G&L Clothing is a Great Place to Shop!

I have been an avid online shopper for years and every once in a while, I stumble upon a shopping site that I really like. G&L Clothing has quickly become my favorite place to shop for various apparel and accessories. They have so many awesome items available that I cannot find anywhere else, their prices are very reasonable, and they are constantly adding new items to the site.

Not only does G&L Clothing offer name brand clothing and outerwear, they also have a nice selection of big and tall items as well. This is a great place to go to get the larger clothing items that you can never find elsewhere. G&L also has a nice selection of footwear and uniforms, which is not typically something you will find on other clothing sites. Many of the gifts that I purchased for my family last Christmas came from G&L Clothing. Everyone was thrilled with the items that I found for them on the site. The best part is, I did not spend a fortune to get all of these gifts that they loved so much. I even found a pair of Carhartt overalls for my four-year-old nephew that he refuses to leave the house without.

I would definitely recommend this site to anyone who is looking for a great online shopping experience. The customer service has always been friendly, the prices are great, and they offer an expansive selection of name-brand merchandise.

Disclosure – this is a sponsored guest post.

 

How to Save and Earn With MyPoints

This week I want to share with you guys a site that I have been a part of for several years, and one where I have earned hundreds of dollars! MyPoints.com is an online shopping site that offers all sorts of exclusive savings to the stores you know and love, and awards points for each purchase. Once you accumulate enough points, you can redeem free gift cards to your choice of over a hundred stores, restaurants, and charities. And it’s completely free to join!

There are two main things that I love about MyPoints. The first is that it truly is helpful whether you’re looking for a specific product, searching for hot deals, or even just browsing. MyPoints itself doesn’t sell anything, and gets most of it’s business from satisfied shoppers, so they want to show you the very BEST of what they have to offer. It makes online shopping (and saving) easy for even the technologically illiterate.

The second wonderful thing about MyPoints is that you can participate – and earn gift cards – without spending a cent! I don’t do a whole lot of online shopping (other than right before Christmas, when the deals are unbelievable!), and have still had several hundred dollars in gift cards sent to me, all for free! With a struggling economy, getting a free gift card for your daily expenses can really help to stretch your budget without making huge sacrifices.

When you sign up for MyPoints, they send you a few emails a day. You can click through the ads for points, take surveys for points, and make purchases for LOTS of points. I love saving up points and treating myself to the occasional Macy’s shopping spree, or getting a gift card towards gas and save myself that expense. So even if you’re not a big online shopper, MyPoints.com is certainly a site to check out to find low prices and high rewards.

(All posts may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.)

 

Do It Yourself Make Up

There are a few things in life that most women cannot go without. Yes, men of the world, only a few things. Aside from the reckless splurging on the 75% off Coach clutch or the home décor that is on major sale and completely necessary to pull the room together, women spend on their appearance, especially make up. The problem though is that, unlike the handbags and curtains, make up and beauty products rarely go on sale. What’s a girl to do? A girlfriend recently introduced me to a brilliant (and economical) plan – make your own!

Now I know what women think when they see a DIY (do it yourself); it looks like a great money saving idea, but we don’t like putting the effort forth to go out and buy the materials and make it. But the good thing about DIY make up and other beauty products is that most women have the necessary materials in their homes. If not, the ingredients are no farther away than a short trip to a drug store.

I have found a few websites that give recipes for home beauty products including DIY body scrub, perfume, shave oil, and facial masks, as well as lip/cheek color, eyeliner, and even bronzer! What I love about all of these home concoctions is that they isolate the necessary materials to make the beauty product, but leave out all the unnatural preservatives. So with these products, you will know exactly what’s going on your body, and you’ll be making both a healthy and inexpensive choice.

Now trust me when I say that these are easy to do. Nothing took me more than 15 minutes to make; some were even as simple as buying one natural oil and putting it on. As far as money goes, you could buy a bottle of activated charcoal for DIY eyeliner for $5 and that would make enough eyeliner to last nearly two years. But, as I said before, the majority of the ingredients are basic items found in any kitchen.

So ladies, go out and explore the possibilities of DIY beauty products. The best way to find these websites is a simple Google search. Check out “How to make your own beauty products from scratch”. That will give some general products, but the more specific your search is, the more specific your results will be. Make sure to experiment and share with others – that’s the beauty of it all.

 

Benefits of Carrying Cash

So today I was talking to a couple of friends, and we were talking about focusing on finances this semester and some ways to stretch our tiny college budget just a bit farther. One of the guys (a business major, of course) came up with the idea of carrying more cash and less plastic, which was something I had never really considered! So I went home and did some research, and would like to share with my fellow smart-shoppers what I found and the conclusions I have come to on the benefits of carrying cash.

Statistically, about 60% of active credit cards are NOT paid off monthly. Americans rely constantly on their credit cards, and while they can be useful, they can also lead to impulse buying and overspending. Even debit cards don’t require you to LOOK at a price before swiping – you can spend a hundred dollars without hardly thinking about it. It seems that the best way to put the overspending to a stop is using cold, hard cash.

Cash has been disappearing from many American wallets as the plastic cards take over. But, by using cash only, it puts a set limit on spending. Example: weekly grocery shopping. Before you go out, take time to make a list of the things you need for the week and their approximate prices. Then, take out the necessary cash to buy the groceries and the groceries only. This way, when you’re walking down the snack aisle and those Twinkies are staring you down, you know there’s only $50 in the wallet and an extra box of Twinkies would put you over the spending limit. So you graciously back away from the Hostess aisle and continue shopping from the list. Crisis averted.

Luckily, using cash helps most on a weekly basis. When a person is limited to a certain amount of spending each week, it is known that they are more likely to be cautious about daily spending habits. Unlike a hypothetical limit that is set with using credit cards, cash actually limits spending. The only thing is sticking to the plan. It’s the easy way out to run out of cash and reach for that card. But, trust me, if you can stick with it, the money savings will be worth every penny.

I’ll be the first to admit, this savings plan won’t be easy, especially if the card has become a splurging habit. Try starting out small by keeping a set amount of cash in your wallet every week. Soon, you’ll find that there might even be a few extra bucks at the end of the week as you’ve become more and more cautious about your spending habits.

 

Saving While Eating Well

Food and drinks are an interesting struggle when trying to save money. Everyone eats, multiple times throughout the day, and there is no way of getting around it. I find that, especially as a working adult, it is incredibly easy to fall into the habit of skipping breakfast, grabbing a quick lunch, then picking up a late dinner. Not only is this a really unhealthy way to live, it’s also very expensive! Here are a few ways to improve your diet AND your bank account when it comes to your day-to-day dining:

Always, Always, ALWAYS Pack your Lunch

Remember when you were a kid and wanted hot lunch every day? Your mother said no of course, and told you to pack your own lunch. Well, the office cafe is the grown-up equivalent to your school’s cafeteria, so use the same logic your mother did, and don’t waste your money on overpriced mediocre food! Packing a lunch is something that takes about five minutes, and can save you hundreds of calories and dollars over the course of a year.

Plan Your Meals

Before you start your week, sit down and plan out what days you’ll be home, what meals you’d like to make, and what you need to buy to make those meals. Not only will this stop you from picking up pricy take-out dinners, but it will stop you from over-buying at the grocery! Bonus points if you pick recipes that use food that you already have!

Make Your Own Specialty Drinks

Ah, if I had a dollar for every time I pulled over at a Starbucks . . . or maybe $5, for that matter! Coffee and tea drinks have some of the highest markups of all consumables, as well as tons of hidden sugars and calories. Starbucksrecipes.org has quite a few recipes of the favorite Starbucks indulgences, and a quick Google search can find you pretty much any other recipe people have discovered for make-your-own gourmet coffee.

Split Meals Out

Sometimes, eating out is unavoidable – but don’t worry, there are still ways to stay within your mealtime budget! If you’re going with friends, split a meal, as well as the cost and the calories! If you’re out with a group that you aren’t comfortable splitting food with (co-workers or something a bit more professional), don’t be afraid to order off of the appetizer menu – an appetizer is often far cheaper and better proportioned than the huge entrees that restaurants offer.

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

Saving with Entertainment Books?

A few years ago, I discovered what I thought was the most amazing thing in the world – an entertainment coupon book. My little brother was selling them as part of a fundraiser for only $25, and it had thousands and thousands of dollars worth of coupons – a broke college kid’s dream! I bought the book, and made it my goal to use as many of the coupons as humanly possible over summer vacation.

Everywhere I went, for the entire break, I brought this coupon book. I would recommend places to eat with my friends, stores to buy clothes from, and where to go bowling and laser-tagging. Having the entertainment book made me feel good about spending money, like I was doing myself a favor by racking up the savings. But then after my summer ended and it was time to buy my textbooks for the fall, I realized that the summer had run me completely out of money.

Entertainment books can go one of two ways. Either you take the coupons to things you regularly do, and save money instead of spending. If you’re one to go out often, then this coupon book is an investment, and definitely something to get your hands on. The OTHER scenario is that because you have a coupon, you eat 50% off food, go on BOGO rock climbing trips, and get discounted designer shoes, when without the coupon book, you wouldn’t have done these things. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, 20% off of a $50 restaurant bill still leaves you with a $40 bill, often $40 that you weren’t really planning on spending.

So before praising yourself for being so financially responsible when investing in an entertainment book, take a minute to think what you are going to do with it. If you really love going out and do it regularly, definitely use the chance to save. But if you’re like me, and the coupons may cause you to impulse buy, skip the book, or at least hold yourself to pre-set rules (only one dinner out per week, I will not buy any more sunglasses, etc). This will help you to be honest with yourself, and make yet another step into being financially smart and secure.

 

Buying Products vs. Experiences

So the other day, my friend and I went out for the afternoon. I had a little bit of extra cash, so we went to lunch and to the mall. When we came home, I noticed something very different about our shopping styles – we had both spent about $100, and I had 4 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, new makeup, a makeup bag, and leftovers from lunch, while my friend had 2 shirts and a new eyeshadow to show for her day out.

It got me thinking how easy it is to spend money and have nothing to show for it, and conversely, how important it is to make sure you’re buying physical things. While we both had a wonderful day out, when you’re trying to save money you must avoid buying experiences, and shop for actual things. While we both went out and got our nails done, I got a $10 paint and she bought a $35 french manicure – same experience, way different price tags. The same thing happened all throughout the day – I bought a new compact from Clinique (who has free gift days all the time) and got a makeup bag full of trial-sized mascaras, eyeshadows, and lip stains all for $25, while my friend stopped at a side vendor (you know, the ones who come running up to you launching their speech about the magical product) and got one glittery eyeshadow pad for the same price.  The number one thing to keep in mind when you’re out with people who like to throw around money is that you can always (and usually should) say NO. While I don’t recommend lecturing your friend in the middle of Macy’s on spending smart, by laughing off her suggestion of buying matching purses you can keep the mood light and your bank account full. Say no to any upgrades, up-selling, or upsizing that you are tempted with – small coffees and junior sized popcorns are just as satisfying at just a fraction of the price.

Some people think that there is no way to go out and have fun without blowing way too much money, and that they have to sacrifice a social life for savings. However, with coupons in hand and some strong self-control, you can easily turn a fun girls afternoon into a productive shopping day!

Photo Credit: iClipart

 

Using Online Research to Save Money!

One way to spend smart is to always do your research! Before making a major purchase (or any purchase, really), look up all the information you can. As part of the techno-generation, I LOVE running a quick Google search on any product that I’m on the fence about, and reading what people have to say about it. There was one time I was ready to drop $60 on a new curling iron because the salon lady had talked it up so much . . until I went online. After reading dozens upon dozens of reviews about it being hard to use, unnatural looking, and easy to burn yourself with, obviously I decided it was not worth the money and moved on. And not spending money is the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to save money.

Now remember, even great products will sometimes have scathingly bad reviews. If one person in a hundred hates what you’re looking at, chances are they couldn’t figure out how to turn it on, misused or broke it, or bought entirely the wrong thing. So look at reviews in chronological order, or just make sure you’re reading a balanced amount that accurately reflects what the majority thinks of your product.

If you’re not sure which brand or version of a product you want, ConsumerSearch.com is a good place to start. Though it doesn’t have personal testimonials, it has a totally unbiased list of pros and cons for almost every product out there, as well as lists of the best of several big categories (and even specific subcategories) Amazon.com also is known for helpful customer reviews on specific products, and has saved me from many bad purchases! It also helps with price quotes so you can compare and save. And don’t limit yourself to just online reviews – friends and family can give equally helpful testimonies to help you figure out if a product is right for you!

Photo Credit: iClipart