Category Archives: ecommerce

Free Baby Books

I was hesitant on posting this link until I was sure it worked and it works!

I got an email from this company offering me a set of free Dr. Seuss baby books and I signed up. I was told my package would arrive in a few weeks so I waited…and waited…and then I figured it would never come and I was okay with it because it took me two seconds to sign up.

But then today, I checked the mail and lo and behold, free books!


The shipment is allegedly broken up in separate shipments but I got a little stack to start with and I could not be more excited so I wanted to share! Do you have any freebies you know of for moms?

Free Baby Samples

Starting anything new is scary, just in general, right? A new job, a new relationship, breaking in new shoes (my least favorite!).

Parenting is no exception. One thing I found to make the first few weeks easier–having tons of prepared stuff at hand. This means snacks for you, advil portioned out for the postpartum pain, and baby stuff galore (diapers and wipes, oh my!).  There is no such  thing as too many newborn baby product samples!

In my third trimester I decided to start registering for free samples in part due to anxiety. I had a million thoughts and questions.

Will I be able to breastfeed? Which brand is best? How much do I make? Is pampers really better than huggies?”

I decided the best way to figure this all out was to try it all for free. I googled “similac samples” and other similar terminology to find the list below! Each box is unique and comes with coupons, so I definitely suggest you try the different products when your baby is born to figure out which works best for you!

The Enfamil and Similac sample boxes are very similar. Both ready-to-feed bottles and a variety of powder versions that you can try out. They also include coupons in the form of checks. The store you buy from simply scans the “check” as a form of payment so you can use them in conjunction with manufacturers coupons!

Enfamil Samples

Similac Samples

Sam’s Club Baby Box

The Sam’s Club sample box is the least useful of the different samples. It has a size 3 diaper, wipes, and toddler food.

Amazon Prime members can take advantage of the Welcome Box for free!  Just complete a Baby Registry using Checklist and have over $10 of purchases from their registry (from yourself or gifters).

If you open a registry at Babies ‘R’ Us, in store you will get a welcome bag. Mine included a NoseFrida which was a lifesaver for our little guy who was born during cold and flu season.

NoseFrida-product

Most pediatricians have free samples in the office, too, you just have to ask to get them.

Let me know what freebies you scored!

5 Cheapest Ways to Buy an iPhone

Hello friends! Sorry for not posting for a while, I was on maternity leave!

While being out I took dozens of pictures. During the course of taking all these pictures I received the dreaded “not enough storage” error message. After deleting pictures (backing them up first of course), deleting apps, uninstalling/reinstalling facebook/instagram and restoring my iphone I realized I simply need more than 16GB.

Then I went to buy the iphone and whoa. They are expensive! And no more of that “free iphone with plan upgrade” stuff they used to do. So you just have to bite the bullet and pay full price out of pocket.

Except maybe you don’t. I did some research. Okay, I did a LOT of research. I have found some ways to buy an iphone without breaking the bank.

smartphone-3

  1. Buy refurbished-Do your research on the sellers because you want to make sure you have a warranty and that the phone is certified refurbished. Amazon and Best Buy are both reputable for refurbished iphones.
  2. Wait-I researched the history on when to buy, looked at pricing trends and found that end of the year, holidays are the best time to buy. Black Friday or Cyber Monday are the ideal days to buy, but really anytime between those days and Christmas will guarantee the greatest deal.
  3. Buy What You Need-We would all love the latest and greatest technology but sometimes that’s not feasible. I looked at the iphone 7 and although it’s cool, the accessories are not cheap. Do I need the 7 or will the 6s suffice?  Looking at the specs I realized the 6s is plenty and I can get much more storage for less than the 7.
  4. Sell your old iphone-Check out ebay to see how your phone is selling and you may end up only paying half for your new phone after factoring in the sale of your old one.
  5. Keep the Box/Accessories-To maximize the resale of your old iphone keep the box and accessories and take great pictures of them together to get the maximum bids.

This list is not exhaustive of all the ways to save money on a new phone but this should get your started. Do you have any other ideas or ways to save money on an cell phone? Tweet, comment or message me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

4 Top Coupon Code Websites

As a frequent online shopper (I hate the unforgiving glare of department store changing rooms), I find that often prices in store versus online are different.  I most often notice that price online are cheaper than in store.  Regardless, to maximize savings I always, always look for a good coupon code.

There are lots of click-bait sites that will taught huge savings but when you click there’s nothing, so make sure you’re using a reputable coupon site.

These are my favorite 4 sites for coupon codes:

  1. Retail Me Not-This website to me is the OG. My favorite part of this website is that users can offer feedback so that a single coupon will have a user-submitted % success rate and a place for users to leave comments. This way you don’t have to waste time going through dozens of fake or expired coupons.
  2. Coupon Cabin-I like Coupon Cabin for the rare time that a retailer is not on Retail Me Not. They also have the option to search locally by entering your zip code.
  3. Krazy Coupon Lady– I don’t love this website but I will definitely put up with it for a deal! My reason for disliking it is not actually the content but the way the website is set up. It’s very overwhelming, not a clean design, and there are way too many ads mixed in with the content. The pop-ups are also a pain to deal with. I do like that the website has a “tips” tab and it’s a good alternative to the above two.
  4. Coupons.com-I like the actual coupons that I can print and take in store, but I must say that from its inception this website requires that you download their “printing installer”.  This is insanely obnoxious especially when you want to just print something specific on the go. BUT when you plan ahead and have the installer, the coupons are great!

What’s your favorite couponing website?

Student Loans (AKA the meaning behind my Madness)

Although I try my hardest to be frugal and save money when possible, there are some debts that are darn near (I say near because some escape it) impossible to escape and one of those is student loans.

I have amassed quite the chunk between undergrad and law school, so I was desperately seeking ways to save on interest rates.

I did a lot of research before I settled on refinancing my student loans. I heard some people say “oh well when Obama wraps up his presidency he’s going to forgive all federal government student loans”. I took this to heart and took about a year researching this claim.

First I spoke with a friend at the Department of Education and her response was that there was no way he could patently forgive “all” student loans. Meaning, if loans were forgiven it would be within a very narrow set of margins.

For example, Obama recently decided to forgive student loans of a narrow group of borrowers who are in default and have disabilities. While this is a very big deal, it certainly with not spread and affect every borrower who took out loans at any time.  Obama did reform part of the direct loan program which now says:

“Borrowers of new loans starting in 2014 will qualify to make payments based on 10% of their discretionary income. New borrowers would also be eligible for student loan forgiveness after 20 years instead of 25 on qualifying payments.”

I think that’s the best that we can get.

So last summer I decided to pull the trigger and I refinanced my student loans using using SoFi.

I choose SoFi after applying on a few different sites and getting different rates. They gave me by far the best rate at 10 years and 5%. My student loans were mixed between 6.8% and 8% so this made a HUGE impact.

SoFi

Before my refinance my repayment plan had me paying over $700/month and my total repayment over 10 years was about 140,000 which was a LOT more than my loan amount and a huge chunk of that is interest.

Through Sofi my monthly payment is a little less, $650/month, but my total lifetime payment is much lower (approximately 40,000 lower) and my total interest paid is HALF of what it was before.

This savings is HUGE! The extra tens of thousands that can be saved can be used towards a down payment on a home or a car or a crazy vacation!

I would recommend shopping around for the best rate you can. If you have a partner who is willing to cosign for you, your wait will be lower so that is also a huge help. Don’t just bank on someone swooping in and providing a blanket forgiveness on everything you took out, I wish it could happen but it won’t. And that’s okay, too. Student loans are just part of life. We took them out and now we have to pay them back which is annoying but we can do it! And if we can do it while paying less interest, even better!

Check back later this week for my next post!

5 Fast Frugal Tips

Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. This meant that we lived what’s now being termed as the trendy “sustainable lifestyle”.  Being raised that way I learned some things that I got teased for but now have become the zeitgeist for hipsters (by the way I do not use the word hipster pejoratively so don’t rage-message me please!).

I have shared some of these tips with friends and some get laughed at, sure. Sometimes people call me “cheap”, sometimes people love it. So here I am sharing my secrets and you are free to make fun of me if you want, I will laugh with you while I save money.

  1. Re-using Aluminum Foil- Growing up we would wash and re-use aluminum foil all the time, so when I would go to a friend’s house I was amazed that they would toss perfectly good foil. I would say if you had raw meat in it, don’t wash and re-use but otherwise, just lay it flat and run a soapy sponge over it, rinse and voila! Perfectly good for another use or even a few!
  2. Buy Rechargeable Batteries-Again, growing up we always used rechargeable batteries. Why spend so much money (seriously, why are batteries so pricey) on something you’re going to throw away? I have heard people say “well rechargeable batteries don’t last as long and they die after a few years.”  This is not true! I have been using the same rechargeable batteries for 10ish years and they still work great!
  3. Unplug Certain Appliances-There are some appliances you should unplug when not using. While you might not immediately feel the financial benefit, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. I personally unplug the toaster, cablebox/TV (connected with one surge protector), phone chargers, and lamps when they are not being actively used.
  4. Use an Insulated Bag-I recently had a bunch of errands to run and getting groceries was one of them. Rather than make multiple trips which wastes time and gas money, I got an insulated tote at Trader Joe’s (it was $5.99) and was able to put my groceries in there and run errands for 2 hours afterwards without worrying about food spoiling.41c8n3yLHeL._AC_UL320_SR302,320_
  5. Eat Out With Coupons-Not just scoutmobs here! A lot of restaurants have a subscription newsletter that when you sign up you also get coupons. My prime example is Marlow’s Tavern in Georgia.  About once a month they email me a coupon for $10 off a $25 dinner. That’s a huge savings! So when you want to eat out, check out the restaurant’s website. Also check out Yelp Deals. A lot of restaurants offer a free appetizer or discount if you check in. A local example from me is Pinewood in Decatur, Ga. I love their brussels and if you check in on the yelp app while dining there you get the appetizer for FREE!

Keep checking in for more tips on saving money!

 

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.

ttronslien-9913

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!

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!