30 Meals for $30

30 meals for 30 30 Meals for $30

Didn’t think it was possible to make 30 meals for $30? What about 30 meals for under $30? Well I’ve done it!

And if you watched my TV segment on Talk of the Town, you’ve already seen it done…

 30 Meals for $30

That’s right, I’m talking breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 snacks per day for 6 days (not to mention the leftovers…)

So here’s your plan:

30 Meals for $30

    BREAKFAST                        SNACK                        LUNCH                        SNACK                            DINNER

Mon        Smoothie                    Applesauce              PB & banana roll up           Carrots & PB                   Chicken & Rice

Tues         Cereal             Sugar-Free Oatmeal cookies      Fried Rice                Cucumber Rounds         Spaghetti with garlic & olive oil

Wed        Oatmeal                   PB Crispy Rice balls     Black Beans & Rice          Celery & PB                Chicken Noodle Soup & Crackers

Thur       Smoothie                  PB & Crackers                Mac & Cheese           Sugar-Free Oatmeal cookies                  Chopped Salad

 Fri          Cereal                        Pineapple                        Soup & Salad                  Applesauce                 Black Bean Chicken Chimichangas

Sat          Oatmeal                   Hard Boiled Eggs       Black Bean Quesadillas        Smoothie pops               Sweet & Savory Crepes

Watch the full TV segment on 30 meals for $30 from Talk of the Town:
NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather I did 99% of my shopping at ALDI because they have such great prices everyday and I wanted to prove that you don’t have to be able to coupon to drastically cut back on your weekly grocery bill! Here’s the breakdown:

30 Meals for $30 Shopping List

Whole fryer chicken (.89/lb = 4.45)

bananas = .44/lb
lettuce = .99
carrots = .99
cucumber = .25
bagged salad = .49
Frozen berry mix = 2.29
canned pineapple = .89
applesauce = 1.29
garlic = .99
rice = 1.59
egg noodles = 1.29
spaghetti = .89
oatmeal = 2.29
rice cereal = 1.89
tortillas = 1.29
saltines = .99
black beans (canned -2 ) = 1.18
peanut butter = 1.89
block cheddar cheese = 1.79
Mac & Cheese = .39
milk = 2.89
OJ = 1.79
eggs = 1.79
Keep in mind, some of these items, like the rice & oatmeal, will last long beyond this meal plan. Also, I played with adding a roast in for $3.99 ad taking out items like the saltines & applesauce, which would still keep you at that $30 mark and add more protein in to your week.
Are you up for the $30 for 30 challenge??

 30 Meals for $30

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9 Inexpensive Date Night Alternatives

Looking for some inexpensive date night alternatives that will still “wow” your loved one this Valentine’s Day? (or any day, for that matter?)

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Believe it or not, I actually get upset when my husband gets me things for Valentine’s Day – to me, I feel like that’s the WORST time of year to buy gifts and eat out. However, there are still ways to show your loved one you care this time of year that are meaningful and won’t break the budget.

And if you absolutely HAVE to go out on Valentine’s Day, I’ve got a few ways to help you with that too…

9 Inexpensive Date Night Alternatives

*Date night at home (even if kids are in the house!)
- After the kids go to bed, pop in a romantic movie (rent for free from the library – my ALL TIME FAVORITE is “When Harry Met Sally“), light some candles, pop some popcorn and just relax in each other’s arms for the rest of the night.

*Swap sitting services with friends
-Consider a babysitting swap with friends during Valentine’s Day week so you don’t have to pay for childcare either! Volunteer to have their kids come over to your house for dinner one night while they go out and then swap with them on another night.

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*Have a Date Lunch
- Many of your favorite restaurants have cheaper lunch prices for the same food they serve at dinner. You could even pick something up from a favorite on West End like P.F. Changs or J. Alexander’s and get it to-go (thereby avoiding tips too!). If the weather permits, have a picnic at Centennial Park or even take a tour of the Parthenon (tickets are only $6 for adults).

*Free Wine Tasting at Arrington Vineyards
-If you want to enjoy some of Tennessee’s best local wines with your sweetheart, head over to Arrington Vineyards for a free wine tasting.

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*Take a Night Hike at Warner Parks
-On February 13, you can visit Warner Parks to cozy up around a campfire, eat dinner under the stars, and walk the trails at night in search of owls and other nocturnal animals that might be courting.

*Date night on a night other than Valentine’s Day
-You’ll find better deals, even at places like Morton’s, if you avoid actually going out on Valentine’s Day itself. Save yourself from waiting in lines AND over-paying and just name your own date to celebrate the holiday icon smile 9 Inexpensive Date Night Alternatives

*Check the local daily deal sites (Like Groupon Nashville & Living Social)
- I’ve found horse-drawn carriage rides, massages & more in the past week up to 70% off!

*Volunteer Together
- Keep in mind, there are so many people who don’t have someone to love them and share Valentine’s Day with. Why not volunteer with your spouse, significant other or even a group of friends? There’s no better way to feel love than by first being willing to share it!

 9 Inexpensive Date Night Alternatives
*Write a Note (yes, with pen & paper!)
-And never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. In our age of technology and eCards, you’d be amazed at the difference a simple yet thoughtful handwritten note can make! (Looking for that perfect pen for that love note? Check out my #PenOfTheDay series!)

I shared some of my inexpensive date night alternatives on Nashville’s favorite daytime TV show, Talk of the Town. Watch the entire segment here:
NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather

What are some of your favorite ways to save money while still enjoying a date night together?

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Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

cheap homemade gifts kids can make Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

If you’re stopping by after seeing my TV segment on Talk of the Town, then you’re most likely looking for details on my cheap homemade gifts kids can make.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m not crafty at ALL, so believe me when I say all of these are relatively quick, cheap AND easy.

In typical Sami Cone fashion, I don’t have all the step-by-step directions ready for you, but I’ll keep updating this post with pictures and details so you too can bless someone with these special gifts this Christmas!

Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

t shirt scarf Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

1. T-shirt Scarf

paper clip earrings Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

2. Paper Clip Earrings

cookie mix mason jar Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

3. Cookie Mix Mason Jars

4. Hair Ribbon Clips

silver washer personalized necklaces Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

5. Silver Washer Personalized Necklaces

6. Coasters

7. Family Photo Ornaments

8. Personalized Wooden Gift Tags

(More pics and instructions to come!)

Watch the video from my Talk of the Town segment on Cheap Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make:

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25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013 (Your Holiday TV Favs!)

It’s back! The 25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013 is here and believe it or not, the countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas schedule has already begun!!!

25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013

25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013 25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013 (Your Holiday TV Favs!)

Schedule photo taken from media.abcfamily.go.com

I thought we were early by getting our Christmas Tree last night, but then we came home to find that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was already on TV! (You know the holiday classic from years ago that we all still love!).

So I immediately rushed to find the 25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013 on ABC Family and it was a little harder to find than I thought, which is why I wanted to share it here with you.

I was also surprised to find those holiday classic TV show marathons that we’ve come to love are absent on this year’s ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas schedule!  Typically, they’ll take a couple weekends in December to show our holiday favs like Frosty, Jack Frost, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Year Without a Santa Claus and the like…(is anyone else a huge fan of the Miser Brothers like me????).

 25 Days of Christmas Schedule 2013 (Your Holiday TV Favs!)

However this year, those Christmas classics seem to be absent on the schedule. I’m not sure if that’s simply because this schedule graphic is not reflecting every single holiday Christmas movie they’ll be showing or if they’ll be doing more of it on their other ABC networks.

I’m also noticing a new crop of Christmas movies this year, including Elf on the Shelf.

I’m hoping the ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas will reflect all our favorite holiday movies, but I guess only time will tell!

You already know I love Heat Miser and Snow Miser from “A Year Without a Santa Claus”; What is your favorite Christmas classic that you can’t wait to watch this year?

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Quick and Easy Holiday Entertaining Tips

Martha Stewart I am not…which is why if I’m going to do any sort of holiday entertaining, you KNOW it has to be quick and easy (and usually last minute!).

quick and easy holiday entertaining tips 236x300 Quick and Easy Holiday Entertaining Tips

I never want friends and family to feel like the can’t come over simply because my house isn’t clean enough, my decorations aren’t complicated enough, or my food isn’t pretty enough.

So as we quickly approach the holiday season, I’ve got a few simple tips to help you with your holiday entertaining (or anytime you want to have someone over, for that matter!)

Everything you see below (& saw me demonstrate on Talk of the Town on Friday, October 18) cost under $25.

Quick and Easy Holiday Entertaining Tips

*Look first at what you have in your fridge/freezer pantry
(Try to keep certain essentials always on hand to entertain with: crackers, cheese, meatballs in the freezer, etc)

*Keep it to finger foods that steer clear from utensils, like:
-Pepper Jelly poured over a block of cream cheese served with crackers
-Frozen Mini-Phyllo Cups filled with spoonable brie and raspberry jam
-Mini meatballs in a crockpot with a sauce made from an equal mix of ketchup and grape jelly

*Use clippings from your own yard to decorate: Fall leaves, holly bush trimmings, twigs in vases, etc

*Don’t forget dessert! Melt Rolos on pretzel squares and then push nuts, Reeses Pieces or holiday themed M&Ms into it for a quick & easy treat!

*Create a small campfire backyard with hot cider, hot dogs & S’mores

Most important – don’t let your entertaining inferiority complex prevent you from having family & friends over – just make your home full of love and laughter!

Watch my Talk of the Town video on the same topic below:
NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather

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Help Me Pick My TV Clothes – July 2013

 Help Me Pick My TV Clothes   July 2013

Today I had the pleasure of visiting my new favorite fashion find for the purpose of picking out some TV clothes for my next Talk of the Town appearance.

Resurrected Closet here in Fairview, TN is not only a beautiful store that provides an amazing shopping experience, but they have unique clothes at fabulous prices!

It’s been difficult for me to find that unique shopping experience here in Nashville (though you wouldn’t think so!) where I don’t feel too old, too young, or more importantly, too out of my price range icon wink Help Me Pick My TV Clothes   July 2013

lenny eva jewelry resurrected closet Help Me Pick My TV Clothes   July 2013

So I was beyond thrilled when I discovered Resurrected Closet not even five minutes from our home in Fairview. Even more delightful was that I discovered I went to church with the owner!

Avent and her sister Jamie graciously offered to help dress me for TV, but it turns out they offer free personal shopping for ANYONE, not just those of us who happen to appear in front of the camera.

So without further adieu, I wanted to give you all the chance to help me pick my TV clothes for my July 12 appearance on Talk of the Town:

TV Clothes: Option #1

resurrected closet tv clothes july 1 Help Me Pick My TV Clothes   July 2013

Chevron top with blue tank underneath, dark skinny jeans, cowboy boots and the stunning Lenny & Eva jewelry

TV Clothes: Option #2

resurrected closet tv clothes 2 Help Me Pick My TV Clothes   July 2013

Lilac & Navy maxi dress (that can also double as a skirt! And don’t you love the pockets??).
(I’d actually put a cropped denim jacket with this option if you vote for this option, but they didn’t have one in my size in stock….)

So what’s it going to be? Option 1 or Option 2??

Just leave a comment below letting me know what you think I should wear on TV this Friday and then tune in to NewsChannel5 (CBS) in Nashville at 11am to find out what won!

And you know I’d never ask you to do something without giving you something back in return…

If you want to experience Resurrected Closet for yourself, just make sure to leave a comment below and then visit Avent in person and mention “Sami sent me” to save an extra 15% off your TOTAL purchase – LOVE IT!

So which TV clothes are you going to pick for me to wear?

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Backyard Camping Checklist

After camping for the first time as an adult this past weekend, I learned a lot of things. Luckily, our family camped with a group, so we were all able to share with and help each other. But if I had relied on my original checklist, I would have been in trouble! That’s why I wanted to create this backyard camping checklist for you based on my experience…complete with some camping myths exposed.

family camping campsite 300x225 Backyard Camping Checklist

But personally, I wished I had taken on simple step before jumping into the weekend camping trip away: Camped out in my own backyard.

For someone like me who has never camped out before (besides with my Girl Scout troupe as a child!), there were a lot of things I wasn’t aware of and didn’t realized I needed. Here are a few tips you can learn from my experience so hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes I made. Let me first debunk some “Camping Myths”:

Myth #1: Camping is cheap
Truth: If you’re not well-prepared, camping can be just as expensive as a traditional vacation.
You still need to make reservations and pay for many campsites. You also have to bring EVERYTHING with you, including personal goods like soap and toilet paper, not to mention your camping gear, food and activities.

Solution: Camping in your backyard will save you the fee associated with a campground

Myth #2: You don’t need much food
Truth: When you’re camping with kids, they’re ALWAYS hungry!
So not only do you need to bring everything you need for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you have to take into account a TON of drinks/water, as well as snacks and of course, S’mores! The real kicker was all the food ‘accessories’ I didn’t think about. In addition to cups, plates, napkins, utensils, and the like, you also have to remember all your condiments, seasonings, cookware (pots, fire pit forks, cooking utensils) and then storage goods like baggies, trash bags, plastic containers, etc. And of course, don’t forget the ice to keep everything cold all weekend.

Solution: When camping in your backyard you can either bring everything out with you and just run inside if you forget something or you can have your meals prepped and ready to go in your fridge and just bring them out when the time is ready to cook them outside (like marinating meat or my frozen pancake batter cones)

Myth #3: You don’t need much gear
Truth: My 7 year old commented after we got our mini-van packed for our 2 night camping trip, “This is more stuff than we take for a week at Disney World!!!”.
It’s true, and I’ve heard it repeated over and over again: Whether you’re going camping for 1 night or 5, you still take the same amount of stuff.

Solution: Not only will you save big on gas money by camping in your backyard, you simply don’t need to pack, haul and unpack everything the way you would when going away. Obviously you’ll need a tent (which you can always borrow), but I wouldn’t even bother with sleeping bags. We lined our tent with carpet remnants that were free and then layered sheets and blankets on top of them.

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Backyard Camping Checklist

-Since you won’t be going out into the deep dark woods, friends might be more inclined to let you borrow their camping gear to test out before you invest in purchasing your own.

-Decide on some activities before you go, like bug scavenger hunts, lightning bug tag, or even board games you can play in your tent before bed. When all else fails, give your boys a pile of rocks and leave them alone for an hour icon wink Backyard Camping Checklist

-Start gathering your food a month before your trip if possible: When camping, this is often the time kids want convenience food like chips, hot dogs and of course, S’mores. If you can catch these when they are BOGO Free and stock up your freezer and pantry, you’ll save big over going shopping the week of and being at the mercy of the store. Also, pre-make as much of your food as you can: sandwich roll ups, frozen pancake batter cones, marinated/BBQ chicken. That way all you have to do is worry about how to start your fire when you’re ready to eat!

After you spend a night in your own backyard, you’ll be better able to determine whether or not this is something you want to do for a longer period of time and what you’ll actually need if you do decide to take a camping trip away from home!

Watch my segment from “Talk of the Town” on Backyard Camping:

If you decide you want to grab your own gear, consider checking out the Camping Kitchen and more we found and loved from Rakuten.com

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Doc McStuffins Time for Your Checkup DVD Giveaway

007A8238 A371 4AD8 B636 892D32F5DFE6 Doc McStuffins Time for Your Checkup DVD Giveaway

The new Doc McStuffins DVD “Time for your check up” is finally here! This runaway hit on Disney Junior released on May 7th! To top off the anticipation for the most loyal Doc fans out there, the DVD comes packaged with 5 fun-filled episodes AND a FREE growth chart.

Doc McStuffins has emerged as the #1 cable show in the kids 2-5 age range…and while my kids are beyond that demographic, my 8 year old daughter still LOVES this show.

Maybe it’s the determined main character. Perhaps it’s her adorable stuffed animal counterparts. Maybe it’s even the annoying way I get the words wrong every time I try to sing the jingle (nope, pretty sure she can’t stand when I do that…but it makes me laugh icon wink Doc McStuffins Time for Your Checkup DVD Giveaway

Whatever it is, I LOVE that she still loves a show that both appeals to the little girl in her while challenging her to pursue her dreams and foster her imagination.

Here’s a Doc McStuffins clip if you haven’t had a chance to check this show out yet:

Just look at the initiative Kariss took in creating her own “Doc” bag out of paper! I love when these shows transcend the screen and lead to real-life motivation in my kids.

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Kariss with her homemade “doc” bag

The “Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Check Up!” App is also now available for $3.99 from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/

Would you like to win a copy of the Doc McStuffins “Time for Your Checkup” DVD for your family? I thought you would! Just enter via the many methods below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Don’t forget to enter my other giveaways, including my Disney giveaways!

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Disclosure: Disney Junior PR provided my family with a copy of this title for my Doc McStuffins Time for Your Checkup DVD Giveaway. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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Saving Money on Summer Grilling

Saving Money on Summer Grilling 225x300 Saving Money on Summer Grilling

So many people are saving money by summer grilling by following just a few simple tips, so I wanted to share them with you! You’ll be hearing me share my money-saving summer grilling tips on 94FM the Fish radio as well as Talk of the Town TV this week, but I know it can be difficult to keep up with all the tips I share on air, so I wanted to make sure you could find all the ways I’ve discovered to save time and money on summer grilling in one place.

Now don’t mis-understand me – I’m no pro. In fact, I’ve never used a real grill by myself. But because I’ve come to appreciate the health and money-saving properties of  summer grilling, I’ve taught myself a few short cuts that anyone can master!

7 Tips for Saving Money on Summer Grilling

* Marinate, marinate, marinate
-If you marinate your meats, you can buy cheaper cuts (like skirt steak or flank steak) and still pack in the flavor and tenderness. Consider checking out something like the Instant Marinater I found on Rakuten.com that not only marinates your meat safely, but is a great vessel to transport your marinated meat outside.

*Wrap it up
-Same principal as marinating, but with fish. Wrap fish and veggies in foil pouches with a little broth and/or wine & veggies, place on grill for 10 min, and you’ll get a delicious, ‘one pot’ meal, even with cheaper fish filets like tilapia.

*Fill up on veggies
-Summer veggies like zucchini, squash, tomatoes and corn are super cheap over the summer. Consider cutting costs by making kabobs (this will use less meat too!).

*Make a dry rub in large batches
-chances are you’ll be grilling multiple times over the coming months. Instead of spending upwards of $4 on a small bottle of BBQ Rub (or more for fancier varieties), mix up your own batch (using a mixture of kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard, brown sugar & chile powder) and store in an air-tight container. It will serve you well over the summer and make it easier for those ‘on the whim’ dinners.

*Smoke your meat
-Smoking meat on a tabletop smoker can be a great way to get the taste of outside without the hassle of a grill. Check out the Smoke N’Grill – for under $80, it may be just what you’re looking for if you’re like me and don’t have the patience to tend a fire and are looking for something a little more automated.

 Saving Money on Summer Grilling Saving Money on Summer Grilling
*The Electric Grill – it isn’t just for apartments
-Even though grills have drastically reduced in price over the past few years, not all of us have an extra few hundred dollars laying around (not to mention those of us who live in an apartment and can’t have a charcoal or gas grill). We’ve loved our George Foreman grill for years and recently found the more robust, George Foreman indoor/outdoor grill that not only offers a bigger grilling surface, but comes with a traditional grill top and stand so you can actually grill out on the deck too!

*Outdoor kitchen
-If you haven’t won an extreme backyard makeover but still want to have a dedicated space for your outdoor summer cooking obsession, consider getting a portable/storable outdoor kitchen (like the Mac Station by Origami). It allows you to access everything you need in one place, plus doubles as a great camping kitchen!

You can watch me talk about all these tips on my “Talk of the Town” segment:

Have you been saving money on summer grilling too? What are your best tips?  If you share your secrets with me, you just might win a $250 Super Points shopping spree on Rakuten.com! Just enter via Rafflecopter below:
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Rakuten.com has graciously offered me the opportunity for this giveaway. I’ve found so many great items at great prices on Rakuten.com and it’s my pleasure to share this fabulous shopping site with you!
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Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget

While we all would love regular trips to the spa, the truth is we can’t all afford weekly beauty treatments like massages, manicures, facials and laser hair removal!

I’ve found some great at-home beauty treatments and spa-substitutes to help carry you through those ‘in between the salon’ times:

 Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget
GEL MANICURES: Sally Hansen Salon InstaGel Strips Manicure Set
—Instead of paying upwards of $30 for a gel manicure, you can grab this Sally Hansen set (and refills usually run around $13).

Just like all CVS beauty purchases, shoppers have 60 days to return any products they purchase for any reason.
Benefits are the same for Nail HQ purchases! All Beauty Club members get $5 back in ExtraBucks Rewards for every $50 spent on qualifying beauty products.

 Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to hair removal, the FDA-cleared Tria Hair Removal Laser uses the same laser hair removal technology found in the doctor’s office in the convenience of your home for freedom from constant shaving and waxing. It retails at $395 at www.triabeauty.com which I realize doesn’t look like it falls in the ‘budget’ category, but when you consider typical laser removal necessitates multiple office visits and costs thousands of dollars, this is cheap in comparison!

 Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget
*Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget
—I found this at CVS a couple years ago on sale AND with free facial cleanser! It’s under $30 and considering the competition is around $200, you can’t beat it, even if you don’t use it everyday.

 Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget
*Hydroxatone Essential Beauty Box ($49 at Ulta & Ulta.com) & Instant Face Lift $55
—before going under the knife, try a topical alternative that has been proven like this one!

 Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget Spa & At Home Beauty Treatments to Help Your Budget
*Willa Naturals Skin Care – start young, stay young (great for any age – paraben free, sulfate free, DEA free) – $14
—P.S. Look to teen or even men’s products when it comes to skin care – often times they’re more natural and less expensive than female counterparts!

*Vitacost “Be Well” Box
—for $13.99 you can get some of the best health and wellness products sent right to your doorstep each month, with no long term commitment! Plus, when you sign up for Vitacost, you can earn $10 towards a $30 purchase.

Watch my segment from Fox TN Mornings on this topic!

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