Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Scream, You Scream… I’m Lovin’ FREE Ice Cream!

It has just reached spring temps here in Nebraska, and the ice cream junkie in me has emerged from winter slumber. What better way to feed the beast than with free ice cream promotions from all my favorite companies? Read on for the full “scoop!”

Ben and Jerry’s Free Scoop Day – It’s that time of year again! Free Cone Day is on April 29th this year, and I’m all in! Check the Ben and Jerry’s website for the list of participating shops in your area.

Haagen-Dazs Free Scoop Day - To celebrate their new flavor, Vanilla Honey Bee, they are offering a free scoop of the stuff at participating locations on May 13th! Mark your calendars!

Cold Stone Creamery’s Birthday Club – This Caloric treat is one of my faves. Sign up for their Birthday Club to get free ice cream on your birthday. You can start planning how you’ll make your Cold Stone Creation now, and be ready for that special day!

Baskin-Robbins 31 Cent Promotion – OK. So it’s not free. But 31 pennies for a small scoop ain’t bad, and the proceeds go to a really good cause. Check the website to see how this deal on April 30th can help America’s firefighters and to find a location near you. (Baskin-Robbins also has a Birthday Club, so sign up if you want to double-dip on deals.)

Blue Bunny iScream Team – Sign up to get the iScream Team Newsletter, and be the first to hear about promotions, contests, and stellar coupons. I have been a member for over a year, and I have enjoyed the occasional free product with much enjoyment. You also get the chance to provide feedback on Blue Bunny’s tasty treats. (Sampling opportunities are available in many parts of the country.)

Edy’s Slow-Churned Neighborhood Salute – This freebie is actually a contest, but the prizes are plentiful, and the goods are to die for! From now until May 30th, just tell Edy’s why your neighborhood deserves a party, and you’re in the running to win one of 1,500 prize packs that include 12 cartons of ice cream delivered to your door and enough party supplies for 100 people (includes bowls, spoons, napkins, and tons of other promotional stuff!) See a sneak peak at the prizes HERE. I’ve known folks who have won in past years, and it is an awesome way to share your love of ice cream with your friends and family!

However you decide to fulfill your ice cream desires -- do it slowly. You don’t want to get a headache!

Monday, April 14, 2008

DVDs Freer than Free--No, Really, Really Free

I noticed Paul's interesting article (NEVER Pay for a Redbox DVD Rental Again ) about using Redbox codes to rent movies for free, and in theory, I am all for it. But we don't have Redbox nearby, and I would never manage to return a movie in 24 hours with my crazy life. Fortunately, I have a diabolical method of getting movies for free. Even free-er than Redbox free! Nowadays, I laugh as I drive by Hollywood video. Why did I ever pay $4 to rent a movie? Why, God, why?

Here's the secret. I use the library. I know that's not really a secret. It was even mentioned in the comments to Paul's post, but then quickly dismissed and/or ignored. I think the idea deserves to be revisited. See, most people assumed that you can't get the videos you want at the library, especially new releases. But I've been getting just about any DVD I could ask for from the library using the computerized request system. I combine this with my reading wish list, enter my requests, and a few days later, I get an email saying my DVDs are waiting for me. I even put in electronic requests for materials that are not on loan, because I am too darn lazy to go to the shelf and look them up alphabetically. I just walk up to the hold shelf, grab the materials with my name on it, zap them through the self checkout, and walk out without paying a dime.

The library has a full selection of new releases, and also popular television shows. We do maintain a netflix subscription, because there are some things we haven't found in the library. However, lately I have been experimenting with interlibrary loan for books. If the book is not found in the library catalog, you get the option to "search other libraries" and the system will look for your selection in the interlibrary lending system. I wasn't sure if this option existed for DVD's, so just now I went to my local library web page and searched for a DVD I was pretty sure they didn't have. Sure enough, I found it in a library in a neighboring town, and was offered the opportunity to request it.

Since I've been using the library pretty heavily, I've noticed something interesting. A lot of other people are, too! I have one book on request in which I started out as the 135th request. It may seem like, with a month-long loan period, I would never get the book, but when I looked at the record, my library owned 45 copies, and was in the process of acquiring dozens more. That means that the library is not as much of a free ride as we thought. They are a major purchaser of books, DVDs, CDs, and other media, using taxpayer dollars, and there's no need to feel guilty about using it. They seem to keep enough books in stock so that the hold queue is about three deep. So for a book with 140 holds, they owned 50 copies. That seems completely reasonable to me.

As it turns out, the hot books, movies, and cds are perpetually loaned out, and your only chance of getting them is to use the request system. (I always figured that mostly if I couldn't find it on the shelf, I couldn't get it from the library.) Waiting for things really hasn't been a problem, since new requests are coming up for me every few days. My biggest challenge has been keeping up with all the material I have requested. In fact, my Netflix queue has gone rather stale since we got a big batch of DVDs from the library. There is no limit on the number of items you can take out. You can keep DVDs for a week, and if no one has requested them, you can renew them nearly indefinitely. My library sends me an email a few days before materials are due, and I have made it part of my daily routine to pop in to the library web page and check my list of checked out items (up to 35 items right now!). If something is due that day, I try to renew it, or put it on the shelf next to the door to drop off on my daily errands. Often, at the same time, I swipe my holds from the hold shelf. (You do need a good home organization system for library materials if you are going to have a lot of them. I try to keep the DVDs near the TV, or on a shelf by the door.)

I don't know if I've talked you into using your public library more. I may have talked myself in to canceling my Netflix subscription! We already canceled our cable subscription and are frankly not missing it between DVD rentals and the odd iTunes purchase for very new TV shows. To ease the transition, at first we bought some current TV shows on iTunes for our son, but very quickly we weaned him onto older stuff we could get from the library. He is enjoying Looney Tunes now every bit as much as I did in my childhood, and we get them FREE from the library.

But if you're still with me after all of this, here is an extra bonus for Michigan residents. Libraries in Southeast Michigan are loaning out free tickets to area museums now through October. Tickets are available in twos or fours for a long list of museums both big and small, including the DIA and other major attractions.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

“Reusable” 10% Off Best Buy Coupon

Note: This is really for United States residents only.

It’s not often that I buy stuff in stores because I can normally find the same item for much less online. I do, however, find myself turning to Best Buy on the rare occasion that I can’t fulfill my gadget addiction over the Internet.

Just a few months ago we moved from Iowa to Illinois, and when notifying the United States Postal Service (USPS) we received some coupons online. Among them was a Best Buy coupon that was 10% off of a single item from the categories I’ve listed below. Huh, I thought it was a pretty good deal since the coupon didn’t expire for about two-months.

Then I noticed that this particular coupon, like most others, was merely an image. The URL of the coupon is:

The first thing that popped into my head was that part of the filename for the image is just the year followed by the month. In this case the 200804 represents April, 2008. As it turns out the URL of the image changes from month-to-month almost like clockwork. So the next time you’re looking to buy something from Best Buy check to see whether this coupon applies to you, and adjust the URL to represent the current month. USPS might be changing the URL as more people start to catch on, but by modifying the URL I can see that they’ve been using this structure for nearly a year.

For those of you who have a hard time reading the fine print here is a nice structured list of the things the coupon is valid for:

* Home Theater:
o TV’s $399 & up
o DVD players and recorders
o Blu-ray Disc & HD DVD Players
o Home Audio
o Audio and video accessories
o Furniture $99 & up
o Home Theater installation
o Also valid at Magnolia Home Theater
* Computer Accessories:
o DVD-RW drives
o Flash and external hard drives
o Printers $149 & up
o Scanners $99 & up
o Networking
o Speakers, mice, and keyboards
o PC cameras and gaming controllers
o Digital recorders $99 & up
o Surge protectors
o Flash memory
o Cables
o Graphic and sound cards
o Software
o Blank media
o Ink cartridges
o Printer Docks
o Paper
* Digital Cameras & Camcorders:
o Digital cameras $249 & up
o Camcorders $279 & up
o Digital camera accessories
o Camcorder accessories
o Blank media
o Camcorder batteries
o Premium photo services
o Digital photo frames
o Photo gifts
o Prepaid Best Buy Photo Center Gift Cards
o Batteries
* MP3 Players & Car Electronics:
o MP3 accessories
o GPS hardware
o Car audio
o Satellite radio hardware
o Musical instruments
o CD/DVD storage
o Toys
* Phones & Accessories:
o Pay-as-you-go phones
o Cordless phones
o Answering machines
o Landline and cellular phone accessories
o Phone cards
o Two-way radios
* Major and Small Appliances & More:
o Vacuums
o Microwaves