Friday, June 24, 2011

Roundup: Contacting Companies for Samples/Coupons

Here is the roundup so far of companies I have emailed for samples and coupons.  I will update this list as I email and receive replies from more.  I did not list companies that have not yet replied.  I began emailing companies June 22, 2011.  

Photos as of 6/30 

My basic email was "I like ____ brand's products and have been using them for years (or recently discovered the brand).  Are there any product samples or coupons available so that I can try other products by this brand?" I tried to make each email specific to that brand so that it is not just a generic email.

Updated August 4, 2011

Cosmetics/Bath/Baby/Pharmeceutical Companies
Almay - Received $1/1 Brick coupon in email
Bausch and Lomb - Received various coupons, mostly $1/1
Bed Head/Tigi Products - turned down
Biore - turned down
Bonne Bell - turned down
Burt's Bees - turned down
Calgon - turned down
Caress - turned down
Carmex - turned down
Covergirl - Received coupon for free product, $2/1 product
Dr. Bronner's - Received (3) $1/1 coupons for various products, 4 sample size products
E.L.F. - turned down
EOS - Received (2) $1/1 Shave product
Essie - turned down
Gerber - turned down
Goody - turned down
Hearos Earplugs - Received coupons for $0.25/1, (2) $0.50/1
Henkel - Received (4) $0.35/1 Dial, $0.40/1 Renuzit (except candle), $0.50/1 Purex
Jane Cosmetics - turned down
Jergens - turned down
John Frieda - turned down
Johnson & Johnson - Received (4) $1/1 coupons
JR Watkins - turned down (sent catalogue)
Kiss My Face - Received $1/1 full size product, $1/1 lip product, $1/1 any 
Lever 2000 - turned down
Mack's Earplugs - Received (3) sets of my preferred type of earplugs
Stayfree/Carefree/O.B. - Received (2) $1/1 coupons
Neutrogena - turned down
Nivea - turned down
Olay - turned down
Old Spice - turned down
Opi - turned down
Opti-free (Alcon) - turned down
Organix - turned down
Pantene - turned down
Philosophy - turned down
Prestige Brands - Received (2) $1/1 Little Remedies baby products
Playtex Baby - Received (3) $1/1 Playtex Infant product
Revlon - turned down
Rimmel - turned down
Seventh Generation - Received 4 diapers, sample packet of wipes and dishwashing soap, strip of (5) $1/1 coupons
Tom's of Main - Received toothpaste and bar soap samples
Tresemme - turned down
Unilever - Received various coupons (Vaseline, Q-tip, Degree, Ragu, Hellman's, Breyers, Sauve, Dove, Axe, Lipton, Bertolli, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
Unisom - Received (2) $1/1 Unisom product
Vaseline - turned down
V05 - turned down

Food Companies
Aunt Millies - turned down
Bush's Beans - Received (2) $0.55/1 Baked or Grillin' beans
Campbell's Soups - turned down
Celestial Seasonings - Received (2) $0.50/1 Celestial Seasonings Tea
Con Agra Foods - turned down
Edy's - Received (2) $0.75/1 Edy's 1qt ice cream
Fresh Express - Received (2) $0.55/1 packaged salad
Frito Lay - turned down
General Mills - turned down
Haagen Daz - Received (2) $0.50/1 14oz, 28oz, or bars
Kashi - Received $1/1 Brick coupon in email

Malt-o-Meal - Received (2) $0.75/1 coupons
McCormick - Received (2) $0.75/any, $0.75/1 dry seasoning
Mrs. Dash - turned down
Mrs. Smith's Pies - turned down
Mt. Olive - Received $1/1 any pickles, olive, or relish
Propel/PepsiCo - turned down
Santa Cruz Organics - Received (2) $1/1 product $1.99+
Thomas Bagels/Muffins - Received (2) $1/1 Thomas product

Chlorox Products - turned down
Del Monte Pet Foods - turned down
Downy - Received $1/1 coupon
Hefty - turned down
Nylabone - turned down
Pedigree - Received (2) $1/1 food or treat
Seventh Generation - Received (4) diapers, sample baby wipes, dish soap, and various $1/1 coupons
Sanford Office Products - turned down
Snuggle - turned down

Will mail coupons* = Emailed me back, have not received

Brick coupon = coupon printable by website but may also have a link to have it mailed instead

Turned down = either told me about their email program, promotions tab through their website, or in general told me they do not have coupons and samples available, either due to high volume of contacts asking for these, coupons available frequently in newspapers, or due to the low price of their products.

Survey Websites: My experience

I have recently began experimenting with various survey websites.  During one month, I received $25, a free CoverGirl mascara, and more points that I have not yet redeemed. Keep in mind, I did not spend excessive time on these surveys.  I merely was experimenting with the different websites in my spare time to see which ones seemed legitimate.

Once you get the hang of it, the demographic and starter questions on the surveys are quick and you can speed right through them.  Be careful though - if you go too quick, they may think you aren't putting thought into the answers and disqualify your survey so you do not earn points.

Update, August 31 2011: I wrote this in June and I have not completed any surveys in the meantime since I have had a newborn to devote time to while running my blog.  I am getting back into the surveys and am excited to start getting the checks and free products in the mail again!

60,000 points - $20 check (minimum payout)
My earnings for the month: 75,000 points

I started taking surveys at the beginning of May and by the end of May, I earned enough points to cash in for a $20 check.  Many surveys are 1,800-3000 points and state that they should take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  I requested my check at the beginning of June and received it in about 2 weeks or less.

1100 points - $10 gift card of your choice or other reward 
My earnings for the month: 325 points, CoverGirl Mascara to review

Surveys that I participated in vary from 5-150 points.  I did not really take too many of the surveys on this website, however this is where I was randomly sent a CoverGirl mascara for being part of the 20-25 year old female demographic.  A week after being sent the mascara, I was emailed that there was a survey on their website to complete.  The survey took less than 5 minutes to complete.  My survey has many different rewards you can cash your points out for.  You can request $10 gift cards or paypal cash for 1100 points.  The other awards seem to be similar in value for the amount of points required.

5000 points - $5 check (minimum payout)
My earnings for the month: 5450 points 

Again, much like MySurvey, I did not spend much time on surveys here.  I completed a few here and there but did not qualify for many.  Synovate is reputed as a good survey company and I have heard great things about them.  Just for registering, I earned 500 points, but then I completed surveys for approximately 250 points each.  I requested my check just a few days, so I have not yet received it.  It should come within a couple of weeks.

Opinion Outpost
50 points - $5 Amazon, or 200 points - $20 check 
My earnings for the month: 50 points

Another survey site that I did not spend much time on and have only completed a few surveys.  I completed a total of 4 surveys, probably taking me 15 minutes each.  So I guess that means I made $5 in an hour which is less than most states' minimum wage.  But I did those while I was pregnant and could not do a whole lot else to make money, so I will not complain!  I am waiting until I have enough points to get a check so I do not know how long a check will take to be mailed.  It says 4-8 weeks, however that is the same as Toluna said, and I received that check in less than 2 weeks after requesting it.  Opinion Outpost is also well reputable among survey takers that I have met.

Overall I am happy with each of these survey sites.  At this point, I cannot pick a favorite.  I hope to receive more products to review in the future, but money is great!  Toluna seems to send me the most surveys but it all depends on your demographic and interests.  

Some I have not tried yet but have heard great things about:
Global Test Market
Inbox Dollars
Valued Opinions
Vindale Research

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coupons: How to Get Started

I couponed a little in the past but it always seemed overwhelming and honestly, sort of scary!  I started by only using coupons I found on products in the store and using store coupons that were emailed to me.  By doing that, I saved a little here and there, but little did I know how much potential I had to save much more.

First and foremost, it is important to understand what coupons the stores you shop at will and will not take. Most stores will accept manufacturer coupons (coupons provided by the product company either in print or on their websites) and store coupons (provided in their store ads, weekly/monthly coupon books, or on their website.)  Most stores will provide their coupon policy on their website.

A great starting point is the Sunday newspaper.  Here you will find the weekly store ads, store coupons, and even a variety of manufacturer coupons.  Look through the store ads and try to coordinate manufacturer coupons to use together with the store sales and store coupons.

Another source of coupons is the internet.  Many company websites will have a special offers or promotions link, where you can find coupons that you can use at most stores.  You can also visit reputable coupon printing websites such as or even

Now that you know of a few places to obtain coupons, you probably wonder how to organize them and figure out a system so you can keep track of what you have.  Personally, I keep the ones I am likely to use in a little index card sorter.  It snaps shut and has tabs so that I can organize by type of product.  If you have a lot of coupons, a binder works well.  You can order special coupon holding inserts which are similar to those that hold baseball cards, except the slots are a little longer and fit most coupons.

A few things to remember:

  • Check store coupon policies
  • Look at the expiration date so you don't miss out using it in time
  • Try to combine coupons with sales 
  • Don't get discouraged! A few cents here and there will add up quickly!!! 

Review: Playtex Ventaire Bottles

Playtex Ventaire Bottles  

Features as listed on the Playtex Baby website

  • Features breakthrough micro-channel vent technology that vents air at the back of the bottle versus through the nipple, which prevents air from mixing with milk and provides a virtually bubble-free feeding.
  • Unique angled design with micro-channel vents helps prevent ear infections because it promotes semi-upright feeding to minimize fluid build-up in the middle ear.
  • Advanced venting system design to help liquid flow consistently
  • BPA-free and Phthalate-free
  • Slender design makes it easy for baby to hold
  • Available in 6oz and 9oz

very content with his Playtex Ventaire bottle! 
Personal Review 

I began using the Playtex bottles alongside the Phillips Avent Natural Feeding Bottle.  When using the Avent brand, my little boy seemed to have problems with gas.  He was having a harder time burping.  Once I switched over to Playtex Ventaire exclusively, he did not have as much gas.  The bottles help him to not swallow as much air because of their design.  

The bottles are easy to clean.  They come apart into 6 pieces: the lid, nipple, retainer ring, bottle, silicone vent, and the bottom vent. That sounds like a lot of pieces for one bottle but I find it easier to make sure the entire inside of the bottle is cleaned and sanitized because it comes apart, even at the bottom.  

I am very happy with these bottles.  They are great for my baby and I would definitely recommend them.  The price is definitely reasonable considering you are saving your baby a great deal of pain and saving yourself the trouble of a colicky baby.  Playtex offers a variety of colors and sizes. 

Photo courtesy of Playtex Baby
In no way was this review sponsored by Playtex Baby

My top 5 favorite deal websites

Slickdeals is perfect if you love to find deals but want a site to sort of round them up for you.  The site features user submitted deals that viewers can rate based on if the deal is actually good or reliable.

1SaleADay is a daily deal site that has 4-5 specific items on sale per day.  The items are changed at 12am EST.  I have seen deals such as a $300 Polaroid camera on sale for $60 and even the occasional free item (free shipping also).

NoMoreRack features 8 deals each day.  At 12pm EST they add new items.  Items range from clothing and accessories to pet and outdoor.

Amazon Mom is great for moms to save money on baby related items.  You can even subscribe and save to save up to 30% on diapers and wipes.  Amazon Mom features free 2-day shipping just like a Prime membership does.

Fat Wallet is much like Slickdeals.  Users can submit deals to forums, however there are featured deals and coupons by well known stores like Amazon or Target.

Review: Safety 1st S1 Satellite Premier Playard

S1 by Safety 1st Satellite Premier Playard – Pegasus
Babies R Us - $159.99

Features as listed on the Safety 1st website:

                My Neat Storage features 3 roomy shelves and an easy-access hamper for laundry or toy.  Hamper is removable and washable
                Starry Night Mobile with rotating plush toys, twinkling lights and a nightlight, and classical and sing-to-me songs
                Elevated changing table keep baby easily within arm's reach during changing
                Innovative, visible SecureTech™ lock lets you know play yard is in the properly locked position
                Comfortable bassinet for baby’s nap time with easy snap-on bars and breathable mesh
                Stop or Go wheels: Lift to Go or push down to Stop

Personal Review:

The Satellite Premier Playard took less than 10 minutes to put up! Since I had a big pregnant belly at the time, my husband put it together and had no problems at all.  After we completely set it up, we folded it up and followed the directions on how to put it into the travel bag.  It is a little heavy to carry in the bag as it does not have wheels like some of the other brands, but it fit well and was nice and compact. 

After having the playard put together, I realized how easily the bassinet snaps in and out, making the playard perfect for either a newborn baby or a toddler.  The bassinet was sturdy and easily held my 25lb dog even when he was trying to walk from one side to the other and had it shaking around.  Another feature I liked was that it seemed to have some cushion.  Some of the others I compared to at the store were hard as a rock and I wanted something more comfortable for my baby. 

The storage is not enough for all of my supplies but enough to keep a few things out and right there at hand when using the changing table.  The changing table is very sturdy, held by small metal poles that also help to hold the storage in place.  My little boy is now 1 month old and seems to almost take up the whole length of the changing table, so I do not know how easy it will be to use once he is even bigger.  

Overall, the price was reasonable, the playard is easy to put together and take down, is sturdy and has some great extra features that many other playards do not have.   

Photo Courtesy of Safety 1st
In no way was this review sponsored by Safety 1st 

Review: Safety 1st S1 Aerolite Travel System

S1 by Safety 1st AeroLite Premier Travel System Stroller- Pegasus

Features as listed from the Safety 1st website:

                Multi-position canopy with airflow mesh panels
                Ultra-compact, 1-hand fold and stand
                Child snack tray with cup holder
                Multi-position recline
                5 point harness
                Slide Guard® protection
                Easy-access basket
                Parent tray with 2 cup holders and fabric covered storage compartment

Infant Car Seat
                Air Protect® side impact technology which reduces side impact forces through the precise release of air. 
                Base belt lock easily secures your vehicle seat belt during installation
                Carry Curve™ Handle features ergonomic design
                Customizable insert and low harness slots make the seat ideal for preemies and adjustable for growing babies
                Extended use from a tiny 4 to a full 35 pounds
Includes 17% more leg room than most infant car seats

Infant Car Seat accommodates child from 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height.
Stroller accommodates child up to 50 pounds.
Assembled Size: 41.5” H x 25.25” W x 38”

Personal Review:
My little boy was born May 24 so we will definitely be getting a lot of use out of our stroller.  We loved the features and as a first time mom, I wanted a travel system that was affordable yet protective for my little boy! 

The car seat is cushioned even enough for my newborn.  It snaps into the car just as easily as it snaps into the stroller.  It comes with a separate car seat base so all you need to do is fasten the base in once, which only takes a few minutes anyways.  Every time you use the car seat in the car, you just snap it in, and snap it right back out when you want to remove it.  It is secure, yet simple and easy to use.    My newborn boy was 7 lbs and the harness was able to secure his little body without hurting him.  As he is growing, I see this being a great car seat, with the adjustable harness slots.  

The stroller, even while I had a large pregnant belly, folded up with ease and fits inside my car trunk with no problem.  The car seat snaps in and stays in place much better than the other brands and models I tried in store.  When the car seat is removed from the stroller, the stroller has plenty of space for a toddler. The basket beneath the stroller fits a diaper bag or large purse easily.  

The only issue I see so far is the parent canvas storage compartment on the stroller.  The store model had one that would not stay in place, which I imagine could happen after months of use.  Mine has been fine so far but I have been very careful with it. 

Photo courtesy of Safety 1st
In no way was this review sponsored by Safety 1st