August 15th, 2011

Latest Freebie Finds 08/15/11

by VK

There weren’t many good freebies offered over the weekend, but here’s what I found:

»Free sample of Dove Daily Treatment conditioner.

»Armani Sport Code cologne sample (link is to the far right).

»I ordered this Dentek Floss Pick sample a couple of weeks back, and the “sample” was a full package AND a coupon. Lucky me, since these are a daily must-have in my book!

»Sign up for Dave and Busters Reward Program and get a free $10 in game play. Plus, you’ll earn an additional $10 for every $100 you spend there on food and drinks.

»You may already know that during the month of August, kids eat free at iHop from 4-10 pm. But did you also know that if you join the iHop Pancake Revolution you can get a free meal on your birthday AND offers for big discounts the rest of the year? (Last month, they sent us a $5 off coupon. This month? An offer to buy one entree and two beverages, and get the second entree free. Needless to say, we make iHop a regular Sunday morning stop!)

That’s it on the freebies today. Be sure to visit again soon for my latest finds.

Oh, and look soon for grocery and household item coupons you can print from home!

UPDATE: Kimsch found Downy samples!

August 15th, 2011

No One Told Me BlogHer Was So Wild!

by VK

For years, I’ve toyed with the thought of going to BlogHer. First, there are the obvious reasons: it’s a legitimate excuse to travel without my husband or kids; it would be largely tax-deductible for me since I make my living writing online; and there are hotels — with room service — involved. Okay, they pretty much had me at “hotel with room service”, but I hear the cocktails also flow rather freely.

Plus, I hear there’s plenty of good swag to be had. In fact, I’ve simmered with jealousy when reading some of my favorite female bloggers write about the oodles of neat — and free! — things they’ve brought home from BlogHer over the years. But no one told me there were adult toys involved. Seriously?

Now, I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised. I know some of the women who’ve gone to BlogHer and, let me just say, not all of them strike me as wild and crazy kind of gals. Then again, last year’s BlogHer was in San Diego, California, and just about everyone is nuts out there.

In light of that fact, I have to say I’m rather surprised there weren’t any stories in the news about Mommy Bloggers setting off airport screening alarms because they’d packed their sex toy swag in their carry-on luggage. This tells me that either there weren’t a whole lot of women there scooping up the free gadgets, or they’d sobered up long enough to pack sanely.

Were you there? Which one describes you??? 😉


August 5th, 2011

Fabulous Freebie Finds!

by VK

I’d mentioned last month that I’ve been getting more and more into couponing, and boy is it saving our family some money! Know what else is helping us out financially these days? Getting free stuff! I’m not talking only about the free egift cards for Amazon or CVS that I’ve been earning. I’m talking loot. Samples, and sometimes full-size product offerings.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how’s a sample going to help me save money? The answer is: they often come with a coupon! Plus, if you’ve got a tween, teen or college-age kid, it’s always great to have a nice pile of free snack bars, lotions, shampoos and other items around. They make great rewards — you wouldn’t believe how many chores I can get out of my son in exchange for a chance to pick a snack bar out of my goodie box.

And, if your family’s anything like mine, the kids love to find their Christmas stockings crammed full with a variety of things. So why not cram them full of freebies? (What’s that, it’s too early to think of Christmas shopping? Pshaw. That’s one of the best ways to save money: buy gifts when they’re on sale!)

Here’s a sampling of some freebies I’ve found these past few days. I plan to make a regular feature of my finds, so check back here often for your one-stop freebie ordering page! (Note: As always, the best privacy protection is to set up a separate email account entirely for couponing or freebies.)



June 24th, 2011

I’m Couponing Without Being (Too) Extreme [5 Tips]

by VK

I think it was the fourth, maybe fifth, friend mentioning “Extreme Couponing” to me who finally convinced me to watch the show.

Oh, I’ve never had a complex about using coupons, nor have I understood people who think that using them in public is a sign of poverty. (Little known fact: frequent coupon users tend to be affluent, making $70k/year or more, which kind of raises the chicken and egg question, doesn’t it?) In fact, I’ve clipped coupons on and off throughout my life, just like my mom did and her mother before her, to save $0.25 here and $0.45 there. That’s the kind of couponing most of us think of when we turn up our noses and proclaim, “But I can save more by just buying the store or generic brand.”

If nothing else, TLC’s Extreme Couponing disproves that notion. The ladies and occasional gent featured on the show have ignited a couponing craze after viewers, including me, watched them take home literally thousands of dollars worth of groceries for less than the cost of a movie ticket. “Why,” the thinking goes, “if they can do it, so can I!”

Or, at least, that’s how I got hooked into serious couponing. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not racking up their kind of savings. I’d go so far as to say few people ever really do, and that even the people featured on the show don’t routinely score those kind of deals, either.

With cameras rolling prior to their trips, each and every one has confessed “I’ve never tried to make this big of haul before”, or some variation on that theme. The honest ones admit to using ‘extreme’ tactics to gather the hundreds of coupons they’ll be using on their trip, whether through buying up every copy of the Sunday paper in town or using coupon clipping service. One even went dumpster diving (with her kid and pregnant best friend, no less!) Yet another, Jaime Kirlew, went so far as to ask her store for an alphabetized list of every product they sell, and which aisle it’s located in, so she could prepare her coupons in advance. As to her “preparations”, well… let’s just say she’s been widely accused of coupon fraud, and it’s not the first time, either.

Point is: like many other people who tuned in, I’d hoped to walk out of the grocery store with cart after cart full of groceries, all for a mere $5. When that didn’t happen, my first instinct was to blame myself. Fortunately, my second instinct was to do some research on the matter and, like millions of other viewers, I came to the conclusion that this is just another ‘reality TV program’ that has very little to do with reality.

But I didn’t stop couponing. In fact, I’ve stuck with it and, through trial and error (and a couple of tricks I share below), I’m getting pretty good at it as you can see by the pictures of my receipts up there! So, without further ado, here are my five best tips for cutting your grocery bill with coupons… realistically:
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June 16th, 2011

Styling For The Summer

by VK

With the Big-Eyed Boy rapidly approaching his teenage years, it’s rare that we agree on anything, much less clothing. He’s just at that age where he’d rather communicate in eye-rolls, sneers, huffs and stomps. Most days I wait at the breakfast table with baited breath, wondering if today will be the day he storms down the stairs clad head-to-toe in black with some death-metal band’s name emblazoned on his t-shirt, his hair a greasy flop falling into his eyes, his nails painted black to proclaim he’s gone goth.

But this morning when he came downstairs I was checking out the nautical-themed Costa Brava line of boys clothing from Tea Collection. So imagine my surprise when, glancing over my shoulder, he proclaimed they were “cool looking clothes”.

I’d already been taken in by their crisp lines and retro vibe, and the way the entire clothing line evokes summers in Hyannis Port, or maybe Charleston — some sunny place where the air smells of saltwater and warm grass. You know, the lazy kind of summer a mother daydreams about, as if dressing a kid in a certain style could actually change how that kid behaves. Or so, at least, I’d been telling myself when I started to close the browser window.

“Wait, Mom,” said my Big-Eyed Boy (in a voice that I can’t help noticing is starting to get husky). “I’d look pretty cool wearing that t-shirt when we’re fishing at the lake this summer, don’t you think?” Right then, as the sun streamed through our kitchen windows to light up the golden strands in his hair and the breeze carried in the scent of fresh-mown lawns, I realized that, yes, he really would.