As many of you know, I used to be pretty active with coupon shopping (you can find all of my couponing posts HERE).  Now that there is an Aldi near my home (less than five minutes away), my need for coupons has greatly decreased.  I let my two newspaper subscriptions run out and then cancelled them. I thought that would be the end of my couponing.  Apparently this is not the case.

While I am definitely not couponing as much, I find it interesting that once I stopped my subscriptions, I continued to get coupons.  Every week, there is a free newspaper distributed to my neighborhood (by the regular newspaper delivery guy) and in that free paper are the same coupons that were in the Sunday paper!  All this time I had been paying for two subscriptions when I could have been getting the coupons for free!  Jeesh!  Oh, and since my single, male neighbor doesn’t use his paper I get that one too! So, same amount of coupons FREE!

So, if you have a newspaper subscription just for the sake of getting coupons, start watching the driveways in your area.  If you see that they are getting a free weekly paper, maybe you can cancel your subscription and save a few dollars.

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We only have six weeks left before school is out for the summer.  Can’t believe that they school year went by soooooo fast!  I have started kicking around ideas for things to put on our summer to-do list.  Having gone through years of therapy with Ben, I try to really structure our summers so we have time for fun as well as get some things accomplished.  He does not do therapy during the summer – we work on getting those goals accomplished at home so we can have some family time without being overly scheduled.

Here are a few ideas to get you started planning some summer fun of your own!

  • Sign up over at KidsBowlFree.com so that the kiddos can bowl for free all summer!  They also have a form for the adults to sign up at a rate of $25 or so for four adults on the pass ~ that is a HUGE savings!
  • Regal Movie Theaters does the Summer Movie Express with $1 movies on certain dates during the summer
  • Michael’s craft stores have the free Passport to Fun kids crafts during the summer. Check your local store for details.
  • Home Depot has free Kids Workshops one Saturday each month
  •  Cinemark movie theaters has the Summer Movie Clubhouse program where it costs $5 to go see all ten films (or $1 per film if tickets purchased separately)
  • Going to the public library is free and ours has a great selection of movies and books that keep my kiddos entertained for hours and hours and hours at a time
  • Check around at local museums, science centers, etc to find out when their “free entrance days” are
  • We spend a lot of time outdoors, and usually go to the beach, springs or local pool at least once a week. I make sure to pack a cooler with drinks and snacks so I don’t have to buy any (BIG savings there!)
  • Family game day is always fun! We do board games or video games and snacks
  • Friday is ALWAYS movie night at our home ~ complete with movies from Redbox or the library or Netflix, pizza, soda, popcorn and candy
  • Pinterest is a WONDERFUL source for cheap ideas to keep the kiddos entertained!  There are tons and tons of great ideas and things to try!  Over spring break we have used a few of them . DIY slurpees were a total HIT   and my son thought that taking a bath in the dark with glow in the dark bracelets in the water was super COOL!
  • It takes a little planning but lots of fun can be had for very little money!  If you sign up for emails from Groupon.comLivingSocial.com , and HalfOffDepot.com  you can get INCREDIBLE deals for local attractions that might otherwise be out of your price range. For example:  I just got 3 tickets to CoCo Key Water park that would have cost me over $70 but I paid $31 !  That is more than half off and wayyyyyy less than the cost of one ticket to Wet N Wild!  We have also gotten great deals on ice cream, mini golf, an indoor trampoline arena, Monkey Joes, and various restaurants all for more than 50 % off!
  • Shopping centers and malls offer a lot of entertainment for free!  Here in Orlando we are lucky and have Downtown Disney which hosts a T-Rex Cafe complete with dino bones excavation area (free to walk through and see the dinos and play in the excavation area), Lego shop (free to go in and play with all the cool legos!), free boat ride across the waterway to the shops, and lots of other free and neat things to do and see!  Most malls have an indoor play area these days and the mall also offers an opportunity for the older kiddos to window shop.
  • Teach a skill ~ my kiddos all loved learning to cook and sew!  You can have some fun, get things done (hey, you have to eat anyhow!) and teach a valuable life skill all at the same time.  Pinterest is a great source of kid friendly recipes and craft / sewing ideas too!
  • On the weekends we usually wander over to the Dollar Tree so that the kiddos can spend some of their allowance money (you can see my post on WHY my kids get allowances HERE).  Kids get thrilled even when the only have $1 to spend!  At the Dollar Tree, the possibilities are endless!
  • Get a cheap game from Gamestop.  Not many people know that if you go into Gamestop and tell them that you are looking for Wii games under $5 (or whatever system you have) they will print a list of all the titles they have in stock that are under that price!  $5 for at least a full day of fun is a deal!  You can also rent the newer video games at Redbox for $2 plus tax.

Hopefully this list of ideas gets you inspired to schedule some summer fun of your own!  I would love to hear back from you if you have any ideas to add to my list!

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I worked hard last year to make sure that I had enough money to buy nice gifts for my family for the holidays.  I researched purchases, earned some Amazon giftcards through swagbucks (you can see here how to get a free tv like I did from swagbucks) and saved a little cash each month so that I would not have to worry about how to pay for gifts.  All of this planning paid off!  I got some really great deals!  One of the deals I was most excited about were some Beyblades that I bought for Ben and my nephew.

They were super cool!  They lit up!  They spun!  The packaging said “Let it Rip!”  I kept thinking how neat they were that they lit up when you pulled the strip and how cool they would look when they were spinning in battle!  I knew the boys would be thrilled!

Christmas day went off without a hitch. Sure enough, the boys were excited about the super cool, new Beyblades! “Wow!  They light up!  Yeah!”  They had so much stuff to play with that they didn’t actually open the Beyblades until that evening. My sister called and asked if we had opened the Beyblades yet.  Nope. Not yet.  She said that they didn’t work.  What?!?!?!?!?  I tried them in the store !  They light up great!  They spin great!  She said “Yeah but they are just flashlights.” WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?

Sure enough I tried Ben’s Beyblade and all it did was spin and light up.  Nowhere on the packaging that it came with (it has since been changed) did it say that it wasn’t a “real” Beyblade.  It was only a flashlight. How disappointing.  I immediately emailed the LARGE toy company that owns the Beyblade name.  They sent me a response that they don’t manufacture ALL the Beyblade items and they couldn’t help me.

I emailed them back again saying (name of LARGE toy companies deleted where ***** are):

“So, although ***** is all over the Beyblade name, and I bought a Beyblade branded product, there is nothing you can do for me as a consumer? How is that possible? That is insulting. I have never even heard of ***** ****** ********** and they certainly aren’t mentioned on the Beyblade website (where it says ****** everywhere). I am beyond irritated. This is NOT right! I would think that a toy company that manufactures the Beyblade items would want their customers to be satisfied? How can I get a resolution to this issue? There must be something you can do. It is hard for me to accept that a company as large as ******, who makes the Beyblades items for children, just doesn’t care that they disappointed children on Christmas day and that they are not interested in correcting the issue? Seriously? ESPECIALLY since the EXACT ITEM that I purchased was listed as a selection under Beyblades on the subject of the email I previously sent you (you know, where I am supposed to select the product I am emailing about. WHY would the EXACT ITEM be listed there if you don’t provide customer support for it?) There must be something you can do to make this right. Please let someone else review my complaint and come up with an alternative solution because your previous response is unsatisfactory. Thank you in advance for your help with this matter.”

Long story short, they apologized and sent us two REAL replacement Beyblades.  Don’t take NO for an answer.  Be polite but state your case.  You have the right to complain if you aren’t satisfied with an product or service you have purchased.
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Over the past few months I have gotten some really good deals over at Living Social. Just this past week I bought a certificate for $16 worth of seafood at a local restaurant and I only paid $3 for it! I like this site much better than Restaurants dot com. With Living Social you get what you paid for. There are no “must spend $35 to use coupon” type restrictions. I previously purchased a $20 certificate for Coldstone Creamery thru Living Social for $10 and it was enough for four of us to get the largest ice cream sundae they make and still have 2 cents credit! LOL! Try Living Social’s website. You just might like it!

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Ever since I first heard of the website restaurant.com I have been trying to wrap my brain around why people think it is such a good deal?  Today I am actually going to attempt a few different scenarios here on the blog to see if it is ever a really good deal or not.

Scenario #1

Going with a midpriced restaurant you can buy a $25 gift certificate for $10 but the minimum purchase is $35 and an 18% gratuity is added BEFORE they take off the $25 gift certificate.  Hmmmm…… lets assume you go for dinner (which is also a requirement) and the bill comes to $50.  $50 PLUS the gratuity of 18% ($9) and tax of 6.5% (3.25) = 62.25 then you can take off the $25 gift certificate you bought which brings your out of pocket at the restaurant to a total of $37.25….. But remember, you spent $10 on the gift certificate to begin with so the meal really cost you $47.25.  This gives you a savings of $15 by using a $25 gift certificate

Scenario #2

Going with a higher priced steak-house type restaurant you can buy a $100 gift certificate for $45.  Again the minimum purchase is $35 (not an issue since it’s a $100 gift certificate) and the 18% gratuity is added before they take off the gift certificate.  So lets assume you come in at $125 on the bill PLUS the 18% gratuity of $22.50 and the tax $8.12 = $155.62 then take off the $100 gift certificate brings you an out of pocket at the restaurant total of $55.62 ……. then again, add on the cost of the gift certificate of $45 which means the meal really cost you $100.62.  This gives you a savings of $55 by using a $100 gift certificate.

So, apparently you can achieve some savings by using these types of certificates.  However, given the restrictions on them (dinner only, minimum purchases, mandatory 18% gratuity calculated before savings, you cannot use special offers or discounts, some are only valid Sun-Thurs, dine in only, excludes happy hour and holidays and special events, no split checks, only one per party/group/table/person per month, on and on and on) it sounds like a royal pain to try to even use the things.  I think I would prefer just to go to the restaurant of my choice, at the time of my choice, and be able to use any special offers and coupons that the restaurant offers.

I must be missing something since so many people rave on and on about them.  Anyone care to share their experience with this type of gift certificate?

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I have been wanting to get an Ipad ever since they came out.  Unfortunately they have always been out of my price range.  This past weekend I saw an ad for a large discount store that had a tablet computer, similar to the Ipad, on sale for $89.  I got excited because I figured that with all the “little bits” of money I had saved, I probably had enough.  Here is where those “little bits” came from:

$10 in my wallet left over from last week + $40 in birthday money + $10 in rebate checks that came in + $10 I won after on a scratch off ticket I got for my birthday + $27  for some items we sold on half.com = a PAID IN FULL  android tablet computer/reader !

I just wanted to post this to encourage people and let them know that all the little bits here and there can add up!  Oh, and I didn’t get the tablet computer from the store.  They were all sold out.  I ended up ordering a better one online for the same price!

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