Category Archives: finance

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!

Best Times to Buy a New Car

I have been passively hunting for a new car for a few months now and a friend recently asked me what I was waiting for. I told her I was waiting for the best deal and the best financing options which typically come in the last quarter of the year. She asked why and that started an hour of me rambling and talking her ear off (my friends are so patient with how excited I get about deal hunting).

So there ARE best times of day, week and year to buy a car!

Image result for free stock image car

1. Day of the Week-Not all deals are made the same and they happen on different days of the week! Weekends are the worst time of the week to buy a car. Why? Because most people have their weekends off and want to use that time to run errands including buying a new car. So when you go to the dealership on a Saturday and are iffy about a deal, the dealership will shoo you away to make room for the next person in line!
2. Time of Day-According to Autotrader.com, the best time of the day to buy a car is at the end of the day.  According to the car site, salespeople might be more likely to be weak willed at the end of the long day and thus willing to discount more as long as it means they get a commission at all.
3. Month(s) of Year- The last quarter of the year is the best time of year to buy a car from a dealership. The dealerships are trying to move out all the old inventory to make room for the new.  I have personally purchased 2 new cars from dealerships in the month of December at fantastic deals.

Extra Notes:

  • If you are really looking to buy a car from a dealership (new or used), reach out to your friends and family and ask if anyone you know is looking to buy a car, too. Heck, go on facebook and ask your facebook friends! The best car deal I ever got in my life was when my dad, sister and I all needed new cars so we walked into a Honda dealership here in Georgia, and walked out with 3 top of the line Accords (leather heated seats, souped up etc, in 2007) for insanely low prices.  At one point the Honda dealership manager came over to us and told us, somewhat irritably, that his sales rep wasn’t make as much commission on each car but was pleased to do so because of the aggregate.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away! There’s no such thing as a “one time deal” that “cannot be matched”. I have walked away many times and had dealerships call me begging me to come back with an even better deal!
  • This usually goes without saying but I will say it anyways: do your research.  I once had a dealership salesperson try to tell me the KBB value of a car I was interested in was $2000 more than it really was. This was back in the day before smartphones so I had to pull out the printed out KBB estimates but now you can download the app and save the information for when you arrive.

 

7 Items to Buy at the Dollar Store

I love saving money. Duh.  But I also love quality items. So how do I meet the balance for these two? I shop around. I know it takes more time to get a few items from one store and a few at another but it saves you so much in the long run!  I didn’t want to overwhelm readers with a huge block of text so I will save my “What not to buy at the dollar store” post for later this week. For now, here are 7 items you should always try to buy at the dollar store:dollar

  1. Pregnancy Tests-YES THEY WORK. I have a friend who is a reproductive endocrinologist and she said their office ONLY uses dollar store tests (her favorite brand there is New Choice).  Apparently they are actually more sensitive that a lot of tests on the market, picking up a positive at 25mIU/ml while most drug store versions are sensitivity of 50 mIU/ml. So save your $10 and get the dollar tree version!
  2. Floss Picks-The Dollar Tree by me sells these for, obviously, $1 but the pack is a pack of 40 which is a great deal! Even publix brand is $2.29 for a pack of 45 so the dollar tree equivalent is a much better deal.
  3. Facewash/acne treatment-I buy certain face products at the dollar tree, especially since our dollar tree sells name brands. For example, our store sells Acne Free brand so I get my face washes there (saving over $3 from Amazon’s price). I also get my acne spot treatment stuff here and my apricot scub. I don’t get my face cream here because creams stay on your skin for 10ish hours so I want my cream to be really good.
  4. Wrapping Paper– At first I was hesitant to believe that the dollar store wrapping paper was a better deal. But then I did the math per square foot and it is in fact cheaper! Not only that, you don’t have to commit to as much paper per roll, you can get more variety which I prefer.
  5. Greeting Cards-Holy cow when did greeting cards get to be so freaking pricey?? I went to Target and the cards on average were $5.99! THAT’S BASICALLY $6!!!!! So if you have a $5 giftcard to someone you have to spend more than the gift at the store to put it in a card.  Nope, not at the dollar store! And they have cute and funny cards, it’s not the main store rejects.
  6. Balloons-When I was in high school I actually worked at a dollar store. Specifically, the Dollar Discount. Also when I was in high school, it was trendy to get a bunch of mylar balloons to put on your friends’ lockers when it was their birthdays. Working at the Dollar Discount I immediately found that I was saving 75-90% on balloons because each mylar was $1 versus Publix where they are $4.99 or more! So if you have an occasion that calls for balloons, definitely head over to the dollar store.
  7. Seasonal Decorations (Halloween Decor, Easter, etc)-Around the holidays I get headbands with reindeer antlers on them, halloween I get front door decals, and easter I get headbands with bunny ears! The same headbands with animal ears are sold at CVS for $4.99 so you save BIG getting these items at the dollar store.

 

Top 3 Travel Rewards Credit Cards

When it comes to traveling I hate spending money. Yes, even more so than day-to-day life. Every time I dine out while on a trip my brain begins adding the bill to the flight, the hotel bill, the stupid resort fees and valets.

I began doing some research to find out how to make the most out of my every day shopping to put money/points towards vacations because let’s be honest, we all live for an amazing vacation.

I did not want a card that gave me 1 to 1 reward points per dollar spent. That is a waste of credit space and money. I did want a card with a nice, juicy sign up bonus.  I also have to travel for work so I have a couple of preferred hotels and my preferred airline is Delta.

Based on this information I came up with my top 3 travel rewards cards.

  1. Chase Marriott Visa–I may be bias but the Chase Marriott Visa is my favorite in terms of sign up bonuses and points earned. When I was booking my honeymoon, my husband and I each separately signed up for this credit card which has an 80,000 point sign up bonus. With those 160,000 points we were able to book a week at the Marriott resort in Kauai (because with Marriott when you book 5 nights, the 6th night is free!).  You get 5x points on Marriott locations and 2x points per $1 spent on restaurants, car rental agencies and on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline (versus Kayak or something). Everything else is 1 point per dollar.  Not only that, you get 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year. We use this every single year! I travel a lot for work so I am also able to accrue more points that way, too. The first year there is no annual fee and after the first year the fee is $85.
  2. American Express Gold–The sign up bonus for this card ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 points. I waited until the bonus was 50,000 to sign up. The miles earned per dollar are mediocre (1 mile per dollar spent) except when you buy flights through Delta on this card. That’s when you’ll start to see the points rack up. You’ll earn at least 7 miles per dollar spent, You also earn 2 miles per dollar on in-flight purchases and you get a discount on those purchases (seen as a statement credit on your next credit card bill). My favorite features are that you get priority boarding so you feel like a baller and your first bag gets checked for free! So if you and your significant other each have a card, each of your bags gets checked for FREE! That’s huge! The first year there is no annual fee and after the first year the fee is $95.
  3. American Express Hilton- I really like the ROI on this card in regards to pints. With this card you get 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. This is higher than the 5x points with Marriott. Not only that but you get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. Finally, you get 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. While all of this is more than the Marriott, I find that Marriott rewards are easier to redeem. BUT this card has no annual fee which is a big perk!

Keep in mind that I travel for work so I have certain preferred airlines/hotels. These cards might not be the right ones for you but for me and my lifestyle they work.

Stay tuned for more frugal finds!

Never Be Afraid to Ask

This week’s post is a little late and it’s a little more advisory than usual but it something I always do–Ask Questions.

I have a specific example to use here. I use Publix Digital Coupons whenever I shop at Publix.

Publix had a deal for BOGO on this amazing, expensive, overpriced delicious peanut butter called Dark Chocolate Dreams.  If you’ve never had this stuff before, don’t get it, it’s like crack.

So when there was BOGO with a May 30 expiration, I wanted to jump on it! I added it to my Publix digital coupons and went to the store the next day.  When I went to the store, however, it wasn’t there.  It disappeared. I was so annoyed and asked the manager and he told me he had no idea what happened.

So I took to twitter and asked!

Publix

Publix’s answer was less than helpful. They basically said the coupons are there until a certain, undefined number of those coupons are used, after which they disappear. Consumers have no way to know when the coupon is “used up” so it’s a game of roulette.

So I asked the manufacturer themselves.

Peanut

They apologized and sent me coupons. Problem solved, right? Wrong. The deal through Publix was BOGO but they sent me coupons for $0.50 and $1.00 off.  At almost $5/jar, these coupons did not do much.  I reached back out to the manufacturer and they sent me a coupon for BOGO!

Tada! Problem solved…..after a lot of hassle that is. But for me this was worth it! I never got to use the deal through publix and it was a great deal so I am glad I went through the effort.

I always think it’s worth asking when a deal is promised or advertised. The worst case scenario is that you will hear no, but more often than not you will get help because businesses thrive on customer service.

Next week I will be writing a post on my favorite hotel point systems so stay tuned!

Cash Back for Dining Out

I first must give credit where credit is due.  I like to think that I know everything there is to know about frugality, but let’s be real, I don’t. A friend of mine, Anna, actually referred me to this first program after redeeming her $20 gift card.

The way it works is based on your spend with participating restaurants. At first the list was pretty small and I did not find myself going often but recently they have added a lot of great restaurants that I frequent.  So basically the amount you earn is directly related to how much you spend at any of their participating restaurants, bars, and clubs (including tax and tip, holla!) in a 1 year period.

SDN-03749-1

Members earn 5% back until they have spent $250.

– Members earn 10% back when they have spent more than $250 and less than $750.

– Members earn 15% back when they have spent more than $750.

Perfect! So far I am only at the 10% mark but with their growing list of participating restaurants I think I can get up to 15% soon!

Now, combine this program with Opentable‘s reward program and you may find yourself eating for free a lot more often than you think.

The way it works with OpenTable is that you earn points when you make and honor reservations made through their site or app.  

I put this in bold because reservations made directly through a restaurant’s webiste or by calling them directly do not earn OpenTable points and if you do not honor your reservation (you skip out or don’t check in at the hostess stand), you do not get those points.

eye 1

I can say with confidence that about 85% of the time I dine out, the restaurant I go to uses OpenTable. Even if it’s at a slow time (hello, I love a good 5:00pm dinner) or the place never gets crowded, use the app anyways so that you can earn points!

Here is how the points break down:

2,000 Dining Points = $20 Dining Rewards Gift

5,000 Dining Points = $50 Dining Rewards Gift

10,000 Dining Points = $100 Dining Rewards Gift

I use OpenTable for everything in terms of dining out, even work lunches etc. The more you use it the more you earn!

Between these two programs you can be getting rewards money on a monthly basis and that makes a huge difference in cutting into the dining-out-budget!

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!