Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of the year chores, Part 3

This week I've been posting about some things to take care of before the New Year arrives.

Today: Don't leave $$ on the table.

If you have a flexible spending account, it's very close to use it or lose it time. To be honest, your chances of getting a doctor or dentist appointment may be slim. Glasses ... still possible. All you have to do is pay for them by Saturday.

Here's a thought .... Next year, we won't get reimbursement for over the counter drugs. So, if you have $$ to use up., I suggest heading out to the drugstore and buying industrial size bottles of headache remedies. Or stocking up on your cold/flu remedies, or bandages, or antacids ....

And on the tax front, there's still time to make charitable contributions or contribute to a standard IRA to knock your tax bill down a bit...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End of the year chores: Part 2

This week I'm posting about things to take care of before the New Year arrives.

Today's installment: Couponing and such

Time to check your coupon file. Dec. 31 is one of those major cutoff dates. So if you still have some high-value coupons, or some freebies hanging around, be sure to use them on this week's shopping trip.

Have any rebates sitting on your desk? Do they expire on Dec. 31? There's still time to get them in the mail. If you have any rewards from an office supply store or a credit card that are about to expire, it's time to go shopping.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bargain alert: Tax software

Admittedly, this is not for everyone ....

If you use H&R Block At Home tax software, and got a copy of it in the mail recently, be sure to open it. You'll likely find a form for a $10 rebate if you buy the product from one of several retailers. (Don't ask me why they do this ...)

Anyway, here's where the fun begins. It happens that Target is one of the retailers. If you peruse the coupons on, you'll find one for $10 off any H&R Block software. (Which means it's good on everything except the basic version.)

But wait! There's more! If you buy it in the store this week, you get a $10 Target gift card at the checkout.

The downside: The deluxe version sells for $44.99.

But here's how the deal goes:
Buy the software at $44.99
Get $10 off with the coupon
Get a $10 gift card
Send in for the $10 rebate.

Total cost -- $14.99

The coupon is good till 1/19; the gift card deal runs through 1/1 (as far as I can tell.) The rebate is good for purchases through 4/15.

If you don't have Target, the rebate is good at several other retailers.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

End of the year chores: Part 1

Happy boxing day ... or the day after Christmas to most of us. That means one thing -- the end of the year is upon us!

This week, I'm going to post about some things to take care of before the New Year arrives.

Today's installment: Christmas aftermath

I'm sure you've reclaimed all the bows, tissue paper and gift bags that can be reused. But while you're putting things away, take inventory: Will you need more paper? Have you run out of small gift bags? Are your tree lights about shot? This week is your best chance to get next year's supplies at half-price or better. (BTW, I've found that supermarkets are good places to go bargain hunting.

Is that sweater from Aunt Matilda two sizes too large? Already have that CD your brother gave you? Slip up on your list and buy an extra toy? This is the week to make the returns (though maybe not today).

Most stores do give you time to exchange things, but the policy varies by the retailer. (and do check those policies) But it's oh, so tempting to just put the gift aside -- then forget about it. So unless you're planning to regift the stuff, go get something you want.

It's also a good time to do inventory of your ornaments: Anything broken? Outdated? Just not your style any more? Take a minute and put it in the trash, or the garage sale pile.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From my house to yours -- Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Surf and save

A little tip .... the next time you are prescribed any name-brand medication, take a spin through the Web -- you might save some money.

While researching a med I was prescribed, I hit the drugmaker's site. Lo and behold, they offered a coupon that would bring my co-pay down to $15 (or knock $60 off the cost for a purchase without insurance ... yeah, it's expensive stuff, gah!)

Wasn't sure it would work, but I took it to the pharmacy ... and they had to jump through a couple of hoops, but in the end, it knocked $20 bucks off my co-pay.

I did a bit of checking, and it looks like other popular name-brand meds also offer coupons or rebates, too.

Now, to be honest, I'd rather see lower prices across the board for all meds -- not just deals for the Internet-savvy. But I honestly don't see that happening any time soon. So in the meantime, I'll try to save as much as I can...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa's coming through

Well, I have success on the gift front: The gift card arrived in the mail yesterday!

I decided to send back the first set of books ... had the feeling that I might just create more problems if I tried to deal for them.

Perhaps the new book will show up this week .. if not, DH will get an IOU wrapped in a box ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Will Santa be late?

I thought I was being clever when I decided on a couple of DH's gifts. Somehow, I managed to start a Christmas soap opera!

I used some of of the points from MyPoints to order a gift card. Then I found a book he wanted on PaperbackSwap. Two gifts down and no $$ spent.

Well .... I still haven't received the gift card (though to be fair, we still have another week). Then, there was a big glitch with my transaction on PaperbackSwap. The sender says she notified them that she'd shipped the book. They say she didn't and canceled her order. And without my knowledge (and certainly not my permission) my request bounced to another member, who's already mailed the book.

To make matters more interesting, the first book arrived in the mail. I'm supposed to refuse it and send it back.

So ... will the gift card arrive in time? Will the other book arrive in time, or will I try to make some sort of deal with the first swapper? Stay tuned.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In the Christmas chaos

We're in full Christmas craziness here at the Casa de Chaos. The tree is up .. sorta. Need to get out the cards. The shopping is almost done though. And if this snow sticks around, we'll certainly have a white Christmas.

I live in a city where there's no shortage of Christmas entertainment. Unfortunately, a lot of it is priced out of my budget these days. (I know professional musicians have to earn a living, but it doesn't mean I can afford to help out.)

Fortunately, there's also a number of free events to visit. We caught the holiday concerts of some of the area's community bands. And you know, holiday music sounds just as lovely in a school auditorium or a church sanctuary.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thanks but no thanks!

I got my eyes examined this week (and yes, some people say I should have my head examined. How did you know?)

Anyway, I made the appointment online, which was certainly convenient. But today, I got a thank-you e-mail with this little surprise: Your next appointment is on Dec. XX, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.

I don't think so. Thanks for the helpful reminder, but call me in 2 years ...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

November freebies

Thought I did pretty well on the FAC stuff last month:

2 Garnier moisture relief
Fructus anti-dandruff
Leapfrog book
Axe deodorant
1/2 gal Smart Balance milk (FAC)
Gain dish detergent (FAC)
Hungry Man dinner (FAC)
Coffee-mate creamer (FAC)
mac & cheese dinner
2 Toms of Maine toothpaste
Garnier UltraLift
Wrigley's 5 gum
2 sweet potato fries

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just a sweet tip

If you're in the mood for a flavored, coffee-house type hot chocolate ... here's a nice alternative: Just add a dash or two of flavored coffee creamer to your cup of hot cocoa. Tried some peppermint mocha with mine last night ... Yum!

(and no, we won't discuss calories, fat, etc .. it's Christmas, LOL!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sometimes it pays to ask

It was time to renew my subscription for my computer's anti-virus/firewall updates. (yeah, I do pay for that stuff ... I'll explain in a bit) And I was getting peeved because I couldn't get a firm price for the renewal. The only link I could find was for $30 more than I was paying per year. Uh, no thanks.

So I had a chat with a customer service representative. She gave me a price that was $10 more than I usually paid. When I pointed this out, she suggested I call the sales department, and gave me the phone number.

OK. So, I called, and got quoted a price that was slightly below what I'd been paying. And wait, there's more! He offered to knock another $5 off the price.

So I agreed. And this year, I came out slightly ahead. Of course, now I wonder if I should have bargained a bit harder ;)

(And in case you're wondering, I do know there are plenty of free anti-virus and firewall and malware-blockers out there, and they have plenty of fans. I used to use some of them too, until my computer got hit with viruses - twice. At that point, I decided you get what you pay for ... and paying for software was cheaper than paying my computer geek.)