Frugal Ramblings

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Spread the Word about Your Business…

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With both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day right around the corner, I thought it might be fun once again to create a place for all of you to share your small and/or home-based businesses (i.e. Etsy, Avon, Scentsy, etc.) with other readers and/or to offer Hip2Save readers a special discount on products that you sell. I have posted something similar in past years and it has always been quite a hit!

OK, so have at it and feel free to share your small business with the Hip2Save community! :)

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Are YOU Earning a Living Wage?

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Are YOU Earning a Living Wage? Use the interactive graphic above to find out!

First, adjust the slider at the bottom of the graphic above to match your wage. Then on the left, select how many adults and children are in your household. Finally, select a state to see where you fall between a poverty wage and a living wage. You can even zoom in on a particular state by selecting the state and then clicking on the plus sign that appears in the corner.

* States that are brighter mean that you would earn closer to a living wage in that state.
* States that are darker mean that you would earn closer to a poverty wage in that state.
* The light blue triangle above the wage slider shows the minimum wage for that state.
* The dark blue triangle below the wage slider shows the federal minimum wage.
* The box above your wage listing shows how many hours a week you would have to work just to earn a living wage.

Interesting Facts

- Making minimum wage with one child is unlivable in all 50 states (assuming a 40 hour workweek)
- Of the states listed, HI and D.C. are the most expensive, requiring 56.2 hours of work per week just to get by.
- South Dakota, North Dakota, sections of Montana, and Eastern Washington are some of the most livable places in the United States if you are single and making minimum wage.
- For a married couple making $12 an hour, much of the Midwest and rural Pennsylvania are livable.

(Thanks, AccountingSchoolGuide.com!)

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“Like” a Brand on Facebook, Sign up for Email Newsletter, Enter Contest = Void Your Right To Sue

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UPDATE (as of 4/21/14): General Mills has reverted back to their prior legal terms, which contain no mention of arbitration. Check out this TODAY.com article for more information,

UPDATE: The New York Times just released a new article entitled “General Mills Amends New Legal Policies” which states that the new legal policies do not apply to people who access the General Mills Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

How many times a week do you “like” a brand on Facebook, sign up for a newsletter or enter a contest sponsored by a brand? If you’re like me, then your answer is probably 3-5 times or more per week!

According to an article in the New York Times entitled “When ‘Liking’ a Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue“, brands like General Mills are adding new language/terms to their website/Facebook pages which will prevent you from suing the company in the future. As an example, General Mills updated its privacy policy on Tuesday (you may have noticed this announcement on the General Mills website – look for the gray bar at the very top!) and added new Legal Terms found here.

Key updates to the General Mills Legal Terms include:

• New provisions relating to any disputes. These new provisions contain an agreement to resolve any and all disputes you may have with General Mills or any of its affiliated companies or brands contain through informal negotiations and, if these negotiations fail, through binding arbitration. This includes disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service. All arbitrations will be conducted on an individual basis; you may not arbitrate as a member of a class. Claims may not be brought in court (with the limited exception of small claims court in certain circumstances), nor may you participate in any class action litigation. (See Section 3, “Binding Arbitration.”)

• New provisions about how you become bound by these legal terms and how you can opt out of them. Your use of any of our sites or services, or participation in any other General Mills offering, means that you are agreeing to these Legal Terms. You may terminate this agreement at time by notifying us by email of your intent to do so, but only if you also cease to participate in any of our offerings.

What are your thoughts on these changes? Does this make you hesitant to participate in contests and/or to print coupons when you are required to agree to these types of legal terms?

(Thanks, Jill and Amanda!)

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30 Things to Hide in Easter Eggs Besides Candy

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30 Non Candy Egg Filler Ideas Hip2Save

Do you get tired of filling all those Easter Eggs with candy? Me too! Along with your help (thanks to all you Facebook fans who contributed to this post!), here are some other items you can use to fill those Easter Eggs.

30 Things to Hide in Easter Eggs Besides Candy

* Chuck E. Cheese coins
* Hair Bands/Hair Bows
* Play-doh Eggs (purchase at stores like Target and Walmart)
* Crayons
* Seeds to grow flowers in the Spring

mini nail polish for easter egg filler Hip2Save

* Erasers
* Stickers
* Chapstick
* Mini Nail Polish
* LEGOS
* Earrings/Rings/Bracelets
* Coupons for “fun” things to do together
* Little plastic dinosaurs and/or chicks

healthy snacks for easter eggs Hip2Save

* Goldfish
* Fruit snacks and yogurt covered raisins
* Tattoos/Stickers
* Bouncy Balls
* Balloons
* Mini Glow Sticks
* Small container of Bubbles

Small toys, cars, and glow sticks for Easter Eggs Hip2Save
* Money/Lottery Tickets
* Plastic Army Men
* Hot Wheels/Matchbox Cars
* Squinkies
* Silly Putty

Bubbles, Earings, and bows as Easter Egg Filler Hip2Save
* Mini Carrots
* Puzzle Pieces
* Fun shoelaces
* Rainbow Loom loops
* Directions to the prize egg

Do you have any additional ideas to add?

Photographs above taken by Lina for Hip2Save. Lina is a proud mom of 2 small kids who loves photography, all holidays, cooking, thrift store makeovers, bargain shopping, and DIY makeovers. Her goal is to create a beautiful life and stylish home on a dime!

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Walmart To Carry Wild Oats Organic Products (Over 100 Items) = 25% or More Savings for Customers

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Walmart

Heads-up for all you Hip2Savers who prefer natural and organic products! Walmart just announced that stores across the country will start carrying Wild Oats Organic Products later this month offering up everything from organic salsa and pasta sauce to quinoa and chicken broth (over 100 different items!). And according to Walmart, these Wild Oats Organic Products are 25% cheaper when compared to national brand organic products and so they have the potential to really cut down your grocery bill. See an example below and read the full article here.

 What are your immediate thoughts? Are you brand loyal when it comes to organic products or do you make choices based on price? Does this announcement make you more likely to shop at Walmart if you don’t frequent Walmart now?

(Thanks, RL!)

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What Would YOU Do in this Situation?

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I received the email below from a reader and thought that all of you could offer her some great advice and encouragement!

Hello Collin,

I’m reaching out to you because I am really concerned and angry with my area Walgreens, Walmart, and other stores in general. I don’t know if it is because I live in a highly touristy area or just because extreme couponing in Fort Lauderdale, FL is a bit hard… especially at Walgreens! Where do I begin??

First of all, I’m a paralegal and I have a deep experience on policy analyst. I’m mentioning this because I want you to know that I understand Walgreens policy completely, but the cashiers & managers (assistant manager in general) are so ignorant when it comes to the coupon policy of the store! It doesn’t matter how many times I explain it to them and show them their own coupon policy, they refuse to do it.

At first I thought maybe it was my attitude, so I approached in a more friendly way, but I realized it’s not. I used to enjoy extreme couponing and it was a stress reliever, but now I get really stressed just by walking into the store knowing that I have to deal with them. At the end they always end up saying ” I won’t accept this coupon because it is not going through” or ” I don’t want to lose my job” or ” typing the coupon manually is illegal”. HOW DO YOU WIN THE WHO IS RIGHT BATTLE ON COUPON POLICIES?

What would YOU do in this situation?

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Tax Filing Options & Tips Round-Up

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Still needing to file your taxes? As you know, Tax Day (April 15th, 2014) is only 1 week away! So here’s a round up of a few current tax filing options that you may want to take advantage of. Also feel free to share any tips that you may have learned throughout the years!

* Head on over here where you can file completely FREE with H&R Block that also now includes FREE live tax advice. It is FREE to prepare, FREE to print, FREE to e-file, includes FREE live tax advice, FREE audit support, representation from an enrolled agent, and 100% Accuracy Guarantee and Maximum Refund Guarantee. Plus 1 FREE federal e-file is included. And, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau!

* Head over here to sign up for a FREE Federal edition of Turbo Tax (you’ll be able to prepare, print and electronically file your federal tax return for free). Plus, they’re rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau! Or if you prefer, head here to save $10 on Turbo Tax Deluxe, $15 on TurboTax Premier and $20 on TurboTax Home & Business (these savings offers expire 2/21/14).

* Consider using FreeTaxUSA.com (Rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau!) to e-file directly to the IRS completely FREE. You can choose to do a FREE Federal e-file OR score the Deluxe Edition for $5.95. This site has also been highly recommended by Hip2Save readers in the past!

* Head over here to sign up for a FREE Federal edition of TaxACT (you’ll be able to prepare, print and electronically file your federal tax return for free). Plus, they’re rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau!

* You may also consider using e-Smart Tax by Liberty Tax to e-file completely free. E-Smart Tax technology ensures you get your highest possible refund as well as simple step-by-step Q&A preparation, Zero hidden fees, Online or in-person help with more than 4,000 Liberty Tax offices open year round and more!

* Another option is you can head on over to FreeTax.com where you can get your taxes done completely FREE! DIY Tax’s easy question-and-answer interview takes the confusion out of tax forms, figures, and rules to bring you a simple tax preparation platform.

More Tax-Filing Tips:

* Head over to IRS.gov to file your federal taxes for free

* Check the daily deal sites… Groupon has offered up significantly reduced vouchers for online tax preparation products in the past and will likely have similar offers over the next few months.

* Check with your local college. One reader reported that the accounting students at her local college will do her tax returns for free and they are then reviewed by the professor to ensure that they are correct.

* AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free help for older taxpayers and people with limited incomes. Find an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site in your community by clicking here.

* If you are in the military, check out Military One Source for more information about different resources that are available.

* If your family earned less than $52,000 in 2013, United Way’s VITA Program may be able to help you with free tax preparation. Starting February 1st, sites will be open across the country to help you with your taxes. For information & locations, dial 2-1-1 for United Way’s Helpline. 

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Are YOU Buying Fewer Basics?

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Are Consumers Buying Less Basics by Hip2Save

Have you noticed that you are buying less basic items like toothpaste, cereal, laundry detergent and razors? Are you opting to purchase store brands over name brands?

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “Discounts Are Piled On as Americans Buy Fewer Basics,” shoppers are purchasing less packaged goods, less laundry detergent (maybe due to higher-efficiency machines requiring less detergent), less soda, less toothpaste and less household products in general compared to year’s past.

To combat this decrease in consumer spending, companies like Procter & Gamble Co., Georgia Pacific Corp., and Henkel AG have been offering up some awesome deals and coupons – remember all the fantastic Purex deals that you could score at the drugstores last month and the different gift card promotions that have been offered at Target when you buy select household items). All of these coupons and special offers are attempts to get Americans to increase their spending habits in these categories.

So how about YOU? Do you find this article to be true when it comes to your own spending habits?

(Thanks to Sherry for passing along this article!)

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To Tip or Not to Tip!?

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Have you ever wondered how much to tip when purchasing food to-go, getting a hair cut for yourself and/or your kiddos, receiving assistance with baggage at a hotel, getting a massage, paying a housekeeper, etc.!? Although I almost always tip at least 20% when dining out, I am sometimes a little more perplexed as to what to tip in those situations.

After doing a little online research, I discovered this helpful Guide to Gratuity Etiquette: How to Be a Total Tipster created by Mint.com that goes over what tip amount you should be giving for various services, such as spa services, bartenders, cleaning services, postal carriers, and more. Check out some of their helpful tips:


I also found an interesting chart published by Marketplace.org that shows the tipping habits of people across the United States. Included in this chart is a State by State glance at the average tip for a $20 Sit-Down Meal, Takeout, Haircut, Cab Ride, Coffee Shop, and more (did you know that New Hampshire is ranked as giving the highest average tip for a $20 sit-down meal!?)!

So take some time to check out this Guide and also the tipping habits across the U.S. and then come back and share your thoughts. Think about the following questions: What services do you believe require a tip, how much do you tip, do you tip even if the service is horrible etc?

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Geocaching: A Fun, Free, & Unique Family Activity

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I have posted about this fun, family activity previously on Hip2Save and thought that it was worth re-posting for all you new readers! One of my favorite family activities is to pack a picnic and head for the park (not very creative but usually lots of fun!). However, if you want to embark on a unique (and FREE!) family activity, you may want to consider geocaching.

What is geocaching you ask?! Geocaching is a FREE real-world outdoor treasure hunt where players (young and old!) try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.

In recent years, my kids, hubby, and I had the opportunity to go geocaching and it was a ton of fun! We found a geocache that was hidden about 25 miles from our home so we all piled into the car with our GPS system in hand and headed that direction. Once we were within walking distance of our “hidden treasure”, the kids jumped out of the car and used the GPS device to find the geocache. It took about 30 minutes of avid searching to finally discover the geocache cleverly placed underneath a pile of rocks. The kids were so excited to open the geocache and fill out the logbook (i.e. a tiny notebook) with their names, ages, and date that they located the geocache (it was really cool to look back in the logbook and see that this same geocache had existed for the past 5+ years). They then were able to choose a special “treasure” from inside the geocache (i.e. a small plastic dinosaur) and they also left a “treasure” of their own (a plastic spider) for the next person. All in all, we had a great day on our geocaching trip and spent nothing out of pocket other than the gas… it was well worth it!

Check out this cool video below which explains even more about geocaching…

Do you want to go geocaching? Here’s what you need to do…
* Head over here to register for a FREE Basic Membership.
* Click “Hide & Seek a Cache.”
* Enter your zip code and click “search.”
* Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
* Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device or in the smartphone app.
* Use your GPS device or smartphone to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
* Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
* Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

Have you been geocaching? If so, did you enjoy the experience? Let us know!

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