Free Goodies at Origins!

The last time I “bought” something at Origins was about a year ago, when they sent me a holiday gift-card.  I got another one in the mail this past weekend, so back to Origins I went.  I found it pretty funny that the coupon labeled me a “very good customer“.  I wonder what people who actually buy stuff there get?!

IMG_3279Basically, I didn’t want to spend any money, but I also didn’t want to let $10 a gift-card go to waste.  I’m not in love with any of their products – they may claim to use natural products, but they also use way too much irritating fragrance.  Anyway, while browsing their website, I noticed they carry the line of “Ojon” hair-care.  My hair could definitely use some TLC – the colder it gets outside, the more unmanageable it becomes.  A sample size of the conditioner was exactly $10 – worth a try.

I’m not sure who could even consider spending $10 on two ounces of conditioner, but they wouldn’t keep it in stock if it didn’t sell, right?  I’ll have to see if it’s worth the high price tag (that I didn’t pay)!

IMG_3283I left the store, bag in hand, without spending a dime.  Goal achieved!
‘Till next time, shop & save!

Keeping Memories Alive, While Saving $!

I love everything about photography: the composition of photos, telling a story, looking back at memories.  Unfortunately, in this digital age, so many people take photos and just sweep through them on their phones!

Scrapbooking is my go-to hobby, along with card-making.  There’s nothing better than giving someone a handmade card or album that you personalized just for them – and with cards running $5-9 a pop, sometimes card making can be cost effective in the long run (depending on how many papercrafting supplies you purchase!)… I could talk about craft supplies for days.

Anyway, back to the point.  Scrapbooking isn’t digital. It’s physical evidence, with printed photos, flipping through pages, designed however I desire.  In order to scrapbook, I need to actually PRINT photos.  Even with backup USB’s and backup websites, I still want a guarantee I’ll have those photos forever – and the only way to do that, is to print them!

Printing can be pricy.  But, of course, I save up my photos until there’s a great coupon.  Right now on shutterfly, they are offering $20 off of a $20 purchase (on basically anything – prints, cards, address labels, photo books, photo gifts)!  I made sure my total hit just at the $20 mark.  With tax and shipping, I paid under $10 total for 147 4×6″ photos.  This ended up being cheaper than going to a drug store or big box chain to print them – plus I don’t need to leave my house, and they’re delivered right to my mailbox.  Use code FIRSTGIFT until October 14th at checkout.  Plus, If you spend over $39, there is also free shipping with code SHIP39.

Don’t have a shutterfly account yet? Go sign up.  You’ll automatically get 101 free prints just for signing up.  They offer free, unlimited photo storage, which works as a great back-up system to your phone or computer.

So, next time you are showing photos to your friends and family, don’t hand them your phone, hand them actual photos!

It’s My Month: Birthday Rewards & Freebies!

One month out of the year, the mail stack gets larger, and the e-mails become more frequent.  For me, that month is October!

Even though my birthday is still a few weeks away, I’ve already begun to receive extra coupons and promotions.  Rewards Programs and Rewards Cards are exactly as they sound, rewarding.

  • At some point over the past year, I signed up for the Edible Arrangements e-mail list.  Today, they sent me a coupon code for a free 12-piece box of chocolate dipped fruit any day in October.  It also mentions I can pick it up in store, so there is no shipping cost.  Yum.

Edible Arrangements Free Dipped Fruit!
 

  • Victoria Secret sent me $10 off of any purchase, on my Angels card any day in October.  They have a huge variety of lipsticks and lip-glosses for exactly $10, so I’ll most likely grab one of those for free (Spending exactly $10 is the trick to getting out of swiping your card).  I typically NEVER use the credit card, but I average 8 “free underwear” coupons per year, and definitely take advantage of those.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t use the card, in fact, I think they send me more coupons just to get me in the store (but they can’t trick me).
  • Ann Taylor sent me a card with $15 off of any purchase, no minimum any day in October.  I can easily grab something on the clearance rack for just around $15.  Just like VS, I literally haven’t used the Ann Taylor credit card in months, yet I still get the coupons!
  • Sephora offers a two pack of Nars lipsticks, completely free the month of your birthday in store, or online, when you sign up for their Beauty Insider Program (the program is completely free!).  I love using my earned points for free items.  When you order online, you’ll receive 3 free samples of your choice.  If your order is over $25, you’ll receive an extra larger sample of your choice.  If your order is over $50, you don’t pay shipping.  I had a $50 gift card (from my discover rewards!!) – and used it to purchase a $54 gift set of FAB Beauty Products which are 100% fragrance free and allergy tested for extremely sensitive skin.  I also used 250 of my built up Beauty Insider points to get extra samples of my choice.  Free shipping and a LOT of free samples later….. this is what I got for $7.43 (the remaining $4+$3.43tax):
My Sephora lot, under $8!
Free NARS lip pencils from Sephora!
  • I’m signed up for the Ulta rewards program too (you can sign up in store or online for free).  Today, they sent me an e-mail saying that I’ll get double points on any purchase in October, plus a note to look out for another e-mail for a free bareMinderals Marvelous Moxie Lip-gloss.
Free Lip-gloss at Ulta on its way!

A few stores are not as generous, but still try…

  • Bloomingdales sent me a 25% off birthday coupon, plus if I spend $100 any time in October I’ll receive a $25 gift card back for a future purchase.
  • Vera Bradley sent me a 25% off “entire purchase” coupon, which can be used at any full-price store, any outlet store, or online.
  • White House Black Market sent a coupon code for Free Shipping – they could do better than that, it’s a little stingy.
  • Crabtree&Evelyn sent me 15% off my purchase, also stingy in my opinion since their products are incredibly overpriced (I can’t even use anything they sell in their store since they use fragrance)…
15% off purchase at Crabtree&Evelyn

I wonder what will be in my mailbox the next few days!  Check back as I add more Birthday Deals and add photos of what I receive throughout the month!

‘Till next time, get what you can for free!

Overspending on our Furry Friends?

Today, I’m going to stray away from my usual posts on fashion, home décor and everyday grocery/pharmacy items.  In honor of International Rabbit Day this upcoming Saturday, I want to focus on our furry friends! I happen to have an adorable mini lop rabbit that I love.  As much as I love my bunny, I’ll have to admit I don’t necessarily love the prices of pet supplies.  I also don’t love the smell of pet stores… or lugging large, heavy bags of litter and hay to my car.

There are SO many ways to save on things we need to buy for our pets.  I have found that almost everything sold in Petco stores, is actually cheaper online.  I’ve also found that stocking up is the way to go especially for something like litter that doesn’t expire.  I could literally buy a year supply and not worry about it for the next 12 months.  It was time for me to stock up.

So today – a 20lb bag of bunny litter that is normally $19.99 in the store, was marked down to $14.39 online.  I added 4 bags to my online ‘shopping bag’ – That’ll last me a few months.  I figured I’d get a chew toy as a treat too – that was marked down to $3.99 from $4.99.  Had I bought these items full price in store, I would have paid $85.00 + tax.

I also had a 20% coupon off my entire purchase (Use code BFF20 online until 9/26/15).  After calculating the sale prices and removing the 20%, my sub-total came to $49.24.  Every purchase over $49 pre-tax also gets free shipping.  I think 24¢ is my record of how close I can get to the limit!  After tax, my order came to a total of $52.37.  That’s 40% off in total, but that’s certainly not all!

Before I placed my order, I made sure to click the Petco link on the ShopDiscover section of the Discover Credit Card website – Clicking this link automatically earned me 10% back from my purchase total (pre-tax) which comes out to $4.92 in cash-back bonus that I can use toward my statement or toward gift-cards!

I also made sure to use my Petco Pals Rewards number when I placed the order, which earns 5%.  Every time I spend $100, they send me a $5 coupon! This rewards card is completely free – so there’s no reason not to sign up.

PetPic

Ultimately, I could find time to add Petco to my list of errands every time I’m running low on hay, litter, treats or other supplies – OR I could continue doing what I’m doing.  I’ll stick with the latter.

Rewards Galore! Plus: Pier 1 Coupon Code in Contents!

(Note: I updated this post because my final price in store came out much less than when I put the item on hold online)  Read on…

Let’s talk about rewards.  All you have to do is play your cards right: credit cards that is.

I recently bought a bedroom set at Pier 1.  I purchased the bed, dresser and chest through the Shop Discover link with my Discover card.  Some stores give up to a 20% bonus when you use this link.  Pier 1 offers 5% back, and that one transaction alone earned me $107 cash back bonus!  I can use that bonus to put toward my statement dollar for dollar, or to get rewarded even further with gift cards.  This month, I traded in $20 of that bonus for a $25 Pier 1 gift-card – plus a few other gift-cards from Sephora, Homegoods/Marshalls & Bed, Bath & Beyond!
(Trading in for gift-cards earns you an extra 20% and the options are endless!)  I already used part of the Pier 1 gift card on a pretty pineapple plate, but still had $17 left.

I purchased the two nightstands for the bedroom set a few weeks later than the other furniture – that time I used the Pier 1 credit card (when they were on sale and with a coupon of course!) – that purchase earned me $30 in Pier 1 rewards, which printed out on the statement.

I’ve been ‘window shopping’ online for the last few months for a new outdoor umbrella, but I couldn’t bear to buy one full price knowing they’d slash soon enough.  Plus, there was nothing mechanically wrong with mine that prevented it from doing it’s intended job of blocking the afternoon sun.  (Go back to my post about patience if you missed that one…) Now that I had rewards and a gift-card, Pier 1 seemed like the way to go!

Well, the $159.95 umbrella I wanted is now marked down to $103.96.  Lucky for me, when I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, I came across a Pier 1 coupon code – $1o off $50 or $25 off $100!  (The coupon needs to be scanned in store or you can use code Pier1Fall online until 9/27/15!

The umbrella pole had a slight scratch and it was the last one, but somehow this made my day better.  The scratch would be completely covered by the umbrella base and it meant another discount.  The cashier also informed me that all outdoor  merchandise had an additional 20% off.  

So, she rung up my umbrella and used the $25 coupon first (had she taken the % off first I couldn’t use the coupon).  Then she took off 20%, then an additional 25% for “damage”.  She took my $30 rewards off next, then swiped my $17 gift card. 

Now I have a beautiful new blue umbrella for next summer and years to come!  Nobody will never see the scratch covered by the stand either.  In the end,  I only paid $2.78 including tax out of pocket! That’s over 98.5% off of the original price – and I earned it :). Best deal yet? Quite possibly.  

‘Till next time, keep saving!

Labor Day Sales are Upon Us – Check These Out!

Labor day is upon us:  The end of summer, and the start of pumpkin-everything.  Kids are back in school, and soon enough we’ll be throwing on our sweatshirts and jackets. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the cooler weather – but I am looking forward to weekend sales!

Here’s a list of places to find the best deals this weekend on designer goods:

  1. CLEAR THE RACK at Nordstrom Rack – in stores & online.  Take an extra 25% off all clearance items through September 7th – with savings up to 90% off the best brands!
  2. Nordstrom Clearance – in stores & online.  A ton of summer items on sale for the whole family!
  3. Big Brown Sale at Bloomingdales – A huge selection of items are 20-70% off, plus use code BIG20 for an additional 20% off sale and clearance items! Don’t forget to use your free loyalist card to earn points toward rewards certificates too!
  4. Lord & Taylor – Use the savings pass available on their website in stores & online for an additional 25% off clearance items and an additional 20% off sale & regular price items.  On their mailing list like I am? Check to see if you also received a “$15 off $40” coupon in the mail that you can combine with the other deals!

Almost every store and outlet will have amazing promotions to clear out any remaining summer merchandise – and you might even score some great deals on things for autumn!

Heading to the outlets? Make sure to stop by the information desk if you have a AAA Card.  You’ll get a great coupon book for additional savings.  There are also extended weekend hours – be sure to get there early for the best parking or take advantage of the shuttles and valet offered this weekend due to the large crowds!

Check back to see my great finds!  ‘Till then, stay stylish!

I’ll walk you through the process:

CVS. Okay, I know you’ll get bored if I keep posting about CVS – but I wouldn’t want you to miss out on free Colgate toothpaste!

Every so often, my fiancé accompanies me to the store.  I thought it was about time to teach him my saving ways so he follows suit.  To start, I made him sign up for his own CVS ExtraCare card.  Without that, you mine as well throw money down the drain.

His first trip to the in-store kiosk was pretty rewarding – it printed out a $3 coupon for linking his new card to the phone app, and a $2 instant coupon off of Colgate toothpaste (everyone gets one this week).  It also printed a $1 off any P&G product, but we saved that one for later (we’ll be going back to buy Tide).

For this particular shopping trip, we had two coupons from home – $1 off any Colgate toothpaste and $1 off any Colgate mouthwash.  These came in the Sunday newspaper.  Another set also came in my mailbox on Thursday with the local town paper (so I still have two more coupons for another time!)

I’ll walk you through the purchase, just as I explained it to him:
The Colgate toothpaste this week was on sale for $3.00 and the Colgate mouthwash was on sale for $3.99, plus $1 back in ExtraBucks for buying one.  When we combined the $2 instant toothpaste coupon with the $1 toothpaste manufacturer coupon – it was free.  Then when we combined the $3 coupon for linking his card with the $1 mouthwash manufacturer coupon – that washed out the mouthwash.  He actually, technically “lost” a penny – you win some you loose some. Just make sure you win more than you loose.

Overall, 100% savings with a $0.00 receipt total – plus a $1.00 coupon on the bottom for his next purchase!  If these items were not on sale, without coupons he would have paid $9.48 – yikes!

As the cashier bagged his items, she said “It always feels good when it’s free!”.  Yes, good is an understatement.

cvs2cvs

You can get your own free toothpaste until CVS closes Saturday night
(September 5th)!

Don’t forget – the CVS website has a “sneek peak” of the full flyer for the upcoming week.  Before you buy something, make sure there wont be a better deal in a few days!

‘Till next time, keep saving!

Why would your rent when you can buy for less?

As I was deciding what to write about a few things crossed my mind, like Tax-Free Week.  But then I started wondering, why do people bother with the hassle of renting dresses, when they can buy and own them for almost the same price?

RentTheRunway: the website where you rent an item of clothing or accessory for 4-7 days, and then return it.  I can think of one reason to use this site – you live in a studio apartment in the City and don’t have a closet.  If you don’t fit that description – then I would definitely steer clear of RentTheRunway.

While I’ve never actually rented from the RentTheRunway (and never will), I have browsed it quite a few time.  While I understand the concept, I just don’t understand why anyone would use this site to rent clothes for four days when they can own the same exact product.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Some of these are $1,000+ dresses that I can’t afford.”  Well, yeah there are some $1,000 dresses (original price!).  But they are also most likely on sale at Saks, Bloomingdales or Neiman for just slightly higher, the same or even lower than the rental price.

Lets take a look at a few examples from some of my favorite dress designers (dress photos below):
ML Monique Lhuillier & Carmen Marc Valvo

Example #1:
A gorgeous cobalt blue ML Monique Lhuillier sheath which originally retailed for $398 can be rented on RentTheRunway for $75 (4 day rental) or $120 (8 day rental). 
The dress is actually selling for $398 at Bloomingdales.
The same exact dress is currently on sale at Lord&Taylor for $298.50, free shipping, free returns, plus an additional 20% off with code SUMMER, bringing it to $238.  But, that’s not cheap enough.  Keep looking.
Guess what, the same exact dress is on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue (online) for $148.06, free shipping, free returns – almost every size is still available too.  If you sign up for e-mails you get an additional 10% off bringing it to $133.26 to OWN – plus if you shop with your discover credit card through Saks on shop discover, you’ll get an additional 10% cashback bonus toward your credit statement.  So if you’re doing the 8 day rental, wouldn’t you rather own this dress, for only $13 more!  Don’t need it right away? Wait until Saks has an additional 25% or 30% off their sale items, it’ll be even CHEAPER than renting for 8 days.

Example #2
A long flow-y Coral “Ella” Toga Neckline Gown by Carmen Marc Valvo that originally retails for $1,075 can be rented for $160 (4 day rental) or $256 (8 day rental)
Saks wins again.  Same exact dress = $266 to own in either the coral color or royal blue.  Use that 10% coupon from signing up for e-mail bringing it to $239.40 and it’s CHEAPER than renting for 8 days.

(I could go on and on.  There are plenty more examples with Kay Unger, Teri Jon, Badgley Mischka, Kate Spade, ect.)

 

 Another reason I don’t understand RentTheRunway:
Normally, when I buy a dress or jumpsuit I need it altered in some way to fit perfectly: taken in through the waist, shortened, or taken up in the shoulders.  Unless you are 6′ tall or going to wear 4″ heals, don’t count on a maxi dress, ball gown or jumpsuit from RentTheRunway fitting you.
And since you don’t own the item – you can’t alter it anyway.  Plus, who wants to deal with making sure the mailman delivers it on time and making sure it gets back to the company by your deadline!  If you don’t even see it until the day you wear it, or one day before how do you know what shoes & accessories work well?

At least if you buy a dress from a department store and it doesn’t fit, or if you don’t end up wearing it, you can simply return it for a refund.  If that dress you rented doesn’t fit you, or if you end up not wearing it, you’ve lost your expensive rental fee!  Next time you consider renting – take the time to check a few websites and find it on sale – for cheaper than the renal fee.

Only end up wearing the designer dress once?  Bring it to an upscale consignment shop (such as Second Time Around) or sell it on e-bay or Tradesy.  You’ll most likely be able to sell it for the sale price that you paid.
(If you keep the original tags, that helps the resale value when selling!)

The Difference: Extreme Couponers VS Me

I recently saw an instargram photo from a self proclaimed “extreme couponer” – it showed an entire table full of junk food, over 30 sticks of deodorant and over 15 bottles of off-brand shampoo that she paid a few measly dollars for.  Unless this person was going to donate all of the food to a local food pantry, and donate all of the personal care items to a local shelter – I think they wasted their time.  This same person also posted a photo of an entire living room floor completely covered in coupons – how do they even get those (dumpster diving?!)  Some couponers spend hours, even days planning their purchases.  A trip to the store could take them hours.  I’m not an extreme couponer, and I’m totally okay with that!

I have a very active lifestlye, I have absolutely no time to be an extreme couponer – nor do I have any desire to be.  But, I do want to save as much as they do – and I think I’ve proved that I can through my past posts.  Instead of getting cheap shampoo that I would never dream of washing my hair with, I want to get the same deals with the high-quality, brand name products that I use daily.  I don’t want things to go to waste, and I certainly don’t have a “storage room” for years worth of products – I will never give up my craft room!

Maybe I’m picky.  Or maybe I buy certain brands because I absolutely have to.  Having struggled with chronic seborrheic dermatitis and contact dermatitis my entire life, I know what I can, and what I can’t use.  One load of laundry washed with scented detergent will cause irritation and discomfort for days, even weeks.  Same goes for any beauty products, lotions, soaps, hair care – you name it, I probably can’t use it.  Spraying aerosols or harsh cleaners can easily prompt an asthma attack.  My point? The list of products I can safely use is limited – very limited and they tend to be extremely overpriced.   So, I have a dilemma – I either break the bank buying products I need to use on a daily basis, or I buy cheaper products that are going to cause side effects.  I don’t like either of those options, so I make sure I can always get what I want, and what I need, for a fraction of the cost.

Yesterday, I did just that.  I didn’t spend an hour, or two, or five searching for deals.  I literally spent 20 minutes quickly skimming through the flyers in the Sunday newspaper (which you can also easily find online…) to find the items that were on my shopping list!  CVS had ALL Laundry Detergent (including the scent free version) on sale for 2/$7.  It is normally priced $7.79 each.  There was a manufacture coupon in the newspaper for $2 off when you purchase 2 – so I could use that.  Every time you fill 10 prescriptions at CVS, you get $5 back in rewards – I had just hit #10 last week.  So as soon as I walked in the store, I scanned my card at the coupon Kiosk – and out came the $5 coupon to use on anything in the store!

WordPressCVS Laundry Detergetn

Overall, I had exactly $7 worth of coupons.  Since the detergent was on sale for 2/$7… well that’s easy math.  Without my ExtraCare card and coupons, I would have spent $15.58, but instead I didn’t even open my wallet (tax is on the price after coupons, and there’s obviously no tax on $0!).  100% savings – and I wasn’t even in the store more than five minutes.

FullSizeRender

So, I got what I wanted, what I use, what I needed – for free.  Maybe I do have one thing in common with extreme couponers: I LOVE the feeling I get when I leave a store with full shopping bags in hand – that I didn’t cost me a cent!

‘Till next time, keep on saving!

The Style of My Summer (Another Dillard’s Find) – at 81% off!

Think back to my post about the Eliza J. embellished dress from Dillard’s – I happened to leave with another great find that day: a light and airy J.McLaughlin Tunic at 81% off!!

Dillards J.McLaughlin Tunic

While I’ve browsed the J.McLaughlin store many times while strolling down the block in West Hartford Center, I’ve never actually left with anything in hand.  Reason? I never find anything within their extremely small inventory that doesn’t have an insane price tag.  But I have to admit, their clothes are really cute and seem to be very well made – almost a more grown-up, sophisticated Lilly Pulitzer.  I was pretty excited when I saw a lone tunic mixed in the clearance rack at the Orlando Dillard’s.

It’s a great tunic – light and airy for hot summer days that turn into cool nights.  I have to admit, as much as I hate ironing, it only took about four minutes out of my day to iron both the shirt and shorts (which I picked up at J.Crew last summer on clearance!) for my #ootd.  The tunic was $125. Wait, what? Well, that was before the markdowns and the additional discounts.  The markdown price was $43.75 – still way too much for a summer shirt.  Since the entire rack at Dillard’s was marked 50% off the sale price, I justified paying what I think clothes are worth – about 20% of their original price.

Dillards J.McLaughlin Tunic Original Price Dillards J.McLaughlin Tunic Sale Price

I ended up waiting in the horrendously long, slow moving line for the dressing room – but I’m sure glad I did because the tunic made it’s way into my shopping bag.  The price dropped from $125 to $22.  At a grand total of 81% off, the J.McLaughlin tunic was a great addition to my summer wardrobe!

‘Till next time, stay stylish & stay tuned for my upcoming post featuring the free laundry detergent I picked up today!