Author Archives: Brooke

  • 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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