November 18th, 2013 by RichmondBargains

big stack of discounts

Everyone once in a while I get talked into teaching a coupon class, and this is the most important principle I try to share. Saving money with one method on a purchase is great, but the true deal ninjas are always thinking “How can I stack multiple discounts?”

Always be looking for ethical ways to combine multiple discounts in a single purchase.

For instance, at the grocery store you can only use one manufacturers coupon per item, but you can use both a manufacturers coupon and a store coupon for the the same thing, if you have them.

There are several components of a transaction where discounts might be available:

    1. Pre-purchase: Discounts that are offered at the store and you don’t have to do anything to receive
    2. At the register: Savings that are taken off at the time of payment, and often require action on your part
    3. After the register: Discounts you become eligible for after making a purchase
    4. Payment method: Savings based on the way you pay. Tends to be the most overlooked.

Your discount stacking toolkit should include:


    Sale – A percentage off, “buy one, get one free” etc. Usually the biggest and best source of savings, but don’t stop there!



    Discount Codes – Primarily for online shopping. Check RetailMeNot for discount codes to the website you’re interested in. If you don’t find one, Google “[website] coupon code” and see if anything turns up. If I see a spot for entering “promo code” at checkout, that tells me I should definitely do a quick check for one!

    Manufacturer’s Coupon – Issued by the manufacturer. Can be printed or digital

    Store Coupon – Issued by the store, often sent via email or printed at the register on a previous purchase.

    Quantity Discount – Is there an extra discount for buying a larger quantity?

    Loyalty Programs – Become a member to receive the full discounts; scan you card or enter phone number at checkout.


    Register Rewards – Savings on your next purchase that print after the transaction for purchasing a certain item or number of items, like CVS ExtraBucks

    Loyalty Programs – Sometimes receive a freebie, discount, or other reward for a certain amount of purchases (Like Kroger or Martin’s fuel rewards)

    Rebates – Additional savings on a product by submitting documentation of purchase by mail or online. Doesn’t count if you always forget to submit them

    Cash Back Websites – Every November I do my plug for Ebates. (Mr. Rebates is a good one too) If you are shopping online and are not registered with a cash back site, you are paying too much. You just follow the link from Ebates to the retailer you are shopping at, and make your purchases. Ebates tracks your purchase and credits a percent of your purchase to your Ebates account, then sends you a check periodically for the balance. Right now, you can earn 3% from Walmart, 6% from Lowe’s, 5% at Old Navy, etc. (Two notes: Use of some coupon codes may invalidate the cash back – a coupon code listed on Ebates will definitely be able to stack with cash back. When in doubt, use the coupon code because it usually is worth more than cash back. Secondly, by using cash back websites, you are basically getting paid the “referral” fee that might otherwise be paid to a blogger or website referring you to a site. That is not unethical, but if you want to support a site like mine, follow its links to products when making a purchase and skip this step of using Ebates)


    Rewards Credit Card – Everything is at least an extra 1% off when you have a rewards credit card in your wallet. I currently use a combo of Capital One Quicksilver with 1.5% cash back on everything or American Express Blue Cash with 3% on groceries and 2% on gas (Note: for many folks, I do believe it easier to stick to a budget when you stick to cash. Please do not fall for the TV ads where folks fight to pay the restaurant bill because they get 2% restaurant rewards on their credit card. But for maximum deals, credit card rewards are an easy component.)

    Discounted gift cards – If you can, scoop up discounted gift cards to your favorite retailers and restaurants, like the $5 Groupon for $10 at Starbucks that was recently available. I call this gift card discount laundering, which definitely has an illegal sound to it, but it just means that to businesses, your gift card is the same as paying with cash or credit. Whether you paid less than face value doesn’t affect your ability to use coupons or other discounts that might state “not combinable with other discounts or promotions” in the fine print.

      Some common sources for discounted gift cards: credit card rewards can sometimes be redeemed for gift cards 10% or 20% off, warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club, gift card resellers like Gift Card Granny, and purchasing at Kroger during promotions when you can earn 4 fuel points for every dollar spent plus possibly a higher percentage of cash back on your credit card (So a $25 gift card earns you $.10 off per gallon of gas)

    Alternatively: Gift Card Bonuses – Now is the time to pick these up! Through mid-December, some retailers and many restaurants will give you a bonus amount or a freebies when purchasing a gift card or gift certificate. For instance: Barnes & Noble will give you a $10 bonus for a $75 gift card purchase by Dec. 3. Check this list for more ideas.

    Tax Savings – Make healthcare-related purchases with pre-tax dollars using your Flexible Spending Account

Frequently, at least one discount from each category is available. (Always read the fine print of any discount to find exclusions.)

Here are a couple of examples of how this principle can play out:

    Buying contacts from
    10% cash back at Ebates
    15% off with coupon code listed on Ebates
    $23 volume discount for buying 8 boxes
    $25 rebate fram manufacturer
    Free shipping
    Paid with pre-tax Flexible Spending Dollars

    Sneakers for my son at Gymboree:
    Clearance tagged 60% off original price
    30% off storewide sale
    20% off coupon from mail
    1.5% cash back credit card

What are some of your favorite ways to stack?

Posted in Bargain Basics Tagged with: , , , ,

December 10th, 2012 by RichmondBargains

walmart gift card

Today only – “Green Monday” – receive a bonus $10 Walmart eGift Card when you purchase a Walmart eGift card for $100 or more:

Give a gift, get a gift! The Walmart eGift Card is the perfect gift… for them and for you! Add at least $100 onto this Walmart eGift Card and receive an additional $10 eGift Card for free.*

*Terms and Conditions: Supply is limited; offer good on December 10th, 2012, only while supplies last. Bonus eGift Card will be sent separately to qualifying purchaser’s email address within 3-5 days. Limit one bonus eGift Card per customer. Bonus eGift Card offer applies to this item only. Card amount of $100 or more must be loaded to single eGift Card to receive $10 bonus eGift Card.
eGift Cards are sent via email, usually within minutes.

The eGift Cards are valid online at or, or in-stores at Walmart or Sams Club.

Also, remember to stock up on gift cards to your favorite restaurants (and other retailers) during the holidays – many chains, and even sometimes local eateries, offer bonuses when you purchase gift cards/certificates in December. The standard bonus is $5 bonus for a $25 gift card purchase, but it varies widely (for instance, a free burrito with $30 Chipotle gift card purchase, $20 bonus gift cards to P.F. Chang’s with $100 gift card purchase, or free slice of cheesecake with $25 Cheesecake Factory gift card)

Good list of restaurant offers at!

Read the fine print on bonuses, because many have terms and short expiration dates!

Do you have any favorites?

Posted in Gas & Groceries Tagged with: , ,

November 19th, 2012 by RichmondBargains

goochland drive in

If you enjoy catching films at the Goochland Drive-In Theater, take advantage of this gift card special for the 2013 season, available for purchase online beginning today!

    Buy a $25 Gift Card… Get a FREE $5 Card

    Buy a $50 Gift Card… Get a FREE $15 Card

    Buy a $75 Gift Card… Get a FREE $25 Card

    Buy a $100 Gift Card… Get a FREE $50 Card

Gift cards can be used for general admission, snack bar, and merchandise. Limited time and quantities.

Posted in Free & Cheap Events Tagged with: , , ,

December 11th, 2011 by RichmondBargains


If you have a flexible spending account with your health care, you’re probably familiar with the November/December guessing game known as “How Much Do I Expect It Will Cost To Keep Me Healthy Next Year?” Guess too much, and you lose whatever amount you don’t use by the end of the calendar year.

Well, now is also the time to plan gift card spending for the upcoming year. During December, many businesses, particularly restaurants, offer extra bonus incentives when you purchase gift cards. So you can stretch your money further by investing in gift cards to businesses where you will be shopping throughout the year (assuming you have wiggle room in your budget for the expenditure – putting them on credit cards and not paying them off will NOT save money).

The nice thing about gift cards (versus flexible spending accounts) is that most gift cards give you longer than a year to use them! The challenge is that the accompanying bonuses often have short terms of redemption, like a month or two, so don’t get more than you can redeem in that time frame.

A few of the bonus incentives are listed below:

    Applebee’s — $10 bonus card for $50 gift cards purchase
    Chipotle – Free burrito, salad, bowl, or tacos with gift card purchase $30+
    Frostings – Each $10+ gift card will earn YOU one FREE cupcake
    IHOP — $5 coupon off your next visit when purchasing a $25 gift card
    Maggiano’s — Get a $20 bonus card plus a free Food & Wine magazine subscription for $100 e-gift card purchase
    Noodles & Co. — Buy $25 in gift cards, get a free sandwich duo
    Outback Steakhouse — Buy a $100 gift card, get a $20 bonus gift card.
    Plato’s Closet – Get $10 Closet Cash for every $50 gift card purchase
    Ruby Tuesday — $15 Bonus card for every $50 in gift cards
    Subway – Free regular 6″ sub when purchasing or reloading a $25 gift card
    Taco Bell — Buy a $20 gift card, get a free chicken flatbread combo meal
    TGI Friday’s — $5 bonus bite card for every $25 in gift card purchases

This doesn’t even come close to covering all the offers out there, so feel free to add your favorites!

Posted in Dining Out Tagged with:

December 20th, 2010 by Alison

red robin gift card
(If anyone needs a gift idea for me…)

As you wrap up your holiday shopping, remember to take advantage of gift cards offers at some of your favorite restaurants and retailers. Check out the list of some businesses offering bonuses with gift card purchases (via Slickdeals):

Applebees — Buy $50 in Gift Cards, get a $10 Bonus Gift Card

Barnes and Noble – Buy $100 in Gift Cards, get a $10 eGift Card

Bob Evans — Buy $50 in Gift Cards, get $10 bonus Gift Card

Borders – Buy $50 gift card, get a $10 bonus coupon for 12/26-12/31

Buffalo Wild Wings – Buy $25 Gift Card Get $5 Coupon to use after 1/1/11

California Pizza Kitchen — Buy $100 in Gift Cards, get a $20 Rewards Card

Chipotle – Buy $25 gift card and get a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos free on next visit

The Children’s Place – Buy $40 and get $10

Cici’s – Buy $20 in Gift Cards, get a free Adult Buffet

Denny’s – Buy $25 get $5 bonus

DSW – Buy $50 GC and receive $10 Bonus GC

Famous Dave’s – Buy $25 gift card, get a $5 bonus card.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar – Buy $100 GC, get $20 bonus voucher

IHOP – Buy $25 gift card, get a $5 off coupon.

Ledo Pizza – Buy a $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Card

Moe’s Southwest Grill — Buy $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Bonus

Maggianos – Buy $100 gift card online, get subscription to Food and Wine mag and also $20 bonus promotional card good for $20 off a $50 purchase

O’Charley’s — Buy a $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Bonus Gift Card

Outback Steakhouse — Buy $100 Gift Card, get a $20 Bonus Card

PF Chang’s – Buy $50 gift card, get a $10 bonus card.

Qdoba — Buy $25 Gift Card, get $5 Bonus Voucher

Red Robin – Buy $25 Gift Card, get $5 in Bonus Bucks

Ruby Tuesday – B&M Buy $50 Gift Card, get $10 off entire check coupon valid Jan 1 – Feb 28, 2011

Ruth Chris Steakhouse – For every $250 in Gift Cards you purchase, you receive 10% back in Bonus Gift Cards

Smoothie King – Free small smoothie with the purchase of a $25 King Card

Subway – Buy $25 gift card, get a 6″ sub (excluding premium & double-meat) free.

T.G.I. Friday’s — Buy a $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Bonus Gift Card

UNO Chicago Grill – Buy $25 in gift cards, get a $5 bonus voucher

Wendy’s – Buy $15 gift card get coupon for free fries

As you can see, the standard is a 20% bonus, ie: $5 additional value when you purchase $25 worth. If you dine somewhere frequently, consider buying whatever value you expect to use in the next 3-6 months.

Be aware:
-Some offers are only available for purchase online, some in-store. Check with the store ahead of time to verify details and participation
-Many of the bonuses have additional restrictions on their use (like they can only be used during certain dates, can’t be combined with other offers, etc)
-The bonus offers vary in expiration date, but purchase by Christmas to be sure

My favorite gift card deal last year was when Chick-fil-A offered a free cow calendar ($6 value) with $20 gift card purchase. The gift card lasted me through June or July, but I’ve been getting free items at Chick-fil-A every month this year with the calendar coupons. I haven’t seen that offer posted yet; hopefully will return after the new year.


If you have loose change lying around, consider taking it to a Coinstar machine. Not only is there no counting fee when you exchange the coins into retailer gift cards, you’ll also receive a $10 bonus when you cash in $40 or more for a gift card from iTunes, Borders, Lowe’s or Regal Cinema! Find a location near you. Offer expires 12/31 ($10 bonus will be mailed to you when you enter the promo code from your Coinstar receipt on the website)

Posted in Retail Store Discounts/Sales Tagged with: