Thrifty Thursday: Save time and money by using online bill pay

I put off using the free bill pay service that was offered by my bank for months until I got an offer for a “bonus” if I would make three transactions using my bank’s “bill pay” feature.  I can’t pass up “free” money, so I decided to check it out.  That was almost a year ago, and now I’m hooked!

How it works

If you aren’t familiar with Bill Pay, the first thing you do is “add a payee.”  Most banks have a list of pre-loaded payees so you can search for a payee.  If your payee is not part of the pre-loaded list, you can add them manually.  When you add a payee, you have the option of adding an individual or a business.  After you add the payee, there will usually be a calendar of some sort that tells you what the payment delivery time is.  You can schedule your payments to be sent and arrive by a specific date.  I always select a day that is a few days before the actual payment due date to allow a cushion.  Finally, you enter the payment amount and then you will be given a confirmation number.  I add this into the Quicken program that we use to track our finances.

Prior to using bill pay, when I would create our budget for the month, I would make a list of payments that needed to be made each week based on payment due dates and our pay day dates.  Now, when I receive a bill either in my mail or by e-mail, I go in and automatically schedule the payment using my bank’s bill pay feature.  It saves a lot of time, I don’t have to pay for a stamp or worry about my checks getting lost in the mail, and I don’t worry about incurring fees for late payments because the payment is scheduled well in advance (as soon as I receive the bill).  If you have payments that are recurring every month, you can also schedule those!

Have you used bill pay yet?  What did you think?  Many banks offer bill pay for free to their customers.  If your bank offers this feature and you haven’t checked it out yet, try it and let me know what you think!

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday idea to share?  Don’t forget to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.

Thrifty Thursday: Saving money on movie tickets this summer

Summer is just around the corner and one of the things my kids enjoy doing during the summer is going to the movies.  Here are a few ways we’re planning on saving on movie tickets this summer:

Take advantage of summer movie promotions ~ Many theaters offer some sort of “summer movie camp” which includes free or heavily discounted movie tickets.  These are not “first run” movies, but it still gives your kids the opportunity to have a “theater” experience.  It’s even more fun if you get together with a group of friends.  Make sure you arrive early if you are attending one of these promotional showings!

Here are some theaters that already have their summer movie information posted:

AMC Summer Movie Camp – Their schedule isn’t posted yet, but you can keep checking back for more information.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse – Tickets are $1 per showing for adults and children.  You can buy a “series punch card” for only $5 which allows you admission to all 10 shows, so that’s only $.50 per show!  There are limited supplies of the punch cards and they are already on sale at theater box offices.

Regal Cinemas Free Family Film Festival – See a free movie every Tuesday or Wednesday at 10 a.m. beginning the first week in June.  The schedule has been posted already!

Join Theater Rewards programs ~ Check with your theater to see if they offer a rewards program.  AMC Theaters offer the “Movie Watchers” Reward program where you earn points for purchasing movie tickets.  (What I love is that the $1 movie tickets you buy during the summer qualify for the same number of points as full price tickets!  Plus, last summer, most of the “summer movie” tickets at our theater were on Wednesdays and so we would get a coupon for free popcorn just from using our Movie Watchers reward card!)

Take advantage of free movie ticket promotions ~ Keep your eyes open for free movie ticket promotions.  Right now you can earn free Fandango movie tickets just for buying select Hershey products!  If you bought Toy Story 1 or Toy Story 2 recently, there are also codes inside the boxes for a free ticket to see Toy Story 3!

Go to a matinee ~ At most theaters, the first showing of the day is heavily discounted.

Take advantage of student discounts ~ Some theaters offer discounts for students.  You usually have to show your student ID.  Check with your theater to see if they offer this type of a promotion.

Check out your Entertainment Book ~ If you have purchased an Entertainment book, check it out.  Mine has several coupons for discounted AMC tickets ($7 each rather than the $9.50 they are charging now).

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday idea to share?  Don’t forget to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.

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

Thrifty Thursday: Saving money on books!

I love to read, but during the school year I typically don’t have a lot of time to read because I’m on the go so much.  I usually catch up on my reading during the summer months and since summer is just around the corner, I haev already started to think about what titles I want to catch first!

Here are some ways that I “feed” my love of reading without busting my budget:

Amazon ~ I love Amazon, and I especially love their promotion where you Buy Three Books, Get a Fourth Free.  I love to browse their “4 for 3 Bestseller list” for ideas on books to read.  There is also a great selection of “4 for 3 Children’s books”  I usually try to mix and match to get some books for myself and some books for my kids (who have also picked up my love of reading!)  To make this promotion, make sure all of your books have similar prices because the lowest-priced book is the one that ends up being free.  When I take advantage of this promotion, I usually end up with my total being right around $25, so I get free super saver shipping, too!  The best part is that I usually use Amazon gift cards I’ve earned from various sites, so I’m not even spending “real” money!
Budget book stores ~ I’ve loved reading from the time that I was very young and when I was a kid, I loved making trips to our local budget book store to buy books and “sell” back books I had already read for a credit.  Budget bookstores are still a great resource for finding books at bargain prices.  Twice a year, my local store has an “overstock” sale where you can find lots of great titles for less than $1.  If you bring in other books for a credit, you can get them for free!  If you have a Half Price books in your area, they will pay you CASH for your books, printed or recorded merchandise, and some types of software!

Library ~ My local library is a great resource for books.  At my library, you can request books online and they will call or e-mail you when they become available.  This is really convenient because then I can just go in and my books will be waiting for me!  My local library also has a “Friends of the Library” sale a few times each year where you can pick up books for super cheap and help support the library in the process!

Paperback Swap ~ At Paperback Swap, you can trade books that you have that are in good condition for books that you want to read.  You receive one credit for sending out books that you have to someone else and you may order available books for one credit each.  You pay shipping when you send out the books (you can use media mail, which is pertty inexpensive), but you don’t have to pay shipping when you request a book.  When you create your first account and post 10 books, you get to “startup” credits.

Teacher discounts ~ If you’re an educator, many book stores offer teacher discounts (some specify that these are to be used on classroom materials while others allow you to use your discount on everyday purchases for yourself, too!)  In most cases, you have to sign up for an account and you have to show some sort of proof that you are an educator such as your ID badge or a pay stub.  Barnes & Noble offers 20% off the publisher’s list price and additional discounts during Educator Appreciation Days, Borders offers 25% off purchases for your classroom and you can earn Borders Bucks, too, and Half Price Books offers an additional 10% off purchases!

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday idea to share?  Don’t forget to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom

*This post may contain affiliate links

Thrifty Thursday: Getting items for free or close to free using rebates!

Before I started using coupons, I thought that rebates were basically for high dollar electronics purchases, software purchases, or cell phones.  That had been the extent of my rebate “experience.”  I had no idea that I could submit rebates for a variety of products that I purchase and use regularly or that I could end up getting those items for free or close to free or that sometimes they would even be “money makers” So, if you’re wondering if some of the rebate offers I’ve posted (or that you may have seen posted on other sites) are “legit” I can assure you that they are and that those rebate checks here and there add up quickly!

Here are some tips to help you if you are new to using rebates:

Save rebate forms ~ Many times, there are rebates that match up with items that I am already getting for free or closer to free with Extra Care Bucks or Register Rewards at CVS or Walgreens. Every time I see a rebate form in the inserts or find one on tear pads on displays in stores, I grab it and hang on to it – you never know when it might come in handy!

Organization is the key ~ When I submit a rebate, I usually scan or make a copy of the receipt, rebate form, and any UPCs I may have submitted for my records. I hang onto it until I get my rebate check back. Typically, I don’t have any “issues” when I submit rebates, but every now and then I will get a letter or e-mail telling me that something is missing and then I have proof that it was submitted.

There is also a great website that you can use to keep track of your rebates. It is called Rebate Tracker and it allows you to enter your rebate details (including submission address, the date you purchased the item and where you purchased it, and the date you submitted the rebate form). You can also update the status once you receive the rebate. In addition, you can keep track of out of pocket expenses and track how much you receive as “reimbursement.”

Is it “worth it”?  My criteria for determining whether a rebate offer is “worth it” may be different from others.  I will not buy a product that is “free after rebate” if it’s not something I really want and need because I am still having to put money out up front.  I typically only take advantage of rebate offers if the item I am getting will be free or close to free up front (meaning I can use a coupon, Extra Care Bucks, or Register Rewards to offset the cost), which makes it a “money maker” or if it is for an item I would be buying anyway because it is for something we want or need.

Using your rebate money ~ People also have different uses for their rebate money.  When I get a rebate check, it goes into our savings for our 100% Cash Christmas.  How do you use your rebate money?

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday idea to share?  Don’t forget to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom

Thrifty Thursday: Three ways to get free movie tickets!

Being on a budget means we don’t go to the movies very often.  Pretty much the only way we go to the movies is if we have free tickets.  The only time we really take my kids to the movies is during the summer when theaters offer the “movie camps” and the movies are only $1.  Summer is just around the corner and there are some great new movies coming out, so I’m excited about all of the “deals” right now where you can earn free movie tickets.

Here are a few ways that you can earn free movie tickets right now:

Kroger has a promotion right now where you can receive a free movie ticket (or 15 free music or ringtone downloads) for purchasing 10 participating items.  I did this deal for the first time yesterday.  I’ll be looking for other ways to “work this deal” throughout the week.

Here’s the breakdown of what I did yesterday:

Buy 5 Snuggle fabric softener sheets – $3.50/each
Buy 5 Uncle Ben’s 90 minute Ready Rice packets – $1.69/each (love these things!)

Use 5 $3/1 Snuggle fabric softener coupons (3-28 RP) 
Use 5 $1/1 Uncle Ben’s rice coupons (2-21 RP)

Spent $5.95 OOP, earned a catalina with a code for a free movie ticket! (that’s less than I would have spent on the movie ticket alone and I got 10 other items we really needed…also, I’ve had several people ask if it’s “worth it” to buy multiples of coupons and this trip alone should show that it is!)

Hershey also has a promotion right now where you earn a free movie ticket when you submit 4 UPCs from 10 oz or larger packages of Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup miniatures, Hershey’s Miniatures, or York Peppermint patties.  You can submit for the free tickets more than one time per household, but you must submit your UPCs in separate envelopes.

DISCLAIMER:  Hershey’s has changed the sizing on their bags of candy, so the “smaller” bags are now typically 8.5 ounces, so you will have to buy the “bigger” bags which are 18+ ounces from what I have seen in my stores and usually quite a bit more expensive.  This is a great time to look for clearanced Easter candy, though!

Toy Story ~ If you took advantage of the “deals” recently on Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2, don’t forget to enter your codes from inside the boxes to get the link to print your free movie tickets to see it when it comes out in June!

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday idea to share?  Don’t forget to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom