September 27, 2013

End of week totals...

This week we received $12.00 in free bucks from CVS. We've almost completed our Christmas shopping and still have plenty of time to find more bargains and deals. 

Swagbucks 5,165 points ($50 Gift Card)

Shopkicks 17,488 points ($65 Gift Card)

Plink 21,640 points ($215 Gift Card)

Inbox $34.34 (Via Paypal)

Panda $45.30 (Via Check)

Coke Rewards 889 points

Health Savings Account $124

Locket $11.92 (Via Paypal)

Mid week shopping trip...

This week's ECB's afforded us 6 free bottles of body wash at CVS. 

We paid .06 OOP
Total retail $17.54

Not a bad haul this week. 

September 26, 2013

Ebates a plenty...

A few years ago I heard about a website called Ebates as I was making an online purchase from Old Navy. I didn’t know that it would turn out to be a great source of money savings. Generally I do most of my online shopping in the months leading up to Christmas and I have saved so much.

Ebates is a program that offers cash back for your online purchases. You can earn anywhere from 1%-35% cash back off popular retailers. You even have a choice of how to receive your cash back via check or paypal every quarter. My favorite perk is that I can still use other coupons codes for even more savings (i.e. free shipping etc.).

Each day they also have double cash back savings for a variety of retailers. I’ve signed up for their daily emails and I made a list of my favorite stores so that I don’t have to dig around for them in a time crunch.

Since it’s just the start of my online shopping season, I’ve only earned $1.84 cash back, but by the end of December, I will see a decent sum to spend on myself.

September 25, 2013

I heart Shop your way rewards...

A week ago I shared our story about utilizing Kmart’s layaway service, and I’ve discussed how we receive free Kmart bucks via their Shop your way rewards program. In the past two months, we have unexpectedly earned $51 dollars to spend on anything in store.

We decided to purchase necessities such as toiletries and cleaning supplies, but on one occasion, we splurged on a new pair of tennis shoes for my husband that we matched with an in store $5 off coupon.

I normally did not shop at Kmart because of the distance, but located one close to my job. Each week if we receive more free Kmart bucks, my husband and I meet for dinner then head off to Kmart to grab our freebies. I signed up for Shop your way rewards 2 years ago and have seen great rewards as a result. I recently downloaded their app which also allows me to add instant & exclusive coupons that can also be used for layaway.

I also enjoy using my rewards card at Sears to earn points and to get a freebie or two. All told, the benefits of shopping at Kmart have become much more enticing then shopping at my local Walmart.

Which rewards programs are your favorites?

September 23, 2013

CVS Weekly Shopping Trip 9/22/13

Off to CVS for great deals this week. 

Total OOP $1.98
Total Retail $23.77

The majority of our purchase was paid for with ECB's from weekly emails for customer loyalty. We paid .66 cents per bottle of Dawn Dish Liquid.

Just today we received another $12 in ECB's, I haven't quite decided how to spend those bucks yet. Stay tuned!

Christmas on a budget...

Each year my husband and I set a goal for Christmas spending. This year we set it at $215.00 which includes 12 people as gift recipients.
At first I thought this would be an unattainable goal, but while armed with my coupons, a nose for clearance sales and fighting for what is right, we are right on task.

After a trip to Kmart, we opened a layaway filled with Clearance items that we plan on giving as gifts. We spent $107.00 of our budget and need to purchase only 4 more gifts and we’ll be done. We plan on coming in significantly under budget.

We decided that many of the gifts we plan on giving will be home crafted. However, for those that we are spending money on, we’ve used a number of methods to keep our spending under control. Below are just a few money saving tips that we’ve used that may also help you keep your budget in check for the holidays.

  • Use Amazon price check app
  • Use Ebates for all online purchases for cash back rebates
  • Use for coupon codes for free shipping etc
  • Use Coupon Sherpa app for in store and online coupons
  • Use Swagbucks to earn virtual bucks & cash them out for gift cards.
  • Use Shopkicks to earn points & cash them out for gift cards.
  • Use mobile coupons & combine with paper coupons for extra savings.
  • Use Plink to earn points & cash them out for gift cards.
  • Shop Clearance racks
  • Take advantage of layaway programs (Kmart & Walmart)
  • Shop at your local pawn shop
  • Ask for a discount (Use your negotiating skills)
  • Use loyalty rewards cards (Never leave home without them)
  • Sign up for emails from your favorite stores for money          saving coupons
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away from a “deal”.
  • Use price comparison tools like “Invisible Hand” on your PC
  • Use Ad Match guarantee @ Walmart, Toys R’ Us & other popular retailers.
  • Shop yard sales & consignment shops for unique gifts
  • Visit a craft fair for home made gift ideas
  • Give a baked gift
  • Give the gift of time (donate your Friday night to babysit for a friend)

If you have a tip you'd like to share, feel free to comment.

September 20, 2013

End of week totals...

This past month we have received so many free bucks from CVS & Kmart. We've used those funds to increase our stockpile but also to help with our Christmas Shopping. We have also racked up quite well on our points. 

Swagbucks 5,107 points ($50 Gift Card)

Shopkicks 17,184 points ($65 Gift Card)

Plink 20,490 points ($200 Gift Card)

Inbox $33.79 (Via Paypal)

Panda $44.41 (Via Check)

Coke Rewards 879 points

Amazon Credit $0 (Spent on gift for Dad)

Health Savings Account $139

These points do not include my husbands points that he has worked hard on earning. 

September 19, 2013

Fun Fall ideas...

This year in my local area there are many community events that I’d like to participate in. High on my list is a hay ride and visiting a pumpkin patch. Most metropolitan and small towns have wonderful fall events that are free or nominally priced. Check out your local community calendar for fun ideas for the family. Below are just a few to help get you started.

·        Corn field maze
·        Church fall harvest festivals
·        Pumpkin Patch
·        Hay Rides
·        Scary movie fests
·        Christmas light display tours
·        Craft fairs
·        Mini Carnivals
·        Botanical garden tour

The point is to get out and get active with a fun event with family and friends.

September 17, 2013

A great way to shop...

As far as I can remember, Layaway has always been a wonderful resource for my family when I was growing up. That of course translated into adulthood as it has been a lifesaver. Now with the holidays ramping up, and the restart of Walmarts Layaway program from 9/13 through 12/13/2013, it got me to wondering if there were many folks still using this great method of purchasing.

With Kmart, not only do I get to put the items I want on layaway for $5 with the flexibility of paying over three months, I also earn points when I use my Shop your way rewards card each time I make a payment, and I earn Plink points. I absolutely can not find a reason to live without such a great program.

Growing up in Chicago in the 80’s, my parents relied heavily on layaway from different stores for myself and sister’s school clothes. It was great to know that the kids in my class also boasted about their wardrobe with the help of layaway. As I reached high school, there was a stigma attached to it and I often found myself among the ranks of the unpopular. Now wiser and carefree about what it takes to survive, I find that there is no shame is using such a practical and useful service.

September 16, 2013

Customer Service Update...

So after a week of arguing for what is right, I was able to purchase the sweatpants I intended to buy last weekend as Christmas gifts for my sisters in law for $4.99 each. It took a lot of effort, patience and common sense to get them to understand that the photograph does not lie and the customer was right. I wish they would have simply honored their price from day one, but perhaps they needed to be reminded that customers can find other retailers to spend their money with. 

Weekly Shopping Trip 9/16/13

Another great week of deals. All told, we spent $45.46 out of pocket and saved $234.19

We happened across a mega clearance sale at Kmart and scored some shoes for $4.98 and shorts for $10.98.

At CVS we picked up some dish liquid, soda, snickers and deodorant for a total of $9.54.

And finally we stepped over to Aeropostale and got (4) sweat pants for $4.99 each.

Not a bad weekend for deals!

September 11, 2013

Home made Christmas gifts...

With the holiday season quickly approaching, there are many ways to waste money on overpriced gifts. It got me to thinking that I’d really enjoy making some home made gifts for some of my co-workers.

I work in a very male dominated industry and the men I work with are very rough around the edges. In fact, I’m surprised that half of them are married. But for some reason, they have a soft spot for me and when they are spewing obscenities they clam up as I walk by.

The creative juices started to flow and I decided that I will make “food gifts”. More specifically, I would make biscotti jars. Essentially, they are just mason jars filled with different biscotti cookie flavors with a pack of hot chocolate to adorn the outside with raffia, a tag with their name and gold, green or red ribbon to make it festive.

I’ve found that the ingredients are not at all expensive and the jars are very reasonably priced when purchased from Joann’s with a 40% off coupon. I have yet to come up with an idea for the ladies, but at least this is a start.

Are you planning on giving home made gifts?

September 09, 2013

Weekly Shopping Trip 9/9/13

This weeks shopping trip led us to CVS, Sallys Beauty Supply and Walmart.

I had a $5.00 gift card from Sallys and was able to get some Fru Fru hair accessories for free.
On to Walmart where I had (4) coupons for .75 cents off of Suave deodorant, which made each one .87 cents each.

Then off to CVS where we got (4) Mitchum Deodorants for $1.00 each
(4) V05 Shampoo/Conditioners at .52 cents each
(4) Progresso Soupons at .75 each.

All in all, it was a great week to stock up on deodorant, I will be heading back today for more as well as shampoo/conditioner. 

Total Retail Value $42.13
Total OOP $9.88

Bad customer service experience...

This past weekend, my husband and I spent time with his little sisters, we had the whole day planned for fun and a bit of shopping. We were going to ‘walk the mall’ and window shop for Christmas gift ideas (unbeknownst to them) and if we found something inexpensive we planned to treat them to a blouse or an outfit each.

We stopped by one of their favorite stores and were excited when we found sweat pants with the stores logo down the left pant leg. They were priced very reasonably at $4.99. As we approached the check out counter, the manager on duty advised that the price was $15.99 for one pair and $7.99 for the other pair. I expressed my confusion and I informed her that the price is marked at $4.99 each for the entire rack of sweat pants.

I walked over to show her and she stated that it was incorrect and that the price tag would reflect a sale price if there was any. I expressed my concerns that if there is a product with multiple colors all on one rack with the sale price clearly marked above it that means that the price is as indicated. No where did it say “as marked” as she explained.

I was frustrated to say the least. My husband inquired for a customer service or corporate phone number to which she obliged and provided. I then immediately walked back over to the rack and took a photograph of the product with the pricing clearly reflected. The moment I took the photo, the price card was then removed. I called customer service (answering machine) and left a message.

I then called another store and requested the name and phone number of the district manager. The associate advised me of his name and further advised that she could not provide the phone number but that she would take my information and relay it to him for a return call.

I was disappointed by the manager’s unwillingness to honor the set price, what ever happened to customer service? What ever happened to the “customer is always right”? I did not ask for anything more than what was advertised in store.

How have you handle poor customer service?

September 06, 2013

End of week totals...

We've been working hard on growing out Plink and Shopkick points, especially before the holiday season kicks in gear. Here's what we've managed so far. 

Swagbucks 4,974 points ($45 Gift Card)

Shopkicks 16,013 points ($60 Gift Card)

Plink 18, 035 points ($180 Gift Card)

Inbox $33.02 (Via Paypal)

Panda $42.25 (Via Check)

Coke Rewards 803 points

Amazon Credit $34

Health Savings Account $129

September 04, 2013

It's paid in full!

We have persevered once more and have paid off our credit card as of today. 
We sent out the last payment of $84 and we can now breathe a sigh of relief to be credit card debt free. What a wonderful feeling! I thank our Lord for giving us the discipline to achieve this goal.

Have you had a great achievement that you'd like to share? 

September 03, 2013

This weeks shopping trip...

This weeks shopping trip took us to CVS and Dollar General for great deals.

The total retail value was $74.71
Our total Out of Pocket was $20.79

We both met our $50 Beauty Club Card threshold and got $10 in EBC's which we paired with a few other CVS Kiosk coupons. 

Needless to say, it was a great week for specials.