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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My Favorite Apps for Saving Money

I'm all about saving a ton of money, but even a few pennies is still better than not saving anything. Those pennies add up pretty quickly. I do the majority of my shopping online, with the exception of groceries and trips to Target, so I have amassed a collection of apps that help me save money on my travel and everyday purchases, so I can travel more or even just do a little more on my next trip. Read on for my favorite money-saving apps.

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Not all apps are to use on your phone. I've got several that I use on my computer that are extensions of Chrome and which automatically activates when I go to a site that is a featured merchant of that site.

Ebates

This is my #1 money-saving app. There are so many merchants that work with them to save you money. While you can always go to the Ebates page before you make any purchase, it's a lot easier to add the Chrome extension to your browser, so the cash back button pops up when you go to any website that is a member of the system. It's so easy. Ebates is basically a huge affiliate site and they share half their commission from merchants with you. That commission can be anywhere from 1% to 50%. 

Every day there is one or more merchant that offers you double cash back through Ebates, and there are often double cash back events throughout the year, where tons of stores participate. Not only that, but the extension lets you know what coupon codes are available and can automatically apply them at checkout.

Sign up for free now + get $10 added to your account upon completion of your first purchase. You also get a cash bonus when any of your friends sign up using your link.

Swagbucks

This is another cash back app that can be used as a Chrome extension. I also have it on my phone and use the website, because you can earn Swagbucks (SB) for every purchase you can make from participating merchants, taking surveys, playing games and more. Your extension works just like Ebates's above and pops up at the same time if both companies feature the merchant (it can be a bit annoying for everything to pop up while you're trying to read the site, but it's worth it to save the money). 

SB can be exchanged for gift cards for everything from restaurants, Amazon and even Paypal, which is the same as cash. Sign up for free now and get $3 as a bonus for being my referral. Get $3 for every friend you refer + 10% of their earnings for a lifetime. That's free monies!

Honey

Honey is one of those sleeper apps that you never heard of and then wonder why nobody told you about it. It hangs out on your Chrome bar until you're ready to check out, then if there's a working coupon code or the ability to earn cash back, the app pops up, tries all those coupons (if you click on the button) and hopefully one of them works. 

It's not as intuitive as Ebates or Swagbucks and can add a few minutes to your checkout while it manually tries all those coupons  that may or may not work. You can also see what cash back it offers, so you can decide if you want to use it or the other cash back apps instead. 

Sign up free at JoinHoney and start accruing HoneyGold. Once you reach 1,000 gold, you can trade it in for a $10 gift card, like from Amazon (my personal favorite) or Sephora. Any friend you get to sign up with your referral link will earn you $5 after their first qualifying purchase. 

Groupon/Living Social

I'm sure you're already using these Daily Deal sites. I have both apps on my phone so I can search for cool stuff on-the-go. I've often purchased deals while on vacation and can show them my purchase on my phone when I use it. It's also nice to not have extra paper floating around, especially when you're on vacation. Saves time and paper.

Groupon owns Living Social, but they have two different sites that often have completely different listings. With Groupon, you can save up to 90% off activities, services, products and even travel. I subscribe to my home city, but then about 3 months before I travel, I subscribe to my destination city as well, because most have a expiration date 90 days after purchase. I've saved hundreds of dollars on restaurant and activities while traveling and my trips have been extra awesome and budget-y. Woot!

Sign up for Groupon for free and then receive a $10 credit anytime you refer a friend and they make their first qualifying purchase. You may even get your deal for free by sharing your purchase with friends and then purchasing through that link as well.

Sign up for LivingSocial for free. While they don't have a traditional referral program anymore, you can share your deal purchase, and if 3 people purchase through your share link, you get yours for free (not all purchases are eligible, but it's still fun to do stuff with friends, even at a discount).

RetailMeNot

You may already be using RetailMeNot, but do you know that they have a Genie extension for your browser that can net you cash back? Or that you can get the app on your phone and get deals out in the real world? You can! RetailMeNot uses the power of people to create the most extensive list of coupon codes on the internet. Ebates, Swagbucks or Honey can't find you a coupon code? Check RetailMeNot!

Out and about at your favorite store and wish you had a coupon? Open your app, look up the store (or it'll automatically find it with your phone's location) and pull up any in-store coupons that you can use at checkout.

Sign up for free! Sorry, it doesn't matter who you refer, you get nothing but the satisfaction that you helped someone else save money.

Uber/Lyft

So, sometimes I don't need to spend a ton on a rental car, because I don't need to drive that many places, that's when Uber and Lyft come in handy, like when I go to Vegas for the Travel Goods Show. I use the monorail to get to the convention center and back to my timeshare, but sometimes I want to go somewhere off the Strip, or get to/from the airport. Uber can really save me a lot in taxi fees, time by not using public transit, and my feet by not having to walk a long way.

Sign up for Uber for free and get free rides by referring friends. Use my link or use this code on the app: ubershereentravels.

Sign up for Lyft for free and get a free $5 ride credit. If you're on the app: use code SHEREEN148653 for your free credit. Refer friend and get $10 in ride credit for yourself.

Turo

As much as I love renting a car, sometimes it's just too crazy expensive. I've been looking for a car for 5 days in Los Angeles, so my friend and I can do some sightseeing and make it to Universal on our own schedule. I've checked Turo before, which is a car share service, sort of like Airbnb for vehicles. I found a great car to rent from a person who had awesome reviews and they were willing to drop the car off at the airport too. 

Even with that $50 delivery fee, I paid just $160 for 5 days. Compare that to $340 for using any traditional rental car service and I think you won't care too much that the car you've chosen is not brand new either. Since I won't be doing long journeys, driving less than 200 miles to go from LAX to Anaheim to Universal back to Anaheim to downtown LA and to LAX to go home, I don't need anything that's brand new and pristine. Definitely worth saving $180. That's so much Harry Potter merch I can buy now!

Sign up for Turo for free (they will ask for your driver license info to do a quick background check on your driving record) and get a $25 credit, + refer a friend and you both get a $25 credit once they travel with Turo.

Obviously, these are not the only apps I use to save money, but these are the ones I use the most or, in the case of Turo, looking forward to use a lot more than I currently do. 

Do you have a favorite app that saves you lots of money? (Or even just a little bit of money.) Share it in the comments so we can all save!

Disclosure: This post features affiliate links. Thanks for using them!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My Los Angeles Wish List

For the second time in a year, my vacation plans have taken a turn and I'm finding myself having to go with a back-up plan. Family things have me not being able to visit Las Vegas next month as planned, but Eric is still going and I'm changing my own plans to visit Los Angeles in August instead. I've been working on a Los Angeles wish list for a future trip and now I might be able to make a bit of a dent in it.


I had planned a solo trip to Disneyland, which I wouldn't have been unhappy about, because how can you be sad at all at Disneyland? A friend of mine has never been to Disneyland and was able to get a few days off from work, so I get to show her the magic. I find that very exciting. Here are some of my plans in addition to the Mickey and Universal Studios (Wizarding World, here I come!).

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Paramount Coffee Project

You know I can't go anywhere without trying some awesome coffee. I have been researching shops near where we'll be in downtown LA and this shop seems to fit the bill for having excellent coffee, a cool atmosphere and lovely staff.

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OUE Skyspace LA

I love a place that has amazing views of the city. I've been hoping to visit Skyspace since it opened. It has sweeping views and for an extra fee, you can slide down a glass slide on the side of the building. Awesome, right?

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Gallery 1988

I took to Facebook to ask my readers and also my local friends about unique things to see and do in LA. Gallery 1988 was suggested to me and I was immediately drawn to it. Not only is it free (yay!), but it appears to be a fantastic pop culture museum with advertising and more. My friend is an amazing artist and I think this will be a great treat for both of us. 

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The Last Bookstore

If you love books, then surely you've seen the walk-throughs of this very unique book store. It has tunnels and caves and archways made of books. It has several stories and tons of books for sale. It's basically just a nifty way to see the love of books in a somewhat museum-like atmosphere.

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Clifton's Republic

This is another recommendation from a friend. This is a restaurant that serves for cafeteria style, but has trees and taxidermy animals inside, making it appear you're in a posh forest. The prices are affordable and the reviews of the food and drinks are fairly high. 

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Snow White Cafe

This hole-in-the-wall eatery was another recommendation. It's a diner with diner food, but it's supposed to be delicious, plus it's a local hangout for the old Disney crowd. It gets its name from the mural above the door that was painted by the artist that worked on the original cartoon.

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Old LA Zoo

Years and years ago the Los Angeles Zoo moved, but the cages and enclosures were abandoned. The animals have long since left, but you can now wander the zoo and view graffiti-ed walls and nature, as the space has now been turned into a park, with hiking trails and picnic tables. It also looks like we can walk to the Hollywood sign from there.

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Cauldron Ice Cream

So, this is technically not in LA or Anaheim, but in between in Artesia. I've been following Cauldron on Instagram. Their rose ice creams and puffle cones are drool-inducing and I've been hoping to go there for quite some time. This might be the trip for a s'mores ice cream in a puffed waffle cone  or something with cereal on it. 

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Rubies + Diamonds Coffee

Another coffee shop I found that sounds like a must-visit. They have chandeliers and yummy sounding brews, is located near things I've got on my list and has scrumptious food, too.

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Trader Sam's

I'm a lover of tiki bars, and I've meant to hit up this bar at the Disneyland Hotel for years. Eric doesn't drink, so going and just sitting there for a evening beverage and drinking alone seemed a bit sad. Now I'll have someone to enjoy a drink with me. The menu is full of Disney names, like the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Punch. I'll drink to that

So, those are the things I have on my list right now. We'll see how many we can get to outside of Disneyland and Universal. If nothing else, I'll be brandishing my wand for a few spells in Hogsmeade and outside of the Wizarding World. Accio, fun trip!

What do you think? Are there other things I should add to my trip or do you have suggestions on must-dos for a first-timer (adult) to Disneyland?
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