Friday, October 31, 2008

Free Stuff!

I've realized recently that I love to save money... Perhaps to a ridiculous extreme. I'm addicted to saving money and getting free stuff. This addiction isn't like, "Oh, I love to get free samples at Costco and in the mail." This addiction is real. Let me tell you how bad it is:

Since I was 12 or so, I have taken online surveys for Harris Poll Interactive. I get point for taking surveys, and these points rack up and can be redeemed for loads of good stuff--ranging from books to DVDs to magazine subscriptions to kitchen supplies to iPod covers. My first prize was an Ever After VHS tape. That should tell you how long I have been doing this. I've also gotten and a sleek touch-sensitive alarm clock radio. I think I've gotten one more thing, too. I enjoy taking surveys, so I figured I might as well get rewarded for them, right? Anyway, I love looking through all of the "Folios" with prizes that I can get and saving up for good ones.

Fortunately, my mom signed me up for my first credit card with Discover a few years ago. Guess what Discover has? Rewards! Throughout the year they rotate certain categories of spending where we get 5% cash back. A couple months ago, it was gas and hotels. Right now it's restaurants, grocery stores, and movies--this is my favorite! I just recently redeemed my points for a $45 gift card to Outback Steakhouse to take Tanner and myself out on a date. I've been using it every time I've gone to the grocery store or out to eat or bought something at work (Blockbuster).

When I needed a second credit card, you'd better believe I did my research. What would give me the most back? A citiBank mtvU card. I get a point for every dollar spent, a certain number of points for on-time payments, and I get points for my grades! Right now I can probably redeem about $30 to anywhere, including some of my favorite departments stores and some really good restaurants. Their points system goes through the ThankYou network, so you can check out all of the options. I think I'll just keep saving for now.

But WAIT! There's more. I realized I was drinking a lot of Diet Coke at work several months ago. I wondered what this "MyCokeRewards" thing is all about? I signed up and realized I get three points a cap. Then I bought a big pack of Coca Cola products and put those codes in and saw that I got 10 points for those. So when Tanner's mom buys Coke products, I steal the front flap of the containers to add points to my account. Once when I took out the trash, I saw an empty Coca Cola box hanging over the top of the dumpster. Oh, I told you my addiction was serious. I reached up. tore off the flap, took it inside, and got my points. I have somewhere around 239 and may redeem that for a magazine subscription of some sort, but I have not yet sorted through all my options.

In the mail, we receive a ValPak filled with coupons. I go through it and pull out my favorite ones. Sometimes it's for buy one get one free game of bowling at Fat Cats. Sometimes it's buy one get one 1/2 off entree at Costa Vida. Sometimes it's three free toppings at Yoasis. But I hoard them, I tell you. We also get ValuePages in the mail which saves lots as far as food is concerned. I even used a coupon for Iguana Ink to get my printer's ink cartridge refilled.

I bought an Entertainment Book last year for this year's use. You'd better believe that everywhere I go, I check my book and my printable Entertainment coupons online to make sure we're not spending more than necessary. Actually, we'll sometimes determine where we are eating based on where I have coupons for.

I have to mention that I bought my Entertainment Book through a website called InboxDollars. This website sends you emails that you get paid to look at (a few cents each page), and you can take surveys or play games. I got $8 added to my account for buying my Entertainment Book through them. When the price of the Book for next year goes down, I will buy it through InboxDollars so I can get my coupons as well as be able to get a $50 check from InboxDollars. This site isn't a very efficient money-making tool, but it's been great for slow days at work.

My love knows my obsession with coupons. So when he found fizook, I fell in love. We check fizook for coupons to our favorite places. The idea is that restaurants are bidding on our business. Guru's, Sub-Zero ice cream, Hogi Yogi, Teriyaki Stix, EZ Take Out Burger, and many others are on this website. We've saved a ton through fizook.

I have signed up for P&G Coupons, Coupons.com, and pinchingyourpennies.com/ but don't yet have a family to save money for while shopping for groceries. I don't go to the grocery store that much. So maybe someday these will be more beneficial.

One time I drove all the way from Glendora to the iMax theaters in Ontario for the third Lord of the Rings because I could get a free shirt and hat with my Regal Entertainment card. I also have an Entertainment Card for AMC. Too bad there aren't any up here.

I signed up at shutterfly.com and Snapfish to get free prints. I also got a free photo book and only paid for shipping.

I am signed up at uPromise.com to save money for my brother's college education. Certain stores and restaurants and products participate. I have about $6 saved, but it will add up over time, right? He's only 11.

I have my grocery loyalty cards at Smith's and Albertson's and love seeing my savings on my receipt. It makes my heart jovial.

I think I've gone on long enough, and I think you see how serious my addiction is. If you throw away my coupons, I will go crazy on you. If I see that I could have used a coupon, I get upset that I didn't use it.

Because of my love for money-saving and free stuff, I don't have any problem indulging in a $5 frozen yogurt from Red Mango once in a while. Some things are just worth it, you know?

Besides, if there were coupons for frozen yogurt places around here, I'd go there instead...

Three best things:

1. My Spanish test and essay scores
2. Long naps on a Friday afternoon
3. A cute and affectionate boyfriend

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cold, Dark Mornings

Mornings are darker now even though it gets darker earlier. I'd think it'd get lighter earlier at night, but I guess I just don't understand our solar system.

I wake up initially really anxious that it's still dark outside. I don't want to go to school. I want to keep sleeping.

When I walk outside I'm reminded of how much I like cold, dark mornings. I remember being maybe ten years old. My daddy would come in on Saturday morning at 4 AM when it was dark and cold outside, to wake me up to go fishing.

I'd get dressed in my ugliest clothes--for fishing was not a "cute" or "clean" activity. I'd jump in my dad's white F-150, and we'd head to AM/PM at the Chevron gas station. If my brother was with us, we'd all go in and get hot chocolate and pick something out for breakfast.

I always liked going with my daddy because he would spoil us. We could get whatever we wanted, and he always seemed happy to get us everything we chose.

We'd drive an hour or so, depending on where we went. Sometimes it was Perris. Sometimes it was Guasti. I think my fondest memories are at Guasti. It'd be really cold, usually. I could see my breath. I'd breathe out really hard on purpose just so I could see my breath linger and then evaporate away.

I remember being a little six year old with a net, doing my own fishin' for minnows. I'd lay the net down, wait for lots of them to swim over it, and scoop them up. I'd put them all in a ziplock bag with water that my parents had brought for me. Then we brought them home and put them into whatever water device my dad had in the backyard at the time. At one point, it was a wine-barrel waterfall. And now it's a pond in the back corner.

I remember that when I caught a lot of minnows, they had bred and bred. Generations later, the ones I caught ended up with big, beautiful, colorful, fancy tails. We had a really bad storm once, and the wind came, and then all my cute fish were gone.

When I wake up anxious, all it takes is for me to walk outside. Then I am flooded with memories of early-morning hot chocolate and fishing with my dad. I hope my husband provides these kinds of memories for my kids.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm a Consumer

The consumer in me is excited about my most recent trip to the mall, where I used a coupon I got in the mail for a free pair of panties from Victoria's Secret.

I'm sure you all want to know what kind I got. But I'll never tell.

After having searched the mall for shoes several times in the past two months, I decided to try Payless this time. Journeys failed me, Zumiez failed me, Vans failed me. It just wasn't happening. But Payless to the rescue!


They were on sale for $14.99 but it was buy one, get one half off. So they were $7.50. And dang cute. So I also got these:


Just kidding guys. Those are probably the second ugliest shoes next the ones I saw this girl in my American Lit class wearing in Fall 2006:


They were light blue suede Converse heel boots. Is that descriptive enough? I'm pretty sure I can't do their ugliness any justice.

I actually got these for the gym and for work, because my gym/work shoes are killing me. They're over two years old now.


They're brown and pink, not brown and white. And they are comfy and cute. But those slip-ons, I tell you what.

I really wanted some flats. But I cannot manage to let myself spend more on my credit card than I'd be able to charge on my debit card. Maybe next time I can justify it. There were some very cute pairs of flats, and I have NONE to my name, as cute as I think they are. It's hard to find them anywhere because my feet are so dang small. Size 5 represent! (Or size 2.5 in kids, if you want to make me feel sheepish.)

In other news, I got a 91% on my usage test last Friday. This actually disappointed me--I thought I had done better, but I'm OK with an A-. I'm trying very hard not to let stress take over my life and still allow an hour of relaxation time every night after being at school and/or work all day. I'm attempting to enjoy the journey and the learning process and love where I'm at right now, but we need a break sometime, you know?

My little brother is 19 as of three days ago. I cannot even believe it. I still remember his little boy voice and his little boy laughter and crying--begging me to let him play Barbies with me. Where does the time go?

I shall not bum you all out with the details of my personal life, this is a relatively positive post. I'll just say I'm working really hard on probably more things than I can even remember at the moment. And I want to say that I have a testimony of the Lord's love and concern for us, and I have faith in His ability to strengthen us as well. And I'm leaning on Him a LOT at the moment.

Three best things:

1. My new shoes. Something about new clothes or shoes just make you feel like 5x cuter than the day before.

2. Good hair days. I managed to fix my bangs so they don't look so retarded. And thank heavens for cold weather that keeps me from sweating and therefore keeps my bangs from getting pasted to my forehead.

3. My English Teaching program and all the people/professors in it. I love feeling like I have a partnership with people who have been doing what they do for a very long time and are ready and willing to help and dispense their knowledge to me and other novices. The networking available to me after graduating and while I teach will be amazing. I am grateful for such a cool program where people actually know you and want to help you!