Category Archives: cashback

Free Baby Samples

Starting anything new is scary, just in general, right? A new job, a new relationship, breaking in new shoes (my least favorite!).

Parenting is no exception. One thing I found to make the first few weeks easier–having tons of prepared stuff at hand. This means snacks for you, advil portioned out for the postpartum pain, and baby stuff galore (diapers and wipes, oh my!).  There is no such  thing as too many newborn baby product samples!

In my third trimester I decided to start registering for free samples in part due to anxiety. I had a million thoughts and questions.

Will I be able to breastfeed? Which brand is best? How much do I make? Is pampers really better than huggies?”

I decided the best way to figure this all out was to try it all for free. I googled “similac samples” and other similar terminology to find the list below! Each box is unique and comes with coupons, so I definitely suggest you try the different products when your baby is born to figure out which works best for you!

The Enfamil and Similac sample boxes are very similar. Both ready-to-feed bottles and a variety of powder versions that you can try out. They also include coupons in the form of checks. The store you buy from simply scans the “check” as a form of payment so you can use them in conjunction with manufacturers coupons!

Enfamil Samples

Similac Samples

Sam’s Club Baby Box

The Sam’s Club sample box is the least useful of the different samples. It has a size 3 diaper, wipes, and toddler food.

Amazon Prime members can take advantage of the Welcome Box for free!  Just complete a Baby Registry using Checklist and have over $10 of purchases from their registry (from yourself or gifters).

If you open a registry at Babies ‘R’ Us, in store you will get a welcome bag. Mine included a NoseFrida which was a lifesaver for our little guy who was born during cold and flu season.

NoseFrida-product

Most pediatricians have free samples in the office, too, you just have to ask to get them.

Let me know what freebies you scored!

When (and Why) to buy a NEW Car

If you remember I previously posted about when to buy a car. This week I am posting (finally) about when it’s good to buy new versus used.

  1. Duke it Out–Call different dealerships and ask for their best quotes. Tell them about yourself so that they know you’re a real person (real phone number, email address, where you live and what you do). Tell them what you want as your walk out price. Not the final sale price but what the final walk out price you want. Get them to send you quotes in writing and send those quotes to other dealers asking them to beat it. Many dealerships will not engage and you can’t blame them, to them you’re not a real person yet. But talk to the ones who do bite and use those quotes to get as close to your best price.
  2. Maintenance on used car-No matter who you are and how well you take care of your car, after a certain number of miles it will require upkeep. Depending on the car make, model and year, however, these costs can vary but after 30,000 miles they will all start to cost money. Furthermore, after the factory warranties (typically 5 year, 50,000 miles), the car’s value takes a big dip making resale harder and costing more in repairs.
  3. Financing Options-If you can get a car loan at 0% (which many Toyotas and Kias offer), you should definitely take advantage.  Instead of taking the money you get from the sale of your car or putting a lot down, you can put that money into either a high-yield savings or the money market, as long as it earns more than 0% it’s a better investment.                                   I recently looked at 2 cars and broke down the financing options.
    1. 2015 Toyota Rav4 XLE with 29,000 miles-used price 22,400
      1. Financing available on this model was (lowest rate through USAA) 2.49%. Car’s cost over 72 months becomes $24,138
    2. 2017 Toyota Rav4 XLE new with 0 miles-new price 26,500
      1. Financing through Toyota at 0% car’s cost over 72 months remains the same, 26,500

Between these two options I balanced the little more than $2,000 difference. On one hand the new car comes with 2 years of free maintenance and oil changes.  They also include 5 year, 50,000 bumper to bumper warranty. These perks and the fact that I am buying a car that I can later sell as “first owner” and newer, with fewer miles made the decision clear for me and my family, new car wins.

If you decide to go with the new car route you should wait until the end of the year. During this time dealers are trying to get rid of that year’s stock so you can get great deals on new cars. If you can get in on a weekday they will give you further discounts. Also, try to garner loyalty by going back to a dealer from whom you have purchased before because dealerships do value those relationships (my personal dealership gave us an extra $1000 off for that relationship).

And as always, don’t be afraid to walk away!

 

Best Times to Buy a New Car

I have been passively hunting for a new car for a few months now and a friend recently asked me what I was waiting for. I told her I was waiting for the best deal and the best financing options which typically come in the last quarter of the year. She asked why and that started an hour of me rambling and talking her ear off (my friends are so patient with how excited I get about deal hunting).

So there ARE best times of day, week and year to buy a car!

Image result for free stock image car

1. Day of the Week-Not all deals are made the same and they happen on different days of the week! Weekends are the worst time of the week to buy a car. Why? Because most people have their weekends off and want to use that time to run errands including buying a new car. So when you go to the dealership on a Saturday and are iffy about a deal, the dealership will shoo you away to make room for the next person in line!
2. Time of Day-According to Autotrader.com, the best time of the day to buy a car is at the end of the day.  According to the car site, salespeople might be more likely to be weak willed at the end of the long day and thus willing to discount more as long as it means they get a commission at all.
3. Month(s) of Year- The last quarter of the year is the best time of year to buy a car from a dealership. The dealerships are trying to move out all the old inventory to make room for the new.  I have personally purchased 2 new cars from dealerships in the month of December at fantastic deals.

Extra Notes:

  • If you are really looking to buy a car from a dealership (new or used), reach out to your friends and family and ask if anyone you know is looking to buy a car, too. Heck, go on facebook and ask your facebook friends! The best car deal I ever got in my life was when my dad, sister and I all needed new cars so we walked into a Honda dealership here in Georgia, and walked out with 3 top of the line Accords (leather heated seats, souped up etc, in 2007) for insanely low prices.  At one point the Honda dealership manager came over to us and told us, somewhat irritably, that his sales rep wasn’t make as much commission on each car but was pleased to do so because of the aggregate.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away! There’s no such thing as a “one time deal” that “cannot be matched”. I have walked away many times and had dealerships call me begging me to come back with an even better deal!
  • This usually goes without saying but I will say it anyways: do your research.  I once had a dealership salesperson try to tell me the KBB value of a car I was interested in was $2000 more than it really was. This was back in the day before smartphones so I had to pull out the printed out KBB estimates but now you can download the app and save the information for when you arrive.

 

6 AMAZON PRIME DAY HACKS

Holy cow guys, today is Amazon Prime day and these deals beat their black Friday deals! I know this because I got these New Balances for $30 on black Friday of 2015 and now they are $22. TWENTY TWO BUCKS!


My tips and tricks for shopping on prime day:

  1. Shop FAST! Amazon lets you return so buy first, think later! These deals sell out so quickly that you don’t want to miss out on something because you spent too much time hemming and hawing. You can “reserve” something in your cart for 15 minutes, then it’s fair game for others!
  2. Prime! Don’t have prime? It’s okay, sign up for a free trial to shop prime day!
  3. It’s easy to fall for the allure of the 65% off label but be cautious.  Amazon sometimes inflates prices then adds discounts based on demand in real time, so do a quick google of the price to compare before you pull the trigger if you’re unsure.
  4. Camel Camel Camel- This website is incredible! Holy cow, how did I not know about it before?  This site gives price history for amazon so you can double check and see if the price you see today is really a good deal or if the item is only marginally discounted if at all.
  5. Use your Amazon Visa card for extra cash back! Don’t have an amazon visa? Apply for one at check out and get $30 off your purchase of $150! Use the discount code VISA30.
  6. Use EBATES! Usually it’s hard to find days that ebates offers cashback for amazon.com but today they are offering up to 7% off!

Have your own tips and tricks? Tweet me @discountonme !

 

6 Hacks to Vacation on a Budget

Sorry for the late post folks, I have been traveling (for pleasure, not work) a lot lately!

That being said, I did a lot of frugaling on my trip and snagged some free meals, discounted meals and gift cards along with other swag along the way.

SO, shall I dive in or first tell you about my trip?

Aw shucks, thanks for showing so much interest, it was great! I love the west coast and had such a blast hiking and site seeing and gambling.

Okay, brass tacks on how to save money while traveling.

  1. Marriott Vacation Resorts-Marriott Vacation Resorts are timeshares that Marriott basically wants you to buy. What you get is an amazing rate at one of their resorts with all the perks. I am in NO WAY affiliated with Marriott (gah I wish they paid me!) but for us the deal we got was too good to be true but it turned out great! The Grand Chateau is right next door to the MGM Signature, a 5 minute walk from the main strip and much quieter than the MGM Grande or Venetian. The building is newer so everything is upgraded. The rooms are amazing with huge bathtubs and a full kitchen. 

    lasvg_phototour15

    What we got:

    We got 4 days, 3 nights at the Marriott Grand Chateau on the strip, $50 Marriott gift card (to be used within the Marriott) and free valet parking (versus the regular $25/day) We used the gift cards for 2 meals and snacks which was great!

    What we had to do: Sit through a 90-minute one-on-one with their salesperson who tries to get you to buy a timeshare. Ours was not pushy at all and was okay with us saying no.

  2. Grocery Shop and Eat in-When we arrived at our Marriott Villa (which included a full kitchen) we went straight to the grocery store and got oatmeal, peanut butter, powerade, fresh fruits and salad fixings.  We ate in every morning and some afternoons and saved a lot of money and didn’t feel icky eating out for every single meal. Win-win!
  3. Fancy does NOT Mean Quality-After a fun day of gambling my husband and I decided to go to a fancy-pants steakhouse called Andiron. The apps came out looking and smelling great! Minus the hair in one of them. We assumed that when we informed the server and he took the plate away they’d remove the charge (even though we had eaten half before finding it).  Alas, nope, there it was, $8.99. It’s not a lot of money but it’s the principle! Don’t give me some nasty, hair-plagued dish and charge me for it! So I flagged down the server and asked him kindly to please remove and he responded “Oh my gosh I thought I did, I’m so sorry!” and voila! Charge removed. Don’t feel like just because the place is fancy you cannot ask for things.
  4. Get a Rental Car-I love using Lyft, don’t get me wrong, but when we decided to leave for a week I started doing the math. Lyft from point A to point B on day 1, day 2 points A,B, C and D, etc. I decided google “Enterprise Coupon Codes” and found a rental car for 6 days for $176. That’s less than $30/day to drive wherever, whenever. Plus when I showed up I asked for a free upgrade with a smile and they gave me one! Woohoo! So for $30/day we got an SUV and were able to drive everywhere on our own.
  5. Las Vegas SpecificTix 4 Tonight– Through work I get some pretty stellar discounts and through the Marriott Vacation resort you get stellar discounts but the best show ticket prices were at one of these stands outside the MGM Grand. We paid half the price of the Marriott discount rate!
  6. Las Vegas SpecificGamble for Comps-I am an Mlife Pear member and love the Mlife Perks! With Mlife rewards you can earn comps for gambling which is win-win.

Tier Levels. New members start at the Sapphire Tier Level and achieve Pearl status at 25,000 Tier Credits, Gold at 75,000 Tier Credits and Platinum at 200,000 Tier Credits. The premium level, NOIR, is by invitation only.

Highlights of each Tier Level include:

  • Sapphire – Discounts on rooms, shows and participating retail shops, access to pre-sale tickets to events, concerts and fights, exclusive personalized offers
  • Pearl – Tier Multiplier: 10 percent bonus on points and Express Comps, 10 percent discount at participating retail shops, buffet line passes (Las Vegas only)
  • Gold – Tier Multiplier: 20 percent bonus on points and Express Comps, priority hotel check-in line, VIP line access to nightclubs and pool day clubs
  • Platinum – Tier Multiplier: 30 percent bonus on points and Express Comps, priority Valet and taxi service, at least 15 percent retail discount at participating retail stores
  • NOIR (Invite Only) – Tier Multiplier: 40 percent bonus on points and Express Comps; complimentary limo service to/from airport; guaranteed room, show and restaurant reservations

Using your MLife Card every time you gamble you earn freebies and discounts along the way!

All around I had a blast and despite a few meals that didn’t go our way I got some free meals which made it okay 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash Back for Dining Out

I first must give credit where credit is due.  I like to think that I know everything there is to know about frugality, but let’s be real, I don’t. A friend of mine, Anna, actually referred me to this first program after redeeming her $20 gift card.

The way it works is based on your spend with participating restaurants. At first the list was pretty small and I did not find myself going often but recently they have added a lot of great restaurants that I frequent.  So basically the amount you earn is directly related to how much you spend at any of their participating restaurants, bars, and clubs (including tax and tip, holla!) in a 1 year period.

SDN-03749-1

Members earn 5% back until they have spent $250.

– Members earn 10% back when they have spent more than $250 and less than $750.

– Members earn 15% back when they have spent more than $750.

Perfect! So far I am only at the 10% mark but with their growing list of participating restaurants I think I can get up to 15% soon!

Now, combine this program with Opentable‘s reward program and you may find yourself eating for free a lot more often than you think.

The way it works with OpenTable is that you earn points when you make and honor reservations made through their site or app.  

I put this in bold because reservations made directly through a restaurant’s webiste or by calling them directly do not earn OpenTable points and if you do not honor your reservation (you skip out or don’t check in at the hostess stand), you do not get those points.

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I can say with confidence that about 85% of the time I dine out, the restaurant I go to uses OpenTable. Even if it’s at a slow time (hello, I love a good 5:00pm dinner) or the place never gets crowded, use the app anyways so that you can earn points!

Here is how the points break down:

2,000 Dining Points = $20 Dining Rewards Gift

5,000 Dining Points = $50 Dining Rewards Gift

10,000 Dining Points = $100 Dining Rewards Gift

I use OpenTable for everything in terms of dining out, even work lunches etc. The more you use it the more you earn!

Between these two programs you can be getting rewards money on a monthly basis and that makes a huge difference in cutting into the dining-out-budget!

5 Fast Frugal Tips

Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. This meant that we lived what’s now being termed as the trendy “sustainable lifestyle”.  Being raised that way I learned some things that I got teased for but now have become the zeitgeist for hipsters (by the way I do not use the word hipster pejoratively so don’t rage-message me please!).

I have shared some of these tips with friends and some get laughed at, sure. Sometimes people call me “cheap”, sometimes people love it. So here I am sharing my secrets and you are free to make fun of me if you want, I will laugh with you while I save money.

  1. Re-using Aluminum Foil- Growing up we would wash and re-use aluminum foil all the time, so when I would go to a friend’s house I was amazed that they would toss perfectly good foil. I would say if you had raw meat in it, don’t wash and re-use but otherwise, just lay it flat and run a soapy sponge over it, rinse and voila! Perfectly good for another use or even a few!
  2. Buy Rechargeable Batteries-Again, growing up we always used rechargeable batteries. Why spend so much money (seriously, why are batteries so pricey) on something you’re going to throw away? I have heard people say “well rechargeable batteries don’t last as long and they die after a few years.”  This is not true! I have been using the same rechargeable batteries for 10ish years and they still work great!
  3. Unplug Certain Appliances-There are some appliances you should unplug when not using. While you might not immediately feel the financial benefit, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. I personally unplug the toaster, cablebox/TV (connected with one surge protector), phone chargers, and lamps when they are not being actively used.
  4. Use an Insulated Bag-I recently had a bunch of errands to run and getting groceries was one of them. Rather than make multiple trips which wastes time and gas money, I got an insulated tote at Trader Joe’s (it was $5.99) and was able to put my groceries in there and run errands for 2 hours afterwards without worrying about food spoiling.41c8n3yLHeL._AC_UL320_SR302,320_
  5. Eat Out With Coupons-Not just scoutmobs here! A lot of restaurants have a subscription newsletter that when you sign up you also get coupons. My prime example is Marlow’s Tavern in Georgia.  About once a month they email me a coupon for $10 off a $25 dinner. That’s a huge savings! So when you want to eat out, check out the restaurant’s website. Also check out Yelp Deals. A lot of restaurants offer a free appetizer or discount if you check in. A local example from me is Pinewood in Decatur, Ga. I love their brussels and if you check in on the yelp app while dining there you get the appetizer for FREE!

Keep checking in for more tips on saving money!

 

Ensuring Success with Mail-In Rebates

Mail in rebates are a strange beast. We are in an era of everything online, fast, immediate so the idea of mailing in a receipt and wait for a check in the mail is kind of foreign for most of us.

I wish people weren’t afraid of them because I am here to say, they DO work!

I have a list of ways to ensure you get your rebate no mater what:

cashback

  1. Be over-inclusive-By this I mean if the rebate asks for “the original UPC” I often collapse the box and send the WHOLE THING. I started doing this 12 years ago when a company said they could not “verify the item based on the UPC alone”.  This also helps because a lot of packages have 2 UPCs so it’s hard to know which one to send. By sending the whole box you get rid of the confusion.
  2. Keep a copy of the receipt-If the rebate asks for the original receipt MAKE A COPY of it for your records! This tip comes from an electronics company that had a mail in rebate for $50 on a $200 item. I sent in the receipt and the company said they never got it. I learned my lesson.
  3. Write Legibly-Even if your address is clear on the envelope, if it’s not clear on the form they can refuse to send you the check. Do not give them any reason to deny to claim!
  4. Put the correct email address-I used to put fake email addresses because I did not want to get SPAM. Unfortunately, a lot of rebate companies will communicate issues or problems with your rebate via email, so make sure you put the right one. in general fill out the form correctly.
  5. IF Rejected-Write or call them! I was recently rejected for a rebate on a item. The item had an online form and I filled it out precisely. A week later I got a letter in the mail saying that I did not purchase a qualifying item. What?? I 1000% did! I had the box to prove it! If only they’d asked for the original UPC! Well, in fine print on the bottom of the letter there was an address to send appeals. I sent in the box, the form, the receipt and crossed my fingers. Alas, I got the check in the mail 2 weeks later! So don’t let a rejection discourage you!
  6. Check your rebate status-Follow up on the company’s preferred method whether it’s a 1-800 number or website. And don’t be afraid to complain! You are not in the wrong to ask for what you are entitled to!
  7. Cash the check ASAP-A lot of times the checks or prepaid cards that companies use for rebates expire within 30 days so make sure you use them as soon as you get them!

Weddings on a Budget

A lot of people have asked me in the past how I managed to keep my wedding last year within budget.  At first I created a spreadsheet of the things I did but then that got too messy so I’ve decided to create a blog post.

  1. Michael’s- DIY wedding invitations. These invitations range from $30-$50 for a box of 30 or 40 and with the coupons Michael’s always has you can get a lot of cheap. We ended up getting 120 invitations for $72. That’s less than $1 per invite AND it includes the RSVP card and a nice card holder, tissue etc.  All you need is a regular printer, inkjet or laserjet. Here’s the one we used:invite
  2. Groupon-We used groupon for our photobooth and it was well worth it! Now a lot of groupons expire but don’t let that dissuade you. I emailed the business owners and asked for an extension on the expiration date and the owner agreed.
  3.  Publix-wedding cake-I know you want the fanciest bakery cake ever but the Publix cake tasted better than our fancy one (we did a Publix grooms cake).
  4. Venue-Choose a venue that lets your bring your own booze-This speaks for itself. If you can find a venue that lets your bring your own alcohol you can just go to Costco for your alcohol and save thousands of dollars. That’s what we did!
  5. Wedding Planner-GET A WEDDING PLANNER-We used Wedding Belles and we could not have been more pleased. I know that you think a wedding planner just costs you money but ours actually SAVED us money. They recommended someone for our centerpieces who was significantly cheaper than any other vendor we spoke with. They save you a lot of headache and money, I promise it’s worthwhile. Not only that but our planners had a day-of emergency kit incudling double sided tape, snacks and more. We could not have survived without them.
  6. Wedding dress-I did the Jenny Yoo dress from Nordstrom.com (using ebates for cashback, duh) which ended up costing me about $212.  I then went to a local tailor to get a custom made sequined ribbon to put around my waist for an additional $25. So total I spent $237 for my dream dress. But there are lots of affordable options including Jcrew Bridal, Macy’s Bridal and even some pre-owned options.  I know you cringe at pre-owned but really, with the prices people sell for you can get a designer dress for the fraction of the cost.
  7. THE RING-I will say it once and I will say it again: Diamonds do not have value. I tried selling a diamond ring and eventually successfully sold it for ONE HALF of the original purchase price. And I was lucky! Check out I do now I don’t.  I know, again you are cringing at the thought of a second hand ring but with the thousands of dollars you will save you can get the ring reset at a jeweler and lose the icky bad joojoo.
  8. Bridesmaid’s Dresses-To help your bridesmaids save money try going a non-traditional route and having them get non-bridesmaids dresses. What I mean is fun cocktail dresses. I chose my from ASOS. By choosing something that’s NOT a bridesmaid dress you are giving them a fighting chance of ever wearing the dress after the wedding. Not only that, but everything with the words “bridal” or “wedding” are automatically marked up 50000000%.  By choosing something non-bridal you are guaranteeing that money will be saved!

iBotta Cashback App

I love getting cashback for things I am already going to buy.  There are a lot of apps that let you do that but I have a new favorite.

My go-to-grocery cashback app used to be Snap by Groupon.  But as of March 1 they have changed where you can earn cashback and it’s not at the grocery store.  My world of savings shattered until I found ibotta.

ibotta

Now there are pros and cons to every app and this app is no different.  This app requires that you scan the item’s bar code and the receipt. Sounds easy enough, unless you’re me and have a pantry full of clear-plastic containers where you fill all your grains and such.  So I always have to remember when I buy pasta, rice, chips, etc to save the package so I can scan the bar code first.

I recommended this app to a friend recently who responded “Um, my time is more valuable than this, I don’t need to waste it scanning things to save $0.50”

I’m sorry (read, I’m not sorry at all), unless you’re rich, like your kids’ college-tuition-is-totes-covered-rich, your time is not so valuable that literally 10 seconds to save $0.50 (by the way some of their cashback items are much higher, several dollars) is beneath you.  I literally whipped out my calculator and did the math. At an 8 hour workday, 480 minutes per day.  That’s 28,800 seconds.  That’s 2880 10-second increments. at $0.50/10 seconds you’re looking at earning $1440/day.

So sure, if you earn that much money (aka $28,800/month aka $345,600) then theoretically your time is much more valuable, but that’s also assuming you’d scan things during your work hours.

All I can say is that I have earned about $20 in the past month using this app, and even if that just covers my frozen yogurt addiction, that’s fine with me!