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  • Should you buy or rent camping gear?

    Want to be well equipped on your camping trip? Read this before you choose to rent or buy your gear so you don’t waste your money.

    Summer is in full swing and with it that camping that you’ve been dreaming of is about to become a reality. Before you embark on your trip, you will be faced with an important question. Should you buy all of the necessary gear, or should you opt to rent it for the duration of your excursion? To make sure you know which option makes the most sense for your next outdoor camping adventure, the advantages of renting versus buying outdoor supplies are outlined below.

    Why Buy?

    1. Choose exactly what you want.

    When renting camping gear, it is frustrating to have to choose from among limited options. Perhaps you want a super sturdy, heavyweight tent and the only options available are super light. Or perhaps you wanted a stove that is really easy to light, and all that is being rented is much more complex. On the other hand, when buying your own equipment, you can choose the specific type, functionality, brand, color and price range.

    2. One time payment-forever usage.

    If you go camping often, it makes a lot of sense to buy your own camping gear. Just like anything you buy, the more it is used, the less you pay per use.

    3.  Always available.

    You have finally found the weekend that works for you and your loved ones to get away and you surely must be excited about your upcoming camping trip! Bear in mind though, that you are not alone in your choice of summertime fun. Thousands of people take advantage of summer to steal away for an outdoor overnight excursion. Therefore, the gear you wish to rent may not be available to you during peak camping season. This means that the variety of items that you may want- such as air mattresses, sleeping bags, lanterns, waterproof backpacks and trekking poles -may not be available when you want them. Therefore, buying these items and storing them for your eventual trip is certainly a good idea.

     

    Why Rent?

    1. It’s economical.

    If you are an unseasoned camper, and still have not decided if camping is totally for you, renting gear could save you lots of money. For example, when buying a tent, you can pay close to $500. In contrast, renting a tent for one day, maxes at about $35. In addition, you can also usually higher quality gear than you can afford to buy.

    2. Save space.

    Make no mistake: camping gear takes up room- and lots of it too. If you live in an apartment or in a house without a lot of empty storage space, like extra closets and a large basement, it may be close to impossible to store bulky camping gear. The beauty of renting the equipment is that you return all the gear right after your trip, allowing you to breath easy, knowing your quarters are not about to become even more cramped.

    1. Easy to use.

    Renting equipment, especially if you are new to camping comes along with another great perk. The rentals provide each renter with custom made easy-to-follow user manuals in plastic, water-proof sleeves with each piece of equipment. Instead of wasting precious time and energy trying to figure out how to assemble your gear, the user-friendly instructions allow you to set up camp quickly and without stress so you can truly enjoy your trip.

     

    Now that you’ve gotten a picture of the advantages of renting versus buying camping gear, you can choose what suits you best and hit your campsite and have some real fun!

  • 6 best websites for outdoor patio furniture deals

    A outdoor is never complete without a place to sit. The clear skies and sunshine which are characteristic of the summer make it even more tempting to set up a great place to relax in the evening, have a cup of coffee and even hold a book club meeting. However, the process of buying patio furniture should not be abrupt and without careful consideration of the important details. If you want quality outdoor furniture which will be delivered to your doorstep, think about shopping from the following websites.

    Apt2B 

    Buying furniture is inevitable, and there is no better place to make these purchases than the Apt2B website. This is the one stop shop where you will find all the classical designs reminiscent of your favorite designers, and yet, they are not knockoffs. If you fancy an outdoor which looks modern and elegant, this is the place to choose your furniture from. There are hundreds of chairs, lounges, tables and another outdoor furniture to choose from.

    Bobs Discount Furniture 

    If you are looking for outdoor furniture which will come at an irresistible bargain to you, head over to Bob’s discount furniture. The store has more than eighty showrooms in fifteen states, and their selection is just classic. Even better is their online collection, whose variety is second to none. You will get quality masterpieces for your outdoors, but at a discounted price.

    Janus et Cie 

    This is a high-end patio furniture store which is located in New York City. The difference that you will notice about their furniture is the perfect manner in which it is upholstered and also the wonderful way that they choose the colors and patterns. The materials are selected bearing in mind that they will serve outdoors, which means that they have been made to resist adverse weather. There are 12 showrooms across the country, but you can shop online and have the products delivered to your doorstep.

    Curran

    This shop started in 1996, and for the two decades it has been in operation, it has turned into one of the best high-end furniture stores in the country. One of the things that are unique about their outdoor collection is that in addition to seats and tables, they sell umbrellas and fire pits, poufs accents and many other accessories. If you want to transform your outdoor into a Hollywood glamour zone, this is the store to shop at.

    Cost Plus 

    This is the perfect place to head to if you are looking for practical pieces of outdoor furniture, but at a discount. Cost Plus has chairs, tables and accessories that are both durable, modern and stylish. They will deliver the pieces which you shop right to your doorstep.

    Serena and Lily 

    The great thing about this outdoor furniture store is the balance that it strikes between cost and elegance in their masterpieces. The shop offers a wide range of furniture from classic, contemporary to modern pieces.

    These are the six places where you are assured of complete success when shopping for furniture online. You are totally allowed to pick different pieces from the different shops and put them together in your house.

  • 5 things you need to know when buying a grill

    Few things beat the absolute beauty which comes with a summer backyard barbecue. For this to go smoothly, you will need great organizational skills, but more importantly, a good quality grill. The process of getting a barbecue is not as easy as going to the store and picking what catches your fancy. Here are five things that you need to understand before you buy one.

    Selecting the fuel type

    The first consideration that you have to make when choosing a barbecue is the fuel type. The two options here are propane and natural gas. Most of the barbecues which are on sale have a configuration to run on either of the fuel types. However, it is impossible to run a propane configured barbecue on natural gas and the other way around. An additional tool that you can use to ease the conversion between propane and natural gas is a gas conversion kit. If you would like to use both fuel types, invest in the kit.

    The price of the unit

    This is the factor that most of the people think about when they are doing their summer barbecue shopping. Barbecues come in a range of prices, from the cheapest at $150 dollars to some that cost as much as $10,000. Each of the units will have their own unique set of features and additions. The best way to pick a barbecue is come up with a budget and then compare the models that fall within your range; this move will allow you to pick what works best for you.

    Some good bets are the Weber Spirit || E-310 from Amazon from $499.99 or the Weber Genesis II E-310 Gas Grill from Walmart for $70

    The material used to make the body

    Some of the common materials used to make barbecues include cast aluminum, sheet metal, and stainless steel. Most people prefer stainless steel because of its appearance, however, not all stainless steel will give you that finish that you are looking for. It is important to ensure that what is being sold to you is genuine. There are people who make the mistake of believing the seller and ending up with less than perfect barbecues. Just understand that even if they said it is stainless steel, there is a possibility that it is something else.

    The features which come with the Grill

    There are certain additional features that you have listed in your mind as a must have. There are also others that you will not mind not having. Decide whether you want additions such as a side burner, multiple level grilling surfaces, rotisserie burners, lights and all other additions. Only go for the features that are a must have because they all come at a cost.

    Other considerations which you need to make when you are choosing a barbecue include the heat and durability of the unit. You need a grill which is well-insulated against heat loss for efficiency, and you also need to ask for a warranty. The warranty is what helps you decide whether the seller is confident about the durability of what they are selling, and the more confident they are, the more you will also be.

  • How to Make the Most of Amazon Prime Day 2018

    It’s that time of year again, Amazon is hosting its fifth annual Prime Day, where prime members can get some of the best deals of the year. With over 100,000 product sales in nearly every shopping category there is something to satisfy everyone’s needs. Here are some tips to take full advantage of this year’s colossal event.

    1. Become an Amazon Prime member 

    If you are not already an Amazon Prime member make sure that you sign up before Amazon Prime Day in order to shop all the best deals. Only members can access Amazon Prime deals. Fortunately, if you are not already a member Amazon allows you to sign up for a free 30-day trial, meaning that there is no financial risk involved.

    2. Check other stores for great deals

    Because of Amazon’s spectacular deals, competitors may put some of their inventory on sale too. Check stores such as Walmart, BestBuy, Macy’s, and others for great deals.

    3. Strike early

    Last year Amazon had some of its best Prime Day deals early into the event. This Prime Day should be similar, therefore make sure that you get the best deals early on before they are sold out.

    4. Download the Amazon App

    By downloading this app you will be able to stay up to date with the latest deals, and see the early releases deals before they are posted on Amazon. You can easily download the app on your mobile device.

    5. Look for items you can use in your business

    If you are a business owner look for products that will be useful for your business. Supplies will be on sale, so stock up while you can.

    6. Have a Plan of Action

    Come up with a plan before Amazon Prime Day to determine what you want to buy, and which deals you are going to be looking for. This will help you sort through the deals and be more efficient as you are shopping.

    7. Try not to feel overwhelmed

    Whenever there are deals coming in left and right it can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming to sort through everything and determine what you are interested in. However, staying calm will help you focus better and take full advantage of the great discount prices.

    9. Get a good night sleep the night before

    Don’t underestimate a good night’s rest, especially if you are planning on shopping for a large part of the event. This extra rest will help your focus and prepare you for the great deals ahead.

    There you have it, nine tips to get the most out of Amazon Prime Day, happy shopping and good luck getting the best deals possible.

  • July 4th Sales: The good, the bad and the excellent

    July 4th Sales: The good, the bad and the excellentpexels-photo-892720

    As an avid clearance and sale shopper, I find that the week of 4th of July to be a time that is especially rewarding in my findings. Although it feels like summer has just started, stores are already starting to try to unload their summer apparel, gear, and other products. July 4th weekend is the perfect time to stock up on swimsuits, beach towels, shorts, coolers, or anything else you may need for your July, August, or even early September vacation at a bargain of a price.

    One common problem I run into with these holiday weekend sales is that between in-store shopping and online sales, we have a lot of options to shop and not a whole lot of time to take advantage. In order to make the best of both worlds work for you, make use of this trick. Stores like J.C. Penney's, Macy's, Old Navy, Target, and Express often have great online sales on swimsuits, shorts, short-sleeve shirts, and tank-tops. Check their websites first if you're in search of a specific color or pattern article of clothing. That way, you have the best chance of finding exactly what you want without wasting the time and gas in the early July heat running to different stores. However, if you're just looking to take advantage of a July 4th sale and clearance rack, store-surfing is your better bet. Your local J.C. Penney's and Macy's always have huge clearance racks during their July 4th sale.

    I've also had great luck at stores like American Eagle and Aeropostale in the days leading up to the 4th of July. The sales at both of these stores almost always guarantee a selection of low-priced tank tops, shorts, bathing suits, and flip flops.

    Certain stores also have great July 4th sales on summer appliances and other needs, aside from clothing. Walmart and Target drop prices on grills, coolers, and sometimes even air conditioners. A helpful hint to buying appliances is to pay attention to the ad campaigns: many times, stores will advertise their willingness to price match, so research your appliances at other store options to make sure you're getting the best deal!

    July 4th sales very often also include sunglasses. If shopping at an outlet mall that requires you to walk outside to get from store to store, many stores will take advantage of the sunlight blinding you as you look for deals. Stores like American Eagle and Aeropostale very often have 2 for 1 deals on sunglasses at the counter to capitalize on impulse buyers in need of some eye protection. However, these deals can definitely be worth it if you're in need of some shades to wear to the beach as well!

  • 33 Websites for Plus Size Online Shopping

    Torrid

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    Torrid is perhaps the most well known shop for plus sized fashionistas out there. Once known for their urban and edgy styles, Torrid has since branched out into trendy and feminine wear as well. With a massive selection of clothing, shoes, intimates, swimwear, and much more, Torrid offers amazing fashion options in sizes 10 through 30.

     

    “I've been going to Torrid for years…These clothes remind you that as a big woman, you're still beautiful. I always feel confident and sexy in their stuff.” --Melissa R., Austin, Texas

     

    Eloquii

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    Offering sleek and stylish wear for plus sized women in sizes 14 to 28, Eloquii is a trendy company that has plenty of perfect options for everything from the office to the beach.

     

    “These clothes belong in Vogue or Elle. I have been satisfied with everything that I have ordered, and everything arrived fast. Finally, a company that cares about real fashion for the plus-sized woman. Can't wait till I can order again.” - Josephine R.

     

    Just My Size

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    There’s nothing quite so frustrating to a curvy woman as the lack of options out there when it comes to bras and underwear. Just My Size, part of the Hanes parent company, offers plus size intimates that both fit and make you feel sexy, and when you buy online, they offer free shipping with any bra purchase.

     

    “FINALLY!! A bra that's comfortable AND supports & separates! I was skeptical, as this was the SIXTH bra I have ordered recently. I have been on the search for a comfortable bra that supports and separates for a loooooong time.... I've been ordering bras online, one after another - and sending them back one after another - in search of THE ONE. And this is it!! I have since ordered several more.” - Amazon user kwamhudy

     

    Monif C.

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    Monif C. knows that plus sized women deserve to feel just as sexy and confident as everyone else, and their contemporary clothing line, which keeps up with the latest edgy trends like jumpsuits, asymmetrical cuts, and bright, flashy colors, reflects that. This fabulous line is now even more accessible and affordable because they’ve just announced that they will be featured in stores like Macys and Forever21.

     

    “I order a swimsuit from last year collection and I received it within a week I love the swimsuit with the fringe it so flattering to my body and the fact that I got it on sale for a amazing price I was floored thank you for everything that you do for curvy women.” -Latisha C.

     

    Stitch Fix

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    Stitch Fix is revolutionizing the fashion world with its personalized boxes sent right to your home, and they also offer some great fashion for plus size women as well. After taking a style quiz, Stitch Fix sends handpicked pieces of clothing to you in the mail. With hundreds of styles and a team of personal stylists to cater to your every need, it’s great for trying something new and letting a professional pick out some great outfits. Shipping and returns are free, so if Stitch Fix sends you something you don’t like, you can just return it and keep the pieces you like.

     

    “I am always blown away by the selections my stylist, Candace, sends my way. She constantly references my Pinterest and feedback I provide to send me the dreamiest pieces! She understands my fashion preferences enough to send items to me that I didn’t even know I, myself, even wanted yet!” -Nicole Rieder

     

    Modcloth

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    Modcloth is well known as a site for unique, vintage-style clothing, and their incredibly varied selection is super inclusive when it comes to sizing. Fun patterns, retro styles, and edgy designs personify the style at Modcloth, which is famous in a lot of circles as a staple for plus size customers who want to make a statement with their style.

     

    “Been shopping on Modcloth for years. I love their take on mixing modern with vintage, and their inclusive sizing. Their clothing is always high quality, and while it can get pricey, they often have good sales and/or clearance going on so you can save some major $$ if you play it right. Their home goods and accessories are also adorable. I sometimes find myself going extra and filling up my cart with kitchy 50s inspired kitchen goods and having to talk myself down haha.” - Cat M.

     

    eShakti

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    Clothes from eShakti are custom made specifically for each customer. All you have to do is give them your height, measurements, and even your fabric and style choices, and eShakti will create an amazing piece just for you. If you see something on their site that you like, but don’t think the neckline, waistline, or sleeves will be flattering, eShakti lets you tweak the piece so it will look best on you. They understand that clothes need to look good not just on the mannequin, but on the customer as well, and they’ll do whatever they can to make their customers look and feel great in what they wear.

     

    “I love eShakti, you give options for women of all shapes and sizes. The care to detail and ease of ordering/delivery makes the whole experience outstanding.” - Aishah Al-Sehaim

     

    Mei Smith

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    Sometimes you’re just not looking for flashy, because sleek and simple say everything you need to say with your fashion. Enter Mei Smith, a gorgeous retailer that specializes in minimalist fashion for diverse women sizes 12 and up. In the words of the creator herself, the aim of Mei Smith is "to show the luxury market that — no matter what size you are — everyone appreciates a well-made, designer piece."

     

    “As the plus size fashion space expands, so do the options, aesthetics, and the garments that help us express our own style. With Mei Smith, they provide us the opportunity to bring something different to the table, something refreshing and new.” - Marie Denee

     

    Kiyonna

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    Looking for the perfect dress for a special occasion? Whether you’ll be all in white for your own big day, or dressed to the nines for someone else’s, Kiyonna has got you covered when it comes to fantastic formalwear. Kiyonna offers amazing and trendy options for all kinds of fashion, from casual tops and sun dresses to pantsuits and office wear, but affordable bridal gowns is where the shop shines.

     

    “Every found yourself in a dressing room with an array of clothing items, awkwardly staring at an ill-fitting dress in the mirror?  I too have asked myself why clothing designers think that just because you're not a size 4, the rear end of a garment must be cut in such disproportion to the rest of the garment.  Apparently the designers at Kiyonna have been in this position too. With tasteful clothing in a huge number of sizes 10 and up, they offer an easy shopping experience.” - Amanda P

     

    Full Beauty

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    Full Beauty is a one-stop plus size marketplace, featuring everything from dresses and jeans to shoes and accessories. They even have a line of menswear. Their clothes are fashionable and affordable, and if you sign up for their email list you’ll get plenty of promo codes to help you save even more.

     

    “It is great to finally find a site that caters to larger ladies. The sizing is spot on, excellent quality, great specials. I am a repeat customer and will always recommend them.” - Hattie Marie S.

     

    Old Navy
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    Old navy offers affordable, versatile clothes that can be worn in active, casual, professional, and semi formal settings, and they are incredibly inclusive about sizing. Their massive plus size section caters to customers up to size 30, and includes plenty of fun prints and trendy styles, all for an unbeatable price.

     

    “I truly love the Old Navy plus sized women's line of clothing. They don't shrink when washed, they are fashionable and cute, they are super comfortable and they don't fall apart after a few washings. I will continue to buy their clothing for as long as they sell it.” -MacKenziesMomma1977

     

    Junarose
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    Junarose is a European company that specializes in fashionable clothing made for women with curves. Their fashions seamlessly combine an edgy look with a feminine touch, and can be found on ONLY, ASOS, and Amazon, or through mail-order fashion sites like GwynnieBee.

     

    Mango Violeta
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    Violeta is the plus size fashion line by Spanish company Mango, made for sizes 8 to 20. Women will love perusing the wide variety of fashion here, from colorful dresses to wear during this summer’s wedding season to some truly comfortable jeans and denim.

     

    “Even though the orders are sent internationally I received mine in a week. Sizing [is] a bit weird. Pay attention to their charts because it's neither regular US sizes or regular European sizes, it's somewhere weirdly in-between.” - Laura

     

    Gwynnie Bee
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    Gwynnie Bee is a subscription service made for plus size women that allows its users to create an online closet, try out clothing, wear it, and send it back (with free shipping!) when they’re done to receive even more new pieces. If you really like what you’ve received, you can buy it from Gwynnie Bee for a discounted rate.

     

    “I'm constantly fluctuating between sizes so I like this so I don't have to buy new clothes. I love the style of the clothes and how they fit and the large selection.” - Amy S.

     

    Talbots

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    Talbots makes clothes up to size 24W, and their diverse collections are great for building a professional or staple wardrobe.

     

    “My mother is plus size and she and we love shopping together on talbots.com because it's easy to find items we both love, in sizes that fit us each perfectly. And in the event that something doesn't work out, it's easy to return to a store for a full refund.” - Katrina H.

     

    Catherines

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    Catherines is a sister store to Lane Bryant that offers fun, casual, and flattering options for curvy women at incredibly affordable prices.

     

    I have found their site to be easy to navigate. I found having the live chat to ask questions to be very helpful. I feel the clothes are of a very good quality. I love being able to pick the order up at the store. You may also make your returns at the stores so you don't have to pay any return fees.” - Vicky F.

     

    IGIGI

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    IGIGI’s ShapeStylist takes your measurements for your bust, shoulders, stomach, waist, and hips to make sure that everything you buy fits you perfectly, and with their new Made to Order feature, IGIGI makes sure that everything you buy is custom made to look great on you.

     

    “Igigi always makes me happy! When the custom dress was delayed in production, they communicated and kept me informed. When I did receive it and had some questions, they answered promptly and offered to make changes. The dress is beautiful, as are all of Igigi's clothes. The fabric is very nice, not too thin and made in the USA. I had it made in the navy with long sleeves and love it.” -Kathleen P.

     

    Hips and Curves

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    Hips and Curves knows that traditional lingerie retailers don’t go far enough in helping plus sized women feel sexy, and they are here to help. With bras and underwear that are stylish, sexy, and comfortable, as well as corsets and costumes for a romantic and special night in the boudoir, Hips and Curves doesn’t try and hide your curves -- it helps you love them, as you should, by making you look your best.

     

    “Love this site! They have plus size corsets and lingerie. Their items are well made and gorgeous! They also sell shapewear, which I really like. The shapewear really makes a difference when worn under a dress or other clothes. I couldn’t live without it. This site is a life changer.” - Heather T.

     

    Forever21
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    Forever21 is one of the biggest names in fast fashion, with ever-changing styles in their clothes, shoes, and accessories. Their clothes aren’t the best quality out there, but they’re cute and affordable, and their inclusive sizing includes up to a size 20 in jeans and a 3X in dresses.

     

    “They have great comfortable clothing. From clothes that flows to ones that are sexy and tight they have what every plus size girl is looking for. The material is great and the best part is that it's inexpensive, they always have amazing sales so you can always find what you like at an amazing price” - Minerva C.

     

    ASOS Curve

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    The Curve clothing line by ASOS carries sleek and stylish options for both men and women with frequently updated collections that stay current with fashion trends.

     

    “I love ASOS Curve! They are one of the first retailers who started carrying on-trend pieces for plus size Millennial women and they have a great collection of items. Whenever I have an event ASOS is one of the first websites I check, as I know they'll likely have something that'll work. The shipping can be a wit wonky, but I always try and order at least a month in advance since it is shipping from overseas.” - Emily A.

     

    Simply Be
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    Simply Be is a UK company that prides itself on size inclusive clothing available in sizes 8 to 28. Their denim collection caters to women of all shapes, and their summer swimwear will keep all their customers looking fabulous at the beach or by the pool. Supportive and sexy intimates, activewear, and elegant, flattering evening dresses round out the selection at Simply Be.

     

    “The clothes I ordered are absolutely adorable and they fit beautifully… But I was fairly surprised at how long it took me to get my order.” - Sheree G.

     

    Rainbow

     

    Rainbow’s plus size section offers trendy and beautiful clothes for women with curves. Their clothes are fashion forward and affordable, so customers shouldn’t expect the absolute best in quality, but when looking for a quick fashion fix or a fun new piece for your wardrobe, Rainbow is the place to go.

     

    “I shop here all the time! Online and instore. Online there are a lot more options of clothing. I am in the plus size category so it's hard to find thing instore. Overall the clothes are quality for what you pay.” - Jasmine W.

     

    UrbanOG
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    UrbanOG has fun and flirty summer tank tops, professional office blazers, and even some gorgeous evening wear for plus size juniors. Clothes are diverse in both style and color, with lots of fun prints and trendy cuts.

     

    “I have been shopping at urbanog.com for a very long time and i am never disappointed. they carry all the latest trends and very fashionable clothing, and accessories. They always have good coupon codes and their reward point program is by far the best, you really earn cash back! and the price of shipping is very reasonable this is my favorite online store hands down!” -Kandis J.

     

    City Chic
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    City Chic is an Australian company that ships fashionable plus size clothes and accessories worldwide. Sleek, gorgeous professional clothing, romantic, flowing summer dresses, and even diverse, sexy lingerie are on the table at City Chic.

     

    “I have been trying a lot of shops for my curvalicious body but nothing seems to fit perfectly until I found City Chic.. been shopping to this shop for my daily wear to formal wear. You paid what you get. I like their up to date styles. Good quality and fits perfectly.” - Ann

     

    Ava and Viv, by Target

     

    Target was a serious slacker in the plus size world for a long time, but now with the addition of their Ava and Viv collection, Target is showing its curvier customers that there are fun, casual, and flattering options out there for them -- from jeans to dresses -- at amazing prices.

     

    “These jeans are amazing! And they might just win a spot as my favorite jeans. Mainly because (1) there’s plenty of space for my booty, (2) they don’t hug my muffin top too tight, (3) they’re soft like Unicorn hairs and (4) y’all see that distressed action going on! You can best believe I bought two pairs.” - Ty Alexander

     

    Nordstrom

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    Nordstrom has some fantastic options when it comes to plus size wear. Women can search based on their personal style preferences, and can count on great choices in everything from tops to shoes, and everything in between. Shoppers at Nordstrom can expect a higher quality of product than most other fast fashion options.

     

    “Nordstrom online is one of the best websites they are truly great meaning they have the best customer service and return policy because a lot of the items you may not see or find in person so if you have it sent to you from their website you you end up not liking it all you have to do is send it back this is so easy because when you initially get the package it already comes with a pre mailed return label so it is free to return and you have a significant amount of time to return the item as well. The website also has been lately price matching so they themselves search brands that they carry and if a brand has a sale at a particular place they will have the items of the brand already pre price matches online which I think is so awesome. They have an unbelievable amount of brands and categories of items to choose from.” - Britta F.

     

    Fashion to Figure

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    Fashion to Figure is a plus size store owned by New York and Company, which has a ton of on trend pieces every season to suit the professional and stylish woman. Their sizes range from 1X to 3X, and feature flattering and stylish cuts, fun prints, and bold colors, in a price range that generally keeps under $50.

     

    “One of my favorite curvy retailers to shop at and they always have amazing sells! Never buy full price because eventually they will be on sale. They have such cute options and is relatively affordable because you always find a deal. I shop here often and visit their site regularly!” - Lei C.

     

    Universal Standard

     

    Universal Standard boasts a modern, minimalist aesthetic that helps you build your wardrobe staples with items like trench coats, and timeless pieces like button down shirts, sweaters, skirts, and jackets. It’s a luxury retailer, so the price tag can get high, but with that number you can expect good quality.

     

    “I purchased my first pair of $100 jeans. Sshhhh.... Don't tell my budget. The reason I went for it was: First, they were so scrumptious looking, the jeans…. The company also has this bomb size guarantee. If you lose weight, they will replace your product. (Sold!)” - Nevada J.

     

    JIBRI
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    For the woman who wants to make a statement, look no further than JIBRI. With bold, outrageous colors, prints, fabrics, and styles, JIBRI offers a ton of fashion forward options for sizes 10-28.

     

    SLINK JEANS
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    SLINK, which stands for Sexy - Lovable - Intelligent - Noticeable - Kind, is a denim company that focuses on body positivity by shining the spotlight on the beautiful curvy women of the world. Jeans and casual wear like sweatshirts and hoodies are the main offering at SLINK, all made for both comfort and style.

     

    “I saw these jeans in a blog on IG so I ordered a pair to see what the hype was all about. Needless to say I am very satisfied. The hug and fit all of my curves just right and they are true to size. I'm 5' even and they come about a inch and a half over my ankle but I will wear them with heels so problem solved. I recommend these to the sassy type who love their curves.” - Octavia F.

     

    Boohoo Plus and Curve

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    Boohoo is a UK company, and its Plus and Curve collections carry on trend, fashion forward clothes for UK sizes 16-24.

     

    “So, I’ve made a couple of orders with Boohoo and it’s kind of a hit or miss with this place. The prices are great! Especially when they are having a sale, which they usually always having some sort of sale. But, the company is based overseas, and when you place an order it takes a while to receive your package which sucks and they have sent me the wrong sizes before as well but I got it all fixed. Their clothing runs a little smaller but not too bad, I would maybe just order one size up especially if your a little more curvy like me. Over all though, I would still purchase from this company again, the clothing is great and trendy, and so are the prices.” - Stacey B.

     

    Rue107

     

    Dress like the stars with outfits from Rue107, which specializes in fun, fast fashion that features bright colors, loud prints, and on trend styles. Rue107 has been openly supported by celebrities such as Beyonce, Serena Williams, and Nicki Minaj, but the price tag is decidedly non-Hollywood, with lots of pieces coming in at under $100.

     

    “You get something you cant get anywhere else with this shop. Hopefully with another year or so under their belt they can improve on the great concept. Oh and not to mention, they carry both straight sizes AND plus sizes! I love that!” - Elle Monus

     

    NAKIMULI

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    Not everyone is looking to blend in to the background, and with NAKIMULI, a Brooklyn-based designer, that’s the expectation. These bold and outrageous designs, with wild prints and loud patterns, are made for all sizes, from 2 to 24.
    “If you love bright, bold swimwear, I haven’t seen anything cooler than these. Best of all, most of Nakimuli’s swimsuits are available in both plus and misses size.” - Cora Harrington

  • 35 Websites to Get the Best Travel Deals

    Sometimes you just need to get away from it all: the grind of work, the stress of life, the day to day monotony of your routine. But when you’re saving for a down payment on a house, scraping by from paycheck to paycheck on a single income, or trying to recover from an unexpected maintenance cost on your car, dropping everything to take a vacation -- however well deserved -- isn’t so easy. Below is a list of some of the best travel sites out there that will help you plan every aspect of your trip without breaking the bank.

     

    Flights

     

    Google Flights - Google Flights is a great tool for finding and comparing the best airfare prices for your budget. After entering your itinerary, Google Flights will help you find the best options based on price, duration, number of layovers, and even look for cheaper prices at nearby airports. There are plenty of visual aids you can use to choose the best option, including an interactive map, calendar, and bar graph. If your travel dates are open ended, you can even explore the map for the best dates and prices, or search for the perfect destination by interests and keywords like “food,” “music,” “wildlife,” or “honeymoon”.

     

    Momondo - Momondo is a travel fare aggregator that’s a lot like Kayak, Travelocity, Priceline, or other big names. On this website you can price out flights, hotels, and rental cars, and set alerts for price changes if you’ve got some time before you need to book. You can’t buy tickets directly through Momondo, but the site will link you to websites where you can. Momondo is especially useful as a tool when you’re using it to compare prices with other travel sites, as it often shows options that bigger sites might miss.

     

    Airfare Watchdog - Airfare Watchdog is a site run by real people, not computer algorithms, who search every day for promo codes and sales from both major and budget airlines and apply them to their site for you. With Airfare Watchdog, you can choose your home airport and see the cheapest flights at that moment, in the same month, or during a future month, and choose your destination based on price. If you have a specific location in mind, you can also track the prices of that flight to see if any better deals come up in the future. Airfare Watchdog shows its prices in real time, and always applies new promotions and deals, so they’ll send you a notification as soon as things change.

     

    Skyscanner - This website and app is one of the most popular travel tools in the world, used for finding the cheapest and most convenient flights out there. The interactive map feature means you can search by location, and even look at prices for nearby cities to see if those might be more cost effective.

     

    Hopper - Hopper is a mobile app which helps you determine timing for your trip. When you search for your trip, Hopper shows you current prices, and gives you advice on whether you should buy those tickets now, or maybe wait another couple of weeks if they’re likely to decrease in cost. Hopper will also recommend the best times of year and days of the week to fly to your location, so if you’re flexible on dates, they can really help to score you a great deal. When you’re ready to buy your plane tickets as per Hopper’s suggestion, you can even book them through the app.

     

    TheFlightDeal - The Flight Deal rounds up amazing flights and vacation packages for you in one place, so if you’re open to suggestions for destinations and times to travel, this is a perfect tool for finding a great deal. Use The Flight Deal to read about a number of major US cities and the deals currently on the table when it comes to flights, hotels, car rental, and attractions.

     

    WhichBudget - There are a lot of travel sites out there which help you look for flights, but they tend to show results for bigger airlines, which give the travel site a small commission every time you buy. As a result of this arrangement, a lot of smaller, cheaper airlines don’t ever show up in your search results. WhichBudget is a lot like those bigger sites, except that it is independent and takes no commissions. It’s a search engine where you can find amazing travel deals, including some on budget airlines that are overlooked by bigger websites. You can’t book directly through WhichBudget, but the search results will link you directly to the airline’s website, where you can buy those tickets secure in the knowledge that you’re getting the best deal possible.

     

    Skiplagged - Skiplagged uses a concept called hidden city flights, a loophole that is little known to all but the most savvy of travelers. Hidden city flights allow you to book a flight with a layover in your destination city, which are often much cheaper than booking a direct flight to that city. You take the first leg of your trip, which gets you where you need to go, and skip the unnecessary one afterward. Skiplagged has been known to save users up to a staggering 80% on airfare.

     

    Yapta - Timing is everything when booking a flight, because prices fluctuate frequently. Sometimes, prices even drop after you’ve bought your plane ticket, and that’s where Yapta comes in. After entering your flight information on Yapta, the website will track prices on that flight and send you a notification if the price drops significantly. If you’re flying an airline that offers refunds or travel credit for the price difference, like JetBlue, Delta, Virgin, or United, Yapta will help you take advantage and get your money back.

     

    Accommodation

     

    Priceline - Priceline is a big name when it comes to traveling, and there’s a reason for that. The Priceline Negotiator is a powerful tool that helps you haggle and bid for the best bargains when it comes to hotel rooms. You put in the details of what you’re looking for, and Priceline finds hotels with availability for the nights you seek. You then bid how much you’re willing to pay for that night, and the Negotiator tells you whether your bid has been accepted. The catch is that you can’t see which hotel you’re booking until after you’ve paid, but especially if you’re booking last minute, you’ll be surprised just how low you’ll end up paying for a great hotel.

     

    RoomKey - A lot of hotels offer fantastic rates to members of their loyalty programs, and the website RoomKey allows you to take advantage of these deals from over 60 worldwide hotel chains. The site shows you members-only prices, and directs you to the hotel website where you can enroll in a program that will save you loads of money on your stay.

     

    Hostelworld - Hostelworld helps you find amazing prices at hostels all over the world. There’s a bit of a stigma surrounding hostels, painting them as hotspots for young partiers and vagabonds, but the truth is that the hostel business has come a long way. Staying at a hostel means interacting with other people, which can be a lot of fun, and having access to common areas like lounges and kitchens. Plus, if a huge dorm-style room isn’t your thing, most hostels these days offer private accommodation options that are way cheaper than any hotel.

     

    AirBnB - If staying in a hotel doesn’t appeal to you, or if you’d like access to a kitchen, living room, or maybe even some company, then Airbnb might be the solution you’re looking for. This website has exploded over the past several years, allowing travelers to stay in hosts’ spare rooms or empty apartments. It offers a huge range of price options as low as $10/night, a more personal experience than a hotel, and it’s a great option for traveling with a group as there is often more space. Airbnb allows you to save money on meals by cooking in a kitchen instead of eating out, and many hosts even offer discounted rates on longer stays.

     

    Homeaway - Homeaway is a lot like Airbnb, but users generally rent an entire home rather than just a spare bedroom or shared space. Homeaway is great for big groups traveling together that are looking for a roomy beach house or cozy cabin in the mountains, and it’s also a wonderful option for travelers looking for urban apartments and townhouses. Once you request to book a rental property, the owner of the space has 24 hours to confirm or deny. Homeaway also owns the popular rental sites VRBO and VacationRentals, and between its family of platforms, hosts over a million rentals worldwide.

     

    Workaway - Looking for a more personal travel experience? Something incredibly unique that will immerse you in culture and allow you to interact with new people? Try Workaway, a platform which connects you to hosts all over the world. Workaway will allow you to stay with families and hosts in major cities and tiny rural villages worldwide, and it’s perfect for the budget traveler because it’s absolutely free. The catch? You volunteer approximately 25 hours a week with your hosts, helping them with projects like yard work, child care, building projects, or caring for farm animals, and in exchange they will feed you and house you for the duration of your stay. Workaway isn’t for everyone, but it’s amazing way to meet people and try something new, and it works great for long term travel on a budget.

     

    Roomer and Cancelon - Not every hotel offers refunds when your trip gets canceled unexpectedly, and many of them charge exorbitant cancellation fees, but sites like Roomer and Cancelon can help you take advantage of the misfortune of others. Search for lodging, hotels, condos, and other accommodations that someone else booked and can no longer use, at amazing discounted prices. And if your own plans change for whatever reason, and you ever end up having to cancel a trip, you can list your bookings here to try and make back some of your money.

     

    Couchsurfing - If you’re traveling on a tight budget, looking for a little bit of adventure, and want to meet people in your destination, then Couchsurfing might be the resource you’re looking for. This huge community of hosts and surfers allows travelers to stay for free on a stranger’s couch or in their spare bedroom. Hosts usually spend a lot of time with their guests, personally showing them around their city and taking them to some great local attractions that a lot of tourists never get to see.

     

    JetSetter - JetSetter allows you to book luxury hotels and properties at amazing prices. If you’re looking to treat yourself, then JetSetter will not only help you book amazing accommodations, but will also offer great advice and tips about where to go, when to go there, what to do, and even what to pack.

     

    Snaptravel - If you need a place to stay at last minute and you don’t have access to a computer, then try Snaptravel, which lets you find bargain, last minute hotel accommodations at amazing rates over SMS and Facebook Messenger. Snaptravel lets you have a quick, one on one texting conversation with a service representative who helps find you amazing deals that suit your needs by using the company’s massive collection of exclusive offers from both big name and budget hotels.

     

    Car Rental

     

    Hotwire - Hotwire aggregates prices from eight different car rental companies, including major names like Enterprise and Hertz, to find you the best deal. They make it easy to find and choose the best options, and even offer a “hot rate” option where you can choose the cheapest car and find out which company it’s from after you’ve paid. Hotwire also offers packages and purchasing services for hotels and airfare.

     

    AutoEurope - With over 20,000 locations, AutoEurope is hands down one of the best ways to find an affordable car rental during your travels. Searching for a car allows you to compare prices by company, which includes Budget, Alamo, EuropCar and Avis among other options. Bargain rates are what AutoEurope does best, and while you’re renting a car from them, they offer 24/7 support for their customers if you should need it.

     

    Autoslash - Like Yapta for airlines, Autoslash looks at prices you’ve already paid and helps to get you refunds or company credit if the prices drop. If you haven’t booked a rental car yet, you can also do so on Autoslash, which aggregates coupons and promo codes to find you the best deals.

     

    Vacation packages

     

    Kayak - Kayak lets you look at flights, hotels, and car rentals by pulling information from hundreds of travel sites to get you the best deal. All you have to do is select the dates of your trip, and Kayak will take it from there. It even predicts whether the tickets you’re looking at will go up or down in price, allowing you to choose the best time to buy, and if you’re flexible on date or location, Kayak can help you choose when and where to travel based on your budget.

     

    Travelzoo - Travelzoo offers vouchers to its users, like Groupon, connecting them with amazing deals on websites for airlines, hotels, cruises, and even attractions like spas, adventure companies, tours, and more. Just scrolling through their home page is bound to give you wanderlust, and if you’ve got some time off but aren’t sure where to go, then Travelzoo can help you decide.

     

    Attractions

     

    TripAdvisor - TripAdvisor is a major site that helps you search for restaurants, hotels, and attractions wherever you may be, and read reviews about those places before you go. Learn from people who have already been there if there are any hidden fees, problems with customer service, or other things you should know before you go. TripAdvisor is an amazing way to plan your trip because it shows you ranked search results for attractions, hotels, and more in the area, and links to their official websites. But remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, because some of the reviews could be fake or emotionally charged.

     

    Groupon - Groupon is such an underutilized travel tool, but it is one that could save you a ton of money. Besides the vacation packages it offers, like jaw-droppingly low prices on accommodation with airfare included, Groupon is a great way to find deals on attractions in your destination. There are always deals for restaurants, spas, retail, and special events like festivals and conventions. Travelers can also use Groupon to find family friendly activities, discounts on entry fees to places like museums, zoos, and aquariums, and events like wine tastings and tours.

     

    Detour - If you’re traveling alone, love to walk, or want to learn some of the history behind the place you’re visiting, Detour is an amazing app that offers guided walking tours of major cities. These GPS audio tours will lead you through your destination city, teaching you about the things you see around you.

     

    Road Trips

     

    GasBuddy - There’s nothing worse than filling your tank on a road trip, only to spot a significantly cheaper gas station just a few miles further down the road. But with GasBuddy, you can not only see prices near you at any time or location, you can also plan out your entire road trip, with stops programmed in by the site where you should refill your tank to get the most bang for your buck.

     

    RoadTrippers - RoadTrippers plans out the best routes for your long haul road trip, and even offers resources for choosing attractions, places to eat, accommodation, camp sites, and more.

     

    Rail/Coach Transportation

     

    Flixbus - If you’re traveling in Europe and you’re on a budget, then Flixbus can get you from Point A to Point B at much cheaper rates than pretty much any other competitor. For the budget conscious traveler who wants to city-hop, the €99 Interflix pass can be redeemed five times on the Flixbus app for tickets to any of the 1400 European destinations supported by Flixbus and its partners.

     

    Travel Insurance

     

    InsureMyTrip - No one ever expects anything bad to happen during their trip, and hopefully, nothing will. But if you’re traveling during a time of year when the weather can be unpredictable, or you know you’ll be doing some more dangerous activities while traveling, like rock climbing, white water rafting, or bungee jumping, then InsureMyTrip has got you covered. They’ll offer you quotes from hundreds of insurance companies, letting you choose the best and most affordable options to protect yourself against illness, lost baggage, stolen belongings, canceled flights or accommodation, and anything else that might go wrong.

     

    Currency Conversion and Banking

     

    Aspiration - ATM fees are the worst, and when traveling abroad you often get charged with a foreign transaction fee on top of it. But with Aspiration, an online bank and investment firm that focuses on sustainability and user-friendliness, you won’t have to worry while you’re traveling. Aspiration checking accounts reimburse their users’ ATM fees all over the world, and you won’t have to worry about that pesky foreign exchange fee when you withdraw cash. There’s currently a waitlist to open a checking account, but if you click on the referral link above, you should be able to bypass the line.

  • 33 Quotes About Saving Money

    33 Quotes About Saving Money

    “It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.”

    — George Lorimer

     

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    “While money doesn’t buy love, it puts you in a great bargaining position.”

    -- Christopher Marlowe

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    “If you're saving, you're succeeding.”

    ― Steve Burkholder

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    “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.”

    — Robert Kiyosaki

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    “If you wish to get rich, save what you get. A fool can earn money; but it takes a wise man to save and dispose of it to his own advantage.”

    ― Brigham Young

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    The way to stop financial joyriding is to arrest the chauffeur, not the automobile.”

    — Woodrow Wilson

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    “If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”

    ---Benjamin Franklin

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    “Try to save something while your salary is small; it’s impossible to save after you begin to earn more.”

    — Jack Benny

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    “Know what you own, and know why you own it.”

    — Peter Lynch

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    “Every time you borrow money, you're robbing your future self.”

    ---Nathan W. Morris

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    “Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this.”

    — Dave Ramsey

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    “That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.”

    — Henry David Thoreau

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    “Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”

    — Joe Biden

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    “Never spend your money before you have earned it.”

    ---Thomas Jefferson

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    “Money grows on the tree of persistence.”

    — Japanese Proverb

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    “Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it's about having a lot of options.”

    ---Chris Rock

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    “You can be young without money, but you can't be old without it.”

    ---Tennessee Williams

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    “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

    — Henry David Thoreau

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    “A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”

    ---Jonathan Swift

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    “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

    — Maya Angelou

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    “Not having money to spend doesn’t mean we can’t have well-spent moments every day.”

    ---Sarah Ban Breathnach

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    “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”

    — Dave Ramsey

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    “Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

    ---P. T. Barnum

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    “There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.” —Marlene Dietrich

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    “Many folks think they aren’t good at earning money, when what they don’t know is how to use it.” —Frank A. Clark

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    “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” —Ayn Rand

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    “The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought, and so broadens the mind.” —T.T. Munger

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    “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” -- Benjamin Franklin

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    “Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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    “Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit.” —Aristotle

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    “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” --- Warren Buffett

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    “A bargain ain’t a bargain unless it’s something you need.” ---Sidney Carroll

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    “A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.” —Joe Moore

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  • 10 Ways to Find Gift Card Deals

    Shoppers that use gift cards are more than 2.5 times more likely to pay full price for an item than those who use cash, credit, or debit for a purchase. Once merchants and sellers figured that out, it was only a matter of time before they started offering deals on gift cards as well as the products themselves. Gift cards can be used just like cash, and if you scored a great bargain on one, then it’s just like getting free money to a place where you’d like to shop anyway.

    There are a number of ways to find discounted gift cards, but they tend to fall under two categories. First, there’s pre-owned gift cards, which the owners likely received as a gift and won’t use. They’re often willing to let go of these cards for less than their face value, because to them, the cash is better than the store credit they’re not going to use. The second category is discounted new gift cards, which are generally sold directly by businesses looking to increase their sales or offer a seasonal promotion.

    Whether you’re gifting them to friends and family or keeping the savings all to yourself, here are ten great ways to find amazing deals on gift cards.

    • Shop Around the Holidays - On Cyber Monday and through the holiday season, many major stores offer discounted gift cards as a perk for shopping with them. These sales often come in the form of BOGO deals, where you can purchase a gift card at full price and then receive another as a gift, or sometimes you will receive extra store credit or rewards that are valid for a limited amount of time. The idea is that you will receive a gift as a thank you for buying a gift card, but if you keep both the gift card and the extra rewards for yourself, then you can reap all the benefits.
    • Use a Gift Card Reseller - Websites like Cardpool, Raise, GiftCardGranny, or CardCash help sellers get some of their money back on unused or unwanted gift cards by selling them for discounted prices. Chances are, if a store you like offers gift cards, you can find a discounted one online. If you’re looking to make a specific purchase, like a new television for example, do some research first. Look at sites like BestBuy, Walmart, Target, and more to see what kinds of deals they have on televisions, and then compare those deals with the gift cards you can find for each store. With the help of a little simple math, you can quickly calculate to find the best deal possible.
    • Talk to Friends and Family After Special Occasions - Make it known to your friends, coworkers, and family members that if they receive a gift card from someone and feel like they will never use it, that you are willing to buy it from them at a discounted rate. This tactic works especially well if you have cash on hand, or if you know anyone who is a teacher, as they often receive gift cards from students around the holidays and at the end of the school year.
    • Groupon - Groupon offers fantastic deals on lots of local businesses, including restaurants, spas, and entertainment activities like go-karting or escape rooms. If you’re looking to gift a friend with a delicious meal or a relaxing massage, or just want to treat yourself to a night out, then look at Groupon in your local area to see what sort of gift certificates and discounts they offer.
    • Ebay - Ebay’s person to person marketplace makes it a great place for individuals to offload gift cards they don’t want, and often at amazing prices. Use your best judgment, though; if a deal sounds too good to be true, that’s because it very well might be. Don’t ever buy a gift card from an individual on Ebay without a money-back guarantee in case there’s a problem with the gift card you receive. The most trustworthy place to buy gift cards on Ebay is at the PayPal Digital Gift Store, which offers a gift card of the week from its many partnered brands.
    • Amazon - Amazon offers gift cards for not just their own brand but also for many other major stores as well, and if you check out their Daily Deals section, you will find many of them at great discounted rates. Deals aren’t posted all at once, but on a daily rotating basis, so you’ll have to continue to check back for the deals you’re looking for. One easy way to do this is to sign up for email alerts or follow Amazon on Twitter and Facebook for updates on new deals.
    • Craigslist - Just like with Ebay, it’s best to exercise caution whenever using Craigslist, but if you find some great deals on gift cards, then by all means take advantage! It’s a wonderful platform for exchanging goods, and individuals who have unwanted gift cards may find Craigslist to be the easiest solution for selling them. Be sure to meet in a well-lit public area when completing your Craigslist transaction. One great solution to make sure that the gift cards are valid is to meet at the store where the gift cards are from. Before the seller shows up, fill your cart with the items you want to buy (or items that are the same price as the gift card’s value, which you can return later), and ask the Craigslist seller to meet you in the store. Purchase your goods with the gift card, and pay the seller once the transaction has successfully gone through. It’s a bit of a process, but it’s a good way to protect yourself and your money from fraud.
    • Gift Card Mall - Gift Card Mall is the leading website which provides gift cards to grocery stores, gift shops, and other major sellers. On Gift Card Mall, you can find cards for everything from Amazon to Safeway to Nordstrom, and under their “Promotions” section, you’ll often find great deals for gift cards sold under face value.
    • Grocery Store Ads - Keep a close eye on grocery store ads and promos before the holiday shopping season kicks in, because you just might find a really fantastic bargain. Early in the season, it’s not uncommon for supermarkets to offer money off your next grocery purchase after you buy a certain amount in gift cards, or extra fuel rewards with purchase of a gift card.
    • Cash-back and Rebate Websites - RetailMeNot and Ebates are websites that offer cashback rebates on purchases from thousands of retail websites like Amazon, Airbnb, and Best Buy. They also have a sizeable section on gift card discounts. After you buy a discounted gift card from one of these websites, you can maximize your savings even more by making your purchases through the site as well, and getting cash back on what you buy.

     

  • 18 Easy Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

    Here are the most effective and simple tips and ways to save money on a tight budget.

    It’s Friday night, and all your friends are going out to dinner, but once again, you’ve had to decline because rent is due soon, or because payday isn’t until next week. Whatever your reasons, it’s indisputable that being on a tight budget can be a real burden on your life. Living on a low income or trying to get by paycheck to paycheck can make you feel like you’ll never get ahead, but with a few tweaks to your spending habits and financial attitude, you could not only be making ends meet, but also saving as well. Here are 18 ways for you to start saving some money even when you’re on a tight budget.

    1. Create a Savings Goal - Are you looking to go on vacation next summer, pay off your credit card debt, or set aside an emergency fund? Decide how much you need to save, and then start doing it, even if it’s just a few dollars here and there. Whatever you’re saving for, you’ll find that you have more energy and motivation to put aside money when you have a specific goal in mind. Don’t be afraid to use visual aids, either, like spreadsheets, graphs, or apps like Mint or Qapital. The more you can see your goal, and track your progress, the easier it will be to save.
    2. Track Your Expenses, and Create a Budget - Using an app like Mint, Spendee, or YNAB (You Need a Budget), or even a simple spreadsheet or notebook, keep track of your spending for at least a month. Record every penny you spend on rent, bills, groceries, coffee, going out, and shopping, and at the end of the month, look at your totals and decide where you can afford to trim them down. Create categories of spending and set budgets for each one, and then use the apps or your other chosen tracking method to help you stick to those budgets.
    3. Shop Smarter - Keep an eye on your fridge this week. Are you throwing away wilted vegetables or moldy leftovers? If so, you’re probably buying too much food when you shop. Before your next trip to the grocery store, sit down and plan out what you want to eat that week. Look at blogs and foodie Instagram accounts for inspiration if you have trouble coming up with ideas, and make a detailed list of what you’re going to buy. Meal planning and shopping with a list will help you eliminate impulse spending, and will cut back on the amount of food (and money!) that you waste as a result. You should also make sure never to shop while hungry, and keep an eye on prices where you shop, which could mean shopping seasonal for the best deals on produce, or even making the rounds at a few local supermarkets to take advantage of the best unit prices on the items you need. Apps like Ibotta, which offer rebates on grocery store items, can help you get some cash back on some of the items you buy, but only if you stick to your list and don’t fall prey to more impulse spending.
    4. Freeze Your Credit Cards - When you’re on a tight budget, credit cards and the “I’ll pay it off later” mentality can feel like a blessing, but what you’re actually doing is potentially creating a vicious monthly cycle of financial distress when it comes time to pay that bill. Your Visa or Mastercard might help you out of a bind before your next paycheck comes in, but unless you’re capable of paying off the full balance each month, it’s not helping you in the long run. If you find that you’re treating your credit cards as free money, and those bills are slowly piling up, it might be time to put a literal freeze on your credit spending. Freeze about an inch of water in a small container, and place your credit cards on top. Then add more water and put it back in the freezer. Your cards will be safe, out of sight, and accessible if you really need them, but not without a long thawing period first, which is sometimes all it takes to make you decide whether you really need to use them.
    5. Entertain at Home Instead of Going Out - Buying a pint of craft beer at a bar can sometimes cost the same as buying a six pack of that same beer at the store, and a few appetizers and an entree at a restaurant can quickly add up to be more than your weekly grocery bill. Circumvent these costs by inviting your friends over to your place for a potluck-style dinner, or grab a bottle of tequila from the liquor store for margarita night instead of going out to the bars. You can rotate hosting and share costs among your friends for social outings that are just as much fun for a fraction of the price.
    6. Shop Around for Utilities - Just because you’ve been using the same insurance provider for years doesn’t mean you owe them your loyalty. Search for quotes and promotions on auto and home insurance, internet, phone service, cable or satellite tv, and other utilities to see if you could be paying less. Sometimes if you call the company you use now and tell them you’re thinking of switching to another provider, they might even be able to lower your bill for you. You can also get creative with some of your bills, like for television: consider canceling your cable package and relying solely on your Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu accounts to get your tv fix. If you have a roommate or live with others, you can split the costs of these streaming services, but even if you don’t, it could end up being a lot cheaper than what you’re paying now.
    7. Save Your Pennies - Find a big jar, box, or other container. At the end of each day or week, empty out your wallet, and drop any loose change into the jar. Saving in such small increments rarely feels like a sacrifice, but that change will add up faster than you think. For even more results, commit to putting all your $1 or $5 bills into the jar at the end of each day or week. You’ll barely notice that it’s gone, but after months of saving when you finally break into that stash, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve saved. If you don’t use cash that often, there are several apps on the market that will do this for you. Digit connects to your checking account and saves a small amount of money for you every few days in little increments like $3.12, or $1.58. The money goes into an FDIC savings account that you can withdraw from at any time. Qapital is a similar app which rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, and saving those spare cents for you. Acorns does the same thing as Qapital, but instead of putting the money into a savings account, it invests your money so that it has the potential to grow.
    8. Become a Mystery Shopper - If you don’t have money to go out and grab dinner with your friends, or take your significant other out for date night, then find a way to get paid to go out. Secret Shopper companies like MarketForce and TrendSource will reimburse your costs and/or pay you to go to breweries, restaurants, and even movie theaters in exchange for detailed reviews about the venue, customer service, or quality of the food. You might be asked to buy something specific, like a burger or a flight of beers, for example, and the survey you fill out will require you to report back on whether the bartender made any recommendations, or whether the cashier asked you if you’d like to add a side order of french fries. It’s a quick process, and an easy way to get out and have some fun even when your bank account has you on a short leash.
    9. Switch to Cash - A lot of people treat credit and debit cards like free money, even if they don’t realize they’re doing so. Swiping a card is the same whether you’re paying $5 or $500, but the act of counting out and forking over some of your hard earned cash makes a transaction feel a lot more real. Budget and withdraw some spending money from an ATM each week (make sure to use an ATM from your bank, or one that won’t charge you extra fees), and use that for your day to day purchases. The mental shift of using real money instead of a plastic card will help you keep a closer eye on your spending and hopefully allow you to budget wisely, avoid overspending, and use your best judgment when it comes to purchases.
    10. Stop Using Disposable Goods - This one’s not just good for your budget, it’s also good for the environment. Buy a reusable water bottle and quit spending unnecessary money and resources on reusable ones. Bring your travel mug to Starbucks and get a ten cent discount on your morning coffee (it will add up, I promise). Rip up an old t-shirt for a reusable cleaning rag, and suddenly you won’t need to buy so many paper towels. Disposable goods waste both money and resources, and cutting back will help to save both.
    11. Resist the Urge to Buy Cheap Things Just Because They’re Cheap - Look, I know all too well the irresistible feeling of finding a cute shirt on sale for only $5. I know the feeling of satisfaction when you take it home and wear it for the first time, like you’ve somehow cheated the shopkeeper in getting your amazing deal. But unless you were on a mission for a specific piece for your wardrobe, chances are, you didn’t need that shirt. Sure, it feels nice to have new things, but you have other shirts, and it’s important to recognize when a purchase is and is not necessary. After all, that $5 could have been put toward your rent next month, or toward the vacation you’re planning over the summer. Even cheap purchases can add up really quickly, so keep them to a minimum as much as possible.
    12. Organize a Swap - When the need for something new becomes too much to handle, call your friends and put together a swap instead of heading to the shops. Have everyone collect clothes, books, games, and other goods that they don’t use or don’t want anymore, and bring them together in one place. Spend an afternoon picking out new things from your friends’ old ones, and letting them do the same with yours. Browse through books and kitchenware, try on clothes, and to make a really fun occasion out of it, have everyone bring snacks, drinks, and/or music. You and your friends will all go home with some new-to-you stuff, and at no cost to any of you.
    13. Bring Lunch to Work - There’s nothing that will drain a tight budget quite like going out to eat. Even if your daily lunch break only costs you $10 per meal, that’s $50 a week, and more than $200 a month. So while the occasional lunch with your coworkers at a nearby restaurant is perfectly fine, make sure that you limit how often you go. Instead, bring your lunch to work each day, and if you’re feeling left out because of it, then encourage your coworkers to do the same. You could even organize a potluck at work, which will provide both a fun, social setting and a huge variety of delicious food for everyone, at a fraction of the cost that comes from eating out.
    14. Go to the Library - Did you know that your local library has not only books, but also movies, newspaper subscriptions, music, and other resources? If you don’t have a library card, it’s a great (and free!) way to be part of your community and gain access to a ton of entertainment options. If you use an e-reader, most libraries even have a massive selection of ebooks that you can borrow without ever leaving the comfort of your home.
    15. Unsubscribe - Automatic payments can be a sneaky and devastating influence on a strict budget. Apps like Clarity can help you keep track of all your recurring payments like Netflix, Audible, and even your phone, Internet, and credit card bills. If you haven’t used a service in awhile, cancel it. You can always re-subscribe later when you have more money or want to start using it again.
    16. Use the 24 Hour Rule - Thinking of buying a new couch, or ordering a new pair of running shoes online? Before you head for the shops, or click ‘checkout’ on your web browser, give it some time. 24 hours, to be exact. Studies have shown that giving yourself a day to think about potential purchases will help you make better judgment calls when it comes to spending money. Those 24 hours will give you time to think about whether you actually need or can afford the product, or if there’s another solution. The 24 Hour Rule is amazing for people who are prone to impulse spending, and should be used before any major purchases no matter what your bank account balance looks like.
    17. Treat Savings as a Priority - When you create your budget, figure out how much you’re looking to save every week, month, or pay period. When that next paycheck comes in, treat it as a bill, and pay it first, because if you don’t, it’s all too easy to reallocate that money to another area. If you make saving a priority, and set realistic goals based on your income and spending, then you shouldn’t have a problem making the rest of your ends meet, but if you treat saving as something you can only do as a luxury, then it will most likely fall to the wayside.
    18. Tackle Your Debt - Loans, mortgage payments, credit cards, and other kinds of debt can be a real burden on your financial stability. If you’re struggling to make payments, first and foremost, talk to your bank. Set up a meeting or make a phone call, and explain the situation. They may be able to help you by deferring or lowering your payments. If you have student loans, see if you qualify for an income based repayment plan, and if your credit card interest rate is killing you, look into a balance transfer to one of your other cards, which often offer competitive promotions with periods of no interest.

     

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