Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
While Dallas is still climbing the middle rungs on a list of "great destination" cities, we do have some well-known qualities: world-renowned shopping, wonderful restaurants, longer periods of warmer weather, shopping ... the 6th floor museum, shopping, Chase Crawford, oh! sports teams ... and that's about it.
However, with the weather doing its thing (rain, cold, heat, cold, rain, heat, etc.), Columbus Day hosting the last good sale weekend until Thanksgiving and restaurants being filled due to homecoming groups (HUGE deal here), we're going a little crazy with cabin fever and are racking our brains trying to think of new, different and fun things to do. (We're looking on the non-commitment, one-day-of-fun side; not that we're not opposed to volunteering or getting a part-time job, we're just trying to think of ways to blow off steam from outside the box.)
Enter the Internet and creativity.
~ Got $5? Take a friend and 20 minutes to the (insert favorite place that provides goods in exchange for money) and buy a present that represents said friend or the friendship that you share. Like, I might buy The Boy a baseball and a bag of Hershey Kisses (because he likes baseball, chocolate and makin' out) and he might get me a latte or a Target gift card. This could also work with a group of friends; each person could pull a name out of a hat and then later everyone has to guess which item(s) describes each friend, or even who bought the gift.
~ Host a game night! Tell everyone to come in pjs, pop some corn and bring out the classics (like Twister - remember how hard that was when we were 9? Imagine being drunk, enjoying the fact that its co-ed and laughing that everyone is slightly less flexible) OR make sure that the batteries are charged in your game-station and go rent a multi-player "party" title like Carnival or Mario Cart.
~ Head to a big box store and try (rather play with) everything you can; thinking Walmart (did you know it isn't hyphenated anymore) or Target? Create a fashion show or your perfect outfit in the apparel department - up the challenge by limiting yourself to what is only on the clearance racks. Head to a toy store and play the latest video game, try a bike, jump on a big stuffed animal or take a trip down memory lane by perusing your favorite aisle and thinking about the fun you had of yesteryear, and see how much those toys have changed now. (Take current Barbie - skank alert! But I still love her.) Head to a club wholesale store (Sam's, Costco, BJ's, etc.) on the weekend and not only will you see the latest and greatest new items, you'll also get stuffed on samples galore! (If you're not a member, you can easily get in by saying that you're thinking about getting a membership. Once you're in the door, you're golden. BUT, be careful! Should you decide to purchase that years supply of toilet paper or a full metric ton of cheese-balls you will be charged a non-member fee of up to 20% of your total purchase.)
~ Are you close to a professional or semi-professional sports team? Take a tour of the stadium! (Or field or park or arena. Whatever.) There are usually price breaks for students and if you visit during the teams off-season then you'll for-sure see more (say, a locker room) than you would if the team were due back later that day or week. No pro's nearby? Check out behind-the-scenes-tours of ice skating rinks, zoo's, bottling and distribution plants (soda, beer) or other local attractions, like a franchised McDonald's or Chick-Fil-A, the town/city newspaper or even a television station. (Granted some of these may require a minimum participation number and a few phone calls, but consider it an opportunity to learn about and see something new.)
~ Make a day trip! Pick an amount of time of which you feel comfortable sitting in a car, select a direction and then get a map. 90 minutes South of Dallas = Waco. Check out Baylor, visit the Dr. Pepper museum, get a kolache in West. Fun! Did you choose 2 Hours North? You'll be in an Indian Casino before you know it. Or hell, just get on a street of which you're somewhat familiar and start driving. If you usually drive that way to work, looking at the same path on a slower speed could open your eyes to your new favorite coffee place or after-hours bar. Does your area have a "loop" or stretch of road or highway that circles the city? Pack a cooler, load up some friends and see how long it takes you to go all the way around.
~ Do you like something enough to devote a whole day or weekend to it? Go over to Festivals.com and search by your desired noun - do you not care what you do but are only willing to drive 30 miles from the heart of Chicago? Would you like to hear a speech by a guy whose name starts with the letter "R"? Do you like Irish Jig Music so much your dream is to travel the country and see each states take on such a timeless art? You'll find it ALL and then some by taking a few minutes to plan it out ahead of time. You can even find out which vendors will be there ... well, you know, if they've given word and signed in and junk.
~ Take a cooking class - find out if your local grocery store, community college, PTA, place of worship or even speciality/gourmet food and or kitchen retailer (ie - Williams-Sonoma) sponsor such thing. This can usually be done by a quick web search or even phone call. (If the location you call doesn't do it, they may have information about other places in the area who do.) Usually grocery stores or retail outlets will do so free of charge or at a minimal cost, because cooking is one of those "scary" things for a lot of people and if they can get you confident, then you'll remember them and want to purchase things from them in the future.
~ Do you have a hobby, passion or love? Type it into Google (or yahoo or "ask") with your desired location (city and state) and see what you find. (There is also a website database called meetup.com which helps you locate others in your area with whom you should be friends. Can't find anyone interested in the same thing? Not a problem - create a group!) Here's a site of Pug fans and owners in the Austin area; a remote controlled airplane club in Colorado; and really just for fun, a group of Pirate Enthusiasts in North Carolina.
~ Do something repeatedly and then blog about it! Like this family over at 52 Zoo's - they joined the Association of Zoo's and Aquariums where they paid a huge amount per person up front but that gave them unlimited access for a full year (from date joined) to any Zoo, Aquarium or Wildlife ... place? ... that also belonged to the AZA. They made the choice to fly and drive to a lot of the far-away renowned institutions - Like the Houston Zoo and all 5 Seaworlds (which, btw, if I was their kid, I'd be asking some serious questions as to how Shamu gets around and always ahead of us) - but if you live somewhere that you can access 8 or 9 places within a reasonable driving distance, like a few zoo's, aquariums and wildlife sanctuaries, then it might be a good investment. I've seen the same type of program for all types of educational and historical things - like Flight Museums or a State's "Society of Historic Homes". Or think smaller - what about visiting every McDonald's in your area and then rating them? Most are franchises and are owned by the same person/group - does the one on "South" street look like the one on "First" avenue? Who has the better play-place or seems to have a slower lunch rush?
What about you? How do you have fun whilst staying on a budget?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Sure, we all know about All You, the magazine that sells exclusively at Walmart (which in my opinion is really the only reason to go there) or online and is FILLED with coupons, but have you started to notice how many *actual* magazines are also starting to carry coupons and savings cards these days? (*I really don't mean to offend anyone by discrediting All You ... but it is very strange to me that all of the articles are the same as what you can find in Woman's Day or Martha Stewart, and when you go to cut a coupon out, you also take a part of the article from the back-of-the-page with you, leaving the article un-readable. Shouldn't they lay out their ad-space a little better?)
Anyway, here's what I've found - what about you?
Nov. Rachel Ray - purchased off the news-stand.
- 20% any single item at Bed Bath and Beyond; found on page 51 and expires on 12/14.
Nov. O - purchased off the news-stand.
- 15% off total purchase at Eddie Bauer; good in-store, online and catalog (includes free shipping too!) found on page 61 and expires on Nov 15. (Online code = OPRA09NOV and Phone = J795) (Sign up to be an Eddie Bauer "Friend" and get points, learn more)
- $30 off $100(+) purchase at Coldwater Creek; Found on page 163 and expires on Nov 30. (Mention code NKA9449 for online or phone orders.)
- Plus 2 perfume sample pages
Nov. Better Homes and Gardens - purchased off the news-stand
- $5 off any $25(+) purchase at True Value Hardware Store. Found on page 33 and expires on December 7.
- $1/2 packages (8oz+) of Keebler Club Crackers - page 71, expires 11/30
- $30 off $100(+) at Coldwater Creek; valid online, over the phone or in-store; Found on page 73 and expires on Nov 30 (Online and phone code - NKA9425)
- Page 153 has details about a mail-in freebie - 2000 "readers" who purchase one or more featured products and mail in their original in-store or online receipt will receive a Free Cosmetic Bag filled with samples and coupons from L'Oreal Paris, Curel, Jergens and SleepRight.
- $7 off any 8lb or Larger bone-in Half Ham from the Honeybaked Ham Co; Found on page 179 and expires on December 31st.
- $.75/1 Dole Frozen Fruit (bag?) - Found on page 198C (???) and expires on March, 31st 2010.
Nov. Marie Claire - subscription
- free sample of Vaseline Sheer Infusion on page 88
- $3 off any Olay hand or body lotion AND a BOGO Free Olay hand or body lotion (max $6 value) both found on page 147
- Plus 2 perfume page samples (score!)
Nov. Real Simple - purchased off the news-stand. (I also used a $1.25 coupon as found here)
- 15% off total purchase at Eddie Bauer (plus free shipping if used on catalog or Internet orders); found on pg 54, exp 11/15. (Make sure to sign up for Eddie Bauer's "friend" program. Find out more here!) ((The Internet code is Real09Nov; the phone code is J777))
- $3 on one Olay hand and/or body lotion; BOGO Free Olay hand and/or body lotion (up to a $6 value); found on page 63, exp 12/31
- 15% off at Children's Place; found on page 67 and expires on 11/17. Internet code is REAL99
- 20% one item at Bed Bath & Beyond (valid in-store only) found on page 111, expires 12/14
- $30 off your $100(+) purchase at Coldwater Creek; found on page 153 and expires 11/30
- Free $25 gift card at the Container Store when you purchase *$100 in gift cards; offer available in stores and online, starts Oct 23rd and ends Dec 24th; found on page 157. (*you have to buy $100 in gift cards but it doesn't all have to be on one card. Also, if you're like me and shop there all the time, then buy a $100 card, KEEP IT FOR YOURSELF, get the $25 and gift that to someone ... or also keep it for yourself.)
- $25 off your $100(+) purchase at J.Jill; found on page 167 and expires on 11/30. (Internet and catalog code - Real25.)
- $1 off 1 Glade air care product TARGET COUPON; expires 3/31/10 and found on page 177.
- $7 off Any Bone-in Half Ham (8lb or higher) at The Honeybaked Ham Company; found on page 275 and expires on Dec 31st. (I also hear that there is a $10 off coupon here.)
- 40% off your entire order at Expressionery when you use the code rsholiday at checkout. Expires January 31st, found on page 321.
- $1 off an issue of Real Simple - found on 329 and expires Dec 21. (I don't think it can be used on subscriptions.)
- PLUS, these 5 coupons on page 69 and 5 more on 195 - all are valid only when also purchasing a copy of Real Simple - (pg 69:) Save $2 on Eucerin Calming Body Wash; $2 on Fruit2day 2-pack; $2 on any size International Delight (doesn't specify if that means coffee or the creamer); $2 on Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin; $2 when you buy M&M's Premiums.; (pg 195) $2 on 1 Nestle Toll House (no product specification); $2 on Quilted Northern Ultra Plus (no size requirement!); $2 on Truvia natural sweetener (no size listed); $2 on Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice; $2 on General Foods International (again, coffee? creamer?) All expire on Dec 21. and should all probably be used together as to not have to purchase multiple copies of the magazine. Also, all are coupons for the particpating products in the Real Simple Holiday Rewards Rebate. (Question - what if you already subscribe to Real Simple? What if you've already bought a current copy? Answer(s) - buy one for a friend who you think may really like the mag OR the friend who always borrows yours but never returns it. RS also produces several special publications throughout the year that you can find on most Magazine Stands (think in the book dept, not at the register) like "Real Simple: Weddings" or "Real Simple: Family" and "Real Simple: Cooking". They are more expensive, like, $12, BUT are FULL of tips, tricks and GREAT ideas that you look at and go "I can do that." and the more common "Why didn't I think of that?" Don't forget to use the "all you" coupons.com coupon when you purchase your copy!)
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I never want to leave and now I'm one step closer (well, one hour really) to living at my local SuperTarget.
Traditional times have always been 8-10 Monday - Sat and 9-9 on Sundays. BUT, It seems that they are looking into extending hours as they have already done so at two stores in the North Dallas area; the North Dallas location on Coit between Campbell and Frankford, and the Frisco store behind Stonebriar mall are now both open until 11pm Monday - Saturday and close at 10pm on Sunday.
I'm hoping that these are test stores and if all goes well then the whole chain will make the switch, but one can only dream for now. I'm closer to the Coit location but the few times I've been to either store since they've enacted the extended hours (August) it isn't really busy. Like, ever. I'm hoping that Target somehow spreads the word (or maybe target super fans take to the blogs!) so that people are aware of the changes before they throw in the towel and go back to closing at 10. But judging by how LA and Chicago regular Target stores all having closing times at 11 gives me a lot of hope. (Is it sad that my biggest dream would be shopping at Target at 3am?)
I've looked around and there are a few stores doing the same in most major markets: Fort Worth (Central ST), Arlington (Arlington South ST), Houston (Galleria, Pasadena ST, SouthCentral ST, Westheimer), Chicago (almost all regular stores as well as the Broadview ST), Austin (Southpark ST), Denver (Glendale ST), Atlanta (North Druid Hills, Midtown,) DC Metro (Falls Church, Fair Lakes, Alexandria) and Boston (South Bay, Everett, Watertown).
So check and see if your store, or one in your area, has newer longer hours and go fourth and shop!
Friday, October 16, 2009
My plan is to keep updating it and then when I find a new program, update the list s'more.
I also want to get a list of eateries with club/card/email programs as well as another that is just free food events, but those will happen when it happens.
So, I hope you all have a good weekend and keep watching for more "list" updates.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Sure, daily e-mails and tons of catalogs can be hella-annoying, but they are often times the best way to save money when shopping as they are around to promote their newest items, which can also alert you about a sale. (Out with the old, right?)
Most of the time these mailers contain discounts or certificates in the form of cards, coupons or codes good for percents or dollars off, free shipping, free samples or full-sized products; sure it's a way to lure you into the store, but at this rate becoming a VIP has never been so easy! Carrie Bradshaw may have spent whole paychecks at Prada to have a BFF relationship with a clerk only to receive first-name recognition and a glass of champagne (which I suspect more to be "sparkling wine" than a true import), but I can get the royal treatment in my underwear while watching the news and eating an ice cream sandwich without ever entering my credit card info or having to make a shameful, "buyers-remorse" return.
But seriously, why pay retail?
Here is a (working) list of loyalty programs and mass email sign-ups that you should know about. (Did I miss any? Shoot us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know what store, what you have to do - sign up online? in store? - and the perks of signing up.) And don't miss this post about more ways to save at the mall.
Orange = Dallas/Fort Worth Locations of those stores that are less-widely available.
Green = Online only
~ American Eagle - All Access Pass (Scan your pass each time you shop and get a coupon in the mail every 3 months. The more points you accrue in a quarter - like jeans are 5 points, accessories are 2 - the more your coupon is worth the next cycle.) The Pass also works for purchases at Aerie (the 'intimates" store; see below for DFW lo-cals), 77kids (kids clothes) and Martin and Osa. (The Banana Republic of AE inc; Currently the only M&O in the Dallas Area is at NorthPark, but feel honored because the only other one in the state is in Austin. Sorry, Houston.)
~ Aerie - if your mall features its own, separate Aerie store (most likely connected to American Eagle, but definitely has its own store front) sign up to receive emails. They used to do this punch card freebie thing but now they send out emails every now and then for you to swing by their store and pick up a free item on a Thursday - some times it free panites, sometime its a candle. (3 Metro stores - Stonebriar, The Galleria and The Parks, all located right next to American Eagle.)
~ Ann Taylor - click here to get emails and here to get catalogs and mailers (coupons!) from Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, Ann Taylor Factory Store (aka - outlet) and the Loft Outlet. First sales, promos, new products, blah blah blah. I get regular email coupons to the factory/outlets ... I get coupons every now and then from The Loft and I get Ann Taylor coupons about 3 or 4 times a year.
~ Aveda - a salon and store that smells AMAZING. Great natural products for your face, body and hair; some stores are even full-service spas. Sign up here - emails for free "generous sized" product samples as well as invites to store events. (I just signed up - I already have a code for free shipping on a $40+ online purchase.) They also have a club that you can join to earn points for more free stuff - there is a one-time $10 "joining fee" and it seems like you get a lot, like points on purchases good for stuff later on and a surprise on your birthday! You can usually find a freebie out on the web if you search.
~ Bath and Body Works - sign up for emails and home mailings. I get coupons about every two weeks in my inbox and about once every other month for free travel or trial size products as well as c's for % and $'s off my total purchases. Plus, when I check out at the store, I usually get another coupon that will start in a few weeks. (You can ALWAYS find great c's online too - just search a little bit.) This is one of those stores where you can also add a coupon to an in-store promo - so lets say that there is a "buy 2 get 1 free" promo and you have a "spend $X get a free ___" coupon - make sure that your two non-free items equal the amount or more that you are required to spend and then you can get 2 free items. Score! Also, if you ever have a coupon for a free item with ANY purchase, think small - nail files, found by the register are only $1. Check the clearance bins, get a gift bag, look around the store for a "sample" (2oz bottle) of the "newest flavor" ... err ... "smell" - those are usually at the register and are also just $1.
~ Barnes & Noble - has a membership program - you do have to pay a yearly fee, but the coupons and discounts are outstanding - like 40% off best-selling hardcovers and 10% off in the cafe. PLUS, as a member you can add your email to get even more coupons (good for both online and in store). It is a $40 yearly fee, so that might be something to think about if you don't really buy that many books.
~ Bebe - sign up in the bottom right corner on the main page. I'd assume emails about sales and new merch. (just signed up - within 10 minutes I received a free shipping coupon in my inbox.)
~ Bed, Bath & Beyond - click here to sign up for both online and snail-mail offers. I get more coupons from them than I do any other retail outlet and I get them like clock-work. I usually get "20% off any single items" (you'll get one as soon as you sign up) but my roommate in college, who lives in Houston, only gets 10%'s in via snail-mail. Maybe they like me more? Every now and then I also get $10 off a $50 purchase or 15% of my total. They carry a pretty good selection of Yankee Candles and also have a "Scent of the Month" thing where they'll knock 10% off the price of 3 different scents AND you can use your store coupon on top of that.
~ The Body Shop - register here for an account to get home and email; other perks: discounts, latest news about new products and sales, quick online check-out process and you can store a list of your favorites. (So important when shopping online. I hate buying something only to remember once it gets to me how much I hate it and then I have to drive to the mall to return it which defeats the point of buying it online to begin with!)
~ Borders - of course, why pay to have a membership at a bookstore when Borders has a free program? I know I've seen coupons for %'s off certain books as well as free and bogo items from the cafe floating around the interweb. Pick up a card from a store, then register it here and get started saving! Apparently you can also use the card at Borders Express (inside airports) and Waldenbooks (remember those? the really small bookstores, or "booknooks" in the local mall?) AS WELL AS online retail stores like Anne Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Kohl's and more when you sign up here. Holy crap, I don't shop at Borders, there aren't any close to me, but I'm thinking I need the card!
~ Build-A-Bear Workshop - click here for e-mail sign ups; I've seen a lot of good coupons flying around the web lately for things like "$5 off a $10+ bear" or "$10 off of $50". It seems like the emails would be the same from the "Stuff Fur Stuff" thing, but I'm not sure. (Which, if you don't have one of those cards, get one. I'm 24 and childless but I can usually accrue enough points over a year's time to get some pretty good coupons towards future purchases.)
~ Chico's - I don't shop there, but maybe you do? Bottom left of the mainpage is an email sign up; They also have a loyality card program called a "passport". Free to join, no fees ever; looks like the benefits include an email preview of new collections, as well as sales and other "offers." (read - discounts!) Once your merchandise purchase (total, not one trip) reaches $500, you will receive 5% off every future purchase, double discount days as well as invites to special parties, event and sales. There is also a "birthday bonus", although you have to have made a seperate purchase in the prior 12 months.
~ Coach Factory Store - IE, Outlet; here is the sign up form - I've seen some some pretty good coupons AND they stack on sale and clearance prices too. The bf bought a purse for his mom for Christmas already - originally $315 last year, it hit the outlet for $255, was on sale down to $170 and we had an AWESOME coupon that got the price down to $95.
~ Coldwater Creek - another store of which I do not shop, but I'm thinking that maybe I should due to all the coupons you can find in magazines like O and Better Homes and Gardens each month. I can't find anything about a store program... but there is an email sign up at the bottom right of the home page. Maybe all of those magazine coupons can really work when paired with a sale. *I got an email 2 days after signing up to receive emails for 25% off my next purchase (valid online, in-store and on catalog orders) that expires in about 2 weeks AND it doesn't have a minimum that I need to spend. Score!
~ The Container Store - oh, how I love thee. Not just because you're a Dallas-based operation, but because you help feed my obsessive/compulsive behavior when it comes to organizing even the most mundane of tasks, like finding a cubby for the key we always seem to misplace. Um. Alright, anyway. This is one of those places that didn't really *do* coupons or *discounts* until Oprah discovered them or before the economy went south. (Two separate occurrences. Oprah finding out about the Container Store did not cause the Recession.) Now you can find a 20% off coupon every now and then - mainly when Oprah features them on her show. BUT do sign up for their emails because you'll get alerted to sales (like Elfa, their closet and storage system), special promos (like the holiday time gift card promo), back to school events (for those headed off and back to college - super fun, full of demonstrations, discounts and snacks) and more!
~ Dick's Sporting Goods - you could sign up for emails that will update you on sales and promos, or you could sign up here for Dick's "Scorecard" program - you'll still get the emails but you'll also earn 1 reward point for every $1 spent - when you get to 300 points a $10 gift certificate will be sent to you. (Score!) (You can sign up online or in store; in store you'll get your card instantly, online they have to mail it to you so you'll have to wait a few days/weeks; also their online shopping system doesn't accept the scorecard. Interesting.)
~ Dillard's - they have an email sign up (top right) that will notify you about sales and special promos, but I'm not sure how much further the program goes beyond that.
~ DSW (Shoes!) - I like shoes, you like shoes, but nobody quite knows how this "points" based system works. You get a "rewards certificate" for every 1500 points you earn, but what does a point mean? Oh well. I seem to get a certificate for every 8 pair I buy but there are other ways to speed it up - like shopping on double or triple points days. (Only a few a year ... and when sales start to slump.)
~ Eddie Bauer - I'm not a nature girl, heck, I don't even like to go outside to get the mail, but I LOVE the name of this perks program: Eddie Bauer Friends. Love it! (Although the PR Nazi in me wants to call it "Friends of Eddie Bauer" or "Eddie Bauer's Friends".) Anyway, get 10 points for every dollar spent and after *4 months you'll receive a $10 Gift Certificate for every 1750 points you accrue (or $175 spent), with a max of $80 in certificates every period. (But if you're spending $1400 a month on outdoor gear, we need to talk.) (*They have nicely defined that their earning cycles are March - June, July - October and November - February. My guess is because it's in keeping with the seasons.)
~ Express - I am almost sick at how many offers they send out via snail and e-mail - I can't keep up!!! FOR SURE enter your mailing address - you'll get the best coupons that way. One bummer - you can't use the coupons on sale merch. :-( Sign up here (on the "create new account" side.) They are also one of those stores that is really great about keeping up with sales, they are pretty regular and last FOREVER - every major holiday and then about every 8 weeks. When they are getting down to the last few days you get to take an extra percent off of whatever the already low marked down price is.
~ Field of Dreams - the self proclaimed "Ultimate Sports and Celebrity Gift Store" has an email sign up, at bottom of the home page. I'm going to go out on a limb and say no to the coupons but yes to the daily emails of "sale on this sweaty piece of equipment used by So & So once". They also get new things in and every now and then have celebrities come in to autograph things. Note, it's about 98% sports stuff, 2% non-athletic celeb's. (Galleria, Stonebriar.)
~ Forever 21 - click here to sign up for their emails - promos, sale alerts, new stuff and "special offers"; you can also get on the list for Heritage, Twelve by Twelve and faith21 at the same time.
~ Godiva - huh? What? That's chocolate!!! Yes, that's right - Godiva (pronounce Guh-dive-uh, not "Go-Diva", thankyouverymuch) - has a Chocolate Club!!! Sign up either online or in-store and score a free piece (1) of chocolate each month, a free gift when you spend $10 or more (only one gift per month - sometimes its a free chocolate dipped strawberry or a two-piece chocolate set.) in store and free shipping on an online order. If you sign up in store, you get a plastic card and key-tag, but all you really need to give is your email (or phone number) so I'm sure it doesn't matter where you register.
~ Kohl's - I don't really shop here that much, but if you sign up you'll automatically get a "$5 off your next in-store purchase" coupon (I'm sorry, I don't know how much you have to spend first) and another for 10% off your next online. I'm sure you'll also get catalogs and decent mailers.
~ The Limited - Sign up to be "an insider" at the bottom left of the home page. 24 hours after signing up, I already have 2 emails - one about a sale and another is a printable coupon for $15 off every $50 I spend, which I can for sure do.
~ Lucy - a female/yoga-centric athletic store. I've seen emails for "free wrist-bands, no purchase necessary" and other offers for freebies and discounts. Sigh up here! (2 DFW stores - Plaza @ Preston Center and the other is in Southlake @ the Town Square.)
~ Lululemon Athletica - sign up here for emails about new products and events, as well as tips about sales. (Galleria, NorthPark)
~ New York and Company - (Does anyone else remember when this was Lerner New York?) Sign up for the Rewards Club card and get coupons via email and snail mail; exclusives about new sales and items and events, blah blah blah. "Terrific Discount" on your birthday and a $25 off coupon for every 5 purchases.
~ Origins - sign up here to get on their list. Definitely submit your home mailing info - coupons, promos, a gift on your birthday ... woohoo!
~ Payless Shoesource - I haven't shopped here in a long time, but if you sign up for their email program, they are to email you about sales, new styles and every now and then, coupons. (email sign up is at the bottom of the page.)
~ Pier 1 - I'm not sure what I just signed up for ... but I clicked both email AND home mailings so maybe some coupons and catalogs? (I like catalogues - It's mail with pictures and shopping.)
~ Sephora - I'm not the biggest makeup person, but I do shop there because they have an amazing selection of perfume and cologne. I like this store because you get 3 samples of your choice with any purchase. Click here to get emails - news on store openings and events. BUT, click here to join the "beauty insiders" - for each purchase you make you'll get a point-per-dollar-spent added to your "beauty bank", which can be redeemed for a "deluxe sample"at 100 points, or, you can save up to 500 and trade them in for a full-sized product. (Both the 100 and 500 point "prizes" change every few months. So you'll keep spending, of course.) You'll get (different) emails about insider-only products, advance purchase opertunites AND a birthday gift. (woohoo!) AND if you spend over $350 in a calender year (Jan - Dec) you'll automatically be enrolled into the VIB - Very Important Beauty Insider program. But, if that's all too much for you, there is also a catalog that you can sign up to get - free tips, the latest on makeup and skincare, etc. (Sign up for an account, then request a catalog.) If you don't live close to a Sephora, JCPenny has started opening (smaller versions) inside their stores, but i'm not sure if the Beauty Insiders club works at those locations. (Or, if your mall has both a, Penny's Location and a Sephora store - like Stonebriar - when they have a give-away or promo, collect from both. Why not?)) But you could always shop online - there are tons of free shipping codes out there AND you still get 3 free samples of your choosing with any order.
~ Toys R Us - Rewards - Honestly, I have no idea what this is about. All I know is that they said are you a member and the next thing I knew I had a new plastic card to keep up with.
~ Urban Outfitters - Catalog sign up, email sign up. Emails will be sent to tell you whats new, when exclusive sales and promos start and you'll also get alerted to special "in-store events." No evidence of coupons at this posting.
~ Victoria's Secret - FOR SURE sign up for their emails and home mailings - I get things all the time for free panties and lip gloss as well as coupons for %'s and $'s off. BUT make sure to sign up for Pink Nation too- it's more of a younger brand geared for college students (you know, get 'em while their young and you've got 'em hooked for life) but anyone can join. (One Warning - sizes are typically in juniors - so one smaller than what you'd normally wear - and only go up to an L in tops and bottoms.) A new offer is usually posted mid-month for offers like free beauty products, t-shirts or underwear when you make any other pink purchase. Or sometimes the price has been rolled back for members and a coupon is also included. You can usually stack these with any other "Pink" in-store offers - like a free panty or mini-dog when you buy any pink product. *TIP - when it says ANY Pink Purchase, go for the cheap - get the $1.50 sucker or $5 hand lotion - totally works and why not? The name of the game is "Mall Freebies."
~ Williams-Sonoma, Inc - the parent company for Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids (2 -Knox & Cole, Stonebriar), PB Teen (3 stores world-wide: Chicago, Atlanta or NYC), West Elm (Mockingbird Station), Williams-Sonoma (duh) and Williams-Sonoma Home (Shops at Legacy). Click here for email and catalog requests, and go here specifically to get a PB Teen Catalog. I get a lot of emails about whats new, in-store promos, when a new sale has started and I some times get discount codes for online orders. (It cuts out the middle man in furniture buying.)
~ Yankee Candle Co - there is an email sign up at the bottom of the page; this is one of those stores where you can regularly find printable coupons that work both online and in the store if you just type it into a search engine - like "$10 off a $25 purchase" or "$1 off any tart or votive". I know I've also received snail mail (coupons!) from them before AND I know I've used their c's on top of store sales before. *Important note - their coupons only work at their physical store locations and online - I know that Bed, Bath & Beyond as well as Target and other stores sell a select line of their products, but you can only use these coupons at an actual-factual Yankee Candle Store.
more to be posted later this week. (This is a slow but steady process. Thanks for understanding!!!)
Oh yes. That is a binder clip. It's super cheap and I look like an idiot when pulling it out of my purse (ahem, my Burberry purse) and its loaded with a thousand pieces of paper and those plastic coupons you get in the mail. But when I go to the mall, move out of my way, 'cause it's on y'all. My favorite day to go to the mall is on Thursday - because it's still mid-week and typically the slowest of days - but also because most sales, promotions and freebies happen on Thursdays.
To become a "Mall Master", sign up to get on lists or reward/loyalty programs for stores that you frequent. Make sure you start a new "coupons only" email because you will get stuff everyday and it will drive you crazy. But print out the things that you like immediately (because I've found that sometimes I can lose them amongst the other e's) and hold on to them - you never know when you'll need to kill a few hours.
Also, just look around the web - I spend about an hour a week on the computer looking for last minute coupons online at sites like http://www.retailmenot.com/, http://www.printable-coupons.blogspot.com/ and by just google-ing a stores name and with the word "coupon" behind it. I don't think I've shopped at Bath and Body Works, Victoria's Secret, American Eagle or Express without a coupon in years.
Find a few good coupons but they all say that they can't be combined? Not a problem - most stores will let you do multiple transactions in one trip, lest I've never had a problem with it. (Especially in this economy.) I sometimes get the stink eye from a shopgirl, but I just tell myself that she's jealous and I move on. :-)
And while you're shopping, keep an eye out as to what is being put in your shopping bag. Bath and Body Works LOVE to give away coupons - look before you leave and if its a good one, ask nicely and you could even score more. Many stores have those stupid phone surveys printed on the bottom of the receipts - but if you take the time - about 5-10 minutes - to tell them about your trip (most are touch-tone answers to pre-recorded questions) they'll reward you with instant coupons, like $10 off of your $50 purchase. Once, A and I were at a store, I purchased something, she did my survey in the fitting room and then 5 minutes later was checking out with it.
Its also important to know a stores return and mark down policies. (You don't have to carry them around like Target and Walmart, just be mindful.) Like, Victoria's Secret won't refund an item if you received a freebie with it - so if you bought a pair of panties to get the Pink Nation freebie or you spent $75 to get the After Thanksgiving Day "tote full of goodies" - UNLESS you return the freebie too. (Exception - if you only needed to purchase one item to get said free thing but you purchased something else on the same sale that would also count towards the freebie; if you spent way over the purchase amount - so if you spent $95 and got the tote, you could return something for $20 or under, but over $20 dips into the original $75.)
Most stores even have mark down policies - so if you purchase something and it goes on sale within 14, 30, 60 or even 90 days you can bring the receipt back for a one-time price adjustment, and there is no need to bring the item in! (Altho you may have to find one on the sales floor for the cashier to compare.)
Are you a student, AAA member or out-of-towner? If you're really going to drop some dough (or you are a cash-poor student) ask if that store offers an extra discount; I've done this plenty of times, and you won't know til you ask, right? J-Crew offers a 10% (it could be more, but I haven't been a student for a few years) discount with a "valid" student ID. (But really, how do they know if its valid? Well, unless it's in big print when it will expire ... but all's fair in love and shopping, right?) AAA also has discounts associated with certain stores - I'd do a long post but not everyone is a member so I won't waste my time. (Well, maybe I'll do a post down the road. Whatever.)
If you know you're going out to the mall, check their main website and click around anything that reads "mall info booth", "concierge" or "special mall info" - you're looking for clues as to email clubs and coupons. Some, like Chelsea Premium Outlets, require you sign up for an account (free) and bring in the proper email before they hand over a coupon booklet to you; others just want you to flash your drivers license - if you're a "visitor" from more than X amount of miles (usually 50) out-of-town, then you can claim a free coupon book - this is a MUST DO in Vegas - show your ID at every casino VIP booth, concierge stand and Mall/Shopping staffed Info booth you can - you'll get bogo's and % offs on everything from shows to food to retail.
Yet other malls just have coupons (that you need to redeem for more coupons) just hanging out online, like this one. Also, some state tourism boards have set up special websites just to focus on their shopping. (I bet you can't guess who I'm going to link back to...) That's right, there is a site for shopping deals and coupons for my state - this sub-section is just what is available in the Dallas area, brought to you by http://www.shopacrosstexas.com/.
Is it a better deal to get it online? Well, that depends. Factor in things like shipping and the possible cost of making a return - find out those two pieces of info before you even start looking to save the pain of more steps later. You can usually find free shipping deals if you look hard enough online, but what if something arrives broken, too small or you simply changed your mind?
I think that's something that retailers are starting to recognize with the number of consumers who have Internet enabled smart-phones; not only has the game changed due to the economy and technology, but we are more informed as shoppers now more than ever. We can instantly find out if someone else has a better deal than what you're offering, including the parent companies own website, and we can do it right in front of you. Don't be afraid to do some cost comparisons and show a cashier, sales-person or manager what you've found while in their store - they have daily sales quotas to hit and giving you a discount right there is better to them than you walking out of the story completely.
With that said, you may still need to order online from time to time, and with those online orders come the dreaded thoughts of making a return. If you want to return an item and not pay for it, you have to go to the store which uses gas and the carbon footprint and walking past the store displays of other crap you could buy, blah blah blah. Sometimes it is a hassle. But, if you want a same-day return that is done right in front of you instead of trusting the mail and whoever opens and checks your return, then it is the lesser of two evils.
I've never had a problem with Target accepting a return from an online purchase - they've streamlined the process where you can use either your original, email or account record receipt (all printed and brought with you), or if the item was a gift that didn't include a gift receipt they'll walk you through the process of how to obtain one online (usually about 5 minutes). You still have 90 days to make the return and you might be slapped with a 10% restocking fee on some items (electronics, furniture), but if something is damaged, they'll make it right. Walmart (shutter) makes it easier with their "Site to Store" program - instead of having an item shipped to your home where it may be left outside or take a few extra days, they'll include it at no extra charge on a mack-truck delivery within two weeks of your order and notify you when it gets to the store of your choice. The process seems a bit safer than traditional shipping but a downside is that you have to go to the store to pick your item(s) up during said stores "s2s" hours and you can only have someone else pick up your stuff if you included them on the original order. You have 30 days to pick up your package and when you do, you stand there in the store with whomever is on duty at the time checking all the boxes and their contents to make sure everything looks alright from the start; if there is visible damage the employee can help you on the spot instead of taking it home and then having to come back. But should something still not work, you still have the same 90 day return policy and it starts the day you pick the boxes up, not the day you placed the order.
Other retail establishments won't even offer the choice of making a return to your local haunt - instead you have to do so by mail using the "convenient" "pre-printed" return envelopes and mailing labels that they provided with the original shipment. Order by phone or online with Victoria's Secret and you're able to use up to 3 discount codes at once ( free shipping, free panties, free tote bags, free lip gloss, etc) but if you need to return those $10 thongs or that $45 bejeweled bra and you're looking at $7-12 just to send it back using their return slip. Not to mention you have to take the time to fill out a check-list of sorts that contains each item number that you are to cross-reference with each item you are wanting to return and then give a reason as to why (they've thought of all the answers for you, you just need to list the corresponding number) and if you don't do so then your return won't be accepted.
I once partook in the catalog/Internet "X panties for $X" amount promotion but ended up returning two pair because they weren't what I ordered. By the end of everything I was actually charged a second time for the same order, because individually each was $9 but when buying 7 the for $35, each was brought down to $5 each. Had I just purchased 5 individually I would have been charged $45. So in my sending back two, I wasn't refunded the $10 I spent, rather charged $10 more because I was keeping the rest. Too many people over the years had caught on to this sort of "buying at a discount" and in my not returning everything, that is what they thought I was doing. You can bet I'm going to avoid buying online from them in the future.
All in all, we have a lot of choices now, and the retailers know it. They all want our business, not just for the day, but for life. So you shouldn't be ashamed for wanting to get the most for your money, rather, you should feel smart for getting great deals and making the people behind you jealous by how much you're not spending.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
So we're avid dog people - A has a Teacup Chiuaua, I have a Boston Terrier and B has ... well, I don't know what he is (Sorry B!) - and we L-O-V-E our babies.
Naturally, we (maybe it's more me?) want to take them everywhere, but can't. So, we're going to try to point out all of the places around town where you can go with your pet. (I should say that this will apply mainly to dogs, because they are more accepted than say, iguanas. Sorry.)
Of course there are city run dog parks - White Rock Lake, Plano and Allen being the ones that stand out right now. But ... come on. It's Texas. The weather sucks, there aren't any *clean* places to sit, no one pays attention to the rules and the lack of ground maintance is a cause for concern.
That's why The Boy and I take our BT to Unleashed - an indoor dog park off of 30 between Jim Miller and Ferguson. For a small fee of $7.50 daily (or the option to buy a package of days at a discount) we have in-and-out access to let pups burn off all of his crazy energy for as long as we want and to come back before closing if he ralleys.
Open since April, Unleashed beats any of the free dog parks in my book. Besides the fact that its all indoor (with a proposed outdoor section to be completed by next year) which means we can burn off steam no matter the weather, the facility is big, clean, inviting, and most importantly, SAFE. (I don't know about you, but the Plano park scares me because when its dark you have to walk forever in a park to get to your car; the Allen park is nice but very small so it gets crowded and worst of all some guy was stabbed at the White Rock Lake park not too long ago. No Thank You.) Every dog has to have up-to-date shot records (which are entered in the system on your first visit and checked again yearly) and they don't allow Pitbulls. (Which is sad, yes, because they are beautiful, smart, wonderful dogs; but as we all know, it's some of the owners who mistreat them and cause them to be violent.)
The complex offers two staffed playing fields - one for bigger, more active dogs and a smaller area for the cute little prissy ones; each play field features multiple water bowls (that constantly circulate and purify); ramps, jumps and other agility pieces; tennis balls, rope toys and other projectiles as well as places for the pet parents to sit. Oh, and the play surface is stadium quality astroturf that gets cleaned nightly (and spot treated as necessary) to ensure the best. I mentioned the staff - they are there to play with the dogs, enforce the rules with the people (you won't believe how many people try to eat fast food while in the park) and break up any fights that may encure.
Poo bags and hand sanitizer are provided should your 4-legged pal have an urge. And if you have the urge, the people restrooms are clean, too. Actually, having a bathroom to begin with puts them over the competition already.)
Other amenities under the Unleashed roof: a supply store that sells everything from treats to non-perscription medication; a cafe (and holy crap the food is amazing) for pick-me-ups and quick meals; free wi-fi; doggy daycare; a groomer; cage-free boarding (get this - there is an apartment on-site and someone sleeps in this huge bed with all the dogs who like to sleep in people beds); and an Event Planner - thats right, they have a person who plans Birthday Paw-tys, breed-specific mixer nights and theme nights - like Singles Night and a Howl-o-ween party.
Also, I've talked with the owner and other staff members and things to come in the near future - a full fledged sit down restaurant, an outdoor park with water features AND a bar. (I mean, you have to go to happy hour somewhere, right?)
I know I went on and on in this post about how great this place is (we were there tonight!) and I SWEAR I don't work for them nor have I been paid to write this; I just wanted to share about how much I love that I can take my little guy out to play and enjoy it because I know that we're both safe and can both have a good time.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I love going to the movies during the week, but sometimes its hard to squeeze everything AND a movie in before bed time.
Enter the Studio Movie Grill, where you can eat real food (that doesn't suck!) AND watch a first run movie at the same time. Oh, and they have a full bar. During the month of October, all shows Monday - Thursday are only $5 per person (vs the normal $9.75) AND there are daily specials:
~ Monday - $2 off Marg's (frozen and on the rocks.)
~ Tuesday - $2 off 14oz Draft Beer; $2 off Burgers (excludes kids burgers)
~ Wednesday and Thursday - All You Can Eat Pizza ($9.49 a person) ((The best thing about this deal, it includes all of these really great speciality pizzas, not just cheese and pepperoni. AND, a pizza off the regular menu is more expensive than the all you can eat pizza. Love it!))
There are 5 locations in the Dallas area (Sorry Fort Worth) and 2 in Houston.
Have fun, and let us know what you saw!!
~ The $.50 off Quaker Granola Target Coupon (which can be found on Targets website OR over at sites like a full cup or hot coupon world) works for the snack size bag of Quaker Granola Bites. They are priced at $1, so $.50 each after the coupon!
(And this is a new one that I haven't sent in to the other bloggers yet ... we'll see how long it takes for everyone to catch on...)
~ Also in the check out line are Fiber One Chewy Bars in a two-count box. They are normally $1.03 but are on clearance for $.87. Use the "$.40 off one box of Fiber One Bars" from the 10/4 General Mills sunday coupon insert, from all the other sunday inserts, from http://www.coupons.com/, from http://www.smartsource.com/, from any other source that you can find coupons, and you'll get one two-bar box for $.47! (Maybe even lower if your Target has reduced them further yet.)
Now, for a Dallas Specific deal:
~ The Wylie Super Target has a WHOLE end cap of the smaller boxes of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (in both flavors!) on sale for $2 each!!!! Pair with the NEW $1.50 off coupon everyone has been talking about - and you've got CHEAP Kashi!!! (Click the "get coupon" button under the picture of the cereal.)
Anyway. As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of people out there who find all kinds of amazing deals and steals out there whilst shopping. We are not attempting to steal their numbers or fan bases; we're trying to help you out as well. And here are my mentions as other site you should be reading:
We - B, A and K - will do our best to debunk rumors, list corresponding prices and give you updates on stock levels as we're out and about.
And the best part about having three friends do this is that we are all close to a different Target. (And we often visit others that we don't live or work close to.)
Monday, October 5, 2009
This blog is to be run by two 20-something friends - A & K - who are both in different stages of life.
A is a newly-wed whose husband is in Iraq until April and will be graduating from college in May to become a high school history teacher in the fine state of Texas for the rest of her life. (Military and a teacher income - you'd better believe that they have got this saving thing down.)
And I'm K - an engaged-to-be-engaged unemployed college graduate (*yay economy!*) who picked up couponing as a free/cheap hobby, because I had the time.
We're live in different parts of the Northern Dallas suburbs and are constantly out and about all over this fine metroplex. (Most of the time we're at Target, 'cause come on, does it get any better than that?)
Our goal is to help you help yourself. Why pay retail? If you're like us, you have student loans or are entering the world for the first time and can't afford to blow a whole paycheck on "Thirsty Thursday" anymore. (I cried the first time this happened.) The coupons and deals are out there - you just need to know about them.
Sure, there are other coupon web sites - better ones that are more professional and have thousands of readers daily - and we're not trying to compete with them. Most of the time everyone is just posting the same information anyway. But it really is its own community - even the moderators from the other websites often share information with each other and that is how everyone wins!
However, as Dallas is a unique and competitive market for everything (did you know that we only have a handful of grocery store outlets because DFW is the nations number one grocery-store market. Why?) we often miss out on most of the things posted on the other websites simply because we don't have Winn-Dixie, K-Mart or Rite-aid. And coupons that you find in the paper are regional - I can't tell you how many times I've been soooo excited about an upcoming deal that I read about on the interwebs, only to be passed over completely because the coupon in question never came to this area.
Plus we're not moms. (Someday we will be and that will be great.) A lot of the other sites really hone in on that and its kind of off-putting to our generation. We don't need a recipe that will feed 8 and we aren't making 20 school lunches in a week. We just want to be able to afford whats at the mall and stock our pantries. (Or ship food overseas, as in A's case. And man, that boy can eat!)
So with that, we hope that this site helps you on your way to financial freedom - we know that it's a messy place, and trust me, we've all broken down and cried. It is scary. Whether you're just starting out in college, starting your family or looking for something to do in Dallas (how often do you say to yourself "there is nothing to do here!"), we hope that you consider this your place to learn how to deal, spend like a rock star and still have cash left over for your bills (and a bottle of tequila.)
Take care and talk soon -