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Saturday, January 24, 2009

$6 back on the Entertainment book!

I'm sure all you hardcore thrifty types know about the Entertainment book, which retails for $25 yet has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars in savings on restaurants, shopping, attractions, and the like. I mainly use it for museum admissions, because you can make the price back in savings with just one or two coupons, but there are some good restaurant coupons too.

Starting in January, Entertainment begins marking down their books, but just today I noticed that has a special too - a flat $6 cash back when you buy the book. The book itself is now discounted to $16, so after your $6 cash back, it'll be a mere $10. The first time you use it for a 2-for-1 admission to the zoo, the Museum of Glass, the SAM, the Burke, the Museum of Flight, the Asian Art Museum, etc., it'll be PAID for! And then it's an easy coast to 10 more months of savings. My dad would be so proud.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grab bag.

Schmancy eco-girlie online boutique is offering their semi-annual "Mystery Bags" today... starting at $10 and going up to $100 (reduced shipping rate is $5). They don't say what you might get, but they do promise that it's all new and undamaged merch, and the value will definitely exceed the price you pay. Looking in the comments, people have gotten handbags, gardening gift packages, eco-friendly recycled cardboard trays and sponges, etc., and they all sound pretty happy with their haul.

This thing apparently sells out quickly, so hop on over if you want to take a chance!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kiss and makeup.

Breaking news! As part of a price-fixing class-action lawsuit that just got settled, Macy's is giving out free samples of makeup worth $20, starting today until supplies run out.

Here is an MSNBC article about it and here is a list of products that you might get. You apparently don't have to show a receipt, you just have to say that you purchased products from those manufacturers between 1994 and 2003, and you'll have to fill out a form. One of my coworkers just headed over to see if it works - stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: This does indeed work! I went to the downtown Macy's, where they have a line set up in the middle of the store. You get into a line and they give you a flyer with a list of the available products, and when you reach the front of the line, you tell them which you want and they divert you to the appropriate table, where you sign your name and take your free stuff. I got a 1-oz jar of Clinique moisturizer, which is pretty exciting considering that it was FREE.

Save on drama with your Obama.

To celebrate Inauguration Day, the 5th Avenue Theatre is selling tickets TODAY ONLY for $20.09 with promotion code OBAMA. Shows on sale include the first week of the Broadway-aimed musical "Memphis" (Jan. 27 to Feb. 1) and the first week of "Hello, Dolly!" (March 7 to 15).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Judging a book by its cover.

If you're like me, then the new year is causing some vague itchy feelings of guilt and shame when you look at your filthy, crap-piled-up post-holiday dwelling, and some nebulous plans to "straighten things up." If your bookcase (or ten-foot-tall-stack teetering next to your bed) is in need of some pruning, try selling them off at

The process is straightforward: first, enter your books' ISBNs (above the bar code) to find out how much they'll pay. It looks like they're more textbook-oriented, but recent examples of prices show that they pay about $1-3 for fiction. Submit your order and they'll give you a prepaid postage label to affix to your parcel. Then, just pack up your books and send them off, and within 3 business days after they receive your books, they'll cut you a check or credit your Paypal account (you get a 3% bonus for using Paypal). Easy, right?

I haven't tried it yet myself, but am planning to run some titles through their pricing widget soon to see what I can get. Having someone pay ME to conveniently make my unwanted junk disappear is like unicorn magic!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back in my day, oatmeal cost three cents.

Click here for a coupon to try Jamba Juice's new oatmeal cups for just a buck. You do have to register to get a coupon, but what else were you going to do with your day? Facebook can spare you for 30 seconds.

10 excuses for buying a cupcake.

As a kid, I remember being embarrassed by my thrifty, Depression-era grandma's frugal ways - specifically, her habit of washing out and reusing the plastic tubs that margarine, sour cream, yogurt, etc. come in. She doesn't give a crap about the planet, mind you, she just doesn't see why you should bother buying Tupperware when you have a perfectly good free container right in front of you.

I thought of her recently when I got a (free!) cupcake at Cupcake Royale in West Seattle. When you get one to go, it comes in an upside-down plastic tub, so the cupcake is sitting on the lid and the bowl protects the frosted top. BUT it's a sturdy, clear plastic with a cute Cupcake Royale sticker on the bottom, and it occurred to me that I could easily reuse it in many ways:

1. Go-cup for chips or cookies (it holds a bit more than a cup, and the hard sides protect delicate chips and crackers from breaking, unlike a baggie)

2. Tiny planter - pierce some drainage holes in the bottom and use the lid as a spill tray

3. Stackable, see-thru bathroom cabinet storage for cotton balls, Q-tips, etc.

4. Lives-at-your-desk bowl for sharing coworkers' snacks (no more awkwardly fashioning a fragile bowl/plate out of a Kleenex!)

5. Reuse it for presenting your own cupcakes to friends

6. Button/bead box for crafters

7. Desk storage for misc. tiny office supplies (rubber bands, binder clips, food-shaped novelty erasers)

8. Cut a slit in the top and make a swear jar! Or add a face and make it a piggy bank.

9. Water/paint/glaze mixing jar for on-the-go artists (the snap top keeps it neat when you throw your supplies back in your bag)

10. Glue felt and ribbon to it and make it look like a tiny cake

Okay, these are mostly variations on the one idea - "holds stuff" - but still. If companies are going to give you reusable, attractive plastic tubs, you might as well make the most of it. And you won't even have to explain to your coworkers why you appear to be eating a tub of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter for lunch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wait, I've got a coupon...

As useful as Ebates is, it does have its limits - not every online store will be on there, not even all the major ones. But this doesn't mean you have to pay full price on your purchases! Before you check out, do a quick Google search for coupons and promo codes to see if there are any discounts floating out there on the Internets.

Whenever I search, the site that seems to come up in the first few results is These sites can all be hit-or-miss, but this one is good because it allows users to rate coupon codes based on their reliability, and add comments (users often add comments noting that it worked on xx/xx/xx date).

The codes come from a variety of sources, and are good for dollars off, free shipping, gifts with purchase, and the like. It never hurts to check, especially if you're like me and paying extortionate shipping rates kills your soul. I just knocked $3 off my Threadless order, which made the shipping, you know, almost reasonable.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Cheap Year!

Happy 2009, everybody! Having just returned from a spendy NYE trip, I'm eager to kick off a new year of savings. You probably know about this one already, but since it can be your ticket to multiple levels of discounts, I'm going to talk about anyway.

Once you create an account on this site, you use it as a portal to get to the hundreds of online stores that are Ebates affiliates, and get automatic cash rebates when you shop. Each day, certain stores offer double rebates, so it's worth checking if you intend to make a big purchase. For example, I just bought a pair of snow boots at Endless, because Seattle's weather is still nutso. Using Ebates gives me 7% cash back, and I got marked-down boots with an additional $15 off, plus free overnight shipping, PLUS points on my rewards credit card. $$$$

Ebates has tons of stores that I actually shop at anyway (not shady web businesses you've never heard of), so it can be a sweet deal. The only bummer is you have to remember to go through Ebates FIRST - you can't retroactively have them credit your account - and they issue checks quarterly once you have a minimum $10 refund balance, so you could be waiting a while for that rebates check. My next check is due February 15, which is like Valentine's Day for my checking account!

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