Saving Money

Socialize the Frugal Way to Spare Your Wallet Sorrow

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Do you have some financial goals but dread that feeling of “keeping up” with your friends as they seem to always choose the most expensive outing possible? Do you love to hang out with them but hate how your debit card balance looks after a day at an amusement park or a night out downtown at the hottest clubs? Well, dread no more! Freshen up your social life and give your wallet a break by taking an initiative to suggest one of these four frugal hangout alternatives.

1. Game Night

pexels-photo-84663.jpegNothing packs fun and saving money into one package like hosting a game night. Invite friends over after dinner so all you will need to provide are a few tasty beverages and snacks, which costs far less than a night out in the town. You can spend hours with your favorite board or card games and don’t have to worry about Ubering your way home at a certain hour.

2. Potluck Food Contest

A great way to get everyone together for a meal without breaking the bank is to take a fresh spin to the potluck. By putting a competition aspect to the event, your friends will show off their edible contributions. Everyone, in turn, spends a fun evening together by spending very little, yet everyone gets to eat like a king.

3. Happy Hour Finder

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Saving money by socializing at home is fun, but getting out once in a while is still in order. The good news is that many restaurants have happy hours during the weekdays and late at night that save you money! These deals also pertain to appetizers and meals. Handy apps like Happy Hour Finder, the very app that Cosmopolitan magazine praised, connects you with all the best food and drink deals in your area. Going out doesn’t have to break the bank when you go at the right times.

4. Look Online for Free or Cheap Events

Your community hosts very cost-effective events if you keep your eyes peeled. Just take a quick trip to your city’s website. They usually have a calendar of events that are open to the public. You will be surprised to see how many free things are out there! Also, websites like Livingsocial and Groupon offer amazing deals for tickets and services. You can save up to 70% and beyond if you buy tickets in pairs which get you in the gates of a renaissance faire or in on a paint and sip night for a fraction of the original cost.

You don’t need to always dress up and go to a fancy restaurant to have a good time with friends. By replacing one of your outings with one of these frugal options, socializing will be friendlier on your finances.

Money Saving: It’s Easier Than You Might Think


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If you try to save money, it seems like something always happens like the car breaks down, the dog has a medical emergency, you have to make home repairs. Unexpected expenses have a way of greedily eating money we manage to save. There are ways to save money that you may not have considered.

First, open a bank account and have a small portion your paycheck direct deposited into it each week. Use a bank that you do not have easy access to withdrawing the funds. Granted you will still know that money is there, but you won’t be tempted to spend it on a nonessential purchase.
Second, use a website like mypoints, memolink, or swagbucks to gain points for searches, watching videos, shopping and surveys. The key here is that when you have earned enough points to get a gift card, choose a store which sells food, or other items you need. Then take the same amount of money and put it away. Use the gift card to maintain your usual shopping habits. Keep the money you saved in a safe place or account. Over time you will have a bunch of money saved and it is money you never had to part with in the first place.

Third, look for sales and use coupons. But again, figure out how much money you actually saved, and put it with the other money gained from earning gift cards online. Do not leave loose change or money in your pockets and wallet. If it is too easy to access, you will spend it without thinking. Put it in a safe place and only take what you actually need.

You will be able to put some money aside using this advice. Once you have thousands of dollars saved, visit your local bank and find out about Certificates of Deposit (CD) and other savings options. CD’s are great because you can’t touch your savings for a certain period of time without penalty, so you will hold on to your money. Good luck.

Unexpected Rewards Programs the Reward Things You Already Buy

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When it comes to saving money, reward programs are an excellent way to do so. However, many people tend to over think what rewards programs they should choose. Instead of choosing a program for activities you do sparingly, you will get the most benefit for activities you do every week or even every day. These can often be unexpected, but there are a lot of reward programs out there.

Papa John’s

Let’s be real here, you probably order pizza more than you realize. It is fast, easy, and delicious while cooking for yourself is difficult and often less rewarding. Fortunately for you and your functioning pizza addiction, one of the best rewards programs out there is Papa John’s. Each order nets you points depending on what you order and what you spend. Those points add up surprisingly quickly towards what we all desire – free pizza.

Walgreens

With your health insurance as expensive as it probably is, medicine is one area you don’t expect to save on. However, if you frequently need to go to CVS or Walgreens to get your prescriptions filled, you can save. Walgreens actually beats out CVS in terms of rewards programs since it allows you to accrue points and then put those points toward hefty discounts on your purchases.

AMC

This rewards program probably depends how much you actually go out to the movies. For some people, they go on a date near every week while others only go out maybe once a year. However, if your city is overrun with AMC-owned theaters, as most cities are, you can actually get some great discounts with their rewards programs. From discounts on snacks to free movie tickets, you can accrue them all with the AMC Stubs programs. However, in return for the flat discount rates it also give, you have to pay a yearly fee of $12.

Frugal Living – The Miracle of Paint


It doesn’t matter whether you are young and just starting out in life or whether you are older and focused on saving for retirement, if you’ve been shopping for furniture lately, you’ve noticed the big dollar amounts on all the price tags.  Even a relatively plain dining room chair can cost nearly a hundred dollars!  Is it really necessary to pay such steep prices for furniture and accessories or is there another way to affordable furniture?

For those do-it-yourselfers and those interested in frugal living, a can of paint or wood stain might end up being your best friend.  If you need furniture, whether it is a bed frame, nightstand, dining room chair or plant stand, consider going to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill store to find some really interesting and eclectic pieces.  Craigslist and local garage sales are also great places to find some cool pieces of furniture or other accessories at rock bottom prices.

Many people have furniture items they no longer need or they have pieces with a scratch here or a stain there and they don’t have the time or the knowledge to make the proper repairs.  It really isn’t that difficult to learn how to paint or use stain to restore wood items to their original glory.  Furniture refinishing can be as simple as painting an item and leaving all the dings in place for the “shabby chic” look or sanding down the entire piece, using wood filler to fill in the holes and then staining or painting to make the piece look like new again.

Often it is the unique, older pieces of furniture that really help to make a house a home.  There is also the sense of accomplishment that one receives after taking something that was once destined for a landfill and restoring it to its former beauty.  An expense of $30 or so in refinishing supplies is a small price to invest in a piece of furniture that is just right for your home.   

Frugal Living Hacks to Save More Money


The average American has less than $1,000 in savings, according to a recent Google Consumer Survey. Without a “nest egg,” unforeseen expenses could spell disaster for you and your family. But the good news is that you save more money by embracing frugal living.

Walmart Savings Catcher

If you shop at Walmart, be sure take advantage of the retailing giant’s Savings Catcher program. This program will automatically check competitors’ prices for purchased products to see if they are lower. If a competitor is selling the product at a lower price, Savings Catcher will give you the difference in the form of an electronic gift card.

Here’s a tip: you can save even more money at Walmart by paying with a cash back rewards credit card. Some credit cards may offer 1-3% cash back on all purchases, meaning for every $100 you spend, you’ll earn $1 to $3 in rewards bonuses.

Finance Manager App

Assuming you own a smartphone (and you probably do), try downloading a finance manager app like Mint. This app will organize all of your expenses and financial information to create a detailed budget. So instead of crossing your fingers and “hoping” that you don’t overspend one month, you’ll know exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out.

Freeze Perishable Food

According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Americans throw out approximately 40% of their uneaten food, the equivalent of $165 billion annually. If you have a tendency to toss uneaten foods, consider freezing them long-term storage. From blueberries and strawberries to ground beef, chicken and even condiments, you can significantly extend the shelf life of most perishable foods by freezing.

Buy in Bulk

Another helpful frugal living tip is to buy in bulk. There are certain items that, when purchased in bulk, can yield huge savings. These typically include things like paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc.

Eat Out Less

There’s nothing wrong with splurging every once in a while by dining out at your favorite restaurant, but this should be kept a minimum if you are trying to save money. Packing your lunch for work and eating meals at home can yield big savings over the course of a month.

Reward Yourself With These 3 Unique Shopping Apps!

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Did you know that you no longer have to rely just on the rewards programs linked to grocery store loyalty cards and points accrued through using a store-specific credit card? There’s a handful of ways that thrifty shoppers can save money and earn cash back just by continuing to buy the same things they do anytime they hit the store. The biggest problem with these rewards programs is that many people don’t know that they exist, and if they do, where to find them so they can benefit from using them.

Here are three great rewards programs that you can start using to save money and earn cash back today!

1. Ibotta

Ibotta (use my referral link)is a super cool app that you can download to your mobile device for cash back rewards on almost anything. Once you sign up and set your location, the app will search all the stores within a pre-determined radius for all cash back opportunities. You then search for items by keyword or store and begin unlocking your deals. When you’re done shopping, you go back to the app to verify your deals by scanning the barcodes of your purchases and uploading a photo of your receipt. The cash you receive appears in your account within 24 hours, and once you hit $20 in cash back, you can request payment via PayPal. The rewards add up quickly, especially if you’re shopping for a family.

2. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is another awesome cash back app that you can download to your mobile device. The idea is much the same as Ibotta in that you browse the cash back offers, save the ones you plan to use, buy those products from any store, then upload a photo of your receipt to redeem the cash back. After your account reaches $20 in savings, you can request payment.

3. Shopkick

Shopkick is a little different, but just as nifty in that you earn points (they call them “kicks”) just for walking through the doors of a store. Items featured in the app can be scanned to earn even more kicks. Make purchases with a card that you link with the app to earn yet even more kicks, and see just how quickly it racks up! It’s ridiculously easy to collect kicks, and you can redeem them for gift cards for just about all your favorite stores.

One of the greatest things about these apps is that they don’t cancel each other out. You can use each one simultaneously to earn all sorts of cash back, and they can be used on top of any coupons you choose to clip, as well as in-store sales. So, why not use ’em all? Reward yourself instead of kicking yourself next time you go shopping by giving these sweet apps a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose but great savings!

Go Frugal With Discounted Gift Cards

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How would you like to get a discount on almost every purchase you make?  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and for every person who has unwanted gift cards, there is someone like you who would like to buy that unwanted card at a discount that is sometimes quite substantial.

Gift Card Granny is a one-stop shopping place for people looking to sell unwanted gift cards and frugal people looking to save on everything ranging from dinner at their favorite restaurant to appliances at Sears.  Gift Card Granny lists thousands of gift cards from a multitude of vendors who offer discounted cards for sale.  For the more popular stores such as Walmart, the discounted cards may offer just a few percentage points off the price of a regular gift card.  However, for other gift cards, it is not unusual to see them available for sale at well over 20%.

For those who like to shop online, many of the discounted “gift cards” are simply e-codes you buy which are then sent to your email.  After you receive the e-code you simply use the discounted e-code and PIN number to complete your purchase at your favorite online store.  Gift Card Granny also lists companies that mail out physical gift cards.  Most of the companies offer free shipping.  For the other companies who do charge a nominal fee for shipping, Gift Card Granny will list the shipping fee.

Like anything else, it must become a habit to make most of your purchases with a discounted gift card.  Initially, you might even forget you have a discounted card and pay with your credit card as usual.  But once you get into the habit of using gift cards as payment, you will actually find it loathsome when you have to pull out cash or a credit card and pay full price for an item.  Great bargains are only a few finger clicks away for frugal shoppers who make their way to Gift Card Granny.

The Frugal Folks Guide to Eating Out


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The most efficient way to save a few bucks is by eating in. However, this can become dull fairly quickly. If you need to keep it frugal, you may feel like cooking at home is your only option. However, this isn’t entirely true. Here are some things you can do to cut down on the cost of eating out.

Skip the Drinks

Soda at a restaurant can run you as much as $2.50 a cup. By skipping the soda you can save that $2.50 per person and get all the health benefits of drinking water. If you must have a sweet drink, try keeping your fridge stocked at home or share a soda with a friend and split the cost.

Discount Gift Cards

Websites like Raise can help you save a dollar or two by selling you discounted gift cards to some of your favorite restaurants. These gift cards are sometimes sold for as much as 25% off. If you buy those Raise gift cards through TopCashback you can save even more through cash back.

Groupon and Living Social

By using crowd-sharing sites such as Groupon and Living Social you can discover some great local food spots and save a bundle. Save even more by waiting around for discount codes (sometimes as much as 25% off) and purchasing discounted gift cards for Groupon via Raise.

Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com is another great way to save some money on local eateries. Just make sure you read the fine print before buying anything. You can save a bit more by purchasing discounted gift cards for Restaurant.com via Raise.

Survey Sites

By using survey sites and apps such as Swagbucks and Survey Mini, you can rack up points which can be exchanged for free gift cards to your favorite chain restaurants. Saving up points can take a while, but this is a great way to get some free grub.

By using the tips listed above in addition to deals and rewards programs offered by individual restaurants, you should be able to eat out for a fraction of the usual cost. This means more cash in your pocket and more food in your belly.

3 Delicious Rewards Programs for Your Foodie Needs

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As much as anyone would love a good home-cooked meal, eating out and ordering fast food has become increasingly popular. Wouldn’t it be nice to get more for your hard-earned money? We think so, and that is why we have found 3 rewards programs that will make your wallet happy.

Papa Rewards: Do you like Papa John’s or pizza in general? If so, then this is the rewards program for you! Their motto is “Order. Eat. Earn. Repeat,” which is literally you get to do. Basically, you create an account and enroll in Papa Rewards. Afterwards, you will earn 1 point for every $5 you spend when you order online. For 10 points, you can get a chocolate chip cookie, cheese sticks, or garlic knots. For 20-30 points, you can get a free large pizza.

Piece of the Pie Rewards: Yes, another pizza rewards program. This time it is by none other than Domino’s! Similar to Papa Rewards, you will have to create an account and enroll in their reward program. Every online order of $10 or more will earn you 10 points (only one order per calendar day can earn points). Once you earn 60 points, you can redeem them for a free medium 2-topping pizza.

Subway Rewards: Subway Rewards requires you to get a Subway Card and to load money on it. Each time you swipe your card in-store, you will earn 1 point per $1 spent. You will even get 25 free points just for signing up, and you can opt in to receive a free birthday goody along with bonus offers. You can redeem your points for a variety of treats, such as a cookie, chips, drinks, or even subs. Not bad, right?

Tell me about the reward programs you use.

Frugal Starbucks: How to Drink Expensive Coffee For Less


You have to admit it, you are guilty of the occasional trip to Starbucks. Some consider Starbucks the “fast food of coffee” and only visit when local options aren’t available; others use Starbucks as a special treat and only visit on occasion; and still more Americans visit Starbucks multiple times a week in order to grab their morning coffee or an afternoon pick-me-up.

However you view this coffee chain, the fact is that it’s expensive. $5 for a drink is a little ridiculous, yet people pay it every day. Did you know you could be keeping as much as half of that money in your pocket? Here are some tried-and-true ways to save a buck at Starbucks.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee at Starbucks is tasty, frugal, and a perfect replacement for iced lattes. Order your iced coffee with your favorite syrup (5 pumps for tall, 6 for grande, and 7 for venti) and cream for a beverage that so closely resembles your usual iced latte you’ll hardly be able to taste a difference. 

Split Drinks

A hot venti cup at Starbucks holds about 20 oz, while a cold venti cup holds 24 oz. Meanwhile, a tall cup holds about 12 oz. One venti drink is nearly always cheaper than two talls. By ordering a venti beverage and splitting it between two people, you will both be getting the equivalent of a tall coffee drink without the tall price tag.

Don’t have an extra cup? Just ask for one! Most baristas are happy to help. If this makes you uncomfortable, order a tall water, drink the water and use the empty cup to split the drink. 


Skip the Ice, Cream, or Whip

Ice, cream, and whipped cream all take up valuable real estate in your cup. By asking not to have these items you will receive more of the actual drink you are after. Skipping the cream obviously only works when it comes to coffee and iced coffee, and asking for no ice will only work for cold beverages. If you must have cream or ice, you can ask for a bigger cup and add them after the fact. A cup of ice is free at most Starbucks stores, and the condiment bar always has half-and-half and milk options available.

By following these tips, you will have your Starbucks fix as well as more bucks to spend elsewhere.