Archive | February, 2012

Pet of the Week: Don’t let Lulu stay lonely

The PennySaverUSA print publication is now featuring a local Pet of the Week in editions throughout California. Please check out your local PennySaver to see the Pet of the Week up for adoption in your area. Here is an example of an ad from the Orange County South edition.

PennySaverUSA’s newest Pet of the Week comes to us from the San Diego Humane Society. Her name is Lulu and as you can see in the picture to the right, she’s a real catch. She’s a 3-year-old black terrier and her adoption ID# is 90588.

pet-of-the-week-lulu

Just look at Lulu. What a hottie!

Lulu can’t wait to find a special family to cherish! She can be a bit shy at first, but warms up as she becomes more familiar with her environment and gets to know you. Lulu loves relaxing, sleeping and snuggling by the side of a companion or a warm window.

This sweet girl appreciates close, trusting relationships and would do best in a home with no children.

Lulu’s adoption fee is $75 and that includes her spay, current vaccinations, permanent microchip identification, a certificate for a free veterinary exam, and a license if residing in Oceanside or Vista!

During the adoption process a San Diego Humane Society Trainer will be present to answer any questions and share how to best care for Lulu and offer tips for continued training in the future.

San Diego Humane Society

Location: 2905 San Luis Rey Road, Oceanside, CA 92058

Contact: http://www.sdhumane.org |   760-757-4357

Adoption hours: 10AM-4PM daily

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That lovely little cat to the right you see is named Jellybean and she is (along with pal Sparky) the latest user-submitted Pet of the Week. PennySaverUSA Twitter follower @khealy8834 was the source of this awesome story. Tweet her to find out more about Jellybean and Sparky!

pet-of-the-week-jellybean

Please tweet us @PennySaverUSA if you want your adopted pet spotlighted like Jellybean.

After walking around the shelter and seeing all the cats/kittens, there was no way we could narrow it down to one kitten (at least I couldn’t just pick one).

We picked our top 2 kittens and went to speak with the employees figuring we would pick one while doing the paperwork. While talking with the employees, they tugged at my emotions by saying how the one kitten would be lonely when we were both at work all day (I’m a CPA so my hours sometimes are longer).

My partner had also tried to wear me down to get two kittens so I relented. That was how we got 2.

Jellybean was 8 to 12 weeks old and while they told us Sparky was the same age, we later found out from our vet that Sparky was 3 to 4 weeks younger (and has stomach/intestinal issues).

Best decision I ever made.. These two cats are my kids. They know just how to put a smile on our faces. They have total different personalities. Jellybean is very shy around people (she normally runs under a bed when anyone comes into the condo).Sparky is the exact opposite. When someone new first comes into the apartment, she is reserved for 5 to 10 minutes watching what is going on. After 10 minutes, she’ll walk up to the person and start meowing and rubbing against them, it is very cute.

They are the best. I can’t even remember my life before them.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Tips for Making a Successful Yard Sale Sign

Making a yard sale sign seems pretty simple, right? You just draw an arrow pointing to your house and tack the sign to the nearest pole. Not so fast. While that sign may get some shoppers headed in the right direction, you’re going to lose lots of drivers who won’t give your sign a second glance.

Luckily, PennySaverUSA.com is here to share the three elements for creating successful yard sale signage to make sure you get the most from your next garage sale.

yardsalesign

Put up signs for drive-by traffic and place a free ad on PennySaverUSA.com to get even more visitors to your sale.

The Three Elements of Successful Yard Sale Signage

  1. Clear Address and Time– more important than any other part of your garage sale sign is that shoppers can clearly see the address and time of your sale. This includes day of the week and hours. E.g., Sunday, 7AM – 1PM, 1123 Sycamore Street. Make sure that this VIP information is bold and legible, so it can be easily read from the street. Our friend, the Curious Crow, has a hilarious blog on this topic.
  2. Visibility –You want your sign to make drivers stop everything and reverse course to your sale. To do this, Facebook fan Laura S. recommends using neon signs, with an arrow pointing in the direction of your sale. And Martha G. even recommends tying balloons to your sign. Anything you can do for extra attention is a plus.
  3. Sign Location- This goes along with visibility, but you’ll also want to make sure your sign is in a high traffic area and clearly visible from the street. We recommend placing a couple at the major cross streets near your home and placing some at the beginning and end of your actual street.

For even more eyes on your yard sale, place a free garage sale ad in PennySaverUSA’s online classifieds, where thousands of shoppers browse every day.

Do you have any tips for making a great yard sale sign? We’ve love to hear them with a comment below.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

PennySaver Trivia contest

EXPIRED: Congratulations to Linda B. for being the winner of this trivia contest.

First of all, we’d like to thank you for being a loyal PennySaver reader and visiting our blog! Here are the details for the contest.pennysaverusa-retro-logo

QUESTION: How many former Presidents of the United States are not buried in America?

PennySaver Trivia Contest:

  • Enter by registering for a free PennySaverUSA.com account (if you haven’t yet) and leave a comment below with the answer to the trivia question by Friday, March 2 at noon PT.
  • We will pick a winner from all the comments with the correct answer via random drawing.
  • The winner will then be notified and announced as the winner in the PennySaver print publication!

Once you’ve entered our PennySaver trivia contest, we’d love for you to join the PennySaverUSA community for more special contests, discounts and offers:

  1. Subscribe to our email newsletter to hear first about PennySaverUSA.com’s new contests and features.
  2. Like us on Facebook to get exclusive offers, money-saving tips and more.
  3. Follow us on Twitter to get news and information from around the web about couponing, pet ownership and more.
  4. Add us to your Google+ Circle and join the frugal conversation.
  5. Check us out on Pinterest to see our favorite vintage items.

Good luck in the PennySaver Trivia contest! Remember to check next week’s PennySaver print publication to find out if you won.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Save Money Monday: Discounted premium ad placement package on PennySaverUSA.com

We’re named PennySaverUSA.com for a reason. America is our home and we’re proud of it! So much so, in fact, that we’ve decided to offer an American flag-themed discounted premium ad placement package to everyone who places an ad on PennySaverUSA.com.

This premium ad placement package is the subject of the latest Save Money Monday installment.

place an ad flag icon

This is an example of what your discounted premium ad would look like.

Before we get into the benefits of the new premium package, let’s review how to place an ad on PennySaverUSA.com.

With spring cleaning just around the corner, this is especially important, so you can make some money from your discarded items, instead of just throwing them away.

Placing an ad on PennySaverUSA.com is completely free. All you have to do is register for a free account with PennySaverUSA.com, pick an appropriate category for your item and put in the details and price. It is advised that you include a picture of your item to help potential buyers see what they are purchasing, but it is not required.

While a free ad (especially one with a picture) will get your ad out on the site, the best way to guarantee it gets seen by the millions of PennySaverUSA.com visitors is to purchase premium ad placement. Premium ad placement costs $20 and bumps your ad to the top of the listings for the category you picked.

Enter our new American flag-themed discounted premium ad placement package. For only $18 you can get premium ad placement (which normally costs $20 as mentioned above) AND an American flag icon (value: $2.50). That’s enough to get those patriotic juices flowing!

Any paid icons or packages you’d like to see us offer in the future? Let us know in the comments.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Healthy Eating Tips: Introducing a New PennySaverUSA Blog Series

Donuts the latest diet trend… of course that’s what we all wish this post was going to be about, but let’s be real. Until they make some huge scientific breakthroughs, we’re going to have to learn to love our fruits and veggies. In our new monthly blog series, Healthy Eating Tips, we’re going to share healthy recipes and tips for making nutritional choices that are as flavorful as they are fun.

grocery store coupons

Get grocery store coupons from PennySaverUSA.com

Healthy eating doesn’t begin and end with the foods you choose at meal time. It’s a choice that encompasses many decisions throughout your week. One of the biggest decisions in this cycle is how we go grocery shopping. If you’re anything like us, there have been times you’ve gone shopping without a plan of attack, only to end up going home with frozen pizzas and ramen noodles. But by following a few of the simple grocery shopping tips below, you’ll be able to make much healthier buying decisions.

  1. Make a weekly menu plan – Planning a week’s worth of healthy meals in advance keeps your commitment to eating healthy on track. Whole Living magazine, which is chocked full of recipe ideas each month, is a good place to find healthy recipes.  The free Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List App, which shows you the nutritional information for thousands of healthy meals, is another fantastic resource. Once you’ve picked your recipes, organize them into a handy menu plan (Tsh of Simplemom.net has some great menu planning tips).
  2. Make a grocery shopping list –Going into the grocery store with a shopping list makes it less likely you’ll come home with pizza bagels and popcorn. Inventory your recipes and write down everything that’s not in your fridge or pantry. Of course, there’s always room for Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, but stick to your list as much as possible for a healthy week ahead.
  3. Grocery shop at your local produce market – Head to your local produce or farmer’s market to find the freshest fruits and veggies at a reasonable price. Being in SoCal, we frequent the farmer’s market at the Orange County Marketplace on weekends and Wholesome Choice grocery during the week. We’re usually able to find every ingredient on my list without going over budget.

When beginning this endeavor you might think sticking to a meal plan will be boring, but it’s likely to turn out to be quite the opposite. Making the healthy recipes you pick turns the shopping experience into an adventure and makes actually eating the fruits of my hard work much more rewarding.

Until next time, happy meals to you!

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Free Friday: Family fun freebies

Just because times are tough doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to enjoy some family fun. This edition of Free Friday is dedicated to helping you and your family do just that.

The opening act to this Free Friday family fun adventure is provided by Dave & Busters. The popular arcade chain is giving away $10 in free play if you sign up for their free Dave & Buster’s Rewards program that includes more specials and discounts.

free-friday-sesame-street

It's about time Sesame Street made a Free Friday appearance.

Perhaps you’d rather enjoy some family fun in the comfort of your own home. Free Friday has that covered as well. If you “Like” the Redbox Facebook page, you will receive a code for a free one-night rental! (Thanks Penny Pinchin’ Mom for this tip)

Is there anything that says “family fun” more than Sesame Street? Thanks to PNC, you can get a free bilingual multimeda kit that includes a Parent and Caregiver Guide, a Children’s Activity Book, 3 Jar Labels, and an original Sesame Street® DVD that features characters discussing personal finance. You can download the entire kit here, visit your local PNC Bank and ask for one or call: 1-877-PNC-GROW and request one.

Our next family fun freebie comes courtesy of IHOP. Their annual IHOP National Pancake Day Celebration takes place on Tuesday, February 28. They are giving out a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to all guests. No purchase is required, but they do ask that you consider leaving a donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals©.

Most families typically have tea or coffee drinkers. Well Free Friday has something for both! Yogi Tea is mailing out free samples of its product to anyone who fills out a short form with their mailing address and email, while Marley Coffee is doing the same. (Thanks Free Sample Momma for this tip)

It’s tough to have much family fun if a member of the family is not feeling well. Our next three Free Friday freebies will help prevent that from happening:

free-friday-toothpaste

Whenever an offer for toothpaste appears in Free Friday, you know it's a good week.

  1. CVS is offering free samples of Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash to anyone who watches a video about the product.
  2. Burt’s Bees new product line, güd, is also handing out free samples to anyone who “Likes” its Facebook page.
  3. Aquafresh has a $1 off coupon for its new Fresh ‘N Fruity toothpaste for kids or Extreme Clean toothpaste for adults. By using this at many retail stores such as Walmart and Target, you can get a free travel size (normally costs 98 cents). (Thanks “The” Cents’Able Shoppin for this tip)

We end this epic Free Friday journey of family fun freebies with a pair of deals from our daily deal site SaverTime.com. Sky Box Sports Bar & Grill in San Diego has a voucher for a free appetizer and Dance Mode Studio in the Bay Area has a voucher for two free weeks of unlimited dance lessons.

From the PennySaverUSA family to yours, we hope you have a great weekend and make the most of these Free Friday offers for family fun.

Rating 3.50 out of 5

Tax tips: Understanding the different 1040 forms

This is Part II of PennySaverUSA’s tax tips series

In this tax tips blog post we are going over the differences between all of the 1040 tax forms.

tax-tips-1040-forms

PennySaverUSA's tax tips are here to help make tax time fun!

Just about everyone has to complete at least one 1040 tax form, and some people have to fill out several, depending on their situation. For complete details please visit the IRS web site or contact a tax accountant.

Search PennySaverUSA.com online classifieds to find the most trusted local tax services in your area at great prices.

Below is a brief explanation of what each 1040 form is and for whom it applies.

Form 1040 EZ: According to tax professional Ken Wells from Ken Wells Tax Service & Bookkeeping, this form is “a simplified version that is primarily for people with one or two W2s. (It applies most) for students or single people with moderate incomes.” Please visit Ken Wells’ web site or call 888-556-4590 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 888-556-4590 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to get more information and set up an appointment.

Not everyone is eligible to fill out this form. Here is a list of the key requirements (for the full list of requirements, please visit the IRS web site):

  • Must be single or married filing jointly
  • You can’t claim dependents
  • You must be under the age of 65
  • Your income is less than $100,000
  • You do not claim student loan interest deduction
  • You are not claiming an educational or health coverage tax credit

Form 1040A: The next easiest income tax form to fill out. It is less restrictive than the form 1040EZ. The key for this form is that you are not allowed to itemize your deductions and you must have made less than $100,000 in taxable income. Please visit the IRS web site for more information.

Form 1040-ES: This is an estimated tax form for 2012. It’s only applicable to people who think they will owe at least $1,000 in tax for this year (which would be paid next year). If you don’t think you will owe over $1,000 when you file next year’s taxes, then you can ignore this form.TurboTax - Choose Easy

Form 1040 Schedule A: If you plan on using itemized deductions, instead of the standard deduction, then this form is a must (check here to learn more about the difference between a standard and itemized deduction). As Wells says, however, using itemized deductions “is more complicated.” He cites home mortgage interest and charitable donations as an example of itemized deductions or “write-offs”. For more information, please call him at 888-556-4590 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 888-556-4590 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to set up an appointment or visit the IRS web site.

Form 1040 Schedule B: Unless you had significant interest income or have a financial account in a foreign country, this form is unlikely to apply for you.

Form 1040 Schedule C: This form primarily applies to small businesses and independent contractors. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, you can skip this one.

Form 1040 Schedule D: New for this year, Form 8949 replaces what was before Schedule D-1. Schedule D and Form 8949 pertain mostly to capital gains and losses. Don’t worry about this form unless you made or lost money last year from a sale of assets such as stocks or property.

Form 1040 Schedule SE: Only applies to those who were self-employed.

Form 1040X: You can ignore this form unless you have to make an amendment to your taxes or want to correct a mistake you made when you filled out an earlier tax form.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Pet of the Week: Freya found a loving owner, now it’s Arthur’s turn

The PennySaverUSA print publication is now featuring a local Pet of the Week in editions throughout California. Please check out your local PennySaver to see the Pet of the Week up for adoption in your area.

They say a dog is man’s best friend, but PennySaverUSA’s latest Pet of the Week finds himself without a man to be friends with! Help us change that by spreading the word about Arthur, pictured on the right, and sharing this blog with all your friends.

pet-of-the-week-arthur

Arthur is waiting eagerly for a family.

Arthur was transferred to Rancho Coastal Humane Society from another animal shelter through the FOCAS program. He’s a real “Family Dog,” meaning that Arthur is a dog that really NEEDS to be part of a family that will include him in everything they do.

No matter how much you love him, Arthur will love you more. Beware the tongue. He’s a great kisser!

He is a 1-year-old, 65 pound, neutered, male, Labrador Retriever and Hound mix. Like most young Labs…he’s a bit of a goofball. He has a beautiful chocolate colored coat and big golden eyes that are constantly on the lookout for anything that needs his attention.

This is a dog that has reached adult size, but mentally he’s still a puppy…eager to learn and ready to please his new family.

The $125 adoption fee for Arthur includes medical exam, neuter, 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

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

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The adorable doggy you see to the right is the latest user-submitted Pet of the Week. Her name is Freya and her owner @SunshineTist was kind enough to reach out to @PennySaverUSA via Twitter and share this lovely story.

pet-of-the-week-freya

I'm all dressed... now let's get this party started!! (Caption courtesty of PennySaverUSA Facebook fan Nea G.)

Six months after my 18-year old dog passed away, I had finally decided I was ready to adopt another, but all the dogs I met were either ‘already spoken for’ or weren’t a right fit for various reasons.

On January 23, 2011, the dog I went to see at the Sacramento County Shelter was being adopted as I got there.  But before I had a chance to think about it, I saw “Tia” (Now renamed ‘Freya’, after the Norse Goddess of Love).

She was in a “viewing room” with another dog, because she was so friendly. I took her out to a play area, and she was so enthusiastic about EVERYTHING. I decided right then to bring her home with me!

She had been found as a stray, and her demeanor made me think she had been a house-pet lost.  But I soon realized that she did not know what ‘human food’ was (she never USED to beg, but I’ve manged to change that. LOL.)

She didn’t know that the couch and bed were the comfy, coveted places, and she obviously hadn’t ridden in a car much, if at all.  She also seemed to want to be outside more than most dogs, and even now will take a special toy or treat and run outside with it.

But, she took to me (and I to her) instantly, and she will learn any trick within a try or two, if you have a cookie!  She now has ‘her spot’ on the couch and my bed, as well as on my roommate’s lap (A 60-pound lap dog!).

In return for these creature comforts, she lets me dress her up for holidays and special occasions, and never complains.  :-)

She is daily entertainment and love, and I can’t imagine life without her!

Rating 4.33 out of 5

Tax tips: The difference between standard and itemized deductions

Tax time is here and PennySaverUSA is proud to present a new blog series dedicated to providing tax tips to help you embrace Uncle Sam, instead of viewing him as the boogeyman.

tax tips

Don't let Uncle Sam bring you down. Get tax tips from PennySaverUSA.com

Kicking off the series is this blog post about the differences between federal standard and itemized deductions. Understanding the distinction between the two is the foundation for everything else.

  • Standard deduction — The given dollar amount from the federal government that you can deduct from your taxable income.
  • Itemized deductions — Deductions you claim based on things like mortgage interest, charitable donations, career expenses and much more. Visit the IRS web site for more details.

When you choose to take the standard deduction, it makes your tax filing a lot simpler and enables you to use either the Form 1040 EZ or the Form 1040A, which are both much easier to complete.

The amount of your standard deduction varies depending on your income and can be calculated in about five minutes on the IRS web site.

Once you determine what your standard deduction would be, it is then time to count the value of your itemized deductions.

If you choose to itemize your deductions, it is advised that you find a local tax professional to assist you with your taxes.

Two important notes:

  1. You cannot claim both the standard deduction AND the itemized deductions. You must pick one or the other.
  2. If you choose the itemized deductions, you should keep receipts for every item you decided to deduct, just in case you were to get audited.

Should your itemized deductions add up to more than the standard deduction, it makes sense to forgo the standard deduction and used the itemized deductions.

As a very general reference point (for detailed explanations based on your own unique situation please visit the IRS web site and see a certified tax professional), here are some pointers to help you decide if you should take the standard or itemized deductions:

tax-tips-deductions

Rating 3.00 out of 5

PennySaverUSA Goes Vintage Treasure Hunting at the Long Beach Antique Market

PennySaverUSA staffer Elizabeth took a trip to the Long Beach Antique Market over the weekend. She shares her experience here …

Growing up on a steady staple of garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets, I live for the thrill of the thrift. On weekends, I can frequently be spotted perusing the aisles of Goodwill and the tables and blankets of local yard sales in search of vintage clothes and home décor. Needless to say, ever since I heard about the over 800 antique, vintage, and collectible sellers who flock to Long Beach Antique Market once a month, I have been dying to go.

I finally got my chance this past weekend. Armed with a scavenger hunt list from PennySaverUSA Facebook fans (thanks!) and my mother-in-law and husband in tow, I walked miles of Long Beach Antique Market’s glorious rows of vintage and antique booths. At first, it was extremely overwhelming because there are hundreds of jam-packed booths with really cool stuff.  It’s hard to resist the temptation to linger on each vintage find. Luckily, my scavenger hunt list kept us on track.

Let us know which item from Elizabeth’s adventure above interested you most.

As we hunted down adorable dog and monkey figurines, Howdy Doody toys, and anything wedding related (for engaged coworker Alisha), I also got to meet some of the incredible faces behind vintage selling,  like vintage furniture re-purposer Quirks By Annie . The best part of the experience was hearing each vendor’s stories, like the guy who found a $4,000 parrot sculpture by famed artist Sergio Bustamante at a yard sale or the vendor who tracks down treasures each weekend using PennySaverUSA’s garage sale classifieds.

But a girl cannot live on scavenger hunts alone. I managed to take home a very impressive thrift haul for under $150 that included a blue 70s disco dress for $14, handmade stone jewelry by awesome designer Creativeego for $15, and the crème de la crème, a teal full-size cello for only $90.

Long Beach Antique Market

Elizabeth made new friends with Annie from Quirks By Annie.

I’m giddy about my vintage shopping experience at the Long Beach Antique Market and can’t wait to return.  I also took a few tips away from it that I hope you can use, as well.

  1. Make a list of what you are searching for. This will keep you from getting mired down in the abundance of vintage at each table.
  2. Take photos. There were so many cool things that I wanted to study longer. Taking photos helped me not feel so bad about moving on because I’ll be able to refer to them later.
  3. Keep a cash budget. I could have easily spent more than I can afford, so I took only cash to keep me from being tempted to go outside my limits. Also, most vendors only accept cash.

Hope you’ll enjoy The Long Beach Antique Market as much as I did. Do you have any favorite vintage or antique haunts? Tell us with a comment below.

Rating 4.60 out of 5