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March – 2011 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

March 2011

Giveaway -$50 Gift Card for Auto Services

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The last time I went to get my oil changed, I was a little surprised at the final cost. With all the little maintenance items that can pop up, car care costs can add up quickly. Well, this giveaway will help you put a dent in those costs – LocalPages.com has given me the opportunity to host a $50 giveaway for auto services!

One lucky reader will win a $50 to any auto service provider found on LocalPages.com. This contest is open to all U.S. residents. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight CST) Wednesday, April 13.

Mandatory Entry: Visit LocalPages.com. Do a search for a auto service provider near you. When you find a place that looks interesting copy and paste the URL in the comment section of this post.

Example: I did a search for oil changes in Dallas, Texas and found Ten Minute Oil Change. I clicked on the listing and then copied the URL to paste here like this: http://www.localpages.com/tx/dallas/1634854474-ten-minute-oil-change.html

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

  • Sign up to receive my newsletter {3 extra entries}
  • Sign up to get my updates in your e-mail {2 extra entries}
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed {2 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Twitter {1 extra entry}
  • Click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to share it on your FB wall {2 extra entries}
  • Click the “Tweet” button below this post to share it on your Twitter feed –  can do up to two times per day {1 extra entry per tweet}
  • Blog about this giveaway and link it back here; comment with the URL to your post {3 extra entries}
  • “Like” Frugal Novice on Facebook {1 extra entry}
  • Unlimited Extra Entry Option: Leave a NEW comment on as many other posts as you like and get one entry for each comment (entering another giveaway counts too). Be sure to let me know which posts you commented on below.

Fashion Lovers – $50 Gift Card Giveaway

Ok, actually, you don’t even have to love clothes to love this giveaway – you just have to wear them (or have children that tear through/grow out of clothing at the speed of light). LocalPages.com has given me the opportunity to host a $50 giveaway to use toward clothes!

One lucky reader will win a $50 to any clothing retailer on LocalPages.com. This contest is open to all U.S. residents. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight CST) Wednesday, April 13.

Mandatory Entry: Visit LocalPages.com. Do a search for a clothing retailer near you. When you find a place that looks interesting copy and paste the URL in the comment section of this post.

Example: I did a search for kids’ clothing in Dallas, Texas and found The Children’s Place, which I love. I clicked on the listing and then copied the URL to paste here like this: http://www.localpages.com/tx/dallas/1843834922-childrens-place.html

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

  • Sign up to receive my newsletter {3 extra entries}
  • Sign up to get my updates in your e-mail {2 extra entries}
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed {2 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Twitter {1 extra entry}
  • Click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to share it on your FB wall {2 extra entries}
  • Click the “Tweet” button below this post to share it on your Twitter feed –  can do up to two times per day {1 extra entry per tweet}
  • Blog about this giveaway and link it back here; comment with the URL to your post {3 extra entries}
  • “Like” Frugal Novice on Facebook {1 extra entry}
  • Unlimited Extra Entry Option: Leave a NEW comment on as many other posts as you like and get one entry for each comment (entering another giveaway counts too). Be sure to let me know which posts you commented on below.

Friendly Friday – April 1

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Welcome to Friendly Friday! And Happy April Fools’ Day – have you gotten pranked today (or pranked someone)?

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog, too! Just get the InLinkz code and copy it directly into your post. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way to get even more traffic to your blog and make Friendly Friday more beneficial for everyone.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers! We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

“More than a blog… a busy mom’s sanctuary” sums up what you’ll find Karen writing about at Barefoot in Portland. This busy mom of a beautiful 5-year-old daughter keeps up with her day job, her family, delicious recipes, and reviews and giveaways that everyone can enjoy. Stop by and see what this blog hopping, vacation-taking mom is up to next!

Mommy Only Has 2 Hands is a phrase that many of us have thought but that Heather has turned into a blog of her own. On a quest to be the best mother and wife that she can be, come join her on her journey to go green through her reviews, giveaways, and tales of her adorable son, J Myster.

With the cutest header that is going to make you long for the beach, Lesli at Put A Little Umbrella In Your Drink has the perfect mix of fun. Her posts will keep you up to date on deals, freebies, rebates, rewards, great giveaways going on throughout the blogosphere that you’re not going to want to miss, and her love of photography. All that’s missing is a pina colada!

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can get the InLinkz code to share the link list on your blog, too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – be sure to leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!



Photo & Prompt Challenge: Day 23

Today’s Challenge: How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I’ve inherited a sense of frugality from my parents, especially my mom. She’s always been great about clipping coupons and finding sales. When I started my blog I was amazed at how many people had couponing down to a science – if you’ve read any about how people use the ExtraCare Bucks at CVS, you know what I’m talking about! I felt (and really, still feel) like a newbie at figuring out the best way to save money, so I came up with the name Frugal Novice. When I first started blogging, I thought I’d only write about deals and saving money… but then I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to last long writing with such a narrow focus, so I expanded the type of topics I write about. There are a few times I’ve wished I’d picked something a little more broad, but now it just fits, kind of like names of children always seem to do. :)

 

Photo & Prompt Challenge: Day 22

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Today’s Challenge: Your Favorite Holiday

I wish I had a more unique response to this prompt, but Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. For one thing, it feels like it lasts a long time – we start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving! I have to admit, there was one year that we didn’t even put up our tree because we weren’t spending Christmas at our house. But now that the boys are old enough to enjoy it, I have a blast decorating the house!

I also love the traditions of the holiday season. We do an advent calendar (and can I say, nothing works better to keep children in their beds all night than the promise of chocolate in the morning?) and make homemade ornaments, and each of the boys gets to pick a Hallmark ornament. We usually do a gingerbread house as a family, but this past year our friends ramped that up a bit by providing houses for each of us to decorate – that’s mine in the photo! It was a lot of fun and is a tradition we plan to continue. We put out carrots and cookies on Christmas Eve night, and the boys wear new Christmas-themed jammies to bed. Now that they’re getting a little older and “get” it more, we also read the story of Jesus’ birth.

This past year singing was a huge part of our Christmas experience. I bought a multi-disc pack of Christmas songs, with everything from Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer (the favorite) to Silent Night on it. We listened to it all. the. time. at the request of the boys, and we were still singing some of these songs at bedtime this month.

We thought of a new tradition to start this year, and I’m really excited about it. The boys will still get their little advent calendars with chocolate in them, but we’ll also have a “giving” calendar with an activity to do each day – things like donating some toys to a local charity, making art for people at the local nursing home, or making cookies for our neighbors. We think it’ll be a fun way to teach them about the joy of giving, and create some great family memories along the way.

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?

Sheyna.com $100 Gift Card Winner!

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Congratulations, Carly! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Custom Photo Blanket – Review & Giveaway

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I have always loved personalized items, so when I got the chance to review a photo blanket from PhotoWeavers.com I was really excited to get something custom to have for our home.

PhotoWeavers is a family owned and operated textile mill in North Carolina. They have been weaving gift, home décor and photographic products for over thirty years in their present mill. Their family was one of the first weavers in America, and their weaving roots date back to the time of the American Revolution, when they supplied General George Washington with blankets at Valley Forge! Their craftsmen are textile professionals; they take pride in the quality and craftsmanship of these woven keepsakes.

I decided to upload one of my favorite photos of the boys for our blanket:

The ordering system is really streamlined; there are options to customize the blankets with text or borders, which would be great for gift items. For us, though, I kept it simple and had the photo take up the entire blanket.

I was completely wowed with how quickly we received our blanket after placing the order. I could totally understand if there had been a 2 week delay, but PhotoWeavers generally ships all blankets within four days of receiving the order.

I can’t get over how closely the weaving matches our photo – it’s amazing! I don’t know if you can tell, but this blanket is also a great size – that’s Brian holding it up for me, and he couldn’t reach corner to corner to hold it up, to give you an idea of how large it is. The quality of this blanket is top notch and we loved this so much that we already started talking about giving these for gifts to grandparents (Surprise, grandparents! You’ll most likely be getting one of these at Christmas). Everyone that’s seen the blanket has been extremely impressed. The blanket is tightly woven with a short fringe border:

PhotoWeavers has been completely professional every step of the way, going above and beyond to provide a premium product in an amazingly short time frame. If you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day present, look no further. I think any mom or grandma would love to have this!

You can buy your own custom blanket at PhotoWeavers.com – the one I reviewed is the 70″x53″ blanket, and it retails for $119. You’ll often find coupon codes online, letting you get an even better rate for your purchase. I can honestly say I’d wholeheartedly recommend both the company and the products they produce – this is one of my favorite items I’ve ever reviewed, and I think you’d love a PhotoWeavers blanket too.

You might also WIN your own custom blanket – one lucky reader will win their own 70″x53″ blanket (don’t forget, ARV of $119!). This contest is open to US residents. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight CST) Tuesday, April 12.

Mandatory Entry: If you win, who will you get your PhotoWeaver blanket for? Getting it for yourself is a perfectly acceptable answer. :)

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: PhotoWeavers.com provided me with a blanket for review, and is providing a blanket for the giveaway. Any opinions provided in this post are honest and are my own.

Wordy Wednesday

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Since I’ve decided there are enough memes out there, I have started just linking up my Wordy Wednesday posts with Wordless Wednesday memes. I’m such a rebel, huh?

I got into the shower this weekend and found a message waiting for me, courtesy of Brian.

Totally better than a bouquet of flowers, I think.

My “love language” is Words of Affirmation, according to the book Five Love Languages. That means that I feel most loved when I hear that I am loved or appreciated.

Brian and I read this book early on in our marriage, and it was a great eye opener for us. I had never really thought about the fact that what made me feel loved might not really work for Brian – the quiz revealed that his “love language” is Quality Time. Spending time together playing a board game or cooking dinner makes him feel the most loved.

If you haven’t read the book, there’s a short one-question quiz here to get a general idea of what your love language might be. I’m curious to know – what makes you feel the most loved? What’s your love language? Do you think your spouse’s love language differs from yours?

GlassesUSA.com

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I remember when I was younger not wanting to wear prescription glasses. As a young adult in college, though, I started wearing glasses and got to where I really loved my tortoise-shell eyeglasses and they became a part of “my look.” Not to mention the fact that I could see better. :)

As I got older I realized that I’d like to have fun with my glasses and not just be stuck with one pair. I really wanted a red pair of frames, but purchasing some “fun” frames wasn’t really a possibility at traditional stores – the prices were just too high for me to rationally buy glasses I’d only wear some of the time. Then I discovered sites like GlassesUSA.com and was finally able to get several pairs of glasses in different colors. I now have blue frames and red frames in addition to my black “everyday” pair.

GlassesUSA.com has low prices on all sorts of frames – metal, plastic, vintage, designer – you name your style, and you’ll probably find it on their site. They often have coupons or sales available to save even more money. Right now they’ve got lots of pairs with a percentage off, and you can even get a free pair of complete glasses with an order over $50! Another feature I love about this site is that you’re able to virtually “try on” many of the frames, so you can get an idea of what they’ll look like and if they are a good fit for you.

If you’re looking for great looks at low prices, stop over and check out GlassesUSA.com today! If you end up getting a pair I’d love to hear which ones you chose. Here are a few discounts to save you even more:

Coupon: You can save 10% on their next order of glasses with the code: Mommy10

March Madness SALE:

  • Buy 1 pair of glasses worth $50 or more, get a second pair FREE! Code: 2ndPair
  • Take 15% off any order of $150 or more with the code: FS15*
  • *This special includes FREE shipping to the United States.

I Disclose: http://cmp.ly/3

Photo & Prompt Challenge: Day 21

Today’s Challenge: Something you love about yourself

This one will be short, because it would feel a little weird to go on and on about why I love myself, and it feels a little narcissistic writing this to begin with. :)

Anyway, here’s my response: I love that I’m an optimistic person. It takes a pretty bad day to bring me down, and I try to see the best in situations and in people.

Are you a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” kind of person? What do you love about yourself?

H&R Block – Tax Tips & A Giveaway (SIX winners!)

Know Before You File: Tips to Save Taxpayers Time, Money

H&R Block is taking the guesswork out of tax season by offering taxpayers tips to help navigate a 2010 tax return:

1. Education benefits extended — The American Opportunity Credit was extended, allowing taxpayers to claim $2,500 for the first four years of college education for each student. The tuition and fees deduction also was extended and could provide a reduction in taxable income of up to $4,000.

2. Sandwich generation gets tax relief — Taxpayers supporting their parents and their own children may be able to claim the $3,650 qualifying relative exemption. Generally, the taxpayer must provide more than 50 percent of the financial support for eligible expenses such as food, lodging, clothing, education, medical and dental care, recreation and transportation.

3. Unemployed are required to file — All unemployment benefits will be taxed this year, unlike last year when the first $2,400 was tax-free.

4. 2008 homebuyer credit repayment starts, but not for 2009 and 2010 — The 2008 First-time Homebuyer Credit was similar to an interest-free loan and taxpayers must begin repaying it with their 2010 tax returns. In general, taxpayers must repay $500 a year for 15 years. If the taxpayer no longer lives in the house, then the credit must be repaid in full with the next tax return. Taxpayers who claimed the credit in 2009 and 2010 will not have to repay it unless the house is sold or no longer their principal residence within three years of purchase.

5. Energy credit reduced — For 2011, the lifetime maximum for the energy property credit is reduced from $1,500 to $500. Taxpayers who never claimed the credit can claim the entire $500. But, those who claimed $500 or more for the 2009-2010 and/or the 2006-2007 energy credits are not eligible in 2011. Eligible improvements include external windows and doors, insulation, roofing, HVAC and non-solar water heaters meeting specific energy guidelines.

6. Adoption Credit fully refundable in 2010 and 2011 — The Adoption Credit can be claimed for qualified expenses up to $13,170 for 2010 and $13,360 for 2011. Plus, new for 2010 and 2011, the IRS will refund any amount of the credit that exceeds the adoptive parents’ tax liability.

7. 2011 federal filing deadline is April 18 — Due to the observation of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia on April 15, the filing deadline for federal tax returns is April 18 this year. But, some state filing deadlines will remain April 15.

Six readers will win a code for H&R Block At Home Premium (ARV $55), an online product that includes Federal tax preparation and sales tax. This contest is open to U.S. residents. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight CST) Monday, April 4.

Mandatory Entry: We used some of our tax return this year toward remodeling our bathroom. What would you use yours for? Comment on this post letting me know!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

  • Click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to share it on your FB wall {2 extra entries}
  • Click the “Tweet” button below this post to share it on your Twitter feed –  can do up to two times per day {1 extra entry per tweet}
  • Blog about this giveaway and link it back here; comment with the URL to your post {3 extra entries}
  • Sign up to receive my newsletter {3 extra entries}
  • Sign up to get my updates in your e-mail {2 extra entries}
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed {2 extra entries}
  • Follow me on Twitter {1 extra entry}
  • “Like” Frugal Novice on Facebook {1 extra entry}
  • Unlimited Extra Entry Option: Leave a NEW comment on as many other posts as you like and get one entry for each comment (entering another giveaway counts too). Be sure to let me know which posts you commented on below.

Note: H&R Block is providing the At Home Premium product codes for the giveaway, but I was not compensated for this post.

Photo & Prompt Challenge: Day 20

Today’s Challenge: My biggest insecurity

If you’d asked me this about 5 years ago, I could have spouted off a list of responses to this. Now, though? I’m pretty comfortable with who I am. I am definitely out of shape, so I guess my weight could be one… but I have a husband that never makes me feel anything less than beautiful.  So although I want to, plan to, and need to get in shape, I’m not insecure about it most of the time.

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime, somehow, something just clicked and I realized that the people who love me and who matter most to me aren’t going to be judgmental of things I could be insecure about. If someone is, then frankly their opinion probably isn’t worth worrying over to begin with. I’m not trying at all to say I don’t have faults or areas to improve upon – I’m sure there are many. I try to be a kind and thoughtful person as much as I can, and to worry about how I treat others instead of how others see me – beyond that, the rest is gravy.