Archive | January, 2012

How-to throw a killer Super Bowl party on a budget

PennySaverUSA’s garage sale mobile app MOGASA will provide a guest blog post each Tuesday. Enjoy …

The biggest television event of the year is coming up this Sunday and you want to throw a party, but you just don’t know how to fit it in under your miniscule budget. Fear not! MOGASA (download now on iPhone or Android) is here with a few tips to help you host a killer Super Bowl party without breaking the bank to do so.

Simply follow these four steps and your Super Bowl party is bound to be a success.

  1. The TV is the star — The real key to any Super Bowl party is making sure all guests have clear visibility of the television. The main attraction of the evening is the TV, after all. You don’t need to buy a fancy new TV or stand, though. As long as you set up your current TV in a place that can be seen by all guests without obstruction, everyone will be happy. Just remember not to make the rookie mistake of putting the food or drinks in front of the television. That’s an automatic 15-yard personal foul penalty and might result in your guests ejecting you as host.

    mogasa-blog-chips

    Chips are a must at any good Super Bowl party.

  2. Stick to cheap comfort food – Exotic foods certainly have their place (who doesn’t love watching Iron Chef America), but a Super Bowl party isn’t one of them. Chips, burgers, hot dogs, French fries, pizza … those are the types of food you want at your party. And you don’t have to spend much to get them. Check out our Extreme Couponing blogger all-stars and read your local PennySaver. Then go to the grocery store with a strategy. If you use coupons and shop smart, you should be able to get all the food you need at a very low cost.
  3. Homemade decorations – It’s really not necessary to go out and buy party supplies for your Super Bowl party. You probably have everything you need right in your closet. Dig through your old stuff for anything blue (Giants) or red (Patriots) and use that stuff to decorate. To add a little flair, you can use MOGASA to find and visit some local garage sales on Saturday, and buy used football paraphernalia to accent the blue and red.
  4. Prizes – One of the easiest ways to keep people interested during your Super Bowl party (even if the game is a dud) is to have prize giveaways. For example, let everyone draw players names out of a hat and whichever player scores first, the person who picked his name wins a prize. The prizes don’t need to be fancy – think nerf footballs, koozies, playing cards, or other fun items you might have lying around the house you never use – but the point is having these types of fun little games throughout the party help build and maintain a festive atmosphere.

Now for the most important step of all that is completely free:

5. Have a good time – If you are enjoying yourself, everyone else will, too!

Rating 2.00 out of 5

Announcing the winner of PennySaverUSA’s Share a Memory, Make a Buck contest

PennySaverUSA readers never cease to amaze us. The caliber of the 579 total entries into our Share a Memory, Make a Buck contest was truly outstanding. It was extremely difficult to pick a winner, but the judges have reached a decision.share-a-memory-make-a-buck-online-contest-winner

Congratulations go to Toni L. for her incredibly touching story, the quality of the writing and the fact she kept it to exactly the 250-word limit! Read it below:

I thought I had seen it all through my 30 years of teaching special education students: from the joy of the small accomplishments to the sad fact of being invisible. But not until our downtown Christmas caroling event could I say I hadn’t seen this coming. This year, my students chose 3 places to sing: the Senior Center, City Hall, and the Police Station. So, with guitar, bells and a few musical Santa hats, we boarded a city bus to the Senior Center. The hallway and lobby were noisy and crowded, so we sang our 4 songs and quickly moved on. We walked to City Hall and were told we could sing in the big, round, empty Rotunda where a few people thanked us from the upstairs balcony. One of my students asked, “Where is everybody?” My heart sank. I was now afraid of what we might find at the Police Station. We entered the empty lobby. I asked an officer at the front counter if we could sing a few Christmas carols. The officer stood for a minute, finally said yes, but added, “wait a minute and let me call around.” What happened next took my breath away. Within minutes, at least 40 staff filled the lobby and balcony: the Chief of Police, lieutenants, administrative personnel, detectives, crime prevention, street and gang officers. Joyful singing by all filled the lobby. The officers shook everyone’s hand and pinned police stars on all. They were still singing as we waved goodbye.

Toni L. was very excited about her victory, telling PennySaverUSA, “Thank you so much for your surprise e-mail telling me I won the contest! What an honor to receive this prize.”

It was really us who were honored, Toni L., to read your heartfelt essay.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Free Friday: Luxury brand beauty product freebies

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nordstrom changed its free sample from Prada Candy Eau de Parfum to Juicy Couture ‘Viva la Juicy’ Eau de Parfum. We apologize for any confusion.

It seems like just yesterday we were predicting an amazing 2012 for Free Friday full of amazing freebies. It’s hard to believe this is already the final Free Friday of January, but we think we’ve fulfilled our prediction so far and are excited to present you a slew of incredible beauty product freebies.

Rarely does such an outstanding combination of brand name beauty product freebies come available at one time, and we’re thrilled to present them to you this Free Friday.

free-friday-juicy-fragrance

When Free Friday includes Juicy Couture, you know it's a good week.

As if you needed an excuse to visit the mall this weekend, now you have one. Two prominent retailers have in-store offers for beauty product freebies this weekend. Every Saturday is Sample Saturday at Nordstrom and their giveaway this week is particularly strong. They are handing out Juicy Couture ‘Viva la Juicy’ Eau de Parfum to anyone who stops by. Make sure to get their early, though, as supplies could run out fast.

JCPenny and its in-store Sephora section are responsible for the next Free Friday beauty product offer. As long as supplies last, you can bring this printable coupon to the store good for a 10-day sample of Bare Escentuals’ new matte foundation plus a baby buki brush. Limit one sample per person and this coupon has been out for a few days, so you may want to call ahead to make sure your local store hasn’t run out of samples.

From Juicy Couture to Bare Escentuals to … Versace! The luxury brand is giving away an exclusive deluxe sample of its Versace Yellow Diamond fragrance to anyone who “Likes” their Facebook page.

Our daily deal site SaverTime.com is responsible for our next Free Friday offer. The San Dimas Hair Stop just outside of Los Angeles is offering a free women’s deep conditioning treatment to anyone who downloads the free voucher from SaverTime and brings it into the store.

free-friday-sprinkles-cupcakes

Try Sprinkles Cupcakes with a buy one, get one free coupon.

Closing out the beauty product freebies portion of Free Friday is an offer from AcneFree. The company is dedicated to helping rid you of those pesky little pimples and is offering a free trial size sample of their Sulfur Mask product as a show of good faith. All you have to do is “Like” their Facebook page.

While the spectacular beauty product freebies have dominated this particular edition of Free Friday, we couldn’t pass on a chance to include one final free offer that might be the best of all: A buy one, get one free offer from Sprinkles Cupcakes! Just visit their Facebook page and download the coupon.

Found any freebies you think are worthy of Free Friday? Please let us know in the comments.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Extreme couponing blogger all-stars

The Pro Bowl – the NFL’s all-star game – is this Sunday in Hawaii. In honor of that annual event, we’ve decided to highlight our five favorite extreme couponing blogger all-stars!

There are a multitude of couponing bloggers on the web, but these five have earned the PennySaverUSA stamp of approval.extreme-couponing-all-stars

First is “The” Cents’Able Shoppin. The blog was recently redesigned and now the look of the site matches the quality of the content, which has always been superior. The variety of coupons provided is outstanding and while the founder is from Arizona, she does an excellent job of mixing in national coupons with local ones.

Our second extreme couponing all-star blogger is Coupon Katarina. Her style is relentless and there is rarely a coupon or deal that she doesn’t get on her site almost immediately. What really sets her apart; however, are her well organized category headers. They make it very easy to find the type of coupon you are seeking without too much effort.

PennySaverUSA’s headquarters are in Southern California, so we have a soft spot for our third extreme couponing all-star blogger. The best thing about Southern Cali Saver is how thorough the research is for all of the posts. While some couponing blogs get too eager to post coupons and deals that might not be legitimate, Southern Cali Saver is very careful about only posting reputable coupons and deals.

When it comes to coupon match-ups, few sites can equal The Realstic Couponers blog. The sheer volume of grocery stores covered makes it worth of extreme couponing all-star blogger status. A total of 13 – yes 13! – store match-ups are listed on the blog regularly and they can easily be sorted via a dropdown of the “Store Match-Ups” category header.

The final spot on our extreme couponing all-stars roster is none other than Coupon Mamacita. This blog is special because of its depth. If you look at the coupons and deals featured, you are only touching the surface of what the blog has to offer. There are giveaways, an extreme couponing database and extreme couponing classes.

Know of an extreme couponing blog you think got snubbed and deserved to be an all-star? Let us know in the comments.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Pet of the Week: Ellie Mae deserves the chance Izzy received

There is just something about little doggies. They have this cute charm about them that’s simply undeniable. PennySaverUSA’s Pet of the Week up for adoption in San Diego, Ellie Mae, is a perfect example, as is our user-submitted adopted pet, Izzy.

pet-of-the-week-ellie-mae

Look at that sweet face! Ellie Mae deserves a loving home. Adopt her today.

Ellie Mae, pictured to the right, is not a “Beverly Hillbilly” and her last name isn’t “Clampett,” but she sure is a sweet little girl. She is Dachshund-Chihuahua mix and weighs 10 pounds. She’s 1 ½ years old and is spayed.

Ellie Mae was transferred to Rancho Coastal Humane Society through the FOCAS program. She had been found running stray on the streets of San Diego. Maybe she was “lookin’ for some food.”

Just like her namesake from the television show, this Ellie Mae seems to love being outdoors…including long walks and meeting other “critters.” But unlike Ellie Mae Clampett, this Ellie Mae still needs a home…and it doesn’t need to be a mansion

The $125 adoption fee for “Ellie Mae” includes medical exam, spay, up-to-date vaccinations, and microchip identification.

Rancho Coastal Humane Society

Location: 389 Requeza Street, Encinitas CA 92024

Contact: http://www.SDpets.org | 760-753-6413 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 760-753-6413 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Adoption hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday

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PennySaverUSA Twitter follower @Jormanda (tweet her your support!) is the provider of the following brilliant pet adoption story. She was nice enough to share her tale with us, and all PennySaverUSA readers are better off for it:

My three children had begged me for a dog for as long as they were old enough to know how to ask!  I finally caved in to their requests a year ago, when I figured they were old enough to share the responsibility of a pet.

My kids (ages 12 and 9 and 7 at the time) immediately went online to search for adoptable puppies.  They showed me picture after picture of sweet puppies, but when I saw the adoption listing for three Chiweenie (half mini Daschund, half Chihuahua) puppies, I knew we’d found our newest family member.

pet-of-the-week-izzy

Izzy and her family were a perfect match.

I emailed the rescue agency and they replied that only one of the puppies was still available for adoption.  We arranged to meet the following week, but the puppy ended up being sick, so we weren’t able to visit her.

The next week of waiting to hear that she was okay, was excruciating!  We finally received a call that she was better, and drove down to see her the following day.

She was the tiniest thing I’d ever laid my eyes on!  She weighed only 1 pound, 8 ounces and was too sweet for words.  We’d been brainstorming names for her, and had several options ready, and decided we’d choose the right one when we met her.

After the agency agreed that we’d be a good match, they mentioned that they’d been calling her Izzy.  Izzy was the name my 9 year old daughter had picked out for her, so that’s the name that stuck.  Another sign she was meant to be ours!

We took her home that day and she has been such a source of joy ever since.  Of course she’s had her destructive puppy moments, but we wouldn’t trade her for the world.  She’s taken on the role of watch dog, play mate, comforter and companion.

Izzy has changed our lives and I’m so grateful that she found her way to us!  She’s sound asleep, curled up on my lap, snoring softly as I’m writing this.   Life is good. J

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Junk or Family Heirloom? How to Tell the Difference and Organize Your Home

PennySaverUSA’s garage sale mobile app MOGASA will provide a guest blog post each Tuesday. Enjoy …

We all have them hiding in our house…the nefarious junk drawers, junk boxes, and closet crannies, A.K.A., the places where things we don’t use go to die.  Today MOGASA (Download on iPhone or Android) is here to help you organize your home and separate the junk from the family heirlooms you might want to hold onto.

Getting startedmogasa-family-heirloom

Before you remove a single object from the junk drawer, you need to have an organization system in place for processing the items once you’re done. We recommend creating a box for junk, a box for donation or sale items, and a box for keepsakes or family heirlooms.  And be sure to take The Happy Housewife’s words of wisdom “If you aren’t going to keep an item, put it in the labeled container immediately.” Otherwise you’ll end up in “Maybe I’ll use this someday” limbo. Now, let the organization commence!

Junk or family heirloom? How to tell the difference.

We’ve lined up a few simple questions you should ask yourself that will make separating the junk from the keepsakes a breeze.

1.) Do I use it more than once a decade? – This should always be the first question you ask yourself. If the answer is yes, then you don’t need to feel guilty about holding onto it. Just find a destination for it in your home, besides the junk drawer. If the answer is no, move it into the donate/sell box if it has value, the junk box if it has none, or move to question 2 if you can’t decide.

2.) Does this item have potential historical significance? – We’ve all heard the stories about people getting rid of items that wound up being worth a fortune. Don’t let yourself make a decision you later regret. See an old crusty notebook? Thumb through it before tossing it aside. See if there is anything unique or interesting about it. If there is, do some research and find someone who may know more about the item. Who knows? It might be a rough draft of Earnest Hemingway’s first novel and you’ve just hit the jackpot.

3.) If my house was burning down and I could only grab a few things, would this be something I would take? According to Laura, blogger for Prepared Binder, “The difference between heirlooms and junk is the significance and emotional attachment we add to each item.” If this object is not something that would change your life if you lost it, you probably don’t need it. Move it into the donate or junk boxes. If you really have a hard time parting with it, take a photo of it so you can preserve the memory, without taking up space.

4.) Ask yourself, how will I use this and who will I pass this on to? This is where we get down to the really tough questions. First, how are you going to use this in your home? Don’t allow it to go back into hiding in your closet. If you’re holding onto an heirloom, but can’t use it yourself, pass it on to a family member who would love it now. If you can’t do either of these things, maybe it’s time to sell the item. After all, wouldn’t it mean more to your grandfather if you sold “the coin collection and take a trip with the proceeds,” as Laura of Prepared Binder recommends. Move it into the sell box.

Now you have three neatly organized boxes and all it took was four simple questions. Here’s what to do next.  First, take the junk box to the dumpster, now! If you don’t do it immediately, you’ll likely forget about it, and then guess what? You’ve got the makings of a new junk drawer. Next, load the sell box in your car and drop them off at your church or local Goodwill. If there are items you want to sell, post a free ad on PennySaver. Finally, take the heirlooms you’re holding onto and display them in your home or pass them down to a loved one who will cherish them.

Voilà! You’ve got one seriously organized home. Better Homes and Gardens cover, here you come.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Save Money Monday: Chinese restaurant coupons

In honor of the Chinese New Year starting today, we’ve decided to dedicate this edition of Save Money Monday to Chinese restaurant coupons.

Chinese restaurants are among the nation’s most popular for a reason — because the food is so darned good!

Save-Money-Monday-Broccoli-Beef

The Fortune Cookie restaurant in Fremont CA made this tasty dish and has good coupons.

It’s not like most of us need an excuse to go to a Chinese restaurant, but with the Year of the Dragon kicking off, it almost seems wrong NOT to eat Chinese food tonight.

Luckily, PennySaverUSA.com is one of the leading online resources for Chinese restaurant coupons.

More than 17,500 Chinese restaurants are featured on PennySaverUSA.com and many of them have outstanding coupons available.

Celebrating Chinese New Year by eating Chinese food at your local Chinese restaurant is an enticing proposition, but when you can get significant discounts by using a PennySaverUSA.com coupon the decision becomes a no-brainer.

While many of the menu items at Chinese restaurants in the United States might not be totally authentic and have been modified to fit western tastes, there is no denying their deliciosity (yes, we just made that word up, but it sounds so much better than deliciousness).

Common, who doesn’t love a little Orange Chicken, Kung Pao Beef or Shrimp Fried rice? Chinese food is simply divine.

Leave us a comment telling us about your favorite Chinese restaurant, and if we don’t already have a coupon for it, we’ll work on getting one!

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Free Friday: Lots of free food and free beauty products

Give the people what they want. That’s what we try to do here at PennySaverUSA and if Free Friday is any indication, the people have spoken loud and clear: They want offers for free food and free beauty products!

We’re thrilled to give you several of them in this edition of Free Friday.

If you haven’t tried Chick-Fil-A’s breakfast yet, you don’t know what you are missing. To get it for free is a blessing indeed. From next Tuesday through next Saturday, they are allowing customers to reserve a free breakfast entrée online at select California locations. (Thanks Southern Cali Saver for the find)

free-friday-fribble

Bliss is defined by getting a free Fribble from Friendly's.

From Chick-Fil-A free food to Panda Express free food; are we sure Christmas was almost four weeks ago? Kind of feels like Santa Claus

has come back for Round 2. Panda Express has an online coupon for free firecracker chicken breast on Monday, January 23. The best part – it’s not a BOGO. No purchase is necessary.

Now that you’ve gotten free food for breakfast and dinner, it’s time for a little dessert courtesy of Friendly’s. The classic American diner chain is celebrating its 76th anniversary by handing out the “Fribble” (Friendly’s version of a milkshake) to everyone that comes in between 12 p.m.-5 p.m. this Saturday (while supplies last). (Thanks Free Sample Momma for the find)

With breakfast, dinner and dessert covered, it’s time for a Free Friday offer aimed towards the baby in the family. Parent’s Choice is sending out free samples of baby formula if you sign up for their email newsletter. You can choose between three types of formula.

Don’t worry free beauty products fans, we haven’t forgotten you – and neither has Bath & Body Works. This weekend only, they are offering all of their Facebook fans a free 2 oz. body lotion sample of their new Pink Chiffon product. All you have to do is “Like” their page, if you haven’t yet. (Thanks “The” Cents’Able Shoppin for the find)

free drycleaning

Live in the San Fernando Valley? Pick up a SaverTime voucher for free dry cleaning.

LovelySkin.com is going all out, letting you pick out one freebie from 16 different beauty products. The only thing you have to do is complete the free registration for their site.

The next free beauty products offer comes from Physicians Formula. They have a free mail-in rebate form for their Organic Wear Lash Boosting Mascara. Simply buy an Organic Wear Lash Boosting Mascara product marked with the “Try me free” label, fill out the rebate form and mail it all together with the receipt to the address on the rebate form and they will send you a check for the money you spent (not including tax). (Thanks Money Saving Mindy for the find)

We hope you enjoy all of the offers for free food and free beauty products and leave you with one final freebie from our daily deal site SaverTime.com. Download a free voucher for $10 Worth of Dry Cleaning, with pick-up and delivery included in the San Fernando Valley. The voucher is only available today, but doesn’t have to be redeemed until Feb. 1, 2012.

Rating 4.33 out of 5

Send us a Valentine’s Day message and be entered to win a $100 gift card

It might seem like yesterday that you had your Christmas tree up and were singing Auld Lang Syne at New Year’s, but nearly three weeks have past in 2012 and it’s quickly getting closer and closer to Valentine’s Day. Don’t let Cupid pass you by.Valentine's #pennyshout contest

Send us a short message for your special someone and we’ll print it in our PennySaver publication – for free (space available). As an added bonus, this year we are giving away a $100 gift card to 10 random winners who participate!

That should help cover the cost of those Valentine’s dates and/or gifts for which you’ve been trying to figure out a budget.

There are several ways you can get your message to us:

Twitter: Tweet #pennyshout with your 5-digit zip code and message and follow @PennySaverUSA.

Call: 800-995-3333

Fax: 760-599-15505 (Download the form)

Mail: Attn: Valentine’s Day Greetings/Private Party P.O. Box 1689 Vista, CA 92085 (Download the form)

Email: Email us using this online form.

As an added bonus, we are opening up this #pennyshout contest nationwide to all PennySaverUSA Twitter followers. While your free message will only be printed in the PennySaver publication if you live within California, we will publish all other messages on the blog on the morning of Feb. 14.

NOTE: If you don’t live in California, we will only accept messages through Twitter. We can only publish your message in the California PennySaver.

A published free Valentine’s Day message AND a chance to win a $100 gift card? PennySaverUSA is definitely showing you the love. All we ask is for you to take advantage of this opportunity and show that same love to your sweetie.

Rating 3.50 out of 5

Pet of the Week: Mo from Manteca

Pet of the Week runs every Wednesday on the PennySaverUSA blog and features one pet currently up for adoption and one pet that was successfully adopted by a PennySaverUSA reader.

PennySaverUSA’s latest Pet of the Week spotlights a couple of pets named after classic American fictional characters.

pet-of-the-week-mo

Don't let Mo remain homeless. Adopt him today!

The gorgeous American Eskimo shown in the picture to the right is available for adoption from the Manteca Animal Shelter near Stockton. His name is Mo, coincidentally the name of the famous member of the Three Stooges (never mind the ‘e’ was left off), which is perfectly appropriate because of Mo’s playful nature and memorable facial expressions.

Mo is only about a year old and is not yet neutered. He’s a wonderful dog who needs a loving home soon! He would make a great companion for some lucky person or family.

Seriously, who can resist those inquisitive eyes?

Interested in adopting Mo (please reference his pet ID #: 59675), or another pet from the Manteca Animal Shelter? Here is their information:

Manteca City Animal Shelter

Location: 115 E Wetmore St., Manteca, CA 95337

Phone: 209-456-8270 |  Email: animalservices@ci.manteca.ca.us | Website

Hours: Tue-Sat: 10am – 4: 45 pm, Closed Noon – 1pm    Sun & Mon: 10am to 12noon

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Thanks to PennySaverUSA Twitter follower @soulfliesfree for sharing the tale of how she took in Indiana. Here is her story:

Eighteen months ago, I had just moved to a new house and was doing some cleaning in the yard when I heard a noise.

pet-of-the-week-indiana

Named after Indiana Jones, this cat has an adventurous side.

After some searching I located eight tiny kittens under debris and old gardening pots next to an old fence. Knowing that there were several feral cats in the area, I took the eight hungry kittens into my home until they were old enough to be adopted.

Unfortunately Indiana was not adopted by a forever family. But fortunately for me he has brightened up my home and he isn’t going anywhere.

His favorite spot to hang is the front window. This is where you can often hear a meow whenever someone is walking up to the front door as he announces their arrival. When you call his name he comes running. He really is a joy and I’m so glad I found him that day.

Indiana is his name and he’s nicknamed Indi after Indiana Jones, as he is no stranger to adventure. Quite a vocal cat, he sings whenever he sees a bird outside, almost like he is begging to go out and play.

His other favorite spot is to curl up right next to Moxie and Bodhi the two dogs in the house.

Rating 4.00 out of 5