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Free Erie County Fair admission on opening day

The Erie County Fair kicks off Wednesday, with a plethora of deals and discounts for fairgoers.

A canned good donation gets you in free Wednesday. Canned goods will also get you $5 off an unlimited ride wristband Saturday and $5 off gate admission Sunday.

 

Firefighters and fire co. auxiliary members get in free Friday with proper identification. Veterans with proper ID get in free Sunday.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Back-to-school freebies

BackToSchoolBeFrugal.com has rounded up some great freebies for back-to-school, whether you're a student or not:

 OfficeMax coupon -$25 worth of supplies FREE with the purchase of select backpacks. Expires: 8/4. Shop through BeFrugal & get up to 6% Cash Back. 

Staples coupon - FREE $100 Prepaid Visa Card with the purchase of select laptops. Expires: 9/15. Shop through BeFrugal & get up to 5% Cash Back.

Geeks.com coupon - FREE backpack with your purchase of select HP Netbooks. Expires soon! Shop through BeFrugal & get up to 10% Cash Back.

HP coupon - FREE Xbox 360 with your $699+ HP PC order. Expires: 9/8. Shop through BeFrugal & get 3% Cash Back.

Cash back rates can change from one day to the next. These rates were valid 7/31/12.

Free kids' haircuts at JC Penney Salon

Haircut

During the entire month of August, JC Penney is giving away free haircuts for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Just sign up to be a JCP Rewards member, find a JC Penney store with a salon and make an appointment.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Independence Day coupon codes

Here are some deals to take advantage of this Independence Day weekend, courtesy of Kendal Perez and FreeShipping.org:

1. Botanic Choice
Take $30 off purchases of $100 or more through July 8 with code 4THSALE.

2. Timberland
Get 20% off any order through July 5 with promo code JULY2012.

3. Kohl's
Save 15% on your purchase of $100 or more through June 30 with code USA15OFF.

4. The Children's Place
Receive 30% off the American Collection through July 4.

5. J. Jill
Get free shipping when you spend $100 or more through July 8 with promo code 12SHIP.

6. Nautica
Take up to 40% off everything during the Buy More, Save More event through July 4 with code FIREWORKS.

7. Shutterfly
Click here to receive free shipping on orders of $30 or more through July 18.

8. Williams-Sonoma
Get free shipping on orders of $49 or more, plus take 20% off bedding and bath items through July 5 with code WHITESALE.

9. LeapFrog
Take 15% off orders of $60 or more through July 4 with code FFJULY4TH.

10. BlueFly
Grab this exclusive coupon code to get free shipping on all orders from Bluefly through July 5.

11. Patagonia
Enjoy up to 60% off 4th of July Web specials through July 5.

12. Sunglass Hut
Take up to 50% off select sunglasses through July 4 during the American Dream Sale.

13. Harry & David
Follow this link and save up to 33% on select Fourth of July Gifts through July 9.

14. Jelly Belly
Save 10% off orders of $35 or more that include a red, white and blue category item with code PATRIOT.

15. Pfaltzgraff
Get free shipping on orders of $75 or more, plus take 20% off your purchase through July 5 with code FIREWORKS.

Save some money on your wedding

Here is today's MoneySmart tip of the day:

 

Wedding
You can save thousands of dollars booking your wedding on a non-peak day, such as a Friday or Sunday, or in an off season, such as in the dead of winter.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Wegmans posts summer's price-freeze list

Wegmans
Wegmans has released its consistent low pricing list for summer.

Wegmans will freeze prices on a list of items it says families buy most. The list differs from the one released for winter, and contains things people buy more often in summer.

The list includes bananas priced at 49 cents a pound, Wegmans brand macaroni and cheese for 49 cents per box and Wegmans brand whole wheat bread for $1.99. For a complete list of items and prices, click here.

Wegmans vows to keep the prices in place until August 25, whether or not the cost of each item increases.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Dyeing for clothes that last?

Here is today's MoneySmart tip of the day:

 

Extend the life of your wardrobe with the fabric dye. When colors start to fade after repeated washings, give them a boost with home kits such as Rit and they'll look like new.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Get a better hotel rate

Here is today's MoneySmart tip of the day:

 

If you notice an empty-looking parking lot when checking into a hotel, try to negotiate a better rate. They're more likely to give you a break if they have a lot of empty rooms.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Fly JetBlue for 10 Bucks by Midnight

It seems almost too good to be true.


To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Jetblue is offering $10 one-way flights among its first 10 destinations for travel March 9 and 10.


Since Buffalo is one of those first 10 destinations, we can book travel to the other nine (and vice versa) for just $10 each way, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla; Tampa, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Rochester; Oakland, Calif.; Burlington, Vt.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Myers, Fla.


Travel must be booked by 11:59 p.m. Monday March 8.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Make your own pre-packaged mixes to save time and money

In today's Discount Diva column, MoneySmart reader Bronwen Battaglia shared an idea for saving time and money when it comes to feeding her three hungry sons.

Instead of buying pre-packaged mixes, such as Bisquick and Swiss Miss, Battaglia takes time to measure out batches of her own scratch recipes and stores them in labeled containers. When it's time for pancakes or hot cocoa, she merely takes the dry mixes off the shelf and adds the wet ingredients as she would with any store-bought box mix.

Not only does this bit of advanced planning save money and add convenience, it allows Battaglia to control the amount of sugar and preservatives her kids eat, and lets her incorporate more healthful whole-wheat flour.

Here are two of the recipes she has perfected for her family:

Hot Cocoa:

 ScratchCocoa

4 cups nonfat dry milk
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon

Blend ingredients in a food processor until it resembles a fine powder. Store in air-tight container.

To prepare: Stir three tablespoons of mix with six ounces of hot water.


Pancakes:

Scratchjacks

2 cups whole wheat flour (or a combination of part wheat, part oatmeal flour)
4 cups unbleached white all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup baking powder
1 tablespoons salt

To prepare a big batch (approximately 20 pancakes): In a medium bowl, combine: 2 ½ cups mix, 2 cups milk (or more), 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola, or mild olive). Gently stir ingredients together. Do not over mix. Let batter stand for at least 5 minutes. It will thicken up. Add more milk if necessary. Ladle 1/2 cup or so of batter on to hot griddle. Flip once bubbles are visible and edges appear dry.

Variations:

Substitute buttermilk or sour milk* for milk and add 1 tsp Baking Soda to mix.

Mash a banana in bowl before adding other ingredients.

Add a dash of cinnamon or diced pear and grated fresh ginger.

While first side is cooking, drop a few fresh or frozen blueberries on to the pancake.

Add a few tablespoons of ground flax seed to the batter.

Enjoy!

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

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