Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End Totals - Ebates

In 2010 I received $197.42 in cash back ($10 came from referrals) from Ebates. In total, I have received $325.75 since I joined in 2009.

I love getting cash back from my purchases.  I even saved about $50 on our trip to San Francisco this past summer by booking it through Ebates.

The downside, I spend A LOT of money shopping online, as evidenced by the amount that I got back.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Even More Free Music from Amazon!

I love Amazon's music deals so much!

First if you haven't gotten the free $3 credit yet, you can still do so by going here and entering the code GET3MP3S.

Go here for today's five $1.99 albums.  Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster, Weezer's Hurley, and Arcade Fire's The Suburbs are all also $1.99.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Five $1.99 MP3 Albums from Amazon + $3 in Credit

If you took advantage of the $3 in free Amazon MP3 credit that I mentioned the other day, you might be interested in the five albums that they have on sale for $1.99 each. If you haven't gotten the free $3 credit yet, you can still do so by going here and entering the code GET3MP3S.

Monday, November 22, 2010

$3 in Amazon MP3 Credits

Go here and enter the code GET3MP3S to receive $3 in MP3 download credit from Amazon.


Monday, October 18, 2010

An Update to My Review: The Dreamer Boot-Cut Jeans at Old Navy

A few months ago I raved about the Dreamer boot-cut jeans at Old Navy. They were cheap (19!) and they fit well. Unfortunately my love affair has ended. I still like the fit, but the jeans have already started to become worn out. I always carry Burt's Bees lip balm (that is an always and forever love!) and it seems like it has started to wear away at the jeans from inside the pocket. Little holes are developing, and I really haven't worn these jeans that much in the two months that I have had them.  Sad.  I tried to save some money, but I guess I would have been better off buying a more expensive pair of jeans that I knew would last.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

CVS 10/10 - 10/16

I did a quick run to CVS tonight:

(2) Colgate -  $5.98
(2) Quaker Oatmeal - $5

Coupons Used: (2) $2 off Quaker, 6 ECBs

Total OOP: $1.50 ($.52 in tax)

Earned: 2 ECB (Quaker) and 5.98 ECB (Colgate)

Saved: $17.38

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Um... Thanks Qdoba?

I received this coupon on October 3rd:

Too bad it expired a few weeks ago.  I really wanted that guacamole, Qdoba.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Extra Income for September

I started keeping track of extra income that I make online a few months ago. Here are my results for July and August.

Cash from Survey Sites

Pinecone - $6.00
Survey Spot - $14.50

Total - $26.50

Cash from other ventures
Nothing from selling on Etsy (I'd love it if you would take a look at my shop...) :)
$9.27 from selling on

Total - $9.27

Gift Cards
Swagbucks - $10 at Amazon
Lightspeed - $10 at Amazon 
Awesome win from the Frugal Living Community - $25 at Starbucks
Credit card reward - $25 at Amazon
Random win from BlogHer - $25 at Banana Republic
Amazon Trade-In Account - $34 at Amazon

Total - $129

Grand Total for September - $164.77
Grand Total for August - $173.28
Grand Total for July - $134.50

Total - $472.55

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cookies for a Cure

I recently had the opportunity to sample these delicious butter cream cookies from Cheryl's. This October, Cheryl’s gourmet desserts will honor National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the millions of Americans affected by the disease with the company’s “Cookies for a Cure” campaign. Cheryl’s will donate 10% of the proceeds from sales of the Buttercream Frosted Heart Shaped Cookie (as pictured) to the Susan G. Komen foundation throughout the month of October.

I always try to buy products that can give me an extra bang for my buck, so I love that they are donating 10% of the proceeds to support the Susan G. Komen foundation.  They have many great gift options available in a variety of sizes.  Adding to this sweet deal, you can currently get 8% cash back from Cheryl's via Ebates during this week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CVS 10/3 - 10/9

Here's what I did at CVS today:

(2) Revlon Nail Polish - $7.98
(1) Colgate Wisp - $3.99

Coupons Used: $1 off Revlon, $.50 off Wisps, 10 ECBs

OOP: $1.53 ($.47 + $1.06 in tax)

Earned: 6 ECBs (Revlon), 1.50 ECBs (Wisp), and .50 ECB (Summer Spending)

Saved: $14.90

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Winner of the $55 CSN Gift Card!

Congratulations to Red from Girl with the Red Balloon on the win!  I'll be in contact with you on how to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered!  Please stick around, because I have some great new giveaways planned in the coming weeks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Reminder Why I Hate ING Direct

Consumerist posted an article about a woman trying to get ING Direct to give her the money out of her deceased husband's account.  I cringe every time that I read about ING and their horrible customer service. I wish that we had escalated our problem with ING last year after I was deleted from our joint account for failing security questions that did not pertain to me.  It is so frustrating to hear them constantly praised!

After our ING Direct horror, we signed up for an online account at HSBC and it has been great so far.  There are definitely other options available besides ING Direct, even though they seem to be the most popular.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

20% off at

Right now if you use the promotional code SAVINGCENT at, you can save 20% off of your first order. You can place your order through Ebates for an additional 5.5% cash back. Shipping is free for orders over $25.

They have a lot of natural products that can be difficult to find in stores, as well as great deals on everything else.

CVS 9/19 - 9/25

I haven't been going to CVS as often, and we have actually started to run out of things. I only had 1 ECB to start with today, so I knew that I would have to spend some money out of pocket.

Transaction #1

(2) Nivea Body Wash - $10
(1) Nivea Lotion - $8.89

Coupons Used: $4/2 Nivea, $3 Nivea, $2/$10 Skincare CRT, 1 ECB

OOP: $10.48 ($8.89 + $1.59 in tax)

Earned: 5 ECB

Saved: $11.98

Transaction #2

(2) Right Guard - $5.98
Schick Shave Gel - $2.99
Chunky Bar - $.89 (This was filler.)

Coupons Used: $1 Schick, $3/2 Right Guard, 5 ECB

OOP: $1.52 ($.66 + $.86 in tax)

Earned: 4 ECB and 1.80 ECB

Saved: $13.20

Transaction #3

Excedrin PM Bonus Pack - $9.99

Coupons Used: $1.50 Excedrin, 4 ECB, 1.80 ECB

OOP: $2.69

Earned: 3 ECB (because it was a bonus pack)

Saved: $7.30

Transaction #4

Excedrin - $11.49

Coupons Used: $1.50 Excedrin, 3 ECB

OOP: $6.99

Earned: 10 ECB

Saved: $4.50

Total OOP: $21.68
Total Saved: $36.98
ECB Total: 10 ECB for next time

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Giveaway - $55 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores

I am so excited to be able to offer another CSN giveaway to my readers. And I am still totally jealous that I can't win!

This $55 gift certificate is sponsored by CSN Stores and can be used at any one of their over 200+ sites. You can find pretty much anything that you need: a new coffee table, shoes, kitchenware, and so much more.

How to Enter:
  • Head over to a CSN site and pick an item that you would love to have! Leave a comment letting me know what you would choose.
Additional Entries:
  • Subscribe to my feed via RSS or Google Friend Connect and leave a comment letting me know that you did.
  • Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment with the link.
  • Blog about this giveaway and link back to it. Leave a comment to let me know that you did.
The Rules:
  • This giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers. Please keep in mind that there are shipping charges.
  • Make sure that you leave your email address so that I can get in touch with you.
  • Winners will be chosen via and you will have 48 hours to respond to my email or I will choose another winner.
  • The giveaway will end at Midnight EST on September 26th.
Good luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Small Shopping Victory

So do you remember that amazing typewriter shirt that I desperately wanted from Anthropologie?

Well I found it in my size in the store!

So I'm guessing you might be thinking that my victory is that I bought it, right?

Nope. The victory is that I didn't!

In the past I would have run to the counter to buy the shirt the second that I found it in my size. Instead, I grabbed two sizes and headed to the fitting room.

When I tried it on, I realized that I didn't even like it that much. The print is amazing and I love it, but the fabric is very thin. There is a pocket on the chest (a detail that I hate!) plus since the fabric was so thin, the doubling of fabric for the pocket looked bizarre. It was originally $68, and on sale for $40. Nice discount, but still way too much money for such a low quality item.

So I said goodbye to the pattern that I loved, and left the store empty handed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is the Virgin America Upgrade to Main Cabin Select Worth It?

I think it definitely was for us, even though it added an extra $440 to our plane tickets. It costs $110 as an upgrade starting at 24 hours before the flight.

I have only been on an airplane a handful of times in my life, and it is generally not an experience that I enjoy. When I logged on to Virgin America's site to check-in, I noticed that there was an icon to change our seats. When we booked our flight, I agonized over the seat choices. I like the window, but I hate being boxed into a seat by a stranger, so eventually we decided on aisle and middle. By the time we were checking in, I was regretting that decision.

I saw that they had an upgrade available to Main Cabin Select, which is available in the bulkhead row as well as the exit row. I could get a window seat, and have some extra room. It would be free to check our bag, and we could order whatever we wanted and it was already covered. We also got priority treatment, and were able to board the plane first along with first class.

We decided to jump on it, with the following rationale: Our tickets were already hundreds of dollars less than those on other airlines. Even with the upgrade, we are still coming out ahead. I am so glad that we upgraded our seats. I can honestly say that this was the best flight that I have ever had. Boarding the plane early, and not having to squeeze past people was such a luxury. We were at our seats early, and as an added bonus, the aisle seat was not taken, so I didn't feel trapped.

I wanted to keep track of the perks that I was getting, to try to figure out if it would be worth it on the way home. First, we got to check our bag for free instead of $25. We ordered food on the plane (you have to pay for everything except soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea, and water). It's funny, because if we had to pay for these items a la carte, we would have spent our trip starving. Instead, since it was already covered, we tried to make it worth it

Here's what we ordered:

Food and drinks
  • Iced Tea $3x2 = $6
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies $3x2 = $6
  • Pastrami sandwich = $10
  • Grilled Japanese eggplant sandwich = $9
  • Another Iced Tea later in the flight= $3
  • Mixed nuts = $3
  • Date Night - $8
Total Value - $67

Added to the fact that:
  1. we had express check in.
  2. we boarded first.
  3. we had way more leg room.
  4. our luggage came out among the first.
I freaked out when I checked in for our return flight, because the option wasn't available. I entertained the notion of switching to first class, and even woke up at 3:30 in the morning (six hours ahead of time) to try to get that upgrade. That would have added A LOT more to our total, so I guess I should be glad that it wasn't available.

I was cranky as we got to the airport, since our seats were actually pretty awful: in front of the exit row, so they didn't recline, but not with the perk of extra legroom. When we were waiting to board, I saw a notice that there were upgrades available, and luckily I was able to upgrade our seats at the gate. Virgin America promptly refunded the $25 that I had already paid to check our bag, and we proceeded to order lots of food and movies on the return flight as well.

The upgrade was totally worth it for us, and I thought it was a good compromise between being squished in coach, and splurging for first class.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spending Confession - $800 on New Glasses

Buying new glasses is really expensive, especially since I don't have vision coverage through my insurance. I attempted to save some money by buying my frames online. I nervously ordered a pair of Kate Spade Elisabeth glasses from Frames Direct, after studying the website for hours. I finally learned what the little numbers mean that are written inside glasses, and what that means for sizing. Though Frames Direct offers lenses as well, for pretty reasonable prices, I purchased just the frames, since I am really picky and I wasn't sure if I would like the lenses.

Well, my glasses came and I really liked them. Except since they were black plastic, they were definitely making a statement. I wanted something a little bit softer, so I ordered another pair of Kate Spade Liesel glasses, again without lenses.

I was feeling good about myself for being so savvy. The two pairs of Kate Spade glasses only cost me around $200, plus I got cash back from Ebates for one pair and points from MyPoints for the other.

When I went for my eye exam today, I quickly lost my high from the savings. The lenses cost nearly six hundred dollars! Like I said, I have no vision coverage, and my prescription is pretty strong so I had to get thinner lenses to avoid the Coke bottle effect. Plus I added a coating so I don't destroy them as quickly.

I know that I did save money. I got two pairs of glasses for around $800, while a few months back, my husband paid $600 for a pair of glasses. I know there are discount glasses sites online, but given the fact that I wear them every day, and the fact that I've had my last pair for over four years, I feel like it is worth it for us to spend the extra money. If I get another four years of use out of the glasses that I have, it will only cost around 25 cents a day. But still, yikes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Extra Income for August

I started keeping track of extra income that I make online last month.

Cash from Survey Sites

Total - $34.60

Cash from other ventures
$10.00 from selling on Etsy
$78.78 from selling on

Total - $88.78

Gift Cards
Swagbucks - $15 in Amazon gift cards
Lightspeed - $10 in Amazon gift cards
MyPoints - $25 Banana Republic gift card

Total - $50

Grand Total for August - $173.28
Grand Total for July - $134.50

Total - $307.78

Friday, September 3, 2010

Get Free Artwork from RAWTOASTDESIGN

Jesse Kuhn, the artist behind RAWTOASTDESIGN, is giving away a free 5x7 print of your choice if you take a few minutes to help the East Side Community High School in NYC. He's asking that you vote for them on Kohls Cares via Facebook; you can get all of the details here.

This is an amazing and generous offer. His work is fantastic and you can bet I took advantage of this. Hurry though, because the voting ends today.

My Little Lush Foot Fizzed Away

Lush at ShopStyle

I bought this cute little foot scrub at Lush, but unfortunately I didn't know exactly what it was. I thought it was more like a pumice that I could keep around for awhile. Instead it started fizzing away and disintegrating the second it hit water.

Lesson: Know what you bought before dousing it with water.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Demise of the Jackson Fit at Banana Republic

A few months ago, Banana Republic nearly made me cry when they banished my favorite Jackson fit pants to the online only realm. This was after doing terrible things to it like adding pockets to the hips (really? Pockets on the hips of the curvy line?) and taking away any option of lined dress pants. When I checked their website, and saw only one pair in a weird cotton, shiny blend, I seriously almost started to cry.

Thankfully they did bring some dress pants back, but they still have the annoying pockets on the hips.

I realized that I would have to try other pants, since I fear the Jackson will be completely dead and buried soon. I decided to give the new Gap Magic dress pants a shot, and I really liked them. They are a lighter material, and they are unlined, but they have enough of a stretch to fit without gapping in the back. I was shocked that they weren't the Curvy fit because they fit so well.

PS - I dream of an existence where I do not know the names of different dress pants.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For the Love of Typewriters

I saw this amazing shirt in the Anthropologie sale section last week. A woman was holding it, and I loved it immediately and wanted to rip it from her hands. When I checked the rack they only had super tiny sizes. It's still in stock online and I will probably order it. Love!

Other amazing typewriter goodness:

Anthropologie at ShopStyle

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coming Around to the Kindle

I've had a Kindle for a while now, and I have filled with so many of the free books that are available, but I only purchased my first book on it today. When eReaders first became available, I liked the idea, but wasn't sure if I could give up books. A lot of the members of my book club had Kindles and it convinced me to get one. And by get, I mean ask my husband to get it for me for my birthday.

Well, he has been pretty annoyed at me, because I haven't been using it. But it has been so difficult to commit to buying a book on the Kindle. First of all, he works at the library - so I basically give him lists of books that I want to read and he brings them home for me. I do buy books, but at least I always have the option to sell them when I am done with them and I don't want them anymore. With the Kindle, I am stuck with it.

Well I finally purchased my first book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I've been wanting to read it for a while, but now, so does everyone else. There were 500 people requesting it at the library, so he couldn't bring it home for me. I haven't taken a look at it yet, because I am saving it for our plane ride. But I hope that it makes me more into the idea of using my Kindle.

It's funny because other digital formats don't bother me. I would be fine if I never bought another CD again, and we've gotten rid of DVDs since we had access to them via Netflix on demand. But books... books are different.

Do you use an eReader? Was it difficult to make the switch from books?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stocking up on PG Tips

I am obsessed with PG Tips, but luckily I get pretty good deals on it from Amazon fairly regularly, so I never run out. It's on sale today, so I was able to get two packages of 240 for $16.80 after getting 15% off for subscribe and save and another 25% off with the code PGTPS343. I really like that Amazon gives me the price per tea bag (in this case 6 cents before discounts) so I am able to compare the different sizes easily. After the discounts, it costs 3.5 cents per tea bag. I used gift cards from Swagbucks, making it totally free, but I still want to make sure I am getting a good deal.

I still really miss the crazy amazing deal that I got when I bought four boxes of 160 for $3.68.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Members to Eversave - Pay $1 for $18 Worth of Products from Nutty Guys

Right now on Eversave you can pay $6 to get $18 worth of products from Nutty Guys. The best part is that if you are a new member to Eversave, you will automatically have a $5 credit in your account, meaning that you will only be paying $1 for $18 worth of products! Nutty Guys has a great range of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, trail mixes, nut butters, and candies, including many organic options. Shipping starts at $5 for up to 3 pounds of products.

The Yakezie Challenge

I've been seeing the hash tag #yakezie all over Twitter for a while, but I wasn't sure what it meant for the longest time. Now I see that it is a way to grow my blog, as well as promote others.

I'm into that.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Daily Smoothie

My friend Marla over at A Place to Write Things, just got a fancy new Vitamix and hearing about her daily smoothie, has inspired me to start making a smoothie every morning as well.

Last week at Trader Joe's I finally found the frozen pomegranate seeds that I had been looking for, and I was so excited to try them. Unfortunately I thought they were kind of gross when I ate them on their own, but they have been amazing in smoothies. So my smoothies have been consisting of frozen pomegranate seeds, frozen strawberries, frozen raspberries, and a frozen banana. I throw in some milk and a bit of vanilla extract. Delicious.

I love that I can just use whatever we have on hand to make a smoothie. I've thrown in some sad looking blueberries. I froze a cup of banana yogurt when we ran out of banana. I've added frozen spinach, which I am still shocked that I can't taste. I dumped some frozen mango in today. Every morning I think we are completely out of acceptable smoothie making ingredients, but with a little creativity, I can still make something really delicious.

In the past when I made smoothies I would try to drink all of it, which would be difficult because when I am just dumping things in the blender it can get to be a bit much. Marla used the excess to make popsicles, which I think is a fabulous idea. I've been keeping the leftovers in the fridge, and then at lunchtime I "revive" the smoothie by added more frozen fruit. The addition of fruit makes it a bit different than what I had for breakfast, so I'm not bored with it.

So what is your favorite kind of smoothie?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Winner of the $60 CSN Gift Card!

Congratulations to TJ and Amy on the win! I'll be in contact with you on how to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Please stick around, because I have some great new giveaways planned in the coming weeks.

When Life Gives You a Giant Stack of Tortillas at BlogHer... make cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips. Yes. You really must.

If you have been following me on Twitter, then you have been aware that for much of last week we had no groceries, except for this mountain of Mission tortillas.

The proof, or the brilliance that I subject my Twitter followers to:

Please note that the face of discontent had nothing to do with the tortillas, but merely the fact that all we had to eat were tortillas and condiments.

The saga continued, now with its own hashtag:

And finally:
But still, there were no groceries purchased on the second day:

Until finally:

Oh and I should mention that I also ate a tortilla with chocolate and coconut. That was a really good idea.

I had never ventured into the realm of sweet tortillas before this, but now it is going to be a staple. It is the most ridiculously easy way to prepare a dessert. And it's good.

A quick internet search informed me that making cinnamon sugar tortilla chips was basically the easiest thing ever. Spray cut tortillas with cooking spray (or coat with butter), sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes.


Disclosure: I received these Mission tortillas from the Mom Spark Media swag bag at BlogHer. I was not compensated to write this post, but it does serve as my entry to a giveaway.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tavern Direct - Food with a Cause

During the whirlwind BlogHer weekend, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Tavern Direct and a great group of bloggers along with Chef Lou Bivona at Filli Ponte Restaurant. Before this, I had not been familiar with Tavern Direct, but this dinner was as delicious as it was enlightening.

Tavern Direct was started as a philanthropic venture to support the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. With every bottle of their marinades, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars, Tavern Direct donates 50 cents to the organization.

At our dinner we sampled the balsamic vinegars. We started with fresh mozzarella with tomato, and I tried all of the balsamic vinegars with that. I absolutely LOVED the Blackberry Ginger and the Autumn Fig Flavors. For dessert we had Panna Cotta with the Summer Strawberry balsamic. I was a bit unsure of how a dessert would be with vinegar, but it was delicious as well.

I have been raving about these since I tried them, and when I had my normal balsamic yesterday, it just seemed sad in comparison. I'll definitely be placing an order soon once I can narrow down which ones I want to get, because right now I want pretty much all of it. At the dinner we also saw beautifully packaged gift options, and I'm already thinking of quite a few people who I would like to get those for.

As I was checking out their online store, I also noticed that they have an option where you can add an extra donation to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as well. In addition, they also provide important information on their site about keeping kids safe.

I'm Tired of Burning My Hair: Why I Need a New Hair Dryer

Staying at two different hotels this past weekend has taught me something very important...

I need a new hairdryer.

At first I was annoyed at myself that I had forgotten to pack my own, but after I used the ones that were available at the hotels, I quickly changed my mind.

I've always had problems with hair dryers. When I was a kid we had a bright orange hair dryer that my mom used to torture me with. It would get excruciatingly hot and would burn my head. Occasionally it would even freak out and suck my hair into it. Have you ever smelled burnt hair? It's not good.

As a side note, I should mention that she also got a round brush tightly wound at the front of my head that she had to cut out.

The day before class pictures.

Then I had a Snoopy hair dryer. It was adorable, but unfortunately I never figured out how to turn it on.

Then about five years ago, I purchased my current model. I thought it would be perfect, because there was a brush that attached itself to the hair dryer. You know how skillful and graceful it looks when a stylist is blowing out your hair? Yeah, I can't do that. Not even close. In fact I usually give up halfway through and leave the back wet because I am tangled, bored, and still fearing that my hair will burn like it did when my mom would torture me with that bright orange hair dryer so many years ago.

So this past weekend was like a revelation to me. Hair dryers could work quickly! And make my hair look nice! And not set it on fire!

I started researching hair dryers today, and yikes, they are expensive. Like $200 expensive. Part of me realizes that $200 is really not much to pay to ensure that my hair does not end up in tangled flames... but, ouch.
This T3 Featherweight seems to be the current contender, but I need to figure out a deal because I am not thrilled about the idea of spending $200 on a hair dryer.

Even a pretty one that won't set me on fire.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: The Dreamer Boot-Cut Jeans at Old Navy

I have two kinds of jeans: the kind that you can dress up, and the kind that should never be worn out of the house under any circumstances.

So I was looking for some new jeans that could be worn for casual occasions, but that still looked nice enough that I didn't have to hide if I saw someone while wearing them.

I haven't had a lot of luck with Old Navy jeans in recent years. I found that they were cut way too low, or just fit kind of strange. I was looking at their site recently, and I discovered that they actually have different cuts now. (It's been a long time...)

I checked out The Dreamer jeans, and I was immediately intrigued - it was cut higher, it had a contoured waistband (critical for the ladies like me, with ample junk in the trunk), and a slimming lining. At the time they were only $19, so I gave it a shot.

When I got them I immediately tried them on, and I was shocked. They fit! And they looked good! And they were comfortable! I went back online and ordered two more pairs in other colors.

I'm not sure how dressy you could go with these jeans - the stitching is a little wonky in places - but they are well worth the price. They are currently on sale again for $19.

Disclaimer - I got absolutely nothing for this review, I just really liked the jeans and thought that they were a great deal. However, the above link is an affiliate link.

Getting Ready for San Francisco

After we booked our trip to San Francisco, I immediately freaked out about having nothing acceptable to wear. So after a lot of research and searching for coupons, I picked up a few new things.

I was hearing rave reviews about these City Flats from the Gap, and I thought they would be great for the plane and as a backup if my other shoes hurt my feet. I love how they roll up to be so small, and they even come with a cute bag to carry them in. I waited until I had a 30% off coupon to buy them. They come in tons of different colors, and if you use the code GAP2010 you can get 20% off until August 16th.

Gap at ShopStyle

One of my biggest concerns about our trip was that I owned no light jackets. I didn't have high hopes for this twill Moto jacket from Old Navy, but I was pleasantly surprised. It fit really well and was very flattering. I think it will be perfect to bring along to San Francisco and when the disgusting NYC summer is finally over. I ordered it with the same 30% coupon that I used on the shoes.

Old Navy at ShopStyle

The Lucky Abbey Road bag was the biggest purchase, but I am so happy with it. I have already received a lot of compliments on this bag. I had been carrying a shoulder bag and it would always weigh me down (I carry a lot of random things in my purse) and would constantly fall off my shoulder. I knew that I needed something that wouldn't hold me back while we were exploring the city. When I first saw the purse, I knew that it was perfect, but unfortunately I had forgotten my coupons. I ended up ordering it online with a 20% off coupon and some gift cards that I had received.

Lucky Brand at ShopStyle

I know that these purchases may seem extravagant, but I am happy because they were actually very thoughtful. In the past I would have just bought whatever caught my fancy. For these I was shopping with a specific purpose, and I waited until I got the deal that I wanted.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Giveaway - $60 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores

I am so thrilled to be able to offer this amazing giveaway to my readers. And I am totally jealous that I can't win!

This $60 gift certificate is sponsored by CSN Stores and can be used at any one of their over 200+ sites. You can find pretty much anything that you need: bedroom furniture sets, shoes, kitchenware, and so much more.

How to Enter:
  • Head over to a CSN site and pick an item that you would love to have! Leave a comment letting me know what you would choose.
Additional Entries:
  • Subscribe to my feed via RSS or Google Friend Connect and leave a comment letting me know that you did.
  • Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment with the link.
  • Blog about this giveaway and link back to it. Leave a comment to let me know that you did.
The Rules:
  • This giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers. Please keep in mind that there are shipping charges.
  • Make sure that you leave your email address so that I can get in touch with you.
  • Winners will be chosen via and you will have 48 hours to respond to my email or I will choose another winner.
  • The giveaway will end at Midnight EST on August 15th.
Good luck!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Swagbucks Code for New Members!

Since I joined Swagbucks in November 2008 I have earned over $450 in Amazon gift cards, all for spending a few minutes a day searching through the site. Referrals are amazing because you are able to earn what your referrals earn, up to a certain limit. There are some new promotions that will be going on next week.

1. On Thursday there will be a Swag Code Extravaganza - they'll be releasing at least 5 Swag Codes throughout the day - this would be a great way for any newcomers to start out with a bang!

2. You'll have the chance to win five different limited edition back-to-school themed Swag Bucks - if you snag them all, you'll earn a 50 Swag Buck bonus!

3. Make sure you follow them on Facebook and Twitter for even more promotions!

Swagbucks has a code available for new members so that you will start with 70 Swagbucks. The code BackToSchool will be valid until Sunday August 15th at Midnight PST.

What I Learned at a Josh Ritter Concert

This weekend was absolutely crazy and amazing. On Friday and Saturday I was at BlogHer (Don't worry, I will be writing a lot about that once I am able to wrap my head around the whole experience!) and then on Saturday night we headed up to Tarrytown to see Josh Ritter.

I purchased the tickets directly from the Tarrytown Music Hall, and I was very pleased with how reasonably priced the they were and also by the fact that they did not add on an outrageous service charge. They also have an amazing website that allows you to choose your exact seats. When we were buying the tickets, we spent way too much time trying to figure out which seats to pick, and ultimately we made the wrong decision. We ended up seated next to the most obnoxious person in my concert going history. She wailed over Josh, stomped off-beat, talked over the quiet songs, and did the most elaborate seat dancing/flailing that I have ever seen. It was completely distracting and rude, and I was feeling bummed and my husband was getting angry.

He kept asking me if we could move up to the mezzanine, which had some empty seats. Initially I rejected this proposal on a matter of principle: I had paid more for the orchestra seats, and it wasn't fair that we would have to give that up to get away from her. Eventually I relented when her howling became too much to bear.

I am SO happy that we changed seats. The sound was clearer upstairs, and the view was great. I could actually enjoy the show, instead of being distracted and annoyed. The lesson I learned: be flexible. We could have stayed in the first seats and had a miserable time, but instead we moved. Though we lost out on the extra money that we paid, we upgraded our experience.

Someone had handed out glow sticks to the entire audience, complete with instructions not to light them until a specific moment in the song "Lantern." The result was awesome, and I am so glad it was captured on video.

So despite its shaky start, the concert was absolutely wonderful. I am so glad we moved, because it gave us plenty of free space to dance wildly with our glow sticks. If you are not familiar with Josh Ritter, check out his new album, So Runs the World Away, because it is seriously amazing. He is one of the finest songwriters I have ever heard, and I was even able to use one of his songs in a lesson plan that my students loved.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One Man's Trash...

While we were cleaning up at my job, I watched in horror as my colleague threw a box of brand new books in the garbage. We didn't need the books anymore, but we desperately needed the space. I knew that I couldn't let this happen, since it was such an incredible waste.

I asked if I could take the books and try to sell them. I was told to go for it. They were in the garbage, so it was fair game.

So I took them. And no, this was not the first time I've rescued books. I remember finding a huge pile of brand new books on the curb with the garbage by my college, and I rescued those as well, even though it was a bit unwieldy to get them home on the subway.

Well I just got paid for all the books that I saved from the garbage at my job. Through various buyback programs I made:

$16.50 in Amazon gift cards - When I looked the books up on Amazon, there was a link to sell them back to earn gift card credit. I received confirmation that the books were received today, and the credit was immediately deposited in my account.
$48.97 from TextbookRus
$52.35 from eCampus

I got $117.82 for books that were getting thrown out! I only wish I could have saved more (sadly there were more) but those were deep in the garbage can, and though I am nuts, I'm not that nuts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Extra Income for July

I want to start keeping track of extra income that I make online. Right now I have no system, and really I am curious to see how well I am doing. People always laugh at me for doing surveys and other things online, but it really does add up!

Cash from Survey Sites
Pinecone - $9

Total - $31

Cash from other ventures
$13.50 from selling on Etsy
$40 from selling a purse on Ebay

Total - $53.50

Gift Cards
Swagbucks - $25 in Amazon gift cards
$10 iTunes
Lightspeed - $5 in Amazon gift cards
MySurvey - $10 in Amazon gift cards

Total - $50

Grand Total for July - $134.50

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Making the Switch to Trader Joe's

For the past few months we have been shopping almost exclusively at Trader Joe's. This has drastically changed the way we do grocery shopping. In the past I would scour the circular, and correspond coupons and deals. I would often end up stockpiling things when they were cheap, and frequently ended up with pretty bizarre combinations of items in my cart, and not that much to eat. When we added meat and produce to the mix, our grocery budget was around $300 a week.

I'll admit though, at the height of my coupon clipping and deal searching it was not particularly healthy. We bought soda every week - regular for my husband and diet for me. And I drank A LOT of diet soda. I would bring a can for lunch at work and then have a few cans of soda each day after work. Even though we were technically getting good deals, this soda habit added at least $20 a month to our grocery bill.

Then when I realized that it was probably not healthy to be drinking four cans of diet soda a day (and little else), we started to buy bottled water. This added another expense to our grocery bill, and I cringe when I think of how many plastic bottles we went through.

I stocked up on things when they were cheap, even if they were not particularly healthy. At that point, it was more important to have a well stocked pantry for cheap, than to spend more money on healthier food. I was mesmerized by the deals that I was able to get, and I would find myself tallying totals in my head.

Over the past few years though our diets have begun to improve, and we started shopping at Trader Joe's. Initially we went a bit overboard and spent A LOT of money on groceries. Why buy one package of chocolate covered pomegranate seeds when we could buy three? I guess the whole stockpiling mentality hadn't left us yet. Eventually, once we realized that the amazing snacks and other goodies that Trader Joe's had would still be there when we came back, we started to shop more normally.

Since more options have been available at Trader Joe's, we have switched to mostly all organic produce, meat, and dairy. We have also cut out artificial sweeteners and things like high fructose corn syrup. One day I just became disgusted with the fact that my food was barely even food, but instead a long list of additives and chemicals.

The interesting part though: even without coupons and sales, our grocery bill is still around $300 a month. But instead of $300 of frozen overly processed pseudo food, we have $300 of real, mostly organic food.

I still clip and use coupons, but much less frequently. We occasionally have to run to a closer supermarket to pick up milk or eggs when we run out between trips. I've also managed to get some coupons for organic brands as well.

We have been married for three years, and it's interesting to see how we have evolved. Though people are a little miffed when they come over and we have no soda to offer them anymore.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Shoo, Jimmy Choo!

Catey Hill kindly sent me a copy of her book Shoo, Jimmy Choo!: The Modern Girl's Guide to Spending Less and Saving More a very long time ago, and here is a very, very late review.

This is a very accessible and relatable personal finance guide for 20- and 30- something women . Catey's tone is that of a good friend - though one who is not afraid to smack some sense into you if you complain that you are broke and crying into your four dollar daily latte.

I have several friends who could greatly benefit from this book, as well as Catey's helpful website that features plenty of tools to help get your finances on track.

This is a very good introduction to personal finance, and it covers all of the bases. Keep in mind it is written for a very specific audience. Though much of the information would be helpful to anybody, it is really aimed towards 20- and 30- something women who have a love of fashion and style, and might currently be living outside their means.