Archive for December, 2011

Free cash from Concentrics Restaurants

CTRXColdCash4It’s been far too long since you’ve sampled the salmon chips from Two Urban Licks. Or maybe you’re craving the spicy shrimp and Georgia grits from Murphy’s.

Concentrics Restaurants is eliminating your excuses for staying away for so long. Join the email database, follow them on Facebook or visit the website to download $12 of Concentrics’ Cold Cash (right). Use the cash at One Midtown kitchen, Two Urban licks, Tap, Parish or Murphy’s for the entire month of January.

A minimum purchase of $25 is required. Cold Cash is valid Sunday through Thursday for January 2012. Offer excludes tax and gratuity; cannot be combined with any other offers. Valid for dine-in customers only; one per table, per visit. Excludes Parish and Murphy’s Brunch and Parish Market.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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Coupon Mom: Deals on vitamins, dinner and drinks

Nearly half of the newspaper grocery coupons issued will expire on Dec. 31. Check your coupon collection to make sure you get your savings before they expire. You can also check the Coupon Database at CouponMom.com to see which coupons are due to expire by sorting the list by expiration date.

Save on vitamins

Nature Made, Sundown: Get your new year off to a healthy start with bargains on vitamins. CVS has Nature Made vitamins on sale “buy one, get one free.” Use two of the $1 coupons from the Dec. 11 SmartSource circular to save the most. CVS also has selected varieties of Sundown vitamins on sale for $5.49. Use the $1 coupon from the Dec. 11 RedPlum circular to pay $4.49 at the register, and you also will get a $2 Extra Bucks reward. Your net cost will be $2.49 each, limit one per household.

Nearly half off deodorant

Gillette deodorant: Target has Gillette Clinical deodorant (1.7 ounce) on sale for $7.49. Use two of the $1 coupons from the Nov. 27 Procter & Gamble circular to …

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Free admission to Callaway Gardens

Take the family on an exploration of beauty this winter.

Enjoy complimentary admission to Callaway Gardens between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29, 2012 (reg. $18 adults, $9 ages 6-12).

OK, I know it’s chilly outside, but there’s a lot of wonder to experience in the Gardens, even in the dead of winter.

Try exploring the horticultural center with its gorgeous floral displays or getting a little exercise with the family on one of the walking trails or bicycle trail. Plus, if you get cold, you can always duck into the tropical butterfly center to warm up while more than 1,000 beautiful creatures flutter around you.

Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 17800 U.S. Highway 27, Pine Mountain. 706-663-2281.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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Clark Howard: Check rental car rates before taking off

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardWhen it comes to leisure travel, re-shopping your rental car or hotel the week before your trip can save big bucks.

With rental cars, the most common pattern is that when somebody books an airline ticket, they also book their rental car. But rental reservations are, as a general rule, fully changeable and you pay no money upfront, just at the time you rent the car. So I routinely shop the rate again about seven days before my trip.

For example, my family and I recently went to Denver for a ski trip. I originally booked the car for a week at $273 a good while ago. But when I re-shopped just before the trip with another company, I found a rate of $99 including junk fees. That was a lot of money back in my pocket!

Anecdotally, I’d say I save money at least 90 percent of the time by using this method. I can’t say it works …

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Do you trust retailers that cancel orders?

Shipping snafus

Although it was named one of the 10 most influential retailers of the season online, even Best Buy hit a glitch this holiday.

Just days before Christmas, the electronics giant alerted customers that some orders as far back as November could not be filled. According to one news article, an “overwhelming demand for some products from Bestbuy.com” was the culprit.

Although I wasn’t personally affected by the problem, I’ll probably never place a Christmas order on the site again. Why not just visit the store and leave with the product in hand?

Did you experience any shipping problems this Christmas? Does it affect your trust in the retailer, or do you simply consider it a one-time snag?

A reminder on returns

Should you need that sweater in a different size, style or color, check your (gift) receipt to see how long you have to hit the stores. If you’re looking for a price adjustment (because the price has dropped since the item was purchased), you might only have 14 …

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Jessica Shops: Fall fashion at winter prices

Fall’s fads become new year’s deals

Many fall fashion trends are carrying over into the new year at slashed prices. A personal favorite is the poncho. Nordstrom has the Amber Sun style at 50 percent off (regularly $118, on sale for $58.90). They also have a selection of popular colored jeans like Citizens of Humanity at 40 percent off (regularly $178, on sale for $99). The hottest everyday shoe is the platform bootie. Look for the Kelsi Dagger faux shearling cuffed pair for 50 percent off at Shopbop.com (regularly $150, on sale for $75). Finally, big bangles are everywhere, and my pick is the Globe Craft Cuff at Baublebar.com ($22). Sign up on the website to take $10 off your first order. Sale prices subject to change.

Sparkle from the top

Featherlucious: Add a little shimmer to your hair courtesy of Featherlucious, a local mobile feather extension service. JessicaShops.com readers save 20 percent off all services and gift certificates. Grab a package for now or later, …

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Tips for smooth gift returns

It’s the season of giving…and receiving…and returning.

But most merchants are prepared, starting with the day after Christmas. This year, for example, Nordstrom introduced its hassle-free return policy for online orders, including free shipping on returns. And 37 percent of retailers ease up on return policies during the holiday season, says the National Retail Federation.

Jeanette Pavini, a consumer finance expert and host of a California consumer affairs TV show, answers some common questions about returns:

First of all, is it OK to ask for a gift’s receipt? “When it comes down to family and close friends,” Pavini says, “we’re comfortable saying, ‘I love this, but I want another color.’ With business relationships, Pavini advises keeping your mouth shut. It’s not worth the risk.

What should I bring? “Come armed with as much as you have: receipt, original tags and boxing,” she says. The receipt is key. If an item’s price has dropped, most retailers will provide a full refund …

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Wes Moss: Think real goals, not resolutions, for new year

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB

Wes Moss hosts 'Money Matters' Sunday mornings on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB

Harvard University once did a study on goal-setting, using members of its class of 1953. The result: Twenty years after graduation, the 3 percent of that class who wrote down their career goals had a higher net worth than the 97 percent who did not write down goals.

My most productive years have been those in which I write down very specific New Year goals, which I take much more seriously than mere “resolutions.” My wife and I sit down every December and draft a “Moss Family Goals List” for the coming year. It covers seven categories, each containing three to five goals.

Here are a few of my goals for 2012:

Health/Wellness

• Continue exercise with boot camp and CrossFit workouts four to five times per week.

• Finish a half triathlon. Right now I can …

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Jessica Shops: Find a gift fast

Find nearby deals

SaleLocator, Dealio.com: Need a gift fast? Rev up your iPhone, iPad or Android with the SaleLocator app for up-to-the-minute sale info in your neighborhood. I entered my ZIP code and immediately pulled up directions to nearby deals, such as 40 percent off Talbots sale items, three items for $30 at The Body Shop, $700 savings on HDTVs at H. H. Gregg, a 20 percent off coupon for Macy’s and more. Or, wait until Monday for even better steals; stay in, relax and shop online for items like bedding, electronics and housewares. Websites like Dealio.com promise an extensive after-Christmas sale guide of up to 70 percent off. And another favorite, Keycode.com, will have plenty of online shopping coupon codes for JCPenney, Target, Sears and more. Deals subject to change.

Save at pop-up shop

Clothing Warehouse: The Clothing Warehouse has a new pop-up location at 999 Peachtree Street. This temporary location has a selection of holiday gift ideas from the main store. …

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Clark Howard: Don’t buy gift cards at their face value

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardThe sale of gift cards is up significantly from last year. But how good of an idea is it to buy them?

The National Retail Federation says shoppers are expected to spend $28 billion on gift cards this year, up from $24.8 billion in 2010.

Yet my position on gift cards has never changed. If you buy “at par,” meaning you buy a gift card at straight face value, you have made a bad purchase. You’ve taken money that can be used anywhere and turned it into scrip that can only be used at one particular restaurant or retailer. If that place folds, you’re out the money. That happens way too often.

Of course, gift cards can make sense in some situations. I’ll give you an …

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