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Johnson & Johnson Coupons

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 24th June 2014

These savings come with an added bonus – support in the fight against bullying. Hats off to Johnson & Johnson for supporting this great cause.

Half of all children are bullied at some point in their school years.  The statistics are even worse for LGBT youth with it rising to nearly eight out of ten.

To help combat this epidemic, Johnson & Johnson created the Care with Pride campaign to raise awareness of bullying’s negative impact on all youth - by the end of 2014 they will have donated over $500,000 to three charitable organizations that are working to fight bullying – PFLAG, Trevor Project and Family Equality Council.

This year, my savvy readers can help by simply redeeming J&J Care with Pride coupons worth $55. The coupons are available for downloading at carewithpride.com.

They can also send an additional donation by uploading a photo via the Donate a Photo app.  J&J will donate $1 for each photo uploaded, up to one photo a day, every day until the goal is reached or the donation period ends.

Take advantage of this opportunity today!

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The Broke Grad’s Guide to Thriving in the Real World

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 20th June 2014

Email this guest post to your new grad.

Graduating college is an exciting moment, right? Maybe not.

Total student debt has topped $1 trillion this year and the average college graduate owes more than $33,000 in outstanding payments upon commencement. So, it’s understandable why young adults are filled with more fear than joy about earning their diploma and entering the real world. While finding a good job is paramount, learning how to budget and discovering ways to save on everyday expenses offers the best chance to surviving life after college.

If you or a recent grad in your life faces this same scenario, consider these top money moves for making the switch from college to real life manageable.

Optimize your repayments. Get a handle on what you owe by reviewing all your accounts. If you find you’re struggling or falling behind, get help before it’s too late. Making late student loan payments (or missing them altogether) will negatively impact your credit score which can take years to rebuild. For help, check the Student Debt Repayment Assistant from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can often negotiate a repayment schedule that fits your budget or even get your loan payments deferred.

Lower your rental costs. You may be eager to live on your own, but roommates offer a significant financial relief for rental costs. The more roommates you have, the cheaper your total living expenses will be. Keep in mind that location matters, too. The closer you live to the city center, the more expensive rent will be, so look for a place located further from the hot spot of town. To avoid broker fees, use sites like Craigslist and Apartable.com for no-fee listings.

Join a credit union. Credit unions offer the same services as regional and national banks but typically have less fees and lower loan rates. Credit unions also typically pay higher savings yields and are more sympathetic toward struggling borrowers. To find a credit union that suits your needs, review this list.

Search for coupons before you pay for anything. Whether you need new shoes, food for your pooch or an oil change, search for coupons before pay. Free mobile tools like the Coupon Sherpa mobile app make this task easy, offering savings for our half a million physical locations in the U.S. You can also use your phone to compare prices with the Pricegrabber barcode-scanning app or earn rewards while you shop with Shopkick.

Get savvy in the kitchen. Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner will seriously drain your paycheck and leave you with just enough to cover basic living expenses. Get in the habit of preparing lunch and cooking meals for yourself. Cook one large meal like this Roast Chicken to give yourself plenty of options throughout the week, including chicken salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.

Live without cable and prepay your cellphone. Cutting the cord on pricey cable bills is easier to do these days thanks to free online video streaming services like Hulu that hook right up to your TV. For more programming and newer release options, check out Hulu Plus and Netflix for just $8 per month — a cheap bill when split among roommates. You can also hook up an indoor HDTV antenna to get more channels than basic cable with no monthly bills. When it comes to your cellphone, consider switching to no-contract, prepaid wireless services to avoid hidden fees and punitive charges. This way, you pay for what you use and nothing more.

Become a second-hand shopper. A wise man once told me that no one will know the shirt you’re wearing was bought at the Salvation Army. This is a great principal to live by considering buying used can reduce your total spending by up to 90 percent. Whether you need professional clothes, kitchen goods or furniture for your new apartment, search gently-used options at garage sales, local consignment stores, speciality sites like RecycleYourFashions.com and thredUp.com or more mainstream sites like eBay. Don’t forget, this is a great time to sell clothing and other goods you no longer use for funds towards a future purchase.

Get a side hustle. At this point, maximizing your cash flow will help you pay down debt faster. Take on an extra gig after hours like waitressing, bartending or freelancing. Or consider doing other people’s “to-dos” via TaskRabbit, where you can peruse tasks in your area and submit offers for such activities as grocery shopping, dog walking and even photography. If TaskRabbit is not available in your area, check the “gigs” section on Craigslist for options ranging from labor to writing to creative.

Build your credit wisely. Opening a new line of credit may seem counterintuitive while paying down school debt, but building a healthy credit score now will ensure you receive the best rates on future mortgages, insurance and other expenses. To help manage your credit card wisely, treat it like a debit card and only charge transactions for which you have the cash to cover. Pay off the balance in full each month so interest doesn’t overwhelm any rewards. For help finding the right credit card with low APR, consult Nerd Wallet’s list of the best credit cards for 2014.

Save for the future. It’s tough to think about retirement when you have student-related debts to pay. However, if your employer offers a 401k match plan, turning it down is like leaving money on the table. Even if you can only match the percentage they’re contributing, you’re doing your future self a financial solid. Most experts agree that young people have a distinct advantage over everyone else when it comes to saving for the future: time. Don’t waste yours!

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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10 Ways to Save on Gadgets for Dad

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 9th June 2014

Here’s a guest post to help with your Dad’s Day shopping!

If a new gadget is on your shopping list for dad this year, you aren’t alone. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey, consumers will spend $1.6 billion on electronic gifts like smartphones and tablets for their fathers.

While a new gadget may send Dad over the top, it can quickly do the same to your budget if you’re not careful. Consider these 10 ways to save on tech gifts for Father’s Day and show your favorite man how much he’s appreciated.

Haggle. Retailers have realized that consumers are driven by bargains these days and more are willing to negotiate. A recent study by Consumer Reports shows shoppers who haggled saved an average of $82, so clearly there’s little to lose by just asking. If the sales associate isn’t able to budge on the price of the gadget, ask if he or she can throw in a value add like a protective case for that new tablet or smartphone.

Snag a daily deal. Before you buy anything online, browse daily deal offers available through popular discount electronic e-retailers like TigerDirect, Newegg and Overstock. Recently, I saved 70-percent on a keyboard case for my iPad Mini through Tiger Direct’s Daily Deal Slasher. I’ve found other notable deals across the Web on everything from TVs to tablets to gadget accessories. Sign up to the site’s newsletter so you don’t miss out on these huge discounts.

Power up your smartphone. Retailers are highly competitive and will match other stores’ prices, so equip your smartphone with the PriceGrabber app to get instant price comparisons and request price matches. Before you check out, look for coupons on the free Coupon Sherpa mobile app, or hit up their website for coupon codes when you shop online. For example, you can save $12 off your $99 order from Brookstone through August.

Skip the warranty. One of the biggest upsells at any electronic store is the extended warranty. Considering that most gadgets have a rapid depreciation value and often cheaper to replace than fix, warranties end up being a waste of money. Instead, swipe a credit card that offers multiple levels of consumer protection including an extended warranties and return policy.

Discount the discount. So you scored a great deal on a sale item or even redeemed a coupon for dollars off your purchase? Don’t stop there. You can save even more by applying funds from a discount gift card. At sites like GiftCardGranny.com, you can find up to 20-percent off gift cards to popular electronics retailers. For instance, score a Radio Shack gift card for 15-percent off and save on a gadget for Dad like the AUVIO Portable Bluetooth Speaker.

Buy last year’s model. Manufacturers are constantly releasing new models of their latest gadgets, often with minimal updates. The latest gadget on shelves today will be old news next month, so it doesn’t make sense to splurge on the newest options. Instead, search for deals on previous models or even go as far back as last year’s model to save big. Many stores will be more motivated to move these older goods which means you may have more power to negotiate a better price, too.

Search for open box. Many electronic retailers sell returned gadgets at a discount even though there are no defective issues with it. You can often find such deals through the store’s “open box” section to save anywhere from 20 to 60 percent off the regular list price. Get a head start by reviewing open box and clearance items online at sites like Best Buy where they list deals at the store closest to you. When buying a gadget for Dad, make sure it’s something he wants and will actually use; otherwise, you may get slapped with restocking fees for any returns, especially for those products that have been opened.

Get the extras online. Nearly every gadget calls for something extra, whether it’s a protective case, power cords or connector cables. Though the retailer may have extended a big discount on your electronic purchase, you typically won’t find any savings on accessories. I always find the extras online via Amazon and eBay for 30 to 50 percent less, so avoid buying them at big-box stores.

Spruce up his favorite gadget. If Dad recently upgraded his TV or smartphone, consider sprucing up his favorite new gadget with a few extras like wireless speakers, bluetooth headset or a cool new case. Since these tend to be less expensive than this bigger electronics, it’s a great way to give him something he will enjoy using without breaking your budget.

Cash in. Whether it’s a genuine effort to reduce waste in landfills or just an attempt to get customers to upgrade sooner, electronics retailers are increasingly offering exchange programs. From Walmart to Amazon, you can trade in your old gadgets for cash or gift cards good toward new purchases. If you have an old cellphone, video game console or desktop you no longer use, cash in via one of these electronics trade-in programs and use the funds toward a new gadget for your dad.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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Entertainment Book

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 15th May 2014

It has been a long time since the Frugal Diva toted around the Entertainment Book. I had lost touch with the great savings that could be had by buying a membership. Everything from dining to car washes to hotels are available at a discount. The best news is that they have moved into the digital age with a user friendly app.  If you are traveling to the East Coast, receive the 2014 book now for only $5 and they will send your 2015 Greater New York City & North Jersey Entertainment® Book next year for $5 off the retail price with free shipping. PLUS, as an Annual Renewal Member, you get early access to great member benefits!

Families especially love the Entertainment Book , not only do they have many kid friendly restaurants, they also have tickets to a variety of attractions, fun activities like bowling, theater tickets, and exercise classes just to name a few.  With summer vacation coming up this is an especially good time to take advantage of the coupons for a day of paintball and a pizza for dinner afterwards. Or treat Mom to a spa day while the kids sign up for Brazilian Jujitsu.

Disclaimer: I received a free activation code in order to research this article.

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Mother’s Day Shopping Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 7th May 2014

Great guest post for Mother’s Day shoppers!

Seasonality doesn’t just affect the weather; prices across a wide range of products can change on a month-to-month basis as demand fluctuates. Considering millions of consumers will shop for Mother’s Day gifts this week, being aware of these best and worst buys can help you make smarter purchasing decisions that delight Mom and keep your budget intact. Take a look at these worst buys and consider gifting a best buy for Mom.

WORST
Sadly, many go-to gifts for Mom represent the worst buys of the season! Avoid these cliche gifts in favor of better buys.

Flowers – Mother’s Day is the third busiest day for florists behind Valentine’s Day and Christmas, and over 66 percent of consumers plan to buy a bouquet for Mom this year. However, you’ll pay more for flowers now than you will just a couple weeks from now, making them a bad buy. Labor, supply and demand are all factors contributing to this price increase, as florists have to fulfill a high volume of orders in a very short time frame. If you have your mind set on flowers, opt for a flowering plant or head to the grocery store for cheaper prices.

Jewelry – Something sparkly may seem like just the thing for Mom, but it’s definitely not the right choice for your wallet. According to some sources, select jewelry items actually cost more around Mother’s Day despite being advertised as a sale price. That’s because demand is high: an estimated $3.6 billion will be spent on jewelry for Mom, and retailers want to compete for your business without cutting into their profit margins.

Perfume – Like Valentine’s Day and Christmas, Mother’s Day is another popular occasion for fragrances. Though you’ll likely score free samples or a free tote with your purchase, you won’t find any good deals on fragrances until after Mother’s Day. Of course, you may never buy designer perfume again after you read this exposé from DailyFinance. Those who receive a specific request for fragrance should check discount retailers like TJMaxx and Marshall’s for up to 50-percent off designer and name-brand scents.

BEST
It is possible for Mom to enjoy gifts that don’t sparkle or smell sweet! According to the same NRF survey, practicality is highly valued by both consumers and their mothers this year. Enjoy these gift ideas that both your mom and your bank account will love.

Gift Cards – There’s nothing more practical than giving Mom the gift of choice, and the stats agree: over 43 percent of consumers will buy gift cards for their mothers this year. Avoid paying full price by ordering cards from GiftCardGranny.com, where you can save up to 25-percent off face value. For example, you can score an Ann Taylor gift card for 25-percent off, or gift Mom with a SpaFinder gift card for 21-percent off.

Experiences – Your mom likely has everything she needs and wants, so gifting her with yet another coffee mug or ceramic tchotchke just creates clutter. Consider the gift of an experience — a popular choice this year, as consumers are expected to spend $1.5 billion — by purchasing a daily deal through Groupon, LivingSocial or Amazon Local. You can treat your mom to a spa day, wine tasting or horseback riding adventure for over 50-percent off. You can even schedule her a free makeover at Sephora, where experts provide complimentary makeup and skin consultations, plus provide deluxe samples.

Dinner – Consumer spending on dining out for Mom is expected to reach $3.8 billion this year. Before you empty your wallet on a pricey feast, show Mom how money-savvy you are by using restaurant coupons from apps like Coupon Sherpa to save on dinner. For example, you can shave $10 off any two entrees from Buca di Beppo, or score a free appetizer from Carrabba’s with entree purchase. You can also check Restaurant.com for discounted dining certificates for eateries in your area.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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All You Need Is Less

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 8th April 2014

The Frugal Diva likes the style of this book – easy solutions for living a greener life which inevitably costs less.  Madeleine Somerville has a breezy way of helping you concoct your own shampoo, laundry detergent, circumvent the flu, and all manners of taking care of your garden, baby, and sex life with the best environmental outcomes.  Yes, even your sex life can be more eco friendly.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how.

Short Excerpt From Chapter Two – Body “Basic Hygiene Boot Camp (And I Mean Reeeally Basic)

All You Need Is Less by Madeleine Somerville

It goes a little something like this: Use soap.

Oh, I know you are a clean person and you probably smell nice too. In fact, I have no doubt that your personal hygiene is beyond reproach.

But choosing to use plain old bar soap instead of that pump hand soap, body wash, shower gel, or super-expensive foaming, miracle-moisturizing mousse you got on sale can do wonders for your skin, your local landfill, and the crowded shelves of your shower caddy too.

People tell me that the reason they use body washes instead of soap is that soap is too drying or too harsh on their sensitive skin. With conventional bar soaps this is often true, and I mean, fair enough, no one likes walking around in a skin suit that feels two sizes too small. Nevertheless, I didn’t usually have this experience and am a huge fan of natural bar soaps, so I wanted to find out why so many people were passing them over in favor of the plastic-packaged stuff.

Because I sometimes like to pretend that I am a girl detective like Nancy Drew, I hunted down some answers from my very own soap lady, Kirsten French of Be Clean Naturally. Kirsten was a regular at the farmer’s markets in my old hometown of Squamish, BC. Starting with soaps and gradually working her way into shaving creams, laundry detergents, and other personal care and home products, she always sought to use minimal packaging, offered product refills when possible, and had a real passion for getting clean the natural way. She helped me get to the bottom of The Case of the Natural Bar of Soap (aka, Why good-quality natural soap is actually better for your skin than anything found inside of a bottle and also, Why do you have to be so lame, Madeleine?)

“Typically, commercial soaps and shower gels are made from a detergent base, which strips the natural oils away from our skin, leaving us dry and scaly,” French explained. “This causes many people to then slap on skin cream to combat the itchy, tight post-shower feeling. Detergents are very inexpensive to make and are derived through a laboratory process. They also have a lower pH than traditional soap, which means that they need synthetic chemicals, such as triclosan, added into them to make them antibacterial.”

After briefly mocking me for pretending to be a girl detective, Ms. French went on to explain that triclosan is rapidly accumulating in our oceans and impacting the ability of whales to reproduce (save the whales!). And whereas shower gels are often laden with synthetic fragrances and preservatives that can be irritating to the skin, sinuses, and eyes, soap is inherently antibacterial without needing anything nasty added.

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Order Some Law With Legal Zoom

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 24th March 2014

Being totally phobic about all things legal, the frugal diva was really happy when a friend recommended Legal Zoom.  Personal recommendations rank very high on my list of reasons to use a service – especially one on the Internet.  Being nervous about the process also generates a high need for great customer service. In my case more like hand holding, reassurance, and letting you ask many questions along the way.

I got all this and more. This company has the best customer service ever.  They inform you by mail and by phone each step of the way and you never have to wait more then a few minutes for a real, live person to walk you through the process.

And that person is soooo patient, soooo informed, and will make sure you understand everything before the conversation is over.  There is no rush, no attitude, and they are interested in your concerns.

You do pay for the service however you are saving time, aggravation, and gasoline. Instead of driving around, finding parking, making mistakes filling out forms, and dealing with clerks, you are taking care of your business.  Their prices are very reasonable given how much time you would spend getting the same service yourself or using the higher priced services of an attorney.   Legal Zoom proved that the law can be very orderly and efficient.

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Who Has The Best Shipping?

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 21st March 2014

And  by “best” the Frugal Diva means free.

With the big news last week that L.L. Bean was joining an exclusive list of retailers offering free shipping on all orders every day, FreeShipping.com thought it only appropriate to list the top 20 merchants offering this great deal on a regular basis. Some merchants offer free international shipping in as little as three days, while others give shoppers free overnight shipping or free return shipping.

This is such a savings when you are in a rush and want something across the country for a wedding, baby shower, birthday, or anniversary.  Thanks to FreeShipping.com for letting us know who are the companies grateful for our business.  Use their codes to save even  more!

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Home Office Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 10th March 2014

Home office, it sounded so good when we first thought about it. Working in our bunny slippers, never having to dress up, showering at our whim, and sipping coffee from our own mugs.

Now we order our own paper, find our own printers, and try to get supplies at the best prices. Like everything else loyalty matters, pick a club and stay with them except for exceptional bargains.  I am a proud member of the Staples Club. They give me points for purchases and every three months send me a check.  Recycle used ink cartridges for a $2 rebate per cartridge.

My personal paper goods favorite is Envelope Mall for that all important first impression. What variety, what fabulous colors, what a deal. For business I want the best quality to tell my clients they are worth it. For a few pennies more you can have something that makes a terrific impression.  Do your own invitations. Euroflap envelopes bring a touch of elegance and no one will know whether you bought them at that expensive stationary store or ordered them off the Internet.

My pick for an online printer is uprinting.com- the site where you can talk to a real person and they actually care about your order. You can send up files for a technical review at no charge and receive an on line PDF to verify your order. If you live in Los Angeles you can pick up your printing and skip the delivery charge. They deliver a high quality of customer service along with great printing.

If you are also your own publicist, go to PRWeb.com - they will teach you how to write a press release and then deliver to multiple markets. Not bad for getting your name out there in a hurry.

Start receiving emails from HARO, Help A Reporter Out. This might be the day that CNN or any of a number of outlets needs your expertise.

You are receiving this newsletter from Mailchimp.com. They will let you have 12,000 sends per month for up to 2000 subscribers for free. This is a great way start out your mailer and see what works before making an investment. The dashboard is user friendly and they have many templates to choose from.

If you have a straightforward legal issue, Legal Zoom is reliable with top notch customer service. I used them for a DBA after a friend recommended them.  They were so good at explaining every step that it was a very relaxed process for a legalphobe such as myself.

Use that travel time that you are saving for walking, meditating, or reading a good book to transition from office mentality back into your home environment.

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Spring Yard Sales

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 25th February 2014

Those novels you read on vacation, the shirt you haven’t worn for five years, the toys your college bound student won’t need, and the sheets for a single bed that you don’t own anymore. Sound familiar. We all put things away for a rainy day or because they remind us of a favorite event.

This is a great time of year to reorganize, declutter, donate, and stash stuff  in boxes for a future yard sale.

In fairness to yourself before selling or donating anything that you feel might be worth something check the ebay price of the same or similar item.

If you feel something is very valuable check with a professional auction house. Bonhams Auction House . Is it treasure or trash?  They are a neutral party who can provide an auction value estimate.

If you decide to go forward with a yard sale here are some good rules to follow:

Put a price on all items! You can have individual prices or grab bags where everything in the bag goes for a set price. Put stickers on everything and you can also segregate areas for different prices. All fifty cent items on one table. Remember nobody comes to yard sale to spend big bucks. Everything you sell is one thing you don’t have to carry back into the house.

Don’t let early arrivers throw you off. Post a sign that says when you start and don’t let anyone into your home. You want good coverage so if you don’t have enough family members, invite friends to help out or sell stuff along with you. If you can get your neighbors to join in – all the better.  Everyone has a unique inventory so the more the merrier.

Get change the day before and post that you will only give change up to $10 or $20.  Most yard sale shoppers know the drill and will come with appropriate coinage.  Since many items will be $.10 or $.25, get a few packs of quarters, dimes, and nickels plus twenty to  fifty in singles. Keep your cash on you or with a helper who is designated the cashier.

Feel free to sell sodas or lemonade for a modest price. This is a great learning experience for small children. Let them set up a stand and feel they are part of the experience.

Now to let people know about your sale.  Many local papers have free listings, put it up on bulletin boards at your grocery store, school, church, and gym, and post signs at all major intersections in your neighborhood. Many people still drive around looking for yard sales and neon colored paper will attract attention.

The most important thing about a yard sale, have fun, watch your stuff enhance another person’s life, and make a few dollars in the process.

Whatever is left over can be boxed up and delivered to Goodwill.

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