Friday, March 21, 2008

Free-for-all-Friday, Show Me the Money, and So Much More

Day number five of all things GREEN. Today's topic... the ultimate form of green... MONEY!

Before we delve into the topic of money, we must acknowledge that today is Free For all Friday - the day when our loyal and creative readers share our collective creativity. Last week's dilemma was centered around Easter egg hunts. First, what new and different things can we try putting in eggs? Second how, when hosting an hunt, can we assure some as semblance of equity in the number of eggs each child receives. As always, I will post some of my thoughts - stream of consciousness - but for other creative ideas check out reader comments from last week (3/14) or check out what our readers post this week.

A crack of the egg could reveal...
  • Munchkins donuts (a favorite among my boys)
  • marbles
  • sea shells
  • stickers
  • eraser heads
  • tattoos
  • nuts
  • yogurt covered raisins
  • trial-sized makeup for teen aged girls
  • hair accessories
  • jokes... knock, knock...
  • puzzle pieces, that when found and assembled - can lead to a treasure (this can be created on poster board)
  • Coupons for things such as 1 free kiss; 1 movie of your choice; 1 I-don't-have-to-clean-my-room-pass; or a 10 minute back rub.
  • Fortunes such as: Good news will come your way; a new bath toy is in your future; you will have cinnamon toast at breakfast tomorrow; or you will discover a special Easter egg in mommy's bathrobe pocket
  • Other suggestions or additional recommendations for coupons and fortunes?... Post them in the comments section.
Leveling the Easter Egg Playing Field...

Last night I was shopping for a bucket my son could use during his Easter egg hunt at school today. (why plan ahead?) A woman, for reasons that only divine intervention could explain, began talking to me about how when her college-aged son was a young boy, she was very involved in his school events. Unsolicited she explained in detail this method for assuring each child received a similar number of eggs (as well as similar contents).

Each child was given an empty egg carton. Together they used paint or makers to color the inside of each hole an appointed color (pink, purple, yellow, green, blue, etc...). Then when the Easter egg hunt began, children knew to fill their cartons with eggs corresponding to the colors of their holes. To be extra diligent, the teachers filled all pink eggs with one thing, blue with another, green with something different, and on, and on, and on.

Now for today's green topic...

For this topic I immediately thought to contact my friend, Dawn - the ultimate money manager. Maybe a little background story about Dawn will help you appreciate why I called her to write today's entry. Dawn worked at Arizona State University while I was a student. We quickly became great pals. Me drawn to her great attitude - exemplified by her life motto, "Bloom where you are planted" and her drawn to... not quite sure, but she keeps me hanging around so I know there's something. Dawn generously opened her home up to me one summer when I needed to stay in Tempe to take a class in historical research.

Arizona is hot. Arizona in the summer time is Hot, with a capital "H." Dawn was the master at coordinating fun weekend activities that kept us out of the blazing sun, but that cost virtually nothing. First of all, Dawn never misses an opportunity. If given the opportunity to get something free by answering a 10 minute survey... Dawn is all over it. If earning a rebate could be done by simply mailing back a box top... Dawn's all over it. If Dawn purchased something and days later it went on sale... Dawn's bringing it back for the new and reduced price. She is a master at hunting down good deals and actually following through on those cost cutting tips that leave many of us feeling guilty.

Back to the summer of '89 (scary for many of you, I know). Dawn's dentist used to give her free movie theater coupons in appreciation for her referring clients his way. Do you find that as funny as I do? How many people do you think Dawn had to refer (and who really actively refers people to their dentist anyway?) in order to be awarded free movie tickets. Second, one of her relatives owned/managed/worked at a Dairy Queen. That summer Dairy Queen offered a promotion on the back of a cereal box. Bring in the coupon and get a FREE small Blizzard. She would get periodic deliveries of these coupons in the mail. So for that summer, we enjoyed first run movies and free Blizzards. Life was good.

Managing and saving money is so second nature to Dawn that I had to coach her what meant by "simple tips." For to her, these practices are so obvious they are not worth mentioning. Here they go...

Use your online banking bill pay: It is free, it saves you time, money (stamps & checks) and an be used to pay people, businesses, mortgages, credit cards, utilities, insurance, etc. I have not bought new checks in over 5 years as I rarely ever have to use checks anymore. It also gives you total control over your bill paying whether you are at home or on the road. No more worry about having the correct stamps (which are going up to .42 cents on 5/14/08). We as a family have a hard time paying $30.00 for 4 of us to go see a movie in a theatre. That is $30.00 just to see a movie, no popcorn, drinks, candy or anything. Thirty dollars gets us 6 months of (2 movies a month is the level we choose). So what we do is if our children see a movie that is coming out that they like, we put in on our queue and so when it is released we are one of the first to get it.

Magazine swap with friends: I subscribe to "O" Magazine and Real Simple. My friend subscribes to More and InStyle. After we read our magazines we give it to each other. We both have the luxury of four magazine subscriptions for the price of two. Speaking of magazines, have I got a deal for you? Go to They have over 50 magazine subscriptions for $5/year and they have over 200 magazine subscriptions for $5/year and the gift lasts 12 months.

Enjoy the money tips by Dawn. Now, participate in Free For all Friday, by sharing your favorite money saving tips. I know some of the readers of this blog and you are WELL qualified to weigh in.

Signing off until tomorrow....


cspgradstudent said...

Every year our Easter egg hunt took place down at my grandparent's house along with cousins. The way they made the playing field even was to assign each of us a color of egg (my color every year is usually purple). This way they could make sure everyone had the same number of eggs with the same amount of money/candy/etc. in them. There was also the "golden" egg each year. It was of course, gold, and there was only one hidden somewhere in their yard. Whoever found the golden egg, got the "golden" prize inside which was usually a good amount of money. Hope your Easter egg hunt goes well!

As for the money thing- I have a tip on how to save a few cents per gallon on gas. One place I know you can do it is at Wal-Mart and I've done it at a few Kroger gas stations before as well. If you have a gift card toward their store and you use it for gas, they usually reduce the price of gas per gallon by a few cents. So, if I go to a Kroger gas station and use my gift card, instead of the gas being $3.33 per gallon, it would be $3.30 per gallon. Not a huge difference, but a few cents over time makes a difference.

I'm also a big fan of the "valued customer" cards at many places like Smoothie King and Qdoba. Some people think it is too much of a hassle to have all of those cards in your wallet, but if I can get an entree for free (buy 8 entrees at Qdoba and you get your 9th one free), it's worth it.

Happy Friday!

Cristine said...

Hello - I'm posting a question/help issue for Friday. In May my husband is having a big 40th party. It is going to be in 2 parts - first golf and then the party. For many of our parties we have a logo - it's a big deal if you know my husband. Anyhow, we would like to give favors to the golfers and somehow include the party logo on the item. There will be around 20 golfers, mostly, if not all, guys. We would like something nice but not overly expensive. If it was golf related that might be a nice touch too. Some ideas that have been thrown around are golf balls w/logo (but some golfers are ball snobs)and ball marker/tool.
If this was a kids party, I would be all over the favor bags. Unfortunately we're at a little loss here.
Just in case you're wondering the logo for the party is a Struble beer bottle in green and gold (Go Packers).
Thanks for the help.
PS - We have an Easter egg hunt in our neighborhood each year. They divide the area by ages so that the younger kids can get stuff too. This year they gave out little duckies for the under 2s and bubbles for the 3s. My kids were so happy with these prizes over candy. I'm actually re-using the duckies for our own hunt on Sunday morning. Even more fun, my 1 1/2 and 3 year old will be decorating their first real Easter eggs tonight - I hope that it goes well. I have a feeling that I'll be eating tons of deviled eggs.

Cassie said...

How about golf towels or t-shirts or even luggage tags for the golf bag.
Struble Beer buckets filled with tees and balls.
You could fill a personalized beer bucket with tons of different things.
Happy Birthday Matt!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first statement about the valued customer cards. They work wonders for saving money. There are also a number of companies that have e-clubs to join. You receive coupons, promotions, and often times some sort of free item for your birthday. Coupons and valued customer cards can make the financial strain of going out to dinner a little easier on your monthly budget!! Below I have listed some companies that have e-clubs! Enjoy!

Abuelo's Mexican Food Company As a member, you will receive:
* Special offers. We'll be sending special offers exclusively to members of our E-Club throughout the year.
* Birthday and anniversary gifts. We'll help you celebrate with something special, just for you!
Baker's Square (only in CA, IA, MI, WI )
BD's Mongolian BBQ
Bennigan's Grill and Tavern
Black Angus Receive a complimentary dessert for joining the BA Prime Club and a free steak dinner for your birthday! You will also be the first to receive all the latest Black Angus Steakhouse news and special offers straight to your inbox.
Bonanza/Ponderosa Steakhouse
Carrows Restaurants
Dairy Queen
Famous Dave's Click "Join Our Club" below and fill out our sign-up form to join the P.I.G. (Pretty Important Guest) Club and I'll send you certificates good for FREE GIFTS, offers, news and more
Gordon Biersch
Hard Times Cafe Free Chili Mac for signing up (Md, NC, VA)
Fazoli's Italian Restaurant
Jersey Mike's Subs
Joe's Crab Shack
Juice It Up!
Bailey's and Fox and Hound
La Madeleine Cafe free soup or salad
Longhorn Steakhouse free appetizer
Macaroni Grill
Maggie Moo's Ice Cream Shop
Muer Seafood Restaurants
Noodles and Company free noodles meal
Uno's Chicago Grill free appetizer coupon
Gdoba Mexican Grill
Red Lobster free appetizer
Red Robin free gift and free burger on your birthday
RockFish free gift (TX, AZ, NC, NM)
Steak and Ale free appetizer
Sweet Tomatoes
Swiss Chalet
Buca de Beppo
Texas Roadhouse free appetizer
Tinstar Restaurant (TX, CO, GA NE, CO)

highlowaha said...

Wow! Who is annonymous who posted all her scoop about e-clubs (something about which I knew nothing). Reveal yourself via my email ( There could be a treat in it for you.

Thanks for taking the time to give such helpful info!

Cheryl said...

I love the logo idea for different parties! I'm a huge fan of for custom made items like tshirts, hats, buttons, stickers, etc. It can get a bit pricey but for a special occassion it's a nice touch. And, they don't take forever to produce your items or require a minimum. You may get some ideas there for other items for the 40th Birthday party.