My birthday is coming up soon. Tuesday to be exact. You’re wishing me a Happy Birthday right now, aren’t you? Sure you are, I can tell. Thank you!

It’s off to a great start. And I’m going to share some of my secrets to a successful birthday with you. How do you like them apples?

How Do You Like Them Apples?!

How Do You Like Them Apples?!

Let’s face it: Birthday is a bit of a misnomer. What we all really like is a Birthmonth. Am I right? Y’all don’t wake up on midnight of your special day and say, “Wow. Today’s my birthday.” And then 24 hours later think, “I did not see that coming.” Not at all. If you’re an inkling at all like me or my daughter, you start thinking about it a wee bit in advance.

There’s some planning involved. Some surprises. Mostly, just some great go-with-the-flow adventuring.

It starts with a small time investment and some printer ink. Visit your favorite restaurant sites online and see if they have any eClub offers. Many will give you either a completely free or free-with-purchase coupon just for signing up. You might also get a second coupon to be used during the month of your birthday. Just a few of my favorites are Del Taco, Carino’s and Panera Bread.

On Friday, Dot visited me at work during lunch time. We went to the local Del Taco and got two free chicken soft tacos. I have a second coupon to use next week, good for one free premium shake. No purchase necessary on either coupon. I did, however, indulge in a small fries. $1.72 is a nice price for lunch, don’tcha think?

IMG_1690Saturday morning we woke up early. I had a $5 reward certificate from Best Buy that expires in three days. Lucky for me, they have a good selection of cheap CDs. Unlucky for me, they were one penny short of what I needed to spend in order to use the certificate. So I had to add to my purchase. What on earth does This Girl find at Best Buy? A pack of pens, of course! Oh, darn. (You can hear the sarcasm, right? Okay. Just checking.)

Then we crossed the street to enjoy a behind-the-scenes Grand Opening of our new Macy’s store. Trust me, we need this store here in the desert. Just the right touch of snobbery to get people out of their jeans and flip-flops. Yeah. This is a good thing. A better thing? Coupons! Macy’s doesn’t open to the public until Wednesday, but many charity organizations in the area sold $5 tickets. All proceeds were kept by the charities. A ticket was three-part: The first got you in the door, the second got you an entry for a $500 gift card drawing (No. We didn’t win. But thank you for asking.), and the last got you discounts at checkout.

For the regular price of one piece of clothing, I picked up a nice blouse for myself, and two tops for Dot.

Dot's Tops

Dot’s Tops

It’s like my top paid for itself. Happy Birthday to Me. Guess what I’m wearing on Tuesday!

The crowds were excessive, of course, and standing in line was nearly like doing so on Black Friday. But we managed. We also built up an appetite so I took Mutti and Dot to Carino’s where I had a St. Patrick’s Weekend coupon: wear green and get a free pizza.

Pizza for St. Patrick

Pizza for St. Patrick

They start each table with free bread and dipping oil. We ordered a plate of fried Mozzarella and beverages. They even threw in a free chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert!

Warm Chocolate Cake. Cold Vanilla Ice Cream. 'Nuff said.

Warm Chocolate Cake. Cold Vanilla Ice Cream. ‘Nuff said.

Are they awesome or what? It was so much food, we took some home. Not bad for $25, including tip.

Then we decided a movie was the ticket! Dot treated us to LINCOLN at the dollar theater. We were so stuffed from lunch that it didn’t even cross our mind to get popcorn or a soda. But if it had, we belong to the theater’s Rewards club so every time we go, we get free snacks with purchase.

After the movies, I decided since we were so close, I needed to use my Staples certificates. Do you have a Staples office supply store near you? Did you know they pay you for turning in your empty ink cartridges and buying product at their store? It’s awesome. I tend to save up my cartridges and turn them in only once or twice a year so I get all my rewards at once instead of little by little. For Saturday’s indulgence, I used my certificate to buy a colorful insulated lunch tote. I treated myself to an insulated tumbler. Less than $8.00. I’m okay with the cost. It’ll last. And who doesn’t love drinking out of a fun cup?

By this time, it had been about four hours since we last ate. Panera Bread was calling our name. Let me check… yup. There’s a coupon for that. Just for signing up, I got a free pastry. Pastry? More like a meal! I’m not selfish. I bought Dot a blueberry bagel. Mom wanted to get her own, so I let her. We both spent just over $2.00.

Cinnamon Roll from Panera Bread

Cinnamon Roll from Panera Bread

But what’s a pastry without a drink? Oh, look! Just down the street is a Juice It Up! and I happen to have a BOGO. That’s “Buy-One-Get-One” in Couponeze. These are a little pricey, but so worth it. $5.49 gave Dot her large Seabreeze Squeeze and I picked up a free Pineapple Punch.

Juice It Up! BOGO

Juice It Up! BOGO

Then we went home to enjoy our day’s spoils and watch Celtic Thunder on DVD. Hey, it’s a weekend full o’ the Irish, y’know? And seriously. Who doesn’t love some mighty fine singing (I’m also partial to the good looking men in suits…. Oh, Man Store, please deliver!).

That ends the day, but not the celebration! In my bag, I still have coupons for free, no-strings-attached:

  • Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity Breakfasts from IHOP (two coupons: one for joining, one for the month of my birthday).
  • One free burger (up to $10 value) from Red Robin. [Shout out to Penny for telling me about this!]
  • Two free desserts from Carrow’s. One for joining, one for my birthday.

I’ve had a Starbuck’s Gold Rewards for a few years (this doesn’t surprise you, does it?). On my birthday, I’ll get a free drink. Any drink or food item. Now that’s golden!

I’ve also heard that I just need to show my ID at Jack in the Box for a free Chocolate Cake or New York Style Cheesecake. The tough part will be deciding which one to choose.

Aside from all this great food, I’m especially excited to be a member of OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware). I actually love to spend my lunches there (that’s another post altogether). They gifted me a $5 certificate for my birthday, and $10 off any $30 purchase for taking a short survey. That’s going to be $35 worth of gardening beauty for only $20. I’m thinking a windchime and a birdhouse. Or a tree to transplant. Or a few potted herbs. Or flowers. Or cacti. Or a yard flag. Or… whatever else I can find for that amount.

I love these coupons not just for saving money. Let’s face it, y’all know I’m not the richest woman on the block. So saving money goes without saying. But I also love these coupons for two more reasons. The first is, they give me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family. We couldn’t have afforded a $40 pizza lunch. But $20 plus tip? Not a problem. And I’m not going to eat a Rooty Tooty alone. Nope. I can share the bill with Dot and Mutti on that. A simple breakfast for each of us. A cup of coffee. Nothing fancy. But definitely fulfilling. And OSH? That’s the second reason I love coupons. They offer possibility. Promise. Planning. All of the above.

If couponing makes me look like someone who’s counting her pennies… Well, guess what. I’m all in.

Pre-Birthday Spoils

Pre-Birthday Spoils

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

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Clipping Coupons, Part II

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TGIF: March 15, 2013
Sweeten my tea and share: