s0660153 sc7 300x300 Want a $50 Staples card?I must have been one of the nerdiest kids in Cumberland County, NJ, because I looked forward to the first day of school.

The first hint was the mid-August appearance of school supplies at Woolworth’s, Mr. Big, Diskay and other stores in the small city closest to our rural township. While the other kids shrieked and grabbed their throats in despair, I secretly  loved the sight of all that notebook paper waiting to be filled with words.

Back when the Earth was still cooling, “school supplies” mostly meant a blue three-ring binder (but only if last year’s was completely kaput), yellow No. 2 pencils (no pens until at least fifth grade), wide-ruled paper and maybe, if you were lucky, a big pink eraser. We made bookcovers out of brown grocery bags. Only the teacher had crayons and Magic Markers.

If eight-year-old me had seen the box of school supplies Staples shipped last week, the sensory overload might have put me in the emergency room.

A composition book with a leaf-and-ladybug design in pale pink and orange. Refillable mechanical pencils made just for small children, i.e., with “break-resistant” lead. Two-pocket folders with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle motifs. A clipboard with an oh-so-cuuute of a beagle puppy. th5 150x150 Want a $50 Staples card?

Three-by-five-inch lined journals in bright florals and random, boldly colored patterns. Erasers that look like lipsticks, complete to the plastic top — and in patterns that match the journals. Pencils in patterns that match both the erasers and the journals, and a Spongebob Squarepants pencil sharpener to ready them for writing.

Want some of this for yourself? Or anything else Staples sells? Enter this week’s giveaway.


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th 1 150x150 Thrift shops, free museums and a $100 Tweetchat. Today is Thrift Shop Day, and the Savers/Value Village folks say we’re all about saving the Benjamins. The company’s new survey revealed that 47 percent of U.S. residents shop at la segunda, and more than one-third of us say they shop secondhand more often now than they did three years ago.

Is it the economy? Or is it that more and more people are realizing how much fun it can be to prospect for marked-down items, some of which you won’t find anywhere else?

Well, 52 percent of those surveyed say “it feels like a treasure hunt” and 35 percent love finding “truly unique” items. If you’re a retro-fashionista, secondhand stores are the place to find vintage shoulder-pad suits, cargo pants or the perfect bridesmaid’s dress to wear to the prom or (with appropriate attitude) to a wedding.


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card225 300x150 Giveaway: Two $25 gift cards, via Swagbucks.Any time I give away a gift card the response is tremendous. And why not? Although some people think that GCs make awful presents, the chance to get a head start on a want or a need is fine by me. (And, apparently, by you.)

This week’s giveaway, sponsored by the Swagbucks rewards program, gives two lucky readers $25 in scrip – or, maybe in cash.

That’s because the winners get to choose any $25 e-gift card that Swagbucks offers, and among those offers is a $25 PayPal card. Thus you could choose to cash in for greenbacks or stick with shopping, at sites like Amazon, Target, Starbucks, Lowe’s, Home Depot, CVS, iTunes, GameStop and many others.


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th2 Guest posts, gift cards and loups garou.I did my first-ever guest post on my daughter’s site, I Pick Up Pennies. Always meant to, just never got around to it until this weekend.

“Want to save money? ‘Chop’ your kitchen” was generated by my fondness for a  Food Network program called “Chopped,” which requires chefs to create meals from mystery ingredients. Some of them are delicious and traditional (steak, poultry, seafood) and some are just cruel (durian, goat brains, duck testicles).

Not that I think you should save money by eating fowl balls, mind you. Instead the post suggests that you “chop” your pantry, fridge and freezer, i.e., find ways to use what’s on hand instead of calling out for pizza. The food waste in our country is astonishing. What could eating in more often do for your budgetary bottom line?

Think those leftovers look forlorn? Get creative!


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th 1 150x147 Get yourself a cold drink. Im buying.Writing this from Austin, Texas, where I’m down for a spot of bidness. (Thanks, Savings.com, for inviting me to SaveUp2014 once more.) It’s pretty warm — not unbearable, just noticeably warmer than Anchorage. Then again, so are a lot of places.

(Quick aside: If you’re in the area, hope you’ll join me for brunch on Sunday, Aug. 3, at The Shady Grove.)

The heat helped me decide to put up another $10 Starbucks gift card for the weekly giveaway. Even if you don’t like coffee (I sure don’t), you can always find something interesting to drink there. You can also find air conditioning, which becomes increasingly important at this time of year.

Or you can save the scrip until the weather turns, then get one of those frou-frou coffee drinks or a fancy hot chocolate. Whatever works for you.


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