Blogging 365, Day 32: Free Birthday Crap, Part II

Well, would you look at this: more free birthday crap!

Today’s gift is from the good people at Sport Chalet whom I am rather partial to for more reasons than one.

First, they know their stuff in the Shoe Department and are always willing to help. This goes for the Long Beach and Huntington Beach locations. Second, their employees are always helpful with anything you need. When compared to the one visit I made to Sports Authority where I didn’t even get help or greeted, there’s simply no comparison.

Then there’s the prices. At Christmas, one of the gifts I received was a new wheel for my bike to replace the one I smashed after my accident in July. I had been riding on Ann’s borrowed wheel since then. Anyway, the wheel I got was the right size for my bike but, unfortunately, the wrong valve size (yes, there are differences). I returned the wheel to the store who didn’t have what I needed so I got the $40 cash back.

On a whim I decided to check Sport Chalet to see if they had what I needed. Not only was that the case but the wheel was on clearance for an extra 60% off so I ended up spending less than $20 for it. Additionally, I had a $10 reward certificate so the thing cost me almost nothing.

Sport Chalet also throws nice parties. They have my business for sure, which is why I was rather excited to get this free birthday crap from them:

sport chalet

When compared to last year’s gift of a $15 discount off of $75 or more, this one is much better. I get triple the Rewards points with every purchase for the entire month of February so they could add up rather quickly and at 300 points I get another $10 Rewards certificate. And unlike Best Buy, at least I know I will get some use out of this rewards program.

There’s still plenty of time left to get stuff like this. I can’t wait to see what comes my way next…

A Weekend of Bargains!

I have to admit that last weekend was a bargain hunter’s dream.

First of all, we went to free event that was held at our not-so-local Sport Chalet store in Huntington Beach. The event was promoting and sponsored by the Steamboat Resort in Colorado and everything, I mean everything, within the confines of the arbitrary event boundaries was free: lunch, face painting, real snow for the kids to play in, balloon animals, snowboard lessons for kids, autographs from ski legend Billy Kidd, photos that put you on a slope in Colorado. It was definitely my kind of event and we all had a blast.

But the best part: spinning the wheel for prizes! There were no limits as to how may times you could spin the wheel so Anthony and I went back a few times. The result?


In addition to ski hats, lip balm, Steamboat lapel pins and bandanas, we won about $30 in gift cards. You can’t beat that! Thanks to Sport Chalet and Steamboat for putting on such a fun and totally free event. You guys rock!

But before all that, I wanted to make a quick stop at the local Goodwill to see if I could find a copy of The Hobbit (the book not the movie, you silly goose). It was at this very thrift store that I found copies of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers*, both of which I snagged immediately, so I figured I might have some luck.**

While I didn’t find it and will probably have to resort to buying it new, I did come across quite a few other things that a person on a budget was more than happy to purchase.

Lot 1: Contra Nintendo cartridge


Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. Everyone knows that code and here’s the game that popularized it. This game was one of many that were sitting on the shelf and knowing the value of it, I decided that dropping a mere $3.99 for it was indeed a bargain.

How much of a bargain? The current bid high bid on eBay is $15.50 with just over a day left and 10 watchers. Yes, 10 of them. I get the feeling it will be going for much more than I expected. Not a bad ROI if I do say so myself.

Lot 2: Brita Filters


I have two Brita pitchers in the fridge and I use them daily. In fact, Monte and Steve will only drink water that comes from the pitcher and not spigot water. (My cats? Spoiled? Nah.) At any rate, Ann found this floating around the store and at $9.99, I also saw it as a bargain despite the box being a bit bent out of shape.

How much of a bargain were these? Here’s what they sell for at:

  • Walmart: $29.88
  • Target: $29.89
  • Brita (MSRP): $37.99

Holy buckets, I’m scoring stuff left and right here. These I will use for sure – no reselling.

Lot 3: Amphipod Hydration Belt


When you run, you get thirsty and unless you are running an event where volunteers are handing out cups of water, you’re screwed if you suddenly become parched.

Sure, you can carry a bottle with you but that proves to be cumbersome as well as very cold on chilly mornings. That’s why hydration belts were invented. You fill up the bottles with water or electrolyte-packed drink of choice, clip them on, strap the belt to you and you’re good to go.

And once I started running longer distances, I realized how handy having one of these belts would be.

The problem: price. They can run a minimum of $30 for a low-end belt with only two bottles or up to $46 for the model you see above which holds four bottles as well a pouch for storing a snack or device.

I found this item just randomly thrown in with the toys as it’s my belief that the employees had no idea what it was. If they had, it would have been over with the sporting goods stuff but I’m willing to bet that they thought it was some kind of NERF gun accessory.

Either way, I picked it up and held onto it once I realized that it was. Upon inspection I saw that the Velcro fastener had come loose but it wasn’t anything Ann and her crazy crafty glue from unknown country of origin couldn’t fix, which she did once I brought it home.

Oh, and how much was this, you ask? Does $4.99 sound like a deal? Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Between the filters and the belt, I paid $15 for stuff that retails for $76 – or about 80% off original MSRP. Plus throw in the $30 gift cards we won and the profit I’ll make on the game and I’d say that Saturday was indeed a great day to be a tightwad.

Not that I am or anything…

*I am currently on The Two Towers. The last time I read these books was in 8th grade and I was overjoyed when I learned they were being made into movies in the early 2000s. I saw them first-run and own them all on DVD (and after reading them again, I still prefer the books). Bet you never expected that from me, did you?

**I later found The Return of the King at another thrift store but still no stupid, fat hobbitses…

Free Birthday Crap

With the Big Four-Three just a week way, my Yahoo! inbox is slowly but surely being inundated with the usual fare of free birthday offers and other crap.

This year, however, I’ve noticed that some companies are being a lot less generous with their offerings.

Take Best Buy’s RewardZone of which I’m a member. It’s that program that rewards you with points whenever you make a purchase either online or in-store. Their birthday gift to me was an amazing quadruple Points on my next purchase. How freaking big of the company that charges ridiculous amounts for their accessories because they make the highest profit margin off of them (hint: do NOT buy accessories from them).

And if you’re curious, you get 1 Point for every $1 you spend and it takes 250 Points to earn $5. That said, I would have to buy something priced at least $63 to earn that cool $5 certificate with my quadruple Points bonus. Sure, it’s not like I’m spending the whole $250 to earn the same amount but I seem to recall that members used to get a $10 certificate for their birthday. This time, I’m spending money to get money.

Screw you, Best Buy.

Then there’s my Sport Chalet’s Action Pass membership which, once upon a time, would score me (if my mind isn’t failing me in my old[er] age) a $10 certificate for my birthday. What did I get this year?


A discount of $15 off a purchase of $75 or more. So again, I’m spending over $60 to earn the benefit. This would have all been fine and well if I were still making a decent paycheck but I haven’t had one of those since I was…on unemployment. But honestly, this one may get used because I frequent that store much more than Best Buy and with Anthony’s birthday around the corner, it could come in handy should we decide to go 50/50 on a bike with Ann’s folks.

There was some actual free birthday stuff in my inbox lately, courtesy of Del Taco:


Looks pretty good, no? Yeah. I think it does, but the Haunted Mansion font should only be used for 999 Happy Haunts living in ghostly retreats. The thing is that me and shakes don’t play well anymore. Something about the over 500 empty calories and my lactose intolerance that makes me shy away from them and believe me, you don’t want to be around if I do have one. While I appreciate the offer I’m pretty sure I’ll pass on it. At least it’s not that repulsive bacon shake that Jack in the Box is serving up:

gross beyond words

Maybe it’s because I’m no longer a behemoth of a guy anymore, but I don’t quite get this fascination with bacon. I can safely say that fat people must love stuff like this.

Then there was this offer from Ruby’s, an overpriced kitschy place that I haven’t gone to in at least 2 years:


For reasons already listed under the Del Taco offer, this one probably won’t get used, either. And personally, I prefer Johnny Rockets.

Then today, I got one that I might just have to take advantage of: IHOP’s Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity plate.


Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon not blended inside a shake. I’m pretty sure this one’s a winner, even if I don’t eat the sausage (which I’m sure others at the table will have no problem taking).

So those are all of the free and mostly useless birthday craps that retailers and fine dining establishments have sent to me so far. I just hope that the 12-headed jackass doesn’t sing Happy Birthday to me as they bring me my plate.