Avoid Payday Loans By Staying Healthy: A Wellness Guide

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Medical debt continues to be a big problem for many people in the United States. According to a survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over a quarter of Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills.
And it’s not surprising. Healthcare can be incredibly expensive. Just one night in the hospital can cost almost $2,000, and if you aren’t insured or your insurance doesn’t cover the stay, that’s all coming out of your pocket. If your credit isn’t great, you may even be tempted to turn to a payday loan to handle the costs.
With these tips from the experts, you can lower your chances of running into costly medical issues, saving yourself a lot of money in the long run.

Rethink the gym.

Gym memberships are costly, and it’s hard to find the time to actually go there. If you’re paying for a membership but not actually using it, then you’re just throwing money away. And if you can afford to just throw money away, then why are you reading this website when you could be racing helicopters around your top secret private island?

Here’s what health and wellness expert Audrey Christie (@Audrey_C_Mcl) had to say about gym memberships:

“I love to tell people to get rid of the gym membership. It often does more harm than good. Especially if you are simply trying to move more or lose weight. You can’t outwork overeating and trying to outwork it leads to a serious decrease in the happiness department. Instead, think back to what you liked to do as a child… ride bikes, play a particular sport… these can be clues as to how you might like to move your body as an adult. Once you figure out how your body wants to move and play… aim for thirty or so minutes a day.” Check out Christie’s website AudreyChristie.com for more of her advice:

You should also consider some kind of strength training. “Due to the natural process of sarcopenia, we all begin to lose muscle mass around age thirty at a rate of one percent per year,” nutrition expert Dr. Caroline Apovian (@DrApovian) explained to us. “This process accelerates at age forty. This is a health problem for many reasons, but one of the main ones in regards to weight is that our basal metabolic rate is primarily determined by the amount of lean muscle mass we have. So, as our muscles shrink, our metabolisms slow down.”

How can you avoid the worst effects? Dr. Apovian has the answers:

“While this process happens for everyone, weight gain and weakness are not inevitable side effects of aging. With the combination of a high protein, whole foods diet and strength training, many of my patients become stronger and healthier than they ever have been. Strength training will also provide people (of all ages) with the following health benefits: lower stress levels, improved cognitive abilities, less bone loss, and reduced risks for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.”

And Dr. Apovian assures us you can get these benefits without a costly gym membership:

“Studies have shown that lifting weights just twice per week for about thirty minutes is enough to rebuild lean muscle mass. I advise beginners to start slowly, maintaining proper form with lighter weights.  Increase weight and intensity as you progress. Make sure to work all major muscle groups in the body.

“Using free weights at home is an excellent alternative to joining a gym, or there are many gyms that offer lower costs for community members. As long as you are consistently challenging yourself, working out at home with a pair of dumbbells can do the trick.”

Registered dietitian Kim Melton (@NutritionPro_1) joined in the “quit the gym” chorus: “Workout at home. There are several apps that you can download onto your phone that have a variety of workout routines at various levels and use little to no equipment. There are also hundreds of great workouts for free on YouTube from yoga to strength training to cardio. This eliminates the need for expensive gym equipment and/or a membership to save you money.”

If you do have some money for fitness but don’t think the gym is your speed, Calli De La Haye, co-founder of Kalimukti Yoga (@Kalimuktiyoga), has an alternative suggestion: “Making yoga part of your lifestyle optimizes your health and it doesn’t need to be expensive. You can roll out the mat and practice on your own, anywhere for free or if you’re not sure where to start and prefer to have a teacher, our site offers you yoga classes for £8.99 a month [about $11 USD], which is cheaper than attending one yoga class at a studio. Here’s the site so you can check it out and there’s even a free 14-day trial to get you started.”

Sleep well.

Some wellness tips won’t cost you anything. For example, getting more sleep. Of course, just because you don’t have to spend money on it, doesn’t mean it’s always easy to make the time to get a good night’s sleep, but if you can, the benefits are worth it. Dr. Apovian is here to explain exactly what those benefits are:

“A lack of sufficient sleep not only stimulates high cortisol levels but also interrupts the balance between our satiety and hunger hormones. Two important hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are brought into balance while you sleep. Ghrelin signals the body to replenish energy stores and is experienced as hunger and cravings. Leptin helps us to feel full and satisfied. The day after a less than optimal night of sleep, ghrelin levels remain high and leptin levels drop, regardless of what we eat.

“Studies also indicate that getting less than the optimal amount of sleep regularly negatively impacts memory and the areas of the brain associated with rational decision-making. This makes our decisions (like whether or not to have a doughnut for breakfast), more impulsive.

There are some reasons why getting a good night’s sleep in middle age is more challenging than before. Shifting circadian rhythms, a natural decrease in melatonin, and the hormonal side effects of aging, especially for women, can all interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. I offer many tips on my blog for reversing this trend, but in a nutshell, keep a consistent sleep schedule, blockout seven to nine hours for sleep every night, and be aware of the lifestyle habits that encourage sound sleep (limited screen time, healthy, protein-rich diet, cardiovascular exercise) and the ones that interfere with sleep (inconsistent sleeping and eating schedule, added sugars, foods high in fat, sedentary lifestyle).”

Shop smart, eat smart.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat whatever you want and stay healthy? Sadly, the world isn’t always nice. BUT you can eat healthy without setting your wallet on fire.

Brett Graff (@BrettGraff), The Home Economist and author of NOT BUYING IT: Raising Happier, Healthier & More Successful Kids, gave us the rundown on planning your meals:

“There’s one ingredient to healthy and inexpensive eating: planning. If you wait until one hour before dinner to plan dinner, you’ll grab whatever is available and it will never be the healthiest or cheapest option. When you sit down for just 45 minutes or less a week on, say, Sunday, you can map out healthy meals using seasonal (that means cheaper) ingredients and sale items.

“You can, for example, cook a big pot of black beans to eat with chicken on Monday, rice on Tuesday, and you can add light sour cream, cilantro, and puree to use as a sandwich spread by Friday. You can stock up on healthy, whole grain breads to have with turkey on Monday and as a side to a salad on Wednesday. Plus you can incorporate sale items into meals. During my planning, I look up recipes and then type the ingredients into one of the online delivery services so I don’t forget anything. Even with a fee, you can feed a family for a fraction of what takeout or last minute restaurant meals cost. If you buy sale items, you’ll lower your costs. What’s more, planning once a week eliminates having to plan every single day, so you cut your emotional and stress costs as well. That’s healthy.”

Graff also told us which foods to buy to get the healthiest bang for your buck:

“It’s actually cheaper to live a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to buy organic vegetables. There’s a great debate about synthetic vs. natural pesticides. It might seem that natural pesticides are safer but guess what? They’re still toxic and created to kill bugs. There are plenty of natural substances you wouldn’t want in your bloodstream, snake venom and arsenic, for example. Buy fruit and vegetables with skin and always check the Environmental Working Group’s website for the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.” They’ll tell you the conventional produce with the least pesticide residue.

“Also, you don’t need bottled water. The Natural Resource Defense Council found that most of it comes from the public water supply anyway. Most municipal water is completely safe, so fill from the faucet with reusable bottles and keep them in the fridge for when you’re on-the-go. When it comes to money, you’ll find that fresh produce is cheaper than takeout. Skip prepared foods and buy a bag of lettuce and a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have the patience to cook.”

Melton also advocates meal planning. “Plan ahead and take food with you to school, work or when you will be gone from home,” Melton advised. “If you have healthy food available when hunger strikes, you will be less likely to spend money and make less healthy choices. As someone once said, never shop when you’re hungry. That’s good advice!”

And what sort of food does Melton recommend you buy? Or more accurately, avoid buying? “Eat less sugar. Research has shown that a major population eats more sugar than they should.  Look for recipes online that use less sugar or simply use less in your favorite recipes. By cutting back on this ingredient, you will not only save money but your health will be better.”

More affordable pharmaceuticals.

Pharmaceuticals are one of the most expensive, regular medical costs people face. Whether it’s pills, insulin, or inhalers, it’s all costly and it can be even more expensive if you aren’t able to take the meds you need. That’s why Joseph Sanginiti, President and CEO of FamilyWize (@FamilyWize) gave us advice on how you can keep your pharmaceutical bills more affordable:

“Always talk to your pharmacist. Your pharmacist, like all healthcare professionals, cares about your health and wants to best help their customers. Get to know your pharmacist so they can help you find alternatives if you are having trouble affording your monthly prescriptions. Don’t be afraid to do a shop comparison on your prescription and tell them if you find a better price.

“Compare prices with your local pharmacies. There are ways to compare prices that are as easy as the tap of a finger. For example, the FamilyWize app for iOs and Android has a Drug Price Lookup Tool that shows the different pricing for your medications across local pharmacies. It helps you identify the most cost-efficient option. Pharmacies just a few miles apart can have different prices for the same drug, saving you big in the long run.

“Opt for generic drugs over brand names. According to the FDA, the average cost of a generic drug is 80-85 percent lower than its brand name counterpart. Generic drugs have the same ingredients, dosage, intended use, side effects, and strength as the original drug.

“Use the same savings strategies for your prescriptions as you do for other purchases. Check out the pharmacy counters at big-box and club stores – they may offer better discounts than you can get through insurance. Or, see if your insurer has a preferred pharmacy to get the best prices.

“Download prescription drug savings cards and apps. Prescription savings cards are easy to use and can get you major discounts. The FamilyWize Free Prescriptions Savings Card and app have no eligibility requirements and save people on average 43 percent off of their prescription medications! Whether you’re insured, uninsured, or underinsured, you can download the app or print the card, show it to your pharmacists, and see the savings.”

It’s important to look after your health every single day. And with this Wellness Guide, you can do it without going broke.

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Contributors
Dr. Caroline Apovian (@DrApovian) has worked in weight loss and nutrition for over 25 years.  She currently serves as Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, a professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, and vice president of The Obesity Society. She lives in Boston, MA.
Audrey Christie (@Audrey_C_Mcl) is a holistic wellness practitioner that helps to empower her clients to wellness. Her richly developed background and training includes Registered Nurse, Reiki Master, Certified Clinical Master of Aromatherapy, Yoga Teacher, Homeopathics and Epigenetics. She draws on all of this (plus infinite universal knowledge) to work with her clients via one-on-one sessions or group classes and courses. Recently Audrey has begun sharing her how her lifestyle allows for major financial savings too.
Calli De La Haye (@Kalimuktiyoga) is an RYT500 qualified and experienced yoga teacher, having established a busy yoga studio in Jersey with 25 weekly classes Calli expanded online to share her mission of helping people find freedom through yoga. She is Co-Founder of Kalimukti (www.kalimukti.com), an online yoga platform offering classes for all levels of ability across a range of different yoga styles, that can be practiced anywhere anytime.
Brett Graff, has been seen writing and reporting on money and personal finance in The LA Times, Yahoo! Finance, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times and the Fiscal Policy Institute, to name a few. Brett also provides her insight in the column, The Home Economist, which is nationally syndicated and published in newspapers all over the country. Her book “NOT BUYING IT: Raising Happier, Healthier & More Successful Kids” is now available!
Kim Melton (@NutritionPro_1) is a consulting and media Registered Dietitian specializing in health,  fitness and weight management. She has a passion for teaching others how to implement sound nutrition and healthy lifestyle principles into their lives. Check out her website nutritionproconsulting.com for recipes and articles that can help you reach your health goals!
Joseph Sanginiti (@FamilyWize) is President & Chief Executive Officer of FamilyWize, which improves people’s lives by providing access to affordable prescription medications. He has spent more than 25 years with several Fortune 500 organizations. As a senior executive in the pharmacy benefit management industry, Joe was responsible for both the integrations and management of pharmacy operations nationally. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of a number of companies and non-profit organizations.

How to Throw a Fun and Affordable Birthday Party for Your Child!

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It’s easy to overthink throwing a kid’s birthday party. What if this is the moment that locks in their popularity with their friends for the rest of their school years!? Is the only way to be safe to throw the most lavish party in history?
Of course not! You can throw a fantastic (but still affordable) party that your child and all of their friends will enjoy. We spoke to the experts to get you the tips you need to throw a cheap party that won’t feel cheap. So dust off your mantle, because you’re about to get a “Best Parent Ever” award!

Pick a theme and stick to it.

A cheap but matching outfit is always going to look better than the most expensive clothes thrown together all willy-nilly. The same principle applies to parties. A cheaper party with a strong, committed theme is going to be better than dancing horses weaving in between robot butlers. As interesting as that may sound, it’s going to lead to a lot of frightened horses and broken butlers. Instead, choose a theme to build the party around, like Dr. Amy Cooper Hakim (@AmyCooperHakim) did. Here’s what the founder of the Cooper Strategic Group told us:

“It’s easy to make a nice party without breaking the bank. It’s all about balance. Simply focus on an inexpensive (yet really fun!) hobby as the theme. When my daughter, Adina, turned 10 she wanted to have a ‘girlie’ science party. We had the party at home, and she helped to plan it. She chose three science experiments that she found online. We printed out the directions and ordered enough supplies. Then, we picked up hot pink mixing bowls and glittery confetti for the tables.

“On the big day, Adina was the star. She led the girls in each experiment. With a little help from some grownups on hand, we moved the party along and helped children who needed extra assistance with their experiments. We ended the party with a piñata filled with yummy candy! The girls took home their completed science experiments, as well. It was a home run! And, some of Adina’s friends even grew inspired to do their own science experiments as a result of the party.”

Hanging with friends can make some of the best parties.

When you think of your favorite parties you’ve gone to as an adult, how many were out at a big fancy event? Maybe you’re a social butterfly, but some of the best nights can happen just hanging with a few close friends, and the same can be true for kids. That’s what Jennifer Bright Reich, publisher of the Mommy MD Guides (@MommyMDGuides), told us: “I’m a single mom of 11- and 10-year-old sons. We’ve been to plenty of pricey parties at party places, such as trampoline parks. My boys prefer to have simple playdates and sleepovers with close school friends instead.”

“The cost is low—not much more than a regular sleepover,” Reich told us, before getting to the menu. “I usually buy pizza and some snacks and a cake. The next morning, we often all walk to Dunkin Donuts down the block and I treat the kids to donuts.”

And Reich doesn’t let the kids leave empty-handed: “We put together generous, but low cost,  party favor bags, containing maybe a Pokemon card pack, small bouncy ball, and another small treat. I probably spend less than $100!”

Leah Klein (@bffoodie), of the Leah’s Life blog, shared her experience creating fun parties at home:

“We are all about saving on birthday parties. There are a few ways to do so that make the party better too. One is to keep the numbers down. Sometimes a party with a few good friends is a lot more fun than one with the entire neighborhood. When we do have a large party. We have it outside and get a bouncy castle to put in the driveway. If you can pick up and drop off the bouncy castle yourself that will save on delivery fees. Set up some art supplies at a little table and a rug with some toys and it’s a party. Often parents go crazy for things that are just showy. The kids just want to play and have fun.

“For older children, we get creative. My daughter has had a chef come and cook with her friends. A sleepover with some good food and a movie is all the older kids really need. Instead of catering a party or renting a party room, taking the kids to a diner or inexpensive restaurant can be just as fun especially if they have their own table to sit at and the chaperoning parents sit separately.”

Klein wrote about one sleepover scavenger hunt party she threw here.

Shop smarter, not… harder.

Like with so much else in life, an affordable party comes down to your shopping abilities. Spend your money in the right places and you won’t have to spend as much of it.

Randy Fuhrman, who has decades of experience putting together parties through Randy Fuhrman Events (@RandyFuhrman), gave us his tips for party shopping smart:

“Being a great shopper is the way to get your money to stretch and not look shabby. I have been using the 99 Cent Only Store, The Dollar King, and The Dollar Store for years. You have to really go up and down the aisle as there are treasures to find in every aisle – you just have to keep your eyes OPEN.

“I have found The Dollar King Store seems to be the best as they have everything in color order and have an amazing holiday section where you can find incredible things. They also have a BIG birthday section with balloons and favors for the kids.

“It is about being creative and thinking outside the box. Using Ralph’s Bakery or your local store’s bakery rather than going to a regular bakery will save you money. The grocery bakery departments now do specialty cakes for half the price of getting it done at a regular bakery.

“Being organized saves time and money so have a list of what you are looking for with the design and decor and what your menu will be. Let your fingers do the walking before you do the driving to make sure where you are going to buy what you need has what you want.

“If you are doing all the food yourself, a fun thing to do that does not cost a fortune is call your local bakery and see if they will do colored or swirl breads for you if you are making sandwiches which is a great way to pull your color and make a wow factor without spending a lot. The kids love this (I find that Jewish bakeries are normally the ones I can find to do this).

“Online you can find incredible things that are being discounted and great deals without having to even leave your home. Just type in what you are looking for and see the treasures that will show up.”

Follow these tips and you’ll throw your kids a truly epic a birthday party for the ages without an epic price tag to match!

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Contributors
Randy Fuhrman (@RandyFurhman) threw his first party for 500 guests at the age of 17. A few months, later he landed his first BIG event and first corporate client, A&M Records. Forty-five years later, a true entrepreneur, Randy Fuhrman has produced everything from an intimate dinner for two to events for thousands for some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D. (@AmyCooperHakim) is an industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and workplace expert. She is a speaker, author, and the executive consultant and founder of The Cooper Strategic Group. Her book, Working with Difficult People, provides clear strategies to effectively handle the ten types of difficult bosses, colleagues, and subordinates. The book recently hit #1 in sales at Amazon for Business Etiquette books and was highlighted in Parade Magazine. Dr. Hakim has been featured in numerous publications and has also been a guest on the KRTH Morning Show, Think KERA Radio, the WBEZ Morning Shift, the Boca Voice, and Business Radio on Sirius XM.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie) raises two kids in Cambridge, MA. She is a former 1st-grade teacher and is all about mixing the frugal with the luxurious. She writes the blog Leah’s Life: Pearls & Oysters (Leahslife.com) and shares a love for her city on Instagram @Bostoncityliving.
Jennifer Bright Reich (@MommyMDGuides) is cofounder and editorial director of  Momosa Publishing LLC, publisher of the Mommy MD Guides books, featuring tips that doctors who are also mothers use for their own families—and more, in Allentown, PA.

Tips to Make Your Electronics Last Longer

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We live in the future. That means relying on electronics. Our phones are literally (figuratively) tied to our hands and you’ve probably got a nest of cables somewhere in your home that could support an entire family of robot birds.

Replacing those electronics can be a real pain in the wallet. Sure, you could go without a TV, but if your phone or computer breaks, you’ll probably have to replace it immediately. And if you don’t have the funds to do it, that means you’ll need a loan, and if you have bad credit, things can get tough quickly. If only there was some way to make sure your electronics lasted longer.

Well, there are multiple ways, and we’ve gathered them right here! Plug in and get ready to make your gadgets go the extra mile! OppLoans shows you how!


Clean them well.

You know you need to clean your house and you obviously need to clean behind your ears, but did you know you should also be cleaning your electronics? It’s true!

“Overheating will kill your electronics in no time,” warns Karen Hoxmeier of MyBargainBuddy (@MyBargainBuddy), “Always make sure fans are clean. A $5 can of compressed air is a worthwhile purchase.”

You need to be careful, however, since different electronics have to be cleaned in different ways or else you can risk damaging them. Be sure to look online to find out how to clean any specific device.

It’s also worth “cleaning” your digital devices by deleting unnecessary apps or data. That should lower the risk of your device crashing or stalling.

Plug into the right places for the right amount of time.

Not every electrical outlet is the same, and choosing the right outlet to plug your device into can be the difference between life and death (of your device).

“A power surge can fry a TV or computer,” Hoxmeier told us, “Make sure those items are plugged into a surge protector.”

The amount of time you leave your devices plugged in is also important. As Michael Banks, founder of FortunateInvestor.com (@FortunateInvest), told us, “Don’t keep your laptop plugged in. It over-stresses the battery. Instead, unplug it when it’s charged to 70 or 80% to get the most use out of your laptop.”

It might also be worth getting a better plug. Here’s what the experts at Z-Wave.com had to say:

“Using smart home devices like a smart plug can help you extend the life of everyday electronics and save overall energy usage. Smart plugs give average devices like lights, coffeemakers, toasters and TVs connected features and allow you to see the status of that device and control it remotely. With a Z-Wave smart hub, you can set up schedules or automations to turn off devices or appliances when certain rules apply. Some hubs allow you to see the energy drain of each outlet and adjust your usage accordingly. Whether home or away, a smart plug can help cut down your energy consumption and extend the life of the electronics in your home.”

Treat your devices with care.

This seems obvious, but it can be the difference between constantly replacing your electronics and bragging to your friends about how you haven’t had to buy a new phone in years.

“Dropping a cell phone once is enough to crack the screen or make it inoperable,” says Hoxmeier, “Protect it with a sturdy case.” She also offered this advice when it comes to batteries and cables: “If the electronic device runs on alkaline batteries, check them every month or so to make sure the batteries haven’t leaked. To prevent damage from leaking batteries, always remove dead batteries from your devices.

“Avoid coiling cables tightly on phone chargers, laptop chargers, and headphones. This speeds up wear and tear and can cause a short in the cord.”

When you need to store any of your electronics for an extended period of time, be sure to use the original packaging. If that packaging is long gone (and let’s face it, it probably is) then you should still try and cushion the object with packing materials or some other sort of insulation. You also don’t want anything with a screen to be stored lying down on the floor, and you should make sure not to keep anything on top of it, either.

Finally, you should read the manual that came with the product.

What?! But isn’t reading the manual for nerds? Who doesn’t know how to use a TV?

We hear you, but reading the manual will tell you the best way to handle any specific electronic device so that you make sure to get the most out of your purchase.

Follow all of these tips, and you’ll be able to squeeze all the use you can out of your devices. You’ll be SHOCKED at how well proper care for electronics can save you money!


Contributors
Michael Banks is a seasoned finance professional and founder of FortunateInvestor.com. With 20 years of professional experience in the financial services industry, he uses his expertise to turn simple lessons on money into lifelong habits that form the basis for a successful financial future.
As a stay-home-mom, Karen Hoxmeier took up couponing and bargain hunting to keep her family’s finances in order. She turned her love of frugal living into a blog in 1999. Over the last 18 years, she has helped her readers save millions of dollars with her tips.
Z-Wave.com is an online resource for consumers that provides resources including tips, facts, how-tos, FAQs, and blog posts about smart home technology.  Z-Wave is the leading wireless home control technology in the market today, with over 1700 certified interoperable products worldwide. The Z-Wave standard is a key enabler of smart living solutions for home safety and security, energy, hospitality, office and light commercial applications. Z-Wave.com helps consumers learn about connected home technology.

How to Avoid a Payday Loan: Savings Strategies

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Nobody wants to take out a payday loan. They’re seen as—at best—a necessary evil. A way for people without credit to borrow money in a hurry. People don’t look forward to them any more than they look forward to going to the dentist…

But the problem with payday loans is that they’re often worse than that. These short-term, high-interest loans trap borrowers into a cycle of never-ending debt. If they were a dentist, they’d be a guy working out of a back alley with one rusty drill and a baseball bat for anesthesia.

That’s why it’s best to avoid payday loans altogether if you can! And that means building up your savings so that, when a financial emergency does arise, you can take care of it on your own.

Easier said than done, right? Well, here are nine great tips from real experts to help you build an emergency fund—and stay away from payday loans altogether.

1. Follow the 50/20/30 rule

Natasha Rachel Smith, a personal finance expert at TopCashback (@TopCashBackUSA) says that you should, “Review your spending and ensure you’re allocating the right amount to savings and emergency funds. You should have at least six months’ salary saved in an ‘emergency fund’ as, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average duration of unemployment in the US is 27 weeks.”

“In order to build this up, it’s best to follow the ‘50/20/30’ rule,” says Smith. “You should spend only up to 50% of your after-tax income on essentials, such as housing and food; 20% on financial priorities, such as debt repayments and savings; and 30% on lifestyle choices, such as vacations.”

2. Automate your savings

Robert R. Johnson (@BobAmericanColl) is the president and CEO of The American College of Financial Services (@TheAmerCol). He says,“Making savings automatic is a key to success.

“A disciplined approach is the key to success, and automating savings is the key to discipline.  Out of sight, out of mind is the operative philosophy here.”

One way to do it? “[Have] a specific amount taken out of each paycheck and deposited directly into a savings or money market account.”

3. Get out of debt

Smith has a couple great tips for tackling debt repayment.

“First,” she says, “ensure you’re paying the lowest interest rates on any credit cards or loans by transferring existing balances to 0% interest credit cards.

“Once you’ve done that,” she continues, “ensure you’re allocating at least 20% of your income to debt repayments.”

According to Smith, “Focusing on the most costly borrowing first is the fastest way to get out of debt as the overall interest charge is reduced more greatly in lesser time, though some people find they are more motivated by paying off the smallest debts first to lessen the total number of creditors they have.”

4. Get rid of cable

“One of the best ways people can save for an emergency fund is to cut the cord,” says Chris Brantner, also known as Mr. Cable Cutter (@CutCableToday). “With the average cable bill sitting at over $100 per month (not to mention those bills with expired promotions that skyrocket), the average person can easily save $50 or more per month when they get rid of cable.”

(If you visit Brantner’s website, CutCableToday.com, you can walk step-by-step through exactly how you can cut the cord and keep the programming you want.)

According to Brantner, “Most people already pay for Netflix, which gives you a ton of programming. The average person also subscribes to Amazon Prime, which also has a Netflix-like library full of older HBO series and more. You can get all the local stations you want with an antenna for free.”

“Now if you need more up-to-date programs,” he says, “you can opt for a live streaming service like Sling TV which starts at $20 per month, or go with Hulu, which airs many shows the day after they air, starting at $7.99 per month. Whatever the case, you can still save big. 

“You’ll still need internet, but you can likely find a good connection for $40—60 per month,” says Brantner. Luckily, his site “has a tool that will help you find and compare internet provider promotions in your area.”

5. Save your tax refund

“According to a recent study by BankRate.com,” says Smith, “a surprising number of millennials (39%) plan to save or invest their refund, 28% plan to use it to pay for necessities and 24% say they’ll use it to pay down debt.”

“While it is tempting to splurge on a vacation or a big purchase, saving the refund for emergency situations will be more beneficial to you in the long run,” she says.

For more on how you can use your tax refund more wisely, check out our blog post: 5 Smart Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund.

6. Use apps

“There are financial apps that help people save money,” says Johnson. “One popular app is called Acorns. You tie Acorns to your debit card and it rounds the purchase up to the nearest dollar, effectively allowing you to invest your spare change.”

Johnson even lays out how it works:

“If your Starbucks latte costs $4.29, when you use your debit card $5 will be taken out of your account with $4.29 going to Starbucks and $0.71 going into your investment account. This allows you to save money as you make everyday purchases.”

7. Turn your clutter into cash

Smith suggests that you should “Have a clear-out and sell anything you don’t use – or genuinely don’t even want – anymore.”

“Two questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to keep something or not is: ‘have I used this in the last year?’ and ‘is it sentimental?’ If the answer to both questions is ‘no’, then sell it and collect the cash,” she says.

According to Smith, “There are plenty of websites that can help you, eBay being one of the most notorious. However you pay less fees with Bonanza and eBid. If your goods are designer, it’s worth checking out Tradesy.com or Poshmark.com. BuyBackWorld.com is great for electronics and Raise.com will, in many cases, actually pay you $1.50 per gift card you list for sale through TopCashback.”

8. Invest your raise

“Another idea is to ‘invest your raise’ for retirement,” says Johnson. “That is, act as if you didn’t receive a raise and have the after tax amount of the raise deducted directly from your paycheck into a retirement fund. You don’t give anything up other than the opportunity cost of the raise.”

Johnson points out that “You are already accustomed to living on the current amount you make.” When you invest your raise, “You simply continue your lifestyle as if you didn’t receive that raise. Now, mind you, you don’t need to do this every time you get a raise, as the results are cumulative and compound over time.”

9. Maximize your rewards

Smith advises that you should “Make sure you’re being rewarded for your spending.”

“Use credit cards that give you air miles, points or money back on your purchases,” she says.  “Shop through free cashback websites such as TopCashback.com to earn a percentage of your spending back as a cashback rebate (think of it as effectively getting a sales tax refund 30 to 90 days after the transaction).”

Smith says that you can also “sign up to free loyalty schemes that give you access to discounts and free shipping.”

Do you have some savings strategies that have worked really well for you? Let us know! You can find us on Twitter at @OppLoans.com.


Contributors

Chris Brantner is the founder of CutCableToday.com, where he shares his knowledge on saving money by getting rid of high priced cable bills. He’s also a contributor for Business Insider, TechHive, and other publications.

Robert R. Johnson, Ph.D., CFA ® , CAIA ® , CLF ® , is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The American College of Financial Services. Bob is the author of multiple books and scholarly articles. He is co-author of the books Invest With the Fed, Strategic Value Investing, The Tools and Techniques of Investment Planning, and Investment Banking for Dummies. His articles have appeared in The Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Financial Analysts Journal, and Journal of Portfolio Management.

Natasha Rachel Smith, Personal Finance Expert at TopCashback.com, is based in Montclair, NJ. Natasha’s background is in retail, banking, personal finance and consumer empowerment; ranging from sales to journalism, marketing, public relations and spokesperson work during a 17-year career period. She’s originally from London, UK, but moved to Montclair, New Jersey, USA, several years ago to launch and run the American arm of the British-owned TopCashback brand; a global consumer empowerment and money-saving portal company.

Couponeering in 7 Easy Steps

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Long ago, in the days of our ancestors, saving money meant hours bent over a kitchen table, scanning through newspaper inserts and snip-snip-snipping until your hand cramped up.
Then the internet came along.

Now, getting a coupon is as simple as a few taps on your phone. But are you truly maximizing your savings? Are you squeezing every last penny you can from these deals?

If you’re doing everything on this list, you just might be…

1. App it up

Kendal Perez (@HassleFreeSaver), savings expert with CouponSherpa.com (@CouponSherpa) says that “A big complaint among would-be coupon users is how time-consuming they are to find, clip, and store, and how frustrating it is when you inevitably forget them on the kitchen counter.”

Perez advises that “Downloading a coupon app like Coupon Sherpa ensures you never leave home without savings, whether you’re shopping at a national store like Kohl’s or Macy’s, or looking for local savings from your favorite hair salon or auto repair shop.”

To learn more about some great deal sites and apps—including Coupon Sherpa—check out our blog post: 8 Great Deal Sites to Save You Money Today.

2. Get Googling

Benjamin Glaser, Features Editor with DealNews (@DealNews) recommends that you “Always do a web search for coupons for the store, brand, or item before buying something online. For example, if you’re buying a Craftsman saw at Sears, Google ‘Craftsman coupon’ and ‘Sears coupon’ to see if any are active.”

“I often find active coupons that apply to items I was going to buy anyway,” says Glaser. “Don’t forget that DealNews has more than just sales and price drops—we list thousands of coupons too.”

3. Newsletters are the future

“If you are having a tough time finding coupon codes for your favorite stores or brands,” says Glaser, “be sure to sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media for exclusive coupons, and download the apps of stores you shop often. Certain stores will send you a coupon right away if you sign up for their emails.”

Not signing up often means missing out on these offers altogether, as “some of the coupons sent to email subscribers may be one-time use codes, which means the code is generated to be unique to that subscriber and can only be used once,” he says.

“At other times,” Glaser adds, “clicking through a link in the store’s email is the only way to get the discount. As such, you generally won’t see these offers listed on coupon and deal sites.”

4. Price match to the max

Nationally-recognized consumer and money-savings expert, Andrea Woroch (@AndreaWoroch), urges people to “Always make sure to compare prices whether shopping online or in-store, using sites like PriceGrabber or the ShopSavvy app so you never overpay.”

Woroch also points out that “Some stores will even price match a competitor’s coupon so make sure you keep it handy and ask customer service about their policy.”

5. Get tricky

“Most retailers, restaurants and service providers offer new-member sign-up coupons and freebies,” says Perez.

But what if you’ve already signed up and gotten that new member discounts? It’s pretty much a one-time thing, right?

Not quite.

“If you want 15% off your purchase from West Elm but are already on their e-newsletter, sign up with a different email address for access to the discount. You can use Gmail to filter all your email accounts into one interface so you never miss a deal!”

6. Read the fine print

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a coupon or taking out a loan, this advice is always, always something you should take to heart.

“Make sure you know the rules before you use a coupon,” says Glaser. “If a coupon isn’t working, make sure you have entered it correctly.”

He also says that you should “Make sure your order is eligible. If the coupon is something like ‘30OFF30‘, it might be 30% off purchases of $30 or more, so your $25 order might not apply.”

Lastly, Glaser advises that “If multiple coupons are available, consider which is the best for your order. For example, if one coupon provides free shipping, and another cuts 10%, figure out which will save you the most on that particular order.”

“Better yet,” he says, “try to find coupons that ‘stack’, or can be applied at the same time.”

Speaking of which…

7. Get your stack on

“Many stores allow you to apply coupons on sale merchandise,” says Woroch, “and consumers overlook this extra savings opportunity assuming the discounted prices is the best deal available. Stores that frequently promote sales on sale items with coupon codes are Pottery Barn, The Children’s Place and many others.”

Woroch adds that “Some stores even let you use two coupons on the same purchase so it’s always worth trying to save more with double deals. For instance, you may use a free shipping code along with a 20% off offer. Use these with sale merchandise and you’ll score a triple discount!”

According to Perez, “One of the sneakiest ways to deepen the discount of coupons is to combine them with discount gift cards. You can purchase gift cards to retailers, restaurants, service providers and everyone in between for less than face value, with savings ranging from 2% to over 25%.”

For example:

“I can currently buy two $50 Kohl’s gift cards for $88, or 12% off. My $99 order of women’s sandals (with aforementioned promo codes) would only cost me $88!”

Have some tips or apps that help you coupon better? We’d love to hear about them! Let us know on Twitter at @OppLoans. And while you’re at it, give our contributors a follow as well—their feeds are great resources for savings tips and personal finance advice.


Contributors

Benjamin K. Glaser is Features Editor for DealNews, covering the intersection of culture, media, and technology. He joined the company in April 2013 and is based in Brooklyn. Responsible for long-form content ranging from product-buying guides to market-trend analysis, Benjamin maintains the DealNews brand’s distinctive, reliable voice.  In his free time, Benjamin loves binging on Netflix comedy series and finding the best burgers and pizza in New York.

Kendal Perez is the Savings Expert for CouponSherpa.com, a popular source for online, in-store and grocery coupons. Her money-saving tips are often featured on Bankrate, GOBankingRates, US News & World Report, Wisebread and more. Kendal can be found on Twitter @HassleFreeSaver.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-savings expert, writer and TV personality who is dedicated to helping Americans find simple ways to spend less and save more without sacrificing their lifestyle. She is a regularly-featured contributor for popular shows like Today, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends and KTLA Morning News. In print and online, her advice has appeared in popular media such as New York Times, USA Today, Money Magazine, Cosmopolitan, People, Consumer Reports, Reader’s Digest and many, many more. Read more about Andrea at AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter.

How to Save Money on Spring Cleaning

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The sun is coming out, the snow is finally melting for good. You know what that means … Hey wait! Come back!

Yes, it’s spring cleaning time. Everyone’s favorite list of sweaty, back-breaking chores, like “scrub the bathroom”, “empty the garage”, and “finally go and see what died in the attic.”

But just because you’re breaking a sweat doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, too. We reached out to a whole bunch of experts to get their advice on how you can get your spring cleaning done without also cleaning out your checking account.

Enjoy!


Getting Your Supplies

If you’re trying to save money on your spring cleaning, it starts with buying supplies. Here are some tips from Victoria Heckstall (@wahmjourney91), CEO of Unique Words & Giveaways 4 Mom (@Giveaways4Mom), for getting all your cleaning supplies from Dollar General for only $40-$45.

First, Heckstall says that you should “Check for their free shipping codes. Right now they have a spring code that allows you to get free shipping when you spend $40 or more.”

Next, says Heckstall, you should “Go to the cleaning section on the website and select the categories that you need products from (i.e. all-purpose cleaners, cleaning tools, bathroom cleaning). Sort by price so you will see the cheaper items first.”

She advises that you shouldn’t “go for the name brands. It’s the label you’re paying for, the cheaper cleaning products work just as good as the big box names.”

Here some examples she gives of all-purpose cleaning products that are just as effective as the big name brands for a fraction of the cost:

  • LA’s Awesome Cleaner – $1.00  “I usually like to get two to three of these so I won’t run out quickly – and before use them I like to add a few drops of essential oil to the cleaner to tone down the chemical smell.”
  • Mean Green – $2.15  “I usually get about two of these since I only use it for those tough stains.”
  • Fabuloso $1.00  “I also get two to three of these and it works great on floors as well.”
  • PineSol – $2.00  “I purchase two of these to make sure I have enough.”
  • DG Home Disinfectant Wipes – $2.00  “I suggest two of these as well since they can be used for a variety of things including cleaning dressers, televisions, and bedroom electronics.”

“In just this one category that’s potentially 12 products for $18.30, which also can cover the majority of your spring cleaning,” she says.

Fixtures & Glass

Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations for Mr. Rooter Plumbing (@MrRooterLLC) has some great tips and strategies for cleaning your metal fixtures:

Rust

“If you catch rust early in your kitchen or bathroom, you can create a thick paste out of salt and lemon juice. Using equal parts, you’ll get a solution that’s acidic enough to scrub away the rust without scratching your metal surfaces. When it comes to chrome fixtures, most rust can be removed with light scrubbing from a rag that’s been dipped in cola.”

Lime

“Limescale builds up when your fixture is routinely in contact with hard water, so a prime problem area is the shower.

“For shower fixtures made of stainless steel or chrome – or those with coated metal – turn to white vinegar. The easiest solution is to fill a sealable, plastic bag with the white vinegar and place your showerhead or faucet in the bag. Seal it as best you can and secure it with rubber bands. After approximately an hour, remove the showerhead from its vinegar bath and polish it gently.

“If you have a brass or bronze shower head, get ready to scrub. These finishes can be damaged because of their delicate nature, so start by rubbing them with a soft cloth and some warm water. Bronze is especially finicky, so always carefully check any cleaners before you use them. If you’re having trouble with a brass fixture, the secret may be in your fridge.”

Soap Scum

“This is another bathroom maintenance problem, but with the right solution, your chrome no longer needs to look dingy. The easiest way to break down soap scum is to simply scrub the fixtures with a dryer sheet. Whether the dryer sheet is used or unused, they should start cleaning immediately. Another option is to try putting a small amount of cooking spray on the fixture. However, look for plain cooking spray options that don’t have a lot of add-ins. Coat the chrome fixture in your cooking spray and then wipe it clean with a gentle cloth.”

Glass

“Most people think newspaper is best for cleaning windows and mirrors but a clean, dry microfiber cloth is actually better,” says Larry Patterson, franchisee of Glass Doctor (@GlassDoctor1) in Dallas, Texas. “Newspaper quickly deteriorates when wet and can leave newsprint spots on your mirror frame and window sills (not to mention your fingers).”

Patterson says that “If you’re looking for a DIY solution to clean your glass shower doors, mix one cup of warm vinegar with one cup of a dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Then, spray the mixture directly onto the door and wipe with a soft sponge. If there is any residue left on the glass, use a glass cleaner to give the doors a final wipe.”

Stains

According to Nicola Croughan, Fabric Expert at Custom Curtains (@InteriorGoods), “Every kitchen contains an array of natural remedies for tackling dirt and dust, which means you needn’t part with lots of cash.”

She advises that “When it comes to stains on your curtains, cushions, and blankets, use salt to soak up the mess soon as it happens. This also works for larger pieces of furniture.”

“For older stains, I recommend rubbing with a solution of white vinegar (2 tablespoons), washing up liquid (1 tablespoon) and warm water (700ml),” says Croughan. “Blot dry before putting in the wash on your standard setting. If it’s the fabric on your furniture, use a steam cleaning after applying the solution.”

But Croughan also warns that there are limits to the DIY approach. “Of course, if the stain is particularly stubborn and your soft furnishings were very expensive, it will be worth just biting the bullet and taking them to the professionals!” she says.

Jack White, vice president of technical services for Rainbow International (@RainbowIntl) has some great ways for you to tackle a wide-variety of common carpet stains:

Gum

“The most crucial ingredient when removing gum from carpets is patience. Scrape away as much of the gum as possible, using a dull object like a spoon, and apply a dry-cleaning solvent such as Goof Off. After allowing time for the solvent to soften the gym, use a white cotton cloth to pull or wipe away the gum from the carpet and repeat this process until the gum is completely removed.”

Ketchup

If there are large amounts of ketchup (whether fresh or dried-on), remove it by scraping lightly with a spoon, and use a white cotton towel to blot any residual ketchup. Next, mix a solution of one teaspoon dishwashing detergent and one cup of water, and apply the mixture to the stained area. Starting at the outer edge and working inward, work the solution into the stain and rinse by dabbing with water. If the stain remains, you can attempt to remove it with a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution, but be sure to first test it on an inconspicuous part of the carpet to ensure it’s safe to use.”

Nail Polish

“Whatever you do, don’t rub the stain, as rubbing will not only cause the stain to be driven further into the carpet, but it could also cause damage to the carpet’s fibers. Wipe or blot the stain from the outside in using a non-acetone nail polish. If the stain remains, you’ll need to call a cleaning professional.”

Lipstick

“Start by removing any excess lipstick by lightly scraping it with a dull object. Then, working from the outer edges of the stain and moving toward the center, apply a dry solvent to the stain, blotting with a white cotton towel. This may take multiple attempts but the dry solvent should do the trick. Once the stain is removed, rinse by dabbing the area with a dampened cloth and blot with a dry cloth to remove as much moisture as possible. To speed up the drying process, you can use an electric fan.”

Crayon

“First, as with most of the previously mentioned stains, scrape away residual crayon with a dull object, and then cover the remaining crayon mark with a white paper towel. Next, heat the area with a blow dryer, which should melt the crayon and help it absorb into the paper towel.”

Appliances

If you aren’t planning on cleaning out your dryer vent as a part of your spring cleaning plan, then it’s a task you should definitely add to your list.

“Did you know that dirty dryer vents cause 15,000 home fires a year?” says Valerie Stewart, owner of Mr. Appliance (@MrApplianceCorp) of Littleton, Colorado, adding “Yikes!”

In addition to that risk, it’s costing you money to dry clothes twice just because you haven’t had your vent cleaned in awhile,” says Stewart. “On average, if a homeowner whose dryer typically takes two cycles to dry clothes has their dryer vent professionally cleaned, they can save nearly $150 a year.”

Another appliance that you should keep clean as a matter of safety is your oven, as a greasy oven is a common cause of kitchen fires.

Stewart advises that “an easy way to clean your oven and avoid this danger: sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the oven then spritz it with water from a spray bottle. Let it sit overnight and then remove it easily in the morning with a damp sponge.”

Richard Ciresi, owner of Aire Serv of Louisville, Kentucky (@ASLouisville), says that “Blocked airflow reduces your air conditioner’s efficiency, so make sure you spring clean your outdoor unit, as well.”

Here’s his advice for cleaning it out:

“Using a soft broom, gently clean off the fins on your outdoor condensing unit. (That’s that big metal box outside with the fan in it for those of you scratching your heads.) Clear away weeds, plants, leaves, and other accumulated debris to increase air flow.”

Overall, says Stewart, you should make sure to “Take care of appliance and keep them clean to keep them working efficiently.”

“The harder an appliance has to work to do its job,” she says, “the more energy is wasted in the process.

For example, failing to clean the coils on your refrigerator, which can become covered with dust and dirt, will force your appliance to work harder to keep the temperature stable and prevent food from spoiling, costing you in the long run,” she says.

Lastly, Stewart also advises that switching to cold water washes could save you up to $60 a year.

Getting Organized

Sarah Giller Nelson (@LessIsMoreSarah) is a professional organizer and the founder of Less is More Organizing Services. Here are some of her tips for using spring cleaning to get rid of excess home clutter:

  1. “Find space in your kitchen by discarding mismatched food storage containers. If it doesn’t have a lid or a bottom, recycle it. Use your largest container to store the lids. Stack the remaining containers inside each other.”
  2. “Raid the recycle bin: Glass jars with or without lids can be used to store almost any small collection of items, including craft materials, cotton balls, pens and pencils, dried beans, grains, or buttons. Use warm water and a scouring pad to loosen the glue residue left once labels are removed.”
  3. “Shoeboxes are an ideal, inexpensive solution for corralling undergarments, socks, and tights inside messy drawers. Place them on a shelf in your linen closet to organize medicines, bathroom supplies, and other personal care items.”
  4. “Make your bed every morning. It only takes about two minutes! The bed is the central focus of your bedroom. When it is made, the whole room will seem more serene.”

Have some spring cleaning tips of your own that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear ‘em! Let us know on Twitter at @OppLoans.


Contributors

Richard Ciresi is the owner of the Aire Serv of Louisville, Kentucky (@ASLouisville). Aire Serv is a global franchise company providing installation, maintenance, and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and indoor air quality systems. With over thirty years of experience in both commercial and residential heating and air conditioning, his technicians now serve the communities of Indianapolis, Southern Indiana, Louisville and Lexington. His company is known for exceptional customer service, employing the most innovative technology and the widest selection of product lines to provide custom solutions with outstanding results.

Interior Designer and Fabric Expert Nicola Croughan has 10 years’ experience in buying, design and interior styling. She has worked with a diverse range of clients and boasts an impressive portfolio of both commercial and home projects. Nicola now works as an in-house fabric specialist at Custom Curtains, advising the purchasing department and providing assistance and after care to clients.

Glenn Gallas is the Vice President of operations for Mr.Rooter Plumbing (@therightroad). Glenn began his career at Mr. Rooter Plumbing beginning in Feb. 2000, as a franchisee in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Because of his success and achievements, he was offered the opportunity to become a Franchise Consultant before being promoted to Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Vice-President of Operations.

Victoria Heckstall is the CEO of Unique Words & Giveaways 4 Mom. She is also a mom of three messy boys, which is why she is always trying to get the maximum amount of reach from her money

Sarah Giller Nelson is the founder of Less is More Organizing Services, LessIsMoreOrganizers.com. Less is More has been organizing busy families in Miami and Chicago since 2010. Before becoming a professional organizer, Sarah was a curator and art historian.

Larry Patterson is the owner of Glass Doctor in Dallas, Texas. Glass Doctor is a global franchise company providing home and auto glass repair, maintenance and installation. Larry has been a franchisee/business owner of Glass Doctor since 2003, served on the company’s leadership council and was named Franchisee of the Year in 2011.

Valerie Stewart is the owner of Mr. Appliance of Littleton.  Mr. Appliance is a franchise providing expert residential appliance repairs.  Valerie’s mission at Mr. Appliance is, “To create encore experiences that customers can’t wait to share with others.” Prior to opening her business in 2015, Valerie enjoyed a career in Human Resources.  She held several strategic executive leadership positions in a variety of industries, including gaming, insurance, commercial real estate and manufacturing. Valerie is a member of the BNI chapter Higher Ground, in which she holds a leadership position.  Valerie graduated from Adams State University.

As Vice President of Technical Services, Jack White is responsible for training, technical services and support, as well as, research and development for Rainbow International.

12 Great St. Patrick’s Day Sales

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Get your green t-shirts ready and raise your snake-clubbing sticks high! It’s St. Patrick’s Day! The international celebration of everything Irish.
But just because you’re taking the day to enjoy a fine brewed beverage and eat Lucky Charms straight from the box doesn’t mean you should also take a break from saving money! After all, it’s not like you have an actual pot of gold…
To help you save this holiday, we’ve put together a list of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day sales, deals, and special offers available all across the country.

1. JC Penney

For today only (that’s March 17th), you can go to JCPenney.com (@jcpenney)  and use the code 2LUCKY to get thirty percent off a purchase of $100 or more or an extra 25 percent off a purchase under $100. As St. Patrick would say … umm … okay well St. Patrick never really said much about awesome deals (he mostly just talked about snakes), but if he had, it would definitely apply.

2. CafePress.com

Here’s another great offer that’s available for today only! Use the code RAINBOW25 to get 25 percent off on qualifying items from CafePress.com, the world’s best online gift shop. And if you’re looking specifically for St. Patrick’s Day themed merch, don’t worry. The good folks at CafePress have got you covered (in green).

3. Amazon

If you want St. Patrick’s Day gear—or even want to get started early for next year’s festivities—then Amazon.com (@amazon) is your one-stop-shop. Amazon Prime subscribers in certain major metropolitan areas might even be able to get same-day delivery! Seriously, though, if you can imagine a St. Patrick’s Day product, you can probably find it on Amazon—and at a decent price!

4. Claire’s

Take a look at Claire’s (@claires) extensive collection of St. Patrick’s Day-themed items available online and you’ll notice something: almost all of them are 50 percent off! These accessories should be the perfect way to show your spirit—especially if you’re planning on spending the holiday at the mall.

5. Dick’s Sporting Goods

Sports fans who want their team’s gear in a festive shade of St. Patrick’s Day green are in luck! Dick’s Sporting Goods (@DICKS) has all their St. Patrick’s Day merchandise on sale, plus free shipping and free returns!

6. Groupon

The OG daily deal site (@Groupon) is still bringing the savings with a St. Patrick’s Day sale on goods that can save you up to 80 percent.  What are you waiting for? Seriously. Why are you even reading this sentence? Go!

7. Kmart

This week, Kmart.com (@Kmart) is running a simply massive sale, during which you can buy one, get one 50 percent off, across most clothing categories. You can also buy one, get 25 percent off bikes and bike accessories, and get 30 percent off a whole bunch of other stuff. Hurry! Today is the last day of the sale.

8. Outback Steakhouse 

Through March 19th, you can save $5 off two dinner entrees at Outback Steakhouse (@Outback) with this St. Patrick’s Day deal. Visit their website to print the coupon or to download their app.

9. Ruby Tuesday

Folks looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a nice glass of Guinness should head on over to Ruby Tuesday (@rubytuesday), where they will be offering $3 pints of Guinness all day long. Slainte!

10. Sears

While it’s not strictly a St. Patrick’s Day, right now Sears (@Sears) has a whole bunch of great deals available. You can get a 20 percent off on clothing purchases of $50 or more on Sears.com when you enter in the promo code SPRING (offer is also available in-store.) You can also save up to 50% on Simply Styled women’s fashions and up to 30 percent on home goods.

11. Target

Use the code STPATRICK on Target.com (@Target) and you get an additional 10 percent off on furniture, rugs, patio, and other home items. These products are already being offered at a 20-35 percent discount, so the savings here will really add up!

12. TGI Friday’s 

St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where “eating your greens” doesn’t mean you’re eating something healthy. And for those who want to drink their Greens, TGI Friday’s (@TGIFridays) has $3 green beers all St. Patrick’s Day long.


To keep up with offers from these companies, you can give them a follow on Twitter. Oh, and while you’re there, why don’t you give us (@OppLoans) a follow for more savings and personal finance tips as well!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Save Money by “Growing Green!”

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It often seems like you can’t eat cheap and healthy at the same time. After all, eating off the fast food dollar menu can certainly feel a lot cheaper than shopping at the local trendy (and high priced) grocery store.
But it can be done! Not only will eating healthier make you feel better, have more energy, and avoid expensive medical issues, it can be cost effective if you do it right!
Habits like batch cooking and coupon cutting are a great way to eat healthy, but there’s something else you can do that will also yield some great results: growing your own food.
Home gardening will take a bit of work, but there are fruits and vegetables out there that you can grow in your own home and serve up to your family for just a fraction of the cost of buying it at the supermarket.

Getting Started

“If you want to garden cheaply, buy seeds and grow plants yourself,” says Kendal Perez (@HassleFreeSaver), savings expert with CouponSherpa.com (@CouponSherpa). “You’ll often spend a couple bucks or less for enough seeds to last you a few years, compared to $3 and up for plants.”

Still, you’ll want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Here are some things that beginning gardeners should always keep in mind:

  • When gardening, it’s a good idea to start small. Get too ambitious, and you’re liable to end up right where you started: with an empty patch of dirt and zero tasty vegetables. Pick one or two plants that are easy to grow—more on those in a bit—and put all your focus and energy into helping them along.
  • If you have a backyard, great! Find a patch of dirt that you can turn into a garden. Make sure you check what kinds of soil you have in your area and what kinds of plants do best in your local climate. In addition to using fertilizer, it’s a good idea to work the soil a bit before planting. It’s easier for things to grow when the soil is loose and not super packed together.
  • And if you don’t have a backyard, also great! You can still garden from home using containers filled with soil. You’ll just want to make sure they are near a window that gets a lot of light. If you’re not sure what do, there are many starter kits available to help you.

Author, blogger and gardening expert DS Venetta (@dsvenetta and @BloominThyme) says, “For growing indoors, herbs are a great option, as are an abundance of lettuce varieties. All they need is a sunny window and moist soil.”

Perez says, “Plants are much less expensive than buying produce whole, since plants can produce throughout the summer if you care for them correctly. My husband saves seeds from particularly robust plants (mostly pumpkins), which we use again the following year.”

Green Peas

According to Venetta, sweet peas are a great plant for beginning gardeners. They don’t even require a full garden, they can be grown right there on the patio! “All a gardener needs is to provide support in the form of a trellis, bamboo post, etc,” she says.

“A packet of seeds can be purchased for less than $2.00 and will produce a bountiful harvest in 4-6 weeks.” And she does mean bountiful!

Venetta says that “Sugar snap peas will produce a hundred pods from one plant and each pod contains 4-6 individual peas,” adding that “Those peas can be replanted and supply an individual with an ample supply of greens. Green beans grow in the same manner.”

Bramble Berries

Tony Smith, owner of Nursery Enterprises (@NurseryEnt) says, “Some of the most nutritious, enjoyable, and expensive foods at the grocery store are bramble berries (raspberries and blackberries).”

Bramble berries? Growing them sounds like a pretty thorny endeavor, right?

Not so!

“Don’t let the mystique of bramble berries intimidate you,” says Smith. “They can be grown almost anywhere in our entire country.  They are perennials, so that means they will continue living year after year.  They need annual trimming and fertilizer, but beyond that, if you choose a variety that won’t sucker, then they will be a rewarding and relatively simple addition to your garden.”

Smith adds that “Brambles, by the way, are a home run for getting the kids involved in gardening.  And there are thornless varieties available too.”

The one thing about bramble berries is that you won’t see results as quickly as you might other plants. Smith says, “You can expect a few berries either next year or even sooner, depending on when you plant them, and the size of the plants you buy. Do not plant berry seeds and expect the same results as planting the cultivated and named varieties from the nursery.”

He also advises that you “Avoid choosing a variety that suckers, or else the vines will try to take over your yard.”

But once the berries start coming, you won’t be sorry.

“The fresh berries from your garden are much tastier than those from the market,” says Smith,” They won’t be bruised, and you’ll pick them at the peak of perfection, not when they’re still unripe, and some have a long picking season.

Smith says that “brambles can also be grown successfully in large containers for those with limited or small spaces.”

Start gardening today!

Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get intimidated by the thought of growing a garden. While it will require some hard work, it won’t be as hard as you think, and you’ll get to reap some delicious rewards!

And if you have kids, then all the better. “Getting the kids involved in ANYTHING you grow is KEY to getting them to eat healthier,” says Venetta. “If a child grows a vegetable, the child will eat the vegetable—and probably won’t share!”

You can eat healthier and cheaper—all it takes is a packet of seeds, a handful of dirt, and a dash of determination. You can find Perez’s writing at  HassleFreeSavings.com and Venetta’s at BloominThyme.com. Once you’re ready to dive in, NurseryEnterprises.com is a great source for gardening products and info.


 Contributors

Kendal Perez is the Savings Expert for CouponSherpa.com, a popular source for online, in-store and grocery coupons. Her money-saving tips are often featured on Bankrate, GOBankingRates, US News & World Report, Wisebread and more. Kendal can be found on Twitter @HassleFreeSaver.

Tony Smith the owner of Nursery Enterprises was raised by parents who gardened all their lives and farmed commercially for almost 20 years. He earned an AS and an AA in California and a BS in Utah. Once gardening is in your blood, it just keeps growing and growing.

Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s school garden that gave rise to the new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories filled with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside, and get digging.

When not crafting her next novel, D.S. Venetta hosts a garden blog, BloominThyme.com, where she demonstrates just how easy and fun gardening can be! Additionally, Venetta contributes gardening advice for various websites, publications, and schools. Passionate about organic gardening, her dream is to see a garden in every school, library, and community.

Money Smarts Cash Giveaway!

You’ve been working so hard to be frugal! You’re budgeting and saving and finding ways to be thrifty. Well isn’t it about time you’re rewarded?! We think so!

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We’re giving away $100 to one lucky money-savvy individual!

How does it work?

Entering is quick and easy, and puts you one step closer to snaggin’ that hundo! Here’s how to enter:
  1. Find OppLoans on Twitter.
  2. FOLLOW our page.

  3. REPLY to the pinned contest tweet at the top of the page.
  4. Tell us your favorite money-saving tip.
It’s that easy! So don’t delay, enter now for your chance to win $100!

Sweepstakes Guide

The sweepstakes begins Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 12:00 pm cst, and you must enter by Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm cst. The lucky winner will be announced by 5 pm cst on March 9, 2017.
Winner will be chosen at random
One entry per person
Must be 18 or older to participate
Standard Twitter rules apply
Only open to US residents

OFFICIAL RULES FOR @OPPLOANS ON TWITTER

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ELIGIBLE ENTRIES RECEIVED FOR THE APPLICABLE SWEEPSTAKES. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ALL DISPUTES WILL BE RESOLVED SOLELY BY BINDING ARBITRATION AND ENTRANTS WAIVE THE ABILITY TO BRING CLAIMS IN A CLASS ACTION FORMAT.

By participating in any Sweepstakes promoted by OppLoans (each, a “Sweepstakes” and collectively, the “Sweepstakes”) and the @OppLoans Twitter Account (the “Official Twitter Account”) you agree to these Official Rules, which are a contract, so read them carefully before participating. Without limitation, this contract includes indemnities to the release parties (defined below) from you and a limitation of your rights and remedies. The details and requirements for entry or participation in any Sweepstakes shall be provided by the Official Twitter Account from time to time, in the discretion of Opportunity Financial, LLC (“Sponsor”). You must follow the directions provided by the Official Twitter Account and otherwise be bound by and follow these Official Rules to be eligible to receive a prize in connection with any Sweepstakes.

HOW TO ENTER: You may enter any Sweepstakes on Twitter by replying to the contest tweet of the Official Twitter Account.  No other method of entry will be accepted. Limit one (1) entry per person, per email address and per Twitter account per Sweepstakes, regardless of method of entry. Additional entries beyond the specified limit will be void.

To enter any Sweepstakes via Twitter, you must have a valid, public (i.e. not protected) Twitter account and follow the applicable Official Twitter Account. If you do not have a Twitter account, please visit www.twitter.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free Twitter account. To enter any Sweepstakes via Twitter, follow the instructions provided by the Official Twitter Account in the manner and time period set forth by the Official Twitter Account (the “Entry Period”) to receive one (1) entry in the applicable Sweepstakes. All information submitted via Twitter must be submitted pursuant to and is subject to  (a) Content Restrictions (as set forth in the Content Restrictions section below), and (b) Twitter’s Terms of Service (www.twitter.com/tos) and Privacy Policy (www.twitter.com/privacy). Further, all information submitted via Twitter and shared with, or otherwise made available to Sponsor per your Twitter account settings will be subject to, and treated in a manner consistent with, Sponsor’s Privacy Policy accessible at: https://www.opploans.com/licenses/privacy-policy/. Failure to follow any instructions provided by the Official Twitter Account or to submit your entry within the applicable Entry Period or in compliance with the Content Restrictions or otherwise with these Official Rules may result in disqualification. The time of receipt of any valid Twitter entry shall be the time such valid entry becomes available to Sponsor on Twitter.com. Sponsor’s computer shall be the official clock of each Sweepstakes.

ELIGIBILITY: The Sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the United States including its territories and possessions (collectively referred to herein as “states”) who are eighteen (18) years of age or older (except in the case of legal residents of certain states/territories where the legal age of majority is greater than eighteen (18) years of age, such legal age of majority) at the time of entry. Employees, officers, and directors (including immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and members of the same household, whether or not related) of Opportunity Financial and each of their respective parents, affiliated companies, subsidiaries, licensees, distributors, dealers, retailers, printers, advertising and promotion agencies, and any and all other companies associated with the Sweepstakes are not eligible to participate or win a Prize (defined below). The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations. Void where prohibited.

RANDOM DRAWINGS: Promptly following the end of the applicable Entry Period, the potential winner(s) of the applicable Sweepstakes will be selected by random drawing from among all eligible entries received for the applicable Sweepstakes. Subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with the terms of these Official Rules, the potential winner(s) will be declared the official winner(s) of the applicable Sweepstakes (each, a “Winner” and collectively, the “Winners”). The decisions of Sponsor are final and binding on all matters relating to this Sweepstakes. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received for the applicable Sweepstakes. Limit one (1) Prize per person, family or household per Sweepstakes.

PRIZES/: The prize(s) and quantity of such prize(s) to be offered in each Sweepstakes (each, a “Prize” and collectively, the “Prizes”) shall be identified by the Official Twitter Account. The approximate retail value of each Prize shall be $100. Exact Prize details shall be determined in the sole and absolute discretion of Sponsor. Prizes are non-transferable and non-assignable. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute any Prize (or any portion thereof) with a prize of comparable or greater value at its sole and absolute discretion. Each Winner is fully responsible for any and all applicable federal, state, and local taxes (including income and withholding taxes).

PUBLICATION, LICENSE AND RELEASE: By entering any Sweepstakes and submitting an entry, each entrant (a) agrees that his/her entry is an original work of authorship and that he/she owns all right, title and interest in the entry as of the date of submission or has all necessary rights and authorizations to submit it and the express permission of all individuals, content and materials embodied in the entry to submit it for possible use as provided herein; (b) agrees that his/her entry does not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity; (c) grants to Sponsor and each of their respective designees the perpetual and unlimited right and license to use, license, edit, modify, duplicate and/or create derivative works from his/her entry throughout the world and in perpetuity, including, but not limited to, the right for Sponsor, as applicable, to publish, display, broadcast, distribute, reproduce, perform, create derivative works from and otherwise use and exploit the entry via the Internet or any other interactive media, on television, in print and/or any other media currently existing and hereafter developed and without limitation and without payment of any compensation to the entrant or his/her heirs and successors, (i) on its own or as part of any audiovisual or other production; (ii) to advertise any products or services of the Sponsor or for any other advertising, marketing, publicizing and promotional purposes and in any materials related thereto; and/or (iii) for any other purpose whatsoever; and (d) release in perpetuity the Released Parties from any claims, demands, losses and liabilities of any nature arising out of or in any way connected with the entry, and the use thereof as permitted hereunder, including, but not limited to, claims of false endorsement or infringement of rights of publicity or privacy. Nothing herein will obligate the Sponsor to make any use of any of the rights set forth herein.

CONTENT RESTRICTIONS: Entrants must not include any of the following content (the “Content Restrictions”) in any entry: (a) pornography, adult-oriented content or any other sexually-explicit material; (b) materials relating to lotteries or gambling; (c) explicit language or content, images of violence, or promotion of illegal activities; (d) content in violation of intellectual property rights or laws; (e) libelous, defamatory, disparaging, tortious or slanderous materials; (f) content that denigrates, disparages or reflects negatively on Sponsor their owners and employees; (g) tobacco, alcohol or drugs; (h) dangerous stunts; (i) real weapons of any kind including, but not limited to, guns, knives or projectiles; (j) material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, age or any other basis protected by federal, state, territory, provincial or local law, ordinance, or regulation; (k) individuals under legal age of majority without providing a signed release from parent or legal guardian; (l) audio and/or visual content owned by any third party (e.g., recorded music; pre-produced video, etc.); and (m) material that is unlawful, or otherwise in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any state/territory where the entry is created. Any entry that does not comply with the foregoing, in the sole discretion of Sponsor, will be disqualified.

WAIVER OF LIABILITY/PUBLICITY RELEASE: By participating in the Sweepstakes and submitting an entry, each entrant agrees to (i) be bound by these Official Rules, including all entry requirements, and (ii) waive any and all claims against  Sponsor and each of their respective parents, affiliated companies, subsidiaries, officers, directors, employees, agents, licensees, distributors, dealers, retailers, printers, representatives and advertising and promotion agencies, and any and all other companies associated with the applicable Sweepstakes, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives (collectively, “Released Parties”) for any injury, damage or loss that may occur, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from the participation in the applicable Sweepstakes or from the receipt or use of any Prize (or any portion thereof). By entering any Sweepstakes, each entrant gives his/her express permission to be contacted by Sponsor by telephone, email and/or postal mail for Sweepstakes purposes. Each Winner, by acceptance of the Prize, grants to Sponsor and its respective designees the right to publicize such Winner’s name, address (city and state/territory of residence), photograph, voice, statements and/or other likeness and prize information for advertising, promotional, trade and/or any other purpose in any media or format now known or hereafter devised, throughout the world, in perpetuity, without limitation and without further compensation, consideration, permission or notification, unless prohibited by law.

GENERAL CONDITIONS: Released Parties are not responsible for stolen, late, incomplete, illegible, inaccurate, misdirected, lost, misrouted, scrambled, damaged, delayed, undelivered or garbled entries, transmissions, email or mail; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, cable, satellite, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), wireless network, website, or other connections including those through and/or by any website, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone, cabfle or wireless transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties; wireless service congestion; failures or malfunctions of phones, phone lines or telephone systems, wireless towers or cellular tower equipment; any error, omission, interruption, defect or delay in wireless or other transmission, processing, or communication; non-delivery; misdirected, blocked, or delayed email notifications; printing, typographical or other errors appearing within these Official Rules, in any Sweepstakes-related advertisements or other materials; or any other errors, problems or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, network, computer, telephone, wireless service, mail, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of entries, the announcement of the Prize(s) or in any Sweepstakes-related materials.  Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by website users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to entrants or to any other person’s computer and/or wireless device related to or resulting from participating in this Sweepstakes or downloading materials from or use of the website. Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of the Sweepstakes or website or attempt to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes by cheating, deception or other unfair playing practices, or intend to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrant or any representative of Sponsor or who are in violation of these Official Rules, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and all associated entries will be void. Any attempt to deliberately damage the content or operation of any Sweepstakes is unlawful and subject to legal action by Sponsor and/or its agents. Sponsor shall have the sole right to disqualify any entrant for violation of these Official Rules or any applicable laws relating to the Sweepstakes, and to resolve all disputes in its sole discretion. Released Parties (a) make no warranty, guaranty or representation of any kind concerning any Prize (or any portion thereof), and (b) disclaim any implied warranty. Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision.

Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel or suspend any Sweepstakes (or any portion thereof) should virus, bugs, unauthorized human intervention, or other causes corrupt administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper operation of the Sweepstakes (or any portion thereof). In the event of cancellation, Sponsor may elect to identify the Winner(s) and award the Prize(s) by way of random drawing from among all non-suspect, eligible entries received up to the time of such cancellation. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to modify these Official Rules for clarification purposes without materially affecting the terms and conditions of the Sweepstakes or discontinue any Sweepstakes at any time without notice.

CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE ASSOCIATED WITH THE SWEEPSTAKES OR UNDERMINE THE CONTENT OR LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF ANY SWEEPSTAKES MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR WILL DISQUALIFY ANY ENTRANT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT, AND SPONSOR AND/OR ITS AGENTS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) AND OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY PERSON OR PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

Entries generated by a script, macro or other mechanical or automated means will be disqualified. In the event of dispute as to the identity or eligibility of any potential winner based on an email address, the winning entry will be declared made by the Authorized Email Account Holder of the email address submitted via the Online Entry Form at the time of entry provided he/she is eligible according to these Official Rules. For entries via the Online Entry Form, the “Authorized Email Account Holder” is defined as the natural person to whom the applicable Internet service provider or other organization (such as a business or educational institution) has assigned the email address for the domain associated with the submitted email address. In the event of dispute as to the identity or eligibility of any potential winner based on a Twitter account, the winning entry will be declared made by the Authorized Twitter Account Holder of the Twitter account used to enter the applicable Sweepstakes provided he/she is eligible according to these Official Rules. For entries via Twitter, the “Authorized Twitter Account Holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to a Twitter account by www.twitter.com.

As a condition of entering any Sweepstakes, each entrant agrees that (a) any and all disputes, claims, controversies or causes of action arising out of or relating to any Sweepstakes, or any prizes awarded (each, a “Claim”), shall be (i) arbitrated on an individual basis only, and shall not be consolidated or joined with or in any arbitration or other proceeding involving a Claim of any other party, and (ii) settled by binding arbitration in Cook County, Illinois before a single arbitrator appointed by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its then governing rules and procedures, and judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered by any court having jurisdiction thereof; and (b) under no circumstance will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental, consequential or any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses. These Official Rules shall be governed by and construed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the Cook County, State of Illinois, U.S.A., applicable to contracts entered into and performed exclusively in that State.

All entry data provided online is provided to Sponsor and not to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Each Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this Sweepstakes is Opportunity Financial LLC, 130 East Randolph, Ste. 1650, Chicago, IL 60603.

The OppLoans trademarks, service marks, and copyrights are proprietary to the Sponsor. All rights reserved.

8 Great Deal Sites to Save You Money Today

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February can be tough. The weather is cold and gray, the holidays are over, and your home energy bills are likely never higher than they are now. If the combination of low temperatures and even lower funds has you going stir-crazy, don’t worry!

OppLoans has your back with these great deal sites for deep discounts on fun, shopping, and even travel! Take that, winter blues!

1. RetailMeNot.com

RetailMeNot (@RetailMeNot) is our favorite place to find the latest coupons and discount codes offered by major retailers. They have deals across dozens of categories (from accessories to party supplies, all the way through travel) and even deals that are offered exclusively on their site.

2. SlickDeals.net

SlickDeals is an online community of frugal-minded folks. SlickDeals members find deals and share them on the site, the community votes on which they like the best, and the site’s editors then share the most popular deals on the SlickDeals Frontpage for everyone to see. You can also check out their forums for discussions about a wide array of deals and discount types.

Keep up to date with them on Twitter at @SlickDeals.

3. Groupon

Ah, yes. The granddaddy of deal sites. Some of the buzz has faded from Groupon (@Groupon) over the years, but they are still churning out fantastic deals every day for both local businesses, vacation destinations, and a whole host of great products. Unlike other sites, Groupon cooks up their deals in-house, which means you can’t get these offers anywhere else!

4. Coupons.com  

We know. We know. Their URL makes it kind of hard to tell what they do. So let’s clear up any and all confusion right here and now: If you want coupons, then Coupons.com is a great place to find them. Their no-frills site has printable coupons, coupon codes, and cash-back offers galore.

Find them on Twitter at @Coupons. (Again! So confusing!)

5. Woot

Do you like your bargains with a heavy slathering of whimsy? Then Woot.com is the site for you. Combining strange and hilarious product descriptions with reduced prices is their recipe for success. Woot.com doesn’t offer coupons to other business, they offer you item (all kinds of items) for direct purchase. Oh, and it’s also a place where you can buy discounted wine, which is always a plus.

See what they’re up to on Twitter at @woot.

6. FatWallet

FatWallet (@FatWallet) is another awesome coupon site, where you can find the latest deals, sales and discount codes for 1,7000 online stores. They also have exclusive offers available only on FatWallet.com, as well as forums where you can share new deals and shopping tips. Check out their Hand Picked Deals for the very best the site has to offer, and make sure you stop here early and often during the holidays for special seasonal sales and doorbusters.

7. Brad’s Deals

The good folks at Brad’s Deals (@BradsDeals) want to help you shop smarter. That’s why the deals and offers on their site are easily sortable by category and retailer. And it’s also why they provide a variety of shopping guides to help you learn the best practices and choose the offer that works best for you. The site includes offers for credit cards and concert or theater tickets.

8. Coupon Sherpa

At Coupon Sherpa, they keep things simple. They have a homepage with a search bar. That’s it. Because when you have 80,000 different coupons on the site, you don’t need to get all fancy-shmancy. If there is a coupon out there that you desire, then Coupon Sherpa will guide you right to it.

Follow your sherpa at @CouponSherpa.

Most of these websites have apps as well, so you should make sure to check those out. And if you think that your new couponeering prowess pair nicely with a newfound plan for financial responsibility, then may we recommend following us on Twitter at @OppLoans. We’re always sharing tips, tricks, our latest blog posts, and other great reads from around the Internet.