Freebies for new parents

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

With the birth of the twins and all, this has been a wild week. So many things to do. So many things to learn. And nowadays, so many products to be pitched for baby. Baby products are a big business, and before your baby makes his first poopie you’ll probably start getting advertising for baby stuff. The hospital is no exception to the sales effort, as you are given so many sample packs, magazines, and other items all encouraging you to try a certain product. The upside is that there are some money saving freebies available for the asking. Here are a few good ones from all the stuff we have received.

Enfamil Family Beginnings – I list this one first because we have already received the first big sample pack. We registered with them several months ago and got in the mail this past week a sample pack with a can of powder formula plus a few formula checks (serve the same purpose as coupons.

UPromise $3 Bonus from Enfamil – Using this link, join UPromise with the promo code “DIAPER3”. This is valid only for new users. It is a pretty neat program where you register your frequent shopper cards and credit cards and are given a rebate of sorts when you purchase selected products or dine at participating restaurants. The rebates can then be transferred to your 529 college savings account, or you can request a check for cash. The rebates tend to accumulate slowly (I’ve only accumulated about $50 over 5 years), but it is free money.

20 Free Prints Online from CVS Photo Center – Simply go to CVS Photo Center online and use the promotional code “NEWMOM20”. The flyer also says that you get 10 free prints for registering as a new user, so you could probably end up with a total of 30 free prints.

Doing a Google search this evening, I also found a pretty good listing of freebies for new parents here. It will take a while to get through that list.


November 7, 2007 Posted by | College Savings, CVS, Deals, Freebies, Parenting | , , , , , | 1 Comment

$200 bonus for opening a Chase Business Checking account

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Update 11/27/2007: New working link at http://www.chase.com/ccp/index.jsp?pg_name=ccpmapp/smallbusiness/shared/page/200_coupon_offer&ID=0000007224. Offer still expires on 11/30/2007. Thanks RJ!

Update 11/24/2007: Unfortunately, it looks like the link to generate a coupon code for this offer is now dead. You may want to try contacting one of the nice Chase bankers that have posted their information in the comments to this post to see if they can still get this offer for you. If you already have a coupon code for this offer, you have until 11/30/2007 to open your account.

Just when I am trying to simplify my financial life, here comes a financial offer I can’t refuse!

From now until 11/30/2007, you can get a $200 bonus for opening a Chase Business Checking account by bringing in the coupon from Chase here. Watch out because the fees can get you on even their most basic account, however you may qualify for a fee waiver for the first 12-24 months (see my experience below). Also note that this is a business checking account, so you may be required to produce some type of documentation to show you actually have a business of some sort. Minimum balance to open is $100, and you have to keep the account open for at least 6 months or the bonus will be debited from the account at closing.

Here is my experience: I did this offer yesterday by going into a branch here in Texas.

This blog has moved! Read the rest of this post at our new home at CheapEncounters.com!

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Deals | , , , , | 45 Comments

Rape and Pillage Trilegiant for Free Gift Cards

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Yesterday I posted about being shut down by Trilegiant for opening trial memberships for the promotional bonus and then cancelling. Trilegiant is a marketing company that runs several paid shopping club services with names like AutoVantage, CompleteHome, and Great Fun. Their standard MO is they advertise the service with a trial offer that is free or $1 for the first month and offer a free gift (usually a gift card) for trying the service. Your trial is only one month, and after that trial is up you are charged the full amount of an annual membership (usually about $120), unless you call to cancel.

Now, Trilegiant isn’t the most reputable company in the world. If you need proof of that just check out their BBB report, which list hundreds of complaints they just didn’t bother to respond to. This illustrates the need for caution when dealing with these people.

Can you make something off of these folks? Sure, you just have to be very careful. Raping and pillaging Trilegiant for free gift cards is pretty easy. Just remember the following:

  1. They offer multiple services and you can sign up for all of them, although I would recommend only doing one or two at a time to stay below their radar. The fiends over at SlickDeals have posted a good summary of their services and the available bonus offers for each here. If you use Mypoints.com, you can get 200 MyPoints for each service you sign up for through their site. Not all of them are offered, but it is better than nothing.
  2. Use a disposable or one-time use card when signing up for these offers. The disposable card numbers offered on old MBNA accounts now serviced by Bank of America and Charles Schwab Bank are perfect because they let you specify a dollar limit for that card number. If you don’t have a credit card that offers disposable card numbers with limits, Visa gift cards like the ones that some rebate offers pay with or that you can buy at Walgreens or the supermarket are good alternatives. Also, use disposable email addresses (just open a new Yahoo or Hotmail account) and phone numbers (see post on PrivatePhone here) to avoid unwanted telemarketing and spam. These folks have been known to charge your card without authorization, but if the card is one time use and has a limit of $2, the charge won’t go through!
  3. Make sure to write down your membership number and remember the address and phone information you provide on the membership signup, as you will need this for the bonus request forms as well as to cancel the service.
  4. Be sure to fill out the web form link or postcard for your promotional bonus. If you don’t fill it out and send it in, you won’t get the bonus! It isn’t automatic. The SlickDeals folks have linked them so you don’t even have to wait for Trilegiant to send it to you through email, but it is usually still best to wait a couple of days after signup to make sure the fulfillment service can see your membership in their system. Also, you can make your request from any of the open offers by just filling out the correct form, although you can still only do one signup bonus.
  5. Don’t shy away from the ones that offer a cash back rebate as the signup either. I did several of those and got almost all of them back paid, even when they shut down my other signups when I requested the gift cards. If you get the rebate forms offering the cash back once a quarter, be sure to hang onto those as well and use them. Even after cancelling the service, I’ve never had a problem with them paying those.
  6. Make sure you cancel the membership within the trial period or YOU WILL BE CHARGED! Be sure to write down your member number and the phone number for the service, along with the date you have to cancel by to avoid charges. When you call, be insistent on cancelling, and make sure you get a cancellation number. If you don’t have a cancellation number, there is nothing to prove you ever cancelled!
  7. Probably a good rule of thumb is to only signup up for each service every two to three months. Any more than that and you risk getting shut down.

It is worth noting that there is nothing in their terms of service that prohibits this, although they do reserve the right to cancel your memberships at any time, and I am an example that they will do that. However, this is a company that seems to take advantage of consumers, so it seems only fair that a few smart consumers take advantage of them. Have fun!

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Deals | Leave a comment

Who visits Slickdeals.net and Fatwallet.com? It may surprise you!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Frequent readers of my blog know I am a big fan of Slickdeals.net and FatWallet.com. I reference deals I have found there all the time. I even did a long write-up comparing the two in the early days of this blog. But who really uses these sites? Is it just a bunch of folks scraping to get by who deal to save every penny they can?

Based on the demographic information provided by Quantcast.com, most of the audience of these sites is solid middle-class in income. Slickdeals is ranked higher than FatWallet (#3599 vs. #5533), but in most ways the demographics are very similar. The audiences of both sites skew slightly male, have more than average percentages of households with annual incomes in the $60-100k range, higher than average percentages of 25-34 and 35-44 year olds, as well as higher percentages of users with college and graduate level educations. Both sites also have much higher than average percentages of Asian users: Fatwallet at nearly three times the average and SlickDeals at nearly 3.5 times the average. You can find the profiles here and here.

This paints the picture of the average user of these sites being middle to upper-middle class, as well as relatively young and well-educated. Certainly not the type of person struggling to make ends meet. It may be surprising to many, but is consistent with the observations of the book “The Millionaire Next Door”, which illustrates that most millionaires in this country don’t flaunt their wealth and are actually more frugal than the rest of society, which helps explain how they amassed their wealth in the first place.

In case anyone is curious, this humble blog is also listed on quantcast.com as well! Based on this report, we are burning up the charts with over 2000 unique hits per month and are ranked at #684,364 overall!

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Deals, News/Trends, Tips | 10 Comments

Our Fantasy Football Draft Party for $7.43 (plus tip)

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Hope everyone out there had a good holiday weekend. We celebrated the holiday weekend by having everyone out for our annual fantasy football draft party. We had seven of our ten players at our party, plus a guest who served as our own personal Vanna White (thanks Tim!). All eight of us who were there ate ($106.89 worth), plus we were provided an oversized draft board with player stickers (goes for about $20.00 mail order), six fantasy football magazines (cover price $6.99 each), several Coors Light beer buckets (without the beer), koozies, and keychains.

So what did all of this (value about $170) cost us? $7.43, plus tip. We did the party at Buffalo Wild Wings, and this year they had a deal where they sponsored a limited number of draft parties and provided the draft pack plus $100 free food bill credit. The idea is that most parties will drink several times that in alcohol, but they didn’t realize we are all Mormon!


Ultimately we spent about $30 with the tip – not that the server really deserved the tip she got, but I tend to be lazy and round up on the tip. But even with the tip, it works out to less than $4 a person. Not too shabby!

September 5, 2007 Posted by | Deals | Leave a comment

$175 in free money from Chase

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Free is good. Free money is even better! Starting 9/1/2007, you can earn a total of $175 in free money from Chase.

$125 for opening a free Chase checking account (with direct deposit)

You can use the codes 2971704722166780 or 2971704722166760 either online or in-branch for a $100 bonus when opening a free checking account with a minimum $100 deposit. The codes are valid 9/1 through 11/30/2007. Additionally, use the bonus code 3032712013319022 for an additional $25 bonus. Also, according to the folks at FatWallet if you deposit at least $500 in the account you get 2 free US Open tickets. Make sure you request a Visa check card to take advantage of…

$50 bonus when you make $500 in purchases on your Visa Check card

Simply make $500 in purchases on your Chase Visa Check card between 8/1 and 10/15/2007 and get a $50 bonus. To qualify, the purchases must not be PIN-based and you must register here. As an FYI, any purchases you make during the promotional period count towards your $500 target, regardless of when during the promotion you register. You should be able to take advantage of this on new accounts or existing accounts, as long as you have a Visa check card.

A few points to remember:

  • To avoid fees on the account, you must have “direct deposit”. If you can’t do direct deposit through your employer, usually just initiating a transfer from another account (ING, Emigrant Direct, etc.) or even initiating a transfer through PayPal will be good enough to avoid the fee.
  • You must keep the account open at least 6 months, or they will deduct the account opening bonus at closing.
  • The bonus payments are reported as interest income on the Form 1099-INT at the end of the year, so remember you’ll have to give the blood-sucking IRS their share.

August 29, 2007 Posted by | Deals | Leave a comment

8 Free Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credits (New Users)

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Here’s a pretty good promotion for those who haven’t signed up for Southwest Airline’s Rapid Rewards program. Enroll in their program using this link and they give you 8 RR credits to start your account:


Also part of the promotion is they give you double credit for flights into and out of San Francisco (SFO).

The program is pretty simple – you get 1 credit for each one-way flight, and after 16 credits in 24 months you get a free round-trip flight. So with this you are already halfway to a free ticket.

August 22, 2007 Posted by | Deals, Travel | 3 Comments

$25 bonus for opening an ING Direct account

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

For the dozen beings on this planet that don’t already have one, you can get a $25 bonus when opening an ING Direct account with $250 or more. To get the bonus, you must be a first time account holder and use a valid reference code.

ING Direct was one of the first in the online savings game, and pays a good rate relative to traditional banks (4.5% APY), although not nearly as good as some other online outfits like FNBO Direct and EmigrantDirect. However, some people take comfort in the size of ING Direct (it pretty well dwarfs all its competitors) and they probably have the most user-friendly website out there. Even if you don’t use ING Direct for most of your savings, you can’t beat the instant 10% return on a $250 investment!

If you would like me to send you a bonus code, please email me at billyoceanseleven(AT)sbcglobal.net, or just leave a comment on this post with a valid email and I’ll get you hooked up. In the interest of full disclosure, I do get $10 for each referral. =)

August 10, 2007 Posted by | Deals, Savings | Leave a comment

Super Deal on Diapers at Target!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Since the CVS ExtraBucks deals lately have been crap I haven’t had much to post in the deals department, but here’s a great one on diapers at Target. There is a coupon available online for $3 off any package of Luvs diapers. There is also a coupon for a free Luvs Mega pack when you buy the same. Most Targets are pricing them at $9.99 each, so if you use a $3 and a BOGO coupon in the same transaction:

$19.98 – $9.99 (BOGO) – $3.00 = $6.99/2 Mega Packs

So have said they were able to use a $3 off coupon on each plus the BOGO:

$19.98 – $9.99 (BOGO) – $6.00 ($3 x 2) = $3.99/2 Mega Packs

Of course, some have said that they got shot down just using one $3 coupon with the BOGO, and other said the Luvs are out of stock in their area, so YMMV.

SlickDeals discussion here

June 21, 2007 Posted by | Deals | 1 Comment

Take me out to the (cheap) ballgame!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Looking for a cheap evening out with the family in the Houston area? Try taking in an Astros game.

Think I’m crazy to call that cheap? Well, not if you do it on Tuesday nights. I didn’t realize until we went to a game Friday night that for Tuesday home games you can get 2 Outfield Deck seats for just $2 with a proof of purchase from a 32oz. Powerade. Here are the details:

Get 2 Outfield Deck tickets for only $2, a $14 value, with the presentation of a proof of purchase label off of a 32 oz. PowerAde bottle.

This promotion is available strictly through the Minute Maid Park Box Office. Tickets are available 4 weeks in advance of game date (ie. Tuesday, July 5 game goes on sale Tuesday, June 7.)

Box Office hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Weekdays and 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Saturdays, plus on all game dates until 30 minutes after the final out.

Game Dates: 4/3, 4/17, 5/1, 5/15, 5/29, 6/12, 7/3, 7/24, 8/7, 8/21, 8/28, 9/11, 9/18 (available 4 weeks out)

If you have kids, there are other deals available as well. Kids 12 and under can join the Astros Buddies Club and get a coupon for 4 View Deck I or View Deck II seats on selected dates (Friday, April 27 vs. Brewers, Thursday, May 17 vs. Giants, Sunday, June 3 vs. Cardinals, Thursday, June 14 vs. Athletics, Sunday, August 26 vs. Pirates, Wednesday, September 12 vs. Cubs) plus a cap and other assorted crap for $10.

Kids can also get free tickets for perfect attendance (pre-K through 5th grade), honor roll (6th-12th grades), and for joining the Astros Summer Reading Program. You can find more information on these programs here.

Remember just because the tickets are cheap doesn’t mean the concessions are! The Astros raised concession prices again this year, so make sure you eat before you go.

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Deals | Leave a comment