Archives for 2010

Giving Back

Yesterday, while I got my flat tire fixed, the girls and I walked next door to the Humane Society and dropped off our donation. In the basket you see, there were 15 single packs of laundry detergent, 3 bags of dog food, 3 bags of cat food, 5 bags of dog treats, and 15 bags of cat treats.

I did not pay for a single item in the basket. Every item was FREE with coupons or a FREE sample I received in the mail.

This has to be my favorite part of couponing. Of course I love the FREE products and samples that we use around the house. However, couponing also allows me to help my community. The Humane Society is one of my favorite organizations. Having lived in a developing nation where the cat population is not only out of control, but it can be diseased and ailing, I so appreciate the service our Humane Society provides. We help them several times a year by donating our time, but it was really fun to be able to help simply by clipping a coupon that came in the Sunday paper.

In 2011, I hope The Greenbacks Gal will be a place where you too can find deals and steals that not only help your family, but will help your community.

Do you have a place you’d like to help in 2011? What kinds of items do they need?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

The Christmas holiday is barely over, but the New Year is quickly approaching. That means its already time to start thinking about this summer and the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that will be available.

If you have any interest in participating in Community Supported Agriculture, now is the time to sign-up. Most programs offer discounts if you sign-up before the end of the year. The savings can be big – up to $100 for joining early.

What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

Community Supported Agriculture means you buy a “share” in a local farm. You invest before the growing season begins, then share in its bounty throughout the summer. Your “share” comes in a weekly box of fruits or vegetables or a mix of both.

Most farms typically offer a variety of shares to suit the size and budget of your family. Some CSA farms even allow you to buy a working share which requires you to work at the farm in exchange for a discounted price.

By buying into the farm early, you do assume some of the risk. If the growing season is poor, you may not receive much for your share.

Why Participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

Buying a share in a CSA allows you to support the farmers in your area. It keeps your dollars local and allows you to choose how your food is produced. It also means you will get peak fresh produce delivered each week over the growing season.

What Can You Expect from Your CSA?

The beauty of buying into a CSA, is you can choose what kind of program you want to join. Most farms give you an idea of what will be planted and what kinds and varieties of produce you can expect. Do you want more say in what goes into your box each week? Find a CSA that gives you that flexibility. Want to include eggs, meat, herbs, or flowers? Chances are you can find that in a local CSA as well.

Where to Find a CSA Near You?

If you want to investigate joining a CSA, I’ve found Local Harvest to be a great source of information.

By participating in a CSA you will be eating locally, seasonally, and healthily. By acting now, you will be acting frugally as well. Check it out and be sure to let me know if you find a farm you’re going to invest in!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

How to Shop Overstock and Closeout Stores

From national stores like Big Lots to smaller chains like Bargain Mart, overstock and closeout stores offer big discounts. How to shop the closeout stores like a pro is the topic of today’s:

Do you shop the closeout stores? Then you know how good the deals can be! Closeout and overstock stores offer products that are being discontinued, products where the packaging is changing, or products that were test market products.

If you are looking to save on organic and natural products, consider cruising your local closeout store to see what bargains you can find. Check out all the great natural and organic products I found at Bargain Mart recently:

My savings were huge! I saved anywhere from 40% to 83%! The 83% was on the Say Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel. It retails for $14.99, but I found it at Bargain Mart for $2.50! The product does not expire for another year – I think the package has just changed!

Ready to start shopping the closeout stores and finding your own bargains? Here are some strategies for making sure you get the deals you want!

1. Find Out When New Merchandise Arrives – Ask a manager to see if they have regular days when they restock. Then plan on arriving early that day!

2. Look At It As A Treasure Hunt – Since merchandise changes quickly, you never know what you will find. Go in with low expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

3. Check the Expiration Date – You will find food and drink products that are past their expiration date. Make sure you are comfortable that the product is still good before you purchase it.

4. Know Your Prices – Not everything you find will be at discounted prices. For example, the San Pellegrino at Bargain Mart was marked at $1.20. Because I know my prices, I know that King Soopers/Krogers regularly include San Pellegrino in their Mega Sale Events and I can pick it up for less than a dollar.

5. Evaluate the Condition the Merchandise is In – Is it on closeout because it was damaged? Make sure to open the box and carefully examine any merchandise before you buy it. When I bought the Seventh Generation Dish Detergent, I could feel that humidity had gotten into the box and turned the detergent into a solid block. However, I knew I had a simple fix – break it apart with a meat tenderizer – so I found the condition acceptable. The reward for my effort? 40% off regular retail!

6. Ask About the Return Policy – If something does go wrong with your purchase, you want to make sure you can bring it back for a full refund.

So are you ready to shop the closeouts? Make sure to let me know what great treasures you find!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Giveaway: EcoCup Ceramic Hot Drink Cup

Update: This Giveaway is Closed.

My relationship with my coffee cup is complex. We spend a great deal of time together, so we have to get along.

As you can see, my cup does not leave my side! In fact, I like to drink coffee or hot tea all day long. And yes, I do pick my purses based on their ability to hold a coffee cup!

The EcoCup is not only stylish, it has performed well. The lid seals tight, so I’ve had no issue with leaks. But, the lid does take some getting used to – it has a smell/taste that I’ve either gotten used to over the last few days, or it has diminished with washing. The ceramic does get really hot, so you do always need to use the sleeve. Yet, I’m loving the sleeve. It helps my cup stay put in the cupholder in my car, and in the pocket in my purse. Two big pluses from me!

Don’t take my word for it – You can win one of your own! EcoMom is going to give one lucky winner an EcoCup!

Here’s how to enter to win your own EcoCup:

If you are reading this in an email, click here to get to The Greenbacks Gal and leave your comments.

1. Head over to EcoMom and sign up for the daily deal, then hurry back here and leave a comment to let me know you did!

2. Follow The Greenbacks Gal on Twitter, then hurry back here and leave a comment to let me know you did!

3. Tweet about this giveaway.

4. Like The Greenbacks Gal on Facebook, then hurry back here and leave a comment to let me know you did!

5. Subscribe to The Greenbacks Gal via rss or email, and you know the drill…leave a comment to let me know you did!

Open to Residents of the US and Canada. This giveaway will close at 10 PM EST on 12/19/10.

Want to order a few EcoCups for gifts? Ecomom is offering The Greenbacks Gal readers 15% off their first order! Enter code SBBL713 when you checkout. This code is good through December 31st. Plus, if you spend more than $50, shipping is FREE!

Disclaimer: This  giveaway was sponsored on behalf of EcoMom. I received products totaling approximately $10 in value to evaluate for myself the effectiveness of the products.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

DIY Christmas Gift: Bottling Your Cherry Bounce

Back in the summer I showed you how to make Vodka Cherry Bounce while cherries were in season. If you haven’t made any yet, you still can! However, you’ll need to buy frozen organic sweet cherries and remember to make sure you let the Vodka Cherry Bounce sit for at least 4 weeks.

What you will need if you’d like to bottle your Vodka Cherry Bounce:

  • clean, empty bottles
  • contact paper
  • skill knife
  • glass etching cream (I bought mine at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon)

Here is how I bottled the  Vodka Cherry Bounce for gifts.

I used empty maple syrup bottles. Don’t they look a bit like flasks?

Score the label and soak the bottle in hot water to easily remove the label.

Next, draw whatever you’d like to put on the bottle on a piece of contact paper. I chose to draw a cherry. Make sure it will fit in the area you want it to.

Cut the pattern out with a skill knife.

Stick the contact paper pattern to the bottle.

Apply glass etching cream according to the package directions. This is nasty stuff. Be sure to wear plastic gloves!

Wash it off and you have your finished bottle. Fill the bottle with the Vodka Cherry Bounce using a funnel. Discard cherries – they have soaked up so much alcohol they are horrible!

Present as gifts and hope who ever you present your gift to offers to share!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

The Cream Perfume Company WINNER!

Congratulation to Ruthie! You are the winner of some fabulous scented products from The Cream Perfume Company!

The Gift Giveaway Bash was so much fun! I love that I got to send out 17 gifts to all of you!

Be on the lookout, another great eco-friendly giveaway is coming up soon!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry WINNER!

Congratulations to Melissa! You are the winner of the Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry Soda, Dryer Balls and Scented Sticks!

Thank you to everyone for participating in the Gift Giveaway Bash!

Be on the lookout for a new giveaway soon!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.