Karen Hellier

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

Saving Money

30 Things I Got For Free and How You Can Get Free Stuff Too

I got all of this, plus more, totally free in December and January!

I love getting things for free. Each time I get something for free, a little jolt of happiness runs through me. I know that may sound crazy, but it’s fun, isn’t hurting anyone, and makes me happy. I am tired of hearing people say,”Nothing is free these days.” There really are things you can get for free. You just have to look for them and pay attention.

All of the items above are items I got for free over the past two months. I will break things down for you and explain how I got each of these items for free, and hopefully, this will start you on a journey of getting free items yourself.

I love getting a free donut at Dunkin Donuts with my AARP card when I order a large or extra large coffee!

I love getting a free donut at Dunkin Donuts with my AARP card when I order a large or extra large coffee!

Free Donuts at Dunkin Donuts

If you are age 50 or over you qualify to join AARP. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen many of the free donuts I have gotten. I am obsessed with Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee. There isn’t a Dunkin Donuts near me. I have to drive 25 to 35 minutes to towns surrounding mine in order to find a Dunkin Donuts. Once a week I take a trip to area thrift stores to purchase items to resell on eBay. And all of towns that have the thrift stores I shop in have a Dunkin Donuts in them. So that is my treat on thrift shopping days: a French Vanilla coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and when I show them my AARP card after having bought a large or extra large coffee, I get a free donut!

Doesn’t sound like much to you? A donut at Dunkin Donuts costs 99 cents. If I did this once a week for one whole year, it will save me $51.48. I know donuts aren’t healthy, so I don’t do it EVERY week, but even so, it can save me 99 cents every time I have a craving for a donut.

How can you get free donuts at Dunkin Donuts?? Read below…

If you aren’t 50 years old yet, but your mom or dad is, encourage them to join AARP and when you go out to Dunkin Donuts together, they can get a free donut for you, or the grandkids!

I am writing this in February 2018 and if you follow the link below (copy and paste, or just google “join AARP”), you can join AARP for $12.00 for a year and your spouse will get a free membership. The regular cost is $16.00 annually. And no, I am not getting any benefits from referring you to AARP. I just think it’s a wonderful service for anyone age 50 and over. Beyond free donuts, the travel deals and discounts at restaurants are totally worth the membership costs.

https://join.aarp.org/aarp-brand-clean3-hero3/?keycode=UAZMB11&gclid=CJmEl_vQh9kCFZCZgQodOH8AsQ&gclsrc=ds&tc_tm_meth=MAN&tm_ver=3.1&tc_tm_xg=sbrand&tc_campaign=SBRAND&tc_channel=SEM&tc_vendor=Google&tc_tm_uid=AARP5A748E9AD8C80&tc_tm_visitid=AARP5A748E9AD8D2E&tc_tm_version=aarp-brand-clean3-hero3

Here are some examples of free samples I get in the mail every month!

Here are some examples of free samples I get in the mail every month!

Freebies in the Mail

I love getting snail mail that isn’t bills, don’t you? These items above are all free from a website that I have recently discovered, and they don’t make you jump through hoops or fill out surveys to get free stuff.

How can you get stuff like this free in the mail? Sign up for it! Here’s the link to that website which is called Sweet Free Stuff.

http://www.sweetfreestuff.com/

 

Free items from Kroger and IGA every Friday on Freebie Friday!

Free items from Kroger and IGA every Friday on Freebie Friday!

Friday Freebies at IGA and Kroger

This picture shows the free items I have gotten from IGA and Kroger. Both stores give items away every Friday. You have to download the app for each store on your phone, and then on Friday, make sure to go to the app for each of those stores if you have one near you, and download the free item. The coupon to get the item free automatically goes to your store card, and all you have to do is pick up the item and when the cashier scans your card, the price of that particular item comes off of your bill.

IGA will let you pick up the item Friday, Saturday or Sunday of each week, and Kroger gives you two weeks to pick it up. That’s especially nice if you can’t get to Kroger every week. Once I wasn’t able to get there for awhile and I picked up 3 items in one day, all of which were free! That was a fun day.

The next three items below also came from IGA. Periodically, IGA offers items you can earn points. Shoppers can earn one point per dollar spent in the store.

Free dishes were available as a special promotion at IGA.

Free dishes were available as a special promotion at IGA.

There were a variety of dish sets being offered for points. I shop at more than one store and often find IGA’s prices in my area to be higher than others so I don’t buy a major amount at IGA. In spite of that, my husband and I earned enough points to get this free bowl which matches the dishes that I entertain with. And this free orange mug. Orange is my favorite color and now this mug is one of my favorites.

The clear rectangular container is part of a promotion that is going on right now. You may wonder if I need this? I have plenty of storage containers. Someone once told me to never say no to anything free. Well, I don’t agree with that because sometimes that means you end up with just a lot of clutter that you will never use and it gets in the way of living a productive and positive life. BUT in the case of these glass storage containers, they make very nice containers to give food gifts in. Wrapped with a ribbon, and filled with cookies or candy for Christmas or a birthday gift, I have a very nice gift for friends or family members.

How can you get free stuff at grocery stores? Pay attention to promotions stores near you offer. Ask staff if they have a free item program, or a points program to earn items or free turkeys during the holidays. By all means, if you ahve a Kroger or IGA near you, sign up for their Free Item Friday Program by downloading the store app to your phone.

Harbor Freight gives coupons for free items in their store fliers.

Harbor Freight gives coupons for free items in their store fliers. Here are a few recent ones I have gotten.

Harbor Freight

Not only does Harbor Freight offer a 20% off coupon in pretty much every ad they print, but they also offer coupons for free items. You have to purchase something else, anything else to be able to use the coupon to get the free item. But I perused the Harbor Freight store shortly after it opened in my area and here is a picture of some of the items you can purchase in order to use the coupon. None of these cost over $1.99. When I got enough of these for our house, I got more to give to relatives in stockings for Christmas.

Here are only a few of the free items I have gotten for free over the past few weeks. My favorite free item is the mini flashlights because we have a guest room and need one for each nightstand in there. I also got one for my car and my nightstand.

Now of course once again you don’t want to go get a bunch of stuff you don’t need. But the tarp is nice to have and we didn’t have one. I got my husband a Multimeter for Christmas because when I asked him what it was and showed him the coupon, he told me he actually needed one. Um, okay, it was free and he needed it. That’s one of my favorite kind of gifts to give!

How can you get free stuff at Harbor Freight? The coupons are in most Sunday papers and they do require you to buy one other item in order to be able to use the coupon to get something free. But there are plenty of items at Harbor Freight that you can buy that every household needs. Below are only a few that I took a picture of, and none of them cost more than $1.99. Who doesn’t need an extra pair of scissors or a mini flashlight for their car or guest room? And if you don’t need it, I am sure you know someone who does!

(OOPs, by the way, the 6 piece drawer organizers were not $1.99 or less. They just happened to be on the table where I was arranging the other items.)

Items that cost $1.99 or less at Harbor Freight that will allow you to use the coupon for a free item!

Items that cost $1.99 or less at Harbor Freight that will allow you to use the coupon for a free item!

 

A free lunch at Zaxby's can be yours if you sign up for the Zaxby's Birthday Club! It was delicious!

A free lunch at Zaxby’s can be yours if you sign up for the Zaxby’s Birthday Club! It was delicious!

A Free Lunch is a Real Treat

I have saved the best for last. Last year on my birthday I decided to eat for free all day long. I had a blast and the people I met during the day at each of the food establishments seemed to enjoy celebrating my birthday with me. The way to accomplish this is to head to the website of all of the restaurants you enjoy and sign up for their birthday club. Then you will get sent a coupon via email or in the mail for either a discount or a free meal on your birthday.

One of the nice things about this is that two of the restaurants give coupons that are good for the whole year. They are Jersey Mike’s and Zaxby’s. So one day in the middle of December when I went Christmas shopping, I used my Zaxby’s coupon and treated myself to lunch and it was a very nice break in the middle of a busy day.

How can you get a free lunch at Zaxby’s or another restaurant? Sign up for their Birthday Club online.

If you would like to read more about how I spent my birthday, you can find the article here:

https://delishably.com/misc/How-I-Ate-for-Free-All-Day-on-My-Birthday-and-You-Can-Too

Hopefully, this post has taught you some new ways to get free stuff. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have gotten free stuff from other sources. Youc an click on the word comment above this article and it will bring you to the comment section.

And don’t forget, if you share this post on social media using the sharing buttons below the post, AND leave a comment as to which social media sites you shared it on, you will get 1 entry into this month’s drawing for each!

 

How Creating a Price Book Can Help You Save Money on Groceries

Using a simple notebook as a price book can save you tons of money at the grocery store! I created a comparison chart of grocery store prices and was amazed at the results!

I love to grocery shop! Yes, I know, from what I have heard I am in the minority here, but there’s always been something special to me about buying food to nourish my family. Once I discovered how to use coupons correctly, I became addicted to saving money at the grocery stores. So today I want to share with you the value of creating a “price book” which will help you save money on your groceries.

What is a Price Book?

What is a “price book” you may be asking? It’s simply a notebook in which you keep track of all of the items you and your family use regularly, and what the normal price is for those items are when they are NOT on sale, at every store you would consider shopping in.

I always advocate that shoppers go to more than one store to take advantage of the store sales in each store, therefore never paying full price for an item. But I also know that is not always feasible. So a price book allows consumers to compare pricing between all of the grocery stores in their area to find out which store has the items that they would normally buy at the most inexpensive price. So if you only have time to go to one store in a given week, you know you will be shopping at the store with the lowest prices in your area.

An example of a price book to compare grocery store prices. This will help you save money at the grocery stores!

An example of a price book to compare grocery store prices.

My Price Book Experiment

To show you how large the current difference in pricing can be, I took a few hours on Friday and went to three stores in my area to compare prices. Although I consider myself a savvy shopper, I was quite surprised at the difference in prices between these three stores. I did this when we first moved to town a few years ago, and so have been shopping in the least expensive store, and shopping the other stores for sales. But my price book is messy so I started a new one giving examples of just a partial list of items I buy regularly.

In my area, there are three grocery stores that are located within five minutes of each other: A Walmart Superstore, Kroger, and Ingles.

I wrote down a list of approximately 25 items that we use regularly in our household. Since there are just two of us in our home, we probably use fewer products than a family with children or pets so if you have a larger family than just two, you will probably have more products and are spending more money on your weekly groceries than we do.

Please keep that in mind when you see the results. If you have children, you will be spending/saving more money than we do since you will need more items to feed and care for a growing family.

Would you rather pay $1.48 (Walmart), $1.79 (Kroger) or $2.78 (Ingles) for this same jar of spaghetti sauce? A price book helps you discover the least expensive prices so youc an save money on groceries!

Would you rather pay $1.48 (Walmart), $1.79 (Kroger) or $2.78 (Ingles) for this same jar of spaghetti sauce?

My Comparison Shopping Items

Here are the results of my creating a price book to compare grocery prices:

Item                                                    Walmart Price                       Kroger Price                              Ingles Price

  1. Tide 100 oz.                                    $10.77                                   $11.99                                       $16.88
  2. Activia Greek Yogurt 4 pk.              $3.47                                    $3.99                                        $4.48
  3. Florida’s Natural Orange Juice       $2.94                                    $3.49                                        $4.18
  4. Crest Toothpaste 6 oz.                    $1.96                                    $2.19                                         $2.68
  5. Colgate Toothpaste 6 oz.                 $1.60                                    $1.89                                         $2.68
  6. 2 Liter Bottle of Coke                     $1.60                                    $1.79                                         $1.98
  7. Progresso Chicken Soup                   $1.58                                    $1.67                                         $2.48
  8. V-8 Juice 64 oz.                              $3.43                                    $3.99                                        $3.48
  9. Pantene Shampoo 12.6 oz.                $3.84                                    $4.19                                        $4.98
  10. Ken’s Honey Mustard Dressing/Dip $2.98                                    $4.79                                        $4.78
  11. 1 Lemon                                            50 cents                                79 cents                                    88 cents
  12. 1 Head of Lettuce                            98 cents                                99 cents                                    $1.68
  13. 10 lb. bag of Russett Potatoes         $3.99                                    $3.99                                         $4.98
  14. Pillsbury Brownie Mix                       $1.98                                    $2.19                                          $1.58
  15. Ragu Spaghetti Sauce                      $1.48                                    $1.79                                          $2.78
  16. Meuller’s Angel Hair Pasta              $1.38                                     $1.49                                          $1.98
  17. Belvita Breakfast Cookies                $2.98                                     $3.69                                         $3.81
  18. Smart Balance  Spread                    $2.78                                     $2.99                                         $3.48
  19. Store Brand Large Eggs                  $1.68                                      $1.69                                          $1.69
  20. Store Brand Butter                         $2.56                                     $2.79                                          $4.48
  21. Arnold Multigrain Bread                  $2.96                                     $3.29                                          $4.29
  22. Pillsbury Ref. Pie Crust                    $2.50                                     $3.19                                           $2.98
  23. Eagle Brand Sweetened Milk           $1.64                                      $2.59                                           $2.58
  24. Carnation Evap. Milk                        $1.00                                      $1.59                                           $1.98
  25. Bayer Baby Aspirin 120 ct               $6.36                                     $6.39                                           $8.98

Total Amount:             Walmart: $68.94              Kroger: $79.43                  Ingles: $96.75

Would you rather pay $3.47 (Walmart), $3.99 (Kroger) or $4.48 Ingles) for this 4 pack of Activia

Would you rather pay $3.47 (Walmart), $3.99 (Kroger) or $4.48 Ingles) for this 4 pack of Activia yogurt?

Price Differences Between 3 Stores

The difference between shopping at the least expensive store on my list and the second least expensive is $10.49 each week. If you did this each week for one year, you would be spending an extra $545.48! Now, in this case, that store is Kroger and if you use gas points and get gas at Kroger you will get a small amount of that back in gas points ( you get 1 point for every dollar spent, and for every 100 points you get 10 cents off a gallon the next time you get gas). But we are still talking about a difference of at least $500!

What I Could Spend $500 on Besides Groceries

There are a lot better things I can think of to spend $500 on than giving it to a grocery store! An extra $500 in my budget could get me:

  • 5 nice dinners out with my husband
  • 1 round-trip plane ticket to visit my relatives in Connecticut
  • 3 nights in a hotel on a road trip
  • 1 nice nest egg in my bank account for emergencies

What I could Spend $1,446.12 on Besides Groceries

Now, if I shopped at the most expensive store instead of the least expensive store, I would be spending $27.81 more each week. That doesn’t sound like all that much but over the course of one year would add up to $1,446.12! Again, there are many more things I would rather do with that money than give it to a grocery store. That extra $1,446.12 in my budget would get me:

  • 14 nice dinners out with my husband (more than 1 a month)
  • 3 round-trip plane tickets to visit my relatives in Connecticut
  • 9 nights in a hotel on a road trip
  • 1 seven-night cruise to the Caribbean
  • 1 really nice nest egg for emergencies

You may think I am exaggerating about that cruise but seriously, I just looked this one up. Smartcruiser is offering a 7-night cruise in a balcony room on either the Regal Princess or Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas for $839 per person. When you include taxes and tips, that $1,446.12 that you gave Ingles in extra grocery money could pay for a one week cruise! Seriously, would you rather give your money to a grocery store or use it to go on a nice warm cruise or some other vacation???

The money you save on groceries may even be enough to send you on a cruise vacation!

The money you save on groceries may even be enough to send you on a cruise vacation!

 

The Advantage of Keeping a Price Book

The purpose of this post is just to show you how much money you can save on groceries if you keep a price list and know the prices at your local stores. It’s important to update your price book and monthly is good, even every six months is helpful to check on the standard price of items you purchase regularly. Not everyone has the time to do this, especially if you work full time and have a family. But creating a price book even once, and updating it annually will help save you money.

Now you may not think this list was realistic because maybe you purchase store brand items every week, and never buy brand name items. This was only a sampling of items that we use in our household. I try to buy the least expensive item I can as long as we like the product. And I do use many brand name items because I have coupons for them which makes it less expensive than the store brand.

I actually got prices on many other items but had to cross them off the list because all three stores either didn’t carry the same size/brand and it wouldn’t work for this example. But this price book will work even if you only use store brand items. The important thing is to know which store carries items that you buy at the least expensive prices.

In the examples above, I used the three stores that are most local to me. This doesn’t mean I am promoting that everyone shop at Walmart, or not to shop at Ingles. When my husband heard the results of my experience creating this price book, he asked me why anyone would shop at Ingles. I told him there are many reasons including:

  • because they have never compared prices between stores
  • because they like the store and know where everything is
  • because they are comfortable there and don’t want to learn a new store

But in the interest of saving money, I would much rather shop at the least expensive store for items I need that aren’t on sale in a given week, and then shop for just the sale items at the other stores.

So, there you have it my friends: the importance of creating a price book so you know for sure which stores in your area have the best prices on items you buy for yourself/family on a regular basis.

If you are interested in creating your own price book to compare the cost of groceries in your local area, continue reading below.

How to Create a Price Book

Creating a price book is fairly easy. All you need is a notebook, a pen, and approximately one hour for each store you would consider grocery shopping at in your area. If you live in a town that only has two stores grocery stores in which to shop, then it is fairly simple. A town with 3 or more stores will require more time.

When considering which stores to shop in, you also must consider how much gas it will cost to go there. If there are three stores within a short radius of each other, those would probably make the most sense to shop at and check prices at, rather than two in town and one 45 minutes away.

Step 1

Take an ordinary wire-bound notebook with college ruled pages as you can get more items on each page. You can usually get these notebooks for less than a quarter during back to school days in August and September so I always stock up.

Step 2

Open the notebook up to the second page so you have two clean pages to work with. On the left write the word Item, then make a column for each store you want o go to. Using a ruler keeps things in straighter lines but that’s not really necessary unless you have three or more stores. Leave the larghest space in the item column so youc an write the size next to the item.

Item                                  Walmart                        Kroger                     Ingles                              Publix

Step 3

Then go through each of your cupboards in your kitchen, bathroom and cleaning closet and write down on a separate piece of paper all the names of items that you would purchase regularly.

Step 4

It’s best to keep the same types of products in the same area on your list so that when you go to the stores to write down the prices, you will find the items you need prices for all together and aren’t going from the produce department to the laundry detergent area to the paper goods area.

For instance, produce may be the first area you come to in most stores so you would have that as the first area in your price book:

Apples

Bananas

Oranges

Cucumbers

Lettuce

Mushrooms

Onions

Potatoes (5 lbs.)

Spinach

Tomatoes

Next could be health and beauty items:

Dial soap bars (8 pk)

Crest toothpaste (6 oz.)

Edge shaving cream

Neutrogena bar soap

Oil of Olay Moisturizer

Pantene shampoo (12.6oz.)

Secret Deodorant (1.7 oz)

Then grocery items

Bumble Bee Tuna (6 oz.)

Sugar

Flour

Campbell’s Crm, of Mush. soup

Progresso Soup

Cheerios

Quaker Oatmeal

Ken’s It. Salad Dressing (8 oz.)

Lay’s Potato Chips

Ritz crackers (20 oz.)

Cleaning & Laundry

Comet

Scrubbing Bubbles

409 Spray

Windex

Bounce dryer sheets (80 ct)

Tide Det. (100 oz.)

Step 5

At each store, walk around to every department and write down the price of the item, including the ounces or pounds. You should do this on the same day to get the base price of that day.

To do this correctly, you will need to plan a day to just do price checking. If you do plan it on your regular grocery shopping day, and you need to grocery shop, go to the store you think is the least expensive last so you can get your shopping done after recording your prices and your food won’t go bad as you head to other stores for price checks.

Step 6

Keep the price book updated in case prices change.

How often you update your price book is up to you, but knowing your prices can really help you save money on groceries.

Here’s an example:

I know that I can get one of my husband’s favorite snacks at Walmart for $1.50. Because of my price book, I know that is the least expensive price in my area for these Harvest Snaps snapeas. But I also know that Ollie’s Bargain Outlet sells the same item for $1.29. I also know that a 12.6 oz. bottle of Pantene shampoo costs $3.84 at the least expensive store in my area. And at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet it costs $2.99. If I have a coupon for one of these items, I can sometimes get it cheaper at my local store because Ollie’s does not accept coupons, but without a coupon, Ollie’s has the best price.

The closest Ollie’s to me is about 40 minutes away so in terms of gas, it wouldn’t make sense (or cents!) to go to Ollie’s every week to buy these items. But when I am at Ollie’s during my adventures at nearby thrift stores, I stock up on a few bags of these peas, and the shampoo if I need it.

Knowing prices helps you save money on groceries!

Knowing prices helps you save money on groceries!

 

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Thanks for reading and happy saving!

 

 

 

Save Money on Christmas Gifts: Start Shopping on December 26th

Shopping Christmas Clearance Sales on December 26th Can Lead to Great Savings!

Learning By Example

My mom was a professional shopper. Okay, well not really, but she seemed to be a professional shopper to me when I was growing up! Every Christmas morning, the tree was surrounded by piles of presents. mostly for my brother and I. And I was always amazed at the number of wonderful gifts my mom had managed to give us for Christmas, and yet money was tight.

As I grew older, she shared her secret with me: she shopped the sales all year long and put the gifts away for the next December 25th. And she started on December 26th each year.

I learned from the best and I do the same thing. So on the morning of December 26th each year, I get up early, put my Christmas red and green clothes on, and head out to the stores to go Christmas shopping!  Not only do I find fantastic sales of 50 to 60 % off Christmas gifts for the following year, but I also find great deals on:

  • Christmas wrapping paper
  • Christmas cards
  • Ribbon
  • Bows
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Christmas gift tags
  • Christmas decorations
  • Christmas books (for children and adults)
  • Paper goods such as napkins, paper plates and cups

Stockpile Year Round Supplies

I will let you in on a little secret: I stockpile many of the above items in various red, green and gold colors and use them year round. While Christmas scenes are plentiful on wrapping paper and paper goods, I gravitate toward solid colors that I can use at different times of the year other than Christmas. Birthday presents can be wrapped in red, green or gold paper all year round and with a white bow added, they don’t look anything like a Christmas package. Solid red or green paper plates and napkins can be used year round when company comes, and no one has to know you bought them for half off on the day after Christmas. You can buy these in bulk and put some away for next Christmas, and keep the rest for year-round use.

Save Money on Wedding and Baby Gifts

There are also wonderful Santa Claus figurines, elves, candles and a variety of other Christmas objects that make great gifts for next year. And if you know of anyone getting married in 2018, a box filled with beautiful ornaments and Christmas decorations makes a wonderful wedding shower gift. I received such a box at my own wedding shower and it has always been one of my favorite presents. Most newly wedded couples don’t have a lot of Christmas decorations to decorate their new home so a box of decorations and some special Christmas tree ornaments make a very thoughtful gift.

That is also true of anyone you know who may be pregnant and expecting a baby next year. You can fund a plethora of Christmas ornaments that says”Baby’sFirst Christmas” on sale after Christmas and if you purchase one, you have one gift already bought for next year.

Heading Out Early to Save Money

Well, I am on my way to the stores bright and early. I will share all of the goodies I saved money on when I return.   If you can’t make it to the stores on December 26th, there are usually plenty of sales still going on over the next week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so just keep your eye out for markdown sales over this whole week. Not only can you save money on sales at department stores but don’t forget grocery stores and pharmacies also have great markdown sales after Christmas.

Do you save money by shopping ahead each year on December 26th? Please share the deals you got in the past, or that you get this year in the comment section below.

Happy saving and Happy Holidays!

Part 2

Today is December 26th and I must say I had an absolutely wonderful time shopping at the Christmas clearance sales. Everything was 50 to 66% off. I spent 7 hours and went to the following stores:

  • Dollar General
  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Five Below
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Kirkland’s 
  • Marshall’s

And I got some amazing deals, not only for next Christmas but for household and other holiday use as well. Here’s a list of what I got:

For Christmas:

  • 1 train set for my husband                                                          
  • 1 set of sprinkles for Christmas cookies
  • 1 flameless Christmas candle
  • 3 Christmas Mugs
  • 1 set of Scented angels for the tree
  • 2 Christmas oven mitts
  • 3 Christmas ornaments for friends
  • 2 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper
  • 1 gold Christmas bow for a wreath I have
  • 2 pre-lit 18 inch Christmas trees
  • 4 packs of mini Christmas ornaments
  • 4 packages of Christmas cello wrap
  • 1 package of pre-wrapped Christmas gifts
  • 2 packages of small gold ornaments
  • 2 packages of Christmas cookie cutter lights
  • 6 packages of Christmas napkins
  • 3 packages of Christmas paper plates
  • 9 Christmas plastic hostess plates
Items that were on Christmas clearance but can be used year round!

Items that were on Christmas clearance but can be used year round!

Year Round Items

  • 6 Bottles of Gingerbread Softsoap ( I don’t care what the scent is, I will use it year round)
  • 1 deer spoon rest
  • 2 Men’s gift sets I will use as birthday gifts
  • 1 extension cord
  • 5 rolls of wrapping paper in red, blue and silver
  • 1 ten pack package of boxes
  • 2 packs of bows
  • 1 small skillet with cookie mix
  • 1 mug with tea set
  • 1 mixing bowl with deer
  • 6 packages of tissue paper ( I will use this to ship my eBay packages)

Even people who don’t celebrate Christmas can take advantage of the after-Christmas clearance sales as you can see from the list above.

Today was so much fun. I wish I could do this once a week because I love saving money so much! But December 26th only comes once a year. I will be checking out the clearance sales in other stores as I go out and about this week. Did you get any good after Christmas deals this year?

 

 

 

 

10 Inexpensive Birthday/Christmas Gifts Your Mother Will Love

Gifts for Mom don't have to be expensive

It’s almost Christmas, and maybe you have all of your Christmas shopping left to do. Or maybe you have most of your gifts done, but still haven’t found one for that very special woman on your list: your mother?!

Well, today is your lucky day because I have created this list of great gifts any mother would love. And the best part is that these gifts are gifts from the heart and won’t cost you much money. This is a money saving blog after all!

Because some of these gifts are a gift of service, you won’t actually be buying anything to wrap. But if you want some ideas to add to these gifts that your mom can unwrap, I have a list at the bottom of this post.

Here’s your list of gifts your mother will love, not in any particular order:

1)Give Your Mother a Day Off:                                                                                                                                             If your mother has a job, you can’t actually go into her workplace and do her work for her. BUT, you can take over her home responsibilities for a day on her day off. Does she have younger children at home or grandchildren that she takes care of? That day you will be the one taking care of the little ones. Does she have errands she only has time to do on Saturdays like grocery shopping, going to the post office or volunteering to clean the church? On her day off, you get to do her errands for her. And that will give her a day to do something fun like maybe go to lunch with a friend.

2) Give Your Mother a Maid for a Day:                                                                                                                          This one comes at no cost to you because YOU are the maid. Tell your mother you are going to clean her house for the day. She will need to make a list of all the chores she would normally do on her cleaning day. And then you show up with cleaning supplies in hand and clean her house. This works best if she isn’t home, otherwise she may feel bad and want to start cleaning with you, but that ruins the gift.

3)Make your Mother Her Favorite Meal:                                                                                                                           Is your mom the person who does most of the cooking in her house? Whether you live at home or not, you can make her favorite meal either at your house or hers. If there are a lot of family members, you need to feed the whole crew, so your mom doesn’t have to cook that day. If she and your dad are empty nesters, you can make the meal for the two of them. And if she lives alone, you can suggest she invite a friend over to eat dinner with her, and you cook, serve and clean up. Make sure you create enough food so there will be leftovers for her to eat another day. That’s a bonus gift for your mother that will bring back sweet memories of something you did for her.

 

Even if you're not that great a cook, something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and bread will make a great meal for mom!

Even if you’re not that great a cook, something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and bread will make a great meal for mom!

 4) Create Something for Your Mom:                                                                                                                                 Are you a crafter? Do you make jewelry or sew, knit or quilt? Your mom would probably love to have something you made with your own two hands. In high school, my daughter knitted me a scarf to match the ski jacket I had. Six years later it is still one of my favorite gifts. Each time I wear it, it makes me feel loved because she made it for me.

5) Take Your Mother on a Day Trip:                                                                                                                                       Is there a place within two hours of where your mother lives that she has wanted to go to? Shopping at an outlet mall? A special exhibit at the local museum? A walk on the beach to look for special shells or sea glass? If so, you can make her dreams come true by whisking her away for a day trip. If the venue has an admission price, check out Groupon for discounts before you go.

6) Treat Your Mother to a Makeover:                                                                                                                                Does your mother live near a department store with a makeup counter? Take her there and ask for a makeover, but be prepared to purchase at least one of the products used because the salespeople at cosmetic counters work on commission and that would only be fair to purchase at least one item from them in exchange for the time they took with your mother. If you know someone who sells Mary Kay products, they may be willing to come over and give her a makeover. Again though you should plan to purchase at least one of the products used. Or maybe you are great at applying makeup and could give your mom a makeover yourself.

7) Give Your Mother a Massage:                                                                                                                                    Unless you are a trained massage therapist, it’s probably not a good idea to actually give your mother a massage yourself. But if she enjoys a massage check Groupon for discounted massage coupons. Or check for salons that offer back and shoulder massages for $1.00 per minute. Malls also have these services which are sometimes called, ‘Chair Massages” and the customer sits face down in a slanted chair and gets their backs, shoulders and sometimes their hands and arms included in the massage. This type of massage is often the choice of people who don’t like full body massages anyway. And you can get a nice massage for your mother for $10 to $15. If she is getting a massage at a mall, take her for a nice cup of tea when she’s done, and that experience will make a nice gift.

8) Create a Scrapbook for Your Mother:                                                                                                                       Most moms are sentimental and love remembering things that they shared with their children. Do you have access to pictures of when you/your siblings were growing up? Or pictures of she and your father? Or pictures of a special event that happened? Creating a scrapbook is fairly easy, and places like Michael’s, AC Moore and Joann’s have coupons in the weekly Sunday papers that you can use to purchase scrapbook supplies. And a book of memories is a perfect gift for mothers. Hobby Lobby has a weekly coupon you can download on your phone for 40% off any one item that’s not on sale. If you don’t have the time or money to create a whole scrapbook, do one page that is 8 inches by 10 inches, add some pictures and a few sentimental thoughts and put it in a wooden frame. She will love it, and appreciate the time you put into creating it.

A sentimental scrapbook is a perfect gift for mom!

A sentimental scrapbook is a perfect gift for mom!

 

9) Take Your Mother to a Concert:                                                                                                                                   Often there are free concerts for the public offered within a community. Check local publications for free concerts. Do you live near a college? College music departments often offer free concerts. Are there any churches near where your mother lives that offer free concerts? If you have the money to spend at a local venue, check out Groupon for discounted ticket prices.

10) Give your Mother a Coupon Book Filled with Things you Know She Would Love:                                                This could include one free walk for the dog, one free computer lesson, one night of doing the dishes, etc. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can make up a coupon book for a combination of the above other nine ideas! This gift for mom is also fun because it includes a series of events, not just a one-time thing.

In my family, it was always fun to have something to unwrap at Christmas, even if it was a gift card. We used boxes, so the recipient actually had a gift box to unwrap. If you want to do that for your mother’s gift, you can create a certificate on the computer stating what her gift is, and fold it to fit in a small gift bag or box. Dollar Tree has a package of 3 boxes for $1.00, so a folded piece of paper would fit nicely in one.

 

Dollar Tree stores sell packages of 3 small boxes for $1.00!

Dollar Tree stores sell packages of 3 small boxes for $1.00!

Or, you could also add something inexpensive to go with the certificate which would be larger to wrap like:

  • A key ring with a musical note on it would pair nicely with a gift of a concert.
  • A can of lemon-scented Pledge would be a cute gag gift to go with a day of housecleaning for her.
  • A small jar of shells with a ribbon around it to go with a certificate for a day at the beach together.
  • A small candle with a box of her favorite tea will pair nicely in a box with the gift of a massage.

Okay, I think you get the idea. Gifts like these that come from the heart not only are more creative than just a gift certificate or a pair of slippers, but they will provide a memorable experience that will stay with your mother for a long time and provide her with a gift she will love!

 

 

Black Friday Sales at Rite Aid and CVS Offer Free Items!!!

Black Friday Sales Fliers at CVS and Rite Aid Offer Free Stuff

As promised, here is the list of free items you can get at the Black Friday sales at CVS and Rite Aid. Walgreens used to always participate in this, but are not doing it the same way this year. While you can get half off deals on some items at Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS were the only ones offering free items.

If you aren’t familiar with these Black Friday sales, let me explain how they work. First, you need to either already have a store card for Rite Aid and CVS, or get one before you go shopping for Black Friday.

The CVS Extra Bucks Rewards Program

CVS has a program called Extra Bucks Rewards Program. When you buy certain items, that are advertised in their flyer with an Extra Bucks explanation near it, you will get some or all of the money you spend back in the form of a paper coupon. This coupon comes out of the register at the end of your order. The Extra Bucks coupons do have an expiration date of one month, and they have to be used by that time.

The Rite Aid Plenti Points Program

Rite Aid has a similar program but it is called the Plenti Points Program. You buy certain items that are advertised in the flyer as an item that will earn you Plenti Points, and the points go onto your store card. Each 100 points equals $1.00. You have a certain amount of time to use them as well, but I don’t know the exact length of time you have to use your points at Rite Aid.

These deals are amazing and if you play your cards right and get there before the stores run out of the items, you can do very well for Christmas gifts/stocking stuffers and get a lot bought in one day. They do not give rainchecks on these items. You do have to shell out the money in advance when you purchase the items, but once you do it, and use your Extra Bucks or Plenti Points in a future visit, it means you go all the stuff you purchased for free!

There are lots of sales going on at both CVS and Rite Aid that will save you money, and some of the sales go through the weekend but for this post, I am only going to focus on the free items you can get from these two stores. Take a look at the flyers if you can before you go and make your list so you don’t miss any deals that will save you money.

Both stores are open tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day. These sales both run through Saturday. Personally, I think employees should be home with their families on Thanksgiving so I don’t shop until Black Friday, but that choice is yours.

Here we go:

CVS Black Friday Deals: (The sale is from Thursday through Saturday)

Colgate Max or Total Toothpaste is $3.50 – scan your store card at the coupon machine inside the store and you will get a $3.00 off coupon, making the toothpaste 50 cents. BUT there is also a manufacturer’s coupon that recently came out, and an online coupon available so if you use one of those, the toothpaste is FREE!

Physician’s Formula Make Up is $9.00 ( certain ones only) but you get a $9.00 Extra Buck back so it makes the makeup FREE!

Altoids Smalls, Skittles, Necco Wafers, Starburst or any Wrigley’s Gum singles are 99 cents and you get 99 cents back which make the candy FREE!

GUM Brand Deep Clean or Sensitive Care toothbrushes are $2.50 for a 2-pack, but you get $2.50 back which makes it FREE! There is a limit of 1 on most items but you can do this twice and end up with 4 toothbrushes.

CVS Alkaline batteries, AA or AAA, a 4 pack is $4.39 but you get $4.39 back in Extra Bucks so it’s FREE!

CVS Health Soft Cleansing or Baby Wipes are 99 cents but you get a 99 cent Extra Buck so it’s FREE!

Beauty 360 or Blade 2 disposable razors, a 3 ct. package is $1.99 but you get $1.99 back in Extra Bucks making them FREE!

Select Organic Doctor Skin Care is $8.00 but you get $8.00 in Extra Bucks, making them FREE!

CVS Health Pantiliners are 99 cents but you get a 99 cent Extra Buck back, making them FREE!

Green Giant Vegetables are 99 cents but you get a 99 cent Extra Buck making them FREE!

Glade Solid Air Freshener costs 99 cents but you get a 99 cent Extra Buck, making it FREE!

Some of the other deals at CVS include cereal for 99 cents after the Extra Buck, Lady Speed Stick deodorant for 49 cents, Hershey’s bars for 77 cents, with a 77 cent Extra Buck back, and Wet & Wild makeup sets for 99 cents.

Rite Aid Black Friday Deals (This sale is also Thursday through Saturday)

Kleenex costs  $1.00 but you get $1.00 in Plenti Points making it FREE!

Rite Aid Brand Tape is 2 for $2.00 but you get $2.00 in Plenti Points back making the 2 rolls of tape FREE!

Magnavox Digital Ear Buds are $6.00 but you get $6.00 back in Plenti Points, making them FREE!

Nestle Candy Bars (they only have Butterfinger and Nestle Crunch listed but there may be more) 2 for $1.00 and you get $1.00 Plenti Points back when you buy 2, making them FREE!

Scungi Hair Elastics or ColorVibes brushes are $3.00 and you get $3.00 back in Plenti Points making them FREE! ( You have to pick 1 of those)

Colgate Toothpaste, only certain kinds, are 2 for $8.00 and when you buy 2, you get $8.00 back in Plenti Points, making the 2 toothpastes FREE!

Zim’s Max-Freeze Pain Relievers or Foot Cream is $5.00 and you get $5.00 back in Plenti Points, making it FREE!

I would suggest you get the paper tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day so you can get the Black Friday fliers and see for yourself what is on sale, and make a list before you go to the stores. If you don’t want to do that, get a flyer at the store and take a minute to circle what you want, or write a list so you can stay organized. Sometimes the stores will have the sale items near each other so ask if you can’t find something.

I LOVE these Black Friday sales at Rite Aid and CVS and it is the highlight of my Black Friday every year! I will post pictures of what I got after I go shopping on Friday.

Good luck if you go, and please come back and share your experience in the comment section below.

If you aren’t a subscriber to my blog yet, put your email address in the space at the top right, then confirm your wish to subscribe in the subsequent email so you don’t miss out on saving money.

And stay tuned, the monthly contest is coming soon!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I hope your holiday is blessed with family, food, and fun!

UPDATE:

All of this was free at Rite Aid in the Black Friday sale!

All of this was free at Rite Aid in the Black Friday sale!

 

All of this was free on Friday at the CVS Black Friday sale!

All of this was free on Friday at the CVS Black Friday sale!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 2017, 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!

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?

 

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.