How to Have Fun on Vacation While Still Being Frugal!!

So it’s summer and you know what that means… vacation time.

Unfortunately for me, I have been in summer school alllll summer long, but yippee it’s almost over!

This weekend I am planning to go to San Francisco with some friends and family, and have a great time. I also plan to save a bunch of money with my groupons, hotel discount codes, passes, and discount coupons.

Spring 2012 I will graduate with my Bachelors and my brother will be graduating from high school. My parents want to celebrate by taking us to Orlando and Miami as a gift and I already have tons of great resources to help us save on our trip!

One thing I always do before going on vacation is research what kinds of deals/discounts I can get on entertainment, food, and attractions. I subscribe to that city’s Groupon, LivingSocial, DealSwarm, etc… and just unsubscribe when I get back. That way I know where the locals go to have fun and dine, and save tons of money at the same time. Here’s a couple more tips on how you can save money before and on your vacation:

  • Book well in-advance
  • Research your fares
  • Fly during the week.. if you can
  • Use frequent flyer miles
  • Pack your own airplane food
  • Take all carry-on luggage.. if you can
  • Drive instead… if you can
  • Take public transportation
  • Find discount hotel rates
  • Ask the concierge for the inside scoop
  • Bring your own breakfast foods
  • Pack your own snacks
  • Bring your own water bottles
  • Mix your own alcoholic drinks
  • Use credit card rewards points
  • Rent a car only if needed
  • Never buy anything from the gift shop.. its over priced
  • Don’t get room service
  • Never go on excursions or tours through an agency.. do your research
  • Use the local supermarkets where possible
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Yay Coupon Codes!!

I loooooove coupon codes. I have previously mentioned coupon codes here before, but many of you might be wondering what in the world I’m taking about. Well coupon or promotional codes are like instant coupons you use when you shop online. They can be given out by companies for previous purchases or for signing up on their website. 

There are also websites where you can search for coupon codes by brand/company name. Some of my favorites are www.retailmenot.com, www.shopathome.com, www.couponcabin.com, and www.couponmountain.com. Now that you know what they are and where you can get them, let me show you what you can use them on:

  • Vacations – Finding a code can lead to saving money or earning free nights! Some offers include a free night after you book another. This makes it more affordable to extend a trip an extra day or two. Bundle packages are great too and may include options for the flight, hotel or car rentals.
  • College – Students are always looking to save money on books. Promotional codes can be used to lower textbook cost for students. This is a great way for students to save as much as possible on books.
  • Clothes – A code can be redeemed to save a percentage or amount off totals. When combined with sales the savings can be huge for consumers. Another way to save money is to use a value added coupon, like a discount on other goods with a purchase. Some offers may also include a buy one, get one free.
  • Cosmetics – Shopping online is a great way to save on cosmetics. Instead of paying department store prices, many turn to the internet because prices are often lower than stores. Some deals include free trial sizes, samples or bonus items on orders.

Top 5 Places to Find Coupons

So now you’re probably asking me, OK Tanya, I would really like to learn how to save more money, but I have no clue where to find these deals/coupons you love so dearly. Well lucky you! Here’s my list of the top five places to find coupons:

  1. Sunday Paper – This is usually where most people find coupons, and for good reason. The Sunday paper is full of inserts with manufacturer coupons from various sources.
  2. In-Store Coupons – Most of the weekly ads put out by grocery stores only advertise what’s on sale that week, but you can also find additional coupons in the circular. It’s also a good idea to hit up customer service to ask for store coupons, and lastly, keep your eyes peeled for those peel off coupons and blinking dispensers that provide even more savings!
  3. eCoupons – You should definitely check out printable coupon sites like Coupons.com that let you to print coupons directly from your computer. There are also some great couponing sites that allow users to upload coupons directly to their loyalty cards like Cellfire.com or Shortcuts.com
  4. Mobile Coupons – If you like saving the earth and money at the same time you should take advantage of your smartphone with stuff like mobile coupon apps and texts. Here’s a heads up: Text “OFFERS” to Target (827438) to receive mobile coupons to use on your next visit or check out Shoptext.com to receive mobile coupons via text message ;).
  5. Social Media – Finally, the best for the last. Never underestimate the power of social media when it comes to couponing! You should follow your favorite brands and stores on Twitter and fan them on Facebook. It’s a great way to score savings that most people don’t know about.

Hope it helps. Happy Couponing!

Happy Birthday to YOU!

July is a big birthday month for me. Mine, two of my closest friends, and my fathers birthdays are all in July. And for me, my birthday is synonymous with free stuff! Getting tons of freebies and deals on your birthday makes the day even better. Here’s a list of some stuff you can get to make your special day even better! Some require you to sign up on their website/newsletters and are only valid in certain locations. Remember that some places will want you to show proof, so bring along an id. Another heads up, you can usually get one free drink on your birthday at most clubs or bars with an ID, of course only if you’re 21 & up! 😉

Food:

  • Applebee’s – Free dessert and song on your birthday.
  • Baskin Robbins – Baskin Robbins will send you a coupon for a free 2.5 oz scoop of ice cream on your birthday plus other special promotions when you join the Baskin Robbins Birthday Club.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings – Get a coupon for a free dessert to celebrate your birthday at Buffalo Wild Wings.
  • Carrows – Join the Carrows E-Club to get a free dessert on your birthday as well as one for joining.
  • Chevys – Join Chevys Compadres Club and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  • Claim Jumper Restaurant – Join the CJ E-Club and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  • Cold Stone Creamery – Cold Stone Creamery will send you an email with a coupon for a free ice cream creation to enjoy on your birthday. All ages are welcome!
  • Dairy Queen – Join the Dairy Queen Blizzard Fan Club and get a free ice cream cone on your birthday as well as a coupon for a blizzard when you join.
  • Denny’s – Come in and get a free Grand Slam on your birthday.
  • Fuddruckers – Join the Fudds Club and gett a free burger on your birthday.
  • Grimaldi’s – Sign up for the birthday club at Grimaldi’s and get a free pizza.
  • Keva Juice – Free 24 oz. regular blend smoothie.
  • IHOP – Come on into IHOP and get a free meal (a sundae at some locations) on your birthday.
  • Macaroni Grill – Come on into Macaroni Grill on your birthday and get a free dessert plus a song.
  • Marie Callender’s – Join Marie Callender’s E-Club and get a coupon for $5 off your meal and piece of pie when you visit during the month of your birthday.
  • On the Border – Get a free appetizer on your birthday when you join On the Border’s Club Cantina. When you initially join you will get an instant coupon for a free bowl of queso or empanadas.
  • Outback – Get a free dessert and a song when you go to Outback on your birthday.
  • P.F. Changs – Come in and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  • Red Lobster – Join the Overboard Club and they will email you a suprise for your birthday.
  • Red Robin – Join the Red Robin eClub and get a coupon for a fee burger on your birthday. This is for all ages!
  • Round Table – Get a free personal pizza when you visit on your birthday.
  • Ruby Tuesday – Join the So Connected club and you’ll get an email for a free burger on your birthday.
  • Sonic – Free regular creamslush, free medium tator tots, or a free medium drink!
  • Wingstop – Free large fresh cut seasoned fries.

Other:

  • American Eagle – Coupon for 15% off.
  • Aveda – Free gift up to $24 in value.
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s – 20 free tokens.
  • Cost Plus World Market – Sign up to their explorer club and get $10 free to spend in store or online.
  • Hot Topic – $5 off coupon on a purchase of $30.
  • Old Navy – $10 off coupon on a purchase of $50.
  • Sephora – Sign up as a Beauty Insider and get a free gift from Sephora on your birthday.