2020 Big Ol’ List of Birthday Freebies!

This is a brand new list for 2020. I’ve gone through and verified that all of these are still valid!

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I’ve been sharing birthday freebies since 2007! As I live in Southern CA, all of these freebies are specifically for those of us in that area. There are tons of other birthday freebie lists, but they may include offers that are not available here or may include stuff that I don’t consider worth it (like a free Rice Krispy treat when you buy an entree that’s $10+… That’s a hard pass from me, or the Aveda “freebie”- pay $10 and receive a product valued at $23+… No thanks).

I recommend signing up for these freebies at least a month before your birthday, so there is enough time for you to be added to their list. I have included only the freebies that I have signed up for and personally received, so there is no bunk.

 

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Non-food Goodies:

  • Free goodies at Sephora (It changes every year)
  • JCPenney Rewards: Birthday Reward (It’s usually $5, but it can change)
  • $3.00 ECB at CVS when you register online for the CVS ExtraCare Beauty Club
  • Best Buy– $5.00 off Coupon for those in the My Best Buy Program.
  • DSW Shoe Warehouse – $5 off birthday coupon, plus 500 points for signing up for their loyalty club.
  • Members of the Cost Plus World Market Explorers program get a surprise birthday gift, among other perks; you will also get a 10% off coupon upon enrollment.
  • As a member of Swagbucks, you’ll get 50 Swagbucks on your birthday.
  • Torrid– Members of the DivaStyle Club will receive $10 off their next purchase of $10+
  • bareMinerals (cosmetics)- The birthday freebie changes each year. Last year it was lip gloss, this year it’s eye shadow!
  • Old Navy: Sign up for their email list and they’ll send you a $5.00 off coupon to use in store.  You can also sign your kids up too! Scroll all the way to the “Sign up and Save” box at the bottom of the page.
  • Ace Rewards members score a $5.00 coupon for their Birthday (Ace Hardware)
  • ClearWater Cleaners (dry cleaners)
  • Aqua Clean Carwash
  • Free brow wax at the Benefit Brow Bar. It’s back. More info can be found on their FAQ page.
  • Dave & Buster’s: $10 in free game play for those in the D&B Rewards Club.
  • This is a BOGO, but I know a few people who have done this and they said it was fun- Free Trip to Catalina Island! Free round-trip travel for two with the purchase of one full fare Adult ticket on your birthday
  • My Aunt told me about this one! Join Passport to Provence to score a FREE birthday gift from L’Occitane en Provence. Also, you can score $20 off your first purchase at L’Occitane here!
  • Join the Sally’s Rewards Club and score a $5 coupon on your birthday, as well as tons of other super sweet perks!

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Free Food Noms:

  • Red Robin:  FREE burger on your birthday and all the latest Red Robin news.
  • Cold Stone Creamery:   Free ice cream on your birthday when you buy one at regular price.
  • Rubio’s   Free plate/combo
  • Del Taco  Free Shake (You also get something free when you sign up!)
  • Starbucks – register a free Starbucks Card and get a free birthday handcrafted beverage of your choice (as well as other goodies throughout the year).
  • Baskin Robbins Ice Cream – One free scoop (2.5 oz),.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – Free single scoop.
  • Sonic Drive-in: Free Medium beverage (OMG- Cherry Limeade FTW!)
  • Denny’s: Free Grand Slam for your Birthday. They also email out other freebies and coupons.
  • IHOP: Free Meal (It varies by year) on your birthday.
  • Arby’s Birthday Club: Offers a “surprise” it changes each year.
  • Dunkin Donuts Birthday Club will kick down with a free coffee.
  • Burger King Crown Club for Kids: Free Surprise for your kiddo’s b-day!
  • Bj’s Brewhouse Rewards members receive a free Pizookie for their birthday.
  • Jersey Mike’s: Free Sub for your Birthday! (No matter what you read online, there is no Subway or Submarina birthday Freebies- Those deals are DEAD)
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt: When you sign up for a Smile-age Account, you’ll score a free Fro Yo for your B-day!  (I love Menchie’s!)
  • Weinerschnitzel: Free Corn Dog for your Birthday!
  • Cinnabon: Free Mochalatta Chill for your birthday, and a free minibun when you sign up.
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes: Join their email list and receive a FREE Bundlet on your Birthday. (look for the link at the bottom of their website)
  • Sbarro Rewards Club: Free piece of pizza for your birthday when you purchase a drink. You’ll also get a coupon for a free slice when you sign up.
  • Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt: Free Frozen Yogurt on your birthday.
  • Sprinkles: Get a free cupcake for your birthday when you join the Sprinkles birthday club.
  • Pita Pit: Free Pita for your birthday when you join the Pita Pit E-Club!
  • Bruegger’s Bagels gives you three free bagels for your birthday. SCORE! Our family eats tons of bagels, so this is a sweet deal.
  • I Birthday Club. They have offers in San Diego, Orange, LA, San Bernadino, Riverside, and Santa Clara Counties.
  • D Z Akins
  • Mary’s Donuts East County peeps know what I’m talking about! Free drink and TWO Donuts!
  • Habit Burger Grill’s CharClub Score a free Charburger on your birthday.
  • Panera– Sign up for MyPanera and get a free pastry or sweet on your birthday.
  • El Pollo Loco: Sign up for Loco Rewards to get a FREE birthday meal (2pc Chicken Meal or Classic Chicken Tostada Salad.)!
  • Food, but not a restaurant offer. Like Yogurt? Join the noosa Yoghurt fan club, Cream of the Crop, and they will mail you a coupon for free yogurt for your birthday!

Some of the offers that I have been told about but no longer exist include free tokens for the b-day kid at Chuck E. Cheese, free cheeseburger at Fuddruckers (now it’s a BOGO), Free cake at Corner Bakery Cafe (It’s a free dessert WYB an entree). Another deal that everyone and their mama go nuts about is Benihana Japanese Restaurant – complimentary meal up to $30 when you purchase an Adult meal at Regular Price (You must sign up for The Chef’s Table club) . This used to be a FREE meal, no strings attached, but it has changed to basically a BOGO. That’s a no go for me, but it may still get you excited.

I have not included Ulta in my list because you have to make a purchase the year previous (and it needs to be a certain amount- I’ve been told different amounts by various Ulta Employees anywhere from $5-$50), so for me, that’s not a freebie. If I have to buy something to receive something, that’s a BOGO deal.

Talk Back: What is your favorite birthday freebie?

Crockpot Chili Recipe (GF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

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Easy, Delicious, and Healthy!

I realized the other day when searching for my chili recipe on my blog so I could share it with someone on Facebook, that I have not posted my chili recipe, ever! Which is weird, because I make it at least once a month.

What I love about making chili in the crockpot is that you can use either fresh, frozen, or canned veggies, it really depends on what you have in your house, and what your budget is.

Because I get vegetables and fruit twice a month at our local co-op, frequently I will have fresh vegetables that I have diced or prepared and put into Ziploc bags to store in the freezer. It ensures that we have nutritious vegetables with no additives at our fingertips throughout the month.

Another great thing about this chili recipe is you can make it vegetarian, you can put meat in it, or you can make a vegan! This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

Slow Cooker Chili

  • One large onion diced
  • Two bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cups tomatoes. You can either use canned tomatoes, or if you have fresh tomatoes available you can quarter them.  No need to peel or seed them.
  • Two cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 T. Avocado oil
  • 1 pound of meat (optional) I usually use ground pork, but other good choices include ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, or bite-sized pieces of stew meat. If you want a meat substitute, I like these crumbles from Beyond Meat.
  • One can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3T chili powder
  • 1t cumin
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Optional, but delicious:

1 cup corn niblets. If you use canned corn, drain and rinse it prior to adding.

If you do not care for black or kidney beans, you can swap in Northern beans, or navy beans.

Directions

  1. Personally, I like to brown the meat on the stove prior to adding it to the slow cooker. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat avocado oil and brown meat until thoroughly cooked/browned.
  2. Add onions and peppers, cook until onions are clear and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often until garlic is fragrant about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. If your pan has a lot of brown food remnants on the bottom, I recommend taking 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (you can use water) and pour it in the pan stirring and scraping all the yummy brown stuff off the bottom. This is where all the flavor lives.
  5. Pour all of the ingredients from the pot into your slow cooker.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

I love serving chili with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

This recipe is incredibly versatile.

If you don’t have fresh onions and peppers, you can grab a bag of fajita mix out of the freezer (which is pre-chopped onions and bell peppers).

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes (which let’s face it a lot of us don’t) you can use canned tomatoes. You can use whole canned tomatoes you can use diced, you can use chopped, whatever kind of tomatoes you have in your cupboard.

Use whatever kind of canned beans you have on hand. One time I made chili and I used chickpeas! And it turned out delicious!

If you don’t have cumin and chili powder in your cupboard but you have chili seasoning, use that instead.

I find the chili is a great go-to meal for when you are at the end of the month, and you are low on funds but you have lots of canned goods and frozen veggies.

If you were strapped for time, you don’t have to brown your meat, you can just put it in the crockpot and pour all the other ingredients over top, cook it, and let it cook. Just make sure to break up the meat (if you’re using ground meat) with a spoon prior to serving.

New Deals from Checkout 51!

Checkout 51 is rad! Most of the deals/cashback rebates are not store specific, so I can save at stores that don’t accept coupons, like Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only.  You can also stack with store sales and discounts.

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It’s the beginning of the year and that means lots of diet stuff is on sale or on cashback apps for additional savings.

This week on Checkout 51, there are lots of healthy foods and TONS of Atkins products!

New to Checkout 51? Check out my post with more details here.

New Year, New Opportunities to Save!

file0001219719004.jpgFor years, I’ve been posting about printable coupons, highlighting some of my favorites at the beginning of each month. As the years go by, sometimes it’s harder to find printable coupons or any coupons that excite me.

Couponing rules have become restrictive in-store, combined with the terms and conditions on each coupon, making the tried and true couponing advice of old (gather a lot of the same coupon, wait for a sale and stockpile items that you eat or use frequently), no longer a solid way to save money.

So this year I’ve decided at the beginning of each month, I’ll be highlighting some of the money-saving apps I use and their new offers. Their offers change monthly, just like coupons. Most of the money-saving apps also offer bonuses or deals from time to time as well.

 Ibotta has a new year referral bonus going on right now. You’ll earn 100% of what your newly referred friends earn through the end of January. Ibotta also has online offers too. You can shop through the app to earn more cashback. I love that they have offers at stores like Joann’s. I can earn cashback for my craft addiction!

refer.pngFetch Rewards has a pretty sweet deal right now- Refer friends with your referral code (mine is ND2TB), You’ll get 4,000 points for each referral, and your friends get 2,000 when they snap their first receipt! (In order for you to qualify for the increased referral bonus, they must enter your referral code and complete a valid receipt now through 11:59 PM PT on 1/7/2020. After 11:59 PM PT on 1/7/2020, the referral bonus will expire)

Checkout 51 is sweetening the deal too- When you sign up here and scan in your first receipt, you’ll get a $5 bonus! If you are already a Checkout 51 user, refer your friends and you’ll earn $10 when a new user scans in their first receipt (and they still earn $5).  Everyone wins!

And I’m not completely discarding the notion that printable coupons aren’t useful. In fact, while working on this post I discovered a couple printable coupons that I would 100% use and printed them out:

Save $2.00 when you buy FIVE (5) Smart Ones Frozen Meals

I try to keep some of these on hand for lunches or nights when I’m too tired to whip up what I’ve meal planned for that night. They have vegetarian entrees too!

Save 35¢ On Any California Dairy Product That Carries The Real California Milk Seal

For us CA peeps, this coupon is super useful!

Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) package of Green Giant® Veggie Tots, Riced Veggies, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Veggies, Harvest Protein Bowls, or Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Those Veggie Tots- So tasty!

Talk Back: How do you plan on saving money this year?

My Favorite Pantry Staples!

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I’ve used the term “Pantry Staples” a lot recently, and some of you may not know what that means.

Pantry staples are food items that most people have in their cupboards all the time. They are commonly known as “ingredients”.

Here are the 25 pantry staples that we always have on hand, and below them, you will find links to recipes containing these staples.

I’ve linked to these items on Amazon, which is where I buy a lot of our pantry staples, especially if there is no local deal. I do surveys and research studies to earn Amazon Gift Cards that I use to purchase items.

My Amazon List of Hewes Family Pantry Staples

  1. All-Purpose Flour
  2. Rolled Oats
  3. Baking Powder
  4. Baking Soda
  5. Kosher Salt
  6. Baking Cocoa Powder
  7. Crisco Shortening
  8. Coconut Oil
  9. Grapeseed Oil
  10. Chocolate Chips
  11. White Sugar
  12. Brown Sugar
  13. Powdered Buttermilk
  14. Jasmine Rice and/or Brown Rice
  15. Canned Tomatoes
  16. Tomato Sauce
  17. Tomato Paste
  18. Canned Black Beans
  19. Canned Chickpeas
  20. Canned Kidney Beans
  21. Broth (a mix of Veggie and Chicken)
  22. Noodles/Pasta/Macaroni (Usually one package of each)
  23. Tuna Pouches
  24. Peanut Butter (Or other seed/nut butter)
  25. Vinegar (Usually a couple different types)

 

Recipes using Pantry Staples:

Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Made with Olive Oil)

Tasty Chewy Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies!

Family Recipe: Cocoa Brownies

Recipe: Not Your Average Taco Salad

Family Recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini

New Recipe: Shakshuka

Recipe: Colonial Chowder

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

Checkout 51- New users get $5!

unnamed.pngCheckout 51 is a great cashback app that I don’t think I give enough attention to.

For the most part, you can use it at any store (which is great for those of us who shop at Grocery Outlet or other non-chain grocers a lot).

How Checkout 51 works

  1. Browse your offers and buy products at any store.
  2. Upload your receipt using Checkout 51.
  3. We’ll confirm your purchase and credit your account.
  4. When your account balance reaches $20, you can cash out and we’ll mail you a check. Please see Terms for more details.

Checkout 51 is sweetening the deal too- When you sign up here and scan in your first receipt, you’ll get a $5 bonus!

If you are already a Checkout 51 user, refer your friends and you’ll earn $10 when a new user scans in their first receipt (and they still earn $5).  Everyone wins!

To learn more about all of the Cashback apps I use, click here.