Sunday, July 27, 2008

Finally A Good Sale on Craigslist

I've read on other blogs and seen on TV ("Good Morning America," specifically) that people are making extra cash by selling things on Craigslist. I tried selling a few things that I thought may interest people, but I never got a deal to go through. I had a few bites, but they never materialized to finalize the sale.

My fiance and I are consolidating households in preparation for married life which will start in a couple of weeks. We needed to find a new home for his sofa. It was in great condition and looked good, but there is just no room for it in our new place.

He wanted to try giving it someone we know or a friend of a friend first. No takers. Then, he said, "Let's put it on Craigslist for $50." I decided to post it for $75 OBO ("or best offer"), thinking someone would bargain down to $50. For a sofa in good condition (albeit second-hand), it seemed like a really good deal. Of course, the catch was that the buyer would have to come get it.

I posted nice pictures of it and a little description. In less than 24 hours, I had emails from two different people who were interested in it. I was excited, but I tried not to get my hopes up since I haven't had luck with Craigslist sales in the past.

The one never panned out. The other one made an appointment to come that evening with her roommate to look at it. They were really nice twenty-somethings whose 3rd roommate recently got married and took her sofa with her. Needing extra seating and a deal, these girls contacted us.

I vacuumed the whole thing before they came, so it looked really good. (I wanted to try to maximize the amount they would pay.) They decided they wanted it! They were willing to pay $75 for it; however, the catch was that they were going to have to find someone with a truck to help them move it. Sensing a deal-breaker and knowing we had to get rid of this thing one way or another, I offered the use of the moving truck we were using this weekend if they paid the mileage. They left with the promise that they'd buy it -- and we promised to not sell it to someone else in the meantime. We were trusting they wouldn't back out.

One of the girls emailed me the next morning saying that they would offer us $100 if we could help move it in our rental truck. No problem. That extra $25 would more than pay for the mileage. And we were going to have to move it somewhere even if it didn't go to them because it had to be out of Michael's apartment. So, we struck a deal.

It was actually a great deal on both ends. We got rid of the sofa and made $100 cash even though we would have given it away if it came down to it. They got a great "new" couch, delivered to their home. They only had to move it from the parking lot into their townhouse. And we helped with that too.

The rental of the truck plus mileage and gas cost us about $85. Lunch today for Michael, my sister (moving helper), and me at McDonald's was $11. So, these roommates funded our move (with a few dollars leftover) by taking the sofa that had to go. What a deal!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't Forget to Send in the Rebate!

In all of my pre-wedding rushing around, I stuck Post-It notes everywhere to remember to send in the mail-in rebate for the printer I recently purchased. I did get it postmarked on the last date possible. I don't recommend doing that -- but better on the last day than afterwards or never.

Since it required sending in the UPC, I wanted to test out the printer to make sure it worked. I figured that if I sent that in and then found out the printer didn't work, it may be hard to exchange. I was going out of town for a bridal shower, but luckily, my sister picked up the slack for me and tested it while I was gone. She called me to say it was good to go -- and I dropped the rebate and related paperwork in the mail. What would have happened if it didn't work? I would have probably cried -- and been mad that I didn't find time to try it out earlier. Thankfully, it didn't come to that.

Those rebate people are serious about the due dates, so don't even both if it's postmarked past the deadline. I tried once, and I failed. I thought I even had a really good excuse. It was the year that President Ford died. President Bush declared January 2nd (the postmark deadline) for the rebate a national day of mourning. That meant that the post office was closed. The rebate wasn't post marked until January 3rd -- and I was out $20. Ugh.

One company that has been kind is Rite-Aid. I do their rebates online. I'm good about putting them into the system after I make a purchase, but since you can only request a rebate check once a month, I have to wait until the end of the month to process it. A couple of times recently, they've sent me an email to say that the deadline to request the check had passed. But they were kind enough to go ahead and request it for me. Ahhh...I love good customer service!

So, again you ask, "Are rebates worth it?" I think so. Of course, you've got to stay on top of them and all of the paperwork, details, and deadlines. If you can stay focused (and aren't planning a wedding!), then all should be well.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trying to Make Quick, Cheap Meals When I Have Little Time

The wedding is getting closer, and my time is really at a premium lately. I don't really have a lot of time for looking for deals -- even visiting Coupon Mom's website which does make it really easy. Well, I guess, it's the fact that I don't have time to get to the store.

Luckily, I do have some foods and some necessities stock piled from when they were on sale. So, I'm still functioning well despite not really shopping in forever. I'm trying to use my time wisely too. I felt like I needed some vegetables for lunch, so I went to the grocery store that is in my office building and got a salad. Before I went, I took a quick peek at the weekly sale flyer online and found a few other things to pick up to help keep me a float between "real" shopping trips.

Dinner tonight will pretty good considering my lack of time and not really getting to the grocery store in a while. I'll have grilled chicken, sauteed zucchini, and baked beans. I had the chicken in the freezer from when I got it on sale several weeks ago. My parents gave me some zucchini from their garden that I cooked last night. I grabbed a can of Bush's baked beans which was on sale at the store today for $1.00. Another good thing is that it's a fast meal to prepare. More good news is that it will probably last me a couple of nights.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Coupons at Target

I love coupons -- and I love Coupon Mom for doing the work of figuring out the best way to use them.

As I've mentioned several times, I'm a bit short on time these days because of my upcoming wedding. (One month to go!) Yesterday, I realized that I was in desperate need of some breakfast and lunch foods. I haven't had the time or energy to really sit down and think about menus, sale ads, and coupons. However, I also can't just eat out for the next month either.

I knew Target had a couple of things on sale that I wanted and needed to get. So, on my lunch break yesterday, I took a look at Coupon Mom's website to see if there was anything else (particularly food) that I could get for a good deal while I was there. I wrote down what I wanted. I quickly grabbed the coupons between work and my final wedding dress fitting and spun by Target on the way home from the bridal shop. I got a few things to add to what I already have on hand, and I'm good for the rest of the week.

Here's what I got:

Pringles (25% extra in the can for no additional charge)
Sale Price: $1.00
Target coupon from their website: $0.50
Final Price: $0.50

Skippy peanut butter
Regular Price: $2.34
Target coupon from their website: $1.00
Final Price: $1.34

Classico pasta sauce
Regular Price: $2.39
Target coupon from their website: $1.00
Final Price: $1.39

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars (with 2 extra bars for no additional charge)
Regular Price: $2.19
Target coupon from their website: $0.50
Manufacturer coupon: $0.50
Final Price: $1.19

What's great about Target is that they will let you use store and manufacturer coupons on the same item. They will also let you print and use multiple store coupons (for the corresponding number of items) from their website.

I always forget to look at their coupons online -- so thank goodness Coupon Mom lets me know about the deals. Granted the prices in my area aren't quite as low as she has listed on her website. However, I realize that my area is probably more expensive than hers. These are all good deals for the DC area.

What I want to figure out is how to get on Target's mailing list. My sister gets great coupon books from Target every few months. She's not sure how she got on that list. She doesn't have their credit card, which is how I thought it might happen. Does anyone know about those coupons and how I can get them in the U.S. mail?

It's time to get back to my chores...

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Valuable Junk Mail

It might be an oxymoron, but valuable junk mail is how I would describe the Valpak. You know - that blue envelope that comes in the mail, full of coupons and advertisements, mostly to local establishments. To me, most of it is junk. However, I always open it because there are usually one or two good coupons in there too. It's worth looking.

This weekend I used two coupons from the Valpak. I needed to get my car's annual safety inspection done this month. The state regulated fee for this required inspection is a maximum of $16. However, a local service station offers a $5 off coupon for a safety inspection through their ad in Valpak. I took advantage of it and got the service done for $11. The guy at the register said he didn't need to collect my coupon. So, I passed it on to my sister who got hers done at the same place for the same deal too.

It's been moving weekend (roommate/sister headed out, fiance on the way in), so we decided to buy fast food for lunch today. When I got our food, I used the buy one burrito, get one free coupon for Moe's Southwest Grill that I also found in the Valpak.

So, the Valpak saved us a total of $15.99 this weekend on things we would have gotten anyway. It really is valuable junk mail!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Baby Showers: Decorating with Gifts

Like I mentioned yesterday, when I hosted a baby shower a couple of years ago for a friend, I found some ways to stretch my party budget. Decorations are cute, but to me they are the "nice to haves" that usually get cut from the budget. Besides, I wouldn't want to store a bunch of crepe paper storks in hopes of hosting another shower one day. I also wouldn't want to throw them away after one use. So, when I hosted this shower, my sister had a good idea: decorate with gifts for the mother-to-be.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of everything that we did. However, you can see in this picture that we strung up Onesies, receiving blankets, and baby socks to look like a clothes line. Then, I made letters to spell out "It's a Girl." I pinned those paper letters to the Onesies and blankets. It made for a cute, festive atmosphere, and at the end of the party, I pulled them all down for the new mommy to take home with her.
We also bought new toys and took them out of their packages to set on the food table and around the room as decorations. Those things also went home with the honoree as gifts.

So, this idea turned gifts we were giving anyway into the party decorations, saving us from having to spend money on stuff we probably wouldn't use again...but still having a cute and festive atmosphere.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Baby Showers: Cutting Corners but Still Looking Cute

Regular Save 4 Fun reader Kate commented the other day on Can You Tell It's from the Dollar Store that she liked the idea of my friends cutting corners on some things for my bridal shower and splurging on others. She mentioned that she'd have to keep that in mind for upcoming baby showers that she will be hosting.

I've done my share of economizing as a baby shower hostess, so I thought I'd share a couple of tips that I've used. I had searched the Internet for ideas, so these aren't completely originals. However, I can't remember exactly where I found them in order to give credit, and I have a tendency to mix and match my own ideas with ones I've found from various message boards and websites. I like to customize for the honoree, the occasion, and my own style.

The invitations I used were note cards from the Dollar Tree. They were blank inside and had a pink baby carriage on the cover. Cute since she was expecting a girl. I printed them myself at home. I've always liked adding poems about bringing a little something extra as a gift to go with the theme of the shower (bridal or baby).

For this particular one, I found a nice idea of having people bring books for the mother to read to her daughter either as a baby or as a young child. So, I printed that poem on the inside cover of the note card and then the details about when, where, for whom, etc. on the right, inside the card. Below was the how poem read:

Something special for Baby Allie Marie…

Although cards are nice,
With their sentiment and prayer,
They're read once or twice,
Then tucked away with care.

A book is a treasure,
Words and pictures unite,
Read over and over,
To teach and delight.

So instead of a card,
For the little baby and mother,
Please consider a storybook,
With your thoughts in the cover.

Your book will be cherished;
God will watch from above;
When it's read, they’ll remember,
Your kindness and love.

Just like it's shown here, I made the poem in a special font so that it would stand out and look special inside of the card. I also highlighted some of the lines in pink to dress it up a bit.

Most guests still gave her cards with their gifts even though the intention was that a message written inside of the cover of the book would serve as the card. However, she still got a bunch of nice books to go along with each gift. You can actually find nice children's books on discount racks of bookstores for about the same price as a greeting card (assuming you aren't buying it at a discount store where they usually sell for either half price or 50 cents). So, I don't think this idea broke anyone's gift budget if they had one.

Stay tuned for more thrifty but nice baby shower ideas tomorrow.

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