Friday, November 4, 2011

Frugal Foodies: How to Save on Dining Out

Enough with the home-cooked meals. It's time to get out of the house and let someone else prepare your food for a change.
In response to tight budgets, frugal advisers have recommended for some time now that we stay at home to save money. But such deprivation grows old fast, so maybe it's time to consider these six tips to help you spread your dining wings without crash landing your budget.
1. FourSquare Deals
Members check-in to various locations on their mobile phones using this service, but did you know you can also receive offers for freebies and discounts simply by letting FourSquare know where you are? Check out a recent segment on FOX & Friends for a "how to" on using the app for restaurant savings.
2. Track Daily Deals
Restaurants are one of the most common frequenters of daily deal offerings, so it pays to keep an eye out for vouchers that can greatly reduce the cost of dining at a new or favored eatery. Just make sure you read the small print and are aware of expiration dates and exclusions. For example, most restaurant vouchers don't include drinks.
3. Get Happy
Eating early isn't just for our elders. Happy hour ad early bird deals have become more common as restaurants try to fill in slow-traffic times. For example, Applebee's Neighborhood Grill offers full-size appetizers for under $5 before 6 p.m., plus $3 drink specials.
4. Split It Up
American restaurants usually overload our plates -- unless they're into nuvo cuisine -- so there's often enough food for two in a single order. You can cut your costs down to around $20 by simply sharing an appetizer, entree and dessert with a friend or date.
5. Gift Yourself
We tend to think of gift cards in terms of what we can offer others, but they're actually very useful for individual purchases. Sites like GiftCardGranny.com let you purchase gift cards for several restaurants at a discounted rate, yielding immediate savings of up to 50 percent.
6. MatchPin
If you live in one of nine major cities, you might download the free MatchPin app. Membership brings you offers, rewards, contests and announcements from a variety of local restaurants.



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QR Codes on HSN Yet Another Innovation in Mobile Commerce

If you watched the Home Shopping Network (HSN) this weekend, you might have noticed QR codes appearing in the corner of your screen. These codes are the strangely patterned squares -- similar to bar codes -- that provide data on a product or service when you zap it with your smartphone or tablet.
You've seen the codes littered amongst print publications, in shop windows, and even on restaurant menus. Well now, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, the QR codes have come to TV. Scanning the code on your screen brings you to a product page on the network's abbreviated mobile website or to its application, where you can easily link to the checkout page.
QR codes have come a long way since their inception. Major brands like Rachel Zoe and Ralph Lauren have added color and their own logos into the standard black-and-white mix.
The system is very slowly catching on, but other older forms of mobile commerce have become second nature for many shoppers. For example, technology research firm Gartner predicts mobile application downloads will reach 17.7 billion in 2011, up 117 percent from the estimated 8.2 downloads of 2010.

1. Orvis Is On It -The outdoor-adventure retailer is leading the merchandising pack with an upgraded system launched last week for iPhone and Android apps to complement its mobile commerce site. While the apps appear similar to their m-commerce site, complete with an internal search engine, they also include a store locator function that uses smartphone GPS capabilities to identify the closest store.
2. Cashing in With Coupons -Coupons are cool once again, thanks to high prices, low incomes and a certain TLC reality show. One innovative app comes from CouponSherpa.com, which also uses GPS technology, but in this instance to locate nearby coupons. Access is instant and includes bar codes and grocery coupons exclusive to the Coupon Sherpa app. Users can customize coupons based on their favorite stores and products and new coupons are added daily.
3. The Perfect Fit - Macys.com is taking the pain out of shopping for jeans -- at least for women. In early October, the department store chain began offering digital help to recommend clothing based on the shopper's body type. The "True Fit" platform, found on the retailer's e-commerce site, asks women the brands and sizes of pants they already wear and which ones fit best. The user then describes their body type (curvy, boyish, etc.) and Macys.com direct them to a "Shop True to You" section for recommendations based on the data.
4. Subway Orders Up Contactless Payments -You'll still have to deal with a human sandwich-master at Subway stores in 7,000 locations, but you'll soon be able to pay by merely tapping a smartphone against a reader. In partnership with MasterCard and Google Wallet, the sub shop will accept the card brand's PayPass contactless payment by March 2012.
5. Text Your Prescription -More than two-million Walgreens' customers now receive text alerts when their prescriptions are ready for pick up, but the pharmaceutical chain now also sends messages letting subscribers know when it's time for a prescription refill, to which they can simply respond "refill." The new service picks up on the momentum built from the original texts, which included 25 percent of all online prescription refills.


COURTESY OF :
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Andrea Woroch
  Nationally Recognized Consumer & Money-Saving Expert
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MACY'S BACKSTAGE PASS

Thursday, November 3, 2011

6 Frugal Tips for Super-busy Superwomen


 Women lose sleep over lots of things, like kids and work, but a new survey released by Manilla.com reveals money matters keep them awake much more than men. In fact, the study conducted by Catalyst Group revealed "Financial worries are the biggest reason women stay up at night, with nearly one in three females saying they burn the midnight oil over money woes."
Asked what keeps them awake, 35 percent of men replied "nothing."
Ah, to be a man.
Lack of time to pinch pennies is a real problem for most women, particularly those forced into the supermom role, buried in the sandwich generation, or serving as home CFOs. Here are six tips to help all you superwomen make the best use of your time to save money.
1. Co-cook Share cooking duties with another family by creating super-large batches and dividing it for future consumption. You'll save money on supplies by buying in bulk and have the pleasure of a partner's company while you cook.
2. Avoid Multiple Shopping Trips Take advantage of such inexpensive services as Hoseanna, which delivers a run-free pair of pantyhose to customers' doors every month. Or you can reduce time and money on food runs by opting for home delivery of groceries from sites like AmericaGrocer.com.
3. Use Mobile Coupons Extreme couponers spend untold hours organizing and preparing for a shopping venture. Why put yourself through that when you can use mobile coupon apps right in the store? Check out PCWorld.com's list of "15 Shopping Apps That Can Save You Big Bucks" and stock up on digital must-haves.
4. Try Manilla.com The free, web-based service Manilla helps consumers better manage all their household accounts -- including finances, utility payments, subscriptions and travel-rewards programs -- in a single, secure, online location.
5. Reduce Paper Clutter Lack of organization drives more women crazy than men, according to the survey. Roughly half of female respondents said they felt relaxed and 40 percent happy when organized. One way to reduce the clutter that creates havoc is to pay bills online so you can just electronically file the receipts. Best of all, you don't have to write and mail checks, which always entails that lengthy hunt for stamps.
6. Shop for Presents All Year This sounds impossible, but a little organization early on means less frantic shopping at the last minute. Which also means you won't grab an expensive item just because time is running short. And if you do find yourself panicking mid-December, don't forget about Free Shipping Day on Friday, Dec. 16. With free shipping offers from 2,000 merchants, this one-day event gives supermoms the added power of making last-minute purchases for arrival by Christmas Eve.


COURTESY OF :
Andrea Woroch
  Consumer and Money-Saving Expert for Kinoli Inc.



750 Merchants Signed Up for Free Shipping Day

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The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently reported free shipping offers -- one of consumers' favorite holiday promotions -- will abound this holiday season, with nine in 10 retailers (92.5 percent) planning to offer the service this year. In addition, 56.3 percent of retailers upped their free shipping budgets "somewhat or significantly" over last year, in anticipation of increased online shopping volume.
This trend in free shipping is further exemplified by merchant participation in the fourth-annual Free Shipping Day, scheduled for Dec. 16. With just 42 days before offers go live, the online event has already registered over 750 merchants who will offer free shipping for the 24-hour period with delivery by Christmas Eve.
Major players who've already jumped on the bandwagon include Lands' EndJCPenneyCabela's, Kohl's, Macy's, DSW, REI, Barnes & Noble and many more.
The numbers from 2010, coupled with the NRF's prediction that online sales will increase 2.8 percent over last year, suggest 2011 will likely be an even bigger record buster. More than 1,750 merchants participated last year, helping the event blow the doors off Black Friday by nearly $300 million in sales, for a total of $942 million in online sales. That single statistic earned Free Shipping Day 2010 a place in history as the third-heaviest day of online shopping ever.
Media coverage of the event has always been overwhelming, with mentions including such major outlets as CNN and news programs for FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS, as well as pieces in The New York Times, USA Today, Woman's Day and the New York Daily News, to name just a few.
Keep an eye out for future announcements, as Free Shipping Day continues to climb towards its goal of featuring over 2,000 participating merchants. 
Free Shipping Day is a one-day shopping event during which participating merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Visit www.freeshippingday.com for more information. 

COURTESY OF :
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HOLIDAY SHIPPING TIPS & SAVINGS EXPERT
Kendal Perez  

 
kendal@freeshippingday.com



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Soles4Souls To Rebuild School & Complete Community Center in Haiti

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Elizabeth Kirk, elizabethk@giveshoes.org
            615-391-5723      

SOLES4SOULS IS ‘MAD’ ENOUGH TO REBUILD SCHOOL AND EXPAND COMMUNITY CENTER IN HAITI

The Shoe Charity announces a ‘Making A Difference’ in Haiti campaign and needs the public’s support

Nashville, TN – Soles4Souls announced a new campaign this week and hopes the public will rally behind their MAD in Haiti efforts.  With the 2nd anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti only a few months away, Soles4Souls is launching a ‘Making A Difference’ in Haiti (www.MADinHaiti.org) holiday campaign to help rebuild a school in Leogane that was flattened by the earthquake and renovating and operating a community center  that will focus on youth in Haiti.  With 74% of primary aged girls not enrolled in school (UNICEF) and 800,000 still living in tents (CNN), Haiti needs the support of committed organizations like Soles4Souls to continue to recover and make progress.

The school and community center plans are in addition to the 3-pronged approach for sustained support Soles4Souls has already provided in Haiti since the earthquake.  The charity has distributed more than 1 million pairs of shoes to residents, established a micro-enterprise program for local shoe vendors that provides rare employment opportunities, and sent more than 15 teams of volunteers to distribute shoes and spend time with victims and orphans of the earthquake.

“We promised a sustained effort in Haiti when the earthquake struck, and two years later we continue to find new opportunities to help,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. “One of the things we realized was missing after several relief trips was a place for youth to seek leadership, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities, which is why we feel the community center is so important.”

The general public can support MADinHaiti by cleaning out their closets, hosting a shoe drive in their local community or business, or by pledging their monetary support at www.giveshoes.org.

“Education and Community are two important parts of creating opportunities for the youth of Haiti.  We need partners in this endeavor to help change Haiti for the better,” Elsey added.

Soles4Souls®, Clothes4Souls®, and Hope4Souls®
Soles4Souls collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering and collects used shoes to support micro-enterprise efforts to eradicate poverty.  Soles4Souls’ other two divisions, Clothes4Souls and Hope4Souls, provide the same relief and support through clothing and other necessities. Donating parties are eligible for tax advantages.  Visit www.giveshoes.org www.clothes4souls.org , or www.hope4souls.org for more information
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