Category Archives: free

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.

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  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!

BOGO on FroYo!

Guys, this Friday is a BIG DAY–big! If you are a froyoholic like me, this Friday is like payday plus double-coupon day combined!

Why? Oh because IT’S BOGO at Menchies!!


I am so excited I can hardly contain myself! Now I gotta go check out these filters, too!

6 Hacks to Vacation on a Budget

Sorry for the late post folks, I have been traveling (for pleasure, not work) a lot lately!

That being said, I did a lot of frugaling on my trip and snagged some free meals, discounted meals and gift cards along with other swag along the way.

SO, shall I dive in or first tell you about my trip?

Aw shucks, thanks for showing so much interest, it was great! I love the west coast and had such a blast hiking and site seeing and gambling.

Okay, brass tacks on how to save money while traveling.

  1. Marriott Vacation Resorts-Marriott Vacation Resorts are timeshares that Marriott basically wants you to buy. What you get is an amazing rate at one of their resorts with all the perks. I am in NO WAY affiliated with Marriott (gah I wish they paid me!) but for us the deal we got was too good to be true but it turned out great! The Grand Chateau is right next door to the MGM Signature, a 5 minute walk from the main strip and much quieter than the MGM Grande or Venetian. The building is newer so everything is upgraded. The rooms are amazing with huge bathtubs and a full kitchen. 

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    What we got:

    We got 4 days, 3 nights at the Marriott Grand Chateau on the strip, $50 Marriott gift card (to be used within the Marriott) and free valet parking (versus the regular $25/day) We used the gift cards for 2 meals and snacks which was great!

    What we had to do: Sit through a 90-minute one-on-one with their salesperson who tries to get you to buy a timeshare. Ours was not pushy at all and was okay with us saying no.

  2. Grocery Shop and Eat in-When we arrived at our Marriott Villa (which included a full kitchen) we went straight to the grocery store and got oatmeal, peanut butter, powerade, fresh fruits and salad fixings.  We ate in every morning and some afternoons and saved a lot of money and didn’t feel icky eating out for every single meal. Win-win!
  3. Fancy does NOT Mean Quality-After a fun day of gambling my husband and I decided to go to a fancy-pants steakhouse called Andiron. The apps came out looking and smelling great! Minus the hair in one of them. We assumed that when we informed the server and he took the plate away they’d remove the charge (even though we had eaten half before finding it).  Alas, nope, there it was, $8.99. It’s not a lot of money but it’s the principle! Don’t give me some nasty, hair-plagued dish and charge me for it! So I flagged down the server and asked him kindly to please remove and he responded “Oh my gosh I thought I did, I’m so sorry!” and voila! Charge removed. Don’t feel like just because the place is fancy you cannot ask for things.
  4. Get a Rental Car-I love using Lyft, don’t get me wrong, but when we decided to leave for a week I started doing the math. Lyft from point A to point B on day 1, day 2 points A,B, C and D, etc. I decided google “Enterprise Coupon Codes” and found a rental car for 6 days for $176. That’s less than $30/day to drive wherever, whenever. Plus when I showed up I asked for a free upgrade with a smile and they gave me one! Woohoo! So for $30/day we got an SUV and were able to drive everywhere on our own.
  5. Las Vegas SpecificTix 4 Tonight– Through work I get some pretty stellar discounts and through the Marriott Vacation resort you get stellar discounts but the best show ticket prices were at one of these stands outside the MGM Grand. We paid half the price of the Marriott discount rate!
  6. Las Vegas SpecificGamble for Comps-I am an Mlife Pear member and love the Mlife Perks! With Mlife rewards you can earn comps for gambling which is win-win.

Tier Levels. New members start at the Sapphire Tier Level and achieve Pearl status at 25,000 Tier Credits, Gold at 75,000 Tier Credits and Platinum at 200,000 Tier Credits. The premium level, NOIR, is by invitation only.

Highlights of each Tier Level include:

  • Sapphire – Discounts on rooms, shows and participating retail shops, access to pre-sale tickets to events, concerts and fights, exclusive personalized offers
  • Pearl – Tier Multiplier: 10 percent bonus on points and Express Comps, 10 percent discount at participating retail shops, buffet line passes (Las Vegas only)
  • Gold – Tier Multiplier: 20 percent bonus on points and Express Comps, priority hotel check-in line, VIP line access to nightclubs and pool day clubs
  • Platinum – Tier Multiplier: 30 percent bonus on points and Express Comps, priority Valet and taxi service, at least 15 percent retail discount at participating retail stores
  • NOIR (Invite Only) – Tier Multiplier: 40 percent bonus on points and Express Comps; complimentary limo service to/from airport; guaranteed room, show and restaurant reservations

Using your MLife Card every time you gamble you earn freebies and discounts along the way!

All around I had a blast and despite a few meals that didn’t go our way I got some free meals which made it okay 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Book Hack Part Deux

A few weeks ago I did a post on how to get free books through www.netgalley.com

I am still an avid user of netgalley but I have found another way to get free books and this way does not require writing a review at the end!

Check out https://www.bookbub.com

What you do is you pick your favorite genres, where you get your books from (amazon.com for me) and then they send you a newsletter showing the latest and greatest of books in your favorite genres that are on sale, deeply discounted and often even free! Yes, FREE!

The caveat with this site (same as netgalley) is that the free books and discounted books are limited time offers.  This means you can’t see something and say “I’m going to download this laterz!” Download it now, read it later.

The books are available on all devices including Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Android.

So what are you waiting for? Go read a book!

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.

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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!