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Consumer News: Free Toys R Us Layaway

TOYS R US has announced FREE Layaway for the holiday season. They usually charge a $5 service fee, but they are waiving that fee this season.

This offer is available now through 12/11 for in-store purchases only. It allows customers to make small payments over an extended period of time on eligible items, including toys, electronics, baby gear and more.

They are also helping you save this season with their Price Match Guarantee,FREE Store pickup and a new $19 FREE Shipping minimum for online purchases.


13 Things You Can Rent Out for Extra Cash


It depends. What do you have? Where do you live? How much are you charging? Like everything else, your success as a "stuff renter" will depend on supply and demand. For instance, renting your parking spot or driveway will work better in densely populated areas like cities, college towns, or during special events. Renting a high-end baby stroller can work well in tourist areas, because people prefer to not lug theirs on a plane.

But no matter how great your product, no one will rent if it's not priced right. Why would someone rent your private vehicle when a better price can be had at the auto rental place?


The biggest peer-to-peer marketplace is probably Craigslist, where people have had successful and lucrative experiences. Facebook is up there too with groups dedicated to connecting owners with people who want to rent their stuff. However, if you're looking to widen your scope and increase your options, you might try one of the websites below. Most of them are free to join. Some are even free to use, while others earn a commission when a rental transaction is completed.


These marketplaces cast a wide net.

1. Craigslist

Craigslist is a huge market for renting anything and everything. It's free to list, there are no commissions to pay, and you set all of the parameters. Since there is no intermediary, take extra precautions when it comes to meeting prospective renters, and developing rental agreements to cover yourself against theft or damage.

2. Loanables

Loanables, like Craigslist, offers the opportunity to rent things from multiple categories. Also like Craigslist, people post what they want to rent, decide on the price, and how the payment transaction is handled. Loanables does provide both parties with a rental agreement. While it is free to post a listing, Loanables takes a 10% fee for any transaction completed.

3. Zilok

Zilok, which originated in France and has expanded to the U.S. (among other countries) is another site where people can list and rent items across multiple categories. While some locations are hot and have a lot of listings, others are non-existent. It is free to list your items, and Zilok is paid a commission when your stuff is rented.


Your car can be a twofer — rent your car and then rent the space you park it in.

4. Getaround

Getaround is a peer-to-peer carsharing service that is available in California (Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco) Portland, OR, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, IL. They will be coming to NYC soon. Getaround has safeguards in place like insurance coverage and identity verification processes to help you feel secure. They also offer 24/7 support. You set the rental amount and the dates that your vehicle will be available for rent. There are no membership fees and it is free to list your vehicle. Getaround receives 40% of the rental fee and you keep a 60% cut. They advertise some users earn hundreds a month and thousands per year using their service.

5. ParkingSpotter

ParkingSpotter is an app that lets you list your parking space for extra cash. You can rent your space short term or longer term. You choose your price, though there is a guide with suggested rates. It's free to list your space and ParkingSpotter is available in multiple big cities across the U.S.

6. RelayRides

RelayRides is another peer-to-peer system that helps owners rent their vehicles for extra money. Their market is much larger than Getaround's as there are literally hundreds of cities across the country available for owners to rent their vehicle. Listing your ride is free with their app and when your vehicle is rented, you take home 75% of the rental fee. You decide the length of time it will be available to rent and the rental price. Payment is received three days after a reservation is completed.


The term "residence" is sometimes used loosely based on some of the sleeping arrangements available. Think tricked out van or a tent in someone's backyard. Whether yours is eccentric or more traditional, consider one of the sites below to make some extra cash.

7. Airbnb

It's free to list your space on Airbnb. It's probably the most liberal site out there in terms of the type of space you can rent (igloo or van with a bed anyone?). They do charge a 3% service fee when your space is rented and guests pay a guest fee. Reservations and payments are made through the site. While the site does not provide rental agreements, individual renters can supply their own if they wish. Airbnb also offers a $1,000,000 "Host Guarantee" against property damage.

8. HomeAway

HomeAway specializes in "whole spaces," so think in terms of entire houses, apartments, boats, barns, etc., not rooms. There are three listing choices. List for free and pay a 10% commission when your space is rented, pay a $349 annual fee and pay nothing when your space is rented, or pay a professional to list your space for you and pay a 13% commission when your space is rented. Owners provide their own rental agreement and payments can be handled through their website. HomeAway also owns other websites including TravelMob (for people who live in Asia), VRBO (Vacation Rentals Only), and

9. Roomorama

Roomarama is for people who are interested in renting out a room, apartment or condo, or house. It's free to list your space and Roomorama does not earn a commission when someone books it. Instead, Roomorama collects a fee from the guests. Roomorama collects the rental fee and sends it to you through PayPal, which deducts a 3% transaction fee.


Camera and gear gathering dust? Put it to work.

10. Cameralends

Are you a photography buff with lots of equipment that you wouldn't mind renting to others? Well even if you only have a few pieces, you could turn your equipment into passive income. Cameralends specializes in connecting owners with people who want to rent everything from cameras to lenses, lighting, video recording equipment, and more. It is free to join the site, and they take 10%–30% of the profit from successful rentals. Payments are handled online, and security measures are in place to ensure the safety of your equipment.


You are your most valuable resource.

11. Bridesmaid for Hire

I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised that this is an option, but it is. Bridesmaid for Hire is a newish option that lets those in need hire various bridesmaid services such as virtual support and wedding planning, all the way up to acting as a bridesmaid or maid of honor on the big day. Prices start at $199 to over $1000. The business is expanding and they are looking to add more bridesmaids (mother of the brides, etc.) to their network. If you think you'd enjoy renting yourself out as a bridesmaid consider applying!

12. RentAFriend

RentAFriend is a "strictly platonic website that allows you to rent friends from all over the world." The type of friends available range anywhere from dinner/movie companions, to being a tour guide for out of town visitors, teaching a language, sharing art or cooking skills, and more. It is free to list a profile and set your own hourly rate, which is usually between $15–$50 an hour. The site claims that some people earn several hundred per week and keep 100% of the proceeds. RentAFriend earns money through membership fees paid by those who want to rent friends.


You looked great in it — and the money it earns will look good in your savings account.

13. Borrowing Magnolia

Borrowing Magnolia is a website is for people who want to make some extra cash by renting their wedding dress to others. It's an easy and stress-free way to make an extra buck because the staff does all of the work for you. Interested parties will complete a "submit a dress" application which consists of question about the dress, along with some pictures. If your dress is accepted, you'll work directly with the staff regarding the rental price and how much you'll earn per rental. Shipping, cleaning, and maintaining the dress is taken care of by them.

Renting your belongings can be a great way to bring in some extra income. You can do it around your schedule, control what you rent and to whom, and set the price and length of time. But first, take a little time to conduct some due diligence about rental guidelines, laws, and of course taxes in your area. Once you know, you'll be limited only by your creativity. Good luck!



7 Ways to Save at Chick Fil A

Yearly Cow Calendar
Every November I pick up the new Chick fil A calendar. Inside, you will find 1 free item per month, what a treat! This also makes a nice gift! 

Join the Kids Club
Did you know that Chick Fil A has a kid's club? Sign up here and get special offers in the mail.


Cow Appreciation Day
Mid-July be sure to stop by Chick fil A for Cow Appreciation Day. All you have to do is dress up like a cow and you get a free meal!! 
Every now and then, Chick-fil-A will head out to local events, like country fairs and set up a tent. Be sure to check it out because they often pass out coupons.

Free Dessert 
Did you know you can skip the kids toy and get a FREE kiddie cup or cone of ice cream? 


Gift Card Promotions
Every November and December, Chick fil A will offer a FREE $5 gift card when you purchase a $25 gift card. Nice stocking stuffer or gift idea! 


Report Card Freebies
For A's and B's, your kiddos can get a freebie at Chick fil A! Bring in a report card and see what they are giving as a reward! 



8 Times You Should Ask for a Discount


Let's just clarify that the service should be uncharacteristically poor. If you wait a long time to get seated on a Friday evening, or your server is so busy he or she forgets to bring the extra fries you ordered, give the place — and your server — a break. This is more about poor service that could easily be avoided.

If the food arrives cold, the fish is raw, the meat is very overcooked, or the server is just plain rude, you definitely have a reason to talk to the manager. Explain what has happened, how it impacted your dining experience, and ask for a discount. In most cases, you will get at least a few of the items removed from your bill. In extreme cases, when everything went wrong, you may very well be told not to pay anything. However, if the server was great in spite of all the problems, don't forget to leave him or her a tip.


Unless you are warned specifically before you buy them (some will say things like "obscured view" or "partial view of stage" and should already be discounted), there is no reason to pay the same price as other people if your seats are terrible. This happened to me when I went to see Cirque du Soleil. There was no warning that the seats I bought were right behind one of the poles holding up the big top. My wife and I were leaning left and right through the entire performance. After, I spoke to the staff and received a discount, and a free CD of the music from that evening. If you have poor seats, ask to speak to the event manager. Demand a discount, if you can handle the poor seating, or ask to be moved if it is possible.


From the food or service, to the product attributes, if you were sold something based on information that was slightly incorrect, you should demand a discount. If the tool set indicates "25 great tools for around the home" and there are actually only 23 inside, that's misleading. This can sometimes happen when manufacturers change the product, but not the packaging. In any case where you have been a little misled, intentionally or not, you are entitled to a discount. You'll get it, too.


Do not let the store clerk fool you with a bunch of tricky talk about this item not being able to be discounted any further. The floor models are used. They may not have been used in someone's home, but they're used nonetheless. In some cases, for much longer than if it was in a home; especially those TVs and computers that are on the shop floor day in, day out.

So, find a manager and ask for the price to be reduced beyond what is shown on the sticker. They want to get rid of these items. They'd obviously prefer to sell it to someone who will pay sticker, but they will go lower. And as the item is used, and most likely blemished, you should demand a discount. I do this every time, and it has worked every time.


Cash is king. That's as true today as it was fifty years ago, and if you are lucky enough to have the money on hand to pay in cash, be it something small or a new home, you should definitely take advantage of it. "How much of a reduction can I get if I pay cash for this house, right now?" This is something buyers are not expecting, and it is incredibly tempting. Cash is a sure thing. Financing can fall through, interest rates fluctuate, but cash is cash. In stores, merchants pay fees for credit card transactions, so you could easily get a cash discount.

However, don't expect this discount when buying a car. Dealerships get big incentives for financing offers, and you take that away from them if you offer to pay cash. In fact, you may pay more if you pay cash, so don't do that. You can always pay off the loan a week or two later.


Why would you pay for a broken item at all? Well, it all depends what you want to use it for. If it's a superficial break, say on the case of the product, but the product itself works just fine, ask for a discount. The store is more than happy to oblige. If you notice a huge dent on the fridge that was just delivered, but the dent won't be seen or you just don't care, ask for a discount. If the item is scratched or damaged but it doesn't impair the function, and you are okay with it, ask for your discount. And if the item is completely broken, but you want to repair it yourself, or need it for parts, ask for a big discount.

In all cases, you are doing the store a favor, and they will be happy to negotiate a deal. This even goes for sellers on Craigslist or eBay. If the item is not as pristine as described, but you're happy to take it, ask for the discount.


If you ever encounter a "motivated seller" you know you're about to get a discount. Motivated sellers are those who need to sell, and sell fast, usually because they're about to leave the state. Sometimes, they need money quickly, for reasons you probably don't want to ask about. Whatever the reason, you should take advantage of this. Flea market sellers will offer discounts as they are packing up for the day, and so will people operating garage sales. Smile, ask for a discount, and you'll usually get it.


Blockbuster. Circuit City. Sharper Image. They all bit the dust and they all had "closing down" sales. When this happens, start haggling. A store that is going out of business presents problems for buyers, especially when it comes to buying things that may have warranty issues. For this reason, you should demand a discount. When one store is closing, perhaps because a particular location is not performing as well as it should, you don't have as much leverage. But you can still ask for a discount, because they are "motivated" to sell, and that, as just discussed, gives you bargaining power.



Starkist Tuna Lawsuit

Did you purchase at least one Starkist Chunk Light in Water or Oil 5oz OR Solid White in Water or Oil in the United States between Feb. 19th, 2009 and Oct. 31st, 2014? If so, you qualify for up to a $25 check or $50 worth of FREE Starkist products via the StarKist Tuna Class Action Settlement.

To submit your claim, head here and complete the form no later than November 20th, 2015. You can also request that a copy of the claim form be mailed to you by calling 1-888- 643-6376. You may choose to receive either a cash refund or a voucher for free products. Click here for more information.

** No proof of purchase is necessary to obtain settlement benefits. However, the Claim Form must be signed by you under penalty of perjury (either by hand or, if you submit it online, electronically), affirming that you are a qualified member of the Settlement Class and that the information provided therein is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. **


5 Times Coupons Trick You Into Spending More

Everybody loves to score a deal. Retailers are keenly aware of this phenomenon and have become very good at tricking your brain into thinking you're getting a deal, even when you may be spending more than you should. Here are some clever ways retailers use coupons to get you to open your wallet wide, along with some timely tips to fight back.


Online shoppers love a good coupon code. But did you know that many online retailers are notorious for releasing a coupon only after jacking all of their prices up to full-retail? Suddenly your 25% off coupon code doesn't look so good, especially when you consider the fact that you could have actually saved more money the week prior, for example, when the website had everything in their new fall collection for 30% off, no coupon needed.

A few of the online retailers notorious for releasing a coupon when prices are high include Ann Taylor, American Eagle, Old Navy, and Macy's to name a few. It's always in your best interest to keep track of the pricing schemes of the online retailers you frequent on a regular basis. Pay attention to when they release coupons and when they offer sitewide sales and only make your purchases when the price is actually the lowest. Also, if you can time your purchase when you have a coupon code in hand andthe retailer is having a sitewide sale, you'll definitely maximize your savings.


Another commonly used trick retailers use to get you to open your wallets wide is "Buy one, get one for 50% off," also known as BOGO. Be aware that unless it is "Buy one, get one free," you're rarely getting a good deal. Buy one, get one for 50% off is the equivalent of a 25% off coupon — which is an okay deal, but only if you actually need two of the particular item. Keep in mind that many retailers, especially clothing and shoe stores, often have coupons that exceed 25% off, making the BOGO offer nothing more than a spending trap. Kohl's, Lands' End, JCPenney, and Gap are a few retailers that fit this bill and immediately jump to mind.


When it comes to shopping online, there is nothing worse than finishing your shopping at a website only to discover you're $10 short of qualifying for free shipping. Many online retailers will set a minimum threshold requirement for free delivery at $25, $50, $75, or even $100 to encourage shoppers to add items to their purchase and thus pad their profits.

The next time this happens to you, hit up Google and do a search for "[store name] free shipping coupon" and see if you can dig up a coupon code for free delivery. If that doesn't work, many websites employ live chat operators who have a select number of coupons to hand out if you politely ask. Just start a chat session, explain your situation, and tell the operator how you'd like to complete your purchase but can't justify the shipping charge since you're so close to the minimum order threshold. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with your result and stand a great chance of scoring a free shipping coupon without adding something to your cart that you don't need.


Another retail trick is to release "percent off" or "dollar off" coupons with a minimum dollar amount required to score the discount. Whether you need to spend $49, $75, or $99 to get the discount, it's important to realize that retailers are attempting to get you to spend more in order to "save" some money. This is often a bad proposition for consumers and can easily lead to overspending. A smart workaround is to never walk into a store with one of these coupons unless you're sure you'll meet the minimum. If you do walk in and are determined to redeem the coupon, make sure you're buying items that you actually need or can use as a gift down the road.


Popular websites like Groupon and LivingSocial allow you to buy deals and coupons for experiences like golfing, sky diving, cooking classes, yoga classes, and the like. But what many consumers don't know is that many of these deals have expiration dates. They're banking on you buying the offer and forgetting to use it, or deciding later that it's not your cup of tea.

Avoid this expiration trick by instituting a "30-day" policy. If you know you'll use the coupon within 30 days, then go ahead and purchase it. If you're on the fence in the slightest, pass on the offer as it'll probably go unused. Once you buy the experience or class, book it right away and get it on your calendar to make sure it gets used and doesn't end up in your desk drawer for all eternity.

By being aware of why retailers release certain coupons and deals, and how they can make you overspend, you stand a great chance of actually saving money on the things you need.



What to Buy During August

1. Air Conditioners The best time to buy air conditioners continues through August and runs through September.

2. Outdoor Furniture, Grills, and Camping Gear  Summer is nearly over, and the stores are clearing out their summer furniture space to make room for Halloween and Christmas.

3. Garden Plants and Flowers Garden centers begin clearing out their showrooms mid-summer, and the sales continue through August.

4. Lawn Mowers - The selection may be limited, but if you are looking for deep discounts late summer is a great time to find a bargain lawn mower.

5. Swim Wear and Flip Flops Watch for end of season sales on all summer wear in August. Stock up on items for your kids for next year, and maybe something special for you as it doesn't look like the temperatures will be cooling down any time soon.

6. School Supplies Bargains for back to school supplies are to be had everywhere. You can find pencils for a penny, paper for a quarter, and backpacks marked way down. 

7. Laptops Per PC World, July had some stellar sales on laptops with prices dropping to record lows, and these bargains will continue into August with back to school sales that not only offer discounts, but could also offer freebies such as free software or free printers.

8. White Sales: College, back to school and fall are good times to stock up. The next best time to buy for linens? January.

9. MP3 Players Stores are clearing out old models to make room for the new models arriving in September. Look for great bargains on last year's models.

10. Food When looking for bargains on food this month think fresh produce. The list includes vegetables such as cucumbers, corn and eggplant and the fruit includes such delicious items as watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, and peaches.


Free Samples, Coupons More from Tablespoon

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