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Free fries at Arby's on Tax Day

ArbyfryTuesday is tax day. Would you like free fries with that?

 All Arby’s locations will give away one free snack-sized Curly Fry Tuesday.

 You’ll need a coupon, which you can find on the Arby’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.

 Click here to find your closest Arby's location.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

DIY laundry soap, 12 cents per gallon

Laundry

When it comes to laundry soap, would you rather buy Tide for 11 cents per ounce or make your own for 12 cents per gallon?

The choice is up to you, but if you decide to go the DIY route, here's a great, simple recipe I've used with great success. You'll get 10 gallons for $1.21.

Diysoap

   Ingredients:

   4 cups hot tap water

   1 bar Ivory Soap ($2.49 for four)

   1 cup Washing Soda ($2.89 for 55 ounces)

   1/2 cup Borax ($3.39 for 76 ounces)

  Dissolve

1.) Grate the ivory soap into a saucepan with the 4 cups water. Stir continuously over medium to low heat until the soap dissolves.

  Bucket

2.) Fill a five-gallon bucket halfway with hot tap water. Add the melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir until powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket the rest of the way with more hot water. Stir it, cover it and let it thicken overnight. This will create a concentrated "sludge."

  Sludge

3.) For ease of use, take an empty liquid detergent container and fill it halfway with sludge. Fill the other half with water. Voila! You've got laundry detergent. Be sure to shake it before you pour.

 

Use 5/8 cup for standard top-load washing machines (makes about 180 loads) or 1/4 cup for front loaders (makes about 640 loads).

 

Note: Double check that using this detergent will not void the warranty on a front-loading washing machine.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Are you ready for the XP apocalypse?

Beginning Tuesday, Microsoft will no longer provide free updates or tech support for its Windows XP operating system.

To help you through what some people are calling the “XP Apocalypse,” the Geek Squad at Best Buy has some advice.

To find out if you’re using Windows XP, click here.

When Tuesday rolls around, you won’t notice a major difference. You’ll still have all the computer programs you use and they’ll still work. But without those Microsoft updates, you’ll be vulnerable to new viruses and you won’t have “patches” to fix bugs or improve performance. You’ll also have little to no support from software makers.

Depending on how old your computer is and how capable its built-in hardware is, you might be able to just upgrade to a newer version of Windows and avoid all of those problems.

To find out if your computer can handle that, download and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which will scan your computer and tell you if upgrading is an option.

If you really, really want to keep running XP, be aware of the risks and take some steps to protect yourself. PC World has some great advice here.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Is it Frugal or is it Fraud?

Brassknucklesbag
Some of the most-profitable money-saving tips I hear are the ones I can't print.

That's because they're unethical, if not illegal.

I'm always hearing clever little ways to "maximize" my coupons, "make the most" of freebie offers and "challenge" store policies.

I heard from one mom who got a free box of diapers by calling the company and saying the ones she bought were missing their adhesive tabs (they weren't). I've heard about folks who clear their computer's cookies or use several different household printers to beat couponing sites' per-customer limits.

I've even heard--and this goes beyond the pale--about people pretending to "forget" that their laundry detergent is under their cart in hopes the cashier won't notice it. That's not being frugal, that's just plain stealing.

According to a story in Sunday's L.A. Times, it's not just a Western New York phenomenon:

Serial returners have been conditioned by a culture of retail discounting and tight economic times. And the Internet has opened up new opportunities for testing the limits of retail return policies.

At times, the activity amounts to flat-out fraud. Sham returns involving stolen merchandise, items bought with fake money and doctored e-receipts cost the industry $8.8 billion last year, affecting nearly 95% of retailers, according to the National Retail Federation.

But there's also a mushrooming undergrowth of not-quite scams and ethically hazy work-arounds — tricks that regular customers pull to save some money. Spending a minimum of $50 to get a freebie and then returning everything but the gift. Scouring aggregator websites for online coupon codes intended only for a retailer's email subscribers. When buying discounted items that are final sale, asking for a gift receipt just in case — that way, the product can be exchanged later for store credit . . . . 

Some consumers justify their tricky tactics as a necessity in a shaky economy or simply as smart shopping. Others call it a form of retail Robin Hooding — retailers, they say, overcharge for products, and those bloated corporations wouldn't miss a few extra dollars, right? And there are those for whom wriggling through the loopholes in a return policy heightens the thrill of a bargain hunt.

Other consumers in the article create several e-mail addresses with different, fake dates of birth in order to cash in on restaurant birthday freebies and return clothing after it has been worn.

Some retailers are chalking these losses up to the cost of doing business while others are tightening up their policies to crack down on unethical shoppers.

One consumer, and this actually seems OK to me, regularly presses Amazon for $15 gift cards when his two-day Prime deliveries arrive late.

"I think it's perfectly, perfectly fine," he said. "Most corporations, they have no problems taking advantage of consumers or workers for profit, so whenever a consumer can get a little more bang for their buck, I'm 100% for that."

What do you think? Where's the line between frugality and fraud?

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Wegmans wants your plastic bags

BagsYou probably knew that you can return your plastic grocery bags to the store for recycling, but did you know you can do the same with bread bags, cereal box liners and other plastic packaging?

Wegmans has started stamping its plastic grocery bags with the slogan "Return to Sender (Don't trash it!)" reminding customers to bring bags back to the store for recycling.

In an awareness push tied to the bag's rollout, Wegmans has also released a video educating consumers about environmental issues associated with plastic, which shows a behind-the-scenes look at the recycling process.

Wegmans is also reminding customers that, in addition to plastic grocery bags from any retailer, they can return bread wrappers, cereal box liners, newspaper bags, bath tissue wrap, plastic outer wrap, shipping pillows, dry cleaning bags, food storage bags and produce bags.

Wet or dirty items, frozen food bags, cups and takeout food packaging are not accepted.

 

 ---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

newspaper bags, bath tissue wrap, plastic outer wraps, shipping pillows, dry cleaning bags, food storage bags, produce bags, grocery bags, and bags from other retailers. - See more at: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PressReleaseDetailView?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=775604#sthash.5fHdsjqi.dpuf
Clean plastic bags – including bread wrappers, cereal box liners, newspaper bags, bath tissue wrap, plastic outer wraps, shipping pillows, dry cleaning bags, food storage bags, produce bags, grocery bags, and bags from other retailers. - See more at: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PressReleaseDetailView?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=775604#sthash.5fHdsjqi.dpuf

 

 
“People have been  recycling for years, but it’s still not  easy to know what you’re supposed to do,” says Wegmans Sustainability Coordinator Jason Wadsworth. “Many communities have curbside recycling for paper, cans and bottles, but beyond those items, it’s not always clear what can be recycled. One way for Wegmans to make a difference is by helping to make recycling easier to understand and easier to carry out, with strong, simple messages and convenient drop-off spots for the items we can accept.”

- See more at: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PressReleaseDetailView?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=775604#sthash.on9NLY4Y.dpuf

 

 
“People have been  recycling for years, but it’s still not  easy to know what you’re supposed to do,” says Wegmans Sustainability Coordinator Jason Wadsworth. “Many communities have curbside recycling for paper, cans and bottles, but beyond those items, it’s not always clear what can be recycled. One way for Wegmans to make a difference is by helping to make recycling easier to understand and easier to carry out, with strong, simple messages and convenient drop-off spots for the items we can accept.”
- See more at: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PressReleaseDetailView?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=775604#sthash.on9NLY4Y.dpuf
 
“People have been  recycling for years, but it’s still not  easy to know what you’re supposed to do,” says Wegmans Sustainability Coordinator Jason Wadsworth. “Many communities have curbside recycling for paper, cans and bottles, but beyond those items, it’s not always clear what can be recycled. One way for Wegmans to make a difference is by helping to make recycling easier to understand and easier to carry out, with strong, simple messages and convenient drop-off spots for the items we can accept.”
- See more at: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PressReleaseDetailView?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=775604#sthash.on9NLY4Y.dpuf

Cheap, easy last-minute Halloween costumes for kids

Face it: it's too late to come up with something as adorable and creative as this baby Prince costume for your kids to wear to their school Halloween party this year. (Find Discount Diva column on this subject here.)

Baby-prince-halloween-costume

And even if you had started in May, you probably wouldn't have been able to pull this off:

  Babyedward

Let's not even talk about this family that went as the cast of Labyrinth:

Labyrinth

But don't freak out and run to the store. You've got plenty of stuff laying around the house to come up with a perfectly respectable Halloween costume.

Such as:

Static Cling

Staticcling

Lady Gaga

LadyGaGa

Biker Dude

Biker-Baby

Error message

Errormsg

God's gift to women:

Present

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Wings at Quaker Steak & Lube

Wings
Quaker Steak & Lube will give away free six-pack "Sprintsters" of jumbo chicken wings next week in its "Six Wings for Six Days" promotion.

One six-pack of wings per person will be given away free Oct. 20 through Oct. 25 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the restaurant, 6727 Transit Road in Lancaster, near Main Street. No purchase is necessary. The wings, which come with celery or carrots and ranch or bleu cheese dip, are not available to go.

The Pennsylvania-based chain is running the promotion to spread the word about being chosen "Festival Favorite" at Buffalo's National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival for the third year.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Consumer Reports says not to buy Heidi Klum's stroller

HeidiKlum

I guess her famous catchphrase is true: one day you're in, and the next, you're out.

A stroller hawked by Project Runway host and former supermodel Heidi Klum has been given a "don't buy" rating by Consumer Reports magazine.

In a series of consumer product safety tests, a buckle on the safety harness of the Truly Scrumptious Travel System by Heidi Klum repeatedly came unlatched, leaving kids at risk of falling out of the stroller. The most common cause of stroller-related injuries sustained by children are related to the child falling out of a stroller.

In fact, Consumer Reports is urging consumers who've already bought the stroller to say, "auf wiedersehen" and ask for a refund for the $220 piece of posh baby gear.

"If you already own the Heidi Klum TR252BQR stroller, you can continue using the car seat in the car and on the stroller, since it doesn’t rely on the stroller’s restraint system. But don’t use the stroller on its own. Consider asking the retailer for a refund on the entire travel system," Consumer Reports said, in a press release about the rankings.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Park Tours

Ellicott
Take a free, guided walk at Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda Saturday as part of the "Be Active Erie County!" series sponsored by the Erie County Department of Health and Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.

Register at the park's casino, 1 Ellicott Creek Drive in Tonawanda, at 9 a.m.

There will also be free blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screenings, brochures, lessons in healthy living and help to quit smoking.

Similar walks will take place:

  • Sept. 21 at Sprague Brook Park
  • Sept. 28  at Akron Falls Park
  • Oct. 5 at  Como Lake Park
  • Oct. 19 at Chestnut Ridge Park
  • Oct. 26 at County Forestry in Sardinia

For more information, call 858-7226 or visit www.erie.gov/health

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Buzzfeed is Team Wegmans

Wegmans
Earlier this week, Buzzfeed associate food editor Rachel Sanders gushed about her love for Wegmans with a post titled, "25 Reasons Wegmans is The Greatest Supermarket the World Will Ever Know."

Sanders, a Rochester native, waxed obsessive about the supermarket's charms.

She lauded its cheese and baked goods, subs and sushi; called its olive bar "a vast land of mysterious allure" and averred its "bulk candy section will restore your faith in everything."

She deemed its private label brands less expensive and higher quality than national brand items and touted everything from Wegmans' diverse selection of shopping carts to its employees' great attitudes.

"This is not an ad, it’s just how I FEEL," Sanders wrote.

Buzzfeed is clearly Team Wegmans. How about you?

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

 

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