Karen Hellier

Freelance Writer, Coupon Lady, eBay Entrepreneur: Helping You Save Money and Work From Home

Latest Posts

If You Are Buying Gift Cards For Christmas Gifts, Don’t Miss These Deals

Store fliers with gift card deals

Giving gift cards for Christmas gifts is an easy option for that hard-to-please friend or relative, or for that person on your list that already has everything. In reading through the Sunday paper yesterday, I noticed a lot of deals on gift cards that will help you save money and I was so excited I just had to share these savings with you. After all, saving money is what this blog is all about!

Maybe you don’t give gift cards for Christmas, BUT you can use some gift cards personally or with your family. You can also take advantage of these gift card deals and keep some extra money in your pocket!

I also noticed some ways to earn extra gas points from gift cards that were not in the paper but I am including.

Please watch the dates below so you can take full advantage of these offers without missing them:

Dollar General: Good  11/19 – 11/22

Save $5 when you purchase any of the following gift cards: Burger King, Chili’s, Taco Bell, Domino’s and Logan’s Roadhouse

You must buy 2 of these gift cards to get the discount. It doesn’t specify the amount the gift cards need to be.

Limit 2 gift cards per transaction. Technically this means you could go every day from now until Wednesday, and purchase 2 each time. OR if you have a lot of Dollar General stores near you, you could go to 2 different ones and do this deal two or three times.

Kroger: Good until 12/12/17

You can get four times the fuel points when you buy a $25.00, $50.00, or $100.00 MASTERCARD or VISA gift card. I found this on my Kroger app on my phone under the “coupons” tab.  It does also say “restrictions apply” in small print, so be aware of that. The restrictions are below the offer and include things like “not good on variable gift cards that allow you to choose your own amount to be loaded onto the card”, but the ones that already say $25, $50 or $100. It also states that you can only buy 1 gift card per transaction per day, so if you have a LOT of gift cards to buy, it means a lot of trips to Kroger in the next few weeks. This offer is good if you click on it online and add it to your Kroger card.

Shop Rite: Good 11/24 and 11/25/17

During these two days, you will be able to earn a coupon for $20.00 off your next order when you purchase $100 worth of gift cards at Shop Rite with your Price Plus card. The coupon for your next order comes out of the cash register on the day of your purchase of the gift cards.

There is a catch though and that is you must present your coupon during your visit to the store during the dates of 11/26 through 12/2/17, so it’s basically the next week. If you shop every week and will spend at least $20.00 that next week, then it’s a good deal. Again there is fine print so make sure to read that before you do this deal.

Stop & Shop: Good 11/17 – 11/23/17

Stop and Shop is offering 5 times the gas points with the purchase of all gift cards. That means if you spend $25.00 on a gift card you will get 125 gas points, a $50 card = 250 in gas points, etc. I don’t live in an area where there’s a Stop and Shop anymore so I had to look at this flyer online and the fine print is too small for me to read. If you have a Stop and Shop flyer, you will be able to read the fine print and take advantage of this deal.

Target: Good 11/19 – 1123/17

Target is offering a free $10.00 Target gift card if you spend $50.00 on food and/or beverage purchases. Purchase of baby food, pet food, Target Cafe and Starbuck’s Cafe do not count toward the $50.00 amount. Basically, this will work if you do your grocery shopping for the week at Target.

The coupon is in the flyer, or available on the Target App or you can text GROCERY to TARGET (827438).

Walgreens: Good 11/19 – 11/25/17

Earn a free $5 Walgreens Gift Card with every purchase of any 2 Google Play or Vanilla Visa Gift Cards. Great deal if you are buying either one of those anyway.

Coming Soon…

These were the stores I have found offering deals on gift cards this week. If you know of any others, please leave them in the comment section below.

I will be posting about the Black Friday sales at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens on Wednesday or Thursday. If you are not familiar with them, they involve using your store card for those three stores to purchase items, and on certain ones, you can get back what you paid for in points on your store card, or in the case of CVS, paper coupons worth the same amount you paid, basically making those items free. I have only seen the Rite Aid Black Friday Flyer so far and it looks great.

Please feel free to share this post by using the sharing buttons below, and subscribe to this blog for more deals in the future.

Have fun saving money on gift cards this week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Prize Winners

Hello Everyone!

October Prize Winners

I am happy to announce the winners for the October drawing.

The winner of the $25 Walmart gift card is: Pam Day

The winner of the Avon prize is: Moon Sebastian

Congrats to both of you, and I will be holding a drawing every month so for the rest of you, stay tuned for the November prize information coming soon.

I haven’t been very active because my husband and I were away but we are back and I have lots of exciting information to share with you this month. Especially since November is the month for Black Friday deals and the month before Christmas so I will be sharing money saving tips on both of those topics.

A Free Sample Website

Here’s a little tidbit though to wet your whistle before my next post. I will soon be writing a post about what I got for free last month. I have discovered a new website that lists free samples. You can either subscribe to this website and get free sample information sent to you in a daily email, OR just head over to that website when you have time and check out the newest free samples available. If you find something you are interested in, you just click on the link and sign up for the free sample at that website. It’s called Sweet Free Stuff and here’s the link to that website:

http://www.sweetfreestuff.com/free-stuff/

Have a good weekend!

 

Karen

Enter the October Drawing on My Blog

It’s time to announce the October, 2017 prize drawing for subscribers to my blog. If you enjoy entering contests, here’s a chance to win a gift card or a gift box.

This month I am drawing 2 names for the following prizes:

First Prize: A $25.00 gift card to Walmart

and

Second Prize: An Avon gift box of SKin So Soft Winter Lavender Scented products

First Prize $25 gift card to Walmart

First Prize $25 gift card to Walmart

Second Prize: an Avon Gift Box of Skin so Soft Winter Scented products

Second Prize: an Avon Gift Box of Skin so Soft Winter Lavender Scented products

Here’s what you have to do to be entered into the drawing:

 

If you are not yet a subscriber to my blog, put your email address in the space on the top right of the front page of my blog, right next to this post where it says, “Subscribe to blog via email.” That’s it…you will be entered into the drawing for October. AND you will be notified each time I post something on this blog about saving money or working from home.

If You Are Already a Blog Subscriber…

 

If you are already a subscriber, to be entered into the prize drawing for October, scroll down to the end of this blog post and click on one of the sharing buttons so your friends that follow you on social media can learn about this contest also, and find out more about how to save money/work from home. Once you do that though, you also need to leave a comment below this post that you shared the article, and on what site you shared it (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to help me track who has shared the contest information.

Each person will receive one contest entry, either by subscribing to the blog as a new subscriber, or sharing this post if you are already a subscriber. I would love it if you shared this post to more than one social media site, but that will still earn you only one entry to keep things fair to everyone.

Contest Dates

This contest starts on 10/15/17 and ends on 10/31/17. The winners will be announced on Wednesday, 11/1/17.

I look forward to seeing who wins this month’s prizes!  And thank you for subscribing to my blog!

Need Extra Money? Sell Your Junk on eBay

You can make money selling your junk on eBay

As I read through posts on social media lately, I have run across a lot of people looking for help earning extra money. Some are in need of extra money on an ongoing basis so are looking for a part-time job. Others are in need of extra money fairly quickly to pay an unexpected bill. I always want to shout to them, “Sell your stuff on eBay to earn some extra money.” It makes perfect sense to me and I don’t understand why everyone hasn’t jumped on the eBay bandwagon yet.

 My eBay Story

 

Here’s a little about my own experience so you will see where I’m coming from. I was fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home mom when my children were growing up. This was in the mid-1990s and people had just started to talk about eBay. I have always been an entrepreneur in my heart and did things like selling Avon, selling Silpada jewelry and teaching classes through Adult Education programs in my town. Although I had heard great things about eBay, I didn’t understand how it worked and didn’t even know how to load pictures from my camera onto my computer. By 2010, my financial situation had changed and I was a single mom in need of some extra money. I decided to learn how to sell a few things on eBay. With a quick tutoring session from my teen-aged daughter about loading pictures onto my computer, I listed two pieces of jewelry that I never wore anymore. I was amazed that within the first week a bracelet that I had listed on eBay sold for $27.00 and a necklace for $45.00. Granted, eBay and Paypal took a small percentage out of those amounts, but that was still a nice chunk of money for not having to do very much and get rid of some items just lying around my house.

By 2010, my financial situation had changed and I was a single mom in need of some extra money. I decided to learn how to sell a few things on eBay. With a quick tutoring session from my teen-aged daughter about loading pictures onto my computer, I listed two pieces of Silpada jewelry that I never wore anymore. I was amazed that within the first week a bracelet that I had listed on eBay sold for $27.00 and a necklace for $45.00. Granted, eBay and Paypal took a small percentage out of those amounts, but that was still a nice chunk of money for not having to do very much and get rid of some items just lying around my house.

This "Julia" Barbie doll that I had in my basement from the 1960's sold on eBay for $29.95

This “Julia” Barbie doll that I had in my basement from the 1960’s sold on eBay for $29.95

But life got busy and I didn’t list anything else on eBay until the Fall of 2012 when my daughter headed off to college. I definitely was looking for some extra money for college tuition, and so I started looking around my home for other things to sell. I sold everything from my old dolls to my daughter’s student clarinet from her first year of high school. I sold a lot of items stashed away in closets and in the basement but my best sellers were my old Barbie dolls from the 1960s, that clarinet ($149.95!), American Girl Dolls, brand name clothing I didn’t wear anymore, Christmas tree ornaments and small antiques that I had picked up over the years but no longer wanted.

This student clarinet that had been my daughter's in high school sold on eBay for $149.95 just 19 minutes after I listed it!

This student clarinet that had been my daughter’s in high school sold on eBay for $149.95 just 19 minutes after I listed it!

 

I had so much fun selling on eBay that I continued to sell and started shopping for items to sell on eBay that I found at thrift stores. I currently have an eBay store with between 350 – 450 items in it at any given time. I love going to Goodwill stores and thrift stores looking for treasures to resell for a profit. In fact, I enjoy it so much I started a blog just about thrift store shipping for eBay!

 

eBay Seller Stories

 

Now not everyone that sells on eBay has to start a business like I did. There are many eBay sellers who still just sell what they have around their home and earn extra money. Here are a few examples of people I know who sold extra items around their house that they were not using anymore.

Christine S. from Massachusetts

Christine had two porcelain animals sitting in her guest room that had been passed down from a relative. She decided to see how much they were worth on eBay and were surprised they were selling for such a large amount. She listed them on eBay and within one month, one with a crack in it sold for $20.00 and the other one sold for $100.00, for a combined total of $120.00. Not too bad for items that previously had just been sitting on her shelf collecting dust.

Christine says, “…I was excited at how well I was able to showcase the two items so that buyers could get excited about wanting to buy them. I am inspired to go through our treasures and sell some on eBay to make room for our new purchases which now reflect where we are at this point in our lives. It would be great for others to continue to enjoy items that have meant so much to us in earlier years and know they are going to people who truly value them…”

Arline C. from Connecticut

Arline first got started on eBay a few years ago. She says, “The reason I got started on eBay was because I was having a yard sale and using eBay to check how to price some items. I noticed that cookie mold (below) was actually selling for over $30 and knew I could only ask a couple bucks for it at a yard sale, so I finally tried eBay. Once I realized how easy it was, I kept going from there.”

Here are a few examples of items she has sold just from around her home, and as you will notice in Arline’s case, she was quite successful with her husband’s vintage toys from the 1960s:

Fireball XL5 Space City (bought in the 1960’s for $4.50): sold for over $400

1961 Matchbox Station: $78.80

Several 1960’s metal Tonka trucks that sold for between $60 and $120 each

A set of four vintage Tom Swift books: $26.00

A Bose radio with a broken am dial: $65.99

A Vintage authentic New York Mets jacket: $137.00

A 1980’s Laura Ashley sweater with a winter pattern: $43.00

The cookie mold mentioned above: $38.00

An old charm bracelet: $33.00

Judy D. From Missouri

You know that old saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” Well after looking around on what was selling on eBay, Judy says, “I realized I had one man’s junk!”

She started listing things from her home on eBay. Her list includes extra clothing her boys had outgrown, linens, kitchen items, Christmas decorations, and collectibles. She feels she did well on eBay that first year because she studied a lot to see what was selling, and she learned how to style pictures of the items she was selling in a way that attracted buyers. Judy says using a good camera also helps.

In her first year of selling items on eBay from around her house, Judy made $3,000!

Ready to Get Started Selling on eBay?

Now I know a lot of you reading this could use some extra money. Why don’t you stop reading this and head to your basement or attic and find some junk just lying around that you don’t need or use anymore? Someone is waiting to buy your junk because they consider it their treasure! eBay will give you 50 free listing each month so it costs you nothing to start selling on eBay.

If you need help getting started selling on eBay, here’s a link to an article that should help:

How to Sell on ebay – Make money by Selling on ebay – How to Guide – Part 1

 

If you want to tell your story about how you started selling junk on eBay to make extra money, please leave it in the comment section below!

And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog on the top right of this page if you don’t want to miss any tips on saving money and making money from home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money Saving Deals You Don’t Want to Miss This Week, Including Free Coffee

Free Coffee on 9/29/17 for National Coffee Day

Hello all my money saving friends. There are some deals out there I just don’t want you to miss this week so I am posting about them and hopefully, you will read this post in time.

Friday is National Coffee Day and Sunday is International Coffee Day

If you enjoy a good cup of coffee, you won’t want to miss this special day. On Friday, 9/29/17, various coffee hot spots are giving away free cups of coffee in honor of National Coffee Day. Some are for Friday only, and some go through the weekend until Sunday night because Sunday, October first is International Coffee Day. Here’s a list of where you can get free coffee:

Friday Only

Wawa – 1 free cup of coffee, any size

Dunkin Donuts – buy a medium sized cup of coffee or larger and get one free medium-sized coffee. Use the extra cup for a friend, or take it home for yourself!

Cinnabon – get a free 12-ounce cup of coffee all day long

Cumberland Farms – Text the word FREECOFFEE to 64827 to get a coupon for a free cup of coffee from Cumberland Farms

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

 

Krispy Kreme – get a free hot or iced premium blend coffee Friday, Saturday and Sunday

 7-11 – 7Rewards members get one free cup of coffee per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This can be for hot coffee or 7-11 chillers.

Enjoy your free coffee!

Good Deals at CVS This Week

This week, until Saturday, September 30, you can get some good money saving deals at CVS. You will need to get a CVS card in order to take advantage of these deals and to collect your Extra Bucks Rewards, which are like coupons to use on your next purchase, for those of you who are not familiar with the Extra Bucks Rewards program. The Extra Bucks have an expiration date on them of approximately one month so you have one month from the day the register prints them out to use them.

FREE CANDY

The best deal is something that is free. If you buy a bag of Trolli candy for $2.00, you get an Extra Bucks reward of $2.00 at the register, making it free. Just don’t forget to use the Extra Bucks coupon before it expires. Not a candy person? Give it to a friend with children or save it for a stocking stuffer at Christmas.

Free Trolli candy and a deal on Maybelline mascara at CVS

Free Trolli candy and a deal on Maybelline mascara at CVS

MAYBELLINE MASCARA

I love the Maybelline New York Great Lash mascara because it is the only one I can wear all day without it smudging. The money saving deal here is that you buy 2 for $5.99 each and you will get an Extra Bucks coupon at the register for $5.00. That brings your cost down to $6.98. There were also coupons in the Sunday paper recently for $2.00 off one Maybelline product so that brings your cost down to $4.98 if you have 1 coupon and $2.98 for two if you have two coupons. You can probably guess that I had two coupons so paid $1.49 for each mascara. I love it when we can combine manufacturer’s coupons with Extra Bucks. What a great deal!

CVS Extra Bucks for the Maybelline mascara

CVS Extra Bucks for the Maybelline mascara

Freebie Fridays

Some stores have started giving an item free each week which is very exciting. I will be writing a more detailed post about Freebie Fridays, but for now, I just wanted to mention this because tomorrow is Friday and I don’t want you to miss out. If you live near  Kroger, IGA or K-Mart store, make sure to download their coupon for the free item.

For the items from Kroger, the coupon is downloaded to your card and you have two weeks to pick it up so you don’t have to actually shop on that day, but you do have to download the item to your card each Friday.

For IGA and K-Mart Friday Freebie items, you have to go to the store and pick up your item on Friday, Saturday or Sunday because, after Sunday of each week, your free item coupon expires. You give them your telephone number when you check out and if you have downloaded the item, the amount of the item will come off your bill.

If you know of any other stores that offer Freebie Friday items, please leave the information in the comment section below.

If you would like to share the information in this post with your friends, especially the free coffee offer for tomorrow, please feel free to use any of the sharing buttons below to get the word out.

Happy Saving!

Announcing the Contest Winners for the September Contest

Announcing the winners of the September Contest at karenhellier.com

Sorry this is late everyone but due to Hurricane Irma, we did not have electricity or the internet yesterday and into today. This is the first time I have had the chance to announce the winners of the September contest.

Contest Winners

Now, the information you have all been waiting for: The winners of the September contest on this blog are:

Sarah Hauta: Winner of the $25.00 Walmart gift card

Arline Culp: Winner of the $25.00 Starbuck’s gift card

Congratulations to the two of you, and thanks to all of you who joined as new subscribers. If you didn’t win a gift card this time, do not despair, I will be having a contest on this blog every month. Stay tuned for upcoming contests.

Upcoming Blog Posts

And I have some great blog posts coming up on various subjects including a post on selling on eBay and a post about how living in a tiny house can save you money. I went to the Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past weekend and had an amazing time talking to people there about the realities of living in a tiny house. I took a lot of pictures that I think you will enjoy.

You Can Follow Me on Instagram

I have been saving lots of money the past few weeks and will be posting my deals on Instagram. These deals are more individual and are too small to write a whole blog post about which is why they are on Instagram: short and sweet with a picture.

If you are on Instagram and want to see individual deals I get that you may also be able to find at your local store, you can follow me on Instagram at koupon_karen_thrifts_and_saves.

Are you on Instagram? Feel free to leave your Instagram name below with a comment about what you post about the most and maybe you will gain some new blog readers as your Instagram followers!

 

 

 

A Contest for My Blog Subscribers

As a blog subscriber you could win one of these gift cards. Sign up by 9/10/2017!

As a blog subscriber you could win one of these gift cards. Sign up by 9/10/2017!

Subscribe to my Blog for Your Chance to Win a $25.00 Gift Card

 

Welcome to my blog about saving money and working from home! I have decided to hold a monthly contest on this blog because it’s full of information about how to save money and how I get things for free, which I do all the time! I am offering my subscribers the chance to win something, for free, each month!

September, 2017 Contest

 

All you have to do to enter this contest is subscribe to my blog by adding your email in the blank on the top right of this page. You will get an email at the address you sign up with, and you must confirm that you want to be a subscriber in order to enter the contest.

I will pick two winners on September 11th; one for the $25.00 Walmart gift card, and another one for the Starbuck’s gift card, so just by subscribing you will have two chances to win, and also get tips on saving money and working from home.

Each time I post on this blog, you will get a notification in your email that a new post is up. 

Contest Details:

What: Subscribe to my blog for your chance to win a

$25.00 to Walmart or a $25.00 gift card to Starbuck’s.

When: From September 1st 2017 through September 10th, 2017.

The two winners will be announced on September 11th.

 

 

Feel free to leave a comment below on what type of prizes you would like to see for future contests, and thanks for dropping by!

 

What I Got For Free in August, 2017

You know how people always say, “You can’t get anything for free these days?” Well, I am here to prove they are wrong. You can get lots of things for free, and I am here to show you how.

I will be doing this once a month starting with this month, August 2017. I will post what I got for free, and how I did it so hopefully, you can get the same or similar things for free as well. I would love for all of my readers to join the, “If it’s Free, it’s for Me Club.” Of course, that’s not really the name of a club, but being a frugal person, it’s a lot of fun to get things for free.

If you aren’t subscribed to my blog yet, feel free to add your email in the space in the top right area of this blog so you won’t miss my monthly update of what I got for free every month.

Unfortunately, I just thought of this idea for a blog post half way through August. So I am sure there are more things that I got for free in this month, but these are the ones I documented.

A Free Dress from Kohl's with Kohl's Cash

A Free Dress from Kohl’s

A Free Dress from Kohl’s

 

I will start with the one thing I forgot to put in the main picture. I love shopping at Kohl’s because there are sales all the time. And I’m not talking about a 20% off sale. While there are those types of sales at Kohl’s, there are also frequent huge markdown sales where shoppers can get items for such a great price, it almost feels like stealing! But it’s perfectly fine.

The dress above had an original tag of $59.00 on it. It’s a Sonoma brand and when I found it on a clearance rack it had been marked down to $7.14 at the end of the summer season. I had a $10.00 Kohl’s cash certificate from a previous shopping trip the week before, so the dress ended up being free.

Free Products from Kroger

 

It definitely pays to sign up for a shopping card at every store you go to. Most people know to do that, but some are resistant to it or feel it’s fine to use the store’s card at the cash register.  But if you do sign up for those store cards, some of those stores will send you coupons throughout the year. And also, some stores offer you gas points, like Kroger, so it really makes sense to sign up for a store card. My husband and I have a Kroger store card, and Kroger sends us an envelope full of coupons. This past month they send us an envelope full of coupons which included a free coupon for a 58 oz.

My husband and I have a Kroger store card, and Kroger sends us an envelope full of coupons periodically. This past month they send us coupons which included a free coupon for a 58 oz. container of Tropicana orange juice and a free jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce. Both are products we enjoy and use.

A Free Sample of Gliss Shampoo and Conditioner

 

This nice sample of Gliss shampoo and conditioner came from my searching the web for free products. Just so easy to go to the website and sign up, and within one week, it was in my mailbox. Free samples and coupons are a much better surprise to find in the mailbox than bills. Sorry, it’s a small sample so no picture but you can see it in the top picture.

Free Bic Razors

 

Every time I see high-value coupons for razors in the newspaper, I always save them. Last year the coupons matched various razors. This year a coupon recently came out for $3.00 off Bic razors. The particular packages in the picture are priced at $2.87 at Walmart. Combined with the coupon for $3.00 off, the razors are free. I had three coupons, which meant three packs of razors for free.

Ralph Lauren Flannel Nightshirt

Ralph Lauren Flannel Nightshirt

Free Ralph Lauren Men’s Night-Shirt

 

This is a used men’s night shirt by Ralph Lauren. I actually have the same night shirt in a different size and I love it. It’s a men’s night shirt but it’s a soft flannel and I just love the feel of it on those cold winter nights. I got it for free at a second-hand store that I visited for the first time in July, and then they sent me a coupon for $5.00 off anything during my next visit. Of course, I went back the next time I was in the area. I was pleased to find this great night-shirt that I got for free because it was marked down to $4.99 and the $5.00 coupon covered the total price. I will sell it on eBay and can definitely vouch for how comfortable and cozy it is.

Free Samples from Pinch Me dot com

Free Samples from Pinch Me dot com

Great Free Samples from Pinch Me

 

These samples were all from the website Pinchme dot com. They included:

  • 1 packet of Slimfast Creamy Chocolate Advanced Nutrition Smoothie
  • 1 sample packet of ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid
  • 1 Gillette Endurance deodorant with a $1.00 off 1 coupon
  • 1 two-piece sample of Orbit Gum
  • 1 Carbona Color Grabber (8 pack)
  • 1 Carbona Super White Laundry Whitening Sheet (pack of 2)
  • 1 coupon for a free box of Graze snacks
  • 1 $30 gift card to Hello Fresh on my first order
  • 1 coupon for a free 8 x 8 photo book from Shutterfly (I have to pay shipping & handling)

I have written a thorough review of Pinch Me dot com previously on this blog. The link to that is here if you would like to read it:

Pinch Me…it’s too Good to be True!

 

Or if you would just like to join the website and get free samples in your mailbox each month, go here:

http://www.pinchme.com/?referral_code=77PD2

 

Now it’s Your Turn

That’s what I received for free during the month of August of 2017. Did you receive any of the same items? Anything different? I would love to hear about it in the comments below. See you next month with another list of what I got for free!

 

Disclaimer: I may or may not receive some type of credit from referral codes listed in this article.

 

What is a Coupon and How Does it Work?

What is a coupon and how does it work? Coupons can save money for those willing to use them.

 

What is a Coupon?

A coupon is “a portion of a certificate, ticket, label, advertisement, or the like, set off from the main body by dotted lines or the like to emphasize its separability, entitling the holder to something, as a gift or discount…” according to Dictionary dot com. So there you have it. But what does that mean exactly? Coupons are usually printed on a piece of paper or cardboard and often have to be cut out and handed to the cashier at a store for a discount off of that particular product. Using coupons saves money for consumers and are accepted at most grocery stores, pharmacies and various retail stores. Coupons are also accepted at many restaurants. Coupons are very widely accepted in the United States, but not as much in other countries.

Coupons are usually printed on a piece of paper (see above) or cardboard and often have to be cut out and handed to the cashier at a store for a discount off of that particular product. Using coupons saves money for consumers and are accepted at most grocery stores, pharmacies and various retail stores. Coupons are also accepted at many restaurants. Coupons are very widely accepted in the United States, but not as much in other countries.

Coupons have also become digital now. Coupons from the internet can be downloaded and printed on your copier, cut out and brought to your store to be redeemed. There are also coupons online that can be downloaded to your phone and scanned at the store.

How Do Coupons Work?

When a consumer visits a store and intends to use a coupon, they must first pick up the item they intend to use the coupon on, and bring it to the cashier. The cashier will ring up the item, then scan the coupon, which has a UPC code (bar code) on it, and the register will take the amount of the coupon off the consumer’s total bill.

Glitches

As with many good things in life, there are some glitches that come along with using coupons. Some are good glitches, and some are not so good! I am a positive person, so I will start with the positive glitches first.

  1. Some Stores Double Coupons: In many stores, only the face value of a coupon will be deducted from a consumer’s bill. That means if a coupon has a face value of 50 cents off printed on the front, the cash register will only deduct 50 cents off the consumer’s bill. But due to the competition between grocery stores, many grocery stores offer to double coupons up to a certain amount. Here are some examples:

Connecticut:

Stop and Shop, Shop Rite and Big Y in Norwich, CT all double coupons with a face value of up to 99 cents. So a 50 cent coupon is worth $1.00, a 75 cent coupon is worth $1.50, but a $1.00 coupon is still only worth $1.00.

Georgia

Ingles and Publix in Canton, Georgia double coupons with a face value of up to and including 50 cents. So a 25 cent coupon is worth 50 cents, a 50 cent coupon is worth $1.00, but a 75 cent coupon is only worth 75 cents and a $1.00 coupon is worth $1.00. Kroger grocery stores in Georgia do not double coupons at all, but just accept them and take off the amount printed on the coupon.

Pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid do not double the value of a coupon. Only the face value of a coupon is deducted from a consumer’s bill. This is also true of department stores like Walmart and Target.

2) Fine Print: There is a lot of fine print on the bottom of coupons. Consumers must pay attention to this fine print so that they can save the most amount of money, and not run into any problems at the register. The fine print usually includes wording about limiting how many coupons can be used in one order. Often there is a limit of four similar coupons in one order. This is so that the store does not run out of products for other consumers.

3) Expiration Dates: There is also an expiration date on coupons, and that is definitely small but something to which a consumer must pay attention. The majority of stores will not accept expired coupons.

What is a coupon? These manufacturer's coupons need to be cut out of traditional coupon flyers before being redeemed at the store.

These manufacturer’s coupons need to be cut out of traditional coupon flyers before being redeemed at the store.

Manufacturer’s Coupons vs. Store Coupons

Manufacturer’s coupons are available to consumers through coupon flyers in Sunday newspapers, on the internet, and directly from the company itself. There are two major coupon companies that print coupons: RedPlum and Smartsource. These coupons can be used in any grocery store or pharmacy, and some department stores. Only two coupons from online sources can be printed from a single computer. Coupons printed from the internet are not accepted at all stores due to coupon fraud years ago.

Store coupons are provided to the consumer through particular stores and have the name of the store on them.They can be mailed to consumers through the US Postal Service, inserted into newspapers, or found in the weekly store flyer. To use the store coupon, the consumer must go to that particular store, buy the product on the coupon, and present it with the product to the cashier to receive money off. Many stores will allow both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon to be used at the same time, allowing the consumer to save money two different times. In coupon circles, this is called a “double play” because you can double your savings. While stores will not allow a consumer to use two manufacturer’s coupons on the same item (most coupons prohibit that, and it is included in the small print) or two store coupons to be used on the same item, using a store coupon and manufacturer’s coupon at the same time on one item is usually allowed.

What is a coupon? This store coupon can only be redeemed at a Walgreen's store.

This store coupon for Dramamine on the bottom of the page needs to be cut out and can only be redeemed at a Walgreen’s store.

Back in the late 1990’s grocery stores often used triple coupons to entice consumers to their store. One coupon, up to a face value of 99 cents, could be tripled. This often resulted in consumers leaving the store with free items and was a great way for people to stock up and save money.

If any of you reading this have had experience with a double play, or using triple coupons, I would love for you to leave a comment below. And if you have any questions about using coupons, please leave them in the comment section, and I will be happy to answer them.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Tips to Save Money Eating Out at Restaurants

 

Dunkin Donuts offers a free beverage for birthdays

 

I’m a big fan of eating out at restaurants. I don’t enjoy cooking all that much, so anytime I can go out and eat delicious food that I didn’t have to prepare makes me one happy camper! But eating out at restaurants can get expensive. Here are 15 ways you can save money eating out at restaurants:

1) Go to Breakfast or Lunch Instead of Dinner

The price of breakfast or lunch is less expensive than going out to eat for dinner. If you want to save money eating out at restaurants, you will save more money during these meals. Restaurants often have breakfast and lunch specials that can save you even more money. Friendly’s has a deal currently that gives customers 50% off all of their breakfasts Mondays through Fridays.

2) Drink Water

This is a sure-fire way to save money at a restaurant. Not only is water free, which saves you money, but it is healthier for you than soda, iced tea, and lemonade. If you aren’t a fan of the plain taste of water, ask for a lemon or lime wedge. Those are also free and will add taste to your water. I know people who take this idea one step further and make their own lemonade at restaurants by adding the juice of a lemon wedge plus one packet of sugar or sweetener.

3) Share a Drink

Another way of saving money at restaurants is to order one large drink and have two people share it. This works especially well with couples. If you are embarrassed to just order one drink at a more expensive restaurant, one of you, or both, can order water and then it won’t be as obvious that you are sharing.

My husband and I just went to Panera Bread yesterday and ordered one large drink to share. There was plenty of liquid for both of us, and if you want as much liquid as possible, order your beverage without ice. This leaves more room for liquid in the cup and beverages coming out of a machine are already cold.

When doing this at a fast food restaurant, not only will you be saving money, but helping the environment because you will only be using one paper or plastic cup instead of two!

4) Use Coupons

What? Coupons for restaurants you might be asking? Yes, there are a variety of places that coupons for restaurants can be found, the top three being:

Coupon fliers that come in your Sunday newspaper

Chain restaurants often have an insert with two coupons in it: One for a certain amount off of a lunch entree and one for a dinner entree. Check these out and keep them in your wallet for the next time you go out to lunch or dinner.

Here’s a coupon from the Sunday paper to save money at the Outback Steakhouse

Coupons mailed to you in a special discount circular in your mailbox

Lots of people ignore these coupons, but if you pay attention to what is in those fliers, you can save money. For instance, I recently had a coupon flyer from Dunkin Donuts (my favorite coffee place) that offered me an extra large cup of coffee for $1.49 instead of $2.59. That’s a $1.10 savings, and there were two of these coupons on each flyer.

If you have neighbors like I do who don’t use those fliers and throw them in the trash, you can ask them for theirs.

Coupons on the backs of cash register receipts in many local stores

Not sure what I am talking about? Next time you go to a grocery store, turn your cash register receipt over and look for coupons. While some of what is printed there are just ads, there are usually coupons as well. Mine recently offered a free appetizer at a local Mexican restaurant, and a “buy one get one-half off an ice cream cone” at a local ice cream shop.

5) Join Groupon

Groupon is a free recommendation program that allows consumers to save up to 50% on the deals they purchase off of the Groupon website. The key to Groupon is that it posts offers for a limited time only: usually only one to three days. And when that time is up, the offer disappears and us no longer available. So consumers need to grab an offer when they see it.

The way Groupon works is that first a consumer must go to the Groupon website and fill in the blank with their email address so that they will be able to receive daily email offers from Groupon. If there is an offer that someone is interested in, they can click on it and pay with their credit card or Paypal. Then they print out the offer and bring the printed coupon to the business or restaurant to redeem it. There is always an expiration date printed on the coupon, and it must be used before the expiration date.

If you don’t mind getting the daily emails from the Groupon website, you can save a lot of money eating out at restaurants with Groupon. You can also take advantage of deals in other areas as well such as special events, entertainment, outdoor activities, and stores.

To sign up for Groupon, click on the link below:

https://www.groupon.com/

6) Dollar Menu

Don’t laugh but you can actually save money at a fast food restaurant by only ordering off the $1.00 menu. If you want to take your two children out for a special meal but don’t have a lot of money, by allowing yourself and each child a choice of 3 items each on the dollar menu, you can have a nice treat for everyone for under $10.00. That would be $3.00 each plus tax. And for even more fun, go to a McDinalds with a play place and let the kids have fun climbing around after dinner. Bring a good book for yourself, and everyone can have an enjoyable and inexpensive experience.

Okay, I do understand that some of the McDonald’s food on the dollar menu may not be all that healthy, but once in awhile as a treat, ordering off the dollar menu can be fun.

7) Eat Half/Save Half

Yes, that’s right…there are some restaurants that give you so much food that eating half of your meal, combined with the free bread offered by the restaurant, and maybe a salad that comes with your meal will fill you up! There’s no need to gorge yourself because your mom may have taught you to eat everything on your plate. She only said that so you wouldn’t waste good food. So eat half at the restaurant and bring half home to eat as another meal. While that may not save you money at the restaurant, it will save you money on that week’s grocery bill. And any savings is a good savings.

If you add a salad to that meal at home, it will be a full meal again, and you will have gotten two meals for the price of one!

Here’s a meal of beef teriyaki that came with a salad and could be easily shared with someone else, or taken home for a second meal.

8) Early Bird Specials

Yes, there are some restaurants that still offer “Early Bird Specials.” Traditionally these meals were offered from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm when the restaurants traditionally are not too busy. Seniors over the age of 65 were the ones who most often took advantage of Early Bird Specials, but now younger people and those with large families are taking advantage of this deal as well.

In doing research for this article, I Googled “Early Bird Specials, ” and the first thing to pop up was Olive Garden. Their current Early Bird Special runs from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and consists of your choice of soup or salad with your favorite entree for $8.99. This is not only a great deal, but since not many people eat at the Olive Garden during those times, you won’t have to wait in the long lines usually associated with the Olive Garden at peak dinner times.

9) Skip the Appetizer or Dessert, or Both!

Think about it…if your meal comes with bread and a salad already, do you really need to order an appetizer or dessert? Some restaurants are a la Carte and do make you order each item separately, but for those that are already providing their patrons extras that come with the meal, the appetizers and dessert are just an extra cost, plus extra calories.

If you really want an appetizer or dessert, consider sharing with your dining companion(s) and you will save money and calories!

10) Share a Meal

My parents typically go to chain restaurants and share the main meal. If the meal comes with a salad, they will order an extra side salad, and share the entree. Sometimes they go hog wild and share a large dessert and both of them have plenty of food and have saved money. Their favorite places to do this are Longhorn and Outback Steakhouse.

Some fancy restaurants charge an extra plate charge, but typically chain restaurants do not.

11) At Christmas Take Advantage of Gift Certificate Specials

Restaurants often offer a deal at Christmas where they will give a free $5 or $10 extra gift card when you buy a larger gift card (usually around $50). If you decide you want to give gift cards as a gift for Christmas, consider taking advantage of that deal. You could buy two gift cards, at $50 each for family members, and earn a free meal for yourself worth $10. If they only let you take advantage of it one time per transaction, make a few different purchases a few days apart, and you can earn $5.00 a few times. This helps you find a nice gift for someone for Christmas, and also saves you money the next time you take your family out to eat at a restaurant.

If you don’t have anyone you want to give a restaurant gift card to, just buy it for yourself and you will still get the extra gift cards as a bonus. If you are going to go out to eat at that restaurant anyway, you might as well take advantage of saving money by purchasing gift cards.

12) Supermarkets Offer Double Gas Points  & They Often Include Gift Card Purchases

There is a Kroger store near my home and every summer for a limited period of time, they offer double gas points on store purchases and this includes gift card purchases. Treat yourself or your husband to a lunch or dinner by buying a restaurant gift card, and get double gas points during this summer special. Check out local stores that offer gas points and see if they have something similar. You won’t exactly save money on your restaurant purchase, but this will help you save money on the gas to get there!

13) AARP Specials

Once you hit the ripe old age of 50, you are eligible to join AARP. The current rate to join is only $16.00 per year and let me tell you, if you use your AARP card, it is definitely worth the money. And if you decide to join for three years or five years, the membership amount per year decreases so you can save money that way also.

Along with savings on travel, insurance, and entertainment, there are twenty-two restaurants that give discounts or a freebie when you show your AARP card. The discounts range from a percentage off your bill to a free donut with a large or extra-large coffee. If you take your family out for a nice dinner at a restaurant that offers a 15% discount with the AARP card, and the bill comes to $100, you will save $15.00 at some restaurants which almost pays for your membership with one dinner! And AARP also offers savings in many other categories besides restaurants.

Here’s the current list of participating restaurants as of June 2017:

  • Bonefish Grill
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
  • Carrabba’s Italian Grill
  • Charlie’s Crab Palm Beach
  • Chart House
  • Claim Jumper Restaurant & Saloon
  • Denny’s
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Gandy Dancer
  • Grand Concourse
  • Landry’s, Inc. Restaurants
  • Landry’s Seafood
  • McCormick & Schmick’s
  • Meriweather’s
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Rainforest Cafe
  • Red Sushi Hibachi & Grill
  • Saltgrass Steakhouse
  • sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • The Oceanaire Seafood Room
  • Willie G’s Seafood & Steaks

To find out more about AARP membership, or to join AARP, click on the link below:

https://advantages.aarp.org/en/home.html

 

14) Download Restaurant Apps

I’m not as technically savvy as my kids, but I do know that downloading apps on your phone can save you money. Lots of restaurants now have apps you can download for free onto your phone, and then when you check the app before going to a restaurant, you can see the deals they are offering customers that day. Even some gas stations that offer food have apps now. Below is a list of restaurants and gas stations that offer savings through coupons or by keeping track of your purchases to give you free food after a certain number of items have been purchased:

Even some gas stations that offer food have apps now. Below is a list of restaurants and gas stations that offer savings through coupons or by keeping track of your purchases to give you free food after a certain number of items have been purchased:

Restaurants

  • Burger King
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Dominos
  • Firehouse Subs
  • McDonalds
  • Papa Johns
  • Sonic
  • Starbucks
  • Taco Bell

Gas Stations:

  • 7-Eleven
  • Quik-Trip
  • Sheetz
  • Wawa

 

15) Free Birthday Treats

Many restaurants will give customers free items on their birthday. They do this in exchange for the birthday person’s email address to send them emails in the future to entice you to come to their restaurant. They encourage people to come to their restaurant on their birthday and hopefully purchase more food and to bring friends and family members. If a single person arrives at these restaurants and offers the birthday coupon they received for signing up to receive email, in most cases, they will get free food on their birthday. A few restaurants have a “Buy one get one free” birthday offer, which means you would have to bring someone else along in order to get the free meal on your birthday

Free birthday treats range from specific free breakfast items at Denny’s and Ihop to free coffee at Dunkin Donuts, Caribou Coffee, and Starbucks. You can get free snacks like a free pretzel at Auntie Annies, or free ice cream at Baskin Robbins.

For lunch you could have a free meal at Captain D’s, a free sandwich at Honey Baked Ham, a free hamburger or salad bar entree at Ruby Tuesday’s, or a free pizza at Buono’s Pizza.

For dinner, if you didn’t go to Ruby Tuesday’s for your free lunch, you could head there for dinner, or to Benihana’s  Restaurant,  the Black Bear Diner, or the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, all of which will give you a free dinner up to a certain dollar amount. To save money on dessert, save room for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s or Coldstone Creamery both of which will give you a free scoop of ice cream to top off your birthday celebration!

In researching this article I found a great list prepared by Anthony Nguyen on the Hustler Money Blog. I have included a link below to his list find some free food on your birthday including restaurants nationwide. To see if there is a local restaurant near you, click on the locator link to your left and put in your address and it will tell you the closest ones to you. If you want to know more about how to sign up for each restaurant’s birthday offer, click the review link on the right.

http://www.hustlermoneyblog.com/eat-free-on-your-birthday/

I did this in as many restaurants as I could find in my area in July. And the perks just keep coming because even though it’s now September, and my birthday is over, I just got a coupon for a “free sandwich meal” in the mail the other day.

My birthday is at the end of July and I spent it eating for free all day long. To read about my wonferful free food day, click on this link: https://delishably.com/misc/How-I-Ate-for-Free-All-Day-on-My-Birthday-and-You-Can-Too

 

If you know of any other restaurants that offer free food for birthdays, please include it in the comments below.

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So, are you ready to start saving money eating out at restaurants?