How I use Ebates to Earn Free Money

I have had some friends ask about ways I earn money and gift cards.  I am going to start posting more on some of my favorite sites and programs I use.

In addition to Swagbucks, Ebates is one of the easiest ways I earn free money.  This is not something where you earn points for doing surveys or jumping through hoops.  It is simply a site you click through before you make any purchases online.  Ebates  gives you a percentage back of what you spend and then they mail you a check every 3 months.  There is no minimum to meet before they send you a check! Isn’t that awesome? Cash back for things you are already buying. You don’t even need to enter a code when you are shopping either. After clicking through Ebates there is nothing else to do.

Also, when you sign up you can choose a free $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble, Target, or Home Depot. Back when I signed up this was not offered.  You will earn the gift card with your first $25 purchase.

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Here are the easy steps to getting started and using Ebates:

1) Go to Ebates to sign up.

(To shop with Ebates)

2) Visit the site before shopping to look for the store you know you want to shop from, OR search the categories to find a store that carries the item you want and click on the store. 

3) Shop just like normal! (I guess that is not even a step)

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Another way to earn is by referring new customers to Ebates.  Normally this is $5 per person who spends $25 or more when shopping through Ebates.  Sometimes they have promotions where you can earn even more. (So far I think I have referred 2-3 people…don’t worry. I am not raking it in. I too earn most of my money through regular cash back transactions. 🙂 )

Also, frequently certain stores offer double points. 

Right now Nordstrom is offering 5% back! This is awesome because the Anniversary Sale starts tomorrow!  A few days ago when I was looking at a couple things I noticed it was at 2%.  I waited a bit and went back and it was at 5%. Score! I am hoping that it stays at 5% for a bit so that people can take advantage of both the sale and the 5% cash back.  (Side note-If you happen to have a Nordstrom card you can also get double points from the 20th-22nd on your card.)

Keep in mind that you save more by spending nothing at all.  This should only be used when you actually need to make a purchase.  Spend wisely! This is just another way to get some money back for what you are already doing.

Ebates partners with TONS of web sites! Here are some of our favorites

Groupon!!! -Currently at 3%

REI and REI Outlet-Currently at 2.5%

Gap-Currently at 2%

Nordstrom-Currently at 5%

Target- Currently at 2%

Disney Store-Currently at 3%

Diapers.com-Currently up to 4% depending on category

Zulily- Currently at 3.5%

Toys R Us-Currently at 1%

6pm (Great place for shoes, bags, and clothes)-Currently at 3.5%

 

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions and I can try to help you find the answer!

 

 

Grocery Outlet

Today I made a quick stop at Grocery Outlet before one of our last planning meetings for the Riverfront Family Festival (the best free family event of the year).  Here is my loot for today.

Total for the trip was $16.83

  • The Aidells Natural chicken sausage was 2.49 (Plenty left)
  • The Stonyfield 4 pack was $1.49 (small stock)
  • The smaller Stonyfield Greek yogurts were 2 for $1 (almost gone)
  • The eggs were marked down to $2.97
  • The white cheddar was for Hubs and was $4.39

Have you found any scores this week?

So Fresh, and so Clean, Clean.

First things, first.  My second guest post over at Frugal Living NW is up!  This post highlights one of our favorite hiking places, McDonald Forest near Corvallis.  So thankful to have the opportunity to do a couple fun posts on such a practical and helpful site.  Go check it out and give them some comment love.

Most of their posts are about saving money in the NW (readers from all over will benefit from their posts), but right now they are doing a series on frugal family outings.  Check out their growing list of places to visit in greater Portland area.  Also, check out my first post for them on Hoyt Arboretum.

When we took the pictures (a long time ago) that are in BOTH articles I had no idea I would be including them in a guest post.  One post I am wearing a St. Patrick’s shirt from 6 years ago and gym shorts, and the other post shows me wearing 3 awkward and thick sweatshirts after being ill prepared for a cold hike.  Just keepin’ it real I suppose.

And on the other great news…the ol’ blog got a make-over!  The hubs spent hours sprucing up the place to make it more visually appealing and cleaner.  Isn’t he amazing? I would have absolutely no idea how to do this stuff.  It is still a work in progress, but it finally has most of the elements I was hoping to include (there is a bug or two that will be fixed soon).

Let me know if you are having a hard time digging anything up and I will send you a link.  The search feature should help with most of that.  All of the posts are still there, but we are still working on some of the categorization.  It is now time for me to dig through most of my old posts and try and re-categorize them into my new streamlined list.  Fun stuff!

(Review) Eco Store Natural Products

When Eco Store offered to let me review two of their products I was thrilled!  As I dug around on their site to pick out my two products I was even more excited because their prices were awesome!  Who doesn’t love a company whose favorite phrase is “No Nasty Chemicals”? Genius.

When I was looking for my two products to review I decided that I would look for items that I had either not successfully made before, or had not found a natural alternative for at the store (I make a good chunk of our basic cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Don’t worry, it is super easy).

I chose the Pure Oxygen Whitener (The natural version of OxyClean), and a cleaning product called Cream Cleanser.

 

The first time we used the Oxygen Whitener we threw it in with my husbands whites.  The load included dress shirts and under shirts etc.  He said he could totally tell a difference in their color.  We normally just use my homemade detergent and not any extra bleach or laundry care additives like Oxy Clean because of expense and questionable ingredients.  It was great to have something we felt good about throwing in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to try the Cream Cleanser because my vinegar and water mixture I use for most basic cleaning was just not cutting it with my sinks.  I really needed something that I could use to scrub and polish.  It was so nice to have something with some more substance to it.  My sinks looked much better after using this stuff.  I do think that for my purposes I would prefer it to have a bit more grit to it.  If you use it be sure to rinse this stuff well after scrubbing to get a nice shine.  It is so nice to have something like this to add to my small cleaning stash.  I think I will mix it with a paste I make out of dish soap, lemon juice, and baking soda and I think it will be the perfect thing for sinks and tubs.

Eco Store caries products within 5 main categories; Baby, Bath and Body, Hair Care, Household, and Pet. The packaging is BPA free and everything is made in the USA. How is that for a commercial?

Although all of the prices are excellent, I was most excited about the value of the baby products. They had Baby Body Wash for $4.25, Baby Shampoo for $4.40, and Nappy Balm (diaper rash balm) for $5.10. That is really good. The only downside I am noticing is that I don’t think the product is specifically organic.  But because it is chemical and “bad stuff” free, I would feel comfortable putting it on my little ones.

The best news? They just posted about a 25 hour sale that runs through tomorrow night for 25% off everything (use code 25for25).  I have not seen many sales from them at all…especially since they have lowered their prices.  This would be a great chance to try a couple things if you are needing anything.  When they posted about this sale I immediately rushed to put this post up so y’all would be able to get the best price.

Let me know if you try any of their products. I would love to hear about your thoughts and how they worked for you.

Disclosure- Beyond receiving the two products, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Natural Homemade Disposable Wipes

I ran out of wipes 2 days ago and did not have plans to go to the store.  In fact, I did not really want to buy wipes even IF I went to the store.  Such a rebel.  I had heard of someone making homemade disposable wipes and thought I would give it a try.

Pretty sure my semi-chrunchy status was confirmed when I had the ingredients to fake one of the recipies from stuff I had on hand.

Ingredients and supplies:

  • Natural baby wash (1 tablespoon) OR Castile soap (1 teaspoon) I used Dr. Bronners Baby Mild Castile soap from the bulk in LifeSource
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • 1 tablespoon (or less) of natural oil. I used some castor oil I purchased to try the “oil method” eventually on my face.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 roll of sturdy paper towels. I used Sparkle. They were perforated to create smaller sheets and I that was great for this purpose.  The sturdier the better. They soften up when they get wet.
  • 1 container or bag to hold the wipes
  • Serrated knife to cut the roll in half (only through the towels)

These ingredients were what I recommend after modifying my recipe a bit. You may want to also use just a bit under a tablespoon of the oil and see how you like it. Mine might be a bit greasier than I prefer. I also used 1 tablespoon of the Castile soap.  Because Castile soap is more concentrated than regular baby wash I recommend starting with a teaspoon or so and go from there.

1) Cut your paper towels in half with a serrated knife.  You only need to go through the paper towel layers…not the cardboard tube.  After that run a butter knife around the tube to separate it from the roll. Pinch the tube to collapse it  and wrestle the paper towels off of the roll while trying to keep them rolled up.

2) Mix up your solution and pour over your towels.  Use half of the solution for each half of the roll. Start by gradual adding the solution to make sure not to over saturate them. You want them all wet, but not soaked.  Different paper towel roll sizes and brands will require slightly different amounts.

Instead of getting your roll wet with solution, you could also put the liquid ingredients in a spray bottle and just wet them one or two at a time.  This might be what I try next time.  I am thinking they might hold up even better if they are just wet when I need them.  Pre-moistened work do best for travel though.

I know what you are thinking. Why is she not using cloth wipes? Well, we are not in the cloth diaper routine right now and even when we are I just can’t get into cloth wipes. I like throwing them away.

Do these work as well as nice store bought wipes? Not quite. They are not quite as sturdy and a bit thinner. BUT, they are much cheaper, easy to make, and ALL NATURAL!  Natural wipes are expensive and when I tried the Seventh Generation brand I was not too thrilled with them.

The ingredients probably cost me maybe 10 cents? And I got the roll for 75 cents as a part of a 6 pack I bought on this trip.

Let me know if you try it and if you made any adaptations to the recipe. 

 

P.S. If you are feeling up to it, have the little ones help you. Great lessons in measurements and absorption.

 

Upcoming posts.

1) Reader question- Where do I start if I want to switch to a more natural and organic diet?

2) Review of 2 products from Eco Store.

 

Why I blog about my grocery trips.

I am pretty sure that 90% of my Facebook friends think I am crazy when I do posts about my grocery shopping trips.  Most people probably don’t get it.  Here are some reasons why I sometimes snap pictures of my groceries and share what I paid for them.  Sometimes I wonder if anybody even cares, but I still keep coming back to it.

Maybe this is why:

-Often when I have a little time to myself and head out to do something I usually end up at the grocery store.  If I was doing something more interesting you might be seeing pictures of that instead.  I would rather grocery shop alone than go to Starbucks alone and take all 3 to the store later…so to the store I go.

-When I feel the itch to blog, but have had a rough time with the tots I often blog about grocery shopping.  Instead of blogging about how I just might lose my mind if my children scream again about the sibling who touched their toy or that the string fell of their pretend pet dog again…I blog about groceries.  I don’t mind being real one bit, I just don’t want to fuel any discontentment that other moms are already feeling.  When my heart is not in the right place I don’t want to lead others down the wrong path with me.

-Because it is SO fun to go to one store and see an item for $3.99, and then go to another store and see it for $1.49.

-It is a way to feel productive when I know that if I moved more that 5 feet away from the tots the world I came back to might be more than I had the energy to put back together.

-I used to be totally overwhelmed by the grocery store. I did not know what the “good” prices were, I did not know what meat to buy, and I was intimidated using coupons.  Now I have more confidence and I actually enjoy shopping. I love that my husband can come straight home from work most nights instead of dropping $35 on a small stash of groceries to get us through the next dinner and restock on eggs and produce.

-Because sometimes I don’t have the energy to delve into the deeper things swirling in my head.

-It is a way to help other families while I am home with mine.

-Because I hope that I can inspire you that you really CAN buy your family good quality food for a price you can afford…even without clipping tons of coupons.  There are deals all around!

Fred Meyer Founder’s Days Sale. (Through Sun May 19th)

Here is what $43 got me at Fred Meyer last night.

This week is the Founder’s Days Sale at Fred Meyer. There are TONS of great deals. Check out their online ad to find more great deals. If you do not have an ad you can ask at customer service if they have any left. If not, they have a basket of coupons you can dig through to find what you need (the parkway location was out of ads last night when I checked after leaving mine at home). This trip shows how you can get good quality food for great prices when you watch the ad…even without spending tons of time preparing or clipping coupons.  I may even make a trip for more berries and cheese if I get a chance to swing back by.

Organic berries 2 for $4

Tillamook Butter 3 for $5 with in ad coupon (limit 3)

Tillamook Cheese $3.99 with in ad coupon (limit 1)

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent 40% off $3.83. (I recently bought a box with a coupon and a sale and we discovered we LOVE it).

Cascadian Farm Organic cereal 2 for $4.99. Also included were some great high value coupons on the back for organic products. (Will probably use this cereal for making snack mix since it is a bit sweeter than I like to give the tots for their breakfast).

Sparkle paper towels 2 for $9 with in ad coupon.

Pirates Booty 2 for $3

Dave’s Killer Bread $3.88. (A bit more than Costco, but we needed bread and have never tried it before.)

 

Azure Standard Day (AKA the post where I ramble about produce prices and buy tree bark).

Yesterday we picked up our Azure Standard order from our Drop Point in Rickreall.  It was a more unusual order for us. We desperately needed blueberries and I could not find organic or spray free blueberries for a reasonable price for the life of me.  We had gone through our stash of frozen blueberries that we picked from Minto Island Growers quite a while back and we were missing them.

These berries from Azure were the best deal I could find (the picture only shows 5 of the 10 pounds)…and I still almost choked at the price.  I am also lso finding that most fruit prices are at an all time high this time of year for things like apples and pears.  Although this may seem pretty obvious based on the fact that we are only getting farther away from apple season, it has still taken me by surprise.  In season I can get organic apples for close to a dollar, and then they increase steadily.  This time of year it seems that my target price is more like $1.50 or less per pound for pears and apples.  Now that we are going through a larger amount of produce, I am totally feeling this in our grocery bill.  I even bought organic mangos the other day because they were not much more than the cheapest apples.  Can’t wait for more fruit to be coming into season. Alright, enough about fruit prices. Sorry.

Why did we buy this stuff?

The steel cut oats are our favorite cheap healthy breakfast. We brown them in a bit of butter and then soak them overnight.  The next morning we cook them up and add fun toppings.  Maybe I can post more about this later.

The Pau d’ Arco bark is for hubs.  A helpful lady at Life Source recommended it when I had a question about his skin issues and supplements for him. We will use it to make a tea. Mmmm. Tastes like tree.

The Chia Seeds are something Hubs wanted to add to our cooking. This will primarily be added to things he eats before he goes for runs/races.

The Gamma Seal Lids are to go on top of 5 gallon buckets and create a good seal, but are also easy to open.  We will use them for our bulk wheat berries, different oats, and maybe beans.  They are speedy, but we will use them on food safe buckets we are hoping to get for free. This will ensure that our bulk purchases are safe from getting bugs etc.

 

SN431 Late July Bite Size Cheddar Crackers, Organic 5 ozs. 2 0 $2.35 $0.00
CE231 Bulk Steel Cut Oats (whole grain), Organic 25 lbs. 1 1 $18.35 $18.35
HS764 Oregon’s Wild Harvest Pau d’Arco Bark, Cut & Sifted 4 ozs. 1 1 $4.60 $4.60
FG012 Bulk Blueberries, Natural, Frozen, Large 10 lbs. 1 1 $35.00 $35.00
SE099 Bulk Chia Seeds, Whole, Black, Organic 1 lb. 1 1 $5.65 $5.65
NF094 Gamma Gamma Seal Lid for 5 Gallon Plastic Pail 1 each 3 3 $6.75 $20.25
QP138 Fresh Produce Apples, Fuji, Organic 3 lbs. 1 1 $4.25 $4.25

 

If you are curious about how to get started with Azure Standard, you can check out this post.  Also, you can search “Azure Standard” on my blog in the upper right corner for more related posts.

 

-Not paid for this endorsement, just a happy customer.

 

Grocery Outlet

Lately I have become a little bit obsessed with Grocery Outlet. Last night I made a last minute trip to the Salem Grocery Outlet (on D St) to try to get more of a few things I found on a recent trip.  I even found a few great markdowns (yes, even Grocery Outlet has markdowns!).  I got all of this for $45.00!  With the exception of the cheese and Kettle chips, everything was organic! I bought a few things we don’t normally buy, but they will be nice occasional treats for the kids.  If you don’t eat organic you will find that some things are even cheaper than what I purchased.

Here is a rough price list from memory.

Organic yellow and red potatoes-Marked down to 99 cents from $1.99

Big tub of organic salad mix- Marked down to $2.49 from $4.99

Kettle chips -$1.99

Athenos feta spread- Marked down to 87 cents

Dill havarti-$1.49

Organic chicken wings -$1.99 per pound and one was 50 cents off

Annies organic chocolate chip granola bars 7ct-$1.99 (6 grams of sugar per bar…not too bad)

Solana Gold organic apple sauce (apple boysenberry and apple strawberry)- $1.99 (On sale at Life Source for $3.99 I believe, and Azure last month for $3)

Country Choice organic sandwich cookies-$1.50 ($3.99 at Fred Meyer)

Annies Bunnies cheddar crackers- 25 cents a piece

 

Only bummer was when they would not allow me to use a Grocery Outlet coupon they emailed.  We were out of a printer for a couple weeks and Hubby hooked it up hours before my trip to the store. As I was getting into the car I saw that it expired 2 days prior. I never try to use expired coupons, but thought that since it was a store coupon for new email subscribers that they might still be able to honor it easily.  No dice.

Do you ever shop at Grocery Outlet? Their stock changes often some products are a one time thing.

I feel a bit better now that I let the cat out of the bag.  Now don’t you go clearin’ shelves on me. 🙂

 

-Grocery Outlet has no idea who I am.  I am just a fan of good cheap food.

Old Navy Kids and Baby Sale (Runs now-5/16/12)

It is nearing the time when I should start thinking about Summer clothes for the children.  In Oregon we will generally not have to bust the tanks and shorts out for a bit, but the time to get these items on sale is now. By the time our weather gets warm these items will likely be just getting marked down. Often the first markdown is still higher than these baby sale prices.

The “Kids and Baby Sale” started yesterday (Monday) and is one of my favorite sales that Old Navy rotates through.  I headed out solo to the Keizer Station store after dinner (as I prefer not dragging my little ones through the “gauntlet of temptation” check out line very often). 🙂

Here are some shots of some of their best deals. Most of these are in the toddler areas…since by Old Navy’s standards I have three toddlers.  And yes, I am doing this post during their nap time.

Toddler girl tanks and knit shorts. $4

Toddler girl twill and denim shorts. $6-10

 

Toddler girl dresses. $8

Girls solid dresses $10

 

Toddler boys polos $6

 

Toddler boys short sleeve $5

 

Can you say ADORABLE?

 

If you want to see what else they have on sale you can head over here.

To compare prices I stopped into Target for a few minutes right after Old Navy.  Target did not have anything too interesting on sale this week and their basics were priced a bit higher than Old Navy’s baby sale items.  While I generally really like Target, I preferred most of Old Navy’s summer basics more this season.  I gravitate towards stripes, prints, and solids and most of what I was finding at Target (especially in the boys dept.) was pretty heavy on the graphics. Also, the Circo boys shorts were pretty poor fitting.

 

Tips for shopping at Old Navy

  • If you do not see the sizes you need on a sale item and they do not have back stock, just buy the item and exchange it for the right size later.  You can call the store first to find out if the item is in and save yourself a trip.
  • Don’t forget to participate in the surveys that sometimes print out at the end of your receipt.  10% off is always a fantastic bonus.
  • If you are shopping online, you totally should use Ebates to get an easy percentage back. Right now Old Navy is giving you 2% back, but often certain stores offer double their normal percentage during different times of the year.  It is easy to sign up and you usually get a $10 gift card to popular stores too if you are new customer.  They automatically sent you your refund check a couple times a year.  (Lately we have used Ebates to get cash back from REI and Best Buy).
  • Be sure to look for clearance items with the red mark down stickers throughout the entire store (not just in the traditional places you find clearance items).

Happy bargain hunting!

 

 

Old Navy provided me with a discount on my purchase for sharing the deals I found.