Ventura County Area Daily Deals, Coupons and Other Bargain Hunting Websites

DailyDeals.jpg

Launched in November 2008, Groupon popularized the deal-a-day concept for daily discounted "coupons" or gift certificates good for deals at local retailers and service providers, such as spa treatments, classes, restaurants, massages, tanning salons, haircuts, offering 50% to as much as 90% off retail price.

There are now hundreds of daily deal sites around the world. Locally here in the Conejo Valley and Greater Ventura County, ConejoDeals.com was the first site to launch a daily deal program, back in April 2010.

Below are websites and apps that offer daily deals, anytime deals and/or good old fashioned coupons in the Ventura County area*:

ConejoDeals.com - Daily deals centered in the Conejo Valley and surrounding areas.

Travelzoo.com - Offers a variety of discounted packages for restaurants, activities and getaways in the Central Coast and San Fernando Valley areas.

Conejo Valley Corridor - Offers a discount card fundraising program that benefits local schools and non-profits while offering everyday discounts at numerous local area businesses.

Groupon Ventura County - Groupon started this VC daily deal site in October 2010.

Groupon also has Cash Back Deals you can claim to link deals to eligible credit cards. Pay using your linked card and get cash back on your card until the deal expires. Some of these local cash back deals as of November 2018 include:

Restaurant.com - Offers an array of discount gift certificates at local restaurants. Worth checking out. Do be aware of minimum purchase requirements when you buy.

MOGL.com - Sign up and receive 7 to 10% cash back when you dine at a number of local restaurants, including (as of November 2018): Greco’s NY Pizzeria, Karma Indian Cuisine T.O., Baja Fresh Camarillo, D’Amore’s Famous Pizza Camarillo, Johnny Rockets Camarillo, Petra Mediterranean Cuisine T.O., Zin Bistro Americana, Subzero Ice Cream Simi Valley and others.

LocalFlavor.com offers a number of deals in the Ventura County area.

Sweet Deals Ventura County offers a number of special deals at Ventura County businesses.

MoneyMailer.com - Offers printable coupons for hundreds of local businesses as well as a mobile app. Type in your zip code and look for coupons when you need them.

LocalSaver.com - Printable coupons for local restaurants, retailers and service providers.

CouponsAndMoreVentura.com - Printable coupons for businesses in the Ventura area.

CouponsAndMoreOxnard.com - Printable coupons for businesses in the Oxnard area.

* Note that this list is current as of November 2018 but is subject to change at any time. Feel free to CONTACT US with any notable changes.

Take Advantage of AAA Membership Benefits and Discounts

AAA_logo.png

The Automobile Club is a non-profit service organization with over 51 million members, including 6 million in Southern California.  If you are not already a member, you should consider becoming one.

Basic membership is $50 per year plus a one time $20 admission fee (as of November 2018). Membership provides for towing up to 7 miles, discounted rental cars, emergency fuel delivery, locksmith service, access to AAA offices and services, free maps and travel planning, etc.

But where membership can really pay off are savings on products and services.  Here are a few that really stand out (updated November 2018...subject to change).

  • Getting a AAA rate on hotels like Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Best Western and others can easily save you 5% to 20% on your room, which can more than pay for your AAA membership.

  • 10% discount at all Gap Outlet stores with AAA card.

  • Save 10% at Discount Tire Centers and Payless Shoesource

  • Visit a AAA office and buy Regal/Edwards and Cinemark/Century movie theater tickets at up to 40% off regular prices!

  • Save 10% on Amtrak rides.

  • 30% off regular admission and 10% off merchandise at Knott's Berry Farm. Also save up to $15 on tickets to Knott's Soak City at AAA branches.

  • 25% off when you purchase advance tickets to Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and 10% off at the gate or online.

  • Save $15 on advance tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood and $3 off when you show your AAA card at the gate

  • Save up to 37% off passes to Six Flags Magic Mountain, $5 at the gate and 10% off purchases

  • Save 5% at the gate at LEGOLAND California Resort

  • Save 20% off certain Sea World passes at AAA offices, 10% off online and $5 at the gate

  • If you plan on a multi-day visit to Disneyland, save by buying passes at a AAA office

  • 10% off at Mimi's Cafe (locations in Thousand Oaks and Ventura)

  • 10% off food, games and non-alcoholic drinks at Dave & Buster’s (coming to Thousand Oaks)

  • Show your AAA card at Wetzel's Pretzels and receive 10% off all items

  • 33% off Papa John's Pizza! (show card and mention promo code AAA33)

Hundreds more discounts listed on the AAA website. There's also a free AAA iPhone and Android app to find AAA discounts in your area.

So even if you don't think you'll need roadside assistance or towing, it could really pay off having a AAA membership.  Visit the Auto Club of Southern California website at www.calif.aaa.com/home.html for more information.

California Has Billions of Dollars of Unclaimed Property - Claim Yours Now!

The State of California maintains billions of dollars in unclaimed property belonging to individuals and organizations.

California's Unclaimed Property Law requires "holders" such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to report and deliver property to the Controller's Office after there has been no customer contact for three (3) years. Often the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.

The most common types of unclaimed property are bank accounts and safe deposit box contents, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends, uncashed cashier's checks or money orders, certificates of deposit, matured or terminated insurance policies, estates, and mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds and escrow accounts.

Find out more at www.ClaimIt.ca.gov. Search the California Unclaimed Property database at ucpi.sco.ca.gov/UCP/Default.aspx.

Search by last name and drill down by city if you'd like. But perhaps you might want to try the first few letters of your name and city...maybe someone misspelled your name!

There are approximately 90,000 unclaimed accounts in Thousand Oaks alone!

Exploring the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium

dodgerssign.JPG

I've been a Dodger fan my entire life, having been born and raised in the Los Angeles area and moving to the Conejo Valley in the mid 1990s.

When I was a kid, my dad would take us to the game a couple times each season. We sat in the cheapest seats and on our way there would stop by McDonald's or In-N-Out Burger and bring food into the stadium.

Today, while still fans of the Dodgers, we rarely go to games. Just too many other things going on in our life. But I decided it would be fun to take the kids on a Saturday night this Memorial Day weekend.

BUYING TICKETS ONLINE

Plenty of tickets are available, but I had moderate sticker shock at the prices. The cheapest seats on the Dodgers ticketing website were $28 + $6.50 "Convenience" fee (whatever that means) and a $5.10 "Processing" fee. It certainly would be nice if all online ticket sellers just have one "all in" price that clearly shows the total price.

I was amazed at how terrible the Dodgers' ticketing website is, compared to other sites like StubHub and SeatGeek. They make you run Flash and don't provide a view from the seats like the other sites do.

In any case, I reviewed multiple alternatives to the Dodgers' ticketing website and went with StubHub. StubHub adds a service fee and a fulfillment fee to ticket prices. These fees vary based on event and ticket type. For the Dodgers game, the service fees were in the 23-25% range and fulfillment fees were $2. Factoring these fees in, StubHub still had the best overall prices for comparable seats out of the options I looked at.

PICKING THE SEATS

I was taking three kids to the game and my cheapest alternative were seats way, way up high in the Top Deck or Reserve areas. I didn't really want to be that high up, so I looked at the alternative of the bleacher seats. 

I'm not a fan of bleacher seats as they are just that - long benches with numbered seatbacks - no individual seats. I'm that guy who is annoyed the entire flight on a plane where the guy next to me's arm intrudes on my space. So bleacher seats probably are not the best idea for me.

But on second thought, we're only talking two to three hours and the kids would enjoy it. How bad could it be, right? So I decided to look at seats in the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion. They were about $20 to $25 more than the seats in the Left Field Pavilion, but ALL YOU CAN EAT sounded like a fun option with the kids.

 The bleacher seats make you feel closer to the action IMO than the seats in nosebleed land.

The bleacher seats make you feel closer to the action IMO than the seats in nosebleed land.

THE ALL YOU CAN EAT PAVILION

If it were me and a buddy, I would not sit in the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Pavilion because, well, I'm not big into gorging myself. But hey, I was with the kids, and thought it would be fun to just let em at it and not worry about cash. And indeed it was fun.

A few things to note. We are not talking about a gourmet selection in this deal. We're talking Dodger Dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and non-alcoholic beverages (soft drinks, iced tea and water). No ice cream, churros, cotton candy or beer (though those were available for sale). And no pizza, hamburgers or other food items. One pizza vendor walked by around the 7th inning; I suppose he was desperate to unload them at that point.

Is the All You Can Eat Pavilion worth it? Well it comes down to numbers. If you were to consume one Dodger Dog (cost is $6.50), one bag of peanuts ($5 estimate) and one drink ($6 insanely expensive), you are consuming $17.50 of Dodger Stadium cuisine. Throw in one other item, like another hot dog or nachos, and you've pretty much broken even on the deal. 

Two of the three kids with me "broke even." So I had to personally make up for the third kid's under-consumption. Indeed I was hungry on the drive from Thousand Oaks to Dodger Stadium, so I was prepared for the challenge. In fact, I went for a run that morning to ensure my metabolism was raring to go.

My take: 3 Dodger Dogs (really closer to 2 1/2 as I couldn't finish the 3rd one), 1 iced tea (refilled once), 2 bags of peanuts (I brought one home) and 2 bags of popcorn. Ignoring the refill, I think I devoured about $46 retail value in food.

Of course consuming all that salty food might make one thirsty. I woke up the next morning with a very dry mouth. And I certainly got my money's worth the night before so it was worth it. Kind of.

I had fond memories of Dodger Dogs going back to my childhood. They were great back then. But these Dodger Dogs were lukewarm at best and had kind of a metallic taste to them. I find the hot dogs at Costco, for $1.50, INCLUDING drink, to be more fulfilling.

The popcorn I thought was actually pretty good for pre-bagged popcorn. The peanuts were quite salty. The nachos were meh, not particularly good, according to the kids. 

THE BLEACHER SEATS

They weren't that bad. It was fun. The crowds were pretty mellow and there were a lot of families/kids out there.

There is zero room between your legs and knees and the row in front of you, but thankfully we didn't experience too much back and forth of people passing by as we were seated towards the middle of the row.

Great view of the field. We had to twist our necks a bit to see the big video screen, but it wasn't too bad.

There's nowhere to place your food and drinks, so you have to kind of balance the food in a tray on your lap. There's no cup holder for the drink. I placed my iced tea under the bench, where it was soon joined by trash. In fact, the amount of trash left by attendees was jaw dropping.

 Quite a mess under the seats of the bleacher benches.

Quite a mess under the seats of the bleacher benches.

My back was a little tweaked by the end of the game, but I survived. Though the Dodgers lost, the game was entertaining, as was the between-inning on-screen shenanigans. It was a fun night out.

GETTING THERE AND PARKING

I decided to use the Waze app to tell me the best way, factoring in traffic conditions, to get to Dodger Stadium. Without the app, the natural way I would go would be the 101 east to the 134 east to the 5 south.

Waze informed me that I would get there 12 minutes faster from Newbury Park via the 23 north to the 118 east to the 5 south to the 134 east to the 2 south to the 5 south. Yep, a bit out of the way, but it worked like a charm. A very stress-free drive, with minimal traffic.

Going home was much more direct - 5 north to 134 west, then 101 west. If you find yourself in the right-hand lane on Stadium Way coming out of Dodger Stadium, you will be forced to go on the 5 south. Whoops, wrong way! But if you do find yourself in this situation, not to worry. Continue on the 5 about half a mile and take the Riverside offramp, turn right, then you'll soon see a 5 north onramp.

Parking at the stadium is $25. DO buy a parking pass on the Dodgers ticketing website in advance for $15 to save yourself $10. www.mlb.com/dodgers/ballpark/transportation/parking

 Was fun catching a Justin Turner home run in the 4th inning.

Was fun catching a Justin Turner home run in the 4th inning.

IN SUMMARY

  • Dodger Stadium is just 40 to 60 minutes from the Conejo Valley and is a fun entertainment option for the entire family.
  • Plenty of seating options are available. The Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion is a great option if your family enjoys Dodger Dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos and soft drinks.

Earned Income Tax Credit & Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Locations in Ventura County

iStock_taxes.jpg

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program is a refundable tax credit available to individuals and families earning less than $48,340 and $53,930, respectively, in 2017. This is the federal government's largest anti-poverty measure and refunds can amount to as much as $6,318 (for 2017) for families with three or more qualifying children.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program recruits volunteer tax preparers as well as interpreters, screeners, and greeters and to provide free preparation of federal and state income tax returns to taxpayers with low incomes earning less than $54,000 in 2017. VITA benefits these taxpayers by eliminating the cost of commercial tax return preparation and by securing valuable tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit and EITC.

Local VITA location sites are as follows (see this IRS link for details, including dates and times):

Please bring the following:

  • Social Security card for each family member or ITIN number for the working adult
  • W-2 forms for all jobs worked during the year
  • All 1099 forms for other income
  • Child care provider information: name, address, and Tax ID (if available)
  • Picture I.D. for each adult filing
  • For direct deposit of refund - bank routing and account number or cancelled check

Additionally, Conejo Senior Volunteer Program (CSVP) is offering free tax preparation services for seniors 60 years of age or older (any income level) or persons with an income of $54,000 or less, regardless of age. This service is taking place Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:00pm at the Conejo Creek South Community Building: 1350 E. Janss Rd., Thousand Oaks, and Wednesdays, 8:30am-4:00pm at the Newbury Park Library, 2331 Borchard Rd., Newbury Park. There are no appointments taken; first-come, first-served. Call the CSVP office at (805) 381-2742 for more information.

MyFreeTaxes.com Offers Free Income Tax Preparation Service to Eligible Americans

MyFreeTaxes-rgb.jpg

MyFreeTaxes.com offers free federal and state tax preparation and filing services both online and in person to eligible Americans across the country. 

MyFreeTaxes national and local partners also provide taxpayers with eligibility information about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax credits to help them keep more of what they earn.

Individuals and families earning $66,000 or less in 2017 are eligible to use MyFreeTaxes.com for their 2017 tax returns. MyFreeTaxes.com tax filing software is provided by H&R Block®.

Or if you made $54,000 or less in 2017 and would like help in preparing your tax returns, click this link for Ventura County area Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs.

Homeless Prevention Rental Help Available to Ventura County Residents

HomelessRentalHelp.JPG

Through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Ventura County Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) makes federal funds available to local residents who are homeless or about to be evicted. County and city government have joined efforts to operate HPRP, ensuring that eligible County residents receive help when they need it most.

Basic eligibility criteria includes:

  • Homeless or facing eviction within 21 days
  • Household income limits based on family size
  • You have no other options or resources to find or keep housing
  • Financially able to maintain housing after rental assistance is received
  • Ventura County resident and U.S. citizen or qualified resident alien

Eligible HPRP applicants may receive various types of assistance, including eviction prevention rental payment, rental deposit, short-term rental payment, credit counseling, utility deposit/payment, moving and storage costs and case management. Payments go directly to vendors.

Case managers work closely with clients to develop and implement a service plan to ensure that they receive full benefits.  Through HPRP, clients are stabilized in housing and assisted comprehensively to help ensure that they do not face homelessness again.

Visit www.vchsa.org/hprp or call 805.385.8585 for additional information.