How to Make Money on Your FitBit (Or Other Activity Tracker)

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Did you know that you can actually get PAID to use your activity tracker (like a FitBit,  JawBone and more)!  Find out FIVE great (free) ways to get paid for doing what you already do --  WALK!!!

Last night I made a status update on Facebook about reaching more than 15,000 steps in a single day on my Fit Bit and my friend Lauren, with I am That Lady told me that I could have made money on those steps!  She shared with me that you can actually get PAID when using your FitBit!  WHO KNEW!?!!

Check out these EASY ways to get paid for using your Fit Bit or other activity tracker!!!

1. Earn $5 from Shop Your Way (every 14 miles walked).

Believe it or not, Shop Your Way will actually give you money for staying healthy.  It is simple to get signed up, just follow these steps:

  • Visit Shop Your Way Rewards and click the orange BECOME A CLIENT button.  (Now, you will be able to get exclusive coupon codes directly from me!!)
  • Make sure you own a FitBit (you can buy one directly through Shop Your Way once you are signed up – and will also earn 1,000 points for doing so).
  • Next, you need to create an account at FitStudio.com. Just make sure you use the exact same login information you used when creating your Shop Your Way account above!
  • Now you can start to earn those points and then redeem your credit at ShopYourWay.com!!

 

2. Earn Walgreen’s Balance Rewards Points.

Another way to earn money is to connect your FitBit to your Walgreen’s Balance Rewards card.  It is easy to connect your device and start to earn points for walking!

  • Visit Walgreens.com and sign up for a Balance Rewards Account (if you do not already have one).
  • Once you have your card, create (or sign into) your account.
  • From the main screen, click on Account Home.
  • From there, scroll down to find Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices (Steps) and click the blue button EARN POINTS.
  • Click through the screens sharing information. Next you can click on connect a Fitness Tracker (so it updates for you automatically).
  • Select the type of tracker you are using.
  • Next, you will redirect to FitBit’s site and need to ALLOW the app to run (pink button).
  • Now, as you walk, you will earn points!

 

3. Earn Rewards from AchieveMint.

This is a new app I just learned about.  You simply sign up to connect your FitBit and get actual real-life rewards!

  • Visit AchieveMint and click on Register at the top of the page.
  • Enter your information on the first screen.
  • Next, you will see a link to connect your AchieveMint account to your FitBit account.  Click there and follow the steps.
  • You earn points for the activities you complete and when you reach 50,000 points, you will get a $50 Visa Card!!

I love that you don’t have to do anything more than just walk to build up those points!

 

4. Every Move to Earn Points.

This is a health rewards program which allows you to earn points via your FitBit  (and other methods).  You might even check with your insurance company or employer as some of them will even MATCH the points you earn!

  • Visit EveryMove.org and click the orange SIGN UP button.
  • Once your account is set up, you will be redirected to a page which shows various devices, including the FitBit.  Click to connect your account.
  • Once connected, you will then go and can add your Health Plan, Employer or even college (where you may earn bonus points or additional rewards if they participate).  If you do not have these, you can just skip that step.

What was great is that when I signed up, it went back and grabbed some of my prior activity, which added in some “retro-active” points for me!

The only down side to this one is that you don’t earn free items, but rather discounts on those products you may want to purchase.

 

5. Earn points to donate to charity (or keep them for yourself) through Higi.

This is an interesting app because it will allow you to earn points to redeem towards products, or, if you prefer, make a donation to a charity!

  • Visit higi.com and click the green SIGN UP button.
  • Fill out the profile information.
  • When you get to the screen to connect your device, click on the FitBit link.
  • Follow the steps to link your account.
  • Once you reach points, you can either cash them in towards discount codes or donate to a charity instead.

The great thing is that most of these apps will also work with any device you have, allowing you to earn money while staying active!

15 Cheap (or Even Free) Non-Technology Ideas That Kids Love!

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Kids are plugged in all of the time these days.  From tablets to TVs to even games, they are always looking at a screen.  Here are FIFTEEN (15) ideas to get your kids to unplug -- while still having fun!!!

Is your house overrun with technology? Some days it seems like mine is. From requests to watch TV, instant message with a friend or play Minecraft it feels like I can’t get my four kids (ages 6-13) away from technology. Every time I look up their nose is in an iDevice.

I’ll share (take) the blame for that. Aside from the iPod my oldest daughter bought with her own money, I’ve provided all the funding for these pieces of technology. And I’m the one who sets the time standards by which they can be played. If I didn’t want them in the house I could easily get rid of them.

But that’s just it…I don’t really mind my kids having this technology – age appropriate of course. However, I do want to limit its use and domination over their life. If left to their own devices they would be on a device all day long. I don’t believe that’s healthy for their overall development.

So my wife and I have worked hard by setting rules for the use of technology and by trying to provide alternative, non-technology activities for my four kids to engage in. Over the last few years, it’s been surprising to see how drawn our kids have been to some activities we’ve suggested.

Some of these I’ll share with you are old standbys (no-brainers) but my kids love them nonetheless. Others you may not have thought of. Either way I hope they help you crush the technology bug infecting your kids.

 

Inside the Home Activities

 

1. Family game night. Before you roll your eyes at the prospects of a four-hour Monopoly marathon, realize it doesn’t have to be that in-depth. Yes, we’ve had drawn out games that have spilled over into day-two but that’s not the norm. Usually we are spending about an hour playing a quick game and ending it in a reasonable amount of time. Our go-to games recently have been Qwirkle, Aggravation, Sorry, Poker (I’m teaching the oldest two) and yes, Monopoly. Once the kids understand the rules and come to enjoy the game, they can play with each other when you are not available.

2. Puzzles. I’ll admit to being shocked at how attracted my kids have been to puzzles. We had toddler puzzles for them when they were young, but our rediscovery of how much fun puzzles are happened not so long ago when we received a puzzle-pack featuring 10 different Thomas Kinkade paintings.

Talk about hard! There was so much color and so many shades of light in those puzzles. But they stuck to them, even working to complete the 500-piece puzzles. Sometimes we had all six of us around the puzzle at once – arms and puzzle pieces flying everywhere.

3. Reading. We started our kids out early with reading. Of course I’m sure you’ve read about the cognitive benefits of reading at a young age. We read to them all the time as infants and toddlers. Thankfully they have all caught the reading bug and don’t mind sitting down for 30 minutes to read.

Reading can help bring the family together, especially if done right before bedtime. It makes for “quiet moments” during the day where the house is peaceful. It introduces them to new ideas and concepts they hadn’t considered before.

I even use it as a reward system. My kids often here me say “Read for 30 minutes and then you can…(fill in the blank).”

For this one, I’m even willing to break the non-technology rule. My oldest son (12) and daughter (13) both have Kindles and use their own spending money to purchase books (with our approval) through Amazon. Just make sure they aren’t sneaking it to bed after hours.

4. Constructing paper airplanes. This may be a boy thing but mine love it. I even have to keep them from flying planes in the church sanctuary that they make from the bulletins.

What’s really fun is to purchase a book with different airplane designs. They will spend hours (and all your reams of computer paper) trying to build the plane just right.

5. Build a tent or fort out of blankets. On a rainy day a couple of years ago I happened to remember from my youth how much fun I had building tents out of blankets inside our house. So I introduce the concept to our kids who were bored out of their mind. They looked at me like “What? Build a tent indoors?”

Once they understood the concept and started to build they really got into it. There is something about this activity that makes them feel like they are on an adventure. It also teaches them creativity and planning. If you have multiple kids it will force them to work together.

And the best part of all is that when they get to sleep in it overnight. That is until someone rolls over and it comes crashing down at 3 AM.

6. Give them household chores. Wait a minute? I thought you said these were activities your kids love? No kid loves being put to work!

Well maybe so, but my four kids love the money they get for the household chores we assign so I chose to include it here.

Remember, this is all about giving your kids options besides technology. And when we come home from school and they immediately want to hit the TV, I’ll always say a) “What homework do you have?” and b) “What chores do you need to do?”

The point on this one is not whether they love it or not. Rather that it slows them down from immediately seeking out a device. And you’ll get help with the housework, teach them some discipline and responsibility along the way and help them learn some skills they can put to use later. (Seriously, how many college freshmen do you know who can’t even do their laundry?)

And contrary to popular belief I believe kids can come to love work, just like some of you love your work. Just last week I received the shock of all shocks when my 13-year old daughter said, “You know it feels really good to get all your chores done…like you really accomplished something important.”

7. Cooking. Speaking of teaching them skills…cook together with your kids. I know you want to get dinner ready fast and having a 7-year old working in the kitchen usually slows things down. But I’ve found my kids love announcing at the supper table, “Hey, I helped with dinner!”

 

Outside the Home Activities

 

These are some things we’ve doing outside of the home. We enjoy being at home but we love to go places and be outdoors. Try these non-technology activities on for size.

8. Go to the park, bike or hike. I included all three of these together because that’s exactly what we do sometimes. A local park nearby has equipment to play on and biking trails. The kids play on the equipment and then bike on the trails while the wife and I walk the dog alongside them.

Personally I believe engaging with nature and outdoor activities is the great equalizer to technology. If you allow it, nature can completely disconnect you from this world for a time, relax your mind and bond you closer to others. Some of our best times as a family have been doing things like hiking up a mountain, camping, playing at the beach or simply…(see #2)

9. Watching a sunset and then see the stars come out. We watched a sunset together recently on vacation in Key West. Spectacular! But you don’t have to go on vacation for that. One happens every night. Take the kids to an open spot in the country or even someplace high up (like a downtown office building) and watch the sun slip away.

Then, see who can spot the first star. Or better yet, wait a few hours until the sky is filled and do some stargazing.  And for this one I’m also OK if you combine activity with technology. There are some great stargazing apps out there that will help you navigate the night sky and bring those constellations alive.

10. Geocaching. If you haven’t heard of this one you really need to check it out at geocaching.com. I had no idea this activity was such a world phenomenon.

It’s essentially an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS technology. (Yes, I realize once again I’m violating the premise of this article. But you as the parent can control the GPS. And really you need one – or a GPS app on a smartphone – to make this activity worthwhile.)

For this activity participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and try to find the cache (container) hidden at that location. There are literally millions of caches hidden all over the world. You should have no trouble finding one in your area. Last time I checked there were 132 caches within 5 miles of the small town where I live.

Every time we’ve done this, my kids have loved it…even when we took time on vacation to geocache. And, I’ll be honest…it’s a lot of fun for adults as well.

11. Have a campfire in the back yard. It doesn’t have to be a grand bonfire. Simply dig a 3 ft. by 3 ft. square hole in the ground in a safe place. Throw some sticks in there and you have a fire. Break out the marshmallows and your kids will sit there for hours mesmerized by the fire.

12. Attending a community social event. We’ve started to do this more and more as the kids have become older. We love concerts in the park, community festival events and parades. You might even take them to a local high school sporting event.

13. Take them grocery shopping. Oh…I can hear the groans now. The last thing I want at the grocery store is my kid.

Well, I get it. Rarely do I take all four with me. It can be a management nightmare. But during the summer months when they are home from school, I’ll routinely take one or two at a time. Here’s why:

  • it gets them out of the house
  • they actually can speed up the process by retrieving items off the shelf
  • I can teach them money management skills (comparing prices, staying within a budget, getting deals, etc.)
  • they love to push the cart
  • I reward them with something small (I usually let them buy one item – usually a snack – as a reward for helping out. Maybe that’s why they like to go.)

14. Get into a social organization or church youth group. My kids love the several hours each week they spend with friends at our church youth group. If that’s not your style, you may be able to find a social organization or teen center nearby that’s free or relatively cheap to attend.

15. Have them volunteer. This last one has just begun to happen for our oldest daughter. Once a month she will go with her grandmother to deliver food and serve at a local homeless shelter. She’s learning the world doesn’t revolve around her and her technology and that there are many needy people she can impact.

 

The Bottom Line…

If you want your kids to put down the technology you will have to set limits and provide them with options. Be creative and be prepared for some trial and error. There are hundreds of things they could do but some of those suggestions will be a BIG miss. Not everything we’ve tried has clicked.

Most importantly though realize you are going to have to be the driver of this. If technology is around they will default to it when bored. That alone speaks to the pull it has in their lives. You need to spark their imagination and draw them away from the screens (…which also means you will have to pull yourself away from the screens).

Finally know this…you have to be involved with them. If you notice many of our activities are family centric. I’m not letting the kids build their own fire, work around the stove without supervision or go hiking by themselves. I’m there with them. My wife is there with them. We are together.

That’s how it should be in a family. And really, if they are honest, it’s all your kids really want…to be with you.

What’s your favorite cheap activity? How bothered are you by the pull technology has on a child? What else are you doing to limit the reach of technology in your home?

 

About the author: Brian Fourman is a former private school personal finance and Bible teacher now turned stay at home dad and blogger. He helps individuals and families navigate the challenges of managing their money so that they can grow wealth and live with greater peace of mind. In his down time, he loves hanging out with his four kids and hearing his wife talk about all the cool things CPAs do at work. You can check him out providing encouragement and inspiration on his blog at Luke1428.com or by connecting with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

 

 

Under the Bridge — Fight Hunger and Homelessness

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Under The Bridge Meal

 

Aggressively Fighting Hunger And Homelessness Here In The United States!

Hey everyone, I’m Josh. You may remember me from Friday Finance with Josh several months ago; however, my focus is quite a bit different these days. Throughout the past several years, the American community has been great to me. At 28 years old, I’m able to work from home, enjoy the simple things in life, and not worry about finances. So, my fiancé and I decided that it’s time to start focusing on giving back to the community that has supported us along the way.

It All Started With A Turkey

A few days before Thanksgiving, 2014, Ana went out and got a massive turkey. We were expecting 8 to 10 friends to show up but, the actual number of people that came was…wait for it…ZERO! Now Ana and I had more than 20 pounds of turkey, and there was no way we were going to eat it all. So, we decided to make a bunch of sandwiches (17 to be exact) out of the turkey we had left over and bring it to the homeless for a nice Thanksgiving Dinner. That was the start of what we now call Under The Bridge. Since then, we’ve handed out quite a few more meals and got tons of people involved in the movement.

So, What Is Under The Bridge?

Under The Bridge is an ever-evolving movement. When we first started, we were just looking for ways to give homeless people a reason to look up, rather than looking down on them. Today, just over a month later, we’ve got big moves in our sights. We want to turn this into a national movement that becomes a cure rather than a band aid. Here’s what we’re doing so far to get that movement started…

Feeding Members Of The Communities Under The Bridge – Over the last few outings, we’ve really dialed down the cost of helping others. These days, we’re able to make a meal that includes every food group as well as a desert for about $2.30 per plate. As much as we can afford to, we make 50 or 60 plates and bring them to the communities under the bridges and hand them out. We’d like to make this a weekly or even daily thing; your support would really help!

Providing Warmth – Winter is the most dangerous time of year for the homeless. Currently, we’re coming up with a plan for what we call Necessity Bags. So far, we’ve decided to include hand warmers, thermal blankets, socks, deodorant, a tooth brush, and tooth paste. While we haven’t handed these out yet, we do plan to do so on our next adventure under the bridge. If you can think of anything else that should be included in the Necessity Bags, please email us at UnderTheBridge@ControlYourCity.com.

Finding Resources – Another thing that we would like to do the next time we go under the bridge is hand out printed resources. Some of the biggest issues plaguing the homeless include drug/alcohol abuse and mental health problems. So, we’re on the hunt for companies that provide assistance to people with these problems from the homeless community. We’re also on the hunt for shelters dedicated to abused women and children, employers willing to give the homeless a chance, and any other resource that would prove to be beneficial for those we meet under the bridge.

Supporting Those Who Want To Join The Movement – We are currently putting together a mailing list of people around the United States that are willing to prepare and hand out meals to the homeless community. Once the movement builds momentum and donations start rolling in at a faster pace, we will be sending uncooked food to these volunteers so that they can support the homeless communities around them. If you’d like to volunteer to prepare meals and distribute them to homeless communities in your area, please send an email to UnderTheBridge@ControlYourCity.com to let us know!

How You Can Help – Join The Movement Now!

There are several ways that you can help us turn Under The Bridge into a national movement. Choose one or more of the following to start making a difference now!

  • Support The Homeless In Your Area – One of the best ways to get this movement rolling is to bring it to the streets. Handing out anything from meals to socks, sweaters, blankets, even tarps will show the homeless community in your area that someone cares.
  • Make A Donation – As mentioned above, we would like to be able to take trips under the bridge more often, to provide much more than food, and to support others that want to help their own local communities. Unfortunately, this simply can’t be done without funding. All donations are greatly appreciated!
  • Sign Up To Distribute Meals – While we have a few people around the United States on the list, we want to support homeless communities everywhere. If you’d like to prepare and distribute meals to the homeless, email us today to let us know!
  • Tell Your Friends – We can’t start a movement without word of mouth! Tweet this post, share it on Facebook, or email it to a friend! Let’s get the word out!

Thanks for reading, everyone; I hope to see you join the Under The Bridge movement!

 

 

How To Create A Price Book to Track Prices, Deals and Sales Cycles

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One easy way to keep track of the prices at the stores where you shop is with a price book.  You jot down the prices every week after you shop and you will start to learn those sales cycles at your favorite stores - and know where you usually get the best deals!!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to find out when those items you need will be on sale?  Believe it or not, stores usually cycle sales on schedules.  By learning how your store does this, you can always get the best deals and know when to stock up, and when to pass on those deals.

The way you do this is by creating a Price Book.  This is just what it sounds like – a book which tracks the prices of the items you need at the stores where you shop.

A Price Book is a list of the products you purchase and the prices you pay in order to watch for sales trends and cycles.

It will take time to create yours, but once you have it set up, it is easy to maintain and will help you know when those prices are at their lowest, allowing you to stock up and save as much as possible.

How Do I Make a Price Book?

You want to make sure that what you use is simple enough that you can can maintain it.  If you are a techy person, you might want to use something on your smart phone.  If you are a paper list maker, then you might want to go with a simpler method like a spiral notebook or binder with inserts.  You can even create a spreadsheet on your computer.   The way you track it is not important, it is just important that you do.

You will want to keep the list organized however, by breaking it down by department or possibly even product.  For instance, you will want one sheet for your dairy items, one for meat, one for produce, one for breakfast foods, etc.  That way, when you need to find the prices (and update it), you can easily find it.

What Is Included in the Book?

No matter which method used to create your book, you will want to make sure to keep track of key items.  These will include:

  • Date
  • Store
  • Product/Brand
  • Size (oz, product count, etc)
  • Price
  • Per unit price

We have created a form for you to use, for free.  Just click on the image below to download yours:
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 Click image or HERE to download your free form

 

How Do I Create My Own Price Book?

The simplest thing to do is to starting keeping your receipts.  Once you shop, write down the information based upon what you purchased.  It takes a little work up front to get started, but eventually, the book will be simpler to maintain and you’ll get the hang of it.

To calculate your per unit prices, you will need to make sure you know the product size.  That might mean extra notes when you shop or updating the price book as you put your groceries away.  To determine a per unit price, take the price and divide that by the size.  For example, if you are looking at diapers you would calculate the price per diaper as follows:

$17.49 / 84  = $0.20 per diaper

You can simplify this even more by updating a price book while you shop.  Most stores have the per unit price listed right on the shelf for you.  That makes it simpler for you as you can just write down the price in your book.

Do I Ever Change the Price?

Yes!  That is the reason a Price Book works!  As you shop, you might have a price for an item listed in your booklet, but you find it on sale for less.  You will want to update that price in your book as that means there was a sale.  When you see it on sale again the next time, you might start to learn the sales cycle, such as every 6 weeks or every 12 weeks.  This is how you learn when to shop for the items you need.

How Do I Make the Price book Work for Me?

Before you shop, you will want to consult your price book to see if the items on sale are the lowest price or if you know you can get a better deal.  If your Price Book shows a lower price, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy that product.  It simply means only buy the amount you need to get by until the item will go on sale again at the lower price.

On the flip side of this, if you find that the price in the weekly ad is lower than what you show in your price book, it might mean that you not only need to update your price book pricing, but it also will let you know that it is a good time to stock up at this low price!

Does the Book do More Than Share Sales Cycles?

It sure does!  If you find a great coupon, you will know in advance about what you will pay at the store.  This helps you know at which store you want to use the coupon for the best deal.

A price book can also help with your budget.  If you find that you’ve got “too much month and not enough money” left until your next payday, you can make your list and know ahead of time what you can expect to pay at checkout.  This way, there are no surprises and you can adjust your shopping list before you shop!

Couponing Tips for Busy Moms (Dads and Others)!

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Even if you are a busy mom (dad, grandma, etc), you can still save money with coupons.  There are some things you need to keep in mind when it comes to finding, clipping and then shopping.  If you find you are too busy to coupon, click on over to get our FREE Couponing Tips for Busy Moms (Dads and others)!!

My time is valuable.  I have 3 kids, a house, a blog and a dog to take care of. If you are like me at all, you don’t have hours to spend finding and clipping coupons, chase down every deal and spend hours trying to save money.  I get that and to be honest, I actually do NOT do that!  Sure, I do great when it comes to saving money, but I do so in a way that doesn’t take up my precious family time, all in the quest to save a little bit more.

There are things you can do to make sure that you are doing what you can to save money, but not spending too much time to do so.  Check out these tips you can follow yourself (and those I actually do too)!!

 

1. Plan ahead.

No matter how busy you are, you have got to have a plan. Otherwise, you end up in the store not knowing what to buy and end up not only overspending, but also wind up back in the store several times over the next week to pick up those items you realize you need for dinner.  By making a menu plan and then planning your shopping list from that you save yourself a LOT of time.  Once your list is created so that you have the items you need for your meals, “shop” your freezer, pantry and fridge to see what other items you need to pick up and add them to your shopping list.  Now, you’ve got a plan of attack and will spend less time at the store and will save money by sticking to those items.

 

2. Find 2 stores and make them work.

On this website, we post deals from all sorts of stores.  While it would be great to get all of them, that is just unrealistic.  First of all it takes you time to do that AND you burn fuel to do it too!  That helps no one.  Instead, find the 2 stores closest to where you live and make those your only stores.

So what about that great deal at another grocery store? If you wait, those same items tend to cycle around at your local store too.  So patience can pay off and you will still score deals onthe items you want.

 

3. Don’t worry about the missed deal.

This goes along with #2 above. You can’t grab every single deal. It is impossible.  Just focus on not only the money, but also the time you are saving by not chasing down the deals.

 

4. Stick with printable coupons.

Let’s face it, if you get inserts in your Sunday newspaper, you can spend a LOT of time clipping, sorting, filing and then trying to find those coupons.  That isn’t for everyone.  Instead, just stick with printable coupons.  When you get your shopping list completed (step 1 above), just visit our Coupon Database and search to see if there is a printable coupon you can use there.

 

5. Consider purchasing individual coupons.

If you need or really want those coupons from the inserts, you can still get only those you need (saving you clipping time).  Just visit CouponDede and you can purchase individual coupons from her, already clipped and ready to use at the store!

 

6.  Stay organized!

This is probably my best tip of all.  Keeping your coupons in a location, binder, or folder that works for you is key.  You need to make sure that you can find those coupons when you need them.  By organizing like coupons together (for instance all baby items or canned foods), you can find them much more quickly, saving you valuable time.

 

7. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s.

Saving money is saving money.  Wether you save $3 or $30, you are still saving!  Don’t worry that the mom in your MOPS group is saving 75% off of her shopping at the store, just focus on what you can do.  We are all different.  Schedules, kids and budgets all play into saving money.  Just do what you can and don’t worry if you don’t save as much as the next person.

 

8.  Don’t forget about time savings.

If you are spending hours and hours trying to save money, that is not really putting you ahead.  Your time is very valuable.  You want to be with your family.  You want to enjoy the fun things in life.  If you spend all of your time trying to save money, you are missing out on your life.  In five years, you won’t remember how much money you saved at the grocery store in January, but you will remember that funny thing your child did or that school project you worked on together.

 

 

 

My Top Ten Money Saving Apps!

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I seriously LOVE using my smartphone to help me save money!  However, with the thousands of apps out there, it can be tough to find those which are the best to use.  I've listed ten great apps you should check out and download to help you start saving today!!

When it comes to saving money, we all know about clipping coupons, but what about doing more than that?  There are some great apps which you can install to help you save money in different ways.  Here are ten of my favorite apps!

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Gas Buddy – available for Windows, Android, Blackberry and iPhone

I love this app to help check out fuel prices.  Of course, driving too far out of your way won’t save you anything, but sometimes, a few cents can make a difference.  You simply enter your zip code and it looks around t prices close to where you are at.

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Shopkick – availble for both Android and iPhone

This  Free mobile app provides scannable coupons for stores like Target, Macy’s and more.  Not only that, you earn Kickbucks for simply walking through the door of your favorite stores!  Kickbucks are like points (or cash) which you can redeem in the on-line app. There are all sorts of rewards – including gift cards for yourself!

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RedLaser Barcode Reader  – available Android, Windows and iPhone

When you shop you can make sure you are getting the best price around.  You can scan in the barcode of the product.  This app will search not only the web, but also the brick and mortar stores to return the best price.    You can then Click BUY NOW to go directly to the website with the bargain price — or even get directions to the local store with the deal.

Coupon Sherpa – available for both Android and iPhone

This is a really awesome app if you love to shop retail!   When you are at a store, you can search your phone and see if that retailer happens to have any coupons available.  You simply search through the list, click on the store and if you find one, show it to the cashier and save.  No more clipping coupons for these stores!

Key Ring – available for both Android and iPhone

This is the perfect app to replace that stack of loyalty cards.  You always forget them or have 20 to sort though when you shop…..no more!   You simply add your card number to the app and then show it when you shop.  They scan (or manually enter) the number and you are on your way.

out to eat app2

Out to Eat with Kids – available both for Android and Apple Devices 

This is an app which can help families save money – no matter where you happen to be!  You simply allow the app to use your location and it will share restaurants which are close to you.  You click on the restaurant link and they will share the deals with you – so you know where kids can eat free including the dates, times and restrictions!

ibotta2

Ibotta –available on Android and Apple Markets

I’ve talked about this app more and more and wanted to make sure you were signed up.  Ibotta is an easy way to earn money when shopping.  It is very simple to use this app.

  1. Go through the app to find the products you want to buy.  Follow the links to have various amounts added to your account.
  2. Select the store where you will shop to purchase the product(s).
  3. Take a photo of your receipt showing you made the purchase.
  4. They will deposit that amount into your account.

viggle

Viggle -Android, Windows and Apple Markets

If you love to watch TV, then this is an app for you!  As you are watching your favorite shows, check in on Viggle to share what you are watching.  You can interact with other who love the program, but you can also earn rewards just for watching!

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Goodbudget (formerly EEBA) – available on both Android and Apple Markets

If you want to use the idea of the cash envelope system, without using envelopes or cash, then this is the app for you!  You simply leave your mone in your checking account.  Then, you create virtual envelopes instead.  As you shop, you track your spending and when your envelope reaches zero – you are done shopping!

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Target Cartwheel App – available for Android and iPhones

This is another easy way to save money at Target!  You simply scan the products in the store and if there is a Cartwheel coupon available, it will let you know!  So, you just shop for the items you need and you might end up saving more at checkout!  Remember that you can stack Target coupons (mobile or print) and manufacturer’s coupons with this app for even greater savings!

Five Tips To Easily Organize Your Electronic Files

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In this digital age, it can be tough to keep your files organized.  From photos to emails to documents - it can be overwhelming!  Follow these FIVE MUST KNOW tips to quickly an easily organize your files (so you can actually find that photo when you need to).

In this digital (and often paperless) age, everything is on our computer and/or devices.  This can cause clutter and often make it difficult to find the items you need, when you need them.

Look at your digital files like you would paper ones.  You can’t just toss them into a box or a drawer and expect to find them when you need to.  You have to organize them in some way, so you can find them.  The same holds true for digital files.  There are things you can to do organize your files so you an actually find them!

 

1. Set up File Folders

 

The one thing you should do is first create a folder for the current year (or prior year if you are cleaning up old files).  Just call it that — 2015 Files (or something similar).  Right away, you know that if you are looking for a photo or document for a select year, you know which file to head to.

Within that main folder, you will want to create additional folders, called sub-folders.  These can be set up for the various items you may have.  The three recommended would be:  Photos, Documents, Finances.  Now, you’ve got a quick way to organize those files under each of these categories – putting you one more step ahead to find files.

You can now move your photos, files and other electronic documents into these sub-folders and they are easily organized, helping you find them at the moment you need to.  Of course, you can go even further if you want to get SUPER- organized!!!

For many, one folder filled with ALL of those 2015 photos may be overwhelming.  What you can do is create more files under each sub-folder.  You can name them what you need in order to find them.  For example, under photos you could do folders such as Child’s Name, Birthdays, Holidays, Graduation, etc.  This is the best way to organize photos so you can track down that photo from Christmas 2014 when you need to!

Here is a quick chart to show how your file system could look:

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2. Naming Files

 

Simply putting files into your folders may still not be the most efficient method.  Photos are usually OK when just filed in a sub-folder, however, documents and receipts may not be.  Give those file names keywords – perhaps including the date when necessary.

For instance, if you have a receipt for the new refrigerator you purchase in April, you could name the file something like this:

RefrigeratorApril2014

Then, when you are looking for the receipt in your receipts or document folder, you can find it more easily.  Find a naming system that works for you and use it consistently.

3. Going Paperless

With so much paper, scanning and keeping items digitally can be a much more efficient method to saving your documents.  Rather than having a shoebox filled with receipts and papers for the current year, you can scan and add them to your digital files.

Many printers have a scanning option, so you could do this and scan in each document.  Just make sure that as each one is scanned you rename the file appropriately (see above) and then put into the correct sub-folder which you have created.

If you want to find another method to do this, you may want to look into a Neat Scanner.  These are expensive, but they sure are pretty awesome!  The desktop scanner is more than $300, however you can purchase a handheld wand scanner instead for around $130 – $180.  This is the method we use and it works perfectly!!!

4. Storing/Backing Up Files

 

Let’s face it, you don’t want to keep every file on your computer or device.  First of all, that is not smart in the instance of a crash, but also for security.  It is actually best to have two or three storage methods.  I’ve actually had hard drives crash, so I’m big on backing up your files — and often!

External Hardrive.  This is a small device which connects to your computer.  You can then manually back up the files you want onto the drive.  There are several options out there but you can find all sorts of different devices (at varying price points) on Amazon. This method is great to do monthly (or even weekly) backups at home.

Online storage system.  Many people use Dropbox to store files.  This is a great option as you can actually keep these files in your Dropbox folder so that when you make changes, they will sync for you.   The only thing with this option is that it only stores the files you have in Dropbox, rather than all of the files on your computer.

There are services which provide automated backup services (I love it when things just work for me and I don’t have to thing about it.  Carbonite is one of these companies.  You simply connect it to your computer and then, it will back up all files at select times (as you determined).  What I love about this method is that you can easily restore any file if you need to for any reason.  It is also not kept in your home, so if you lose it due to fire or natural disaster, your files are still available to you.  This is a pay service, but if you ever lose your computer, even once, this will certainly more than pay for itself.

USB Drives.  If you do not have very many files to store, you can purchase USB flash drives instead.  These are a quick way to back up select files onto a drive.  I actually do like these for some of your very important documents (such as copies of your Driver’s License, Social Security Cards, etc).  Then, keep it in a bank vault or with a family member — away from your home — so if you need to leave or need access, they can get it to you right away.

Computer internal backup.  Most computers have a way for you to complete backups onto your hard drive.  This can also be helpful in case you need to restore your system to an earlier date in time – without losing any files.  This varies based upon your operating system, so  you will need to conduct research to see how to do this based upon what you currently use.

Cloud backups.  This is common with most devices.  You can actually store your information “in the cloud” automatically.  You do have to pay for additional storage, but it can be a great way to ensure that what you do on your device is backed up in the case of a damaged (or even lost device).  It is also very helpful if you ever upgrade as the cloud can download your data directly to your new device.  Check with your provider regarding additional costs.

 

5. Delete Old Files

 

It is tempting to save every. single. file.  There is not need.  There are times when you end up with duplicates of the same one, so just permanently delete those files.

The same holds true with pictures.  As a parent, I know how difficult it is to hit the delete button, but if you have 10 of the same pose and only 4 are actually worth saving, then those additional 6 files really are not anything you will ever want to use anyhow.  Delete them and keep only those you really want to save.

 

Keeping your digital files is important so that you can stay organized and not spend hours searching for the file you may need!

How To Easily Find the Date on Your Coupon Inserts

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Did you know that the insert date is printed on every set of inserts?  It is easy to find - you just need to know the secret of where to look!  Click over to find out how!!!

If you have ever had more than one coupon insert sitting on your table, you might want to wonder how to find out which one was issued on which date. You fear you are out of luck because you forgot to write down the date on the outside.  So now what?  Is it a guessing game and you have to go through every insert to find the coupon?  Nope! You do not!!  There is an easy way to find the coupon insert date — but you may need a magnifying glass to see it!

Simply take your insert and turn it to look at the fold.  In very tiny print, you will see some wording — including a date!  That is the date the insert was issued.

smartsourceinsertdate

redpluminsertdate

You can see that the Smart Source Insert was from the November 10, 2013 newspaper and Red Plum was issued on October 8, 2013.  Now, you can track down those coupons you find in the matchups we share on the site or as listed in the Coupon Database!

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What Do Coupon Abbreviations Mean?

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Abbreviations | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

If you are new to using coupons and are reading various websites, you may see different abbreviations such as SS or RP and may be wondering, what in the world does that mean?  Many coupon and money saving sites use these in order to keep the posts easier to read.  Below you’ll find the most common acronyms used and what they mean.

$1/1, $0.50/2, etc.  The first number is the savings and the 2nd number is the quantity of products you must purchase to use the coupon.  For example:  $1/1 means save $1 off of the purchase of one item and $0.50/2 means save $0.50 off of the purchase of 2 items.

B1G1 or BOGO. Buy 1 Get 1. This is when you can purchase one item and you can purchase another one of the same product (same size or smaller) for free, 50% off, etc. The B1G1 will be followed with Free, 50%, etc.

B&M.  Brick and mortar store.  This means the offer is only available at your local store and not on-line.

CAT. Catalina Coupon. These are the coupons that are printed at the register and often handed to you along with your receipt. Not all stores will print these.

CRT.  Cash Register Tape. This is your actual receipt and coupons can be at the bottom or sometimes printed on the backside.

CVS.  Consumer Value Store. This is a drug store that may not be available in all regions.

ECB. ExtraBucks Rewards. These are the reward dollars given based upon total purchases over a period or for items purchased. Given only at CVS and redeemable there as well.

ETS.  Excludes Trial Size.  This is found on many coupons and just means that you can not use it to purchase trial and often travel sized products.

FAR.  Free after rebate. This is pretty self explanatory. When you purchase the item and get your rebate back, your total cost will be zero, or free.

GM. General Mills. Insert found in the Sunday newspapers.

INSERT. The coupon inserts found in the Sunday newspapers.

IP. Internet Printable. Coupons accessed and printed on line.

MIR. Mail in Rebate. These are available in packages, store fliers or sometimes on line. You may need the UPC label and your receipt in many instances, in order to claim your rebate.

MM. Money Maker.

MQ. Manufacturer Coupon.

OOP.  Out of Pocket. This is the amount you will actually spend to complete your purchase.

PG or P&G. Proctor & Gamble. This is both an insert found in the Sunday newspaper and also a Manufacturer.

Q. Coupon.

R. Regional.  That means you may or may not find this exact coupon in your newspaper inserts since those can vary from region to region.

SS. Smartsource. An insert found in the Sunday newspaper.

RP. RedPlum. An insert found in the Sunday newspaper.

WYB.  When you buy.  This is usually used when sharing the lowest price and might be written like this “$0.50 each wyb 2.”  That means when you purchase 2, using the coupon shown, you will pay just $0.50 each – or $1 total for both items.

YMMV.  Your mileage may vary. This refers to what value you can get for your coupons as some stores, including national chains, may differ on what they will and will not allow.

coupons

Aldi Shopping Tips: What You Should Buy

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If you have not ever shopped at Aldi you are missing out on amazing deals and ways to really knock down your grocery budget.  If you are new to shopping there, you may not know which items you really try and which you may not want to grab.  I've got a list of the items we ALWYAS buy at Aldi -- and the savings we realize is unbelievable!  You've got to click over to get in on this list of the Must Buy Aldi Items!!!

In the past couple of years, I’ve learned more about Aldi Markets.  I always had a skewed perception of this store, so never shopped there.  However, that all changed back in the summer of 2011 when I hosted an ice cream party and shopped for everything at our local store.  I was pleasantly surprised at what they had to offer.  The prices — oh boy — the prices!  They beat just about everyone around on nearly everything.

We’ve tried many items during that time and have found out which items are the best bargain (and which items we pass on).  It amazes me how far my $50 can go there vs. what little I can get for the same amount at my local grocery store.

My family and I know have our “Aldi Staples” which are the items we get only there and no where else.  I stock up when  I hit the store because I know that my money will go further and my family will actually eat the items we buy!  Below is my Top 25 Aldi Items that I always buy there and no where else.

 

produce

You can find some great deals on produce, but you also need to carefully look it over.  There are times when it is a bit less than fresh, so you will want to pass.  Thankfully, most items are ripe and ready to take home.   Here are the items we always buy at Aldi:

  1. Pineapple
  2. Avacados
  3. Organic Bananas (watch for ripeness and eat accordingly)
  4. Lemons
  5. Limes
  6. Baby Carrots
  7. Peppers
  8. Strawberries
  9. Kiwi
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Baby lettuce in clam shell
  12. Squash

 

pantry

We find many of our household pantry items are the best bargain at Aldi.  We usually stock up on these items when we make our trip (just to save a return trip sooner than we need t0).  These items include:

  1. Noodles
  2. Canned vegetables
  3. Canned fruit
  4. Baking items: flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, chocolate chips
  5. Breadcrumbs
  6. Natural peanut butter
  7. Cereal
  8. Vanilla extract (real – not imitation)
  9. Mustard
  10. Chicken broth
  11. Bread
  12. Tortillas

 

dairy

We find most of the refrigerated items are very good quality, however, you may want to try a one or two of each before you jump in and replace your regular brand, to make sure you like the flavor.  These are the items we always purchase.

  1. Cheesesticks
  2. Butter
  3. Shredded cheese (mozzarella and cheddar)
  4. Milk
  5. Eggs
  6. Salsa
  7. Cream cheese
  8. Almond milk
  9. Greek Yogurt
  10. Fresh mozzarella
  11. Pizzas (in the dairy and not the freezer)

frozen

Aldi has a great selection of frozen items.  You do want to read the labels before purchasing, but these are some of the items we normally buy:

  1. Ice cream
  2. Waffles
  3. Pancakes
  4. French Fries/Tater Tots
  5. Popsicles
  6. Pizza
  7. Berries
  8. Seafood (various – as in season)

snacks

We don’t purchase too many snacks or sweets at Aldi, but we have a few items that we toss into the cart each time we go.

  1. Tortilla chips
  2. Moser Roth chocolate bars
  3. Mini crackers with cheeze
  4. Fit & Active fruit snacks
  5. Fit & Active chocolate cookies
  6. Fit & Active S’mores drizzled mini crisps
  7. Penguin crackers
  8. Granola bars

 

meats

We do not buy much meat at Aldi, but that is because we get fresh meat from a butcher and put it in our freezer. However, we do find a few items at our local store and here is what we usually buy.

  1. Premium bacon (do not buy the lower priced packages as they are not as good)
  2. Jumbo hot dogs
  3. Ground turkey
  4. Frozen chicken nuggets

 

beverages

 

Another items we find at our store are beverages.  Having 3 kids, we do drink a fair amount of juice, but mostly water and milk.  We do splurge and find a few things there once in a while (and even alcoholic beverages).

  1. Organic bottled juice
  2. Bottled water
  3. Sangria (when in seaason)
  4. Domestic and imported beers (my hubby likes some of these)

household

We are pretty brand loyal with many of our household items, but there are things we still find at Aldi and grab when we need them.

  1. Paper plates
  2. Napkins
  3. Plastic silverware
  4. Aluminum foil (it is thinner, but works for keeping items warm in my kids’ lunches)
  5. Storage bags
  6. Paper towels
  7. Thick toilet paper (don’t get the thin – it is horrible)

So there you’ve got it!  My quick list of those most buy Aldi items!!  By shopping for these we have really made a difference in our budget as our money goes much further!  We still shop at other stores, but Aldi can usually fill the pantry and shelves with the basics – at a fraction of the cost!