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How to get the most out of Amazon Prime

May 25
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How to get the most out of your

Hey guys, I wanted to put together a quick post about Amazon Prime.  I am always running into people who are not aware of what all the membership, which most of the already have, entails them to!  Anyways, I have had Prime off and on for the last 6 years and I have to say, the benefits are better than ever.

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Free shipping-This one is a no-brainer; everyone knows Amazon Prime includes free shipping, but I’d be remiss to not mention it here.

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No- Rush Shipping This is one of my favorite features.  I order a lot on Amazon, but I only need half of the products right away. If I don’t need the product ASAP I selection no-rush shipping at checkout.  Be selecting this option Amazon will give me a credit. Usually its $1 towards ebooks, digital TV or digital TV/movies.  Sometimes it is a $2 digital content credit, and sometimes it is a $5.99 prime pantry credit. (More on that later.)

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Amazon Prime Same Day This is a newer feature and is available in 27 metro areas.  See if your area is available by checking your zip code here.  Items ordered before noon will arrive by 9pm.

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Amazon Prime NOW- Another new service, Amazon Now delivers products to your home within one or two hours.  Again, this service is only limited to limited metro areas,  When we begin the process of purchasing our next home you’d better bet I will be checking their service area. Just think, I could order a few items before work and have them delivered before I get home.  I will do anything to avoid a trip to the store.  Time is money.

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Amazon Music -Amazon music is basically Spotify included for free with your account.  This means you can search for, listen to, and download music to your computer, phone, or tablet for no additional cost.  Although not every artist or album are included, many are.  Really want an album that isn’t available for free?  Use the no-rush credits that you have saved up to purchase it!  Also, you can import your own music to Amazon for your own personal use which you can stream from the cloud or download onto any device.  I have the amazon music app on my phone so I can download songs to listen to in the car without having to use my data plan.

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Amazon cloud storage– Although I haven’t gotten the chance to play with this feature, I am trilled that Amazon offers free cloud storage. Prime members get free unlimited photo storage as well as 5GB of stores for videos and files.  This is great for people on the go who need to access files from multiple computers.  I can see myself using this to store files for work that I want to look at at home.

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Prime Pantry- This is Amazon’s answer to grocery delivery services.  Prime Pantry allows you to order general items you’d purchase at a drug or grocery store with delivery to your home in five days.  These products do come with a $5.99 per box delivery fee.  Because of the delivery cost I have only used this service a few times, but it is efficient and the prices are competitive.  There is usually a free shipping promotion available if you buy five of a group or products, keep an eye out.

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Prime Video– Amazon Prime Video is a streaming tv/movie service similar to Netflix and Hulu.  Amazon carries popular shows and movies along with their own original content. We use the Fire TV Stick to watch the content on our television.  My favorite part of this service is that if we have a movie we’d like to watch that is not available for free we can purchase or rent the title.  This is great for newer movies or random TV episodes.  I used my no-rush credits so these purchases are free.

 

I hope this little post helped give you an idea about all the awesome things you can do with your prime account.  I know for me the value is great. What do you think?

 

 

Moving supplies checklist and free printable box labels

May 18
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Moving supplies checklist and free printable box labels (1)

Due to a relocation for work  we have decided to sell our little pink house.  We love this house, but it is just too far away from everything.  We are super excited for the new house, but are dreading the moving process.  It seems in the three years we’ve been here our possessions have multiplied. Anyways, we have just begun the packing process and I went ahead and put together some box labels and figured I’d share them with you all.  Also, I am sharing links to a few moving supplies I am using. I don’t have alot of time to waste running around finding moving supplies so I just went to Amazon and ordered picked out the most useful (and budget friendly) moving supplies.

Moving boxes
Yes, you can scrounge around and find boxes from work, friends, and the grocery store, but  being that I’m short on time I went ahead and grabbed this set.  20 medium boxes for $40 is perfect.

Bubble wrap
I was recently gifted dishes from a family member and I am scared to death of breaking them so for $15  I was able to get a ton of bubble wrap to secure them tightly.  peace of mind is worth it.

6 pack tape with dispenser
I swear most of my time actually packing boxes is wasted looking for tape.  This time I went ahead and grabbed 6 rolls of tape (with dispensers) so I’ll never have to run around looking for the one roll of tape again.

Mattress cover
Want to keep your mattress nice? We purchased a new mattress about a year ago and I want to keep it nice during the move.  I went ahead and grabbed these mattress covers to protect it from dirty hands and trucks.


TV moving box
Have a nice TV?  Consider investing in a box to move it.  I have heard many horror stories about newer flat screen tvs being dropped and broken.  Hopefully one of these nice padded boxes will prevent mine from an accident.  They come in multiple sizes for every TV.


Have kids?  Grab this little book on moving to help explain the process to them  The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day

 

Below is the link to the PDF file of the moving labels. I printed these on sticker paper and then cut them out and stuck them on the boxes.  I made four of each room, but feel free to print more of what you need.  Don’t forget to number the boxes to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Moving Labels

 

Cleaning Converse and Vans shoes

May 2
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How to wash and clean Converse and Vans shoes.  Wash your favorite shoes in the washing machine quickly and easily.

 FYI: The yellow Vans are from a limited edition collaboration with Liberty Art Fabrics from Spring 2015. 

So i’ve been wearing converse and vans for over 15 years now, but had never really considered washing them. As a teen and young adult pristinely clean shoes were not  popular or needed, so when super bright converse became popular I realized I’d need to figure out how to clean mine.

I watched a few Youtube videos on the subject and they all seemed to have way too many steps and more work than I’d want to do.  I thought back to my childhood and remembered that when our sneakers got dirty we’d just toss them in the washing machine.  Anyways, I figured what the heck, I’ll toss mine in the washer and see what happens.

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I went ahead and grabbed my gray Converse and printed Vans and pulled out the laces.  I then tossed them in the washer with some Tide and turned it to a small sized cycle.  After the load was finished I went took the shoes out and set them outside in the sun to dry.

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I washed the laces with my white laundry.  They still have a few stains on them, but I was able to lace the shoes up so that the stains were covered. In these case I was able to still use the same laces, but if they were any worse, (as they most likely will be at the end of summer) I will just go ahead and replace them.  These ones on Amazon seem good.  Check the length of your laces before ordering so you get the right size.

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After the shoes dried I replaced them and they were good to go.  I was very happy with how the printed vans turned out. I was worried about the possibility of fading or bleeding but it was great.

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$9 linen closet makeover

April 19
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I am blessed with an awesomely large linen closet in my master bath due to the addition that was added to our home.  (Years ago, prior to purchase.)   However, with great amounts of space come great mess.  So, its generally a disaster.  I store bed linens, towels, and all kitchen linens in this closet along with miscellaneous  extra beauty and personal care products.   You can only imagine. how crazy it was.

$9 Dollar Tree linen closet makeover with free printable.  organize your linen closet and more. AmberDowns.net

Anyways,  I saw these super cute pins on pinterest of these linen closets with cute baskets and ribbon and stuff and they were cute, but I wasn’t prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on baskets and ribbon.  Its just not happening.  Then I saw this super cute post by Erin at A Bird and a Bee and figured I could do something like that with the same bins I used to organize my freezer last year.

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Anyways, so I took my rear end to the Dollar Tree and grabbed these bins.  They are the same bins I used in my freezer so I can mix and match if needed.

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I went back to my closet and went through my things. (It was a disaster, I know.)  I went ahead and used this time to purge items that we no longer needed. (A little Konmari if you will.)  I got rid of sheets I won’t ever use and the ones that fit beds we don’t even have any more.

I then sorted the rest of the linens out into 5 separate categories.  Sheets, hand towels and wash clothes, kitchen towels, special kitchen linens (tablecloths and holiday stuff), and duvets.  I also used a larger laundry basket to hold a heirloom blanket so that it was held nicely and wouldn’t get messed up.  I used another basket to hold our beach towels, my husbands trunks, and a few other beach essentials.  This way we can toss this basket in the car on beach days and be ready to go.

I used Canva to whip up these cute little labels.  I made a blank set if anyone wants them.  You can download them HERE.  They would look great laminated or just printed on card stock like I did.

I chose to not mess with the bath towels.  I wanted to find a good basket for them but didn’t come across anything so I think they will be ok on their own.  With the extra space saved I was able to use a shorter basket for toilet paper storage.  We hadn’t stored TP in this bathroom before this so this will come in handy.  😉

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Overall we are pretty happy with this makeover.  I only spent  a few bucks and now I am no longer embarrassed when this closet is open. Also, hopefully this will be easy to maintain as the baskets are all labeled so can just toss item in the correct place.  (No, they are not folded, and that is 100% ok with me.)

How do you keep your linen closet neat?  Do you use a basket method or just folding and stacking?  Any other hints I could use?

 

Bills planner printable (Happy Planner & A5 size)

April 4
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FREE bills printable for the Happy Planner and a5 planners. Perfect for Filofax, kikki k, personal, and weekly planners

I don’t know about you, but am always worried about forgetting a bill.  I have and use my planner, and I write down some bills in there, but I am always going over a mental list of my bills to ensure I am not forgetting something.  To help with this I made this nifty bill sheets to write down all my bills and then I can check them off when they are paid.  A nice simple visual reminder.  I made this printable in two sizes.  One for the Happy Planner and another for A5 planners.

 

 

These files are in PDF format. If you are printing the Happy Planner size print onto 8.5 x11 paper and then cut.

For the A5 size I have the page sized to fit.  Cut your paper to size first and then choose A5 for the paper size when you print. (Confused? Click here.)

 

Happy Planner bills printable (PDF)

A5 bills printable (PDF)

 

As for paper, I like this cardstock. Cut out along the gray lines to get the correct page size and then punch and add to your planner!

 

Need a punch?

Buy the MAMBI Happy Planner one here, or get this one off amazon for only $19 and free prime shipping.

An A5 person?  swear by this punch.  It works for A5 and personal size planners.

Need a planner? Try this undated version so you can begin it whenever you’d like!

Not sure what all this about a Happy Planner is? Click here for my full review of the planner.

Interested in my a5 planner?  Click here for a review.

 

 

Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store. This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you. Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

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Tried and true simple weeknight meals

March 31
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30 minute or less! Tried and true easy weeknight meals. I have tried and loved all of these super simple recipes. 30 minutes or less and slow cooker options. AmberDowns.net

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been going through a huge cooking slump.  I am sick of the meals we make but am not interested in learning fancy new meals.  A few months ago I had an inspired week and tried out some simple new recipes and loved them.  Have I gone back and made them again?  No, because I am not smart sometimes.  Anyways, I wanted to share them here as tested and approved simple meals and maybe remind myself about them so that I can try them again next week.  Wish me luck, won’t you?

 

Anyways, without further ado, here are 5 simple meals that are perfect for weeknights.  They do not require special ingredients and, with the exception of the crock pot meals, can be make in 30 minutes or less.  Myself (and sometimes my husband) enjoyed each of these meals and I am looking forward to making them all again.

 

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Crockpot Enchilada Quinoa

This simple meal has become one of go to ideas for dinners and lunches.  Because this is a casserole  type dish it freezes super easy.  I grab a container of it out of the freezer, grab some sour cream, and am ready for lunch at work.  Bonus:  Check pinterest for a enchilada sauce recipe, its super easy!  Don’t have time for the crockpot? Do it in a rice cooker(this is my method) or cook the quinoa on the stove and then bake for 30 minutes in the oven.

 

 

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15 Minute Lo-Mein

This is seriously the easiest, healthiest recipe ever. I grabbed whatever veggies I had in the house and threw them in.  Super fresh and you can make it a different meal every time by switching up the vegetables.

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Honey Lemon Chicken and Pasta

I love how impressive this meal looks.  Fresh lemon and herbs?  It looks like it took all day but really I was done in less than 30 minutes.  I enjoyed it with angel hair pasta and my husband preferred rice.  If you reheat the leftovers in the microwave at work be prepared for questions from staff who are following their nose.

 

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Four Ingredient Baked Pork Chops

I made this recipe with thin pork loin and it was delish.  I love sliced pork loin for a super quick meal, but I am always looking for a new way to prepare it.  This was moist and hearty.  Pair it with peas and applesauce for a trip down memory lane.

 

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Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Crock pot meal?  Count me in.  This was another simple fresh meal that I will be making again and again.  THe fruit  give it a fresh and fancy taste and the crock pot makes it a winner.

 

 

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Tips for better mornings

March 18
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Tips to have the most productive mornings.  Use your planner, create healthy habits and get stuff done!

 

I am a weird  mix of a morning person who loves being productive in the morning and a person who hits snooze ten times.  Because of this, I have some trouble starting the day, but when I am successful it is very rewarding.  Over the years I have put together some tips for really making the most of mornings. These are all tips that work for me.  Try them, they may work for you, they may not. For context,  I have fairly regular 8-5 job and my husband generally leaves for work before me.  We have no children.

 

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Although I often wake up naturally before my alarm clock I have found that I am a sucker for the snooze button.  Lay in bed reading instagram instead of getting up?  Sounds great!  To  curb this bad habit I charge and store my phone on my dresser instead of my night stand.  It is still there and I can get it if it rings in the night, but I will not be awoken by other unnecessary alerts or messages.  When I put my phone away I am done for the night. When the alarm goes off in the morning I must walk across the room to get it and then I am up for good.  I still needed a clock for my bedside table to check the time at night and in the morning so i grabbed this little one from amazon.

 

 

I am a very boring person.  I eat the same thing for lunch for a week.  I prep lunches for myself and my husband Sunday evenings.  I whip up a batch of chili, a casserole, or pasta dish and then divide it into containers for the week.  In the morning we just have to reach into the fridge and grab something.  Easy.  While you may not want to prep the entire week of meals in one day or may not enjoy eating the same thing, consider having everything for lunches ready before you go to bed.  This way you will have a (hopefully) healthy meal and will have a great lunch hour.  Not having to stress about prepping a lunch really helps relives the stress of mornings.

 

If getting dressed is complicated for you consider planning ahead.  I know the idea of picking all your outfits on Sunday sounds silly, but it helps.  Consider it a loose plan.  You don’t have to wear the pink top with the tan pants on Tuesday, but you can.  Oh, Monday morning and that pink top is calling to you?  Wear  it today and wear the gray dress you had planned for Monday on Tuesday.   It is just nice to wake up Monday morning to five put together outfits ready to go.  (Be sure to check if they need ironed!)

Is part of your hair regimen difficult in the morning?  See what you can do differently.  As a long haired girl I found that washing and drying in the evening made my mornings better.  One less thing to worry about.  Of course, this is different for each person.  Many beauty bloggers swear by silk pillowcases to keep frizz away.  (I Have not yet tried this trick)   

 

One of my biggest problems is making sure I eat something in the morning.  I can get up as early as possible but I will still forget to eat until its too late.  To combat this I keep grab and go items in my fridge and these can be a quick breakfast.

 

I recommend putting together a checklist of the things that you want to ensure are done before bed and then the things that need to happen in the morning before you leave.  But putting this information onto paper you have somewhere to refer to when you’re not sure what you should be doing along with a way to iron out the keys to the best morning that works for you. Below are my lists for before bed and the morning.

My before bed checklist:
lunch prepared
hair washed
bag packed
snacks out
coffee ready to brew
dishes done
alarm set and phone away from the bed

Morning checklist:
up
check phone/news/messages
coffee and smoothies
take care of cays
shower if needed
hair, makeup, clothing
eat
brush teeth and final restroom stop

Although these are just general statements they give insight into how I run my morning. Am I perfect? No. In fact my alarm didn’t go off just the other day and I was in a complete rush and late for work. Luckily I had planned ahead and had clothing, food, and coffee waiting for me when I finally woke up.

Spring DIY round up

February 26
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SIX Super Simple DIYs for Spring

Spring is in the air, or at least it feels like it here in Florida.  I love to get a little crafty in the spring and put together some simple decor for my home.  I am not the most skilled crafter, and really anything more that some glueing can be problematic so I am sharing super simple ideas in the hopes that I can make one of them myself successfully.  Click through to the creator to find the instructions.  Enjoy!

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Recycled Bunny Vase by Weekend Craft

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Five Minute Umbrella Wreath by One Good Thing

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Mini Frames Spring by  A Diamond in the Stuff

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Easter Chicks by Myrtle and Eunice

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Spring Mason Jars by I Heart Naptime

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DIY Printable letter banner by Shanty to Chic

 

Did you make one of these crafts?  Show me!  Comment below or tag me on Instagram  @_amberdowns.

 

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9 deals at Ikea you need to know about

February 20
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The 9 deals at Ikea you need to know about. Hacks, products, and the best deals for your budget. AmberDowns.net
 
KOPPLA – 2 pack extension cord $5.99

I am always looking for another one of these.  2 for six bucks?  Great to grab just in case.

NACKTEN Bathmat $2.99

This simple mat is great to have as a spare. Grab two at that price


NACKTEN Shower Curtain $1.99

I know they sell shower curtains at the dollar tree, but have you used them?  They are too thin.  For two bucks you can get something decent that is totally disposable.  Perfect for a drop cloth, craft, or something you can toss if it gets dirty.

 

 ALKALISK Alkaline Batteries 10 pack  $1.99

Ten batteries for two dollars.  Do I need to say anything more?  Perfect for flashlights and toys.

 

 RAJTAN Spice Jar four pack $3.49

Although one of the more expensive items on my list, these jars are super cute and great for crafting, storage, gifting, and other uses.  Less than a buck each.

 

 PROPPMATT Chopping board $6.99

Again not the cheapest item on the list, but this is a great deal for a cutting board if you need one.  I doubt you’ll find a wooden board for less.

 

 TOKIG Salad Spinner $3.99

I love this supper simple, super cheap spinner.  When not spinning, this is great for popcorn bowl.

 


TRYGG Serving Bowl  $2.49

An Ikea staple, this large bowl is a must have item for entertaining.  A trifle would look great in this.


SMACKER Flatware Tray $.99

This lovely tray is a steal at a dollar.  An easy update for your kitchen that could also be used in a bathroom or office.

 

Want more Ikea info?  Check out my Ikea tips post here.

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The 8 best Ikea tips and tricks

February 11
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The 8 BEST IKEA tips and tricks for a fun, quick trip.  Ikea hacks for the family, how to save money at Ikea.

Everyone, I mean everyone loves Ikea, and it’s not just the cheap furniture that we love. Its everything.  The food, the displays, the odds and ends, the new ideas, and of course how little we paid for it all. However, if there is one thing that everyone hates about Ikea, it is getting in and out without spending the entire day.  We’ve all done it, walked in for a pillowcase and ended up spending three hours and $250.  Today I want to share my secrets for getting in, out, and on with life.

exit1. Enter through the exit.

I know this agains the “rules,”  but entering through the exit means you can skip the displays out front and you will end up choosing a better parking spot for when you want to leave.

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2. Check out the As-Is room first.

The as-is section of Ikea really is a gold mine of opportunity. Last year, when the husband and I went to purchase new desks were were upset to find that what we had wanted was not in stock anymore. We had picked out alternate options but were a little disappointed.  Right as we were about to check out we stepped into the as-is are and found two even better desk tops for a fraction of the cost.  We ended up only spending $35 when we had gone in planning to spend at least $80 on them.

Think outside the box when you are in this room.  Although an item may not be in perfect shape for its intended use it still could be great for something else.  Also, a good cleaning and a coat of paint go a long way. Don’t forget to check again before you leave in case there are new items.

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3. Check for an as-is sale

Often times there will be an additional sale on the as-is items.  See which category is on sale and save even more in the as-is area.

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3. Skip the display area.

Know what you want when you go in and just skip the tempting  display room.  Chances are you’ve already seen the item in in action and know what you want.  Not sure where it’s located?  Look it up on your phone ahead of time.  The ikea website has all of the items and the furniture location information as well as the probability that it will be in stock.

4.  Know your measurements

Know the measurements of the areas that you are looking for furniture for.  Write these down or put them in your phone.  You may want to also take photos of the area or room so that you can try to visualize the piece in your home.

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5. Skip the weekend!

I know we love to go to Ikea on Saturday morning but you know the place is packed.  Consider working out a way to go in the week, even in the evening. (Preferably Monday- Thursday)  Of course, you may have to wait until the weekend to build your purchases but you will actually have all weekend.

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6. Bring the right vehicle.  Don’t suddenly decide to buy a new dresser when you’ve driven to Ikea in a Prius with two car seats.  Think you need a bigger vehicle?  Ask a friend to trade for a day or consider a quick Uhaul rental.  If your vehicle sports a hitch you could rent a trailer for a little as $20 a day.download7. Join IKEA Family before you go to the store.

Ikea Family is a free store membership that allows you to receive discounts on selected products, more free time in the kids area, a free cup of coffee, and other benefits throughout the year.  Register at home and have them text you your card number so you don’t have to waste time signing up at the kiosk.

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8. Kids eat free Tuesdays

Have to bring the kids with you?  They eat free every Tuesday at the restaurant.  (Up to two kids per paying adult meal.)  Also, there is alway free baby food with adult meal purchase. If you all have to be there you might as well eat.

 

I hope these tips have been helpful to you. Have another one?  Add it in the comments!   Also, don’t forget, a lot of Ikea items are on Amazon. Sometimes, especially if you have Amazon Prime, it may be quicker and easier to just order items there.  Keep in mind these are all sold via 3rd party resellers.

Enjoy your trip!

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