We're having a lazy, rainy day in Austin, sort of. Since Brendan and I are both teaching online classes, we actually work all day from home, but it feels lazy, especially since I woke up at 10:30 and stayed in my PJs until 2:00. Oh, the future. If you could do your job at home, would you want to? I like it for a couple of weeks, but I wouldn't want to work only from home year round, because I like getting out and participating in the world.
In other news, I made Brendan this neat photobook from our first year of dating, and gave it to him the other day. I created it using Shutterfly, which at first I found particularly discouraging to work with (having primarily used iphoto in the past), but now I see some advantages too. The primary advantage is price. Groupon often advertises coupons for Shutterfly books. This one I spent a total of $19 on, which includes everything: the price I paid on the Groupon, the creation of my extra pages, and shipping (without the coupon it would have been $50). iphoto books are usually $50 too, but they rarely go on sale. iphoto products are nicer, but almost TOO nice for a causal project. I would use iphoto for a wedding album or something. iphoto is much easier to use, but if you choose the custom path on Shutterfly and upload only the photos you want for each page as you create the pages, it isn't so obnoxious. I do not recommend uploading everything upfront because it simply will not work. In my case, my computer would just freeze and nothing would be saved. In conclusion: I like iphoto better, but if I had another coupon for Shutterfly, I would use it again because the price is about 60% less.
I am such a "saver" at heart. I will look for the best deal on absolutely everything and will not rest until I think I've found it. Here are 10 of my go-to tips that I'll share with you:
1.) If you have a gift card to a store, sign up for email promotions, and wait until there is a really good deal (like free shipping + a high percentage savings) and cash in your gift card then.
2.) Use Groupon religiously and you'll drastically decrease your need to pay full price for things like meals out, haircuts, or even vacations. Brendan and I love Groupon, because you pay in advance for your deals, so by the time you go on that vacation, it is already paid for!
3.) When buying airline tickets, use websites like Travelocity or Cheapo to find the best deal. Sometimes breaking up a longer trip and booking as 2 separate flights will actually save you money. For instance, when Brendan and I were booking our flight from Maine to Austin, it was actually cheaper to book Maine to Boston and then Boston to Austin (we saved about $45 that way). Always check Southwest too because bags fly for free!
4.) If you have a credit card that earns points or cash rewards, charge everything you buy, then pay it off in full every month. I have earned a few hundred dollars in cash in the past year through one credit card, and with another, I was able to get Brendan and I round trip airfare from Midland to Philly using points only flying Southwest. I have never paid one cent of interest in my life. I love my Southwest credit card! I would always fly Southwest, but it is not always the cheapest, so I don't. Price has to be the bottom line if you want to save cash.
5.) If you are not satisfied with something, write a kind letter of disappointment to the company about it. I have being credited free flights, hotel stays, and t-shirts this way, just to name a few things.
6.) Shop at the cheapest grocery store and do a quick price check before you put something in your cart. When it comes to many things, you can get a better price if you are not picky about your brand. I don't buy organic. It is overpriced, and I really have never seen proof that it makes a difference in any way, and I've read too many articles about it. If you want to cut your bill down further, cut back on meat. We never buy or cook with meat since I'm a vegetarian; we always eat vegetarian at home and our bill is reduced.
7.) Don't leave the AC running while you're gone. Turn off all lights when you leave the house. Sounds basic enough, right? But it is also easy to forget. We leave a post-it note on the door to remind us.
8.) Don't buy clothing new. Instead, shop at thrift stores, Goodwill, or Salvation Army. I do most of my shopping this way and I make special exceptions for special occasions. When I make an exception, I buy things on SALE. Every single piece of furniture I own came from craigslist, estate sales, or a thrift store.
9.) If you have access to a free gym at work, use it, regardless of whether or not it is "less convenient" than one you could pay for.
10.) Don't be afraid to communicate your need to save cash with friends. The number one reason people overspend (in my opinion) is because they are too afraid to be honest with people that they cannot afford to...eat at that place, go on that trip, go shopping, etc. There are many ways to be social without spending a lot of cash. I am always honest with my friends about my budgeting concerns. If they are good friends, they will understand!
Hope these tips help you save some cash!
Enjoy your day, rainy or otherwise.
<3 S, B, L&Z