December 30, 2009

Fareway Deals week of 12/30/09

Fareway has some really good deals in the ad that starts today.  Your individual store may also be doing additional savings on New Year's Eve.  Mine stuck a flyer in my grocery sack Monday with some really good savings.  Here are just some highlights from my ad.

  • Shortloins for $3.99 a pound.  You have to purchase the whole shortloin, which could be around 20 pounds.  While that sounds like a lot of meat, the short rib is where the Porterhouse and T-bone steaks are.  The meat counter will cut the steaks to the size you want, package them all the way you want them packaged, and even trim the fat if that's what you want.  The last time they had this deal, I was able to get 20 steaks for under $4 each.  We packaged them 2 per package and have lots of steaks for grilling.
  • 1 pound packages of baby carrots for 66 cents each.  I keep these in the door of the fridge for the kids to snack on.  
  • $3.99 for 12 packs of soda---Coke and Pepsi products, but $6.49 for Pepsi and Mountain Dew cases.  6 packs of 24 ounce bottles are 4/$12, which makes it 50 cents per bottle.  I don't use much soda, but these sound like great deals.
  • 24 oz package of Fastco string cheese for $4.79.  The cheapest this normally goes is $4.99.
  • $2.89 for 16 oz packages of Fastco cheese, looks like it includes any kind of cheeses.
  • 99 cents a bag for Dole Salad Mix.
  • Limes 5/$2.
There are many more deals, but these are the ones that most interested me.  In my local ad (if you "know" me, you know which Fareway that would be) there are 3 pound bags of individual boneless skinless chicken breasts for $3.99 (that $1.33 a pound!), fresh boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.49/lb, butterfly pork chops for $1.99/lb, and many other good deals for 12/31 only.

If you load up on chicken breasts, you can refer to my What to Do with Chicken post for how to prepare and package the meat.  Some of the marinades will also work well with pork chops, or you can also use your own favorite recipes.

Don't forget to look at the widget over there >>> to find the coupons you need to go with your deals or for your other shopping needs.  If you need a refresher on where to find other coupons, you can check out my Couponing 101 post.

December 28, 2009

AND I Am Back...with clearance deals

I have neglected the best time to shop for Holiday items...Right NOW. Target is having a really good toy and Holiday clearance in store--probably the holiday items will be 75% off tomorrow or Wednesday. The toys are currently 30% off, and there are a LOT of them. They also have an extensive 75% off section online right now. Expect them to add to that as the New Year comes and goes.

Look around at all of your stores, though. We have a Ben Franklin with awesome clearance deals as well, and almost every big AND little store will have similar sales right now.

Amazon is of course blowing it out with some good year end deals. They are also still having daily lightning deals on Toys, with some good deals for only a short period of time. I don't know how long the lightning deals will continue, but you can check first thing every morning and they allow you to scan through all the deals with the times they start. Also look at the new year end deals deals daily.

Long Time, No Post--Freebies?

Maybe some freebies will make up for the lack of posting with all the Christmas crazy going on around here.

  • First off, has a lot of great new coupons, including some good Leapfrog deals. Did your kids get some Leapsters or Tag Readers from the great Amazon deals? Get them some games to go with them or save money on the systems with the new coupons.
  • Next, you can sign up on the Cheerios website to get 4 $1 coupons.
  • Free stress relief downloads.
  • Download a free Beatles song from Blackberry.
  • Free sample of Galaxy Granola!
  • Free taco from Taco Bell.
  • Freebie bag from Orient Watch. It's a surprise!
  • Free beauty samples.
  • Free one year subscription to Taste of Home magazine. I love this one.
  • Free sample of Canker Melts.
  • Free Redbox codes! TGZD57V, ACME25, DVDONME, DVDATWAG (only at Walgreens)
  • Free ebook downloads: HERE and HERE and HERE.
  • Don't forget, if you have a Kindle Reader, Amazon has many free books available HERE
Enjoy! I will be back with some more substantial posts Wednesday.

December 23, 2009

FREE Two Year Subscription to LEGO Magazine!

Here's a great gift for the child (or adult who acts like a child) in your life. It's a free two year subscription to LEGO magazine. Just go to this page and over on the top right is a link to sign up for the subscription. Yay, freebie!

What to Do with Ground Beef

Much like my previous post, What to do with chicken, this post will have some ideas for once a month cooking and stockpiling while using current store sales.

Our local Fareway often has a tube of 93% lean ground beef for around $1.79 a lb, sometimes even less. You have to purchase the whole tube, which is 10 pounds. Some people see this and think, what would I do with 10 pounds of ground beef? I have several ideas. First, you can usually have the butcher divide it up into 1-2 lb packages if that is how you would use it. I don't do this, because how do you use ground beef when you buy it? I will make meatloaf occasionally, but for the most part I brown it for Italian style dishes or I make meat for tacos or enchiladas.

Here is what I do when I find myself with 10 pounds of ground beef. I bring the tube home and start preparing it to freeze.
  • Ground beef for casseroles or "helper"--For two pounds, I add a chopped onion and a few cloves of minced garlic, then some salt and pepper to taste. I brown two pounds at a time and put it all in my large Tupperware bowl in the fridge to cool. I may do this with all 10 pounds, or sometimes only half of it. 2 to 2.5 cups is equal to 1 lb for recipes, so I freeze that much into a quart sized freezer bag.
  • Taco meat--For three pounds, I add enough taco seasoning packets (or your own mixture of seasonings) to season, plus a chopped onion. I brown it up and cool it in a separate bowl. Because the prepared taco seasoning often has a lot of salt, I use 2 packets for 3 pounds so there's slightly less seasoning in it. Sometimes I will do 2 pounds with one packet of seasoning. Do what works for you. 2 to 2.5 cups is equal to 1 lb for recipes, so I freeze that much into a quart sized freezer bag.
I actually use this measuring cup filled to the brim to fill the bags. It's a two cup measure, but if you fill to the top it's pretty close to 2.5 cups which is "officially" 1 pound. Also pictured below is the large Tupperware bowl I use for any time I cook large batches of anything. I love that it has a lid, and I can let the food cool in the fridge till I'm ready to freeze it.

  • My meatloaf--For two pounds, mix up the meatloaf of your choice. I do not use a set recipe for meatloaf, but I try to make the most of it healthwise by using the leftover heels or crusts from my whole grain bread instead of white bread crumbs. I have also used oatmeal with great results. I always use a can of diced tomatoes without draining it. In addition, I will finely grate or chop a zucchini or some carrots (or both) to get more veggies into our meals. You can add pureed veggies as well, and I often "stretch" the meat by adding a can of black beans. I add one or two eggs to bind it together, then season to our family's taste. I divide this into 2 or 3 disposable (but not) 8x8 pans and freeze without cooking it. When I am ready to cook, I thaw it overnight in the fridge and bake for 45 minutes in a 350* oven.
  • If your family likes meatballs, this works the same way. I form the meatballs and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer with wax paper or parchment paper, then remove them and put them into a ziploc bag once they are frozen. This way, they don't all stick together. Again, don't cook them until you are ready to serve, which helps keep them from drying out.
These are the freezer containers I use. I buy several at a time and use them over and over till the lids break or they get too rough looking. These are both freezer and oven safe, so they work great. I mostly use the smaller one because it is a size that works great for our family of two adults and two small kids, but the larger ones work well for larger families or for taking to potlucks.

The best part about this is that it might take 2 hours to prepare all this meat, but it saves so much time later on when you need something fast to cook for dinner. Just like the chicken, you can do whatever your family likes. I adapted recipes to the way our family likes to eat. This 10 pound tube of ground beef may have saved us up to 50 cents a pound and also saves us a lot of cooking time. I decide when I get the meat how I want to prepare it. You can also make patties for hamburgers and freeze those in the same way I described for meatballs.

December 20, 2009

Probably My Last Amazon Holiday Post

It's the last day to get your items in time for Christmas with 2 day shipping, so we're nearing the end of the awesome deals. If you have put it off so far, you may be in luck! Especially if you are in the market for family board games, there are a million good deals, and I'm talking in the $3-$5 range.

Make the best of your family game nights, even if you don't need these for holiday gifts.

These deals cycle in and out FAST, so if you see a game you like, I guarantee it's not getting cheaper than it is right now. As I am posting them, these games are all under $5. Good luck and happy shopping!

If you need some last minute magazine deals, they have a few $5.00 and $10.00 magazine subscriptions. (click the dollar amount) My favorite is Entertainment Weekly for $10 for a year! That's 52 magazines and 95% off cover price.

December 19, 2009

Surveys--My Favorite

This is my favorite survey company, and they are VERY RARELY looking for new people. If you're an avid follower of my blog, you'll be lucky to get in by clicking on the banner ad at the top of the page in this blog. Good luck! They have sent me about 5 surveys in the last week, and every time you do a survey for them, they pay you $3 straight to your paypal account within a couple of hours.

These ads don't last long, because they don't recruit too often. Jump on it!

December 17, 2009

One More Good Gift Idea

It's the last day for free super saver shipping from Amazon, and it's only 1 week till Christmas Eve, can you believe it's here already? I just found a nice deal on cashmere and Pashmina scarves. There is shipping, but I think with the low prices and some BOGO type deals, it is still a good buy.

There are two different styles, with different prices and deals. First the pictures, then the description of how to make the most of it.

The first is a cashmere pashmina shawl, and quite large. They have a 4 star rating with many reviews, so even though it's marked down from $125 to $25, I'd say it is worth it. They have two deals, use code FALLBOGO to buy 2 and get 1 free, or use SALE2009 for 15% off if you purchase more than one. I tried this, and it brings the price of 3 to $55 (shipping included.) It looks like these items won't make it for Christmas, though, unless you use expedited shipping.

The second one ranges anywhere from $6.99 to $8.99 depending on color, and it looks like you can buy several of the scarves without too much addition to the shipping cost. If you spend $75 or more, you will get free shipping. I was able to put 11 scarves in my cart for just under $76 shipped.

December 15, 2009

Awesome Gift Idea for $14.99!

This is one of those gifts that goes for the WOW factor. You purchase a set of tea flowers (they open up into flowers while the tea is steeping) and you get a free tea pot to go with it. Just add both of these items to your cart, and it will take off $24.99 (the price of the pot) when you check out. It doesn't get much better than that.

It doesn't have to be this set of flowers, there are a few others from which to choose.

Love it!

December 14, 2009

Nice Bedding Deals

Amazon has some good deals on bedding. I thought they were worth sharing. There are a lot of different styles of high thread count sheets, flannel sheets, duvet sets, and down comforters and throws. Though it's often difficult to trust purchasing things online without seeing or touching them first, I usually search for those fulfilled by Amazon (free shipping) and with 4 to 5 star ratings.

I also wanted to let people know that as deal expire, I may be going back and deleting some of the posts. I want the main focus of my blog to be more of the frugal living aspect, so I hate to clog up the archives with items that are no longer good deals.

Prices on Amazon change rapidly. When I post these deals, they are generally 50% or more off, or what I consider a good deal. Once items sell out, they are still often offered by 3rd party sellers through Amazon, and you'll see higher prices and often shipping charges. Be sure to double check that before you order.

Amazon also has an exciting new program. They offer a chance for you to order immediately using a "Payphrase." You make up a 2 or 3 word phrase and also have a numerical PIN, and if you enter those instead of putting the item into your cart, you can also get 10% cash back on your orders. What a great way to save even more! I've tried it out already and it was very simple. See a better explanation HERE.

Fun Cheap Shopping

There are several good sites that offer a really great deal on just one item. It's available all day or until it sells out, and then there is a new product the next day. I have been able to get some really great deals on sites like these.

Woot is probably the best known of these sites. Woot has 5 sites, kidswoot, winewoot, good ol' woot, shirtwoot, and selloutwoot. The best part is that you can see all the items sold on all of them from the main Woot page. These items are extremely marked down and you pay $5.00 shipping no matter what the item.

1Sale A Day is fun. The item they offer is usually FREE, but you have to pay $5.99 shipping. Not too long ago, I purchased the steering wheel and tennis racket for the Wiimotes. These would have cost somewhere between $6-10 each, so it's a good savings. Today they have a digital photo keychain.

There are many more sites of this type, and someone has of course started a site that tracks all of the deals.

December 13, 2009

What to Do with Chicken

If you're living on a budget, you are going to end up eating a lot of chicken. For that matter, many families are hesitant to eat red meat due to health concerns. When chicken breasts go on sale, I buy as much as they'll let me. For a savings of often 60 cents a pound, buying up 10 pounds at a time is a great money saver. It can then become a time saver for you, so I want to explain what I do when I find myself with 10 full boneless skinless chicken breasts.

I use boneless skinless breasts, but you can do a lot of the same things with wings, thighs, legs, or you can even buy whole chickens and take them apart yourself for these recipes.
  • Bake at least 3 in a large stoneware dish, put in 1 cup water, salt and pepper to taste, and 4 cloves minced garlic at 350 for 1 hour. When they come out, I let them cool enough to work with, then cut them into strips, shred, or cut into bite-sized pieces for casseroles. I then put 2 to 2.5 cups of chicken in freezer bags. When a recipe calls for 1 pound of chicken, I just pull one out to throw in.
  • The next thing I do is put one raw breast in a freezer bag or container with a marinade to freeze. This way, the chicken marinates while it thaws in your refrigerator. It's a huge time saver. I have a lot of different recipes that I use, and you may have your own favorites.
  • Teriyaki sauce (you can purchase this or make it very easily). If you put a little extra in with the breasts, it's great to throw in with some mixed veggies and serve over rice for a fast stir fry.
  • BBQ sauce, nothing fancy, I just use prepared BBQ sauce and pour it into the bags with the chicken.
  • Italian dressing is great over chicken, pour it in and freeze.
  • Any sort of vinaigrette is also good for this purpose.
When these are in your freezer recipe-ready, you'll not only save time but you'll be a lot more likely to grab one out if you are rushed for time and a lot less likely to drive through somewhere or order pizza. This also saves money and gives your family a healthier meal.

Teriyaki Marinade
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. soy sauce
1 tsp. grated or minced ginger
1 clove garlic

Balsamic Marinade
1/2 C. peanut oil
1/3 C. soy sauce
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
2 T. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. hickory smoke
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 C. parsley

Sesame Marinade (sesame chicken)
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. sesame seeds

If you want to triple it, use 1 Tablespoon of each and 3 cloves of garlic.

Fast Chicken Casserole
1 bag of precooked chicken
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom
1 package of any noodles or pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the noodles, then throw it all together and stir. I often add 1-2 cups of frozen veggies in this as well.

Fast Italian Chicken Bake
1 bag of precooked chicken
1 large jar or two cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes (don't drain)
1 tsp italian seasoning, or your own blend
2 cloves minced garlic
1 package any pasta (we like multicolored rotini)

Mix everything together without cooking the pasta first, cover with cheese (or don't, your choice), then cover with foil and bake at 350* for 45 minutes. If you used cheese, take the foil off for the last 10-15 minutes. This is also good with a package of thawed frozen spinach mixed in.

December 11, 2009

More Good Finds

Seinfeld Monopoly $4.99, Beatles Monopoly $9.99, many Tag Reader books in the $5.00 range:

A great little stocking stuffer game for $4.99

December 10, 2009

Dining Out on a Dime (or slightly more)

Eating out is often the first expense cut when budgets need to be revised or down-sized. Especially once you get a few kids into the family, eating out together can cost upwards of $50. If you eat out just once a week, you've added $200 in extra expenses for the month. Because of this, getting to eat out can often be a luxury that a family just can't afford.

So, how can you make the most of your dining dollar? There are many ways.
  • If I order pizza from a local place, I will ask "are there any deals going on right now?" Many times, they will have a buy one get one free offer, or get free drink or breadsticks with purchase. It never hurts to ask.
  • Many cities have chain places that deliver pizza. These places often have special deals if you order online or coupons that you can find in the Sunday circulars. Just as an example, I went to Pizza Hut's webpage and entered my address, and the following offers came up: 5 breadsticks and a 2 liter for $3.99, 2 medium pizzas and an order of breadsticks for $14.99, lunch buffet for $5 (obviously this one is printable).
  • If you'd like to dine out, there are also options for saving money. Get to know your favorite local restaurants. Many offer free kids meals on certain days. Ask at the restaurant you like--Tuesday is a very common day for free children's meals.
  • is awesome for local restaurant discounts. The way this works is this, you will buy what is essentially a coupon for the restaurant. They have $10 coupons for $4, $25 for $10, etc. I most often purchase the $25 coupon, so I will explain using that one. I will wait for to have a sale (they often have 70% and even up to 90% off) and then stock up on the restaurants we like. You have up to a year to use most of them. Using the example of the 90% off coupon, I would buy a $25 GC for $1, take it to the restaurant, and spend at least $35 on food. They will add an 18% gratuity to the check BEFORE the coupon and of course you'll pay sales tax, but that $35 bill would have cost us $35+20% gratuity=$42. With the use of the coupon, it will now be $10.00+6.30 gratuity+$1 for the coupon, or $17.30. Even if you paid full price for the coupon, it still saves your family $15.
  • Local to my area only (if you're in central Iowa, you're in luck!) there are Real Deals which lets you get $50 in gift cards to local places for $25. These restaurants change every Wednesday, and the gift cards go fast, so check back often on them. I'm sure other cities have similar options.
If you know of other ways to save money on eating out, let me know through the comments. I'd love to add more information for people to share.

How to Get and Try New Products FREE

If you're like me, you're always curious about new products, but maybe you don't want to waste your money on them if they're no good. One of the best ways, of course, is to watch the weekly coupons. New products almost always have the high value coupons in order to entice people to check them out. Many of our favorite websites also will offer free samples through their email list, their website, or freebie pages. This was how I first tried Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, one of my all time favorite products. They mailed it to me, I stuck it under the sink, and when someone wrote all over my wall with a marker, I found it, it worked miracles, and I was hooked.

Here are some other good ways to get to try out new products, and some even pay you in cash or other free products.

Bzzagent is a great site. Their goal is a different style of advertising, called viral advertising. Basically, they discovered that word of mouth is the best advertising a product can get, so they send out products along with valuable coupons to their agents. The idea of this is that you get it, try it and like it, then you tell all your friends how much you love it and they buy it, too. What's better? They encourage you to write reports about the conversations you've had about the product, and give you points (through MyPoints, even) for each report you write.

Vocalpoint (done by Proctor and Gamble) is somewhat similar, though they don't pay you to write reports. They will send out a pile of coupons or sometimes the actual sample, then they will maybe ask you to do a poll on the product. It's a fun community as well.

SheSpeaks is a lot like Vocalpoint. I have only recently joined them, so I am not as familiar with their methods. They also send out items to test and have an online community for people to discuss different products. Go ahead and try it out with me.

The great thing is that you don't have to pay anything at all to try new things, and you get to tell all your friends about the next big up-and-coming products.

One thing I would like to add. Often times you will see a banner ad on a webpage or get an email from someone claiming that you can try out and keep laptops, etc. These kinds of things are indeed scams, either looking to take your money for nothing or get a lot of your information for spammers. Please remember that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. No company should ask you for money to join their trial offers or ask you to pay even a nominal fee for a "free" trial.

December 8, 2009

Snow Day Freebies

It looks like most of the country is being hit (or will be soon) by a large winter storm. May as well get a few freebies while you are stranded in your house. This is the view out my front window of about 3 inches of snow out of our expected 8-12. After we get all that snow, mother nature is sending in the wind to blow it into giant drifts.

So, enough about the weather! How about some freebies? Remember, these can go fast if enough people catch wind, so act fast if you want them. Some may last for months, so go ahead and check the old threads. It's worth a try.

  • Free ebooks from Sesame Street.
  • Free Stacey's pita chips when you friend them on Facebook.
  • I just got another great freebie from Vocalpoint. That one's over, but they send them out all the time. They send out samples of a lot of products, plus tons of coupons that they want you to share with your friends. Nothing wrong with that. Sign up for Vocalpoint HERE so you're ready for the next freebies.
  • Free samples from Splenda.
  • Free knee pain guide.
  • Free earplugs from 3M.
  • Free Gettysburg visitor's guide.
  • Free sample of personal lubricant.
  • Free glucose meter, but then you'll get tons of junkmail from Quality Health. Some people like them, I don't. Use a spam email if you don't.
  • Oooh, a free scented bookmark for reading your trashy novels. What could be better?
  • Free hot beverage from 7-11. Wish I had one closer, because looks like you could print as many as you want.
  • $3 coupon for GE Holiday Lights.
I had another good mail day, worth slogging through the snow to get $15 in SC Johnson rebate checks (you can still try for these, very easy), $35.70 from Inbox Dollars, $5 coupon from Toys R Us, and 3 $10 off coupons for JC Penney.

December 7, 2009

Freebies from Amazon

If you're there buying those Wii games or finishing up your last minute holiday shopping, you may as well get some free music and books, right?

Amazon is doing a free download a day on their site. It's almost all Christmas music, but I see some pretty popular artists on there. Check HERE every day till Christmas.

They also have a lot of free books for the Kindle Reader. I don't have this, but it certainly looks like a cool way to read your books. The free book list makes me think you could read a lot before you have to pay for one. If you look at that bestseller list, you'll find the free books are high on the list.

December 6, 2009

Good Shopping Weekend

I'd like to show an example of how you can stock up on items for little out of pocket. Remember that Band-Aid deal I showed earlier? I went to Walgreens to take advantage of some of their weekly RR deals.

In their weekly ad, they had:
  • 8 packs of Sharpies, normally $8.99, marked down to $3.99.
  • Scotch tape was buy one get one free. $1.79
  • Band-Aids, regularly $3.99, on sale 2/$3.00. Used the $2 off coupon from the Children's Activity book. I bought four packs, and it either adjusted the coupon to where I saved $1.50 per box, or the limit was for 3 items. $1 RR.
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes were 4/$10.00. I used a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off 2 brushes, another one for $1 off 2 toothpastes. I used the Walgreens coupons for $1 off from the Childrens Activity book. $5 in RR.
So, for those items, total before sale and coupons=$44.49
Total paid=$9.78
Register Rewards received=$6.00

Total actual cost=$3.78.**

Then I went to Target to get the big Christmas gift for our family. We decided earlier in the year that we wanted to buy a Wii. I set about saving to make sure that we could get it. We got a bonus right off the bat when Nintendo lowered the price from $249 to $199. I saved up my rewards from MyPoints and had $100 in Target gift cards, and bided my time for them to offer a gift card with purchase of the Wii. This week was the week, and as luck would have it, they also offered a coupon on their web page for a free Nunchuk with purchase of a Wii. A friend called and offered a coupon she had received for $15 gift card with purchase of $150.

So for about $100** out of pocket, I got a Wii console, a nunchuk, and $35 in Target gift cards to use when I need them.

**I did not take sales tax into account on either of these shopping experiences, because tax differs from place to place.

Some Good Cooking Resources

I do enjoy cooking, though some days if we're running 10 different directions, it's great to be able to pull something out of the freezer to eat. The great thing about once a month cooking (OAMC, though I don't really do it once a month) is that when these meals are prepared by you, you know what ingredients were used. Every family has different dietary restrictions and preferences, so you can also personalize the recipe or adapt a family favorite for freezing.

I use a variety of resources for cooking, though not too often do I get out an actual cookbook. I have learned a lot from my perusal of the 'net, so I will share some of my bookmarks.

  • Crock pot or slow cooker cooking. There are a ton of recipes out there, but no one has the variety of A Year of Slow Cooking. She cooked a different recipe in her crock pot every day for one year, and there are so many delicious options.
  • Good everyday recipe finder. One of my favorite online cooking resources is Recipezaar. They let you search for recipes by ingredients, or even by not having a certain ingredient. If you need a specific recipe, you can bet it will be there. The recipes also have reviews, so you can sort by what has the best review.
  • Once a month cooking. There are a few good choices here. I love 30 Day Gourmet. They have a fairly extensive free section, or buy their freezer cooking manual and have access to everything. I also will browse Recipezaar by typing OAMC into the search area.
  • Budgeting and meal planning. I love the Hillbilly Housewife. She has menus for every budget, tips for saving money on about anything, and lots of good information on cooking from scratch. Be sure to check out her emergency meal plans for when you have only a very limited amount to spend on groceries.
  • More menus than you can imagine. There's nothing like browsing other people's meal plans for finding good ideas. I know I often hit a brick wall trying to decide what to cook for the week. One person would eat steaks and potatoes every day, one would be happy with mac and cheese, and when I ask for help with planning, I get very little. That's why I love I'm an Organizing Junkie. (I know I am not.) She not only has her own menu plan for the week, but links to lots of other people's blogs with menus. It really helps when you get into a cooking rut.

December 4, 2009

I Spy Bags

I've been working on some I Spy bags to donate for our church's busy bags for kids. My first one actually went pretty well, though I had a mishap with the photos that I took while making it. I must say to preface this: I really want to be a crafter. I have good intentions, and I try hard to plan well, but I always make mistakes. Since I'm donating them to the church rather than selling them, I feel like I should be allowed a few errors.

I Spy bags are beanbags made with little toys/buttons/beads inside and a small viewing window to find all the little toys inside. The child manipulates the bag to find all the items inside. It's a great quiet activity to keep little ones sitting tight for a little while, keeping hands busy doing something positive.

When I researched for directions, I found that some people make them about 4 inches, which seemed way too small, and others made them about 7 inches, which seemed about right. I made a 4 inch one to start with, figured I would make it for my little girl and get the kinks out on that one.

I used a small remnant of polar fleece, and put in a few small items and the letters to spell out the little one's name. I thought a circle would be easier to sew around and i wouldn't have to worry about getting it set squarely in the middle of a fairly small square. I was wrong there, and I also lost my photo with all the pieces inside for making the label for things to look for. She's 2.5, so she really didn't mind.

Here's a close-up of the viewing window. I've since washed off the marker I used to draw the circle, and trimmed a little closer, so it does look slightly better, if not entirely circular now.

Below is the finished product. I stitched around the outside and used pinking shears to trim the edges. I think this made it a lot easier to make, without having to turn it and hand stitch the opening closed. This one turned out ok, though I think the sharp-edged screw was probably a bad choice for a pre-schooler's toy.

The next project I tried was a 7-8 inch bag. I think I cut the fabric at 8 inches, but with 3/8 inch seams all around. I used some fleece for a local sports team and tried to get the logo in. Since it had an argyle pattern, I decided to use one of the little diamond shapes as the viewing window. The first one, I stitched around three sides of the bag, then remembered I hadn't done the viewing window first. I went back and did the window without it stitched together. It's tough to see here, but the whiter square is where I've sewed the plastic in and cut away the fabric on top.

Next I chose the items to go inside. I used mostly beads, and some buttons from the craft store, along with a few random things to fill out the bunch. The letters spell out "Go Hawks."
I stitched the two sides together, filling it with the filler items and poly pellets, then again cut around with pinking shears. I thought I would like the larger size better, but it seems that the smaller size is better suited for little hands. The big one is also pretty heavy and I think it could easily stretch out the fleece and become misshapen. I think I'll go smaller in the future. Here's the picture of the finished project, do you spy a soccer ball?
Photobucket Photobucket

December 2, 2009

Great Freebie!

Saw this one on Deal Seeking Mom. Get a free tote bag from Aveeno.

Also, Amazon has a lot of the Transformers 2 movie Transformers for $7.99 each. I'll link one, but if you go down under the item description, you'll find many more at that price.

Some Good Inexpensive Gift Ideas

Woman Within has some great inexpensive stocking stuffers for under $5. I have purchased some of their bags in the past and used them to pack my gifts in. They are great for theme gifts. Here are a few I've done.
  • a movie bag, put in some popcorn and movies.
  • a pampering bag with some lotions, body wash, etc.
  • family game night, put in an inexpensive family game and some snacks.
  • you can put in some slipper socks and a n0-sew throw.
  • a book and come hot chocolate, coffee, or tea.
Here is the link to the items. All are $5 and under, and there's a great selection for right now. These go fast, though.

December 1, 2009

Stockpiling Household Needs

Some of these items--toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, lotions--can get very expensive. A trip to the store to get a few items can easily total $20 or more. There are often coupons, and this can help, but what you really need to do is stockpile these items when you can get them cheap--or in some cases free.

I am a recent convert to Walgreens shopping. Some of my friends have been going there for a long time, but it seemed to me that everything was so expensive. Why go somewhere and pay more? Here's why. Register Rewards. Walgreens also puts out their own coupon books every month that provide a coupon stacking opportunity. When you put Walgreen's coupons together with manufacturer's coupons, and then add in the Register Rewards, there are often time when you are getting paid to take some items away.

Here is a brief explanation and I'll use an example from this week's Walgreens deals.

Character Bandaids (like Spongebob, etc.) are on sale 2 for $3. That's a decent price, and who doesn't use bandaids? Walgreens has a coupon in the Children's Activity Booklet (can be purchased in store, it's a coloring book with a lot of good coupons) that gives you $2 off PER package. Now you've gone from paying $1.50 per package, to having an overage of 50 cents per package. Throw in the Register Rewards that they have this week for another $1 when you buy two. You've now MADE $2 on this item.

Some caveats here:
  • You'll have to add in a filler item in order for the coupons to deduct the full amount. There are many other items you may need for the household that might not be on sale, so just add in something that is over $1.
  • Register Rewards are a little confusing at first. It prints out as a Walgreen's coupon when you get your receipt. You can use these on any item the next time you shop in the store. You will only get one Register Reward per deal, so if you buy 4 packages of bandaids, you'll still only get $1 RR.
  • However, if you come in the next day, you can get the deal again as long as you don't use the same RR. Meaning, you can't use that $1 RR to purchase the bandaids or you won't have a new one print out.
I will post the link for my favorite coupon matchup site for Walgreens deals. Common Sense with Money has all the deals for you, so give it a look. There are new deals every week, and more new deals that last for a month.

Some can go overboard with stockpiling, but I usually try to only get a few extras of most items. Toothpaste and makeup items can expire, so you will lose money if you get too carried away.

Good Mail Day

I have mentioned before how much I love getting good mail. Today in the mail, I received:
  • 2 $15 off $15 coupons for Lane Bryant, plus a 40% off coupon that they encourage me to combine.
  • 1 $10 off $30 coupon for Bath and Body Works.
  • Free sample of Nature Valley Nut Clusters and coupon.
  • Free sample of Nature Valley granola bar and coupon.
  • 25 lb bag of Poly Pellets, for a craft project I'm doing for our church. I will do a post on this when I get some done.
Maybe it's time for some good freebies while I'm posting about getting the freebies (except the poly pellets.)

  • Free MP3 downloads from Amazon.
  • And two free songs from Oprah. Today only.
  • Free samples and bath salt recipe from Veria.
  • Free signed bookplate for the book Freakonomics. This was a great book and I understand he has a new one out.
  • Free Mighty Small OB tampons.
  • Free fall recipes book. Download or get by mail.
  • Free dog "waste" disposal bags.
  • Free Redbox code! Use SPNSV9 once per debit/credit card.
  • Don't forget your free batteries from Staples.

US Census Hiring

The US Census is hiring for temporary employees right now, with flexible hours. The pay is between $10-$20 per hour, depending on your area and what you do. You can read more on the Census Webpage. It would be a great way to earn a little extra money in the short term to help pay off extra bills.

November 29, 2009

Why I Love Staples

Staples Rewards make it easy to save a lot of money.
  • First off, it's FREE to be a Staples Rewards member. You can even register online.
  • 10% cash back on ink and paper? LOVE.
  • $3 cash back per ink cartridge you bring in to be recycled--up to 10 per month!
  • AND NOW! Staples is offering you free batteries, and lots of them! See the deal HERE, but get your full amount spent on batteries back, 2 per week, until Christmas. That's 2 every week for 4 weeks, up to 8 free packs of batteries. Yes, you have to pay for them, but they will refund every bit of it.
  • They are also DOUBLING the rewards this month for ink and paper purchases and recycling the cartridges! $6 per cartridge and 20% cash back.

Cyber Monday Shopping

Go to your favorite sites on Monday to see what they have going on for their Cyber Monday deals. In case you aren't familiar with the term, Cyber Monday is the online version of Black Friday. It has just been within the last few years that stores have been trying to woo shoppers with special online deals in the first days after Black Friday in the stores. This is often a better way to shop because you don't have to get up early, wait in long lines, only to discover that there are so few items in the store that you missed what you were waiting for.

Amazon is really going after people's business, and they are once again trying to get in early on the online shopping deals by taking other retailers' Cyber Monday deals and offering them online for an hour or two at a time. It's going on right now! Go check out amazon's Cyber Monday deals for yourself. Some of these items are gone before they've been up for a few seconds, so you'll have to camp out to get some of the best deals.

Some of my favorite deals today:
Back to the Future Trilogy for $10.49!

Some good toy deals:

Some home deals I like:

Check out the Movers and Shakers page to find the best deals! You can bet that if an item is deeply discounted, it has moved to the top of the list and won't last long, so jump quickly if you see something you like.

The Tricks to Online Bargain Shopping

Online shopping can often be a great time saver, or it allows you to shop at stores you don't have in your area. Some people run into problems with it also being a money saver, so I want to offer a few helpful hints.

  • Before you shop at an online retailer, do your homework. Most stores offer discount codes for free shipping or a percentage off. I NEVER go to any store without first looking for a discount code. You can look for codes by googling "store X coupon code" or you can have some websites in your shopping favorites list. I have a few favorites for finding discounts. My all-time favorite is Naughty Codes, but I've also found codes at Current Codes and Retailmenot.
  • Another way to save is to sign up for the store email newsletters. Stores will often mail out special deals to their customers, and if you have your heart set on a certain item, you can wait it out for a good sale or a 25% off members only deal.
  • Always use a shopping portal like Ebates or MyPoints! These two are my favorites, though you can also shop through FreeRide and InboxDollars for some stores. When you go through these sites, they pay you a certain percentage back, either in cash or points towards gift cards, and that 2-10% is extra money in your wallet.
The best thing to remember is that if you wait, there will always be a sale or a discount. I plan ahead for major purchases, because I can't bear to pay full price for anything if I can help it. Obviously, if your refrigerator dies, shopping around isn't as possible, but if you know you will all need winter coats, waiting for Old Navy's 50% off outerwear sale (going on now!) is the way to go.

Couponing 101--Where to find the deals

This is part 3 in a series of coupon instruction posts. The first one can be found HERE, and the second one can be found HERE. I'd also love to answer any questions anyone has, so comment here if you need something answered.

As I stated before, there are some awesome bloggers out there doing the coupon and deals matchups. I don't have the time or the attention to detail to do all of the matching for everyone. There are also many stores where deals can be found, so I wouldn't have time to do them all.

You can do your own matching very easily, just look at the items that are listed on sale in your store flyers, then match them with coupons you already have. As you get more into couponing, you'll find that there are many items that always have coupons. You'll keep the ones you need, or if you aren't brand conscious, you can clip coupons for several different brands to keep on hand. Most stores have their weekly ads online, and I've found that it's easier to read the ads online for comparison shopping. Be sure to look for the store coupons while you're there.

If you prefer to let someone else do the legwork, there are great bloggers for every store. Some specialize in more than one. Here are my favorite people, but you can also do a google search for "Brand X store coupon matchups."

  • For Target deals, I like many, but this one seems to be the most comprehensive. Stretching a Buck. This link is for her Target deals page, but look around. There's lots of good information.
  • For Walgreen's deals, again, there are many. Common Sense with Money is my favorite here.
  • For Fareway and HyVee (local to Iowa), I love Learning the Frugal Life. You can click your store of choice in her side bar on the right.
  • For general deal information, and with the most awesome coupon spreadsheet, you can go to Deal Seeking Mom. You'll find lots of useful information here.

November 28, 2009

Back from a Fun Holiday Weekend

I am back, don't know if I was missed. I was out with no internet access or good shopping, so I had to admire all the Black Friday ads from afar. Be gearing up for Cyber Monday for online shopping coming up soon. I also have some more posts coming up soon with more good (I hope!) information on saving and earning money from home.

Traveling has taken its toll on my brain for today, but tomorrow should bring some decent posts.

November 24, 2009

Another Cheapout--Buy Costumes Now

I like to buy Halloween costumes when they get clearanced out. So often, they're so cheaply made you might get one use out of them. I hate to buy them at full price for one wearing. BUT--the thing about little kids and Halloween costumes is you can also stock a nice dress-up trunk for imaginative play. My kids can dress up like almost anything from their trunk. A nice dress-up trunk can also be a good gift for a child in your life.

Target right now has their Halloween costumes 75% off online, including a bunch for your pets, if that's your thing. Because who doesn't want a beagle maid?

What Would Roseanne Do?

Would she buy her series if every season was buy one get one free? I might...

Buy One Get One Free TV Find other titles here. AND, if you're a really avid reader, Amazon is going to have all the Smallville seasons on their lightning deals in about 11 minutes...You'll have to hurry, though.

Ham and Cheese Ziti, Cheaper and Healthier

I realized after I posted that recipe that it's not even remotely the way that I actually do it. I always adjust recipes to better fit our family's needs, and I had this one in my favorites just the way it was written. Here's how I make this:

Ham & Cheese Ziti
2 16 oz. packages ziti noodles (I use Barilla whole grain or plus)
1 cup butter/margarine (I used 1 stick of butter and about 1/3 cup of EVOO)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt (1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper)
8 cups milk (this is a great place to use fat free powdered milk)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 cups Colby cheese, shredded (Wow! that's a lot of cheese! I used 4 cups)
16oz cooked ham (deli style), cut into thin strips
Then I added a 16 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots

Boil the noodles as directed on package, though I do 1-2 minutes less because I will bake it later. While they are boiling, use a large pot to melt the butter and olive oil together. Add garlic, stir for about 1 minute. Add flour, salt, and pepper, whisk together till there are no lumps, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil while stirring, allow to boil for one minute, then add mustard, cheese and vegetables. This will make a nice thick cream sauce. Using a REALLY LARGE bowl, combine ham, pasta, and sauce. Pour into two 9x13 (8 servings each) or 4 8x8 inch casserole dishes. Cool in refrigerator, then transfer to freezer. When you are ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake at 350* for 30-45 minutes.

One Ham, Many Meals

With hams on sale for the holidays, it's a great time to buy and cook one. This method for using large cuts of meat for many meals can be done with any type of meat. It also is great for use with a pot roast or whole chicken or turkey.

I was able to purchase a 10 lb ham for around $18 at the store. First, I glazed it (use your choice of recipes) and cooked it low and slow (250* for around 2 hours, while covered.) We had slices of ham along with baked potatoes and corn that night. The next day, we still had a lot of ham slices left, so we had ham with some cooked carrots. With a lot of extra, I set about to preserve the leftovers for later use.

For my first recipe, I used the bone and the small pieces of meat that remained attached to make a ham and bean soup. Many different types of beans or recipes can be used. I have used a 10 bean soup mix and some spicy herbs for a savory stew. This time, since the glaze was sweet (honey and pineapple) I used a bag of pinto beans.

Ham and Bean Stew
First, rinse beans and take out any rocks or other debris. Then you put the beans in a large pot, cover with water (2 inches or more above the top of the beans), and allow them to soak overnight. They will use all the water, so you may want to check them before bed and add more water as necessary. If you have less time, you can boil the beans in the water, then let them soak for a couple of hours with the lid on.

Once the beans are soaked, dump into a colander and rinse thoroughly. You can put them back into the large pot or into a slow cooker. I like to use the slow cooker because it requires less supervision throughout the day. I put the ham bone, juice from cooking, and bits of ham in the pot, then either a whole onion chopped up or several of the small soup-type onions. I add several cloves of minced garlic and leave it all to cook for 8 hours or more.

The remaining meat will come off the bone while it cooks. When you are ready to serve, simply discard the bone. With a whole 1 pound bag of beans, this will make many more meals. I serve some, then freeze the rest in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.

Ham Leftover Meals
Depending on how much other meat you have remaining from the original ham, several freeze-ahead meals can be made. Ham slices can also be ground for ham salad or cut into chunks for later use in recipes.

Ham is often thought to be used well with breakfast-type foods. I love to use it for quiche or breakfast casseroles, but here are two additional recipes that I enjoy.

Ham Stuffed Manicotti from Recipezaar

1 hour | 20 min prep

SERVES 8 (I would put this into two 8x8 containers because we only have 4)

  1. Cook manicotti as directed.
  2. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside.
  3. Cook onion, garlic, and green bell pepper in olive oil until tender.
  4. Add ham and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Now melt 6 tablespoons of butter.
  7. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles.
  8. Add milk and pepper.
  9. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened.
  10. Stir in swiss and remaining parmesan cheese.
  11. Mix 1/4 of cheese sauce with ham mixture.
  12. Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture.
  13. Spread about 1/2 cup cheese sauce in greased 13x9" glass baking dish and arrange filled shells over sauce.
  14. If there is any leftover stuffing, just sprinkle it over the filled shells.
  15. Pour remaining cheese sauce over filled manicotti.
  16. At this point the casserole can be cooled in the refrigerator, then wrapped and frozen up to 3 months.
  17. To thaw and reheat:.
  18. Thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then uncover, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.
  19. If not freezing casserole, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved.

Ham and Cheese Ziti

Ham & Cheese Ziti

2 16 oz. packages ziti noodles
1 cup butter/margarine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
8 cups milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 cups Colby cheese, shredded
16oz cooked ham (deli style), cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated

This recipe makes 2 13x9 casseroles. (Amy's addition: I would put this in three or four 8x8 oz. freezer containers.)

Cook and drain pasta according to instructions (you may need to do it in two batches if your larges pot isn't large enough.

In large saucepan or deep skillet, melt butter on low heat. Add garlic and saute for about 30-40 seconds, stirring the entire time. Next add flour and salt, using a whisk to ensure no lumps remain. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring the entire time, until there are no lumps and the mixture begins to bubble.

Slowly add milk, stirring the whole time, while you bring it to a boil. Once boiling, allow to continue to boil for 1 minute, then add mustard and Colby cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is melted. Add ham and pasta, stirring well. Pour into 2 13x9 casserole dishes. Cool and freeze.

On cooking day:
Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350F. Place casserole dish (uncovered) into oven and bake 30-45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Serve.

So, there you go! One $18 ham. We ate ham two nights in a row, then I made the soup for three more meals, four servings of ziti, two bags of ham in the freezer, and I've got some easy stuff in the freezer for the days that I don't want to cook. That's 11 meals with one large ham.

Stockpiling and Preserving Foods

Stockpiling is a concept not many people get quite right. Often, people will buy something up just because it's on sale, and then it goes bad or unused. When done right, however, stockpiling can save your family a lot of money AND help you get through a lean time.

Think about your grocery list. What's always on it? Some people use a lot of cooking soups like Cream of Chicken or Mushroom. These cans cost more than $1 each, which is still economical for a quick casserole. However, if you had taken advantage of the Campbell's soup deal that I posted last week, you could have gotten 4 cans for that $1. Canned goods last for a year or more, so they would most likely get used before the expiration. Once you have that stockpile, you can replenish when the sales come and make sure that you never run out.

Some items work better for stockpiling than others. You'll have to be sure to check expiration dates and rotate items through, using the ones that expire first and replacing your stockpile with the new items. Obviously, canned items are preserved well and will last several months or even years in your pantry.

Everything can be stockpiled, however. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be canned or frozen or cooked into recipes. Even dairy products can be frozen to be used later.

The USDA has recommendations on freezing meats and eggs. You can click HERE to read the pdf file that they created on the topic.

This page contains many links on preserving specific food items.

I will do an overview of information I've gleaned through my reading on the topic:
  • Fruits do not generally freeze well to be eaten later unless they are in a syrup or some sort of juice. It's not recommended to freeze fruits to be eaten later unless you are cooking them in a recipe. The texture will be mushy when they thaw. Grapes are good to eat frozen, and brown bananas can be frozen for later use in smoothies or breads.
  • Vegetables should be blanched by dunking in boiling water for a period of 1-4 minutes, depending on the vegetable you are using. You can then spread them on a cookie sheet and freeze in a single layer. Once they are frozen, package them in freezer bags, and the pieces will be separated like frozen vegetables that you buy in the store.
  • Some dairy products that freeze well include butter (in the package is fine) and cheese (though due to the texture once it's thawed I usually only freeze shredded cheese for later use in recipes). Milk can be frozen in the plastic milk jug, though you should first pour out 1 cup to make room for expansion.
  • Eggs can be frozen, but not in the shell. You can break the egg, then drop raw eggs into a bag (break yolk first) for later use.
  • Meats should be wrapped well to avoid freezer burn.
  • Precooked or even uncooked prepared meals freeze well, again as long as they are wrapped securely or in a freezable container. If you are pre-cooking the meal, don't cook it quite as long as you would normally. Since it will be reheated in the oven, it will finish cooking then.
Here is a great chart I found that lists freezing times of common items. The link to the chart is HERE if you would like it for printing to use later.

Table 3. Storage Times for Home-Frozen Foods
Products Storage Period
Bacon 1 month
Butter or Margarine 9 months
Cheese, Dry-cured Cottage Cheese or Ricotta 2 weeks
Cheese, Natural process 3 months
Cream (all kinds) 2 months
Cream, Whipped 1 month
Egg Whites or Yolks 12 months
Frankfurters 2 months
Fish, "Fatty" 3 months
Fish, "Lean" 6 months
Fish, Shellfish 3 months
Fruits (except Citrus) 8-12 months
Fruits, Citrus Fruits & Juices 4-6 months
Ham 2 months
Ice Cream or Sherbet 1 month
Meat, Ground or Stew 3 months
Meat, Cooked or Leftover 2-3 months
Milk, Fresh Fluid 1-3 months
Poultry, Cooked with gravy 6 months
Poultry, Cooked without gravy 1 month
Poultry, Duck or Goose 6 months
Poultry, Uncooked (whole) Chicken or Turkey 1 year
Poultry, Uncooked Chicken parts 9 months
Poultry, Uncooked Turkey parts 6 months
Roasts, Fresh Beef or Lamb 12 months
Roasts, Fresh Pork or Veal 8 months
Steak or Chops, Fresh Beef 12 months
Steak or Chops, Fresh Lamb or Veal 9 months
Steak or Chops, Fresh Pork 4 months
Variety Meats, Fresh 4 months
Vegetables 8-12 months
Yogurt (regular), Plain 1 month
Yogurt (regular), Flavored 5 months

I will continue this series with non food items in a later post.

November 23, 2009

What Do You Want to See?

I am putting out my "teaching" posts a few at a time, while still posting some deals. I have several topics I will soon post, and am wondering what kinds of deals people would like to see, or what types of saving posts people would like me to post.

Upcoming ideas:
  • Legitimate ways to earn money from home, including surveys, GPTs, and Mystery Shopping.
  • Stockpiling without being featured on "Hoarders." :)
  • Once a month cooking.
I'm also up for suggestions, so let me know what you want first.

November 22, 2009

Making Money at Home-Surveys

There are so many sites out there that it's hard to know what's legitimate. I can say after looking around that there is no magic site that will allow you to make thousands of dollars a day with no work. I have found a few good sites that will pay you a small amount of money for doing a small amount of work. I will only list sites that I have used and where I have received a payment.

There are different ways to earn money from home. You can do surveys, mystery shopping, and GPTs (or Get paid to...). This is not a complete list, rather the ones that I have personal experience with.

I will focus just on surveys for this post, then follow up with more posts on other types of money-making opportunities.

Survey Companies
Starting with surveys. I have several survey companies that I work with, and will often get 5-10 surveys per day. The value of the pay varies based on the company, but most offer anywhere from 50 cents-$5 per survey. Obviously, you are not going to get rich doing these, but they also don't take long.

One additional benefit of the survey companies is that they will send out items for your family to test out, usually items that you would use every day. I've done product studies on diapers (a whole month's worth of different types of diapers to compare and answer questions about), toilet paper, feminine protection products, food, drinks, shampoo and conditioner, body washes, you name it, we've tried it.

I've also gotten referred from the survey company to do other types of research, and those are sometimes very lucrative. I did a survey that lasted for about 9 months and required a couple of minutes a month to keep it current, and ended up making $300. Another recent one paid me $10 to play a game with my family.

Next I'll review a few of the companies I work with.

Everyone loves Pinecone Research. They pay for every survey right when you complete it, right to your Paypal account. Most of the time, it is $3 per survey. The only problem? They have plenty of people doing surveys, so only occasionally look for new people to participate. You may run across a banner ad, and occasionally they will send out emails to their current participants asking them to refer.

One of my favorites, just for coolness of survey topics, is HCDSurveys. They send out a lot of political polls and also interesting ones about current news, movies, and TV. They usually pay 50 cents-$3 per survey, and you get paid by check once you reach $10 earned. Click HERE to sign up.

Another great survey company is MySurvey. They send several surveys, and pay with a check in increments of $5. Just as an example of my earnings, 1000 pts would be a $10 check, and I earned 270 for the month of October. Earnings vary from month to month, and it also depends if your family fits the profile they are looking for on each survey. Click below to join.

I started with Ipsos I-Say a long time ago, and did their surveys only sporadically because they were fun but only paid in chances to win prizes. I did win a couple of times, but the prizes weren't necessarily things I wanted/needed. I'm glad I stayed with them, because one day I found that they are now paying cash. They still have chances to win prizes, and the prizes are huge, but I no longer win. I do get a check every once in a while, so that's ok.

Sunday Deals

  • FREE BOOKS! Richard Paul Evans is offering a free box of 20 copies of "The Christmas Box." You pay $15 for shipping, so under $1 per book.
  • Free pound of Shrimp from Earth Fare. We don't have one, bummer.
  • Free Kids Hemophilia Calendar with kids' art.
  • Free sample of Kotex.
  • Free bumper sticker from PETA.
  • Free booklet about nutrition for children.
  • Free sample Millstone Coffee.
  • Free meal planning guide and coupons (east coast only.)
  • Free Kashi granola bar.
  • Free earrings (don't submit till 11/24, and the code for the top line is EARRINGS). You also have to be female. :)
  • Free DD coffee at the mall, November 27 and 28, if you have a Dunkin Donuts in your mall, of course. We don't.

  • 50% off photobooks at Snapfish. Use code HOLIDAYBOOKS.
  • 50% off and free shipping with code 2day at Fujifilm.
  • 25% off at One Step Ahead, free shipping if you spend over $85 with FREE85.
  • 30% off and Free Shipping from Shutterfly (photo gifts) SHIP30 through 11/24.
  • $3 shipping on any size order and buy 3 get 3 free from Bath and Body Works (today only) 3DOLLARSHIP. You can use only one code, but if you go in store, you can use two printable coupons to save $10 off $30 and get a free sample sized product.
  • Target has some great savings in their weekly ad on toys, many of which have coupons to go with them. (will do another post later with all the deals, but look for yourself and match with the Target toy coupons.)
  • Last day for 30% off and free shipping at Ann Taylor LOFT with code FRIEND.
  • GR8VALUE get you $10 off $10 at JCPenney. They have some really good markdowns on sweaters and outerwear right now.
  • $15 for all Nine West shoes and accessories. Free shipping with code GIFT or automatically with $100 in purchases.
  • 70% off (you read that right!) all New Balance shoes with code GIVE. Womens shoes, Mens shoes, Kids shoes. It looks like the 70% is automatic at these links already.
  • 6pm also has PS2 and PS3 games for $10.95 and $19.95.
That should be enough deals for now. I'll be back with the Target toys matchup.