th1 150x150 Return of the Coffeehouse Cliche giveaway.I had every intention of making my next two giveaways about conference swag. Having been to three cons in the past three months, I have enough tchotchkes — some useful, some goofy — to create two medium flat-rate boxes of oddness.

But I’m getting ready to go out of town yet again, and the idea of sorting and listing all those things made me want to lie down and scream. Thus I came up with a compromise: yet another “Coffeehouse Cliche” giveaway with a couple of items from the Financial Blogger Conference. That is to say, the two easiest ones to grab.

This time around the notebook is a real conversation-starter: Its cover says “NerdWallet” in blue and lime-green.


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th3 Giveaway: Cold and flu package 2014.Even if you get a flu shot — and I think you should — you still run a chance of getting the flu. According to Consumer Reports, vaccination prevents the illness 80 percent of the time in adults younger than 65.

But a non-flu virus — including the common cold — can make you feel pretty crummy, too. The insult to such injury is the price tags on cold/flu nostrums.

That’s why I put together a cold and flu package giveaway each year. Judging from the numbers of comments the package always gets, you folks don’t like paying retail, either.


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ec Giveaway: The Practical Negotiator.A time-honored frugal hack is to negotiate — salary, real estate, holiday arrangements (your parents’ house? his parents’ house?), the price of that beater you want to buy from Craigslist.

Trouble is, many people don’t really know how to negotiate — they’ve never seen it done, they lack self-confidence or face a cultural barrier with regard to haggling.

This week’s giveaway can help.

The Practical Negotiator: How to Argue Your Point, Plead Your Case and Prevail in Any Situation” was written by Steven P. Cohen, president of The Negotiation Skills Company Inc.

Although some people associate the word with backroom politics or high-stakes business, the author says that negotiation “takes place in the daily life of regular people who are trying to reach collaborative agreement in the family unit, on the job or as a consumer.”


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th 1 150x147 Let me buy you a coffee.It’s that odd time of the year: Sometimes chilly and sometimes balmy. Even here in Anchorage we’re feeling mood-swingy with regard to the weather: in the 40s and raining sideways one day, sunny and in the low 60s another day.

So what do we want: hot chocolate or fancy iced tea?

Whatever it is, I’m buying the next round. This week’s giveaway is $10 worth of Starbucks gift cards.


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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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