Making Online Shopping as Cheap as Possible

If you are like me then you much rather prefer shopping and finding great deals online over spending a lot of time in store. Online shopping can save you A LOT money if you do it right. Thats why I want to share with you tips for online shipping I use to save the most amount of money.

Lets start with a few ways that you can cheat the system and save money

Clear your browser history:

Most sites give you an option to put in your email address for around a 20 percent discount if it is your first time visiting the site. Clearing your history allows this offer to pop up as many times as you want it to, however be weary because SOME websites will let you use the same email and some websites require a new one each time! However, if it is a website that requires a different email each time you can usually work around this by unsubscribing from the email list. You can also just unsubscribe from the email list either way after you get the discount, which helps keep your inbox uncluttered.

Sign up for VIP Memberships and then CANCEL: 

A huge way I save money when I buy workout clothes or shoes is by becoming a VIP member for places like Fabletics, Shoedazzle, and Justfab. VIP members usually always get a discount on these sites, however I never keep my membership. This is a major major way to cheat the system and save hundreds of dollars depending on what you buy. When you set up a VIP account (you can use the same email more than once) they ALWAYS have a deal for first time VIP purchases such as 2 for 24 leggings or getting your first pair of shoes for only ten dollars.  I have gotten three pairs of shoes for 30 dollars before and I have gotten 8 pieces of workout clothing for a little over 100 dollars just by using this method. I generally wait till the order comes but when it comes I go ahead and cancel the membership. Be sure you REMEMBER TO CANCEL because if you do not then on the 6th of the month you will get charged 49 dollars. If you don’t want to make a new account each time and you want to remain a VIP member and get the savings you can skip getting charged that month by choosing “Skip this month” in the boutique.

If that fails or if you want an even bigger discount lets look at these possibilities. 

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Check for websites with discount codes or apps that give you deals: 

There are plenty of websites and apps that will search the web for discount codes. They usually find discount codes that previous users have used and had success with. In addition a lot of sites will let you know the last time that it worked for someone who used it. Here is a list of websites and apps that will help you find the best deal and I also included second-hand retail sites for those who don’t mind buying second-hand.

Websites

  • Retailmenot.com
  • Groupon.com
  • Freeshipping.org
  • Ebates.com
  • Coupon Cabin

Apps

  • Honey: This app doesn’t come out till Feb 2019 but I have the download on my laptop and it is super cool because the plug in will show up at the coupons section of check out and it will automatically run the discount codes right there on the site and let you know if you are getting the best deals.
  • Slick deals
  • Ibotta

Some apps that you can buy second hand clothing are

  • Poshmark
  • thredUP

There are many more apps that you can buy and sell second-hand clothing at but these were the two I found that were the highest rated. I don’t use these apps as I just prefer to buy new but for anyone who doesn’t mind wearing second-hand clothes this can be a great way to buy cute clothes at a fraction of the price.

Check the clearance or sale section EVEN ONLINE:

More times than not I have gotten a bunch of cute clothes in bulk for under 100 dollars just by using this trick. For example, lets take one of my favorite places to shop (beside Tj Maxx of course) Charlotte Russe. I like them because they have cute reasonably priced clothing, their jeans fit me really well, and overall the quality if pretty good! It is more common than it is uncommon for sites to have an online sale going on. If you go to the sale section you often find sweaters for 10-15, shoes for 20 and up, jeans buy one get one fifty percent off. However, my favorite thing is going through the clearance section. I am not the type of person who has to have the fashion that is in THAT season, I wear what is cute and what makes me feel good. What I do is sort the price lowest to highest and go through and find what I like. It is a little time consuming but it is worth it for the cash that you save.

Do they have an affiliate program:.

A lot of places like meal prep companies, supplement companies, clothing companies, etc have affiliate programs, athletes, or sponsors. Check out the company on Instagram and see if they have affiliate programs. If they do you can usually find someone with a discount code in the tagged photos section. This helps both you and them because you get a discount and they get someone using their code.

Check Amazon for a cheaper but similar alternative

Doing this over the years has saved me a lot of money on clothes, products, books, and just random things. The key to shopping on amazon is reading the reviews. You want to read the reviews on not only the seller but the products as well. I am more trusting of reviews with photos of the product attached to them. I will also read the highest rated reviews and the lowest rated reviews. You have to look for patterns in the reviews, for example if there are a lot of negative reviews saying the same thing about the product but by different people I generally steer clear of that product. Again, this is time consuming but will save you money in the long run.

I HATE paying full price for things I can find for cheaper so I hope these tips will help you save money on your online shopping endeavors.

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15 Alternative NYE Ideas that aren’t clubbing

If you are a 20 plus something like me then chances are you are getting sick of New Years. The typical over crowded bars, being up charged for drinks, paying extra for food, etc. New Years Eve has become so over hyped that I truly can say I am over doing anything HUGE for it. That is why I am presenting you with 15 different NYE Options other than the typical “clubbing”.

Do a NYE Dinner:

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LOTS of places do a dinner special on New Years and a little party, however if you don’t want to pay an insane amount for dinner and drinks that would normally be a fraction of the price try looking at restaurants that DON’T do a New Years Eve event. It could be a great group event or a romantic date night. Before the ball drops you can do a nice dinner. You still get to get dressed up and have some cocktails but you can leave before the place gets crowded. When you are done with dinner you can continue with some crafty cocktails back at home and watch the New Years, whatever drop. This saves you the money of buying drinks all night and the pain of being out in public on New Years.

Check hotel sites and get a hotel room near by for cheap: 

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My top favorite hotel booking site is www.booking.com but a quick google search can yield you a few great websites for booking a hotel room at a fraction of the cost. However, if you are willing to risk it for the cheapest rates check out Hotel Tonight . This app puts up hotels that are looking to fill up the last of their rooms and usually is the cheapest the night of the booking, Most popular hotels have SOMETHING going on in some part of their hotel for a portion of the night. However, personally I much prefer (and have done with my boyfriend) just getting a hotel room and having an intimate night together. You can also have some friends in the hotel room, which makes it cheaper, but be aware of throwing huge parties especially on New Years as hotels look out for that.

Go on a trip/cruise: 

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Going  into 2013 I spent NYE on a cruise and it was one of the MOST FUN vacations of my life! I know that taking a trip or a cruise is a bit of a more pricey option but if you have the money saved up for a trip around the holidays I highly suggest one of these two options. Sure you may be surrounded by people (or stuck with them if you are on a boat) but you will be somewhere new and not just a normal club that you can go to on any day of the year. This surpasses the normal New Year experience and gives you a chance to travel and see places you have never seen before, which if you ask me is an AMAZING way to go into the New Year.

Check Groupon for alternative NYE events:

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Groupon is great for seeing what events are going on for New Years and its also good if you are trying to get a discount on certain events. Eventbrite is another option but does not offer discounts usually. Going on Groupon means you can find a fun New Years event that can be different and cheap! Just by typing in New Years Chicago I get many results of bar events, hotel parties, light shows, concerts, etc. If you are unsure what to do for New Years or looking for some cheap options see what is going on with Groupon.

Host a NYE Party at your own place:

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This is by far the most simple alternative. If you want to save money and only be around the people you care about then this is the answer! Buy some alcohol order some food and be among good company. Do I really need to explain any more?

NYE Concert:

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A fun way to spend NYE would be listening to an awesome band, artist, cover-band, etc. Concerts are always a great time and ringing in the New Year while listening to music you enjoy and having a few drinks is a totally fun idea. Sure you probably will have to deal with crowds of people like you would at a bar but again this is a unique alternative.

Check out a hole in the wall bar:

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In my opinion hole in the wall spots usually turn out to be the best spots. Do a quick google search of unique and less known places near you. Maybe they will be hosting a New Years event but if they fly pretty under the radar chances are its low-key. This could be perfect for someone who wants to go out on New Years but doesn’t want to do the fancy, clubbing, and typical NYE party.

Throw your own fancy party: 

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I know this is close to holding your own NYE party but this idea is a LITTLE different. If you want to act high-class but on a budget then this is the PERFECT way to do so. In place of a casual NYE party  you can throw your own fancy dinner/cocktail party. Let your guests know that is a black tie event and to dress up! Then google or pinterest  fancy cocktails and horderves and boom you’re in business.

Search alternative community events near you:

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If you are looking for something family-oriented, free or cheap, etc then google the town and park district calendars for your town and towns near you. You can also just do a broad search of “Community New Years Events”. A lot of places like churches, rec centers, etc throw something a little earlier in the day for New Years. Again, if you cannot find anything in your town make sure you check towns near you!

Romantic night in with your loved one:

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Now that I am 24 (25 in 2019) this by far sounds like the best option. Spending a night in drinking champagne and cocktails with Elliot while its just me and him sounds perfect. Now that I’ve talked about my boyfriend I will present this option. If you are in a relationship then spend New Years with that person that you love and stop worrying about making some big elaborate plans. You two are starting another year together as a couple and you can use the time to celebrate your relationship over the previous year and the new beginnings to come in the coming years.  I know this sounds sappy but its just an option!

Potluck:

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A great idea if you don’t want to foot the whole bill of feeding an entire party is having a potluck. Have each of your friend bring a dish and then host a giant feast for all to enjoy. This way you don’t have to do a ton of cooking, foot the bill on catering, and you get to be just with the people you care about.

Spa night:

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This is kind of an extension of the romantic night but it can also be between friends if thats what you wish. Have a night in to pamper yourself. Whatever you can get to have a make-shift at home spa day do it! Go into the new year pampering yourself to the point where you are relaxed and ready to take on the world.

Make creative cocktails:

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I have mentioned this a few times now because well I love the idea of it. I think looking at ways to create a fun cocktail is awesome and there is no better time to try it out then New Years! Pinterest and google searches are probably the easiest and greatest way to find ideas. You can make champagne mixtures, martinis, sangria, fun shots etc there is literally no limit to what you can do. You can have a competition with your friends or you can do this with a small group or yourself (either way prepare for the hangover). If you are looking to be drinking this New Years but not going out this would be one of my suggestions mixed in with throwing your own party.

Find a local bar and event place (Gameworks,, TopGolf, Bowling, etc):

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I think adult arcades, top golf, and all that fun stuff is totally a cool idea on any day of the year. However, I do think that this is also a great alternative to going “out out” for NYE. Usually places like this have NYE packages and again you can check places like Groupon to see if there are any discounts. The more you get in a group usually the cheaper it gets. So if you and your friends are trying to avoid the clubs/bars this new years and just casually grab some drinks and have some fun check this option out!

Celebrate the next day:

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The final option is to not celebrate on New Years at all. Celebrate the first day of 2019! You can do it however you like, whether it be a fun brunch or even a party! Either way you can avoid the New Years crowd all together by just not celebrating on the actual day. If you think about it its really not that big of a deal and kind of a fun idea!

There you have it. My 15 alternative ways to celebrate New Years that aren’t clubbing. I hope you all have enjoyed 2018 and go into 2019 with an amazing start. If you choose to do any of these activities please let me know or you can tag me in them on Instagram at alisonschulthesz

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL

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Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Tips for apartment living when on a budget

Three weeks into living with my boyfriend I quit my job. Now, I was able to do so because I have saved very responsibly but let me tell you it is still scary not having that paycheck when living expenses pile up. I was fortunate to get another job instantly. However, even before getting this new job (and a real nice bump in pay) I wasn’t making as much as I wanted. My boyfriend and I are both determined to save money as much as possible and therefore I wanted to share the tips that we came up with for apartment living on a budget.

Budget Apps:

Right off the bat lets talk about things that can help you if you are not good at financial planning. There are plenty of apps out there that you can link your bank account to, you can input your monthly income and expenses, that track your spending, etc that can help you. If you are not good at making a budget yourself then rely on an app to help you. Perhaps the top two apps my boyfriend and I use are:

  1. Mint: You can link your bank account to this app and it will categorize and monitor your spending
  2. Daily Savings: This you plug-in your reoccurring expenses, your salary, and it will basically tell you what your daily spendings can be and let you log it

This really helps you keep up with what you are spending each day and hopefully cut back on unnecessary expenses.

The big bad “monthly rent” 

Clearly the BIGGEST expense when living in an apartment is RENT especially if you are not splitting the costs with someone else. However, rent does not have to be so scary if you do it right. The biggest thing I do and make my boyfriend do is put a portion of the rent away with each paycheck. Rent can certainly wipe you clean if you don’t save any of your previous paycheck and use a whole paycheck to pay it. Putting some of it aside allows it to not be such a financial burden. This can also go for utilities as well!

Need random things for around the house?

To some extent you should utilize stores like “Family Dollar”, “Dollar General”, or “Five and below”. You can get some very basic essentials from these stores such as: pens, decorations, candy, books, DVDs, cards, toys, even makeup! The reason I said use it to an extent is that in life you do need to realize that cheaper is not always better and a lot of times you get what you pay for! However, things like decorations are nice to get from the dollar store and where me and Elliot got a few of our Christmas decorations! Also, these stores do manage to sell some brand name stuff for a lower price and you can get well known names from them for a low price and save a major amount of money.

For times you want to be a little classier then the dollar tree: 

Lets face it none of us really want to get EVERYTHING from the dollar tree but we still want to shop somewhere reasonable. Stores like Tj Maxx, Marshalls, and Bed Bath & Beyond are amazing for the essentials in your apartment. My boyfriend and I got all of our glassware, kitchen knifes, silver wear, towels, utensils, etc. from these stores and we didn’t pay more than a few hundred dollars for a LOT of items when it was all said and done. They have such cute stuff at affordable prices (which I am pretty sure is their motto) it makes filling your apartment with the things you need affordable!

Utilize stores like Sams Club and Costco: 

If you have a membership or know someone who has a membership at these stores you can really save money here. My suggestion is to by the things you use regularly (I.e. paper towels, napkins, tissue, toilet paper, dish washer detergent, laundry detergent, etc) in bulk at these stores. When you buy these things in bulk you save yourself the re-occurring expenses of having to buy them weekly or more than weekly. It is super helpful and most bulk products last for months. You can also buy food in bulk here as well. If you have something that you eat quite often it may be much better to by it in bulk versus buying it multiple times a week.

Speaking of large quantities of food:

Here is my BIGGEST tip for when buying food in mass! This part has a few aspects to it. First things first, it is INSANELY cheap to buy frozen vegetables and they last longer. I strongly suggest that if you eat large amounts of vegetables to buy them frozen you can cook or microwave them when you are ready to eat them. THE BIGGEST THING that has helped us save money in our household is buying meats in mass and FREEZING them. Elliot and I buy the large packs of meats and what we don’t cook we put in the freezer. This saves us a ton of money from buying small amounts of food more often, which again it

You truly don’t need cable: 

While internet is pretty necessary in your apartment you can totally make do without cable, which adds a good 50-70 dollars to your monthly bill bringing it to over a hundred a month. If you get the most expensive subscriptions to Netflix ($13.99) and Hulu (without live TV, which is $11.99) you will only be spending $25.98 a month. In addition to that you can also get Hulu with live TV for $39.99 a month, which is $53.98. Even if you just chose the Hulu option you are still paying way under then you would be for cable.

So there you have it: 

Those are my tips to save money while apartment living! There are plenty of useful tools out there to help you save money! A great resource with tons more articles is :

https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/

I will be sure to post more on saving to come! If you want more of my content be sure to follow me on Instagram @alisonschulthesz