Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

Save Tons of Money on Amazon with Vipon

I have been compensated for the writing of this post. Regardless, all opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own.

Dude. This site helps you save so much money on Amazon that you can literally get items for free. Definitely pinning for Black Friday usage.

This week we’ve started getting into the nitty gritty of holiday shopping savings. On Wednesday, we talked about using Ebates to get cashback on the shopping you’re going to do anyways.

Ebates is amazing. One thing I have experienced on there, though, is that there are only select categories where you can get cashback on Amazon purchases. I ordered a couple of hard-to-find books, and got nothing back.

To be fair, that’s not Ebates’ fault. Amazon’s affiliate program (which provides funds for the cashback) can be restrictive. Which is why I didn’t loose much sleep over discontinuing my own affiliate relationship with Amazon some years ago; they simply didn’t pay out for most of the purchases you guys were interested in.

How to Save Money on Amazon Purchases

Luckily, there are great ways to save money on Amazon purchases. One of those is by using Vipon.

Vipon is a 100% free site that gives you coupon codes for Amazon products. When you log on, you’ll be greeted by a myriad of deals for products in the following departments:

  • Books
  • Home
  • Outdoors
  • Beauty
  • Clothing
  • Kids
  • Pets
  • Electronics
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Jewelry
  • Musical Instruments
  • More!

They cover a wide range of categories, and using their coupon codes can save you 20%-100%. Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes Vipon codes can get you an item for completely FREE.

Using Vipon

We’ve been leaving the hallway light on a lot at night to alleviate some fears of the dark in our household. Which is fine–our energy comes from green sources, so I don’t feel that bad about it. But it’s still good to conserve, and our electric bill wouldn’t mind us trimming back either. Not to mention all the light bulbs we’ve been replacing lately!

This led me to decide the kids need a nightlight for Christmas. I headed to Vipon to get my nightlight needs met.

To get onto Vipon, you can either pull up the site on your computer or download the app on your iPhone or Android.

Then, you’re greeted with tons of deals. I used the search tool to look for “nightlight”s, and found a ton of fun options.

Ultimately, I decided on an instant deal for this really fun nightlight. Normally $12.99, I was able to get this constellation projector for $6.50—or 49% off.

Save money on your Amazon purchases by using Vipon.

You click on the link, which then brings the item up in Amazon. Simply add it to your cart, and then use the provided coupon code at checkout. I was surprised at how easy it was!

Use Vipon promo codes to save money.

I currently have Prime and it was an FBA item, so I was even able to get it shipped in two days for free.

Best Ways to Use Vipon

Vipon is really great if you have a general idea of the product you want to buy, but don’t necessarily have a specific item in mind. For example, if I had wanted a Paw Patrol nightlight, they may not have had a promo code for that particular product at the exact moment I was shopping.

But because I came into the process open-minded, with just a general idea of the item I wanted to purchase, I was able to find my kids a really cool nightlight at a seriously deep discount.

Another way to use Vipon is if you’re shopping for someone, but don’t quite know what to get them. Because the site is organized into categories, you can pick an area that piques your giftee’s interests, and see what kind of savings are available. This is a great way to generate gift ideas and save money at the same time.

There is another great feature that allows you to see deals that are upcoming. If you’re not digging anything in the current instant deals after placing your search, you can click over to to the “Coming Soon” tab to find more. You’ll be able to find out when the deal goes live so you can be sure to come back to use it.

Holiday Shopping

Vipon is great to use with Amazon throughout the holiday season, but they’re going to be running a bunch of killer deals for Black Friday in particular. Be sure to check out the savings madness from November 24 through November 28.

Using Ebates to Save More on Holiday Shopping

This post is brought to you by Ebates and The Motherhood. All opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own.

Fantastic! I can get cashback for the holiday shopping I was going to do anyways now. Plus a $10 signup bonus from this blog!

I’m not one of those frugal bloggers who advises against buying ANYthing for the holidays. More power to the people who celebrate giftless and save oodles of cash, but our family still treasures the tradition of gift exchanges.

I do a lot of things to cut back on costs and keep my budget from imploding this time of year. One of the most effective things I do is shop throughout the year. When I spot a good sale on something, I pick it up and put it in my secret Christmas gift box.

Another thing I do is comparison shop. I don’t just purchase the first thing I see. I look around to see if I can get it cheaper somewhere else.

Finally, I use cashback sites like Ebates. Ebates is a free-to-users site which gets a commission when you purchase after clicking through their link. They then share some of that commission with you as the consumer.

Before you go shopping, visit Ebates’ site first. You then find the store you want to shop, see how much cash back they’re offering, and click through. Then you just shop as you normally would.

Alternatively, you can install the Ebates browser extension. That way you don’t have to remember to go to Ebates’ site first. After you activate this feature, you’re good for all future purchases.

If you shop on mobile, you can use their app, too–which comes with exclusives you won’t want to miss.

Ebates keeps track of how much cashback you earn, and then cashes you out every three months through PayPal or a paper check.

You’re essentially getting paid for doing shopping you were planning on doing anyways.

Plus, if you sign up right now, they’ll put $10 in your account just for getting started. Ten dollars for free is always awesome.

How I Use Ebates

I recently did a little holiday shopping, so I’ll take you on a tour of how I use Ebates.

I needed two Disney items. One of my kiddos has “Hulk Fists” on their Christmas list. Earlier in the year, I found a talking Iron Man mask on super sale, so I picked it up. When I told their dad, he said we “needed” to get a full costume.

This child has also been asking for a dress up box, so here’s my plan:

  • Decorate a Rubbermaid container we already have.
  • Fill it with all the dress up items we currently have.
  • Throw in the Hulk Fists, Iron Man mask, and the apparently necessary Iron Man costume. Wrapped, of course. Because presents inside presents are fun.

To make this happen, I needed to get Hulk Fists and an Iron Man costume. First, I visited Ebates’ site.

Get cashback from your Disney shop using Ebates.

Both of the products I needed were from Disney, and Disney currently has a 4.0% cashback rate, which is high enough to cause a celebration. I clicked on the orange “Shop Now” button, and I was on Disney’s site like normal.

I found the Hulk fists for $29.95. And I chose to go with some PJs for Iron Man as we already have a mask and don’t need a full Halloween costume. Those were 19.95.  Paying $49.90 for two gifts isn’t horrific–especially when you get about $2 cashback–but I really don’t like parting with my money.

So I did some comparison shopping. I went back to the Ebates portal, and was able to find the Hulk Fists at Target for five dollars less. It was only 1% cashback, but that’s still a way better deal.

Ebates can be used at Target to get cashback on your holiday shopping.

Then I poked around to find cheaper Iron Man pajamas. I was able to successfully find some on eBay for only $9.99 with 1% cashback from Ebates. They’re not as snazzy as the Disney option, but they’re half the price and my child won’t know. Quite frankly, I don’t think they’d care. This pair is pretty awesome in their own right, anyways.

Using Ebates to save on eBay purchases.

I know it says $3.99, but it came to $9.99 after I selected my child’s size.

If I had gone the original route, I would have spent $49.90 and gotten about $2.00 back, bringing my total to $47.90.

Because I comparison shopped, I spent $34.98 and can expect to see about $0.35 back in my Ebates account, bringing my total to $34.63.

Using all of these methods, I saved $15.27.

With that $10 bonus, that’s $10.35 you could expect to see back in your pocket. And that’s only including one, small shopping order. If you use this tool for all of your holiday shopping, the amount you get back is just going to get larger.

It’s free money. And free money is the best.

Holiday Gifts for Children

Ebates literally works with 2,000+ retailers. Odds are, if you’re shopping there, it’s on there. Here are some of my favorites when I’m shopping for my kids:

  • Target
  • Disney
  • Walmart
  • eBay
  • Toys R Us
  • Carter’s
  • GAP
  • Snapfish
  • Shutterfly

And the list goes on. They also have super helpful shopping guides. For example, they have a compilation of the hottest toys for 2017. You can use it for inspiration or to find something on your kids’ list, and then navigate straight to the item’s page on the partner’s site without having to browse.

Get Shopping.

If you’re going to be doing holiday shopping anyways, get some cashback for your efforts. Also be sure to get your free $10 just for signing up!

3 Ways to Get Money for Down Payment

Would not have thought of some of these! Great tips to get money for a down payment on a home. Savings and patience are key!

Guys, something amazing is happening.

Millennials are actually starting to enter the housing market.

I’m a millennial that has been trying to get in on housing market for a while. We’ve been saving. Then we looked. And we realized that we actually needed more money than we thought we did to get something we could live with. So we started saving again.

It worked out. Our kids’ educational costs are covered for a while, and hopefully we’ll have enough cash on hand to make the right purchase when we’re ready–which we’re hoping will be soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking a lot about different ways to find money for a down payment and closing costs—without going to the Bank of Mom and Dad. Because let’s face it: for most of us, there is no such thing.

Cut Your Wedding Costs

The average cost of a wedding is $35,329. That number can more than double if you’re in one of our nation’s largest cities.

On both of my weddings, I spent about $32,000 less than that. One was big, and the other was decidedly small.

If you have the money to finance a $35,000 wedding, consider going the $3,000 route instead, pocketing the other $32,000 for a house. In most markets, that’s more than enough to get your foot in the door.

If you’re financing a $35,000 wedding, maybe don’t do that if you want to buy a home in the near future. It will increase your debt-to-income ratio, and make it harder to qualify for a loan on a home you’d be happy with.

I’m not saying you can’t have a beautiful day, though. Here are some wedding savings hacks that will help you pocket more cash so you and your hunny can get into your own home faster:

Pretend You’re Moving Tomorrow

When I started blogging six years ago, there was this amazing blogger named Lindy Mint who was paying off her debt by selling her old stuff. She and her husband were literally going through stacks of old DVDs and books, and finding other odds and ends around the house to sell for cash.

It worked. If memory serves, they paid off over $5,000 in debt in a very short period of time just by listing stuff on Amazon, eBay and Craigslist.

Six years later, there’s even more diversity in reselling platforms. If you want to buy a house anyway, you’re going to have to move. And moving more stuff than you have to stinks.

Pretend you’re packing up now, and start selling all that junk that you don’t need or use anymore. If you go at it like Lindy did, you may be surprised at yourself and find thousands of dollars in your bank account.

Slash Your Entertainment Budget

2017 is the best year for summer concerts in Pittsburgh that I’ve seen in at least a decade.

Initially, I was insanely tempted to go to all of them. But I ran the numbers, and that was going to get expensive quick. I put my disappointment on the shelf, and looked instead at all the amazing free things there are to do in my city. If I put the money I was going to be spending on concerts towards our down payment and closing costs, I’ll have a nice chunk of change towards our goal.

Entertainment for me doesn’t just include summer concerts, though. It also includes things like going to the movies, eating out and going out with friends. I’m a veteran to this frugal thing, so let me give you some alternatives that will help you save money while still having a great time living your life:

  • Movies: Find a drive-in in your area. They’re usually less expensive per person, host double features and some will even allow you to bring in your own food. If you want to get extra frugal, try to find a dollar theater in your region.
  • Eating Out: Cook at home. This will save you so much money. If you think you stink at cooking, make it into a challenge to see how good you can get at it. Pull up YouTube videos. Find amazing recipes on Pinterest. There’s never been a better era to learn a new skill for free.
  • Going Out With Friends: Stay in with friends. Have a game night. Play Mario Kart. Rotate as dinner hosts. If alcohol was going to be included in your outing, buy some at the liquor store (I’m so Pennsylvanian) instead of buying it at the bar. Bring it home and imbibe on a budget. Good friends are good company even when you’re just chilling in the basement.

You’ve Got This.

Saving for a huge goal that can be tens of thousands of dollars is intimidating. But you’ve got this. You’re capable. And when you put your mind to something, you’ll find creative ways to make it happen, even if you hit speed bumps along the way. When you’re ready to purchase a home, head to a financial institution who will have your back through the whole process.

 

 

*This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union. The views expressed in the article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pentagon Federal Credit Union. PenFed Credit Union is an Equal Housing Lender and is federally insured by the NCUA.*

 

 

Gifts for Harry Potter Fanatics

Note: I have been compensated for the writing of this post. Regardless, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Totally crushing on these Harry Potter gifts. From Dumbledore to JK Rowling to Sirius Black quotes---swoon!

I was eleven years old when I was first introduced to Harry Potter. My friend was feverishly tearing through the pages.

I’ve always been a slow reader. Not a bad or disinterested reader. It’s actually an activity I’ve enjoyed and excelled at more than most other hobbies for as long as I can remember. But the length of the book intimidated me. I knew I’d never be able to keep up with my friend.

It wasn’t until months later that I finally picked it up. I was immediately enthralled. The pages kept turning at a break-neck pace. I was enchanted, but also a little discouraged that JK Rowling had the same idea for a witch school book as I did, and that she did it so much better than I could have dreamed.

Except I didn’t know JK Rowling was a she. Her identity remained mysteriously masked until a couple of years later. When I learned the reason she had kept her name and gender a secret was that her publishers didn’t want boys to stay away from reading the books’ great moral lessons, I thought for the first time that there might be something wrong with the way the world treated women.

Great the moral lessons were. The books will never be consistently taught in schools as they don’t follow a classical story arc, but the lessons were so powerful that studies show they may have cultivated the identifying trait of empathy we see in the vast majority of the millennial generation. Lord knows we need that empathy to battle the wave of prejudice that has entered our highest institutions in the years since we’ve become grown.

Finding My Place in the Wizarding World

I was recently talking with some friends who told me about Pottermore. It’s Rowling’s official site that sorts you into your house, gives you a patronus, and selects your wand.

I told them that every quiz I’ve ever taken puts me in House Slytherin. And that I’m always tempted to lie about it, but then don’t because that would further reinforce the fact that I’m a bad person.

So I took the quiz on Pottermore. And guess what? I can’t lie:

house slytherin

The result analysis showed me that not all people in Slytherin are bad. You can use your cunning, ambition, resourcefulness, determination and shrewdness to good ends. Which sounds like phooey until you remember that the sorting hat’s initial reaction was to put Harry himself into Slytherin.

So basically, I am Harry Potter sans the political influence to sway the sorting hat.

Or at least that’s how I sleep at night.

My Wand

Mr. Ollivander issued me a 10″ redwood wand of supple flexibility with a phoenix-feather core. Ten inches is pretty standard, but here’s what the rest of it means according to Pottermore.

Redwood

I’m able to ‘fall on my feet, make the right choice, and snatch advantage from catastrophe.’

Short-term, I’m hesitant to attribute these characteristics to myself because I live in a state of constant self-doubt, but when I look at my life as a whole–at the ebbs and flows of struggle versus strength–I can’t deny that this is true.

AI might just be putting the real Ollivander out of a job here.

Phoenix Feathers

Phoenix feathers are super rare. But the description of ‘showing initiative,’ ‘acting of their own accord’ and the fact that this is a quality that ‘many witches and wizards dislike’ also sounds about right when meshed in with the story of my life.

I’ve never been one to follow the crowd, and I’ve straight up lost a lot of popularity contests because of it.

The symbolism of intensely bursting into flames followed by a rebirth is not lost on me, either.

My Patronus

My patronus was a white swan. Which according to mugglenet.com (which is also a thing, apparently,) signifies:

  • Beauty
  • Grace
  • Loyalty (especially to your partner and kids)

While (inner) beauty and grace are something I aspire to, loyalty is the only thing I’m comfortable claiming at this particular moment in time.

But I think it’s super chill that my patronus will be there for me with all its beauty and grace when I need it.

Nerding Out for the Holidays with Harry Potter Gifts

I’ve obviously spent a lot of time reflecting on how Harry Potter has influenced my life lately. I’ve also been scouring the web for all those quotes I highlighted back in the day with a real highlighter because ebooks weren’t a thing. And images that remind me of the power of good over evil–even if you have to play the long game to log that win.

It turns out there are so many other nerds out there! One of my favorite collections that I’ve stumbled upon has been from Society6, which allows users to create designs on various different products.

This is my curation of favorites, but poke around the site a little more to find your own, too. Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the bottom to enter the giveaway–you could score a free or seriously reduced-priced gift for the Potter fan on your holiday list!

You can now use the promo code FEMME to save 25% off at Society6 through 12/31/17!

Dumbledore’s Magic Words Print

Because Dumbledore, Thomas Paine and I are all on the same page about the power of language, I’m all about this Giclee print. Also, the prints are super affordable.

The Four Founders Print

 Godric Gryffindor. Helga Hufflepuff. Rowena Ravenclaw. Salazar Slytherin.

Speaking of founding fathers, fifty percent of the founders of Hogwarts were female as displayed in this print.

#feminism

Sirius Black Quote Pillow

Sirius Black quote mourning

I believe in this truth so hard–especially when we continue telling our loved ones’ stories. If you’re looking for additional gifts for those who may be mourning, I highly suggest checking out The Midnight Orange.

That is, if this pillow alone isn’t powerful enough in its simplicity and truth.

Happiness Can Be Found Even in the Darkest of Times Throw Blanket

If only one remembers to turn on the light.

Society6’s throw blankets are crazy soft with sherpa fleece on one side and the printed image on the other. I feel like this gorgeous design could inspire me to set down the ice cream I just cuddled up with after a particularly depressing day.

Harry Potter Meets Starry Night Throw Blanket

throw blanket harry potter

At the intersection of fine art and magical, inspiring literature is this cozy blanket. Fan art at its best.

Anything’s Possible JK Rowling Quote Mug

JK Rowling quote coffee mug

I don’t like coffee (<—I’m literally giving away raffle entries below if you get that reference,) but I like to imagine that if I did, a mug like this with such a bad-a quote on it would get me amped up and ready to take on the day.

With the help of ample caffeine, of course.

Choices vs Abilities Harry Potter Coffee Mug

harry potter coffee mug

Same deal with this mug as the last. Our abilities are sometimes out of our control, but our choices aren’t. And our choices are ultimately what define us as people.

Now go make today the best decision making day ever.

-Your Coffee

I Solemnly Swear I am Up to No Good Comforter

harry potter comforter

*Giggle*

This one makes the list solely because I think nerdy double entendres are hilarious when executed consensually.

Hagrid Shower Curtain

harry potter gifts

Dude. I need this shower curtain in my life.

As a self-employed mother of young children who could perform her job from anywhere but chooses to do so in her PJs in the comfort of her living room, I could benefit from the constant reminder that while it’s good to have a good heart, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to freaking bathe yourself, too.

Also, Hagrid rocks.

Platform 9 3/4 Window Curtains

harry potter home decor

I love the symbolism behind these curtains–the idea that by stepping through some magical portal at just the right time, you can view a window into a magical world that no one else knows exist because they weren’t paying attention.

What is Right vs What is Easy Tote Bag

Harry Potter tote bag

I’ve talked before about how we’re living in a time when our morals are being put to the test. I never imagined I’d live in a time where the decision between these two extremes was so prominent. I thought we had collectively learned our lessons.

But I was wrong, and we all need to be constantly made aware of it. Displaying the reminder on a tote like this one seems like a fairly non-aggressive yet effective way to get the word out in the parts of our world which remain analog.

Sirius Black Quote Tote Bag

We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.

Last but not least, this bag brings us back to my Slytherin diagnosis.

Full circle, people. Full circle.

Society6 e-Gift Card Giveaway

Want to spend less on those Harry Potter holiday gifts?

It’s okay if you’re gifting to yourself. We don’t judge here.

Then be sure to enter the below giveaway for a $20 Society6 e-Gift Card! Entries are open through 12:00a Eastern on November 20, 2017.

Best of luck! Oh, and feel free to tell all your muggle friends about the giveaway, too. We’re giving them a pass. 😉

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

Get the Biggest Bang for Your Engagement Ring Buck

Super great savings tips from this industry expert. Showing these to my partner before they buy my engagement ring!

Engagement ring shopping isn’t something you do everyday. If you’re lucky, you do it once in your lifetime. If you’re brave enough to move on after a failed first attempt (been there,) you might do it once or twice more.

But it’s not a shopping muscle we flex on a regular basis like groceries or cell phone providers. It’s something we really have to research if we want to do it right.

Luckily, we live in the age of the internet, which allows us to access insider information like the following money-saving tips from Oded Edelman, co-founder and CEO of James Allen. James Allen is an online jeweler with a ten-year history of bringing customers beautiful, conflict-free diamonds at a fraction of the price of brick-and-mortar retailers.

Here are Edelman’s top three savings tips.

Save Money by Shopping for Your Engagement Ring Online

ways to save on engagment rings

“Typically brick and mortar retailers have entirely different cost structures thanks to holding inventory, overhead costs, etc,” says Edelman.

He notes that these cost structures may result in higher costs for the end consumer, and that by shopping at online retailers like James Allen, you can save up to 50%.

Look for Underweight Diamonds

Save money on engagement rings

Most diamonds are going to come in standard carat sizes. For example, you might find a 1.0 carat diamond or a 1.5 carat diamond.

“Look for an under-size diamond—one that’s slightly below one of the standard weights,” Edelman advises. “These diamonds cost significantly less than their standard-weight counterparts and are nearly identical to the naked eye.”

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck by Shopping Color and Clarity

Insider savings tips from jewelry expertsYou want to get a nice ring, and you can do it without breaking the bank. In fact, Edelman notes that the best way to achieve optimal value is by shooting for slightly lower than optimum color and clarity. These differences are minuscule–most of the time they’re not visible to the naked eye. But they make a huge difference to your wallet.

Which means you’ll be looking at rings in these ranges:

  • Color. Shop for rings with slightly lower colors–in the G to J range.
  • Clarity. Shop for rings with slightly lower clarity–in the SI1 to SI2 range.

“They can cost half as much of high color/high clarity options, without any visible sacrifice in beauty,” says Edelman.

Now is a great time to shop.

At least for customer-centric online retailers like James Allen, you’re going to find the most sales at this time of year—October through February. Here’s why.

 

Find any of these tips helpful? Use different methods to save on your engagement ring purchase? Leave your story in the comments!