All You Can Eat Pasta

A great winter deal for cozy eating with company

If you're looking for a cozy and filling meal this winder, Noodles and Company might be the place to go. They are having a Winter Pasta Party every Wednesday from now until spring and given that this blogger's kicking carbs right now, it's a hard temptation to pass up! Not only is it a flavorful, fun experience with weekly themes and several pastas to choose from, but it's also a great deal at $10 per person for endless pasta.

Not into pasta? Maybe you are into fitness gear, winter clothing, motorcycles or furniture! According to experts, January is the month to buy these things at the lowest costs in general. That isn't to say you won't find a cheaper rate at another time of year, but it's a good time to shop.

What kind of great buys have you run across this month? Share them in the chat.

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Eating Out vs. Eating at Home

How do you save money?

Research shows that the gap between eating out and eating at home is wider than ever. It's no wonder why eating at restaurants is down; the cost of purchasing food went down in 2016 for the first time in almost 50 years, but it was less than a 2% drop, which is why consumers likely didn't feel it much (especially since wages aren't going up). But the cost of buying food in a restaurant has risen by nearly 3%. 

Buying fast food is a bit different than eating out in a restaurant, but the price has also increased. Still families often find that buying from "value menus" can cost less than preparing food at home, especially if they're on the run, working multiple jobs and unable to cook or otherwise unable to purchase food. 

How do you save money on your grocery bill? Do you have great sources online for coupons? Share your resources in the chat.


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Shopping for Boring People

It's bound to happen sooner or later

Holiday shopping can be great fun, especially if you are shopping for someone with fun interests and tastes. When you have to shop for someone a little... well... boring, it can be a drag. The person may not even be boring, but perhaps you don't know them that well. Maybe he or she just has opposite interests from you. Whatever the situation, it can make shopping a bit difficult. That's where these great lists come into play!

Bustle has a great list of Amazon gifts you can order right now for that hard-to-buy-for person. A cutlery organizer that expands to fit any drawer? A productivity planner, hand steamer or Dirt Devil with a 16-foot power cord? Those are things that anyone might like, PLUS they are so useful that no one could claim that they're frivolous gifts!

At Mashable, you can check out a gorgeous marble cheese board, a wine caddy and a cold brew coffee maker. 

What practical gift ideas have you come across in your shopping adventures? Share them in the chat.


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Last-Minute Gifts

Are you finished shopping?

Have you completed all of your holiday shopping yet? If you're like many shoppers you're still looking for those perfect gifts. When I'm shopping last-minute, I usually go for a Groupon, especially if I know the person would love an experience. From wine tasting to car racing to even room smashing (yes, it's a thing!), there's always something interesting to buy. It also means the person doesn't get more "stuff" but an experience instead.

Buzzfeed has some other fun last-minute gift ideas for you that are also thoughtful, such as a personalized cutting board with a favorite recipe on it or an experience, like a road trip or mementos from a road trip. From photo transfers on canvas to baked goods, they have some great options.

What do you give when you are shopping at the last minute? Share your ideas in the chat.


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Gifts for Your Craft People

You know what they want!

While searching for an affordable yet workable pottery wheel for my tween (yeah, I couldn't find one), I ran across so many great craft items for the holidays. The kits come out like crazy this time of year! Whether you want to learn to give massages, make your own soaps or candles or even learn lettering, there's a kit for it. I may go with something like that; last year she enjoyed her claymation and felting kits.

It's holiday season and you're searching for just the right items for the DIYers and craft people on your list. Deep down you probably already know what they'd love! New brushes and tools, some more clay... think about what he or she would love and just go from there. Here are some great ideas for the crafters in your life. From mason jars to calligraphy sets, a DIY BBQ set to terrarium kits, you'll find something for everyone!

What are you giving your crafter for the holidays this year? Share your ideas in the chat.

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Best Tech Gifts for the Holidays

Something for everyone!

Are you shopping for a bunch of tech lovers this holiday season? If so, there are some amazing gifts out there to choose from this year! Take, for example, the Google Daydream. It's a virtual reality headset that's not as expensive as most others on the market and works with any Daydream compatible phone. The coolest thing about it is that you can show your daydream on the TV screen so everyone can see what you are viewing, which makes you look a little less like a weirdo walking around looking into a box while nobody knows what you're doing.

There are so many drones to choose from these days that the most difficult thing is simply choosing which one to get your drone-lover for the holidays. The TRNDLabs Spectre Dome is a pretty cool model that has everything most people want in a drone, including an HD camera. It's in the mid-range as far as drone prices go, too.

What cool tech finds are you after this holiday? Which ones do you hope to receive?


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Giving Tuesday

Today is the day to give back

While we're in the middle of the holiday season, it can be difficult to remember the real reasons for the season, whether they are simply being together as a family, your religious celebrations or peace on earth and goodwill toward humankind. Today is Giving Tuesday, a time to give back and think about the causes, charities and important social issues that matter most to you. People are encouraged to donate to things in their own communities, just as they are encouraged to shop locally, but depending on the cause you care about you may give to something internationally.

Some of my favorite charities to give to on Giving Tuesday include the Ronald McDonald House charities (they housed us when my baby was born prematurely a couple thousand miles from home!), the Polaris Project, which helps to end human trafficking, and Heifer International, which helps people grow their own food, raise livestock and earn income. My family also likes to give to a local organization that provides backpacks of food to over 1,000 kids every weekend when they're not at school to receive meals.

What charities do you like to give to during the holiday season? Share your favorites in the chat.


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Best Reasons to Shop on Black Friday

What is your reason?

As a non-Black Friday shopper, I have to ask those of you who shop that day what is the draw? What makes you venture out to shop in the chaos? I've read about some of the benefits (using a store app to map it out and find the deals, going as friends to make it more fun, and shopping in person makes it easier to see if the object is something you really want. 

Granted, it doesn't have to be a stampede to keep me away. A crowd in general will make me want to head home. I don't usually shop online, either, but that's because I'm spending time with my family.

Do you go shopping during Black Friday? What do you do and why?


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Meal Deals This Week

Save money while you eat out

If you're planning on dining out this week, there are some pretty good deals available. Pizza Hut is offering 50% off all online orders through the weekend, giving you a chance to eat half-price. Even if you aren't home, you can still order online to access the deal and pick your pizzas up.

Several restaurants have deals for veterans on November 11, which is Veteran's Day. Vets can enjoy specials at Applebees, TGI Fridays, Golden Corral and more. Call your favorite restaurant to find out if they have any Veteran's Day specials available.

Red Lobster and Macaroni Grill both have coupons that are valid through today for deals, too.

Do you know of any great meal deals this week? Share them in the chat.


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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Loom Near

Do you participate?

I have to admit that I am a total sucker for Cyber Monday deals. Did you know that a lot of museums, zoos and other places offer tickets or memberships at half-price on Cyber Monday? That's my biggest attraction to the sale, and while I don't always save up for it, when I'm able it's very exciting.

Black Friday, on the other hand, is something that I typically strive to avoid. It's way too crowded, hectic and busy for my taste, but I know lots of people who enjoy it, prompting me to ask this question: What are your best Black Friday tips?

Some say to get there hours early or right on time, some say to find any coupons available to add to your discounts, some say to just pace yourself for the shopping drama! If you are a seasoned Black Friday shopper, what kinds of things do you think newbies should know if they choose to jump in this year?

Share your favorite Black Friday and Cyber Monday ideas, tips and places to shop in the chat!

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Best Places for Halloween Candy

Where do you buy yours?

Halloween is less than a week away and you might be scrambling to find enough candy to tame your trick or treaters. Where do you get your Halloween candy deals? For my family, it's not complicated since we get very few trick or treaters. We end up buying a small bag or two of candy that we like and placing it on the porch while we take our daughter to her festivities. Most of it's still there when we get home and then we get to keep the rest! 

We get our small bags at the dollar store but that would be pricey if you're buying for a large group of kids. Using coupons or points on items might be your best bet if you know of a great deal going on; I know Walgreens has run some great deals, as has Walmart. 

Where do you do your Halloween candy shopping? Do you know of a place that sells candy really cheaply? Share your resources below.


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Best Post-Halloween Shopping Deals

Start saving to shop!

Last week we talked about some great Halloween sales already going on but we all know the BIG ones are coming up fast! The day after Halloween is typically when a lot of these sales are available so be sure to start saving up for some major cool Halloween deals.

While stores like Dollar Tree are usually already switched over for Thanksgiving and Christmas by Halloween night, there are big sales to be had at the Halloween stores themselves like Spirit, where things can go as low as half price to clear out stock. If you're like me and you want skeletons climbing all over your house but don't want to pay 60 bucks a pop for them, this is the time to check those prices again.

Two must-hit stores, of course, are Wal-Mart and Target where you're going to get Halloween specials for up to 80% off before they're gone. We get some of our best Halloween decorations at Target during this time of year because they're so low! I get lots of items under a buck just because of this deal.

Where do you get your post-Halloween deals? Tell us in the comments.

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Deals on Halloween Goodies

Share your best finds!

Now is the time to nab some great Halloween deals! You probably already know that the very BEST time is right after Halloween when stores are getting rid of their stock, but if you are decorating many specials are available right now.

For starters, some Menard's locations are offering deals on Halloween lights, greeter creatures, serving bowls and many other party essentials. They often have rebates so check into those!

Grocery stores like Aldi and Shop N Save have great pumpkin deals right now. You can get many pumpkins for as low as $1.50 or decent-sized ones for even $3. It's more fun to head out to a patch but it will cost you about four or five times as much.

Where do you go to get your Halloween deals? Share your tips in the chat.


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Great American Cookies October Specials

Get in on these great cookie deals

Are you a big fan of Great American Cookies? If so, you'll want to take advantage of these great fall deals the company is offering. 

Pumpkin Spice Cookies: These are an annual favorite! Pumpkin spice fans absolutely need to try these.

Ghoulishly gorgeous Cookie Cakes: Ever had a GAC Cookie with a vampire on it? That's what you can find this month! These make great cakes for Halloween birthdays and parties.

National Dessert Month: Great American Cookies are celebrating all month long! October 5 is World Teacher Day, October 16 is Boss's Day and October 26 is National Pumpkin Day. Check for specials at your local store and don't forget to check in on Halloween!

What is your favorite item on the Great American Cookie menu?


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Unexpected Plus Size Deals

Share yours in the chat

No matter what size you are, it can be a pain to shop for something that truly fits well. Studies have shown that sizes might as well be random as much as they vary by brand. Plus sizes can be especially hard to come by, especially if you're looking for something cute and modern. Sure, places like Lane Bryant and Torrid have plus sizes, but they are often pretty expensive.

Enter Rue 21. I had no idea the store carried plus sizes until my sister bought me a couple of shirts there. These jersey knit, soft shirts are cute graphic tees and my current favorite shirts, and after I started browsing their website I found lots of other items for around $5. Unfortuantely they only go up to 3X, so some shoppers may not find what they are looking for, but it's a great source of plus sizes for people in that range looking for a deal. Even the more expensive items are still cheaper than those in comparable plus size shops.

Where do you find plus size deals? Share your sources in the chat!

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