Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fancy Pants is closing. 50-80% off everything.

Fancy Pants is closing! See the details on their Facebook page here.

We've been big fans of the place for many years. We've sold a lot of used kids' clothes and toys to them and have shopped there regularly. I'm quite sad to see it go, and hope they're able to reopen somewhere else at some point.

I went on Tuesday and they still had a lot of things left. I got some baby items and such to give to people. I got pretty much an entire wardrobe including a jacket and shoes for about $100 for a kid who suddenly has nothing that fits. There were also a ton of books if people need them; they generally only stock really young books -- just picture books and board books -- but the selection is good and they're at least 50% off their usual prices, which are decent to start with. 

Oh, and they have a good selection of (mostly new!) winter hats and gloves all winter, which I've always appreciated about them, since most stores stop selling winter things in about October. There was still a lot of winter stuff left on Tuesday. I got a bunch of fleece balaclavas (is that the right word? Bank-robber masks, not gross Russian desserts) for $3 each since we are crazy and bike all year round when possible. 

They're open until the 22nd, so hit em up soon. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Check your phone number here to see if you can get $1200

If your phone number is on this list, DISH Network owes you $1200 for unscrupulous telemarketing tactics.

None of our family's numbers were on the list unfortunately, but this one is definitely worth checking out. Who doesn't want a free $1200?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

$25 via PayPal for taking this survey. Must have insurance through the connector.

I just did this survey. You must have insurance through your state's connector (not straight Masshealth/Medicaid, not insurance through an employer or school) and you must text or upload your insurance card. It took about five minutes. They send you $25 via PayPal, and I get $25. Then you refer your friends, and you get $25 each time they take it. It's pretty sweet. Their Facebook page is here if you run into any troubles and want to contact them.

EDIT: The study paid me. It's legit. They sent me an e-mail asking me to upload a screenshot of the connector page to confirm current enrollment, but after that they approved it. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Happy 7/11

Gotta love free Slurpee day. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

More random free money

I went online to check the interest rates on some credit cards that don't have balances, to see which would be best to float some expenses for a few months.

Two of them, both Chase cards, gave me things saying I had some sort of points to redeem. I figured these would get me stuff like $5 off coupons, but whatever, those are useful. 

Turns out one card's points were redeemable for $30 direct deposit and one for $40. I'm not sure what the points are or how I got them, but hey, free money. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Attention! Some class action checks don't look like checks


This check came today, to compensate me for having been caused severe emotional damage. Or something. 

The postcard you see on the left showed up like that, with my address on the other side. Looks like junk mail. Fortunately, it was clear who it was from, so I opened it up and got the check out. But be on the lookout for checks that don't look like checks. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Old Navy is 30% off online only right now

Check it out. There's also a lot of stuff marked down. Like, swimsuits, because they're already out of a number of sizes and colors. In March. While it's snowing.

Monday, March 13, 2017

There are a lot of good class action suits up right now

This site and this one both have lots of good ones right now -- Method, Ecover, Seventh Generation, Quorn, several other food products that don't require proof of purchase. Head on over, and rack up some free money!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

There sure are some crazy mofos on eBay

Someone bought something after business hours last week. E-mailed me the next business day stating it hadn't been shipped, asking "is there a problem???" My policies say I ship within two business days. It was still the first business day. Also, if they had used their adult words and just told me they really needed it quickly, I would have happily upgraded the shipping.

Speaking of, I've discovered that most buyers don't read the seller's policies or read the description of the item. Part of this is due to eBay hiding the description. On mobile you have to click into it, and on the computer you have to scroll all the way down. So when I'm selling anything with an open package, not in package, doesn't include accessories, scuffed, ripped, blah blah blah, I've been putting it in the title and then printing out the packing slip and enclosing it. (I don't usually include packing slips; hardly anyone seems to.) So then they get the packing slip right with the item, and they see that the item they bought is "Ralph Lauren hoodie with wear on cuffs," and they're less likely to complain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Has anyone gotten their MA or federal tax refund yet?

Both of mine are saying they were received mid-January and are being processed. I know federal refunds with EITC or child credit can't be disbursed until after February 15 this year. Not sure what's going on with MA refunds. Last year I got state on February 2 and federal on February 10.

I'm thinking that federal will be about 15 days later than last year, since they're operating off of February 15 instead of February 1, so I'm expecting it any day now. I don't know what's going on with the MA refund. I hope this doesn't mean I got audited or some crap.

Which reminds me...I'm not sure I ever posted about that time I did get audited by the state. I can't find it through a search, and I don't seem to have a "MA DOR is a trainwreck" tag. Anyway, I got audited, sent in all the stuff. In addition to W-2 and 1099 work, I had done an odd job for someone one time, the person paid me about $1000, and I declared it and paid taxes on it. The DOR kept insisting I didn't have a record of the income, and the record of the income showing up in my bank account wasn't enough. I had to talk to several people on the phone and explain to them that if they weren't satisfied with my documentation, I could just delete that income and they could give me a bigger refund. It took probably 10 people before one finally got it. Amazing. OK, I'm making a tag for DOR just to be safe. I'll probably need it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Good Neighbor Energy Fund, for people who make too much for fuel assistance

I just got a call from the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, asking me if I wanted to apply, since we have done so in years past. For the past few years, we've qualified for fuel assistance, but Good Neighbor is a great program if you make too much for fuel assistance. The website has the income limits listed right up front on the page, so if you didn't qualify for fuel assistance and still need help, check it out. It works basically the same way, where you bring in your documentation and they pay the utility company directly. It's administered by the Salvation Army, which, yes, I know is problematic in many ways. The people who administer the program are much much more user friendly than the people at ABCD fuel assistance.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Swagbucks has this new MyGiftCardsPlus thing that gives you free money

I just signed up for this and got 975 Swagbucks ($11.08 if you redeem in batches of 2200 SB for $25 Amazon gift card).

The deal requires you to buy a $50 gift card. They have a ton of options, though most of them are things like mid-price/high-price chain restaurants where we wouldn't generally be spending money. They do have several places where most people would spend money regardless, like Lowe's, Home Depot, clothing stores, etc. I noticed that the GAP gift card earns you a larger number of Swagbucks than Old Navy, even though you can use the gift cards at both places since they're the same owner. So I bought a $50 GAP gift card, because I typically spend that much at Old Navy a few times a year.

If you haven't checked out the huge Old Navy clearance section at South Bay mall, do it! It's the biggest one I've found so far. Women's and men's is in the back corner of the store, and kids' is in a separate section in each kids' section. Old Navy tends to sell things for a very short time before they're out of season or out of style, so there's always a lot on clearance. The stores have more than the website does, because they also seem to move things to clearance as soon as they're low on certain sizes or they want to take down the display. If something stays on clearance very long and they're down to only a few of them, they'll often mark them down to a couple dollars. The stuff is often cheaper than thrift stores, and you can get things that wear out quickly and don't usually make it to thrift stores, like tanktops and leggings. 

Also, Old Navy is one of the furthest ahead in terms of seasons; right now they mostly have swimsuits and sundresses. This means that the place is pretty useless if you suddenly need snow boots or swimsuits during the correct season, because they'll likely all be gone, but it means things go on clearance before you actually would need them. We've gotten coats and gloves at a major discount when they clear them out in October or so, and swimsuits when they clear them out in about May.

So, get yourself a $50 GAP gift card (plus $11 in Amazon money), and go check out the Old Navy clearance section. And if you don't have Swagbucks yet, click the Swagbucks label to find all my past posts, which explain how to use it and contain my referral link so we can both get extra free stuff. Thanks!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Make a lamp shade for your thrift store lamp for about $2

So, a few days ago, I was trying to figure out what to do with a broken IKEA floor lamp. Could the pieces be recycled, or could someone use it for something? The hollow threaded part that connected the bottom section of the, uh, stalk? Stem? Post? Pole? to the base (I think this part is called a nipple. Seriously.) had broken off and broken in half, and of course it was an unusual size, because IKEA. I actually had a package of these in graduated sizes, because I once fixed a ceiling fixture I got from a thrift store, so 1) I was able to try them and see that this fixture was in between two adjacent standard sizes and 2) while they were no longer in the original package, I'm pretty sure they're called nipples. Hurr hurr.

I eventually realized I could just take out two of the three sections and make a table lamp. How would I do that though, when the post sections are threaded onto the cord? Oh, easy. Unwire the whole thing, reassemble, and then rewire! Some friends on social media were placing bets as to whether it would work and whether they would need to call 911. Assholes.

It did work, and on the first try. But then I needed a lamp shade. Of course lamp shades often cost more than the lamp, when we're taking about basic stuff like this, and thrift stores never have shades because lamps last longer than the shade. I started looking around for something I could make a lampshade out of. I was thinking I could probably use poster board and reinforce it with coat hangers or something, but then I saw this wastebasket that I got for a dollar at Dollar Tree.

The lampshade was the perfect shape and size, was lightweight, and the mesh made it even easier to sew fabric to it than it would have been with a cardboard shade. So, what I did was:

1) Cut the bottom out of the wastebasket. I guess you could actually leave it on if you like, as it wouldn't be in the way and light can of course pass through it. I cut mine off because lampshades don't typically have a top, and it made it easier to attach fabric later on. I used wire cutters. Heavy-duty scissors or a utility knife would work well too.

2) Find something that has a hole in it that is slightly larger than a lightbulb base. This seems to be the most secure way to attach a lampshade to a lamp, and is what IKEA lamps use. It also allows for any type of bulb. I used a closet pole socket like this one, since I had one lying around in a drawer. Mine were cheaper, I think $1 for the pair. You could also make something similar out of a fairly sturdy piece of plastic, like a plastic lid out of the recycling. It just needs to fit around the bulb and be able to have holes drilled in it. The closet rod hardware was perfect, since it already had three holes. If I were building it from scratch, I'd probably put four so it would be easier to get it centered and taut. 

3) Attach the middle part to the basket. I used wire to do this. The wire I had is thin craft-type wire, so I twisted it and wrapped it until it was fairly rigid. If I were purchasing wire, I'd probably use something a bit heavier, but not quite as hard to bend as, say, a coat hanger. The basket made it easy to get centered and level, because I could just count how many diamonds down from the edge and count how many diamonds were around the basket and divide by three. Measuring would also work, but that would involve getting up and finding one more thing, so I didn't do it.

4) Find fabric to cover the basket with. I unfortunately didn't take measurements or photograph every step, but you'll need roughly a foot by three feet maybe of fabric. If you wrap it around the basket and it fully covers it, you're good. Any material should work. If you aren't the type to own fabric waiting to be used for projects, use a good part of a worn sheet/blanket/pillowcase, or a shirt you don't need any longer.

5) Attach the fabric to the basket. The easiest and most secure way by far is with a needle and thread. Wrap the fabric around the basket so it covers the whole thing, trim it so you have a seam that runs straight up the shade (parallel to the pole), and then sew it to the basket. This part will be hidden, so no need to stitch neatly. Then, once one end is attached, stretch the fabric all the way around until it overlaps where you just sewed. Trim it so you have a straight edge with about an inch overlap. Fold the fabric under to make a nice seam. Then stitch through all three layers of fabric and around the basket wires. I did one diagonal stitch around each diamond.

6) Next, trim the top and bottom of the fabric so it barely overlaps the basket. If your fabric has pretty much no stretch to it, overlap about half an inch. Fold the fabric over the basket. Go around the edge and stitch it so the basket is between both layers of fabric, stretching it taut as you go. A whipstitch/overcast stitch/whatever you want to call it (shown in the picture) is going to work best at holding the fabric taut and looking the best. The sewing involved here requires really no skill; it's basically the same as those wooden sewing cards my kids had when they were preschoolers. The equipment needed is just a needle and thread, found in any drugstore sewing kit. If you're really opposed to sewing though, it should be possible to do this with hot glue or duct tape or something, or ribbons covering the edges, or whatever works for you.

Have I mentioned that the cat is an asshole?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Banana French toast

This was a surprisingly easy recipe I invented. Fair Foods gave us two bunches of slightly bruised/browning bananas and a loaf of what I thought was sandwich bread when I took it, but ended up being cranberry walnut bread. None of us are particularly crazy about the nuts-and-dried-fruits category of foods, so I tried to think of things I could do with it. I figured it would be improved if it were sweet, and this led me to French toast.

I knew bananas are often used by themselves as a binder/thickener in a lot of vegan cooking, so I figured this would work. I blended the bananas using an immersion blender, then added some vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. If using fresher bananas, you'd probably need to add some liquid to get it to a thinner consistency, but this was correct since these were rescued bananas. I then soaked the slices of bread in the stuff and fried them in a nonstick pan with a little oil. The result was normal textured French toast with a bit of a banana/fruit/nut flavor. We served it with maple syrup (Amazon has the best prices usually, FYI) and everyone enjoyed it. It's probably one of the simplest things I've ever cooked. Will definitely make again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Heads up for people who use the MA DOR free webfile for income tax

Apparently the state's own tax website is no longer active. They now are publishing a list of sites that will file your taxes for free based on income.

OLT will file them for free if you make between $13,000 and $62,000 AGI. However, if you've already filed your federal taxes elsewhere, you can't use this site; it only will file federal and state at the same time. You can pay $7.95 to file your state return alone on this site though. If you make more than $62,000 AGI, I'm not sure why you're reading my site*, but they will file it for $7.95 for state and $7.95 for federal.

1040NOW will file just the state return (or both, if you don't file federal elsewhere) for free if you make under $32,000 AGI. Be sure to use the link with "freefileMA" in it.

MA Department of Revenue doesn't list them, but Turbotax will also file for free if you are eligible to file 1040A or 1040EZ (income under $100,000, don't itemize deductions, no self-employment, no unusual credits or deductions besides the common ones like Earned Income Tax Credit and child credit.)

If you google free e-filing and your situation, you will find more companies that do free e-filing for students, people with disability income, military families, or whatever your case may be.

You can also print out the form and mail it for free. It takes longer to get your refund, but it's free. If you want to make sure you don't make any errors, most of the commercial tax websites (TaxSlayer, etc.) will let you do everything but file the return without paying. You can let it do all the calculations for the credits and everything and then transfer it to a paper form.

(*That's a joke. I realize of course that there are people with high incomes on paper who are supporting relatives, have high disability expenses, are trying to save a failing home business, and so forth.)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

About that "Save $70 by opening a credit card" thing

I've been getting this Amazon promo every time I buy something, and have been ignoring it. First, I already have the Amazon Store Card, which I got about a few years ago. It gave me $50 off my first purchase, which is why I opened it, and no interest for six months on purchases over some amount, which I also why I purchased it. (At the time I needed car seats that would fit three-across in a compact car.)

I was assuming this offer was the same thing, and would reject me since I already had one. But then today I went to purchase something and a full-screen ad came up on the way to checkout, showing an image of an Amazon Visa Card, with an actual credit card. (The store card only works on Amazon and is a floppy membership-type card with no chip or strip, since you wouldn't be swiping it anywhere.) Hey Amazon, good advertising there. This actually got it through my thick skull that it's a different product, and I applied.

I was approved in 60 seconds, and it credited the $70 to my Amazon gift card balance without me having made the purchase yet. Even better, since this means I can just take the free stuff and throw the card in a drawer when it gets here and never use it.

For reference, if you're wondering if your credit score is sufficient, I have a lot of debt, but no negative items. I generally qualify for store cards with a low limit, but my unused Visa/Mastercard accounts also send me letters saying they're lowering my credit line due to high amount of total debt. I got the lowest interest rate they offer and a limit in the mid-four figures, so I'm thinking this card is probably a good one for people without great credit to try.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Trying out this Wikibuy thing that supposedly gives you better prices than Amazon

I accidentally stumbled across this on one of those sponsored Facebook posts, and it looks worth giving a try. So far I've installed it and poked around a bit. I haven't found a price that's better than Amazon, but I haven't had it installed very long. So far it seems more legit and less gimmicky than things like the Swagbucks toolbar. I'll update once I've used it more. Does anyone else use it and have any reviews or tips?