Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve cleaning

One of the habits I picked up after living in Japan is their custom of oosouji (sometimes written as osoji). It literally means "big (oo) cleaning (souji)" and is a New Years Eve custom. The theory is that you want to start the new year with a clean slate - both metaphorically and literally - so you scrub your house from top to bottom and get all unfinished business done so you welcome the new year fresh and clean.

It's the kind of cleaning you don't do on a weekly basis, like pulling the furniture away from the walls to get all the dust bunnies out. Most people do this on New Years Eve. I, however, have much more to do than I could do in one day, so this year I spread it out over my free time in December. I decided to take on a more uncluttering approach over deep cleaning. I organized my jewelry, cleaned out two junk drawers, purged clothing I don't wear anymore, went through old letters/greeting cards I had saved, cleared out financial documents I no longer needed. It sure feels good to unload all of that stuff!

Today I did some literal deep cleaning, by vacuuming and changing my sheets and all that. Although I wasn't on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor, I think I did a pretty good job and I'm ready to welcome the new year with a clean house and a clean mind!

Happy new year all! :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A look back on profits from extra-cash sites in 2010


As the year comes to an end, I decided to look back on what I've made from extra-cash sites. These online money-makers are always a hot topic. I have been doing surveys and points programs for years now, and sometimes I wonder if they're really worth it. A few survey sites have made their rewards programs so paltry that I've stopped using them – who really wants to spend the equivalent of 50 hours on surveys to get some $10 as-seen-on-TV gadget?

I've drastically cut down on my survey taking (I was big into it when I was unemployed a few years ago!) but still dabble in it, so my accumulation is pretty fair considering the little effort I put into it. Toluna hasn't been sending me survey emails since April due to some glitch, so my balance was only a few months' worth of surveys. The survey site with the best cash-out program in my opinion is SurveySpot. Although they send tons of emails which I mostly just ignore, you get paid instantly via PayPal. No waiting or anything.

What I use more is the points programs like MyPoints, Swagbucks, and less frequently, InboxDollars. I've been a member of MyPoints since 2002 and all I really do is click through their emails, so the rewards I make are definitely worth it! Same with InboxDollars, it's mostly just email clicks, but accumulates slower. Swagbucks can be really profitable if you have a lot of referrals, but I don't, so most of my bucks are made through searches. Not a lot of effort either.

The LEAST amount of effort, however, is Ebates! I love love love Ebates! All you have to do is remember to click through them when you do online shopping (which I do plenty of). It's the easiest way to get some cash for nothing. I have referred a few friends for $5 bonuses as well. So it's not surprising I've made a large amount from them.

One other thing worth noting is this “exclusive” community I joined at the end of last year, called “The Mic”. The parent company, Communispace, apparently has over 350 of these communities they make for brand awareness and consumer feedback. I was originally invited through another survey site, and it's a little forum-based thing with discussions and polls. If you participate in four activities a month, you get $15 deposited in PayPal the next month. Super awesome easy money, but it's a closed community so I can't refer people :(

The results:

Survey sites
Zoompanel – nothing, and I will be quitting once I make enough to get some useless gadget
SurveySpot - $11.50 in PayPal cash
Ipsos I-say - $15 Amex card
Toluna - $20 check
Global Opinion Panels - $20 check (+ $10 in balance)

Other sites
InboxDollars - $40 check
MyPoints - $50 Target gift card
Swagbucks - $65 in Amazon gift cards
Ebates - $70.49 in PayPal cash  (+ $15.65 pending)
"The Mic" - $185 in PayPal cash

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Old Navy clothing haul

The other day when I went to the mall to get my Body Shop gift, I made a stop at Old Navy "just to look". Haha, can I ever just look? I was shocked to find that the last few days before Christmas prices were better or even less than their Black Friday prices! Not only that, but they had just added a ton of things to clearance, things that were regularly priced just last week!

My haul:
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts with beaded shoulder detail (1 in each color)
  • 1 3/4-length shirt with rosette detail
  • 4 turtlenecks (dark gray, turquoise, white, and lavender)
  • 1 black sweater
  • 1 pink sequin-trimmed cardigan
  • 1 corduroy skirt
  • 1 pair of pink sweatpants
Total price:  $59.40! That's 11 items for less than $60... so about $5.45 per item!

The breakdown:
  • Beaded shoulder shirts - I had been looking at these for ages and they were never on sale! They were originally priced at $22.50, and then appeared in clearance at $7.49. I would have preferred the dark gray in XS, but they only had S, but they did have the XS in light gray. I tried them both on and they both looked good, I couldn't make up my mind so I got both!
  • Rosette shirt - I had never seen this in the store before, but it was originally priced $17.50. It's so cute! They also had a peach color but it looked bad with my skin tone. I wear dark colors a lot more anyway. $5.99
  • Turtlenecks - I had bought two around October when they were $8 a piece (normal price $16.50 but they were often on sale for $8-10). They're the softest shirts I've ever worn, nice and long, and super flattering on me. They were all on sale for $5.49, so I bought all the colors I'd feasibly wear.
  • Black sweater - I bought the same one in pink for $15 on Black Friday. I recently purged a lot of my old sweaters, and no longer had any black ones. They were on sale for $10.
  • Pink cardigan - These are still on the website not on clearance! This was originally $36.50. Really cute with tiny sequin detailing on the pockets. $10.99
  • Corduroy skirt - I love skirts, even if I never wear them in the winter. I'll try with this one, because it's so cute! $6.99
  • Sweats - I have these in purple and gray, and I put them on as soon as I get home. They're so comfy! The picture makes them look salmon-colored, but they're really just bright pink. I got my other ones for $12 and $10, but these were $8.49.
I didn't have any coupons, but I did use a $20 reward card I had from credit card usage (you get points with every purchase on your Old Navy card, and they send you a rewards card after you reach a certain level).

My favorite item:

Although I probably won't be able to wear it until spring because it's 3/4-sleeved and very lightweight.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Body Shop joy bag weeks 5 and 6 gifts

Updates for the final two weeks of The Body Shop's joy bag promotion!

Week 5: Green apple bath & shower gel from their "originals" line.

Not something I'd usually buy, but it certainly smells good. Retail $8.99 but rarely is ever full price - usually costs $5, and right now is only $3.

Week 6: Your choice of home fragrance oil (I chose vanilla and lime blossom, a light, fresh scent)

Retails for $7.50. I don't have an oil burner but maybe now I'll get one!

I'm sad that this fun promo is over. I'll definitely miss getting free products every week! :(

"Mother of all sales" at the Body Shop - 60% off!

The Body Shop is having "the mother of all sales" starting today! Great deals include 60% off holiday scents, gift sets, and miscellaneous items, B1G1 free shampoo and conditioner, skin care kits for $12, 3 for $10 makeup and lip butters, and much more!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cheap Burt's Bees at Target's daily deal!

Target's deal of the day is on select Burt's Bees products! Get the above lip balm gift set for $5.99, down from $9.99. And these lip balms retail for $2.99 a piece! Oh yeah, Target's daily deals always have free shipping too! I picked up this set and another one for $4.99 - you can never have too many lip balms! :) They'd make for great presents too. Check it out now, before they sell out!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Panini Christmas Caturday!

The adventures of Panini in her first Christmas season!

Helping decorate the tree...

Annoyed that I'm about to remove her from her favorite new play spot....

Helping wrap presents...

All tired out...

Have a great weekend! :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free gift for Bath & Body Works fans this weekend!

Bath & Body Works is releasing a new tropical-themed line - coconut, mango and passionfruit... mmm! This weekend (17th through 19th), they're offering Facebook fans a free sample of one of the three new flavors of body lotion with this printable coupon (or use code FBF103604 when ordering online). You can download the coupon without being a fan, but to be fair you should check out the page and give them a "like".

B1G1 free Nature's Bounty vitamins at CVS


Nature's Bounty vitamins are going on sale - buy one get one free - at CVS starting December 19th. Stock up on your vitamins now to battle cold and flu season!

Carmex coupons and giveaway!


Carmex is showing appreciation to their fans with a little holiday cheer. Click here to see their holiday page, which includes printable coupons for 2 products and a giveaway (their entire collection!) on both Facebook and Twitter.

A friend introduced me to Carmex several years ago and I was amazed at how well it took care of my terminally-chapped lips. I've been trying to make the switch to all-natural petrolatum-free lip balms, but my lips are so bad this winter (and it's not even officially winter yet!) I have once again fallen back on trustworthy Carmex.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Body Shop Friends & Family: 30% off!


Take an additional 30% off until 12/16 with code FFJOY! There are no restrictions and everything on the site is applicable, which is nice to see after a lot of their sales not including gift sets, skin care and such. They're also doing a buy-2-get-1-free promotion on select items, mostly bath & body.  If you need some last minute Christmas gifts, now's the time! The deadline for ground shipping to arrive before Christmas is 12/20 by midnight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caturday!

It's Caturday! Have a great weekend and stay warm!

Friday, December 10, 2010

20% off plus free shipping at organic Aromafloria

Aromafloria is an excellent eco-friendly company that produces gentle, natural, fair-trade and organic skin care products. They have firm guidelines to make sure everything that goes into their products is good for you and the environment - and no animal-derived ingredients either.

Through Sunday they're having a special 20% off sale with the coupon code GIFTS2010. Shipping is free through December 31st as a special holiday promotion too! They're also including a free travel size of Healing Waters body lotion with all orders - a triple whammy of deals!

If you're looking for natural skin care products - now's your chance to try them at a discounted price. I have one of their body butters and it's my favorite!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sweet deals at Kohl's!

I went to Kohl's the other day armed with coupons, $10 gift cards and Kohl's Cash! I mentioned before how my grandma (and all other residents of her senior center) gets these $10 cards in the mail, and she collected a bunch of them for us from ones people had thrown out. They seem to be sending these out more frequently now, like once a month! We also had $20 in Kohl's Cash from a previous purchase. With the 15% off coupon going around, and the "night owl" power hours I caught, I managed to get some awesome deals!

The $10 gift cards aren't stackable, meaning you can only use one per transaction, but you CAN stack them with percentage-off coupons, as well as Kohl's cash. The Kohl's employees don't seem to mind that customers had more than one card (they do come free in the mail, after all), although you still have to pay in separate transactions.



My first purchases: BOOTS!! There's no article of clothing I love more than boots. I wear boots as much as possible, which is about every day in the winter, starting in the early fall and going into late spring. I have tons of boots, and I can never resist buying more. And I got these for SO CHEAP! :D

Pair #1: Black motorcycle-style boots - SO brand "Blissful" - These are awesome because they look like tough boots, but they're faux fur-lined and made out of a suede-like material! They have a nice sturdy sneaker-like bottom so they're super comfy. I got the last pair in my size from the back room, so lucky!
Original price: $69.99
Power hours sale price: $18.99
Minus $10 card: $8.99
Minus 15%: $7.64!

Pair #2: Furry brown boots - SONOMA life + style "Katy" - These are sooo warm and toasty and no less than 10 people told me on the first day I wore them how how awesome they are! I love them! Like the others, they're quality made with a nice cushioned bottom, fur-lining, and a suede upper. I'm lucky to have found them at the power hours sale, because their regular sale price is more like $34.99.
Original price: $69.99
Power hours sale price: $23.99
Minus $10 card: $13.99
Minus 15%: $11.89!

I got this long "skinny" Candie's cardi on a whim: it's really super cute, but a little edgy with the studded pockets.

Original price: $44
Power hours sale price: $16.99
Minus $10 card: $6.99
Minus 15%: $5.94!

And while not nearly as exciting as boots or clothes, the reason I went to Kohl's was to look at their sheets. I have no decent sheets as I pretty much only use satin sheets, but they've been annoying me lately (by sliding the comforter off the bed 5 times a night) so I was looking for some nice quality 100% cotton ones, especially now it's so cold.

I found these 100% pima cotton luxury sheets, which are as soft as butter but carry a price tag of a whopping $119!!

But you know I certainly didn't pay that much! I had seen them on sale for $59.99 the previous week, but during the power hours sale they were reduced further to $50.99. I decided to use the $20 Kohl's cash in addition to a $10 card, which worked out like this:

Original price: $119
Power hours sale price: $50.99
Minus $20 Kohl's cash: $30.99
Minus $10 card: $20.99
Minus 15%: $17.84! (with tax, $18.91)

In total, I bought $302.98 worth of stuff for $44.38! It was nice to have a little shopping spree-like splurge without spending all that much!

Monday, December 6, 2010

e.l.f. daily deals


Another one jumping on the daily deal bandwagon: e.l.f.! Every day they will feature a new daily deal with prices slashed dramatically! Today's deal is the entire Mineral Brush Collection - which includes 12 brushes, a case, and brush cleaner - a $71 item for only $35. It's limited to 1000 and will only be available for purchase for 24 hours.

What's more is you can cast your vote for future deals. A selection is showcased at the bottom of the page, and the ones that get the most "likes" will  be featured. It's not mentioned whether their daily deals will be a limited-time thing, or something they will  be doing regularly now, but either way it looks like fun!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bath & Body Works stocking stuffer haul


Mom was looking for some small hand creams for stocking stuffers, so we popped into Bath & Body Works to see what we could find. We ended up with the above pile of goodies for only $20! Here's how it worked out.

The smaller sized items are usually $6 a piece. There were a few promotions running, including buy two get one free for Bliss Spa items (like the "Lay it on Thick" and "Shea it isn't so" in the above photo), but there was also a 3 for $10 promo running on some of the same items. Interesting, as 3 for $10 is obviously better than 3 for $12 (what the B1G1 would have been).

So all of the above items fell into the 3 for $10 promo. We only got 6 items, but then realized we had a $10 off $30 coupon. So why not get 3 more items to bump our total up for $30 and get them for free? We also had a coupon for a free item ($13 or less) with a $10 purchase.

After much debating, we settled on a Twisted Peppermint soap and lotion set for our free item - which was normally $16 but all gift sets were supposed to be 25% off. We were rudely told by the cashier that it was only gift sets in baskets (although the signs were posted everywhere, on sections were there were no baskets in sight), and that didn't count. So we quickly chose a replacement item - the mug filled with vanilla products, which was $12.50.

The total of the items if you paid full price (although I can't see how anyone would!) would have been $66.50, but we walked out with all of them for $20! I am disappointed I left the coupon for a free reindeer Pocketbac in the printer, which would have gotten me another free item, but oh well, maybe next time!

The Body Shop joy bag weeks 3 and 4 gifts

Here's an update of the free gifts from last week (week 3) and this week (week 4) of The Body Shop's joy bag promotion!

Last week was the Camomile Gentle Eyemakeup Remover (retail $14.50):


And this week was your choice of Cranberry Joy or Spiced Vanilla mini body butters (retail $8)!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Caturday!

It's Caturday! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, it's been a hectic week and I imagine this weekend isn't going to be much better!