You don't have to deprive yourself to improve your bottom line. These secret discounts and freebies allow you to live your life the way you like to, for less.

By Ingela Ratledge, Sarah Robbins, and Valerie Rains
James Wojcik

2 Companies That Give Cash Back for Paperless Billing

These businesses pay you for the privilege of decluttering your mailbox.

  • Allstate Insurance: Up to 5 percent off your auto premium.
  • Progressive Insurance: A percentage off your monthly bill (depending on the policy) when you enroll in the paperless billing program and/or elect direct payment from your bank account.


9 Discounts You Get With AAA Membership

The card you whip out when you’ve got a flat also delivers unexpected savings. (To sign up, go to aaa.com. Membership costs about $50 a year.)


9 Deals You Get With AARP Membership

These amazing rates are exclusively for the 50+ crowd. (Go to aarp.org to enroll. Membership costs $16 annually.)

3 Places to Get Cheaper Coffee With a Reusable Mug

Pay less for your daily jolt by sipping from your own cup.

  • Einstein Bros. Bagels: Coffee in your personal mug costs just $1—that’s up to 40 percent off the regular price.
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea: 10 cents off with a refillable cup. Bonus: Get a quarter off when you reuse a bag when buying beans.
  • Starbucks: Save 10 cents when you bring a mug.


3 Companies That Reward Recycling

What goes around comes around, sometimes in the form of cash.

  • Apple: Go to apple.com/recycling to find out if your old computer—Mac or PC—is worth anything. If it is, you’ll get that dollar amount applied toward an Apple gift card. Plus, the company will send you a prepaid label to mail your old machine in for recycling. Bring an old iPod to an Apple store or mail it in and get 10 percent off a new one.
  • MAC Cosmetics: Customers who return six used MAC product containers receive a free lipstick.
  • Staples: Bring any used ink or toner cartridge to the store and receive $2 in Staples Rewards for use on future store purchases.


6 Places That Give a Rebate When You Use a Reusable Tote

Go green (as in: count your savings) when you bring your own bag to these stores.

  • CVS: $1 off after four visits when you pack a tote. (You need to buy a tag for 99 cents that is scanned with each visit.)
  • Giant: 5 cents a bag.
  • Kroger: 4 cents a bag.
  • ShopRite: 2 cents a bag.
  • Target: 5 cents a bag.
  • Whole Foods: 5 or 10 cents a bag, depending on the store.


4 Websites That Help You Live It Up (on the Cheap)

Going out doesn’t have to cost a mint. Online, find lots of eating and entertaining discounts.

  • EatDrinkDeals.com: This clearinghouse site features up-to-date coupons for major food chains. For example: one appetizer and two entrées for $20 at Chilis; $5 off a purchase of $15 or more at Ted’s Montana Grill.
  • LivingSocial.com: Check in with this site daily for deals on local activities, like a $130 private horseback-riding lesson on sale for $49, or $28 off a riverboat cruise. Once you’ve made a purchase, send the link to the promotion to friends. If three or more take the bait, your purchase is free.
  • RewardsNetwork.com: This dining-out program, which has more than 10,000 participating restaurants in the United States and Canada, gives members 5 percent back on their final tab, including taxes and tip. Customers register their credit cards, then use plastic to pay when they dine out. A rebate is refunded to the credit card the next time they eat at one of the participating restaurants.
  • SixFlags.com: Buying themepark tickets online can be up to 40 percent cheaper than shelling out at the gate.

13 Birthday Discounts and Freebies

Getting dibs on the first piece of cake isn’t the only upside to turning a year older. Check out these sweet perks.

  • Aveda: Birthday-club members receive a free product—up to a $25 value—custom blended with the aroma of their choice to be redeemed within two months.
  • Baskin-Robbins: You’ll receive an e-mail coupon for a free scoop of ice cream and a discount on a birthday cake when you join the Birthday Club.
  • Benihana: Sign up for the Chef’s Table e-newsletter and you will get an e-mail with a gift certificate for dinner worth up to $30 to be used during your birthmonth.
  • Cold Stone Creamery: Sign up for its birthday club and receive a free treat on your special day.
  • DSW: Loyalty members, who participate in a rewards program, get a $5 certificate that’s good through the member’s entire birthday month.
  • Express: Customers who are store credit-card holders receive a $10 coupon to be applied toward their next purchase during their birth month.
  • IHOP: By joining the Pancake Revolution, you’ll eat for free three times—once when you sign up for IHOP’s mailing list, once on your birthday, and once a year after you register.
  • New York & Company: Store credit-card holders receive a coupon for up to 25 percent off purchases (in store and online), valid during their birth month.
  • Old Navy: Subscribe to Old Navy e-mails and receive $10 off purchases of $50 or more (online and in stores) for two weeks during your birth month.
  • Red Robin: Enroll in the eClub or the Red Royalty program and score a free burger.
  • Ruby Tuesday’s: Sign up for the So Connected list at rubytuesday.com and get a free burger on your birthday and other food and bar redemption offers during the year.
  • Starbucks: Toast your day with a free cappuccino (or another drink of your choice) when you have a My Starbucks Rewards card. (Pick one up at any location.) The more you use it, the more freebies you can get, including gratis syrups and refills.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Angel credit-card holders receive either a $10-off coupon for in-store purchases or an e-mailed coupon code good for $10 off online during their birth month.

and…


1 Birthday Gift for Your Pet

  • Petco: Register Buster’s D.O.B. (or adoption date) in the Birthday Club and get 10 percent off products during that month.

5 Stores That Offer a Price Break With a Teacher or Student ID

Bookish types can score with deals from these education-friendly brands.

  • Apple: Students, teachers, and school administrators receive $50 to $450 off computers.
  • Club Monaco: 20 percent off for college students and professors.
  • J.Crew: 15 percent off for college students and professors.
  • Loft: 15 percent off for teachers (you must enroll at teachers.anntaylorloft.com).
  • Topshop: 10 percent off with a valid high school or college ID.


2 Ways to See the World for Less

Cut the costs of travel with these programs targeted at tourists.

  • Delta credit-card holders traveling internationally or domestically can use miles as a discount against normal fares. In most cases, treating miles as coupons means no pesky restrictions on the destination or the trip date.
  • With CityPass, pay a fixed price for five or six must-see attractions in major cities and Southern California theme parks at up to 50 percent savings. (The pass is valid for nine consecutive days; 14 in Southern California.) For example, CityPass charges $79 (instead of the $144 face value) to see six sites in New York City, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the American Museum of Natural History. Bonus: In many cases, the CityPass lets you skip ticket lines. Passes can be downloaded online or shipped to your home.


5 Restaurants Where Your Kids Can Eat for Free*

No need to smuggle in the Goldfish! At these chains, your tots can fill up without emptying your wallet.

  • Applebee’s: On Monday nights, get one free kids’ entrée with an adult-entrée purchase. Bonus: Additional kids’ meals are just $1 each.
  • Chevys: One free kids’ meal for every adult entrée purchased every Tuesday.
  • Denny’s: From 4 P.M. to 10 P.M. on select nights, children 10 and under get any entrée from the kids’ menu at no cost with the purchase of an adult meal costing $2.50 or more.
  • Pizza Hut: Kids age three and under eat free from the lunch buffet.
  • Tony Roma’s: On Tuesdays, kids under 12 dine for free with the purchase of an adult entrée.

Want more bargains? Click here to find Surprising Stuff You Can Get For Free.

*Offers can vary by franchise, so call before you go.

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