Wednesday, January 6

Sanity Savers II: Coupons and Specials

This "Sanity Savers" series is designed to explore the many ways that we frugalites avoid feeling deprived while we save up and pay down debt.

Coupons are an essential part of most frugalists' life. So we're always hunting for good deals. Most of us love The Entertainment Book for its BOGO deals. It can be a more affordable way to go out for a nice meal, see a movie, or go to a local attraction.

But if the book doesn't interest you, a lot of local businesses will distribute coupons on their own. We regularly get a booklet of coupons to neighborhood stores, including local restaurants. In addition, I have seen a few stores carrying coupons for Castles 'N Coasters, a local family fun center. In the winter, most zoos and other outdoor attractions will have coupons and special offers on their sites.

As most people have noticed, spas and salons are getting pretty desperate with specials. Some have better sales than others, but the businesses are trying to lure customers back in with various offers. So you can get a good deal on an indulgence like a facial, massage or simply a nice haircut or color.

You can get additional savings by going through cash-back sites like Ebates or Mr Rebates. Through these portals, you can buy gift certificates to places like Salon Wish or SpaLook. These companies' gift cards are good at tons of salons throughout the country. Meanwhile, the cash-back programs will give you 4-6 percent of your purchase price back.

Personally, I intend to "indulge" in these sorts of things only through the local beauty schools. There, I can still get my eyebrows and lip waxed for a total of $9. Even if I did get this done every 3-4 weeks (and I never do), that's a pretty acceptable expense.

The fact is that most beauty schools offer all sorts of ways to indulge on the cheap: manicures, pedicures, facials and scalp treatments. Where else can you get a facial for $13? It would be a great way to pamper yourself, or to get in some girl-bonding time.

Perhaps best of all, even beauty schools tend to have specials and coupons. The Gene Juarez Academy is Seattle has monthly specials and coupons that get emailed to those who opt-in. Other beauty schools offer coupons, discounts and even referral bonuses.

Many frugal folks, though, find true nirvana with thrift store sales. We're all pretty familiar (I hope) with the fact that Goodwill and Value Village/Saver's have relatively regular 50-percent-off-everything sales. But around the winter holidays, Value Village offers calendars with monthly coupons.

Those are the the main coupons and discounts I can think of. Which ones did I miss? What are your favorite indulgences with these? (One of my favorites, by the way, is the occasional use of Cold Stone coupons. Still pricey, but worth it a couple of times a year!)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many, many businesses that offer something free for your birthday. Do a search for birthday freebies, or search for the posted list on the fatwallet freebie site. I finally did this for my bday this year and found that many of the freebies could be picked up anytime during your birthday week (e.g. Coldstone Creamery), and some during your entire bday month. By getting food "to-go" from more than one place on the same day, can even share with friends!

January 6, 2010 at 6:08 AM

Blogger Abigail said...

This is true. I actually mention a few -- plus a link to a more complete list:

My favorites are the free Cold Stone cone and the free Red Robin burger. Also good are the BOGOs you get at DQ for a Blizzard, Gordon Biersch for an entree and a discount at DSW ($5 off any purchase of $19.95 or more.) Not to mention $10 off any item at The Body Shop in your birthday month.

And, while I wouldn't recommend regular visits, casinos will often give you some freebies on your birthday.

January 6, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Anonymous Donna Freedman said...

I did a Living With Less column on this, "20 freebies for your birthday." It can be found at
No one NEEDS ice cream twice on her birthday, but lots of us WANT it. :-)

January 6, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Blogger Zella said...

I use Groupon's deals for some things. Nothing really covers necessities, but it does vary by city and usually offers decent discounts on entertainment-type things (if limited to 1/person).

January 7, 2010 at 5:47 AM

Anonymous Becca said...

I got my first Entertainment book through a deal through Ebates, so I got it free. I wasn't too impressed. There were some good coupons, but most of them required spending more money than I wanted. Of course, the fact that it was the Orange County (California) edition was probably a big factor.

It seems the quantity and quality of coupons has gone down the past couple of years. I love coupons but I try to use them wisely. For example, a store brand product at the grocery store is probably cheaper than the same Kraft or Dole, etc product with coupon.

January 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM


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