Jun 23, 2014

Forget the hassle of couponing, reap the benefits instead!

As a blogger who claims to be all about being thrifty, I have a confession: I'm not a couponer. In fact, I really dislike coupons. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Coupons can make you spend more money.
Oh, you have $10 off $30? Well instead of just spending $7, all of a sudden there is a pressure to spend $30 just so you can save $10. Sound familiar? We can often forget the reason companies create coupons is because they want you to buy more, not less.

2. Coupons are really annoying to keep track of.
 Something I have done regularly is clip a bunch of coupons and then show up at the store with my product only to realize the coupon is at home. Other times I get home to realize I forgot I had coupon for that. Then there are the really annoying times I don't read the fine print carefully enough and the cashier rejects my coupon! Gah! I hate couponing!!

3. Coupons entice you to buy a specific product that you often don't want. 
What you want is coupons for what you want to buy. Well there is a solution!

Use coupon apps (they are my new best friend). My favorite two are Retailmenot for my smartphone and Honey for my Chrome web browser. Here's how they work.

Retailmenot: I go to the store to buy stuff I was already planning to buy. I search my Retailmenot app that's always handy on my phone, and type in the name of the store I am in. Boom! It shows me coupons for the store, and I have found, the coupons are even better than what the store offers on their own apps! For instance, I was at Michael's buying a frame and promptly checked my store application in the coupon section and found nothing. Then I checked Retailmenot and clicked on a coupon to show the cashier and received 25% my sale item. I've also gotten a free regular size body wash at Bath and Body Works, and just yesterday I got 50% my highest priced item at Joanne Fabrics. This app also works with online purchases..and speaking of those...

Honey Plugin for Chrome: What always irks me about online shopping is the check out portion, and dreaded promotional code line. This line indicates that there are promotional codes out there but I don't have them so I am losing out on savings!! Luckily, the Honey app will pop-up automatically (after installed) and ask me if it would like to search of savings. Yes, of course! As a result, it will do a web search and pull up any applicable coupons for the site. Great! Once again, you have the freedom to buy stuff you were already going to buy, but this time, you may get a sweet discount.

Coupons can be our friend if they don't talk us into buying more stuff. What we need is less stuff for less money. And that's why coupon apps are my best friend because they actually save me money in the long run. Yes, music to a thrifters' ears.

Jun 21, 2014

Unwarranted charge? Get your money back!

My husband Chris and I just took a 3 day, 2 night trip to New York City. I used my favorite new hotel-finding-toy google.com/hotels where you can choose a location on the map, pick a radius, and it will show you all the hotels in the vicinity. Once you've identified your radius, n you can sort by price to get the best deal. This especially comes in handy when you have a husband who wants to stay in Manhattan and a wife who is horrified by high prices. The result was we choose a cozy bed and breakfast 100 or so blocks away from mid-town and just a couple blocks from a subway station. Savings: $100/night plus free breakfast. Yes, please, thank you.

At the end of our trip, we checked out of our hotel and noticed something less than excellent pop up on our credit card statement. We were sitting in a coffee shop before heading to the bus station and decided to review all our charges from the vacation. (Side note: I can't emphasize enough how important it is to review your finances because it keeps you more aware of your charges and spending habits. It also helps identify possible  fraudulent charges or anything that looks outta whack. We use mint.com so we can see all our finances in one place.) We had paid for our hotel several days in advance online, but we saw an additional $90 charge pop up from the hotel after we checked out. We racked our brains for a possible cause for the charge but couldn't come up with anything.

Chris promptly called the hotel for an explanation and no one answered. The next day he called again and left a message and he also wrote an email, which were all unanswered. At this point, I am very frustrated. Nothing pisses me off more than feeling like I got swindled! Luckily Chris knew what to do. He called the credit card company and explained the situation. He told them we attempted to contact the hotel with no response - we hadn't authorized any additional charges. The result? The credit company took the charge off. That's it! 

Credit card companies always trust the consumer first, and the merchant second. After we filled the complaint the charge was completely removed from our responsibility. The credit card company will now contact the business and ask them to warrant the charges through documentation - if they can't then the money is ours to keep. We believe it was either an accidental charge or a shady hotel maneuver so we believe the money has found its rightful home. 

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