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Can you see me now?

Helloooooo! It’s been a while. I’ve been doing outside-the-computer things, like going on vacation with my family and discovering that I need either much longer arms or significantly stronger reading glasses. (Getting older is fun!) I have lots to fill you in on, but let’s start with the glasses.

So: We have vision insurance. Great, right? Except of course it doesn’t cover much of what we need (hello, family of four in varying configurations of glasses and contacts). When I went for my recent eye exam, I knew that 1) I was going to need new glasses and 2) I was unlikely to get them at the optical place we use because our insurance is mediocre and they are expensive. What I ended up doing was using the insurance at that shop to get new sunglasses (which still cost me a bunch…), and then I went online to get my new reading glasses. For less than I paid after insurance for one pair of glasses, I got two new pairs of readers online. And they’re cute! (Also, pro tip: Spring for the “blue blockers” if you work on the computer a lot. It has made a huge difference for me in terms of eye strain and fatigue.)

I know I sang the praises of Zenni for a long time, here—and I do still love them!—but I think my new favorite is Firmoo. One of my regular daily pairs is from there, and my new readers are, too. And they recently started a referral program that lets me pass on exclusive coupons to you! So! If you need glasses, you can pop on over to Firmoo (for some reason coupons apply to the frames on this page only) and use coupon code Miriam946 to get 50% off your first order. They’re also running a BOGO, but I think that only covers frames, while this is half off your entire order.

Anyway, now that I can see again, I think I’ll be back here more often.

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Also: Don’t forget you can “double dip”

I should’ve said this earlier, but in my defense, I hadn’t had coffee yet: Don’t forget that when you’re scoping out the various Amazon Gold Box deals that you should always click through to the product information rather than just going for the “Add to Cart” button. Why? There are often coupons on these items they forget to remove before putting it on Lightning Deal, and if it’s a percentage coupon, so much the better—it calculates based on the price before the deal.

So, for example, I just snapped up this Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless Wrinkle Defying Foundation on a Lightning Deal, and there was also an available 30% off coupon. I have never used this before and have no idea if I picked the right shade, but for $2.12 delivered? I don’t really care.

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Have a little Kohls this weekend

Fun fact: Did you know that you can use your expired Kohls Cash in the store? It won’t work online, but if you go to the store and you’re within 10 days or so of expiration, they’ll still take it. Ask me how I know this! Yep, I screwed up, and it turned out that my inability to read a calendar was actually super useful—I found a bunch of 90% off discounts in-store I never would’ve gotten online. The fact that I ended up paying $.42 out of pocket was just the icing on the cake. (Seriously, the cashier was impressed with me. That’s always fun.)

But there’s another round of discounts and coupons out right now, so if you’re wanting to shop in-store or online, I’ve got you covered. Sale-wise, they’ve just done additional markdowns on holiday items, if you’re interested in stocking up for next year. Plus there’s various Bonus Buys and their semi-annual Intimates Sale is happening right now. Coupon-wise, you’ve got the usual suspects: 30% off and free shipping on any size order with your Kohls Charge with codes MARCH30 and FREESHIP, respectively. Stack codes INTIMATES10 for $10 off your qualifying $40+ lingerie purchase and/or MENSTYLE10 for $10 off your qualifying $50+ guys’ stuff purchase. And everyone earns $10 Kohls Cash for every $50 spent.

In the market for cookware? I’ve been stalking prices on this 12-piece Rachael Ray Cucina set for a while. Today’s price at Kohls is $170—still pretty inflated compared to Amazon’s current $109 price, but trust me, Kohls works out to be the better deal today. Why? Use the 30% off coupon code to bring it down to $119—already better than the Amazon price if you add in the $20 of Kohls Cash you earn!—and there’s also an available $50 mail-in rebate on the page which is Kohls-specific. Your final price is $69, or just $49 if you count the Kohls Cash. That’s… nuts.

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Merry everything!

Hello! I have failed you, the last few days. Instead of finding you last-minute deals, I’ve been busy with visiting family, kid home from college, errands, wrapping, eating, and—oh yeah—I just got braces because nothing says “happy holidays” like having such a sore mouth, you start thinking that maybe straight teeth are overrated, after all. (I kid. It will all be worth it! But the last couple of days have been… uncomfortable.)

Hopefully you’ve been similarly busy (maybe minus the mouth pain…) and have either had a merry holiday already or are getting ready to have one. I wish for health and happiness for all of you, as bargains are nice, but hardly the point. Here’s to love and laughter and board games and family time and whatever fills you up with everything good.

That said, if you are still wanting to focus on shopping, there’s still time to snag deals at Amazon if you have Prime, and you can still get what you need by Christmas. Toy price drops are still going (like, say, on this Aquabeads Mega Set or the Aquabeads Deluxe Studio or, hello, what woman of any age wouldn’t want a DC Wonder Woman Diana Prince with Hidden Sword doll in her stocking for just $5??), and there will be even more for after Christmas to start stocking up, but for now, maybe just relax a little. Go make some cookies. Call an old friend. Read a book.

It’s been a long year. If you can take some time off and chill out with your favorite people, go do it. I’m going to. Happy holidays!

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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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