Over the past six months I have purchased approximately one gazillion Groupons. I've been very lucky to enjoy your help with this -- since I began posting a roundup of Chicago daily deals, many of you have clicked through my affiliate link, signed up for Groupon, and made your first purchase, which generated Groupon Bucks I could spend on myself. On wine for myself, on hairdos, meals, and, of course, wine.
Now it's time for me to give back by sharing my opinions of the Groupons I've purchased. Generous, right? Did you think I was going to give you all Groupons? Um, Groupon people, if you're reading this, please get in touch to give my readers lots of Groupons.
For now, I have only words to give you. But hey, they're free.
Groupon has been handing out lots of cut-rate organic food lately. Today one of the national deals is a 53% discount on an order from Nature's Prime. You pay $35 for a $75 credit, and by the way if you spend an extra $25 to bring your order up to $100, shipping is free.
Check the discussion section on that deal -- there is also a way to get basically the same deal with a combination of coupons.
Oh, and here's another national deal I've not seen before: subscribe to The New Republic (if you're into that kind of thing) for 51% off. That's $22 for one year, normally $44.97.
Disclosure: Affiliate links be here. Did you see the article in today's Trib about that? It features my friend MJ Tam.
72% off at Cassidy Tire & Service. That's $30 for an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection at one of 15 locations. 50% off McCormick Bridge House and River Museum Insider Club. That's $10 for a one-year membership, normally $20.
See all the Groupon deals available nationally at Groupon Roundup -- two of the wine deals are back.
63% off at Le Sole Tanning. That's an airbrush tan for $15, normally $40. 69% off at Comset Computers. That's $40 for maintenance and cleaning, normally $130.
50% off at Piggy Toes in Lincoln Park. That's $20 for a $40 voucher to the kids' boutique. 46% off at Snapfish. That's $15 for a customizable photo book, normally $28, shipping not included.
UPDATE: I just saw that there is a $10 off any code expiring today for Snapfish. The code is WOW10OFF, and while it doesn't cover shipping you can go to the site through Mr. Rebates to get 8% cash back to defray the shipping expense.
(Thanks, Money Saving Mom.)
Today's Groupon for Tulsa, which anyone can buy, is half off at Zazzle.com -- the same company from which I recently ordered business cards. (I got them free with a coupon code that's, alas, no longer available.) You pay $25 and get $50 to spend on the site, which sells photo calendars, cards and other custom stuff.
Or, use the coupon code BOOK29 on Shutterfly through Sept. 22, and get 50% off a variety of photo books. (Shutterfly also has a coupon code for free shipping with orders over $30 -- SHIP30. Probably can't be combined.)
In either case, going throughthe rebate site ShopAtHome.com will get you back some or all of the shipping cost -- they're paying 14% cashback for Zazzle and 10% back for Shutterfly.
These things make great gifts, although it is a little early in the year to start compiling holiday photo books for the grandparents. Surely you'd want to get at least Halloween in there.
Photo from Shutterfly. Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in here.
I have been buying a lot of Groupons. I'm going to share with you how the purchases went, so you can judge whether Groupon deals are indeed good deals. (In my opinion, many are great deals but some are mediocre once you really look at the value.)
Today Mr. Handyman came by to tack down a corner of my roof shingles that were sticking up and allowing birds to get in. I'm generally pretty skeptical of these handyman services because I don't like the idea of paying a rate -- often around $100/hour -- that covers electrical and plumbing skills but also hammering nails.
However, today's experience was great. My Groupon covered one hour of work, plus the $40 service fee and even the materials used (nails and some metal strips as makeshift flashing). Since the worker from the Oak Park/River Forest location was able to do the job with materials he had in his truck, he got it done within the hour and I didn't pay a cent beyond the $49 I'd paid for the Groupon.
He was courteous and a nice guy. He provided me with some information above and beyond the job -- information that I didn't really want to hear because it sounds like we'll need to replace our roof sooner than expected. He wasn't trying to upsell; he provided me the name of a roofing company that would do a good job.
So I got my problem taken care of for $49 -- pretty much the lowest you're ever going to pay to have a worker come to your house and get up on a ladder. While I'm still skeptical of the Mr. Handyman pricing model, I'm now confident that their workers are good guys who won't try to run up the clock on you, so I might actually call them again.
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED AND NO MORE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED BY MONDAY AT 5 P.M.
There are two ways to approach frugal gifting: Either you give what's expected and spend less than others spend, or you go beyond what's expected and spend the same amount that others would shell out for a more standard gift.
Me, I do a little of both, often splitting the difference. But one group of people I never hold out on is my readers. Because, guess what? It's Thursday, time for a giveaway!
Today's Frugalista Challenge is frugal gifting. Because, it's holiday shopping time already. Seriously? Seriously, because shopping frugally takes more planning. I'm going to share my tips for giving presents that cost less, then you leave a comment sharing your best frugal gifting tip, or what you want to try in the future to cut back on gift expenses.
Your comment is your entry to this week's $100 drawing, provided by 8Coupons.com. See the bottom of the post for more details on the prize. You can get a second entry by Tweeting this post; make sure to inlcude @carriekirby in your Tweet so I can tally it.
Reader Barbara just sent me a great Groupon deal that I didn't know about: Get a movie ticket for any of Fandango's 16,000 screens nationwide for just $4.
Like the $4 ticket for AMC Theaters you can get on KGB.com, you can only buy one. So if you wanna go on a date, you'll have to get your honey to log on and buy themselves their own damn ticket.
This is apparently on the Orange County Groupon site today, but anyone nationwide can buy it. And yes -- this is how it always works for Groupns, so if you see a great Web deal in another city, snag one and then let me know!
Here are the offers from Chicago's daily deals sites for Thursday, July 22. Some are available for more than a day; check the individual sites for details and restrictions.
Groupon: 46% off pasta making class at Cooking Fools. That's $45 for the Wicker Park class, worth $84. Side deal: 58% off riding lesson in Palatine. That's $55 for a 2-hour class with helmet, worth $130.
YouSwoop: 64% off yoga at The Peace School. That's $40 for 12 classes, worth $110. Side Deal: 53% off self defense class at The Peace School. That's $35 for a 5-week class, worth $75. Side Swoop: 74% off laser hair removal at SpaDerma. That's $39 for one session, worth $150.
Living Social: 70% off at Mazi Dance Fitness Centre. That's $30 for up to 30 classes in 30 days at the Wicker Park studio.
Tippr Over 54% off remote computer repair from FixIt99. That's $49 for the normally $99 service.
We Give to Get: 38% off Bacon Hot Sauce. That's $14.99 for a three-pack, normally $23.99. Side Deal: 50% off at Alhambra Palace. That's $25 for a $50 voucher.
Two Buck Duck: Buy one, get one free coupon for Bacci Pizzeria. That's $2 for the right to buy one large pizza and get one free, plus a free 2 Liter of pop, at the Chicago chain.You've Gotta Get It!
60% off at Ciao Amore Ristorante in Pilsen. That's $10 for a $25 voucher. Side deal: 60% off custom framing from Framing Mode. That's $40 for a $100 voucher. Monthly deal: 50% off at Keep the Beat Wellness. That's 48 for 12 workouts in Northbrook.
KGB Deals: 68% or better discount on AMC movie of your choice. That's $4 for one movie ticket by mail, worth up to $12.50. AVAILABLE AGAIN!
The Big Deal Chicago (from Angie's List): 94% off kitchen redesign. That's $30 ($60 for nonmembers) for a set of plans with measurements, normally $500, From Budget Right Kitchens. (Wow.)
DailyDeals: 50% off at Bucktown Beanery. That's $5 for a $10 voucher.
Here are the offers from Chicago's daily deals sites for Wednesday, July 21. Some are available for more than a day; check the individual sites for details and restrictions.
Groupon: 50% off at OH Fusion. That's $25 a $50 voucher to the Wrigleyville Thai/Japanese restaurant. Side deal: 50% off at Ain't She Sweet Cafe. That's $5 for a $10 voucher to the Bronzeville restaurant.
Highbrow cheap eats: Today's Groupon is a $30 three course meal at Spring, named by Zagat as the top seafood restaurant in Chicago.
Midbrow cheap eats:
People rave about these Kitchens of India ready-made meals, on manager's special at Amazon for $1.47 each (when you buy a pack of 6 at $8.82). There are only two kinds left! Guess these won't last til I get my new infusion of Amazon gift cards Saturday from SwagBucks. (Oh, and order through Subscribe & Save to take off an additional 15%.)
Lowbrow free eats:
Don't forget those free CheezIts at Dominick's with the coupon from Jewel. Limit 3 -- I'm wondering if anyone would be well served if I make multiple trips and donate a full grocery bag of them to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
Photo by smartwentcrazy, used via Creative Commons license.
When friends are visiting Chicago in the summer, taking them on one of those architectural boat tours is the best possible outing in my opinion. You cool off by getting out on the water, you rest your feet, and you look smart or at least hide your ignorance by having the tour guide tell them all about the buildings. And if you're like me, you won't be bored taking the tour again with future guests because you'll have forgotten most of the names and details.
Today's Groupon is a 75-minute river tour on the Wendella line for $12 (52% off). Like all Groupons, it's good for a year, so I would definitely wait until it gets nice and warm out there to make my reservation.
SORRY, TODAY'S GROUPON IS ALREADY SOLD OUT.
Photo by pmarkham, used via Creative Commons license.
Today's Groupon is a 52% discount off groceries -- right up our alley, right, Frugalistas?
Well, sort of. It's at a fancy schmancy grocery store -- August a Grocery Store in Wicker Park.
$12 gets you a $25 gift certificate to the store, which carries natural and organic produce, meats and cheeses. Well, you know, I like to buy organic stuff, and there are certain fancy items -- like tomatoes in glass jars instead of cans, that I have been looking for an affordable way to acquire. I would probably get this if I lived closer to August, even though I woudln't be surprised if my $12 spent on the Groupon got me the same or less organic produce as I could get at Trader Joe's for the same.
Get a load of today's Groupon: 12 pizzas from Bacino's for $65. That's $5.41 a pizza, aka, the cost of a frozen DiGiorno!
Ordering a Friday night pizza is one of those luxuries that I love but have cut back on for budgetary reasons. This offer is good only for the Lincoln Park, West Loop and downtown Bacino's (not LaGrange) and I am not in their delivery area, but if I were, I would be so on this one.
There are restrictions: You gotta order all 12 within 3 months, only two at a time, and you still have to pay the delivery fee, tax and gratuity. But, unlimited toppings. Oh, man. And after all, if your family can't eat 12 pizzas in three months, you can always freeze the extras.
Groupon is doing this promotion. They're looking for one person to attempt to survive on Groupons alone for a whole year. Like, you literally have to GIVE UP YOUR HOME, your credit cards and put your assets into a trust that you can't access for the year. They'll give you unlimited Groupons for free -- basically coupons toward restaurant meals, hotel stays and all kinds of other stuff.
If you make it through a year without cheating (except in the short list of sanctioned ways that they're cheating for you, like striking some special hotel deals for you so you always have a place to stay), they'll give you $100,000.
Wow, that sounds like a pretty fun challenge. If you are a single person with no job or who hates their job and no pets and, you know, other complications.
Go to the link above to apply by Feb. 24, but don't expect to be without competition. The Live Off Groupon Facebook page alone has over 2,000 fans.
Unless you want to support these fine institutions on a charitable basis, for goodness sake never pay the full ticket price to go to a Chicago museum!
Today's Groupon is a one-year family membership to the Adler Planetarium for more than half off at $40 (regular $95). Individual memberships are $30 through the Groupon.
Deals of the day for Chicago and beyond include cheap gym classes, cheap netbook and a cheap mani-pedi:
- Here's an addition to the New Year's gym membership deals, but today only -- YouSwoop's deal of the day is $24 for 8 classes or day passes to Id Gym (2727 Lincoln Ave.), and if you join you get $100 if you join. Kind of like a trial membership, except you can use them until midsummer. First-timers only.
- I was tempted at first by today's Woot -- a refurbished Acer Aspire One netbook for $219.99. Until I read this comment from Yake2: "I went to New Egg and bought an new one that's an inch bigger, with bigger keys, much faster and double the hard drive for $10 more." I do want an Acer Aspire to replace my sickly Toshiba, but if that's how it is I'd rather have a new one than a refurb. You can buy an extended warranty on Woot, though, if you do grab that one.
- Today's Groupon is a mani-pedi at Juko (2130 W. Division) for $20, regular price $40. Sounds good, but too far from my house. And I still have two massages to use up from my Sooth Your Senses Groupon.
Today's Groupon is a certificate for a pedicure, steam, massage and facial at Soothe Your Senses Day Spa.
The first Groupon I ever bought was a gift certificate for Soothe Your Senses Day Spa. I think it was three services for $100. After I bought it, I kind of regretted it because this place is way up in Edgewater and I live in Oak Park and had a (then) brand-new baby who doesn't take a bottle and how was I ever going to get that far from my home sans baby three times to get these much-needed massages I'd paid for.
But then, around Halloween, I redeemed my first massage and all regret evaporated. The woman who worked on me was so attentive and kind, not to mention good at massaging, that the small amount of maneuvering it had taken to get to that table (finding a Saturday we were already heading north, having one kid with her grandparents and having my husband take the other two for a long walk over to Devon to get Indian food for lunch) was worth it.
So anyhoo, I definitely recommend this place. I'm not buying today because I still have two more massages to somehow get myself to. But I can't wait to have them.
Today's offer on Groupon is a little different: Four services all in one day for $99, which is half price. You get a massage, a facial, a steam and a pedicure.
I'll be posting a few resource lists that we went over in that workshop, and the first one is the best deals and sites for holiday shopping. It's kind of a mish-mash of ideas, offers and resources. The comments section is primed and ready for your additions, too!
Don't tell my husband, but I just ordered three of these rechargeable LED flashlights for $4.99 each on Sellout W00t, one of the sections of the daily deal Woot (or W00t) site. Available today only, till they're gone. The site claims these flashlights will operate for up to 10 continuous hours on a single charge, the bulb lasts 11 years, and -- my favorite -- will automatically turn on in a power failure so you can find it.
This is my favorite kind of Christmas gift: Something that the recipient probably didn't even know exists. So let's just hope the hubs doesn't read this post. Since I do all the bargain shopping around here, I don't think he's a big Frugalista reader.
Other deals I noticed out there today:
Half Price Chicago is offering $50 gift certificates to the Chicago Ahtletic Club, Carnivale restaurant and Oceanique for, you guessed it, half price. That's $25 for those of you math-challenged types. Some restrictions apply (like I noticed the Oceanique one requires a $100 minimum purchase.)
Use the code SWEATERS on Macys.com and get free shipping when you spend $75 on sweaters or winter accessories. Sweaters are on sale up to 40% off.
Today's Groupon is a $20 oil change at Midwest Performance Cars.
At Leapfrog.com, the code LFTBELL will get you free shipping on Tinkerbell books and games, all the way through 1/31/10.
Thanks Money Saving Mom!
Now that the Cubs have no chance, rooftop tickets are down to $65 on Groupon, still all you can eat and drink. So you won't mind if your beer gets watered down from all those tears.
Money Saving Mom says there's a moneymaking Catalina deal on Joint Juice at BOTH Jewel AND Dominick's. Sweet.!
Groupon has a pretty amazing offer going on this weekend, if you live anywhere near 901 N. Larrabee Street. It's $10 for a 2-pound bag of some more-than-fair-trade coffee, PLUS a free coffee or espresso drink in the @Spot Cafe every single day for a month. Lattes included! The cafe people say it's worth up to $115. You can buy this one through Sunday at midngiht.
I think I have to move.
Finally, I just returned from shopping and volunteering at the Parenthesis consignment sale here in Oak Park, and I just want to let you know that the tables are piled HIGH with clothes. Girls 4T and size 6, I noticed, were practically breaking the table with the weight of all the nice clothes piled on there. I saw an adorable Ralph Lauren blouse for girls in size 6 that was marked $1.50.
And I left it there for you!
Thanks to reader Amber for this tip: Get $10 off your food bill at Wrigleyville's Rockit Bar and Grill. It says the offer is available for five days but I'd sign up asap if I were you.
The Web site offering it is called We Give to Get, and apparently like Groupon they offer a hot Chicago deal every single day. I'll be paying attention, believe me.
OH, and speaking of Groupon? You have 30 minutes left to score $100 worth of waxing or tinting services at Juko Nail and Skin Rescue for a mere $50.
I just flew back from San Francisco, and boy are my arms tired! Actually, they are from hauling around a baby with his car seat. But they're not too tired to type up some deals!
Today's Groupon: Ticket to Millennium Park Gourmet Food Event for 47% off. (That makes it $89 instead of $169. The deal is already "on" meaning that if you sign up you definitley get it. Tickets available for 9/26 or 9/27 only. You have until midnight to buy.)
$2/1 Healthy Choice coupon
I was just now chatting with another mom about how once my new baby hits the colicky stage at about four weeks, we'll be eating frozen pizza every night. Now we won't have to:
I just ordered today's Groupon, which is SIX entrees plus three sides from Dinner by Design for $75 (normally $140). According to the Groupon people's math, this works out to about $5 per meal per person. More than I usually pay, yes, but if you need to get through a busy time in your life like we do, it's better than fast food.
Delivery is included, and they will send you all the meals in one delivery, frozen. They say they delivery all over the Chicago area. Enough people have already signed up for this Groupon, so if you buy one now you're guaranteed to get it. It's available through midnight tonight! (Thursday, July 30)