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helpful holiday shopping hacks

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Holiday shopping season is in full effect now, and it can be an expensive for last-minute shoppers. I thought I’d share some of my new and old favorite ways to save both online and in-store. These tips are great all year – no need to save just during a few winter months each year!

I’ve no doubt blogged about Swagbucks ad naseum at this point, but it’s because it’s my favorite way to save not only on Christmas presents, but on every day purchases all year. When you use them as your search engine (or take advantage of their other points-earning opportunities, like taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, or online shopping) you have the chance to win points, which you can then redeem for gift cards, cash back, or prizes. I almost always go for the Amazon gift card (although I do occasionally opt for a little Starbucks treat) and use my gift card balance to buy gifts or groceries (PrimePantry is a must-have, folks!) Start searching at Swagbucks now – when you sign up with a referral code, you’ll get additional points added to your account. this is a newer one for me, and to be honest, I’d forgotten that I’d even set it up until they sent me a message letting me know that there had been a price drop on the laptop stand I ordered at Amazon. It works by scanning your email inbox to look for online prices, then reaching out to the retailer on your behalf when there’s a lower price available for a product you’ve purchased. I was a bit surprised that it took so long to see a refund because I order from Amazon fairly regularly (but maybe because I often use camelcamelcamel, I order when the prices are low anyway,) but hey! A few more bucks back in the Amazon gift card bank to churn somewhere else.

eBates is my first stop when online shopping, because it’s a super easy way to get cash back on purchases just by starting your shopping trip through eBates’ link, rather than the retailer’s direct website. Because they’ve started airing commercials on TV, this one isn’t such a little secret anymore, but it’s still a great one – I’ve gotten nearly $200 back over the few years I’ve been using it! They also display lots of promo codes for additional savings as well. (If you’d rather accumulate this to be wrapped up in your Swagbucks balance, they offer a similar “points”back system when starting your shop through their search.)

RetailMeNot has gone downhill a bit for me in the past year or so, or maybe stores aren’t offering as many discounts as they did previously. At any rate, it’s easy to whip out your phone while waiting in line to do a quick search on their mobile app or website for an in-store or online coupon!

What are your favorite ways to save, at the holidays or anytime? I’m always looking to pad that savings account!

November 9, 2015

Book Report: Summer Reads Round 1

Posted in Living, Money by


Growing up, I was a complete bookworm. I would read non-stop, all the time, no matter where I was. The older I’ve gotten, the less I find myself reading, but lately I have really been on a reading spree. In about two weeks this summer, I’ve already gobbled up three books and hope to keep going at that rate because reading keeps me out of trouble (read: keeps me from shopping!). Here’s a brief book report on the novels I’ve finished already this summer and some ideas to keep costs down if you’re also devoting the summer to reading!

The Second Assistant: A Tale from the Bottom of the Hollywood Ladder was the first book I finished this summer, after it languished at the bottom of my pool bag last year after a summer spent crying at the hands of John Green and Cory Monteith. The story of a Hollywood agent’s second assistant trying to survive in LA after growing up in DC had me glued and even though I wasn’t 100% in love with the ending, I found out that there’s a sequel! Overall I enjoyed the book, she ends up with the guy I wanted her to end up with, and even though it didn’t feel like true Hollywood to me (not enough backstabbing,) it made me want to move to California even more.

Confessions of a Shopaholic was next on my plan of attack. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to, because I was horribly excited to pick it up last summer. From a PF standpoint, I was really excited to read this one… and then I spent about 300 pages of the book being horribly annoyed by the main character and wanting to scream at her to take her ostrich head out of the sand. I liked it enough to want to see the movie and maybe read a few more of the books in the series.

Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans, another Brit lit book, was about an overweight girl (although it was horribly obvious that the author has probably never been over a size 8 in her life – if you’re 5’7″ and 220 pounds, you are not incapable of sitting comfortably in chairs as happens to this character over and over) who reinvents herself for a man she meets online. The book was completely dated (written in 1999) but it was still a pretty cute read. And it doesn’t hurt that she flies to LA to meet the guy.

I was able to snag all these books for a grand total of $0 – and if I’m going to keep reading so voraciously this summer, I need to keep the total that low. Here are a few ways I’m going to save and still feed my reawakened bookworm!

Read more…

June 20, 2014