Editors note: For daily tips on saving money, check out the Centsible Saver blog on newsobserver.com. Amy Dunn writes every day about coupons, saving money and frugal living. Below are recent excerpts from her blog.
A birthday on the calendar doesnt have to be a budget buster. Your celebrations can be on the house, courtesy of your friends in corporate America.
If youre willing to hand over your email address, theyre willing to treat you to free food, free drinks, free movies and more.
So how do you go about cashing in on your birthday?
• Start early. If youve got a June birthday, for instance, start signing up now on the websites of your favorite companies. Even in todays digital world, it can sometimes take six to eight weeks to be added to email lists.
• Check the freebie websites for potential birthday freebies and discounts. Two sites that do a relatively good job of updating birthday offers: heyitsfree.net and hunt4freebies.com. That said, dont be surprised if a birthday freebie is changed or withdrawn by a company by the time your birthday rolls around. Unfortunately, some companies are tightening their birthday freebie budgets.
• Enjoy your freebies guilt-free. In other words, dont feel any pressure to make a purchase when collecting a birthday freebie. When companies offer freebies, theyre betting that you wont celebrate alone, which translates into additional sales. If you do happen to collect your freebie solo, its considered a marketing expense.
• Dont forget to check the dates on your birthday freebies. A few companies require you to redeem them on your birthday, but most allow you a week or two on either side of your birthday to redeem your loot, which means you could be celebrating all month long.
• Be on the lookout for additional emailed offers. Many company email clubs will send you a freebie just for signing up, and a few will follow up each year with an offer on the anniversary of your signup.
One final tip: If youre queasy about sending your birth date into cyberspace, lots of companies have become more sensitive to that and dont request your birth year. Or you can do what I do and ballpark the date. That way, the company gets its demographic information and you get to keep your sense of security.
Over the last several months, weve had three birthdays in our household and taken advantage of many birthday freebies and a few free with purchase offers.
Weve feasted on free sandwiches, pastries and pasta, scored free mascara, rented a free movie and cashed in free drugstore rewards bucks.
Below is a list of just some of the birthday freebies our family has recently received.
• Panera Bread: A free mystery offer loaded on your loyalty card. Mine has always been a free pastry of my choice.
• Ulta: A free mascara to Rewards members. My daughter exchanged her emailed coupon for a full-size mascara, valued at $18.
• Redbox: An emailed code for a free one-day DVD rental. I got this one as an email subscriber.
• CVS: $3 in drugstore rewards to spend on anything you wish, presumably a treat for yourself. The Extra Bucks are emailed to members of the drugstore chains Beauty Club.
• Starbucks: A free beverage loaded to a registered Starbucks gift card. My daughter cashed in on this one after an email alert.
• Firehouse Subs: A free medium sub on your birthday when you show your ID. Unlike most offers, no coupon or email membership is required, but if you do sign up youll get a freebie reminder a few days before your birthday.
• Noodles & Company: A free bowl of pasta for folks who sign up to receive email.
• Which Wich?: A free small sandwich. A coupon was emailed to me.
• Rocky Top Hospitality: A buy one entree, get a second entree free offer at Deans Seafood Grill & Bar in Cary, Twisted Fork in Raleigh or The Daily Planet Cafe in downtown Raleigh. My offer was emailed to me a few days before my birthday and was valid on my birthday.
Date for fashion savings
Mark your calendars, frugal fashionistas, for Saturday, May 3.
Thats the date for the next Dress for Success sale at Durhams Northgate Mall. Spring and summer dresses, skirts, accessories and prom wear will be featured.
Besides the great prices as much as 90 percent off youll be helping Triangle women in need.
The sale is a fundraiser for the Triangle affiliate of the Dress for Success organization, which helps disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, support and career development tools as they search for work.
A few times each year, the organization sells its excess inventory to the public at bargain prices.
Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shop early at 9 a.m. with a $20 donation. The sale is located in the mall between Sears and the carousel.
Since 2008, Dress for Success in the Triangle has served more than 5,000 women.
For more information, call 919-286-2128 or visit dressforsuccess.org/trianglenc.
A gift card giveaway
Im giving away a $25 Harris Teeter gift card to one lucky blog reader in celebration of Harris Teeters ongoing Super Doubles coupon promotion.
Send me an email about your couponing experiences. How much did you save at Super Doubles? How much did you spend? Did all your coupons ring up properly? Did you find an unadverstised deal youd like to share?
Email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org with Super Doubles in the subject line and youll be entered to win.
The giveaway ends at midnight Tuesday when the last coupon is super doubled. One entry per person.
If you need help matching up coupons to sales, head over to my blog at newsobserver.com/centsiblesaver, where youll find long lists of freebies and good deals, including those using Sundays new coupons.
Dunn: 919-829-4522 or email@example.com; Twitter: @amygdunn