Frugal Family Footnotes
A few minutes can mean big savings
October 24, 2011
by Kristi Hiivala

The cold weather does not excite me. I know, I know, there are a lot of people who love fall and look forward to the change in the seasons. But the arrival of cooler weather in the fall always seems to catch me off-guard.

Every year, there is a frantic, late-night search for the box holding last year’s winter gear, and a little prayer that things will still fit as I shove a child’s hands into a pair of mismatched gloves.

And, as I have discovered with just a few days of colder weather this fall, my high-spirited toddler will run across the house every single time I need to put him in his jacket. If this workout continues, I figure to be in a size 4 before Christmas!

On the other hand, discovering some great deals and coupons does excite me to no end! Just recently, I came across a rather interesting website that offers coupons to local businesses. Check out www.staylocalsavebig.com.

Once you click on “Shoppers,” you will be asked to narrow your area of interest. Dassel and Cokato are split between Wright County and Crow River. And there are more areas to check out for those that commute to work, or drive to shop. Bring on the deals!

Also on this website, you will notice a tab labeled “Contests.” Yes, it requires you to fill out the electronic form for each contest you wish to enter, but a few minutes of repeating your contact information can lead to some exciting results.

In the past, I would ignore these contests, figuring I didn’t have the time to willingly welcome calls from solicitors. But I did sign up for one and randomly won, and now I try to sign up for as many contests by local businesses as my time allows.

Recently, I won a gift certificate worth $50 to a local restaurant and realized that the few minutes it took me to enter, literally, gave my family of six a free dinner.

Sure, the businesses that hold these contests will still want to share their deals with you. Most of them no longer require a phone number, but an email address is required. I set up a free email address that I use on any of these forms, rather than clutter up my personal email inbox with so many offers. And I do make the time to look through the email offers I receive at the second email address, as more and more local businesses start offering Internet deals.

I have also signed up for several other last-minute deal sites, such as Groupon, Living Social Deals, and Saveology Deals. Most of the time, these websites offer deals for events in the Twin Cities area, but they can be useful when you are planning a special day for the family. This summer, I bought into a deal from Groupon that allowed me to take all three of my children on the rides at Como Zoo for just the price of one.

Another site with deals that recently began is called DealChicken, offering deals for the St. Cloud area. All of these money-saving websites can be found on Facebook, as well, for those of you who share a Facebook addiction with me.

Happy fall savings!

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