so what’s this groupon shit anyway?

18 02 2011

last year when groupon really busted onto the scene in maine, i must have gotten like 48 emails from friends and family members telling me that i should think/write/talk/pee my pants about it.

so i checked it out… and frankly, it left me a little limp (boner analogy intended).

now conceptually, i think it’s a great idea: 1 deal, limited time, limited avialabilty… the deep discount IS seductive, as is the fact that there needs to be enough people taking the deal in order for it to be valid.  but for some reason, i was expecting to be completely blown away, and i just wasn’t.

for example, today’s portland deal is a discount car wash.  i’m sure a lot of people are really enthusiastic about this with the salt/slush tornado that’s been going on here lately, but me, not so much. i suppose with a site like this, it is a bit optimistic for me to expect that the daily deal to appeal to me even the majority of the time… but to date, there has only been one deal that has even vaguely interested me ($10 at barnes & noble for $5). groupon just doesn’t have what i want.

that said, i should be thanking groupon for being so exceptionally copy-able. groupon clones have been shooting wildly from every orifice of the internet for the last year or so, and some of them actually do give me the discount boner that i so deeply desire (although many of them [sorry loonEdeals] could sill use A LOT of work). but what i’ve realized in the last year as i have slugged through the symphony of variations on groupon, is that for me, it’s not about the format that makes a site desireable to me, it’s what they’re selling.  groupon might be the most elegant of the deal sites, but if it only offers car washes and pricey spa treatments… i’m never going to buy.

i’ve made a small list of online deal sites below (of various ilks) that i’ve been enjoying lately, but there’s so many out there! what am i missing? Read the rest of this entry »





totally buzzed.

27 01 2011

it’s no secret that i love me some free stuff. now i’ve proclaimed my love for vocalpoint many a time… as i have long considered it the king of the product testing/free shit sites with their seductive full size samples and fistfuls of high value coupons. except that lately, vocalpoint has left me a little cold. i mean how many boxes of kashi cereal can one girl really eat? oh, and the bounce dryer bar was just about the stupidest invention EVER. but i suppose even like 100 lame lowes coupons are better than a completely barren landscape.  i had tried kraft first taste and pssst! but got a big fat delivery of BUNK. even myblogspark has forsaken me!

but a few months back, i saw a post on ilovetogossip regarding a service i had never heard about… bzzagent. basically it was the same old song and dance where they say they’ll send you free products, in exchange for tweeting that shit up, or writing about it on your blog.  but then, all they offered me for like months and month was a crappy free redbox rental. boo! but a couple of weeks ago… THEY FINALLY SENT ME SOMETHING THAT I WANTED!

last week my coupons & “press kit” for thomas’ bagel thins arrived in the mail. a $4/1 coupon, 5 $1/1 coupons, some educational materials, and of course, not 1 but 3 bagel shaped magnets. it’s no secret that i’m in a perpetual state of vaguely trying to lose weight. i also have a deep and unquenchable lust for bagels. thus, a free bag of 110 calorie diet bagels seemed like an awesome idea. and in many ways, it was. here are 5 things i learned about bagel thins from my recent quality time alone with them: Read the rest of this entry »





i try it- coupon buying adventure!

25 01 2011

so last week when i was writing about coupon contingency plans when you miss a newspaper, i mentioned the possibility of buying coupons from an online clipping service. i’d considered it before, but always got big case of the lazy (with a side of cheap), and decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of buying a bunch of coupons that i might not ever have the occasion to use. but recently, the coupon stars have aligned in such a way that it finally seemed worth the minimal effort to take the risk (and by risk, i mean approximately $6 and a week worth of waiting).

there is a deal at CVS that has been quietly bubbling away over the last few weeks- seemingly unnoticed or unnoted by the usual local coupon clipping suspects (although, maine  just doesn’t have the shelf cleaner problem that’s rampant in other states). apparently, every year in january, they clearance down all of their cosmetics that are being discontinued. well the time has come, and there are tons and tons of little orange (75% off) and yellow (50% off) stickers (it’s breathtaking really) littering the beauty aisles. in general, i’m not really a makeup person, and i am FIERCELY LOYAL to the things that i do wear. for example, i presently have a fridge full of discontinued max factor foundation (11 tubes purchased on ebay) that i’ve been wearing since the late 90s. but since i started the makeup project and also began my burlesque career, i’ve found a greater need for such products in my life (i finally figured out how to apply false eyelashes!). biggest issue- COSMETICS ARE FUCKING EXPENSIVE! on the final day of the makeup project when i was trying to fill in the last few holes, the cheapest blush i could find was $4.99! so this year, i’m stocking up my burlesque sparkle stash and beginning the makeup project good and early (2011 will be bigger and better than ever!), so i never have to be saddled with the tragedy and shame of paying for full price blush ever again.

this is where the clipping service comes in. Read the rest of this entry »





shit, i forgot the coupons.

14 01 2011

for xmas, i gifted myself with a subscription to the sunday paper. it’s minimally cheaper than buying it at the store, and conveniently delivered to my front door before 7 am. thus, i can stay in my sweatpants and be lazy and not brave the cold cold walk down to the sketchy sketchy 7-11. or so i had hoped! first sunday, NO PAPER. i figured maybe it just took them a minute to get the party started. last sunday, NO PAPER AGAIN (later resolved with an agitated call to the circulation department- i hope)!  thanks to a 7 hour a chorus line rehearsal on sunday, i didn’t have the time or energy to go get one on my own. i hit the grocery store on tuesday, but sadly, there were none left. a couponless week! what’s a girl to do!?

when i first started my coupon clipping adventures over a year ago, a moment like this would have sent me into a panic spiral. to think of all the deals that i would miss, the freebies loaded into the carts of strangers that wouldn’t be available to me without those magic slips of paper… i don’t remember if i ever cried over such a situation, but i also don’t remember not crying. when i first started out, i would get a crazy high off my deal mongering and would hit multiple drugstores multiple times per week- often spending hours in the aisles trying to cobble the perfect deal (poor boyfriend left to languish in the car).

but then, i kind of got over it.

i don’t have any idea how extreme couponers keep the ball rolling… it’s so much pre-planning and work! after a while, my coupon energy ramped down and my desire to have every single deal faded away (my stockpiles grew too large… i ended up with items i couldn’t use or donate…i was fucking tired…). if i missed a newspaper, so what? if i forgot to bring my coupons to the grocery store, meh!

i still go through peaks and valleys of coupon focus/mania, but in terms of the emotional highs and lows that i used to hit, i have figured out a few things along the way that are guaranteed to always talk me off the ledge: Read the rest of this entry »





resolved.

2 01 2011

i was lucky enough to come into a bit of an xmas windfall this year. nothing earth shattering (most of it went to bills and to my saving’s account), BUT i decided to give myself a small allowance to spend on whatever i wanted. DANGEROUS. it could have been anything, or everything… i have a bad habit of burning through cash without really paying attention to where it goes, or really caring too much when it’s gone. i’m all like “oh, that’s was fun”, instead of feeling the intense sense of guilt and shame that keeps most people from getting in financial trouble.

the last year has overall been a good one for my financial evolution. this was the first year in over a decade that i didn’t use my credit cards even once. i also managed to have a savings account with actual money in it for more than 15 minutes. on the other hand, i didn’t pay off my credit cards as much as i would have liked, i didn’t manage to keep the majority of the money in my savings account, and i still didn’t start an HSA.

so for 2011, i have only one resolution. it isn’t to save more, or spend less, pay off the credit cards, or even open an HSA… (although all of those things are certainly worth keeping in mind). my resolution this year is just to PAY ATTENTION. wherever my money travels should take me this year, i would like to be watchful and be thoughtful about every dollar i spend. i’m thinking about leaving my debit card at home, giving myself a cash allowance, being more careful about monitoring my mint account… but it doesn’t really matter what i do, as long as i’m being vigilant.

i decided to lube up my resolution and get started a little early with the aforementioned windfalll. instead of just throwing the money into my checking account and going apeshit on whatever i happened to find first, i sat down and really thought about things that i wanted, needed, and would generally be too cheap or too broke to afford the rest of the year. here is what i came up with: Read the rest of this entry »





shaking the bell.

29 11 2010

so a while ago when i first discovered ulta, i mentioned that i was working on a super secret makeup related project that i would eventually tell you about. well, that day has finally come.

a really really long time ago, i had scored a bunch of freebie cosmetics with extrabucks that i didn’t know what to do with, and i wrote a post about donating makeup (or trying to unsuccessfully). when i called my favorite local charity to see what their stance was on the topic, they mentioned that they didn’t have a huge call for cosmetics, but that the teen girls go nuts for it. anyway, as the xmas/generically inoffensive holiday season started to approach, i started to think a about how all the programs are like “TOYS FOR TOTS” and such. it seems that people don’t seem to get the same warm holiday fuzzies getting gifts for older kids as they do for the grade school set, and how much does that suck?  anyway, it occurred to me that i could be stockpiling my free makeup, and then assemble little kits to donate around xmas time.

well, as of today, i have a pretty good hoard, but i still have some sizable gaps. i spoke with preble street yesterday, and they have 50 girls that their teen center services, and they want the finished product by december 9th! THAT’S 2 WEEKS!! so here is the part where i ask for your help. i am aiming to put together 25 kits (apparently they have a little gift mini mall and let the kids pick out what they want). if any of you other crazy coupon ladies out there have a makeup stash that is just taking up space, or you don’t give a shit about coupons but you just want to help out… here is your chance! i am looking for donations of the following items: Read the rest of this entry »





coming up for air.

27 11 2010

this thanksgiving, i was thankful for a lot. finally getting to hang out with my mom on a holiday (it’s been 2 years!), fake gravy that tasted as good as regular gravy (way to go gardein!), and of course not having to go to work (although i did have to work on friday :P). but my biggest moments of gratefulness came long after dinner was through, and we were perched on the cusp of our black friday adventure.

now let me start by reminding you all that i am FUCKING EXHAUSTED. between burlesque rehearsals, costumes, midnight trips to boston, and trying to keep the pulse on this blog beating at least a little, i don’t get a lot of sleep. lately, it seems like less than ever. by 10 pm on thanksgiving evening, after 2 slices of pie, several pounds of mashed potatoes, and a lively and hour long debate with my mom about whether or not it’s irresponsible for people to have big families in the current economic climate (i’m looking at you michelle duggar), i was PRACTICALLY COMATOSE.

grateful moment #1: the boyfriend agrees  to skip our midnight walmart trip (sorry $6 lord of the rings trilogy) and go home to sleep instead.

admittedly i was still up until almost midnight looking for my lost CVS card (eventually found, but not before a significant meltdown). i was definitely not looking forward to my 4:30 am wake up call.

grateful moment #2: the boyfriend’s alarm clock doesn’t go off, and we wake up at 5:45.

ok, so we missed waiting outside the target in the slush, and getting to be first in line, but the extra hour and 45 minutes was an amazing gift. also, when we finally did get to target, there wasn’t much worth fighting for. the $2 movie titles SUCKED (random greatest american hero episodes?), and the line was more insane than anything i had ever seen before. it wound from the front registers all the way through the back of the store, through the toy and electronics departments, and ostensibly through some sort of wormhole in the center of the store.

grateful moment #3: after viewing the target line, the boyfriend (who is a black friday purist- a bargain warrior who got me into this mess in the first place) looked at me and said “fuck this shit, i’m shopping on amazon”.

basically, we just ended up chilling out at the mall for an hour or so, and then getting some burger king breakfast before i had to go back to work. even though the bargains were minimal, and i didn’t manage to score a single $2 dvd, getting things downgraded to low key/low expectations made this the best black friday ever.

here’s what i brought home: Read the rest of this entry »