50% Off Gift Cards at Smart & Final via Amex

I’ve written about how great American Express is with offering its customers novel ways to get “free” money, and Amex Offers is another example of that. If you log into your online profile and scroll down, you’ll see the current offers available to load to your card. Each is different, but typically all you have to do is spend a certain amount at a given location and you’re rebated back immediately.

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Some of these offers are lame – I’m not spending $4,000 on Qantas Airlines anytime soon – but some are fantastic. American Express just released a $25 off $50+ at Smart & Final grocery stores that can be redeemed up to three times per card. This means that you can purchase gift cards at any area Smart & Final and save, essentially, half off!

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Unfortunately there are only S&F locations on the west coast (lucky me!), but if you have one nearby – or are traveling and will be close to one before July 1st – add the offer to your card immediately. It will max out at some point soon, so don’t wait.

You can always use a few of them to save a ton on groceries too, of course :)

More Money-Saving Mobile Apps

Just under a year ago I wrote about some great, free mobile apps that can save you a bunch while grocery shopping. Since that post a few new ones have been released, so I wanted to check in and let you know what you should add to your savings rolodex.

  • Snap by Groupon – yup, that Groupon. While Snap had a lot of issues at launch (think month-long waits to review receipts), they seem to have figured everything out and are now a well-oiled machine. Snap works similarly to ibotta in that you go shopping and upload an image of your receipt afterwards. The nice thing about the app is that they support any grocery store, so you can save wherever you shop. They also offer many general rebates (rebates on things like mushrooms, eggs, bread, etc.) which are great. Just be wary that these “off any” offers are extremely popular and disappear quickly, so don’t wait to upload your receipt! mf76g7d2cugrfcbbfegf
  • Shrink – another receipt upload app, Shrink offers a wide array of organic and smaller company rebates. In addition the app has several general discounts as well. There is also a point-based rewards system, but it’s confusing and tough to make real money with. In any case, Shrink is a well-designed and seamless app that can save you on everyday purchases. Head here to download, and use the referral code AVVMWF to receive $1 upon signing up.screen-shot-2014-10-18-at-5-37-23-pm
  • MobiSave – the newest of the bunch, MobiSave has some fantastic plusses that most of the competition lacks. For one, you can redeem at any grocery store. And secondly, there is no minimum to cash-out! After each receipt is scanned MobiSave sends you your rebate within a couple of hours, straight to your Paypal account. Doesn’t get much easier than that. They currently have a good number of brand-specific offers, many for brands you don’t commonly see (Egglands Best, Quaker, etc.). I was able to save $1.25 on Wheat Thins and $1 on Heinz ketchup in my first shopping trip! MobiSave does currently have a wait list to sign up, but I was taken off the list in under 24 hours, so don’t let that deter you. Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.31.19 AM

As I’ve always said, none of these apps are going to make you rich. But if you have the time to learn how to use them, you’ll start incorporating them into your grocery shopping without giving it a second thought. A few minutes a week will save you money, and that will add up over time…I promise!

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Another recipe coming your way today. I finally bought new baking sheets (only took me two months of living in San Diego. I guess the warm weather has been a deterrent) and couldn’t wait to try them out. There were some Easter-themed peanut butter M&Ms on sale at Target calling my name, and when I got home I realized I needed to do something with them to stop myself from eating every.last.one. Did I mention you had to purchase two bags to get the sale price? Whoops.

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Onto the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups peanut butter M&Ms

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you’d like, line the baking sheet with parchment paper. I didn’t have any, and it never seems to matter, but some people swear by it
  2. In a medium bowl whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder & sea salt
  3. Place the butter, vanilla, sugar & brown sugar in a large bowl and cream them together. A hand mixer makes this easier, but (once again) I didn’t have one and mixing by hand worked just fine. Add the peanut butter and egg and mix until combined
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the flour has nearly disappeared. Add the peanut butter M&Ms and mix with a spatula or your handsIMG_8693
  5. Scoop mounds of the cookie dough on the baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each cookie since they will expand. I do this by eye, but you can use a cookie scoop or generous tablespoonIMG_8694
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. I tend to check after 13 and then every minute until the edges are just browned. Depending on your oven you may need to adjust the baking time slightly
  7. Let the cookies cool, then put them away before you eat them all

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theSkimm – News Made Easy

I know I’ve written about this before, but in case you missed it or weren’t a reader back then:

I try my best to keep up with what’s happening in the world, whether it be politics, sports, pop culture or anything else. And when I say keep up I really mean quickly peruse the headlines once a day on the websites of CNN, People & ESPN. Honestly, this strategy has been pretty successful over the years – I’m able to kind of know what people are talking about, but really just let them tell the detailed story while I nod along sort of aware of what’s going on.

And then I found theSkimm, which was made with people like me in mind (people like me being those who want to be able to take part in any conversation happening around them without sounding like an idiot). Every morning around 6 am you get an email with a roundup of news stories from the day before, spanning across all subjects. The coverage is pretty detailed, with a paragraph or two about each item (or more for much larger news stories). While you won’t hear about every single thing going on in the world, you will get enough info to hold a conversation with someone who spent 30 minutes reading one article on each topic. And even better, you’ll sound like you know exactly what you’re talking about!

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And that’s all folks. Sign up, and if it isn’t for you you can always unsubscribe…it is free after all. I think it’s fun getting the email every morning and catching up on the news. I still head over to other websites to get more detailed information on world events, but if I’m having a busy day and don’t have time theSkimm‘s roundups are enough to keep me in the loop.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mug Cake For One [or Two!]

While I love spending all day slaving away in the kitchen over some cupcakes or cookies (really, I do), I’m always looking for quick and easy desserts I can make at the last minute. Plus, isn’t it better to end up with one or two servings, instead of 24? Nothing like some forced self-control to ensure you don’t eat a dozen cookies for lunch the next day.

One night after dinner I started searching online for something sweet and came across a slew of mug desserts. Did you know there are tons and tons of baked goods you can make in a mug, that are cooked in the microwave? I had no idea! I found one that sounded yummy and only used items you should have in your pantry, which is a requirement if you’re deciding to do this at 9 pm. And let me tell you…it is absolutely delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 drops vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips, or any form of chocolate you’ve got, broken into small pieces [Note: I’ve made this with and without the chocolate chips. It’s great either way, so if you don’t have any on hand or prefer it to be more about the peanut butter, feel free to leave them out]
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter, creamy or chunky

Directions

  1. Place butter in your favorite coffee mug – the smaller the mug, the “fluffier” the cake will be. Place the mug in the microwave for increments of 15 seconds, until the butter is melted. It only took me 15 seconds, but could take a little longer depending on your microwave
  2. Stir in sugars, vanilla & baking powder
  3. Once mixed, stir in egg yolk, cocoa & flour. Add in chocolate chips, stirring slightly.
  4. Press peanut butter down into the center of the batter
  5. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. It should be fully cooked, but if it looks underdone you can keep microwaving for 15 second increments

That’s it! If you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream on top. I wouldn’t exactly call it healthy, but at least it’s only one mug’s worth of cake, right?