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I posted a while back that eBay cash back was suspended on 6/16.  It turns out, there is a loophole that allows you to shop through eBay.ca and still receive cash back on BigCrumbs for all your eBay purchases.

While eBay.com was removed, eBay.ca is still a part of BigCrumbs.  If you log into ebay.com, perform your search, then save it to your watched listings, you can then go through ebay.ca and bid on that same item and be eligible for cash back! Genius.

I just tested it out, and it’s true! You can still shop at eBay and get cash back (in a roundabout way)!!

Here’s how:

  1. Login to eBay and find the item you want to buy. Once you find the item you like, click the “Add to Watch List” link.
  2. In the same browser, login to your BigCrumbs account.
  3. Do a search for “ebay.ca.” On the results page, scroll down and click on the “Shop Now” button next to eBay.ca.
  4. Go to My eBay. You should find your item under Watch List.
  5. Click the Buy it Now button.
  6. Login to PayPal and pay for your purchase.
  7. Your cash back will show up in your BigCrumbs account in 1-2 weeks.

The Proof:

I received $1.23 cash back on a total purchase of $33.28 (including shipping and handling). That’s 3.7% cash back! That’s actually a bit better than the 3% cash back that Mr. Rebates used to offer.

eBay.ca pays based on a percentage of the seller’s total fee. You will get 36% of the seller’s total fees back. This includes insertion fees, final value fees, and any listing upgrade fees when applicable!  Note, the final value fees vary from 7% to 13% of the total cost to the buyer, including shipping and handling but excluding tax. This is one of the only instances I know where you get cash back on any shipping and handling that you pay!

To see an estimate of the eBay fees, see eBay’s fee page for individuals here and stores here.

Here’s a Simple Example:

I purchased two t-shirts from a store, and both were Buy It Now listings.  Here’s my best approximation of how the numbers played out:

Fixed price insertion fee for premium subscribers:
$0.05 x 2 = $0.10

Fixed price final value fee for clothing (10% of the total cost to the buyer):
0.1*($12.99+$13.99+$6.30 S&H) = $3.33

BigCrumbs cash back (36% of seller’s total fee):
0.36*($0.1+$3.33) = $1.23 cash back

The cash back actually posted in two separate listings per item, one for the purchase price, and one for the shipping and handling.  Since I bought two items, there were four different listings that sum to $1.23:

Can you tell which is the Mr.’s  and which is the future Mrs.’ handwriting?

Whew. So. In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been just a wee bit busy planning a wedding, on top of my already busy work schedule. Not much time for blogging these days!

We have selected a date — Jan 13, 2012!  Our venue is booked, and almost halfway paid.  The tasting has been scheduled. The save the dates have been mailed.  The website has been created. We’ve agreed on a photographer and paid her retainer.  I’ve purchased my dress (and it is gorgeous, if I do say so myself! If there’s anything in this whole wedding planning process that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by, it was shopping for my dress. I fell in love. HARD.)  The colors have been chosen — ivory, gold, and mocha. I’m going with a classy, elegant, wintry theme. The bridesmaid dresses are picked out (but all sizes are being sold out, as we speak, so I’m not counting this as complete, until every last BM has her dress in her appropriate size).

Things that I have yet to complete? Too numerous to count. Invitations, flowers, DJ, cake tasting, ceremony planning, and hair and makeup trials are the big ones.

This is most definitely NOT going to be a frugal event, by any means. But, we are not going to do anything we haven’t budgeted or can’t afford.

There are “big wedding” girls and there are “small, intimate wedding” girls. My sister, for example, is very much a small wedding girl.  I’m a big wedding girl. I’ve known this about myself for as long as I can remember. I love to surround myself with loved ones, I love throwing parties, plus I do have a big family, and I want to share the biggest day of my life with every. single. one. of. them. In fact, I’m so giddy and excited about seeing everyone, I’ve brought myself to tears many time throughout this whole process!

Being a big wedding girl, I had to plan accordingly. I’ve had a separate “wedding fund” set aside that I’ve been depositing money into on a monthly basis for the last three years, ever since I read this frighteningly realistic post that the average wedding cost $28K(I’ve already mentally separated myself from the money in this fund, by not counting it in my overall net worth, but I will say that I’m still having a case of separation anxiety…)

It turns out, that article and my original post on that article was no joke. Wedding venues cost A LOT. The one thing we don’t have is time, so we are paying more $$ to not do everything ourselves, which I’m perfectly all right with.

I will reach my maximum contribution in my 401k this month, and will fully fund my Roth IRA, and my HSA accounts as well. That’s a projected savings rate of 52% of my take home pay this year just for retirement! If I can still pay for my half of the bills and the wedding on top of that, then I’d say I’m being pretty darn frugal, and I hold no regret over forking over so much cash for our wedding.  We’ve set a realistic budget, and have decided money leftover in our wedding fund will go towards our mortgage. (Which, by they way, I am in the process of doing a second no-cost refinance on, dropping my rate to 3.5% fixed for 15-years!!)

I’m just so stinking excited to celebrate the big day with all my family and friends!!  It’s going to be worth every penny. :)

There are a couple of things I’ve done to cut costs so far on the wedding:

  • Booked the wedding on Friday the 13th. Oh yes, I did! I was considering doing a mid-week wedding to get the lowest rates, but then when I found out that I could get a Friday wedding at the lowest rates because it fell on the 13th,  I didn’t even hesitate. I’m not a superstitious bride, just a frugal one! :)   This has been our biggest savings, by far.
  • We were waffling over whether to send physical Save the Dates or not. But I figured it would be a nice heads-up for our out of town guests,  so I looked to do them as cheaply as possible. I ended up going into Target and creating a “fake” registry, just so I could get the $20 Shutterfly gift card that you get when you register. PS, Don’t try to look up our registry on Target, it’s not public (and contains things like candy bars, and whatever else Tony got gun-happy with! haha).  I combined my $20 gift card with a 25% off code, and got 125 Save the Dates for $31.42 after tax.  After postage, and the cost of DIY address labels, I ended up spending just shy of $100 to mail our STDs, which is a bargain!
  • I found one of my BM dresses on eBay, and gave an offer of $100 (half the price it’s selling for in the store), which was accepted.  That right there saved one of my bridesmaids $100.  I also purposely avoided the “traditional” bridesmaid dresses, because as a frugal bride, I hated seeing my girls pay over $200 on something they would never touch again!!

One not-so-frugal item I originally dismissed but am reconsidering:

  • Videography. I swore I would never pay for a videographer, and that it was an unnecessary expense. We are, after all, paying for my dream wedding photographer that I’ve been stalking admiring for years (thank you honey for obliging me). Photography was our #1 priority, videography not so much. But now, after reading this post, I’m not so sure! It literally had me bawling by the end.  Then I started thinking about all the family members I could capture on film.  There are many times over the past year that I’ve regretted not tape recording some of my conversations with my grandfather that recently passed.  I can still hear his voice telling me one of his many stories, and I think it would have been neat to get a little voice recorder and tape one of these conversations. But I was always too busy, or didn’t invest the money in a recorder, or found some other excuse and time ran out. I don’t know, what do you think? Are still images enough? Or shall I splurge on video, too?

I’m opening a Points.com account for Tony for the Grand Slam promo, and I was hunting around for any Points.com sign-up bonuses. It seems that they’ve discontinued the “Get 100 miles” sign-up bonuses that they used to give in the past.  

But, I was able to find an offer on Swag Bucks.  19 Swag Bucks is worth a whopping 21 cents in Amazon dollars, but hey, anything’s better than nothing, right?

How to Get 19 Swagbucks for Joining Points.com:

Go to the slider at the bottom of the Swag Bucks homepage, that says “Complete Special Offers and earn Swag Bucks.” Then keep clicking the orange arrow that says “more offers” until you see the points.com offer for 19 Swag Bucks like below:

If you’re not a member of Swag Bucks yet, you can sign up through my referral link and you’ll get a new member bonus of 30 Swag Bucks. It takes 450 Swag Bucks to cash in for a $5 Amazon gift card (my favorite award).

Arizona Restaurant Week is this week (Sept 17-25th). If you were planning on participating anyway, you might want to visit a restaurant at an SPG property to combine a nice three-course dinner for two + a hit in the US Airways Grand Slam promo. According to the terms and conditions, the minimum miles for a hit at a hotel is 200 miles.  Gold/platinum members receive 3 SPG pts or 3 miles per dollar spent at SPG hotels, so they only have to spend $67 before tax/tip to get a hit (the equivalent of two people dining during Restaurant Week).  Preferred members get 2 pts or 2 miles per dollar, so they have to spend a minimum of $100 to get a hit.

Now, in order to receive miles for your dinner instead of SPG points, you have to set up your SPG account to direct deposit to US Dividend miles before your visit.  Then simply fax your receipt with your SPG number on it to 519-633-8557 or email it to research@starwoodhotels.com to get credit for your dine.  FYI – when you set up the auto direct deposit feature, SPG AmEx points will not direct deposit, only points from hotel stays and incidentals.

Here are the restaurants I saw from the participating list that are at SPG properties, along with price per person.

  • deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa – $40 each
  • Sushi Roku at W Scottsdale – $30 each, includes one specialty cocktail
  • Ko’Sin Restaurant at The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa – $40 each
  • Il Terrazzo at The Phoenician – $40 each
  • J&G Steakhouse at the Phoenician – $30 each
  • Province at the Westin Phoenix Downtown – $30 each
  • District American Kitchen & Wine Bar at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel – $30 each, includes one glass of wine

Tony is a Gold SPG member, so we may hit up J&G Steakhouse for date night this week.  :) I’ve read great reviews of J&G, and they have salmon on their Restaurant Week menu so I’m sold.

It’s that time of year again! US Airways is having their annual Grand Slam Promotion. The promotion started on Wednesday, September 14th and goes through November 14, 2011.  To register for the promo, click over here.

Collecting frequent flier miles is like a game for me, so when it’s actually presented in the format of a game, it makes it that much more fun!

Some people spend a great deal of money racking up hits in this promotion (with final costs at around half a cent per mile, which is a stellar rate!), but since I’m not an avid US Airways flyer, I just go after the hits I can get for free. I figure one day I’ll have enough miles in my account to redeem for a sweet award flight, but until then, I’m in no big rush.

My Goal: 12 Hits (15,000 Miles) for Free

Last year, I made it to 8 hits for a total out-of-pocket cost of $1.69, and received 8,000 bonus miles. This year I plan on getting 12 hits and 15,000 bonus miles for FREE (plus another ~6,000 miles for completing the hits themselves).  Right now, I have around 26,000 miles in my account, so that will bring my total mileage up in the 47,000 range.  That gives me enough miles for an off-peak trip to the Carribean, Canada, South America, or Europe.

I’ve already completed 8 of my hits for 2011, so I should receive 10,000 bonus points from those (plus the points I receive for doing the individual hits).  I have 4 more hits planned (e-miles, SPG conversion, US Airways Dividend Dining, and Priority Club points transfer).

Here’s How to Get an Easy 4 Hits (3,000 Miles)

If you’re a newbie looking to ease your way in, here’s my picks for the easiest four hits. I’m probably going to register Tony just to get an easy 3,000 miles in his account. Just make sure to register for the promo before you complete any hits!

  1. Like Thanks Again on Facebook. Then register with Thanks Again and choose to earn US Dividends miles if you aren’t already a member. Then send an email to facebook@thanksagain.com with your full name and email address to claim your miles. The first 10,000 fans to do this will get 100 miles each, and they’re only at 3,626 fans at the time of this post. I liked Thanks Again on FB and sent an email on 9/14. I received a confirmation email four hours later, and 100 miles posted to my Thanks Again account under “Manual Reward” on 9/15. In my email it said:  “Please allow several weeks before the miles are transferred to your US Airways Dividend Miles Account.”
  2. Sign up for points.com and transfer miles or points from other programs into US Airways miles. Some options include: 3 Best Buy points –> 1 US Airways Mile, 4 Continental miles -> 1 US Airways mile, or 4 AA miles –> 1 US Airways miles (you must have a minimum of 25,000 AA miles in your account to be able to do this transfer). I had enough American Airlines miles in my account that it let me transfer 4 AA miles –> 1 US Airways mile. I initiated the transfer on 9/14 and it posted to my US Airways account on 9/15.
  3. Download the US Airways toolbar and complete 3 searches. From reports on FT, the miles post monthly and always on a Thursday between the 4th and 9th of the following month. I downloaded the toolbar and completed 3 searches on 9/14. I expect my miles to post to my US Airways account ~Oct 6th.
  4. Shop through the Dividend Miles Shopping Mall. Amazon is a participating merchant, and we shop there at least once a week, so this was an easy hit for me. You can also buy a song through iTunes for $1.29.  Another option is to donate $2 to plant a tree through Gaiam. Go to the Dividend Miles Shopping Mall –> Gaiam –> Search “Go Zero Plant-a-Tree Charitable Contribution.” I made a purchase on Amazon through the DM shopping mall on 9/16 . It says that miles will be posted within 8-10 weeks from the date your product is SHIPPED from the merchant. We’ll see how long it takes for the miles to post…

My Spreadsheet

Here is my 2011 spreadsheet where I will be tracking my hits, if you want to follow along with my progress.  You can compare it to my 2010 spreadsheet over here.

For more details on the promotion and some strategies for racking up hits, your best resource is the FlyerTalk 2011 Grand Slam forum.

It pays to be a Citi AA cardholder! I just happened to see this on my Facebook newsfeed a few minutes ago. <– Apparently, it also pays to follow AAdvantage on FB!

AAdvantage is giving away $100 flight discount codes to eligible Citi AAdvantage cardholders.  I registered both Tony and I, and we both received a discount code.  

To redeem your $100 discount code, you must book and purchase a qualifying American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection fare of $250 or more on AA.com between now and 9/5/2011.  Travel must be between 9/6/2011 and 2/16/2012.

To see full terms and conditions and to register, go here.

MyCokeRewards is giving away free football collegiate t-shirts when you enter six new cap codes. The t-shirts themselves are free — no points will be deducted — but you have to enter 6 new codes to be eligible for them.

Here’s how to get your t-shirt:

  1. Enter six new coke cap codes (3 points each, for a total of 18 new points)
  2. Then enter one of these codes: football, myteam, touchdown, or Tshirt.

Once you’ve done the steps above, you should get a pop-up that looks like this:

You can order a maximum of four t-shirts per six cap codes.  The sizes only come in men’s XL and women’s L.

Thanks SD

Peaches, Too!

Also, there is a peach savings event coming up on Tuesday, August 16th.  Zaycon is selling 48 lbs of Fresh Washington Freestone Delp Hale peaches for $0.79/lb.  Those sound yummy! If you’re interested in a case of peaches, you’ll want to place your order by Friday, August 12, 2011 for pick up in Queen Creek, Mesa, Marana, and Tucson.

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