How Target is Wooing Away Amazon Moms

Is the cost of Amazon Prime’s yearly service getting too hard to swallow?   It might be time for you to consider their fiercest new competitor – Target.

Target’s brick & mortar stores are known to be a mom’s best friend, a cheap-chic escape into aisles of aromatic coffee and buffalo-checked throw pillows.   Now they’re fighting hard to make their online site just as beloved to moms who’d rather stay home and shop.

In fact, Target has just entered the world of Free Shipping as a major player.

Who needs the $99 Amazon Prime Membership for FREE 2-Day shipping, when now offers FREE 3-5 Day Shipping and Free Returns on ANY PURCHASE?

From Nov. 1 – Dec. 25, average joes can now receive the same benefits that RedCard members always have – the joy of getting anything you want shipped to your door for Free.

And though this is a seasonal offer, the rest of the year you can get free shipping at Target on a mere $25 purchase, while Amazon members who don’t pay for Prime will need a $35 purchase to qualify.  (If you haven’t tried Prime, you can get a FREE 30-Day Trial just in time for Christmas shopipng.)

And let’s talk about the Holiday price wars….

Target has officially expanded their Price Match Guarantee program to match top competitors’ pricing from Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Best Buy and many more.  This is HUGE – I’ve taken advantage of this several times to pick up a coveted video game in my howmetown Target when it was on sale at Best Buy 40 miles away.

Add to that the bonus 2 weeks shoppers get to match any lower competing prices after your purchase and that’s a game-changer for holiday shopping.

Of course, there’s no getting around the fact that Target doesn’t carry the vast quantities of items that you can find on Amazon – I mean who does?  But for some, this Free Shipping price war will have them saying goodbye to the $99 fee this Holiday Season and choosing the Bullseye instead.


To be fair – our household really gets our $99 out of Amazon Prime.   We use it constantly for everything from toilet paper to birthday gifts.  We also use the Prime TV because we don’t have cable and we’re all avid Kindle readers.  I share with my mom and brother who use my account for free shipping as well (though this restriction is tightening). My kids use our prime accounts to shop with their allowance, which I love so I don’t get stuck in the LEGO aisle at Walmart for 3 hours.  You can sign up for your Amazon Prime Free Trial here and decide for yourself!

And if you consider yourself a die-hard Target shopper, you might want to see if you know ALL of these tricks…. 12 Ways to Save at Target.



Money Saving Strategies for Large Families

Money Saving Strategies for Large Families

Our family is still growing, so it’s my job to make sure we’re saving money where we can. Here are a couple of simple things that my family does to save money that might help get your money saving ideas flowing.


Make a List
Probably one of the biggest ways we save money in our family is by making a list. We go to the store knowing exactly what we want to buy. Sometimes when we’re unprepared, we make purchases that don’t make sense or that don’t fit into the budget.


Plan for Large Purchases
Another way we save money as a larger family is by planning for larger purchases. We don’t just wake up one day and decide that we’ll go buy a new television or a new car, those items take planning and saving.


Buy Secondhand When it Makes Sense
I’m not sure people realize how much money they can save by purchasing items secondhand. I buy a lot of my kids clothes at children’s consignment sales. By doing so I get incredible deals on name brand children’s clothing at a fraction of the cost. I’ve also found great deals on baby items and furniture. When I had my first baby I bought everything brand new, but now I’ve realized what a waste of money that was.


Stay at Home
It can get so pricey to go out and entertain a large family. If you want to save money in your home, then consider staying at home. You can do simple things like watch a movie together or have a family game night. Keep it simple and watch how much fun your family has while saving money.



Be Brand Loyal
Another way my family saves money is by being brand loyal. I know what my favorite brands cost money wise, which helps me save money. I don’t go to the store every time trying to decide what to spend on a specific item. I know what I like, what it costs, and how to put it into our budget. One of my favorite items to buy are the ARM & HAMMER™ plus OxiClean™ Power PAKS (hello no mess or spills)! I’ve come to love ARM & HAMMER™ Plus OxiClean™ Stainfighters Power PAKS Laundry Detergent because they are powerful and effective. With both of my older kids playing sports this is extremely important, otherwise I would never get their baseball and softball pants clean. In addition, the convenience and affordability make me a repeat customer, because who really wants to think about laundry more than necessary? What about you? How does your family save money? Even if you aren’t a large family, these money saving ideas can work for just about anyone. The most important thing is to find what works for you and stick with it!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ARM & HAMMER. The opinions and text are all mine.


Saving Money Tips: Eat at Home – The 10-Minute Trick

Saving Money Tips

Saving Money Tips

Several years ago, we ate out almost every meal.  After my family was faced with a job loss and multiple mortgages from spec homes not selling we had to make some changes. Otherwise, all the money I was saving on groceries would have been worthless.

I found that taking a couple of steps to prepare ahead of time, mealtime was much less daunting.  By cooking and freezing ground beef/turkey or chicken ahead of time you’ll cut down meal preparation time significantly.  I call it the The Ten Minute Trick – grab a zip-lock bag of precooked ground beef/turkey or chicken out of the freezer, pop it in the microwave for a minute to thaw then add to your favorite recipe. [Read more...]

12 Ways to Save at Target



There are SOOOO many ways to save at Target beyond the weekly ad – from hunting down clearance markdowns to stacking coupons, Cartwheels, and giftcard offers.  You can save some crazy cash if you learn these 12 ways to save at Target!



1. Target Clearance deals are THE GREATEST


Don’t you love finding huge markdowns?  Target endcaps are famous for that!  Stick to the more hidden ends of each aisle to find goodies marked down up to 90% OFF.  The seasonal sections are another great place to find huge discounts – if you can master the art of putting stuff away for next year, you’ll never pay full price for Christmas ornaments, flip flops, Easter baskets or Halloween costumes again.

If you’re lazy at math, you can tell how low an item has been marked down by peeking in the top right corner of the clearance sticker.  You’ll either see the number 15, 30, 50, 70, or 90.  (That represents the percentage it’s been marked down.)  If an item ends in a $0.04, that indicates that it WON’T be marked down again – this is as low as it will get.  Find out even more about How To Decipher Target Clearance Tags!


2. Target Clearance Markdowns generally follow this schedule:

I have to drive all the way across town to get to my Target, and if I’m going specifically for patio furniture clearance, it helps to know what day that happens.  Did you know that most Target stores follow a weekly markdown schedule?  While this doesn’t hold true for ALL Target managers – this is a pretty accurate guide:

  • Monday: Kids Clothes, Books, Electronics, Accessories, Baby, and Stationery
  • Tuesday: Women’s Clothing, Pets, Domestics and Food
  • Wednesday: Men’s Clothing, Furniture, Health and Beauty, Diapers, and Lawn/Garden
  • Thursday: Lingerie, Shoes, Housewares, Toys, Sporting Goods, Decor and Luggage
  • Friday: Cosmetics, Hardware, Auto, and Jewelry


3. You can stack up to *4* kinds of discounts

Target allows you to stack various discount offers on top of their sale price – and while you don’t HAVE to go to crazy lengths to get a good deal there, you  definitely CAN. :)

  • Store Promotion – like a BOGO Sale or Giftcard Deal
  • Manufacturer Coupons
  • Target Cartwheel Discount
  • Target Coupon (Either a Mobile Coupon or Target Printable Coupon)


4. Get the Target Cartwheel App

The Target Cartwheel app is totally free and will save you LOADS of money.  Each Cartwheel offer can be used up to *4* times.  Most of the time, they CAN’T be used towards clearance merchandise.

Just browse the various Cartwheel savings offers, and add the ones you think you’ll use.  Have the cashier scan the barcode on your phone at the register to activate these savings.  If you don’t have a smartphone, you can use the Cartwheel website to add offers to your cart, and then simply print them out and take your paper with you.  Have the cashier scan the barcode on that instead.  Find out more about Target Cartwheel here!




5. Target Mobile Coupons and Printable Coupons 


Some stores’ mobile coupons are just a duplicate of what’s available to print on their website.  Not so with Target.  Sign up for Mobile Text Alerts to receive coupons on your phone – most of these are completely different from what’s available to print at

Below on the left is a screenshot from my phone of some recent Target Mobile Coupons.  On the right is a screenshot of Target Printable coupons – and how hovering over the top portion of the coupon will reveal if the coupon you are about to print is a Target Coupon (a true store coupon) or a Manufacturer Coupon (can be used anywhere and stacked with a store coupon)



6. Learn how to work the Target Giftcard offers 


Target runs giftcard offers just about every week, where you can buy a specified number of select products, and get back a Target Giftcard.  When you add in manufacturer  and other Target offers (Cartwheel, coupons, etc…) you can walk away with some CRAZY great deals.

For example, Target ran a deal recently where you could buy (3) boxes of Kotex products and receive a $5 Target Giftcard.  Kotex products were around $5 apiece, so on the surface, it didn’t seem like a crazy deal.  However, there was a $2 manufacturer coupon available (making them $3 a box) and a $2 Target coupon available (which could only be used once), putting your total out of pocket for three boxes at about $7.  Once you get that $5 gift card, it was like paying just 66¢ each!


7. Price Cuts last longer than the weekly sale


Often Target will have certain price cuts that last a significant amount of time.  (Think, 45 days)  These price cuts are handy to keep in mind because sometimes they’ll overlap with a weekly gift card offer and result in some cheap products!



8. Save an extra 5% with Target’s RedCard (NOT a credit card!)

Get an extra 5% OFF every purchase, free shipping and longer return periods with the Target RedCard! Read more about the Target Debit  Card benefits here!


9. Return Items without a Receipt (Up to $75 per year)

If you bought something, took it home, threw away the receipt and then need to return it a couple weeks later – you can do that!  Target will accept returns WITHOUT a receipt for up to $75 in merchandise per year.  However, if you have your debit/credit card that you used to make the purchase – Target can look it up and it’s just like having your receipt!

10. Use TWO coupons on Target BOGO Items

If there is a Buy One Get One Free sale happening at Target (or a Buy 3, Get 1 Free or Buy 4, Get 1 Free etc…..) you can use a coupon on both the item you pay for AND the “free” item.



11. Target Price Match


Does Target Price Match?  You bet!!  Target’s price match policy helps out tremendously if you don’t live near a lot of other stores.  I’ve price matched Amazon, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Kmart at my local Target – it’s fantastic!

You don’t even need a store ad –  most times a Target employee can verify a competitor’s online price right on the iPad at customer service :)

A couple things to remember about Target price match is that you can’t use a Target Coupon after a price match, also they will only match competitors’ prices for the exact same item (color, brand, size, etc…) and the item must be IN-STOCK at the other store.  Read more about Target’s Price Match Guarantee here!



12. Rainchecks are AWESOME

Guarantee that a sale will be available to you for 45 days when you pull a Target Raincheck ticket off a shelf and take it to customer service!



Check out all the current Target Deals going on here!


Thrift Store Shopping Tips: 13 Helpful Hints


13 Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Somehow or another I kept missing my Saturday morning yard sale runs this summer – but I made up for it with thrift store trips!  I love shopping the thrift store and one of the BEST times to save big bucks at the Goodwill is coming right up (Halloween costumes!)

Looking for some thrift store shopping tips?  Here are our 13 favorite:

[Read more...]

Top 10 Things You Need for College Dorm Life



Going off to college is really exciting, and a little overwhelming – to help prepare you for the transition, here are the Top 10 Things you Need for College Dorm Life.

Of course, there are oodles more you could bring along that would help you get comfortable, or be nice to have around (like bean bag chairs and dusting spray) – but in my experience, really long lists make for really great panic attacks.  Plus – we think college is expensive enough without getting too crazy on dorm decor.

Start with this list for the basics, and build as you settle in.  And remember – you may hit the jackpot with a crazy-prepared room mate who’ll come bearing all sorts of room furnishings, so hold off on any big purchases until you meet :)


Courtesy of UrbanOutfitters

1. Cute (& Comfortable) Bedding

Dorm rooms are small, and the bed is one of the few pieces of furniture in there.  It’ll serve double duty as a place to crash AND a couch, so make sure to maximize it as a design statement, a hiding places for your mess, and a retreat from the world.  You’ll want to bring:

  • Mattress topper - Either Eggcrate or a memory foam topper for those used and abused mattresses
  • Comforter & Sheet Sets - Remember to get the Twin XL size 
  • Bed Pillows – Besides the regular pillow, snag a Bedrest Pillow or throw pillows to prop you up
  • Bed Risers – if you plan to store things under your bed these bed risers give you extra room
  • Dust Ruffle – to hide all the stuff that’s stashed underneath

2. Rug

Some dorms have carpet, but if they do, do you really want to walk on it in bare feet?  Ew, no.

An area rug gives you a cleaner, more comfortable place to lounge and watch tv or hang out.  You may want to wait and see if your roommate has brought a rug before you spend much money on one.  Of course, where there’s a rug there’s a vacuum – so borrow your mom’s dust buster or urge the parents to upgrade so you can have the full-size vacuum from home.

3. Desk Lamp

Sure there’s overhead lighting – but it’s pretty harsh.  You’re going to spend a lot of time hitting the books and a desk lamp that’s more soothing on the eyes is a must. Plus, that way you and your roommate can study at different times without keeping each other awake.

Choose a table lamp style for a more cozy vibe.



4. Mini Fridge

A mini fridge is a great way to save money on food while you’re in college.  Not having to go out for every meal means big savings over time – but Ramen can’t sustain you forever.  Keep inexpensive meal supplies in your fridge like milk (for cereal), fruit, lunchmeat and cheese, eggs, leftovers, etc…

Wait til you move in, to see if your roomate bought one to share – and also check to see if you’re allowed to have one.

5. Power Strip

You MUST have a surge protector or power strip for your dorm room. This is one of those things you don’t think about until move-in day and then you have to send your dad out to Walgreens to spend $30 on one.  You’re definitely going to need a power strip to make room for all those chargers, computer cords, desk lamps, refrigerator, etc….

6. Dishes

Most dorms have a community kitchen where students can experimentally cook pasta to their hearts’ content…. so don’t forget the dishes!  My husband tells me how he started college without any dishes and found himself one night contemplating reheating his Chinese leftovers on the rotating microwave dish.  (ugh!)   So make sure to grab an inexpensive, but microwaveable set of dishes that includes:

  • Plate, Bowl, Cup and Coffee Mug for in-room dining (Cereal, sandwiches, etc..)
  • Pot & Small Skillet for those home cooked meals down in the community kitchen (Think Spaghetti, eggs, grilled cheese, etc…)
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Spatula, Serving Spoon, & utensils
  • Dishwashing supplies (Scrubber, towel, soap)


7. Coffee Maker

A coffee maker is a must for college students.  In my opinion, it’s better to skip the Keurig and go for the traditional pot variety so that it can do double duty as a hot water maker (for Ramen Noodles), hot tea, hot cocoa, etc… (This is another one you’ll need to check to see if it’s allowed)  Plus – a normal coffee pot will only run you $10 – $20.

8. Shower Set

If you’re lucky enough to score a suite, you’ll also need a shower curtain and bathmat, as well as a couple sink top accessories.

9. Wall Decor

Decorate the depressing walls with some pieces of flair, just remember, you need to be able to take it off easily when you move out.  Here are some ideas beyond just posters:

  • A Peel & Stick Dry Erase Board is the easiest choice – it can go right over your headboard and peel right off when it’s time to move rooms
  • Command Hooks are also great for things like hanging up your headphones, purse, hat, necklaces, etc…
  • Plants make things feel more homey – a couple that won’t die on you are the Jade plant, the Aloe plant and the Spider Plant
  • Mirrors to bring in more light and check your dark, under eye circles ;)



10. Laundry Supplies

Pick a laundry basket that won’t take up much room and is lightweight enough to haul up and down the stairs.  These pop-up hampers are great, and inexpensive.  If you’ve put risers under your bed, you may be able to slide a shallow laundry basket under there and hide it completely!  Other than that, you’ll want:

  • Detergent and Dryer Sheets
  • Tons of quarters (FYI – a stack of quarters fits great into a Mini M&M’s container!)
  • Febreze – for the times you go awhile between laundry days, or your roommate does…


NOTE: You may be noticing that I’ve left off television and alarm clock.  Well – these days it seems like laptops serve pretty well as TV’s and Cell Phones have taken the place of alarm clocks – so why add to the expense if you don’t have to?  But if you DO decide to get a tv – that’s another one you’ll definitely want to wait on until you see if your roommate saved you the hassle.