Food Fun Friday - New Year's Cookies

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I had originally planned to make some Christmas cookies with the girls, but we had so many goodies and sweets given to us by family and friends that the last thing we needed were more cookies.  So the plans changed and we decided to make cookies to celebrate the New Year. 
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Thrifty Thursday - A World of Family Fun at the Library

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Something that almost everyone has access to is the public library.  Yet I am often surprised when I talk to friends, how few people actually take advantage of this resource.  Here are some simple ways your family can save money, learn something and be entertained at your local library.

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Each week we take a trip to the library where we borrow books, DVD's and CD's.  My daughters were having a tough time going down for their nap because they kept talking and playing.  I borrowed some stories on CD from the library and played one at the start of each naptime.  This has made naps so much easier.  Our library has a great selection of children's books on CD and we borrow a bunch each week for the girl's naptime.

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Snow Scene with Shredded Paper

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The snowman theme continues at Mess For Less.  Today I will show you how to make more snowmen using items I picked up for $1.  You are probably thinking that I got all my supplies at the dollar store.  Well, you're wrong. I only got one of the items at the dollar store.  This summer while visiting yard sales, I happened upon this large bag full of foam snowmen and snowflakes.  Even thought it was summer, I could not resist all these great items for just $1.  So I stored the bag away and was so proud when I actually found it recently.  If you haven't stumbled upon a bag like this at a yard sale (odds are you have not), then you can just pick up some at Michael's or your local craft store.

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Making Snowmen with Hair Curlers

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We don't see any snow here in our part of California, but that doesn't mean my kids don't love snowmen.  Recently, I have been on the lookout for different ways to do snowman art with the kids.  This method was inspired by the dollar store.  I get inspired there a lot!
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Fun Activities to Keep Kids Busy

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Hope you all had a great Christmas with family and friends!  I have gotten a lot of new readers over the past few months, so I thought I would go back into the Mess For Less archives and share some of my favorite activities to keep your little ones busy during their school break.

Fruit Loop Towers
This is an easy activity using items most of you already have at home.  This is a great one for fine motor skills.


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Food Fun Friday - Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

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The last few years I have made chocolate dipped pretzel rods to give as gifts. Recently, when my girls saw me making a batch, they wanted to help. If you've ever had three toddlers helping you in the kitchen, you realize it's not really that helpful. But kids benefit so much from these kinds of hands-on experiences, so we gave it a try. Here are our surprisingly successful results.

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Share and Care Project from Minivan Diva

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Tomorrow Katie from Minivan Diva will be sharing a guest post here about one her family's Christmas Traditions.  Today, I wanted to share with you something she is doing that would be a great service project for kids, families or schools.  I'll let her explain... 


There is no better time than the Christmas season to reflect on all that we have been given and to teach our children to give back in return.

Giving is also a great way to counteract any serious bouts of "I wants" which seem to plague our home come December.

Inspired by the bags I saw from Joy's Hope over Thanksgiving, I asked my friend Karen if she wanted to join me in the creation of the Share and Care Project.

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Thrifty Thursday - After Christmas Sales

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Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you know me, you know I love a deal.  I try to rarely purchase items unless they are on sale.  When can you find some of the biggest sales of the year? Well, if you are shopping for Christmas merchandise then the best time to do it is after Christmas.

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Decorating Christmas Stockings

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We already have our family stockings hung up in our living room, but our family room mantle was looking rather bare. When I was roaming through the dollar store a few weeks ago, I came upon the perfect solution. Stockings! Yup, the dollar store sells these great cream colored stockings that are just begging to be jazzed up.  And that is just what we did.

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15 Minute Craft - Beaded Garland Christmas Tree

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I have a quick and easy Christmas craft for you today.  This decorated cone took me all of 15 minutes to complete and looks pretty cute sitting on my mantle.  


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I Did It All For The Cookie (Tray)

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My kids love working in their play kitchen. One of their favorite toys has been a birthday gift they received this summer, Melissa and Doug's Slice and Bake Cookie Set.  Here is ours, minus a few cookies which I imagine are wedged under a seat in the car.  
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Food Fun Friday - Cranberry Bread Tradition - Guest Post from Minivan Diva

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What an honor it is for me today to have Katie from Minivan Diva sharing a guest post.  Katie is an amazing, strong woman with big faith.  You can't read her blog without admiring her and learning from her. Today she will let us in on a Christmas tradition in her family that takes the focus off of receiving and puts it on giving.  Gotta love that!

Christmas traditions are big in this home.

One of my favorites is baking cranberry bread with the boys.

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Thrifty Thursday - Spending Less at Christmas

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Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christmas is such a joyful time of year, but many people end up in debt because they spend more than they can afford on gifts.  I have been trying to focus more on the meaning of Christmas and less on the aspects that don't really matter.  I still struggle with this, but have been striving over the past few weeks to have a more simple Christmas season.

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Terrific Thursday Blog Hop! Week 44

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Welcome to Terrific Thursday blog hop, hosted by Rondi from WAHM Resource Site and Vicky from Mess For Less


The Guidelines for participating in the Terrific Thursday blog hop are as follows:

1. Please grab the blog hop button to spread the word. 
2. Please follow the two hosts and guest host – WAHM Resource Site and Mess For Less, and guest host Let's Talk Fashion via Google Friend Connect (feel free to follow on Twitter and Facebook as well).
3. Please do not link up your giveaways, blog hops, etc. (These will be deleted.)
Link up your blog, visit and follow the blogs that interest you and have fun! If you follow our blogs and leave a comment, we will follow you back!

Now, let’s get blog hoppin’ and have some fun!

This is our last Terrific Thursday Blog Hop…we truly enjoyed hosting and thank all of you for participating! Happy Hopping!  We plan to have something different in the near future- hope you continue to visit us!!

You only need to add your link to one linky for it to show up on all participating blogs. The linkys will open every Wednesday by 11:30pm CST

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Home For The Holidays video from T-Mobile

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These days it's hard to go anywhere without hearing Christmas music. Sometimes you hear the same songs over and over and they start to get a little stale.  Here is a great version of Home For The Holidays that will have you clapping along.  I wish I was at this mall the day T-Mobile brought in these amazing ladies to perform.  I hope this season you will find yourself "Home For The Holidays."  Enjoy!



This post is sponsored by T-Mobile
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Christmas Scavenger Hunt - Guest Post from Mom's Heart

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Are you ready for some family fun?  Well, I am and so is Brittney from Mom's Heart.  Brittney is here today to share a Christmas Scavenger hunt that your little ones are sure to enjoy.  On her blog, Mom's Heart, Brittney blogs about her experiences homeschooling her kids.  Even if you are not homeschooling, you will find so many terrific ideas for play and learning at Mom's Heart.  We can all use a little inspiration!  

The cold weather is here to stay!  That means we will be spending much more time indoors, and with two boys who are 2 and 5 years old, it also means I have to come up with some interesting games and activities to keep the little minds and hands busy and out of trouble!

Today I want to share a fun Christmas Scavenger Hunt!  The best thing about scavenger hunts is that there are so many ways you can create them to suit every child in your family!

This activity was created with my 5 year old in mind, so instead of a traditional scavenger hunt with a list of items to collect, I added a slight educational twist to it.



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Pine Cone Ornaments - Guest Post from There's Just One Mommy

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We have a treat today!  OneMommy, from There's Just One Mommy is here to share a great activity for making ornaments out of pine cones.  OneMommy is a mom of 2 who has a teaching background and does some fabulous projects with her kids.  She just comes up with so many creative ideas that you have to check out her blog when you get a chance.

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Hey, everyone! I'm OneMommy, from There's Just One Mommy. I'm honored to be guest posting here today at Mess for Less. Today I'd like to share one of the many Christmas crafts the kids and I have done recently.

A couple weeks before Thanksgiving the kids and I took a walk and collected pine cones. I had hopes of making turkeys out of them, but it never happened.

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Glitter Snowflakes

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You all know my love of glitter and the dollar store.  Well this kids Christmas activity combines both of those things.  With just a few simple and inexpensive supplies, you can make some gorgeous holiday decor to brighten up your place.
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Applebee's $25 Gift Card Giveaway

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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gift Card Weekend for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.



When I was a teacher, I was lucky to get some great gifts at Christmas. My favorite gifts were freshly baked goodies.  But my second favorite things to get were gift cards.  Why did I love getting gift cards so much?  Well, I loved the ability to use the gift card on myself and my family to help create fun memories.  I still love getting and giving gift cards.  They are especially great for those hard to buy people on your list.  Now you can have the chance to win a $25 gift card to Applebees!  Want to know how?  Read on.

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Easy Pipe Cleaner Activity

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Sometimes I don't have a lot of time to do an elaborate activity or deal with the cleanup. I like to have some  easy activities on hand for just such occasions. Here's a fun and simple kids activity for you to try this weekend. 

Supplies you will need:
  • Styrofoam shape
  • Pipe cleaners
That's it!  I buy Styrofoam shapes at the dollar store as I use them a lot for fine motor activities where the kids can push things into the Styrofoam.  Just give them the shape and some pipe cleaners to push in.  This really gets those little fingers working.

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Review and Giveaway: Green Toys Pizza Parlor

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We have a tradition in our family.  Every Friday is Pizza Friday.  Yesterday was a double treat for the kids. Not only did we have pizza for dinner, but they received this Pizza Parlor toy from Green Toys.  So it was a Pizza Friday all the way around.  


Green Toys are toys you can feel good giving your kids.  They are made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic.  Green Toys are made from recycled plastic milk jugs.  Our family goes through loads of milk, so it's good to know when we recycle them, that they might be turned into some fun toys.  I was impressed with how the Pizza Parlor came packaged.  Green Toys strives to use as little material as possible in packaging.  All of their toys are packaged in recycled corrugated boxes.
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Review: Pocoyo SwiggleTraks

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I could not wait to share the Pocoyo SwiggleTraks toy with my kids.  Pocoyo is a kids TV series that originated in Spain and and is now in the US.  The main character, Pocoyo,drives his musical car around a flexible race track.  There is a bridge that can move at the touch of a button adding to the fun.  There is also an accessory ball that Pocoyo can push with his car.  

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Review and Giveaway: The Pine Tree Parable Book ends 12/16

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The kids were so happy to receive the book The Pine Tree Parable.  It is a Gold Medallion Book Award Winner, and part of the best-selling Parable Series that has sold over 1.4 million copies. The book, published by Thomas Nelson, is by Liz Curtis Higgs and teaches children the valuable lesson of "love your neighbor as yourself."  With three kids, we talk a lot about sharing in this house.  Usually it involves giving a toy to you sister who will give it back to you later.  But The Pine Tree Parable involves a bigger sacrifice made by a family who grow Christmas trees on their farm.  
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Giveaway: Perplexus Toy - Ends 1/11

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We have a great giveaway today for a toy that will be fun for the entire family. The Perplexus Original (recommended for ages 6+) is a 3D maze game where players can maneuver a marble around challenging barriers inside a transparent sphere. The Perplexus, made by PlaSmart, contains various tracks with 100 barriers designed to provide hours of fun.  Players can race against each other or the clock.  The Perplexus is a fun and challenging toy that provides many educational benefits such as thinking, strategy, perseverance, numeracy, visual stimulation, focus, fine motor skills, self esteem building and challenge.  That's a lot for one toy!

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Food Fun Friday - Gingerbread Homes - Guest Post from Pint Sized Baker

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I just love Food Fun Friday!  I am not the greatest cook, but I do love to make fun food for the kids and what could more fun this time of year than a gingerbread house?  Karyn from Pint Sized Baker is here today to share the beautiful gingerbread houses she made with her kids.  Karyn really has a gift for baking and she makes so many things kids love.  Check out Pint Sized Baker and see if she doesn't inspire you to make some goodies.

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American Cancer Society - More Birthdays

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I pray that no one reading this has been affected by cancer, yet I know that is probably not the case. These days it seems like everyone has a friend, family member or even themselves who have battled this disease. Cancer has certainly touched my family. We lost my Father-In-Law to cancer before I married my husband or our kids were born. He was a fighter and battled the disease as long as he could. My mother is breast cancer survivor and we are thankful for each day she gets to spend with her grandchildren. Because of advancements made by organizations like the American Cancer Society, she was able to detect the disease early and receive treatment. Not everyone is so lucky.


I believe passionately in this cause and the American Cancer Society's new More Birthdays campaign. Check out this video to learn about More Birthdays.




Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Cancer Society.
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Thrifty Thursday - Save Money Holiday Shopping - Guest Post from My Debt Free Road

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I love finding people who share my views on money and savings.  Anna is one such lady.  Over at her blog, My Debt Free Road, she writes about her journey to financial freedom.  She offers all sorts of money saving tips and advice.  Needless to say, I am super excited to have her doing a guest post today.  She is going to educate us on how to Spend LESS and Save More this holiday season.  
My Debt Free Road

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Terrific Thursday Blog Hop! Week 43

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Welcome to Terrific Thursday blog hop, hosted by Rondi from WAHM Resource Site and Vicky from Mess For Less. Together, we are hoping to create an awesome weekly blog hop to find new blogs and meet new blog friends.


The Guidelines for participating in the Terrific Thursday blog hop are as follows:

1. Please grab the blog hop button to spread the word. 
2. Please follow the two hosts and guest host – WAHM Resource Site and Mess For Less, and guest host In Him We Live And Move And Have Our Being via Google Friend Connect (feel free to follow on Twitter and Facebook as well).
3. Please do not link up your giveaways, blog hops, etc. (These will be deleted.)
Link up your blog, visit and follow the blogs that interest you and have fun! If you follow our blogs and leave a comment, we will always follow you back!

Now, let’s get blog hoppin’ and have some fun!

You only need to add your link to one linky for it to show up on all participating blogs. The linkys will open every Wednesday by 11:30pm CST


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Review: Toy State Cars and CAT Construction Toys

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My kids and I had the pleasure of getting some Toy State toys to review.  My kids were thrilled! They thought Christmas came early.  I have to start off by saying that I have 3 girly girls.  I have always tried to expose them to toys that are traditionally more "boy oriented" as I had a cool racetrack as a kid that was one of my favorite toys.  But my kids are really into princesses right now, so I had no idea how they would react to the Toy State cars and trucks.  Well, I shouldn't have worried - it was love at first sight.


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Grow a Candy Cane Activity {with FREE printable} Guest Post from Living Life Intentionally

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Today I am so happy to have Beth from Living Life Intentionally doing a guest post.  Beth is a mom of 3 and an extrodinary blogger.  I am amazed at how she manages to do so many things on her blog, and do them well.  Whether you are looking for kid activities, homeschool help, printables, recipes, reviews and more, you will find it on Beth's blog.  Go see for yourself!  

November 2011 301

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Our Oral-B Stages Winnie the Pooh Viewing Party!

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I was so excited to have an opportunity to host a Winnie the Pooh movie viewing party courtesy of MommyParties and Oral- B Stages!  My kids couldn't wait to invite their friends to watch the Winnie the Pooh movie.  

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Review: Kiwi Crate

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I recently got a Kiwi Crate to review and I was so excited from the moment I picked up the box. If you are unfamiliar with Kiwi Crate, it is a subscription based service that will send you a box of themed activities for you to do with your child.  Each box will include directions and all the materials you need to create at least two projects and inspire your child's creativity.

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Craft for Moms: Christmas Coasters

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Today I am sharing a craft for mommies!  It is kid related though since I making these Christmas Coasters for my kids' teachers.  But anyone would enjoy these and if you are looking for gift ideas, look no further.  I might make a few extra sets to have on hand for those last minute gifts.   I have seen them in various places like The Cottage Home and they seemed easy enough to make.

Coasters, Christmas


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Guest Post for Jamie's Jumble - Pine Cone Gift Wrap

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Today I am guest posting over at Jamie's Jumble.   Thanks to Jamie!  Stop by and say hi to Jamie and check out the fun pine cone gift wrap the kids made.  Here's a sneak peek.

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Review and Giveaway: $50 Gift Certificate to HearthSong and Big Box of Art Materials Review

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Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  Well if you haven't, don't panic, you still have time to find some original and thoughtful gifts that the kids will love.  A great place to do that is HearthSong.  At HearthSong you will find a variety of items for every kid on your list.  


We were thrilled to receive the Big Box of Art Materials from HearthSong.  There are so many things in this box, I know my kids will be busy for months to come.  There are different varieties of paper, stickers, foam and felt shapes, picture frames, burlap, leather, buttons, beads, I could go on and on.  The box also came with a page full of ideas for the supplies.  This is the perfect gift for parents and teachers who don't have time to go and buy all the individual components or for those looking for a little inspiration.

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Food Fun Friday: Chicken Noodle Soup - Guest post from Hines-Sight Blog

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We're in for a treat today!  Leigh from Hines-Sight Blog is sharing a yummy recipe for chicken noodle soup.  Sounds perfect for this time of year, right?  Leigh is one of the nicest people I've met in my time in blog land.  She blogs about being a mom, travel, food and much more.  Please pay her a visit and say hi!






Since becoming a mom, I searched a long time for a good chicken noodle soup recipe.  Most kids like chicken noodle soup, and we all agree that the homemade kind beats a can of soup filled with preservatives.  I tried many different versions through the years, but the recipes came up short, and, in all honesty, Campbell’s always tasted better.  It was “Mmm Mmm good,” and mine?  Well, not so much.

As we move into the winter season, I’m happy to say I finally found a good recipe that will warm our hearts on a cold night and soothe our souls when we’re feeling poorly.   The best part of all is that the can opener gets to stay in the drawer.


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Thrifty Thursday - How to Shop For Groceries - Coupons

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Thanks for joining us for the final installment of the "How to Shop For Groceries" series.  I hope it's been informative and inspiring.  Today I will talk about coupons.  You can't turn on the TV these days without seeing some show where people are paying 80 cents for hundreds of dollars of groceries while using TONS of coupons.  I will not be talking about extreme couponing, since I am not an expert on that, and I think the average shopper doesn't have the time and energy to put into it.  Most people are just looking to save money at the grocery store.  The good news is that even moderate coupon use will help you do that.

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