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?