Who doesn’t like cash?

There are a number of programs for cash back rewards on credit cards, and we hear about them on television and radio regularly. Those cards usually carry high interest, annual fees, hidden fees, or a combination of these.

Did you know you can generate cash back for your shopping without incurring those nasty charges? Mostly online programs, some with the option of accessing their programs while doing your brick-and-mortar shopping, are rampant online. Here is one I like a lot:

ShopAtHome Banner

I have mentioned online points programs in the past, and I still use them often. However, depending on what I’m shopping for, the deals with cash back programs such as these can be more lucrative. In fact, if you don’t hate toolbars, some will even credit your account simply for downloading their toolbar. That can make easier to find and access this free money quite quickly while it’s tailored to your own shopping preferences.  Do understand cookies, which these sites will place on your computer, and know that while you can delete them at any time, you’ll need to accept them again to get your credit while doing your shopping.

Shop At Home also includes printable grocery and brick-and-mortar store coupons and other methods of making your shopping experience better. With a mobile app, you can compare prices as you browse and, if you find a better deal, make the purchase from an online vendor. Your cash back will be credited to your account within a couple of days of your purchase, and you’ll receive your check after you reach a fairly small minimum in your account. Currently, that is $20 at Shop At Home. You’ll receive a $5 credit for joining, and if you download the toolbar, another $5. You’re halfway there and you haven’t spent a dime!

Another such program I like is:

( if you want to be sweet, use this link:  http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=nW9kkAKagmM%3D )

Simply starting your online shopping through this site allows you a myriad of ways to find the best site for both savings and cash back. You can search for those offers for free shipping, by the percentage of cash back from your purchases, alphabetically by your chosen site, and more. You can often combine offers, as well, and coupons or offers still generate your “rebate.”

 

These are not the only programs out there, either,   Google “online cash back sites” and see what you find.  There are many sites such as http://www.befrugal.com/cashback/, http://www.topcashback.com/, and http://www.extrabux.com/.  There is a surprising number of sites to compare cash back sites.  Go figure.

 

You know how nice it is to get paid. Go get ya some!

Advertisements

Couponing for Extra Credit

Some places of worship still have coupon exchanges, and perhaps you need to start one if yours doesn’t. Any place shoppers gather could use one if there is someone willing to maintain it by removing expired coupons and add new ones.

At our Kroger, there are coupon pages available at the customer service desk just for seniors. Yes, there are a few advantages for those of us who creak when we walk. Not many, but a few. Too bad these discounts don’t quite make up for the increase in our medical bills! Check where you shop and see if they have such a program.

Lastly, don’t forget to check packaging while you’re using up product. Occasionally manufacturers will include coupons in or on their product packaging for future purchases or to encourage you to try another of their brands. While you’re looking at the package, see if there is a phone number for the manufacturer, or for questions or comments. Call and ask, I like your product; do you have any coupons you can send me? Most companies appreciate your loyalty and will be happy to send them to you. In fact, some reserve their best coupons for just such customers. Yes, I actually do this, and often. It works and these coupons are usually good ones.

If I can get my butt in gear and write it, refunding is another method of gathering up savings that deserves its own treatment. At one time when I was a young bride, I reserved two drawers in my kitchen for my “trash,” as a girlfriend and I called our UPCs and other proofs of purchase and receipts. They didn’t last long; now I am hard-pressed to find room for my gadgets.

There are many places to find grocery coupons, and even some that aren’t physical coupons! It’s enough to say that with a little legwork (well, fingerwork) and organization, you can save a lot of money on your next trip to the grocery store.


 

Thrifty Tip of the Day:

Next post will be starting a series of seasonal topics. Here’s a hint on one of them, an eBook that you should definitely have a look at if you are engaged or if you know someone who is: http://www.amazon.com/For-Richer-Poorer-Wedding-ebook/dp/B00C69HF0G/ref=pd_rhf_cr_p_img_1_MG8J . This easy-reading book is available for just 99 cents on Amazon’s Whispernet, so you can download their free Kindle software if you haven’t already. Then you can read it immediately on your PC or Mac if you don’t already have a Kindle.

Here’s the publisher’s official description:

In this practical and entertaining guide to a tasteful yet fun wedding for the budget-savvy couple, SKR Publishing presents a common sense approach to starting out richer, rather than poorer for the couple wishing to kick off their financial relationship on sound footing. The first in a series of clever budgeting books, ‘For richer or poorer: your wedding on a budget’ is a charming and engaging look at the process of wedding planning from the aspect of a thrifty purse.

At once offbeat and still honoring long-established customs, this guide offers tips and tricks to ensure your event remains grand and chic, yet sticks to your budget leaving no one the wiser.

Some of the ideas presented here are so innovative and fresh, you’ll wonder why no one has thought of them before. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, your sage sensibility, and the forethought to purchase this book!

As for me, I have already reviewed in on Amazon, and since I’m thrifty in more ways than one, I’ll just copy my review here:

There are a lot of creative ideas in this book that you haven’t heard before, and there are some that have been freshened up. Not to provide any spoilers, but there is an idea for a date night that you just have to try! It’s a lot of fun, with a lot of new thoughts. I hope they hurry up with the rest of this series!

Couponing 201: Web savings sources

image of coupon with scissorsYou’ve likely seen the little red shelf-talkers from SmartSource at the grocery store, where you can pull out coupons or rebate forms or advertising concerning new products.  They also have a great web site for printing coupons, which online couponers go to for printing their own coupons.  Perhaps the best known site for this purpose, SmartSource is only one of a myriad of such sites.  Other examples are Red Plum.com, ShopAtHome.com, Coupons.com and an interesting site called the Penny Pincher Gazette, or ppgazette.com, where you can not only print coupons but also find inexpensive recipes and much more.  There are plenty of coupon sites; these are just a few.  Try keying in printable grocery coupons in your search engine and see what you find, but set aside some time for this project!  There are hundreds of sites and not all are above board.  You’ll have to figure out which ones you like best.

Before your next shopping trip, spend a little time getting organized.  Write up your list, gather your coupons, and only then sit down at the computer.  Visit SmartSource and Red Plum.com and other sites you like, printing the coupons for the items you need coupons for.  If your list isn’t already covered in terms of having a coupon for each item (wouldn’t that be nice!), keep looking within a reasonable time limit.

Next, try some of the manufacturer’s sites.  Companies like Pillsbury, Smart Balance, and the like currently have coupons of their own.  While clipping or printing coupons for items you don’t currently need isn’t necessarily a good idea, with manufacturers’ sites, it might be worth it.  They can and will pull their coupons without notice, even while currently running ads.  Another place to check would be sites such as BoxTops4education.com, where you can print a number of coupons for baking mixes and other products that carry BoxTops for Schools.

Some stores have coupons on their own sites, although these are becoming fewer.  Check stores’ individual web sites for printable coupons.   New services, however, are springing up to replace those that are disappearing.  The Kroger and Carr’s/Safeway families of stores also participate in Shortcuts.com.  This is an online coupon service at which you check off the coupons you like and they will be deducted from your total at checkout without your having to present the physical coupon, all in addition to the store card discount and any manufacturer’s coupons. It’s worth checking to see if your store participates, too.

While it takes some time, online coupons are a great source of higher-value coupons.  You have to balance the time and expense with the savings, but it’s kind of fun for a thrifty soul like me!

My next post will cover mobile apps.  Oh boy, they are booming!

Coupons 102: Store Loyalty Cards and Programs

 

Sign up for a savings card if your store offers one.  It will be a source of big discounts and clipless coupons when you scan it at the checkout.  Some stores actually send you “Best Customer” style coupons in the mail as well, which are targeted in conjunction with the items you have purchased with your card as recorded during your shopping trips.  Be aware that the store computers are keeping track of your purchases in this fashion; if you are worried about your privacy, you may not want to take advantage of these savings.  Cough, cough.  These large savings.  I like to scan my own Kroger loyalty card at the end of my transaction just to see the ticker add up – it’s fun!  Drives the cashiers nuts waiting…

There are also online coupon sites that add coupons to your store cards, which I will discuss in another post.

Don’t forget about your pharmacy or discount store cards, either.  Just because they aren’t a grocery store doesn’t mean they aren’t a worthy source of savings.  The key is, don’t buy anything you weren’t going to buy anyway just because it has a coupon.  Keep repeating that mantra or your home will fill with stuff you don’t need and won’t use.

Next time:  POS (point-of-sale) and online coupons.

 

Thrifty Tip of the Day: January is traditionally White Sale month, so if your bed linens are threadbare, now is the time to look at replacing them. 

Couponing 101

image ziggy no coupons comic

Saving money is even more critical for most of us now that prices are higher and money is tighter.  You’ve purchased the Sunday paper for the coupon inserts, clipped the coupons for the items on your list, and you’re ready to shop.  That’s certainly a good start, and you don’t have to resort to Extreme Couponing and the weeks and months of preparation they don’t show you on the television episode.  No need for a price book.

Many people just toss the coupon inserts in the recycle bin, although the numbers of couponers have increased during this recessive economy.  Of those that have used them, most haven’t taken the best advantage of them.  There are plenty of additional sources of coupons and savings.  Used actively, just the coupons from a Sunday newspaper in a medium to large metropolitan area could make that Sunday paper worth buying multiple copies.  Smaller, more rural journals don’t often have enough savings to warrant purchasing extras.

Don’t forget the Sunday newspaper magazines, or monthly magazines, as they often include coupons, with women’s titles being the most likely to include cents-off coupons.  There is even at least one monthly women’s interest magazine that boasts its coupons’ total value right on the cover.  Around food-centric holidays, like Easter or Thanksgiving, coupons increase.  During the fall, with the approach of the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year, there are countless coupon inserts with some even bound right into monthly editions.

There are many ways to generate coupons and savings.  Over the next few posts, I’ll mention a few.  Don’t worry, I won’t slap you with the coupon inserts; it’s not that hard.  But you can save a few bucks each week and that will add up to a nice Christmas Club, yanno?

image pile of clipped coupons

Brrrr, it’s chilly out there! Icicles and snow ice cream, anyone?

Ahh, winter.  Crisp, cold air, pristine white snow, icicles reflecting the morning sun.  I remember our snow when I was growing up in Michigan being so high that we could actually reach up and pull off icicles from our roofline and eat them as popcicles.  Unsanitary?  Toxic?  Perhaps that’s my problem…lol  Hopefully those icicles are hanging from trees and not your eaves.

Icicles forming from your soffits (without the presence of the fast melts and refreezes with rapid temperature changes) are a sure sign of insulation problems in your attic.  Lovely as they are, they are a dangerous sign that your insulation has pulled from the roofline or that it is insufficient altogether.  They are dangerous in that when they become unstable as they thaw, they can fall and injure someone.   If maiming or killing someone doesn’t bother you, perhaps your insurance deductible (and rising rates) after a claim will, when someone is struck by a falling icicle.  Add enough insulation to prevent heat loss through your attic or roof space and icicles will stop forming there.

What, you don’t find insulation fun and interesting?  Then how’s this:  instead of playing with icicles, how about sending the kids out for a big bowl of clean, fluffy, fresh-fallen snow to make ice cream.  No kids?  Set a bowl out to collect the falling snow – wait until the snow has been falling for at least a half hour or so to ensure it’s free of contamination.  Resist the temptation to dump a shovelful of snow into the bowl.  Those dirty specks (or worse) will not fool anyone into thinking it’s anything other than plain vanilla flavor or anything besides dirt.  Use your noodle and get clean snow with clean utensils.   If you are using a metal bowl, it will chill faster.   Once filled, move smartly back to combine ingredients, then chill in the freezer for a short time until ice cream is firmed throughout.   Yummy!

Snow Ice Cream
1 c. Half & Half
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp real (pure) vanilla extract
dash of salt
5 c. of fresh, clean snow

Combine all ingredients, firm up in the freezer, enjoy (yes, you can skip the second step)!

This is an inexpensive frozen treat for the “chillrens,” and only takes up minimal freezer space for approximately 10 minutes .  They will be chilled when they come in from collecting the snow for you, so come back again for more recipes to help keep them busy on snow days!

Thrifty Tip for Today:  Check your vanilla extract label for corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup.  Odd that it would be included in even Pure Vanilla Extract, sometimes it is.  Usually, the “pure” varieties are rather more expensive and contain exotic additional ingredients that to me have no place in a a jar of pure vanilla extract.  Still, they are there.  Choose your vanilla from those with vanilla as the first ingredient and get your money’s worth.  Additionally, compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges.  Prices between types vary, so be sure you are buying the least expensive among pure vanillas without the icky stuff.