How to Go to a Wedding Without Going Broke

Weddings aren’t just expensive for the bride and groom. The average wedding guest spends a whopping $592 on the day, according to an American Express study. That amount will increase greatly if you’re part of the bridal party or traveling for the wedding. But before you start checking “no” to your invites or spending too much, here are some ways to save money as a wedding guest:

In general...

Cheap KitchenAid Mixer

That KitchenAid mixer on the registry is probably cheaper at another store.

Shop the registry early. Check out the registry ASAP to get an ample selection with varying prices so you’re not stuck with the most expensive options.

Look at the registry – but buy from somewhere else. Now that you know what’s on the registry, compare prices at other stores before you make the purchase. A great example of this is nearly any model of KitchenAid mixer. They're a popular item on registries from places like Bed Bath and Beyond or Target, but those are actually two of the worst possible stores to buy them from! On the other hand, you can almost always find deals on KitchenAid mixers at any number of other online merchants. If possible, once you buy it from a different store, go to the registry to mark it as fulfilled to avoid double buys.

Mix and match registry and non-registry. Buy an item from the registry that can go along with something you can get a deal on or find for little cost. For example, buy the wine glasses from the registry, and throw in a bottle of wine. With towels, purchase bath soaps and a candle. To go along with the coffee mugs, throw in coffee.

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24 Wedding Expenses That You Forgot About

There's a very good reason that American pop culture has found a place for the Bridezilla in its lexicon of stereotypes - weddings have a lot of details to plan, it's incredibly easy to get overwhelmed, and it's extremely stressful for someone who isn't a natural event planner to research, arrange and track all of those details while simultaneously being subjected to everyone else's opinions and judgment about your tastes and decisions on one side and vendors who up-sell services and nickel and dime you with fees on the other. Suddenly, I totally feel bad for poor Bridezilla. Just thinking about it fills me with table-flipping rage.

With so much going on, it's inevitable that something will get missed. We've listed 24 of the most commonly forgotten and overlooked wedding expenses that catch brides and grooms off guard when they pop up. Being ready for these costs can save you a lot of money upfront. We've also included tips on minimizing these costs wherever possible. We'll never tell anyone to cut corners or DIY to save money if that's not what you want to do. But there's nothing that says you can't use air miles to book your dream honeymoon, hotel points for your pre- and post-wedding hotel nights, and coupon codes to knock a few dollars off your perfect ceremony decor.


Stamps for Wedding InvitationsYou remembered the invitation and RSVP, but think about all of the other mailings that a wedding entails. Between the save-the-date notice, the invitation, the RSVP, and the thank you note, that's three stamps per guest at 49¢ a pop, plus a 34¢ stamp since we're assuming you'll use a postcard for your save-the-dates. That's $1.81 in postage per guest.  And if you've got an average number of guests, say 140, postage alone will cost you about $253.

And that doesn't include thank you notes for everyone who came to your bridal shower and bachelor or bachelorette parties. Or that some wedding invitations require a 70¢ stamp instead once you’ve stuffed everything inside.

If you want to cut that cost down a bit, use an internet RSVP instead. Google Forms are extremely good for this kind of exercise, and there are a ton of benefits - all of the information is neatly organized for you, guests don't have to find a mailbox, and you completely eliminate the chance that it might get lost in the mail.

Outfits for pre-wedding events

You'll wear the wedding dress of your dreams for your special day, and tuxedo rental is a given, but what are you going to wear for your engagement party? Bachelor and bachelorette parties? Bridal shower? Rehearsal dinner? Day-after brunch? Not every bride and groom will want to wear something new just for these events, but if you do, they should go into the wedding budget. Stores like Nordstrom, Macy's and nearly always have deals on party-worthy outfits that are worth checking out.

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Check Out $1 Movies for the Kids at Regal Theaters

Looking for frugal ways to entertain the kids this summer? Starting as early as June 3rd in select cities nationwide, Regal Cinemas will be offering $1 admission to popular kids movies for 9 weeks this summer. This special ticket price will only be valid for 10:00 a.m. showings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Better yet, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute, where the money collected will help fund pulmonary research laboratories, medical school fellowships, neonatal ventilators for children’s hospitals and free educational materials.

Here's the movie schedule:

Week Title Rating Start Time
1 Hotel Transylvania PG 10am
1 The Smurfs 2 PG 10am
2 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 PG 10am
2 The Pirates: Band of Misfits PG 10am
3 Arthur Christmas PG 10am
3 Despicable Me 2 PG 10am
4 Lego PG 10am
4 Free Birds PG 10am
5 Adventures of TinTin PG 10am
5 Rise of the Guardians PG 10am
6 Kung Fu Panda 2 PG 10am
6 Madagascar 3 PG 10am
7 The Croods PG 10am
7 Epic PG 10am
8 Turbo PG 10am
8 Walking with Dinosaurs PG 10am
9 Mr. Peabody & Sherman PG 10am
9 Rio 2 G 10am

Start dates and participation varies by location, so check out the Summer Movie Express page to see if your theater is participating.

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. 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: 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 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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