My Preferred Sources for Discounted Gift Cards + Free $10 to Try Them Out!

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Before the holidays, and before we make any major purchases, I always seek out discounted gift cards to save money. I regularly save an additional 5-10% on top of any other discounts and sales by paying with gift cards I have purchased online at a discount! This has saved us loads just at home improvement stores, where we seem to spend thousands of dollars every year.

There are many reputable sources for discounted gift cards out there, but I want to share my two favorites with you today! First, you might be wondering how this works. For a variety of reasons, many folks want to sell their unused gift cards in exchange for cash. These sites are essentially marketplaces that allow people to buy and sell gift cards (both physical and electronic) with confidence.The Raise GuaranteeBoth of my recommended sites offer a 100% guarantee for a certain period after a card is purchased. I’ve purchase many gift cards from these sites and I’ve never had a card not be exactly what it was supposed to be. If something did go wrong with a card, I completely trust that these companies would make it right.


The site I have used the most is Raise. While there are other sites that may offer slightly better discounts, Raise has excellent buyer protection (a generous 100-day money back guarantee policy) and a great selection of gift cards. You can also redeem Raise gift cards from your phone with their mobile app.


If you are new to Raise, you can get $5 off your first gift card purchase of $25 or more (this is my referral link). And remember that’s $5 off on top of the discounted prices of up to 30%!


My other favorite site is CardCash. They seem to always have gift cards in stock that might be out of stock other places (Target is a perennial favorite). They offer 45-day buyer protection and very competitive discounts. Though their site says it may take up to 24 hours to deliver e-gift cards, I have found that they are often sent within minutes!

I also like that CardCash often offers additional savings on select gift card brands with promo codes on their site. If you are new to CardCash, you can get $5 off your first purchase of at least $25. Right now I am looking for a few discounted cards to get a jump start

Have you ever purchased a discounted gift card? If not, why? Please leave a comment below!

Kohl’s: Keurig K15 Coffee Brewer only $39 + Get $10 in Kohl’s Cash (Best Price Ever)

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Keurig® K10/K15 Personal Coffee Brewer

Through tomorrow (Sunday 9/25) get a crazy good price on this Keurig K15 Personal Coffee Brewer (regularly $119.99). When you add it to your cart at Kohl’s, the price will drop to $89.99. Then apply the promo codes KBREW20 ($20 off) and SEPTFALL15 (15% off) and the price will drop to $59.49. Print and mail in this $20 rebate and your total will be only $39.49. Plus get $10 in Kohl’s Cash to spend later. You can pick it up for free in-store or shipping is $8.95 (free if you spend over $75).

This is the best price ever on a Keurig, so if you plan on buying one as a gift or for yourself this year, now’s the time!

Thanks, Brad’s Deals!

Coupon: Buy One Get One Free Avocados from Mexico

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$1.49 off one Avocados from Mexico

I don’t print many coupons, but I did print this one for buy one get one free Avocado (up to $1.49). I’ll take a free avocado any day!

Amazon: 50 FREE 4×6 Photo Prints + Free Shipping (Prime Members Only)

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Amazon recently launched another new service for Prime Members, Amazon Prints. For a limited time, you can get 50 free 4 x 6 photo prints delivered to your door totally free. Just enter the promo code BABY50FREEPRINTS at checkout to get your prints.


You will have to upload your photos to Amazon Photos in order to print them, which you can do using one of the Amazon Photo apps. I’m in the process of adding some photos now and will share my experience here on the blog soon!

Thanks, Hip2Save!

Amazon: Save on Quality Athletic Socks (Today Only!)

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I found some great deals on high-quality athletic socks on Amazon that I had to share!

Today only, grab some new ASICS, Under Armour and other socks from less than $3 pair. Check out all of the options here. I am desperate for some new socks and I can’t be the only one! 😉

10 Can’t Miss Items at the 2016 Epcot Food & Wine Festival (And What to Skip!)

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I just returned from opening weekend of the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and I’m still full… and a bit overwhelmed! There are literally HUNDREDS of items to try, and most folks will only spend one afternoon (or if they are lucky an entire day) at the festival as part of their vacation.

Every time I go I wish someone would tell me what I shouldn’t miss at the festival… so this year I decided to do that for my readers! I also want someone to tell me what to skip, so I’m sharing some items that I think you are better off skipping.


Not-very hidden Mickey at the France booth

Keep in mind that my choices are limited to what I’ve tried (that’s upwards of 50 items over the years) and my personal tastes. But I have found some consensus from other Disney food lovers and fan sites.

So if I were going to the festival again, here are the ten items I would be sure not to miss and some I would skip. I also stuck with strictly food items because I’m not much of a drinker.

Can’t Miss Items


Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese Served on Griddled Garlic Toast (Hops & Barley) – $5.25

This was the first item we tried at the festival this year and did it ever set the bar high. It involved a VERY generous portion of tender, flavorful smoked brisket on top of a smear of pimento cheese served on thick toast. I tried to get a little of each in every bite and it was awesome.

I’ve never been a pimento cheese fan but it just works wonderfully in this combination. I think this dish represents a pretty good value at $5.25 because of how much beef it contains.


Pickled Beet Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese, Minus 8 Vinaigrette, and Toasted Walnuts (Farm Fresh) – $3.75

This one was a total surprise since I had to practically force myself to try it. I usually avoid beets, but trying this seemed like a safe way to give them another chance. OMG was this dish incredible! The beets were done just right – firm, not mushy – and just barely pickled. The goat cheese was almost like a bleu cheese dressing and added just enough tang. I loved the vinaigrette, walnuts, and unidentified greens that topped it all off.

This was one of my top three favorites this year. I did a double take when I saw how much it cost, too – only $3.75! Please spend $3.75 and try this, I promise you won’t be sorry.

Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise (Hawai’i) – $4.25

This is one of my all-time favorite dishes at the festival, though I skipped it this year in favor or trying new things. The pork is tender and delicious, and the pineapple chutney adds flavor without being overpowering.

There are a lot of pork dishes at the festival this year, but I think this is the stand-out. The Pork Lettuce Wrap with Kimchi from the South Korea Booth comes in a close second (do you like how I sneaked another one in there?) It is also a GREAT deal at $4.25.

Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles (China) – $5.50

This top ten item totally came out of left field. I’d never tried anything at the China booth so I figured it was time, plus I had read a positive review of this item somewhere else. I wasn’t expecting much, but this was an awesome dish!

It was a large portion of flavorful noodles and four lightly breaded shrimp. I didn’t pick up too much black pepper flavor and I loved the fine Panko breading on the shrimp. The noodles were just a tiny bit spicy. This was so much food for $5.50! I commented that I could eat this as a light lunch and be satisfied. Definitely one to share with friends.


Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread (Africa) – $5.00

I was expecting this dish to be great and it was. I’ve had the butter chicken at Sanaa and this was just as good. It has a ton of flavors that are exotic without being overwhelming. The chicken is super tender and it has just enough naan bread to sop up all the sauce. The portion we received was pretty small, so not the best deal around, but definitely not something you should miss.


Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri (Patagonia) – $5.50

This was one of the most flavorful items I had at the festival, thanks to the incredible arugula chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is usually made with parsley, but arugula made it SO much better in my opinion. The sustainably farm-raised salmon was tender, moist, and not at all fishy. I also loved the quinoa salad that accompanied the salmon.

My first thought when trying this was that I could eat a whole plate of it! I encouraged my friend Toni to try some of the salad and chimichurri since she doesn’t like salmon, and she thought it was excellent as well. This item has great value for $5.50.


Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel (Chocolate Studio) –  $4.50

This item doesn’t represent a great value, since it is only about four large bites, but WOW, was it so good. It is frozen, which I guess you could figure out from the terms “liquid nitro”, but I was pleasantly surprised by how cold it was.

The truffle is very chocolaty without being bitter and has just a hint of almond flavor. I loved the crunchy topping (not sure what it was but that didn’t bother me) and the whiskey-caramel sauce was divine. I could also eat a whole plate of this stuff, though I would definitely regret it later.


Seared Scallop, Truffled Celery Root Purée, Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms featuring Melissa’s Produce (Wine and Dine Studio) – $5.50

Toni and I both loved this scallop dish, and we agreed that it was the accompaniments that made it stand out. The celery root puree had both great flavor and texture, and the brussel sprouts were roasted to perfection. I even liked the wild mushrooms though I don’t always go for those kind of earthy flavors.

The scallop was nice sized, but overall this wasn’t a tremendous value for $5.50. There is always a scallop dish somewhere at the festival, and this is the best one I’ve had.


Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing (Hops & Barley) – $3.75

I know that you can get carrot cake anywhere and cream cheese icing isn’t that special either. But this little cake is just so good. It is tender and delicious and just SWIMMING in cream cheese icing. I swear it is larger than in years past, but I could be thinking of other items.


Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Roll (Canada) – $4.75

And last, but not least… I had to include the perennial favorite, the cheddar cheese soup in Canada. The soup itself isn’t very photogenic, so here is my husband geeking out over it. I thought about leaving it off the list because I can now make it at home, but there is no getting around that it is one of the best items at the festival.

The pretzel roll is a welcome addition and another cult-favorite from Le Cellier. Don’t leave the festival without trying this soup, even if you skip the Filet Mignon and even if the line is long at the Canada booth (it almost always is).

What to Skip


Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese (The Chew Collective)

I honestly didn’t like anything at the Chew booth and I liked this dish the least. The beef was overdone, the lettuce wilted and the apricots and cheese nothing to write home about. There are so many better beef dishes at the festival. SKIP.


Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas (Australia) – $5.00

There just wasn’t anything notable about this dish. The sauce tasted like a basic sweet and sour sauce, the shrimp were so-so and there wasn’t much to it. There are much better shrimp dishes at the festival (such as the aforementioned Black Pepper Shrimp in China and the Shrimp Tacos in Mexico). SKIP.


Tuscan-style Stew with Carrots, Mushrooms and Crispy Polenta (Italy) – $6.25

This was an above average beef stew with a little bit of polenta. Nothing worth the $6.25 price tag and nothing you couldn’t easily make at home. SKIP.


Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato (Brazil) – $5.50

This dish looked so good that I really wanted to like it, but I didn’t. It could just have been the portion we received, which had way too much fat and very little pork. And the salsa fresca and beans were mediocre. SKIP.


Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes (Belgium) – $4.75

We tried to eat this waffle concoction right away, but we still got a soggy waffle. Maybe some folks don’t mind that, but I just couldn’t get past that I was eating stew on a soggy mashed potato waffle. Just ewwwww. If you need a waffle, go for the Belgian Waffle with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Ganache. SKIP.

So those are my can’t miss items at the festival and what I wish I had skipped. I’m sure some of you are amazed that I missed your favorites, so please chime in below in a comment! What are your “can’t miss” items at Food & Wine?


Debitize: Earn a Free $20 Bonus When You Link a Credit Card

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I was a bit of a skeptic when I first read about Debitize. It is a free tool that essentially turns a credit card into a debit card-of-sorts, by withdrawing money from your checking account as soon as you spend it with your credit card.

Well, I gave it a try over the past month with my Chase IHG Rewards Club card and I actually ended up liking the service quite a bit! Plus, when you sign up for Debitize through any link on this page, you’ll receive a free $20 credit towards your next credit card bill.

The image above shows really well how Debitize works. When I set up my Debitize account I had to enter my full checking account information as well as my credit card number, which I only did after being reassured by a member of the Debitize support team that my financial information was safe!

It will take about 2 weeks after linking your accounts with Debitize for your $20 sign-up bonus to show up in your account. I also received an email when I earned my bonus.

For now, I am keeping my IHG card linked to my Debitize account. I like how it makes me extra accountable for any spending I’m doing on the card! What do you think of the Debitize idea? Please leave a comment below!


Category: Freebies

Amazon: Women’s Spaghetti Strap Maxi Dress $10.99 (Today Only)

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Today only, get this Ayliss Bohemian Spaghetti Strap Maxi Dress for only $10.99 plus free Prime shipping on Amazon. It looks like the coolest and most comfortable dress! Pre-Order Finding Dory on DVD & Get a Free $5 Target Gift Card

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Did you love Finding Dory in the theaters? Head over to where you can pre-order the Finding Dory DVD for $19.99, plus get a free $5 Target Gift Card!

Thanks, Hip2Save!

FREE Starbucks Caffe Latte K-Cup Sample

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Get a free sample of these Caffe Latte K-Cup Pods from Starbucks! I don’t have a Keurig but I always grab these samples to share with friends. 😉

Thanks, RetailMeNot!

2016 The Frugal South Reader Survey: Results + Winners!

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Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who took the time to complete the reader survey I sent out last week! Your responses are already helping me improve the blog.

I thought you may be interested in what I learned from the survey, so here are the results, in a nutshell…

  • You are most interested in posts about frugal travel, deals/freebies, and my personal experiences. More of these coming right up!
  • You are most interested in Amazon deals on home goods and kid stuff. I assume this applies to deals from anywhere so I am focusing my efforts on those categories!
  • You are most interested in free eBooks or downloads about how to travel for free or cheap with points/miles and how to take a great Disney vacation on the cheap. One is in the works and is coming your way very soon!
  • Y’all are mostly on Facebook (63% of you) and Pinterest (41%). I am working on ramping up my efforts on Facebook (which have been non-existent up to this point… oops).


And most helpful to me was hearing what you struggle with most regarding living frugally. I wish I had asked more generally what I can help you with in your life, but oh well, I learned for next time. These are some of the things that challenge you:

  • Finding good deals
  • Not enough time
  • Budgeting for unplanned expenses
  • Following through on your commitment to live frugally (especially when faced with impulse buys for yourself or your kids/grandkids!)

Guess what? I struggle with these exact issues, too! What’s great about that is that I can share my experiences working through these challenging areas with you, and hopefully we can all learn a better way together! I’ll definitely try to focus on these areas in the future on the blog.

As a thank-you for taking the time to complete the survey, I’ve sent out prizes to some readers. Amanda P. was the winner of the $10 Amazon gift card. I also sent a copy of my eBook The Ultimate Guide to the Disney Dining Plan to five folks who completed the survey. Congrats!

Thanks again for your feedback and for being the best readers!

EXPIRED: Amazon: Pyrex 10-Piece Glass Storage Set only $11.51

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Check out this Pyrex 10-Piece Glass Storage Set with Plastic Covers on sale for $11.51 at Amazon. It is regularly $22.99 so grab it for 50% off if you are in need of some nice glass food storage!

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

Free 1-Week Supply Sample of Lancome Renergie Lift Day Cream

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Here’s a great freebie… get your free 7 day sample of Lancome Renergie Life Multi-Action Day Cream here. Can’t wait to get mine in the mail!

Thanks, Hip2Save!

My Experience at Aveda Institute: Haircut + Mini Spa Day for Under $20

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I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write about the Aveda Institute! It is seriously one of the best frugal beauty deals out there.

Aveda Institutes are schools where students train to become licensed cosmetologists with a focus on using naturally derived Aveda products. If you aren’t familiar with Aveda products, they are made from pure flower and plant essences and are some of the best hair and skin products out there, in my opinion.

img_4309High-end Aveda products and salons would usually be financially out of reach for me as we currently live on one modest income. Enter the magic of the Aveda Institutes!

If you are lucky enough to live close to one of the 66 Aveda Institute locations in the U.S., you can get services at a huge discount because students will be performing the services. But don’t worry, experienced instructors are supervising and approve everything the students do! Women’s haircuts start at $19, though there are discounts available which I will share below.


Click on this map to search for an Aveda Institute near you

I have been getting my hair cut at the Aveda Institute in Chapel Hill, NC on and off for the past five years. I have never had a bad haircut or a negative experience there! There is one major downside to getting a service there, which I will get to a little later on.

So in this post I’ll share my recent experience getting a haircut at the Aveda Institute as well as some ways to get discounts.


First, here is the “before” picture of my unruly hair that was desperate for a haircut. It had been at least 9 months since I last had it cut… Clearly haircuts aren’t a big priority in my life.


After I checked in at the front desk for my 10:00 am appointment, I was offered some water or tea. I LOVE this tea so I always accept the small cup of tea while I wait! I consider it the start of my mini spa day. 🙂


I also always sample some Aveda products while I wait. This stuff all smells amazing. I waited less than 5 minutes and the student who was cutting my hair, Katie, found me in the lobby.

When you call to make an appointment, you’ll be asked if you prefer a certain level of student. Students performing services at the Aveda Institutes are Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors. Services from students with more experience are slightly more expensive (a few dollars more for haircuts). I’ve always had Junior and Seniors and they have been very skilled.


Your student will take you to their station where you’ll discuss what you’d like done. I asked Katie to take about 6 inches off and put in some very long layers. At this point, an instructor comes over with the student and they discuss a plan for your haircut and the Aveda products they’ll use. Students must get approval from instructors before they do anything to your hair!

fullsizerender-8Then my favorite part… getting to lie down in this relaxing space to get my hair washed. Students give you a shampoo, scalp massage, and conditioner treatment with the incredible smelling Aveda products.


I was the only one in there at the time so I had the place to myself!


Now here is the one downside of getting a haircut at an Aveda Institute for me… it takes a LONGGGG time. I expect to spend around 2 hours there in total, though this trip was an hour and a half. The students are very careful since they are still learning, and they have to get instructor approval at several points in the process.

If you don’t mind the investment of time, you can have an excellent haircut and more for under $20. On top of your shampoo, haircut, and style, you also get a “mini spa treatment” as part of your visit. You get to choose from a mini-facial, hand and arm massage, or neck and shoulder massage from your student. I’ve tried all three in the past and today I opted for a neck and shoulder massage. I think they are all great options.


Katie offered to take a picture of my haircut before I left, so here is my mugshot in front of the fancy Aveda backdrop. 😉


And here’s the “after” selfie when I got back into the car. My hair felt so much better!

Now here are a few tips for saving money on visits to the Aveda Institute. I’ve not sure if all locations offer these discounts, but they are regularly available at the Chapel Hill location.


New guests at the Aveda Institue Chapel Hill can click here to print coupons for a $10 haircut or $10 off one service, plus 20% off products.


I got 20% off of my haircut because my appointment was before 11 am during the week (my husband has Mondays off). This is a great way to save on your haircut if you can make it work with your schedule.

Last, if you go a long time between haircuts like I do, you’ll likely get an email from the Aveda Institute saying they’ve missed you and giving you a 20% discount! So I guess it pays to go too long between cuts sometimes.

After my early bird discount my haircut cost $17. I opted to leave a $3 tip for the Aveda “Tip for a Cause” program. You have the option of leaving a tip that goes to a local cause and I unfortunately can’t remember which worthy cause I supported this time.

I was also SO proud of myself because I scheduled my next haircut before I left! It is about 3.5 months out, which is much better than 9-12 months.

Have you ever been to an Aveda Institute? Would you consider it, or is it too scary to leave your hair in the hands of a student? Please leave a comment below!


EXPIRED: Gymboree: Free Shipping + 50% off Fall Favorites (Today Only)

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2016-09-07 06_00_16-Kids Clothes, Baby Clothes, Toddler Clothes at Gymboree

Today only (9/7/16), get free shipping on any order at Gymboree plus 50% off fall favorites with the code BBQTIME!  I found tees and pants from $5 and dresses from $7 in their sale section.

Starbucks: Get a Free $10 eGift When You Add $10 to Your Account

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2016-09-06 10_26_53-Visa Checkout Evergreen _ Starbucks Coffee Company

Through September 30th or while supplies last, get a free $10 eGift when you load $10 or more in your Starbucks app and pay with Visa Checkout. Check out the details here.

You can use the Starbucks app and gift cards and any Starbucks’ locations in Walt Disney World, including the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom! I keep this in mind any time I see a nice Starbucks offer like this one.

Thanks, Million Mile Secrets!

How to Use IHG Points + Cash to Save on Hotel Stays (Plus Save an Additional 20% with These Tips!)

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FullSizeRender (1)

RC loves the saltwater pool at the Holiday Inn & Suites Charleston West!

International Hotel Group (IHG) Rewards Club is my favorite hotel loyalty program for so many reasons… it’s hard to know where to begin!

I love the family-friendly brands that are part of IHG (e.g. Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, etc.). I love that you can stay at select “PointBreaks” hotels for only 5,000 points. I love the free night certificate I earn each year that I have my IHG Rewards Club Mastercard.

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Holiday Inn Wrightsville Beach, NC

And recently I’ve learned to love the Points + Cash option for stretching my points even farther. In this post I’ll share how Points + Cash reservations work plus share two tips for saving even more on hotel stays!

We regularly make trips to Ohio to visit my family and have found a great Holiday Inn in Charleston, WV that has become our regular stopover on the trip. The hotel has great rooms, an on-site restaurant in which kids eat free, and a super-fun saltwater pool and hot tub. It is also total bargain at only 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night!


On our road to Ohio!

A few weeks ago I checked availability for our upcoming trip to Ohio and found that there was an option to use Points + Cash for our travel dates. Since I’m starting to run low on IHG points I decide to go ahead and book a room for 10,000 points + $40. I also could have booked the same room for 5,000 points plus $70.

That alone would have been a great deal considering the quality of our accommodations. But about a week ago I read on Million Mile Secrets that IHG Cardholders could save 12% off of the cash portion of Cash + Point bookings through September 18th. I was able to cancel my original reservation and re-book with the 12% discount so that brought the price down to $35.


Love the bubble wall at the Holiday Inn Charleston

On top of that, I earned 8% cash back through Swagbucks on what I paid for the stay. I cash my Swagbucks in for Amazon gift cards and use them to buy cheap pantry essentials.

So after my Swagbucks savings my grand total for the night was $32. I also got 500 bonus points added to my account at check-in because I am an IHG Rewards Club cardholder. Not too shabby for all of the fun we had at the luxurious pool complex!

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Holiday Inn Wrightsville Beach

Are you a member of IHG Rewards Club? If not you can sign up for free here. If you are, what is your favorite aspect of the program? Please share in a comment below!

Bon-Ton: 5 quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven only $26 shipped!

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downloadI had to share this fantastic price on a 5 quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven at Bon-Ton. Get one for only $26 with free shipping when you enter the code FREESHIP25 at checkout. This price is lower than Black Friday so now is a great time to get one for yourself or as a gift!

Thanks, Brad’s Deals!