Sunday, January 31, 2010

CVS - The dilemma

I decided that in 2010 I would try not to grab every deal, every freebie, every interesting thing that catches my eye. I have a well-established stockpile now and don't need a ton of stuff - and I just donated a bagful to help Haiti.

This week I know there is free-after-ECB men's bodywash. And with the coupon that is out today, it's a moneymaker. But I had one - ONE! - ECB. And I needed the paper. So...I got the paper for $1.50 (the double paper, remember) instead. Now I have zero.

I could spend about $4 OOP and get back the $5-ish in ECBs. It's not a bad deal at all - in fact, I'm going to be teaching some people how to start CVS-ing and it's one of the deals I'm going to suggest. But for $4 worth getting back in "the game"? Nah.

I probably will do the $1 "free" Valentine photo card in a few weeks though. Maybe I'll go enough in the meantime for necessities that I'll have another dollar from the Green Bag Tag?

I'm no fun this year, I know! ;)

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Facebook account was disabled

UPDATE: On Wednesday I received an email from Facebook saying my account had been compromised. To be perfectly honest, I don't see any evidence of that and I am very careful about links I click and places in which I input my password. But I had just installed an app on my iPod that used Facebook to give me birthday updates - I deleted that immediately, as that could in theory have been the culprit. But in any case my account WAS completely reinstated. It took 4 days and 2 emails (though I don't think the second email made a difference). I'm leaving this post up in case anyone finds it via Google - don't lose hope! Email politely and you may get a reply and get your account back - unless you've misbehaved.... ;)

On Saturday night, I left the computer for a moment, turned back, and found myself locked out of Facebook. No warning, no explanation, just a notice that my account had been disabled and an email address to write to. I did write and plead my case, but I have a feeling that they'll take a while to even get to me and reply, and I am not feeling so good about my chances to have my account reinstated.

It's disappointing - I've spent years on Facebook. I don't have a million friends on there; I've kept my account mostly to people I know or used to know and wanted to reconnect with. Relatives looked there for pictures of my child. Friends made plans with me using the messaging system. I rarely used chat, I joined groups - mostly for freebies! - but didn't post much. I never posted anything offensive.

Yet here I am, locked out. And all traces of me have vanished from the site. They couldn't even put a "This account has been disabled" notice on my account. It's like being tossed out of a party without being able to say goodbye - and then being worried your friends think you're mad at them and stormed out in a huff. And your cell phone and computer are still inside that party with no way to be retrieved.

Mostly, this post is to hopefully connect with others whose Facebook account was disabled. When it happened to me, I emailed - and then went to Google for other stories. I've found many many many. So if this happened to you - particularly if your story has a happy ending - please comment. As always, I won't approve spam comments.

One thing I'll miss is Money Saving Mom's Facebook page - she often posted deals and links there that she didn't post elsewhere. And again, the freebie pages - I just got my coupons for free Stacy's Pita Chips and free International Coffee Creamer, both scored on Facebook.

I'll keep you posted on what happens. I really would at minimum like a chance to say goodbye. Funny enough, I already was thinking what a time waster Facebook was becoming and trying to cut back my usage. If I can't go back at all, it may not be the worst thing that ever happened. But I do hope my friends understand why I've vanished.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CVS - The end of an era, I think

Tonight we went over to CVS to buy something we needed, and I spent my last $4 in ECBs so at the moment I have zero (which means the upcoming Dove-for-Men deal isn't as exciting, though it will be a moneymaker so I *may* go for it to start over again). I saw one of my two favorite cashiers - she hasn't worked on Sundays in a while, so I haven't seen her in a long time. She hugged me and then told me that my other favorite cashier, a man who would always joke with me and also would hook me up with extra coupons and so on, had quit and moved to Florida two weeks ago.


This mean that my Sunday mornings won't be the same, and if I do go, I'll have to start over again building a rapport with new people.

At least 2009 ended nicely.

In other news, I think I'm going to be holding a "coupon course" at my home for some local mom-friends. Still not sure how I'll run it, but I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CVS - Toilet paper and newspaper, nothing exciting

So I probably am not going to obsessively document my CVS dealings in 2010 because, well, the deals simply haven't been as good. Plus my pantry/stockpile is overflowing (I'm going to be donating a lot to Haiti) so I just don't need as much right now.

I expected to totally spend down my ECBs today, but I forgot that the toilet paper deal gave back $4 (I thought it was $8-ish OOP, not $12-ish with $4 back). So I used my $6 plus my 50 cents for quarterly spending and got the TP, the double paper ($2.50), and then my husband wanted a beard trimmer that was $10. I spent around $18 and got back $4. The cashier couldn't be bothered to put my things in the bag I brought - she stacked them up and kind of shooed me out of the way. Nice.

Also, don't make the mistake I did and try to print the double ECB coupon that's floating around in PDF form. Don't waste your ink! The store had a million of these coupons in every single aisle - and it's also in the flyer.

Oh and I scanned my Green Bag Tag and grabbed a handful of the Everyday Beauty coupons. And I resisted the Soy Joy deal because we still have a ton left from the LAST sale (months and months ago).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Discount on Laptop Lunches Bento-style Lunchboxes with Coupon Code

Looking for a neat way to pack your lunch or your child's lunch? Looking for a deal on a cool lunchbox? I am a huge fan of the Laptop Lunchbox system from - I've been using the product for years and find it to be large enough to pack a filling lunch for just me (I used to take it to work) or for me and my daughter to share. And now I can offer readers of my blog a great deal!


These products are safe, lead-free, and colorful. Kids love them, adults love them, YOU will love them. Check it out!

Here's a sample lunch from me:


It includes onigiri, cherry tomatoes, veggie dumplings, crackers, cheese, Pocky, and more, but I've also packed boxes with something as simple as a sandwich and some chips and salsa!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Free digital subscription to one of a bunch of great magazines!

Go here:

And you can sign up for ONE free digital subscription to one of a bunch of great magazines, including Saveur and Vegetarian Times. You do have to give your email address and agree to get email from the Read Green initiative, but other than that there are no strings attached. I was going to subscribe to Vegetarian Times for $5 from Amazon, but you can't beat free instead!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An iPod Touch - a Frugal Investment?

I've wanted an iPod for a long, long time. I actually won a first generation Nano from Blingo a long time ago, but it wasn't flashy and it only held (only! ha!) 2 gigs of music (which was, admittedly, plenty). I also bought an Archos mp3 player that was big and clunky but that held many gigs of mp3s, and that served me well for a few years. But I never had a "real" iPod. They were just too expensive to justify.

I also have been lusting after various smartphones including, of course, the iPhone. My husband and I have the most basic cell phones and plan that we could get - no web, no camera, and we pay 20 cents per text message. And I don't see that changing any time soon.

My birthday is in November, and some family members gave me money as a gift. I also had about $120 in Amazon credit from Swagbucks, from MyPoints, and from a few other sources. I was just spending a little bit here and there on little things - books (and have I mentioned lately I have almost 1600 books?), video games, and some gifts. Finally, I decided to splurge and I spent all that credit and bought an iPod Touch - 3rd generation, 32 gigs. It cost me about $140 out of pocket in the end.

So first of all, I wanted to point out that while it can take a while, using programs like SwagBucks and MyPoints really can add up over time. Second, well, I've found that my iPod Touch has satisfied a lot of what I wanted with a smartphone, but without the monthly expense. I installed the following apps (which can be found by searching the app store):

TextFree Lite and TextPlus: Both of these programs allow me to text my friends for free, rather than for 20 cents a pop. Not bad! I love texting, but I was holding back because the money really would add up on my monthly bill. Now I can text as much as I like!
iCall: By choosing the free call option, I can make completely free five-minute calls with my iPod (as long as I'm at a WiFi hotspot). I just have to listen to a short message. I have WiFi at home, so this is a handy option if I want to save minutes! If I really wanted to make my iPod into my only cell phone, I could buy a plan from iCall for $10/month, but for now that's not feasible.
Skype: For longer calls without a monthly plan, I have Skype. I'll need to load my account with money, but after that, calls will be about 2 cents/minute. Again, handy if I want to save my cell phone minutes. Also, with Skype, calls to another Skype user are free.
Fring: I can use Fring to chat with friends who use Gmail or iChat (or basically any other chat program, although I don't use anything else). Handy!
Evernote: With this app, I can capture web pages on my computer and sync them to the iPod. Then I can set it so I can view them when the iPod is offline. My plan is to use grabs from CouponMom so I can have an easy list of what's on sale and what coupons I have (and to save paper by doing so).

As I've touched on above, many of these apps require WiFi, which means that unlike my iPhone-using friends, I can't access everything from, say, the car or the middle of a store. But there are also hundreds of hotspots for free WiFi, and while I'm at home I have it as well. It's a limitation, but it can be managed. And a program like Evernote definitely helps when there is no Internet access around.

Look, an iPod is not cheap, and it's not frugal in general. But if you use it wisely, it can save you money in little ways. Plus, well, it's just a fun toy. And there are TONS of free apps in the app store - from games for my daughter to tools to just plain silliness. And all of the above apps are, as far as I know, available for the iPhone too, so you can save money on your monthly bill if you want to.

Have a suggestion for an app that you love? (Especially a free one?) Let me know!

Read this far? How about checking out my Examiner articles on how to save money on groceries! I think you'll find a lot of valuable information there that can help you in 2010!