Saturday, March 27, 2010

A quick money-saving tip about travel

This may seem obvious, but if you're traveling to another city, even if just for the day, check out its tourism site. There may be valuable money-saving offers, deals, and coupons available! My family likes to go to Chattanooga, TN, for the day, and the Chattanooga Board of Tourism's website ( has coupons for discounts on everything from the children's museum and aquarium to ice cream to books! Even a dollar or two here and there can really add up!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I love tea! (A not-really-thrifty post featuring Teavana)

[Hello to whoever from Teavana seems to have found this post...]

This past weekend I ventured into Teavana in the mall. I'd never really gone in before, just tasted their sample teas in the front and once or twice looked quickly at the teapots. This time I decided I wanted to try their loose teas, mostly because I'd scored a pricey ceramic Rishi teacup/tea steeper for a great deal thanks to one of the half-off local coupon sites.

I will tell you this - I was very surprised at the hard sell I was given. The girl who helped me was very sweet, but she was pushy and definitely into the upsell. She talked fast and she kept it up nonstop. First, I asked for one tea (which cost about $5 for 2 ounces) and she immediately said "You'll like this one better" and brought out a tea that cost almost $11. Her reasoning was that the expensive tea was better and SHE liked it better, but I still felt uncomfortable - why offer the less-expensive tea at all if it's supposedly lower quality? But then she tempted me with the offer of 10% off if I bought a pound of tea...and I caved. I caved! I got the expensive tea AND the less-expensive tea and 6 others! AND I got rather talked into buying tea canisters as well, which are definitely useful, nice, and reusable, but I probably didn't need 8 of them either. They were $6 each, but I found slightly smaller ones on the website (not offered to me) for $4.50. They do make my pantry look really nice...

So this post is going to be a review of these teas - and I am going to update it with how many cups I got out of each as well. I am following the directions given - how much tea to use, how long to steep - and I am on occasion reusing the tea for a second cup.

The eight teas I got:

Youthberry - This flavored white tea is pricey but it is honestly delicious. There are giant pieces of fruit and berries in the blend and they smell fresh and enticing. The tea was a light reddish color and both smelled and tasted fruity and sweet. No sugar needed. I would buy this again as a splurge. I'll let you know if makes me look or feel any younger. ETA: This tea is very hard to scoop in such a way to get a balance of fruit and tea. I seem to wind up with a lot of fruit (which is yum) and not enough tea. I know I know, buy the fancy scoop from Teavana, right? Ha. [Now am wondering if I can eat the fruit bits after I steep the tea. Is that weird?]

Current cup count: 6

Tiramisu Treviso - A flavored rooibos tea (as most of the teas I bought were). Not too expensive. DELICIOUS, especially with a splash of milk and sugar in it, but it would be OK on its own as well. Very sweet and yummy.

Current cup count: 4
[Cup count includes the 1.5 tsp I gave to a friend to try - I'll assume she'll make a single cup with it.]

Thai Tea - A flavored black tea that I'd absolutely get again. Almondy, sugary, and wonderful. Milk and sugar turn this into the Thai tea I have had at restaurants for sure - I can't wait to make this iced. Yum.

Current cup count: 4 [and reusing the tea leaves worked very well for a second cup]

White Ayurvedic Chai - The original upsell. This tea is expensive - and it's not very exciting, flavor wise, or at least not as "wow" as I'd hoped. BUT it did make me feel warm and tingly after I drank a cup, and the flavor did seem more pronounced as I went along. Still, I don't know if I'd go for this again.

Current cup count: 2 [tried reusing the tea and got a much weaker brew, but will always try to stretch this one]

Rooibos Peach Bloom - A nice, basic peachy tea. The peach wasn't as pronounced as I'd hoped it would be, but it made a nice cup. [With second cup, I added a bit of sugar - it brought out the peach nicely!]

Current cup count: 2

Haute Chocolate: Alas, my awesome teacup just isn't dealing well with Rooibos teas - I get mouthfuls of the Rooibos. Bleh. So this tea...not chocolatey enough for me, but then I guess that means I prefer hot chocolate, while this is a tea. With some milk and sugar, it's fine, but I probably should stop chasing chocolate teas (this isn't the first I've tried) and start accepting that they're not my thing. [Note: By the end of the first cup I liked it a bit better - getting a mouthful of the tea put me off, but the flavor did wind up being very nice.]

Current cup count: 5

Rooibos Chai (the tea I originally wanted to buy): So now I know - I should have just pushed back, bought 2 ounces of this, and left happy. While I do like everything I've gotten so far, at least somewhat, this really is just what I wanted and is delicious. Once I fix the tea steeping issue (again, mouthful of tea leaves), I think this will become a favorite. Nice sweet cinnamon/cardamom-y flavor. I added some sugar to it and it brought out the rest of the chai taste. Lovely.

Current cup count: 1

Tahitian Limeade: Absolutely lovely as an iced tea - I made it double strength, poured it over ice, and voila. A light, fruity tea. I want to make tons of this this summer.

Current cup count: 1

PS I really want this:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Combining my hobbies - CVS + etsy?

Well, not EXACTLY, but today I went to CVS with $2.99 in ECBs, and I spent them (plus 21 cents tax - remember the good old days a few months ago when the ECBs took care of the tax? Sigh.) on a pack of black ouchless ponytail holders. Why? Because I'm going to be adding ponytail holders with cute designs to my etsy store in about a week or so (or whenever I get around to ordering the hardware) and I thought this would be a great way to get my supplies inexpensively.

So now I have zero ECBs again - but this weekend is a monitor deal ($5) and when I get one more scan of my Green Bag Tag I'll have another dollar, so then I'll be back up to $6. Which I'll probably turn around on more ponytail holders, or maybe a hairbrush. The deals just haven't been fun in 2010, which is disappointing, so I'm actually using my ECBs for things I...NEED.

PS Next week, would you take five minutes to brighten a little girl's day? Satori is going to be having major MAJOR spinal surgery (she has SMA) and her mom is organizing a postcard drive. All you have to do is send a postcard - details are at the blog Come on, do it! Repost this too - everywhere you can! Brighten this amazing kid's day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Half-price coupons? Sign me up!

I've been enamored lately with all of the half-price-deal sites that have been popping up.

I wrote a roundup of them for - check it out - but I had to rave about my latest scores.

From, I got a half-price family membership to the High Museum of Art. This particular deal is over, but check out Groupon - they have a site for many major cities and each day they offer one really awesome deal.

On top of that, I got a half-price reloadable gift card to a favorite restaurant in Athens, GA. I paid $10 for a $25 gift certificate to a local pizza/pasta place that I like going to with my mom friends. I recently got a coupon for 60% off another favorite pizza place.

Plus I use Scoutmob (which I believe is only in Atlanta) to get FREE discount coupons - again, there's a new deal every day, but with the iPod/iPhone app, you can access the deals for three months. I got 60% off at one awesome sandwich shop/gourmet shop, I got 40% off at a favorite brunch spot, and I'm planning to use another 60% deal at a local smoothie shop.

These sites are a great way to be frugal while still getting to go out, go shopping, and get some culture! LOVE IT.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

CVS - Free Nivea lip balm, Oral-B toothbrush

It was like the good old days at CVS this morning - well, except that the good old days included limits of 5 (or no limits, but I started too late for that!) and slightly better freebies.

I did exactly what I set out to do. I got two Nivea lip products - a cherry-flavored chapstick one and an age-defying one (or something) with SPF 4. With the BOGO coupon, both were $2.99 with $2.99 back. And the toothbrush was $4 minus the 75 cent coupon, get 75 cents back. I put the overage toward a birthday card.

Then I used the $4 from the toothbrush toward teething gel for my eternally teething toddler. CVS brand - so I should hopefully get a nice quarterly ECB bonus thanks to all the money I spent (sigh) and the double-buck promotion.

So I have $2.99 with which to play. That's a double paper for free or...something. No freebies next week (boo) so we'll see.

Also, if you are in the Atlanta area, today's SmartSource insert has a coupon for a free yogurt at Publix (Yoplait Greek yogurt, I believe). Nice!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

CVS plans for 3/7/10

I am planning at the moment to hit CVS tomorrow morning. I have $6.50 in ECBs.

Ideally I'll get:

2 Nivea lip products - $5.98
1 Oral B toothbrush - $4
Use BOGO Nivea (-$2.99), 75 cents off Oral B. I guess I'll need a 26 cent filler - the pocket tissues for 50 cents always work nicely for my needs...
Get back $6.99. ($4, $2.99)

And I need the double paper, which has gone up in price to $3 (used to be $2.50). Probably will do that second and use the $2.99 to get it free.

I also MAY do the Stayfree deal: get 2 Stayfree products (I think they're around $3.80 each? I can use the $4 and throw in a filler), use BOGO, get back $4. Maybe.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to make a bit of money online - but NOT how to get rich!

I'm currently a stay at home mom, although I'm also a writer (check out to see some of my work that also appears in the print version of Ruckus magazine; also check out my articles I've written as the Atlanta Budget Grocery Examiner) and I make pinback buttons, magnets, bottle openers, pocket mirrors, and jewelry and sell them on etsy and in local stores - and my first craft show is coming up!

I also like to make a bit of extra money with various websites. Again - YOU WILL NOT GET RICH with any of these sites. You'll get a few cents to a few dollars here and there. But it's enough to buy you a lunch out with friends or a new book or a special treat - and sometimes it might be a little bit more.


YouData - This site pays you to look at targeted ads. You fill out a "Me File" with as much or as little information as you like, and the site pairs you with advertisers. You go to the site as often as you want and check the widget for ads. You'll make about 10 cents for each ad delivered to you (clicking through to a website). And I *have* found great websites that I've bookmarked via YouData. The great thing is that there's no minimum payout - if you make 10 cents, you'll get 10 cents that week, deposited directly into your PayPal account (the only way they pay). It takes a minute or two to click the ad. Some weeks you'll get nothing, some weeks you'll get a few dollars. I love it.

Pinecone Research - This site periodically offers signups. They don't do referrals and you MUST find a link or banner ad to sign up. But once you're in, you'll periodically get surveys and be paid $3 for each one you complete. You might make $6-$9 in a good month, but money is money! They'll send you $3 checks or deposit your $3 into your PayPal account.

MySurvey - Another survey site. They give you points for each survey you take, even if you don't wind up qualifying. While there are other prizes available, the simplest and best item I find is 1000 points = $10, sent in the mail as a check. I've earned about $30 from this site. The link to sign up can be found in my previous entry or via the icon in the right-hand column of my blog.

Prizes (or sometimes cash-as-prizes):

MyPoints - I've been using MyPoints for years. The site primarily works by sending you targeted emails with links. Most of the time, clicking on a link in an email will net you 5 or 10 points. If you complete the offer, you'll usually get a much larger number of points. (I recommend setting up a filter for these emails - but continuing to use your main email account - you get credited for purchases you make by connecting you to that email account. I have NOT gotten extra spam from mypoints, ever.) You can also use the site itself by clicking through its links to sites like eBay and Overstock to make purchases and earn points. Plus, you can print manufacturers' coupons through the site and earn points for each one you redeem, and you can earn points by using the site's search engine as well. I've earned hundreds of dollars in Amazon gift cards through them - points add up surprisingly quickly. If you are interested in using me as a referral, leave a comment with your email address - it's not required, but I'd personally appreciate it!

SwagBucks - I feel like everyone knows about SwagBucks at this point, but if you don't, allow me to explain. It's a search engine. And randomly when you search, you'll be awarded "Swagbucks" that you can redeem for prizes (or cash in your PayPal account). Search a few times a day and you'll likely get 10-30 bucks. Have a little more time? Follow Swagbucks on Twitter or Facebook and learn about special codes you can enter to earn more bucks. You can also do "tasks" or click through the site to earn bucks (although I rarely do this). 450 bucks = $5 in Amazon cash. It doesn't sound like much but it adds up quickly - I have earned over $300 in Amazon credit this way.

And there you have it! These are the only five sites I use regularly. I've checked out other sites and found them too time consuming or too shady or both. The above sites have paid me promptly, have not increased my spam, and have caused me no problems.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Freebies galore! Plus cash!

While I haven't really been going to CVS much (I still have $6.50 in ECBs to do...something with), I have been accumulating freebies! This is all within the past 4-6 weeks:

First, I've earned $6 from Pinecone research this year. Not much, but it adds up! (Pinecone often has open registration - I'll post a link the next time it comes around!)
Next, I've earned $10 from - a GREAT survey site that gives points for every survey you take. They add up fast! I'm very close to another $10! Click the image below to sign up!

Third, I've earned $50 in Amazon gift cards since January 1 from Swagbucks! I cannot say enough great things about Swagbucks - I regularly earn at least $5-$10 in Amazon gift cards each month!
Fourth - the food freebies!!!! I just picked up my free bottle of creamer from International Delight. I just ordered a free box of Kashi cereal from Today in the mail I got a box of Kashi Heart to Heart hot cereal AND a coupon for a free box from (plus some bonus coupons).
And finally, I am a BzzAgent, and I got two coupons for free four-packs of Horizon Little Bites yogurt to try (I hope my daughter likes them!).
BzzAgent Badge

I love freebies! Have you scored any great ones lately?