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GOBankingRates Uncovers the 12 Best Checking Account Promotions for Spring 2015

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 25th, 2015

A new study from GOBankingRates reveals the best rewards and cash-back checking promotions at banks and credit unions this spring.

With millions of Americans opening new checking accounts each year1, many banks offer free cash and other perks to entice new customers. To cut through the noise and help consumers find the best deals, leading personal finance site GOBankingRates investigated major banks and credit unions nationwide to uncover the top checking account promotions this spring, ranging from a $300 bonus to free airline miles.

See full details on the report here >>>
http://www.gobankingrates.com/checking-accounts/12-best-checking-account-promotions-today/

“Promotions like these are a nice incentive if you’re shopping around for a new checking account, but you shouldn’t make your banking decision based wholly on a one-time deal,” said Casey Bond, managing editor of GOBankingRates. “If you’re comparing checking products, look at fees and interest rates first; after all, a $150 promo could be easily wiped out by several overdrafts if you open an account with an unfriendly fee structure. After you’ve weighed important account details, these promotions can sweeten the deal and boost your savings.”

The 12 Best Checking Account Promotions Today

  • Bank of America: $200
  • Bank of America2: $300
  • BankDirect: American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
  • BankUnited: $120
  • BBVA Compass Bank: $150
  • Chase Bank: $150
  • Discover Bank: $50
  • Langley Federal Credit Union: $50
  • Nationwide Bank: $200
  • PNC Bank: $300
  • Santander Bank: $240
  • SunTrust Bank: $200

Additional insights:

  • Cash: The top cash checking promotions varied in value from $50 to $300.
  • Recurring Bonus: Not all cash-back promos are one-time deals; Santander Bank pays new extra 20 account holders up to $20 a month for meeting certain requirements.
  • Miles: BankDirect is the first online bank to offer customers the chance to earn American Airlines miles through banking products, including checking, money market and CD accounts.
  • How to Apply: Qualifying criteria varied, with most banks on this list enforcing either direct deposit requirements or daily balance minimums.

About GOBankingRates

GOBankingRates.com is a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt. Its editors are regularly featured on top-tier media outlets, including U.S. News, Business Insider, Daily Finance, Huffington Post and more. It also specializes in connecting consumers with the best financial institutions and interest rates nationwide.

1 The Financial Brand: “Six Ways to Win the War for New Checking Accounts,” Feb. 25, 2015

2 Bank of America is currently offering two separate checking promotions, with different qualifying criteria for each. Additionally, while the $200 promotion lasts throughout 2015, the $300 offer expires in April. As with any of these offers, always check with the respective institution’s website for full details.

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The Broke Grad’s Guide to Thriving in the Real World

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 23rd, 2015

Email this guest post to your new grad.

Graduating college is an exciting moment, right? Maybe not.

Total student debt has topped $1 trillion this year and the average college graduate owes more than $33,000 in outstanding payments upon commencement. So, it’s understandable why young adults are filled with more fear than joy about earning their diploma and entering the real world. While finding a good job is paramount, learning how to budget and discovering ways to save on everyday expenses offers the best chance to surviving life after college.

If you or a recent grad in your life faces this same scenario, consider these top money moves for making the switch from college to real life manageable.

Optimize your repayments. Get a handle on what you owe by reviewing all your accounts. If you find you’re struggling or falling behind, get help before it’s too late. Making late student loan payments (or missing them altogether) will negatively impact your credit score which can take years to rebuild. For help, check the Student Debt Repayment Assistant from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can often negotiate a repayment schedule that fits your budget or even get your loan payments deferred.

Lower your rental costs. You may be eager to live on your own, but roommates offer a significant financial relief for rental costs. The more roommates you have, the cheaper your total living expenses will be. Keep in mind that location matters, too. The closer you live to the city center, the more expensive rent will be, so look for a place located further from the hot spot of town. To avoid broker fees, use sites like Craigslist and Apartable.com for no-fee listings.

Join a credit union. Credit unions offer the same services as regional and national banks but typically have less fees and lower loan rates. Credit unions also typically pay higher savings yields and are more sympathetic toward struggling borrowers. To find a credit union that suits your needs, review this list.

Search for coupons before you pay for anything. Whether you need new shoes, food for your pooch or an oil change, search for coupons before pay. Free mobile tools like the Coupon Sherpa mobile app make this task easy, offering savings for our half a million physical locations in the U.S. You can also use your phone to compare prices with the Pricegrabber barcode-scanning app or earn rewards while you shop with Shopkick.

Get savvy in the kitchen. Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner will seriously drain your paycheck and leave you with just enough to cover basic living expenses. Get in the habit of preparing lunch and cooking meals for yourself. Cook one large meal like this Roast Chicken to give yourself plenty of options throughout the week, including chicken salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.

Live without cable and prepay your cellphone. Cutting the cord on pricey cable bills is easier to do these days thanks to free online video streaming services like Hulu that hook right up to your TV. For more programming and newer release options, check out Hulu Plus and Netflix for just $8 per month — a cheap bill when split among roommates. You can also hook up an indoor HDTV antenna to get more channels than basic cable with no monthly bills. When it comes to your cellphone, consider switching to no-contract, prepaid wireless services to avoid hidden fees and punitive charges. This way, you pay for what you use and nothing more.

Become a second-hand shopper. A wise man once told me that no one will know the shirt you’re wearing was bought at the Salvation Army. This is a great principal to live by considering buying used can reduce your total spending by up to 90 percent. Whether you need professional clothes, kitchen goods or furniture for your new apartment, search gently-used options at garage sales, local consignment stores, speciality sites like RecycleYourFashions.com and thredUp.com or more mainstream sites like eBay. Don’t forget, this is a great time to sell clothing and other goods you no longer use for funds towards a future purchase.

Get a side hustle. At this point, maximizing your cash flow will help you pay down debt faster. Take on an extra gig after hours like waitressing, bartending or freelancing. Or consider doing other people’s “to-dos” via TaskRabbit, where you can peruse tasks in your area and submit offers for such activities as grocery shopping, dog walking and even photography. If TaskRabbit is not available in your area, check the “gigs” section on Craigslist for options ranging from labor to writing to creative.

Build your credit wisely. Opening a new line of credit may seem counterintuitive while paying down school debt, but building a healthy credit score now will ensure you receive the best rates on future mortgages, insurance and other expenses. To help manage your credit card wisely, treat it like a debit card and only charge transactions for which you have the cash to cover. Pay off the balance in full each month so interest doesn’t overwhelm any rewards. For help finding the right credit card with low APR, consult Nerd Wallet’s list of the best credit cards for 2015.

Save for the future. It’s tough to think about retirement when you have student-related debts to pay. However, if your employer offers a 401k match plan, turning it down is like leaving money on the table. Even if you can only match the percentage they’re contributing, you’re doing your future self a financial solid. Most experts agree that young people have a distinct advantage over everyone else when it comes to saving for the future: time. Don’t waste yours!

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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The Melting Pot Celebrates National Cheese Fondue Day with Exclusive Offer!

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 18th, 2015

Sign up for Club Fondue by March 30 for access to this free cheese fondue promotion

In celebration of National Cheese Fondue Day on April 11, 2015, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., the world’s premier fondue restaurant franchise, is bringing back its highly-coveted free cheese fondue offer for its Club Fondue members April 6 – 9, as a part of the brand’s sixth annual National Cheese Fondue Day celebration.

“National Cheese Fondue Day is a real food holiday that some cheese lovers never knew they always wanted to celebrate,” said Mike Lester, president, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. “We’re doing our part at The Melting Pot to draw attention to the cheesy goodness of the holiday with our free cheese fondue offer. It’s the perfect opportunity for us to show our valued guests just how much we appreciate them as well as introduce new guests to the deliciousness of cheese fondue.”

Fondue fanatics must join Club Fondue, The Melting Pot’s email club by March 30 to gain access to the free cheese fondue offer. New and existing U.S. Club Fondue members who sign up by March 30 will receive an email between April 1 and April 3 with instructions for how to redeem this year’s free cheese fondue offer, valid April 6 – 9. Phone reservations are required to redeem the National Cheese Fondue Day offer with a limited number of free cheese fondue reservations available. The offer is only available for redemption at U.S. locations. Some restrictions apply.

The Melting Pot’s cheese fondue course is valued at around $8 – 9 per person (prices vary by location) and the communal fondue dining experience allows for up to four individual portions of cheese fondue to be shared in one fondue pot. Each cheese fondue is served with artisan bread and seasonal vegetables for dipping. Cheese fondue varieties include cheddar, classic Alpine, spinach artichoke and more.

About The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc.
Founded in 1975, The Melting Pot has offered a unique dining experience for 40 years. With more than 130 restaurants in North America and more than 20 international locations in development, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., is the premier fondue restaurant and a leading polished casual dining franchise. Known for offering a choice of fondue cooking styles and a variety of unique entrées, The Melting Pot’s menu also features cheese fondues, salads, fine wines and chocolate fondue desserts. The Melting Pot is also home to Club Fondue, an exclusive membership program that hosts promotions from special events to advanced holiday reservation privileges. The Melting Pot is an affiliate of Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Fla. For more information, visit www.meltingpot.com. To learn more about franchise opportunities with The Melting Pot, please visit www.meltingpotfranchise.com.

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Free And Low Cost Fun For Kids

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 25th, 2015

A Big Thank You to Jennifer Moss of  BabyNames.com and author of Town Red, for providing this great list of activities that are free or low cost, build creativity and skills for kids, and are bonding experiences between parent and child. She did forget to mention how much fun it is to look up names on her site and find things like character tips for writers, what are cool names now and in the past, and games for baby showers.

1. Your local library – get your child his/her own library card, it makes them feel very important and introduces them to the awesome library system. Make it a weekly trip and allow them to pick out 3 books at a time.  Some municipal libraries even have bookmobiles that may be in your neighborhood!  The library is also an inexpensive place to rent videos. At the Los Angeles Public Library they are usually free!

2. Your local recreation center. Many rec centers (like Westwood on Sepulveda) allow you to swim for a couple dollars per person.  Hours of enjoyment for little money! Rec centers also have affordable summer programs for kids, since they are sponsored by the city.

3. After school day care: LAUSD public schools have a free after school program called “YS” (Youth Services).  Take advantage of this if you can’t pick up your child and don’t want to pay a babysitter! YS coordinators are usually teachers from the school and they do outdoor activities with the kids they know.

4. Make your own restaurant! For dinner one night, make it fancy without going out!  Type up a little “menu” and play restaurant with your kids. Decorate your table with candles and let them make a centerpiece. Take turns being the “waiter!” Variation:While eating dinner, let your kid pretend they’re you and you pretend to be them. It is very revealing what they say, how they act and how you’re seen from their eyes!  You can also use this opportunity to point out some of their bad habits (like whining or chewing with their mouth open).

5. Have “pioneer night” where no electricity is used. This is harder for the adults than the kids! Can you go one whole night without power? No internet, no tv, no videos! Be creative and spend a whole evening with your kids in the dark! Stock up on candles and flashlights before you do this. It saves on the electric bill AND prepares your kids for emergencies!

6. Don’t have bikes? Rent them! Many of the L.A. beaches have bike rentals. If you don’t have bikes of your own, take the kids down to the beach for the day and rent bikes. For less than $10 you can have a great active day that they’ll love.

7. Bowling! Remember bowling? There are still lanes out there and you don’t even have to keep score anymore! Bowling alleys have many “off” times that are only a couple dollars a game. Check out your local bowling alley and ask for the bumpers for the kids!(Bumpers guaranteed to improve your game too!)

8. Baking. Bake with your kids. It’s fun for them to be part of the creative process and only costs a couple dollars for cake mix and frosting (or cookie dough).

9. Walks, parks and playdates. Take advantage of walking in your neighborhood and local parks. Walk slowly and point out flowers and interesting landmarks to your child.  If they are younger, practice colors and counting (“what color is that flower?”, “How many red cars can you count during our walk?”).  Barter play dates with your kids and their friends.  Play dates are a great way for parents to get “alone time” without paying for sitters.  Take the kids and their friends to the local park!  Better than video games and they won’t get bored as easily! Take a picnic lunch or snacks so they have some downtime between running and jumping! Bad weather? Take them to the mall — most malls have child play-places for free.

10. Share your picture/video camera with your kids. Most kids pick up on electronics quickly, so show them how to use the video camera and tell them to make a TV show all by themselves–with commercials!! It keeps them busy for hours and the result is usually hilarious!

If you don’t have kids, many of these activities are fun for adults too!

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National Consumer Protection Week 2015–March 1-7

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 24th, 2015

With all the hacking and scams, the Frugal Diva says information is the best protection. Use the resources below to find out about buying a used car, making investments, and much more.

March 1-7, 2015 is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), an opportunity for organizations around the country to show their commitment to consumer protection by teaching people about their consumer rights. More than 80 Nonprofit groups, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies are partners in NCPW and hundreds of other agencies and organizations host events for the week (and beyond) throughout the country. NCPW partners share resources and have created a toolkit to help people coordinate events during NCPW.

NCPW.gov – in Spanish at protecciondelconsumidor.gov – has free resources from NCPW partners on topics from managing credit and debt, to avoiding identity theft, to staying safe online and more. These resources help people learn about their consumer rights and how to spot and avoid scams and identity theft. If you spot a scam, the site tells you where to file complaints with federal, state and other partners.

On March 3 at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a Twitter chat in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week 2015. Follow @FTC where consumers can join the conversation. The hashtag is #NCPW2015. See FTC Twitter chats to learn more.

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Vita Cost

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 24th, 2015

There are so many fantastic deals on the Vita Cost site I don’t know where to begin. Vitamins, shampoos, organic foods, protein powders, herbs, and homeopathy are just a few of the items covered.

Let’s start with organic products – 22 ounces of  Raw Honey for $6.99, organic peppermint tea for $2.68, 16 ounces of Arrowhead Mills organic flax seed for $2.70!

Moving right along to shampoos- 11 ounces of Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo for $4.19, 32 ounces of Avalon Nourishing Lavender Shampoo for $10.67,  18 ounces Nature’s Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Shampoo for $3.90!

Organic Agave sweetener 23.5 ounces for $6.53!

Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent White Flower and Bergamot Citrus 7 lbs for $13.73!

(all prices subject to change, please check with website)

And Aubreys, Alba Botanica, Burts Bees, Jason, Zia!

So many types of vitamins and herbs that you are going to have to see for yourself. Check out their recipe center for great meals.

Now The Frugal Diva knows what you are thinking. What in the world is it going to cost to ship all this? $4.99 per order – that means if you get one item, two items, or ten items it will cost you $4.99 shipping. Sign up for their emails and find out when they have a special free shipping offers.

And as a diva it’s so nice to have things appear at your doorstep without having to schlep out to the store.

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New Research Finds Volunteering Improves Health and Happiness

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 28th, 2015

If you have 2-3 hours to spare each week, you might want to consider volunteering, particularly if you’re 50 or older. Not only can the experience be incredibly fulfilling, new research finds that it might just make you healthier, happier, and more physically fit.

The group of researchers led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences analyzed data from 73 studies involving people aged 50-plus who were in formal volunteering roles. The results were published in August 2014 online in Psychological Bulletin. Here are some of their key findings:

  • Volunteering is associated with reductions in symptoms of depression, better overall health, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.
  • Health benefits may depend on a moderate level of volunteering. There appears to be a tipping point after which greater benefits no longer accrue. The “sweet spot” appears to be at about 100 annual hours, or 2-3 hours per week.
  • Adults considered “vulnerable”, meaning they had chronic health conditions, may benefit the most from volunteering.
  • Feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer appears to amplify the relationship between volunteering and psychosocial well-being.

Earlier studies had also found a moderate amount of volunteering was related to less hypertension and fewer hip fractures among seniors compared to their non-volunteering peers.

“Taken together, these results suggest that volunteering is associated with health improvements and increased physical activity – changes that one would expect to offer protection against a variety of health conditions,” said lead investigator Dr. Nicole Anderson.

No matter where you live, you can find places in need of volunteers. At my kids’ elementary school, neighborhood volunteers serve as “Reading Buddies” to some of younger students to help boost their reading proficiency. Community theaters often rely on volunteers to serve as ushers, answer phones and other tasks. If you love animals, an animal shelters could be just right for you to dedicate a couple hours each week. Local hospitals and churches are also often in need to volunteers. Reach out and find a cause that’s meaningful to you to start reaping the many rewards of volunteering

SOURCE:

Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier. News Release. Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care. Aug 2014.

This article is written by   Stu Lieberman the writer for Nutri-Health.com, an online High Quality Probiotics  and Health Store.  Assisting people and helping them find quality natural probiotic supplements enzymes and health products online is what Stu has been doing for over 2 years.  Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health.

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The Grove Date Night

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 27th, 2015

When walking in the Grove, I stumbled upon this great deal. During the week from Monday to Thursday, the Grove offers a $35 per person Date Night available for two.  This goes until Feb. 15 on week nights only.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION DATE NIGHT AT THE GROVE

THURSDAY, JANUARY 15 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19

Miss some of the 2014 Contenders? Catch them at The Grove beginning January 15th!

Enjoy a nominated film, dinner and complimentary valet for $35 per person.* Restaurants and movie schedule to follow shortly!

Call our Concierge Services at 323.900.8080 for reservations.

MENUS:

Bar Verde at Nordstrom

Maggiano´s Little Italy

Morels French Steakhouse

Umami Burger

The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge

Package sold in pairs and includes dinner for two at one of our participating restaurants, two reserved seat movie tickets to one of the nominated films playing at Pacific Theatres and one complimentary valet ticket.

*Theatre seats subject to availability. Gratuity included. Monday – Thursday, reservations must be made prior to 3pm. Friday, reservations must be made by 1pm.

And complimentary valet  parking. And you don’t have to do anything  except call the concierge at (323) 900-8080 and make your reservations.

So let’s go over this again. For $35 per person you get dinner, movie tickets and valet parking for a total of $70.  If you can swing a night out during the week, this is a great deal.

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Singles Mingle Valentine’s Day

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 26th, 2015

Singles always want to hide out during the February romance fest however if you are looking for a kind heart on Valentine’s Day try out these volunteer events throughout the country.

In Los Angeles – By popular demand, the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank has its Feed the Soul While Helping Feed the Hungry!  Saturday, February 14, 2011 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Date & Time: Saturday, February 14th – Registration is from 8:00 am to 8:25 am – volunteer project starts at 8:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please bring in your release form on the day of your service project.
Address: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is located at 1734 E. 41st Street, Los Angeles, 90058.

Hunger doesn’t end after the holiday season, hunger happens in Los Angeles County 365 days a year. Volunteers are needed to help sort, inspect, and repackage donated food items from local food drives. Help us help those in need by donating your time to fight hunger in our community. *Once you register you will receive an email confirmation with all the logistics and forms.

***All volunteers must wear closed toed shoes***
***Minimum age requirement to volunteer is 14 (sorry, no exceptions)**
Check out VoluteerMatch.org for more opportunities around the country.

You got the idea, just google valentine and volunteer plus your location. Opportunities will pop up for making this a heart warming day.

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Even More Valentine’s Day Tips For Guys

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 26th, 2015

Guest post is by Gabrielle Greene who co-blogs on TipsOnHowToSaveMoney. Her friends often refer to her as “Gaby Gabs A lot,” especially if it has anything to do with freebies and saving money!

I was reading, “Valentine’s Day 2014,” and I just had to laugh at some of the things that were said because I can relate to them. I’m really not a fan of Valentines Day and never have been. In fact, my best V-Day was spent with my best friend when I was still single.

Seems now that I’m married there ultimately seems to be a fight that occurs on this day, but of course and it just stinks!

First I declared that I didn’t want to even participate in V-Day at all. Like the Frugal Diva herself, I don’t need the chocolates (my low-carb diet is already killing me, but that’s another story) or the flowers that will die (I swear mine die even faster than they should).

You would think he would be happy about this, but I think in his mind that even though I was saying I didn’t want to participate that I secretly did so if he didn’t do something then it would be yet another fight. Wait, did that make sense?

Men, generally speaking, women fall into two categories and you should know which one. We either swoon over the cliché and typical Valentines Day or we hate it. So take the time to know your woman and what will make her happy. Here are the things that we worked out and I am now looking forward to the dreaded V-Day for the first time in years.

Flowers – Instead of roses buy tulips, a plant or an herb. They last longer and they smell just as good. Rosemary, Sage and Lavender are all good choices.

Chocolates – Again, I’ve been killing myself on this diet (most women are always on a diet, sigh) and I don’t need any stinkin chocolates. But I would love some Starbucks! I will never say no to coffee; if I could get a caffeine IV drip, I would! I’m not the only one. If she doesn’t like coffee, get her tea. If fountain sodas are her thing, do that too. You get the idea.

Favorite things – Every girl has favorite things, two of mine happen to be Bath & Body

Works and candles. So buy the things you know she will love. In fact, Bath & Body Works is having one of their famous sales and it’s Buy 3, get 3 free. Retail Me Not has a great app for finding coupons for almost any store that you can access right on your smartphone. I recently started using it myself.

Household Items – There are some women that will have a complete meltdown if any sort of home appliance or bath room accessory is bought as a gift. I definitely do not fall into that category, although without a doubt, my best friend does. Please do redo my bathroom
cabinets or buy me a Keurig. Heck, I will even take a new vacuum or blender, even a new comforter. With age I have learned to appreciate these things.

The moral of the story? Guys, are you paying attention to your woman? We aren’t hard to figure out, we just want to know you are paying attention and know what we like. It took me years to convince my husband that I WANT BOOKS. He doesn’t like buying them  (or even a gift card) because he says that is not a proper gift. But if I love books and I want books why does he get to tell me it’s not a proper gift? Can you see how some of our arguments start? It’s totally his fault. Get her what she likes, even if you think it’s crazy.

Trust me, it’s just easier.

Now, I have to say, ladies, be fair and do the same for your man in return. I did buy him a bottle of cologne (because I liked the smell) but I also ordered him some things for the garage that he has been wanting but hasn’t bought for himself. Valentines Day is sold as a holiday for flowers and chocolate but it doesn’t have to be. Buy gifts that are more personable for the person you love. You don’t have to get it, or even agree, but it’s a good time to spoil the person you love and to make it count!

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