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Making the most of your AAA membership

Most of us belong to Sam’s or Costco for bulk savings and have a AAA membership for emergency auto assistanceBut did you know that these membership programs have more than their advertised benefits? Why not take a look to see if you are really getting your money’s worth and all the extra perks provided.The AAA logo

Here is what I found out about AAA. For Sam’s Club, see my previous post on “Making the most of your Sam’s Club membership.” Costco to come soon!

Of course, the first thing I checked out was the savings discounts you can get with your membership. Did you know about some of these offers?

SAVINGS DISCOUNTS

Approved Auto Repair – Save up to 10% on parts and/or labor at participating Show Your Card & Save Approved Auto Repair facilities. Some restrictions and maximum discounts may apply.

Jiffy Lube – You can save 15% on their signature service at all participating locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri. See my post on “What does an oil change cost?” for more Jiffy Lube deals.

Optical services at LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, & Target Optical – Get discounts on complete pairs of eyeglasses without a coupon. This page has details on each store’s deals.

Payless ShoeSource – Members can receive an exclusive 10% discount on all regular price merchandise, excluding gift cards (at stores in the US and Canada). They even have an extra coupon available on this page.

Six Flags – $5 off general front-gate admission or $2 off general front-gate admission at Six Flags Water Parks. You also can get a 10% discount on merchandise purchases of $15 or more at all Six Flags operated locations.

St. Louis Cardinals – Get $10 off a regular ticket priced $20 or higher for any Monday through Thursday home game during the 2012 season. See this link for ticketing information and how to get this deal.

St. Louis Science Center – $5 off St. Louis Science Center Friends & Family membership levels and $1 off OMNIMAX movies. See my post “Become a member!” on why memberships are a good deal. (They have many other amusement/attraction deals that vary based on your area.)

Target.com – Members can save $10 off $100 online. Some exclusions do apply.

This is just a sampling of savings discounts that AAA offers in categories such as Play, Hotels, Travel, Shop, Auto, Dine, Services and Health.

MORE WELL-KNOWN SERVICES

Automobile splash

Travel:

  • Travel discounts and booking as well as TripTik driving directions and maps, online TourBook guides, eTourBook Guides
  • Travel checklists, event calendars, and vacation ideas
  • Information on foreign travel requirements
  • Car rental discounts

Insurance:

  • Auto, home/renter’s, and life insurance
  • Car buying tips
  • Health/Medical insurance – they even offer short-term insurance. I wish I had known about this three months ago while we have been waiting for my husband to be eligible for health insurance at his work!

Financial:

  • AAA Member Rewards Visa card
  • Travel money
  • Free identity theft monitoring (I am going to look into this, especially since this can be a costly thing to sign up privately.)
  • How to videos on money tips

News & Safety:

  • Information on gas costs and pricing
  • Safe driving tips
  • Travel magazine

Automotive:

  • Tips for taking care of your car
  • Links to AAA approved sites and battery service information

* NOTE: The links provided are for my AAA region, which serves Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, E. Kansas, S. Illinois, S. Indiana, and Texarkana, TX. To find information on your local AAA region, your computer should redirect you to your region’s website. However, if it doesn’t, you may need to click on “Other AAA Clubs” at the bottom of the AAA homepage.

Are you taking advantage of all you can with your membership! Check it out now! Tell me about how you saved!

 

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Is your CO detector really accurate?

A few years ago on the last day of a Yom Tov (Jewish holy day) our carbon monoxide detector went off. We opened all the windows until the detector stopped beeping. We then had to wait until after Yom Tov to call the fire department. The firefighters who came out could not figure out what had set it off except, that we had our blech (hot plate on the stove) and oven on at the same time. He said the fumes get trapped underneath, which may have then converted to carbon monoxide. However, the levels that would have resulted should not have been enough to set off our detector, he said.

Then he looked at our carbon monoxide detector. We had the kind that you attach to your wall and change the batteries every so often. It was even a fire alarm, too. His reaction was, “That is the problem there!” He explained that carbon monoxide detectors operated by batteries do not accurately detect carbon monoxide levels. The carbon monoxide can build up inside the alarm and then give you a false reading – actually showing a large amount that is inside, rather than what your home currently has.

He recommended that we get the kind that plugs into an outlet. You still should place it on a main level of your home near the bedrooms, but now it needs an outlet. He explained that the best kind were the ones that you can get from your gas company. I know he had nothing to benefit from directing us there since he was a local employee, not one for Laclede Gas!

You may be able to get yours cheaper somewhere else. At the time, I did not shop around. I got it for close to $60, which is the current price. Laclede Gas will even charge it to your regular monthly bill in installments!

We have been very happy with this device and have had no false alarms since. The unit saves us on batteries and time checking that it is working. Not really a money-savings, but it does give us piece of mind that our family is safe and that we have a reliable product.

* Click here for more information and how to purchase this Carbon Monoxide Alarm and to read FAQs on Carbon Monoxide.

Related posts on safety and product reviews:

Do have a favorite product that has saved you time or money or has proved itself worth the money? Please share in the Comments section!

 

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What does an oil change cost?

Nagger(Links checked 2/2013)

I know I am very guilty about not changing my oil enough. I know that changing my oil as experts recommend (every 3 months or 3,000 miles) will help improve the condition of my car and prevent breakdowns. However, it seems as if time and money always keep me from doing it on a regular basis. So I have tackled the money problem by investigating what an oil change really costs and by finding out who has the best deals. I have researched several nationwide chains and one local repair shop to compare.

FIRESTONE COMPLETE AUTO CARE

Prices:
Standard: $35.49
High mileage: $45.49
Full synthetic: $62.49 can vary by car, only do this if have used this kind of oil from the start

Coupons:
There is a monthly coupon right now on their website. For all current coupons click here. You can also sign up for their email list to receive specials and coupons.

Locations:
Firestone has more than 1600 locations nationwide.

Current low price with coupon = $24.85 + tax (with Feb. 2013 – 30% off coupon)

JIFFY LUBE

Prices:
Standard Oil Change: $39.99
Early Bird $24.99 (7 a.m. – 10 a.m.)

Coupons:
$5 coupon right now on their website. For all Jiffy Lube coupons click here. I have also gotten coupons in the mail via weekly mailers. You can also sign up for their email list to receive specials and coupons.

Locations:
Jiffy Lube has more than 2,000 service centers in North America.

Current low price with coupon = $34.99 after 10 a.m. or $19.99 early bird. Note: Some locations may not allow you to use a coupon with the sale price.

DOBB’S TIRE & AUTO

Prices:
Standard Oil Change: $34.95

Coupons:
There is a special right now on their website: buy one oil change, get one free. For all their current specials click here. You can also sign up for their email list to receive specials and coupons.

Locations:
Dobb’s has 38 locations in the St. Louis Metro area, St. Charles County and some of Illinois.

Current low price with coupon = $34.95 for 2 oil changes (as of Feb. 21, 2013)

MIDAS

Prices:
Standard Oil Change: $18.99 – $26.99
Oil Change with rotation and other checks: $24.99-$32.99
High mileage: $39.99
Full synthetic: $59.99 – $69.99

Coupons:
The coupons vary by location. The website lets you print coupons for the location of your choice. You can also sign up for their email list to receive specials and coupons.

Locations:
Midas has locations in North America, Central America, Africa, Asia/Pacific, and Europe.

Current low price with coupon = $18.99 at some locations, $19.99 at others

VALVOLINE

Prices:
Standard Oil Change (full-service): $38.99
Synthetic blend: $53.99
Full-synthetic : $69.99

Coupons:
I just received a postcard in the mail for a full-service oil change at $19.99 or $15 off a synthetic blend or synthetic oil change.

Locations:
Valvoline has more than 825 franchised and corporate Valvoline Instant Oil Change locations across the county. They also have more than 300 Express Care stores across the country.

* Valvoline also features tips on their website for saving money on gas.

Current low price with coupon = $19.99

THE BEST DEALS for Standard Oil Changes:

  1. Midas at $18.99 + tax at some locations (sale price)
  2. Jiffy Lube from 7 a.m. – 10 a.m., $19.99 + tax
    Midas or Valvoline at $19.99 + tax with coupon, any time of day
  3. Firestone at $24.85 + tax with coupon, any time of day

FOR MORE COUPONS

You can also look at Valpak.com for coupons for many repair/oil change companies and locations near you. For more ideas on where to find great coupons for a variety of products, see my post “Coupon websites – updated!” 

Related posts:

 

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Free resources highlight: EWG and National Historic Landmarks

I am always looking for great resources online. It is amazing all of the information available right at our fingertips these days! (I apologize to my Facebook friends who are seeing these first two twice. They are so great I had to post them there, too, for those who don’t read my blog.)

Two of the resources I found are from the Environmental Working Group. They have a team of scientists, researchers, and other staff that study thousands of personal products to create their databases. I try to buy environmentally safe and chemically safe cleaning and health and beauty products whenever I can. However, with money as tight as it is, I have had to purchase more and more mainstream brands. These databases can help you determine which products are safe, regardless of if you can afford those specialty/natural brands.

EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database – Features tips on finding safe makeup, skin care, hair care, eye care, nail products, fragrances, oral care, baby products, mom products, and men’s products. You can search for a particular product or look in specific product types by category. The ratings are based on health concerns of the ingredients and even tell you how much data/research is available on that product and its ingredients.

EWG’s Skin Deep Sunscreens 2012 – This database focuses on sunscreens and rates products by UVA protection, UVB protection, UVA/UVB balance, stability, and health concerns. You can also search by type of product or specific product. It also features a free app you can download to use right in the store. 

Both databases feature articles, links to places to buy the products, lists of the products that scored the best, and an email list you can sign up for.

This next resource is one that is might be helpful for summer outings, vacations, and daytrips.

National Park Service: National Historic Landmarks Program – For those of you who are looking for interesting traveling destinations close to or far away from home, this is a great resource. You can research a particular site, search by state, check out various publications, or investigate theme studies. Some landmarks are located in National Parks, so there is even more to see and do!

* If you like these resources, be sure to send them a comment and/or make a donation!

Other posts on great resources:

 

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Getting ready for baby – the registry

A barcode hand scanner (scanner de mão para có...

My youngest boys are four, so I often forget to cover baby-related items on my blog. To make up for that, I am starting a series of posts related to savings on getting ready for baby. Today I want to focus on creating a smart and sensible baby registry.

It can be very easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the great baby products at the baby superstores. However, it is better to be realistic about what you might need and want and what you will actually get. For instance, don’t register for only expensive or larger items, so that there is nothing for your friends and coworkers to pick.

Tips for creating a smart registry:

Is it a good deal?

Keep in mind that not every product is a good deal at the baby stores. it may be cheaper to buy them somewhere else or online. For example, toiletry products and diapers are not always a good deal, unless you have a coupon or they are on sale. Instead of registering for every medical product and toiletry, maybe pick out a gift basket or set that you would like to try out.

Safety first!

There are many items sold for babies that are NOT SAFE for babies. Crib bumpers, comforters, pillows, sleep positioners, and stuffed animals are not safe for young children. You also shouldn’t use car seat positioners that were not made for that particular car seat. They have not been tested for use with that product. Don’t waste your money. Check out this article about Shop Smart’s advice on dangerous baby products.

Do your homework.

Read reviews on products before going to the store to create your registry. Talk to friends about products they like. Browse blogs, websites, and magazines for advice. This way you can take your time to figure out which products best suit your needs, your space, and your budget.

Register at several places.

Don’t forget about other places to register like Target (they have more selection of their larger items online) and Amazon. You can find great deals and a great selection at both! Once you register at Target, you will also receive baby product coupons in the mail.

Accept hand-me-downs.

As long as a product has not been recalled (check out the CPSC website to be sure), accepting items from friends and family can save you a lot of money. Especially if you are having multiples or you are expecting a second or third child, it may be hard to get all the bigger items on your registry. We were so fortunate to have friends that gave us cribs, clothes, bottles, blankets, sheets, and more.

Check out superstore promotions.

Babies ‘R Us has offered a trade-in event for the past few years, where you can trade in larger, recalled items in exchange for a discount on a newer item of the same or similar type. They also offer a multiples discount if you are purchasing more than one of the same item (like car seats, cribs, strollers, etc.) Ask at your local store for information. This year’s event is not currently listed on their website. 

 

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Review: Click, Check, and Protect

THIS NEWSLETTER HAS BEEN CANCELED AS OF MAY 2, 2012.

We always want our kids to be safe, not only at home, but outside of the home. For my current job, I give presentations on child abuse and internet safety, so I often find new tidbits on dangers to our children and how to keep them safe.

Thank goodness there are lots of resources available. I wrote in my post “Product safety and information” about how to get information from the government (specifically, the CPSC) on product recalls and safety notices. Well, here is another resource from the reputable Consumer Reports. I read about this new service in “Shop Smart” magazine, which is published by Consumer Reports. Check out my post reviewing “Shop Smart” magazine here.

They have launched a health and safety alerts newsletter to protect kids and teens. Their goal is to highlight product and food recalls, provide information on safe Internet and mobile usage, and provide other information related to the safety of our children.

Click here to sign up and get more information. Even if you are not a parent, this newsletter can be helpful for caregivers, teachers, aunts and uncles, and more.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Email and online tips, Family ideas, Reviews

 

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Review: Safe Mama

Want to know what baby wipes have the fewest chemicals? Need advice on choosing BPA-free products? This is the site to go to then!

Safe Mama is an eco-conscious resource for mothers. It includes:

- child safety and recall information
– resources on links on a variety of topics
– links to green stores

Best of all, they have worked hard to create green Cheat Sheets on various products including wipes, sunscreens, bottles, and so much more. The Cheat Sheets rate products based on harmful ingredients and materials.

I could spend hours reading and printing each one and checking out all the articles and links! Check it out yourself at http://www.safemama.com.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Email and online tips, Family ideas, Reviews

 

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