Monday, July 27, 2009

$10 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Don't forget! I'm giving away a $10 Amazon gift card in honor of my 1 year blogoversary! The last day to enter is July 31st!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oh Swagbucks, How I Love Thee...

As if my love of Swagbucks wasn't deep enough, I won 5 extra bucks playing twitter trivia tonight. LOVE. Seriously, if you haven't already joined I so highly recommend doing so. I've gotten about $135 in amazon gift cards from them and I am so close to getting another.

What's great is that I've been finding so many Swagcodes lately, since I've been off (ie. staring at the internet for hours a day), so they have really been piling up quickly.

And my winning question on trivia:

SwagBucksJudd Apatow created the show Freaks & Geeks before doing Knocked Up. What state did F&G take place & what 4 actors from KU STARRED on F&G?

centsandthecity@SwagBucks Michigan - Martin Starr, Seth Rogan, Jason Segal and James Franco

And I actually knew this because my other part of summer vacation, besides staring at the computer, has been to watch Freaks and Geeks and tons of Apatow movies.

Wow. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cute Coach Freebie!

I know that this has been posted all over the internet, but if you go here you can print out a voucher to get these cute pencils for free at Coach. I went the other day to get them and I was really nervous to be handing in a coupon for something free at Coach, but the sales girl was really sweet and there was no problem at all.

I actually find this move by Coach to be really interesting - both the freebie and their new Poppy collection. When I mentioned it to my husband, he actually knew all about it already, which was kind of weird. But he mentioned that he has read about Coach a few times in Business Week, because apparently they love them there. This new Poppy collection is crazy bright with really vibrant colors and a lot of patent leather and sequins. It is also priced slightly cheaper. When I saw the collection it definitely seemed like juniors Coach to me.

I'm interested to see how this plays out in September. The girls at my high school already love Coach, but lately they have been leaning towards crazier Betsey Johnson bags that are more teen friendly. I'm wondering if this move by Coach, will help to really grab the dollars of these young consumers (and their parents.) It does seem like a smart move to get them while they are young to create a customer for life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

CVS 7/12 - 7/18

(3) Packs of pens - $2.97
Fusion Razor - $7.99
(3) Boxes of Tylenol - $11.97
(2) Notebooks - $1.98
Scissors - $2.99
Burt's Bees - $2.99

Coupons Used:
$2.50/$10 Pain Relievers
(3) Tylenol Coupons - $3.00
$4.00 Fusion Razor
$2.99 Burt's Bees
ECBs: .99, .99, 1.00, 1.49, 1.50, 5

OOP: $8.32

Earned: 1.98, 4, 2.97, 2.99, and 9 ECBs

The sweetest deal was definitely the Tylenol!

$11.97 - $2.50 - $3 = $6.47 and I earned 9 ECBs

School Supplies!

I've always really loved shopping for school supplies. (Yeah, I'm a nerd.) Now as a teacher, I get certain other perks when I am shopping for supplies. I went to Staples today because they started their penny items for school supplies. I got quite a haul!

I did two transactions to sweeten the deals.

Transaction #1:
(2) Packs of Accents - $2
(2) Mini Staplers - $2
Ready Letters - $5.29
(20) Packs of Pencils - $.20 (There is a higher limit if you are a teacher. Usually the limit is 2, but one store let me have 20 and the other store let me have 10.)
(2) Rolls of Tape - $2
(2) Packs of Paper - $7.38
(2) Packs of Wite-out - $2

Coupons Used: $5/$20
Total - $17.20

Rebates: $7.36 for the paper

$9.84 for everything after rebates!

Transaction #2:
(10) Packs of Pencils - $.10
(2) Erasers - $2.00
Mixed container of Paper clips and binder clips - $4.99
(2) Packs of Paper - $7.38
Giant roll of paper (not shown) - $7.29
$1 Donation

Coupons Used: $5/$20
Total - $20.27

Rebates: $7.36 for the paper

$12.91 for everything after rebates!

So all together I got all of this stuff for $22.75!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One Year Blogoversary (Plus a Giveaway!)

Today is my one year blogoversary! It's really crazy how fast this past year has flown by, and how we were in such a different place last year. At this time last year we were getting kicked out of our apartment by my crazy uncle, and were in the process of buying a co-op! Our rent was $1275 for a too-small one bedroom (raised to $1375 soon after by the crazy uncle). I remember feeling so stressed and anxious all of the time because the pressure was on and we really had no idea what we were going to do and where we were going to live.

We looked at countless co-ops, since we had somehow become convinced that it would be smart for us to just buy a place. Mostly that had to do with the fact that we couldn't get thrown out on someone's crazy whims, and that we would have a place that was truly ours. The financials would have been super tight, but could have probably worked. The mortgage would have been $1200 a month and the maintenance would have been around $800 a month.

Anyway, we were all set to go through with buying the co-op but I was still having some doubts. I wasn't able to figure out if these were regular buying a home jitters, or something more serious. We met with a lawyer and were all set to sign the contract, but something needed to be revised. I mentioned to the lawyer that I was really nervous about the financial situation of the co-op itself and asked him to look over the contract again. (Basically with a co-op you own shares, rather than actual property. Theoretically the shares could become worthless and the co-op could go bankrupt.) When the lawyer looked it over, it turned out that the co-op had a 10 million dollar balloon loan due at the end of 2010. It wasn't great but he still thought it would have been okay to proceed.

Basically my husband and I looked at each other and knew that we couldn't go through with it.

All I can say is thank goodness that we hadn't. While we both still have our jobs, it was a little questionable for awhile and I know that if we were trapped with such a responsibility. We ended up finding our current apartment on Craigslist and moved in August 1. It was pretty overwhelming at the time.

Thankfully things seemed to have calmed down a bit. We signed our lease for our apartment for another year. We even got our rent lowered from $1500 to $1450!

I think what I've learned this year was that we have to do things in our own time. It would have been SUCH a bad idea to buy an apartment just because we felt pressured into it. This past year we've been able to pay off our car loan (about $15k!) and we've been able to get our emergency fund up to around $9k. Now when we are ready to buy a home it will be on our terms.

So now, on to the giveaway!

In honor of my one year blogoversary, I am giving away a $10 gift certificate. :)

Here's how you can enter to win:
  • Leave a comment telling me the most important financial lesson that you've learned this year.
For additional entries:
  • Tweet about this contest on twitter and leave a comment with a link to the tweet.
  • Blog about this contest and leave a comment with the link to the post.
  • Subscribe to my feed and leave a comment, or let me know that you already subscribe.
I'll choose the winner on July 31 using Thanks for reading and good luck!!

Shopping Fail!

I just tried to order a rug from Target. My husband picked it out and it was super cute.

So I check my rebate sites and search for coupons (couldn't find!) and proceed with checking out. Then I see this:

So yeah, no rug for us. LOL! It's funny because the last time I ordered a rug from Target it was bigger and yet the shipping was free. I guess I will have to search harder for a free shipping coupon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Success at Making Jam!

Today was my second attempt at making jam, and this time it worked! I used this recipe, which didn't call for pectin. I was really nervous because I would have hated to waste all the ingredients again. Also, this is some pretty pricey jam, since the recipe called for Grand Marnier. Yeah, I know I could have made it without it, but I thought it would give me some extra incentive to get it right this time.

Four Little Jam Jars

Since I didn't use pectin, this recipe yielded less jam. So instead of my 8 jars of syrup that I got last time, I got four jars (and a quarter of a jar that I stuck in the fridge) of really thick, delicious jam.

No Floating Fruit!

I know it's hard to see because I take terrible pictures, but the fruit didn't float to the top this time. I really crushed it down, plus it cooked for a really long time.


Here's a closer picture of the delicious jam. Plus my husband's hand again, since he just wanted to eat it as I was trying to take a picture.

Mango Bread?

After the jam was finished and jarred, I made some mango bread. This was ridiculously delicious. The only change I made from the original recipe was that I added 3/4 cup of coconut instead of 3/4 cup of raisins.

Free Chocolate from Godiva!

Godiva has a new rewards program where you can get one piece of chocolate for free each month in their stores. My friend Tiara Saves has all the details posted here!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Survey sites: HCD Surveys!

HCD Surveys is looking to increase their panel!

I participate in a bunch of different survey sites to make some extra money. I just got a referral link that I wanted to share for HCD Surveys. I actually really enjoy the surveys from this site because they are usually very quick and have video content which makes them pretty fun. For example, during the presidential campaign they frequently had surveys of campaign commercials or speeches and you would have to give your response as the video played. They sometimes even have text message surveys, like during the presidential debates to say who you thought won the argument.

What's really cool is that unlike other survey sites, they will actually email you will the results of the surveys a lot of the time so you can see what other people think about important issues.

You can cash out when you reach $10 and I've probably made around $40 from them so far! :)

If you sign up through my link and complete your profile you will earn $1.00 and I will get a little bit back as well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First attempt at making jam

This was my first attempt at making jam and it didn't really go so well. It actually didn't turn into jam at all, and instead is more of a strawberry syrup. I don't really like the taste of it because it has an INSANE amount of sugar in it. Basically the recipe called for 8 cups of strawberries, 7 cups of sugar (!), and pectin. I'm looking into other recipes that are not quite so sugartastic.

Some mistakes that I made:

1. I left really big chunks of fruit. I learned afterwards that mashing up the fruit more will help release pectin that helps the jam set.
2. I used the recipe for powdered pectin but I used liquid pectin. While I was making the jam, I had no idea that there was even more than one kind of pectin. I mixed the pectin with the fruit in the very beginning, but liquid pectin is supposed to be added last.
3. I didn't do a test to make sure the jam had set. I thought that since I used pectin it would just magically fix itself.

So even though the jam itself didn't work, I am really excited that I managed to process the jars correctly and that they all sealed!

CVS 7/5 - 7/11

It was a pretty good week at CVS, but I only got one box of pencils and one roll of tape since the store never posts the sales and I didn't want to mess up. Also, notice my husband grabbing the Twix bar out of the picture. :)

2 bottles of Dawn - $2
3 boxes of Post cereal - $10
Twix - $.67
CVS Panty Liners - $.89
Tape - $1.49
Pencils - $.99
Cascade - $6.49

Coupons Used:
$.20 off Dawn
$2.00 off Post
10, 5, and 4.98 ECBs

Total OOP: $.47! :)

Earned: .99, .99, 1, 5, 1.49 ECBs and also 1.50 ECBs for quarterly spending

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I love Swagbucks!

When I signed up for Swagbucks last November, I wasn't sure if I would ever win anything from them. I had signed up for plenty of sites in the past (anyone remember Blingo?) and the payout was very very minimum compared to the amount of time I spent wishing I would get something from them. But because of the awesome referral program, plus my own daily searching, I have gotten $120 in Amazon gift cards since then. Now, it may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind, this just takes a few minutes everyday. Everyday I just do a few searches on Swagbucks when I needed to search anyway, and I received anywhere from 1-10 SBs.

My favorite prize is definitely the Amazon gift card because it is so "cheap" - only 45 SBs for a $5 gift card. But now Swagbucks is offering $5 PayPal gift cards for 80 SBs, meaning now you can earn CASH just for spending a few minutes a day searching.

I would be thrilled if you would sign up through my referral! If you are just joining now, enter the code CASHISKING and you will start out with 5 SBs! I wish I was so lucky when I signed up. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June Recap

We didn't have a written budget for June, which I know makes me a bad PF blogger, but it just doesn't seem to work for us. Whenever we actually write out a budget we track everything meticulously at the beginning of the month, but then it all falls apart by the middle.

But despite the lack of a budget, we managed to save $2700 (!!!!) in the month of June. Basically, I got two stipend checks in June for $750 and $250 and those both went right to savings. Plus, my husband will get 3 checks in July! Yay! We're getting closer and closer to having our six month emergency fund set up.

Freebies for my husband's birthday!

It was my husband's birthday recently, so we went to Coldstone to get his free ice cream. I also had a gift card that I got from school, so my ice cream was free as well. Yum! :)

When I got this year's Entertainment Book there was a coupon in it for a free ticket to the movies on your birthday. We weren't able to use it for my birthday, and sadly we didn't use it for his birthday even though we went to the movies for both days. Oops. I guess I'll just try to give it to someone who still has a birthday coming up this year.

Check out some other freebies that you can get for your birthday here!