Saturday, April 26, 2008

CentsAble Shopper Show & Tell: My CVS & Walgreens deals this week

Each week, BeCentsAble hosts the CentsAble Shopper Show & Tell, where you can read about the great deals and shopping trips everyone had during the week. I thought it was about time I joined in :)

I don't have pictures because our camera uploads to Marc's computer, not mine. (That's why I don't take many pictures in general.) But I had two CVS trips and Walgreens trips this week.

During the first CVS trip, I picked up three boxes of CVS Rapid Release Gelcaps, which are free after ECBs ($3.99 each). I used a $3 off $10 purchase. I also picked up one of the Mennen Speed Stick 24/7 deodorants, which was free after ECBs (also $3.99). I used a $1 coupon on that. I also bought a newspaper. I had a $5 ECB, so my total out of pocket including tax was a little over $9. I ended up with an $11.97 ECB and a $3.99 ECB.

Then I went to Walgreens armed with coupons, but they were out of stock on some items, so I ended up only using one 7-day coupon from the weekly circular: 3 Scotch bubble mailers for $1, with a limit of 6. I bought the biggest (and most expensive) mailers that I could with the coupon. The coupon wouldn't scan, but I was patient and the manager was able to override the problem. So I got 6 10x13 bubble mailers for $2 plus tax - a savings of $11.14. I've already used three of the envelopes to send some packages!

My final trip was back to CVS, where I was thwarted by the ExtraCare card scanner at the front of the store being out of order. I always get a $3 off $10 CVS brand purchase, which I'd been counting on for my purchase of two more Rapid Release Gelcaps and CVS brand sanitary pads (which I actually like even more than Always brand, go figure). Without the coupon, the deal wouldn't be a money maker so I skipped it. I only bought two things: Alavert, which was on sale for $6.99, and a package of CVS brand small plastic cups (which the boys will use). I used a $4 Alavert coupon and the $3.99 ECB from my purchase earlier in the week. My total out of pocket was a little over $2 and I got a $4 ECB back.

The thing I'm learning as I play The Drugstore Game is to take advantage of as money makers as possible, so that I can roll over my ECBs and still buy things that I need (like the cups). It's really counterintuitive to buy things that I don't need, but I'm giving them away to friends or as donations.

5 Minutes for Mom's Mother's Day Giveaway

Mother's Day 2008 - Giveaway Event

5 Minutes for Mom is having a huge Mother's Day Giveaway, starting with a $1,000 American Express gift card courtesy of Egg Beaters. You can enter that contest here. Check in with them over the next two weeks to see what other fabulous giveaways they come up with!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Free books for elementary students from Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble has a summer reading program for kids in elementary school (grades 1 through 6). B&N will give each child who reads 8 books and completes the Summer Reading Journal a free book! The completed journal can be turned in between May 9 and September 2, 2008.

Hat tip: More Than Enough.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Question of the Day contest at All Financial Matters

One of my favorite blogs is All Financial Matters. I've been reading AFM for about three years now, and I even had the pleasure of guest blogging there last summer while JLP was on vacation.

One of the best things about AFM is the comments section, which attracts very intelligent and insightful responses. To keep the conversation going, JLP is asking for readers to submit "Questions of the Day," which he'll run next week. This is a great chance to have JLP, as well as his readers, address any general financial questions you've been pondering. And best of all, the authors of the questions chosen will be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

So head over to the contest post and send JLP your questions.

Review: QVC

I wanted to write a quick review of home shopping television network QVC because I'm guessing that for people who've never bought or received anything from QVC, there's a stigma attached to it. My guess is based on my personal experience, since I had looked down on QVC until I met my lovely mother-in-law, E.

It turns out E has been shopping at QVC for a long time, since way before I met her. Over the years, I've been the lucky recipient of many of her QVC purchases. I was surprised to discover that QVC sells name-brand items at a discount, that their in-house lines are usually of high quality, and their prices (including shipping and handling) are competitive. I've even made a few purchases myself in the last couple of years.

I highly recommend checking QVC out, especially if you're having a hard time finding something. Here are a few tips for shopping at QVC:

  1. Take your measurements. Take them accurately and honestly. If you're not sure what you're doing, take a look at QVC's directions. Write your measurements down on a piece of paper and keep it near your computer when you're ordering. Unless you are sure of your size in the brand that you're ordering, you should always check the sizing chart before adding something to your cart.
  2. Buy one item at a time from each brand and get to know each brand. For example, I like the slinkiness of the Citiknits brand, but I find it tends to run large and the bottoms don't look that great on me. (Although I did buy this set to wear to that bridal shower I mentioned over at CFO.) I find that the more QVC items I own, the more partial I am to specific brands. So I urge you to take things slow and get to know the various brands before you place a large order. (QVC has a 30-day return policy but you'll have to pay for shipping.)
  3. Get to know your body and what style suits you. This is kind of an obvious tip that doesn't apply just to QVC, but I find that some people (including me, sometimes!) don't really have a true understanding of what styles look good on them. Since you'll have to pay for shipping both ways if you don't like a purchase, you want to minimize the number of times you change your mind. Make an appointment with a stylist or read a book like The Science of Sexy. (Read a review of the book at Wisebread.)
  4. Don't impulse shop. Again, this is an obvious tip, but it's easy to click that mouse a few extra times and end up spending lots of money without thinking too much about it. Before you log onto QVC, make sure you have a very specific idea of what you are looking for, and log off as soon as you find it or realize it isn't there.
  5. Compare prices. QVC doesn't always have the best prices, and sometimes when you add in the price of shipping, you'll find that you can acquire the item elsewhere for less. Examples that quickly come to mind for me in this area are sets of gift bags and greeting cards. QVC's deals might be good if you go through a lot of gifts and greeting cards, but otherwise you're probably better off going to the Dollar Store. However, I've turned to QVC with great success when I've had a hard time finding something (like a top to wear to that bridal shower).
Full disclosure: I am not a QVC affiliate. I simply thought this post might be useful!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Get a free sample of Playtex Nurser

The Playtex Nurser Drop-ins System was the bottle my lactation consultant recommended most highly, so it's the one I used with the boys. Now you can get a free sample of the original bottle from Playtex.

Via Freebies 4 Mom.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Get an extra 10% for your money at Kroger's family of stores

I've got the details over at Chief Family Officer.

Get a free FlipClips book!

During the last holiday season, one of the gifts I got Marc was a little flip book from FlipClips. I simply uploaded a very short video of the boys clapping on our bed and turned it into a 3 1/2 inch by 2 inch flip book. I had a discount code (from My Mom Shops, I think) so I paid $6.99 ($2 off the regular price).

But now I've discovered that it's easy to get a flip book for free! All you have to do is give them the email addresses of three friends. FlipClips then sends them an email that says "Cathy wants you to check out FlipClips" and tells them a little bit more about the company. Of course, give out your friends' email addresses with caution - I picked three friends who I know would love this idea, even if they didn't actually end up doing it.

One word of caution: the maximum file size that you can upload is 25 megabytes, which was less than half of the size of the original video that I wanted to use for the book for Marc. I'm thinking now that I can probably compress the file but I have to figure out how. The free book I got for referring my friends will make a great little surprise gift for my parents!

Image credit: FlipClips

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Play free video games from PopCap

I've been a huge PopCap fan ever since they released Bejeweled. I love that you can play most of the games online for free, and even desktop versions aren't very expensive. (Marc's bought me several games . . . back in the day when I had time for video games. Though Chuzzle remains a favorite.)

I wanted to give a little extra love to PopCap even though I don't have the time to play video games anymore because I just loved this story about a computer programmer who proposed to his fiancee by altering Bejeweled. PopCap is paying for part of the couple's honeymoon and providing free copies of the game to be handed out as favors. I'm not surprised, since it fits in with the fun spirit that PopCap is known for. Go PopCap! is now in LA, Phoenix and Minneapolis! is a way for parents to give away and find free baby-related items in their local area. Through the end of this month, membership in the Los Angeles, Phoenix and Minneapolis groups is free! Next month, Freepeats will open in Seattle, Nashville and Cleveland (and membership should be free for the first month). is the brainchild of Angie, the founder of BabyCheapskate, which is one of my favorite bargain-hunting blogs. I joined the LA group but haven't done anything with it yet since I don't need anything and friends have been scooping up the baby stuff I no longer need. If you've used Freepeats, I'd love to hear about your experience! You can leave a comment or email me at cfoblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Join the CVS Advisor Panel for additional ECBs

If you don't usually shop at CVS, read my post on The Drugstore Game first.

Thanks to I Heart CVS, I learned about the CVS Advisor Panel. By signing up and completing surveys, you can earn extra ECBs to spend at CVS.

I've completed one survey, and received $10 in ECBs. It took about two weeks for the $10 to be credited to my ExtraCare account. I was told that the ECBs would post on April 11, and sure enough, they printed out at the scanner at the front of the store yesterday. (Remember to always scan your card when you first arrive for extra coupons.)

The survey was one of the longer ones I've taken, but it was an easy way to earn ECBs, which I'll be stretching far next week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Win an XBOX 360 Elite and GTA4 is giving away an XBOX 360 Elite and a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 (which will be released at the end of the month). I don't care much for GTA, but I do love video games - and even more than that, I love watching Marc play video games. Of course, these days we have so little time to play games that we can't justify the cost of a new XBOX. But winning one would be nice, so this post is my entry into the contest.

If you want to enter too, just head over to the contest post and decide which method(s) work best for you: writing a blog post, becoming an affiliate with the contest sponsor, Top Hosting Center, telling other people about the contest, subscribing to's RSS feed, or Stumbling the contest post.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Win a grocery makeover from Go Organic! for Earth Day

I've been asked to tell you about a grocery makeover contest - the grand prize is a day with Chef Domenica Catelli in your kitchen, which includes a trip to the grocery store for a full pantry, refrigerator, and freezer makeover with FREE organic groceries and a cooking lesson. Five first prize winners will each receive a signed copy of Chef Catelli's new cookbook, Mom-a-licious, and a $200 gift certificate.

To enter the contest and for information, visit The deadline is April 30.