Monthly Archives: March 2016

Free Books through Net Galley

I have to confess, I am a bookworm. I love reading books. I use a kindle paperwhite and in conjunction with amazon prime kindle lending library, I get good use out of it.  But sometimes the library doesn’t have any books I want or the books I want cost more on kindle versus a hardcopy!

This is why I love NetGalley.

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In their words:

“NetGalley is a service to promote titles to professional readers of influence. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to request, read and provide feedback about forthcoming titles. Your feedback and recommendations are essential to publishers and readers alike.”

Basically you create your profile, go in, and browse publishers. I choose publishers who have published books I love.  For example, I love the Timebound series so so much. Like, way too much. Yes, I cried when I finished the series, leave me alone!

So I added the published, Skyscape, to my favorites on NetGalley and then found other books they published. Boom! I found about half a dozen that I instantly loved.

The only real downside to NetGalley is that you will sometimes get rejected. I post my book reviews regularly on their website and on amazon, but often publishers will only give their books out for free to book reviewers who use an agent.

To date I have used NetGalley for 11 months and read 14 books for free using their site. Not all were great, some were pre-published manuscripts so they had typos but overall I have been really happy with their website!

REMEMBER-when you post a review with them for a book you got for free you have to state somewhere in review that you got the book for free in exchange for an honest review. Not putting in this statement can get your accounts suspended (both amazon and netgalley).

Tune in next week for more hacks!

Ensuring Success with Mail-In Rebates

Mail in rebates are a strange beast. We are in an era of everything online, fast, immediate so the idea of mailing in a receipt and wait for a check in the mail is kind of foreign for most of us.

I wish people weren’t afraid of them because I am here to say, they DO work!

I have a list of ways to ensure you get your rebate no mater what:

cashback

  1. Be over-inclusive-By this I mean if the rebate asks for “the original UPC” I often collapse the box and send the WHOLE THING. I started doing this 12 years ago when a company said they could not “verify the item based on the UPC alone”.  This also helps because a lot of packages have 2 UPCs so it’s hard to know which one to send. By sending the whole box you get rid of the confusion.
  2. Keep a copy of the receipt-If the rebate asks for the original receipt MAKE A COPY of it for your records! This tip comes from an electronics company that had a mail in rebate for $50 on a $200 item. I sent in the receipt and the company said they never got it. I learned my lesson.
  3. Write Legibly-Even if your address is clear on the envelope, if it’s not clear on the form they can refuse to send you the check. Do not give them any reason to deny to claim!
  4. Put the correct email address-I used to put fake email addresses because I did not want to get SPAM. Unfortunately, a lot of rebate companies will communicate issues or problems with your rebate via email, so make sure you put the right one. in general fill out the form correctly.
  5. IF Rejected-Write or call them! I was recently rejected for a rebate on a item. The item had an online form and I filled it out precisely. A week later I got a letter in the mail saying that I did not purchase a qualifying item. What?? I 1000% did! I had the box to prove it! If only they’d asked for the original UPC! Well, in fine print on the bottom of the letter there was an address to send appeals. I sent in the box, the form, the receipt and crossed my fingers. Alas, I got the check in the mail 2 weeks later! So don’t let a rejection discourage you!
  6. Check your rebate status-Follow up on the company’s preferred method whether it’s a 1-800 number or website. And don’t be afraid to complain! You are not in the wrong to ask for what you are entitled to!
  7. Cash the check ASAP-A lot of times the checks or prepaid cards that companies use for rebates expire within 30 days so make sure you use them as soon as you get them!

Weddings on a Budget

A lot of people have asked me in the past how I managed to keep my wedding last year within budget.  At first I created a spreadsheet of the things I did but then that got too messy so I’ve decided to create a blog post.

  1. Michael’s- DIY wedding invitations. These invitations range from $30-$50 for a box of 30 or 40 and with the coupons Michael’s always has you can get a lot of cheap. We ended up getting 120 invitations for $72. That’s less than $1 per invite AND it includes the RSVP card and a nice card holder, tissue etc.  All you need is a regular printer, inkjet or laserjet. Here’s the one we used:invite
  2. Groupon-We used groupon for our photobooth and it was well worth it! Now a lot of groupons expire but don’t let that dissuade you. I emailed the business owners and asked for an extension on the expiration date and the owner agreed.
  3.  Publix-wedding cake-I know you want the fanciest bakery cake ever but the Publix cake tasted better than our fancy one (we did a Publix grooms cake).
  4. Venue-Choose a venue that lets your bring your own booze-This speaks for itself. If you can find a venue that lets your bring your own alcohol you can just go to Costco for your alcohol and save thousands of dollars. That’s what we did!
  5. Wedding Planner-GET A WEDDING PLANNER-We used Wedding Belles and we could not have been more pleased. I know that you think a wedding planner just costs you money but ours actually SAVED us money. They recommended someone for our centerpieces who was significantly cheaper than any other vendor we spoke with. They save you a lot of headache and money, I promise it’s worthwhile. Not only that but our planners had a day-of emergency kit incudling double sided tape, snacks and more. We could not have survived without them.
  6. Wedding dress-I did the Jenny Yoo dress from Nordstrom.com (using ebates for cashback, duh) which ended up costing me about $212.  I then went to a local tailor to get a custom made sequined ribbon to put around my waist for an additional $25. So total I spent $237 for my dream dress. But there are lots of affordable options including Jcrew Bridal, Macy’s Bridal and even some pre-owned options.  I know you cringe at pre-owned but really, with the prices people sell for you can get a designer dress for the fraction of the cost.
  7. THE RING-I will say it once and I will say it again: Diamonds do not have value. I tried selling a diamond ring and eventually successfully sold it for ONE HALF of the original purchase price. And I was lucky! Check out I do now I don’t.  I know, again you are cringing at the thought of a second hand ring but with the thousands of dollars you will save you can get the ring reset at a jeweler and lose the icky bad joojoo.
  8. Bridesmaid’s Dresses-To help your bridesmaids save money try going a non-traditional route and having them get non-bridesmaids dresses. What I mean is fun cocktail dresses. I chose my from ASOS. By choosing something that’s NOT a bridesmaid dress you are giving them a fighting chance of ever wearing the dress after the wedding. Not only that, but everything with the words “bridal” or “wedding” are automatically marked up 50000000%.  By choosing something non-bridal you are guaranteeing that money will be saved!

$5 Starbucks Gift Card

Do you like gift cards? Of course you do, who doesn’t? Evil people, sure, evil people don’t but you’re not evil so you love gift cards!

I am always suspicious of posts like these on social media.  I usually don’t even click posts that mention gift cards because I think they are scams.  So when I actually saw this offer on facebook I was wary to click.  But boredom and $5 got the best of me and I caved.

The offer is a $5 starbucks gift card in exchange for an apartment review.

I have personally vetted it out–it’s legit, guys. I reviewed an apartment I lived in a couple of years ago for the purposes of this survey.

At the end of the survey it asks if it can access your facebook account in exchange to email you the gift card sooner–don’t do it, you don’t need to! They send the gift card within a few hours!

 
starbucks gift card

Not only that, but I completed the survey using all of my emails meaning I got more than just $5. Once they emailed me my $5 giftcard I added it to my starbucks app and transferred the amount to my gold card.

 

iBotta Cashback App

I love getting cashback for things I am already going to buy.  There are a lot of apps that let you do that but I have a new favorite.

My go-to-grocery cashback app used to be Snap by Groupon.  But as of March 1 they have changed where you can earn cashback and it’s not at the grocery store.  My world of savings shattered until I found ibotta.

ibotta

Now there are pros and cons to every app and this app is no different.  This app requires that you scan the item’s bar code and the receipt. Sounds easy enough, unless you’re me and have a pantry full of clear-plastic containers where you fill all your grains and such.  So I always have to remember when I buy pasta, rice, chips, etc to save the package so I can scan the bar code first.

I recommended this app to a friend recently who responded “Um, my time is more valuable than this, I don’t need to waste it scanning things to save $0.50”

I’m sorry (read, I’m not sorry at all), unless you’re rich, like your kids’ college-tuition-is-totes-covered-rich, your time is not so valuable that literally 10 seconds to save $0.50 (by the way some of their cashback items are much higher, several dollars) is beneath you.  I literally whipped out my calculator and did the math. At an 8 hour workday, 480 minutes per day.  That’s 28,800 seconds.  That’s 2880 10-second increments. at $0.50/10 seconds you’re looking at earning $1440/day.

So sure, if you earn that much money (aka $28,800/month aka $345,600) then theoretically your time is much more valuable, but that’s also assuming you’d scan things during your work hours.

All I can say is that I have earned about $20 in the past month using this app, and even if that just covers my frozen yogurt addiction, that’s fine with me!

Ebates.com Hack to Save Money

Let me begin by saying I love ebates.com. No, I was not paid to write that. My site is not important enough for that.

Simply put, I do all of my shopping online and ebates.com pays me for it. I am going to teach you some hacks to MAXIMIZE your cashback.

I hate trying on clothes in store. I hate fluorescent lights.  Those stupid lights make look like an anemic ICU patient who is ill with what, not sure, but it’s bad all around. So I order all of my clothes online. And other than HM.com, most stores let you return online purchases in store.

So here’s the hack: say I see a shirt at macys.com that’s $15. But shipping and handling is $9.95 (which at macys.com it usually is).  I START my journey at ebates.com. Oh look, Z% cashback, click that button, and go to macys. Then I add one item that’s $85 or more to get free shipping. I usually get one item because it’s easier to return than half a dozen items.

By using this method, you maximize your cashback because you get that Z% x $100 and you only spent $15!

YES, to answer your question, you get to keep the cashback even if you return the items.

It requires some work but to me it’s worth it not to pay shipping and handling.

Tune in next week for my next hack!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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