The last time that Savings.com had a gift card giveaway, two of my readers won. Each got a $20 Visa gift card.

This time around, the scrip is even more generous: Forty winners will each get $25 worth of buying power at The Body Shop.

Savings.com has also brokered an exclusive discount for Body Shop fans. But first let’s talk about how to win the gift card.

It’s pretty simple: Go to The Body Shop giveaway page and enter your e-mail address in the form. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 20. Winners will be notified on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Summer can be rough on your skin. Getting a $25 head start on emollients would be a nice way to end the season. Or stock up on your favorite body products in advance of winter’s chilling effects.

Note: From now until Aug. 20, you can get $10 off Body Shop orders of $60 or more plus free shipping. Use this link and enter the code SAVINGSDOTCOM10.


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thYep, I’m electioneering. This year I entered the #MoneyMinute contest sponsored by GO Banking Rates, and I’d appreciate your vote.

In fact, I’d appreciate your daily vote plus your willingness to share the info with friends and social media contacts. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The contest is being judged by reader votes vs. a panel of writing experts: Not ideal, but it’s the way this particular game is being played. That’s why I’m asking friends, relatives and readers to view my video and vote.

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The Swagbucks rewards program has offered to sponsor a prize of 5,000 SB, enough for a $50 gift card of the winner’s choice.

This week’s giveaway is going to be a bit different:

  • It will last longer (11 days instead of five).
  • As indicated by the headline, the prize is bigger than usual.
  • You can enter only once and in a very specific way.

I’m calling this the “Dog Days of Summer” giveaway as a reminder of the ways that gift cards can help the heat-weary battle through the waning (but still steamy) season.

For example, you could opt for a $50 movie gift card and sit a cool, dark theater. Or get $50 worth of Starbucks scrip and sit there with a cool drink on the hottest afternoon.

Maybe you could get $50 worth of restaurant credit and avoid cooking on a particularly uncomfortable day, or choose Amazon gift cards and buy something to take your mind off that heat rash.


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th-1Personal finance geeks like to plan ahead: retirement, emergency fund, college plan, new-car-with-cash fund, et al.

We actually find this fun, or at least satisfying. You should try it sometime.

A lot of us will also set an amount to be spent for the holidays and other occasions important to us (mom’s birthday, an annual 10k, the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition, whatever).

But how many remember what I call the “milestone gifts” – weddings, graduation, babies, bar mitzvahs and the like?

This could come out of the “entertainment” section of your budget, but if you have a big family and/or a lot of friends then pretty soon you’d have no money left for the movies.

Gift-giving can be a very touchy practice. Is it the right present? Will they thank me but roll their eyes later? Is everyone judging my choice?

And, of course, the biggie: Did I spend enough?


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A good wash day.

Definitely turning into my mthother: I am now identifying sunny, windy days like today in terms of laundry.

For the past couple of months I’ve called every balmy and breezy morning “a good wash day.” Because that’s what it is.

This has been a particularly warm summer and DF and I have used the clothesline to the maximum. If it isn’t laundry we’re hanging out, it’s the bedclothes and pillowcases: They smell so marvelous after a few hours in the air and sun.

I’ll even cop to looking for laundry where there is none, e.g., “Is it time to do a load of towels and bathrobes?” or “Have we washed the comforter lately?” Failing that, I’ll put the bedclothes out for the second day in a row.

My mom would approve. Like us, she hardly ever used the clothes dryer. None of the adult women I knew did. Why add to the electric bill when sun and wind are free?


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card349 Readers of this site know that I’m quite fond of the Swagbucks rewards program. I’m happy to report that you can get 500 SB for signing up for Visa Checkout, a digital wallet service. (More on that in a minute.)

To get the extra SB credit, you must sign up today, Wednesday, Aug. 12. And to sweeten the deal, Swagbucks is offering an additional incentive if 100,000 members register. (More on that in a minute, too.)

Here’s how to qualify for the bonus:


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A tomato haiku.

thThe first tomato sandwiches of the year have been enjoyed. Maybe a little too much, since the sighs I made while eating sounded nearly coital.

But dang, there’s nothing like eating a tomato that five minutes ago was on the vine in your own greenhouse.

Hence the haiku:

Just-picked tomato

Fresh bread, mayo, salt, pepper

Jersey girl heaven. 

If this were New Jersey I wouldn’t need a greenhouse – just a patch of dirt almost anywhere. My childhood neighbor had one come up in the middle of the lawn, uninvited.


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thMy daughter just got tagged by the Sunshine Blogger Award, which is sort of like receiving a chain letter. In a good way, since it opens you up to new readers and gives you a chance to promote websites you enjoy.

How it works: Awardees get five questions to answer in print (here’s the link to Abby’s), and are supposed to send five of their own questions out to a handful of bloggers they read.

Of the questions Abby got my favorite was No. 3: “What do you think Victoria’s Secret is?”

Abby’s response: “That she’s very cold.” Snort.

But it made me think about putting my own questions out there – to readers, not writers.*


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thWhy am I giving away $10 in Amazon scrip? Because it’s easy, that’s why.

I’ve got too many irons in the fire right now to focus on coming up with a clever giveaway and an even more clever explanation of said giveaway.

Summer + deadlines = not quite enough time to do everything I need/want to do. Thus I’m cutting corners wherever I can.

Heck, last week I skipped the giveaway altogether. Sorry about that.


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Putting food by.

GetAttachmentThe photo is a glimpse of harvest mania at Chez DIY. Those underachievers in the small glass dish are strawberries picked from our tiny patch, which we hope to expand in years to come.

In the bowl and large measuring cup are four quarts of raspberries that DF and I picked in an evening, quitting before we’d gotten them all. We’ve already frozen 14 quarts of the things for his oatmeal and my homemade yogurt, and also to eat the Alaska way: only partially thawed and with a big dump of sugar.

On the left are jars of jam I’d made from a previous session; it’s the second batch I’ve made this year. Seeing those jars gives me the urge to make another one.

Not that we need a third batch, or maybe even that second one; we’re still using up jam from last year. But I don’t want the backyard bounty to go to waste — and part of me doesn’t even want to give them away.

That’s the part of me that feels, every year, that primal urge: Winter is coming. Put food by.


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thA trending Twitter hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter really got my attention today. You can imagine why.

Some well-known writers (Jodi Picoult, Harlan Coben, S.E. Hinton, John Scalzi, et al.) dove in along with the rest of us lesser-known and unknown scribes. Collectively we whirled and howled about stuff like:

  • Low pay and no pay
  • Folks who question why we have to use so many cuss words
  • The assumption that we’ll never get published, i.e., be “real” writers
  • People who treat what we do as a hobby
  • Those who swear they could do this too, if only they had the time

Were we being thin-skinned? Check out a few of the tweets and let me know:

“It’s pretty impressive that you spend so much time on something that has so little chance of success.”

“I downloaded your book for free online. Could you please sign this printout of it?”


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th-1I can find personal finance advice just about anywhere, which is why I’ve posted articles like “6 financial lessons from ‘Godzilla’,” “Zombie consumerism” and “10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod.”

Thus I was on the lookout at last Wednesday’s Metropolitan Opera’s HD re-broadcast of “The Merry Widow.” This is not an opera about bustiers. In fact, it’s not even an opera, but an operetta – lots of speaking roles but with enough musical numbers to keep an orchestra busy.

It’s pretty fluffy fare: The Paris embassy of the impoverished Grandy Duchy of Pontevedro plans a formal ball and invites the titular widow (played by Renee Fleming), who came into big bucks upon the death of her much-older husband on their wedding night.

Officials are terrified that she’ll marry someone outside their country and take her money with her, which could tip the country into bankruptcy. They scheme to fix her up with the ultra-eligible Count Danilo Danilovitsch. What they don’t know is that the two were once in love but his family forbade the marriage – at that time, Hanna was a country girl without a cent to her name.

Does she still love Danilo? Do you even have to ask? But things aren’t that simple.


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