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Spring Yard Sales

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 18th May 2015

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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Mother’s Day is Almost Here

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 8th May 2015

There are so many mothers these days. Between moms, grand-moms, step-moms, step-grandmoms, moms-in-law, step moms-in-law, surrogate moms, egg donors moms, birth moms, and Heather has two moms, make this day special with choices tailored to your mom or moms.

If my own mom were here she would be so happy to see me featured  in GoBankingRates.com advice to mothers on saving money bit.ly/1Ihv9ad.  She would also be laughing at how it was her advice that eventually seeped in and made me into The Frugal Diva. As a Nature Loving Mom, a day at Descanso Gardens would have been her idea of perfection.

Here are some ideas for other types of moms on Mother’s Day

Art Lover Mom reads the Calendar section first, collects catalogs, and thought your first grade drawings were influenced by Kandinsky. Take her to the local art museum and have a bite at the cafe.

American History Buff Mom knows the name of every U.S. President, fact checked your homework, and easily quotes what happened on this day fifty years ago.   Head out to the a historical site in your city and have a picnic nearby.

Environmental Mom recycles everything, knows global warming is not a hot flash, and uses both sides of the printer paper.  Spend the day helping out at a beach clean up or food bank.

Design Mom knows what is the new black this year,  how to use Photoshop to make your holiday pictures more interesting, and only sees French films.  Take an architectural tour of your city.

Sports Mom was always at little league and knows all the baseball stats. Take her out to the ball game for some peanuts and cracker jacks.

Spiritual Mom stays flexible, eats vegetarian, and believes that meditation will solve all your problems.  Take her to a yoga class and then to the newest vegan spot.  Sit outside afterwards and chant OM (almost spells MOM).

Let me know if you have interesting ways to celebrate Mother’s Day.

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What To Buy In May

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 29th April 2015

From Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, May is a busy month for retailers and shoppers alike. In addition to being the unofficial start of the summer, it also marks the start of spending more time outdoors, and that can lead to additional spending. But, before you purchase a new grill or try on summer apparel, you’ll want to read DealNews’ latest monthly buying guide, which reveals the best (and worst) products you can buy this month.

From mattresses to mobile devices, here are the Best and Worst Things to Buy in May: http://dealnews.com/features/what-to-buy-in-may/

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Military Discounts

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 29th April 2015

CouponLawn.com is a deal based site that offers coupons and money saving resources. They have just released the largest publicly accessible list of companies that offer discounts exclusively to active military members, veterans and their families. Unlike other hard to navigate smaller lists available online, users can sort their list according to the company name, discount amount and category with an added search function that lets users find exactly what they are looking for. This master guide can be found on their site at http://couponlawn.com/special/400-discounts-for-military-veterans/.

Here’s another awesome resource from Gift Card Granny. She has compiled an exhaustive list of 133 military discounts – just in time for summer fun.  It’s a little way of saying thanks to those who serve. Included are ways to save for veterans, all active branches and, in some instances, the families who stand behind them. Participation may vary at different locations, so check first!

“133 Military Discounts”
http://www.giftcardgranny.com/blog/military-discounts/

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Mother’s Day Shopping Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 28th April 2015

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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The Surprising Health Benefits of Chocolate

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 28th April 2015

Thank you for this guest post just in time for Mother’s Day Shopping!

The other day my daughter was looking for a snack and asked “is there any chocolate in this house?” I smiled and replied “you are so my daughter.”  I’ve been a chocolate lover for as long as I could remember. And now both of my girls are fans of the rich, sweet treat as well.

Yes, chocolate is full of calories and sugar. But, some chocolate, when eaten in moderation, can also deliver big health benefits.

Chocolate Supports Weight Loss. Studies have found that dark chocolate promotes satiety, so you feel fuller longer. In addition, it reduces cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods. Eating chocolate can also enhance weight loss by about 10 percent, according to new research just published in the International Archives of Medicine.

For the study researchers divided volunteers into three groups. One group followed a strict low-carbohydrate diet. A second group followed the low-carbohydrate diet and also consumed 42 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of 81 percent dark chocolate per day. The remainder of the volunteers followed their regular diets.

The results showed that while both the low-carb and low-carb with chocolate groups lost weight, those in the chocolate group lost 10 percent more weight. Even better, the weight loss was maintained in the 3 weeks following the study, whereas the low-carb group saw the weight return.

Chocolate Lowers Risk of Stroke: Studies have found the consumption of chocolate is associated with a lower risk of stroke. In one study, over 37,000 Swedish men were tracked for over 10 years. It was discovered that the men in the study who ate the largest amount of chocolate, the equivalent of about one-third of a cup of chocolate chips per week, had a lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not consume any chocolate.

Chocolate Promotes Heart Health. Dark chocolate is rich in phenols and flavonoids, which help maintain normal blood pressure levels, keep your arteries healthy, and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that eating about 30 calories of dark chocolate a day helped to lower blood pressure after 18 weeks, without weight gain or other adverse effects.

It’s important to note that these health benefits where found with dark chocolate consumption. Milk chocolate does not offer the same protection. Look for dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao content. The higher the percentage of cacao, the higher amount of antioxidants per serving.

And, when it comes to chocolate, a little goes a long way. In these studies only a small amount was consumed. Chocolate is loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. So, moderation is key. Aim for a quarter to a third of a cup each week.

Also remember that the sweet treat has caffeine. And, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it holds. And, it contains another stimulant called theobromine which can cause sleeplessness. So, if you’re going to indulge, be sure you’ve got several hours until bedtime. Otherwise, you might find yourself unable to fall asleep.

Sources:

University of Copenhagen. “Dark Chocolate Is More Filling Than Milk Chocolate And Lessens Cravings.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2008.

International Press Release: Slim by Chocolate. Press Release. Institute of Diet and Health. Mar 2015

Larsson, SC, et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke: a prospective cohort of men and meta-analysis. Neurology. 2012 Sep 18;79(12):1223-9.

Dirk Taubert MD, et al. Effects of Low Habitual Cocoa Intake on Blood Pressure and Bioactive Nitric Oxide A Randomized Controlled Trial ,JAMA. 2007;298:49-60.

Heptinstall, Stan PhD, et al. Cocoa Flavanols and Platelet and Leukocyte Function: Recent In Vitro and Ex Vivo Studies in Healthy Adults. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, June 2006; 47:S197-S205

This article is written by Lauren Kent the writer for Nutri-Health.com, an online High Quality Health Supplements and Health Store.  Assisting people and helping them find quality natural supplements and health products online is what Lauren has been doing for several years.  Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health products.

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Deal News For April

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 8th April 2015

With that highly anticipated tax return already on its way, April showers bring the best deals to savvy shoppers who know where to find them, so don’t get fooled!

To help save you money, here are the DealNews archives for sales, coupons, daily deals, and individual products to guide you in your quest to make the smartest purchases this month.

From Apple Watches to avocados, here are the Best and Worst Things to Buy in April: http://dealnews.com/features/what-to-buy-in-april/

They can also give you tips for  10 Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund.

Happy shopping!

About DealNews:

DealNews is a deal-discovery website that lists the best online deals on consumer electronics, gadgets, computers, clothing, and more. DealNews’ mission is to inform consumers of the best online bargains offered by trustworthy stores. The Company relies on a team of expert editors and proprietary research tools to uncover 200+ of the web’s hottest deals, discounts, sales, and bargains every day. Founded in 1997, DealNews is headquartered in Huntsville, AL, with offices in Brooklyn, NY, and Dublin, Ireland.

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GOBankingRates Uncovers the 12 Best Checking Account Promotions for Spring 2015

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 25th March 2015

A new study from GOBankingRates reveals the best rewards and cash-back checking promotions at banks and credit unions this spring.

With millions of Americans opening new checking accounts each year1, many banks offer free cash and other perks to entice new customers. To cut through the noise and help consumers find the best deals, leading personal finance site GOBankingRates investigated major banks and credit unions nationwide to uncover the top checking account promotions this spring, ranging from a $300 bonus to free airline miles.

See full details on the report here >>>
http://www.gobankingrates.com/checking-accounts/12-best-checking-account-promotions-today/

“Promotions like these are a nice incentive if you’re shopping around for a new checking account, but you shouldn’t make your banking decision based wholly on a one-time deal,” said Casey Bond, managing editor of GOBankingRates. “If you’re comparing checking products, look at fees and interest rates first; after all, a $150 promo could be easily wiped out by several overdrafts if you open an account with an unfriendly fee structure. After you’ve weighed important account details, these promotions can sweeten the deal and boost your savings.”

The 12 Best Checking Account Promotions Today

  • Bank of America: $200
  • Bank of America2: $300
  • BankDirect: American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
  • BankUnited: $120
  • BBVA Compass Bank: $150
  • Chase Bank: $150
  • Discover Bank: $50
  • Langley Federal Credit Union: $50
  • Nationwide Bank: $200
  • PNC Bank: $300
  • Santander Bank: $240
  • SunTrust Bank: $200

Additional insights:

  • Cash: The top cash checking promotions varied in value from $50 to $300.
  • Recurring Bonus: Not all cash-back promos are one-time deals; Santander Bank pays new extra 20 account holders up to $20 a month for meeting certain requirements.
  • Miles: BankDirect is the first online bank to offer customers the chance to earn American Airlines miles through banking products, including checking, money market and CD accounts.
  • How to Apply: Qualifying criteria varied, with most banks on this list enforcing either direct deposit requirements or daily balance minimums.

About GOBankingRates

GOBankingRates.com is a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt. Its editors are regularly featured on top-tier media outlets, including U.S. News, Business Insider, Daily Finance, Huffington Post and more. It also specializes in connecting consumers with the best financial institutions and interest rates nationwide.

1 The Financial Brand: “Six Ways to Win the War for New Checking Accounts,” Feb. 25, 2015

2 Bank of America is currently offering two separate checking promotions, with different qualifying criteria for each. Additionally, while the $200 promotion lasts throughout 2015, the $300 offer expires in April. As with any of these offers, always check with the respective institution’s website for full details.

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

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 23rd March 2015

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 2015.

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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National Consumer Protection Week 2015–March 1-7

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 24th February 2015

With all the hacking and scams, the Frugal Diva says information is the best protection. Use the resources below to find out about buying a used car, making investments, and much more.

March 1-7, 2015 is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), an opportunity for organizations around the country to show their commitment to consumer protection by teaching people about their consumer rights. More than 80 Nonprofit groups, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies are partners in NCPW and hundreds of other agencies and organizations host events for the week (and beyond) throughout the country. NCPW partners share resources and have created a toolkit to help people coordinate events during NCPW.

NCPW.gov – in Spanish at protecciondelconsumidor.gov – has free resources from NCPW partners on topics from managing credit and debt, to avoiding identity theft, to staying safe online and more. These resources help people learn about their consumer rights and how to spot and avoid scams and identity theft. If you spot a scam, the site tells you where to file complaints with federal, state and other partners.

On March 3 at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a Twitter chat in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week 2015. Follow @FTC where consumers can join the conversation. The hashtag is #NCPW2015. See FTC Twitter chats to learn more.

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