Seasonal

Forget Apples: These Are 5 Gifts Teachers Actually Want

Your teacher doesn't want an apple. Or gifts, really, if you ask them.

Teacher Appreciation Day 2014

When pressed, most of the teachers we know would not tell us what they would want - which probably is to be expected in a profession characterized by selflessness and humility. It would make them uncomfortable to admit that they might like something material. Nonetheless, it was clear that all of them enjoyed knowing they made an impact on their students. Forget the tchotchkes, apples, and all of those punny and sugar-coated Pinterest projects. Here's what teachers actually want.

Handwritten notes

"I do get handwritten notes from kids sometimes," says Jennifer Piatchek-Keith, a high school English Teacher in Lincoln, Illinois. "[I] tuck those away in my 'pick me up' box for after a bad day." Other teachers agreed that the notes and cards they get from their students are better than anything else they receive. Best of all, a heartfelt handwritten note has a price tag of absolutely 100% free.

Anything specific and thoughtful

"I do occasionally get paintings, knick-knacks, or mementos which have value in their meaning and memories," says Chris Gray, Dean of Arts & Communication at Illinois Central College. "I have a Disco Stu figurine that I received over a decade ago because of my great style."

Got that, everyone? Teachers really want nothing more than a heartfelt thank you. But if you're still inclined to spend a little cash, we're told that these next few suggestions never go unappreciated.

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Mother's Day Gifts: 7 Things Real Moms Want You to Know

What Your Mom Wants for Mother's Day

"I'm going to be the only guy on earth who knows what women want, how they think, and why they do those cuckoo things they do."

If only men, be it husbands or sons could know exactly what women think, just like Mel Gibson's character Nick Marshall in the movie, What Women Want.  May 11th is Mother's Day and gift guides for this holiday have already been bombarding potential buyers in the form of commercials, in-store and online promotions, and direct mail. There's an array of gifts to choose from, but finding the perfect gift for mom often leaves many men, even daughters scratching their heads.

Instead of listing what retailers think moms want, ten mothers ranging from the age of 20-60 (with young- adult children) were asked what they wanted for Mother's Day and here's what they said.

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This Week Only! Get a $20 Gift Card for Old Electronics at Best Buy

Best Buy Electronics Trade InLet's face it, when it comes to filling up landfills there is almost nothing worse than old electronics. Not only are they usually made of non-biodegradable plastics that can do some serious ecological damage; some electronics, such as LCD screens in laptops and HDTVs, contain mercury, which should never be thrown away with the regular trash. It's always a good idea to recycle your old electronics. It's even better to make some money doing it! That in mind, you could get $20 from Best Buy by trading in your old gear.

From now until April 26th, the retailer is awarding a $20 Best Buy Gift Card for any device that is able to be turned on and works. It did not have to be purchased from Best Buy, though some exclusions may apply (very old tube TVs, for example). But even if it's not working, they will still take your old electronics and recycle them for free. You can learn more about their recycling program here and find out what times of items they take.

Either way, you will be doing a good thing!

Earth Day 2014 Freebies and Deals!

Earth Day is tomorrow, April 22, and we wanted to round up all the places you can score some Earth Day Freebies! We've got free grocery bags, kid's activity sheets, a smartphone app and more. Earth Day 2014 Anthropologie: Free butterfly crafts in-store for kids 5-8 (call your local store to RSVP). Battery Giant: Stores are equipped with “Battery Recycling Center” for used battery collection. Special green Battery Giant recycling buckets will be available to businesses, and buckets full of reclaimed batteries can be dropped off at a store or picked up by a Battery Giant specialist. Care2: Free Earth Day greeting cards. Caribou Coffee: Purchase an Earth Day tumbler and receive free coffee refills through the end of April. Disney Store: Bring 5 plastic grocery bags to your local Disney Store (call ahead to make sure they are participating) and receive a free Disneynature Bears Reusable Tote Bag (4/22 only) Earth Day Smartphone App: Download "The Four Seasons - An Earth Day Interactive Children’s Story Book" for iPhone or Android for games and puzzles to celebrate Earth Day. EVOS: Free organic milkshake to support local organic family farmers (4/22 only). Glass Dharma: Take a quiz on the Glass Dharma website and you could get a reusable, glass, drinking straw. H-E-B: Bring 5 plastic bags into your local participating store from 3-7PM and receive a free reusable tote bag. Jo-Ann Fabric: The first 50 customers will receive a FREE Reusable Shopping Tote (4/22 only). Jolly Time: Free tote with 3 Proofs of Purchase on Jolly Time Popcorn. Origins: Bring empty cosmetic containers (any brand!) to your local Origins store and they will recycle them for free (ongoing promotion). Pottery Barn Kids: Pottery Barn Kids will host treasure hunts to celebrate Earth Day and kids who complete the hunt will receive a plantable bookmark (week of 4/21). Scholastic: Free kid's activity print out. Spoonful.com: Printable activity book for kids. Tobacco Free: Fill out the form and they will send you a free Tobacco Free Stores tote. Wegmans: The first 300 customers after 11AM to bring in plastic grocery bags to their local Wegmans can exchange them for a free reusable tote (4/26 only). Zoya Nail Polish: Buy 6 Zoya nail polishes at 50% off with code ZDAY2014 and when you receive your polishes, send back as many nail polishes (even non-Zoya brands) as you wish and they will recycle them for you (through 4/28). As with all of our freebies, you should call your local store to make sure they are participating.

Spring Cleaning Done Right: How to Plan, Save and Pocket Some Cash

A cough here, a sneeze there. When the dust balls have been piling up and those thick winter sweaters need a boot, you know it's time for that yearly ritual you dread the most...spring cleaning.

When many people think of spring cleaning, they often believe it means cleaning everything, from every nook and cranny in the house to even the outside yard and shed. Such a monstrous task can be overwhelming and expensive. Yet, with some careful planning and a little ingenuity, spring cleaning can be a lot simpler than you might expect.

Getting Organized

Before you even attempt to tackle your first cleaning job, make sure you're mentally prepared to clean in the first place. How long will this cleaning project take? A day? A weekend or more?  Create a list or at least a mental note of all the things and rooms you want to clean. Then decide realistically how long it will take to complete. Also consider whether you're completing these projects on your own or if you're dividing it up among family members, roommates, or enlisting the help of friends. The key here is not to overstress yourself but to have a plan and stick to it.

Quality Supplies

Using quality cleaning tools and products is an essential part of getting the job done right, and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune. However, the tools you use should involve a little investment since these are long-term purchases which you want to be using for years, instead of replacing every year. Avoid purchasing items like a $4 plastic mop that does not absorb water well and can break easily. Most of all, avoid fads.  The latest hip and happening "As seen on TV" product shouldn't be your first choice.

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Brad's Favorite Tax Day Freebies

It's that time of year again! Tax Day is upon us and will be here on April 15, 2014. If you're scrambling to finish up your 2013 financials, take a break and enjoy some of these Tax Day Freebies. This list will be updated daily with any more deals and freebies we find. In the past couple years, we saw deals and coupons coming in well into Tax Day itself, so keep checking back!
Tax Day Freebies Cookie

Tax Day Freebies:

Arby's: Free Small Curly Fry with coupon (4/15 only)
California Tortilla: Free Chips and Queso (4/15 only)
Great American Cookies: Free Chocolate Chip Cookie (4/15 only)
Hard Rock Cafe: Free Entree when you sing a song on stage (4/15 only)
HydroMassage: Free HydroMassage (4/14 - 4/18)
Office Depot: Free Shredding up to 5lbs. (through 4/29)
Schlotsky's Deli: Free "The Original" Small Sandwich (4/15 only)

If none of these freebies relax you enough on this frantic day, you can take advantage of some of these deals instead:

Tax Day Deals:

6pm.com: Tax Day sale items all $49.99 or less
Boston Market: 2 Chicken Meals for $10.40 (4/15 only)
Bruegger's Bagels: $10.40 Big Bagel Bundle with email signup by 4/10/2014 (4/12 - 4/15)
Chevy's Fresh Mex: No tax on your tab (Now through 4/15)
Esquared Hospitality: 1/2 off all alcoholic beverages at select restaurants in this group (4/15 only)
Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt: Fill Your Cup for $4.15 (4/15 only)
Pizza Hut: Order online and use code TAXDAY to get a large pizza and one of three signature Pizza Hut sides for $10.99 (4/15 only)
Sonic: 50% off Drinks, Teas and Slushes (4/15 only)Sonny's BBQ: 1/2 Price Rib Platter (4/15 only)

Prom on a Dime: A Frugal Fashionista's Guide to a Fabulous Prom

Bust out the cameras, parents— prom season is nearly upon us. They're growing up before your very eyes and inevitably, your son or daughter will soon be headed off to have the time of their lives, making memories they'll never want to forget. But creating those magical memories doesn't always come cheap.

Budget Prom Guide and Tips

Visa Inc. reports that in 2013, families spent a national average of $1,139 on the big night, covering expenses such as formal wear, shoes, hair, makeup, dinner and flowers, up 5% from the $1,028 average in 2012. If those figures are hitting you with some serious sticker shock, you've come to the right place. With a little savvy shopping, we've managed to cut those costs down to a budget of roughly $175-500 for a head to toe look! With dresses as low as $41 and jewelry starting at $8 shipped, they'll be  cutting a rug in style without breaking the piggy bank. See some of our favorites below, then head over to the Brad's Deal's Prom Guide to check out the full list of prom deals. Now that's a reason to smile— say cheese!

Hailey Prom Dress Hailey Logan Chiffon Prom Gown $99 + FS

Save 50% on this Hailey Logan Embellished Strap Chiffon Gown at Nordstrom just in time for prom, where it falls from $198 to $98.98. Shipping and returns are both free, so there's no extra charge. This is the best price we could find on this dress. It features a cage strap back and a beaded embellished V-Neckline. This dress runs small and Nordstrom recommends sizing up. Sales tax is charged in most states.

Teleflora: 25% Off Corsages+Boutonniere

Take 25% off your Corsage + Boutonniere Purchase at Teleflora with coupon code EMCS25 at checkout. This pictured blue and white Elegance corsage, in example, falls from $22.95 to $17.21 with the code. Next-day delivery adds $15.99 but may vary with location. Sales tax is charged in most states.

SwarovskiSwarovski & Sterling Silver Earrings $24

Exclusively for our readers, these Drop Earrings with Swarovski Zirconia in Sterling Silver drop from $129 to $39 to 424 at Jewelry.com with the code BRADS, plus they ship free. This is the best price we could find on something similar. They measure 7/8 by 1/4 of an inch and are set in sterling silver. Even better, buy 2 or more items and save an additional 10% on your total order, which would drop the price to $21.60. There is no sales tax (except NY).

Rhinestone Heart Tiara $18

Get this Rhinestone Heart Tiara, normally $24.50, for $18.38 in your cart at checkout at Claire's with coupon code SEVENTEEN, which takes 25% off all Full-Priced Items. Shipping adds $6. We couldn't find this exact tiara anywhere else for less. It has two hair combs and is 2" tall. Sales tax is charged in most states.

Aldo ShoesAldo: 20% Off Sitewide

For a limited time, Aldo takes 20% off it's entire Stock. These pictured Creason Sandals, for example, fall from $70 to $56 in the pictured silver color. We couldn't find them anywhere else for less than list price. They have both an ankle and a top strap and feature a 4" heel. Accessories, like this Leuze Clutch are also discounted, falling from $40 to $15.98. We couldn't find it anywhere else for less, but you can get it on Amazon for the same price if you prefer. It has a flap closure with a magnetic strap. Shipping adds $5 and sales tax is charged in states with Aldo retail locations.

Do you want $100 to spend at Nordstrom for this year's prom? Enter our Prom on a Dime Facebook Contest for your chance to win!

To Enter:

  1. Visit our Facebook Post and leave a comment telling us your best Prom on a Dime Story
  2. Share with your friends, the post with the most Likes will win!
  3. Like your favorite stories and check back on April 4, 2014 for the winner

For official rules, click here

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10 Best Series to Binge Watch on Valentine's Day

Maybe every desk at your office but yours is sporting a bouquet of roses. Perhaps you can all but guarantee that someone will come back to the office next week with a brand new engagement ring that you'll be obliged to politely squeal over. And maybe it's only going to take one more stupidly cloying diamond commercial to push you over the edge.

Well, good for all those happy couples, but you've got better things to do on Friday night because it's been a long week and your pajama pants are calling. Lucky for you, thanks to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, it also happens to be a killer night to binge on some distinctly non-Valentine-ish streaming video content. Both Netflix and Amazon have released fresh exclusive content this week, but our list, by the whole Brad's Deals team, is a mix of new and old. And those happy couples are totally missing out. 

So bust out your favorite bunny slippers, open a bottle of wine and order a pizza - this is going to be your best singleton's Valentine's Day ever.

Get Some Pizza

Anti-Valentine's Day IdeasOur top pick for your Friday night pizza party is Papa Murphy's "Heartbaker" Pizza for $7. Pour all of your vengeful anti-Valentine voodoo fantasies into slicing it up, and once you're finished you can literally "eat your heart out". The only downside is that it's take and bake, and you have to pick it up - no delivery here.

If that's going a bit too far for you, check out one of these old standbys:

  • Papa John's - 25% off full price menu items with coupon code SAVE25
  • Pizza Hut - Large 3-Topping Pizza for $7.99 with promo code EEOLG3TOP799
  • Domino's - Choose any 2 select menu items for $5.99 each

The Brad's Deals Top 10 TV Series to Binge Watch

We asked the entire Brad's Deals team for their favorite series to binge watch and came up with a pretty sweet list. These are our Top 10, plus a slew of honorable mentions.

If you don't already have a video streaming service, you'll need to get one. Short on cash? Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus all have free trials. Just be sure to cancel the trial before the subscription fees kick in if you don't want to spend the cash.

  • Netflix - 1-month free trial for instant streaming video ($7.99/month after trial)
  • Amazon Prime - 30 day free trial, including streaming video, an ebook lending library, and free 2-day shipping on Prime-eligible items ($79/year after trial)
  • Hulu Plus - 1-week free trial, or 2-weeks if you get a friend to invite you ($7.99/month after trial)

1) House of Cards 
Netflix proves that it loves you by releasing Season 2 of the critically-acclaimed political thriller on Valentine's Day. From the opening moments of Season 1, you know exactly who Frank Underwood is, and you're compelled to watch as he manipulates everyone around him. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are both divinely wicked. And just like that, my plans for the evening are made.
Available on Netflix.

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Free Valentine's Day Printables & Gift Ideas

With Valentine's Day only three days away, we've rounded up a collection of free printables to help make your Valentine gifts more budget-friendly. Whether you're baking homemade goods, or simply attaching candy to cards, these printables will help spice things up a bit, and add that personal touch. Need help entertaining the kids? We've also included some coloring pages and activities to keep them busy for hours. Here's a few of our favorites.

BEE My Valentine Party Set

Snapfish offers this party set includes printables for throwing your own Valentine's Day themed party, complete with cupcake wrappers and toppers, straw flags, bottle labels, and more. Decorate the room with matching banners and table tents, and offer party tieras for all your guests.

 

Tangled Candy Boxes

Have a Tangled fan in the house? Print out these Tangled theme candy boxes on cardstock designed by Spoonful, then fill with a lightweight candy, such as the traditional candy hearts pictured. Another option is to print these Tangled valentine cards, and skip the candy all together.

 

Color Me Woodland Valentine's Printable Collection

This printable collection, offered by Snapfish, is great for the child that likes to "help" with this type of project. This entire collection can be colored to their heart's content, and includes a candy box for all the cards they receive, along with matching valentine cards to hand out to classmates, and a crayon box (or overflow candy box).

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Steal These 4 Ideas to Rock Valentine's Day at the Last Minute

Oh no... It's Valentine's Day. And you forgot about it. Again.

Your partner is expecting something romantic, and now you're in a bind. Maybe you don't have dinner reservations, but you can plan a candlelight Chinese takeout picnic on the living room floor and surprise your love with one of these last minute Valentine's Day ideas that are all but guaranteed to impress. We've highlighted four different approaches to your eleventh hour shopping: The Traditional Route, The Great Escape, The Best Ever IOU, and The Truly Last Minute Pitstop.

At $187.14, this pale cream kate spade bag is 61% off and qualifies for 2-day Prime shipping.

The Traditional Route

Shop with Amazon Prime for jewelry and handbags with free 2-day shipping.

It's not just time that's running dangerously short, it's also your checking account. Yikes. But you can get something sparkly for your girl at Amazon, where select jewelry and handbags are often marked down 60% or more. This option is operating on a tight deadline, though, so you'll need to move fast to make it work. Order Prime Eligible jewelry and handbags by Wednesday 2/12 (or select jewelry and watches by Thursday 2/13) for Valentine's Day delivery. Not a Prime member? You can pick up a free trial here.

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