Category Archives: dining

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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Be Afraid to Ask

This week’s post is a little late and it’s a little more advisory than usual but it something I always do–Ask Questions.

I have a specific example to use here. I use Publix Digital Coupons whenever I shop at Publix.

Publix had a deal for BOGO on this amazing, expensive, overpriced delicious peanut butter called Dark Chocolate Dreams.  If you’ve never had this stuff before, don’t get it, it’s like crack.

So when there was BOGO with a May 30 expiration, I wanted to jump on it! I added it to my Publix digital coupons and went to the store the next day.  When I went to the store, however, it wasn’t there.  It disappeared. I was so annoyed and asked the manager and he told me he had no idea what happened.

So I took to twitter and asked!

Publix

Publix’s answer was less than helpful. They basically said the coupons are there until a certain, undefined number of those coupons are used, after which they disappear. Consumers have no way to know when the coupon is “used up” so it’s a game of roulette.

So I asked the manufacturer themselves.

Peanut

They apologized and sent me coupons. Problem solved, right? Wrong. The deal through Publix was BOGO but they sent me coupons for $0.50 and $1.00 off.  At almost $5/jar, these coupons did not do much.  I reached back out to the manufacturer and they sent me a coupon for BOGO!

Tada! Problem solved…..after a lot of hassle that is. But for me this was worth it! I never got to use the deal through publix and it was a great deal so I am glad I went through the effort.

I always think it’s worth asking when a deal is promised or advertised. The worst case scenario is that you will hear no, but more often than not you will get help because businesses thrive on customer service.

Next week I will be writing a post on my favorite hotel point systems so stay tuned!

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.

eye 1

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!