Friday, March 22, 2019

Savings Catcher Is Cancelled, Starbucks Rewards Changes And Other Updates

*This post includes affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, I will be compensated.

Walmart Savings Catcher Ending Notice In App

Good Riddance Savings Catcher

     Savings Catcher by Walmart is finally biting the dust. After a bunch of changes over its lifetime, Walmart is killing the only way they do price matches. When Savings Catcher first started in 2014, it was a great program. You shopped, scanned receipts, and Walmart's Savings Catcher system price matched other retailers within a certain local area and reimbursed you the difference in price to a Savings Catcher account. It was good when it worked, but it didn't catch everything that was on sale at competing retailers. Once you got cash back, you could transfer it to a Walmart gift card or transfer it to a Bluebird Amex card. It was a really good program and app that people used to save for the holidays and save toward more groceries.
     As the program became more and more popular and Walmart started to dole out money in various forms, they started to get stingy. They realized that drug stores like Walgreens were consistently beating them week after week on their advertised sale items like paper goods and food. They stopped price matching with all drug stores which meant that CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid no longer counted. Produce also was an area where they were consistently beaten. They stopped matching produce prices as well.
     On May 14th, Walmart is ending Savings Catcher. You will still keep any balance you have on your Savings Catcher-based gift card. I suppose you will be able to use it through Walmart Pay and via the website, but as a precaution, I would probably try to use mine before then. I wouldn't trust customer support to be readily available if cards started to show 0 balances.  I won't miss it because I stopped using it when they stopped accepting scanned receipts and forced use of Walmart Pay. I have found that though I live in an area where Walmart beats nearly all the grocery stores in prices, Target, Family Dollar, Walgreens, and CVS all have digital coupons and often beat Walmart. I have been spending a lot less in Walmart this year and I love it. The less money and time I spend there the better. It will be interesting to see where their sales go from here. I'm hearing that some Walmart stores are no longer accepting internet printed coupons (like from so what they should do is add digital coupons to their app like Cartwheel. That would show that they actually want to keep their customers and stay competitive with other stores like Target. I guess since they are trying to compete with Amazon, coupons are not a priority. Neither is lower prices.

Starbucks Changes Rewards Program, Again

     Starbucks Rewards is changing and I can't remember the last time I actually used my Starbucks app. I have been drinking Great Value coffee with Friendly Farms (Aldi) coffee creamer daily and loving it. I tried to have Dunkin coffee the other day and they are too hit and miss. Sometimes it is ok and others it tastes like burned watered down motor oil. I love Starbucks, I just don't go as often as I used to and when I do, I usually don't have any money on a gift card so I use my debit card. The last time I went was last week and it was a location in a hospital and I had cash so I just paid with that. I probably won't be using it much but who knows.
     According to the Starbucks customer service page on their site, redeeming birthday rewards has changed. You used to be able to redeem your reward within a few days of your birthday and now it has to be on your birth date and you have to use your card at least once in the 12 months prior in order to get your birthday reward. They send you a reminder two days prior so you don't forget to use it.
     In the Green tier, you can now redeem rewards. You can get extra pumps of syrup with your stars-about 25 (yeah I'd never use that). You can save points for items in the Starbucks store like bags of coffee or branded merchandise (400 or so stars). Two hundred stars get you food items like sandwiches or salads. Overall, it doesn't seem like a bad deal. Might take longer to get certain rewards but since I hardly ever use it then it won't be as big of a deal to me. I like that I can get mugs and bagged coffee with points though. I'll have to see what happens when it actually changes to see how it works.

Stores closing

     I am already sick of the term 'retail apocalypse' because it 's not even that serious. Yes, a lot of stores are closing, but it's not like there are no stores left. If the focus of most of them was more about customer service and giving the people what they want then many of them would still be around. As long as CEO greed prevails, we will continue to lose the stores we love. 
     Charlotte Russe is one of the latest to go. The mall store catered to juniors style and plus-size clothing. I have good memories of shopping there years ago. I got some good pieces there and cute accessories. I haven't shopped there in years. Our mall store was one of the last to add plus sizes and the nearest aside from our local store that did carry plus-sizes was 40 miles or so away. 
     Payless is one store that I am going to miss. I love their Christian Siriano line. One of my favorite bags is a Christian Siriano for Payless bag. When I needed heels for an event a couple of years ago, I knew I had to get them from Payless because I hardly ever wear heels and I needed cheap, comfortable, durable heels that were also stylish. I found exactly what I needed immediately and was in and out in no time. Sad to see them go and I guess now when I get shoes they will be from Target mostly (or Gabes). 
     Shopko, Victoria's Secret, and Gap are all closing stores as well. I never shopped at Shopko because we don't have them in my area. I stopped shopping at Victoria's Secret years ago (overpriced and overrated) and though I used to love Gap, the one in my area closed over 25 years ago and the closest is 40 miles away. I never go there or shop there online. Family Dollar is converting some stores into Dollar Tree stores so I don't really count that as a loss since Dollar Tree is cheaper. 
     As the retail landscape changes and we start to see empty stores and empty malls, I think about what is missing from retail. Good customer service is missing and for me, that is the main thing. I can count on one hand the stores that I love shopping at because they are always polite and helpful (Target comes to mind immediately). Best Buy has recently been very high up on that list. I don't shop on Amazon unless it is absolutely necessary (when it is cheaper and no one else has the same item in stock). I do feel bad for employees losing jobs and I wish them the best.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Dollar Tree Has $1 Flat Rate Shipping 2.24 to 2.27

pastel colored Easter eggs in a white basket with blue ribbon
Image by silviarita on Pixabay

This post contains an affiliate banner and affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my links I will be compensated at no additional cost to you.

     Did you know you could shop Dollar Tree online? You can shop their online inventory and have your order shipped to your nearest participating Dollar Tree store for pick up. You can also ship to your home or office. Right now (Feb 24 through Feb 27, 2019), flat rate shipping is $1. Some restrictions apply. Visit Dollar Tree for details.
     Now would be a great time to stock up on essentials for Easter and St Patrick's Day. From artificial floral arrangements to metal wreath rings for crafting the perfect decorations, Dollar Tree has your decorating needs covered. Don't forget the baskets and candy. You can buy in bulk online. Check it out today.

My Referral Codes For Cash Back and Rebate Apps

a bunch of one dollar bills U.S currency
Photo by Madison Kaminski on Unsplash

On this post, I am going to leave my referral codes for the apps I use to earn points for gift cards and cash. If I join any new apps, this post will be updated with the referral codes and any promo codes I get. Feel free to use them as you wish and pass them along to friends.

Ebates - With Ebates you can earn cash back on purchases made online. Once you set up your account shop your favorite stores through Ebates and earn cash back into your Ebates account. Once you have over $5 you can cash out with a check or to PayPal.  -Join today for a $10 bonus just for signing up- on the sign in page, look for the blue link that says "Did someone refer you?" under "Join Now" and enter the info.

Ibotta- Ibotta is my favorite apps. Earn rebates when you buy groceries and many other items. Shop in-store and online and accumulate rebates in your Ibotta account. Cash out to PayPal or use your Ibotta account to earn gift cards.
My Ibotta referral code is jrjbbb

Fetch Rewards- With Fetch Rewards you simply download the app and scan receipts from grocery shopping and you get points based on items you purchase. They have special offers that earn extra points. You can cash out to earn gift cards to various stores, movie theaters, or online retailers. You can even donate points to charity. I use mine for Target e-gift cards mostly.
My Fetch Rewards referral code is C9QFR -get 2000 points when you join with my code

Checkout 51-- Checkout 51 works similar to Ibotta just with fewer choices of items and it is more open about what stores you get rebates from. Some deals are available from any store and some are select stores only. Once you get $20 in rebates in your account, CO51 sends you a check.
My Checkout 51 referral link is

DO$H- DO$H app gives you cash back for shopping in select stores. With the app you add a debit or credit card or PayPal and when you shop, either online or in-store, cash is added to your DO$H wallet and you can transfer that to your DO$H wallet balance to your bank account or to PayPal once you have $25 in the account.
My DO$H referral code is LORISAG1

Friday, February 22, 2019

Should You Attempt DIY Repairs To Save Money?

This post contains affiliate links or banners. If you make a purchase after clicking my links, I will be compensated.

two wrenches in black and white
Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash
     When money is tight and you don't really have a safety net, meaning an emergency fund, to pull from to pay to replace broken or malfunctioning items, going the DIY route can help. Saving money is the goal and anytime you don't have to pay to replace something it is a plus. Getting as much use out of something as you can is also better for the environment than having a "throwaway and replace" mentality. When should you try to fix something yourself and when should you throw in the towel and buy new (or gently used)?
     That's a question I ask myself often. This time last year I was replacing my laptop because my then three-year-old had gotten water in the previous one. I tried drying it out and it was unresponsive. Luckily, it was an inexpensive Chromebook and I was able to replace it. I opted to pay for the extra warranty for the one I have now just in case. I normally would opt out, but seeing the need for it I got it. One day I will probably pay to have the other one repaired or get rid of it for parts. I learned the lesson that it is a good idea to get the warranty for items that are used a lot and have more potential to be damaged. If a child will be using it at all or will be near it at any time, get the warranty. That being said, I don't think I have ever owned a mobile phone and not gotten insurance on it because I know that it is used every day and has the potential to be damaged. Why wouldn't I protect my computer the same way?
     The washer/dryer unit gave out this week and leaked, leaving a large puddle on the kitchen floor. I purchased the unit about 3 years ago and it is out of the warranty period. I remember getting letters asking if I wanted to renew it and thinking that it was working so great and that there was no need. Of course, now it craps out and I can't use it without turning my kitchen into a swamp. My husband has a certain amount of manual dexterity that has saved us hundreds over the years (maybe thousands counting car repairs). He took to the internet and started doing research. There is supposedly a part that costs less than $20 that is damaged and he can do the work for free. Once the part is ordered from eBay or Amazon, he can hopefully get the work done next week. Replacing a stacked washer/dryer unit (the only kind we can get because of how our kitchen is set up) is not in our budget and I don't want to use a store credit card to replace it knowing that I'm trying to avoid using credit cards in the future. He found repair videos on YouTube and watched how to replace the part on our unit. Thank goodness for YouTube. If we do need to replace the unit, a relative recommended a used appliance retailer so that's the next option before buying new.      Whenever something is not working, it is always a good idea to run a search on the item and the problem you are having with it so you can troubleshoot the issue. I had an HP laptop and my husband had the same model. Mine died unexpectedly and I started using his. When months later his did the same, I decided to look up issues with that model. What I found was that it was a battery issue and for some reason, the battery was not being recognized by the computer. I did the fix that was mentioned and it still didn't work. I took the battery from my old one and put it in his and tried the battery fix and it worked. It died again months later, but I got a few more good months out of it. I also used YouTube to fix my vacuum cleaner when it started overheating and powering off and wouldn't come back on till the next day. That has saved me from buying a third vacuum in the past 6 years.
     When you are researching the possibility of doing your own repairs, don't try to take on more than you can handle. I have surprised myself with what I have been able to fix on my own from watching YouTube videos, but I would never try to tackle any task on my own without watching the video all the way through at least once before attempting the repair. Make sure you have the necessary tools on hand to do the job. Also always cut the power to anything electrical before getting started.
     I've been able to find out about and get fixes for software glitches, mobile phone issues, and small appliance repairs by searching the internet. For larger more serious repairs like HVAC work and things involving large motors I always call a professional. If the money isn't there I have to ask is it something I need or just a convenience. If it is something essential that I cannot do without, it needs to be fixed no matter what. Look for ways to finance the repair that have a low interest rate or ask your repair person if you can pay in installments (ask before the work is started). Ask about discounts when you are scheduling appointments. You never know if you could save unless you ask.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Little Ceasar's Pizza Hack For Busy Moms

This post contains ads or links for promotional purposes. If you make a purchase after clicking on my links I will be compensated at no cost to you.

pepperoni pizza
Photo by Alan Hardman on Unsplash

     Fridays spent running errands are draining for me as a busy mom. For me that usually consists of getting some of the grocery shopping done at the stores that have deals (before heading to Walmart for the rest on Saturday), making a trip to Dollar Tree, going to the bank, and finally, picking up dinner on the way home. I have to do all of this with my 4-year-old along with me so that makes it challenging, especially when she's in a mood.
     I found out on Facebook that Little Ceasars has an app where you can order your pizza and pay then go pick it up. I had used other similar apps for fast food restaurants before, but none were quite this well done. One particularly stressful Friday, my husband sent me a text asking me to pick up pizza for dinner because he was stuck in traffic on his way home. My daughter was upset about something, it was raining, and I was just eager to get home. I decided to try to order through the Little Ceasar's app and finish my shopping before stopping by to pick up my order. Setting up the account was easy once I downloaded the app from the Google Play Store. I set up my account with the usual info, cell number (so they can text you when your pizza is ready or send push notifications), and I turned on my location. It automatically defaulted to the nearest Little Ceasar's location, which was good because it is my usual one near my house. Always confirm that the location that shows is the one you plan to use to pick up your order. If not, you will need to update your pickup location to the one you want.
     Once I had things set up, I selected the items on the menu that I wanted. There was even a coupon code for a free 2 liter Pepsi that I was able to use. Once I had chosen what I wanted and paid by debit card, I was prompted by push notification that my order was received and that it would be about 20 minutes until it would be ready for pick up. I carried on with my errands and within 10 minutes I got another push notification saying that my order was ready and giving me a three digit code to use at the Pizza Portal. I thought that was just a cute marketing name for the restaurant and I headed over to pick up my order.
     When I got there, it was a typical Friday evening in that area. The parking lot was busy and cars were using the fire lane so they wouldn't have to park properly which meant the restaurant was busy. There was a line backed up to the doors, but I had already ordered so I wasn't bothered about a wait. People were sitting in the few chairs that are there waiting on orders. I looked up and saw a machine with a digital screen and my name was on it next to a number. I went over to it, passing a line of people who were wondering where I was going, probably thinking I was cutting the line. I realized that this was the Pizza Portal. I took the 3 digit number from my push notification and entered it on the screen (you can also scan the QR code that you are sent confirming your order) and the glass door that looks like a small oven opened and I took my order out. I pressed done and went to the cooler to get out my free Pepsi and that was it. I looked around like, 'it can't be that easy, can it?' Yep, that's all there is to it. I  had already paid through the app. The order was prepared and put into the Pizza Portal which is like a warmer that holds your order and a self- service machine. You order through the app, get your notification code when your order is ready, go pick it up with no wait, and off you go.
     This app has saved me time and energy on quite a few Friday night pizza nights and I have not had a bad experience with it yet. They are always on time and I even told another customer about it last time because she wondered how I got to use the machine. It's pretty awesome. By comparison, every single time I have used the McDonald's app to order and have gone to pick it up I have had to wait. I had issues using the coupons in their app last time I tried (coupon wouldn't load at the window to scan) so I deleted it. Little Cesar's has their stuff together. The only improvement I would make to it would be to add a loyalty program (like for every 5 pizzas you order you get breadsticks free or something) or add more in-app coupons. I love it and I highly recommend it if it is available in your area.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Creative ways to reuse junk mail

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my links I will be compensated. 
black door with metal letter slot that says "no junk mail"
Photo by cattu on Pixabay

     I recently started to clear out my email box by unsubscribing to emails that I know I don't read and unsubscribing from mailing lists for stores I no longer shop at.  My email box eventually became less cluttered and I started to use labels to categorize everything and keep important emails organized. This made me think about snail mail and how I wish I could find a way to declutter my physical inbox and stop the junk mail. Getting off of physical mailing lists is harder than electronic ones in my opinion. I started to think of ways to use junk mail instead of immediately throwing it out. Here are some ways to reuse junk mail:

Scrapbooking/Planner Decorating- I use the envelopes that I get that come cute colors to cut strips to make washi-like borders or headers in my planner for the days of the week. Some mailers that come out during the holidays have cute borders so I trim them off to use around the edges of my planner as well. Cute shapes, characters, and pictures make nice fillers for vertical layouts.

Reusing greeting cards is also a good idea for decor. Some cards have really adorable pictures, glitter, ribbons, and jewels. I keep cards and pin some of them to my message boards in my workspace. I am going to start using them to decorate my planner as well. My daughter's cards go in her baby book in a folder. It'll be cool for her when she is older to have the first birthday and Christmas cards she ever got to look back at. Sometimes random promotional postcards come (especially around Valentine's Day and election time). I give them to my daughter so she can pretend she has her mail and sometimes I cut the decorations out that I like to reuse.

Scrap paper for notes- You can use the backs and blank bottoms of letters as scrap paper. Cut them into the shapes and sizes you want and decorate to make your own scrap paper notebook. Use stamps, watercolor paints, and markers to personalize your notebooks.
 I keep my lists in an app on my phone, but when I go out and my phone battery dies, I like to have my list written down. I started saving the envelopes from mail and using the backs to write my lists on. I put my coupons inside the envelope so I don't forget them (when I actually have paper ones, I mostly use digital ones). I have a small collection of scrap envelopes now. I can save my sticky notes for something else because they never seem big enough for my grocery lists anyway. I'd rather use sticky notes in my planner for short notes or lists.

Scrap paper for kids- I give my daughter junk mail to use to paint on or draw. She loves to paint and I never buy printer paper since my printer is broken. I use the junk mail to let her practice writing her alphabet too. I save a lot on craft paper.

Need firewood? If you have time and patience you can diy yourself some logs out of paper and let them dry and use it as firewood. I have watched videos on this in the past and it looks really cool. I don't have a fireplace but if I did, that's what I would do with all of my junk mail and old papers after they have been filed away and are no longer needed.

You could save it all and recycle it as well but be careful of putting anything in with sensitive information and be sure to pull out those laminated cards and plastic cards as well as any staples if you are recycling.

Reduce, Reuse Recycle

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Why I Shop The Drugstore Weekly Sales For Groceries

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woman looks at juice bottles in grocery store
photo via kc0uvb on Pixabay

     Looking at the regular prices on most items in stores like CVS and Walgreens usually gives me a bit of a shock. Not a serious one but a head shaking "no Ma'am" kind of a shock. Most of the things I would normally buy are a few dollars higher in these stores, but they tend to thrive in some areas because they are smaller and less congested than Walmart or Target. Being able to run in and get what you need without waiting in a line for 30 minutes is a bonus. Sometimes that is a bonus worth paying a premium for. I hate going to Walmart for one or two things because I know the hassle of parking and walking in and dealing with standing in line forever all with a feisty four-year-old in tow.
    Their sale prices and clearance tend to be good though. Since I have stopped using Savings Catcher, I have made it a point to shop at Walgreens more often. I have found deals on things I usually buy and when pairing them with the digital coupons through (or through the Walgreens app,) I save more than I would at Walmart anyway. Walmart stopped price matching with drugstore prices early on in Savings Catcher development because they didn't like that their prices were being beaten badly by drugstores and pharmacy stores.
     I go through the Flipp app weekly and check out what from my list is on sale at Walgreens and CVS and compare the price to the Walmart price using the Walmart app or Walmart website. I then check through digital coupons on my app as well as Ibotta and Checkout 51. I make notes in my list and divide items up according to store and get set for my Friday shopping day. Since I have a Walgreens and a CVS in close proximity, this works well for me. I usually don't pay much attention to the loyalty programs these stores have but loyalty programs are another way to save money. I don't shop there every week so it can be hard to accumulate points and both CVS ExtraCare and Walgreens Balance Rewards have been through changes over the past year or two and it all gets to be too much for me to bother with. I do have cards for both and I use them, but since I don't use them with enough frequency, I feel like I lose points that I don't use. It's a good idea to get the discount cards for coupons and instant savings.
     Looking for ways to save money can be hard and sometimes you have to put in a bit of work. For me, that means finding the stores, using the apps, and collecting the rebates. Every little bit helps and it may seem strange to go to Walgreens to get coffee or to CVS to get frozen pizzas but the less I spend in Walmart (the less I spend period) is a good thing.

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