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Treat Yourself: Paninis

4 Feb

I love to go out to eat, but obviously it is not the most budget-conscious choice. Sometimes treating myself to a fancy meal meal at home can be just as good as eating out, and still cost less money.

panini ingredients fancy at home

This weekend George and I tried making Paninis on his new George Foreman Grill, which he received as a Christmas present. I was sent to the grocery store to pick up ingredients and decided upon: fresh baked multigrain bread, a tomato, an avocado, a ball of mozzarella cheese, and sliced cheddar cheese. I figured those ingredients were different enough from my usual grilled cheese ventures of loaf bread and sliced cheese.

cooking paninis on george foreman grill

The George Foreman is really simple to use, and works great for Paninis. Since it cooks on both sides at once, you don’t have to manage the trickiness of flipping your sandwich without loosing all the insides (maybe that just a challenge for me!).

Cooked Panini at home

So there you have it! Even though we had some ingredients left over, the cost of the supplies were:

Bread: $4.29
Avocado: $.99
Tomato: $1.73
Mozzarella: $3.99
Sliced Cheddar cheese: $2.75

Since those ingredients total $13.75 and made 4 sandwiches, it was about $3.50 per sandwich.  That’s certainly an expensive at-home meal, but it was a nice treat for the weekend inside of going out!

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Bargain Shopping

1 Feb

Recently I have had my eye out for new items to use in projects. There are a lot of things I could use in my home, and a few pieces of furniture I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection.

Board Games Salvation Army

This past weekend I went to two thrift stores: a Salvation Army and a Goodwill. For the two that I went to, the Salvation Army had ::much:: better prices. The Goodwill was significantly larger, but I was horrified to see some prices, like a Target dress selling for $20. Granted, it had the tags on, but I’m sure the dress was going for less than that on the clearance rack in the store.

Weird Salvation Army Finds

This was a ceramic vase that also had a music box inside. Woah.

I ended up leaving both of the thrift shops empty handed. There were some cool, low tables that I contemplated getting for bar storage, but I didn’t have measurements of the available space with me. It was fun to see all the interesting tchotchkes, though.

WB Mason Office chair Gray

Just yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a WB Mason warehouse sale for work. Our Business Manager wasn’t able to attend, so two excited coworkers and I got to scope out the goods. We did get a few things for the office at very low prices. I also found a nice office chair for George. Our Business Manager let us know prices were negotiable so I got the chair for $30 when it was listed for $45. It’s used, but I can’t notice anything wrong with it. These chairs sell for over $200 when new! Crazy!

All and all, I’m happy with my bargain shopping this week. Even though I would have loved to have score more funky stuff to transform in projects, I’m glad I only spent money on a necessary item.

Have you found any good bargains lately? Where do you look?

Gap Rewards in Action

15 Jan

Yesterday George told you about how he earned over $1,000 in Gap brands rewards certificates. At first even I was skeptical of these “scheme” so I’m here today to share what we’ve already purchased with the rewards dollars.

In terms of very specifics (for people looking to duplicate this), the rewards dollars are dished out $250 a month, in $50 increments. So while in total George earned over $1,000 in rewards, this month he received five $50 certificates. When making a purchase you must charge some dollar amount back on the Gap card. So ideally your purchase will go just over the even dollar amount, but not by much. (For example, you couldn’t make a purchase of $49 because nothing would be charged to the card. But you could buy $51 worth of clothes, using a certificate for the majority and charging $1 to the credit card)

Enough with the boring details. Here’s what we’ve gotten so far:

Gap Rewards purchases

In addition, George also purchased a pair of shorts that ended up being out of stock. We’re not sure if we’ll be reimbursed for the rewards dollars.

So in total we’ve gotten:

  • 2 Women’s Gap T-shirts
  • 2 Cardigans from Banana Republic
  • 1 Men’s hoodie from Old Navy
  • 1 Men’s Gap pull-over sweater
  • 1 Michael Kors bracelet (out of stock. to be mailed in February)
  • 2 Pairs of socks and 1 pair of tights

We purchased many items that were already on sale and waited for a good coupon code to place an order. These items were being sold for a total of $365.95.

Using coupon codes and rewards dollars of $260, we paid $8.60 in actual money.(Which is 97.6% off!)

This is just the beginning. George is still expecting over $750 in rewards certificates over the next few months! Wahoo!

Shop at the Gap for free… by paying my cable bill!?!

14 Jan

This guest post is written by my charming boyfriend George. He was able to get free rewards gift certificates to Gap brands in excess of $1,000! Read on to learn how.

I’ve had a Banana Republic card for about a year. I opened the card to get a discount on a coat I was buying. Like many credit cards, there is a rewards program on this card. The program works as follows:

  • Earn 5 points per dollar spent at any “Gap Family” (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta) store.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else.
  • For every 1,000 points you accrue, you will receive a $10 gift certificate good to any Gap Family store.

A month ago I received a promotional postcard from Banana Republic which caught my attention:

Banana Card rewards notice

The postcard states that I would receive 200 points for every purchase that I made on the card until December 31st. I skimmed the fine print on the postcard, and there was no minimum dollar amount for each purchase, and there was no maximum to the number of points I could earn. This meant that every purchase made on the card would earn me $2 worth of gift certificates.

Fast forward a few days, to when I was paying my cable bill online. I remembered the Banana Republic promotion, and I found that the system allowed me to pay my cable bill $1 at a time. By paying my $36 cable bill one dollar at a time, I was able to make 36 separate transactions and net $72 worth of gift certificates!

Interestingly, the cable company’s online system even allowed me to continue paying even after my December bill had been paid in full. These extra payments would go toward my January bill, then February, and so on.

While making a single $1 payment did not consume a ton of time, it wasn’t entirely quick either. I’d estimate it took between 30 and 45 seconds. Fortunately, using my computer background, I was able to automate this and “record” myself making a single $1 payment, and subsequently “play back” that recording multiple times. This allowed my computer to continue making payments when I was washing dishes or reading.

In all, I managed to make 526 different purchases on the Banana Republic card during this promotion, the bulk of which were $1 cable bill payments. As a result, I earned $1,052 in gift certificates to any Gap brand, and my cable bill is paid for the next 8 months.

Check back tomorrow to see what we have purchased with these credit card rewards!

Giant Frame Find

4 Jan

This past weekend I was in Michaels looking for materials for an upcoming project. I of course browsed the clearance section to see what was available and noticed a beautiful frame.

giant frame in store Michaels

I’m sure I can figure out something…I think!

It’s a 28 X 40 frame, and based upon the label, it was supposed to be for a custom framing job. It was marked for $8!

I went back and forth trying to decide whether or not to buy the frame. I thought $8 was an awesome deal for this huge and beautiful dark brown frame, but I don’t have any immediate craft projects for it!

In the end, I got it. The frame was eligible for a coupon, so it was $5.18 with tax. I’ve been browsing around for some ideas, and here is my large frame inspiration so far:

What do you think? I’m leaning towards mounting the large frame and putting smaller frames within (number 2 on the inspiration board), but I’ve been wanting to do some sort of easily-updated photo wall, like 3 or 4, too.

Holiday Card Steal

5 Dec

I am always surprised at the deals and discounts that some stores offer. This week I was pleased to get a great offer from Tiny Prints, granting me $30 off and free shipping on a holiday card purchase. This was such a great deal because there was no minimum purchase amount!

I looked for holiday cards that had a cute design and didn’t use a photo. Here’s what I selected:

Tiny Prints Card

Since I had the coupon code, I looked carefully at cost. In the end, I got 15 custom Christmas cards for less than $4!

Tiny Prints order cost

I originally was going my make my own holiday cards, but these will save me *so* much time and will be a lot easier. I hemmed and hawed about this purchase, but am now happy I’ll have stylish (and inexpensive) cards to send out.

Clothing Swap

30 Nov

Early last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a clothing swap. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a group of people brings all their unwanted clothing and accessories and trades with the other party guests. It’s a great way to pass on unwanted items to a new, loving home, as well as an opportunity to get gently used things for free.

For this swap, each person quickly presented each article they brought and someone would shout out if they wanted to try it. All the clothes that weren’t claimed ended up in a big heap on the floor, destined for a donation bin.

Swap People

The swap was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, as a size 10/12, I was one of the largest women there. It normally wouldn’t bother me, but it was annoying to be ineligible for awesome pieces because they didn’t conceivably fit.

clothing swap

That said, I still made out okay. I got a couple tops that I can probably wear to work, and a Banana Republic cardigan that fits nicely in my wardrobe.

I would definitely go to another swap in the future. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe for free.

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