Karen Hellier

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

Monthly Archive: May 2017

7 Places to Get Great Deals on Cards and Stationery Products

I know for some people, sending cards and letters through the mail is a thing of the past. Well, call me old-fashioned, but I love receiving mail in my mailbox, especially when it’s not bills! There’s just something about opening my mailbox and seeing a card, letter or package from a friend or family member that makes me feel loved. It’s not the same with a text or email, although I do appreciate any positive messages in any form.

This post is for those of you who feel like I do and enjoy getting and sending “snail mail” delivered by the good old U.S. Postal Service. I am always on the lookout for inexpensive cards and stationery to send to people. Yes, I know, writing letters is also a thing of the past for many, but I enjoy it.

So here are the top 7 places I have found to buy inexpensive cards and stationery products:

Dollar General:

The name of Dollar General stores confuses many people because they think they are going to get everything in there for $1.00. Well, that’s not the case but they do have great prices and sales on many items and I love shopping here. They have a variety of items including food, toiletries, health and hygiene products, toys, and household products. They have a flyer that comes out each week with sales just like grocery stores and pharmacies. They also give customers digital coupons, have an online website and have fantastic markdown sales after each holiday and at the end of each of the four seasons.

I write a lot of thank-you notes because I am an eBay seller and I like to include a thank you note in every package I send out. That is why I am thrilled to get thank you cards here ( and at Dollar Tree) for $1.00 per package even though the price stamped on the package from the company is often $3.95 or more! This is the same price for invitations and blank note cards.

Dollar General also has individual cards at great prices including a section labeled 2 for $1.00 and $1.00 each. That beats the $2.97 to $3.97 price stamped on the back!

Dollar General offers a weekly flyer, and a coupon on their register receipts to save $5.00 on your purchase of $25.00 or more on certain Saturdays. And you can sign up to get digital coupons to save even more money at Dollar General.

According to the Dollar General website, there are Dollar General Stores in all but 7 of the 50 U.S. states. To find out if there us a Dollar General near you, you can use this store location link:

http://www2.dollargeneral.com/About-Us/pages/storelocator.aspx

 

Note cards for $1.00 at Dollar General and Dollar Tree!

Dollar Tree:

Dollar Tree is not misleading in its title at all. Everything in a Dollar Tree store is $1.00, and sometimes candy is available at 2 for $1.00. They carry anything from food to kitchen goods to health and beauty, to paper goods and school supplies.

This store again offers deals on cards and stationery. Cards are $1.00 each but there us also a smaller section with cards that are 2 for $1.00. Can’t beat that very easily in this day and age of high prices. Are these cards as good as those Hallmark cards with the $6.99 price card on the back? Um, no, but then again, why would anyone want to spend that much on a greeting card when the recipient may soon throw it away?

Dollar Tree stores also have great prices on pens, pencils, and shipping items like envelopes and padded envelopes to ship those letters in.

According to the Dollar Tree website, there are Dollar Tree stores in 48 U.S. states, and you can also order online. There is a Dollar Tree customer loyalty program called the Dollar Tree Value Club and if you join the Value Club you will get notified of in-store specials, contests and can also write reviews for a chance to win gift cards.

To find the nearest Dollar Tree store near you, or to sign up for the Dollar Tree Value Club, click on the link below:

https://www.dollartree.com/custserv/custserv.jsp?pageName=StoreLocations

Christmas Tree Shops:

I must say that my favorite store in the whole world is the Christmas Tree Shops. When people haven’t heard of this chain store before, they think it only has Christmas items but that’s the wrong assumption. Christmas Tree Shops do carry Christmas items in the Fall and up until Christmas, but they also carry many other items that you won’t find anywhere else. And you never know what you might find there. They have seasonal decorative items for the home and garden throughout the year and are stocked to the gills as Christmas nears, but they also have furniture, home decor, food, games, books, stationery supplies, paper goods, craft supplies, trial sized items, etc. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. You just never know what you might find at a Christmas Tree Shops store and that’s why I love them so much.

Christmas Tree Shops originally started on Cape Cod in Massachusetts in the 1950s, and every year when my family went there for a vacation, my mom and I loved stopping by at least one or two of their stores. At the time, there were 6 Christmas Tree Shops but they have now branched out to other states in New England, and even farther out in the U.S. I have heard that there is one in Georgia now, but since it is about five hours from me I will have to be in the area to go.

As far as stationery, they have cards that are $1.00 each and sometimes 2 for $1.00. They also have boxed stationery that is really nice to give as gifts. These can run anywhere from $1.99 for small note cards to $6.99 for a box of 5″ by 7″ cards. They even have stationery with female names on them which is fun for kids.

According to the website, there are currently over 70 Christmas Tree Shops in the U.S. If you are the type of person that loves to browse for good deals, you should definitely check out a Christmas Tree Shops store if there’s one near you, or near where you are going in vacation. In fact, their motto is, “Don’t you just love a bargain?” Hey, that’s sort of my motto too. No wonder I love them so much!

To find a Christmas Tree Shops store near you, click the store locator link below:

http://www.christmastreeshops.com/store-locator/landing.do

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet:

This store is a new one for me and one recently opened near me in Georgia so I just had to check it out. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet offers great deals on closeout merchandise and they buy excess inventory from retailers and offer it to customers at bargain prices.

In this store, you can find anything from food to clothing, pet supplies, tools and household goods. They have a fantastic selection of books for children and adults. I love to buy gift books there because the prices are so good. And of course they have stationery and cards. You can get cards for $1.00 each there and nice note cards at a good price.

They have a customer loyalty program. To join, you can get a card and information sheet at the store. Fill out the card with your email address and other standard information. Then when you get home, log onto to website on the card, enter your card number, and you will then receive emails about upcoming events and special discounts throughout the year.

Also, each time you shop at Ollie’s and scan your card, you will earn 1 point for every dollar you spend. When you hit $250 in the amount spent, they will send you a coupon for 10% off your next purchase.

According to their website, the first Ollie’s opened in 1982 in Pennsylvania and there are now 243 Ollie’s Bargain Outlets in 20 states.

To find an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet near you, click the store locator link below:

http://www.ollies.us/locations/

Ocean State Job Lot

Ocean State Job Lot is another one of my favorite stores. Like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, it is also a closeout store and you never know what you might find there. It again offers closeout deals and carries items from food to cleaners, clothing, health and beauty, books, stationery products and so much more!

Ocean State Job Lot has a customer loyalty program called the Insider Club. Sign up for the club for free at the store with your name, phone number, and email address. You will get over fifty coupons downloaded to your account each week and will be notified of special events and discounts coming up.

Since moving to Georgia from Connecticut three years ago, I haven’t been in an Ocean State Job Lot recently enough to give you a quote on the price of their cards and stationery products, but they are along the lines of some of the other stores mentioned in this post.

There are 127 Ocean State Job Lot stores in the following states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and New Jersey.

To find an Ocean State Job Lot store near you, click on the store locator link below:

http://oceanstatejoblot.com/locate/

Thrift Stores/Goodwill:

Thrift stores and Goodwill stores are an amazing source of all types of items including stationery products such as invitations, Christmas cards, note cards, computer paper with a design on it, etc. Of course, you won’t find these items every time you shop, but each time you go to a thrift store or Goodwill, it is certainly worth checking out the shelves in this area.

You don’t find individual cards here but I often find thank you notes and invitations in unopened packs of 6 to 8 for less than $1.00. And I like to write letters so I find packages of decorated computer paper that I buy and use for handwritten letters to friends and family. I have also found boxes of envelopes and stickers for great prices.

To get the best deals at Goodwill or thrift stores, check to see if they have any bargain days and shop then. Goodwill has a markdown color every day of the week, so whatever is marked with that color tag is 50% off that week, and they also have a Senior Day, Student Day, and Military Members day with a discount. Check with your local store on which days they offer those special discounts because they vary state to state.

There are Goodwill stores all over the United States. To find the nearest Goodwill to you, you can click on this link:

Locator

Walmart

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t mention Walmart for cards. They are worthy of a mention because they have a 99 cent group of greeting cards and that is a really nice deal. The regular prices on cards and stationery aren’t that great but Walmart has some wonderful discounts on all kinds of items on their clearance shelves, especially after a holiday. The after Christmas sales are 50% to 75% off and I have gotten some very pretty Christmas cards there for great prices then and just save them till the next year.

According to Statista.com there are 4,672 Walmart stores in the U.S. in 2017! You probably already know the closest Walmart to you, but here’s a Walmart “store finder” link for you just in case you are headed somewhere and need to know the closest Walmart in that area:

 

https://www.walmart.com/store/finder

 

So there you have it: the seven best stores I know of to find cards and stationery at great prices. Since some of these stores are closeout stores, if you see something you like there, you had better grab it because it won’t be there when you return.

If you have any other suggestions that I have missed for great deals on cards and stationery products, please leave a comment and share the savings with other readers.

 

 

 

 

8 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

I am a huge fan of using coupons to save money on groceries. In fact, when I lived in Connecticut, I used to teach classes on saving money with coupons. If you are someone who loves using coupons and would like some extra tips, I added a link to an article I wrote about saving money with coupons at the bottom of this article.

But I also know there are many people who find the whole coupon thing too time-consuming and don’t use them. This article is for you so please keep reading!

Below are my top eight tips for saving money without using coupons.

  1. Check out the Sales at all of the Stores you Plan to Shop at Before you Leave your House

Who wants to pay full price for an item when you can get it at a discount? Certainly not me, and hopefully not you. If you purchase the Sunday paper, go over all of the sales fliers and make a list of what you want to buy before you go to the store. Being organized helps you save money at the grocery store because you are not aimlessly wandering around looking for things you might need.

If you don’t buy the Sunday paper, go online and check out the weekly store flyer (s) and make your list from that so you will be prepared.

And to save money: stick to your list!

2) Buy Items Only When They Are on Sale

If you make a habit of purchasing items at the grocery store only when they are on sale, you will find that you never have to pay full price for most of what goes in your grocery cart! Now, this is not always true for perishable items that you can’t freeze well, such as produce. But for the most part, if you buy items only when they are on sale, you will save money.

3) Stock Up

This is true for coupon users as well, but it you can purchase enough products when they are on sale to tide you over to the next sale, then you will have cupboards full of items that you never paid full price for.

Example: The IGA near my home had Coke on sale for 4 for $4.44 this week. My husband drinks Coke and sometimes it is hard to find it on sale. Without a sale, Coke is usually $1.59 to $1.69. So, knowing that there should be another sale on Coke SOMEWHERE near me in the next 8 weeks, we purchase enough to get us through 8

IMPORTANT: Did you know if there is a sale on something where you get 4 for $4.44, or 2 for $5.00, etc. you usually don’t have to buy the number they suggest??? Many people get caught by this. Unless the specific sale signage says,”Must buy 4 or 2″ to get that price, you can buy 1 single item and still get the sale price. Or in the case of 4 in a sale, you can buy 2 or 3 if you want.

The store advertises it that way to trick consumers into thinking they HAVE to buy that many in order to get that price. They are sneaky that way because it brings in more money for them. Make sure you check with the cashier or store manager if you have any doubts, but grocery stores rake in a lot of extra money by suggesting a certain number of items that consumers think they have to buy.

4) Plan Your Menus Around What’s on Sale

I once read a statistic that said you could save 30% off of your grocery bill each week just by planning your weekly meals based on what’s on sale at the grocery stores.

For instance, if you were planning a beef roast for your family one week, but can’t find it on sale, buy another form of beef instead that you can find on sale. Thinking of serving lamb chops but find a sale on pork chops that week? You will save money if you buy what’s on sale and serve that instead.

The same holds true for other products that would go with your main dish…if you want a salad, see which is less expensive: romaine lettuce or head lettuce. How about tomatoes: is there a sale on a certain kind? Planning for mashed potatoes? Check sales on Idaho, Red or Yukon Gold. Every penny you can save really adds up when you get to the checkout lane.

5) Be Willing to Shop at A Few Stores Instead of Just One

I know this is hard for many people, but each week the different stores in your town have different sales. By being willing to check out the sales at more than one store and shop in two or more each week for their sale items, you will save money.

You don’t want to spend a lot of extra money on gas though because that would defeat the purpose of saving money on your groceries. So this will only work in areas where there is more than one grocery store to choose from.

If you do live in a town where shopping us limited, but there is a certain store with something you use on your way to work, or on the way to drop your child off at a dance class or swimming lessons, use that trip to stop and grab the sale item(s) so that you aren’t going out of your way.

6) Shop at the Stores That have the Least Expensive Prices on Items You Buy if you Run Out

The easiest way to do this is to make a price notebook of things you usually buy and write down the price the item usually sells for at each store when it is not on sale. Your price notebook page could look like this:

Item                                                   Stop & Shop           Walmart          Shop Rite    Big Y

Maxwell House Coffee 24 oz.                 $6.77                     $5.98              $6.24         $6.99

Knorr Noodles and Sauce                       $1.25                      $1.00               $1.00         $1.39

Secret Deodorant   1.7 oz.                     $2.09                     $1.74               $1.79         $2.19

Soft Soap Liquid Soap  7.5 oz.              $1.49                         $.99              $1.29         $1.59

The list should continue like this for every item you buy on a regular basis. Then, on the weeks you run out of a certain item, you know the store that carries that item for the least amount of money and you can go there to purchase it or add it to your list when you shop there for sales if that item isn’t on sale that week anywhere else. This list should be updated every six months.

7) Check the Markdown Shelves

Most supermarkets and Walmart Superstores have a markdown shelf or bin. You can get amazing deals by getting in the habit of checking them every time you shop. Stopping by the markdown area every time you shop will save you money, especially on items like bread, pastries and grocery items that will store well or can be frozen.

8) Don’t Shop with Your Credit Card

Carrying cash and using only cash to shop for your groceries will keep you within your budget better than if you pay with a credit card. Paying with credit, especially if you have a lot of credit available on your credit card, means you won’t be all that concerned about how much money you will spend at the store. So, that beautiful looking chocolate cake with chocolate chips on it may find its way into your cart.

But paying with a limited amount of cash, and preferably just enough to cover your groceries will keep you goal focused. You won’t be as tempted to purchase that cake, or any one of a number of extra goodies if you pay only with cash and don’t want to be embarrassed by not having enough when you get to the checkout lane.

Tips on how to Save Money with Coupons…

Hopefully, these tips will help you rethink your grocery shopping strategy and save money at the grocery store. If you use coupons or would like to start, here’s an article that will help you with that:

https://hubpages.com/money/Save-Money-With-Coupons-15-Tips-From-The-Coupon-Lady

Do you have any other ideas on how to save at the grocery store without using coupons? Please leave a comment below.

Want to get free tips on saving money and earning money from home? Put your email address in the space at the top left and you will never miss a post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinch Me…it’s too Good to be True!

Free Products in the Mail

You know that phrase when people say, “Pinch me…it’s too good to be true,” or they may tell you they had to pinch themselves because something is too good to be true? Well, I have discovered a website called Pinch Me and at first, I thought it was too good to be true.  This website sends samples to you for free. I have been a member there for over a year, and it is the real deal so I wanted to share it with everyone I know!

I don’t know about you, but I love getting mail. I especially love getting mail that isn’t bills. Mail makes me feel loved and every time I see the bright aqua box from Pinch Me in the mail…yep, I feel loved!

How it Works

Here’s how it works…you go to the Pinch Me website and sign up. Don’t worry, I have included a link below.

Next, they ask you a series of questions like how many people live in your household, do you have children under 18 living with you, how many pets do you have, etc. These questions are designed to help them match you to the samples. Of course, they don’t want to waste samples on people who won’t use them because they do run out of samples each month and want to make sure each sample gets to someone who can and will use it.

Then, once a month on a Tuesday, you get an email reminding you that it’s free sample day on the Pinch Me website and you head right over there to pick out your free samples. In case you are wondering if it’s worth the hassle because what kind of samples can you possibly get for free, here’s a list of just some of the samples I have gotten in the past year. I put a star next to the ones I liked the best.

In case you are wondering if it’s worth the hassle because what kind of samples can you possibly get for free, here’s a list of just some of the samples I have gotten in the past year. I put a star next to the ones I liked the best.

Partial List of Samples I Have Gotten

*Oil of Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash

*Skinnypop Popcorn

*Gold Bond Ultimate Strength Resilience Lotion

*Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion

*Milk Bone Good Morning Daily Vitamin Treats (Well, my dog liked these!)

Advil PM Caplets

Dentek Comfort Clean Floss Picks

Breathe Right Nasal Strips

Beyond Grain Free White Meat Chicken Egg Recipe Dry Dog Food

ZZZquil Sleep Aid

*Purina One Smartblend True Instinct Dry Dog Food (Yes, the dog again!)

*Sundown Natural CO Q-10 Gummy Vitamins

*Olay Regenerist Luminous Perfecting Cream

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Goddess Garden Facial Natural Sunscreen SPF 30

*Nexcare Sensitive Skin Bandages

Rapid Relief Sensitive Toothpaste

Pond’s Rejuveness Anti-Aging Cream

Brylcream Classic hair cream

***Starbuck’s Caramel Caffe Latte K-Cup Pod (Delicious)

Livrelief Pain Relief Cream

*Shout Color Catcher

*Olay Ultra Moisture Shea Butter Body Wash

Plus I received numerous free coupons, some to go along with these products and some just came along in the package without a sample.

Free Stuff from Pinch Me dot com

Free Stuff from Pinch Me dot com

Yeah, But What’s the Catch?

Okay, by now you are probably saying to yourself, “Okay, what’s the catch?” Seriously, there is no catch, BUT they do want you to write a review of the products you have received. They want totally honest reviews, but the reviews don’t have to be very long. You have up to one month after you receive the product to go to the review page. If you do all of the reviews, you have a chance to earn more free products.

Another possible catch (if you are still with me and reading this article) is that the offers are only available to people who live in the 48 continental United States. The website clearly states that they do not ship to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Guam, the Virgin Islands, or to international addresses.

I have been a member for approximately one year and still can’t believe I am getting free stuff in the mail every month. And what I like about Pinch Me is that these are products either myself or my husband really do use.

Try it for Yourself

Would you like to give it a try and get free stuff in your mailbox too?

To join Pinch Me and get free stuff for yourself just click on this link below, fill out the information, and have fun!

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

 

Disclaimer:

I just wanted to let you know that the above link was provided to me by the pinchme dotcom website and there’s a random chance I may win a prize of some sort due to people clicking on this link.

Please be assured that is NOT why I wrote this article. I truly enjoy getting free items from this website and I want my readers to have the opportunity to do so also!

 

Have you tried Pinch Me before? Do you enjoy getting free stuff in your mailbox? Please feel free to leave a comment below!