6 AMAZON PRIME DAY HACKS

Holy cow guys, today is Amazon Prime day and these deals beat their black Friday deals! I know this because I got these New Balances for $30 on black Friday of 2015 and now they are $22. TWENTY TWO BUCKS!


My tips and tricks for shopping on prime day:

  1. Shop FAST! Amazon lets you return so buy first, think later! These deals sell out so quickly that you don’t want to miss out on something because you spent too much time hemming and hawing. You can “reserve” something in your cart for 15 minutes, then it’s fair game for others!
  2. Prime! Don’t have prime? It’s okay, sign up for a free trial to shop prime day!
  3. It’s easy to fall for the allure of the 65% off label but be cautious.  Amazon sometimes inflates prices then adds discounts based on demand in real time, so do a quick google of the price to compare before you pull the trigger if you’re unsure.
  4. Camel Camel Camel- This website is incredible! Holy cow, how did I not know about it before?  This site gives price history for amazon so you can double check and see if the price you see today is really a good deal or if the item is only marginally discounted if at all.
  5. Use your Amazon Visa card for extra cash back! Don’t have an amazon visa? Apply for one at check out and get $30 off your purchase of $150! Use the discount code VISA30.
  6. Use EBATES! Usually it’s hard to find days that ebates offers cashback for amazon.com but today they are offering up to 7% off!

Have your own tips and tricks? Tweet me @discountonme !

 

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!

Free Stuff at the Grocery Store

I was recently traveling for work and a coworker said to me “who checks their receipt when they leave the store, what a waste of time!

No, this is not a made up conversation for the sake of this blog, someone literally said that to me and I was appalled. I calmly replied “well if it saves you money then it was time well spent, right?”

He looked confused, “but what, to save $0.10 on something that was supposed to be on sale?” to which I responded “duh, the Publix Promise? Kroger Guarantee?”

He looked confused and that’s when I realized that many people do not know what these promises are. These promises are a big way to save money when you go grocery shopping!

Here’s how the promise works–say you’re grocery shopping and see that an item is marked $1.99 on sale. But then when you go to check out your item rings up at $3.99.  You get annoyed and check out. Next Step: Go to customer service and point out the discrepancy and mention the “Publix/Kroger Promise”.  Then the item is FREE.

From the Publix website:

Our Publix Promise guarantees that if during checkout, the scanned price of an item (excluding alcohol and tobacco products) exceeds the shelf price or advertised price, we will give the customer one of that item free. We will charge the lower price for the remaining items.

The Kroger Scan Right Guarantee:

Any item that scans at an incorrect price, whether it is higher or lower than advertised, will be given to you for free. Only one item will be given away for free per purchase, however — any subsequent items that scan incorrectly will be sold at the lower price.

This is why it’s more than just a few cents that you are saving when you pay attention to your receipt! If you save $3 one week, $5 the next, etc it adds up. Plus, it’s always satisfying to get your money back. You can take that savings and treat yourself to an overpriced venti-no-foam-extra-shot-latte at Starbucks!

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.

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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!

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!