5 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday

5 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday

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5 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. The concept of buying discounted gift cards is simple enough. You “stack” your savings by combining Black Friday sales with discounted gift cards as payment.  And most retailers let you use their cards in-store or online.  Here are five ways you can buy gift cards for less than face value. 1. Online Gift Card Vendors Sellers that specialize in gift cards normally sell them at face value, but they do have sales.  Typically, quantities are limited and the deals sell out fast, so check often. You can sign up on Doctor of Credit to receive phone notifications of these types of deals. 2. Discounted Gift Card Sites Many websites help you buy discounted gift cards with unused balances. Discounts vary according to demand, and from site to site.  Gift Card Granny currently shows that a Cold Stone Creamery gift is available for 14% off and a 1800Flowers gift card is available for 8% off.   3. Local Store Promotions I once bought gift cards for several retailers at Dollar General for 15% off. To find these deals, check weekly ads online for various stores near you. Gift card promotions are usually on or near the last page.   Gift cards at Sam’s Club (online and in-store) often sell at a discount, but the selection is limited and the best deals are usually for restaurants. You can currently get two $25 cards for Olive Garden, Subway or Starbucks — a total value of $50 — for $39.98 online. 4. Use a 5% Cash-Back Category Reward If you have a credit card that pays 5% cash back on certain categories, you can use it to get 5% back on gift cards for non-category retailers.  For example, Discover’s 5% categories currently include Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target. Discover doubles your cash back after the first year, so you actually get 10% back if you’re a new card holder. Chase Freedom is another card with rotating 5% cash back categories (new ones every three months). Just remember that with both Chase and Discover, you have to activate your 5% bonus online at the beginning of each quarter. 5. Use Amex Offers If you have an American Express card, take advantage of Amex Offers to get discounted gift cards. Just watch for offers at places that sell gift cards. For example, my offers (each account theoretically gets different ones) once included a $10 statement credit for spending $50 at JCPenney. I can go to JCPenney, find their gift card rack, buy a $50 card for some other store, and get $10 back.  American Express says they’ll credit your account within 90 days, but it has never taken more than two weeks for my credit to appear.  You might even get gift cards for free. I used an offer of $10 back for any purchase at Newegg to buy a $10 Home Depot gift card — three times. There was no shipping charge, so I got $30 in Home Depot cards for free.  Get Ready for Black Friday   To prepare for Black Friday, you may have to guess where you’ll spend the most money, and how much, in order to buy the right gift cards in advance.  If you’re uncertain, just buy cards for places where you usually shop. That way, you can easily “liquidate” them after Black Friday if you haven’t used them all. If you wait until the last moment (or are reading this on Black Friday), you can still buy digital gift cards as necessary and print them out at home. Most vendors say it takes up to a day to email you the link to print your “card,” but I’ve always received it within two hours.   If you’re a scientific shopper, you’ll prepare a list of doorbusters and other items you plan to buy, and where. Then you’ll find the necessary gift cards at the best discounts available. You’ll also use… More Advanced Gift Card Strategies Paying for Black Friday purchases with discounted gift cards is a simple way to “stack” your savings.  But you can save even more if you add additional savings tactics, like using the right rewards credit card. Here are some examples of how to really stack up those savings. Example #1 Suppose Gap and Old Navy gift cards are currently on sale for 20% off at Staples. Buy a $50 card with a Chase Ink or American Express Simply Cash Business card (I have both), to get $2 cash back on the $40 purchase (5% back at all office supply stores).  Spend $50 on half-priced gifts on Black Friday, and pay with the gift card for a total net cost of $38 for things that would normally cost $100.  That’s how you stack three savings tactics: a sale, credit card cash back and a discounted gift card. Example #2 You plan to spend $140 on gifts at Michaels, so you do this: Go to Cashback Monitor and enter Raise to see which cash-back portal pays best for shopping at that discount card vendor. At the moment, the best rate is 5% from Mr. Rebates. Go to Mr. Rebates and set up an account, because they offer 5% cash back if you shop at Raise through their link. Use the Mr. Rebates portal link to go to Raise. Search through the many Michaels gift cards. As I write this, a card with a balance of $202.25 is listed for $174.95, a 13.5% discount. Buy the gift card with a credit card that gives you cash back, like Citi Double Cash (2%) or Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard (1.5%). Buy stuff at Michaels for at least 50% off on Black Friday. Here’s the breakdown on what you would save on the first $140 of purchases, if you buy only Black Friday deals that are 50% off: Half-off sale savings: $140.00 Gift card discount: $27.91 Portal cash back: $3.36 Credit card cash back: $2.24 By stacking four savings tactics, you save $173.51, and pay just $106.49 for gifts that would have cost $280 at the regular prices. Example #3 Add a coupon to the last example to use five savings tactics for one purchase. I once a five-level stack recently (not for Black Friday).  I earned portal cash back (1) when I bought a discounted gift card (2) with a cash-back credit card (3), and then I used the gift card and a coupon (4) to buy items already on sale (5) — all just to get cheap cat food at Petco in that case, but the strategy can also work at all of your favorite Black Friday stores. Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far). This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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How to Save on Prescriptions With the Kroger Rx Savings Club

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How to Save on Prescriptions With the Kroger Rx Savings Club
The following reader tip is from Rachel: Our family has some insurance, but not on prescriptions. I shop a lot at Kroger and recently realized that we could save a BUNCH on our prescriptions if we joined the Kroger Rx Savings Club. The club costs $32 per year for individuals and $72 per year for a family. This annual fee paid for itself when we filled my husband’s $100 prescription for only $28.50 at Kroger! Their website allows you to enter your medication information and to figure out what the cost would be as part of the Kroger Rx Savings club. NOTE: A family plan is good for up to 6 members (including pets!) and could potentially be a great option for those without traditional insurance. What is your best advice for saving money on medical expenses? Related Posts: 5 Simple Ways to Save on Medical Bills Cutting Down on Healthcare Costs 8 Ways to Save on Medical Necessities What Not to Do When You Get a Large Medical Bill [...]
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Our December Bucket List for This Year

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Our December Bucket List for This Year
One of the most requested podcast episodes has been for us to talk about our Christmas traditions, what Christmas looks like for our family, and how we do gifts for our immediate and extended family. In this episode, we sat down with Kathrynne, Kaitlynn, and Silas and had a discussion on our favorite Christmas memories, why we make a December Bucket List, what we chose for our bucket list this year, some things we’re doing differently for Christmas this year, how we do gifts, and what Christmas Eve and Christmas Day look like for our family. One of our biggest goals for each December is to keep things simple, not over-commit, and focus on memory-making and shared experiences. We sit down at the end of November and talk about what we want to prioritize for the Christmas season and then we make a list and block out days and times on the calendar to make these priorities happen. We’re excited about some new things we’re trying this year and we’re looking forward to another special December season of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and spending lots of time together as a family! In This Episode:  [01:58] We kick off the show by each sharing one of our favorite Christmas memories. [07:29] Want to know what’s on our December Bucket List this year? [11:16] Hear about our Dollar Tree stocking tradition and why we’re stepping it up this year. [13:16] How we do presents at our house. [15:45] Giving is something that is always a big priority for us, thanks to the kids’ initiative in this area! [18:00] What does our actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration look like for our family? [21:38] The kids share our quirky wrapping tradition. Links and Resources: Dollar Tree Stocking Stuffers Jesse Tree Ann Voskamp She Reads Truth He Reads Truth Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle

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7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Why toss things in the trash when you can repurpose or recycle them?  In addition to diverting items from the waste stream and keeping them out of landfills, you can also make extra money or help out worthy causes. From scrap metal to ink cartridges, bullets to construction materials, you can recycle a huge variety of items in exchange for cash or goodwill. Ready to see all the different things you can recycle for money? Find a Collection Point To find a recycling center near you, head over to Earth911.com and plug in the item you’re looking to recycle along with your location. The site lists collection locations for everything from antifreeze to ammunition. Of course, not everything pays, but it’s important to properly dispose of potentially hazardous items.  Prepare Items for Recycling Check with your local collection point for specific rules for preparing your recyclables for the collection center. Some centers require you to remove bottle caps, rinse and bag bottles in certain increments, or sort and tie together cardboard. Checking the rules before you go will save you time later on.  Be sure to properly bag items that may make a bit of a mess. Even if you thoroughly rinse all your bottles and cans, there might be water and other residue on them, so be sure to transport them in bins or bags to protect the interior of your car. If you’re donating a cell phone or other electronic item, be sure to clear your personal information from it, including contact lists, voice mails, text messages, photos, passwords, downloads and anything else that you wouldn’t want random strangers to access. Back up your information on your new phone, your computer or a cloud-based service, then restore your phone to factory settings before recycling it. 7 Items You Can Recycle for Money Depending where you live, you can get paid to recycle certain items. Here are some common recyclables and how to recycle them. 1. Scrap Metal Scrap metal is one of the more profitable materials to recycle. For this reason, scrap metal theft is not uncommon. Many local recycling programs fund their programs through scrap metal collection, so be sure to check your local rules or laws about collection. Copper, steel and aluminum are just a few of the scrap metals that you can recycle for money. Google your local area and “scrap yard” to find a facility that takes whatever metals you have and learn their procedures for drop off. Once you have rounded up your metal, find out if it is ferrous or non-ferrous by seeing if a magnet sticks to it. If it does, the metal is ferrous and likely a common metal like steel or iron. These items typically aren’t worth much, but it’s still worthwhile to recycle them. If the magnet does not stick, you likely have copper, aluminum, brass, bronze or stainless steel on your hands. These metals are more valuable.  You can make money recycling a variety of these metals. Copper is one of the more profitable metals: Some scrap yards offer over $2 per pound. Aluminum typically earns between 40 and 70 cents a pound, yellow brass can yield $1.40 per pound, and die-cast metal goes in the 30-cents-a-pound range, though local prices vary.  2. Bottles and Cans One Penny Hoarder writer made $1,500 cashing in soda cans he collected at work. You, too, can make money by rounding up bottles and cans, whether from work, friends and family, at events, or just the recyclables you use at home. California offers 5 cents for most plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans smaller than 24 ounces, and 10 cents for 24-ounce or larger containers. It’s technically a bottle deposit, but many people don’t bother to collect their refunds, so it’s easy money for bottle and can collectors.  Michigan has a 10-cents per bottle recycling rate, which has prompted people to illegally smuggle in empty bottles purchased out of state to cash in. (This was even the plot of one Seinfeld episode!) Many states have similar deposit programs, so check what’s available where you live. 3. Car Batteries Advance Auto Parts offers a $10 store gift card to customers who bring in their used car batteries (light-duty truck batteries are also accepted). If the company doesn’t have an outlet near you, call your local auto parts stores to see whether they offer similar deals. 4. Ink Cartridges A number of office supply stores, including Staples and Office Depot accept used ink cartridges for recycling. Staples offers $2 back per cartridge, with a maximum of 10 returns per month, and you have to spend at least $30 on ink or toner within 180 days of recycling.  Office Depot also gives you $2 back in program rewards for each ink or toner cartridge you recycle, up to 10 cartridges per month. But you must also purchase ink from them the same month. There is no limit on the number of cartridges you recycle, but you will only receive points on the first 10 per month. You can use your points toward a number of different perks and discounts.  5. Electronics Eco-Cell is one of many companies that offers cash for old cell phones and other electronics. The company accepts working or broken phones, tablets, rechargeable batteries, circuit boards and a variety of other electronics. Even if an item is broken or was submerged in water and is unusable, Eco-Cell will accept it in order to divert electronics from landfills and properly dispose of their toxic components and metals. Many cell phone providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have trade-in programs where you can receive a voucher, gift card or other reward for turning in your old phone. Amazon Trade-in is another way to earn gift cards. A number of charities also accept cell phones, whether to re-purpose or sell and use the funds for a charitable purpose. Cell Phones for Soldiers refurbishes and sells your old phone to active-duty military members and veterans. If a phone is too old or broken, Cell Phones for Soldiers sells it to recyclers who strip it for parts and dispose of its metals responsibly. The proceeds from the sales go to purchase international calling cards for troops and provide emergency financial assistance to veterans. And of course, you can always sell your old phone yourself. 6. Junk Cars Your rusted old jalopy? You can recycle it for money. There are companies that pay cash for broken down cars.  Junk Car Medics is one, and you can sell your car to them online or over the phone. You enter details about your vehicle, such as condition and mileage, and quickly get an offer. If you accept it, you’ll have to provide proof of ownership and a few other details before you get paid. The company says most transactions are same-day, and they take the car away for you. 7. The Rest of Your Unwanted Stuff You can “recycle” belongings you no longer want on a variety of apps and platforms and get a little something back for them. ThredUp and Poshmark are popular second-hand clothing apps where you can sell your wares.  ThredUp will send you a free shipping label and apply credits for anything that sells to your own account, but it’s often not a lot of money. Poshmark offers bigger potential payouts, but you have to put in more work to make your items move. Letgo is a second-hand site where you can buy or sell just about anything you no longer use. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys!

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Up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Today only, Amazon is offering up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys! Here are some deals you can score… Get this PlayMonster 5 Second Rule Game for only $7.99! Get this The Game of Things for only $8.99! Get this Relative Insanity Party Game for only $7.99! Get this MOLUK Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy for only $9.02! Get this Patch ProductsToss-Up Dice Game for only $5.05! Get this MOLUK Bilibo in multiple color options for just $20.99! Shop the PlayMonster sale here. Valid today only, December 4, 2019. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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All the Best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Still Available!

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All the Best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Still Available!
Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals with this round-up! This year has had a CRAZY amount of Cyber Monday Deals and Black Friday Deals, so we thought we’d round them all up in one post for you! Crystal’s Top 10 Picks: Get a year of Hulu at just $1.99 per month! Chromebook Cyber Monday Deals | Acer Chromebook for $124.99 shipped, plus more! Denise Albright 2020-2021 Planner Bundle for just $19.95 + shipping! Get over 50% off one of my favorite sweaters for Cyber Monday!! Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 Electronic Power Rechargeable Battery Electric Toothbrush for just $89.94 shipped (Originally $250)! Old Navy: Sherpa Pullovers for the Family only $10 today! *HOT* The Children’s Place: Fleece Pullovers and Pants just $4.99 shipped! Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker only $49.99 shipped! DaySpring Hand-Thrown Mugs for just $2.80 each! *HOT* TaoTronics Essential Oils Diffuser for just $6.99!! Cyber Monday Deals Still Available: Get 50% off ALL of my courses! Hypoallergenic Shredded Memory Foam Pillows for just $14.99 each, shipped! Amazon FreeTime Unlimited | 3 Months for just $0.99! {$29 Savings!!) Shark Vacuum Cyber Monday Deals *HOT* 61-Piece 3D Magnetic Building Tile Play Set only $19.49 (Reg. $100!) MUK LUKS Anais Moccasin Slippers only $12.99 shipped! Target: 40% Off Bedding and Bath! T-Rex & Triceratops Dinosaur Bump & Go Toy Cars (Set of 4) only $14.99 shipped! Ring Video Doorbell with Echo Dot 3rd Generation only $79.99 shipped (Reg. $150!) *HOT* Free $5 Starbucks Gift Card with $20 Gift Card Purchase {Limited Quantity!} Carter’s: 7-Pack Baby Bodysuits only $10 shipped! 50% off Hydro Flask Bottles at REI! Carter’s: Toddler & Girl’s Leggings only $5 shipped! Cricut Explore Air 2 only $179.99 shipped, plus more! Dreamworks Holiday Collection DVD for just $6.99! HOT Deals on Marvel Action Figures! HOT Discounts on Play-Doh Sets, Playskool Toys, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Baby Alive Dolls! *HOT* HUGE Savings on Monopoly and Hasbro Games! HOT Cyber Monday Deals on LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Tegu Blocks, K’Nex, Playmobil, and Tinkertoys!! *HOT* Up to 50% off Nerf Toys! Keurig K-Mini Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker for just $42.49 shipped (Reg. $90)! Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones for just $139 shipped!! Dinosaur Racetrack for just $16.99 shipped! Men’s Croft & Barrow Festive Microfleece Sleep Pants only $3.99! Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High & Low Top Sneakers only $25 shipped! Black Friday Deals Still Available: Holiday Doormats and Accent Rugs as low as $3.99! Dick’s Sporting Goods: 25% off Hydro Flask Bottles and Tumblers! Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Kit for just $260.99 shipped (Reg. $750)! Robotic Vacuum Black Friday Deals Apple Macbook Air for just $649.99 shipped (Reg. $999)!! Gift an Amazon Prime membership at 10% off! Women’s Sweaters only $7.99! Muk Luks Women’s Bootie Slippers for just $7.99 shipped! Elmer’s Rainbow Slime Starter Kit only $4.99! LEGO Classic Creative Fun Box for just $20! Dick’s Sporting Goods: Extra 25% off YETI Tumblers, Coolers and Mugs! *HOT* Sam’s Club Membership Deal | $50 in Savings! Echo Show 5 for just $49.99 shipped! Echo Dot 3rd Generation for just $22! HOT Deals on Dinosaur Toys!!! Matching Family Pajamas 60% Off! Get two holiday graphic shirts as low as $14.98 each, shipped! Women’s Boots only $19.99 at JCPenney! Royal Luxe White Goose Feather & Down Comforter (Any Size) for just $50.99 shipped!! *HOT* Pura Vida Bracelets Black Friday Sale | 50% Off Plus Free Shipping! LEGO Minifigures Series 19 Building Kit only $2.99! Nike Men’s Running Shoes only $29.99 shipped (Reg. $60!) Mega Bloks Building Basics Let’s Get Learning 150-Piece Set only $12.97! ABCmouse Deal: Annual subscription for just $3.75 per month! American Explorer Hardside Luggage for just $39.99 (Reg. $180)! *HOT* Roku Streaming Stick+ only $29! Kindle Black Friday Deals | Lowest Prices on Record! *HOT* Adventure Academy Annual Subscription for just $3.75 per month! Starbucks Black Friday Deal: Free Coffee & Tea in January with Tumbler Purchase Amazon Fire TV Cube for just $89.99 shipped! Black Friday Deals on Sony and Beats Headphones at Target! Fire Tablet Black Friday Deals | Lowest Prices on Record! *HOT* ReadingIQ Deal: Annual subscription for just $2.49 per month! {Silas loves this app!} *HOT* Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote for just $19.99! Step2 Modern Cook Kitchen Set for just $34.99! KiwiCo Promo Code: Get a box for just $7.98 shipped! We hope you grabbed some great deals over the past week! Also, be sure to sign up for our Hot Deals newsletter and join our Deal Seekers Facebook group so that you don’t miss out on any of the hottest, time-sensitive deals as soon as they go live throughout the rest of the holiday season! [...]
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It’s Cyber Monday: Here Are the Best Deals at Amazon

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It’s Cyber Monday: Here Are the Best Deals at Amazon
Not to worry if you missed out on any deals on Black Friday. Cyber Monday — today — brings plenty of second chances. In fact, on Amazon, you will find many discounts that are at least as steep as they were on Black Friday — as well as deals that weren’t even available on Black Friday. Just take a look at the hundreds of deals on Amazon’s Cyber Monday site. Or... [...]
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6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages

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6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages
The porch pirates got me good one holiday season.  I arrived home after a long day at work to find two empty packages on my front stoop. The thermal sweatshirt that was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my dad? Gone. The pricy face cream I bought for myself? Gone. And the townhouse I was living in, which was on a residential street, didn’t have security cameras.  There were plenty of places to tuck the packages out of sight, but the delivery person was either too busy or had done so only to be foiled later by the thieves. That was years ago. Now I can simply install a smart lock on my front door and have Amazon or Walmart deliver items directly to my living room. Thieves can’t steal your packages if there’s nothing on your doormat to yoink. But what if you’re trying to receive packages and deliveries without allowing our e-commerce big brothers to let themselves in on a regular basis?  6 Ways to Stop Porch Pirates Once and for All In a 2017 report, insuranceQuotes estimated that 25.9 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep that year. And across the United States, 36% of consumers have reported having a package stolen at least once, at an average cost of $109.  Don’t want to be a part of that very sad group of people? Try one or more of these methods to deter package thieves when you’re doing your online holiday shopping.  1. Make Delivery Requests Some online ordering systems allow you to make delivery requests, like putting the package in a secure area. Making a request doesn’t guarantee that it will be met, but you may be surprised at how attentive delivery people are when dropping off your goods. “Leave on basement steps” or “upstairs neighbor can sign” are simple instructions that can help ensure your package gets to you. If you happen to run into your regular local USPS, UPS or FedEx carrier, you may be able to make requests in person. But keep in mind that your neighborhood delivery person may have the best intel on which bushes are ideal for concealing packages. 2. Work With a Neighbor If you know your neighbors — come on, go meet your neighbors — you can work together to thwart package theft. If you have alternating or overlapping schedules, swiping a package off their stoop — for good, not evil — means you can make sure it gets into their hands after dinner or whenever they get home.  3. Get Packages Delivered to Your Workplace Not every employer will welcome your holiday shipments with open arms, so check with your office manager to see if they’d mind signing for packages you don’t want to risk having delivered at home.  Hauling items home can be cumbersome later, but if you want eyes on a package ASAP, your workplace may be your best bet. 4. Pay for a Package Receipt Service This isn’t the cheapest option, but it may be the most secure. Some businesses offer to receive packages for customers for a small fee.  I once lived around the corner from a dry cleaner that always had a line at the counter. Why so popular? Not only did it offer quick cleaning services, but you could pick up your dry cleaning and your packages in the same trip — and the hours were convenient, too. 5. Get Your Stuff Delivered to an Amazon Locker It’s not quite as convenient as home delivery or the corner store, but if you’d rather have your Amazon package delivered to a secure location, add an Amazon Locker location to your account.  Amazon will deliver the package to the locker and when it’s ready for pickup, you’ll receive an email with a six-digit code to pick up the package from the self-service kiosk. Lockers are located in stores, apartment buildings and malls across the United States, which offers you convenient times to pick up packages on in the evenings or on weekends. And if you’re a Prime member, you get to use the lockers for free.  6. Watch Your Tracking Info Like a Hawk Ah, the beauty of technology. I can see the exact moment my package went from a warehouse plane to another warehouse and onto a truck. And I can see the moment it finally lands at my home. Tracking services may not prevent you from losing packages to theft, but the available tools can help you stay up to date on its path and estimated arrival so you can plan accordingly.  Frequently, you can sign up for text or email updates on your package’s journey, and if you miss a delivery you need to sign for, you can sometimes have the package rerouted to a shipping service center, like the UPS Store, so the delivery person doesn’t spend three days knocking on your door.  Pro Tip If you have the Ring doorbell camera, sign up for reports on the Neighbors App, where you can share info about package thieves if they hit your area. The postal service even offers Informed Delivery, which sends you images of small pieces of mail that are on their way to your mailbox that day. If you’re willing to make a bigger investment, home security systems like the Ring can also let you monitor your front door — and the police department can use the footage to track down the porch pirates. If the worst-case scenario happens, detailed tracking information and video can help make a case to your credit card company, which may reimburse you for lost or stolen packages, or it could help you get a replacement item from the retailer. Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Crystal’s 10 Favorite Black Friday Deals

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Crystal’s 10 Favorite Black Friday Deals
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. There were SO many great Black Friday deals today!! You can see ALL of the deals we posted here. I went through all of the deals we posted and picked out 10 deals that are my favorites. Here are my 10 top favorite deals from today… Dick’s Sporting Goods is offering 25% off Hydro Flask Bottles and Tumblers! Zulily has this 101-Piece 3D Magnetic Building Tile Play Set for only $29.99 today! Shipping is $5.99 making this only $35.98 shipped. This is a fantastic price for this set! Cents of Style is running Black Friday Sales on my favorite tee today — both the short-sleeve and long-sleeve versions! Get the Jagger Boyfriend Short-Sleeve Tee for just $10 shipped when you use code STEALDEAL. Or get the Joanna Boyfriend Long-Sleeve Tee for just $12 shipped when you use coupon code STEALDEAL. Amazon has this TaoTronics Essential Oils Diffuser for just $6.99 when you use coupon code GYLWZUQT at checkout. This is the lowest price on record and a really GREAT price on a diffuser! This is perfect if you are just getting started out with essential oils, need an extra diffuser for another room, or want to give a gift idea to someone who loves their essential oils! The HOT Hulu Black Friday Deal is back again this year! When you sign up for a year of Hulu as a new customer, you’ll pay just $1.99 per month! This is a savings of $4 per month, so an annual savings of $48! Note: This deal is only valid on the cheapest version of Hulu that is regularly $5.99/month. It does NOT include commercial-free or live tv options. WooHoo! Love this deal, and it always goes FAST! Grab four free kitchen appliances after Kohl’s Cash and rebates. Here’s how: Buy 4 select Toastmaster small kitchen appliances at $18.99 each Use promo code GIVETHANKS (15% off) Get $15 in Kohl’s Cash for spending $50 Submit for 4 $14 in mail-in-rebates Free after coupon code, Kohl’s cash, and rebates! There are 12 different appliances to choose from at this price: 5-cup coffee maker, plastic kettle, mini blender, mini chopper, immersion blender, 1.5 qt slow cooker, 2-slice toaster, 6-in skillet, mini waffle maker, hand mixer, can opener, electric kettle. Amazon has this Elmer’s Rainbow Slime Starter Kit for just $4.99 right now! This would be a great gift idea. Looking for a great deal on an electric toothbrush? Amazon currently has the Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries Rechargeable Power Electric Toothbrush priced at just $79.94 for Black Friday! This is a HOT deal as it retails for $179 and the lowest price we’ve ever seen it prior to this is $104. Whoa! Amazon price-matched Walmart on this HOT Black Friday deal!! Amazon has these Apple AirPods with Charging Case for just $129 shipped! This is the lowest price ever on record! Amazon has this Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker for only $49.99 shipped! This is the lowest price on record! [...]
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8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Black Friday

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8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Black Friday
You may be a veteran Black Friday shopper with the inside scoop on the greatest deals and strategies — but how much do you really know about the day itself?  For example, can you name which generation goes nuts on Black Friday? Or how Black Friday really got its name? Knowledge is power, so we’ve rounded up eight of the most interesting Black Friday facts and shared them below. 1. More Than 50% of Americans Shop on Black Friday Sure, you knew Black Friday was popular, but did you know it was this popular? Last year, 165 million people shopped during Black Friday weekend (which lasts from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday). That’s roughly half of all Americans.  Wondering how to stay sane amidst the hustle and bustle? Think ahead and develop a plan of attack — bonus: Strategizing can also help you avoid holiday debt.  2. Black Friday Can Be Deadly You may have joked about toy rage and trampling before, but the scary, sad fact of the matter is people actually have died shopping on Black Friday.  In the past 12 years, 12 deaths and 117 injuries have been attributed to Black Friday, Black Friday Death Count reports.  If you’re nervous about battling it out in the stores, then Cyber Monday might be more your scene. 3. The Day Owes Its Name to Philly Cops  You probably heard “Black Friday” originated from an accounting term: the day retailers’ profits finally went into the black.  But, the name really came from Philadelphia cops who were frustrated with traffic and smog caused by the mass of shoppers. Retailers didn’t like the negative connotation, so they spread the accounting rumor.  4. The Average Shopper Spends More Than $300 Can you believe it? Shoppers spent an average of $313.29 on their Black Friday shopping last year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.  Don’t let your holiday shopping get out of control: Create a holiday budget before doing anything else.  5. Black Friday Might Not Be the Cheapest Day of the Year Eek! You’ll find plenty of bargains on Black Friday, but don’t automatically assume everything is at its lowest price.  The cheapest day of the year may be later in the holiday shopping season. Before you buy, check out our comprehensive guide for the best time to buy just about anything. 6. Millennials are the Biggest Black Friday Shoppers Would you have guessed millennials are the generation most devoted to Black Friday? We wouldn’t have.  Technically, the group that spent the most were older millennials and younger Gen X-ers (35-44 years old), who spent an average of $413.05 last year.  That probably shouldn’t come as too great a surprise, since that’s also prime parenting age for younger children. Consider a new, budget-friendly tradition this holiday season: the four-gift rule. 7. It’s the Busiest Day of the Year for Plumbers It may no longer be the busiest day of the year for retailers, but Black Friday still reigns supreme for another industry: plumbing. “Often, the case is that a house already has partially clogged drains that go unnoticed, until holiday guests arrive and overwhelm the system,” explains Roto Rooter. Want to earn money on Black Friday, instead of spending it? Advertise your handyman services in the weeks leading up to the holiday.  8. Most Shoppers Actually Stay Home If you only go for the bargains — and not for the Black Friday experience — you might as well stay home and shop online.  Last year, 41.4 million shoppers said they bought exclusively online, compared to 34.7 million who said they patronized brick-and-mortar establishments only.   Susan Shain is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Happy Thanksgiving + Don’t Miss Any Black Friday Deals!

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Happy Thanksgiving + Don’t Miss Any Black Friday Deals!
Black Friday is almost here! As we’ve done the past few years, our team will be taking Thanksgiving Day off to spend with our families. But we’ll be back bright and early on Friday morning to live-blog the BEST online Black Friday deals all day long! We’d love for you to come join us here. We’ll start blogging deals around 6 a.m. CT and will keep blogging as long as we keep finding deals! You can follow along here on the blog or on our Facebook Page. I’m planning on doing several Facebook Lives throughout the day so we can hang out and talk about the best deals, too. Join us from the comfort of your couch with your PJ’s on and your favorite hot beverage in hand! It’s going to be fun — and I hope you’re able to find some great deals on items you were planning to buy! Make sure you don’t miss any deals! If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of the HOTTEST time-sensitive deals throughout the day, be sure to sign up for our HOT deals newsletter! You’ll receive a few emails throughout the day with a round-up of the BEST Black Friday Deals before they have a chance to expire. And be sure to also join our Facebook group if you haven’t done so yet! We’ll post every deal in that group as soon as it goes live, and you’ll get notifications via Facebook all day long! (This is especially helpful if you’ve been missing our posts in your regular Facebook newsfeed.) Looking for Black Friday deals that are already live? Black Friday Deals have been rolling out really early this year! We’ve already posted hundreds of early Black Friday deals! Go here to see all of the latest Black Friday Deals we’ve posted. And you can also check out all of the in-store Black Friday Ad Scans here. Happy Thanksgiving! Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving (if you’re struggling this Thanksgiving, be sure to read this) and we’ll see you back here on MoneySavingMom.com bright and early for all the Black Friday goodness! [...]
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3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress

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3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress
Downsizing — what exactly does it mean? Smaller house, fewer bills, less stuff? Yes, yes and yes. Many think of downsizing as moving to a more compact house after the kids have grown and gone. And it is. But let’s not stop there. Downsizing makes sense in other ways, too. Following are other areas of life where downsizing can yield serious financial savings, not to mention save you... [...]
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*HOT* Hulu Black Friday Deal | Get a year of Hulu at just $1.99 per month!!!

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*HOT* Hulu Black Friday Deal | Get a year of Hulu at just $1.99 per month!!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Whoa! Don’t miss this HOT Hulu Black Friday Deal! Yay!! The HOT Hulu Black Friday Deal is back again this year! When you sign up for a year of Hulu as a new customer, you’ll pay just $1.99 per month! This is a savings of $4 per month, so an annual savings of $48! Note: This deal is only valid on the cheapest version of Hulu that is regularly $5.99/month. It does NOT include commercial-free or live tv options. Go here to sign up for this HOT deal! [...]
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10+ Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $30

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10+ Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $30
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas this season? We have you covered with this Eco-Friendly Gifts Guide — and they’re all under $30 to help you stick to your gift budget! This Eco-Friendly Gift Guide was thoughtfully put together by Meg on the MoneySavingMom team — who is very passionate about making healthy and eco-conscious life choices. Do you know somebody who is striving to live an eco-conscious, lower impact life by choosing more sustainable products in their everyday life? Check out this list of fun eco-friendly gift ideas that are sure to excite that person in your life! Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas 1. Essential Oils Diffuser — A diffuser is a great gift idea for someone wanting to replace candles with essential oils to avoid polluting the air in their home. There are lots of great diffusers less than $30 on Amazon that come in all shapes and sizes! 2. Beeswax Food Wraps — One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic use is to stop using plastic baggies for food storage and transportaion. These Beeswax Food Wraps are the perfect replacement solution, and you can get them in all kinds of really fun designs! 3. Bamboo Toothbrush — Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable, so it’s a great option to replace plastic toothbrushes! I personally love the ones with activated charcoal for an added whitening effect! 4. Stainless Steel Straws — For someone who loves using straws at home, a stainless steel straw is an excellent option to help reduce plastic use. Straws are one of the biggest plastic pollutants, and it’s such an easy replacement! I use these inexpensive straws in my YETI every day and love them. 5. Reusable Produce Bags — These mesh produce bags are a great way to reduce plastic bag use when you’re at the grocery store. I have this set and love them! And they’re easily washable. 6. Ella+Mila or Zoya Nail Polish — If you know someone who loves doing her nails, this is a great eco-friendly gift idea! Zoya Nail Polish is 10-free and Ella+Mila is 7-free. These are two of my all-time favorite nail polish brands, because not only are they more eco-friendly than other brands but they’re also quality polishes that go on nice and opaque and have beautiful finishes to them. 7. Starbucks Reusable Cup with Gift Card — Do you know someone who frequents Starbucks? Consider buying them a Reusable Starbucks Cup! It saves on plastic and also gives them a $0.10 discount each time they use it. Stick a Starbucks gift card inside for a nice little surprise! 8. Mason Jar Lids and Straws — This is such a fun, eco-friendly way to hydrate! Gift someone this set and they can just re-use mason jars that they already own. This works great for on-the-go hydration — perfect for water, infused fruit drinks, lemonade, teas, and more! 9. Lush Body Care Products — Lush has worked really hard to almost completely eliminate plastic use in their packaging products. Many of their products are “naked” without packaging and the rest are made from recycled and recyclable/compostable materials. To encourage recycling even further, you’ll receive a free face mask when you bring in 5 empty Lush pots. They have tons of beautiful gift ideas, including luxurious bath bombs and yummy lotions. (This Sleepy Lotion is my FAVE.) 10. Reusable Grocery Bags — This is an idea that’s been around for a long time now and has become more mainstream, but it can be fun to give cute and different reusable grocery bags as a gift! Amazon has lots of fun options! Maybe even add a gift card to a whole foods grocery store! 11. Organic Cotton Socks — For someone who loves socks, organic cotton is a great sustainable option, because it doesn’t use any chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Plus, they’re extra cozy! 12. Tarte Cosmetics — All of Tarte’s products are made without harmful parabens, mineral oil, or sulfates. They also have an entire line called Rainforest of the Sea that are made from entirely plant-based ingredients. Be sure to check out their sale section for lots of options under $30. 13. Succulents — Plants are a go-to gift idea for someone who is interested in a sustainable lifestyle. And succulents are so much fun and easy to take care of! 14. Zero Waste Home Book — For someone interested in reducing waste and lowering their environmental impact, this book would be a great gift! It’s full of all kinds of easy and creative ideas. Bonus Ideas (Over $30) Have a little extra wiggle room in your Christmas budget and willing to spend a bit more? Try one of these bonus recommendations for eco-friendly Christmas gifts: 15. YETI or Hydro Flask — This is another easy way to hydrate in a plastic-free way! I love my YETI and Hydro Flask and use both almost every day for different uses (YETI for everyday water drinking and Hydro Flask for yoga or working out). Both are quality brands that will last forever and keep water super cold. 16. Pela Phone Case — These phone cases are really cool because they’re 100% compostable! Choose from lots of different colors and fun designs! I’ve been eyeing these for a while now, but haven’t splurged to buy myself one yet! This is a really unique gift idea for the eco-conscious person on your gift list! More Holiday Gift Guides Looking for other budget-friendly holiday gift guides? Don’t miss these: Beauty Gift Guide Tweens Gift Guide LEGO Gift Guide Outdoor Gift Guide Gluten-Free Gift Guide Little Boys Gift Guide Expectant Mothers Gift Guide Psst! Be sure to sign up for our hot deals newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest deals each day this holiday season! Can you think of any other great eco-friendly Christmas gifts? Let us know in the comments! [...]
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Feel like a failure?

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Feel like a failure?
What do you do when you experience failure in your life or your business? One of our wonderful listeners asked how you get back up and keep going after failure, and Jesse and I had a lively and honest discussion around this in this week’s episode of the The Crystal Paine Show. Failure is a part of life, but it shouldn’t define who we are. For instance, for a long time, Jesse identified as a lawyer and that title made up his identity in many ways. If he failed or if he perceived a failure, that lack would directly impact his identity.  For many others, they don’t feel like they are good enough. When this is the case, it’s so easy to see failure and setbacks as defining you as a failure personally. The truth is that true failure only occurs when you stop trying and give up. Until you stop trying, you haven’t failed! So keep moving and learning and growing from your mistakes. Also, don’t forget to stop and celebrate your wins. It’s so easy to focus on what we’re doing wrong instead of recognizing what we’re doing right. In This Episode:  [01:23] What’s saving our lives? Under Armour hoodies and my Sole F80 treadmill. [07:36] I’m reading Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian. [12:25] Jesse shares how he gets up and does the next thing after a big fail?  [16:03] So many people identify as “failures,” how do you separate the act of failure from your overall identity?  [19:01] Everyone fails and each failure is a lesson learned. [21:51] True failure is when you stop taking action. Just keep moving forward. Links and Resources: Zulily Under Armour hoodies Sole F80 Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap for just $1.94 each, shipped!

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Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap for just $1.94 each, shipped!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Stock up on dish soap with this Seventh Generation deal! Amazon has this Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap 6-Pack for just $11.65 shipped when you clip the 20% off e-coupon and check out through Subscribe & Save. That’s like paying just $1.94 per bottle, shipped! This is such a great stock-up deal for this brand. Note: Once your order ships, you can go into your Amazon account and cancel your subscription if you don’t want recurring orders. Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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This Week’s Kroger Shopping Trip + Amazon Order = $63 spent!

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This Week’s Kroger Shopping Trip + Amazon Order = $63 spent!
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. I only ended up going to Kroger once this past week, but I got some great deals and markdowns! The Cream of Chicken soup was in the markdown section and it was just $0.49 each + it was part of the Buy 10, Get $5 off deal which meant that I got $0.50 off each — making them free! I was super excited about finding the Yoplait 8-count packs of yogurt for just $0.99 and also the Off the Grid Waffles for just $0.99 each! There is a $0.50/1 iBotta rebate with a limit of 5 so I got back $2.50 for buy 5 boxes! And finally, I was super thrilled to find eggs marked down! We were down to our last few eggs so it was perfect timing! Kroger Shopping Trip: 5 Campbell’s Soup — marked down to $0.49, got $0.50 off each because they were part of the buy 10, Get $5 off deal 2 cans of Swanson broth — $0.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 4 cans of Green Beans — $0.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 2 pounds Land O Lakes butter — $2.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 3 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each when you buy 10 participating items, used $1/3 coupon from a Kroger mailer = $0.50 for all three 2 cartons cottage cheese — $1.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 3 boxes of Swiss Miss hot cocoa — $0.99 each when you buy 10 participating items Annie’s Mac & Cheese — marked down to $0.45 5 boxes Off the Grid Waffles — marked down to $0.99 each, plus I got $0.50 back per box from iBotta Old El Pasa Taco Shells — marked down to $0.39 2 boxes SO Right frozen burrito bowls — marked down to $0.89 each 1 dozen Kroger eggs — marked down to $0.59 5 dozen cage-free brown eggs — marked down to $1.29 each 2 Chobani yogurt flips — marked down to $0.19 each Kroger peanut butter — free with Kroger coupon from the Kroger mailer Kroger water — $0.89 2 Dannon Oikos yogurt — marked down to $0.49 each 2 packages Roasted Turkey — marked down to $1.79 each Broccoli crowns — $0.70 Kroger smoked sausage — free with Kroger mailer coupon 2 8-count packages of Yoplait yogurt — marked down to $0.99 each 1 bunch of green leaf lettuce — $1.79 Bag of 3 apples — marked down to $0.99 Bananas — marked down to $0.50 Dole Salad Kit — $1.79 4-lb bag of oranges — $3.99 Milk — $2.99 Total with tax: $53.28 Since I had some extra wiggle room in the grocery budget, I went ahead and ordered this great deal off of Amazon. Dinners This Past Week Monday: Frozen Pizza Tuesday: Lasagna Casserole, Green Beans, Rolls Wednesday: Chicken Noodle Soup, Best Bran Muffins, Cinnamon Apples Thursday: Homemade Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, Grapes, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Friday: Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs Saturday: Leftovers (fend for yourself) Rebates earned: $2.75 back from iBotta + 225 points from Fetch Rewards [...]
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Who wants a FREE $5 Amazon gift card??

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Who wants a FREE $5 Amazon gift card??
This is a super easy way to earn a quick $5 gift card for your holiday spending! Trying to stretch your holiday budget? I’ve got a way for you to easily earn a $5 Amazon gift card in just minutes — completely free! If you are planning to do any errands or shopping in the near future, don’t miss this! Here’s how to earn your free $5 gift card: 1. Sign up for Shopkick through this link, use code MOM5 during the registration process. 2. Go to one store listed in the app within 7 days. (Some of the stores listed: Kroger, CVS, Walmart, Target, Publix, Dollar General, Aldi, Sprouts, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Sam’s Club, and more!). 3. When you’re at the store, open up your app and click on the store and then scans. Scan one product listed in the app. 4. That’s it! You don’t have to purchase anything. Just use the code MOM5 when signing up and then scan one item in-store. 5. Because you used the code above, you’ll get 1250 bonus “kicks” instantly added to your account. You can trade these in for a $5 Amazon gift card! (Or any other gift card!) Want to Earn Even More Points? Want to earn more points? Make sure to have the Shopkick app open when you walk in the store (you’ll earn kicks for this) and then scan all the other items listed in the app that you can earn points for. For instance, right now, I can earn 24o kicks just for scanning products in the app at Kroger, or 335 kicks for scanning products in the app at Publix, or 75 for scanning products at Aldi. I don’t have to buy anything at the stores. All I have to do is open up the app when I’m in the store and scan the specific item and I’ll earn the kicks. Best of all, I can do this every single time I go shopping — and it’s FREE points to use toward FREE gift cards! Find Out More About Shopkick Read more about how Shopkick works and how to earn more points with Shopkick here. Also, check out my post on 7 Easy Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards for other ways to earn free Amazon gift cards. Psst! Getting ready for the holiday season? Be sure to check out our Holiday Shopping Survival Guide! And don’t forget to sign up for our Hot Deals Newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest Black Friday and holiday deals! [...]
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Xbox One X Black Friday 2019 Deals: Are They Worth It?

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Xbox One X Black Friday 2019 Deals: Are They Worth It?
NerdWallet is here to help you win Black Friday while leaving your budget intact. We spend the time, you save the money. Visit regularly for holiday tips and announcements about your favorite products. Black Friday is Nov. 29. Microsoft’s most advanced gaming system, the Xbox One X, joins rivals like the PS4 and Nintendo Switch... Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn. The article Xbox One X Black Friday 2019 Deals: Are They Worth It? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

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8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
Think there’s nothing you can do about life’s little annoyances? We’ve taken it upon ourselves to help change your mind! From adapters that magically transform one outlet into three — for less than $5, we might add — to silicone lids that prevent liquids from boiling over, we’ve rounded up a variety of products available at Amazon that put an end to the everyday... [...]
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The Enneagram and Marriage

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The Enneagram and Marriage
We had a lot of fun with this episode — and we learned a few things about each other in the process of recording it! What’s today’s podcast episode topic? The Enneagram and marriage. Whether you love all things Enneagram, are skeptical of it, or don’t even know what it is, I think you’ll enjoy this candid conversation about our differences, how we have worked through them, and what it looks like to love and respect someone who is the complete opposite of you in many ways. Pull up a chair (or a load of laundry!) and listen in as we chat about our big foster care news, grilling meat, my favorite makeup cleaner (and I make a confession that I might get some flack for), a book I’m reading, and marriage and the Enneagram! In This Episode:   [01:55] What’s saving our lives? Butcher Box and Mary Kay 3-in-1 Timewise Cleanser. [07:20] I’ve been reading Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher. [11:28] How do marriage and the Enneagram tie in with one another? [14:37] Jesse talks about what it’s like to be married to a very strong Enneagram 8. [18:30] On the flip side, I share what it is like being married an inquisitive Enneagram 5. [25:34] How do we reconcile our differences? [30:19] Learning more about our personality types has helped us to build a stronger marriage through understanding. [33:57] Choose to see differences as strengths and it will change your perspective — and maybe your relationship! Links and Resources: What is the Enneagram? (Podcast I did with Leigh Kramer) Butcher Box Mary Kay Timewise 3-in-1 Cleanser Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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6 Alternative Housing Options That Can Help You Save Money

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6 Alternative Housing Options That Can Help You Save Money
The rent is too darn high, and it’s hard to catch a break. The same can be said about paying the mortgage each month. With housing costs eating up about a third of many household budgets, it’s typically the highest single expense Americans face each month. Still, you’ve got to have a roof over your head. Here are six alternative housing options with the potential to significantly cut costs while keeping you comfortably sheltered. 1. Coliving Imagine living with a bunch of strangers for the sake of saving money on housing. Coliving is an alternative housing concept where multiple, unrelated individuals live under the same roof sharing common space like living rooms and kitchens while enjoying private bedrooms … and private bathrooms, if they’re lucky. While the living arrangement is not new, it has gained popularity in recent years among cash-strapped millennials in urban areas. But coliving can also be found outside major metropolitan cores. Jillian Warwick moved into a St. Petersburg, Florida, coliving space this summer. She pays $600 in a city where rent on a studio apartment can exceed $1,200. Her monthly payment includes utilities and high-speed internet, and the home includes free laundry access and is stocked with complimentary coffee and household supplies. 2. Tiny House According to the National Association of Home Builders, a median new single-family home was 2,355 square feet in the beginning of 2019. Tiny homes, in comparison, are typically less than a quarter of that size. Though the living space is smaller, the potential to save is larger. In addition to spending less on the home itself, tiny house dwellers often pay less in utilities, and they buy less things because of the limited space. Andrew and Gabriella Morrison and their two kids cut roughly $300 in monthly expenses (or about $3,600 a year) from their budget by switching to tiny house living. Joel Weber built his own tiny home while in college. After spending between $13,000 and $16,000 for the build, his combined cost to park his home and pay for utilities came to about $300 a month — almost a third of the cost of living in a dorm. 3. RV Experience a nomadic lifestyle by living in an RV. These tiny houses on wheels are a fraction of the size of a typical home but also a fraction of the cost. Cortni Armstrong ended up moving to an RV five years ago. Her living situation was the catalyst to a new career: renovating and flipping RVs. Armstrong has sold remodeled RVs in the $30,000 range — which can sometimes be a mere down payment for a traditional home. Like with tiny house living, don’t forget to factor in the rent at a campground or RV park if you don’t own land to park on. 4. Skoolie Similar to an RV but in a more unique package, a skoolie is a decommissioned school bus that has been converted into a home on wheels. It can also be less expensive than an RV. Phil Risher bought a bus for $5,000 and spent $2,000 transforming it into his living quarters for a 95-day trip around the country. He and his father took on the renovation themselves using a free layout from Pinterest and tips from YouTube videos. 5. Off Grid Ever want to distant yourself from the constructs of modern society? Off-grid living is an alternative housing option that requires you to be self-sustaining. You rely on independent power and water sources rather than municipal services. You grow or hunt your food rather than shopping at a grocery store. Tyler and Ashley Selden and their daughter Sydney maintain an off-grid lifestyle in Alaska. Though it’s a lifestyle choice rather than a financial one, they estimate they save up to $10,000 a year just by growing, fishing or hunting their own food. 6. House Hacking House hacking, in a nutshell, is buying property and recruiting others to help you pay the mortgage. Riley Adams and his girlfriend (now wife) lived in a three-unit residential property in New Orleans cost-free for three years. Their house-hacking arrangement involved renting one unit out and having Airbnb guests in the other, which covered the mortgage. House hacking is also possible without living in a multiunit property. Kristine Dowhan became an Airbnb host, listing three bedrooms of her four-bedroom home to afford her mortgage. She even made a $1,200 profit her first year renting out rooms. Even if you don’t have extra bedrooms in your home, you can get creative with the space you do have. John Potter rented out a tent in his backyard on Airbnb. Talk about thinking outside the box! Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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20 Gifts for Tweens Under $30

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20 Gifts for Tweens Under $30
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best Christmas gifts for tweens this holiday season? We have you covered with this Tweens Gift Guide — which includes gifts for tween girls and gifts for tween boys that are all under $30 to help you stick to your gift budget! Silas and Kaitlynn had a blast helping to choose ideas for this gift guide. I hope that their selections of things they and their friends love will give you some great suggestions for gifts that might work well for your tweens, too! -Crystal Pre-teens can be kind of difficult to buy for! But this list of gifts for tweens will give you lots of fun and budget-friendly ideas to pick from! Gifts for Tween Girls 1. Bath & Body Works Fragrance Spray — My girls love these. They have so many different scents and Bath & Body Works is often offering fantastic deals — especially if you buy multiples. Sign up for their email list to be notified of when their best sales are. 2. Bath Bombs — You can make your own or purchase a set like this from Amazon. {These would make a great stocking stuffer gift, too, if you have multiple tween girls to buy gifts for. You could put one or two in cute little bags with a ribbon.} 3. Scrunchies — You’ve probably heard that scrunchies are back in style and our girls can’t get enough of them! {Again, these would make fun stocking stuffers or get an entire set for the girl who loves to wear lots of different colors! Psst! It’s pretty easy to sew scrunchies if you have basic sewing skills.} 4. Letterboard — These are such a great way to display a tween girls’ personality and originality. Best of all, Letterboards now come in many different colors and styles. 5. PopSocket — The girls cannot figure out how I manage to have a phone without a PopSocket on it. Just call me old-fashioned! They adore PopSockets and there are so many cute and fun ones to choose from. This one is a favorite of Kaitlynn’s. 6. Craft Kits — Most tween girls love creating, so a craft kit is usually the perfect idea and something they’ll spend hours enjoying. Plus, if it’s something they can display in their room or wear after they make it, they’ll get even more fulfillment from it! 7. Twinkle Lights — You just can’t go wrong with Twinkle Lights — and there are so many fun uses for them. Kaitlynn is often rearranging her room and coming up with some new way to display her twinkle lights! Gifts for Tween Boys 8. Nerf Toys — When I asked Silas to help me put together some gift ideas for tween boys, he literally picked out 7 different Nerf Guns to include on the list! Suffice it to say, these are a big hit with him and his friends. And it seems like you just can never have too many Nerf Guns, according to him! 9. Sports Pillow — Silas has a football pillow he got last year that he uses as room decor — and to sleep with. In fact, he brings it on every trip! There are pillows for just about every team under the sun. 10. LEGO Kits — There are SO many different LEGO kits to choose from and there’s practically something for everyone. This LEGO Movie Kit is a fun twist combining stop motion film plus LEGO design. 11. 3D Maze Game — These are so much fun, not just for boys, but for adults, too! If you have a son who loves to solve puzzles or be challenged, this might be a great gift idea! 12. Catapults & Crossbows — This kit would be perfect for a tween boy who loves science and engineering and nerf guns. It’s kind of like building your own nerf gun! 13. Flag Football Set — Jesse bought the kids a flag football set a few years ago and it has been well-loved and well-used. A great gift for sports lovers and something the whole family can end up using! 14. Mini Basketball Hoop — Any boy who loves basketball will likely get hours of fun from a mini basketball hoop. Mount this on a door for lots of indoor entertainment. By the way, this Hamper Hoop is a unique twist on a mini basketball hoop — and it might actually get your tween to put his laundry in the hamper! 🙂 Stocking Stuffers for Tweens 15. eos Lip Balm — Kaitlynn loves eos lip balm and it’s such a practical and useful, but also cute and appreciated gift. Perfect for stocking stuffers! 16. Fuzzy Socks — What girl wouldn’t love fuzzy socks? I’m 38 and I still love them! Bonus points for tween girls if they have unicorns on them! 17. puravida bracelets — These bracelets are waterproof, handmade and come in many different colors. They are so fun to mix and match! 18. Thinking Putty — This stuff is always a hit and it comes in so many different colors! (I personally think the Liquid Glass one is the coolest!) 19. Baseball Cards — You can never go wrong with baseball cards if you have a baseball lover at your house! 20. Cool Socks — Socks are such a practical and useful gift… and if they are cool-looking that makes them even better! More Holiday Gift Guides Looking for other budget-friendly holiday gift guides? Don’t miss these: Beauty Gift Guide Gluten-Free Gift Guide Little Boys Gift Guide Stay tuned as we roll out several more gift guides over the next couple of weeks — put together by several different MoneySavingMom.com team members! Psst! Be sure to sign up for our hot deals newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest deals each day this holiday season! What other fun ideas do you have for gifts for tweens? Let us know in the comments! [...]
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Shoppers Share Black Friday Strategies That Actually Work

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Shoppers Share Black Friday Strategies That Actually Work
If at first you don’t succeed, talk to someone who has. Black Friday is arguably the biggest discount day of the year, but making the most of it requires some practice, planning and strategy. So ahead of Black Friday on Nov. 29, we talked with shoppers and shopping experts to hear their best — and... Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd. The article Shoppers Share Black Friday Strategies That Actually Work originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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12 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

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12 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
What better way to find your next great purchase than to consult financially savvy consumers much like yourself — you know, the kind of people who read Money Talks News? We couldn’t think of a better way, which is why we rounded up the Amazon products that were most popular last month among Money Talks News readers, including our own staff and contributors. Don’t worry: [...]
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Spend Too Much on Vacation? These 5 Tips Will Help You Rebuild Your Savings

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Spend Too Much on Vacation? These 5 Tips Will Help You Rebuild Your Savings
The best vacations are carefree escapes from everyday stresses. Bills and budgets? That’s for non-vacation life. When you’re on the beach or at a five-star mountain resort, you buy the lobster dinner, you splurge for the couples massage and you make sure to pick up a few souvenirs along the way. But once you return home, you’re hit with the realization that you spent much more than you intended. Making up for a huge dent in your savings can be tough, but these five ways will help you save up money when you’re coming down from that vacation high. 1. Try the Pantry Challenge Going to the grocery store to restock the fridge is a natural response after spending a week or two away from home. But what if you delayed that shopping trip and got creative with what you already have? The pantry challenge involves using up the often overlooked food in your cupboards, freezer or fridge before buying new ingredients. Then, if you normally drop about $100 on your weekly grocery trip, you can add that to your savings instead. Of course, pantry items won’t sustain you forever. Making a meal out of rice and ketchup is really pushing it. When it’s finally time to go shopping, try using some of these tips to save money on groceries. 2. Sell Clothes You Never Wear As you’re unpacking your suitcase and putting things away, take inventory of your closet and drawers. Surely you’ve got a few items in there that never see the light of day. Turn a profit by selling your old clothes online, using a clothes-selling app or going to a brick-and-mortar second-hand shop to make the sale. Not only will you get cash to pad your savings, but now you have extra room for those graphic tees you bought on vacation. 3. Take a Break from Spending If you blew through a lot of money over vacation, balance things out with a no-spend challenge. You don’t have to commit to a month of not buying anything besides essentials — though that would do wonders for rebuilding your savings. You can customize your no-spend challenge in a variety of ways, like focusing on temporarily nixing your weakness for buying things on Amazon. While you’re on your spending freeze, try not to think of it as deprivation. Try some free ways to have fun, like exploring the great outdoors, being a tourist in your own city or hosting a game night at home. 4. Automate Your Savings Use automation to take the work out of saving money. Money-saving apps like Digit and Acorns pull small amounts from your checking account to save without you even thinking about it. A few dollars here and there will add up over time. If micro-saving apps aren’t your thing, arrange for a percentage of your paychecks to be deposited directly into your savings account, or pay yourself first by setting up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account right after payday. 5. Bite the Bullet and Start Budgeting Your Money You may think you’re getting by fine without budgeting, but establishing a plan for your spending — and prioritizing saving — can help you make up for overdoing it on vacation. Learn how to develop — and stick to — a budget next month with these seven steps to budgeting. If you think you’ll have trouble sticking to your spending limits, try the cash envelope system. This method keeps you from overspending, because you physically have no more cash once the envelopes are empty. No cheating and swiping your debit card! Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Friday, November 1

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Afternoon Deals: Friday, November 1
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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I earned 117 Swagbucks today

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I earned 117 Swagbucks today
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Did you see that I earned 195 Swagbucks yesterday? I thought I’d give you an update on what I earned today, too… Want to earn some free gift cards to cover some of your Christmas expenses? I highly recommend signing up for Swagbucks. Swagbucks is one of my favorite ways to earn free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, Target, and more! There are lots of ways to earn — printing coupons, watching videos, signing up for offers, taking surveys, and more. Go sign up for Swagbucks here and then check out my extensive post here on how to earn more Swagbucks fast.   I Earned 117 Swagbucks Today! I earned 117 SBs (these are points you can redeem for free gift cards) today. Here’s how I did it: I uploaded a receipt for purchasing bread — 20 SBs I watch some videos — 20 SBs I answered the Daily Poll, Profile Questions, and a quick Survey (and earned some bonuses) — 18 SBs I signed up for the Pillsbury email list — 70 SBs (Also, I’m not sure why that doesn’t add up to 117 so the math is off somewhere but I can’t seem to figure out what I’m missing where.) How many SBs did you earn today? What are your favorite ways to earn SBs? Looking for more ways to earn free gift cards? You can earn free gift cards from Shopkick and Fetch Rewards. And here are 15 More Ways to Earn Extra Money. [...]
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4 Ways to Earn More on Your Savings — Despite Another Fed Rate Cut

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4 Ways to Earn More on Your Savings — Despite Another Fed Rate Cut
The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark federal funds rate on Wednesday. It’s the Fed’s third rate cut this year — and bad news for your money sitting in the bank. The interest rates that banks pay on interest-bearing accounts like savings accounts rise and fall with the federal funds rate. So, after the latest Fed rate cut, the chances are good that the interest rate your bank... [...]
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Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee

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Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee
Have you ever wondered how to stop drinking coffee? This post and podcast episode is my journey of why and how I did it, plus the unexpected results of how it really changed my health and life! {To see what I drink instead, check out my favorite Decaf Chai Latte recipe or this list of my favorite decaf teas to drink.} Any time I mention that I no longer drink coffee, I get so many questions on why and how I did this. I decided it was high time I write a post about my journey with quitting coffee! Why I stopped drinking coffee Let’s be clear. This is not something I ever wanted to do and I never ever dreamed I’d be a non-coffee drinker! {So there’s still hope for all you coffee drinkers out there who would like to try giving up caffeine but can’t imagine a world without your coffee!} I started working with a nutritionist in August 2016 in hopes of clearing up my eczema and acne, and one of the first things he told me was that I had to stop drinking coffee. I immediately replied to him and said, “Hold up. I’ll do anything else that you say, but I can not give up my coffee.” He told me to just give it a try, trust him, and see what happens. So I did (reluctantly). Giving up coffee wasn’t easy If you’ve ever wondered how to stop drinking coffee, I’m here to tell you that it was not easy. Prior to that I had been drinking two BIG cups of coffee every single day for a really long time — and even three cups on the really rough days. And let me tell you, it was really, really hard to think of giving it up. I ended up deciding to stop drinking coffee cold turkey, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that method. I started drinking a gallon of water every day, and I was also doing a cleanse at the time — eating only greens and then slowly adding foods back in. The first 8 days were awful. I had a horrible headache and I craved coffee like crazy. I missed it SO much. Mostly, though, I missed the routine of my morning coffee. I had a ritual of getting up and pouring my cup of coffee, and I didn’t know what to do without that morning ritual. I really loved savoring my morning over a cup of coffee, and it was something that was really cathartic for me. Because I couldn’t drink coffee, I had a horrible headache and was extremely lethargic. All I wanted to do was sleep nonstop! I was sleeping about 10 hours every night in the beginning. (And this is a lot more than normal for me. I typically only need about 7 hours for a really good night’s rest.) But you know what was happening? My body was finally trying to get caught up on all the sleep I had missed! My body had become SO dependent on coffee for so many years. I didn’t even realize this until I stopped drinking coffee, but I had been masking my exhaustion and lack of energy with caffeine. How giving up coffee was life-changing for me I never imagined I’d learn how to stop drinking coffee, and it did take a few months for me to stop craving coffee. (And honestly, every once in a while — even after two years — I still crave it! But it’s not worth the headache I immediately get even if I just have a few drops of caffeine!) Over time, it got easier and easier, and I slowly started noticing significant health changes from not drinking coffee. And I learned I can actually survive without drinking coffee — something I never thought would be possible for me! Giving up coffee was a radical choice for me, but the radical results and changes were totally worth it: I finally felt rested. For the first time in months, I felt caught up on sleep. Because I was getting enough sleep every night, I wasn’t getting tired in the middle of the day! I felt happier. I had SO much more energy and was way less irritable. All around, I was just in a much better mood every day. It helped my anxiety. I didn’t realize giving up caffeine would help my anxiety, but this was a life-changing result I wasn’t expecting. I’ve now realized I am extremely sensitive to caffeine, and I can immediately feel the effects even if I have a tiny bit. Not drinking coffee has helped me feel calmer on a daily basis. It improved my overall health. This — combined with drinking more water and eating better — really helped improve my overall physical health. Also, it’s been really empowering for me to realize that I’m not dependent on coffee anymore and I have the energy to get through my days without it! What I drink instead Since the morning ritual was what I missed most about coffee, I had to replace those habits so that I could still enjoy waking up and savoring a hot beverage first thing in the morning. Because I’m highly sensitive to caffeine, I don’t drink caffeinated teas. So I’ve replaced my cup of coffee with a huge cup of strong herbal tea. I typically use two bags of tea so that it’s super strong, I add lots of cream (just like I did when I drank coffee), and I add honey to sweeten it. This strong cup of herbal tea with lots of cream and honey has become a great alternative for me without sacrificing my morning ritual. If you’re looking for some tea ideas, you can check out my favorite Decaf Chai Latte recipe or this list of my favorite decaf teas to drink. Listen to the Podcast on This Topic For more about how and why I stopped drinking coffee, listen to this week’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show. In This Episode:  [00:41] This is going to be a hot button episode – learn all about why I stopped drinking coffee! [01:44] Jesse and I chat about the Spartan Race the family ran. [05:54] Mint Majesty Tea is saving my life these last few weeks! [07:09] Check out The Only Plane in the Sky. I finished it this week and it was captivating. [10:10] So… why did I stop drinking coffee?  [12:49] What did it feel like to even think of giving up coffee?  [13:39] It was hard… awful… miserable… yep, all those things! [16:56] But I stuck with it — and I’m so grateful that I did!  [18:22] Jesse too has been focusing on drinking more water and it’s changed how his body reacts to caffeine. [19:23] I had no idea how much caffeine was affecting my sleep and my overall health. [23:11] Do I miss or crave coffee still?  [26:02] If you’re feeling tired or sluggish, here are some others options for a pick-me-up. [27:03] Learn more about my favorite coffee replacements! Links and Resources: Mint Majesty Tea The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff Dandy Blend with Morning Motivator Crystal’s Favorite Teas Teeccino Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Do you have any other tips on how to stop drinking coffee? I’d love for you to share them in the comments! [...]
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7 Debit Cards That’ll Give You Cash Back (and More!) for Swiping

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7 Debit Cards That’ll Give You Cash Back (and More!) for Swiping
Debit cards are popular. Like, really popular. Nearly 43% of adult Americans reported using debit cards as their main form of payment, according to a 2017 LendEDU study. And each year, people make billions (with a big ol’ b) of transactions using one. As a bonus, some debit cards offer rewards, similar to credit cards. So, if you’re one of the many using a debit card — or looking to upgrade yours — keep reading. We’ll explore why you might consider getting one, plus we’ll look at the best cards available today. Why Some Bank Debit Cards Don’t Offer Rewards (Anymore) After the 2008 financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law in 2010. The goal was to stabilize and reform the financial industry. Before it passed Congress, lawmakers added the Durbin Amendment — named after Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois — to the act. This amendment was introduced to curb processing fees for debit card purchases. When you use a debit card to make a purchase, the merchant pays an interchange or swipe fee. This fee goes to the bank that issued the debit card. Banks said these fees covered the costs of providing debit cards and monitoring accounts for fraudulent activity. However, retailers argued they were too high. Before the act’s passage, retailers paid up to 44 cents per debit card transaction, according to Reuters, which made it difficult for some businesses to accept them. After Dodd-Frank passed, the cap fee was reduced to 21 cents. (It’s worth noting credit card interchange fees were not affected.) As a result, the financial incentive for banks to offer debit card rewards just isn’t what it used to be. Why You Should Consider a Debit Card That Offers Rewards Just because debit card rewards aren’t flowing like they used to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your eyes peeled for them. Debit cards that offer rewards are appealing for a few reasons: Your bank may only charge a small — or no — monthly (or annual) fee to use it. They’re good if you want to monitor your spending and find credit cards too tempting. Since it’s money from your account, there’s no monthly balance owed or accumulated interest to worry about. The REWARDS: anything from cash back to points to discounts on qualified purchases. 7 Debit Cards That Offer Rewards (Plus a Bonus!) We picked several options that could work for you. 1. American Express Serve® Cash Back The American Express Serve Cash Back option is a prepaid debit card. (To be clear, it’s not connected to a checking account.) When shopping online or in stores, you can earn unlimited 1% cash back on your purchases. Bonus: The cash back is immediately available to use after you earn it. Other features include free ATM withdrawals at over 30,000 locations, fraud protection and 24/7 customer service. Card price: $0 online or $3.95 in stores Monthly or annual fee: $7.95 a month (no fee in Texas, New York or Vermont) 2. Bank of America BankAmeriDeals® Bank of America has a program called BankAmericaDeals for BoA card holders. Existing customers can log into online banking or use the mobile app to see available deals (for example, 15% cash back at Petco). You’ll earn cash back on these deals when they use an eligible BoA debit or credit card to make a purchase. You can also earn BankAmeriDeals Coins for qualifying purchases to earn more rewards. Other features include 24/7 account monitoring, fee-free BoA ATM usage and the ability to add your debit card to a digital wallet for easier checkout. Card price: $0 Monthly or annual fee: $0 3. Discover® Cashback Debit With Cashback Debit, users can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases per month. So, if you make $500 worth of purchases monthly with your debit card, you’ll earn back $5 a month, or $60 a year. Other features include 24/7 customer service and access to over 60,000 surcharge-free ATMs. Also, if you lose your debit card, Discover will replace it for free. Card price: $0 Monthly or annual fee: $0 4. Axos Bank CashBack Checking Axos offers CashBack Checking for customers who want to earn rewards with a debit card. You can earn up to 1% cash back on signature-based purchases (so, something routine like grocery shopping doesn’t count) and earn up to $2,000 cash back per month. However, you’ll also need to maintain a daily balance of $1,500 to earn the 1% cash back. Other features include reimbursement for over 60,000 ATMs worldwide, and no balance or activity requirements to maintain the account. Card price: $0 Monthly or annual fee: $0 5. PayPal Business Debit Mastercard® Once you activate the cash-back program, PayPal Business Debit Mastercard users can get unlimited 1% cash back on qualifying purchases. The cash back is added to your PayPal account each month. Note that business owners face a $1.50 domestic ATM usage fee, and have a daily limit of $3,000 in purchases and $400 in cash withdrawals. Other features include a free additional card for the account and no liability for unauthorized charges. Card price: $0 Monthly or annual fee: $0 6. Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking CCU offers rewards in the form of annual percentage yield (APY). There are three rewards tiers with varying requirements to earn 3.09% APY, 4.09% APY or even 5.09% APY on account balances up to $10,000. For the first tier, you must make at least 12 debit card purchases that equal $100 or more a month as one of the qualifications, so you’ll need to be organized to reap these rewards. Other features include over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs and no minimum balance requirement. Card price: $0 Monthly or annual fee: $0 7. Empower Empower is an app and bank account. You can get 1% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend per month with your debit card, earn 1.65% APY on your money and even snag cash back when you refer your friends. You’ll have access to over 25,000 fee-free ATMs and even get reimbursed for one out-of-network ATM use per month. You can fund your account in a number of ways, though it does not support cash or check deposits. Other features include no account fees or required minimum balances. Accounts are also FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Card price: $0 Monthly or annual fee: $0 Bonus: Your Local Credit Union Check out your neighborhood credit union for other reward-card options. Many institutions offer debit card rewards in the form of redeemable points or cash back. Some even allow you to support a local charity or cause if you choose to make a donation when you open an account. Contact your local credit union online or in person to see what costs and conditions may apply. Card price: Varies Monthly or annual fee: Varies FROM THE BANKING FORUM Social security Representative Payee bank account 9/26/19 @ 5:16 PM L How to find a checking account that displays scheduled transaction on account activinty view? 9/4/19 @ 2:05 PM ONLINE BANKS 8/26/19 @ 6:54 PM Best bank to use? 7/12/19 @ 2:52 PM See more in Banking or ask a money question What About Credit Card Rewards? When it comes to serious rewards, credit cards typically offer better ones — think, a higher percentage of cash back on purchases or larger sign-up cash bonus — and may provide perks such as price-matching and [...]
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Target: Free Shipping On All Online Holiday Orders!

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Target: Free Shipping On All Online Holiday Orders!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Woohoo! Target is once again offering FREE shipping this holiday season! Starting November 1st, you’ll be able to get FREE shipping on any Target online orders — no minimum purchase required! (Go HERE for the press release!) No promo code is needed for this deal. Just buy anything online and you’ll get automatic FREE shipping — including Black Friday and holiday season purchases. This is a great deal, because you usually have to make a $25 minimum purchase in order to get free shipping. And not only that, many of the shipments will get to you as soon as the next day after your order is placed! Looks like lots of competition for Amazon again this holiday season. Valid through December 21, 2019. [...]
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You Could Save Money by Ditching These 9 Disposables and Buying Reusables

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You Could Save Money by Ditching These 9 Disposables and Buying Reusables
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Saving the planet doesn’t always come cheap. Many of the disposable products we use and love are easy to buy at lower prices than their reusable counterparts. But the convenience of disposable products often comes at a steep cost to the environment. Plastic bags and straws pollute the ocean and end up being ingested by sea animals. Disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. Reusable products often cost more up front, but you may be surprised to find out how soon they end up paying for themselves since you can use them again and again instead of buying more of the disposable versions. 9 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over Time We took nine household products, searched for both reusable and disposable versions on Amazon and compared the costs. Here’s how they stacked up. Editor’s note: The prices in this post are valid as of Sept. 23, 2019. Diapers Diaper prices can vary widely. For example, cheap (read: leaky) store-brand diapers cost just a few cents each, while Pampers can set you back $40 a week. The same is true of cloth diapers.  For this comparison, take a cloth diaper costing $4.50 and 16 disposable diapers at 28 cents each, and the cloth diaper has paid for itself after 16 diaper changes. Multiply that over two years of a child’s life before potty training, and there are major savings to be had by reusing cloth diapers — many of which have different settings that adjust to your baby’s growth. Dryer Balls If you’ve never heard of dryer balls, they’re little wool balls about the size of a tennis ball that you throw in your dryer with your wet laundry in place of fabric-softening dryer sheets. Because the wool can absorb some moisture from your clothes, manufacturers claim they cut down on energy use and drying time. They can also save you some pennies. A set of six reusable wool dryer balls costs $7.97, while a box of 240 disposable dryer sheets costs — wait for it — a buck more. This one’s a no-brainer. Feminine Products Listen up, gal pals. We’re here to tell you that you are not — we repeat, NOT — doomed to pay an exorbitant monthly fee for tampons and liners and pads (not to mention Midol) simply for the privilege of being female. With a box of 40 tampons costing $6.47 and 38 pads ringing in at $6.97 times every month of your adult life, it’s … a lot. So consider this: One pair of Thinx period underwear is $23, and a Diva cup is $24.48. K-Cups Did you even know there was a reusable alternative to those little pods of delectable, life-giving coffee? There totally is!  While a box of 40 Starbucks K-Cups will set you back $28.36 (OUCH), a set of four reusable pods that you just refill with your favorite ground coffee runs $9.95.  Paper Towels One cloth kitchen towel at $1.33 is only slightly more than the cost of one roll of paper towels at a cost of $1.10 per roll. Enough said. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Teaching Your Kids to Save: I am a Bit Confused (HELP) 10/10/19 @ 8:24 AM Traveling All 50 States On a Budget 10/9/19 @ 4:40 PM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 2:00 PM Saving money on pet meds 9/11/19 @ 11:41 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question Razors Razors are synonymous with disposable. A box of 100 of the plastic ones: $17.90. A single chrome reusable safety razor (that will make you feel like Don Draper): $12.66. You do have to replace the blade on the reusable one. Don’t worry, they’re cheap. A box of 100 is about $7. Straws A stainless steel straw costing $.75, or $5.99 for a set of eight, is equal to the cost of about 19 disposable straws at 4 cents each. That means that after 19 uses, the reusable straw has essentially paid for itself — plus you’ve got seven more left over. Sandwich Bags This set of six reusable sandwich bags costs $9.99, while a box of 280 Ziploc bags runs about $8.38. Think about it this way: The first time you replace that box of disposable bags, you’ve nearly bought another whole set of the ones you could be reusing. Water Bottles One reusable water bottle costing $15.76 is equal to the cost of about 72 single-use water bottles at 22 cents each.  Translation: Refill your bottle 72 times and then you’re done paying for water entirely. That’s a considerable up-front cost, but these products — and really all reusable replacements — are all about long-term savings. Not to mention tossing a little less waste in the landfill. Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Senior editor Molly Moorhead contributed to this report. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Why Jesse and Kathrynne Went to South Africa

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Why Jesse and Kathrynne Went to South Africa
As a mom, there’s not much that warms your heart more than seeing your child find such fulfillment in loving on others. We usually go to South Africa every year to spend time with our friends there and to see the progress and work being done by Take Action Ministry — the ministry that is near and dear to our hearts and the one we are very involved with there. (If you’re interested in reading about previous trips, you can read more and see lots of pictures here.) I couldn’t go this year because of my pregnancy, but I got to send Jesse and Kathrynne instead and they had the absolute BEST time! I just couldn’t stop smiling as Jesse sent me pictures when they were there. To see my 14-year-old so happy and at home in the country that has stolen my heart made me beyond thrilled and proud as a parent. There’s a lot of things we’ve gotten wrong and are getting wrong as parents, but we will never regret the priority we’ve placed on travel and experiencing other countries and cultures. It has so profoundly impacted all of us for so much good. In this week’s episode of the podcast, I sat down with Jesse and Kathrynne and asked them to share about their trip. I loved getting to hear their perspective, what they experienced, and what they have learned from our time spent in South Africa. In This Episode:  [01:19] Jesse and Kathrynne share why they went to go to South Africa. [02:33] We all talk about what the flights to South Africa are like and the anxiety that sometimes has surrounded these long international flights. [08:03] Jesse chats about some of the highlights of this year’s trip and how the area has changed so much. [08:51] What does Take Action Ministry do at the centers and what is the purpose of these centers?  [13:06] Kathrynne shares her experience with the food prepared and served at the centers. [15:09] Hear about Kathrynne’s trip highlights. [18:14] What was different about this trip from the ones taken in the past? [20:32] We could just give them money, but going and being there is so much more impactful.  [22:50] How have these trips impacted Kathrynne’s and Jesse’s lives?  [27:45] Kathrynne ends the conversation with how appreciative she is for all of the opportunities she has in her life. Links and Resources: Take Action Ministry Take Action Donations Joint Aid Management Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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Capital One Hikes Potential Bonus on Spark Business Cards (Limited Time)

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Capital One Hikes Potential Bonus on Spark Business Cards (Limited Time)
For a limited time, Capital One is offering big spenders extra-large sign-up bonuses worth a grand total of $2,000 each on two of its most rewarding small-business credit cards. The new bonuses are: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business: Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn... Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart. The article Capital One Hikes Potential Bonus on Spark Business Cards (Limited Time) originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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What has triggered the explosion of payments for order flow? Not Fidelity

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What has triggered the explosion of payments for order flow? Not Fidelity
The Robinhood effect popped up again, as Schwab slashed its stock commissions to zero and forced TD America, E-trade, Interactive Brokers, Ally Invest, and Fidelity to follow suit over the next few days. Schwab called this the zero commission brokerage war, on CNN. This war is just the beginning of a broader trend that will […] The post What has triggered the explosion of payments for order flow? Not Fidelity appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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9 of the Hottest Products on Amazon Today

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9 of the Hottest Products on Amazon Today
Whether you’re an impulse shopper or just like to be on top of the latest trends, you need to check out Amazon’s “Movers & Shakers” lists. These are the hottest items on Amazon right now, based on how much their sales rank has jumped compared with 24 hours earlier. According to Amazon: “For example, if a music item has a current sales rank of 10, but was ranked 30... [...]
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30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money

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30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money
Want some easy ways to save money? Here are 30 easy ways to save money submitted by my Facebook followers. How many of these do you currently do? 30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money 1. Set up auto deposit to a bank that is hard to access. Susan suggested: “Auto deposit to a bank you don’t have easy access to. I use our local credit union that is only open 9-3. While I’m working.” Rachel says: “This is how I saved enough money to buy my first home outright. Lived on one check and sent the next 2 to a bank I didn’t have easy access too. (I had an account at a credit union 3 hours away so it was definitely a job to get the money out.)” Kim says: “I automatically have money transferred into a savings account before I even see it from my check.” 2. Ask some questions before making a purchase. Kelley says: “I ask myself more than once before making a purchase, ‘Do I really need this and will this make me happier a year from now?’ Pretty much stops me in my tracks most of the time!” 3. Take advantage of free family fun! Lacy suggested: “We like to do outdoors activities and nature adventures as a family instead of dining out and shopping as ‘something to do’ as our family time.” 4. Cook and eat at home. Hope says: “Cooking all our meals at home and making my own coffee drinks is enabling me to stay home.” Moni also said: “Cooking homemade food and eating at home saves us a lot of money. My hubby also saves a ton of money each week bringing lunches and eating breakfast before he goes to work in the morning. Also coffee! Brewing our own saves as much as not getting food out!” 5. Shop at thrift stores. Rachel says: “Shop at salvage stores and thrift stores.” 6. Record every purchase. Shannon says: “Recording every purchase (yes, even things like a vending purchase!) in our budget spreadsheets helps us track categorized expenses and make sure we are staying within budget.” 7. Cancel your catalogs and unsubscribe from emails. Jennifer says: “Limiting my exposure to beautiful things by canceling all the pretty catalogs and email blasts from the same stores is an easy way to save money.” 8. Cut your cable. Rachel says: “Cut off your cable! Wish I had done it months ago!” Laura also said: “We just did this, too! It’s saving us $65/month.” 9. Set a goal. Tammy says: “When I have a goal set (usually travel), I can save money very easily. I have no problem not spending unnecessarily. No goal = I buy things I DO NOT need.” 10. Do it yourself! Rachael says: “Easy ways we save money: Making my own DIY face/skin/cleaning products, canning, freezing, gardening, making our own wine, cutting my daughter’s hair, and doing handmade/homemade Christmas/birthday gifts!” 11. Only buy groceries on sale with coupons. Valeria says: “Only buy groceries when on sale, using coupons and app rebates. Plus, purchase enough to get you to the next sale of that item.” 12. Order groceries online. Edith says: “I save money by ordering groceries online. It keeps me out of the store and eliminates impulse shopping. I make my list at home, do the order, and pick it up outside the store.” 13. Stock up when an item is on sale. Keiva says: “I use coupons with sales to buy more than we need at the time so it’s available to us when it’s not on sale. Also, stock up on sale items. This week, our grocery has Mott’s Apple juice 64oz. for $1. I’ll buy 40. With 6 kids, it goes quickly! They also have Peter Pan PB for $1, so I’ll buy about 20. I’ll be set for the next 6 months!” 14. Get rid of expensive habits. Tiffany says: “Get rid of habits that cost money. I gave up coffee and tea a long time ago. Started saving me $15 to $25 a week. I stopped buying books unless they are $1 or less and just reserve books at a library.” 15. Cut your hair at home. Barbie says: “Doing my husband’s and sons’ haircuts myself. My husband and older son only take about 10 minutes a piece. My younger son takes twice as long because he fidgets. I still figure I save on time by not going to a barber shop, and I save $60-ish every round of haircuts. My boys think going to a barber shop is quite the treat!” 16. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it! Tosha says: “Remembering that just because it’s posted on MSM or another blog doesn’t mean I need to buy it! If I don’t need it and I buy it because it’s on sale, I’ve spent money I didn’t need to spend.” 17. Stay out of Target. Sandra says: “Staying out of Target and buying necessities on Amazon is an easy way to save money.” 18. Don’t shop without a list. Oghma: “I don’t go inside a store until I have a list. Also, don’t shop just one item and then feel like you need to buy other things so the trip is ‘worth it’.” 19. Use a wood burning fireplace. Holly says: “We bought a wood burning fireplace insert to save money. We’ve gotten firewood free but when we’ve bought it, the wood was still 1/3 the price of natural gas. Also, when we had a natural gas outage, we had no power but we still had heat.” 20. Use Rakuten to earn cash back. Michele says: “We save money by using eBates when online shopping (now known as Rakuten). In the years I’ve been using it, I’ve gotten almost $1,000 back. They send you a check every three months. I never order anything without checking to see if the website is on eBates first.” 21. Get a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year. Melisa says: “We have a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage. Yes, monthly payment is higher, but not double. Plus, it’s going to save us $112,000 in interest on a $290,000 home.” 22. Use your local library. Patricia says: “We utilize every aspect of our local library. DVDs, audiobooks, reading programs with prizes, free events for kids, game night, kid computer games, online library for ebooks, etc.” 23. Pack food before you leave. Bethany says: “We save money by packing lunch/dinner if we go out, bringing coffee along for the ride, and eating before we leave!” 24. Don’t buy beverages! Robin says: “We don’t drink pop and we don’t buy beverages when we are out and about. Bottled water is also a no-no. I can fill a bottle at home real cheap.” 25. Watch the prices as they are scanned. Beverly says: “I watch the prices as items are scanned in at the register. I save often by catching an accidental higher price being scanned in. Also, 2 main stores I shop at offer a price scan policy. If it scans in wrong, you get one free if it’s under $10. Or, you get $10 off if it’s over $10.” 26. Don’t buy things the same day. Betsy says: “I take pictures of things I like at stores like Target and don’t buy them the same day. Sometimes I do this and then find something similar at the thrift stores.” 27. Plan your menu based upon what you already have. Elizabeth says: “When I’m meal planning, I shop my pantry and freezer first and try to utilize what I have and not let things go to waste.” 28. Don’t shop just to kill time. Andrea says: “Don’t go shopping just to fill time. If I go wandering because I’m bored, I will find things to buy. I’m trying to simplify and save money for adventures instead of ‘stuff’ for my little one and me.” 29. Ditch your clothes dryer. Tricia says: “I save money by hanging all my clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.” 30. Don’t buy it just because you want it. Jennifer says: “I’m learning to be an adult and understand that I don’t HAVE TO buy everything I want.” What are some of yo [...]
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*HOT Clorox Wipes Deal | $10 Money Maker After Rebate!!

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*HOT Clorox Wipes Deal | $10 Money Maker After Rebate!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. WHOA! If you’ve been needing to stock up on Clorox Wipes, this is a deal you don’t want to miss! Top Cash Back is offering a $14.65 rebate on any $11 or more Clorox Wipes purchased from Staples, making it FREE! But that’s not all! Right now when you sign up as a new member, you also get a $10 bonus! That means you’ll get back $24.65 when you purchase this slow cooker — which is a $10 money maker deal! Here’s how to get your FREE Clorox Wipes + Bonus $10: 1. Head here for the special Clorox Wipes offer and sign up for a new Top Cash Back account. 2. Spend at least $11 on Clorox Wipes. Select free in-store pickup at your local Staples to avoid shipping costs. 3. Within 21 days, your Top Cash Back account will be credited with $14.65 — so all you’ll pay is tax! Once your account is credited with the $14.65, you’ll immediately see the bonus $10 in your account, too! That means you should get $24.65 cash back total! 4. After you receive the $24.65 payment in your Top Cash Back account, you can choose to transfer it to your bank account or request a Paypal payment. This is for new TopCashBack members only. If you are already a member, you are allowed to sign up another adult in your household. This deal is valid through October 20, 2019 — or while supplies last. [...]
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2 Ways a CPAP Machine Can Make You Sick

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2 Ways a CPAP Machine Can Make You Sick
A CPAP machine is designed to boost your health. But if you aren’t careful, it could have the opposite effect. These machines are often used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to periodically stop breathing while they sleep. By pushing air through a tube, into a mask and down your throat, CPAP machines help keep your airway open throughout the night. (CPAP stands for &# [...]
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How to Finally Break Free from Anxiety & Stress

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How to Finally Break Free from Anxiety & Stress
Need some practical encouragement to move past anxiety, stress, and survival mode? Longing for life of more wholeness? Don’t miss this episode with Aundi Kolber! Missed previous episodes of The Crystal Paine show? You can listen to them here. Okay, I know I’ve said this before about other episodes, but I truly think today’s episode was one of my very favorite podcast recordings to date! Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Aundi Kolber is a therapist and I felt like I got a therapy session just by spending an hour with her?! 🙂 Listen in to the episode and you’ll see what I mean. Aundi has a gift of sharing so eloquently and yet also in such a heartfelt manner. She just exudes such peace and calmness, but also such profound wisdom and understanding of how we are wired. In this episode, we not only talk about what’s saving our lives (I had to laugh that she talked about something related to brain science and I talk about leggings!) and the books we’re reading, but then we dive into some deep heart topics. She shares what it means to Try Softer (the title of her new book), the difference between Big T trauma and little t trauma and how we might be experiencing the aftershocks of little t trauma without even realizing it and this might be at the root of our stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. Aundi explains thoroughly how the body processes pain — whether physical or emotional. And she provides very concrete suggestions and ideas for how we can start to take steps toward more healing and wholeness. Whether you feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed or whether you know someone who does, this conversation is highly important and one that you do not want to miss. I have thought of it over and over again since we recorded last week and will be taking so many nuggets of truth from it to apply to my everyday life. In This Episode:  [00:25] Welcome back! I am so excited to have Aundi Kolber on the show! [01:06] Aundi shares about a little about her background and family [03:43] Meaningful walks are saving Aundi’s life — and the brain science she shares here is fascinating! And then, to keep things a little more down to earth (!), I talk about my new favorite leggings. [09:25] We discuss our current reads, including one written by a therapist and a novel I finished last week.  [13:08] Why did Aundi write Try Softer? (I loved that she wrote it as a love letter to her younger self!) [17:20] We talk about the stigma surrounding the word “trauma” and why it’s important to understand if you’ve experienced little t trauma. [19:27] How can you tell if you’re holding onto the pain of the past and how does it show up in your life? [23:50] What does it mean to “try softer” and how can we apply this in our every day lives? [27:37] Aundi shares practical first steps for beginning to break free from stress, anxiety, and survival mode — even if you feel so stuck and overwhelmed that you don’t know how to take the first step! Links and Resources: Try Softer by Aundi Kolber Aundi’s Website My New Favorite Leggings Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (Note: Aundi wrote me a few days after the interview to say that she would give a language warning with this book. She said it didn’t show up until the later parts of the book which she hadn’t read yet when we did this interview.) Boundaries for Your Soul by Allison Cook and Kimberly Miller The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay Aundi on Facebook Aundi on Twitter Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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Lower Your Home Improvement Budget with These Tips to Save at Lowe’s

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Lower Your Home Improvement Budget with These Tips to Save at Lowe’s
Home improvement projects are never as simple as you initially imagine. Each time you run into a problem, need more supplies or have to outsource labor, the price goes up and up. You need all the savings you can get. Before your next visit to Lowe’s, try one of these 18 tips and tricks to save money. How to Save Money at Lowe’s Lowe’s slogan is, “Do it right for less.” Read these savings strategies before you shop. 1. Be aware of the current sales promotions. Lowe’s has a savings section of its website that shares the latest deals. Flip through the weekly sales ad and make sure to check out what’s on clearance. When you’re in the store, keep your eye out for yellow tags that indicate marked-down prices. 2. Download the Lowe’s app. The app, which is available to download for free on Google Play or the App Store, helps shoppers compare prices, check availability, read product reviews, watch DIY videos and more. 3. Sign up to receive Lowe’s emails. You’ll find exclusive offers and sales promotions in your email, plus the weekly ad, DIY tips and sneak peeks of upcoming in-store events. Register for emails by clicking the link at the bottom right side of Lowe’s homepage. You can also sign up for mobile alerts for savings opportunities. 4. Sign up for a MyLowe’s account. You may not benefit from direct savings from your MyLowe’s account, but you’ll be able to keep track of past purchases with this tool. Having that knowledge comes in handy when you’re shopping for replacement tiles or the same shade of paint you bought two years ago. 5. Use the price match guarantee. If you find another retailer selling the same product for less, Lowe’s will match that price. If you’re comparing prices to an online retailer, you must factor in the cost of shipping and handling. Lowe’s also has a price protection policy, which means if there’s a difference between Lowe’s in-store price and online price, you pay the lesser of the two. 6. Take advantage of free shipping and delivery. Lowe’s offers free shipping on qualifying online orders of $45 or more, or you can choose to have it shipped to your nearest store for self pick-up for free. The retailer also offers free delivery and connection for major appliances (like washers and dryers) as long as you’ve purchased new connectors (like your dryer vent) from Lowe’s. 7. Use Lowe’s Advantage credit card to save 5% off everyday purchases. If you buy something over $299, you may be eligible for six months of no-interest financing. There’s also low-interest financing for orders over $2,000. Lowe’s has a payment calculator so credit card holders can figure out their monthly payments. 8. Take advantage of Lowe’s military discount. Active military personnel and retired veterans can save 10% off eligible purchases every day. Another bonus: Lowe’s has special priority parking spaces for vets. 9. Purchase a discounted gift card. Sites like Raise, CardCookie and Gift Card Granny sell Lowe’s gift cards for slightly less than the card’s value — meaning more savings for you. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Teaching Your Kids to Save: I am a Bit Confused (HELP) 10/10/19 @ 12:24 PM Traveling All 50 States On a Budget 10/9/19 @ 8:40 PM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 6:00 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 10. Check for rebate offers. Visit Lowe’s online rebate center to see if a recent purchase or an item you’re considering buying comes with a rebate. You can submit your rebate online and check the status of when you can expect your money to arrive. 11. Use coupons and promo codes from sites like RetailMeNot, CouponCabin or Groupon. Some store managers may accept coupons from competitors like The Home Depot, but that’s not a company-wide policy. You also might find coupons for Lowe’s in the moving package when you change your address at the post office. 12. Know the right time to shop. You’ll find major sales around Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Black Friday and Christmas. Lowe’s also has a big sale in late March or early April called Spring Black Friday. A few times a year, the retailer holds special sidewalk sales where you can find substantial deals. If you’re shopping for a specific item — like tools, a grill or patio furniture — our guide on the best time to buy anything can help. 13. Ask for a lower price for damaged or used goods. Put your haggling skills to use to negotiate deals for a floor model or items that may be slightly damaged or worn. Lowe’s will often discount paint that was returned from another customer or scraps of lumber left over from cutting a piece for someone else. You may also find deals on wilting plants that need a bit of reviving. 14. Exchange dying plants for new ones. Lowe’s has a one-year plant guarantee. You can get a replacement plant if its perennials, shrubs or trees don’t make it through the first year. Just bring in the drooping plant and your receipt for an exchange. 15. Learn DIY skills for free. Check out Lowe’s How-To Library to learn how to tackle small projects so you don’t have to pay a professional for the cost of labor. The store also shares gardening tips if you don’t have room in your budget for a landscaper. You can watch Lowe’s YouTube channel where new DIY videos are regularly posted. 16. Occupy the kids with a free craft project. Children can participate in free crafts projects through Lowe’s Build and Grow program. This program is currently only available at store locations near Charlotte, Nashville and Seattle, but the company plans to expand it nationwide. 17. Buy in bulk. Lowe’s has special deals for contractors who buy materials and supplies in bulk. However, you don’t have to be a licensed professional to benefit. Ask for the bulk-price deal if you’re doing a major home renovation that calls for buying a lot of the same product. 18. Get free design advice. If you need advice for your remodel, get assistance from store technicians at the service desk or use the virtual room designer tool. Bonus Savings Tip: If you’re a Lowe’s employee, you can get up to $2,500 to become certified in a trade (such as carpentry or plumbing) as a part of the company’s Track to the Trades program. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Smart Bricks meet Clicks & Voice – the Walmart Way

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Smart Bricks meet Clicks & Voice – the Walmart Way
PHYGITAL E-commerce giant Amazon is a big player in many markets. From e-commerce, cloud, delivery, entertainment, payments, smart home devices, and physical stores. Retail giant Walmart, not included in the FANGs or the GAFAs, as it is a native of another tribe (physical retailers), can actually stand respectfully next to Amazon and other large non-financials […] The post Smart Bricks meet Clicks & Voice – the Walmart Way appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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How to Save Money on Groceries When You Only Eat Whole Foods

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How to Save Money on Groceries When You Only Eat Whole Foods
Is it possible to save money on groceries if you only eat whole foods? In this post, I give some of my best tips and encouragement for how to keep your grocery budget low, even if you only eat whole foods. I have been scouring the internet for easy, budget friendly meals for those on a strict diet. Over a year ago my health was a mess and we figured out my body has a sensitivity to toxins in the environment, particularly from plastic, treated water, and also chemicals used on food. I found I feel so much better when eating whole, organic foods and organic meats. However this shot our grocery budget up to a crazy high amount. We live in a sparsely populated area in the midwest, one stoplight in our whole county. Healthy food is not cheap. I am desperate for ideas on how to have a “beans and rice” budget but not sacrifice the progress I have made in my health. I would love to hear insight on this. Thanks and God bless your journey! -Kristy First off, Kristy, I just want to encourage you to know that you are not alone. I have heard from many other women who are in similar situations. And I’ve also seen many women who have found very creative ways to eat very healthfully on a tight budget. One of my local friends, Cheapskate Cook, is a fantastic resource for how to eat healthfully on a budget. She constantly inspires me with her outside-the-box ideas! I also wanted to share some other strategies and suggestions that might help you in your journey: 1. Have a can do attitude. The first step to lowering your budget is believing that you can. If you think you can’t, you probably won’t be able to. But if you believe you can, you’ll likely be motivated to figure out creative ways to make it happen. When there is a will, there is usually a way. 2.  Cut your budget in other areas. Now, that said, I’m not saying you should be unrealistic or put undue pressure on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people or other budgets. Also, realize that getting creative could mean choosing to cut back in other budget categories in order to give you more wiggle room in your grocery budget. For instance, maybe your family choose to drive an older car and not go on vacations and live in a smaller home in order to free up extra money for your grocery budget. Everyone has different priorities and it’s okay if your priorities are very different from another family’s priorities. 3. Buy in bulk. Research all of the local farms in your area to see which ones would be willing to sell to the public. Could you drive an hour or two to buy half a cow and save $1 or $2/lb.? Are there any orchards or farms nearby that would be willing to sell you their produce “seconds” for less? Sure, it might not be as pretty as full-priced product, but they will taste just as good! What about stores that are within a 50-mile radius of your home that might offer organic items and would give you a discount if you were to purchase in bulk? Also,  check to see if Azure Standard delivers in your area. If not, could you start a group so that they will come to your area? 4. Grow your own. One of the best ways to save on produce is to grow your own. If you have kids, make it a family affair. Challenge yourself to see how much of what you usually buy at the store can be grown or made yourself! 5. Look into online options. There are so many great online options nowadays that offer great deals on natural and organic products. Grove.co, Amazon, and Vitacost are a few of my favorite sites. But I’m sure if you start looking, there are many others, too! Tip: Type in the price point you want to pay for items you routinely buy from Amazon.com at CamelCamelCamel.com and they’ll send you an alert when the price goes under that amount! What others ideas do the rest of you have for Kristy? I’d love to hear in the comments! More posts to check out: 10 Ways to Afford Organic Foods on a Tight Budget How to Eat Well on a $40 Grocery Budget Going Vegan on a Budget photo credit [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 11) & a trip to South Africa & Herndon, VA

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 11) & a trip to South Africa & Herndon, VA
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. In case you missed last week’s update, check it out here. 11 weeks! I’m so excited to be getting close to the 2nd trimester! This week was a week full of ups and downs. I had some really bad days and two surprisingly decent days where I actually had a few short windows where I didn’t feel nauseous. It was the most incredible feeling and, even though it was short-lived, it was just the encouragement I needed after having a really rough and discouraging week last week nausea-wise. (By the way, it seems that most people have told me that their nausea is always worst in the mornings. For some reason, mine gets progressively worse as the day goes on. By bedtime, it’s at the severe level and often keeps me up for a few hours. I don’t have any explanation for this but it’s how it’s been in all my pregnancies so I guess it just is what it is!) HIGHLIGHTS: I had another doctor’s appointment this week and another ultrasound. Since Jesse and Kathrynne are in South Africa, I took Silas and Kaitlynn with me to the appointment. It was exciting for them to get to see our baby on the screen! Also, my doctor says the baby has grown quite a bit & everything is looking so healthy. NOTABLE: We had the NIPT test done this week. We opted to do it for a variety of reasons, even though it’s not 100% accurate. One exciting side benefit: we should be finding out what we’re having in the next two weeks! We haven’t decided whether we’ll be telling people or not. We didn’t find out with either of the girls but chose to find out with Silas and decided that we preferred finding out to being surprised. However, with Silas, we decided to keep it a secret from everyone, including our extended family. We may or may not do that again. WEIGHT GAIN: A total of 4 pounds so far… which means that I have officially outgrown a lot of my clothes. I ordered a few new tunic tops from Amazon and a few new pairs of leggings. I also went through my closet and pared it down to the looser-fitting tops/bottoms I already own that I can still into comfortably. I’m guessing I’ll be transitioning to maternity clothes sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. (If I remember right, I usually start wearing them around 17-20 week but I feel like my belly has popped faster this pregnancy!) A Peek Into Our Week A number of you have asked for me to post a picture of Quill (our pet hedgehog). He’s doing so well and has grown so big. A Trip to South Africa Jesse and Kathrynne flew to South Africa on Wednesday to visit our friends there and see how things were going with the ministry we support there. (We usually go every year and it’s one of my favorite places ever, but for some reason, I didn’t feel a peace about going this year. It didn’t make any sense at all, but I just felt strongly that I wasn’t supposed to go… little did I know that it was going to be because I was pregnant!) They’ve been sending me pictures of their time there and I am just so happy for them. Jesse said that Kathrynne is having the best time and it warms my mama heart so much to see my girl halfway around the world loving on these kids and teens. While they’ve been gone, we stayed busy back here. I got to interview Aundi Kolber for next week’s podcast episode. I can’t wait for you to listen to this episode; it is fantastic! (Also, we looked like we were dressed for a gender reveal party or something! I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the picture we took together after she left!) I also was so excited one morning to feel well enough to go to Kroger quickly and pick up their Friday-Saturday deals! A Trip to Herdon, VA And then Kaitlynn and Silas flew with me to Herdon, VA for me to speak at the 2:1 conference. (I usually only bring one child with me on speaking engagements, but since they were both on fall break and Jesse and Kathrynne were gone, they both got to come with me!) One of the highlights of the conference was getting to meet Janet Benge, who has co-authored so many of the Christian Heroes Then and Now books. I had to get a picture for my mom. I loved getting to do a breakout workshop about exploding your engagement on Instagram! The attendees were the best and I could have stayed for another hour or two and answered all the questions I didn’t get to answer during the session and at the end! One of my favorite things is getting to help others also fall in love with the power of Instagram. Speaking of which, are you following me on Instagram? If not, you’re missing out as I share lots of behind-the-scenes, money-saving deals, and real-time updates there… many that I never get space to share here on the blog! I also gave the morning keynote sharing how my parents impacted my life and the power of legacy. What I’m… Reading right now: The Only Plane in the Sky (Note: This has a little bit of language in it, but it is a very worthwhile read and I would highly recommend it.) Watching right now: Have you seen the Enneagram Rhapsody? Multiple sent it to me this week and I had to laugh because there was so much truth in it. If you are an Enneagram fan, you’ll probably love it, if you haven’t seen it yet. 🙂 Listening to right now: This week, I’ve been listening to the Serene and Pearl UnShow at night when I have trouble sleeping because of nausea. I love the Trim Healthy Mama podcast and their quirky sense of humor and the way they disagree with one another and tease one another. (A lot of people are annoyed with how they talk over each other on their podcast. I happen to love it — probably because I grew up in a large family and we are always talking over each other and teasing one another mercilessly!) Loving right now: This kimono (I have it on in the photo at the top of this post. It’s perfect to dress up an outfit, so comfortable, and is something I’ve worn multiple times in the last month!) What are YOU reading, watching, listening to, and loving right now? I’d love to hear! In Case You Missed It: Guess what? I actually went to Kroger! Jesse Answers Your Burning Questions 2019 Goals: September Update [...]
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5 Shrewd Secrets from Women Who’ve Fixed Credit, Paid Debt and Made Fortunes

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5 Shrewd Secrets from Women Who’ve Fixed Credit, Paid Debt and Made Fortunes
Looking for some advice when it comes to managing your money? We have stories from a former Merrill Lynch executive, a mom of nine who overcame a job layoff and a college grad who was able to pay off $100,000 worth of debt — then start her own business. They share their tips and secrets for financial success. You can even start using some of their strategies right now. Secret No. 1: Women Should Invest Differently Than Men Traditional investing companies have never really considered the fact that women statistically get paid less, yet live longer. That’s why Sallie Krawcheck, the former head of Merrill Lynch designed an investing company for women called Ellevest. With Ellevest, you can start investing with as little as $1. Plus, when you sign up through The Penny Hoarder, you’ll get a $25 bonus in your Ellevest account.* When you sign up, Ellevest will build an investing plan just for you and your financial goals. It considers gender pay differences, any potential career breaks and overall lifespan. Even better? It invests your money in women-owned businesses. Thanks to Krawcheck, we can invest exactly for our needs and feel more confident in our financial future. Secret No. 2: Be an Advocate For Yourself (and Your Credit Score) It’s easy to pass your credit score off as some silly three-digit number — that’s what most of us did throughout our early twenties anyways. But what happens when you want to buy a car? Or a house? That seemingly arbitrary number starts to play a huge role in your life. And here’s the unfortunate fact: You can do everything right, but if your credit report has an error (one in five reports do), it could be holding you back — for no good reason. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on things. Thankfully, a free website called Credit Sesame will give you your credit score for free and help you detect any errors on your report. If you find any, it will even help you dispute them. Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report — a supposed unpaid medical bill that had definitely been covered by Medicaid. Using Credit Sesame, Buitureria fixed the mistake and took additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.**  Now? She’s focused on buying a home. It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up with Credit Sesame. Secret No. 3: You’re Not Stuck With Your Credit Card Debt Wanna know something? Even if you have loads of credit card debt right now, that doesn’t mean you’ll have it forever. Heck, that doesn’t even mean you’ll have it tomorrow. What? We’re serious. One of our favorite first steps in escaping credit card debt is to refinance it with a personal loan. It might sound counterintuitive — like you’re just moving your debt from your credit cards to a loan — but the truth is, this could lower your monthly payment, save you tons of money in interest over time, and allow you to pay off your debt faster.. If you’re not sure where to start looking, use a website called Fiona. It’ll match you with a low-interest loan (rates start at 3.84%). You can then use that loan to wipe out your credit card debt. Then you’re left with just one bill to pay every month. Pro Tip When shopping personal loans, look for interest rates lower than your credit cards’ and manageable monthly payments. Oh, and don’t take out more than need to pay off your credit cards. Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. We chatted with one San Francisco resident who struggled to keep up with her credit card debt. She faced a minimum monthly payment of $274 plus $154 in monthly interest plus a $99 annual credit card fee. She said it felt like she was on a treadmill. She decided to refinance with a personal loan, which spared her from what would’ve been $14,000 in interest over time. Secret No. 4: You Can Leave Your Kids $1 Million for $5/Month If you have kids, you’ve probably worried about what’ll happen to them if something were to happen to you… For single mom Rebekah Pearsall, this was difficult to consider. “Since my son doesn’t have a biological father in his life, I wanted to make sure he was secure if something were to ever happen to me,” she said. That’s when she started looking into life insurance. Before you start thinking you don’t have the time or money for that, look into policies through a company called Bestow. It offers $1 million policies starting at only $5 a month. Your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes. You can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless. Pearsall had seen firsthand the benefits of life insurance; her childhood friend lost his dad and life insurance helped his family make it through that time financially. It takes only a few minutes to get a free quote. Secret No. 5: You Don’t Have to Have an MBA to Start a Business If you dream of starting a business, don’t let the fact that you don’t have a business degree from an Ivy League school hold you back. (Yeah, imposter syndrome is the worst.) We’ve talked to plenty of women who’ve successfully started businesses on their own. Here’s a story that really resonates with our frugal hearts: The Budget Mom. After graduating college, Kumiko Love had $100,000 worth of debt — student loans, credit cards and medical bills. All that good stuff. Still, she had trouble sticking to a budget. So she gave up. Then she started studying the psychology behind money and that gave her a renewed hope: She started viewing her situation through a positive lens. She combined several budgeting tactics and started logging her process through her blog, The Budget Mom. And guess what? Love is now debt free and she recently quit her full-time job to focus on her seven-figure business, The Budget Mom. *The Ellevest The Penny Hoarder promotional offer is valid for the first 1,000 new clients of Ellevest who enter through this designated landing page. Clients who enroll and fund their non-retirement account will receive $25 added to their highest priority goal in their Ellevest account. Clients who enroll and fund their retirement account will receive a $25 Amazon gift card which can be redeemed by visiting www.amazon.com. Please review Amazon.com Gift Card Terms and Conditions prior to redemption. Ellevest is not responsible for lost Amazon Gift Cards. Ellevest’s processing time for depositing $25 into a client’s Ellevest account or delivery of a $25 Amazon gift card may be up to 60 days. **Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits. Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Hallmark Cards only $0.50 at Walgreens!

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Hallmark Cards only $0.50 at Walgreens!
If you have a birthday or anniversary coming up, be sure to grab a Hallmark card at Walgreens for only $0.50! You can score Hallmark Cards for only $0.50 at Walgreens this week! Here’s how: Buy 2 Hallmark Cards – $2 each Use the $3/2 Hallmark Cards (min purchase of $3) digital coupon, available to clip to your balance rewards card here (one time use; exp 10/31) $0.50 each after coupon Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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Getting a Roommate? Here Are 4 Ways to Protect Your Finances

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Getting a Roommate? Here Are 4 Ways to Protect Your Finances
We all have a roommate horror story, right? That roommate who ate all your cereal, the one who borrowed your favorite shirt — without asking — and the one who Never. Washed. One. Plate. That’s the tradeoff though, right? You’ll put up with a few annoyances because having a roommate can substantially cut your living expenses. But what if your roommate stops paying the water bill or moves out halfway through your lease and you’re stuck paying all the bills? Deadbeat roommates can leave you owing hundreds — or thousands — in unpaid bills. And if you’re unaware they’re skipping out on payments and your name is on the lease or utility bill, it could potentially wreck your credit score. While we can’t really help with the irritating roommates (maybe a lock on the cereal box?), we do have ways to split your costs upfront and avoid getting stuck paying more than your fair share. Ways to Ensure Your Roommate Pays Their Share In theory, if you have one roommate, you split everything 50/50. But what if you have the master bedroom — do you pay per square foot? What if your roommate has a dog — does that affect the cut for the security deposit? Putting as much as you can in writing before you move in together will help you both understand the expectations and help preserve the relationship, according to Mark Bauer, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Pro Tip If you’re moving in with someone you didn’t know before, ask for references from former roommates and previous landlords. Be prepared to provide the same. “A lot of people think that having a formal agreement, particularly if the person is a friend, is off-putting,” he said. “But a friendly agreement spelling out responsibilities in advance is something that people who trust each other do.” Protecting your finances becomes even more important when you move out because you are no longer there to monitor what’s happening — and whether bills are being paid. We’ve come up with four ways to help protect your finances from the moment you find a roommate right through the day you move out.  1. Ask for Separate Leases If you haven’t signed a lease yet, this could be an opportunity to protect yourself from getting stuck with the entire rent — typically, the biggest shared expense — if your roommate decides to move out early.   That’s important since if you and your roommate sign a lease, you’re each responsible for 50% of the rent. But it also means either one of you is responsible for 100% of the rent — legally known as joint and several liability, Bauer explained. So if your roommate decides to stop paying their share — whether it’s because they moved out or simply stopped sending in their half of the rent — the landlord can come after you for the entire rent. Pro Tip If it’s your first time living with someone, consider signing a month-to-month lease. That way, if you find out you got a bad roommate after a couple months, you’re not stuck there for a whole year. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve been faithfully putting in your 50% every month including when the other person didn’t,” Bauer said. “As far as the landlord is concerned, you were jointly liable.” Instead, request two lease agreements stating that you’re separately liable — it might result in the landlord having some say over your next roommate (since the landlord can choose another tenant to sign a lease with), but at least you won’t be responsible for covering your roommate’s half of the rent.  2. Create a Roommate Agreement Regardless of the lease, creating a roommate agreement can help everyone get on the same page, so to speak, about responsibilities. Considering you’ll probably be dealing with smaller amounts of money, it’s unlikely you’ll recoup your losses if your roommate really didn’t pay the final month’s electric bill, for instance. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been faithfully putting in your 50% every month, including when the other person didn’t. As far as the landlord is concerned, you were jointly liable. “What are you going to do — pay for an attorney to sue?” Bauer said. “It’s just not worth it. “Small claims court doesn’t yield readily-enforceable judgments, so that’s just kicking the can down the road, too.” For most people, simply seeing everything in writing is enough to prevent most issues — without having to go through the hassle (and money) of making it official. “Whether it’s legally binding isn’t relevant — the fact is that you’re more likely to follow rules that you’ve agreed to,” said Bauer.  He noted that spelling out responsibilities in a document “makes it less likely that there’s going to be a dispute that can rise to the level of contract dispute or legal dispute or a judgment from a landlord in the first place.” So what should you include in a roommate agreement? You can include as much detail as you want — who takes out the garbage, when quiet hours are, the number of guests allowed on the premises — but you’ll want to include some basics as far as financial responsibilities are concerned: Basics For any agreement, make sure to include all of the tenants. You can include separate sections for beginning and end dates for each roommate if they move in after the initial lease agreement, but at the very least, you should include the following info: Names of the tenants. Landlord’s contact info. Address of the residence. Beginning and end dates for the lease. Dated signatures. Financial Responsibilities  For each entry, include the amount due (or indicate each tenant must acknowledge receipt of the amount due if it varies monthly), payment due date, payment submission info, percentage each person owes and the responsible party for submitting payment: Security deposit. Rent. Utilities. Additional shared expenses (for example, food, parking or pets) Roommate and/or Lease Obligations Besides the expenses, you can include sections that address rules and regulations in regards to the residence: Responsibility for finding a replacement and notifying the landlord if a tenant moves out before the lease ends.  How to handle maintenance issues, including purchasing common room supplies like paper towels.  Rules for bringing in outside guests or animals. How the security deposit/damage charges should be divided at the conclusion of the lease. 3. Make Sure Anything That Has Your Name on it is Paid There’s a lot to take care of when you’re ready to move: figuring out the fastest commute route to work, reserving that four-hour window for the cable company, begging your friends and family to help you move. You might be tempted to split up some responsibilities with your roommate to save time, but you should be careful that you’re not setting yourself up for potential unwelcome surprises if your roommate relationship goes south. “Usually they split it responsibly: I’ll call the city to get the water taken care of, you deal with the electric company — that’s a problem if things go wrong,” Bauer said. “I would recommend as many roommates as there are, everyone’s name be on everything because there’s just no other way to secure yourself.” FROM THE DEBT FORUM Debt Payoff Strategy Tips? 9/16/19 @ 3:56 PM Parent loans 9/30/19 @ 11:17 AM Sallie Mae Loans 10/2/19 @ 7:33 AM [...]
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How One Couple Lived Rent-Free for 3 Years to Save Toward Down Payment

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How One Couple Lived Rent-Free for 3 Years to Save Toward Down Payment
A few years back, a Southern boy met a Cali girl and fireworks exploded. At least they did in how I tell the story.  Not too long after, we saw a lot of commonalities and shared purpose, so things got decidedly real.  When we got invested in our relationship lasting for the long term, we knew serious financial decisions lay ahead and I’m delighted that our goals aligned. However, we knew realizing them would require a lot of effort — effort we were more than willing to put in if it got us what we wanted. But just as cars don’t run on hopes and dreams, willingness doesn’t simply put money in the bank. If it did, we, and millions more, would be set. If we wanted a house to raise a family in, we would have to save money for a down payment. Fortunately, a break fell into our laps and we took full advantage, allowing us to save money quicker.  The Unusual Arrangement That Covered Our Rent for 3 Years In 2016, my mother graciously decided to support my girlfriend (now wife) and me by investing money she received from her mother’s estate in a multiunit property in New Orleans.  The agreement was that we would pay each month’s mortgage while renting out the two additional units, with long-term tenants in one and short-term guests from Airbnb in the other.  The math would work out where we would pay for any shortfalls, repairs or maintenance.  There’s a name for this arrangement, i.e., living in a multifamily home while renting out the other units to cover the mortgage payment: house hacking. We appreciated the deal because it gave my parents a return on their investment and my wife and me a free place to stay. However, I want to be clear: House hacking doesn’t require assistance from family. In fact, purchasing a multifamily home can serve as a pathway to homeownership. The added rental income you’ll receive can even be considered as part of your overall income when you apply for a mortgage in some cases.  Further, the 20% down payment is not necessary due to alternative mortgage products like FHA loans, which require as little as 3.5% down and allow you to finance a multifamily property with up to four units. The house we called home had three units with long-term tenants on one side and a short-term rental behind us in a lock-off unit. This partition between us and the short-term rental made the space suitable for hosting Airbnb guests because the guests did not need to interact with us. The layout gave them complete privacy to come and go as they pleased using the separate side entrance.  Aside from competitive pricing, this was one of the most frequently cited positive features about the unit shown in our reviews over the three years we ran the Airbnb. It allowed guests to be completely independent during their stay, as they would be in a hotel. FROM THE HOME BUYING FORUM to buy or to rent? 9/12/19 @ 3:59 PM O 401k Loan 7/29/19 @ 10:35 AM B Knowledge Is Important When Buying A Home 7/22/19 @ 9:18 AM Can I buy a home with student loan debt? 6/12/19 @ 11:20 AM See more in Home Buying or ask a money question The Math Behind Our Housing Hack To determine what rent to charge, we looked at comparable units in the area and saw how much renovated properties fetched. We wanted it to cover at least 75% of the mortgage. From there, we knew it was up to us to book the Airbnb enough to avoid paying anything out of pocket. However, getting to such a high rent required top-to-bottom renovations in the long-term unit. We did all the repairs ourselves, relying on experience accumulated over previous home renovations.  Each month, the mortgage came to $1,800 with a $250 bill for an HVAC system replacement we financed. The long-term tenants paid $1,700 each month, while the Airbnb averaged $500 per month over the course of the year.  Our occupancy rates for the Airbnb depended on the time of year, as New Orleans is a tourist destination during the fall through spring. For the three years we had the property listed on the platform, we averaged occupancy rates of 25% to 35% — mostly weekends during tourist season.  For repairs, we budgeted for $100 to $200 per month. The income from the Airbnb provided enough cushion to cover routine maintenance and the HVAC replacement. With time, we likely could have raised the rent in the long-term unit as the market price increased to turn a profit on the property. In a sense, the group saw us as stewards of the investment, and we were paid fairly for our efforts. That’s to say, not everything came up roses managing tenants and Airbnb guests. We financed a fair number of repairs. The HVAC system, appliance upgrades and maintenance activities came out to roughly $12,000 during our three years there.  But between these two income sources, we managed to offset our living expenses and budget for routine maintenance and repairs. As an added bonus, we also got to pick our neighbors and the guests who stayed with us. For a comparable rental unit in New Orleans between 2016 and 2019, we would have paid $1,200 to $1,500 per month. By not paying this housing expense, we were able to save that money instead.  After we moved out of the unit to the San Francisco area, my parents chose to maintain the property and rent out the units to long-term tenants. In the end, house hacking helped us get closer to what we want: a home of our own and, eventually, financial independence. 4 Reasons House Hacking Worked for Us Now that you have a better idea of how we went about house hacking, I’ve distilled four major takeaways for how and why you should consider using your space to reach your financial goals. 1. House-Hacking Requires a Low Time Commitment At first, we were wary of how much time this would take given our busy schedules. I worked a demanding job, and my wife was a medical resident.  However, after the first six months of guests, we quickly developed a routine for flipping the Airbnb between guests. This made short-term renting an effective means for making money. For a traditional rental, finding the right tenants can take time, but it’s well worth the effort. After all, these will be your neighbors for at least a year. 2. You Can Take Advantage of Assets You Own A primary reason house hacking is a great option is that you leverage assets you own. In a sense, this side hustle requires less recurring time after the initial investment of time and money. This breaks the traditional trade-off between time and money and allows for scalability. 3. It Doesn’t Require Specialized Skills  Outside of requisite soft skills — such as relationship management, marketing and good judgment — house hacking doesn’t require many hard skills. 4. You Can Earn a Good Return For the amount of time and money you invest, house hacking can generate a decent return. This is all the truer if it leads to a complete offset of your living expenses. If you have multiple units for rent like we did, the potential to earn a decent return is high. This arrangement has allowed us to save money much quicker than we would have by renting a one-bedroom apartment elsewhere in the city and carrying monthly rental payments. Is House Hacking Right for You? Ultimately, the decision rests on how much you can reasonably expect to e [...]
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18 Creative Ways We Cut Our Grocery Bill

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18 Creative Ways We Cut Our Grocery Bill
Looking for some creative ways to cut your grocery bill? Here are 18 strategies from my followers that you might not have thought of doing: Creative Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill I recently asked my followers to share some of their best creative ideas for cutting their grocery bill. Here are a few of my favorites that were submitted… (Psst! Have more creative ideas to cut your grocery bill? Please leave a comment on this post and let us know!) 1. Can you make it yourself? “Make homemade items instead of buying them in the store. Example: homemade taco seasoning. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Use less meat and more veggies in your recipes. You don’t have to use all the meat that comes in the package. “Make homemade laundry detergent (for coloreds and darks). It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment just long enough to help you save money now. Almost anything you get at the store you can make at home. Think outside the box.” -Christine 2. Pretend you’re Ma Ingalls! “I always pretend our family is Little House on the Prairie and it’s a day’s horse ride into town to get groceries. So, once I have purchased groceries, I don’t go back to the store. I get clever about what I can make with what I have. Kind of my own version of Chopped.” -Kathleen 3. Order groceries online. “One thing that helps us save money is to order groceries online. I can closely watch what is being spent. Yes, that means I may give up my 25-cent-off coupon, but if I’m saving $5 because I bought something on an impulse, then I still see it as saving. Or, I’ll order online and then shop my coupons in store. Saving money is hard, you always need to be watching, always counting, always scouring for the best deal. It’s a job all in itself. But when it pays off…boy does that feel great!” -Jessica 4. Cash is king! “If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it! We spend $100/week on food and toiletries for our family of 6. It’s hard but doable. The reality is, if you only have $150, you’ll only spend $150. Maybe working a zero-based budget will help you succeed more?!” -Alicia 5. Stretch your chicken. “I buy big packs of chicken breast and can use 1 pack for 3 meals. I separate the chicken tenders from the breast and cut those into cubes for casseroles. Then, I place those pieces and seasonings/marinades in labeled freezer bags and freeze them. The breasts, I fillet, turning one portion into two. These I season/marinade and place in bags or parchment lined tins and freeze — it just depends on how I plan to cook them.” -Jessica Pro Tip: Check out this post on How to Stretch One Package of Chicken to Make 4 Dinners. 6. Have a Waste Not, Want Not Day. “Take a look at what’s leftover at the end of the week from your most recent shopping trip. What meal(s) can you make out if it? Or snacks, treats, etc.? Every so often I have a “Waste Not Want Not Day” and I use up every odd/leftover food items I can find. Be creative.” -Helen 7. Stop using so much! “Rethink how you use some items. Using too much laundry soap? Only use the bare minimum. And sometimes hand wash small batches! Shampoo? Wash your hair every 2nd or 3rd day, rather than every day.” -Sue Pro tip: Read my post on How I Only Wash My Hair Once a Week. 8. Think in terms of cost per meal. “I try to break it down by cost per meal. Most meals (dinners) I make regularly can be done for under $10-12 for my family of 5… $4 or less worth of meat, a couple bucks in veggies, a couple bucks in carbs. “I try to keep snacks under $0.30/each, at most $0.50, so I’ll break down the cost per item or estimate the number of snacks I can get from one box and divide. “It really helps to see exactly what your meals are costing you, if the ingredients you use in your average dinner costs $25 to buy, you either need to reevaluate your menus or reevaluate your budget.” -Jessica 9. Use a store gift card & shop with a calculator. “A tip to avoid going over on groceries is IF you shop at stores like Safeway (Vons) or QFC (Kroger) that offer gift cards for purchase… load up a gift card each week for the dollar amount you have planned. Only use that gift card (as best you can) for grocery shopping. “If your card doesn’t have enough to cover it at checkout, it’ll really make you have to think twice when you have to pull out your debit card to cover the difference. “Also, shop with a calculator in hand. I’ve done that so many times during tight payday periods. Then you can re-evaluate what’s most important in your cart before you get to checkout.” -Helen 10. Shop Dollar General for OTC medicines. “I’ve recently been introduced to Dollar General brand of OTC meds. They actually seem to work better than most of the name brands.” -Alice 11. Simplify your meals. “Simplify your meals. Some nights we don’t do the traditional meat, starch, veggie. We hardly ever have a bread/roll or even dessert. We might have just a casserole or just spaghetti alone with no sides.” -Allison 12. Shop at CVS. “CVS is the best for personal care items. Although their regular prices are high, their deals can’t be beat. One day recently, I walked out with 2 bottles of L’Oreal shampoo, 2 Pantene hairsprays, and 1 shaving cream for $0.53. I used the coupons at the kiosk, with manufacturer’s coupons on sale items. When I get an overabundance, I share with my daughter or donate to one of the local shelters.” -Kathy 13. Make your own convenience items. “Making cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, ammonia provides lots of savings. Also, we stopped using paper towels years ago. (You can even cut up old t-shirts for hand towels. I keep them in a basket by the sink.) “Make convenience items from scratch. Or find homemade solutions for expensive items. “When I had kids at home, I made lots of muffins, baked oatmeal, homemade frozen hot pockets, and frozen burritos. Hillbilly Housewife had a great basic muffin recipe and I made it with whatever I had for add-ins. “Eating breakfast for supper saves lots and having things like pancakes, biscuits and gravy, or eggs and toast. Cooking once to re-use leftovers saves a lot also. Taco meat becomes chili, baked chicken becomes soup.” -Gina 14. Cut down on what you buy. “You can still go broke chasing a good deal! Former coupon instructor here. You can up the amount of your budget OR you can cut down on what you buy. “Perhaps one week a month (or a quarter), do a spending fast and don’t shop. Use what’s in the pantry, and eat what’s in the fridge/freezer.” -Amanda 15. Use Walmart Grocery Pickup. “Walmart Online grocery pickup has been great for me lately. You can see exactly what you’re spending before you get to checkout and you are only buying what you need for the week/two weeks versus buying things that you see that jump into your cart. “I still have to supplement with trips here and there to our local grocery store, but knowing I can purchase the bulk of it for very low prices and control what I’m spending WHILE I spend it, has been a great thing for me.” -Susan Pro tip: Did you know you can earn United Airline Miles by using Walmart Grocery Pickup? 16. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. “Bar soap is also a fraction of the price of liquid, one $2 bar of Dove lasts more than a month compared to a $6 bottle of liquid for 2 weeks!” -Marge 17. Try the Envelope System. “I highly recommend the envelope system. Put your grocery money for the week envelope and only spend that amount (you might need to leave your credit/debit cards at home until you get the hang of shopping with a set amount of cash).” [...]
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How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family

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How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family
If you ask many Americans, one thing that they need to save money on it is healthcare.  With the rising costs of both insurance and medical bills, it certainly can keep you up at night. You need healthcare coverage.  That is especially true if you have children.  They are good at getting sick and injured, ... Read More about How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family The post How to Save Money on Healthcare Needs For Your Family appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints

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12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best online photo printing deals? If you love to order prints online but hate paying full price, check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints! {Looking for all the latest photo deals? Go HERE.} Reader Kara wrote in with this great question: “Hello, I was wondering what is the least expensive way to print pictures? I used to wait until Shutterfly did their free prints deals but last time I did that it seemed that their shipping fees had gone up. Any other suggestions?” How to Get Cheap Photo Prints I know many of you are probably like Kara and on the hunt for cheap photo print deals! So I decided to take this question to the readers on our Facebook page to see what their best tips were (thank you to those of you who commented!). They came up with a lot of great suggestions, but these were the top companies! Before you go to order prints online, be sure to check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints: 1. Shutterfly While shipping costs have gone up slightly over the years, Shutterfly is still a go-to option for discounted photo prints because of the amount of coupon codes they offer on a regular basis. In fact, Shutterfly regularly offers free print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 50 free prints and select free products when they sign up. Shutterfly also has prepaid print plans that can give you photos for just 9 cents each. To keep shipping costs lower, try ordering 95 prints when a free print deal is going on. The shipping fees can be up to $4.00 less by simply decreasing your order by a few prints. Or, consider doing in-store pickup instead. During the checkout process, click the “1-Hour Pick Up Available” link under eligible 4×6 prints to search for your preferred local Target, Walmart, or CVS store by zip code. The Shutterfly app offers unlimited free 4×6 and 4×4 prints. You only have to pay for shipping. The app also regularly offers free deals and you’re able to edit within the app. 2. Snapfish Snapfish offers standard 4×6 prints starting at 9 cents each, plus shipping. They regularly offer free and discounted print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 100 4×6 prints when they join. Sometimes they even offer deals where you can get FREE prints with FREE shipping! If you choose to pick up your prints in-store from participating CVS or Walgreens stores, you can see the cost difference on the order screen. For instance, you can get up to 49 prints from CVS at 29 cents each. If you get 50 or more prints, the price goes down to 19 cents apiece. It might end up being cheaper to choose this option instead of paying for the 9 cent prints plus shipping. The Snapfish App gives you 100 free prints each month for the first year you sign up with the app. You only have to pay for shipping and one reader reported her shipping was only $2.95. Shipping costs may vary according to where you live. You can edit photos within the app and see how they will print. 3. Amazon Prime Photos Amazon Photos offers 4×6 prints for 9 cents each with free shipping. Members receive 5 GB of storage free but after that, you’ll need to choose a digital storage plan. If you’re a Prime member, you get unlimited storage for free! They do occasionally offer free prints. Note: If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial! 4. FreePrints App Customers receive 85 free 4×6 prints per month and only need to pay for shipping. You can get up to 1000 free prints in a year! If you need more than 85 prints, you can pay for those. Shipping starts at $1.99 and is never more than $9.99 no matter how many prints you order. There’s also a FreePrints Photobooks app, which will give you one free photo book per month. There are not subscriptions and no commitments. 5. Walmart Walmart offers 9 cent 4×6 prints for home delivery, plus shipping. If you do the 1-Hour Rollback option in the store, it’s 25 cents per print for 74 photos or less and then 15 cents apiece for 75 photos or more. They offer free shipping on orders over $25. 6. Adoramapix Readers really loved Adoramapix’s photo quality, especially for photo albums. 4×6 photos are currently 29 cents each and economy shipping is $5.95. (See their price list.) They also offer a full range of photo sizes so keep them in mind if you need a non-standard print. You can sign up for special deals on their website. And if you’re a new customer, you can get 15% off your first order with coupon code Pixnew15 at checkout. They also have an app for Apple products. 7. Mpix People who prioritize photo quality will also want to take a look at Mpix, a service even photographers recommend. Readers are impressed with the quality, as well as the care they take in packaging your products. 4×6 prints are 29 cents each. Economy shipping is $3.95. They have a Reward Program where you can earn points toward discounts and special offers with every purchase you make. You can earn 100 points just for signing up for a Mpix account. 500 points can earn you free shipping or a $5 off coupon. 8. Costco Prices start at 17 cents for the first 99 4×6 prints at Costco with warehouse pick-up and decrease to 14 cents for 100 or more prints. 4×6 prints are 9 cents if you opt to have them shipped to the warehouse instead; shipping costs vary but it is free if you opt for standard delivery. 9. Sam’s Club 4×6 photos are 10 cents each for 1 Hour Photo. They are 8 cents each if shipped to your home. They regularly offer special deals and you can upload your photos on their app. New customers get 50 free prints when they sign up for an account. 10. Walgreens The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each. 75 or more prints are 23 cents. The price is the same for in-store pickup and mail delivery. Standard shipping costs start at $0.99 and go up to $5.89. Many readers report they’ll place their order through the app or website and pick it up at the store an hour later or at their convenience instead of having it shipped. Customers can sign up to receive special deals by email. The Walgreens app allows you to print the photo off your phone. Readers report they regularly receive free print and coupon deals, along with earning Balance Reward points. One reader went so far as to say she’s saved more money than she’s spent! 11. CVS As a competitor of Walgreens, they have a very similar pricing structure. The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each and 75 or more prints are 23 cents. 12. Groovebook Groovebook is a unique option that lets you create a 4×6 “photo book” with between 40-100 pictures each month. The photo are perforated, so you can tear and share them just like regular photo prints. Subscriptions cost $3.99 per month — so it’s like paying just under $0.04 per print! You can get your first Groovebook for FREE with code MYFREEBOOK at checkout. If you have fewer than 100 photos that month, they’ll fill the rest of the book with duplicates. The app seamlessly integrates with the photos on your phone and is available for iPhone and Android. I’ve heard from a lot of people who use and love Groovebook! Bonus Tip: You might also try your locally owned photography shop, because they typically offer coupons and have some of the best quality around! While this will vary by location, it’s definitely an option to look into! Do you order prints online? What are your best suggestions for getting cheap photo prints and finding the best online photo printing deals? [...]
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5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer

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5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer
For a limited time, the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has an increased welcome offer for new cardholders: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. While... Caroline Lupini is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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8 Ways to Snag Big Back-to-School Savings on Cellphones

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8 Ways to Snag Big Back-to-School Savings on Cellphones
This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com. You don’t have to be a student to get in on great back-to-school cellphone savings. But you’ll need to act fast, because these amazing discounts won’t last long. By taking advantage of a buy one, get one free sale, you can potentially cut costs in half when purchasing a phone for yourself and the student in your life (or anyone... [...]
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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap

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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap
Want some tips on how to eat out on the cheap? Here are 15 tried and true ideas to help you enjoy restaurant food — on a budget. How to Eat Out on the Cheap Love eating out? Don’t love how much it can cost? Here are 15 ideas to save money on eating out:a 1. Go out to lunch instead of dinner. 2. Always use restaurant coupons. 3. Order water instead of beverages that cost. 4. Split an entree with someone else when possible. 5. Sign up for Birthday Freebies and use those when you eat out. 6. Go out for dessert instead of a full meal. 7. Use restaurant gift cards that you bought discounted. 8. Sign up for restaurant apps and email lists to be notified of great coupons and specials — or even freebies! 9. Earn free restaurant gift cards from Shopkick, Fetch, and Swagbucks. 10. Go on Kids’ Eat Free nights. 11. Eat a snack before you leave the house so you’re not as hungry. 12. Don’t order appetizers or desserts. 13. Eat out at Costco or IKEA instead of a restaurant. 14. Apply to be a mystery shopper and you could get paid to eat out! (I have done this many times in the past!) 15. Go to a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu and let everyone choose 1-3 items off the dollar menu! What are your favorite tips for saving money on eating out? Share them in the comments! P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on How to Save Money on Eating Out. [...]
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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money
Instead of choosing from the dizzying array of online budgeting tools, here’s a novel thought: The best solution to keeping track of your money may be writing everything down with pen and paper.   The bullet journal — or BuJo, for short — is an analog organizational system that can help you find the “calm in the chaos” (at least, according to the official bullet journal website). What sets the bullet journal apart from other lookalikes is it’s completely customizable. Each page has tiny bullets to use as a guide to track whatever you want. You can set goals, write down to-do lists and track your finances all in one place.  Unlike with pre-designed planners, bullet journal money management allows you to create spreads for your particular financial goals and tasks, including the visuals that will most inspire you to reach them.  So if you want to buy a house, for instance, you can color each brick of a house as you save for a down payment.  And if you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the constant pings from the calendar on your phone, you’ll appreciate that bullet journals offer a physical, visually pleasing alternative for tracking your bills. And you don’t have to be creative to get started.  How to Start a Bullet Journal Budget Because the bullet journal is what you make it, there are an infinite amount of options for how it can help you manage your money.  To start with, you’ll need an index (aka table of contents) to avoid flipping through endless pages of your journal each time you want to look at your budget. Depending on the type you use, your journal may come with a few pages at the front pre-designed for an index or you can simply create your own. Come up with a list of initial ideas — no worries if you’re not sure about everything you want to cover, as you can always add more pages or sections to the index later.  And because a bullet journal is so customizable, you can address your own specific problem areas or goals.  Pro Tip If you’re getting overwhelmed by ideas you see on Pinterest and Instagram, forget the embellishments and just track your expenses and goals in a format that is easy to follow and maintain. Do you need to be better about sticking to a budget? Do you need to pay off debt? Do you have some big savings goals? Great! There’s a bullet journal “spread” (official lingo) for that. Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She typically shares layout ideas to get people comfortable with tracking their lives both personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s finding people are interested in using the bullet journals for their personal finances. She recently used her journal to save $2,500 for a trip to Italy. “Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel said.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed or a bit stumped, we have some ideas to get you started. 1. Monthly Budget Tracker Seeing where you plan to spend and where you actually spend your money each month is a good way to start your budgeting journey. You can break down your budget into categories, starting with the unavoidables (bills, rent, gas and the like) and work forward from there. Include everything, right down to your Spotify subscription and the fact that once in a while you just need to order the more expensive pizza.   One option is making a monthly budget spread in bars. That way, you can visually gauge your budget based on the week of the month. Color in the bar each time you spend, and you’ll have a simple visual representation of how much you have left in that category.  At the end of the month, add up your total spending compared to your total budget. To create a little internal competition (because who doesn’t like wins?), write your total spending on next month’s budget page, then see if you can spend a little less.  Put the extra money saved toward bigger goals, like paying off student loan debt or saving up a down payment for a house.  Another option for the number lovers: Create a spread that looks just like a checkbook, then write down your scheduled bills on the left and record expenses on the right. Every time you spend money, deduct it from your balance. This method will hold you accountable and help prevent unwelcome surprises when you look at your bank account.  2. Bill Tracker This spread is perfect for the forgetful person. If you’re constantly writing down reminders to yourself (think: All. Those. Sticky. Notes.), a bill tracker should be a must in your BuJo financial strategy.  One idea for a bill tracker is to create a big-picture spread that stretched from now through the next several months.  Start by going back through your bank and credit card statements to make sure you count every bill you pay each month. Then draw your grid, making sure to include a space for the amount, the due date and whether or not you’ve paid it yet.  Leave a few extra boxes at the bottom of my tracker in case you need to add an extra line item or two over the next several months.  Put your monthly bills in one spread, and your quarterly and annual bills together in a separate tracker. As you pay each bill, check the box so you can see at a glance which ones still need to be addressed.  3. Spending Tracker If you’re pretty good about sticking to your budget and paying off your debt (or if you have no debt!), you may decide not to use a spending tracker every month.  Sometimes, though, you might want to add a spending tracker into your weekly or monthly section for a financial reboot of sorts. If you feel like your finances are getting a little out of control in any given month, it helps to see exactly when and how you’re spending every dollar. It can be quite an eye-opening experience. Pro Tip If you see you’ve spent too much half way through the month, don’t give up. Create a mini spending tracker that incorporates the remaining budget for the remainder of the month. The spending tracker has a lot of flexibility in how you choose to set it up, but the main things to include are a space to write the item/food/experience purchased, the store/venue where you purchased it from, the date, the cost, what type of payment you used and whether it was a want or a need.  After a month — or even a week — of tracking your spending, you may start to see patterns and problem areas that you otherwise might not be aware of. 4. Savings Tracker This one is the most exciting of the financial trackers (in our opinion, anyway).  While all of the other BuJo trackers help you watch your paycheck dwindle away each month, the savings goal tracker gets you amped each and every time you get to fill in a little more of that bar because you know you’re one step closer to that dream vacation or that new, extra-deep couch you can’t wait to curl up on.  One idea for a savings tracker: Give each goal its own horizontal or vertical bar. As you move money to your savings, color in the appropriate amount of the bar for the savings goal you’re working toward. Some goals might be small, and some might be huge — but you can move the bigger, unfinished goals from journal to journal as you fill each book.  Need a little more visual enticement? Determine an object that motivates you to save money. Is it a jar? A piggy bank?  Design a savings goal you can track visually. Each time you put money in your savings account, shade in a portion of the object. It’s quite satisfying to complete the picture as you reach your goal.  FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? [...]
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Save on Suave Professionals Hair Care at Walmart!

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Save on Suave Professionals Hair Care at Walmart!
{This post is sponsored by Mirum. Opinions are 100% my own. Read our disclosure policy here.} Are you looking for premium shampoo and conditioner that doesn’t cost a fortune? If so, be sure to check out the Suave Professionals Gold & Green hair care lines at Walmart! I had no idea that Suave Professionals is actually a salon proven formula for a variety of hair types and needs. And I love how affordable it is for people on an everyday, regular budget! Not only is this affordable to purchase at your local Walmart, but right now they are also offering 40% more for FREE in each bottle! For a limited time only, the regular bottles have been replaced with 18 ounce bottles on the shelves at Walmart — but the price remains the same! That means you’ll get 40% more for FREE in each bottle at Walmart’s regular everyday low price. Just look for the gold and green bottles of Suave Professionals to get this deal. Choose from five different lines of the Suave Professionals Gold & Green hair care: Suave Almond & Shea Shampoo and Conditioner (Green) — Infused with 100% natural almond and shea butter, this rich formula replenishes as it cleans and conditions, leaving dry hair feeling nourished. It contains 0% parabens and 0% dyes. Suave Keratin Infusion Shampoo and Conditioner (Gold) — This formula is designed to give you sleek, smooth, easy-to-manage hair and controls frizz for up to 48 hours. Suave Coconut Oil Shampoo and Conditioner (Gold) — Infused with pure coconut oil, this formula visibly repairs damage after just three uses without weighing hair down. Suave Moroccan Infusion Shampoo and Conditioner (Gold) — Infused with authentic Moroccan Argan Oil, this line gently cleanses hair, while restoring lost shine. Suave Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner (Green) — Infused with real rosemary and mint, this rich formula revitalizes hair as it cleans, leaving it feeling nourished and looking healthy. You can purchase these bottles in-stores or online at Walmart’s everyday low price. Just be sure to shop soon so that you can get 40% more for FREE!   [...]
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7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality)

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7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality)
If you plan to do a kitchen remodel, you know it can be expensive!  And, that may mean you don’t get the kitchen of your dreams (or even one that functions better). The truth is that most of the time, it will blow your budget.  But, if you know what to do, you can get ... Read More about 7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality) The post 7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality) appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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21 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money on Pet Care

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21 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money on Pet Care
We consider our cats our children. We once spent $1,000 to cat-proof a back yard so Jack and Opie could roam outside without escaping to the dangerous world beyond the fence — the life expectancy of a cat is several times longer if it doesn’t run free. Our guys have a variety of cat furniture, and they eat food that costs more than $7 per pound. Maybe you spoil your pets, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money on pet care. For example, you can buy expensive food, but on sale. You can build elaborate (or simple) pet furniture, instead of paying a fortune for it. Here are some more ways to save money on your pets. 1. Buy Smaller Pets If you haven’t yet chosen a pet, consider smaller ones as a way to save money on pet care. A small dog will cost you $295 less per year than a large one ($580 vs. $875), suggests ASPCA data on pet care costs. That’s even less than a cat ($670 per year), partly because of the cost of cat litter. Of course, you could consider even smaller animals. You’ll spend an average of $200 per year on a small bird, and just $35 on a fish. Note: First-year costs for all pets are substantially higher than the figures above because of one-time costs like spaying or neutering, and buying pet carriers and other equipment. 2. Adopt Instead of Buying The breeder price for a dog is multiples higher than the cost of adopting one from a shelter. You’ll probably save money on pet care by getting your dog or cat from a shelter, and you could also save a life. Over 2 million shelter animals are euthanized in the U.S. each year. We adopted Opie from a shelter, and Jack adopted us when he was finally ready to upgrade his alley-cat lifestyle. 3. Join Pet Store Loyalty Clubs I just received a $5 gift certificate from Petco, because I used my Petco Pals Rewards card for the last $100 in purchases there. I bought food that was on sale (rewards card required, of course). Most of the major pet supply retailers have similar programs. Sign up for several if you shop in more than one place. 4. Use Discounted Gift Cards You can buy discounted gift cards on a number of good websites. Most carry cards for more than one pet supply chain. For example, you’ll find Pet Food Express on Raise and Petco on ABC Gift Cards. 5. Watch for Pet Food Sales We buy expensive cat food, because there’s a difference in quality. And evidence linking canine diseases to grains in dog food suggests you could make your pet sick and have future vet bills if you go too cheap. But even the best pet foods go on sale, so why not stock up when it costs less? You can find weekly ads for pet supply retailers online. You can also link your email address to your customer loyalty card to get sales alerts. 6. Feed Your Pets Some Human Food What do baked carrots, steamed broccoli and boiled eggs have in common? They all cost less than cat food (at least the stuff we buy) and they’re all safe and healthy for cats to eat, according to Animal Planet. WebMD has a list of people foods your dog can eat. (Not that cooking for your pets means they’re spoiled or anything.) 7. Stack Savings Tactics for Cheaper Food To really reduce the cost of pet food, try deal-stacking. For example, I recently bought our usual brand of cat food at Petco using a coupon, while it was on sale. And, I paid with an American Express card with an “Amex Offer” for a $5 statement rebate. Or, buy discounted gift cards and use them when there’s a sale — a simple strategy that could make a good sale even better. 8. Store Pet Food Properly We discovered early on that our cats refuse their food if it’s too old — and then we have to throw it away. Even if we just overfill their dishes and the remainder sits there overnight, they won’t eat it.  Check the expiration date for your pet food, dole it out a little at a time and store it properly to keep it fresh. We prefer to use up our cat food months before the expiration date. We store it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. The cats like the food better this way (yes, we tested), and we save money not having to throw away any of it. 9. Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered You spend money upfront to spay or neuter your pets, but there are long-term savings. For example, some of the negative behaviors associated with not spaying or neutering dogs and cats can be expensive. Unspayed cats can damage furniture and carpet by spraying urine on them to attract males. Unneutered dogs can be more violent, leading to injuries or possible lawsuits if they attack people. There’s also the obvious huge cost of not fixing those pets: puppies and kittens. 10. Call the Vet Before You Need One The worst time to find an affordable vet is when you have a medical emergency. If you love your pets, you’ll pay whatever it costs in the moment. To save money on pet care — both routine stuff and emergency treatments — choose an affordable vet before you need one. Use websites like VetRatingz.com to avoid bad vets (we can tell you from experience, they’re out there). Call the acceptable ones and ask what they charge for a basic checkup, vaccinations, teeth cleaning or other procedures. If you have an idea of what services your pet might need, ask about those. In any case, ask about a few different services so you get an idea of the general price level of each veterinary office. 11. Don’t Shop at the Vet Office In our experience, everything from cat toothbrushes to flea collars costs more at the vet’s office. You’re better off buying anything you can at a pet supply store, including any non-prescription medications or treatments. 12. Buy Pet Medications Online Many pet medications are cheaper online. Here are a few places you can fill pet prescriptions: Discount Pet Medicines PetCareRx VetDepot 1-800-PetMeds 13. When It Comes to Pet Insurance, Choose Wisely Unexpected vet bills can be the most expensive part of having a pet. Pet insurance for dogs, cats and even birds can keep the costs of pet care reasonable. While the monthly premiums are an additional expense on top of food, toys, treats and grooming, pet insurance is worth it for medical emergencies, especially serious illnesses or injuries. Like all insurance, it’s a gamble. You will likely spend more over the course of your animal’s life on monthly premiums than the cost of regular vet care if your pet is healthy.  But if your furry friend gets sick or suffers a major injury, insurance will potentially save you a lot of money on pet care. Here’s how to choose the best insurance for your pet. Pro Tip Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet has health problems, try to save the money you would spend on insurance, and instead put it into savings for future care. 14. Make Sure Your Pets Get Exercise Pets benefit from exercise just like humans. It helps keep them healthy and avoid obesity, which means fewer vet bills for you. 15. Make Pet Furniture Why buy pet furniture when you can make it for a lot less? Here are some examples of what you could build: Cat Condos Pet Beds Dog Houses Pet Stairs 16. Make Pet Toys We buy toys for our cats at least a couple times each year. The result is almost always the same: What seemed so cute and fun in the store is completely ignored by Jack and Opie. The good news is they love almost everything we make for them, especially paper balls and anything involving string. Moral of the story: Don’t spend a fortune on unwanted pet toys when you can make better ones. Here are a couple resources to get you started: DIY Dog Toys DIY Cat Toys 17. Make Your Own Pet Enclosures Want to provide a fenced area for your dog or an outdoor “catio” for your cats? Why not do it yourself? You can see one of my own creations in my post about building cat enclosures. More recently, I fenced in a patio area and cat-proofed it for $450 ($140 just for a building permit). The lowest quote I got before going it alon [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Friday, August 23

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Afternoon Deals: Friday, August 23
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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10 Ways to Save on National Park Visits with Kids

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10 Ways to Save on National Park Visits with Kids
Guest post from Brigitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Did you know there are over 400 National Park Sites in the United States?! This includes national historic sites, national recreational areas, national sea shores, national monuments, and just over 60 national parks that you can explore with your family. Check out the National Park Service’s website to find one near you (or for your next vacation). Here are 10 ways to save on your next national park adventure! 1. Purchase or Sign Up for an Annual Pass Families who frequent national parks that charge a fee may benefit from an annual pass, which is good for 12 months from the purchase month. Seniors (ages 62+) can take advantage of an annual pass (or even a lifetime pass) aimed specifically at them for an even steeper discount. The senior pass will cover the cost of everyone in a non-commercial vehicle if the site has a per vehicle charge. Great way to enjoy some time with grandkids! Families with a fourth grader can enjoy free entry at hundreds of locations from September through August by getting a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. Even homeschooling families with a fourth grader can take advantage of this opportunity! Active duty military members can receive free annual passes for many sites for them and their dependents by asking for a U.S. military annual pass. Even if your family has an annual pass, it is still advisable to contact parks ahead of time to ensure the pass is accepted at that location. 2. Go on Free Days If you don’t plan to visit the national parks multiple times in a 12 month span, an annual pass may not make sense for your family. Instead, check to see if they offer any free days. It’s suggested to arrive early and be prepared for large crowds of people on these days! (NOTE: Some national sites are free all year round.) 3. Check the Event’s Calendar Junior Ranger days, astronomy programs, family days, historic days, nature walks, sled dog demonstrations, movies, archaeology days, and photography walks are just a few of the low cost or even free events offered throughout the year at national sites. Schedule your visits accordingly by checking the events calendar. 4. Check out the Junior Ranger Program Kids may enjoy participating in the free Junior Ranger Program where they can complete fun yet educational activities and earn badges at each national park. Even kids who don’t have an opportunity to visit many national parks can earn badges at home by completing booklets about bats, archaeology, caves, the Underground Railroad, and more. 5. Create a Webrangers Account Kids (and even interested adults) can earn virtual badges and rewards as they complete activities while learning about people, history, animals, nature, science, puzzles, and parks through the Webrangers program. Registration is free and simple- just create a user ID and password. Once an account has been created, all of the completed activities are saved so progress can easily be tracked. Kids may even have fun personalizing their own virtual ranger station by choosing a theme and customizing the walls, shelves, chair, desk, floor, picture, and window view. What a great way to get kids excited about visiting National Parks and learning more! 6. Carpool By carpooling with others, you can split the cost of the entrance fee if the site charges a per vehicle fee. 7. Visit the Visitor’s Center Visitor’s centers often provide free maps, guides, suggested tips, exhibits, and even videos to ensure you get the most out of your visit. 8. Talk to Park Rangers Park rangers are often quite knowledgeable about the area and can offer additional suggestions and information about the site. You may even be able to get a personal tour if you ask (particularly on a non-busy day)! 9. Plan Ahead Check out the site’s “plan your visit” section to learn more about fees, hours, things to do, suggestions, and more to make the most out of your visit. It’s helpful to have an idea of what you want to see ahead of time since some parks are so big! Also, check the weather to ensure you are wearing weather-appropriate clothing for the day. 10. Bring Supplies Besides wearing weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable footwear, and a hat, it may be beneficial to bring water, a camera, sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen. Finally, don’t take a bag for collecting specimens since it is illegal to remove items from national sites. Instead, bring a bag for any trash you may have and take pictures of all of the neat rocks, shells, and leaves if you want a record of them! What other tips do you have for your next national park adventure? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of the Adventure Writing Prompt Journal, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at BrigitteBrulz.com. [...]
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7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

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7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
fizkes / Shutterstock.com Retirees usually have a limited amount of money to spend during their golden years. Unfortunately, some people make costly mistakes that can deplete their nest egg prematurely. From giving away cash indiscriminately to refusing to embrace lifestyle changes, here are some surprising ways retirees waste their hard-earned savings. The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need... [...]
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8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending

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8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending
When you open a menu, you’re looking at a marketing tool that’s designed to steer you toward choices that increase profits for the restaurant you’re visiting. Like all businesses, restaurants exist to make money. The goal of menu design is to draw attention to the items they are most eager to sell. Typically, these are the costliest choices. So, knowing the techniques of menu... [...]
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Delta SkyMiles Cards Add Cash Back to Welcome Offers (Limited Time)

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Delta SkyMiles Cards Add Cash Back to Welcome Offers (Limited Time)
American Express is offering a chance for new cardholders to earn extra cash back on top of the welcome offers for two co-branded airline cards: the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. Through Aug. 15, 2019, you can apply for either of these cards... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article Delta SkyMiles Cards Add Cash Back to Welcome Offers (Limited Time) originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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8 Subreddits to Follow If You’re Trying to Save Money

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8 Subreddits to Follow If You’re Trying to Save Money
Looking for ways to save money? Don’t limit yourself to the ideas you think up on your own. There’s great benefit in joining a group of others who can share their tips, tricks and advice. That’s the reason we started The Penny Hoarder Community. Another resource where tons of ideas are shared is Reddit. If saving money is your aim, check out these eight Reddit forums, also known as subreddits, that’ll help you cut costs on food, travel, weddings and more. 1. r/Frugal Over 1 million members belong to the frugal living subreddit. Here, you’ll find a wide range of discussions about how to save money in your everyday life. There’s advice on reducing the costs of necessities like food and utilities as well as nonessentials like electronics and vacations. 2. r/budgetfood You can’t cut food out your budget, but there are so many ways to save. The 150,000 members in Reddit’s budget food community share ideas on meal planning, low-cost recipes, grocery shopping tips and more. 3. r/CordCutters Sick of your $100+ cable bill, but on the fence about canceling your service? The cord cutters subreddit is where to go to ask questions about various cable alternatives, so you can pay less while still enjoying what you love to watch. 4. r/NoContract We can’t live without our cell phones, but we can definitely do without being locked into pricy phone service contracts. Reddit’s no contract community is the forum to join if you’re interested in learning about cheaper phone service without a long-term commitment to a particular carrier. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Saving Money on a very fixed income 7/31/19 @ 2:14 PM Extra Job 7/30/19 @ 2:52 PM The Power of Saving Money || Where to save 7/30/19 @ 1:36 PM Best ways to save money in shopping 7/23/19 @ 1:09 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. r/Shoestring The shoestring subreddit is where world travelers go to share advice and post questions about ways to travel on a budget. If you’re looking for cheap airfare, inexpensive lodging or ideas about low-cost things to do at your destination, this is the group to join. 6. r/BuyItForLife Saving money isn’t always about buying the cheapest thing out there. Sometimes it’s worth spending more initially for something of better quality that lasts for years and years. Reddit’s buy it for life forum is where folks go to show off their long-lasting purchases, share feedback on the durability of various products and seek advice about how to maintain what they own so they don’t need to spend money on a replacement. 7. r/Weddingsunder10k Planning a wedding but don’t want to go into debt getting hitched? The weddings under $10K subreddit has all the ideas about how to get married on a tight budget. Get inspiration from other brides or ask the group to weigh in on your upcoming nuptials. 8. r/MUAontheCheap If you’re looking to spend less on beauty items check out the MUA on the cheap subreddit. It’s full of announcements about sales and special deals for popular makeup brands, nail polish, skincare and more. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s

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6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s
Love Culver’s? Don’t miss out on these 6 easy ways to save money at Culver’s! {Also be sure to check out 16 Ways to Save More at Restaurants and our Master List of Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free!} Guest post from Bridgitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Ask anyone in my immediate family what their favorite restaurant is and Culver’s is the answer! It’s something we all agree on! What’s not to love about ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard? Well, if you are on a tight budget… possibly the price. On the rare occasion my family does go out to eat, we often end up at Culver’s. As a result, I have learned a few tips to save money on those Culver’s visits. 1. Buy kid’s meals. One of the easiest ways to save money at Culver’s is to eat kid’s meals. Even adults can purchase a kid’s meal at all of the Culver’s I have visited. Less calories, less cost, and enough to fill my belly (but not my husband’s who does order from the “adult” menu). Each kid’s meal automatically comes with a coupon for a free scoop of custard and a Scoopie token. Just don’t forget to take the coupon and token off the side of the kid’s meal bag before throwing it away! You can save ten Scoopie tokens to get a free kid’s meal later. You can also save the free scoop of custard coupon for a future visit. It’s nice being able to go out as a treat for just custard and not having to pay anything! I keep the coupons and tokens in an envelope in my purse (along with gift cards) until I am ready to use them. If you are automatically charged for a drink with the kid’s meal but prefer water, you can ask for a cup for water (free) and bring the carton of milk (included in the meal) home to use later. 2. Sign up for their e-mail list. If you want to save money at Culver’s, be sure to sign up for their email list! Those signed up for a free MyCulver’s account receive coupons, updates, a monthly flavor forecast, and coupons for free custard on each family member’s birthday by email. The monthly flavor forecast gives you a calendar of the “flavor of the day” for each day of the month for your local Culver’s. Just keep in mind those flavors are only for your local Culver’s. If you are traveling, you can find the flavor of the day for any other Culver’s on the Culver’s website or the Culver’s App. 3. Purchase Culver’s gift cards during the holidays. Culver’s typically runs a promotional deal on gift cards just before Christmas. For each gift card you purchase (at the amount required), you receive a free value basket coupon. You can keep the free value basket coupon for yourself and give the gift card to someone else for Christmas. You can also purchase the gift cards for yourself to use throughout the year (and still keep the free value basket coupons)! 4. Use expired coupons. One of my tricks to save money at Culver’s is to not throw away my expired Culver’s coupons! You may want to ask your local Culver’s if they will accept expired coupons, but all of the ones I have asked have accepted them. The birthday coupons for free custard typically state they expire in two weeks. The free value basket coupons received with the gift cards at the end of the year typically state they expire at the end of February. BUT, since my local Culver’s accepts expired coupons, I don’t have to use them (or throw them away) until we are ready to use them. 5. Fill out the survey on your receipt. Sometimes the receipts will have information about taking an online survey. If your receipt does, you can go online, answer the questions about your recent visit, and receive a code for a free scoop of custard. Write the code at the bottom of the receipt and bring it in the next time you want a a scoop of custard (possibly on a day that has your favorite flavor of the day). 6. Only go if you have coupons and/or gift cards. I typically purchase a set number of gift cards at the end of the year (when Culver’s has their gift card promotion) using money set aside for that. We also get Culver’s gift cards as gifts from others who know we enjoy Culver’s. Those gift cards and coupons last us for the entire next year of Culver’s visits. If we don’t have a gift card or free custard/free value basket coupons, we don’t go! What are your best tips to save money at Culver’s — or your favorite restaurant? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of Reading Journals for kids, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com. [...]
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Here’s How a Health Savings Account Can Help You Save on Health Care Costs

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Here’s How a Health Savings Account Can Help You Save on Health Care Costs
When signing up for health insurance through your job, you may have been given the option of opening an HSA, or health savings account.  An HSA isn’t like a regular savings account. For one thing, there are a bunch of rules around how you can contribute and spend the money. But it can be a very useful and convenient way to set aside money for medical expenses while potentially saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run. Here, we’ll explain how HSAs work and how they can benefit you. What Is an HSA?  The first thing you should know about an HSA is that you need to have an HDHP in order to qualify for one.  An HDHP stands for a high deductible health plan. With high-deductible plans, you generally pay less in premiums but have to meet a high annual deductible before your plan pays.  A deductible is the money you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in and starts providing certain benefits. Your premium is the monthly fee you pay to get health coverage. You can’t open a health savings account with just any health plan with a high deductible. According to the IRS, the deductible has to be no less than $1,350 for an individual or $2,700 for a family to qualify as a high deductible health plan in 2019. Those deductibles can go as high as $13,500 for a family. In addition, you can’t be enrolled in Medicare, have other health coverage or be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return in order to be eligible to open an HSA. But if you do meet all those criteria, you’re in. So what’s the big deal about having an HSA anyway? The Benefits of an HSA A health savings account allows you to save money for various medical expenses without being taxed on that money. Any savings you don’t spend in a current year rolls over to the following year, and the money in your HSA stays with you even if you switch insurance plans, change jobs or retire. If you have this benefit through your job, your employer can direct a portion of your paycheck to your health savings account before taxes are taken out. If you make contributions to your HSA with income that’s already been taxed, you can deduct that money when filing your income taxes. “The advantage of contributing through payroll is you save not just federal and state income taxes but you also save on FICA taxes,” said Paul Fronstin, director of the health research and education program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Acronym alert: FICA stands for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act. Your FICA taxes are what you pay to fund Medicaid and Social Security. You also aren’t taxed when you spend HSA dollars, provided you’re spending the money on qualified medical expenses. The IRS has an entire list of qualified expenses, which includes things like: Deductibles Copayments Prescriptions Dental care Eye glasses Chiropractic care Breastfeeding supplies  You’ll usually receive a debit card or checks to spend your HSA money, but in some cases, you’ll have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed later. When you spend money from your HSA, make sure to save receipts, your explanation of benefits forms or other types of documentation.  “You don’t have to send any documentation to your HSA provider,” Fronstin said. “The IRS requires that you have documentation, and if you get audited, you’re going to need that documentation.” Another benefit of having a health savings account is that you don’t have to pay taxes for any earnings from your account. “If you open an HSA, the money goes into a bank, and it earns interest like a bank account,” Fronstin said. “The interest rates are not high, but once you have a certain amount of money in your account… your HSA provider will likely permit you to invest that money in mutual funds.” Besides all those tax benefits, another upside of an HSA is that your employer — and other individuals — are allowed to contribute to your account. Can you say free money? The IRS does cap how much can be contributed to an HSA in a given year, though. In 2019, you can contribute up to $3,500 for individuals or $7,000 for families. If you’re 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Best ways to save money in shopping 7/23/19 @ 1:09 PM Free Food Giveaways - Do you participate 7/20/19 @ 12:07 PM Traveling 1/26/19 @ 9:01 PM S Summer Is Here: Is Your Electric Bill Affected by Running the AC? 7/17/19 @ 4:08 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question The Challenges With HSAs One thing to keep in mind when you have an HSA is that you may be charged a fee to maintain your account. Also, if you use the money for something that’s not a qualified expense and you’re younger than 65, you’ll be taxed on it plus you’ll be hit with a 20% penalty.  After you reach age 65, you can use your HSA savings for nonmedical expenses without incurring a penalty, but you’ll still be taxed for it. Other challenges exist — not with having a health savings plan directly, but with having a high deductible health plan. Deciding which health insurance is right for you and your family is a personal decision, Fronstin said, and opting into a high deductible health plan won’t be the right choice for everyone.  Some people aren’t able to pay for health costs out of pocket before meeting their deductible and having insurance benefits kick in — resulting in people forgoing medical care to save money. High deductible health plans have also been criticized as being more for young, healthy people who don’t need much medical care. Standard preventive care, like getting your annual checkup, is generally covered under a high deductible health plan without having to reach your deductible. But patients who have ongoing medical needs could end up spending a lot of money before getting any benefit from their insurance. However, recent changes made by the federal government expanded the list of what’s considered preventive care and now includes 14 treatments, medications or devices for people with ongoing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. “These plans became a little more friendlier for people with chronic conditions,” Fronstin said. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Friday, July 19

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Afternoon Deals: Friday, July 19
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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Save up to 60% and Get Free Shipping at Children’s Place

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Save up to 60% and Get Free Shipping at Children’s Place
  These deals are still going on – seriously, don’t miss out on them! NOW is the time to shop for back to school! The kids need new tees, shorts, jeans — or even uniforms! The Children’s Place is geared up already and has some amazing ways for you to save!  Right now, the entire ... Read More about Save up to 60% and Get Free Shipping at Children’s Place The post Save up to 60% and Get Free Shipping at Children’s Place appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something

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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something
The resurgence of Pokemon — thanks to a new movie and video game set for release soon  — has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old collection of trading cards. And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune. The 1996 video game-turned-Japanese-anime-turned-trading-card-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come. For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte, 31, collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world. “I’ve done 7-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings. Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $1 million. Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Pokemon Cards Worth Selling The two biggest value factors to consider about old Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition. In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur. A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the rarest and most sought-after cards. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but exclude the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card. The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The price it fetches depends on how well the card has been taken care of. If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help determine a card’s worth. According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $1,000 and $24,000. So why Pratte’s $100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated. “It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.” In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering. “There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia. Especially so online. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM How I Get 5/6 Customers To Leave Reviews (All Positive) 7/11/19 @ 6:26 PM S Need advice on working from home 6/14/19 @ 12:35 PM Pls help 7/9/19 @ 1:33 PM tutoring business 6/16/19 @ 10:17 PM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Where to Sell Pokemon Cards After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell. “The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.” The PSA’s grading system and authentication make selling online much easier. This process allays fears that the card is a fake and curbs arguments over its true condition. Each authenticated card comes in a protective case with the grade and barcode clearly visible at the top. As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight. “It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says. Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare. Pratte offers this caution about getting rich overnight: “Be realistic.” “If you put in little or no effort back in the day,” he says, “you probably don’t have the homerun card.” But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling. After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Reduce the Pain at the Pump With These 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas

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Reduce the Pain at the Pump With These 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas
Filling up the gas tank can be a thoroughly miserable experience as you watch the counter flip past $40, then $50, and keep on going.  But you can save money on gas based on where you fill up, how you pay, when you visit the gas station, how you drive and even the condition of your car. We’ve compiled 20 smart tips to help you spend less on fuel. You could save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. How to Save Money on Gas at the Pump The biggest savings will be evident in the price you pay at the gas station. So it’s worth shopping around and employing a bit of strategy before filling up. 1. Use Apps to Find the Cheapest Gas You don’t want to buy gas at one place and then come across a station with cheaper fuel just down the street. Several websites and apps tell you the price of gasoline at the stations in your area. GasBuddy and Waze are two popular options.  Look for the cheapest gas stations along any of the routes you normally drive for work or shopping. Don’t wait until your tank is near empty and be forced to buy gas wherever is closest.  The price of gas can vary significantly across state lines, so if you’re planning a trip, check where prices are lower throughout your route. Avoid getting gas at stations just off a highway exit or in the middle of a major city — stations in those locations tend to charge more than ones a little more out of the way. 2. Skip the Premium Option Higher-octane gas isn’t necessary or beneficial in most cars, so you’re just spending more money when you buy premium. Premium gas can cost about 20 to 40 cents per gallon more than regular-grade fuel. Use regular-grade gasoline unless your car’s manufacturer specifically requires premium. 3. Join a Fuel Rewards Program Many gas station chains and grocery stores across the country offer fuel rewards programs to try to turn you into a loyal customer. Each gas station fuel rewards program and grocery store fuel rewards program has its own set of rules on how much you can save and what you have to spend in order to get the rewards, so read up on the details.  GasBuddy also offers its own fuel savings program called Pay with GasBuddy. Join for free, and you’ll  save 10 cents per gallon on your initial fill-up and 5 cents per gallon on every subsequent fill-up. You can also sign up for paid versions (Pay with GasBuddy Plus is $4.99 a month and Pay with GasBuddy Premium is $6.99 a month) to save 20 cents per gallon. (Note: Exxon Mobil, BJs, Costco, Sam’s Club, H-E-B, select Walmart stations, select Arco stations and some small, local gas stations don’t accept the Pay with GasBuddy card.) 4. Use a Rewards Credit Card When you fuel up, choose a credit card that pays you cash back or one that allows you to earn rewards points when you purchase gas. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into before opening a rewards credit card. Pay the fuel charges off in full each month so you’re not paying interest on your gas purchases. 5. Use Cash Instead of a Card Some gas stations charge a lower price per gallon if you pay with cash rather than a card. It’s their way of avoiding card processing fees. While some stations will let you pay the cash price if you use a debit card, others won’t. Check with the gas station before you swipe your card, or simply use cash when it’s time to fill up. 6. Use Free or Discounted Gift Cards You can earn gift cards or cash from survey sites like Swagbucks or Survey Junkie. You can also purchase discounted gift cards from sites like Raise or Gift Card Granny. 7. Fill Up Early in the Week According to a 2018 GasBuddy gas price analysis, gas prices tend to be the lowest on Mondays. Sundays and Tuesdays are also good days to buy cheap gas. Avoid filling your tank on Thursdays or Fridays when gas prices tend to be the most expensive. How to Save Money on Gas With Better Driving Habits How frequently you drive and how you operate your vehicle both play a role in how much you spend on gas.  8. Share Rides If you live near your co-workers and have similar schedules, take turns driving so you can all drive less each week. Organize a carpool with neighbors or friends to transport your children to school or extracurricular activities, and swap driving duties among the parents. Less time on the road means less gas used and more money saved. 9. Plan Routes Plan your shopping trips and other outings in efficient ways to reduce your drive time. If the grocery store is near your job, do your shopping after work rather than waiting until the weekend. Do your errands all in one day rather than making several trips on different days. Cutting a few miles several times weekly can add up to hundreds of miles saved annually. That could save a fill-up or two. 10. Reduce Your Idle Time Don’t start the car and then leave it running for a long time while you wait for everyone to get in or to fiddle with your navigation. Make sure you’re ready to go before starting your engine. Idling just wastes gas and causes more air pollution. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Do You Ever Pick up A Stray Penny? 2/7/19 @ 5:27 PM Do drive-in movie theaters save you money? 7/1/19 @ 7:38 PM What to buy (and not buy) from Fourth of July Sales 2019 6/27/19 @ 1:00 PM M Airfare 6/24/19 @ 5:19 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 11. Accelerate Slowly and Coast More Be gradual when you’re speeding up or slowing down. Generally, the faster you accelerate, the more gas you use. Be gentle on that pedal when getting up to highway speed. You’ll also get better mileage by coasting more, so plan ahead for stops and turns. Take your foot off the gas a bit sooner, and slowly glide to a stop. This actually works. 12. Use Cruise Control — Sometimes When it’s hilly you might get better mileage without cruise control, because the system will tend to downshift too much and waste gas. But otherwise, cruise! Staying at a steady speed with cruise control has been shown to save on fuel usage — plus you can make sure you don’t go over the speed limit. 13. Reduce the Use of Your Heater and Air Conditioning Blasting the heat in the winter or the A/C in the summer has an effect on your fuel economy, so keep that in mind. There’s a long-running but still inconclusive debate about whether using air conditioning or rolling down the windows contributes more to increased fuel consumption, since wind resistance from open windows creates drag on your vehicle.  When driving low speeds you may want to cool down by lowering your car windows, but if you’re driving on the highway (or even driving above 30 miles per hour), you might be better off with the air conditioner on and the windows up. 14. Slow Down Following the speed limit or driving just under it can pay off in more ways than you might think. The faster you drive, the more wind resistance you face, which reduces your fuel economy.  How Your Car Affects How Much You Spend on Gas The condition of your car makes a difference in gas consumption. Learn how to keep your ride in money-saving shape. 15. Check Tire Pressure Having underinflated tires can lower your gas mileage and cause you to lose about 2 cents per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To find the proper tire [...]
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5 Things to Know About UBS Business Credit Cards

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5 Things to Know About UBS Business Credit Cards
UBS Bank caters to wealthy individuals, institutions and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. So naturally, when the bank launched a trio of business credit cards in June 2019, the cards all came with princely perks and swanky benefits befitting the high-end clientele most likely to bank with UBS. Not everyone will be... Robin Saks Frankel is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: rfrankel@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @robinsaks. The article 5 Things to Know About UBS Business Credit Cards originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books

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Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books