Brenden Schaaf / April 23, 2010

One more birthday freebie!

I got another birthday deal in my email today.  So that brings to 10, when combined with my earlier post, the total number of free deals I received just by turning another year older.

  1. AMC Theatres: Free large soft drink coupon arrived today by email just for being an AMC Moviewatcher member (and having a birthday).  The coupon is good for 30 days so it stands a good chance of being used.  Being a Moviewatcher is beneficial for other reasons like free popcorn on Wednesdays and various coupons throughout the year, but a free soda for my birthday is a nice treat.

Brenden Schaaf / April 19, 2010

Have a birthday? Get a dining deal!

It’s my birthday this Friday. No, this isn’t an attempt to garner well-wishes from the couple of people that still read these posts…rather it is a place to post all of the great birthday bargains I’ve received by email this month.  Having a birthday at my age perhaps isn’t as much fun as it was when I was 7, but when there are deals to be had I still get pretty excited.

Here now, in the order I received them via email, are the deals I’ve received this month:

  1. Benihana: For the second year, the gift of a free meal (up to $30 value) at Benihana has been my favorite and most valuable dining deal.  To qualify, just sign up for the Chef’s Table email list and you should see your coupon in your birthday month (mine came April 1st).
  2. Let’s Dish: I guess because I’ve set up sessions on the Let’s Dish website they knew about my upcoming birthday.  An email arrived on April 1st promising “an order of our amazing Decadent Molten-Chocolate Cakes – FREE!”  No purchase necessary (which is good because we our freezer is well stocked with the last load of meals).
  3. TGI Friday’s: I’m not a big fan of Friday’s and I haven’t been to one in years, but that didn’t stop them from sending me a coupon for a free birthday dessert with purchase of a dinner.  Truth be told this deal isn’t likely to persuade me to change my dining habits anytime soon (see Benihana deal above compared to this).  Still if I were near a Friday’s I might kick it in for my Vanilla Bean Cheesecake fix.  I’m pretty sure I signed up for the “Give Me More Stripes” program to earn this deal.
  4. Houlihan’s: I love Houlihan’s.  Their food is fresh and made from scratch (or it sure seems like it is) so that’s already a leg up on other casual dining restaurants.  Then to top it off they spring for an entrée and not just dessert like Friday’s does.  I’m pretty sure I just belong to their email club to get this deal.  Plus I get deals every Tuesday and at other random times as well.  Houlihan’s sent this email on April 16th, a week before the big day.
  5. Dairy Queen: Another deal arriving on the 16th was a coupon for a free 16oz. Blizzard Treat.  Even this beats the Friday’s deal because no other purchase is required and DQ has a drive-through. Membership in the Blizzard Fan Club is all that is required to earn this deal.
  6. Buca di Beppo: Similar to Friday’s, this deal is for a free dessert with purchase of an entrée.  I won’t be knocking myself out to cash in on this, but if I happen to venture near a Buca when I’m hungry I might pay a visit.  This coupon is good until the 16th of May (a month after I received it) so that may extend my birthday celebration another few weeks.
  7. Buffalo Wild Wings: Free dessert at BWW for some reason seems like a better deal than it does from Friday’s or Buca.  I’m not sure why that is.  It certainly isn’t because the normal bill is any lower at BWW than those places but BWW is a place that I don’t necessarily visit for the food so anything free and edible seems good.  Quite honestly we normally hit the DQ on the way home from the BWW in Champlin so I’ll probably actually use this deal and save my Blizzard deal for another day.
  8. Caribou Coffee: Arriving on the 16th like a few other deals posted above, this is the only one that is restricted to being valid “on your birthday.”  Most of the others are good for the whole month or even into May.  Still a free drink on my birthday is pretty cool and I’ll probably satisfy a craving for a Northern Light Cooler on my way to work on Friday.  We’ll see if they really do check ID.
  9. Old Country Buffet: This email just came today and is a deal that probably won’t even get printed.  A free buffet meal with purchase of an adult buffet meal just isn’t in the cards because there isn’t a single person I know other than my dad that would actually willingly visit OCB.  Plus I already missed the nurse-in at the Maplewood location.

As of today those are all the deals I’ve received by email.  By far Benihana is the most generous (and the most delicious) but there’s something for everyone it seems.  We’ll see if more freebies grace my inbox between now and Friday…if something shows up I’ll be sure to post an update here.

Brenden Schaaf / May 28, 2009

PowerSquid: use all the outlets on your power strip

psqurge100566Thanks to a camelcamelcamel alert, I was notified that the price had dropped at Amazon on the Philips PowerSquid Surge Protector.  The PowerSquid is one of my favorite items and I was tipped off to its usefulness at a continuing ed conference I attended a couple years ago.  I immediately snapped one up at $24.01 last night only to have the price later fall further to $22.28 this morning (only two left as I write this so it probably won’t be that cheap for long).  Even for a couple bucks more than the lowest price it is still an excellent value, in my opinion.  From looking at the camelcamelcamel graph of long term prices (see below) I could have guessed that the price would drop further, but for a couple dollars it wasn’t worth missing out on this deal because I need one of these right now (“need” being a word that is a tad strong I suppose, but when Amazon calls I answer).

camelcamelcamel long-term price history on the PowerSquid Surge Protector
camelcamelcamel long-term price history on the PowerSquid Surge Protector

The great thing about the PowerSquids (and there are other models to choose from wihout surge protection, for example, or in different colors) is that you can actually use every single outlet.  The unit looks like a squid (hence the name) where each outlet is on a short cord attached at a central location.  Near my computer I was able to go from using four “normal” power strips to using two PowerSquids because I could actually use every outlet on the PowerSquid, whereas before the large “brick” plugs on many items blocked up to three outlets in addition to the one being used.  In addition to being tidier, it seems safer (I have no idea if it actually is) to have a more neatly orgranized bunch of wires using two collection points, plus I still have wall outlets free for other uses.

Brenden Schaaf / May 8, 2009

Amazon Prime = easy living for busy times

amazonprimeAmazon Prime is a yearly subscription that Amazon offers at a price of $79 that allows you to receive 2-day shipping for free and overnight shipping for $3.99/item (sometimes I’ve seen $1.99/item on certain things — I’m guessing it is based on weight) during the subscription timeframe.  It has changed my life.  No longer do I need to hold off buying something until I have enough to get to the $25 minimum for “free super saver shipping” (FSSS) that Amazon offers (of course you can just pay shipping on each item if you are below $25 but that is often a deal-breaker for me because the shipping ends up being such a high percentage of the cost).  Or worse is the practice of tacking on something you really don’t need (using a handy service like SlickFillers that exists solely for this reason) just to bump up your $23.99 item to get free shipping because it is cheaper than paying the shipping fee outright.  Not to mention that sometimes the FSSS can take a couple weeks to get to you (sometimes not, but I found it very inconsistent).  With Amazon Prime, you don’t need to worry about any of this. 

I first got hooked on Amazon Prime a couple years ago when they had a 2-week free promotion.  I was planning to order something anyway so I figured I’d give Prime a shot and then I’d cancel after a couple weeks — well I found out I LOVED it so much that I signed up for that year and now I can’t imaging living without it.  Also, you can add other members of your household to your Prime membership so one yearly fee covers them as well (although at my house I serve the role of Procurer of All Things Online).  Have a gift to send someone out of state?  No problem, just order it from Amazon and have it shipped directly to the recipient with free 2-day shipping — your Prime membership allows you to ship to anyone in the country as if you were sending it to yourself. 

An example of where I used Prime this week was when the batteries in a remote control died…I was able to swap ones that worked from another device but I knew I needed to buy AAA batteries.  No sense running to Target just for batteries (and who wants to pay the price of them at a convenience store) so I popped onto Amazon, found some Duracell AAA batteries that would work, and placed my 2-day order.  For this I actually also did “subscribe & save” to save an additional 15% since batteries are something that we need fairly regularly (although you can cancel the subscription whenever you want to) and two days later the batteries were waiting on the porch when I got home from work.  Very painless, easy, and inexpensive. 

Without Amazon Prime I probably would have added on some other garbage that I didn’t necessarily need to get up to the free shipping threshold or I would have stopped at Target and bought a pile of other stuff that caught my eye (like Oreos or the latest issue of People).  So I figure Amazon Prime saves me money…maybe that is just rationalization but at least I save time!

It appears that the free promotion period for Amazon Prime is now a month long — so you have nothing to lose by trying it the next time you are going to order something from Amazon.  Then you’ll see how easy online shopping becomes and how often you use it before you decide if you want to keep the Prime membership long-term.