Budget Busters Freebies

Check Out Checkout 51

See what I did there?

Free Checkout 51 App

Seriously though, Checkout51 is a new couponing app similar to Ibotta. You signup, go shopping, then get the coupon amount refunded to your account. Once you hit $20, you cash out and treat yo self! Or I guess save it or pay off bills or whatever else it is responsible people do.

Free Checkout 51 App

So how does it work? Simply download either the iPhone or Android app to your smartphone (or use the website if you don’t have one!) and check out the new offers every week. They’re posted at midnight on Thursdays and you have until the next Thursday to purchase any of the particular items and submit your receipt. Also it’s worth noting that you can shop at any store and still use Checkout51.

Free Checkout51 Money

Finally, as a bonus offer to celebrate launching in the US, Checkout51 is giving us $2 for free once we hit the $20 payout. Here’s a list of their offers to give you a sense of how much you can save, like $0.50 off any dozen eggs!

So check it out and let me know what you think!

Ibotta: Free Money Saving App

Let’s talk about Ibotta for a minute, shall we? To me it sounds like one of those pills you’d see a commercial for with people sitting in outdoor bathtubs. “Don’t take Ibotta if you’re pregnant, have an upset stomach, or handled rabbit fur within the past 5 days. Common side effects include drowsiness, diarrhea, and an unpleasant conversation with your roommate one day.”

But in reality it’s a pretty cool app for your Android, iPhone, or other iOS supported device that pays you to shop for groceries. You can think of it as a new form of coupons. After downloading it and registering, you can see a list of products that, if you purchase, will earn you money on the same scale of a coupon.

So take the image below for example. If I purchase Capri Sun, I can earn $1.00. If I purchase Kool-Aid Singles, I can earn another dollar.

Free Ibotta Money

As you can see, it’s honestly free money if you’re already buying these items. And it’s not just food. I have $0.50 for Chap Stick, $1.50 for Tresemme shampoo, $1.25 for Colgate toothpaste, and a bunch more.

So, any Hiffers out there already using Ibotta? What do ya think?!

Free Shipping with ShopRunner

Free Two-Day shipping

We’re 40 days away from Christmas. Yep, you read that correctly. I’m going to highlight a few services and websites over the coming weeks that might make your life easier during the holidays (and beyond), but remember that there are tens of thousands of Hiffers out there. Every service isn’t going to be best for you, so I’m only focusing on ones that I use or ones that I think most people would find helpful.

You’ve probably heard of Amazon Prime. For $79, you can get free two-day shipping on pretty much every Amazon purchase. It’s awesome. The problem is when you go to buy something on another site, you’re back to paying $6 for shipping that takes a week if you’re lucky. Enter ShopRunner.

ShopRunner is a yearly $79 membership site in the mold of Prime. But instead of being available for just one store, it’s works on over 50 participating stores (with dozens more on the way) that have banded together to offer free two-day shipping. A membership gets you free shipping from NewEgg, Toys and Baby-R-Us, MLB and NFL.com, American Eagle, PetSmart and tons more. Even better, you get free shipping on any returns as well. Because, let’s be honest, we all occasionally make a regrettable 2am drunk purchase.

Aside from the free shipping for yourself, you can also designate up to four fellow household family members to share your account.

Is this for you? I don’t know. I have no idea what your online shopping habits are. However, if you and your family shop even a handful of times online at participating stores, you’ll make your money back through saved shipping costs rather quickly. In fact, ShopRunner is so confident you’ll love them, they’re giving people a free 30 day trial with no strings attached. If you like the service, you can keep it past the trial. If not, you are free to cancel it.

So if you do as much online shopping as myself, give ShopRunner a shot and see how awesome they are.

Host a House Party, Get Free Stuff

Host a Houseparty, Get Free Stuff

Speaking of Coffee-Mate, remember a few months back where you got a coupon and were entered into a chance to host a Coffee-Mate sponsored party? Yeah, me neither, but the post is sitting right there in the archives so it must have happened!

Hiffer Teresa recently posted on our Facebook page that she was accepted and got all the following for free:

  • Cranium board game
  • A Poker Set
  • 17 coupons for Free Coffee-mate Creamer (Liquid or Nondairy, up to 3.99)
  • 30 Nescafe single coffee packs
  • 25 Coffee-Mate single pack Creamers
  • Cups and Napkins

You might be asking yourself why she got these freebies. It turns out that some companies offer boatloads of freebies in exchange for using them to host a house party. They get to place their products in front of you and your friends while you to have a sponsored party. It’s win-win!

Now unfortunately the Coffee-Mate offer is dead. But instead of getting bummed that you missed out, check out HouseParty.com where you can sign up for the following parties:

  • AARP Celebrate Life @ 50 House Party
  • DiGiorno Pizza & Hoops House Party
  • Huggies Pull-Ups House Party
  • Johnsonville Italian Inspiration House Party
  • Philadelphia Creme Cheese Dinnertime Dilemma House Party
  • Singer Sew Very Easy House Party
  • Tapena Wine and Tapas House Party (Only available in CO, DE, FL, GA, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR and WA.)
  • Zatarain’s Brings Mardi Gras Home House Party

Remember, these companies are looking for people who 1) have friends and 2) are outgoing enough to invite them over for a party. In order to screen applicants, they do make you take a survey with around 20 questions. But as long as you’re not some hermit with no social skills you’ll have a chance at being selected.

So which Hiffers out there have hosted one of these house parties. How did it go and would you ever want to do it again?

Budget Busters #6 – Local Coupon Sites

Free Groupon Deals and Offers

By now you’ve probably already heard of Groupon. Any company that can turn down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google is sure to get people’s attention. Well I’ve been using the site since Christmas last year and long story short, they’re freaking awesome.

The site name comes from a combination of Group and Coupon, which is a good way to describe how it actually works. In essence, once a day there is a super deal offer presented to your region. If enough people buy it, then the deal “is on” but if there aren’t enough people interested, then it dies and you aren’t charged anything. For instance, in my Groupon region recently, there was an 18-hole round of golf for two people plus cart for $39, which was around 70% cheaper than the normal cost. Now the only golf I play is putt-putt, so I passed, but you get the idea.

How about this for a better example: right now, Groupon is running a deal with Redbox. For $1, you can get 3 movie rentals! The offer is good through midnight tonight (Tuesday, Dec. 14) and the Redbox codes don’t expire until March of next year.

That’s pretty much it! Sign up, check the site each day, and snag whatever they’re selling cheaply if it tickles your fancy (I have no idea what that means). With birthdays always cropping up, I figure I’ll buy anything I see priced especially well and bask in the glow of my friend’s praise!

Of course, Groupon’s enormous success has spawned thousands of copycat sites. Below you’ll find some of the more well known ones here in the states.

So what Hiffers are already using any of these sites? Let us know in the comments what kind of great deals you’ve snagged!

Budget Busters #5: Redbox Rental Codes


Last year, Redbox gave away a free rental code every Monday. After it became a huge success, they changed the program to one free code per month. They then changed the program once again and instead of releasing one code for everybody, they asked people to sign up on their site and get a text message with a unique, free code.

So while I’d love to share with you the code that I get on the first Monday of each month, I can’t as it’s only valid for me. So if you have a Redbox nearby and want to make sure you get a free rental code each month, make sure you sign up!

Budget Busters #4 – All You Magazine

All You Magazine

My obsession with All You magazine started last month when Hiffer Shaynon said HIF was mentioned in the April issue. I ended up getting a subscription and the June issue arrived today. After flipping through it, there’s only one thing I have to say: hello Couponville. According to All You’s own site, there are over $100 in coupons in this month’s edition ($102.61 to be exact).

So I’ve started to view All You similar to a newspaper subscription. Just like you pay to have coupons delivered to you every Sunday, it makes sense to find the lowest price for an All You subscription so that you can take advantage of their coupons.

Amazon currently sells it for $19.95 a year, which is still a good deal. But if you don’t mind a few extra steps, you can get a one year subscription for $14.37!

  • Sign up with Big Crumbs.
  • After logging in, search for magazines.com
  • Click on the orange “shop now” button and you’ll be taken to magazines.com
  • Now search for All You and you’ll see it listed as $19.97.
  • Make your purchase and then head back to Big Crumbs. Within two weeks, your account will be credited with 28% of your purchase, or about $5.60.
  • This means your final price is $14.37 for a one year subscription!

The $5.60 rebate from Big Crumbs will be sent to you via Paypal. From start to finish, it took about five weeks for me to receive my rebate and my first issue. You’ll only need to use a few coupons to recoup the cost and seeing as how you’ll get 12 issues each with $100 in savings, chances are you’ll come out ahead.

Budget Busters #3: Mint.com

Mint.com - Free Financial Management

The amount of time I spend online can only be classified as unhealthy. While the oncoming bout of scurvy is sure to put a cramp in my style, one of the upsides is coming across random sites and services that I think might be useful to fellow Hiffers. I’ve been using one such site for almost two years now and frankly, it rocks. Long story short, if you’re not using Mint.com, you’re missing out.

If you’re anything like me, you have tons of financial institution sites that you can log into. Banks, online savings accounts, credit cards, retirement services, student loans, investments. The only thing harder than logging into each of them every day is trying to figure out how to match my clothes in the morning. Navy blue and neon pink go together, right?

Enter Mint.com. It’s a site that allows you to access all of your financial information in one place. When I log in, it also logs into all of my accounts and updates my balances as well as recent activity. Worried about security? They use 128-bit SSL encryption, which in Nerd Language means the same stuff that banks use when you pay bills online or buy something from Amazon.

Seeing how much money you have in all your accounts only scratches the surface of what the site does. One feature is setting up budgets. Take me: I have a serious addiction to iTunes. Be it music, TV shows, iPhone apps – it doesn’t matter. Having them only clicks away is dangerous enough, but when everything is only $1 here and $2 there, it’s easy to lose track of how much I’m really spending each month. So what I do is tell Mint.com that I only want to spend $20 a month on iTunes and then it’ll not only start monitoring it for me, but send me an alert when I’m getting close to my limit.

I could delve into a million other little features they have (iPhone app, credit card & investment suggestions based on your spending habits, etc.) but by now I’d simply suggest checking out the site. Even if you’re still skittish, just have a look around. It’s a phenomenal service and most important, it’s free!

Budget Busters #2 – Customer Reward Programs

Everybody knows that their local grocery store offers a customer rewards program, but did you know that many other stores where you might make everyday purchases offer them as well? Below I’ve compiled a list of such programs and there were quite a few I didn’t even know about. (I can’t tell you how many movie ticket’s I’ve bought over the past few years – wish I’d known about Regal’s program earlier!)

Last Updated: 01/03/12

ACE Hardware (ACE Rewards) – Earn 10 points for every $1 you spend and once you get 2,500 points, you get a $5 reward. You also get 1,000 free bonus points on your first purchase so you basically have to spend $150 the first time around before getting a reward. If you are a DIY person, spending that much on home improvements isn’t hard.

AMC Theaters (AMC MovieWatcher) – You earn two points for every ticket you buy and can get up to four point per visit. Cash the points in for free popcorn (10 points) or movie tickets (30 points).

AutoZone (Rewards) – Spend $20 in-store and you earn one credit. If you then earn five credits within six months, you’ll receive $20 AutoZone store credit.


Budget Busters #1 – Coupon Book

EDIT: So obviously the 2009 Entertainment Book is no longer available, however you can get the newest version here!

So Budget Busters is going to be a new series where I explain ways to save money while spending money: coupon, lowering your utility bills, trading items instead of buying them new, stuff like that. This first one covered the new Entertainment 2009 Coupon Book that basically has the following pros & cons:


  • Comes with $20,000+ in coupons.
  • You can look at the coupons in your area’s book before you get it! This is a huge bonus and that I think some people overlook. You essentially know exactly what you’re getting upfront.
  • Many of the coupons can only be found in this booklet and are worth more than most circular coupons. (free entree instead of only an appetizer, etc)
  • Each book is area specific (mine is for the D.C. region only), so around half of the coupons are for locally owned and small stores.
  • Coupons expire on Nov 1, 2009 at the earliest, so you have almost a year to use them.


  • Costs between $16-20, but comes with free shipping.
  • Some of the coupons for on-line retailers can be found by Googling.
  • Most restaurant coupons are BOGO, so it’s not that great for a single person.

I gave an example in the video of how I ate at my favorite Mexican hole in the wall recently for my birthday and used a BOGO coupon for a free $10 entree. That’s already half of the cost it took to purchase the coupon booklet and after I use the second BOGO coupon in a few months, I’ll have recouped the price of purchase. After that, every time I use one of the other hundreds of coupons, it’s like free money.

So at the very least, check out your region’s Entertainment 2009 Coupon Book and see if the coupons in your area interest you! If so, order a book while it’s still on sale for 30% off WITH free shipping!

I also announced the winner of the $50 Target gift card, which was Deem2. Thank you to everyone who participated and if you’re now following me on Twitter, send me a message and I’ll gladly reply!

There’s also one last hidden clue in the video about something else coming up, but I can’t say anything more about that :D