shaking your head and saying Why didn’t I think of that?? as you read. At the same time, the quick-tip format and fun illustrations make this perfect for a busy parent to read on the go or in-between toddler tantrums.

When I was pregnant (you know, back in the Stone Age), we had What to Expect When You’re Expecting (which pretty much convinced me—mid hormonal-craziness—that eating anything other than organic whole grains and vegetables was tantamount to poisoning my baby outright) and The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood (which was funny, but hard to read with an infant screaming at me 24/7). Parent Hacks is the book I wish I’d had, back then.

I have a copy of Parent Hacks to give away to a Want Not reader! Get it for yourself, get it for your favorite expectant or new parent, win this one and buy six copies for your friends, whatever. If you want to win it, first go review the contest rules and regulations, then come on back here and leave a comment on this post by 8:00 am Eastern (that’s 5:00 am Pacific) on Friday, April 15th, 2016. The winner will be selected via my WordPress random-winner-picker-plugin-thingie (technical term).

Ready? Go!

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