Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Recycle and get free stuff

I just did something today that I had forgotten about before.

Occassionally I treat myself to some MAC makeup. I love this brand because they have an excellent assortment of colors and products. They are all high quality and have great lasting power. But did you also know about their "Back to MAC" program?

Yes, MAC makeup has a recycling program which I wish more companies would mimic. Here's how it works:

  • Purchase MAC makeup

  • Save your plastic containers

  • When you have six (6) of the empty/used containers, you can return them to a MAC counter or mail them to MAC and you'll get a FREE tube of MAC lipstick! That is a $14 value. Here's the return form with information: http://www.maccosmetics.com/pdfs/back_to_mac.pdf

Not only do you get the tube of lipstick, but you are also doing your part for the environment! Now if only we could get more brands on board with this neat idea! I was actually thinking that it would be neat if, for every 6 Starbucks cups you recycle, you got a free latte!

What brands could you benefit from?

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's better than frugal spending? Free stuff!!!

I just have to share my latest little victory in the shopping world.

Over a month ago I went to Victoria's Secret (which I'll refer to as VS for the rest of this entry) because I had one of those "Free Panty" cards. Whenever I get these, I always use them because, well, they are free. So I went in and I got my free panty. Since I was there and they had their other panties on sale, I bought some of those. When I paid for my purchase, I received a promotional card that said:

Come back to VS between December 1- December 24 and use this card on your purchase. It's a secret, but you'll get $10, $25, $100, or $500 off of your purchase.

I dutifully put the card in my wallet with my other "coupon cards" and went on my merry way.

Yesterday I went to the mall with my husband. He wanted to get me a little something extra for Christmas and wanted me to pick out what I wanted. I said "well, I love a particular parfume VS sells and I have this gift card, so lets check it out."

We went into the "beauty" side of the store only. (As a side note, I don't normally buy my lingerie and undergarments at VS because they are above my "priceline" for those items. I will buy undies if they are on sale, but I've literally never owned a VS bra because it is hard for me to palatte the price tag.

I looked around for a gift set of my favorite parfume, but I didn't see any in that area. I decided that I didn't want my "coupon card" to go to waste, so I selected two tubes of gloss, on sale for 2 for $12.

I went to the cashier to pay for it. She rang it up, I gave her my card, and she swiped it. It didn't say that I owed anything. I thought that was strange because I figured it was $10 and that I would have a balance of a little over $2 to pay. She looked funny too. She checked the balance of the card and low and behold, I had received a $100 card!!!! I was very excited and so of course went on a mini shopping spree. We went to the other side and I found on a table a gift set of the perfume I wanted (Yay!) and as an added bonus, it was 40% off!! Then I bought two bras (buy one, get one 1/2 off). After I used my card we only owed $25.

So, for $25 out of pocket, I got two beautiful bras (retail $48 each), a parfume gift set (retail $58), and my two tubes of lip gloss.

Moral of the story - always check into the deals that are presented to you. While some may seem like cheap marketing ploys, some may earn you money!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Frugal Holiday Advice

My wonderful co-worker and I were having a conversation yesterday and she urged me to blog on what we were discussing.

I'm all for cutting corners: With your money, with your time, etc. But there is one area that you must NEVER cut corners on, and that's with your friends and family.

With all of the demand that we have on our time, it is often really easy to blow off friends and family because we always figure that "they are our friend/family, so they'll understand."

I've often catch myself debating this: I have a busy week. I've had to work overtime, be at committee meetings for a group I'm in, run to doctor's appointments on lunch breaks, run umpteen different errands, etc. I'm supposed to drive up to my parents for the weekend, but all I really want to do is go home and veg out. What do I do?

Part of me says: Just tell your mom and dad that you have had a rough week and that all you want to do is chill.

But the part that wins out says: Life is too short. One day you won't be able to spend time with them and you'll regret it.

Now I understand when something else happens and you just can't do something - I felt terrible this past week because my friend was graduating (getting her PhD!!!!) on Friday about 4 hours away. I really wanted to see her, to be there for her. But, alas, there is so much going on at work that I just couldn't take the whole day off on Friday. Even if I had blown off work, I'd probably be way too preoccupied with what all I had to do that I'd have an anxiety attack. So unfortunately I just couldn't physically make it.

But when you can, splurge on time and activities with your family. Those are great investments to make! And I can guarantee you that you'll get a healthy return on investment from it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home Made Gift Idea: Coupon Books

Coupon books aren't just for Mother's Day any more.

I love making little coupon books. I know that they may seem cheesy to some, but for me they are an old standby.

People have a lot of stuff. By stuff I mean all of the physical possessions you own. While sometimes I may think to myself "man I really need this new XYZ product", I really don't. I have tons of "stuff" sitting around my house. That's why I am constantly rummaging through things, clearing out, and getting rid of items (via yard sales, donations, and freecycling). Of course then I turn around and either buy or receive more "stuff" and thus the cycle continues.

However, throughout the year I can recall countless times where I've thought "wow, I could really use some help doing _______." That's where coupon books come in.

To the right I have two items that I created: the cover for a coupon book and then the actual certificates. Feel free to print and use these to make your own coupon books.
What makes a good coupon?

If you are a kid, it is cute and easy to include coupons that are "good for one free hug". However the grown-up version has plenty of other options. Here are some suggestions for good coupon vouchers for grown-ups. Keep in mind that you should always customize your coupons to the recipient. Personalization is what really makes the gift special:

  • One free night of baby sitting: Only include this if you would actually feel comfortable baby sitting.
  • One day of baby sitting (or a few hours): For the purpose of running errands, etc.
  • Hassle-free lawn care: I just imagined this being a good gift for a husband to give his wife - she could just hand in the coupon and he would just go do the lawn, no fussing allowed!
  • No strings attached back rub: Self explanatory if you catch my drift...
  • Girls (or guys) night out: A coupon for staging a girl or guy only get together.
  • One hour of down time: Good husband/wife coupon where the recipient can just have one hour of down time where he/she can just close the door and not be asked to do anything. You could include multiples of these.
  • Guilt-free nap: Same principle as the above.
  • Dinner's on me: This one ultimately costs money, but this is a nice one to include for spouses or friends.

There are actually many more ideas that you can pull from. You can get very abstract like "a shoulder to cry on" pass. You could also go for humorous ones like a pass to get you out of answering the "does this make my butt look big" question. You can also use them to refer to personal jokes, like a "don't judge me because I bought that" pass.

You'll have fun making them. The recipient will have fun receiving them. And they'll have even more fun redeeming. Plus the gift has a nice throw-back charm to childhood.