1) Go paperless to earn cash back – These businesses pay you for the privilege of decluttering your mailbox:
- Allstate Insurance: Up to 5% off your auto premium.
- Progressive Insurance: A percentage off your monthly bill (depending on the policy) when you enroll in the paperless billing program and/or elect direct payment from your bank account.
2) Bring reusable mugs for cheaper coffee – Pay less for your daily jolt by sipping from your own cup.
- Einstein Bros. Bagels: Coffee costs $1 – that’s up to 40% off the regular price.
- Peet’s Coffee & Tea: 10 cents off. Bonus: Get 25 cents off when you reuse a bag for beans.
- Starbucks: 10 cents off.
3) Recycle old products for a reward
- Apple: Go to apple.com/recycling to find out if your old computer—Mac or PC—is worth anything. If it is, you’ll get that dollar amount applied toward an Apple gift card. Plus, the company will send you a prepaid label to mail your old machine in for recycling. Bring an old iPod to an Apple store or mail it in and get 10% off a new one.
- MAC Cosmetics: Customers who return six used MAC product containers receive a free lipstick.
- Staples: Bring any used ink or toner cartridge to the store and receive $2 in Staples Rewards for use on future store purchases.
4) Go green (as in: count your savings) when you bring your own bag – These supermarkets offer a rebate when you use a reusable tote:
- Giant: 5 cents a bag
- Kroger: 4 cents a bag
- Shoprite: 2 cents a bag
- Target: 5 cents a bag
- Whole Foods: 5 to 10 cents a bag, depending on the store
5) Websites that help you live it up on the cheap – Going out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Online, find lots of eating and entertaining discounts.
- EatDrinkDeals.com: This clearinghouse site features up-to-date coupons for major food chains. For example: one appetizer and two entrees for $20 at Chilis; $5 off a purchase of $15 or more at Ted’s Montana Grill.
- LivingSocial.com: Check in with this site daily for deals on local activities. Once you’ve made a purchase, send the link to the promotion to friends. If three or more take the bait, your purchase is free.
- RewardNetwork.com: This dining-out program, which ahs more than 10,000 participating restaurants in the United States and Canada, gives members 5% back on their final tab, including taxes and tip. Customers register their credit cards, then use plastic to pay when they dine out. A rebate is refunded to the credit card the next time they eat at one of the participating restaurants.
- SixFlags.com: Buying theme-park tickets online can be up to 40% cheaper than shelling out at the gate.
6) Take advantage of your birthday – Getting dibs on the first piece of cake isn’t the only upside to turning a year older. Check out these sweet discounts and freebies:
- Aveda: Birthday-club members receive a free product—up to a $25 value—custom blended with the aroma of their choice to be redeemed within two months.
- Baskin Robbins: You’ll receive an e-mail coupon for a free scoop of ice cream and a discount on a birthday cake when you join the Birthday Club.
- Benihana: Sign up for the Chef’s Table e-newsletter and you will get an e-mail with a gift certificate for dinner worth up to $30 to be used during your birth month.
- Cold Stone Creamery: Sign up for its birthday club and receive a free treat on your special day.
- DSW: Loyalty members, who participate in a rewards program, get a $5 certificate that’s good through the member’s entire birthday month.
- Express: Customers who are store credit-card holders receive a $10 coupon to be applied toward their next purchase during their birth month.
- IHOP: By joining the Pancake Revolution, you’ll eat for free three times—once when you sign up for IHOP’s mailing list, once on your birthday, and once a year after you register.
- New York & Company: Store credit-card holders receive a coupon for up to 25 percent off purchases (in store and online), valid during their birth month.
- Old Navy: Subscribe to Old Navy emails and receive $10 off purchases of $50 or more (online and in stores) for two weeks during your birth month.
- Red Robin: Enroll in the eClub or the Red Royalty program and score a free burger.
- Ruby Tuesday’s: Sign up for the So Connected list at rubytuesday.com and get a free burger on your birthday and other food and bar redemption offers during the year.
- Starbucks: Toast your day with a free cappuccino (or another drink of your choice) when you have a My Starbucks Rewards card (pick one up at any location). The more you use it, the more freebies you can get, including gratis syrups and refills.
- Victoria’s Secret: Angel credit-card holders receive either a $10-off coupon for in-store purchases or an e-mailed coupon code good for $10 off online during their birth month.
- Petco: Register Buster’s D.O.B. (or adoption date) in the Birthday Club and get 10% off products during that month.
7) See the World for Less – Cut the costs of travel with these programs targeted at tourists:
- Delta: Credit-card holders traveling internationally or domestically can use miles as a discount against normal fares. In most cases, treating miles as coupons means no pesky restrictions on the destination or the trip date.
- CityPass: Pay a fixed price for five or six muse-see attractions in major cities and Southern California theme parks at up to 50% savings (the pass is valid for nine consecutive days; 14 in Southern California). For example, CityPass charges $79 (instead of the $144 face value) to see six sites in New York City, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the American Museum of Natural History. Bonus: In many cases, the CityPass lets you skip ticket lines. Passes can be downloaded online or shipped to your home.
8) Let the kids eat for free – No need to smuggle in the Goldfish! At these chains, your tots can fill up without emptying your wallet (note: offers can vary by franchise, so call before you go):
- Applebee’s: On Monday nights, get one free kids’ entrée with an adult-entrée purchase. Bonus, additional kids’ meals are just $1 each.
- Chevys: One free kids’ meal for every adult entrée purchased every Tuesday.
- Denny’s: From 4PM to 10PM on select nights, children 10 and under get any entrée from the kids’ menu at no cost with the purchase of an adult meal costing $2.50 or more.
- Pizza Hut: Kids age three and under eat free from the lunch buffet.
- Tony Roma’s: On Tuesdays, kids under 12 dine for free with the purchase of an adult entrée.
Thanks to Miranda for sending me this post out of the September issue of Real Simple