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Enjoy Fall Break Without Breaking the Bank

By: Vincent Mortensen

Fall Break is almost here! From October 12th to the 19th, you are free to take a breather from classes and all that studying. We’ll all want to take a load off, but some will want to take a load off in a different place. Why not? We love vacationing but we also hate spending the high prices attached to it. Take some of these tips into consideration if you decide to travel during your break:

1. Take a re-positioning cruise – When cruise liners need to relocate their ships from one area of the world to another, they hate losing money. They fix this situation by offering much lower rates for a one-way cruise for passengers to their new destination. You will have the same great experience at a lower price. Make sure the flight home doesn’t blow your budget, though.

2. Use specialized websites – The vacation market has become very competitive to the psimpsons-vacationoint companies such as Kayak or Trivago will pull all major travel prices and put them on one website to compare. Not only does this save money, it will save time as well.

3. Think home, not hotel – Believe it or not, websites like VRBO.com or AirBnB.com gives you the opportunity to swap your living space with another traveler. You will live at their house and they will live at yours during the period. This slashes expensive hotel costs and gives you a more local feel of the area.

4. Travel in the off-season if possible – Tourist areas like to entice people to come during the off-season by offering better vacation packages. On top of that, these areas are usually much less crowded than the peak seasons. You’ll be able to do more with the same allotted time. Mid-October counts as the off season so you’re in luck.

Always make sure to search websites for any other tips I haven’t mentioned here. The vacation world is loaded with great deals if you take the time to get out there and find them!

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Top 10 Websites for Bargain Lovers

ShopSmart Magazine reported on the top 10 websites to help save consumers money in their April 2014 issue. The following are their picks: 

YIPIT.COM 

Many of us sign up to receive deals from the places we love to shop, resulting in several emails from different retailers crowding our inbox! Yipit.com solves this issue by sending one email a day with deals from ALL the sites you subscribe to, including Groupon and Living Social!

COUPONSFORCHANGE.ORG 

This website partners with Share Our Strength; an organization that fights against childhood hunger. Using 3 coupons from Coupons For Change will result in one free meal for a hungry child through Share Our Strength. Who wouldn’t want to save money and help feed staring children?!

SELLOUT.WOOT.COM

Known as one of the “flash-sale” sites, it has deals on a variety of items ranging from camping equipment to watches and laptop cases. This site is a great place to get deals however they go quickly, so check often!

BAUBLEBAR.COM

Love free shipping and accessorizing your outfits? Then this website has everything you want! A great website for affordable accessories without the hassle of extra shipping costs. (View picture to the right).

AMAZON.COM/COUPONS

You can search through the most popular coupons to see what people are saving money on. When you find a coupon you want to use, simply click on it and it will be subtracted from the total in your checkout! This can be combined with Amazon Prime for free shipping for even more cost savings.

DEALS.EBAY.COM

Deals are posted every day at 8 a.m. Pacific Time from trusted sellers. Ebay also incorporates informational banners to help you sort through newly added items or items that are almost gone.

GILT.COM

Another “flash-sale” site that has up to 60% off of name brand designers as well as a feature to select a city to view deals on activities and food.

PRICEBLINK.COM

This deal finding browser add-on will alert you of competing prices for any item you are shopping for online. It will also give you a reference for the price history of the item. (View picture to the right).

TJMAXX.COM

Looking for designer deals? TJMaxx.com has a “Runway” section to browse through deals on Prada, Gucci, etc. You can also sign up for flash-sale alerts or browse new arrivals in their  “Just In” section.

HARMONDISCOUNT.COM

Great deals on beauty and personal care products. Touting products as much as 20% lower than at retail store such as Walmart. You can find your favorite products by clicking “Shop by Brand.”

Penny Auction Sites Cost More Than a Penny

You’ve seen the commercials for companies like Quibids and Beezid: Win an iPad 3 for just $36.43.  That’s more than 90% off!  With deals that good, who wouldn’t try?

Penny Auction Sites have become very popular in the past ten years.  The concept is fascinating and addicting as well.

Every time you bid, the item you are bidding for goes up one cent.  Each item has a different timer from five to thirty seconds.  Every time someone else bids on the item, the timer will be reset to the original time.  When everyone stops bidding for the item, the timer expires, and the person with the last bid wins the prize.

For example:  Tim is interested in a Macbook Air.  The timer is set at 15 seconds so every time he or someone else bids on the item, the timer resets to 15 seconds.  Being very patient, Tim is able to win the brand new Macbook Air for $124.88.  What a deal, right?  Not necessarily.

What penny auction sites fail to acknowledge is the bidder must purchase ‘bid packs’, certain amounts of bids for a specified price.  For example, 100 bids might cost you a heart-breaking $50.  From our example, let’s say Tim purchased 1,000 bids for a discounted $400 (the more you buy at one time, the cheaper it is).  To win that item, Tim used 900 of his purchased 1,000 bids.  At 40 cents a bid, Tim spent an additional $360.   In total Tim spent $484.88 for his Macbook Air.  In this venture, Tim came out on top since Macbook Air’s currently retail around $1,200.

Not everyone is as lucky as Tim, though.  What about those bidders that lost to Tim?  If they used as many bids, they just spent a hefty $360 and now have nothing to show for it.  Realize there are on average seven to twenty different people fighting for the same item depending on how expensive that item is.  Your chances of winning are greatly decreased because of it.

I have personally tried penny auction bidding.  It was a very exciting and addicting experience.  With $60 worth of bids, I was able to win a paper towel holder, a $10 Walmart gift card, and two $15 Subway gift cards.  The total value of all my wins?  About $50.  Even with all my ‘loot’, I still didn’t come out on top, losing ten dollars in the ordeal.

If you currently do penny auction sites or are interested, please be very careful.  Before you know it, you will have spent hundreds of dollars on a product you won’t even get to take home.  9 times out of 10, it is cheaper to simply buy the product at a retail store.

Saving Money For The Holidays

It’s the Most…..Expensive Time of the Year!

By Vincent Mortensen

Summer has come and gone.  The heat has transitioned into the cool, crisp weather of autumn.  With the changing weather brings the changing of the seasons and all the fun holiday’s attached to them.  In a three month span, we dress up and get candy, gorge ourselves on delicious foods and top it off with giving and receiving presents.  Even the holiday season can cause stress.  In this sense, it can harm us financially.

Chances are you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for all your closest family and friends.  If you’re not cooking, you’re probably traveling to get to said meal.  With the steady rise of gas prices, long distance car trips or flying can cause a financial squeeze.  This is why we must start saving now instead of later.

Let’s do an example.  A family of four needs to travel to Denver, Colorado from Salt Lake City, Utah to reach grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even booking in September will cost each person on average $200 for round trip.  $800 is considered by many a major purchase and should be saved for.

Now for driving.  Let’s say gas prices are averaged out to $3.70 a gallon throughout the road trip.  Your car receives 25 mph on the highway for the 550 mile trip.  This will round out to about $162.50 round trip.  This is a much better deal but still on the expensive side.  There may be additional costs including hotel as well.

Imagine if you had to travel even further than the next state over.  Things could become even more expensive than $160 to $800.

If you don’t have to travel far for Thanksgiving, enjoy your meal and be merry!  But, if you have to spend a significant amount to see your loved ones, it’s never too early to start saving for your upcoming adventure.  Good luck!

$50 to Brookstone for $21.32!

ZingerRight now on Living Social, you can purchase a $50 voucher to Brookstone for $25, and when you use the promo code “FRIDAY13”, it takes the purchase price down to only $21.75. Don’t forget to go through ebates (see instructions on our website) and get an additional 2% off, making your final price $21.32!

The Aqua Zinger water bottle featured here is on sale at Brookstone 2 for $40. The same water bottle is $28.99 on Amazon. With this voucher, each water bottle is only $10.66 and you would still have an additional $10 to spend!

Fine Print: Promotional value ($50) expires on October 25, 2013 but the paid value ($25) doesn’t expire until September 18, 2018. This certificate is good at all Brookstone locations and online (shipping is free with $99 minimum). Only one voucher per order. No returns for credit. May be applied toward sale items. Not valid for Brookstone gift cards or on past purchases. Voucher is final sale and non-returnable. Merchandise returns for exchange on Brookstone merchandise allowed in accordance with Brookstone Return policy. Balance of voucher may not be paid out in credit or cash. Tax not included.