Sunday, January 30, 2011

Money Earner: Gift Cards

Gift cards are great presents. But sometimes they are completely useless. When you get a gift card to a retailer at which you don't shop you may be at a loss for what to do with it. I know I could never bring myself to use the Bloomingdales gift card that has been sitting in my drawer for a year. I just cannot spend tripple what I usually would for the very same items of clothing because I have a gift card. Woudn't it be great if you could convert that gift card into actual cash? Well, now you can.

There are two ways to convert unused gift cards to cash. Each has its pros and cons.

1) e-bay: Once you register with e-bay you can sell just about anything. This includes electronic or conventional gift cards. I have seen amazon gift cards for 50$ sell at auction for as high as 47$. However, you should be aware that ebay will charge you a commission and possibly also a listing fee. You will also have to deal with the buyer. This is especially important when selling an electronic gift card. An unscrupulous buyer can use your card and then claim that you sent them a faulty code, or a code with no money attached. E-bay and paypal just about always side with the consumer.

This can be avoided by selling to people who have many positive ratings. The more positive ratings you have the more likely someone is to buy your card. The more positive ratings a user has the less likely they are to scam you. So far I have never had a problem with unscrupulous buyers but I would remiss if I did not mention the possibility. I have once had a person who won my card at auction and then canceled the transaction forcing me to have to relist the item. It didn't cost me anything but it was a time drain. Always save as much proof of the transaction as you can. The fear of unscrupulous buyers is why I try and use option number 2 whenever possible.

2) Plastic Jungle: Plastic jungle is a website that buys and sells gift cards. You sell your card directly to plastic jungle, never having to deal with a client at all. There is no danger of unscrupulous buyers. The company serves as a middleman. They offer a flat fee per card (the exact amount depends on the gift card vendor) that may be lower than what you can get on ebay. However, there is less hassle and no fee. They accept an extensive amount of hard copy gift gift cards. You print out a shipping label that they genreate and they pay for all shiping costs. More recently they have added an option to accept electronic gift cards. Delivery is immediate as is your payment. If you are interested in selling an e-gift card make sure it is currently accepted as options are currently limited to a handful of vendors.

These options are great for making money when used in combination with gift cards obtained for free or for half off from credit card deals (see Credit Card Series posts) or from banking thank you points. And yes, they even rescued my Bloomingdale's gift card.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Money Earner: Fellowships

In my gradaute program anyone who writes and wins their own individual fellowship gets an extra five thousand dollars a year. Am I trying to win one? You bet your patootie I am! Which is why I am writing this post, live from a hotel room.  I am staying here for a fellowship interview.

This fellowship would mean great things besides for the five thousand dollars.  Fellowships look great on your resume and winning one would help me get the residency I desire thus leading to future earnings. My husband has written one as well but his does not require a panel interview and fancy shmancy dinner the night before. So wish us luck and check out the links below to find some fellowships you may qualify for. Some are for high school, undergraduate or various gradaute programs. in various fields of study or entrepreneurship

Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship
Echoing Green
Goldwater Scholarship
Hertz Foundation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Jacob J. Javits
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship
Jame Madison Foundation
National Institutes of Health
National Science Foundation
Nursing Scholarship Database
Open Society Fellowship
Morris K. Udall Fellowship
Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

Credit Card Series: Your Credit Score

If you envision yourself ever purchasing a house, a car, renting a new apartment or getting your kid braces you should be aware that these are all instances in which your credit score may be checked. There are many other as well. Therefore it is really important to understand how your credit score is affected by the decisions you make and how you can improve it.

Never had a credit card/loan/any other form of borrowing in your life? Well, that doesn't mean you have a pristine credit score. It means you have nothing in your credit score and you will have a tough time getting a mortgage or a loan on a car.

What is your credit score? Your credit score is a number generated by an algorithm that takes into account your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used. This number is supposed to reflect your likelihood of paying your bills on time.

Why do you care? Your score is used by potential landlords to see if you can afford your rent and potential lenders to determine if you can afford your mortgage and car payment. If you have a lousy credit score you are likely to not get a loan or to get one with a very high interest rate. Having a score, using the FICO system, of above 720 is likely to get you the best rates on your loans.

How do they calculate the score? Nobody really knowns. The exact algorithm is not released to the general public and each of the three major credit scoring agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transuion) have tweaked the algorithm in their own way so your credit score will likely not be identical from each agency. However there are some basic thing that are known about credit scores, and these determine actions you can take to improve your score.

The fastest way to build up a good credit score is to have a reputable credit card that you pay regularly and on time. This should not cost you any money: you can get a card with no annual fee and charge items you were going to buy anyway. If you pay the full balance on time you will not have to pay interest.

Paying bills late or having bills sent to collection is very bad for your credit score.

The second most important area is your outstanding debt -- how much money you owe on credit cards, car loans, mortgages, home equity lines, etc. Also considered is the total amount of credit you have available. If you have 10 credit cards that each have $10,000 credit limits, that's $100,000 of available credit. Statistically, people who have a lot of credit available tend to use it, which makes them a less attractive credit risk. However, if you only use a small fraction of your available credit this is viewed as responsible behavior. If you constantly max out your credit then you look risky. If you don't have any credit available then you have no track record and look risky. If you have credit available and use it sparingly and keep your balance low by paying on time every time you look good.

The longer your history the better, especially if it is with the same issuer. The longer you have a particular card the better it looks. Even if you don't use it. So if you have a card that has no annual fee that you have had for a while, it may pay to keep it even if you currently use a different card.

When you close a card it also causes a small ding on your score - no one knows how the big this ding is or how long it lasts. Closing a card also lowers your total credit available thus possibly improving your score in the long term.

When someone (landlord, potential mortgage lender etc.) checks your credit score it causes a small ding on your account. Not much you can do to avoid that.

Each credit scoring company is required to provide you with a free look at your credit report once every twelve months. To get your free report (s) visit the government website. Do not fall for scams like This website claims to be free but in fact signs you up for a credit reporting service and will charge you. It is a perversion of the consumer protection law that allows you to get your free report and you should avoid it like the plague. Stick to the official government site for instructions!

There are some thing that lenders take into account that have nothing to do with your credit score: age, income, gender, employment status, education, marital status, length at current address, whether you own a home etc. All these factors do not go into your credit score but are often looked at by lenders.

So when applying for a new card, shutting down a card or refusing to ever use a card think about the repercussion this will have for your credit score and your future ability to borrow for things like a mortgage or car.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Credit Card Series: The Best Card for You

Remember when you were a kid and your teacher told you that every snowflake is unique and different? Well each credit card is qunique and different too. This works out pretty well, since people are unique and different. Depending on your lifestyle and purchase habits you may find you "match" with one card while another reader may find she "matches" well with a different one. This is why instead of ranking cards I am going to lay out the cards with the best rewards options, fee practices and reliability in no particular order. Based on your lifestyle you can choose the card that works best for you.

Note: This is intended for readers looking to open a new card. If you are thinking about switching your card please wait until you read my upcoming post about credit cards and your credit score. Closing a card to open a new one may have consequences you have not yet considered.

The Best Cards:

Amazon Rewards Visa: If you are an Amazon shopper this card is great for you. There is no annual fee and rewards come in the form of amazon gift cards or cash back (the same amount of points will get you either 50$ in amazon credit or 50$ statment credit). You get 3 points for every 1$ you spend on amazon, 2 points for every 1$ you spend at gas stations, restaurants, drug stores and office supply stores and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. 2,500 points earns a 25$ gift card. Recently I got a letter from Visa telling me that because I have been a loyal cardholder I will be getting double points for a few months.

American Express Blue Cash: AMEX has a line of "blue" cards that are very good. Blue cash is the card that works best for most people. There is no annual fee and rewards are in the form of cash back. Up to 6,500$ in annual spending earns you 1% cashback at supermarkets, drugstore and gas stations. You get 0.5% everywhere else. Above 6,500$ in annual spending you get 5% and 1.25% respectively. AMEX has great consumer programs - travel insurance, customer protection etc. However if you travel outside the U.S. or use your card a lot you should know that not everyone takes AMEX, especially in foreign countries. However there are also some places, including one of my favorite restaurants,  that ONLY take AMEX. There are several other blue cards that may work better for you depending on your lifestyle. I use blue sky, because I travel for work. Frequent Costco shoppers may want the Costco True earnings card.

Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards: This card has a 39$ annual fee. You need to look at your purchasing habits to check if the rewards you will earn merit the fee. For instance, if you pay for private school tuition using your credit card the high cash back rate may justify the fee. Rewards come in the form of cashback. You get 2% cashback on gas and groceries and 1% back on all other purchases.

When signig up for a new card make sure you look out for special signing bonuses. Often you can get a large points/cashback bonus with your first purchase or when you meet certain criteria. Also check if any of your family members can get a bonus for referring you. It's nice to help out family. (and if you'd like a referral for AMEX blue sky - just let me know!).

Worst Card:

First Premier Bank MasterCard: This card is such a dud it was listed by "Consumer Reports" as America's Worst Credit Card. There is a 75$ annual fee and an APR of 23.9%-59.9% depending on when you visit the website. Other surprise fees include an 11$ charge for expedited bill payment over the phone and a credit limit increase fee equal to 50% of the increase. Beware: copycat cards are out there. "Centennial" and "Aventium" from First Premier Bank are also cards you should drop like a hot potato.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Deal Alert: 10$ for 20$ worth of amazon dollars

If you purchase on amazon a lot this could be like free money for you.

Living Social Deals runs group deals and get great discounts because of the group nature of purchases. It's a similar concept to Groupon. Today's NY deal is 10$ for 20$ of credit on amazon.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deal Alert: Free Baby Samples:

There are lots of good baby samples and coupons that have been recently released or are still going on. If you have a baby these might save you some money or help tide you over when you are waiting for the next pay check.

Free Enfamil Sample:  This one is a little odd since it requires you to print a certificate that you bring to your physician. If your physician is participating in the program then go for it!

Pampers Gifts to Grow: This is a points based program, often with ways to get free points without making a purchase.

Huggies Enjoy the Ride: Similar to the Pampers Program. It seems the diaper companies are all getting into this.

Buy Buy Baby Goody Bag: Create a baby registry with Buy Buy Baby and get a free goody bag that must be picked up in store.

Parents Choice Formula Sample: Fill out the form and your sample will arrive by mail.

Makers Mark Formula Sample: Fill out the form and receive your sample in the mail.

Beech Nut Next Steps Kit: Fill out the form and receive your sample in the mail

Goodnights Sample: This is like a pull-up for bed wetters. Fill out the form and receive the sample in the mail.

Budget Musings: eReaders

I recently got a kindle as a gift. It's a luxury item that I would probably never buy for myself, especially since I am Sabbath observant and can't use it on my main reading day. But I find it is really wonderful for travelling and for commuters.

They key to getting the most out of your eReader is to make sure you do not suddenly start spending more on books than you used to. I was always a big library/free book user and thus I try to continue this with my kindle usage. Amazon has a category called "free ebook collection" with thousands of classics for free. There are also special releases that the manuacturer has decided to put up for free for a limited time (see my post on free Kaplan review books).

Another great resrouce for finding free ebooks are the many websites that are devoted to this very topic. Some of the best are:

Always double check the price before downloaded as it has been known to change quickly in some cases. Happy reading!

Credit Card Series: Introduction

I have been asked by several friends and readers to start a series on how to get the most out of your credit cards. This is a really controversial topic since there are many myths out there about credit cards both god and bad. I hope to show you over a series of posts that in the right hands they can really work for you. However, in the wrong hands they can destroy you. This is why I want to start the series with a few general warnings.

1) Credit cards are not for everyone. If you have racked up debt before through improper use of credit cards you should stay away from them. Addiction and credit card abuse is just as real as alcohol abuse. A known abuser should not keep a credit card.

2) If you currently have debt a credit card is probably not for you. Wait to pay off the debt and get more financially stable before opening a credit card. If you have just filed bankruptcy a credit card is not for you either. Companies will be clamoring to give them to you because you are forbidden from declaring bankruptcy and absolving the loan for several years. Do not take the offers. Work on building back your savings and heading back into financial stability first.

3) If you are not a conscious shopper then you should not use a credit card for things like grocery store purchases. With cash you will have to spend exactly what you planned to spend - the only cash you have on you. But with a credit card you can start throwing all sorts of extras in your cart. If you are a conscious shopper who goes with a list of items and a budget and sticks to it then go ahead and use the credit card to reap the rewards.

4) Nobody knows how credit scores in the U.S. are calculated because the formula has never been released. However, certain things are known and are common knowledge. Applying for a card means the credit card company will check your credit report. This is a "pull" on your credit and will cost you a few points but generally bounces back within a few months. Being late on a card payment will pull down your score more than just a few points. More on credit cards and credit scores in a later post.

I also want to put up a few general tips:

1)If you are spending mpney anyway, you might as well put it ony our card. For instance if you pay private school tuition for your child (and you have the money for this in the bank) by paying it with a card you can order a tremendous amount of points/cash back/miles. By paying the card on time, as you would pay the tuition on time normally, then you avoid interest and lose nothing.

2) Does your company reimburse you for things? Put them on your card! You will get points for spendin nothing.

3) Look at your card policy for extra perks. Many cards include things like rental car insurance and consumer protection.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Deal Alert: Free Ziplock Gift Pack

Ziplock has a fresh start gift pack for the new year. The first 3,000 people to respond will receive the pack.

The pack includes:
1 package Ziplock Zip 'n Steam Microwave Cooking Bags
1 box Ziplock brand snack bags

To sign up go to the Fresh Start Website

Deal Alert: Free Kaplan Review ebooks

Amazon has many Kaplan review books free. These books are usually very expensive. This deal will only last until the 17th. The downloads will work on the Nook, kindle, Sony eRader and ipad.

To check out all the books visit the website.

Kaplan Medical USMLE Step 1 QBook
Kaplan MCAT Organic Chemistry Review
Kaplan MCAT Verbal Reasoning and Writing
Kaplan MCAT General Chemistry Review
Kaplan MCAT Biology Review
Kaplan MCAT Physics Review
Kaplan MCAT Practice Tests
Kaplan 101 SAT/PSAT Critical Reading Practice Questions
Kaplan GRE Subject Exam in Biology
Kaplan SAT Subject Workbook

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Money Earner: Swagbucks

You may have noticed the "swidget" on the side of my blog stating how many unredeemed swagbucks I have. Swagbucks is an online rewards site that lets you rack up points for things you normally do on the internet, like searching or taking a survey.

I do not change my habits to earn points. I merely use their search engine every so often instead of google. I also type in reward codes when they are sent to me by email. Just by doing this I have been able to earn quite a few swagbucks and cash them in for rewards. My personal favorite reward is the amazon gift card. Amazon carries everything from diapers to kindles so the gift card can be used to get every day items, thus freeing up other money in your budget. Other merchant gift cards are also available as rewards.

This opportunity is used to its fullest by those living in the U.S. however non U.S. citizens may also be able to use some of the Swagbucks features. To learn more, click the swidget.

Savers Tip: Freecycle

I have lots of expensive habits. However I have found ways to indulge in them for little to no money. Possibly the most striking example of this is my cookbook collection. I read cookbooks like novels. I pore over the pages, look at the photos and even make some of the items. But high quality cookbooks, with photos, are very expensive. Unless of course you get them for free.

Some time ago I heard about a group called freecycle. The group was composed of people trying to bring down consumer spending and keeping good usable items out of the landfill. The concept is simple. Local groups have message boards where people post unwanted items and others claim those items and arrange a pick up. It appealed to me because I hate throwing out something I know someone else can use. However, once I logged on I found that there were lots of things on there I could use. Such as cookbooks.

What have I gotten from freecycle? Quite a few novels and nonfiction books and a treasure trove of cookbooks: Great American Cookbook, The Complete Cookie, The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of "American Cookery," 1796 and several others. I have also gotten some crafting supplies.

What have I given? I painted my apartment some time ago and had leftover supplies and paint. I had zero use for them but was loathe to throw them out. A lovely woman from Brooklyn wanted to paint her house but couldn't afford the paint right now. She gladly picked up the supplies and told me how she used them to paint her living room and child's room.

There are some basic common sense rules to follow. Always arrange pick ups at a public place. In my neighborhood that means pick up from the doorman or at a Starbucks. If something seems off, do not meet that person, even in a public space. Never give out your home phone number or address. Always ask about the condition of an item and if you want something move quickly, stuff goes fast!

For more information check out the freecycle website.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Savers Tip: Know Your Health Insurance

Health Insurance is a pretty hot topic right now in the U.S.A. and as a future physician I am naturally interested in it. However, this post isn't going to be about getting the right plan for you or my thoughts on national care and medicare. It's about something much simpler: knowing what your plan covers.

Many people assume the bills they receive in the mail have been properly processed and the remaining balance is all legitimate co-pays and deductibles. In an ideal world this would be true. But in the complex world of medical billing mistakes happen, and they happen often. Actually reading your bills and following up on why you are being charged can save you a lot of money.

I am a young, healthy, women and I just saved myself 175$ in health care bills. How? Some time ago I had a kidney stone. Not a big deal, this is a common health issue in young people who don't drink enough. To make sure everything was all right I went to see a urologist. I specifically picked a physician who accepted my health insurance to avoid out of network deductibles and fees. He was great. The 175$ bill I got in the mail a month later was not.

Most people would just assume this was normal and pay the bill. Most of my friends advised me to skip the hassle and just pay the bill. It's not like I couldn't afford it. But why should I be paying that much to see an in network doctor? It just didn't make sense. So I called the office. They explained that this was my out of network deductible. An out of network deductible for an in network physician? Something went wrong in the processing of this claim. So I had it resent to the insurance and today I was told that the bill has been taken care of.

Could I have just paid it? Sure. But that's $175 that I would never see again. So when you get a bill, make sure you understand it and do not hesitate to call your physician's office and insurance provider for clarification.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Deal Alert: Free Cookbook Download, Betty Crocker

I love cookbooks, I read them like novels. But they are pretty darn expensive. That's why I devote a decent amount of time to finding them for free. Betty Crocker has a free download of their "Best of 2010" recipes.
Just click this Link to download.
Contents Include:
Cheesecake Pancakes
Parmesan Dijon Chicken
Pink Champagne Cupcakes
Luscious Lemon Cheesecake
Surprise Cupcake Cones
Club Pasta Salad
Buffalo Chicken Sticks
Key Lime Pie Poke Cake
Oven Fried Picnic Chicken
Fudgy Turtle Tart
Apple Pecan Crisp
Buffalo Chicken and Potatoes
Spicy Chicken Nachos
Spinach and Beef Enchiladas
Slow Cooker Lasagna
Sausage-Cheese Balls
Chex Muddy Buddies
Crunchy Onion Potato Bake
Chocolate Marshmallow Pillows
Spinach Artichoke Dip

Deal Alert: Free Aveeno Lotion on 1/9

Aveeno has sent out e-mails saying to look out for a special offer in the newspaper this Sunday 1/9. They will be running an ad for a free Aveeno Lotion. No mention has been made of which newspaper they are referring to. For more info go to Aveeno's webpage.

Budget Musings: Is that deal really such a good idea?

I love a good deal as much as the next girl but sometimes you have to sit back and realize that despite the great price, you should not purchase an item. Why? Because you were not thinking about it purchasing it before you saw the deal. You had no need for this item. You don't even have it on your wish list of luxuries you are saving up for. Spending money on something that you don't need, no matter how cheap it is, is wasting money.

This of course does not apply to free items or fancy items that you are purchasing for super cheap in order to resell on ebay. That is a money generating scheme and the subject of an entirely different post (stay tuned!). Suffice it to say that for that plan to work you need to be sure this item will sell. Otherwise you are going to be stuck with it.

Finding deals is about making your budget go further. For instance if you had budgeted 100$ for various groceries this month and then found great deals on lots of them you may be able to spend only 50$ on groceries. The remaining 50$ gets put into the bank. After all, saving is not about buying more it's about buying the same items for less.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Budget Musings: Is Costco Worth it?

Costco used to be the kind of place large families went to buy bulk products at low prices. However, one glance at the Mini Coopers parked in the Costco parking lot can tell you that the Costco clientele has changed. These days many people with small families use Costco the same way they would use a supermarket. This has profound implications for the merchandise and pricing. 

Is Costco still worth it? The answer is yes. And no. Costco can be worth it for certain items if you make sure to avoid common pitfalls and follow some simple tips to get the most out of your membership. For some people the bulk purchasing will never justify the membership fee.

Costco pitfall #1: Buying more than you need. Costco sells things in bulk. Including produce and other perishable items. A family of two is not likely to eat their weight in oranges before half the bag spoils. No matter how cheap each orange was there reaches a point when you are throwing out all of your savings. Solution: Know your consumption habbits before you head to Costco. Do not buy more than you know you can eat or store.

Costco pitfall #2: Increasing your Consumption because you buy in Bulk. Remember what happened the last time you sat down in front of a huge bowl of chips and said you would eat just one? Well, think of that the next time you go buy that giant bag of chips at Costco. A normal human who eats 10 to 12 chips per week suddenly starts wolfing down handfuls of chips a day when faced with a gigantic bag. Your kids will start scarfing chips, inviting their friends over to scarf chips and generally eating chips just because they are there. Chip consumption in your house will double. The same principle can be applied to many items. When you have many you start using/eating more than you need or even want thus losing all your savings and possibly putting on pounds. The Solution: Portion things into smaller containers rather than eating out of the giant bag. Do not buy things you do not normally use just because they are there. And hide the candy from your kids.

Costco pitfall #3: Assuming things cost less at Costco. When you see a price at Costco you see the price for the entire container. Since you normally buy much smaller containers comparing prices per container is not a good idea. Instead you need to look at the unit price on each item (how much does a lb cost). This is easily compared between sizes. Sometimes you will be surprised to find that you get a better unit price at the supermarket on sale. The Solution: Always look at unit price before purchasing.

If you avoid these pitfalls you are well on your way to becoming a savvy Costco shopper. To maximize your savings you may want to try these tips:

Tip #1: Split the membership with a family member. Each membership comes with two cards. By splitting the membership fee with a friend or family member you can each have a card for less. There is one instance when this card is not worth it: If you buy so much that your cashback on a premium card will cover the fee it is worth it to go on your own. Otherwise splitting the cashback between households could be tricky.

Tip#2: Go with a friend. Some items at Costco are just too huge for one family. Take a friend with and split these items. This way you each get the per unit savings without the waste of  spoiled items. Stash some ziplocks in the car for this purpose.

Tip#3: Buy generic. Costco Kirkland brand is usually the best deal and the products are high quality. Costco carries very few choices in terms of brands for any particular item and the name brands are often not a good deal.

Tip#4: Use the return policy. Costco has a great customer service department. So if you buy something and it breaks or is not high quality, bring it back. They will replace it. The potential for loss is huge when buying produce in bulk: a sack of bad apples is 20 or 50 apples down the drain. However if you bring them back to the store you can recoup the losses. I have seen them replace a watermelon when someone brought it back to the store in two halves and complained to them that the inside was not pink.

The other concern with Costco is that they do not deliver. So you must have a car to transport your items home. Stores do not provide bags but they do put out their used boxes for customer use. Sometimes the savings justify a cab ride home, but often they do not.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Savers Tip: Trash Can Bags

If you are like me you have a small garbage can in all the rooms of your house or apartment and one large can in the kitchen. Buying trash bags to fill all these cans can eat up  a lot of money. Plus having smelly garbage sit around just because the bag isn't full yet is not a good idea.

The solution: those plastic bags that you get from the supermarket. You know how guilty you feel throwing them out? Well, they are just about the exact same size as the small trash bags in many of your rooms. The handles create an easy tying system for disposal. Recycling those bags can save you money!

Deal Alert: Omega Factor 3, 60 softgels FREE

I'd like to start out this post by saying that I love Walgreens. For a city dweller like myself it is a real pleasure to shop at a national chain drugstore. City drugstores usually have jacked up city prices. Walgreens runs a national circular so I can actually get good prices.

This week a bottle of Omega Factor 3 softgels containing 60 tablets is on sale from 27$ to 10$. In addition when you buy the softgels you get a 10$ register rewards certificate from Walgreens, effectively making them free. There's a limit of one bottle per customer. However, you can return multiple times during the week. I have gotten just about every daily supplement or vitamin that my household uses for free by waiting for these deals to come around.

Register rewards certificates can be used at any Walgreens. You have to use them within a couple weeks of the issue date. This works fine for me as I usually buy my milk and eggs at Walgreens. If you don't like the idea of returning with your rewards at another time you can ask the people at the register to ring up the vitamins as a separate order and then apply the rewards to the second order.