Saving Tips

  • 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.

  • 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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