I’ve been a big fan of for a long time. Great products, great prices, and super customer service!

They proved how wonderful they really are the other day when I had an issue with one of my orders.

I went online to check my “Subcribe & Save” order that will ship soon, and I noticed that they reduced my gift card balance instead of charging my credit card. I planned to save that credit for something special, and when I couldn’t change the payment method, I contacted them using the “chat” option.

Long story short, she couldn’t change the payment method either, so she suggested I cancel the order, and re-order, but since the product (Wild Planet tuna) was out of stock, I didn’t want to cancel for fear of losing the whole order. No problem, I figured that I’d keep it as is.

So, I receive a “feedback” email, which I completed. At the end of the survey, there was an option to speak to someone else per phone, so I figured sure, it couldn’t hurt.

Another long story short (haha) I spoke to someone and they couldn’t change it either, but they ended up offering me two options, #1 speak to billing where they could possibly change it, or #2 accept an additional $15 account credit for “my trouble” – YES PLEASE! I took the credit.

So, my tuna order ended up being free! is the best! Looooove them!

MyLinkables Current Deal for Trader Joes

Attn Foodies! My Linkables is offering a deal for $5 off a $40 purchase at Trader Joe’s! (See below for my update)

mylinkables offering trader joe deal

For those interested in the fine print, without having to sign up for membership, here are the details:

Offer Terms and Conditions:

Discount of $5.00 off your next purchase of $40.00 or more for products at Trader Joe’s. Limit one offer per registered user. This offer is being sponsored and paid for by Linkable Networks, Inc. The offer is NOT sponsored, endorsed or affiliated with Trader Joe’s. This offer is only valid for qualifying purchases made on the Payment Card which is registered with the service and to which you linked the offer. Offer valid on purchases made from 12:00:01 A.M. Eastern Time (“ET”) on 02/17/2012 or the date in which you link this offer to your card (whichever is later) and ends at 11:59:00 P.M. ET on 03/16/2012 (“Offer Period”).

This Offer is valid in the U.S. only. Gift certificates/cards, packaging, taxes and prior purchases do not qualify toward the minimum purchase requirement and the discount cannot be applied to such items. This offer cannot be combined with other offers, promotions or discounts. No adjustments on previous purchases. Purchases made with this offer are not eligible for a price adjustment. Offer is non-transferable and may be cancelled or modified at any time. The offer is void where prohibited. This offer is subject to the Terms of Service ( This offer is being sponsored by Linkable Networks, Inc., 268 Summer Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02210.

Your savings will appear as a Payment Card or PayPal (if applicable) statement credit typically within 7 to 14 business days after the merchant processes your transaction. This discount is the responsibility of Linkable Networks, Inc., the offer sponsor. Your Payment Card issuer is not responsible for the discount’s funding.

What is MyLinkables?

The premise of MyLinkables is, in a nutshell, you sign up, link to a credit (debit) card, choose a deal(s), make the necessary purchase using your linked credit/debit card, and soon you’ll receive the promised credit posted back to your linked credit card.

I only recently joined MyLinkables, and I do not have specific experience with them just yet, so use at your own risk.

I am planning a Trader Joe’s shopping trip next week, so it will be a good test. From what I have read online, they seem fairly reputable, but there are no guarantees.

Important Cautions Regarding MyLinkables

I must stress, before you join My Linkables, it’s important to understand that they require access to your online credit/debit card log-in credentials.

You can initially sign up & log in without a credit card, and you can see the available deals, but in order to link to an deal, you’ll need to give them your credit/debit card username and password.

I am extremely guarded about my personal privacy and security and I do not like external entities accessing my bank and/or credit card accounts.

I stay away from financial management web sites like because I don’t care how much security measures they claim, I don’t trust it. (If the FBI can’t keep out hackers, I don’t think Intuit has a chance! ha!)

So, keeping security in mind, I thought it was wise to link to a rarely-used credit card account that was totally separate from my every-day accounts, and I also suggest that other users do the same.

Another Caution – Access to Your Purchase History

Plus, another caution: since MyLinkables has “read” access to your credit card account, they are constantly scrutinizing your purchases, in search of your currently linked deals; what’s to stop them from compiling your purchase history and selling the data to marketing companies? I read over their FAQ and Privacy Policy pages, and unless I missed it, I did not see this mentioned anywhere.

How Does MyLinkables Make Money?

One more aspect of MyLinkables is their business plan. I wondered how they were making money if they were the ones sponsoring their own deals.

I emailed them to ask, and to also inquire why a Paypal account was requested, since the refunds are supposedly credited to the linked credit card.

This was their reply:

MyLinkables has integrated with, or is in the process of integrating with several large banks and card networks. For these cards, the savings will be applied directly back to the card. For other cards outside of these integrations, the savings will be deposited into a PayPal account, for example. From PayPal, you have the option to transfer the money directly to a bank account.

Since we’re a start-up, several of our initial offers were or are self-funded, as we build our customer base. However, recent offers available to some of our bank’s consumers have been sponsored by the merchants involved.

Yeah, it all sounds wonderful, but truthfully, I am very hesitant because they do have access to your purchase history. And that could be worth a lot more than a $5 credit to them! So just be cautious everyone!

UPDATE 2012-06-5

MyLinkables is running a 2nd Trader Joe’s offer for $5 off $50, which expires on June 27th.

Their first offer earlier this year worked out well. I made a $45 Trader Joe’s purchase on March 13 and the $5 credit was posted to my Paypal account on March 19. I would definitely use them again, but continue to use my separate credit card.

Organic Whole Chickens – One Day Sale at Whole Foods Market

This Friday, Whole Foods Market is having a great sale on organic whole chickens – $1.99/lb.

I called my local store and they are specifically selling chickens rated Step #3 on their 5-step animal welfare rating system.

No, Step #3 is not as wonderful as step #4 which is “fully pastured” but it’s much better than the #2 rating that the majority of their chickens are rated.

Chickens rated as Step #3 have continuous daily access to the outdoors. As per the Global Animal Partnership standards details:

From 4 weeks of age, all birds must have continuous access to an outdoor area that is equal to or greater than 25% of the total floor space of the house. During seasonal or weather conditions that pose a welfare risk and preclude outdoor access, all birds must have continuous access to an indoor foraging area that is equal to or greater than 25% of the occupied floor area of the house.

The bonus is the chickens are raised organically, so that means no GMO in the feed!

I’m going crazy because my shopping list was organized (and budgeted) for a trip to Trader Joe’s on Friday. Now this sale has de-railed that plan. ;) I’ll be shopping at Whole Foods Market on Friday instead.

I’m psyched because the bag of navel oranges are still on sale, along with the split chicken breasts for my dogs!

So Proud Budget!

I am so proud of myself today. I went to Whole Foods, with a $50 bill and I was determined to stick to my budget! And I did it! $46.63! Whoo hoooo!

Thank God I have the Grocery IQ iPhone app that helps me with my shopping list. I can add prices (either by quantity or by weight) so I know what I am spending almost down to the last penny! And since it keeps a “history” of past items, I know what some products are going to cost so I can plan ahead! That’s a huge help!

If I see the $total getting close to my limit, I can adjust my list and not buy some items that aren’t essential. I’m really trying to spend less on groceries, but still retain a high quality of food. I’m getting there, slowly but surely!

I’ve been tracking expenses for well over a decade, but it’s only recently that I’ve sat down and really analyzed our spending. I set up a budget worksheet and I’ll also set up another one with prices so I can keep track of which stores (online too) have the best prices.

Right now, I have set a budget of $600 per month for food, and that includes dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, etc. I have a separate budget for non-food household items.

I’m trying to lower the food budget more, and I am still learning how to do that. I think the key is buy a few more if it’s on sale, but buy only what you need for the week if it’s not, especially in the bulk isle. I also need to concentrate on using the inventory in my freezer!

It’s a slow process, but I’m getting there!

Williams Sonoma Outlet – 60% Off All Staub Cast Iron Cookware!

Whoo hoo! My cast iron collection is complete! Just bought a Staub 6.25 qt round and 11 inch gratin pan. I am thrilled! (EDIT: my Williams Sonoma receipt states 7qt, but matching the # to the Staub brochure, it states 6.25qt. It’s probably only 6.25 usable, but to fill to the top, it’s 7 qt)

I found out about the HUGE Staub 60% off sale down at the Williams Sonoma outlet store in Wrentham, MA! I debated if I should make the hour long drive down, but I’m so glad I did!

I phoned them first to see if they had any large ovals, and they didn’t, but they did have 6.25 quart round. I decided that the discount was worth the gasoline and time, so I made the trip!

When I arrived, I didn’t realize how large the Wrentham Outlet mall was. Wow! I didn’t really know where to park, so I took a chance and parked by the Banana Republic store. I started walking toward the right and found a directory, and realized that the Williams Sonoma store was at the LEFT end of the mall in the back, toward where I originally parked. That’s good! I wouldn’t have to lug my heavy purchase too far, so I turned back and walked the other way toward the store.

On the directory, I also noticed that the Le Creuset outlet store was very closeby as well, so I took a peek on my way to WS. They were having a 25% discount sale, nothing to match the 60% off, but it was fun to look anyway. I was shocked to see the huge 15 quart pot on display. Wow, I didn’t know they made ’em that huge!

Anyway, back to my Staub purchase.

I had a difficult time deciding what to purchase. Yes, my ultimate dream would have been a large oval pot, and I was debating the 6.25 qt round vs the 4 qt oval chicken roaster (matte black). This roaster is not the same as the Coq Au Vin oven, which would have made an even tougher choice. This pan is shaped like a chicken, with an awkward shaped lid. And since I already have a 4 quart round pot, in the end I decided the 6.25 qt would really be the best.

They also had many gratin pans in many sizes. I decided the medium sized 11 inch should fit nicely in my small counter-top oven for roasting a small chicken or a chicken breast, plus I’d be able to sear on the stove first! I debated the 13 inch covered gratin, but thought it might be too large.

So for a total of $138 (including tax) I bought my dream 6 qt round and the 11 inch gratin. Now I can give away my old “made in China” 6 quart pot! I love Staub! I actually prefer it to Le Creuset! ha! I love the black enameled interior, it’s so easy to clean, and it’s a workhorse! I take care not to use metal utensils in my enameled cast iron. I mostly use wooden.

So, I think my collection is complete!

two 2 (1.75) quart round pots
one 4 quart round pot
one 6 quart round pot
one 11 inch gratin

I think the only other pieces I would consider would be a larger fry pan (not grill pan) but then again, plain ole cast iron would probably be the best for that piece.

And maybe possibly an oval piece, but then again, why? I think I have all the bases covered with the sizes I have. I’m thrilled!

Oh and the sale is until the end of the month, and there were still lots to choose from, many gratin pans, minis, 3 qt ovals, and a few 4 qt oval pots, along with two more 6 quart rounds. They had a bunch of the black chicken roasters too. They also have these cool-looking tall sauce pans, but I think they are more for cool looks, than actually serving a cooking purpose.

And such beautiful colors, too. I love the basil green and the deep blue is stunning. The graphite gray is nice, and the matte black too. My pieces were in the Williams Sonoma exclusive red. It’s a darker red, almost burnt color. Wasn’t my first choice, but for this price, I will NOT complain!

EDIT 2011-07-29: Still haven’t unpacked the BIG pot, but I baked a meatloaf in the 11 inch gratin pan. Very nice pan. I think I’m going to use it a lot!