Author Archives: Brooke

  • What’s at the top of the buying list for college students?

    Posted in Guides by Brooke. on September 3, 2018
    Starting college is a big deal and making sure students have everything they need ahead of time is essential to make the transition frustration-free. There’s nothing worse than realizing that something essential has been left at home.
    Categorize your needs
    1. room and storage needs
    2.bedding and laundry supplies
    3. office/desk supplies
    4. electronics
    5. toiletries
    6. clothing and household (including kitchen items)
    It may make more sense for students to buy certain things when they get to college rather than having to tote them from home. Another idea is to focus on bringing clothing appropriate for the season and just swapping when at home for breaks. Storage space will be scarce, so that would be one way to decrease the amount of “stuff” that has to be crammed into the room!

    Here are some items at the top of a college student’s list:

    Mattress topper – dorm mattresses tend to be tough and mattress toppers give that extra bit of padding and comfort.
    Twin XL sheets – these sell out early so be sure to purchase them before the rush for supplies in August.
    Pillows – bed pillows are essential of course, but it’s nice to have an additional throw pillow too.
    Mattress protector – especially important for students with allergies.
    Surge Protector (including USB ports) – this is a must to protect electronics as well as providing additional outlets in the room. Don’t forget lots of extension cords too!
    Shower caddy (especially important if you have to walk to the showers)
    Towels - if you are buying new towels, getting them monogrammed is a way to prevent them from going astray! Don’t forget a couple of hand towels and wash cloths too.
    Laundry bag and detergent – the pod type are super easy to use and take up less space than liquid detergent bottles.
    Storage – anything that can increase the amount of storage space in the dorm room – under bed bins, over the door storage solutions (check the door thickness first) and flat hangers, to name just a few.
    First aid kit – great to have on hand for emergencies!
    Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, nail clippers, body wash, and hand sanitizer to name just a few!
    Cleaning supplies – antibacterial wipes, small hand-held vacuum, paper towels, dish detergent

    The key is to make a list and to pack as lightly as possible, bringing only what is absolutely essential.

  • The Best Cash Back Credit Cards

    Posted in Guides, Saving Tips by Brooke. on September 3, 2018
    Cash back credit cards are an easy way to earn money for everyday purchases. Choosing the best card for your lifestyle can get tricky, but with a little research, you can quickly maximize your earnings with no effort at all. The following cards are some of the highest rated rewards credit cards available.

    Chase Freedom

    Chase Freedom offers 0% APR for 15 months. You can earn $150 bonus after spending $500 within the first three months of opening the account. You can also earn up to 5% rewards on up to $1,500 in bonus categories. There is no annual fee and Chase Freedom offers built-in protection for unauthorized purchases and has extended warranty protection.

    Citi Double Cashback Credit Card

    Citi Double Cashback offers 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers. You are rewarded with 1% for purchases, and for each payment you make, you will also earn 1% back. There is no annual fee and there are no limits on how much you are able to earn. This card is beneficial for those who spend money across several spending categories since there are no restrictions.

    The Blue Cash Preferred Card American Express

    If you have a family of any size and you spend a good chuck of your paycheck at the grocery store, The Blue Cash Preferred Card is for you. You can earn 6% rewards on grocery store purchases, plus, 3% on gas and department store purchases. Although there is a $95 annual fee, you can easily make up for that within your first three months with a $200 bonus on $1,000 purchases. This money will be applied to your statement as credit.

    Discover It Cash Back Match

    Discover It offers 0% APR for the first 14 months and unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of the cashback you've earned in the first year. You can earn 5% in most major spending categories and 1% on all other purchases. Your rewards never expire. One of the perks of Discover It is that you can apply your rewards when making purchases at Amazon.com right at the checkout.

    Quicksilver One Capital One
    Even with an average credit score, you can still earn rewards with Quicksilver One. There is a $39 annual fee, but you can earn 1.5% rewards on all purchases. If you're getting back on track and able to consistently make your monthly payments, why not earn some rewards while you're at it?

    How do You Choose the Right Card?

    How will you determine which card is best for you? Analyze your spending habits and look at the short and long-term benefits of each card. There are thousands of rewards cards available and they all offer great benefits. Make sure you have a strong credit score and are able to meet the monthly minimum payment. It's also a good idea to speak to a customer service representative to weigh out the pros and cons of each card before making any commitments.

  • How to Be Savvy When it Comes to Coupon Codes

    Posted in Saving Tips by Brooke. on August 22, 2018
    No one likes to overpay when they're shopping, or paying for anything for that matter. Therefore, it's essential to have smart shopping strategies. We're going to look at how you can become a savvy shopper using coupon codes. While many believe these codes are solely for online shopping, you're missing the boat on savings opportunities.

    For example, did you know you could turn your child's old car seat in at Target and receive a 20% off code toward a new one? Make sure you read the fine print, though, because this offer is only good during select times of the year. Let's see where else you can experience savings!

    Put Your Phone to Work 

    There are a plethora of savings apps that not only show you where the savings are, but they also store coupons and codes for you. For example, you can use Walmart's Saving's Catch App to scan the receipt and determine if you can get a lower price. If the app finds a lower price, you'll receive a refund. Ibotta is another where you scan the receipt, and they'll give you money based on coupon codes you've preloaded. Target has a popular app called Cartwheel that contains scannable coupons and, if you use this one correctly, you can stack the coupons with manufacturer coupons for deeper discounts.

    Use Brower Extensions 

    Shopping online is a savvy way to hit great deals because, in addition to saving time and gas money, you can also find great coupon codes. For example, if you keep Ebates as a browser extension, it will automatically tell you when you can earn cash back on your shopping trips. Plus, when you're ready to check out, it will load any applicable codes for you. The same holds true for Honey. If you keep this one loaded on your toolbar, it will automatically apply coupons to your cart during checkout.

    Sign up for Newsletters 

    Often, you can receive a percent off code, free shipping, or some other deal when signing up for a retailer’s newsletter. Look for what the deal is, and if it works for your shopping trip, sign up for the newsletter. Some of the newsletters will also offer future incentives, as well, to keep their buyers either in the store or purchasing online. If you’re unsure, ask what they’re going to offer.

    Don’t Forget to Ask 

    Many retailers offer coupons and codes to their patrons upon request. However, their sales associates often forget to hand them out or don’t hand them out readily for one reason or another. For example, you can receive a code for free ice skate sharpening at Dick’s Sporting Goods when you purchase skates, but you have to ask. Another example is you can receive free tailoring at Nordstrom’s, but this is another coupon you have to request. When you’re out shopping, don’t be afraid to ask if there are any coupons or codes you’re eligible for or what you can do to receive deals.

  • Is Your State Having a Tax Free Weekend in August?

    Posted in Saving Tips by Brooke. on August 22, 2018
    Sales tax holidays are becoming more commonplace as many states recognize the benefits provided to the average household as well as the local economy at large. During a tax free weekend, a broad range of merchandise is completely tax exempt, which means that each of your hard-earned dollars can go a lot further. These weekends are often scheduled in August and can be a big boon for families.

    What Is Tax-Free Shopping?

    Tax holidays are periods during which states reduce or even eliminate taxes in one or more sectors. In states that have sales tax, this reduction or exemption can apply to many different goods and services. Often, tax-free shopping is instituted temporarily, usually on an annual basis, and due to a particular motivation, such as lessening an unintended burden on the average consumer.

    Is Everything Tax Exempt? 

    It depends on the state and the impetus for the tax holiday. Some states do have tax-exempt periods that are meant to spur the local economy. In those cases, then all or at least most goods and services are exempt. Generally, however, the term tax free weekend refers to back to school. This is the period when families have to budget for school supplies and other school-oriented necessities.

    Some states have a limit, such as individual purchases up to $100 or total purchases up top $2,000. Many participating states will have specific exceptions, such as cars, tobacco and dining out. Other states itemize specifically which goods are exempt. This can include:

    • Clothes
    • Bookbags
    • Footwear
    • Computers
    • Pens and pencils

    Are All of These Weekends in August? 

    No but most are. This is because most school districts in the United States reopen after summer break in September. Some states opt for the end of July instead, and this may be because their schools tend to open late August, and this is also the period in which college students tend to return.

    Do All States Participate? 

    No. Note that some states, such as Oregon and New Hampshire, don’t have a sales tax and thus don’t need a tax free weekend for back to school. Of the 44 states that do have a sales tax, 17 participated in 2018, and there’s been a trend of at least one new state joining the fun each year.

    How Do I Know If My State Is Taking Part?

    Most states have a Department of Revenue, but the name will vary in some cases. This is the state government website on which the press release announcing the weekend is most likely to appear.

  • Which Retailers offer the fastest Delivery?

    Posted in Guides by Brooke. on July 20, 2018

    In an era of instant gratification and social media, waiting for products is a thing of the past. For a price, you can get your groceries and other products on the same day. Same day deliveries are great for last-minute purchases. If you have a busy schedule, it is essential that you find time for shopping. That is not always possible. Now all you have to do is, use your phone or computer and order a couple of stuff. You will have them delivered to you in a couple of hours. Even if you do not have time to buy groceries for dinner, order online and you will have them delivered to you before dinner time.

    Whole foods

    Now owned by Amazon, this company will deliver orders that are above $35 in 2 hours. However, it is only available in 14 cities although it is expanding quickly.

    Amazon

    Amazon is a mega-retailer, and they offer prime members "today" deliveries to over 8000 cities and towns. All you have to do is choose the same-day option at checkout and ensure that you place all your orders before 9 p.m.

    Prime members get free deliveries for orders above $35. These items need to be labeled "free same day deliveries." If they are not labeled free, you can get them delivered on the same day for only $5.99.

    If you are not a prime member, you will pay $8.99 for each item and an additional $0.99 for all other items.

    All items ordered at noon will be delivered by 9 p.m. the annual prime membership is $99 for regular and $49 for students.

    Walmart

    If you do not have time to go shopping, log on to Walmart's website and order groceries. The retailers will have someone make fastest deliveries to you the same day. With the help of crowd-sourced services like post mates Walmart will expand its services to metro areas in the country.

    For this store, the delivery fees will vary depending on location, order value and time slot. They are looking towards expanding their services so by the end of the year there will be more than 40% of all US household items.

    Target

    This company gives you home essential and groceries in 34 states. You can either order from the website of their app. For this service, you will have to pay a membership fee

    Instacart

    An instacart gives you services similar to those provided by Wholefoods. However, you will have to pay more for 1-hour deliveries than 2- hour deliveries. Orders must be a minimum of $10. Instacart express is only for orders above $35. If you are a non-member, you will pay $5.99 for delivery.

    Deliv:

    this service works with dozens of retailers in over 35 markets. For what other companies charge for five-day deliveries, you can have your items at your doorstep. They also have an app that makes this so much easier for you.

     

    Barnes and nobles:

    members can order and have fastest deliveries for free. Nonmembers have to pay $25 minimum, and the orders need to be placed before noon. This service does not work on weekends.

    Other services include:

    - Verizon: If you are in Manhattan, this is the company for you. They are currently not available everywhere.

    - Postmates: primarily known for takeout deliveries, this company serves most of your Thai cravings. Their fee for deliveries is $5.99 although from time to time it can go as low as $3.99. There is also a service fee which is always a percentage of your purchase price.

    - Staples

    - Best buy this company started in 2015 and had expanded quickly and is covering over 40 markets. For your order to be delivered in the same day you must make your order before 3 p.m. orders made around 3 p.m will be given by 9 p.m. the cost will depend on your state and the products ordered.

    With same-day delivering, you have the opportunity to buy time critical goods and be sure that they will reach you on time. You also get to track your shipping through your phone. These services are convenient when you need groceries for dinner and do not have the time to go shopping.

  • Amazon Prime Day: Here is What to Expect

    Posted in Uncategorized by Brooke. on July 4, 2018
     This year’s edition of the much awaited Amazon Prime Day is slated for July 16th at 12 Noon Pacific Time. The massive sale-off would be open to the Amazon Prime subscribers .The Prime Day would see customers in the US, Spain, UK, Mexico, Japan, India, Germany, China, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Singapore, Netherlands, and Luxembourg enjoy discounts for up to 36 hours. This year’s edition of the Prime day we will see major improvements in terms of the expected subscribers, the targeted countries, and the goods set to be sold. The number of hours for the offers have also been increased from last year’s 30 to this year’s 36.

    Prime Day Deals to Expect

    Most of the deals anticipated on this year’s Prime day will be products branded by Amazon. Some of them include the Fire TV, Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, and the Echo device.

    To create a buzz, the company has already started making introductory offers on certain key products including today’s $100 discount on the Amazon Echo device bundled with 4 months of unlimited Amazon Music for only 99 cents
    .
    With that, the company is also anticipating to take in some more members in the Prime subscribership. Prime subscribers are however expected to pay more this year as compared to last year. For instance, last year, the company was charging $99 for prime membership. This year, the value has been increased by 20 percent to $119. Amazon may, therefore, need to increase its marketing efforts to bring new subscribers on board as they may be put-off by the high subscription fees.
    Customers are however expecting to reap from the massive sell-offs as well as the newly anticipated products from companies which may take the advantage to introduce new products in the market. Delta is expected to launch its new voice-activated faucet while Coleman is expected to launch its new Road trip LXE gas-powered grill.
    Amazon would also be giving away some sumptuous deals in this period. In the bid to push the market for new products including Alexa, the company would be dishing out cash rewards to online shoppers as well as offering a giveaway of the  new 2019 Lexus ES incorporated with Alexa functions.
    Despite the glitches that the company has faced on the Amazon Prime Day, enough preparations have been made towards ensuring that nothing goes out of hand to inconvenience shoppers. The company said that it was working to ensure that no technical hitches occur such as those evidenced in 2016 and 2017. To avoid inconveniencing customers, the company has increased the number of popular products that are expected to be sold out much sooner. It has also beefed up its cloud presence and computer backups.

    Readers, are you planning to shop Prime Day this year? What items are you hoping to see? Let us know in the comments below!

  • The Top 7 Road Trip Essentials

    Posted in Guides by Brooke. on June 30, 2018

    Without a doubt, road trips are a sure way of creating some fun memories with family and friends. Most people would agree that when it comes to road trips, it is the journey that matters. Therefore, you will need to make sure that the journey is as smooth as possible. This is especially when you are traveling far away from home. Consider having the following essentials before your next trip.

    • A Reliable GPS 

    The advent of technology has made it easy for people to access technology blogs offered online. However, people can still access GPS systems instead of mapping programs on their phones. This will not only help you save your phone battery but also keep you away from distractions. Also, there are sophisticated GPS systems that incorporate weather alongside helping you to plan stops on your way.

    • A Spare Tire 

    Although having a small tire is always better than having none, it is crucial for you to have a full-size tire because you can get a flat tire on your trip. Also, you need to make upgrade before you plan for your trip.

    • A Road Map 

    Life is pretty unpredictable. Therefore, your GPS system and the phone can lose signal on your trip. This should not worry you if you have a roadmap. Depending on your final destination, you can get a bigger spiral bound map for your guidance.

    • Energy Drinks and Snacks 

    To avoid stopping from time to time, other essentials you can pack up on your way include some snacks and energy drinks. Some of these snacks include apples, corn, nuts, and peanuts. These are good options to boost your energy. As for energy drinks, you can try Red Bull. Not only will it revive your energy but also prepare you for the long ride ahead. Many gas stations provide the mentioned snacks and drink.

    • Gas Extender 

    There are projects like Magic Tank that will extend almost an empty gas tank. This is an inflammable liquid that can be stored in the car. Also, it can be sued in a gas powered engine as it helps you get any gas that is reserved in the tank.

    • First Aid Kit and Safety Gear

    This is a must, when setting out on a long journey.

    • Versatile Clothing 

    A poncho is versatile clothing that you will need on your trip. Not only will it cover you from the windy weather but also fromthe hot sun rays penetrating through your car window on your road trip.

    The Conclusion

    With the mentioned tips, you should not be caught up in a bind before taking your trip. When you have the listed necessities, you will be good to go.

  • Everything you need to know about entering a sweepstakes web contest

    Posted in Guides by Brooke. on June 25, 2018
    Have you been participating in online sweepstakes but haven’t had much success at it? Maybe you have a dream that one day, the delivery truck will pull up at your front door and deliver prizes like they do with all the other successful participants? Well, while there is no foolproof formula to enter and win a sweepstakes, it is possible to use a few tricks to tip the odds in your favor. Here are guidelines which will help you participate in the contests like a pro, and win like a pro.

    Get a dedicated email to enter the competition

    Open an email that is specifically meant for the sweepstake competition. The primary benefit which comes from getting this email address is that you will avoid spam email messages and it will be easier to track all your activity. In addition to this, make sure you set aside sometime every day to enter the competition. This will help you refine your searches for the right contests and avoid scams. If you are going to use software to fill sweepstake forms, make sure the site approves to avoid disqualification. Ensure that in case of a win, you can be easily contacted and stay connected on your chosen mode of contact throughout the web contest.

    Maximize your time online

    It is likely that you will not have the entire day to spend online entering different contests. Therefore, you need to really maximize on the time that you will have to do this. How you focus your time will depend on a lot. For instance, it would be wiser to use a short period of time to enter those that only allow you to enter once, as opposed to those which allow you to enter many times. The rationale behind this is that you are more likely to win the ones with a single entry than those with multiple entries.

    Read and understand the rules before engaging

    Before you engage in any of the contests, you need to read the rules and regulations of the giveaways and ensure that you do not contravene them when making your entries. When you read the terms, you will avoid unwanted emails. Also, you might get a few tips on how to actually win the competition.

    Avoid cheating at all costs

    There are people who fall into the trap of thinking that if they manipulate the rules, even a little, they may gain undue advantage over other people. While it may be tempting not to play by the rules, avoid cheating at all costs. Read through each entry and ensure you play by the rules because even if you cheat accidentally, you will still be penalized.

    Readers, have you ever won a sweepstakes? Were you surprised? What was the prize? Share your comments below.
  • Update Your Home on a Budget

    Posted in Saving Tips by Brooke. on June 20, 2018
    Sometimes we get so accustomed to looking at the same thing that it’s hard to see it with fresh eyes. Take a close look around your place and imagine that it belongs to someone else. What would you do to spruce it up without spending a lot of money?
    Five Fast Fixes 

    1. Get organized. 

    Go through your house and remove the things you no longer need or use. Donate them to a charity, have friends over for a bartering session, or sell them. Start in one area and work your way through the rooms. Organize the things you want to keep, placing them as closely as possible to the area where they will be needed. Recycle boxes or baskets to hold clutter or buy stylish new ones. Consider devices like a magnetic knife holder or a wine rack to add extra storage.

    2. Grab a paintbrush. 

    Nothing perks up a space as quickly as a bucket of wall paint in a trendy color, and the fun doesn’t stop there. Try painting and distressing a dated chair or table for a casual, or beachy look. If new paint calls for new accessories and you’ve already reached your budget, think of ways to use paint in new ways. Grab a jar of chalk paint and turn outdated picture frames, flower pots, and chipped boxes into instant accents.

    3. Add new floor coverings or rugs. 

    If your floor has seen better days and a quick fix is in your budget, look for tiles or strip flooring that you can install yourself. For even less, you can add paint to a worn wood floor or stairway, but pick a color that brings everything together. Another option is a stylish area rug in a design that brightens up the space and distracts from boring floors. Area rugs are perfect for a house you plan to sell or for one you are renting. You can take the rug with you when you go.

    4. Replace old fixtures. 

    It may be time to update old lights with shiny new ones. For even less money, use spray paint to add a new finish to a chandelier or bathroom light. Replace dingy wallswitches, outlets, and plumbing fixtures.

    5. Add curb appeal. 

    Your entryway is the first thing guests see. Paint the front door a color that stands out, accent the area with a potted plant, and update the discolored doorknob. Add a fresh welcome mat, install a new doorbell switch, and enjoy your new entry.

    Readers, have you recently done any DIY jobs on your home? Share below your great ideas.

  • Budget Friendly summer destinations

    Posted in Saving Tips by Brooke. on June 15, 2018
    If you still have not made your summer travel plans, then there are some wonderful places just waiting to be explored. While money is tight for many, the chance to build memories during a vacation should not be missed. Here are some cheap summer vacation destinations to consider.
    Hawaii

    Since the Kilauea volcano erupted many travelers have been canceling their travel plans to Hawaii. The good news is that airlines, vacation rental properties and restaurants have all slashed prices since the eruption hoping to get tourists to still make a summer vacation there. Consider renting a car and heading to the Kohala Coast where you can work on your tan at Hapuna Beach State Park which has one of the largest white sand beaches in the state before heading to a local spa.

    Then, go visit Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site where you can explore the state's history. Head through unspoiled pastures to the Kahua Ranch where you can take a horseback tour of the area. Since this region is over 100 miles from the volcano that is sending most of its molten lava out its sides, there is no reason not to go enjoy a vacation in Hawaii

    South Africa

    A great money exchange rate makes it a great time to go on a South African horseback safari. While you will not see any big cats when visiting the unique Waterberg biosphere, you will ride alongside giraffes and zebras who consider you part of their pack when you are riding on a horse. Since there is an extremely favorable exchange rate, you can find all-inclusive packages for about $100 a day. This location is only about three hours from Johannesburg, giving you an opportunity to explore the city if you desire on your South African adventures.

    New Zealand

    Like South Africa, there is an extremely budget friendly exchange rate between New Zealand and the United States right now. While this destination is usually thought of as an expensive place to vacation, this is the perfect time to plan a backpacking trip to this destination. Consider going on a guided hike around Lake Waikaremoana. You will be hiking for four to eight hours every day enjoying sandy beaches, breathtaking scenery and great hospitality. The entire lake is surrounded by a series of huts, so you do not need to carry your housing and most of the food can be transported from one location to the next on boats.

    Do not pass up the chance to travel to these budget friendly destinations. You will be building memories to last a lifetime.

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