It pays to go green at CVS

13 05 2009

IMG_1736I’m not much for entering contests and I’ve never even played North Carolina’s lottery. But I have  been known to enter a drawing now and then when I thought my chances were good. Click here to read a post about my thoughts on contest strategy. But in a nutshell, if the prizes are plentiful and/or the entries few, I will enter  a contest.

And that’s exactly how I won the Earth Day contest at CVS.

I picked up my winnings today and couldn’t believe how generous the prize package was. This is what I got: an eight-pack of two-ply paper towels, a 12-pack of one-ply toilet paper, a package of 250 napkins, a package of 12 lawn and leaf bags, a package of  12 tall kitchen bags, a package of 20 bowls, a package of 15 paper plates and two reusable shopping bags.

The paper towels, toilet tissue and napkins are made of 100 percent recycled material. The plates and bowls are made from sugarcane and are biodegradable. And the trash bags are also biodegradable and made from recycled plastic.

What a (cheap) thrill. OK, now you know exactly how much of a frugal geek I am.

I had almost forgotten about the contest when I got the good news yesterday via telephone.

In honor of Earth Day, each CVS store offered customers a chance to win a selection of its Earth Essentials and Go Green recycled products. For each entry, you had to purchase one of the drug store’s reusable bags.  The day I entered, I peered into the reusable bag holding the entries and there were only two slips of paper.  Opportunity was definitely knocking.

I bought a few bags at 99 cents each, and the cashier asked me if I’d like to use the 50-cent coupon attached to each bag. Until he told me, I didn’t even know there was a coupon on the bag! So for 49 cents each, I entered the contest and got a great reusable bag. I could feel the good karma percolating.

I’m not exactly sure how much the items I won are worth but I’d estimate the value of the paper goods at more than $30. Not a bad return on my investment.

As I said: a cheap thrill.


Free beer for the tasting

12 05 2009
Brewmaster Nathan Williams

Brew master Nathan Williams

We’re always looking for fun — and free — things to do as a family.  But typically, these events are geared to our youngest member of the family, 11-year-old Caroline.

So when my frugal friend Carolyn mentioned free tours and sampling at a local craft brewery, we jumped at the chance to take an adults-only field trip with our 21-year-old son, Andrew, who is home from college ever-so-briefly before heading out for a summer internship.

Not only did we get a behind-the-scenes education in craft brewing, but we got to sample the six beers that Carolina Brewery currently has on tap at its Pittsboro, N.C., location. The brewery’s original location is on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Led by brew master Nathan Williams, the free tours and tastings are offered the second Saturday of every month at noon and 1 p.m. Click here for more information.

My guys were so excited you would have thought I had gotten them free tickets to see Dave Matthews in concert. This was their kind of freebie.

As the tour began with an explanation of barley and hops, the brew master poured us all generous glasses of a golden ale called Sky Blue. We sipped on that as we moved from the mash tun to the beautiful copper kettles to the fermenters and filters.

Father and son

Father and son

After taking a peek inside the cooler, we each tasted the five other beers currently on tap:  Copperline Amber Ale, Flagship India Pale Ale, Oatmeal Porter, Alter Ego and to Hell n Bock.

I loved the Sky Blue, but most of the rest were too strong for me. A beer connoisseur I am not. But my guys savored each one. My husband gave high marks to the Flagship IPA, while my son put his stamp of approval on Alter Ego.

We are also now official members of Carolina Brewery’s “Brew Crew,” which will get us invites to special events and private beer tastings. Additionally, we are participating in the brewery’s frequent diner’s program, which will reward us with meal discounts and other perks.

I just love local businesses that go out of their way to make their customers feel special. 

While we don’t spend a lot of money on dining out, the Carolina Brewery’s casual, fun atmosphere — and, yes, the lure of a free beer now and again — has successfully won our business twice in the last month alone when special occasions cropped up in our family.

Never underestimate the power of the freebie.

A freebie frenzy

7 05 2009

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry this morning when I read a tweet from Mike Fuchs over at the Greensboro News & Record.

According to his Bargain Blog:

Free chicken giveaway prompts police response

No, not because they were hungry.

A lot of customers were hoping to take advantage of a Kentucky Fried Chicken coupon good toward a free, 2-piece grilled chicken with two sides and a biscuit.

Click here to read the full post.

I’m about as frugal as they come, but c’mon. The police, the fire marshal. Holy cow. The chicken is not that good. Sounds like we need to call in an expert on freebie etiquette.


Freebie alert: Resumes and business cards at Staples

2 05 2009

Staples office supply store has joined the growing number of American retailers offering help to folks who are seeking work.

Now through June 13, the store will give customers 20 copies of their resumes and 40 business cards — all for free. Now that’s a good deal. And a huge help.

Click here for more details and to find a Staples location near you.

Act quickly for FREE Mother’s Day cards

1 05 2009

OK, this is last minute. Very last minute. But what a great deal. and are both offering FREE cards for Mother’s Day.

Click here to make your own photo card at There are numerous styles to choose from and you can select up to four of your own photos to put on the front of your card. Use color photos or turn your photos into black and white or sepia-toned images for a more vintage look. It took me about 10 minutes to create this card.

The $2.49 card is free with the code FREECARD. You do have to fork out 99 cents for shipping, but Mom is worth it.’s offer is totally free. Click here to start creating your Mom’s Day greeting. Using the code CARD4MOM, the $3.49 card is free. Once again, there are numerous styles to choose from and you can customize the wording to honor your grandma or mom. It took me all of five minutes to make this card.

But, wait, it gets even better. will even mail your card to your mom, again for FREE. Final value of the freebie: $3.91. How much easier can Mother’s Day be?

But don’t procrastinate.

Your order must be submitted TODAY.

At, I didn’t notice a firm cut-off date but my order confirmation said it would take three to 10 days to arrive.

Coupon for FREE beverage at Borders/Seattle’s Best

30 04 2009

Treat yourself to a FREE beverage at Borders bookstores between now and May 6. Click here to print a coupon for a 12-ounce beverage of your choice at stores that have Seattle’s Best Coffee cafes.

And a big thanks to for the freebie alert!

Free help in hard times

27 04 2009

From now until May 30, Office Depot is offering free resume copying and free faxing for folks looking for work.

The national chain will print up to 25 copies of a resume and fax to up to five different domestic numbers — for a total of 25 pages.