Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lots of freebies at CVS this week

I paid $5.94 for $23.05 worth of products AND I have $8.49 to use on my next visit to CVS.

This is a great week to shop at CVS. Their 4-day sale ad is jam packed with freebies and there will be another sale that begins on Thursday with even more freebies.

Here are two great sites that have compiled all of the deals and matched the available coupons.

Here is my haul from today
Notes: I did three separate transactions, "eb" means extrabucks, green bag tag=every four scans, I get $1 back (can only scan once per day).

Transaction 1

  • 3m command hook sample pk $.99 get $.99 eb limit 1  -Used $1 Command Product coupon=free
  • glade plugins scented oil warmer 1 ct $1.25 get $1.25 eb limit 1-Used $1 Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil warmer or starter kit coupon=$.25
  • air wick scented oil warmer 1 ct $.99 get $.99 eb limit 1-Used $1.50 off 2 coupon =.48 for two
  • haviland thin mints or nips 3.5-4 oz $.88 get $.88 eb limit 1
  • charmin basic single roll $.99 get $.99 eb limit 1
  • kleenex slim pack facial tissue 3 pk or sparkle paper towels single roll $1 get $1 eb limit 2 (bought 1)
  • carmex lip balm (select) $1 get $1 eb limit 1

pay $4.60+tax=$4.90, get back $7.10+ $1 for my green bag tag=$8.10

Transaction 2

  • "as seen on tv" easy feet $4.99 get $4.99 eb limit 1
  • kleenex slim pack facial tissue 3 pk or sparkle paper towels single roll $1 get $1 eb limit 2 (bought 1)
  • betty crocker scooby-doo fruit snacks 8 oz $2 get $2 eb limit 1
  • coke 1.25 liter $.99 get $.99 eb limit 1

total $8.98, use $8.10 from transaction 1, pay $.88+tax=$.94, get back $8.98

Transaction 3

  • thermacare lower back & hip heat wrap 1 ct (trial size) $3.49 get $3.49 eb limit 1
  • kotex u barely there liners 18 ct $1.49 get $1 eb limit 1
  • cepacol sensations 4 ct $1 get $1 eb limit 1

total $5.98,  use $5.98 from transaction 2 ($4.99, $.99), eb left $1+$3.49+$1+$2+$1=8.49

So to sum up, I paid $5.94 for $23.05 worth of products AND I have $8.49 to use on my next visit to CVS (on Thursday!). Happy shopping!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Trip report: Clearwater Beach, FL—Hyatt Regency Hotel review

This is post three of three about my trip to Clearwater Beach, Fl in August 2012.

Related posts

My mother and I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach a few hours before the check-in time of 4 p.m. Not having any status with the chain, I was prepared to just leave our bags and wander around town, but the front desk nicely accommodated us early.

The entrance & lobby

The large pink structure is imposing and can be seen from pretty much anywhere on the beach.
Nice lobby

The room

All rooms at this hotel offer a full kitchen with granite countertops, microwave, refrigerator and counter cooktop, which is nice for saving money on meals should you want to hit up the local Publix grocery store or reheat some leftover restaurant meals.

Our Deluxe 2 Queens room was bright, clean and spacious. Basically, everything I could ask for in a free room.

The bathroom was large as well.  

The view

We were on the 8th floor, which is the same level as the swimming pool. We had a balcony and nice views of both the Gulf and the Clearwater Bay.
View from our balcony

Speaking of the pool, it was small, but not crowded at the time of my stay. Views were nice.

Eighth floor swimming pool
There is also a terrace and hot tub on the 16th floor. It would have been nice to catch one of those Clearwater sunsets from up there, but it was either too overcast or raining during my stay.
View from the terrace on the 16th floor

The Hyatt staff was all friendly and helpful. I did not partake in any meals in the restaurant, but did have a drink in the lobby bar during happy hour.

I was concerned about the resort fees ($20 per night) that were listed on my reservation, but thankfully this hotel waives resort fees for award nights. Word to the wise, parking is also pricey, but I didn’t have a car, so this was not an issue for me.

The verdict: I would definitely stay at this hotel again (for free on points, of course!) should I return to Clearwater Beach.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1,500 Rapid Rewards points for new enrollees+early Black Friday sale

If you're a miles and points collector, you probably have a Southwest Rapid Rewards account, but if you're new to the game, be sure to get in on their latest, limited-time offer for 1,500 bonus points.

Fine print: Offer is only valid for new-Member enrollment. Enrollment offer expires 12/1/2012. Automatically receive 1,000 Bonus Points for enrolling in Rapid Rewards. Opt in to receive both Rapid Rewards e-mail communications, stay subscribed for at least three months, and then 500 Bonus Points will be deposited automatically into your account. Applies to points transactions. *Points don’t expire as long as you have flight or Partner earning activity every 24 months.

And if you're shopping for flights, Southwest is offering 40 percent off its Wanna Get Away Fares today only.

Use the code EARLYDEAL to book a Tuesday or Wednesday flight between Dec. 11 and Feb. 12 for 40& off. Blackout dates include Dec. 26, Jan. 1, Jan. 2 and Jan. 22.

There are hotel, vacation package and rental car specials as well.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I won $25! And don't forget to Shop Small for your own free $25

I was so excited to check my email today and see the following:

I didn't blog about this, but I saw a post on Slickdeals about a FedEx gift card giveaway taking place from Nov. 1 to 3 on Facebook, so I entered. They had 40,000 gift cards to give away and shockingly, I won!

Now that I'm done bragging, I'd also like to mention the upcoming Small Business Saturday event coming up on Nov. 24 (that's the Saturday after Thanksgiving). Basically, American Express will give you a $25 statement credit for spending at least $25 on your AmEx card at a small business on that day. I did this last year and it was easy money!

The event does require registration, which opens on Nov. 18, so mark your calendar for that date. And for an even sweeter deal, if you have multiple AmEx cards or card(s) with authorized users, you can register them all for a $25 credit. Note: AmEx prepaid cards, such as Serve or Bluebird, don't qualify for the credit.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

750 Rapid Rewards points for Southwest credit card holders...YMMV

Saw this posted on Slickdeals yesterday...not sure if it is targeted to specific credit card holders or open to anyone, but only takes a few seconds to sign up just in case.

Sign up for the Rapid Rewards E-mail Update before Nov. 30, 2012. You’ll get the inside scoop on the latest news and offers from Southwest Airlines plus a special bonus...750 points after being subscribed for 60 days.

According to the terms and conditions: *750 Bonus Point Offer is valid only for the Rapid Rewards account listed on the e-mail. This offer is not transferable. Subscription to Rapid Rewards Email Update must be for at least 60 consecutive days. Bonus points will post directly to your Rapid Rewards Account four to six weeks after 60 days subscription.

I have the Southwest credit card, but am already signed up for the E-mail Update. So I signed up for the update using a different email address. If I don't get the points, I've only wasted a few seconds out of my life signing up. This offer seems YMMV (Your mileage may vary).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Trip report: Clearwater Beach, FL—flight, activities, costs

This is post two of three about my trip to Clearwater Beach, Fl in August 2012.

Related posts
Hyatt Regency Hotel review

Flight+getting to the hotel

I paid for an early morning Southwest flight to Tampa.

At the time I was planning the trip, I didn’t quite have enough points for a free flight, so I paid for my ticket (using my Chase Sapphire Preferred for double points on travel). I was able to book during a sale on Southwest, so my flight cost $205.20.

Welcome to Tampa!

 It is 30 minutes or so from the Tampa airport to the hotel, and since we (my mother and I) weren’t renting a car, our options were to use a shuttle or take a taxi. I priced both and the Super Shuttle seemed like the cheapest option, at $25 per person each way. I used a 10 percent off discount code and our total came to $90. To even our costs, my mom paid for the shuttle since her flight was $100 cheaper than mine.


Used a Groupon to pay for a surrey rental and biked along the beach area.
Prior to departing for Florida, I had been monitoring the Tampa Bay area Groupon and Clearwater LivingSocial pages, looking for good deals on restaurants and/or activities.

I bought a Groupon for a Dolphin Exploration boat tour for $11, regular price was $22. I was really looking forward to this activity, but unfortunately, it rained and my scheduled boat tour was cancelled, and I was leaving the next day, so was unable to return. I called Groupon and told them of the issue and they nicely refunded my money.

I bought a second Groupon for $15, which provided $30 of bicycle rentals from Wheel Fun Rentals. This worked out well as the rental place was located right outside of the Hyatt. I rented a single surrey and my mother and I biked up and down the beach area for one hour. My mom gave me $7 toward this cost.

The beach and Pier 60

Dolphin exhibit near the pier
We walked down to the beach on our first evening in town. Every evening around sunset, vendors set up tables and sell goods along the pier. There was also a cool dolphin exhibit on display while we were there. Each fiberglass dolphin was sponsored by a local business and was designed by a local artist. On our second day, we rented 2 beach chairs and an umbrella for ($20, $10 apiece) to sit outside for a few hours.

Free shuttle

When we checked into the hotel, the front desk clerk gave us a card for a free shuttle bus (tips are welcome, of course) that would take us anywhere on Clearwater Beach. We used the shuttle to take us to and from the Publix grocery store to buy lunch one day.


My happy hour drink from the hotel bar

I’m not much of a foodie, so it was my goal to eat as cheap as possible. Food spending included:
Day 1(arrival day)-$10.99 for lunch at Frenchy’s restaurant, $1.28 for snack from McDonald’s and $8.82 pizza for dinner from Pier 60 .
Day 2-skipped breakfast, $7.47 for lunch from Publix (took the aforementioned shuttle), $9.23 for frozen mojito from Hyatt’s lobby bar during happy hour, reheated leftover pizza for dinner
Day 3 (departure day)- $4.47 for breakfast at McDonald’s and $6.37 for lunch from local pizza place.

Total costs

  • Flight: $205.20
  • Airport parking in Dallas: $18
  • Activities: $17 (my share of bike & beach chair rental)
  • Food/drinks: $48.63
  • Transportation: $0 (mom paid for it)
  • Hotel: $0
  • Tips/Miscellaneous: $10
Total: $298.83

So, three days on the beach for $300. It would have been nice if I had gotten a free flight as well, but overall it was a good trip.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trip report: Clearwater Beach, FL--Selecting the hotel

This is post one of three about my trip to Clearwater Beach, Fl in August 2012.

Related posts
Hyatt Regency Hotel review

The hotel I chose for my stay in Clearwater Beach.

I gave careful consideration about whether to pay or use points for a hotel. Since I was not renting a car, I knew I wanted to stay on the beach to be walking distance from the action and not in the city, where hotels were slightly cheaper. There are plenty of cheapo motels in Clearwater Beach, but I ultimately decided free is always better for me.

Hotel chains with loyalty programs in Clearwater Beach and number of points per night to redeem an award

I have no Hilton points, no Marriott points and I didn’t have any Starwood points at the time. So, it was between the Hyatt and Holiday Inn, which was a no brainer. The Hyatt took fewer points and was going for around $250 per night during my stay and the Holiday Inn was $150 per night. The Hyatt had a primo location near the pier and was just steps from the beach. It also had pretty good reviews on TripAdvisor.

So, I crossed my fingers and thank goodness, it was available! As an aside, I had zero points in my Hyatt Passport account so I called up Gold Passport and asked if award nights were available during the time I wanted to stay (in August). The rep confirmed there were, so I hung up, transferred the 36,000 points (two nights) from my Chase Sapphire Preferred Ultimate Rewards account to my Hyatt Gold Passport account (it was instantaneous) and booked my room. I was also able to book a Deluxe room which was larger than the standard Premium room.