Thrifty Thursday: Guiltless Grill at Chili’s

I have talked about Bzz Agent before. Basically, it’s a word of mouth marketing network where you get to try products and share your experiences with others. This month, I got to try out the new Chili’s Guiltless Grill menu for free!

I seem to be on a constant quest to lose weight, so I had been aware of the Guiltless Grill menu at Chili’s for awhile, but in the past, it has been fairly limited (off the top of my head, I know they had a chicken sandwich and a chicken platter). The have expanded it and now they have some really great items to choose from including:

*Guiltless Carne Asada steak
*Guiltless Honey-Glazed or Grilled salmon
*Guiltless Buffalo or Grilled chicken sandwich
*Guiltless Chicken platter
*Guiltless Black Bean Burger
*Guiltless Cedar Plank Tilapia

All items on the Guiltless Grill menu are under 750 calories, 25 grams of fat and 8 grams of saturated fat. They area served with with steamed seasonal veggies and Parmesan cheese.

This time around, I went back and forth about what to order because I’d really like to try the Buffalo chicken sandwich, but I finally decided to try the steak. I was a little bit hesitant because I wondered how good a steak that was on a “guiltless” menu could really be. I was pleasantly surprised! The asada rub was very good and even though I get my meat “well done” it was not overcooked and was actually very tender. Even my husband who avoids anything “diet” related was surprised.

The Guiltless Grill is definitely worth checking out! You can view the menu (and nutritional information) here.

If you haven’t joined Bzz Agent yet, you should check that out, too! You can learn more about Bzz Agent in this post here.

Thrifty Thursday: Saving your receipts adds up!

Saving receipts from items you may be buying regularly can really add up. If you haven’t discovered The Caregivers Marketplace already, you need to check it out! They provide cash back on every day items used to provide care.

Here are some of the participating products and the amount of cash back you get for purchasing them:

*Balmex diaper creme – $1 cash back
*Cottonelle moist wipes – .50 cash back
*GoodNites – .75 cash back
*Huggies diapers/Little swimmers – .75 cash back
*Nature Made vitamins – $1 cash back
*Pull Ups – .75 cash back

Unlike other rebate or cash back offers, you do not need to send in UPCs. Here’s how you can get your cash back:

1. Complete the registration form here

2. Save your receipts! (You need to purchase five qualifying items before you can submit them)

3. Print and complete the cash back form here

4. Mail the form and receipts in and your check should arrive within 4-6 weeks!

*There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can receive within a calendar year!

Thrifty Thursday: Deal Round-Up

Here are some good deals I’ve seen this week:

Fannie posted a coupon for Rainforest Cafe. My kids love to eat here, but we don’t go often because the food is expensive and doesn’t taste all that great. This link is for a $10 off $25 purchase coupon and for a free Volcano dessert with a purchase of $25 or more. It expires on 2/28.

Fannie also shared a Ruby Tuesday BOGO free coupon which you can access here.

High School Musical 3 – click here to get a coupon for $5 off the DVD (or $10 off if you are buying it on Blu Ray)

There is also a $5 MIR offer: $5 Rebate offer

Check out Misty’s plan (it’s*me*misty) for buying it (I’m going to use this plan myself since I already have receipts and UPCs from the lunch meat!):

Here’s Misty’s Target plan!

$15.99 Movie
$14.99 HSM3 doll Sharpay or Gabriella (according to
-$5 Q

$25.98 pay with my $10 Lilaguide GC and get back a $10 GC.

$15.98 OOP

use 2 of my free Hillshire lunch meat Q’s

and get back $5 rebate-

for a total of $10.98 for the movie and doll

If you have a Kroger store, you can possibly get super cheap diapers. Some Kroger stores have their brand of diapers marked down to $5.99. You can print a $3 off coupon here, which makes them $2.99 per package.

If you are looking for other deals for babies, check out all the new printable coupons on the Johnson and Johnson website. You can print them here.

Tomorrow for Freebie Friday, I will be announcing another gift card giveaway, so I’m doing a bit of a “freebie” round-up today:

Click here to get a free sample of girl’s barrettes from Goody

Print a coupon for $1.50 off any No Nonsense product here (I got lots of free socks last year when there was a sale and I used a coupon!)

Free magazines!
Nicole is a new blogger who tells you how to get these magazines for free in her post here:

Harper’s Bazaar
Metropolitan Home
Motor Trend
Elle Decor
Body and Soul
Woman’s Day
Golf Digest
Metropolitan Home

She also posted about how to get free books here.

Thrifty Thursday: Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a pricy affair. Here are a few ideas for celebrating your Valentine’s Day on a budget.

Take Advantage of BOGO free meal offers
I don’t enjoy dealing with crowds, so the idea of eating out on Valentine’s Day has never really appealed to me, but if you are planning on eating out this Valentine’s Day, take advantage of buy one, get one free meal offers.

Click here for a printable Buy one entree, get one free coupon from TGI Friday’s. (The coupon is not valid on 2/14, but you can celebrate your Valentine’s Day earlier or later and take advantage of the deal! It is also good until 3/1/09)

Invest in an Entertainment book – they have lots of coupons with BOGO free offers. (If you want one now, check out your local Walgreens store….if you want one for the future, click below to order)

Use a gift card and eat for free
I love It’s easy to earn points that can be exchanged for gift cards. They current have gift cards for: Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, Papa Johns, Burger King, Cracker Barrel, Black Angus, Applebee’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Panera Bread, California Pizza Kitchen, TGI Friday’s, Red Lobster, Landry’s (which includes Rainforest Cafe and Saltgrass!), and many more. When I cash out my points for gift cards, I get them for the places where we like to eat out, so even when we’re eating out, we’re not spending much (if anything at all) to do it.

We also have a Discover Card where we can cash out for gift cards to restaurants such as: Applebee’s, Black Angus, Chili’s, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, and TGI Friday’s. The rewards add up quickly!

Order (or make) a heart-shaped pizza
Many pizza establishments will offer heart-shaped pizzas on Valentine’s Day. This idea is catching on, so if you decide to have your pizza delivered, it might take awhile. Consider picking it up or making one of your own at home.

Make your own meal
Beat the crowds and save money by making your own meal. Check out the link below for free recipe ideas.

Look for “freebie” deals
This deal comes from the “Thrifty NW Mom” blog:
Check out your local Old Navy store. They have Valentine’s Day cards that your child can color. If your child colors it and brings it back on or before Valentine’s Day, you get a coupon for $5 off a purchase in exchange for the card. The $5 off coupon is only valid on Valentine’s Day. Here are the “fine print” details:
Only at Old Navy Stores in the US and Canada. Not valid online. Coupon is good for one-time use only and must be surrendered at time of in store purchase. Cannot be combined with other offers. If value of the purchase is less than the total value of the coupon the unused balance will be forfeited.

Get LOTS of budget friendly Valentine’s ideas by downloading the free “Valentine’s Day on a Dime” E-Book here.

Treat yourself and register below to enter a free shoe shopping spree:

Get your Valentine’s Day cards for free (or close to free):
If you have a CVS in your area, they have a deal on American Greetings/Hallmark cards (depending on what your store offers). If you buy 3, you get a $3 ECB. The ad says that prices start at $2.49, but the $.99 cards work toward this offer, as well. If you buy 3 of the $.99 cards, you get a $3 ECB back! If your area carries Hallmark cards, the limit is 2. If your area carries American Greetings cards, the limit is 1.

Surprise your kids with Madagascar 2 for almost free:
CVS has a deal this week where you can get an instant $15 off Madagascar when you spend $20 on P&G products. The products included are: Tide, Bounce/Downy, Duracell batteries, Pampers Jumbo pack diapers, Pantene Pro V, Crest or Oral B products, Dawn dish liquid, Always pads, Bounty paper towels, and Charmin toilet paper. There are lots of great coupons to match up with this offer. There was also a $3/1 manufacturer’s coupon for Madagascar in many newspapers last Thursday/Friday. So, you end up buying household items that you need anyway and getting Madagascar for $2. Check out my scenario for this deal here.

Make chocolate covered strawberries for your sweetheart!
You can spend big bucks buying chocolate covered strawberries at a store, or you can save money and make them yourself. Check out this link for an easy recipe that your kids can help with, too!

Make someone’s day
Surprise a spouse, friend, or family member by “heart attacking” them. Cover their door or car in hearts that share all of the reasons that you love them. It’s easy and inexpensive to do, and it’s a great way to make someone’s day!

Create family traditions
Create this link for ideas on family traditions you can start for your own family.

Thrifty Thursday: Earn money when you open a banking account

Right now there are a lot of banks that are looking for your business and they are offering promotions where you can earn money for opening an account. Here are a few that I am aware of, so I thought I would share (if you are aware of other offers, please feel free to share). The offers are in alphabetical order, not order of “preference.” All of these offers are ones that I have tried personally or that I have heard about through a creditable source (the only one I have not personally done is the TCF bank one).

Bank of America – (This offer is valid through 2/27/09) Open a new personal checking account and receive $50. To receive your $50, apply online or go to your nearest banking center. Use offer code AOU261208. Offer does not apply to second or multiple checking accounts and/or existing checking customers. Student checking accounts are not eligible for this offer. Bank of America associates are not eligible for this offer. The minimum deposit required to open a new, personal checking account and receive the $50 offer is $100. The deposit of $50 will be deposited directly into your new account. If they are unable to deposit the money, a check will be issued as a replacement. The money will be issued within 90 days of opening your account. Limit one check per household. To see all of the details of this offer, click here.

Citibank – get up to $225 in gift cards when you open Citibank checking and other qualifying accounts. Get 10,000 Thank You Points, which is redeemable for $100 merchant gift cards when you apply, get approved for, and make $100 in purchases during the first three months. Get 3,500 ThankYou Points, which is redeemable for a $25 merchant gift card when you open a Money Market account. Get 10,000 Thank you Points, which is redeemable for a $100 merchant gift card when you apply, get approved for, and make $100 in purchases within three months using a Citi credit card. You can access the details for this promotion here.

ING Orange Savings Account – Earn $25 when you are referred by a friend and you open an account with at least $250. ING is my favorite place for savings. I opened my first account there almost five years ago. I have opened an account for each of my children when they were born (with the referral bonus, of course!). I love it because you can easily create and link “sub accounts” so if you like to save for things such as vacations, Christmas, or auto registration/maintenance/repairs, (these are just a few of the things that we like to save for) you can have separate accounts but easily access them all from one place. The account is “electronic” so it makes it a little bit more difficult to access your savings, but it also helps to prevent impulse spending. You can link it to your accounts at a regular (“brick and mortar”) bank, and transfer money back and forth. (If you’d like a referral to start your own account, you can e-mail me using the address in the upper left hand corner of the blog.)

ING Electric Orange Checking account – Get a $50 bonus when you open an ING Electric Orange checking account. I’ll admit it. I originally opened this account just for the $50 bonus. I wasn’t sure what the benefit of having a checking account that was mainly “electronic” would be. Once I opened my account, I quickly grew to love it. When you open your account, they will send you an ATM/debit card. In my previous post, I mentioned that if you have an ING savings account, it’s a little bit more difficult to access the money. If you have the Electric Orange Checking account, you can instantly transfer money from an ING savings account to the Electric Orange Checking account and use your ATM/debit card to withdraw it (of course, if your purpose in opening the ING savings account was to make it harder to access your savings and avoid impulse purchases, this kind of defeats the purpose!). I keep our Christmas savings at ING, and I opened my checking account shortly before Christmas. I was able to transfer the money from my Christmas fund to the checking account and use the debit card to pay for all of my Christmas purchases. It still kept the money separate from the money in our regular checking account, but it also kept me from overspending! If you’d like to open your own Electric Orange checking account, here are the details:

1. Visit the ING website here
2. Click ‘Apply Now’
3. Open your Electric Orange
4. Activate your Electric Orange MasterCard® Debit Card
5. Use your Electric Orange Card to make at least 3 signature-based purchases in the first 45 days after your account has been opened
6. Your $50 bonus will be automatically deposited into your Electric Orange 50 days after your account has been opened (I applied my $50 bonus toward my savings!) – Get a $50 bonus for opening your account and making your first trade. I read about this on Misty’s blog. I had actually received e-mails from Sharebuilder (since I currently have an ING account) previously, but I just didn’t “get” it and was too scared to try it out. I went ahead and took the plunge. If you’re like me and you don’t quite “get” this stuff (Misty had to walk me through it – thanks for the help!), here’s some step by step instructions:

1. Click here to open your account
2. Under the first section, which says “Account Type” you will see a box that says, “Promotion Code.” Enter one of the following promotion codes into the box: (there will be a “default” code there that will give you $25, but you want $50!….don’t forget to change this)
3. Follow the steps for setting up an account
4. When it asks you to select a pricing program, click on “Basic Program.”
5. Go to your account. Click on “Automatic Investing” and then click on “Manage Plan.”
6. I chose “Create your own Automatic Investment Plan.” (There is a tool that will help you set up your investments, but you have to make a minimum investment of $50, which I didn’t want to do). I chose a stock that was less than $1. You do have to initially invest $5 because you have to cover the commission on the trade, which is $4.
7. For investment frequency, choose ‘one time.’
8. Add an account for the withdrawal and you’re done! You will be notified before the trade takes place.
9. You will receive your money 4-6 weeks after your qualifying trade!

TCF Bank – Get $50 in free groceries when you open a new checking account online or at a TCF Bank Location. Once your account is open and funded, you will receive a $50 grocery card (via mail if you open the account online or on the spot if you open it at a bank location). The offer is available only to individuals and small businesses without a TCF checking account in the past 90 days. There is a $25 minimum to open a TCF Totally Free Checking ACcount. Limit one card per customer. Please allow up to 4 weeks for grocery card delivery if you open your account online. You can access the details here. I heard about this deal from one of my NBBC friends (unfortunately, I can’t remember who the original poster of the deal was to give them credit, so if you’re reading, and it was you, feel free to share and thanks so much!)