Dec 13

Today’s subtitle is CVS VS RiteAid deathmatch.

I used to be a casual CVS shopper. Bath tissue, toothpaste, the usual stuff. Then I met (on line, of course) Erica who hearts CVS.

cvsAnd after following her site for a bit, I upped my game. By knowing as many as 3-4 weeks ahead of sale, it was easy to plan visits for the best deals. Her forum also offers the T’s&C’s for coupon redemption, and strategies to maximize your saving. Not too far from my house there are also a number o Rite Aid stores. Fear not, Erica hearts Rite Aid as well.

rite-aid

Now and again, I’d go to Rite Aid as well, and the time seems good to offer a few comments to contrast the two. A friendly ‘deathmatch.’

Let’s start with Rite Aid – The rebate deal is called +Up Rewards. For example, the weekly ad might have toothpaste on sale for $2, with a $1 +Up reward. The reward isn’t taken off the price at the register, it’s loaded to your Rite Aid card, and is redeemed on your next purchase. The reward will expire after 14 days if not used.

CVS – A similar rebate method, the reward is called ExtraBucks, but it’s given as a coupon, i.e. a piece of paper you have to present to use it. It has an expiration date about 30 days out, although the two CVS stores closest to me both said they honor these up to six months after expiration. The ExtraBucks are also valid immediately.

It’s a close call. Easy to lose an ExtraBucks coupon, but also easy to forget your +Up Rewards are expiring. This makes CVS the winner for me. I’ve caught great sales at Rite Aid only to find my +Up Rewards have no good sale coming up in the next two weeks. With CVS, the Extrabucks are set aside for the next deal, not spent for the sake of using them up.

These purchases are all for household needs, the bath tissue, toothpaste, laundry soap, bar soap, etc. So long as you know what the normal price is for these items, you can time your purchases to catch a sale, and use some Sunday paper coupons. I’m aware of the extreme coupon folk that have made the news. Safe to say, I’m not that obsessed. 5 minutes with coffee and the Sunday paper and the good coupons are set aside. Another few minutes each week to look at the next weeks sales and see what I’ll buy on the way home Monday. The ten minute effort can be $25 in saved grocery money. (Note – the images above from Erica’s site link back to her. Click the image to see what deals she’s finding this week.)

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Dec 06

Rebates. Love them or hate them, they are a business model that many companies have made permanent.

TigerDirect

This snapshot is from the excellent site Ben’s Bargains. Ben aggregates deals of all kinds, so when I’m in the market for a bigger hard drive, for example, I’ll lurk awhile and see what kind of deal I can find. Often, there will be a mix of regular sale offers as well as those containing rebates. Starting a few months back, I was looking for a bigger hard drive and started following the Internal Storage category. What I found curious was that one particular vendor listed was Tiger Direct. Their deals came up frequently, but every single on of them came with a rebate requirement, some with more than one. This one deal really got my attention (you can click on the image to enlarge, if needed). First, a requirement to sign up for V.me Checkout. Then, two different rebates that have to be filled out. So, for an item whose recent price was $64, you need to lay out $120, and make sure you comply with the rebate terms. I think I’ll pass.

I’ve purchased from Tiger in the past. And not had any issue with the order itself or with rebates if they were part of the deal. Lately, my time has become tight, and when I make a purchase, I just want to be done, no paperwork, no tracking the arrival of rebates. Sorry, Tiger, if your deals are ever rebate-free I might be back, but not till then.

What do you think? Have you had enough of the rebates?

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Nov 22

A DIY woodsplitting Friday, actually. Every so often, we’d have a tree that needed to come down, either for safety or aesthetic reasons. About 6 years ago, it occurred to me (It took that long? Yes.) that I was paying one guy to cut a tree down and haul it off and another guy to deliver firewood.

wood1

So last time, I asked, “How much to take these two trees down and away?” “$1000.” Then, “How much just to take them down?” $500. So down they came, and I was off to buy a small chainsaw and axe. The wood has been great, and you can look at it either way, I’m getting free firewood, or pretty much paying the same, but clearing away trees for free.

wood2

When Spring came this year, we had no firewood left at all. A few visits to my back yard and this was the result, about 3/4 of a cord of wood. This will last well past this winter, and I still have a large tree trunk left to cut up next year. I’m looking forward the first fire of the season.

If you have a fireplace, do you have wood delivered? Do you buy those shrink wrapped logs at the supermarket?

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Nov 15

The week in which I mention my very odd interaction with Staples. It all started with this coupon. Wait. It all started with a new TI calculator. High School students I’ve been working with are using a pretty high end TI calculator, either the TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator or the newer nSpire CX. These bad boys cost $120 or $150 respectively. My issue wasn’t that I need the calculator to solve any problems, after all, these things weren’t invented when I was a kid, but rather, knowing how to use them to help the students with questions they are solving on the calculators. So, a couple weeks back I decided I’d like to pick up the higher level model. It was just a matter of finding it on sale or a used one on eBay. Then this coupon appeared in my inbox.

staplescoupon

The question was, what is an “Office Supply”? The coupon listed things that weren’t permitted, no Apple or Bose products, for instance. No ‘technology’ either. Hmm. So I hop on to a chat with customer service. I write the coupon code and specifically ask what technology is, was a calculator excluded? No computers, laptops, netbooks, etc. The agent said ‘yes’ you can use this on a calculator, that’s not considered technology. Print that chat transcript. I then check for stock, and since there’s a Staples 5-6 miles away in every direction, I pick one and reserve a calculator. Nice process.

But. I get to the store, wait on line as there was one line for register and customer service/pickup. I get to the front and the cashier has to call the reservation guy. He says they had none in stock, despite what the web site told me, but he’ll order me one. He doesn’t like the coupon, but after seeing the chat transcript, he processes the paperwork to order it. But I have to go to the register to pay. Meaning I have to wait on line a second time. But when I say this out loud, the line parts like the Red Sea and says I should go ahead. Very nice of them, really. Now at the register, the coupon is still a problem, and I ask what items it was actually intended for? Even paper is excluded. I then show the cashier my chat transcript, and he overrides the system. $150 calculator is now $90. I like the idea of waiting at least a week for each $100 you plan to spend. So when I saw this calculator, I read the manual online, and thought about how much use I’d get from it, I then planned to wait 2 weeks to make the purchase.

I have to say, Staples made good on their mistake. That fine print is just a bit much.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Nov 03

A guest Post From Crystal -

As we move into winter, many people are concerned about how they will stretch their budget in order to cover the basics. So it pays to look into your options before the dark nights draw in.

Switch to a Fixed-Rate Tariff

News surfaced this week in relation to the large energy companies, such as British Gas and npower hiking up their prices. This breeds fear into families, who are already struggling to pay bills, and pensioners who are resorting to missing meals in order to keep warm. In response David Cameron urged people to move to a fixed-tariff deal.

By switching to fixed-price tariffs you can choose the best deal to suit you. By shopping around you can look for options dependent on your location and usage, with some of the deals available you can have a price freeze until the end of January 2016.

Prepare Substantial, Low-Budget Meals

Food is extortionately priced these days, and it can be hard to think about how you are going to stretch the weekly budget to make ends meet. To start with, allocate yourself a food budget and shop online, so you don’t get tempted by any extras that you don’t need on the way round the supermarket. Contrary to what people believe, traditional butchers and grocers are actually very competitive with their pricing, use much less packaging and have better quality food in many cases. For example: if you are buying a pack of value sausages they can actually serve as a false economy as they do not fill you up and are full of nasty bits and processed reconstituted meat. Buying from butchers will mean that you get decent cuts of meat that are filling and better for you and your family.

Look online at recipe ideas, freeze meals if you make bulk, so there’s no waste and take packed lunches. Check out some of the online recipes that are low budget and good quality, that can help to feed your family healthily.

Be Shrewd with Your Finances

Everyone is familiar with the process of swapping credit cards to ensure 0% interest deals that enable you to pay off your balance quickly. And many people with mortgages are actually missing the opportunity to find the best rates for repayment that will work to their advantage. You could save a large chunk of money every month. It helps to work with a company who have experience in this area, such as Quick Move Conveyancing, who can guide you through the process to make it as swift and simple as possible.

So, there are many ways you can approach this winter, minus the usual dread financial dread. Take some time to look at the opportunities you have available and you could save your family money.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,