31 Ways to Save in 2011: Save money by using cash back sites!


I do a lot of online shopping these days.  It’s nice because I don’t have to deal with crowds, I can usually find a better selection, and there are usually online coupon codes (either for a % off my total purchase or for free shipping and many times there are both!).  To make the most of my online shopping, I always like to use a cash back site, too.  It’s nice to get money back on purchases I would be making anyway!

The two sites that I use most often are Ebates and Shop at Home.  The way that both sites work is very similar:

1. When you are ready to shop online, visit Ebates or Shop at Home and look for the retailer on their site (they have 100s of retailers and pretty much the only one I haven’t found that I use regularly is Amazon). When you click through that store’s link, it will create a “tracking ticket” and then take you to the retailer’s site.

2. Once you get to the retailer’s site, complete your purchase just like you normally would.

3. Within a few days, you should receive an e-mail letting you know that your “cash back” has been credited to your account.  It can take up to 30 days before your cash back credits to your account.  Make sure you keep a copy of the order confirmation that you received through e-mail.  In case you don’t receive credit for your offer, you can contact their customer service and provide them with your order confirmation, and they will credit your cash back to your account.

Which “cash back” site is best?

I like to get the most for my money, so I usually visit both sites and look to see which site is offering more cash back.  From my experience, typically Shop at Home offers higher cash back amounts, but Ebates sometimes has double cash back offers that can’t be beat

Both sites are currently offering a $5 bonus if you sign up:

Ebates ($5 bonus when you make your first purchase or $10 gift card to Home Depot, Beauty.com, Red Envelope, or Magazines.com)

ShopAtHome Banner
Shop at Home

How does payment work?

Ebates sends cash back payments every three months as long as you’ve earned at least $5.01 cash back (excluding any bonus payments).  Payment can be made via a check that they send directly to you or via Paypal.  Here is the payment schedule:

*February 15th (for purchases posted between October 1st and December 31st)
*May 15th (for purchases posted between January 1st and March 31st)
*August 15th (for purchases posted between April 1st and June 30th)
*November 15th (for purchases posted between July 1st and September 30th)

Shop at Home sends cash back payments on a monthly basis when you must have earned at least $20 (this includes your sign on bonus and any referral bonuses).  Right now, they only pay by check, and they send the check to your home address.  Here is the payment schedule:

*January 31st (for cash back earned by November 30th)
*February 28th (for cash back earned by December 31st)
*March 31st (for cash back earned by January 31st)
*April 30th (for cash back earned by February 28th)
*May 31st (for cash back earned by March 31st)
*June 30th (for cash back earned by April 30th)
*July 31st (for cash back earned by May 31st)
*August 31st (for cash back earned by June 30th)
*September 30th (for cash back earned by July 31st)
*October 31st (for cash back earned by August 31st)
*November 30th (for cash back earned by September 30th)
*December 31st (for cash back earned by October 31st)

Will I get a bunch of SPAM/junk e-mails if I sign up for these sites?
I have been with both sites for awhile now and haven’t had any problems with junk e-mails.  I usually get one e-mail from each site weekly highlighting the top deals and any bonus cash back offers.

I have received payment from both sites, so I can assure you that they are “legit” – if you have any questions, let me know!

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Saving money on movie tickets!


Going to the movies is a fun family outing, but the cost of tickets is definitely a deterrent! In my area, the price of an adult movie ticket is $9.25. On the weekends it is $9.75! If we were to go to the movies on a weekend, the cost for our family of four would be $32.50!

A trip to the movie theater is a special treat for my kids. Here are a few tips we’ve figured out along the way to help us save money on movie tickets:

*Go early!  Most theaters offer matinee showings at discounted rates.  In my area, these tickets are $2 less than the tickets for evening shows.  Many theaters also offer an “Early Bird” special for the first showings of the day.  At my theaters, these tickets are only $5!

*Use coupons – The Entertainment Book often contains coupons for discounted movie tickets and the coupons are usually valid for the purchase of multiple tickets (typically 4-6).

*Sign up for rewards programs – Many theaters have free rewards programs where you can get discounted movie tickets, deals on concessions, and sometimes you can even earn free tickets.

Here are a few theaters that offer rewards programs:

AMC MovieWatcher Rewards:  earn points that can be used toward tickets, concessions, and more!
Carmike Rewards:  earn free movie tickets and conessions!
Cinemark:  Get free weekly concessions coupons along with other discounts and values for your preferred location via e-mail
Regal Cinema Crown Club:  earn free movies, popcorn, softdrinks, and more!

*Look for free movie ticket promotions!  Each year, various companies will offer free movie ticket promotions where you can earn free movie tickets by purchasing certain products.  In the past, I have earned from movie tickets by purchasing Sunny Delight, General Mills cereals, and Hershey’s candy.

*Skip the concessions – I took my kids to see Toy Story 3 this summer using free tickets.  They wanted popcorn and a drink and I figured I would treat them to that since the movie was free.  Concession stands are tricky and don’t often post prices.  I was sure surprised when the total for a combo with a drink and a popcorn came to almost $20!!  So much for “free” movie tickets!

If the cost of tickets, even with discounts, still isn’t in your budget, you can always just wait for the movie to come out on DVD and save even more money!  Redbox and Blockbuster Express frequently have free rental codes!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: saving on family entertainment


Going to the public attractions in your area such as the zoo or The Children’s Museum is a fun family activity, but it could easily be a budget buster, too! In my area, a trip to the zoo would cost $40 for our family of four and a trip to the children’s museum would be $32 (plus $7 for parking).

Here are some tips for helping to save on family entertainment:

*Check the website – In my area, the zoo and the children’s museum both have times where you can get free admission listed on the website!

*Check with local grocery stores – Many times, local grocery stores will offer discounted admission to area attractions when you purchase tickets at the customer service desk

*Buy a City pass – Some cities offer a “City Pass” that offers heavily discounted admission to area attractions at a bundled rate.  The “catch” is that you usually only have nine days to access all of the activities included in the pass, but this is perfect if you’re visiting a city on vacation or if you’re on spring break, summer vacation, or Christmas break!  Click here to see if a City Pass is available for your city.

*Watch for free offers from businesses:

Bank of America offers free admission to more than 125 museums nationwide the first weekend of every month if you have a Bank of America credit or debit card!  In my area, this includes the zoo and the children’s museum!  Check to see what’s included in your area here.

Target Supports the Arts provides more than 2,200 free events at over 120 locations nationwide.  The Museum of Fine Arts in my area is free the first Sunday of every month, but they have also sponsored free events at the zoo and the art museum.  Find out what free events Target sponsors in your city here.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Clothing your kids on a budget!


If you’ve got kids, then you know that clothing them can be a big piece of your budget, especially when they’re younger because they either outgrow things quickly or wear them out!

Here are a few tips for saving money on kid clothing:


*Sign up for mailing lists and “rewards” cards:  Many companies have links on their websites where you can join their mailing list.  When you do this, they will notify you by e-mail of upcoming sales and sometimes send you coupons, too!  Store “rewards” cards are not the same as credit cards.  They are usually free and allow you to earn points or cash back on your purchases.

Here are the links to join mailing lists for a few popular stores:
Carter’s (lower left hand corner)
Crazy 8 (lower left hand corner)
Gap (lower right hand corner)
Gymboree (lower right hand corner)
-JC Penney
-Kohl’s (you’ll get a coupon for $5 off your next in store purchase just for signing up!)
Old Navy (lower right hand corner) – also “like” them on Facebook!
Osh Kosh (lower left hand corner)
Payless (lower left hand corner)
The Children’s Place (lower right hand corner)

Here are links to sign up for free rewards cards:
-Gymboree Rewards:  Earn 1 point for every $1 spent (250 points = $5 rewards) plus get valuable coupons
JCP Rewards:  Earn 1 point for every $1 spent (250 points = $10 reward) plus get valuable coupons (I get a coupon for $10 off any $10 purchase every few months)
‘R Us Rewards:  Earn rewards for in store purchases (they accumulate in the form of a $ off coupon) plus earn free diapers, formula, and more!

*Shop at the end of the season – At the end of a “season” many stores will have major clearance sales where you can save 60-80% off of original prices.  I always try to stock up for the next year during these times.

*Always match coupons with sale prices – When buying clothing, I always try to wait for a good sale, use a coupon and the best case scenario for me is to also use a gift card, too, (earned from survey sites or from the Huggies instant win game) so that I minimize my out of pocket spending!

*If you’re shopping online, use cash back sitesIf you’re shopping online, make sure you take advantage of cash back sites like Shop at Home or Ebates


*Check out children’s resale stores – You can sometimes find great deals on clothing by checking out children’s resale stores.  Bring your own clothing that your kids have outgrown in for store credit and to offset your out of pocket expenses.  Some popular resale chains include Children’s Orchard and Kid to Kid.

*Check out garage sales – Sometimes you can find name brand clothing in good condition for dirt cheap if you’re willing to spend the time hunting down deals at garage sales

*Check out Freecycle – Some people don’t want to mess with resale stores, garage sales, or Ebay, so they will just donate a box or bag of clothing on Freecycle

*Have a swap party – Have a swap party with friends or family members and swap clothing you no longer need!  This helps everyone save money.

*Check out Craigslist or Ebay – You can sometimes find great deals on name brand clothing on Craigslist or Ebay.  On Ebay, make sure you check the seller’s feedback rating first and also make sure you look at shipping prices.  With Craigslist, make sure you arrange to meet in a public place and don’t go alone!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

31 Ways to Save in 2011: Use online bill pay!


I confess – for YEARS my bank offered free online bill pay and I never took advantage of it. I didn’t really understand how it worked and for some reason, it just made me nervous. One day, I was asked to complete a survey where I went through a demo of an online bill pay program for a bank and I realized how easily it is and I have never looked back!

The biggest benefit of online bill pay is that you no longer have to use stamps!  All you have to do is go in and add your payees and then schedule your payments and money will be auto drafted from your account and sent out on the specified date.  Most banks even have an option to make payments to individuals!

Another benefit is that you no longer have to worry about fees for late payments!  You can go in and schedule your payment to be sent on any date.  Most banks will tell you what day they are going to send the payment and what the scheduled arrival date would be.  When I get my bills now, I go in and schedule the payment so that it will be paid a few days before the due date and I’m done!

This is an easy way to save both time and money!  If your bank offers free online bill pay and you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.