Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spin The Deal 2008 - A Look Back

As 2008 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the deals found in the past year.

Here’s a list of just a few of the things I got free or very inexpensively in 2008:

  • Baby Items: Walgreens Diapers (a year’s supply), Johnson’s Buddy Soaps
  • Clothing: Kids outfits (JCPenney $10 off $10 coupons), Men’s Dockers clothes (75% off + free $150 gas card), Victoria’s Secret sweaters
  • Toiletries: Several Shampoos, Several Conditioners, Several Deodorants, Nivea Body Wash, John Freida Hairspray, Crest Toothpaste, Reach Toothbrushes, Dental Floss, Crest Pro-Health Mouthwash, LypSyl Lip Moisturizer, Revlon Nail Polish, Loreal Revitalift, Loreal Cleanser, St. Ives Cleansers, more free make-up than I could list here…
  • Household: Walgreens Laundry Soap, Walgreens Fabric Softener, Northern Toilet Paper, several Glade products, Parents Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Insulated Cooler, Duracell Batteries
  • Medicine: Tylenol, Excedrin, Robitussin, Benefiber, Nasal Spray, various cold medicines
  • Groceries: Omaha Steaks, Milk, Granola Bars, Tortilla Chips, Pepsi, Gatorade….and on and on…

In the end, I would estimate that I saved well over $1,000+ this year. I’m hoping to surpass this by far next year. To keep tabs on my savings, I’ve added a 2009 Savings Tracker to my blog homepage.

Advice For 2009:
The key to being a successful Deal Spinner is to only buy what you can use or give away within a reasonable period of time. It’s easy to get caught up in deal hunting, especially when new deals come out every week and when you have CVS ExtraBucks or Walgreens Register Rewards burning a hole in your pocket.

Before you race out to get in on a deal, remember to take a moment to think about whether it truly is a deal – Is it something your family will use within the next year? Is it something your friends or neighbors would use? Is it something you could donate to those in need? – If you can’t answer yes to any of these 3 questions, then it’s not worth the gas or time, and it’s not a deal.

Best of luck in 2009, Deal Spinners!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saving Money On Lunch

(I've been taking a bit of a blogging hiatus over the past few weeks. With all the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, it's been hard to squeeze in time for blogging. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, and please stay tuned...the Deal Diva will be back in 2009 with more great advice on how to spin deals and save money!)

Saving Money On Lunch

Everyone knows that the best way to save money on lunch is by packing a lunch from home. Sandwiches are the old stand-by, but you can only eat sandwiches so many weeks in a row before you need a change of pace (unless you're Daddy Diva, who really could eat sandwiches every single day without complaint).

Here are a few ways we change up our homemade lunches to add variety:

  1. Same Sandwich, Different Bread: Instead of an ordinary turkey on wheat bread sandwich, we substitute bagels for bread and savory flavored cream cheese in place of mayo - an instant bagel sandwich - filling and delicious.
  2. Wrap It Up: Using lunch meat, bacon, or leftover roast, we load up a tortilla, add some cheese, lettuce, and salad dressing - a tasty lunch wrap - served hot or cold.
  3. Meatloaf Sandwich: This is a family favorite. Use your favorite meatloaf recipe, but bake it in a round or square cake pan rather than a loaf pan. We use a round pan - cut the middle section into a large square, than divide the square into smaller 2" by 2" squares to fit on a hamburger bun - then eat the 4 outer semi-circles for dinner that night, and package the squares with buns, a slice of cheese, and a packet of ketchup to take to work for the week.

Diva-licious Lunchloaf

1 lb ground beef

1/2 package Stove Top stuffing

1 cup shredded cheese - cheddar or whatever's on hand

1 egg

Squirt of ketchup (or BBQ sauce)

Splash of milk (until moist)

Optional: hot sauce, garlic, onions, chili powder - we change it up every time

How do you save money on lunch? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail to share your favorite tips!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Walgreens 4 Day Sale - Week 2

It's back again this week. Walgreens is running another 4-day sale through Saturday. If you read my last post, I mentioned that I would receive credit on my W card for the Wal-itin purchase. I have since then entered the receipt online, and an extra $1.40 was added to my W card. Hooray!

This week, the $5 Register Reward is available again with any $25 purchase. I had to use up my two $5 Register Rewards from last week, so I stopped in today to pick up a few sale items.

My Purchase: I bought two Maybelline lipsticks for "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" at $9.49 and two Walgreens brand multivitamins for "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" at $4.99. My total was just over $15 with tax, and using my $10 in rewards brought the total down to $5. The best part...as I was ready to walk away from the counter, the catalina machine printed a $5 Register Reward for my next purchase...what an unexpected surprise! So, even though I didn't use any coupons to lower my total (I didn't get the Maybelline coupon that some did this past Sunday), before the "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" sale deduction, my total was originally over $25, and I ended up with a $5 Register Reward. Figuring in this Reward, I netted nothing out of pocket. If I woudn't have had the $10 in existing Register Rewards, my net cost would have been $10 for two lipsticks and two multivitamins. Either way you look at it, not a bad deal.

One final spin to the deal: I will enter my receipt online in a few days to gain a 10% credit for the Walgreens brand vitamin purchase, which will be an extra $1 or $0.50 savings, depending on how the bonus on the free bottle is calculated.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Walgreens 4 Day Sale

Walgreens has a wonderful 4 day mid-week sale running through this Saturday. Here are three great deals to get in on:
  • Earn a $5 Register Reward when you spend $25 at Walgreens. (Hint: You only need to have a before coupon total of $25 to qualify for this.)
  • Earn a $5 Register Reward when you purchase $15 of Coca Cola products.
  • Wal-itin 24 Hour Allergy Medicine 10 pack - $0.99 with Walgreens coupon found in 4-day sale flyer or online at www.walgreens.com. (Hint: Regular price is $6.99, and the regular price is counted towards the $25 purchase for the $5 Register Reward above.)

My purchase: I bought 5 Coke 12-packs and two Wal-itins for just over $19. I received 2 $5 Register Rewards for a net out of pocket of $9. In addition, I will receive 10% back on the Wal-itin purchase credited to my W card. If it credits based on the regular price, I will get a credit for $1.40 to my W card, bringing my end out of pocket down to $7.60. Not a bad deal spin!

(If you've never heard of the W card, read my post "The Lowdown on the W Card.")

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vino on the Cheap

(Note: This post is from the Spin The Deals 2008 archives.)

There’s one thing that sets my normally economical mind into a tailspin, and that’s wine. I love wine. Red wines…white wines…Australian wines…domestic wines. I love them all. In fact, in our less thrifty days, Daddy Diva and I enjoyed several trips to California where we swirled, sniffed, and sipped our way from one end of the Sonoma Valley to the other. We bought several cases of wine along the way, some to drink, some to save, some to gift…and so began our wine collection. The only problem? We needed a special occasion to justify uncorking a bottle.

So how does one enjoy wine on a regular basis without spending a lot of money?

WiseBread contributor, Julie Rains, writes about the 10 things she won’t give up to save money. Included on her list are chocolate and wine.

Here are some ways to have your wine (and drink it too!) while on a budget:

1) Three Buck Chuck – If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, race right over and pick up a case of Charles Shaw wine (a.k.a. “Three Buck Chuck”). This wine is surprisingly good (I prefer the Cabernet), goes great with a typical weeknight meal, and at $2.99 a bottle, you can enjoy a glass every night if you wish.

2) Volume Discounts – Most stores offer a volume discount if you buy wine by the case. You may not see this posted in the store, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask. In Minnesota, Cub Foods offers a 10% discount.

3) Join a Wine Club – We are members of Bacchus, a Minnesota wine club that entitles us to 10% off regular-priced bottles of wine and 5% off sale-priced bottles of wine. In addition, we receive invitations to free or discount wine tasting events in our area.

4) Winery Membership – If you are fortunate enough to live near wine country, consider a winery membership to one or more of your favorite wineries. Winery members are entitled to discount wines, special reserve tastings, and limited edition wines.

5) Annual Sales – Some wine shops hold annual sales, such as “Buy 1 Get 1 for a Nickel” or “Half-Priced Bottles.” Find out when the sale is held each year and wait until then to stock up on everyday wines at a great discount.

6) Wine Tags/Rebates – Finally, to really “Spin the Deal” and get the most bang for your buck, look for wine tags or rebate forms when shopping for wine. Wine tags are the little hanging tags on a bottle of wine that can save you additional money off your purchase. Some are in the form of instant coupons and some are mail-in rebates.

To combine several deals, I look for rebate offers on the wines I buy during the annual “Half-Priced” sale. A $12 bottle of wine would be on sale for $6 and if you purchase a case there may be a rebate for $2 off per bottle, making the end cost $4 for a $12 regular-priced bottle.

Your Turn: What's your guilty pleasure that you wouldn't give up to save money?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

K-Mart Double Coupons Week

This week K-Mart is doubling coupons up to a face value of $2.00. There is a limit of 75 coupons per transaction. Good luck scouting out the great deals!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday All Year Long

As a person who's always striving to find the latest, greatest deal to spin, you would expect that I would be the type to get up at 4am to be the first in line at the store for Black Friday. After scoring my deals, I would then rush to the next store to score some more, then on to the next and the next until finally I make it back home, car bulging with bags and bags of great deals. NOT SO.

Every year on Thanksgiving Day, I glance through the ads and consider whether it's worthwhile to venture out in hopes of scoring good deals. To be clear, there certainly are some great deals to be had. The CVS ad alone almost convinced me to head out. But as a true bargain hunter, with a little practice and some know-how on how to spot great deals, you can get these type of bargains year-round, and skip the rush of crazed shoppers lining up at the crack of dawn.

This year, more than ever, I've focused on saving money, as Dave Ramsey would put it "with gazelle intensity." Starting this blog has made me think more critically about the money that leaves our house every day. With the current state of our economy, I wonder what Black Friday truly would be like if more Americans learned how to conserve their money the way us bargain hunters do. It truly is up to all of us to help eachother learn how to save money, live within our means, get out of debt, and help those in need.

Here are some great posts on this topic from fellow money-saving bloggers:

Christina at Northern Cheapskate has a great post called Gifts That Help Others Save Money. Check it out. She has some good gift ideas to help others this year.

Mercedes at Common Sense With Money, talks about looking for freebies and deals to donate to those in need this year, in her post Giving Thanks By Giving Back.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mail Call - Freebies Received

Today was a great mail day. I received two different freebies in the mail. First, I got a really nice insulated reusable tote bag that I signed up for on a local health clinic website. This will be great to have in the car for keeping groceries cool. To save a trip after work, I often run to the grocery store over the lunch hour and store the groceries in my car until I get home. Usually this means that I have to rememeber to grab a cooler to keep frozen items cool, but this new bag should work just fine.

I also received my first issue of Forbes magazine. I got this as a free subscription offer online a while back. This is a great, interesting magazine, and I look forward to reading my free issues.

What freebies have you found online over the past few months that you have received in the mail? Post a comment and share your successes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 6: Store It Up – Meal Preps

Today is the last segment of our Frozen Assets series. If you have missed any of the previous segments, here is a quick recap:

Part 1 – Using Up Fruit

Now, let’s look at ways to save time in the kitchen by preparing ingredients in advance and storing them in the freezer.

Ground Beef – The Diva family eats a lot of ground beef. This year, we purchased ½ of a cow from a local farm, which included 60+ pounds of ground beef. Whenever we brown ground beef for a recipe, rather than just browning one pound, we brown two or three pounds. Then we use the beef we need for the recipe, and the rest goes back into the freezer. With precooked ground beef on hand, we can quickly reheat it and have tacos on the table in less than 5 minutes.

Beans – Thanks to my favorite crockpot blog, I recently learned how to cook dry beans in the crockpot. When they are cooked and cooled, I package them in sandwich-sized bags in one-cup servings, and then I put them into a large freezer bag. When I’m heating up tacos, I can grab a cup of precooked beans from the freezer, and toss it in. Beans are a great way to add fiber to a meal and to stretch a pound of ground beef.

Chicken – I buy the 3 pound packages of frozen boneless, skinless chicken. Rather than cooking one chicken breast here for one recipe and another there for another recipe, I cook the whole package at once in my crockpot. I use what I need for the recipe I am preparing that night, and then I shred and package the rest into meal-sized servings and store it in the freezer. Having shredded cooked chicken on hand, we can quickly reheat it and toss it into stir fry, wraps, or salads for a meal in minutes.

I hope this series has inspired you to think about ways you can use your freezer to extend the life of your food, save money, and stretch your grocery budget. With a little planning and creativity, there are many ways to make mealtime easier, less stressful, and more nutritious by having meals on-hand rather than eating out.

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment and tell us what your favorite way is to use your freezer. What do you freeze, and how has it helped you to save money?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 5: Store It Up – Meals

We’re in the home stretch of our Frozen Assets series. I hope you are enjoying this series, and have learned some tips to put to work for your family. If you have, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Today, we tackle freezer meals. As you know, the make-ahead meal business has taken off in the past few years. These days, families simply don’t have the time to cook from scratch every night, and the Diva family is no exception. While purchasing freezer meals from make-ahead meal businesses does save money over eating out, an even thriftier and personalized approach is to make the meals yourself.

For the Diva family, we do this two ways. The first way is by doubling recipes and freezing one for later. If you’re going to measure, chop, and assemble one dish, then why not two? The second way is by batch cooking on the weekend. I will buy everything needed for several family-favorite recipes with common ingredients (for instance, ground beef, rice, beans). Then I will brown the beef all at once, and use it to make several frozen dishes for later – enchiladas, taco bake, rice & bean stir-fry, etc.

Here are three tried-and-true recipes that freeze well. Each recipe uses sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and either ground beef or chicken. Buy the large containers of soup and sour cream to save money. Take the meal out of the freezer the night before and thaw in the refrigerator before baking.

Diva Family Creamy Enchilada Bake
(I make this for friends as a quick meal to have on hand after having a baby.)
1 lb ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 onion
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Tortillas (Deal Diva Tip: Buy the large packs from Costco to save money.)
Tomatoes – chopped

Brown ground beef and onions. Mix in beans. In a separate bowl, mix sour cream and soup. Spoon half of sour cream mixture on the bottom of a baking pan. Fill tortillas with beef mixture, roll up, and arrange in baking pan. Spoon remaining half of sour cream mixture over the tortillas. Cover with shredded cheese. Sprinkle tomatoes on top. Freeze. Bake at 350° for 25 - 30 minutes or until cheese melts and tortillas are golden brown.

Here’s another simple and tasty make-ahead recipe that freezes well and takes mere minutes to throw together.

Creamy Chicken Bake
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream

Mix soup & sour cream. Spread half in pan. Add chicken. Spread remaining half of mixture on chicken. Freeze. Bake @ 375° for 30 minutes.

Finally, here’s another hearty dish great for a cold, winter night:

Daddy Diva’s Hamburger Hot Dish
1 lb Ground Beef
1 cup Elbow Macaroni
1 cup Frozen Corn
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
½ cup Sour Cream

Brown beef. Cook noodles. Drain. Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish. Freeze. Bake @ 375° for 30 minutes.

Up Next: We’ll wrap up the series with Part 6 – Meal Preps. I’ll show you how our family uses the freezer to store meal preparation items – such as cooked ground beef – to short-cut the cooking process for meals in a flash.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 4: Store It Up – Bowls

This week we begin the second half of our Frozen Assets series. As a quick recap, in the first half of this series, we talked about ways the Diva family leverages their freezer to use up fruits, veggies, and breads. Now, we will shift to how we store meals and meal prep items for lunches on the go and meals in minutes.

Part 4: Store It Up – Bowls

Today, I’d like to share some tips for storing individual bowl meals that are hearty, tasty, and take mere minutes to prepare.
Bowl meals are great to take to work for lunch, and certainly more economical than eating out.

Anyone remember the blue Ziploc Tabletops from about five years ago? If you are a seasoned deal spinner, you may recall that these blue plastic covered bowls, similar to Rubbermaid containers, were a fabulous deal when they first came out. The Diva family uses these to store our bowl meals in the freezer. Basically, any plastic food storage container with a tight lid will work.

Here are the Diva family favorites:

White Bean Chicken Chili – We make a huge batch of this in the crockpot. Save a few bowls for a meal, and package the rest in bowls for the freezer. To save time and energy, we cook a 3 pound bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot the day before, and then shred and use half of the chicken to make the chicken chili in the crockpot the next day.

Mommy Diva’s White Bean Chicken Chili
1 – 2 large jars of salsa
8 oz shredded Monterrey jack cheese
2 lbs cooked, shredded chicken (or turkey)
2 cans Great Northern beans – do not drain
Chili powder, garlic, spices to your taste

Mix everything together in crockpot, and cook on high for 3 - 4 hours.

Spaghetti & Meatballs – Prepare the spaghetti whichever way your family prefers. The only modification for the freezer is to add extra sauce so that the noodles do not dry out when reheating.

Seafood Chowder – Did you know that you can freeze milk-based soup? It may not look too attractive upon reheating, but once you stir it up well, it reverts back to thick, appetizing chowder. Click
HERE for my favorite recipe. We substitute shrimp for the crawfish.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup – Here in Minnesota, there’s nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of wild rice soup. Click HERE for my starter recipe. In addition, I add garlic, carrots, and mushrooms, and I let it simmer until it thickens.

Up Next: Frozen meals that take the guess-work out of dinner.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Week at CVS

The deals have been a little slow the past few weeks at Walgreens. Truthfully, it’s been a relief, since I’m still recovering from the diaper deal mania. Anyway, I’m not a big CVS shopper partly because there isn’t one along my normal routes and partly because I never seem to be lucky enough to find the deal items in stock. However, I happened to be near one this morning, so I decided to stop in and check out some of the deals that have been posted on “Money Saving Mom” and “I Heart CVS” this week. Although the free Crest Pro-Health and L’Oreal Pro Calcium were out of stock, I did manage to get in on a few good deals.

Duracell Batteries: The store was virtually wiped out, but I managed to get the last 2 AA 8 packs and the last two 2 AAA 8 packs for $5.99 each. There is a $15 Extrabuck for purchasing $20 of Duracell, so I netted 32 batteries for just under $9. We don’t go through nearly as many AAA batteries as AA, so I may save them and exchange them in a few weeks when they are restocked.

Glade: For every $10 spent on Glade, you receive a $5 Extrabuck. By combining this deal with recent coupons, several items are free. There is a limit of 5 per card, which means if you have several coupons, you could spend $50 and get $25 back.

Deodorant: Right Guard and Soft & Dry are on sale $2.99 each with a $2 Extrabuck, making them $0.99 each. Certain varieties have a “$0.55 off this purchase” sticker on them, making them $0.44 each. There is a limit of 5 per card. This is a great way to stock up if you like these brands.

In all, I spent $33.81 and received $20 in Extrabucks to use on my next purchase, which nets to $13.81 total for this trip. The Extrabucks are good for a month, so I can wait until another good sale week to use them. Adding up the total regular price of each item, I got $78.37 worth of merchandise and saved a grand total of $64.56. Looks like it’s well worth going out of the way to shop CVS.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My First Blog Award

A big thanks to Rachel at Common"cents"ical for awarding me my first blog award. I started blogging a few months back to beef up my technical skills, as well as to help others learn how to find deals and save money for their family. I never knew how much I would enjoy blogging, and how many great blogger friends I would make along the way. Rachel is a local MN blogger who shares great deals and fun giveaways.

As part of being a Kreativ Blogger award recipient, I need to talk about 6 things in my life that I am thankful for, and then recognize 6 blogs that I enjoy.

I'm thankful for:

1. My husband - (aka Daddy Diva): He's a very talented, hard-working project manager who loves his family.

2. My oldest son - (aka Junior D): He is a clever, creative, and kind-hearted "big" guy who loves preschool, swimming lessons, and playing with his friends. He's mom's little helper in the kitchen.

3. My youngest son - (aka Baby D): Although he's 2 now, he'll always be my baby. This sweet, spirited little guy loves playing with cars and hanging out with his big brother.

4. Our friends, family, and church: We are truly blessed to have wonderful friends and caring grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who help guide us in raising our boys.

5. Our Jobs: In this economy, we feel very fortunate to both have great jobs that we enjoy getting up for each day.

6. No Debt: Learning to save money has helped us live debt free. We are thankful that we have no debt, except our mortgage, which we are aggresively chipping away at each month.
And finally, here are some great blogs I enjoy:
Northern Cheapskate - Another MN blogger with great posts.
Money Saving Mom - As most of you know, MSM is addictive.
A Year of Crockpotting - I love, love, love my crockpot. This blog inspires me to do more.
The Centsible Sawyer - Denise has wonderful ideas for saving money.
Super Coupon Girl - I love her pictures of shopping trip deals.
Common Sense with Money - Mercedes comes up with great deal scenarios.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 3: Using Up Bakery Items

As you have learned from the past two posts (Part 1 & Part 2) in the “Using it Up” portion of this series, there are many great ways to use produce. Now, let’s take a look at bakery items.

Hamburger Buns – There’s nothing like a grilled burger on a warm summer night. But, if you are like our family, you don’t always have hamburger buns on hand. In the past, I would buy a pack of buns if we were planning to grill burgers that week, but to make the most of the pack of buns, we’d have to grill at least twice that week to use them all up. Often half the pack would get moldy before we got around to using them. This summer, we learned to use our freezer to “save our buns.” When we buy buns, we use them for the first meal, and then we freeze the rest. The next time we grill, I take them out a few minutes in advance, brush them with a little butter and toss them on the grill. Not only are the toasted buns tasty, but you can’t tell that they were previously frozen. Since we began doing this, we haven’t thrown away any moldy buns and we always have buns on hand without having to run to the store.

Muffins - If you are a warehouse club member, you’re probably familiar with the giant package of warehouse club bakery muffins. These muffins are huge, and unless you have a large family, it would be difficult to use up all 12 before they go bad. To make the most of them, the Diva family leverages the freezer. We buy a package of muffins at Costco, cut them in half, and package them in 24 sandwich size freezer bags. Next, we toss the smaller bags into a few large freezer bags, and then we put them in the freezer. These are easy to grab when on the go and only take an hour or less to thaw, so they make great mid-morning snacks for work. As an added bonus, they seem to come out moister than before they were frozen. Dinner Rolls and Breads – Having dinner rolls or French bread on hand is a great way to round out a meal. However, similar to hamburger buns, it’s not always practical to use up fresh rolls and breads without any waste. That’s why we buy the large packages of ciabatta rolls, dinner rolls, and double loafs of French bread, and then store them in the freezer. Bakery breads do dry out and can get freezer burned rather quickly, so we use them within a few weeks. I also pre-slice the rolls and divide the bread into meal-sized portions before freezing. When I’m ready to use them, I just take them out, let them thaw a bit, then spread with a little butter, garlic, or cheese and broil for a few minutes.

That’s it for the “Using It Up” portion of this series. Now for your feedback. What do you freeze and how has that helped you to stretch your family budget? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail and share your tips. Finding this series helpful? If so, leave me a comment.

Up Next: The second half of the Frozen Assets series kicks off next week – Store It Up. I’ll share tips and tricks on how the Diva family uses their freezer to get meals on the table in a flash.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Frozen Assets - Part 2: Using Up Produce

Today we continue on with the Frozen Assets series. In my last post, I talked about how to save your extra fruit for smoothies. Now, here’s some more produce tips:

Baked goods: Another way we save fruit or vegetables is by freezing them for later use in baked goods.
  • Apples – Apples can best be preserved for future consumption by freezing the finished product, such as apple bread or cake. For a healthier option, make applesauce in the crockpot and then freeze it for later.

  • Bananas - When we have whole bananas that are over-ripe, I mash them and freeze them for a future loaf of banana bread. When I’m ready to bake, I simply thaw the bananas, drain off a little of the liquid, and use them just as I would fresh bananas in my recipe. Same goes for zucchini.

  • Zucchini - This year was our first successful year at growing zucchini. Junior D and I had a wonderful time planting and growing them, and even Baby D learned how to say “zucchini” (in such an adorable way that would make any mom’s heart melt). To preserve them, I shred them and package them in bags in the required amount for my recipe. Just thaw, drain the liquid, and add it to your batter. Carrots can be used up in a similar fashion for carrot cake.

  • Carrots - Depending on the recipe, you could likely shred carrots and freeze them raw like zucchini. (Anyone ever try this? Leave a comment if you have.) However, when I use up carrots, I shred them, bake the carrot cake, and then freeze the carrot cake unfrosted for later. If you have enough carrots to use up, bake one to eat now and another to freeze for later.

Baby D’s “Num Num” Carrot Cake:

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely, and then frost, or cover and freeze for later.

Frosting: Beat butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Saving Other Produce:

  • Potatoes – Whenever we have a bag of potatoes to use up, we make a big batch of mashed potatoes, split them into meal-sized portions, and freeze them for later. Try it yourself, and you’d be surprised how little the taste and texture is affected by freezing. Also, it’s hard to put a value on the time saved by having a hearty side dish ready to just heat-and-eat on a busy night.

  • Onions – To save onions, we simply chop them and toss them raw in a freezer bag. They do clump together, so bag them by the amount you will need for a future recipe. One trick I use to save on freezer bags is by using inexpensive sandwich size baggies to individually package items, and then pack these bags inside a gallon freezer bag. Use the onions to toss into soups, sauces, or slowcooked meals in the crockpot. Preserve green onions the same way.

    With a little forethought and creativity, you can stretch your produce budget tremendously.

    Stay tuned. We’ll wrap up the “Using it Up” portion of the Frozen Assets series shortly with a look at preserving another household grocery purchase with a relatively short shelf life – bakery items.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 1: Using Up Fruit

Today we begin a new series called “Frozen Assets.” In this series, I’ll show you ways the Diva family has learned to stretch our budget and make the most of our food purchases by using our freezer.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 14% of the groceries purchased by a family of four go to waste. Based on a study done at the University of Arizona in conjunction with the USDA, researchers found that the average family throws out 470 pounds (that’s not a typo…470 pounds!) of food a year, for a total loss of about $600.

Think about it. How many times have you cleaned out your refrigerator and dumped unopened or partially used containers of food in the trash? How many times have you tossed out fruits and vegetables because they spoiled before you could eat them all?

To truly make the most of the food you buy, you need to use it all up. Remember, it’s not a deal unless you will use it…all of it. So, whether you are buying 4 pounds of strawberries at rock bottom prices or a 5 pound bag of carrots at Costco to save a buck off grocery store prices, if you don’t use it all before it goes bad, then it’s money down the drain.

Part 1: Using Up Fruit

This week we’re talking about produce. Here is one way the Diva family stretches their grocery budget by using the freezer to preserve fruit:

Smoothies – The Diva boys love fruit. In fact, we buy the large packs of strawberries, oranges, bananas, and apples every time we go to Costco, and often, we use it all up in no time. At every meal, we serve the Diva boys fresh fruit. However, inevitably, there are always a few berries or chunks of banana left on the boys’ plates. In the past, these leftovers would go right in the trash, but not anymore. In our freezer, we have a gallon Ziploc freezer bag dedicated to storing leftover fruit. Whether it’s leftover fruit from a meal or extra fruit that won’t get eaten in time, into the freezer bag it goes. Whenever we are craving a smoothie, we grab some yogurt, milk, and frozen fruit and create a tasty batch of mixed fruit smoothies. Not only are we using up the fruit that would have gone to waste, but it’s also a great, healthy way to use up extra yogurt and milk, too.

Junior D’s “Nana Berry” Smoothie
1 cup milk
1 carton yogurt
1 cup mixed frozen fruit (bananas, strawberries, melon, etc.)

Toss fruit into blender and let sit for a minute or two to thaw slightly. Add milk and yogurt and blend until smooth.

One last tip…when watermelon is in season, it’s often almost as cheap to buy a whole watermelon as it is a half. Can’t eat it all? Freeze the rest in small chunks, and blend it into delicious melon smoothies!

In my next post, I’ll cover other ways to make the most out of your produce, including freezing it for use in baked goods.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Spin The Deal - Friday Roundup

Here’s a recap of the past week, as well as a sneak peek at what’s coming in the next few weeks.

Victoria’s Secret Deal – My package arrived yesterday. I am thrilled with this deal. In addition, I received a coupon in the package for a free scarf with any sweater purchase. The coupon code is FA814725 and is valid 11/13 – 11/26. If you use this, it says that the scarf will be added to your cart after you add a sweater and then input the coupon code.

Walgreens Diaper Deals – There was no $x off an $xx purchase this week, but even so, this was a fabulous deal and a great opportunity to stock up.

K-Mart Double Coupons – If you haven’t heard yet, K-Mart has been holding double coupon events over the past several weeks at K-Marts in different parts of the country. During these promotions, K-Mart has been doubling coupons with a face value up to $2. People have been saving BIG TIME…hundreds of dollars in free items using coupons. How can you get in on this? Well, the week of November 30 – December 6th, all K-Marts across the country will be doubling coupons. So save up those coupons, and get ready for some great deals!

Black Friday – Ads are beginning to surface online for the “Black Friday” (a.k.a. Day After Thanksgiving) sales.

Christmas Cards – It’s not too early to get a jump start on holiday cards. I ordered mine this week through Vistaprint.com. They currently have a 50% off sale on photo cards. I got 40 for $15 shipped. Also, check out Rachel’s post at Commoncentsical on another great holiday card deal HERE.

Marcy at Stretching a Buck is beginning a new series of posts called “All About Couponing.” The first post is “Coupon Insert 101” and contains great info and tips.

And lastly, I’m starting a new series of posts next week called “Frozen Assets” where I will share information, tips, and even recipes on how to extend the life of your bargain food finds by using your freezer. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Lowdown on the W Card

You may have heard me mention the Walgreens W Card in prior posts. Now here’s some detail on what it is and why I love it.

What: The W Card is a membership card for the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club. The club costs $20 annually for a single membership or $35 annually for a family membership and entitles you to discounted prescription medicines included in their list. It is not a replacement for insurance, but it may save you a bit depending on your current medical plan. For mine, I have a $30 copay for a 90-day supply of generic drugs compared to $12 for a 90-day supply with my W card plan. So it would save me a little. However, I rarely need prescriptions, so I don’t plan to use it for the prescription savings at all.

So why would I want this card?

Bonus: There is an added bonus to having a W card. Members receive a 10% discount on any Walgreens brand purchase. That’s right…10% off Walgreens brand diapers, 10% off Walgreens brand vitamins, 10% off Walgreens brand sandwich bags….10% off Walgreens brand anything!

How To Enroll: When you sign up at the pharmacy counter, you will receive a sheet of paper that serves as a temporary card until your W card arrives in the mail a few weeks later. Don’t bother doing anything with the temporary ID because most Walgreens clerks do not know what to do with it. Just save all your receipts to get retroactive credit after your W card arrives.

How To Receive Credit: There are two ways to receive credit for your Walgreens brand purchases:

  1. Scan Your Card: When you are purchasing Walgreens brand items, simply run your W card first through the credit card reader upon checkout. Your 10% credit will be automatically calculated and listed on your receipt. The 10% bonus will be loaded onto your W card to use for a future purchase. Note: I don’t recommend this method.
  2. Enter Your Receipt Online: It takes a day or two for your receipt to show up in the Walgreens online system. After a few days, go to the Walgreens website and type “Prescription Savings Club” in the search box from the main page. Select “Add Receipt to Card” from the left-hand panel. You can then type in your RFN# from the top of your receipt. You will then get a yellow box that says “There is no receipt associated with card.” Select the “Add Receipt to Card” button, which will bring you to a screen where you can specify your W card number. You will then be brought to a screen to review the receipt details which will show you the total discount amount you will receive. Select “Confirm” and the amount will be credited to your W card.
How To Redeem: You can use your W card just as you would a Walgreens store gift card. The value added to your W card can be used for almost any purchase. You do not have to use it for Walgreens brand items only. To use it, simply run it through the credit card machine like a gift card.

Additional Tips and Hints:

  • Currently, some items offer more credit when you enter the receipt online. With the current diaper deal, if I scan my W card at the register, I receive $0.70 for each package of diapers that I paid for as it uses the after store coupon value for the 10% credit. Diapers were $8.99 - $2 coupon, so I received 10% of $6.99. When I entered my receipt online for a separate diaper purchase, I received $0.90 back for each package because it uses the before coupon purchase price.

  • Currently, Walgreens store gift card purchases are counted toward the 10% credit. If you were to purchase a $100 Walgreens gift card, you will get a credit of $10 back on your W card. This only works if you enter the receipt online.

  • When redeeming the balance on your W card, do not use it to pay for items that are Walgreens brand. If you use your W card to pay, it will automatically calculate and credit the value of your Walgreens items and you will not be able to enter the receipt online later. (I made this mistake by using it to pay for diapers, which meant I missed out on $0.20 per pack credit on the purchases I made before I realized it.)

  • If you still happen to have receipts from prior to enrolling in the W card plan, you can enter those online, too, and still receive credit for any Walgreens brand purchases for months prior to enrollment. I dug out a few older receipts I had from prior diaper purchases earlier this summer and received credit by entering them online.

Why I Love It: I have had the card for a little over a month now, and for the $20 I paid to enroll, I have already been credited back $31, more than making up for the initial investment, and for the next 11 months, I can enjoy a 10% discount on any Walgreens purchase.

For more Walgreens scoop, check out my post on
Walgreens Register Rewards.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Walgreens October Rebate Received

I received my October EasySaver rebate for $65.40 credited to my Walgreens gift card a few days ago. As you can see, the "hidden" carry-over rebate items from September were valid rebate items for October. I received full credit for the Nivea For Men, L'Oreal Revitalift, and LypSyl products.

Rumor has it that there are no carry-over items for November, but don't forget to pick up the free L'Oreal and Almay items this month. In fact, this week Almay mascara is "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" which means you can get two free if you buy the rebate eligible item this week.

And while you're at Walgreens, don't forget to pick up diapers!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Walgreens Diaper Deals Are Back!

This week is a great week to stock up on very cheap diapers at Walgreens. It's been a few months since we were "drowning in diapers" from the last Walgreens diaper sale. Since then, I've gotten a better idea of exactly how many packs we go through each month, so that I can plan accordingly for the next sale without going overboard.

Here's how this week's sale works. Walgreens brand Jumbo pack diapers are "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" at $8.99. If you have the $2 pharmacy coupon booklet coupon, you will get $2 off each pack. So, your total for 2 packs of diapers will be $8.99 - $2 - $2 = $4.99. If you have the W card, you will also get an additional 10% off your purchase credited to your W card. Depending on what value the 10% is calculated on, your end cost per package will be between $1 - $2. TIME TO STOCK UP!

I headed out this morning right after church and stocked up on diapers for Baby D. I also picked up a few packs for a friend who is having a baby soon and a few extra packs to donate. In the process, I used up all of my Register Rewards from my Walgreens spree one week ago.

Here's a few things to keep in mind:
  • If you have the $2 coupon in the pharmacy booklet, make sure you ask to keep the coupon for future sales. They are valid through the end of the year. Walgreens does not need to keep their own store coupons, as they just throw them out.
  • The training pants are also included in the sale; however, the $2 coupon did not work on these, even though they are listed on the coupon.
  • It's likely that Walgreens will run a $x off $xx coupon later this week as they have been doing for several weeks. If this happens, you could save enough to get the diapers for almost free. I chose to just buy mine now for a buck or two a pack rather than wait and take the chance that they are out of stock by the end of the week. The last time Walgreens ran their great diaper deal, all stores in my area were wiped clean in the first few days of the sale. However, if you choose to wait, assuming they have a $5 off a $20 purchase later this week, you could buy 10 packs of diapers for just under $10.

Happy Bargain Hunting!!!

Victoria's Secret Amazing Deal

Victoria's Secret currently has a great stackable coupon code deal. You can get 2 bras and a pair of cotton panties for $10 plus $5.99 shipping. For a few dollars more, you can also get 2 sweaters included in your order. Visit Chaos in the Cupboard for step-by-step details on how to get in on the deal. This may not last long, so act FAST. I was able to get the whole deal shipped for $32.99.

Here's the coupon codes:
SWEATER15 - Good for $15 off a purchase of two sweaters.
FA813789 - Good for $10 off any bra.
25PTY - Good for $25 off any two full priced bras and free cotton panty.

There is a specific strategy on how to get these codes to stack properly, so please check out Chaos in the Cupboard before you begin shopping.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tracking Prices: The Sales Cycle Game

Every deal spinner knows that the key to saving money at the grocery store is by stocking up on staples when prices are the lowest. But how do you know when a price is truly the lowest? How can you tell whether the “price shocker” sale price really is a good deal?

The answer is two-fold. It involves a little homework, but is well worth your time.

  1. Sales Cycles – Most grocery stores rotate their sale items as they rotate their inventory. On average, this is about a 5 week cycle. Don’t believe it? Try saving the weekly ads from your favorite grocery store for the next month or two and see if a pattern emerges. In general, high sales volume items like cereal, soda, canned goods, and meat go through a monthly cycle. At my favorite store, the small boxes of Cheerios go on sale 5 for $10 every 5 weeks or so. I save up my General Mills coupons and stock up on Cheerios during this sale. I don’t pay more than $1.50 a box, and if I happen to have $1/1 coupons, I only pay $1 a box. Using this approach, I never need to worry about running out of Cheerios and having to pay full price for a box.
  2. Price Book – The second component to knowing when a sale price is a good deal is through keeping a price book. A price book is simply a listing of common items that you buy frequently and the amount you pay for them. Over time you will begin to recognize how much you pay for an item on a regular occasion and how much you pay for it when there is a good sale. It’s also helpful in comparing prices between stores and particularly helpful in comparing prices between a grocery store and a warehouse club. If you record the ounces for an item, you can easily calculate the price per ounce, and then compare that to the price per ounce at a warehouse store. The Diva family belongs to Costco, and since the sizes of items are significantly bigger at Costco than at the grocery store, I calculate the price per ounce on items we buy frequently to determine which is the better value. While most items are cheaper per ounce when buying in bulk, it was quite eye-opening to learn that several were not and were better deals buying the normal sizes at the grocery store.

Here are a few great sites for more information on price books.

Organized Home

Get Rich Slowly has links to price book templates.

And finally, here’s a recent SmartMoney.com article on “8 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill.”

Do you have any tips on saving money at the grocery store? Leave a comment to share your ideas!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Opportunity to Give Back

I started this blog a few months ago with the goal of helping others learn the techniques of saving money. By learning how to spot deals, not only can you save money for your family, but you can also recognize deals on items that can help those in need.

This week there’s an excellent opportunity to give back. The October 26th Red Plum coupon insert in the Sunday paper contains coupons for diabetic supplies. The coupon in particular that I’d like to point out is for a Breeze2 or Contour blood glucose monitor and is good for up to $30 off. This week, Walgreens had these monitors on sale for $9.99. If you buy one and use the coupon, you’ll get the monitor for free (Note #1: You won’t get overage, as the cashier will input the coupon for the actual sale price and will take $9.99 off. Note #2: There is a mail-in rebate in the box. It's up to you if you want to try to submit it to get additional money back, but if you are donating it, you probably want to donate an unopened package.).

Now, what do you do with this?

Donate it!

  • Take a look online for local organizations in your area that accept donations.
  • Check with local doctors offices or local free clinics.
  • Send it in to a non-profit: 1) iPump is an all-volunteer, charitable organization that provides critical assistance to people with diabetes. They collect diabetic supplies donations and distributes them to those in need. Contributions and your shipping charges are tax deductible. 2) Islets of Hope lists other organizations by state that accept diabetes supply donations.

Here’s another great way to give back…

Whenever you are grocery shopping, keep an eye out for deals on non-perishable items to donate to local food shelves. Often grocery stores run “loss leaders” on the front of their Sunday ads. Loss leaders are items that are sold well below the regular price. The strategy is to get you in the door for the item in hopes that you will buy all your groceries while you are there. Look for loss leaders that you can pair with manufacturer’s coupons to get the item free or inexpensive. These make great donations. Not only will you help feed someone in need, but it won’t cost you much to do so.

What are your favorite ways to give back? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Strategic Approach to Bargain Hunting

Have you ever lain awake at night trying to clear the thoughts of deal strategies that are clogging your mind? Have you walked into a store ready to score great deals, only to end up wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles because you can’t quite remember the specifics of certain deals or don’t have the right coupons with you?

As bargain-hunters, we are constantly running across deals every day – in the Sunday paper coupon sections and store ads, in our e-mail inbox, in our mailbox, and on our favorite money-saving blogs and websites. With all the deals and money-saving strategies swirling through our head on a daily basis, what can one do to keep them all straight?

Here’s some advice on how to get organized and maximize your money-saving opportunities:

  1. Coupon Organization – Successful deal organization starts with an effective coupon organization strategy. There are several schools of thought on how best to organize the Sunday insert coupons. Should you clip them all? Should you just clip the ones you know you’ll use? Should you keep the inserts intact?

    My approach is to keep all inserts intact. Unless there is something I will definitely use in the next few days, I do not cut out any of the coupons. I simply paper clip the inserts for each week together, label the week’s set with a sticky note with the date in bold numbers, and stack them in a manila folder. I keep the folder in my car, and have them easily accessible when shopping. I only get one set of inserts each week from our paper, and I rotate out the older inserts as coupons expire, which keeps the size of the folder manageable.

    Whichever method you choose, the bottom line on coupon organization is this…do whatever works best for you so that you can easily locate them and have them available when you need them.
  2. Store Strategy Organization – The next step toward staying on top of current offers is by creating a weekly running list of deals sorted by store – a store “strategy sheet.” Take a sheet of paper (or make a Microsoft Word template) and write down the names of stores as your headers. Leave plenty of space below each store name. As you go through the week, whenever you hear or read about a deal strategy on an item, make note of it on your strategy sheet. Include details to jog your memory while at the store, including size, variety, coupon amount, coupon location, and Catalina details. Also, note any additional items to use at checkout, like Catalinas from previous purchases or “$x off an $xx purchase” coupons.

Here's an example:

The key here is to keep your “strategy sheet” handy at all times.

When I am ready to shop, I simply grab my manila folder and locate the coupons listed on my strategy sheet. I paper clip the coupons to my sheet, and head to the store. This approach not only saves me time and de-clutters my mind, but it also prevents me from missing out on a great deal.

How do you organize your deals? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Free Omaha Steaks Arrived

I found a pleasant surprise awaiting me on my front porch yesterday afternoon. My 18 Omaha steak burgers had arrived...just days after placing my order. Included in the cooler were a set of kitchen knives, a cutting board, and a recipe booklet with coupons for future purchases.

This offer went fast, but luckily I got in on it in time, and hopefully you did, too. The Diva family will be grilling up some tasty burgers...several meals for the total price of $3.98.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My best Walgreens Day EVER!

The deals don’t get much better than this. Today I bought over $125 of merchandise from Walgreens, and paid $0. It’s rebate overlap day at Walgreens again. Today and tomorrow, both the October and November EasySaver rebate books are in effect, and several of the September rebate items carried over to October. (You won’t see these on the form, but if you enter your rebate receipts online, they will show up later.) In addition, Walgreens published a printable coupon on http://www.walgreens.com/ for $5 off a $20 purchase today and tomorrow only.

Here’s what I got for a grand total of $0.10 (yes, that’s right…TEN CENTS) after coupons, rebates and Register Rewards:

  1. Pepsi (bought 3): Reg. $4, Sale 3 for $11, Register Reward (-$2), Paid: 3 for $9.00 ($3.00 saved)
  2. Benefiber 16pk Kiwi Strawberry Sticks (bought 3): Reg. $8.49 ($25.47), Sunday paper coupon -$2 (-$6), EasySaver Coupon -$5 (-$15) Register Reward (-$8), Profit: -$3.53 ($25.47 saved)
  3. Loreal Revitalift 1.0 Concentrate (carryover from Sept.): Reg. $16.49, Sunday paper coupon -$2, October ES rebate -$16.49, ES 10% bonus -$1.65, Profit: -$3.65 ($16.49 saved)
  4. Loreal Reviatlift Eye Cream (free w/puchase of #3 above): Reg. $16.99 each, Sunday paper coupon -$1, Profit: -$1.00 ($16.99 saved)
  5. Loreal Cleanser: Reg. $6.99, October ES rebate -$6.99, ES 10% bonus -$0.70, Profit: $-0.70 ($6.99 saved)
  6. Alka Seltzer Cold 20ct: Reg. $4.99, Register Rewards -$5, Paid: $0 ($4.99 saved)
  7. Lypsyl Lip Balm (carryover from Sept.): Reg. $2.99 each, October ES rebate -$2.99, ES 10% bonus -$0.30, Profit: -$0.30 ($2.99 saved)
  8. Rimmel Foundation: Reg. $7.49 each, Sunday paper coupon -$1.00, Oct ES rebate -$7.49, ES 10% bonus -$0.75, Profit: -$1.75 ($7.49 saved)
  9. Oral B Vitalizer Toothbrush: Reg $5.49, Sale $4.49, Register Rewards -$4.50, Paid: $0 ($5.49 saved)
  10. St. Ives Elements Cleanser: Reg $7.99, Sale $4.99, Beauty Counter coupon -$2.00, Register Rewards -$5, Profit: -$2.01 ($7.99 saved)
  11. Quilted Northern Ultra 6pk: Sale $4.00, Sunday paper coupon -$1.00, ES coupon -$1.00, Paid $2.00 ($2.00 saved)
  12. Walgreens saline nasal spray: Reg. $2.99, W card 10% -$0.30, Paid $2.69 ($0.30 saved)
  13. Nivea Men’s Body Wash (carryover from Sept.): Reg. $5.49, Sunday paper coupon -$1.00, Oct ES rebate -$5.49, ES 10% bonus -$0.55, Profit: -$1.55
The total for all of the above came to roughly $71 with tax after coupons and the $5 off $20. I received a total of $27.50 in Register Rewards for future purchases. (I got an extra $3RR from Bayer – not sure what for. I plan to use the $27.50 in RRs the week of November 2nd to stock up on diapers, as Walgreens will be running their “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” diaper deal again that week.) I will get back $43.40 in October Easysaver rebates from this purchase.

Grand Total for this purchase: $71.00 - $27.50 - $43.40 = $0.10

That’s right. All the items above cost me a grand total of TEN CENTS!

But that’s not all. For most people, that would be a pretty satisfying shopping day…but not for the Deal Diva. Let’s back up a bit and look at how the Deal Diva put her own spin on the deal.

Spin The Deal Strategy

I knew that the purchase above would require a large cash outlay upfront in order to get the money back through Register Rewards and Easysaver rebates to be used later for future purchases. Before making the purchase above, I grabbed a bottle of St. Ives Elements and purchased it along with a $100 Walgreens gift card. Currently, Walgreens gift card purchases are included in the 10% W card bonus. So, I will receive a $10 credit on my W card for buying the gift card. I also knew that the St. Ives deal would only generate one Register Reward per transaction, and I wanted a few, so I bought one off the bat in my first transaction ($4.99 - $2c - $5RR = -$2.01 profit). Total for my first transaction was $103, and I got a $5RR and will get $10 on my W card. The profit from the St. Ives and W card total $12.01.

Grand Total for today’s trip: $0.10 + -$12.01 = -$11.91 Profit

Now that’s spinning the deal!

Stay tuned...in a few days I'll post tips on how I prepared for this trip and how to make your next trip a success.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Contest for Free Wubbzy DVD

If you have small kids, you probably are familiar with the show "Wow Wow Wubbzy." It's one of the Diva boys favorite shows. In fact, Junior D loves the show so much, he brought a picture of Wubbzy to preschool on yellow day. It certainly stood out on a board full of yellow ducks and other yellow pictures at preschool.

The Sisterly Savings blog is currently holding a contest to win a copy of the new DVD, "A Tale of Tails." Click HERE to visit the Sisterly Savings site where you can enter the drawing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free Omaha Steaks $25 Gift Card

This is a great deal that's been exploding in the blogosphere over the past 24 hours. Act fast to get in on it! Here's the quick lowdown.

  1. Sign up at Geico Privileges.

  2. Get an email for a free $25 gift certificate to Omaha Steaks.

  3. Log on to Omaha Steaks website (use this LINK) and then click the link you receive in your email to access your $25 off code.

  4. Order 12 of the 4 oz steak burgers. Your total will be $28.98.

  5. Upon checkout, you can enter the $25 gift certificate code, reducing your total to $3.98.

  6. You will also have a box at checkout to select a free gift with purchase: 6 additional free steak burgers, a 6-piece cutlery set, and a cutting board.

If you have a Paypal account, you can even pay with that. Less than $4 for 18 steak burgers (and other freebies to boot!) - a great score for some tasty, virtually free meals!

UPDATE: This deal is now dead. Hope you were one of the lucky ones that got in on it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free Movie Monday

Rent a free movie from your local Redbox kiosk using code: PK66H8. This code is good for today only. To learn more about Redbox, check out Deal Seeking Mom’s great post, "Redbox 101".

Also, if you are new to renting movies through Redbox, check out
www.insideredbox.com, which is a site that lists free Redbox rental codes that can be used anytime.

So, pop up some popcorn and enjoy a movie with the family tonight!