Ask an Expert: Finding the Deals

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November 7, 2016

We all have that friend. Every time you turn around, she’s getting a free coffee or taking her kids to an event with cool take-home gifts or running to deposit yet another rebate check. I finally asked that friend how she does it because, frankly, she’s an expert. Forget expert. She is a money-saving super power!

This friend and I sat down over coffee (one of them free) and she let me in on her secrets. Mostly, she says, it all comes down to paying attention. This means knowing what’s available and how to use it without taking too much extra time. Check the places you already go for apps, rewards programs, or events. Then pay attention to dates, take advantage of things as they happen, and don’t assume you’ll get to it later.

That all sounds like good advice, but she also gave me some specifics. I’ll pass her advice along to you so you can start saving money, too.

Kids’ Events

  • The Disney Store holds monthly events including sing-alongs, dress-up parties, animation drawing instruction, and so on. You can find out about them on the “Calendar of Events” (check for your local store) on the Disney Store website.
  • Home Depot holds monthly and bimonthly building and crafts events for kids. At the events, kids learn to use Home Depot tools to build or craft, and receive an apron or a pin that they can take home.
  • Lowes has a similar “Build and Grow” program for kids. Along with their project, kids get to take hoe a free apron and pin. Check the website well in advance, because these workshops fill up quickly.
  • Lego Stores offer a thematic free event once a month where kids build a Lego item, like a car or a Christmas tree. These events are very popular, so prepare for a large crowd. Lego also offers a free Lego Magazine that includes articles and design ideas; check their website for ideas.
  • Toys “R” Us also hosts themed events including Star Wars, Disney princesses, Cars, and others. They also have a monthly birthday event when kids can visit during their birthday month and get a free balloon and book.

Free Food

  • Starbucks is on practically every street corner. If you have their golden card, you’ll receive points for every dollar you spend, and the points quickly add up to free drinks or food. Starbucks also offers free music and other apps on a fairly regular basis.
  • 7-11 has an app that tracks every drink you buy, and after seven drinks you get one free. They sometimes add in special deals, like a dollar coffee day.
  • Chick-fil-A offers kids’ night, daddy daughter nights, and “Cow Appreciation” Day. The company also sells a calendar for $7 at the end of each year which features monthly deals for the year to come.
  •  Denny’s and IHOP both have frequent free meal offers, and both have kids eat free days.


  • My friend has received $543 so far from Ebates for buying products at stores like Target and Amazon through the Ebates site. If you join through a friend’s membership, both of you receive a reward.
  • The Shopkicks app gives points when you go into stores, and for scanning the barcodes of various products in the store. The points can be exchanged for products, or for gift cards for many popular stores.
  • She also suggested checking into Ibotta and Checkout 51 that give rebates for purchasing certain products.
  • Both Walmart and Target offer apps that offer free items and rebates as well.

However you choose to gather a few extras in life, I hope you and your family can enjoy the moments, and that these tips help them last a little longer!

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