Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Credit Cards

While I am certainly NOT an advocate of credit card DEBT, I do believe that if you can trust yourself to pay off your card every month, you can rake in some incredible deals. Here's proof. Recently I used a $50 credit on one card to put gas in the van (didn't even fill it) and 2 months ago I used Wyndham Reward points to get a 2 night hotel stay for free. But the best was yet to come:

 Last fall I had signed up for an American Airlines Citi Card because they were offering 100,000 bonus miles if you jumped through a few hoops. (I actually read about the offer on I was frustrated with some changes in the card I had then, so I took the leap. Over 100,000 miles are now sitting in my rewards account.

Fast forward to present: Alec Baldwin pops up on TV advertising the Capital One "Venture Match My Miles Challenge." Did you see it advertised during the final four playoffs?  They were going to match a billion miles (up to 100,000 miles per person) first come, first served. Could I do it again? I didn't think it would actually work, but I signed up online anyway. We got the card and I immediately turned in (online) the paperwork for the mileage challenge--proof that we had the 100,000 miles in our AA Citi account. I didn't get any kind of confirmation, so I was expecting the worst. Then the next day, Citi's website said the promo was over; they had given out all billion miles. Oh well, can't win them all, I thought to myself.

But GUESS WHAT?? Yesterday I got the confirmation email that our miles did post in time! And I got 10,000 extra miles to boot for using the card right way. Woot! So what's this frugal mama do? She immediately starts planning a surprise (almost free) summer vacation for the fam before the miles disappear in some black void I don't yet know about. Gotta love it!

Will I keep both cards? No. Once I use up the points, I will drop the American Airlines card a.) because it costs $89 a year-first year waived, and b.) Capital One has a much better system. At Capital One you get TWO miles for every dollar spent (as opposed to ONE dollar at AA), there are no blackouts and you can fly with any airline. You just exchange miles for credit.  Example: Buy an airline ticket for $135 on sale? Just add two zeros--13500--and that's how many miles you have to exchange for the $135 credit to your account. It is $54.00 a year, first year waived. But I have a year to decide if it's worth it. One caveat: you have to have a really great credit score to get the card. 802 got us there without a problem.

Tell me what deals you have received for being smart with your card. OR, tell me your credit card nightmare and why you will--Dave Ramsey style--never use them again!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Soup Diet update...or weight loss on the cheap...and new freebies!

Are you ready for the soup update? OK...first I did the 3 day diet, which I posted about awhile back, followed by 7 days of the soup diet. I lost a total of 5.6 pounds. Now I'm just trying to count calories and get outside for more exercise. Here's the original (though I have seen MANY variations) Cabbage Soup Recipe and Meal Plan:

Cabbage Soup Recipe:

6 large green onions
2 green peppers
1 or 2 cans of tomatoes (diced or whole)
3 Carrots
1 Container (10 oz. or so) Mushrooms
1 bunch of celery
half a head of cabbage
1 package Lipton soup mix
1 or 2 cubes of bouillon (optional)
1 48oz can V8 juice (optional)
Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, curry, garlic powder, etc.

Slice green onions, put in a pot and start to saute with cooking spray. Cut green pepper stem end off and cut in half, take the seeds and membrane out. Cut the green-pepper into bite size pieces and add to pot. Take the outer leafs layers off the cabbage, cut into bite size pieces, add to pot. Clean carrots, cut into bite size pieces, and add to pot. Slice mushrooms into thick slices, add to pot. If you would like a spicy soup, add a small amount of curry or cayenne pepper now. You can use beef or chicken bouillon cubes for seasonings. These have all the salt and flavors you will need. Use about 12 cups of water (or 8 cups and the V8 juice), cover and put heat on low. Let soup cook for a long time - two hours works well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remember: This diet should only be followed for 7 days at a time, with at least two weeks in between.

Day One: Fruit: Eat all of the fruit you want (except bananas). Eat only your soup and the fruit for the first day. For drinks- unsweetened teas, unsweetened cranberry juice and water.

Day Two: Vegetables: Eat until you are stuffed will all fresh, raw or cooked vegetables of your choice. Try to eat leafy green vegetables and stay away from dry beans, peas and corn. Eat all the vegetables you want along with your soup. At dinner, reward yourself with a big baked potato with butter. Do not eat fruit today.

Day Three: Mix Days One and Two: Eat all the soup, fruits and vegetables you want. No Baked Potato.

Day Four: Bananas and Skim Milk: Eat as many as eight bananas and drink as many glasses of skim milk as you would like on this day, along with your soup. This day is supposed to lessen your desire for sweets.

Day Five: Beef And Tomatos: Ten to twenty ounces of beef and up to six fresh tomtoes. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water this day to wash the uric acid from your body. Eat your soup at least once this day. You may eat broiled or baked chicken instead of beef (but absolutely no skin-on chicken). If you prefer, you can substitute broiled fish for the beef one one of the beef days (but not both).

Day Six: Beef and Vegetables: Eat to your heart's content of beef and vegetables this day. You can even have 2 or 3 steaks if you like, with leafy green vegetables. No Baked Potato. Eat your soup at least once.

Day Seven: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices and vegetables: Again stuff, stuff, stuff yourself. Be sure to eat your soup at least once this day.

Click here for Mireille's Mimosa/Leek soup recipes (from French Women Don't Get Fat):

You will notice the similarities. Basically, you can use the low-fat veggies you like; there isn't anything magical in the combination. Leeks do have a slight diuretic affect, and I love the flavor. I also prefer to puree my soup, it gives it a cream soup texture. I always feel so clean/invigorated when I use this diet. It is truly cleansing! Let me know if you try it and your results! Bon Appetit!

A few freebies:
Free diabetes awareness bracelet:

Free Bausch and Lomb Biotrue sample (you must agree to follow up):

Free sample of Orville Redenbaucher Popcorn:

Free sample of Flix Dental sticks:

Free sample of Boogie Wipes:

Form for $10 prepaid debit card when you buy 10 select Kellogg's cereal (and you can do this 5 times!!):

Want to learn more about trade options? Here's a link for a free CD:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Free hat and beef jerky, cheap printer ink and a grateful heart!!

I have been reminded recently (proabably becasue this is so hard for me) of the importance of a thankful, praise-filled life, not just when things are going well, but all the time. Most people are grateful when things are going their way, but openly praising the Lord when life throws curve balls is the mark of a true believer. "He inhabits the praise of His people." "I will praise the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips." "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

Do we really understand this? Do we practice it? I hear obscenity constantly these days...from folks who claim to know Christ! "It's just a word," they say, "I have to be true to myself. You don't want me to be a hypocrite do you, lying about my feelings?"
Is it a lie to say that God is good, even when you are hurt? When you have lost something/someone dear to you? When things just aren't going your way? Of course it isn't! And it is what He expects of us. It is the only life in which He truly dwells.

Did you read the story I posted about Baby Miranda? What makes this story amazing is that Chad was giving the Lord His due glory even after losing his wife and infant daughter. A good friend of mine-younger than myself- was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her facebook posts are filled with praise...God will use that! Horatio Spafford, who wrote the hymn It is Well with My Soul penned those words after losing his possessions to fire and his four daughters in a ship wreck.

These are people that we admire...BE that kind of person. Verbally, outwardly thank Him today, especially if things aren't going your way. He will dwell there and He will be glorified.

God is good, all the time!! I am such a blessed woman!!

Now, on to some great deals...and I promise I will update on the soup diet soon...
Do you have a paypal account (I do, and I use it often!)? Get a nice new baseball cap for summer just by watching a VERY short video:

Right now ebates is having some super "real men" double-cash-back sales: 123inkjets, which sells printer ink, is currently giving 16% cash back!! Plus, use code FLWR123 to get 10% off and if you spend $55, you get free shipping. I have been buying ink here at 75% off retail store prices for several years now, so this deal is just the bomb.

If any of you are looking to buy new athletic shoes or clothing, Under Armour is offering 12% cash back and has some great clearance sales and free shipping on orders of $125 or more. I bought running shoes for Will last year and they were very good quality.

If you are new to ebates, you will automatically get a $5 bonus. Basically, ebates gives you cash back on online purchases if you go through their site. If you shop online anyway, it's to your advantage to use them. You even get cash back on ebay and groupon purchases! Ebates sends out bonus checks every quarter; I just got one for $95.00!! When you refer others, you get bonuses. It's a total win-win. Click here to get started:

Get a full year subscription of Budget Travel magazine for $2.99 with the code BUDGET:

Pemmican Beef Jerky is giving away 4200 free bags today only (4/1) every 20 seconds. Sign up here:

There is a great new blog for all us Walmart lovers: Great deal finder...and written by a man no less!! Who knew one could be so thrifty??