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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Free books? You bet!

So, I read, a lot. And most of the time I only read any given book once. But I can't really afford to buy a ton of books. And there's not a library close by that I can access for free. So what's a girl to do, right? Well, I've found a few solutions...

  1. BookMooch is a free site where you can swap books you already own for books you'd like to read. List a few titles there and then wait for someone to request them. You'll get one point for each you send out and .1 for each you list. You can then spend a point to request a book from someone else. With members all over the globe, you can pretty well bet there will be something you're interested in reading.
  2. BookCrossing is like a huge global scavenger hunt for books! Each book is labeled with a tracking number. People then "release books into the wild" for others to find. You go to the site, type in the number and let the prior owners know you have their book. Read the book. Leave a review. Send it on its way again. You can also go on their forums and swap books with other members. I've received books from as far away as Melbourne, Australia. I've sent books all over the world too. I even had one that travelled all over the place and then came back to me!
  3. Free Kindle e-books are great for those who prefer their books in digital format. You don't even have to have a Kindle to read them. You can download free Kindle readers for your PC or Mac, and free apps for all the most popular mobile devices too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to YOU!

We all like getting gifts on our birthday, right? Typically these gifts come from family and friends. If it's a particularly large milestone, coworkers may even get involved. But what if you could also get gifts (in the form of free food) from some of your favorite restaurants? Lots of restaurants will send out free birthday meals, just for signing up for their email newsletter. But how many meals can you really eat in a day, right? Actually, while a few of the coupons may be only for the day of your birthday, many others are good for the entire month!

Since I'm on so many of these email lists, I rarely pay for a meal out in the month of my birthday. Just a few that I've enjoyed in the past are: Genghis Grill (free birthday bowl), Red Robin (free burger plus gourmet cupcake [they've changed their program since my last birthday though, may be different now]), and Baskin Robbins (free ice cream). Retail stores (like Old Navy) and entertainment venues (like Medieval Times) sometimes get in on the birthday giving too. So where can you go to find out about more of these offers? The most comprehensive list I've found is available here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Update Your Rewards Cards!

A few months ago I checked on my Kroger rewards card and found that our mailing address had not been updated the last two times we moved. I had no idea what I was missing out on! So, of course, I went ahead and updated it. Look what came in the mail this week:

So consider this a public service announcement:
Update your rewards cards!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cheap, FRESH Produce

I don't know about you, but I like my produce to be as fresh as possible. Yes, sometimes I'll buy frozen and for a couple of items, I'll even go with canned, but my preference is always fresh.

So, when I heard about Bountiful Baskets I had to give it a try!

Bountiful Baskets is a food Co-op. I know what you're thinking. "That sounds complicated. What does it mean exactly?"

The basics are that it's an entirely volunteer-run way for a bunch of people to pool their resources and buy at great discounts.

And with this particular co-op, there's no commitment involved. No monthly fee. No number of times a year you must participate to remain active. There's a small first-timer's fee ($3) and that's about it for "dues."

So what does this cost?

Well, that depends on what basket you're ordering. The regular basket costs $15. The organic basket costs $25. Then, there's a $1.50 fee per transaction. Then there are other items that are sometimes available (breads, specific types of produce, etc.) which are priced separately.

And what do I get for that price?

Two HUGE baskets of produce. Last time we went, my hubby loaded our baskets into boxes to take home (you don't get to take the baskets themselves, they're reused each week). The boxes he used were 12" x 18" x 8". He needed three of them to fit it all in. Your selections will always be 50% fruit, 50% veggies. You never really know exactly what will be in there, but it's always a good variety and for that price, I'm fine with giving away a few items that we won't use. And they try to buy as much of the produce as possible from local farmers, which is a huge plus in my book.

So how does it work?

For most sites, orders are placed between noon Monday and 10pm Tuesday. Then, Saturday morning, bright and early, you go pick up your baskets. Couldn't be easier!

Where do I sign up?

www.bountifulbaskets.org

Enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2011

SwagBucks

So, in addition to saving money, I'm a big fan of earning it. Especially when I can do so by just doing the things I normally do. One of my favorite ways to earn is swagbucks.

Search & WinSwagbucks is a site that pays you to search the internet. You use it just like you would google or any other search engine out there. I have the toolbar installed on my browser so I donSometimes when you search you'll earn points randomly, which you can then trade in to get all kinds of things in their "swagstore." Generally, I use it to get Amazon gift cards, because Amazon has pretty much everything. 450 swagbucks will get you a $5 gift card. So far, I've earned 10,824 swagbucks over the time I've had an account. That's 24 gift cards, or $120 in Amazon credit.

So no, this is not a way to earn a living or anything like it. But it is a way to get books, software, or just about anything else for free, and I'm all about that!

As a bonus, Friday is "Mega Swagbucks Day" so if you get started today, you're likely to get a pretty good boost to your account on your first day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What to Make for Dinner

Once you've been couponing a while, you'll find that you've managed to stock up on a lot of staples. When it's time to make dinner, and you don't have all of the ingredients in the house for any of your favorite recipes, or maybe you just want to try something new and different, you don't want to just run out to the store and buy more stuff.

Enter Super Cook!

On this handy website, you can enter the items you have in your pantry/freezer/fridge and it will give you great new recipes from all over the web using those ingredients. The ones at the top of the list are things you have all the ingredients for, followed by recipes for which you need just one or two additions to make.

If you have food allergies, or simply items you don't like and won't eat, enter them under "exclusions" and you won't see them showing up in any of the selected recipes.

Then, if there are certain ingredients you want to use today ("gotta use up those eggs before they spoil" or "I feel like having beef tonight"), click on the item (or items) in "your kitchen" list, and those recipes will be sorted to the top.

And next time you come back, if you've created a login, your ingredients will be already listed and ready for you!

I've found several new dinner ideas which have become staples in our house through this site. One of my faves is a chicken dish from Hungary called Csirke Paprikas. I've also found a great slow-cooker recipe for brisket that takes no time at all to prepare, but tastes incredible when it's done.

So, while Super Cook may not directly save me any money, not having to run out to the store when it's time to eat (and I'm hungry) certainly does. It's also great for when I see items on my coupon list that I like, but don't know how to prepare.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Register Rewards? Extra Care Bucks? Etc.

Different stores call them different things, but for simplicity's sake, I call them all register rewards. But what are they and how do they work?

Register rewards are a bit like cash back, but the cash can only be spent in that store. They're usually good for a few weeks after you receive them, so you can either go back in and spend them that very day or hang on to them and use them the following week.

Here's one from Walgreens:



But isn't that just another coupon? No, it's not. If you look closely, you'll see that I don't have to spend that dollar on anything specific. It's good toward my next "In Store Purchase" of anything at all. And frequently I get these for quite a bit more than the $1 you see here. You may remember that $10 "coupon" from the receipt I posted a couple of weeks ago? That was a register reward from CVS.

If you browse through your circulars each week, I'm sure you've seen ads that say things like this:


Not great savings there on the coffee, but the cereal/snacks deal is not bad, right? Here's the best part. Because the reward is not taken off your bill, you can stack it with coupons. So, If I'm buying 4 Kelloggs cereals for $10, I can then use 4 Kelloggs coupons on them. And if there happen to be store coupons out there (it does happen from time to time), I can stack those in as well. Even if I manage to get the total down to less than $5, they'll still give me $5 back on this purchase. I have done this with rewards a number of times. It's like they're paying you to take the item out of the store! Here's an example from this week's lists: (This is from couponmom.com. It may look different if you're using a different list site)


What this is saying is that right now, I can go into Walgreens and spend $7 (plus a $1 off coupon) and walk out with contact solution and an $8 voucher for my next purchase! See, they're paying me $1 to take that home.

This is one of those things you can have some real fun with. I could then turn right around and take that $8 reward and use it to buy $10 worth of cereal (as in the ad above) and get $5 back. If I have $2 worth of coupons (not hard to do, cereal coupons are usually plentiful—check CouponTom), I won't even need to spend any cash.

Then, I can use the $5 toward the coffee...  etc. etc.
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