Be Careful Handling Your Money This Holiday Shopping Season

December 21, 2014

cash and creditHoliday shopping can be spoiled if you’re careless with your money, so PNC Bank offers six tips for safer holiday shopping. 1) Know where your cards and wallet are at all times, and never leave your purse unattended. This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to misplace your most valuable information. 2) Load a gift card with your holiday shopping card. PNC highlights that gift cards are not directly connected to your checking account or credit card, which helps in the event that a retailer suffers a data breach. However, do use caution if you do decide to use gift cards. If that card is stolen, the money is gone. The advantage of using your debit card or credit card is that your financial institution will most likely need to repay all or a portion of your money. 3) Use only secure websites when shopping online. The Internet is a dangerous place. Before you begin typing your name and your confidential financial information, make sure the URL begins with “https” instead of simply “http,” and shows a locked padlock icon. 4) Go mobile with your wallet,  using mobile payments tools such as Apple Pay or Visa Checkout, which protect card information behind additional security layers. 5) Ask for alerts. Most banking institutions offer text or email notifications when a transaction occurs. It’s an easy and instant way to know if a suspicious purchase has taken place. 6) Monitor your money. When you’re logging on to your computer or powering up your smartphone, take an extra few minutes to check your online banking activity.  Read more about a this topic at


Volunteert As a Park Resident Host and Camp for Free All Summer

December 21, 2014

mueller state parkWant to spend your summer in a park? Colorado Parks and Wildlife is now accepting resident host applications for a variety of locations for the 2015 season. Resident or campground hosts are volunteers who spend part of their year camping for FREE in exchange for 20-30 hours of service each week.  CPW resident hosts begin their duties in the spring.  Duties may include greeting campers, offering check-in assistance, performing maintenance, promoting educational programs, leading hatchery walking tours and providing visitor center coverage. Locations with sites available for 2015 resident/campground hosts include: Arkansas Headwaters, Barr Lake, Boyd Lake, Castlewood Canyon, Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Crawford, Dan Noble SWA, Eleven Mile, Reservoir, Golden Gate Canyon, Highline Lake, Jackson Lake, James M. Robb, John Martin, Lathrop/San Luis, Lake Pueblo State Park and Hatchery, Lory, Mancos, Mueller, Navajo, North Sterling, Paonia, Pearl Lake, Ridgway, Rifle Complex, Rifle Falls Hatchery, San Luis, Stagecoach, State Forest, Steamboat/Pearl Lake, Sweitzer, Sylvan Lake, Trinidad Lake, Vega and Yampa River. Read more about these locations through CPW’s Park Finder or CPW’s SWA Finder.  Create a profile and login to apply online to the Park or Wildlife volunteer database at or  Or email  to request an application.  For more information about CPW Volunteer opportunities call 303-291-7325 or visit


Visit Denver During the Holidays for Free or Cheap Family Fun

December 20, 2014

Denver New Year's EveExperience the magic of Downtown Denver through Winter in the City. When making your plans this holiday season, consider  these signature holiday events and activities, many of which are cheap of FREE.  Stop to play one of the five winter-themed painted pianos along the 16th Street Mall. The pianos for Your Keys to the City are available for the public to play from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Like to skate? Through Feb. 16, visit Skyline Park downtown. In its fifth season, the Southwest Rink offers FREE ice skating seven days a week. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for just $2. Special entertainment and programming throughout the season includes Friday Night DJs, Saturday Night Live Bands, Sunday Family Fun Day, Broomball Challenge Competition, Skate N’ Flicks (movies on ice), and FREE Learn to Skate Lessons. For a daily schedule of events and hours of operation, visit  On Friday, Nov. 28, Downtown Denver’s major landmarks will light up for the holidays during the Grand Illumination. The event features entertainment and lighting ceremonies at Denver Union Station between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and the City and County Building between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Hundreds of thousands of lights will also illuminate the 16th Street Mall, Skyline Park, the D&F Clock Tower, 14th Street, Larimer Square and more. The Parade of Lights, has been a Colorado tradition for 40 years. You won’t want to miss the sparkling lights, marching bands, giant balloons, dazzling floats and delightful characters as they take to the streets of Downtown on Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. View the parade for FREE along the two-mile route or purchase grandstand tickets for seating in front of the City & County Building. To purchase tickets, visit Altitude Tickets or call 866-461-6556. And kids will love the Denver Pavilions’ Holiday Carousel, Dec. 12–21. Conveniently located at Denver Pavilions (500 16th Street), the new carousel will enhance your Downtown Denver holiday experience and create memories for years to come. FREE rides will be given from Denver Pavilions restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues with purchase, and from select Downtown hotel partners. Support the Food Bank of the Rockies with the “A Can for the Carousel” campaign, where visitors are invited to donate a can of food for a FREE ride. The Carousel runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit  for more information.  The 40th annual TubaChristmas Concert, produced by the University of Colorado at Denver’s Arts & Media Department, will take place on Sunday, Dec. 21 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Skyline Park at 17th & Arapahoe. Featuring 300 tuba players from all over the region, TubaChristmas is one of the most celebrated and longest-running holiday festivities in Colorado.   For a full list of Downtown Denver Winter in the City events,  visit   You also can follow Downtown Denver on Facebook, Twitter (@DowntownDenver) and Instagram (Downtown_Denver). Use and follow the hashtag #DENwitc for Winter in the City-related posts.


Which Cash-Back Credit Card Is Right for You? We Can Help

December 20, 2014

cash and creditChances are you’re confused with all of the different types of rewards credit cards out there today, especially if you’re looking for your first card. No worries. These cards can be broken down into a few different categories. At least one of these types will fit your lifestyle perfectly. Let’s find out which type is right for you. Read all the options on our sister site, Living on the Cheap.

Mimi’s Cafe Offering Buy One-Get One Deal Through Sunday

December 19, 2014

Thumbnail for 28595Using ingredients sourced from France is just one of the ways Mimi’s Cafe stays connected to its roots. From tangy orange zest to creamy goat cheese, Mimi’s menu is full of French-inspired ingredients and dishes, set against a French cottage-themed backdrop. Dining there is like taking a break in the French countryside. Through Sunday, Dec. 21, get a FREE breakfast, lunch or dinner entree at Mimi’s Cafe with the purchase of a second entree (of equal or greater value) and two beverages. The discounted dish requires this printable coupon. The coupon is not valid with any other offer or discount. One coupon per check — dine-in only. For locations, click here.

Earn Extra Cash Online Just Doing Things You Already Do

December 19, 2014

earn cash onlineWith all the expenses that come with the holidays, wouldn’t it be nice to make a little extra money? InboxDollars is an online loyalty club that pays out cash for different online activities. Some ways to earn money include: taking surveys,  reading emails,  cash-back online shopping,  listening to the radio, watching videos, searching the web,  redeeming coupons, playing games completing offers or a cash-back program with Groupon. For more on this topic, with links, visit our sister site, Living on the Cheap.

Many Businesses Offering Bonus Gift Cards to Purchasers

December 19, 2014

gift cardFor extra value with gift purchases, various restaurants offer an enticing reward for doing holiday shopping with them. In addition to restaurants, sometimes other merchants offer bonus deals, too. This is how it works — with an eligible minimum purchase of gift cards during the holiday shopping season, participating restaurants typically toss in a bonus card. Usually, the bonus cards feature tight restrictions on when they are eligible to be redeemed. Different restaurants set different rules and minimum spending requirements for their gift card bonuses. An extra gift card is quite nice when purchasing a gift for someone else — or yourself. Here are an assortment of bonus gift card deals we found.

Applebee’s, $10 bonus card with purchase of $50 worth of gift cards

Barnes & Noble,  FREE $10 eGift card when you buy $75 or more of gift cards

Boston Market, $5 bonus card with $25 gift card purchase

California Pizza Kitchen, give $100 and get $20

Carrabba’s, $20 bonus card with gift card purchases of $100

Chili’s, $10 ebonus card with gift card purchases of $50

IHop,  buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 coupon

Olive Garden, get a $10 bonus for every purchase of $50 or more

Outback, $20 bonus card with gift card purchases of $100

P.F. Chang’s, $20 bonus card with gift card purchases of $100

Pei Wei, $10 bonus card with gift card purchases worth $50

Red Robin: Free ‘Hobbit’ movie ticket with gift card

Ruby Tuesday, $15 bonus coupon with gift card purchases of $50, or $5 bonus coupon with $25 worth of gift card purchases

Winter Break Means You Need to Get Creative with Kids

December 19, 2014

kids DIY activitiesIs the weather miserable? Kids stuck indoors? You need  ideas for cheap kids’ activities and homemade toys to keep them entertained. The creativity used to make handmade toys is fun in itself. Plus, using household items is a good way to reuse and recycle stuff you already have. We’ve found 10 DIY toys, games and kids activities suitable for indoor play. They start simple, followed by ones that require more materials, skill, preparation or adult supervision. For all 10, check out the full story on our sister site, Living on the Cheap.

Tight Budget? You Still Can Show Appreciation for Service

December 18, 2014

christmas giftsIf you’re living on a fixed income or a tight budget, you may have small budget for holiday gifts. But what we often forget about are all of those extras — gifts for teachers, hair stylists, babysitters, mail carriers — the list seems to go on and on. It can be frustrating if you’ve had to cut back on how much you spend on your close family members, yet society seems to obligate you to be generous to all of these other folks, some of whom are practically strangers. So how can you be frugal and festive? We turned to Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, for her tipping tips. For her suggestions, visit our sister site, Living on the Cheap.

Take the Kids to Free ‘Santa’s Wonderland’ at Bass Pro Shops

December 18, 2014

Thumbnail for 28298Bass Pro Shops is holding a FREE ‘Santa’s Wonderland’ event through Dec. 24. There will be kids’ activities, crafts, games and FREE Santa photos. Activities will vary by week and by location, so find your local store and check its website for a schedule.

There Are Ways to Control Those ‘Hidden’ Holiday Costs, Too

December 18, 2014

christmas giftsHoliday spending doesn’t’ end with food and presents, not by a long shot. There are lots of “hidden” costs where you can save money, too. So we compiled some tips for you to use this year – or next, if it’s too late for 2014. LIGHTS:  Invest in some LED holiday lights. Yes, they’re a little more expensive up front, but they’ll last for years and end up costing you a lot less. They use less electricity, too, so the utility bill won’t make you choke. GIFT WRAP:  If you didn’t stock up last year after the holiday with clearance gift wrap, shame on you! The EPA estimates that Americans throw away 25% more trash than usual during the holiday season, and much of that is wrapping paper and gift bags. So save those gift bags, or make your own. We tell you how on the site. I also save and recycle ribbon bows. Who can tell? HOSTESS GIFTS:  When you go to a party or other gathering, the impulse usually is to bring a bottle of wine. But how about a home-baked loaf of pumpkin bread, or homemade fudge, instead? It’s more personal, more thoughtful, and lots cheaper! CHRISTMAS CARDS: These things cost anywhere from about $1 to $5, plus 49 to 98 cents each for postage. And they get read for about five seconds and thrown away — so fast that sometimes, we miss who sent them. I cut my list in half this year by creating a holiday e-mail to everyone I contact that way. I sent a general message topped by a personal greeting and attached a personal letter for those I don’t see all the time. I got a few responses that said: “What a GREAT idea! I’m going to do this, too!”  Send us YOUR suggestions for how to control hidden holiday costs and we’ll publish the bet of them. Just click on the COMMENT button.

Ho-Ho-Hooold On! Get Your LED Holiday Lights at Half Price

December 17, 2014

green SantaTake some advice from Green Santa. Replace your old holiday lights with energy-efficient LED strings. They use 90 percent less energy, last 10 times longer and are safer than incandescent ones. Electric customers of Colorado Springs Utilities may exchange old, inefficient light strands for 50-percent off coupons on LED strands. Visit their website for details. They’ll also recycle your old lights and donate the proceeds to Project COPE (benefitting the needy). While you are exchanging your lights at the Conservation and Environmental Center, be sure to enter to win a six-foot LED lit Christmas tree donated by ACE Hardware. Click here for the entry form.




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About This Site

Pikes Peak on the Cheap is your guide to free and inexpensive things to do in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. We’ll find deals, bargains, two-fers and other ways for you to dine, shop, stay or have fun in our area.

Your guide is Linda DuVal, a former writer, reporter and editor who worked at The Gazette for 32 years and who has lived in, and written about, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region for most of her life.

You can reach us at

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