A coupon miracle.

Want to save 50% at the supermarket? Here's help.The last time I visited my daughter I lost my coupon holder, a black nylon wallet with pasteboard dividers. FLOUR/SUGAR. CRACKERS/SNAX/DESSERTS. DAIRY PRODUCTS. TOILETRIES. FROZEN FOODS.

I emptied my backpack and suitcase. Nothing. We took the place apart but couldn’t find it. Abby called the stores we’d visited. No luck.

This truly bummed me out, and not just because of the coupons it held. I’d had the holder for at least 25 years after ordering it from a Parade magazine ad, and it had seen a lot of hard use.


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thFrequent flier miles? Trading in hotel loyalty points? Those all work. So do the tips I offer in a guest post called “Destinations on a dime: 10 tips that will change your wandering ways,” a guest post over on The Real Deal, the house blog at Retail Me Not.

Anyone who’s read me knows that I’m more likely to go for hostels, museum reciprocity, buddy passes public transit and the Megabus.

Rewards programs, too; in fact, I recently cashed in points from a rewards credit card to get a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for my trip to Phoenix next month (more on that in a minute), and will also cash in Swagbucks points for gift cards to Red Robin and Cracker Barrel. That way I can treat my daughter and son-in-law to a few meals out. After all, they’re getting me to and from the airport.

What else have I been writing lately? So glad you asked.


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ImageProxyRegular readers know that I’m a fan of the Swagbucks rewards program, which randomly awards points (“Swag Bucks”) for searches and also gives out rewards for watching videos, playing games, shopping and other activities.

As of March 2 the rewards redemption process will morph slightly – a change I believe is to the good.


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A mess of beans.

th-1The temperature is about five below zero, which isn’t unusual for an Anchorage winter. Even though we’re hard by Cook Inlet, it still gets chilly in the winter.

This hasn’t been an ordinary winter, though. We’ve had hardly any snow and temperatures in the 30s and even the low 40s, which is just against God. When it finally started snowing the other day even non-skiers like me were greatly relieved.

But apparently my blood has thinned, because as the thermometer settled toward the zero mark I was unreasonably cold. Wool socks weren’t keeping my feet warm. A fleece layer was necessary even in the car. I considered pulling out the long johns and maybe even zipping my coat.

Clearly what was needed was a mess of beans.


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Screen_Shot_2015-01-06_at_4.54.26_PM_t670In 2002 Kelly Sangree got fired. She was eight months pregnant, her (now-ex) husband earned only a quarter of what she did – and they’d already been having trouble paying the bills.

The couple struggled financially and ultimately broke up. Due to health issues (hers and a daughter’s) Sangree moved in with her parents and scrambled to contribute to the household while paying off debt accumulated during her marriage.

Sangree wrote a book about her experiences. If you’re facing reduced income for any reason – job loss, rapid debt repayment, an entrepreneurial dream – then “Hard Core Poor: A Book On Serious Thrift” can help.


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