charity Archives

This Week's Shopping: Catalina Fun and a Wedding



This week there wasn't much time to shop on account of my brother getting married. OK, I made multiple trips to all kinds of stores, but those were errands that I ran for the wedding and don't count.

Here's what I did for our family:

Spent 35 cents at Dominick's getting Barilla pasta, sauce and cheese. How so cheap? I used a $10 Catalina I had in my wallet -- without that my total would have been $10.35 for four jars sauce, four boxes of spaghetti, two blocks cheese and one jar O Organics baby food. The deal was "buy 2 pasta, get 2 sauce free," and the $1/1 coupons didn't work because they were for the wrong variety of pasta, but not a bad deal anyway. Oh! Also I forgot to report that I got a $1 Catalina coupon for buying Barilla products -- not sure how many I would have had to buy to trigger that, but if you count that and the $1.25/2 sauce coupon I used, I paid $5.75 for 4 sauce and 4 pasta -- not bad!

At Dominick's I also found more "Save $70" coupon booklets, with that $.50/1 any Healthy Choice coupon so useful in the Catalina deal at Jewel-Osco.

At Jewel I have done 2 rounds of the current Catalina deal. The first time I spent $5.92 on 9 cans of Healthy Choice soup ($.88/can x 9 = $7.92 - $2 in coupons = $5.92). The second time I got 9 cans soup with no coupons and some grapes. I paid with the $10 Cat from before, and I only owed the tax -- 23 cents. (And of course I received a $10 Catalina coupon for each of those transactions.)

At CVS, I spent 35 cents after Extra Bucks on some milk and a can of cream of mushroom soup.

So, my grocery spending for this week was $6.85, plus my normal $32 for the organic produce box. I donated 9 cans of soup to the Girl Scouts food drive and shared some of our produce with the babysitter, since we were going out of town and couldn't eat it all. $38.65 out of a possible $100. No wonder we hardly have anything to eat around here!

I won't detail our meals, since we ate most of them out of town, at parties and restaurants. But I am happy to report that I can add $60 to the "buy a cow 2010" fund, bringing my savings up to $95.

Jewel-Osco Catalina Deal Perfect for Food Bank Donations

Saturday the Girl Scouts will be roaming my area (Oak Park/River Forest), picking up food bank donations from porches. Even if your local troop won't be picking up, right now is a great time to shop at Jewel for your local food bank, because that Catalina deal is making food ... FREE.

See Mashup Mom for a new scenario where you can make money buying 9 cans of Healthy Choice soup ... even if you don't have coupons. With coupons, you make even more. If you have a little time, you can do this over and over and deliver oh, maybe 90 cans of soup to your local food bank? Or if the Scouts are coming to your neighborhood, better tell them to bring an extra wagon!

(OK, buying 90 cans of soup at one time is not considerd nice couponing, unless you place a special order, which might or might not come in in time for Saturday.)

See my Jewel-Osco Catalina deal post for more details, and if this kind of deal is new to you, see my Intro to Catalina deals.

30% Off Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic

Print this coupon for 30% off at the Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic through Sunday, August 29. It's a Give & Get promotion, and 5% of what you spend will go to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Take the kids back-to-school shopping, or just get a little sumpin' for yourself. And thanks for participating in the charity aspect, on behalf of my father in law, who has lymphoma. He's in remission, thanks.

My husband sent me the email, so I'm not gonna credit any of the other bloggers who have already published it. Sorry, suckas ;-)

And no, you probably cannot get away with using this coupon with that Groupon. But if you try it, go ahead and let us know how that went, just in case.

Macy's: Donate $3 to Get a $10 Coupon



Starting today, Macy's will give you a coupn for $10 off a $50 purchase, if you donate $3 to Reading is Fundamental. You make the donation and get the coupon in store. There are restrictions but I don't know what they are since Macy's page about the program is not loading right now.

The program is called Book A Brighter Future, and it runs through July 31.

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Is Tomorrow!



Fun Frugalista Fact: My dad carried the U.S. Mail for 30 years, starting the year I was born.

What do those years of service mean to me now that I'm a frugalista? They mean that I put a lot of effort into using my coupons to put together at least one bag for my carrier to haul away when it's time for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

And ... it's time for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive! The drive is tomorrow, May 8. You may have not even heard of this, but for years letter carriers have been collecting food every May for local food pantries.

What to do: 

1. Call your local Post Office to make sure they're participating. I know my Oak Park office does, but especially if you live in a more densley populated neighborhood (i.e. more apartments, less parking for the mail truck), I'd check.

2. Put some nonperishable food items in a bag. (I like to give cereal because it's not too heavy and of course I always have lots on hand.)

3. Put bag by your mailbox.

It's that easy, people! So go clean out those stockpiles or get on over to the grocery store to fill up those bags.

It's 31 Cent Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins! (Will You Donate When You Go?)



Get an ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins for 31 cents tonight between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. I already promised my girls I'd bring them over after dinner.

They do this every year and every year they use it as a chance to point out that they support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The Web site says you'll be able to donate to your local fire fighter charity at the store. Which raises a question I have for you all: When you go to an event like this where a company gives you something free or cheap but then is taking donations, do you make the donation?

I'm not stingy, honest. I make a few tax-deductible donations each year that number in the hundreds of dollars, so why would I balk at dropping a dollar in a jar for fire fighters?

Well, because if I pay an extra dollar or so, it seems to defeat the purpose of going out of my way to get three ice cream cones for a buck! Why did I wait in line?

If you're a grinch like me when it comes to these events -- or any "donate at the register" promos, for that matter -- please confess in the Comments section.

Free Children's Portraits in Lincoln Square



When we lived in Lincoln Square, I went all out and had Jill at Jookie photograph Nutmeg, then 2, for our Christmas card. The results were uh-mazing -- I wish I had the right to publish them here to show you. It's not something we could afford to do every year, but I will always cherish the images that Jill made for us.

Saturday (April 24), Jill will take a few frames of your kids for free between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Kids in the Square event. You'll get a free 5x7 print that you can pick up a few weeks later

There are other Kids in the Square events going on tomorrow too, and if you haven't spent time in Lincoln Square before, it's charming and definitely daytrip-worthy.

Photo by Romantic Crafts, used via Creative Commons license.

$5 Off Pants at Sears

I got this in an email from Sears:

The Haggar® Change Your Pants for Charity Event, taking place at Sears stores from April 16 - April 25, allows customers to receive $5 off the current sale price of any new pair of Haggar® pants when they donate an old pair of pants to charity. All donations collected will benefit Assistance League, a national nonprofit organization. Current sale prices of Haggar® pants range from $24.98 - $34.99 and event pricing will range from $19.98 - $29.99.  Offer excludes sales on or 

Sears is always on the lookout for ways to help those in need and to contribute to ongoing charity initiatives. The Haggar® Change Your Pants for Charity Event is just one way that Sears, Haggar and their customers can get involved in giving back to charity.

For more information on the Haggar® Change Your Pants for Charity Event, please visit, and to learn more about the Assistance League, please check out

Second City: Free, Cheap and a New Way to Double Your Haiti Donation


Certain things are so unfunny that even Second City can't wring any good material out of them. Like, than Haitian earthquake. Which is probably why SC is playing it straight and matching its audiences' donations to the Red Cross this week. Go see one of the participating shows and donate, and they'll match the donations at the end of the week.

And while we're on Second City, lookie here!

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Success: You Made Me Donate $200 to Earthquake Victims


Well, you made me do it. You made me donate $200 to the American Red Cross for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Way to go. So much for that netbook I was thinking of getting.

(Just kidding. I'm really happy that you guys and the Twitter community pushed me to stretch to make a bigger donation!)

I only added 18 Twitter followers yesterday, which would have only forced me to donate $18. But if you have started following me, you might have seen that throughout the day I offered bounties for retweeting links to this post and the post on my personal blog. I started at $1 a retweet, but toward the end of the day I got impatient and started offering $5 per retweet. That did it -- when I woke up this morning I had puh-lenty of $5 retweets to push me to my $200 gift maximum.

I also made the commitment to donate Swagbucks all week -- I'm giving 10 Swagbucks (which translates to about $1) for every person who signs up through me this week. Just go through this link to sign up through me -- and if you don't know what Swagbucks is, it's a way to get paid for Google searches. I wrote on Wise Bread recently about how I paid for most of my husband's Christmas gifts this year using Swagbucks. I started Tweeting this offer yesterday and so far have added 5 Swagbucks "friends," so I've committed 25 Swagbucks so far.

Thank you to all of you who followed me and retweeted! You guys are the best.

Help Me Help Haiti: $1 Goes to Red Cross for Every New Twitter Follower Today


Last week so many bloggers stepped up to pledge their donations to Haiti that I decided to wait until today to make my pledge. Here we go:

For every new Twitter follower I get between now and midnight tonight (Jan. 18), I will donate $1 to the American Red Cross to help victims of the Haiti earthquake. You can follow me on Twitter by going to I will keep giving up to $200.

I currently have 530 followers, so if I hit 730 by midnight, I'll be making my maximum donation of $200! (Believe me, I'd love to give more, but this is what is doable for me. This is coming out of the Frugalista's pocket, not ChicagoNow's deep, deep coffers.)

If you already follow me on Twitter, don't despair. I'll be offering opportunities at some time today to generate even more donations. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed throughout the day to learn about those.

 And here are a couple more ChicagoNow posts about the effort to help Haiti:

Joe the Cop: Don't Get Scammed (includes some information you should read before giving to the Wyclef Jean Foundation)

The Barbershop: Send a Shelterbox

The Kyles Files offers info about donating through local Chicago channels, including a way to donate used shoes.

Official Way to Donate Swagbucks to Haiti Victims


Swagbucks has now set it up so you can donate your Swagbucks directly to a Haiti Earthquake Relief fund that will go to (the Wyclef Jean charity), the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. The exchange rate will be as good as 10:1; if they collect 1 million SwagBucks in the fund they will donate $100,000.

If they collect less than a million SB the exchange will be slightly less generous -- 14:1 or better. But I'm guessing that they'll raise a lot of Swagbucks donations, which will make it a better deal than cashing SwagBucks into PayPal deposits and then donating from PayPal (as I had suggested before). It takes 70 Swagbucks to get $5 on PayPal, but a donation of 70 Swagbucks could lead to as much as $7 going to the charities. 

The only disadvantage of donating Swagbucks instead of going directly to one of the Haiti donation sites and giving money is that I don't know if you could tax deduct the gift -- you'd have to ask your tax professional about that one. (I was wondering the same thing about the $10 donations through the 90999 text HAITI thing.) Still, to me Swagbucks doesn't feel like real money, and it was a no brainer to click to donate 100 of them.

If you don't know what Swagbucks is, it's a site that pays you in credits to let them eavesdrop on your Google searches for statistical purposes. I wrote on Wisebread recently about how I saved my Swagbucks throughout 2009 and used them to get most of my husband's Christmas gifts.

P.S. I got this image from Money Saving Mom Crystal Paine, who has generously pledged to donate $10 for everyone who blogs about what they're doing to help Haiti and puts a link on her Haiti post by Jan. 21.

More Ways for Cheapskates to Help Haiti Earthquake Victims


I'll add these to yesterday's Haiti donation post, but I wanted to highlight the new stuff I've come across today:

1. RecycleBank is a Web site that is kind of like Freecycle in that you can get free stuff and offer up stuff you want to give away. But unlike Freecycle, RecycleBank gives you points for participating and you can spend those points on coupons -- OR DONATE THEM. One of organizations you can donate to is the International Medical Corps, which is on the ground treating Haiti earthquake victims right now. You need 1,025 points to make a $10 donation to IMC.

Common Sense With Money -- who Tweeted about this opportunity -- has a lot of suggestions for quickly earning points on RecycleBank.

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Can We Frugally Help Victims of the Haiti Earthquake?


This morning I got excited when I read that UPS would ship packages to victims of the Hatia earthquake for free, but listen up folks: That is not correct! UPS says they are not able to ship anything to Haiti earthquake victims right now because of the destruction of roads and other infrastructure.

The how to help Haiti earthquake victims frugally? Here are some easy and inexpensive things you can do for the victims of the Hati earthquake:


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