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How to Get Tech Toys Cheap
Life, Shopping,

How to Get Tech Toys Cheap

Keeping up with the latest technology trends can quickly get expensive. Although being labeled as an early adopter sounds good in practice, it’s a title that definitely comes with a hefty price tag.

But you don’t have to sacrifice anything but time to be a savvy consumer of technology. With a little bit of patience, here’s how to get tech toys cheap.

Simply Wait

This is the most boring but practical tip I can give you on how to get your favorite tech toys cheap. But the fact of the matter is that there’s a direct negative correlation between the amount of time you’re willing to wait, and the price of the tech toy you desire.

The best (and most patient) customers wait until the initial release hype is over, sometimes even until the next generation is out. Graciously, multi-generation products (like the Xbox or iPhone) offer some predictability as to how long after release prices are expected to drop.

For new products, you can often count on major shopping holidays (like Black Friday) to score some kind of deal. Brands like Fitbit and Apple rarely discount, but are often sold during shopping holidays with a gift card bonus to department stores like Target. So if you can’t get a discount, at least aim for a useful bonus!

eBay

Sellers on eBay are excited about the potential that auction-style bidding provides, which is why they choose to list with this service instead of some of the other options on this list. For buyers, this usually means a low initial bid, with the hopes that a coveted tech toy will spark a bidding war just short of a product’s retail value (or more if there’s some level of scarcity currently in place).

Fortunately, for buyers that wait until a few months after a product’s release, these bidding wars are few and far between. More than likely, you’ll find a listing with a fair “Buy it Now” price that’s cheaper than buying the product new. Numerous purchase protections through eBay will ensure that you’ve got some insurance on a big transaction.

Buy Refurbished

This is different than buying used, because it usually comes with some level of warranty or guarantee from the manufacturer. Apple’s best pricing can be found in it’s refurbished products section, which includes everything from laptops, to tablets, and iPods.

If you’re making a big purchase, it’s nice to know that it’s protected – and that you’re saving several hundred dollars over retail. Of course, it’s important to note that refurbished products are often several months or generations old, which may not be something you want to spend your money on.

Groupon Goods is an excellent general marketplace for finding refurbished tech toys. On top of generally cheap prices, they also frequently offer percentage discounts (rarely over 10%) on their Goods category, in addition to a percentage rebate (usually 6%) through a service called Ebates (learn more about Ebates on my post, “Stop Spending So Much Money Online Shopping”).

Amazon offers discounts on returns/open packages (though generally unused) technology through their Warehouse Deals.

Used

This category for how to get tech toys cheap should be treated with the highest amount of caution. When purchasing used technology, especially at a higher price point, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how that device normally functions, and how to look for warning signs of wear and tear. When purchasing directly from it’s previous owner, you should request photos AND an in-person inspection of physical wear and tear.

Popular places to purchase used technology include:

  • Craigslist
  • Amazon
  • eBay

Caveat emptor! (buyer beware)

Student Discounts

Many major technology hardware and software companies offer student discounts that can end up helping you save hundreds of dollars on your favorite tech toys. Some of them employ thorough tactics to verify that you’re a current student, and others are more lax. Use that information as you will.

Technology companies that offer student discounts:

Major Sales Holidays

There are certain times of the year when various categories of technology tend to be on sale, but as a general rule, Black Friday is the day to go crazy and spend money on the tech toys you’ve been saving up for.

A caveat – top deals are usually available at a very limited quantity. If you’re serious about a certain technology purchase, make sure you get to a store as early as possible. Sometimes, these same deals are online. Just do your research!

The common characteristics between these various methods for how to get tech toys cheap center around the idea of patience and strategy. So do some research and try to ignore tempting shiny new things – at least for a little while.

Once you’ve invested in some shiny new tech toy, make sure to protect your investment. If you’re local to Chicago, Barry’s Computer Repair is a service I swear by, referring anyone I know who gets a dreaded cracked screen. Barry’s also offers incredibly inexpensive device insurance – often cheaper and more comprehensive than your provider!

How do you get tech toys cheap?

Share your secrets in the comments!

3 WAYS TO GROCERY SHOP IN CHICAGO WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE
Food, Life, Shopping,

3 Ways to Grocery Shop in Chicago without Leaving the House

3 or 4 months out of the year, grocery becomes a chore in every sense of the word due to the cold, seemingly insurmountable walking and bag transporting conditions. But even in good weather, sometimes the grocery store is too far away to be plausible if you don’t have a car, or to be honest, maybe you’re just feeling lazy.

But regardless of why you can’t leave the house to go grocery shopping, you’re in luck, because you have options. Here are 3 ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house.

Postmates

Promo code: Use “fggx” to get $20 worth of delivery credits (can be spread over multiple orders)
Delivery charge: Start at $5, and go up depending on how far you are from the city center + 9% service fee on groceries + tip

Postmates is very similar to Grubhub, in that you can order our favorite restaurant food for delivery. Where it’s different is in its integration to shop basic groceries. With this in mind, and as many Postmates ride bikes, you should use Postmates mostly for small orders of necessities and popular items. You can usually expect Postmates to deliver in about an hour or less.

If your exact desired item isn’t in stock, Postmates gives you the option to substitute the order, take an in-store recommendation, or cancel the order completely.

Instacart

Promo code: Use ‘MOSMAN11 for $10 off your first order
Delivery charge: Various. Depends on your delivery timeframe and order size.

Instacart is a lot like Postmates, although they specialize much more in groceries and have a much better selection of products. The best part? You can shop favorites from grocery stores instead of accepting products stockpiled in a warehouse (which is how Peapod operates).

Delivery charges are quite minimal compared to Postmates and Peapod, ranging from $3.99-$5.99, depending on how quickly you need your groceries. They also have a yearly membership program that’s worth every penny if you end up using Instacart on the regular. The only downside is their pricing – sometimes up to 20% marked up from retail prices.

Bonus: You don’t need a Costco membership to order from Costco with Costco products.

Peapod

Promo code: 60 days of free delivery + $20 off first order with code 60DAYSFREE
Delivery charge: Flat rate around $5-7 per delivery + tip

Peapod is the best ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house. They’re pretty flexible in terms of when you want your groceries, but should expect as long as a 4 hour delivery time block. Make sure someone’s home to accept the delivery!

They run several promotions throughout the year, so when used strategically, it’s one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to grocery shop, without, ya know, doing it yourself.

Downside: Peapod doesn’t always let you know when your exact desired item isn’t in stock so you may find yourself surprised when an item you were counting on doesn’t come with your delivery.

A note on produce

I try to avoid buying fresh produce through any of these ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house. Stock up on frozen and canned vegetables, but save produce shopping for when you can pick it out yourself, whenever possible. A personal shopper isn’t ever going to be as choosy as you are.

A note on the shopping experience

It can be kind of annoying to buy individual grocery items on a screen, but all the above ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house try to make the experience as painless as possible. They have an ordering solution that’s suitable for those who like desktops and an app for those who prefer mobile ordering.

From a spending standpoint, grocery shopping online is a great way to check yourself again a monthly grocery budget without having to calculate things out by hand. For someone trying to avoid impulse shopping by educating themselves with in-your-face pricing, these grocery shopping solutions could have additional benefits for users.

Now that you know how to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house, what will you be using these services for?

  • A late night snack ingredient run?
  • Something you forgot to make food for a party you’re hosting?
  • Everything if it’s too cold out or you’re too far away from a grocery store, without a car?

Let us know in the comments!

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custom t-shirt printing
Life, Shopping,

Get All Your Custom T-shirt Printing at Rush Order Tees

There’s a soft spot in my heart for Rush Order Tees, because they were one of my first clients when I made the move to freelance full-time, and are still one of my favorite clients today. Their blog is full of both fun and inspirational goodies that span all kinds of unique interests. There’s really something for anyone’s taste, and they have a lot of resources and support for custom t-shirt printing.

Working with Rush Order Tees has introduced me to custom t-shirt printing that is a cut above the rest.

Why you should get all your custom t-shirt printing at Rush Order Tees

Quick Turnaround

After all, it’s not called “Rush Order Tees” because it takes weeks to get the t-shirts you ordered! Oh no, Rush Order Tees prides itself on getting you product when you need it. If you can afford to wait, your shipping is free for printed and embroidered wear. If you need it in 2 days, that’s not a problem – Rush Order Tees can deliver. If you have any questions or special circumstances, they’re very responsive on their live chat.

High & Low volume Orders

Whether you need shirts for a team of hundreds, or even just one singular custom t-shirt, Rush Order Tees can accommodate. No need to spend a lot of money on a one-off project. Besides screen printing and embroidery, they offer a whole portfolio of custom t-shirt services.

Design Resources

Overall, Rush Order Tees’ t-shirt selection and design process is very simple and intuitive:

  1. Choose a product and color
  2. Add your own images or choose from clipart
  3. Add text
  4. Customize with individual names and numbers (ex/a sports team) for an additional cost

Remember those blog posts I was talking about? They’re full of detailed advice for designing shirts for volunteer events, sports teams, corporate functions, and so much more. Besides blog content, Rush Order Tees allows you to consult with a screen printing professional for free via their live chat.

Rush Order Tees also thoroughly reviews each order before printing and looks for common design issues including, but not limited to:

  • Pixelation
  • Placement and Centering
  • Removing background images
  • Color changes
  • Adjusting sizes between youth and adult apparel
  • Ink color contrast

Between Rush Order Tee’s resources during and after the design process, there’s no reason you’ll end up with a design you’re not in love with.

Fundraiser Support

Fundraising by selling products can be a nightmare. But, if you’re using custom t-shirts to raise money for a cause, Rush Order Tees can help you handle all of the small details. Their fundraising platform spreadspirit allows you to create a t-shirt and public page to share, then collects payment and order information for large groups and handles fulfillment and shipping. No sweat necessary.

There are other custom t-shirt printing companies that may be able to do things cheaper, but they are unlikely to achieve the same quality, especially in a rush. Rush Order Tees wins by being a company that always has their customer’s back.

Do you have an upcoming custom t-shirt printing projects? Go to Rush Order Tees to start the design process.

And share the details of your project in the comments if you’d like some help coming up with ideas to make them pop!

5 WAYS TO BRING NEW LIFE TO OLD PHOTOS
Life, Shopping,

5 Ways to Bring New Life to Old Photos

We’ve all done it.

Snapped hundreds of pictures on vacation, vowed to upload them to Facebook, print them, whatever… and then it never actually happens. Those precious memories are out of sight and out of mind, often on memory cards that get lost or damaged. Such a travesty.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are so many ways to bring new life to old photos. Here are a few of my favorites options:

Phone Case

I love street art. When I studied abroad in Barcelona, I started a mini blog to document all the amazing pieces I found. It’s not hard to find a a great place to put street art. Honestly, it would work perfectly in any of these custom photo product categories. But because I love street art so much, I like it to be with me always, which is how it made it’s way onto my phone.

5 Ways to Bring New Life to Old Photos

Custom phone cases don’t have to mean sacrificing protection. The most recent custom phone case I made was from Vistaprint, I opted for rubberized protection.

Coffee Mug

If you drink coffee or tea at work, you ought to have a reusable coffee mug. Not only does it help save the environment, one cup of coffee at a time… it also let’s you show off a little of your personality.

I’m on the look out for what I would consider to be the perfect coffee mug – one where the image wrap takes up the entire space with no white spots.

bring new life to old photos

In the meantime, I’ve ordered coffee mugs (and many other photo products) from PrinterPix. But don’t pay retail, they frequently have great Groupon deals.

Coasters

I recently ordered these coasters from PrinterPix after a trip to Peru:

5 Ways to Bring New Life to Old Photos

Whether or not you respect your coffee table, coasters make great accents. Regardless of if you choose to use trip pictures, pictures of friends, or old-fashioned pictures of family members (I know someone doing this as a gift this year…), you can’t go wrong. Good-quality coasters with a personal touch make a great addition to a coffee table.

Printed Canvas

My parents got me started on custom canvases. For every trip they’ve been on, they get a custom canvas printed and hang it in the foyer. They even installed spotlights to make the pictures really pop. They have an eye for beauty (especially because at least one of the pictures hanging is my own ;)), and I love taking in the whole room when I’m at their house.

I started this tradition with my boyfriend, getting custom canvases printed after our first trip together, which resulted in so many beautiful pictures.

Picture it on Canvas is a great resource for different sizes, frame thickness, and other treatments. I like the square options – they make it easy to fit in multiple canvas pictures in a small space. Groupon frequently runs deals, so check there first before paying full price (and note that you’ll still be responsible for shipping). If you’re not super picky about options, Walgreens also frequently does deals when you sign up for their email newsletter.

Photo Book

I like photo books to commemorate occasions or long periods of time.

To give you an example, my mom made one for a trip we took after I graduated to Spain and France.

She made me another one when I graduated college.

bring new life to old photos 2

They’re small and easy to store. And it’s fun to look back at a snapshot of time – especially when you know someone else put an effort into putting it together for you.

So whether you’re giving gifts, or making custom photo projects for yourself, there are so many great options to bring new life to old photos!

Have you taken advantage of any of the aforementioned opportunities? Or maybe did something else? Share your custom photo project ideas in the comments!

8 Alternatives to Avoid Paying Full Price for Books
Life, Shopping,

8 Alternatives to Avoid Paying Full Price for Books

I love books so much that I challenged myself to read one book each week for a total of 52 this year… and I’ve already surpassed my goal. If you’re a kindred book spirit, let’s be friends on Goodreads.

What I don’t love about books is when I want one that just came out and it’s ridiculously expensive.

With a little self control and planning, you should never pay full price for books, even if they just came out. I’m willing to bet that the book of your dreams is available through one of the following options at a highly reduced cost!

8 Alternatives to Avoid Paying Full Price for Books

Used Books on Amazon

Let’s start with the basics. I’ve always used Amazon to get the best pricing on textbooks for college, but it also often offers the best price for a book I’m desiring. The kindle route is not the best way to go – especially if you love the feeling of a book in your hand and the ability to turn the pages on your own. Instead, search for a book of your choice and look at the used book pricing. There are few books I can’t find for a dollar or less (plus shipping). If I absolutely can’t find a book for a favorable price, I add it to my Amazon Wish List and monitor it periodically for pricing changes.

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon built it’s reputation as being your one stop shop for books, and it’s new Kindle Unlimited subscription feature is no exception. It’s $10 per month and allows unlimited access to titles in the library. The library is pretty extensive and often includes new release titles. There used to be a similar service called Oyster, but it’s going out of business… probably because Amazon got in the game. At any rate, Amazon’s library is hard to beat.

Shelfie

Shelfie is an interesting little app I came across. Basically, you use your phone’s camera to take a “Shelfie” of the books on your bookshelf. Shelfie analyzes your collection and matches it with the free ebook versions of your book. Their library is somewhat limited as of the last time I used it, but it’s definitely something to watch and an interesting concept.

Library

Duh! I don’t think I need to remind you that the library has FREE and NEW RELEASE books… but I will. But what you may not know about the library is that they also offer access to ebooks free with a library card. I wrote an article awhile back explaining the process. Remember the Amazon Wish List I mentioned awhile back? I like to cross reference the books on that list with the books that I can rent online.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg takes out of copyright books (currently over 50,000) and makes them available by ebook. Now’s your chance to catch up on the classics – for free!

Discount eBook Newsletters

OHFB and BookBub are two email newsletters I subscribe to that tempt me on a daily basis to buy ebooks, but at a ridiculously reduced price. You can’t opt for a daily email or weekly digest.

Local Used Bookstores

I’m going to ask you to go in with no expectations. Don’t have a specific title in mind, just be open to the possibilities. Used bookstores are absolute gems and used books can be DIRT cheap. There’s one in Lakeview called Bookleggers that I feel a particular fondness for and has some ridiculously good deals.

Book of the Month Club

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience starting the Book of the Month club subscription. It’s awesome! As soon as my 3 month subscription is over, I’m paying for a full year upfront. They let you choose between 5 books curated by interesting book lovers, with prices as low as $10 (including shipping) for a brand new hardcover. Can’t beat it.

What are your best tips to avoid paying full price for books? Share in the comments!

YOUR BLACK FRIDAY PLAN OF ATTACK
Life, Shopping,

Your Black Friday Plan of Attack

As a shopper who’s always trying to get the best deal, Black Friday is one of my favorite shopping events of the year. In case you’re wondering, NO, I do not line up in front of stores for hours or days… I enjoy a nice Thanksgiving feast with my family and purposely keep my drinking low.

I’ve successfully shopped many Black Fridays, and want to share my Black Friday plan of attack with you. As an added bonus, I’ve included some of the best deals I’ve found for this year!

There are three stores I always go to:

  • Walmart
  • Best Buy
  • Target

Since arguably the best deals on Black Friday relate back to electronics, you’d be wise to start your adventure at one of these stores. Target and Walmart have the added benefit of low prices on many other goods made exceptionally lower for Black Friday. Big box stores are best bets if you’re shopping for a lot of different people or in a lot of different categories.

I’d suggest starting your Black Friday experience with Walmart. For the past couple of years, they allow you to go in the store and fill up your cart, even before Black Friday pricing is valid. So stay warm and stock up. Honestly if you don’t have too many specifics, your Black Friday shopping could start and end here.

But Walmart doesn’t have everything. And I’m sure you’ve got a huge list to shop for. Here are some of the best deals this year from my top 3 Black Friday stores:

Walmart

  • Fitbit Flex: $59
  • Fitbit Charge: $119
  • Roku: $25

Best Buy

  • Amazon Fire: $35

Target

  • $350 Apple Watch with $100 Target gift card
  • Fitbit Charge: $119
  • Free Target gift card with the purchase of an iPad
  • Guitar Hero Live: $59
  • 40% off all apparel and accessories

If you have a Target debit card or credit card, you’ll save an additional 5%!

Browse the ads for all the stores you’re interesting, make a list of what you want, and make a plan of attack with these things in mind:

Your Black Friday 2015 Plan of Attack

  • Shop with a team. The lines will be long, so position one person in line, and the other can be a “runner,” going through both of your lists and getting the items you want.
  • Utilize friends in different stores. If you’re going after big ticket items, you can probably only personally set your sights on one. But if you work with friends in other stores, you can help each other get what you want.
  • Be patient. Some stores do require lines and there will definitely be a lot of waiting for checkout. But the deals will be worth it!
  • Don’t get too drunk on Thanksgiving. Otherwise, shopping is going to be super painful.
  • Don’t forget to shop for yourself! Stock up on products you can use all year round. I personally focus on new kitchen stuff (TONS of great deals on Black Friday) or computer accessories (external hard drive, HDMI cords, you get the idea).
  • Are you a movie buff? Best Buy, Target and Walmart have the best deals of the year. Tons of titles, seasons, etc.
  • Don’t feel like braving the stores? Amazon’s got your back with many similar deals. And plenty of online retailers will feature Cyber Monday specials.
  • Clothing stores tend to give scratch off cards. Savings aren’t always guaranteed, but can be REALLY good. Just know you basically won’t be able to try anything on.
  • Dress warm but comfortable. Layers are your friend.
  • An energy drink or coffee is a must, with a snack. If you’re serious about Black Friday shopping, you’ll be out for hours. It’s not easy to stay awake when you’ve got a belly full of turkey!

What tips would you add to this list? Share in the comments so we can all make a better Black Friday plan of attack!

2015 RESTAURANT GIFT CARD DEALS
Life, Shopping,

2015 Restaurant Gift Card Deals

Besides being with my family or eating to an excess, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season are the amazing discounts.

One of the best deals besides steep discounts on electronics for Black Friday are restaurant gift card bonuses. Basically, many popular local and national restaurant chains offer a bonus when you buy a certain amount of gift card credits.

Popular denominations include a $5 bonus when you spend $25, or a $25 bonus when you spend $100.

These deals are great for a few reasons:

  • If you buy a gift card for a friend or family member, you can save the bonus for your own dining purposes
  • If you buy a gift card bonus deal for yourself – you can cash in on savings any time during the year

If there’s a restaurant you love offering one of these deals – stock up. Think about how many times you visited that place in the past year and plan accordingly. Just don’t force yourself to spend them right away because they’re burning a hole in your pocket. There’s no reason that smart shopping can’t benefit you year-round.

A word of caution – some restaurants give you the extra money on a gift card, some give you a “bonus” card that has an expiration date. Plan accordingly!

I like buying Lettuce Entertain You gift cards and Einstein Bagels, because I frequent LEYE restaurants and bagel places. Think about the places you go to regularly – they might have a deal like this!

Here are some of the best 2015 Restaurant Gift Card Deals… I’ll be adding more as I become aware, so check back!

2015 Restaurant Gift Card Deals

Applebees offers a bonus card worth between $5-25 when you buy $50 in gift cards.

Einstein Bros. Bagel offers a $5 bonus when you buy $25 in gift cards.

Flemings offers a $20 bonus when you buy $100 in gift cards.

Lettuce Entertain You offers a $25 bonus when you buy $100 in gift cards.

Morton’s the Steakhouse offers a $50 bonus when you buy $250 in gift cards.

Noodles & Company offers a $5 bonus when you buy $25 in gift cards.

Outback Steakhouse offers a $20 bonus when you buy $100 in gift cards.

PF Chang’s offers a $20 bonus when you buy $100 in gift cards.

Red Lobster offers a $10 off coupon (or free appetizer) when you buy $50 in gift cards.

Red Robin offers a $5 bonus when you buy $25 in gift cards.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse offers 10% back in promotional cards for every $250+ you spend in gift cards.

White Castle offers a $5 bonus when you buy $25 in gift cards.

Are there any 2015 restaurant gift card deals that I missed? Share in the comments and I’ll add them to this list!

CHEAP HALLOWEEN COSTUMES DON’T HAVE TO SUCK
Life, Shopping,

Cheap Halloween Costumes Don’t Have to Suck

Every year, about two weeks before Halloween, I start to panic. Although I was practically a Halloween baby (October 29 if you want to make sure to write ‘HBD” on my Facebook wall), the best holiday of the year seems to always slip my mind. I also tend to struggle until the last possible minute to come up with a costume that is both witty and flattering.

Regardless, in the end it always works out. As of this writing, I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to be.

If you’re just like me, here’s a guide to finding cheap halloween costumes that don’t suck.

Cheap Halloween Costumes

  1. Pick a costume that can be easily assembled from thrift store finds
    cheap halloween costumes
    Whether you have a costume in mind or not is practically irrelevant, because you’re sure to find some excellent costume possibilities at a thrift store or Goodwill. For super-specific costume parts, add on to your thrift finds by going to a Halloween store.To give you an example, last year my boyfriend and I did Fight Club Halloween costumes. He was Tyler Durden and I was Marla Singer. His costume basically required a crazy shirt, aviators, and leather jacket – most pieces of which he already had. Mine was a crazy curly black wig and black dress. Pretty simple! And the costumes really came together.
  2. Make a costume out of accessories or makeup
    cheap halloween costumes
    Do you have animal ears? Maybe a tail? Boom, you have a costume.Some costumes can be put together almost entirely from how your face is made up. Or in the case of being a zombie, it’s also about the makeup wounds you create. Either way, you can use clothing you already have and just go heavy on the makeup.
    You may want to buy some clothes that support the costume better than jeans and a tshirt, but you don’t have to go crazy to make this work. Which leads me to my next idea for cheap halloween costumes…
  3. Buy clothing you can re-wear
    cheap halloween costumes
    One year, I decided I wanted to be a devil. So using a combination of the idea of using accessories to make a costume, plus the idea of buying clothing you can re-wear, I created a cheap and resuable halloween costume. To complete the look, I bought a hot red dress from Express that’s gotten plenty of use since and doesn’t look out of place!Whether you’re buying clothes you can re-wear for a costume, or are looking for specific basic pieces, Target and Walmart tend to be best bets for basics like plain colored tshirts and pants. I also like Express and Forever 21 for nicer pieces that you’ll re-wear.
  4. Use Mean Girls as inspiration
    As Caty so rightly stated in Mean Girls, “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.” I’m all about empowering women, but if you just want to let loose, to hell with the haters.One option for cheap Halloween costumes that will make you look hot on Halloween is Adore Me. Adore Me has sexy Halloween costumes for $20! It’s getting late in the game to order them, but is worth considering for the future!
  5. For next year – Buy your Halloween costume the day after Halloween
    One of my best friends used to work at Party City and I happened to visit her one year right after Halloween. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Costumes that were retailing for $40+ before Halloween were well under $10 as soon as the holiday was over. I picked up my costume for next year, saved it, and didn’t have to give Halloween a further thought afterwards.Besides stores like Party City, check out seasonal Halloween stores that pop up for a few months and need to liquidate their remaining merchandise after the Halloween season is over.

Here are just a few ideas for keeping costs down when it’s time for Halloween.

What are some good tips I missed? Are you doing anything thrifty for Halloween this year? Share in the comments!

chicago cheap ass (4)
Life, Shopping, Style,

Trunk Club: Not Just for Men

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As we get older and transition into seemingly adults our money is spent wiser. Recently, I experienced the launch of Trunk Club Women in Chicago. Before you snarl at the idea of paying for a personal stylist, I invite you to understand the concept and ease of Trunk Club.

Trunk Club requires no minimum spend, no membership and no stylist fees. If you’re in Chicago you can go to Trunk Club Headquarters in River North on Ohio and Orleans (325 West Ohio St). There is an open bar with liquid libations and witty conversation. Don’t mind the gorgeous men and beautiful women both styling and buying. The men’s floor is below the women’s near the main bar which makes for optimum people watching. Both floors have a distinct look and feel for the genders. Fitting room areas have been thoughtfully curated by the designers featured at Trunk Club with the most stunning interior decor that will entice you to buy the furniture before you even try on a piece of clothing.

Trunk Club

Prior to your first appointment your personal stylist will have you fill out a short questionnaire about your size, style and preferences. There are no wrong answers, it helps your stylist understand what you’re looking for, what you’re comfortable with and reversely what you’re uncomfortable with, too.

If you’re not in Chicago that’s no problem! You will go through the same process and survey which your stylist with carefully review and curate your trunk. Trunks ship at no charge and under no obligation are you required to keep any minimum amount of items.

Trunk Club is fully equipped with separates, dresses, jackets, denim, vests, shoes, etc.

Trunk Club

Book your appoint today or inquire about a trunk by sending an email to: kfitzgerald@trunkclub.com.

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Beauty, Life, Shopping,

Why You Should Use e.l.f. Cosmetics

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Hopefully, by now you’ve heard of e.l.f. Cosmetics.  A few years ago a wise friend let me in on the secret of this great makeup brand that could completely revamp your goods for less than a Sunday brunch.   E.l.f Cosmetics price point is likely it’s largest draw for the quality of product selling primarily at $1, $3, and $6.  The product line is not limited to mineral based makeup but also include skin-care products, brushes, eyelashes, tools and more.

This brand is largely a part of my spend vs. splurge makeup substitutes.  Makeup is expensive and can easily break the bank so when I run out of something and need a quick replacement (like an eyebrow pencil) I immediately go to e.l.f.  Don’t be shocked when you fall in love with this brand, especially their eyelashes.  The products are shockingly impressive for the price.  They go on smooth, last all day and look amazing – is there more we ask for in a brand?  If that wasn’t enough, they’re socially responsible with 100% cruelty free products, support Breast Cancer Awareness, PETA and other vital relief funds.

If you’re running low on a product or just simply want to try e.l.f., they are offering free Shipping sitewide with any order. There are two offers valid today (8/25) through the end of the month:

Free Shipping no minimum purchase with code SHIP4FREE! Valid on 8/25/15 only.

Going on now: free shipping on ALL e.l.f. orders! No code needed, valid 8/26/15-8/31/15!

Do you use e.l.f. cosmetics? What are your favorite products?