December 24, 2015

Amazon Subscribe and Save Filler Items Under $2 for December 2015

Updated list of items under $2 eligible for Amazon Subscribe & Save :

Pac-Kit 12-018 Benzalkonium Chloride Antiseptic Towelette (Box of 10) = $1.15

PediFix Visco-gel Corn Protectors, Smaoo, 2 Count = $1.27

DEWALT DW4518 4-1/2-Inch by 1/8-Inch by 7/8-Inch General Purpose Metal Cutting Wheel = $1.32

Pac-Kit 1-009 Fabric Adhesive Light Woven Flexible Knuckle Bandage, 3" Length x 1-1/2" Width (Box of 8) = $1.32

Pac-Kit 12-015 Antiseptic Povidone PVP Iodine Wipe (Box of 10) = $1.33

Luden's Great Tasting Throat Drops, Honey Lemon, 30-count = $1.35

Curad Rolled Gauze, 4 Inches X 4.1 Yards = $1.46

PureBites Beef Liver Cat Treats, 0.85-Ounce = $1.69

Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap, Moisturizing with Aloe, 7.50-Ounce = $1.69

True Lime Limeade Stick Pack, Black Cherry, 10 Count (1.06oz) = $1.70

Barilla Protein Plus Spaghetti Pasta, 14.5 Ounce = $1.70

I'm citing the price for each item including the 15% discount that you'd get with 5 items which is the point here.

I try to list a variety of items so you'll have a better chance of seeing something on this list that you'd actually get use out of so its not just bought and wasted.

Warning :  If you use items off this list then make sure to watch them and cancel your subscription if you no longer want them or if the prices go up.   The cheap items I find seem to change pretty quickly so they may have large price hikes or be removed from the subscribe and save program.

Prices change!   Note the list will get out of date within days or weeks.  I'll probably post a newer list before all of the above items are gone or have price increases.  But if you can't find something good here you can always go to Amazon and search for Subscribe & Save and sort based on prices and poke around to find something cheap to use as a filler.

I've discussed before how you can get a  better discount on Amazon Subscribe and Save purchases if you order 5 items at once.  However if you don't buy a lot of stuff then it can be hard to come up with a 5 item order.   However if your products are worth enough then it can be worth it to add some filler items to get up to 5 items to get the 15% discount. 

Say for example, you want to buy a couple cases of Pampers Swaddlers Diapers  that run $45.97 each with a normal purchase.   With Subscribe and save you'd get a 5% get the price down to $43.67.    But if you have 5 items in your S&S order then it is only $36.78 or a $6.89 savings.   And if you're buying two of those then thats double or $13.78.    Adding the 4 cheapest items listed here to the S&S order would only cost you $4.99 total with the 5 item discount so its worth buying those items to get you a net savings of $8.79.

Note if you don't want the filler items and only use them to get a 5 item discount then you can of course always give away the food items to someone you know or donate them to the local food bank.

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

December 23, 2015

Couples Should Buy Two Tubes Of Toothpaste

Do you squeeze the toothpaste from the end or do you do it wrong and squeeze from the middle   Do you fail to put the cap back on the tube when you're done like some sort of half crazed Visigoth?   If you and your significant other does these things differently then you may have some squabbles about the topic.   Its one of things couples fight about (youtube link)  If you're not openly fighting about it then it may be brewing resentment that will explode in a few years.    Its probably an uphill losing battle to change these kinds of habits.   Maybe you're trying and failing.   But why live with the problem at all when you don't have to?

So... buy two tubes so you each have your own.  Problem solved.   You're welcome.

With just one tube you may end up bickering over how its used.   With two tubes you can use your toothpaste however you see fit and it won't give your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend anything to argue about.   Its that easy to fix this problem, yet people seem not to do it.   Plus as an added bonus you can also each pick your own preferred flavors or variety of toothpaste.

And one of the best parts about using two tubes simultaneously doesn't cost you any more than using one tube at a time.   Each of you will use the paste as fast as you use it then buy another.   Toothpaste isn't going to expire on you either.   Theres no financial downside to buying two tubes.

Granted this exactly nobel prize worthy idea and I'm sure many of you out there already have your own tube of toothpaste.   But I'm sure theres lots of people who share a tube for no specific reason.   And doing so can cause unnecessary, easily avoided friction.

This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

December 21, 2015

ShopYourWay Points - I Got $165 Worth of Stuff at Sears / Kmart for $37

I've been a ShopYourWay (SYW) rewards member for a while but not really used it too much.   A long while ago we bought an appliance at Sears and I signed up then because they had a deal where you get something like $50 in SYW points for spending over some threshold amount like $300 or similar.   I just cashed in the $50 on something and then didn't think about it for years after.  

Lately I signed up for PureTalk and got a SYW bonus for that.   I also got a $10 bonus from some other purchase I made in a promotional deal.    I turned around and had about $28 in points all the sudden and then I saw some "surprise points" show up on my account good for a limited time promotional deal.    I think they also had a coupon or something plus they were offering free shipping if you spend $35 or more.   I used my points and got $37.13 worth of clothes.

Then I saw a thread on Fatwallet about several items being sold at Sears with 100% points cash back (now expired).  In other words if you pay $x for the item you'd get $x points.  Thats like getting the items for free basically, but you get your cash back in points.   You can find a list of current weekly member deals for Sears and a list for Kmart too.

I bought $57.46 worth of stuff and I spent $45.87 out of pocket.    I got a 32 GB and 16GB microSD cards for our cell phones.  I got an HP mobile wireless mouse and HP keyboard too.   I paid using my Discover card which is currently offering 5% promo cash at Sears and they have 10% discount deal as well so I ought to net about $6.88 cashback too.  That makes my actual costs about $38.99 net.

I then noticed I had more surprise points to spend on a deal as well.   I bought another $35.13 worth of clothes and then I also got $35.96 worth of paper towels at Kmart.   For those I will also got $1.08 and $1.05 cash back from Ebates.    This makes my total net cost just $36.86.

In total I got about $165 worth of merchandise for just under $37.    Some of that stuff isn't worth the full price to me.  I don't really need an HP keyboard so that wasn't really worth spending money on.   The paper towels I got are definitely worth the money I paid on those.   I'm using the 32GB card but I could have gotten that for around $9 versus the $20 price Sears had.   All the clothing was certainly a good deal for the prices.   Between the paper towels and the micro SD I definitely got my moneys worth.   So its more like I bought an SD and a pile of paper towels for ~$37 and I got ~$70 worth of clothes, a 16GB SD, a keyboard and a mouse for free.

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

December 18, 2015

Best of Blogs for Week of December 18th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

MyMoneyBlog discusses a Financial Independence Heat Map: Starting Age vs. Savings Rate
Note it ignores social security.


December 16, 2015

$100 SYW Credit for $38 Via Transfering Tracfone to PureTalk

I noticed the ad pictured on the right when I was on the Kmart website.    Its saying if you transfer your cell phone to PureTalk they'll give you $100 ShopYourWay credit.   I've actually been using PureTalk for my own cell phone most of this year and I'm happy with them myself.   But here's a thought... you could get a cell phone like cheaply with Tracfone, transfer that line to PureTalk and cash out the $100 credit.   I figure you could do this for as little as  $35.

Note I have NOT tested this and its just theory.   However I don't see why it won't work.

1. Buy a Tracfone and minimal service.  Theres a $10 phone on Amazon.   You can get then get 30 minutes of airtime online at Tracfone for $10.   Thats $20 total for the Tracfone.
2. Activate your Tracfone and get your new phone number.
3. Transfer your service to PureTalk and sign up for their $5 plan.   The SIM is $3.
4. Pay for the PureTalk plan for 3 months.
5. After 3 months you should qualify for the $100 SYW credit.

Total cost $38 for $100 SYW credit.

* edit - I forgot to mention that you'd also have to have a phone compatible with PureTalk.  You can't generally use Tracfone phones as they don't have SIMs.   But any phone compatible with PureTalk would work.

I might try this myself but I have a PureTalk account right now and the deal is only good for new PureTalk service, so I think I'm probably disqualified.

Here is the fine print on the $100 offer :

$100 bonus point offer valid from 8/1/15 - 12/31/15. $100 Bonus point offer only valid for new Pure TalkUSA service when porting your current cell phone number from your current provider over to Pure TalkUSA. $100 in bonus points will be posted to your Shop Your Way account after your third billing cycle with Pure TalkUSA. $100 offer cannot be combined with other promotional offers and is not stackable. The ongoing 5% back in points every month is based on qualifying purchases, excluding sales taxes and other fees. By accepting Shop Your Way member benefits and offers, you agree to the Shop Your Way terms and conditions, available at Use of the term "partner" in these materials is intended to convey a valued business relationship and does not indicate the existence of a legal partnership, joint agency or other relationship involving shared ownership or shared liability with Sears Holdings Corporation or any of its affiliates.
--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

December 15, 2015

5% Cash Back Promos for Q1 of 2016

Here are the 5% cash back promotional categories for Q1:

Discover card :  Gas Stations & Ground Transportation

Citibank Dividend : Home Depot and Home Furnishing stores

Chase Freedom :   Gas Stations and Local Commuter Transportation

Pretty good deals for Q1.   Gas stations on two cards and Home Depot from Citi.


December 14, 2015

Ebates has 500 Stores With Double Cash Back With 7% off at Walmart

Ebates* has some pretty good cash back bonus rates today.   The 7% back at Walmart is particularly high.   They have 500 stores with double cash back (or more) today.    Some notable stores :

Walmart 7% 50%   ( plus promo code HOHOHO for $5 off)
Groupon 10%
Livingsocial 10%
Sears 6%   plus $5 off $50 with SEARS5OFF50
Nordstron 6%
Macy's 12%
JCPenney 10%
Toys R Us 5%
Lenovo 10%
J Crew 10%
Under Armour 10%
Kohl's 10%
Blue Mountain 30%

Standard Ebates blurb:To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.   


This article contains referral links which will pay this site a referral commission.

December 8, 2015

A Formula For Calculating The Best Usage Of Your Pantry

I've been thinking about optimizing our pantry usage lately.   We've got different items in there that are consumed at different rates, go on sale at different rates, are different sizes and cost different amounts.   I realized our pantry use isn't all that efficient.   We've got stuff that sits in there forever and is hardly used.   We've got some stuff that doesn't cost much and we don't save much by stocking up on during sales versus simply buying it at full retail as needed.   Larger items take up a lot of room and are less effective use of space versus smaller items.

Thinking about it a little I came up with the following factors that impact the effective use of our pantry :
It makes sense to buy stuff that has the biggest sale discount.     You'd rather have items that save you a lot in the pantry versus stuff that saves you little.
We should fill the pantry with smaller items so the smaller the better.  Best to squeeze as much stuff in there as possible.
The longer it takes to consume an item the worse.    This is because you have to store the replacement items in the pantry thus taking up space longer and minimizing your savings.

This leads me to derive the formula for valuing items in the pantry at :

Pantry value = savings / (size * consumption time)

Savings : is the amount you save on the item by buying it on sale or discount versus simply paying the standard cost at the grocery store.   This is based on the assumption that you go to the grocery store every week or as necessary and can readily buy items at a standard price.   If items never go on sale theres no need to store them in the pantry.   But if you find the item on sale $1 less than normal and stock up on it then you save $1 by putting the item in the pantry.

Size : is just a calculation of the cubic volume of the product in inches.  You can use any measure for volume you want really but I just chose inches.   Bigger items take more room and are thus less efficient use.

Consumption time : is how long it takes you to use that item and thus how long its going to be taking up space in the pantry.   If you rarely use an item then it will sit in the pantry longer and use up more space and this is less efficient then items that take space longer.   Would you rather save $10 by storing an item for a year or save $0.25 each week by storing and replenishing an item every week?

Lets compare two items we have in our pantry :

Item #1: Cheerios
A 20 oz. box of Cheerios is about 12" x 10" x 3.25".   Thats 390 cu. in.  I go through a box a week basically, as I eat a couple big bowls for breakfast.       I can get those for $3.40 at or similar price at Costco.    If I just buy them at the local grocery store the price tends to be more like ~$5 for a similar size box.   So I save about $1.50 by keeping Cheerios in the pantry.    But I only need to have 1 box on hand at any given time and on the other hand I don't want to be going to Costco or making orders every other week just for Cheerios.  

Item #2 : mac & cheese
Normally the mac and cheese we get is about $1.75.   Its not the cheap stuff.   But it is on sale for $1 a box every month or so.  We go through 1 box a week.   Each box is 6"x 8" x 1" for 48 cu. in.    They tend to go on sale about every 2 months.

The formula for pantry real value is =   ( Saving ) /   ( volume * consumption )

So for the Cheerios example I'm saving lest say $1.50 but I can buy them every week so sales period is 1.   The volume is 390 cu in and I go through a box in 1 week.    $1.50  / 390 *1 = 0.0038

By contrast the noodles are saving me $0.75 and their volume is just 48 and they are consumed in a week.   So the formula is then 0.75  / 48*1 = 0.0156

The mac and cheese has a higher pantry value so if I were choosing real estate in the pantry I'd definitely want a box of mac & cheese over a box of Cheerios.    But what about a 2nd or 3rd or 4th box?

It takes me 2 weeks to consume a 2nd box.   It takes 3 weeks to consume the 3rd box and so forth.

That changes the formula to 2nd box = 0.75/48*2 = 0.0078 and 3rd box = 0.75/48*3 = 0.0052, 4th = 0.75/48*4 = 0.0039 and 5th = 0.0031.    Its not until the 5th box that storing the extra mac and cheese becomes less cost effective for the space versus storing the cheerios.

Storing 1-4 boxes of mac and cheese in the pantry is better use of the space than saving a box of Cheerios.   However saving more than 4 boxes of mac & cheese is less effective pantry use than a box of cheerios.

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

December 4, 2015

Best of Blogs for Week of December 4th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

MyMoneyBlog talks about Winterizing – Sealing Up Old Windows With Plastic Shrink Film

DoughRoller tells us How to Consolidate Credit Card Debt with a P2P Loan

PlanetMoney audio podcast about food bank economy Episode 665: The Pickle Problem


December 2, 2015

Discount Gift Card Promotions on Ebay

Ebay has a Gift Card Promotion going on right now.    They have a good amount of variety so theres likely something usable by most folks.

Sephora $25 for $22.50, $50 for $45, $100 plus $10 for $100

iTunes $100 for $80

JCPenney $50 for $48.50

Applebee's $50 for $40  $50 for $40

Michaels $50 for $40

Bas Pro Shops $75 pluse $15 ebay gift card for $75

Build a Bear $50 for $40 $100 for $85

Gilt $50 for $40

Claire's $50 for $40

Aeropostale  $50 for $40 $100 for $85

Jiffylube  $50 for $40

Logan's Roadhouse   $50 for $40

Legal Sea foods  $50 for $40

AMC theatres  $50 for $40, $25 plus free popcorn for $25

Sports Authority $100 for $85

Sheetz $30 for $25


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