Aug 27, 2013

Everbuying.com review: beware

As a blogger, I often do reviews. I'll review products, websites, or reward programs. Most of the time, I think its something my readers should know about, so I write on it. Other times, very few times, a company will contact me and ask me to review whatever they're selling. If it's relvant to this blog, I will say yes. I've already said yes to a sunglasses company, and a special company promotion, and in response, I do my best to give a fair and accurate view of what I'm reviewing.

Just because I get a free gift card or product doesn't mean I'm going to lie to my readers. In fact, I don't tell you guys that often, but I really like you guys. I so appreciate that you read what I write, it's basically awesome.  So in return, I aim to give you my honest opinion 100% of the time. And if that means exposing a lie, so be it.

I recently  received an email from a woman named Eva who said she was a manager at Everbuying.com  and she asked if I would review her site in exchange for a "donation". I told her that the site looked relevant to being thrifty, but I couldn't review something I had never tried. I told her I wanted a credit to the website so I could use the site and then write about my experience. This was her response:

"Hi Angela,
At present, we can't provide any products or credit. Is that Okay with you we send you the article then you just post it.
We have a team of copywriters who specialize in writing articles on various topics and would like to write an original article for you to use on your website – this article will not be used anywhere else on the Internet. 
So, what do you think about  it ? "

My question is: what is this company hiding? Why can't I experience and review their site like a normal blogger/advertiser relationship? I don't know. I do know that if you google "everybuying.com scam" quite a few hits come up. I also know you or I can't trust any positive review anywhere on the internet about this company, because it was likely submitted by the website's very own writers. Obviously I can't endorse a website that would chose such a dishonest method of self-promotion, and I would advise anyone to stay away from it. It can't be trusted.

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I often get asked if I make money on my blog. The answer is basically no. I've gotten paid in very, very small monetary payments from google ad words that pay pennies on the post. I mostly get paid in happiness when someone offers a comment, but pretty much, that's it.  When I do get offered a free product or gift card, I like to be able to take up the project and use the kickback as my reward. But let me be clear - I am not a sellout.

I will not be dishonest. I will never say something that I believe is untrue. And I will never post an article written by a company to make them more money. This is my commitment to you. Another commitment - brainwash you into sending me all the money you save through my helpful tips. Whatever, I'm just trying to be honest.

Aug 23, 2013

How to get more for your money



If you didn't already think that I'm cheap, this post will likely solidify that for you.

I have this trick that I employ at coffee shops and ice cream shops. I imagine it will work in other settings as well. First, the coffee shop technique.

I frequent a coffee shop (I'm actually there now) and despite the fact that their free coffee punch card requires 12 drinks before you get a freebie, and despite the fact that I order a $4+ drink every single time I go there, the permitted free coffee, is a simple cafe or decaf, beans seeped in water. Yep, coffee...plain coffee. This really irks me, and I recognize its due to my 1st world entitlement issues, but nevertheless, I use that fire to get more for my money.

I currently have a free coffee on my account, in fact I acquire them quite often. Yes, there is one thing I am NOT thrifty about, and its coffee. Anyways, so I approach the counter and give the cafe my customer name. They say - oh, it looks like you have a free coffee. And I say coyly, yeah but I can't use it for my mocha (frowny face). Tip: only use this trick when you don't recognize the person behind the counter, or if its a barista who is into customer appreciation or something. Then the barista, male or female, will reply, oh don't worry about that - I can do that for you. (Yeah, I kinda thought you could).

Next, when I go to ice cream shops, I offer a challenge to the person who is making my blizzard/freeze/flurry/whatever. I always ask for a small Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Flurry. Now usually you have to pay an additional cost for "extra stuff". I really got a kick out of it the first time I saw "extra stuff" on the menu, but hey, it's really a thing.

So I order my flurry, and I say, so... how much stuff do you really put in them? Is it just like a little or is it a lot - like a good flurry? (This works best by the way on a guy). To which he feels this pressure - like I'm giving him an opportunity to demonstrate his manhood. He can make me a kick ass flurry, which is a little bad-ass because there's probably a measurement, or something he really should be following. But no, he always takes the dare. He replies, oh yeah don't worry - I'll hook you up. Valah! Extra stuff, no extra cash.

At this point you're probably shaking your head a little, maybe you're embarrassed by my actions that are unequivocally born from a place of being a complete tight-wad . But honestly, this is who I am. And this is why I write.

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For more coffee money-saving tips, be sure to check out my coffee category.

Aug 16, 2013

Bizarre Scams: International Hot School

When I think of scammers, I imagine a group of people who live out in the woods, wear dark clothing, and spend hours daily interacting on craigslist. While my description is likely 100% accurate for at least one group of friends, the reality is, scamming comes in many different forms. Since the unemployment rate is so high in the U.S., I imagine some folks probably hop on the trend, as way to creatively make some cash...this seems like the likely explanation for the story you're about to read.

I received a first hand bizarre account of how a friend of mine almost got scammed through a woman she met at a yoga conference. She wanted me to share her story with you.

This story is written by Jessica Walsh, owner and blogger at YogiDance.

I recently was almost the victim of a scam. There are many of them out there, and I’ve heard stories, but never experienced it until last week.  Let me start at the Yoga Journal Conference in NYC. I met a seemingly nice woman there who I chatted with for a short time. I exchanged information with her since I visit the city fairly frequently and thought we could get together next time I was there. I thought it was cool to meet someone who seemed so nice, and only thought good things; not associating people who go to yoga events with trying to scam you. Well, I was wrong! 
About a month later I was in the area and we met up for lunch. We had a nice conversation, she told me about herself and I told her about me. I went on about my business and career goals. This is when she told me that in a few hours she was going to this event called, Superstar Machine. Where successful career and business people help you achieve your goals and give you advice. “It’s by invitation only,” she told me, and I thought, wow this is really cool. What a great opportunity that would be. Unfortunately I had to get home and was not able to go with her. I was bummed, but said maybe next time I could come to it, because it’s monthly.
We caught up after a few weeks with a phone call. I was telling her what was going on in my life, and shared a situation I was having with a guy I was interested in. “What do you think I should do?” I asked her. “I think you should come on International Hot School!” She exclaimed. I never heard of it before and she told me that it is a monthly conference call, like a talk show type thing where you get advice to help with your “man woes” and it totally transformed her relationship with her boyfriend. I’m always interested in improving how I handle my relationships and thought it would be interesting to check out. She said she’d see if she could get me on the call because you have to be invited. Low and behold, I was invited to join the call one night. 
I called in, and was joined by this girl and her friend who were, “super hotties” and they told me and whoever else was on the call how great it is and how much better your life will be and guys will just be so attracted to you, and you learn how not to be a “crazy bitch.” That’s about when I realized that she was selling to me. Which I thought, okay this is a little strange but I’ll just go with it. I thought this girl was my friend and I wanted to keep it that way. After they hyped it up, and sold it completely over the top for a good half hour, we finally get “International” on the call, the man who gives advice to these women, supposedly. They cut us off early and we go into the “party room” another line where they try to really sell it to us. That’s when they finally say that it’s $100 a month.
I immediately start thinking about how I’m going to tell her nicely that I’m not interested. They go on and on about how it’s such a great energy, and no more crazy bitch and the most over the top stuff, but really targeting women’s weaknesses and being super manipulative. Finally they say that they have to discuss whether or not we’re the right fit to join International Hot School and they will let us know tomorrow, then we have one day (or something like that) to join. She calls me the next day so excited to tell me that I got in. Wow, I was so surprised, obviously not. I politely told her, “I am on a budget and do not have the money for that right now, but thanks so much for thinking of me and sharing it with me. Maybe in the future I’ll consider it.” 
Well, she wasn’t hearing it, so she got her other friend on the phone and she was supposed to take my payment. I reiterated that I’m not able to do it right now, and they then told me it was lame that I couldn’t afford it. To which I thought was rude. She said it would bring me money to do this, and would be so great for my life and career. Then I asked, is there a website for this? Do you have online resources? No to both. I told them that I wasn’t comfortable giving my credit card info over the phone. She was like, I understand that. I continued to say that I would expect to see a website, so there’s some credibility and I just don’t think this is something I can do, sorry. 
Then their whole nice attitude quickly changed and they were like, uh I guess this isn’t right for you. Well, good luck out there! So we hung up and I was really surprised at the whole thing and not sure what to think of it all. Then half hour later this girl, who I thought was my friend calls me. I answer and she says, “what happened on that call? You were acting really lame!” I thought, what is she trying to do, this is so strange. I said I was sorry and I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it. “Don’t be sorry for me, I’m sorry for you! You are going to have such a hard time. Good luck out there. Bye.” That was that, and I was glad it was over! 
I just couldn’t believe what lengths this girl went to to try to sell this to me. They mentioned that the Superstar Machine is run by this same “International” guy, so she was trying it right from the start. It was really a shame to know that these women are perfectly fine with exploiting other women’s weaknesses and I just had to share my experience. I hope that no one else falls for this, and if you hear of either of these things, RUN!!  

Jun 20, 2013

Your cell phone bill is How Much? Let's save some money folks

Words you will never hear me say: "I have the best cell phone plan". Words you will hear me say: "I have the best cell phone plan deal".
Friends often chide me for choosing T-mobile. Yes, my service is sometimes spotty. Yes, I sometimes drop calls. But yes, I pay half the price that all my friends do, and yes I will be staying with T-mobile. For the few times that difference shows up, I would rather stick with my plan and save.

For some of you that might seem like a ridiculous move. In our culture, its often the norm to use products that come with the works, and the most convenience packed in. The problem is, those services are very expensive. Convenience comes with a price, and frankly, its not in my budget. And it doesn't have to be in yours either.

Currently my cell phone bill is $38/month including 2 gigs of 4g data. Friends on the main cell phone providers are easily paying double that for the same services. It bewilders me that people will pay $30/month for data alone on some plans. Is it really worth it? Or rather, can you really afford it?

Being thrifty is all about saying "I don't absolutely need that upgrade". It would be nice if we all had infinite dollars to buy the nicest things all the time, but there wouldn't be blogs like this if that were true for everybody (sad thought, right?). Cuts need to be made somewhere, and I always say the best place to make cuts is in your recurring payments: cell phone plan, cable bills, insurance costs, etc. If you can free up your monthly income, that just means you have money free for whatever comes up.

Besides choosing T-mobile (no, sadly, I am not getting any kickbacks for this post), here are general ways you can save on your cell phone expenses:
1. Choose a less popular or local plan. I once had a cell phone rep say to me "those no name brands can't compete with us, so they choose to give you the world in minutes and data usage". Yes, thank you, and I'm happy to take the world and run with it.
Photo Link
2. Consider losing your contract. If your cell company offers the choice, do some research. This means buying phones on craigslist or ebay, but trust me, you can get a much better deal than you're getting from your service provider anyway.
3. Buy your cell phone cases, screen covers, chargers, etc online. Do not buy it from your service provider, where you are paying like 5x's more than you have to. Do your research.
4. Join a family plan. And by the way, they don't actually have to be your family. You can join a family plan with friends, neighbors, boyfriend/girlfriends, or people on the street (not recommended). This means you share the cost of the minutes/texts/data and then you just add lines.
5. Think about forgoing your data plan. :loud gasp:

Take a second and see how much you pay for your cell phone on a yearly basis. If you feel comfortable paying that each year, then great. If it makes you uneasy, I'd encourage you to consider what conveniences you actually need and which ones you can go without.

May 19, 2013

Subway breakfast review

On Friday I picked up my free breakfast meal from Subway and brought it the office. I got the bacon, egg, and cheese on flat bread  adding spinach, red pepper and tomato; it came with a free small coffee. Normally the combo is $3, which is a pretty good deal in my book, but today it was free because I reserved my free breakfast with their promotion.

My breakfast experience: I thought the flat bread sandwich was tasty and healthy, especially once I added some veggies. I appreciated the Subway coffee to-go-cup because it wasn't styrofoam and it didn't use a sleeve. Sleeved coffee is just the darnedest thing to fit in a car cup holder. I just hate it. Instead the coffee cup was made of a thicker cardboard that was well insulated, fitting very conveniently in my vehicle - so props on that.

What I don't like about the Subway breakfast is the wait in line. Call me antsy, but I'm normally in a rush, especially at breakfast. It's difficult for me to have enough time to get out of my car, and tell the person what I'd like in my meal, grab my own coffee and then hop back in my car. If it's a morning before work, I will pretty much never have time to go through this process unless it's my day off, but that's just my personality.But despite my my constant state of rush and tardiness, this $3 combo is a still good deal.

Speaking of good deals, I've been CLEANING UP at yard sales lately, purchasing outdoor yard equipment. Check back for my next post on The Thrift World for more word on that. Until next time...
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