Friday, December 10, 2010

More Blogs to Check Out

It's Friday, so it must be Blog Hop time.... or something. Here's a few blog hops you may want to check out to find some more blogs to help you on your money saving mission.

Friend Finding FridaysPhotobucket
Let's Just Give It AwayBoostMyBlogFridayPhotobucket

Just Because it calls itself a Deal doesn't mean it is one!

I posted my thoughts on this subject a month or so ago, but one of today's deals that's going around made me think about it again. There are so many "daily deal" sites, sites like Groupon, and Living Social, as well as more retail oriented sites like HouseWaresDeals, Swirl and many others that if you bought everything you were told was "deal" you'd have no money and tons of junk.

Before you buy that "deal" do some checking and make sure it really is a deal. If you aren't familiar with the restaurant or brand that is being offered, check it out first.

We had a local deal a couple of weeks ago for 2 wine tastings for $20 to a wine shop that normally only charges $10/person anyway (granted this deal gave you two wine glasses with the deal, but really if you are going to wine tastings chances are you have a few of those at home).

Another thing that throws many retail deals out of the land of "good deal" is shipping. While the deal itself may be an ok deal, when you add in their inflated shipping charges, it becomes a "bad deal". Before you buy an item at one of these daily deal sites do some searching on Froogle to see what the item normally goes for.

Today's deal on HouseWareDeals, for instance, claims to be a $51 savings ($70msrp) for $19. Except that when I checked this brand on Froogle*, I found that these baking sheets & cake pans typically only go for $6-$10 each anyway. The 5 items in this deal would go for...
2 round pans @ $5.99 each = $12
2 cookie sheets @ $8.99 = $18
1 loaf pan @ $7.99 = $8 (rounding up for ease of math)
= $38 (a far cry from $70, but still an ok deal at $19)
Shipping is a flat rate of $4.95, so it's still a decent deal.

This time of year, especially, it's easy to get caught up in the idea of a good deal, especially on items you aren't familiar with. So, do your homework before you buy.

*If you aren't familiar with Froogle, it's Google's Price Comparison site. It basically scours the web for any item you type in and returns the various sites that offer that item and the prices.

Set Your Tivo for Extreme Couponing

Just saw a post about this on Krazy Coupon Lady, who just happens to be featured in this new show on TLC. TLC's latest reality show, Extreme Couponing, features 4 extreme couponers (imagine that) who go over and beyond for this tv special. 218 boxes of pasta? Really? OMG (I mean pasta really is a staple in my house and there's no way we'd go through that much in a million years).

I was glad to see Krazy Koupon Lady's post that, after the show, she donated most of what she bought.

Rite Aid Gift of Savings

The word is spreading through the blogosphere that Rite Aid changed the terms of the "Gift of Savings" program after many complaints over the last 2 weeks.

The Idea: Spend $25 at Rite Aid during the holidays, enter your receipts, get a $5 voucher for future purchases (or perhaps a check, since they are using the Single Check Rebate program to process these).

What Happened?: They were subtracting all your coupons and +UP rewards from the amount you spent, so if you were like so many of us who roll our +UP rewards and/or use coupons to pay as little out of pocket as possible, we were likely to never reach that $25.

The Change: They sent out info today updating the program so that we are no longer being penalized for manufacturer Q's and +UP's. They still deduct store coupons (video value coupons, etc).

What a huge change that made in my report. I went from barely having $10 worth of credit towards the Gift of Savings to having over $35!

It's Your Birthday, Eat for FREE if ya wanna!

Over and Over and Over again.  Really, you should be able to eat for free for the full 2 weeks surrounding your birthday, possibly even more if you wait till about a week before your birthday to start signing up for these programs.  But, why wait, when you can spread the free eating out throughout the year!

There are many more restaurants than these that offer various deals for your birthday, my suggestion is if you have a favorite restaurant in your area look to see if they have a website/ email program and if they do, sign up for it.  Many programs offer more than just free food for your birthday, usually it's something free when you sign up, then something free for your birthday/ anniversary, as well as special promos throughout the year.  These are the ones I know we have locally; I know, because I've signed up and gotten the deals.  As far as I could tell, all the below have no additional purchase required, I'm thinking you could just take all your deals and make a hometown tour of your favorite restaurants and eat for free all day. 

  • Pauli's Bistro - this is a local place (corner of 72/Jeff Rd in Madison).  It's a little on the spendy side but great for special occasions and the best part is that by signing up for their email newsletter you will get all kinds of great deals.  This year on our anniversary they sent us a certificate for a free desert sampler (think 5 full size deserts - that was no sampler).  For birthdays they send you a $25 coupon off dinner for 2 ($50 if your party has at least 4 people).  And twice in the last year they have sent out offers where you could purchase discount gift certificates - and by discount, I mean 50% off.  We buy the discount certificates then combine them with the birthday/anniversary offers, as well as try to go on a Monday for 1/2 bottle of wine night.

  • Ruby Tuesday - get a free burger for your birthday (click the "so connected" icon at the top of the page to sign up for the mailing list 

  • IHOP - free breakfast (or menu item of equal or lesser value)

  • Famous Dave's BBQ - (we don't have one in Huntsville, but it is a nationwide chain) - free $10 entree

  • Captain Ds - free 2 piece fish dinner

  • Sonic Drive-in - choice of free cream slush, medium drink or tater tots

    What's a Birthday without free desert?.....

  • Maggie Moos - free kids cone

  • Ben & Jerry's - What's a birthday without ice cream?  B&Js Scoop Shops will give you a free scoop PLUS $3 off a cake.

  • Cold Stone Creamery - Like it Creation (ice cream + 1 mix-in)

  • Cantina Laredo - Free Mexican Brownie

  • CHILI's - Free brownie sundae

  • Macaroni Grill  - They will send you a $5 coupon when you sign up, and a coupon for a free piece of cake on your birthday.

    ---- I'm sure there are more and I will update this post as I confirm them.
  • All You Magazine Just $1/Issue

    If you aren't familiar with All You magazine, you might want to become familiar real quick. If there is any magazine on the planet that is worth more than its weight in gold, it's ALL You. A bad issue has $24 in coupons, but most that I've seen have well over $75 (fwiw, the issue that had $24 was the second issue put out this month; a special holiday issue).

    There are only two ways to get this magazine, either by subscription or by going to Wal-mart. This is the first good enticement I've seen for going to Wal-mart in years! But, a subscription is cheaper and headache-free (unlike Wal-mart).

    Right now a subscription is even CHEAPER! And if you coupon or know someone who does, or if you know someone who likes to save money, this is a great gift idea! I'm thinking if you have someone on your list that you haven't picked up a gift for yet, this is it.

    But, it gets better. Right now Amazon is running (yet another) great promo. This time it's Spend $30 on magazine subscriptions, get $10 back to spend anywhere on

    Just a few of the deals you may want to consider (for yourself or as gifts):

  • All You (2-year)
    (2 years is just $34) - or pick up 2 - 1 year subscriptions for you and a friend.

  • Entertainment Weekly (1-year auto-renewal)

  • Redbook (1-year auto-renewal)

  • Woman's Day (1-year auto-renewal)

  • Better Homes & Gardens (1-year auto-renewal) 

  • SmartMoney (1-year auto-renewal)

  • For the Parent:

  • Parenting School Years (1-year auto-renewal)

  • Working Mother (1-year auto-renewal)

  • For the Computer Guru:

  • Wired (1-year auto-renewal)

  • For the Men....

  • Men's Journal (1-year auto-renewal)

  • This Old House (1-year auto-renewal)

  • Maxim (1-year auto-renewal)

  • *note that some of these are auto-renewals so you will have to login to Amazon to cancel the renewal before the year is up, to keep from getting charged again.

    Get Cash Back When You Shop

    I think I'd heard something about this a long time ago but I just ignored it thinking there was some major catch, but in our recent days of trying to save money, I had to look a little deeper.  It turns out you really can get cash back on your purchases online!

    Lately, even our bank has gotten in on the action (if you are local and use RCFU, be sure to log into your online account and look for the deals).  That said, the choices through our bank are pretty slim and the cash back is about half of what you can get through other services online. 

    Right now is really the time to use it too as many of these sites are offering bonus cash back through the holidays on certain stores or certain days.  For instance, this coming Monday (Dec 13) is Cyber Monday II and that means big sales at many online retailers but it also means bonus cash back at many of the cash back services.

    I know there are many other cash back services, and maybe even some that are better than these, but the two I've really started using lately are ShortCuts and Ebates. Both of these have a huge variety of stores to choose from (including major stores like Lowes, Target, Kohls, JCPenney and pretty much every major name you can think of, but quite often they both offer extra savings coupons on top of the cash back.  So before you shop be sure to sign up for these sites and make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck.  Oh, and when you sign up for an Ebates account and use it for the first time they will give you a $10 gift card to a (select) store of your choice.  We chose Home Depot (cuz, well, we are always doing something around this house).

    Oh, and one more thing.  Many stores now offer in-store pickup of items without any extra charge.  So, if you know you are heading out to say...Lowes for a specific item, why not go through Ebates to get a little discount before you go.