Choose Your Groupons Carefully

When Groupon first gained popularity, it seemed like such a great concept. An easy way to save money on something you already wanted to do while also helping businesses attract new customers, right?

In some cases, yes. I’ve had Groupons that are easy to redeem and the service or product is of great quality. But I’ve had just as many, if not more, where I was really disappointed. I’ve been to restaurants where the servers are quite rude once I let them know I’m using my Groupon. I’ve not been able to redeem some because the company becomes inundated with appointments and can’t handle the volume. Bought products that break or don’t work properly within a few uses.

So now, I’ve learned my lesson. And hopefully you can learn from my experience as well!

I only purchase Groupons now if:
•I know I’ll be using the product or service in the near future. For example, i bought a Groupon for a Paint Nite I could redeem the same day when I signed up for the event.
•Someone I know has used the same Groupon successfully.
•The Q&A section of the listing answers any questions or concerns, such as those listed above, I may have about redemption.

What had been your Groupon experience? Do I just have bad luck or is it really a hit or miss kind of thing?

Why I Love Hulu Plus

Earlier this month, I switched my hours at work so I could be in and out earlier, so that the traffic on my commute wouldn’t be as bad. Overall, it’s pretty great. I feel more productive and I’m home by 4:30 just about every day.

As a result, I now wake up much earlier and since I’m one of those people who needs at least 7 hours of sleep to be a functioning human, I’m in bed super early most nights. It’s not so bad, except for one downside: I’m missing out on all of my shows!!!

Thankfully I have had a Hulu Plus account for a few years now. I used it a lot senior year of college but haven’t made the most of it since then, until recently. I’m now taking full advantage of it and loving it!

Here’s why I love it, and a few areas for improvement:
•Most major channels have their shows available. Some channels (like CW) only have a certain number of episodes though, so it’s not as great for binge watching seasons. CBS is another major channel whose shows aren’t always available.

•Autoplay is great for lazy people like me – you can have it automatically play the next episode once the one you’re watching finishes. If there aren’t any more episode it’ll play an episode of a similar show

•You can access your account through apps on your phone/tablet, computer and devices like Apple TV or XBOX. Lots of watching options! I could be wrong, but sometimes the computer version has more episode options (at least it did a few years ago!)

•Even with Hulu Plus, there are commercials which is annoying since you’re paying for it. But there’s less than if you were watching it live (or even on demand sometimes) so it’s not as bad as it could be!

•The price might seem steep but it’s $120 total for the year ($9.99 a month) and you get a lot of features for it. If it’s something you’d use frequently, I’d definitely suggest it

My boyfriend has a Netflix account as well but I honestly find myself using Hulu a lot more. I love catching up with my shows – NBC #WCW and ABC #TGIT, anyone??

Giveaways and Contests!

As a broke twenty-something, I am all about contests and giveaways. I’m constantly stalking social media and emails for a new potential prize! Here are some of my favorites going on right now:

2 days left! Trend Tribe, one of my favorite jewelry companies, is giving away a $100 gift card. Follow the link and enter by liking/following them on various social media sites.

Fellow New Englanders: my favorite local radio station, Mix 104.1 always has lots of contests on their website. Since you’re going to be snowed in for a while (boo!!), you might as well get something good out of it!

The BIG One, which I’ve written about already, the HGTV Dream Home. Who wouldn’t want that beautiful house, especially on Martha’s Vineyard?

What are your favorite contests going on right now? Good luck to everyone entering any 🙂

Price Adjustments

Have you ever bought something just to find out a few days later that it went on sale or had a price reduction? I just had this happen. We bought a Keurig for the new apartment and then a few days later realized it had gone on sale for 20% off. Frustrating, right?

Well, as it turns out, many retailers recognize their customers lost-saving woes and offer what is called a “price adjustment”. Yay for money back!2015/01/img_2869.jpg
Price adjustment policies vary from store to store and not every store offers them, so be sure to do your research before you get your hopes up.

Generally, stores allow you to bring in your receipt within two weeks of purchase and if the price has been reduced in that time, you get a refund. There are some exceptions, such as certain sales like Black Friday, but it can’t hurt to try if you notice a big price drop right after you buy.

I’d suggest checking out this list of stores that offer price adjustments. Then compare what you’ve bought recently to what this week’s sales are. You could be due a decent sized refund!

Simple Ways to Save

Next month, I’ll be moving out of my parents house and into an apartment with my lovely boyfriend. As excited as I am to be moving in together (finally!), I know money will be tighter now that I actually have to pay for groceries, rent, etc. So I’ve been brainstorming some simple ways to save money and thought I’d share my ideas…

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Borrow books instead of buying them
If you have a kindle or any kind of tablet, you should see if you’re local library allows you to borrow ebooks. You might even be able to borrow books from other cities in your state. I can borrow from the Boston Public Library even though I live outside the city!

Use coupons whenever possible
My favorite thing to do lately is to see if a store has an app. Many stores do and you can find all kinds of coupons and savings you wouldn’t know about otherwise! Also consider setting up a separate email just for coupons. That way you don’t have junk mail clogging your inbox, but you still get all of the great deals!

Comparison shop
Especially for big purchases! Take the time to check out a few different stores or sites to find the best price possible. Do this in conjunction with a coupon for even bigger savings.

Tupperware, not Ziplock bags
Who knew Ziplock bags were so expensive? A few bucks for a box of 20 can add up when you’re using two or three each day for lunch. Take a few minutes out of your day to wash some reusable containers instead and you’ll instantly start saving.

Reusable water bottle
I go through SO many water bottles since I drink a lot of water each day. So instead I got a super cute faux mason jar cup with a straw for my desk at work. This way I can still stay hydrated without paying extra for it.

What are your favorite little ways to save? A few dollars here and there really adds up quick!

Cyber Monday Deals

This Christmas I’ve been doing nearly all of my shopping online. I’ve been using my “coupon email address” to keep track of the best deals. Here are some of my favorites. Some expire today so check them out fast!

I’m sending this post out early so you all can take advantage of these great deals 🙂
IMG_2665.JPGL.L. Bean is offering free shipping, 10% off and a $10 gift card if you spend over $50.
Trend Tribe is offering a free pair of studs on purchases over $25. (#SupportSmallBusiness!)
kate spade has 30% off sitewide.
Bauble Bar is offering 20% off sitewide, plus lots of other deals.
Kohls has 20% online only, free shipping on orders over $25 and tons of great sales.
Francesca’s has 30% off sitewide as well as some good clearance deals.
Charming Charlie is having a “$10” event with lots of good deals.
Old Navy is offering 40% off your online purchase.

What are your favorite Cyber Monday deals? Be sure to share the savings love!

My Credit Card Fraud Story

With the almost weekly reports of debit card data being stolen, I’ve been using my credit card a lot lately. I figured this would lessen the risk of any identity theft and protect my money.

Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky. At some point during my trip to California, my credit card information was stolen! IMG_2513.JPGThe one good thing about this whole thing is that I have Capital One and they have a very good fraud detection department. The downside was that someone was using it for a week before I even realized. I only happened to notice when I went to pay my bill!

When I logged on through the mobile app, there was a note saying my account was currently restricted and to give them a call. Nothing more.

Before I called, I took a look at my recent transactions and realized there were several I didn’t recognize. I grabbed my card and gave them a call. As soon as I called I was connected with the Fraud Resolution team.

In talking with them, I found out that my account was flagged for potential fraudulent activity when a small charge went through and then was immediately refunded. Apparently this is common when cards or information is stolen, as the thief is trying to see if the card is still active.

Over the few days after that, the thief tried to charge well over $2,000 to my card. Luckily most of them were denied, though a few did slip through. The customer service rep went over each of the recent card transactions so I was able to make sure everything that wasn’t mine was credited back to my account.

In all, it didn’t take long to resolve everything and I received a new card two days later. I was very happy with how on top of it my credit card company was, because I didn’t even know my information had been stolen!

The moral of this story is – check your account frequently! Review every transaction to make sure it’s actually yours. It could start off small but you might end up have thousands charged to your card without even realizing.

Have you ever had your credit card information stolen? How was your experience in resolving it?