20 ZIP Codes With the Highest Real Estate Returns

Although it's a small number, ZIP codes play a large role in the real estate game — especially when it comes to profit.

Your ZIP code is a pretty important piece of an address, especially when it comes to the real estate market. HomeUnion, an online real estate investment management firm, identified zip codes in 20 metros that maximize real estate returns while minimizing risk over a five-year horizon. They examined school quality and neighborhood attractiveness for single-family rentals over five years.

“HomeUnion Research Services looked at more than a dozen attributes that characterize a neighborhood including crime, schools, white-collar jobs, unemployment, homeownership, permitting activity, etc.,” said Steve Hovland, director of research for HomeUnion. “Based on those attributes, we forecast appreciation, vacancy and rent changes over the next five years.”

The study calculated Annualized Total Return, which includes HomeUnion’s projections for how much the value of single-family rentals will appreciate and how much cash flow they’re expected to generate. According to Hovland, HomeUnion’s model can determine the price and rent for every single-family home within a specific zip code and allow them to predict the price and rent in five years.

The Long Haul 

Americans are increasingly investing in real estate to reap the rewards, which makes investing in the right ZIP code crucial. To mitigate risk and earn the highest real estate returns, investors should focus assets that can maintain value even during downturns, Hovland said.

Remember, when it comes to real estate, ZIP codes aren’t the only numbers that matter. Without a good credit score, financing a real estate investment can be difficult and costly. See where you stand and check your credit score for free at Credit.com. Here are the top ZIP codes with the highest real estate returns.

20. 46280

Submarket: North Indianapolis

Metro Area: Indianapolis

Annualized Total Return: 5.4%

19. 91602

Submarket: North Hollywood, California

Metro Area: Los Angeles

Annualized Total Return: 5.4%

18. 73003

Submarket: Edmond, Oklahoma

Metro Area: Oklahoma City

Annualized Total Return: 5.4%

17. 63043

Submarket: Maryland Heights, Missouri

Metro Area: St. Louis

Annualized Total Return: 5.5%

16. 85259

Submarket:  North Scottsdale, Arizona

Metro Area: Phoenix

Annualized Total Return: 5.5%

15. 77059

Submarket: Clear Lake City, Texas

Metro Area: Houston

Annualized Total Return: 5.6%

14. 75022

Submarket:  Flower Mound, Texas

Metro Area: Dallas

Annualized Total Return: 5.6%

13. 44023

Submarket:  Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Metro Area: Cleaveland

Annualized Total Return: 5.6%

12. 34677

Submarket: Oldsmar, Florida

Metro Area: Tampa

Annualized Total Return: 5.7%

11. 97224

Submarket: King City, Oregon

Metro Area: Portland, Oregon

Annualized Total Return: 5.8%

10. 30078

Submarket: Snellville, Georgia

Metro Area: Atlanta

Annualized Total Return: 5.8%

9. 45255

Submarket:  Forestville/Cherry Grove, Ohio

Metro Area: Cincinnati

Annualized Total Return: 5.9%

8. 60016

Submarket: Des Plaines, Illinois

Metro Area: Chicago

Annualized Total Return: 6%

7. 66223

Submarket: Overland Park, Kansas

Metro Area: Kansas City

Annualized Total Return: 6.2%

6. 37062

Submarket: Fairview, Tennessee

Metro Area: Nashville

Annualized Total Return: 6.5%

5. 33327

Submarket: Weston, Florida

Metro Area:  Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Annualized Total Return: 6.6%

4. 33158

Submarket: Palmetto Bay, Florida

Metro Area: Miami

Annualized Total Return: 6.8%

3. 48322

Submarket: West Bloomfield Township, Michigan

Metro Area: Detroit

Annualized Total Return: 6.9%

2. 19035

Submarket: Gladwyne, Pennsylvania

Metro Area: Philadelphia

Annualized Total Return: 6.9%

1. 33434

Submarket: Hamptons at Boca Raton, Florida

Metro Area: West Palm Beach

Annualized Total Return: 8.1%

Image: irina88w

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18 Cheap Social Activities That Don’t Involve Spending Money on Food

Your social life doesn't need to revolve around food. See friends without spending on food with these cheap hangouts.

Grabbing dinner, meeting for lunch or even visiting a hot new dessert place are often at the heart of anyone’s social calendar. Food and friends are a winning combination, but it can certainly add up. Next time you want to hang out with friends, propose something new. There are plenty of cheap things to do with friends that aren’t focused on food. Here are some affordable ideas for your next hangout.

1. Take a Hike

Experience nature, exercise and spend time with friends by going on a hike. You can find local trails with websites like Trail Finder. Money doesn’t need to be spent on food. If you’d still like something to nosh on, bring a protein bar and water bottle from home.

2. Go for a Bike Ride

Go for a ride around your neighborhood or in a local park. Even if you don’t own a bike, you can borrow one or even rent one for an affordable price. Although, a bicycle can actually make you wealthier if you use it enough, so it might be worth investing in.

3. Attend an Outdoor Movie or Concert

These are almost always free, just check your local community event calendars. You can even opt to bring your own drinks and snacks if you’d like to add some budget-friendly pizzazz to your night.

4. Visit the Zoo or Aquarium

Many zoos and aquariums have days where you can donate the amount of your choosing instead of buying full-price tickets. Keep in mind that these pay-what-you-can days are often crowded — if a crowd doesn’t bother you, taking advantage of these days is a great way to stay on budget. Most places also offer picnic areas for you to eat lunches you’ve brought from home. (And we have a lot of great tips for having a picnic on a budget!)

5. Head to the Beach

This is a perfect summer activity and it doesn’t have to cost a thing. Remember to stick to public beaches unless you’re willing to pay the fee to access private ones. You could even just opt for a walk on the beach or nearby boardwalk, which is simpler and still free.The only food a trip to the beach involves are optional snacks.

6. Host a Craft Night 

Buying craft supplies and a bottle of wine can result in a fun night in. There are a lot of ways to save at Michaels and other craft stores, making supplies fairly affordable. Plus, there are plenty of free craft tutorials and projects on Pinterest and YouTube that can help you create anything.

7. Go Camping

Enjoy a taste of the outdoors at no cost. No state or national parks nearby? Or maybe you’re not much of an outdoors person. No worries — you can also camp in your own backyard. You’ll experience the great outdoors without being too far from running water and electricity.

8.Try a Fitness Class

Classes like barre, yoga or even kickboxing will help you and your friends get into shape while having fun. Often you can find great deals on your first few classes when you use sites like Groupon. Also, check your local community center or parks — often they offer yoga classes for free.

9. Watch the Sunset or Sunrise

This is free to enjoy and you can choose the location. Look up the sunrise and sunset times online, spread out a blanket at a great lookout spot or enjoy from your porch.

10. Visit a Museum

There’s a museum for everyone and everything — from modern art to sex. A lot of museums offer free admissions or pay-what-you-can entry fees. Not only can this be an educational experience, but also you’ll save by not needing to purchase food.

11. Host a Bonfire

Bonfires are the perfect way to warm up and get together with friends on a chilly autumn or summer night. Just be sure to follow local fire ordinances to avoid a fine.

12. Tour a Brewery or Vineyard

These tours often provide samples or you can purchase drinks at the end. Some breweries and wineries even offer tours for free. This is a nice way to combine a fun experience with the classic hangout of grabbing drinks.

13. Host A Video Game Tournament

Indulge in a childhood favorite pastime with a fun night in with friends. Dust off your old GameCube or bring out the newest gaming system and challenge friends to a tournament.

14. Visit a Botanical Garden or Wildflower Field

This, of course, depends on your location. Enjoying flowers is perfect for the nice weather and is sure to result in beautiful photos. Visiting is free, though some gardens might charge a small entry fee. Always check calendars for times or dates when the garden might be open for free or have a discounted rate.

15. Check out a Comedy Club

Save by visiting new talent showcases and day time shows. You also generally get better deals when you visit a show during a weeknight rather than the weekend.

16. See a Matinee Movie

These are a lot more affordable than evening films and food is not required. If you do wish to spend a bit on snacks there are a lot of ways to save on movie concessions.

17. Volunteer

Chances are there’s an animal shelter or soup kitchen in your town that could use some help. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and it’s more fun when doing so with friends.

18. Have a Board Game Night

Indulge in some nostalgia with a good old-fashioned game night with friends. Play some old school games like Monopoly and Uno or play new ones, like Cards Against Humanity or Catch Phrase. By staying in, you can enjoy affordable snacks, home-cooked food or even a potluck style meal, meaning you spend little to no money on food.

Remember to stay budget conscious while doing these activities. Saving by not spending on food could make you feel extra frivolous in other ways. For example, since you’re not buying food at the zoo you might decide to buy extra souvenirs. This defeats the purpose of saving on food in the first place. Swipe your card with caution and use rewards cards when possible. Most rewards cards require a decent credit score, so before applying see where you stand. You can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

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15 Restaurant Mobile Apps That Can Save You Money

Going out to eat can be rewarding in more ways than one.

Food is best served with a side of savings and restaurants with apps (that’s applications, not appetizers) that make it even easier to spend less. If you’re planning to order in, eat out or grab a quick bite, you might as well be rewarded for it.

Even if you’re on a budget, there are a lot of ways to save at restaurants, but one of the most convenient is by using an app. Below are 15 you can get for popular restaurants. All these apps are free to download on both iOS and Android and are full of coupons, loyalty programs and rewards.

1. Buffalo Wild Wings

The Blazin’ Rewards app makes it easy to earn points. Earn 100 points for signing up and filling out a profile. For every $10 spent earn 100 more. Check in five times during lunch time and earn 300 more points. Also earn points by checking in at the restaurant and having friends check in. Like in many college classes, earn points just for showing up. The rewards include bottles of sauce, beverages, appetizers, desserts and entrees.

2. Chili’s

With the Chili’s app, you can rack up Plenti Points by dining at the restaurant. These can be redeemed at Chili’s for appetizers, desserts and more. As a member, you’ll also receive a free dessert on your birthday (here are 10 other places with birthday freebies). These Plenti points can also be earned or spent at other Plenti partners like Macy’s, Mobil and Rite Aid. The app also has bonus perks, like allowing you to add your name to a wait list or order to go.

3. Steak ‘n Shake

Earn a free milkshake with your first purchase using the Steak ‘n Shake Rewards app. The app requires setting up a payment method to redeem the milkshake. If you don’t want to add a credit or debit card, earn rewards by adding a gift card. For every $50 spent you earn $5 back to be spent on food of your choice at any Steak ‘n Shake location.

4. Moe’s Southwest Grill

The Moe’s Rockin’ Rewards app has plenty of perks. Receive a free cup of queso when you sign up and a free burrito on your birthday every year. Log in through Facebook to earn an additional 50 points. Earn 10 reward points per $1 spent and for every 1,000 points receive $10 credit to spend at any Moe’s location.

5. Chick-fil-A

The Chick-fil-A One app allows you to earn treats the more you spend. To earn treats, you must place your order using the mobile device or scan your personalized QR code within the app during each visit. This app also allows you to skip the line by ordering on your phone.

6. Burger King

While there is no point system, the BK app offers mobile-only coupons that are in constant rotation. This app is worth checking for deals before placing your order.

7. Cici’s

The MyCici’s app has a loyalty based rewards program. The app requires you to scan your receipts. After five visits with $7 (before tax) or more spent, you earn a free adult buffet or a free one topping pizza to go.

8. Whataburger

The Whataburger app encourages you to load a mobile payment like a debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, or a Whataburger gift card. This isn’t required, however. All that’s required is for rewards is having the app. To track your visits, have the cashier scan the bar code on your phone. Every five visits are rewarded with free food and for a visit to count you only need to spend one cent.

9. Outback Steakhouse

The Outback app allows you to earn rewards and keep track of all Outback coupons in one place. It also gives 50% off of your fourth visit (up to $20). The app has additional perks, like allowing you to check in as soon as you’re close to the restaurant so you’re seated faster. You can also pay with your phone to avoid waiting for the bill and, for big groups, the app allows you to split the bill.

10. Duffy’s MVP Sports Grill

The Duffy’s MVP app allows those who use it to earn 20% to 50% off of their bill when they eat between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tuesdays are double point days. Members also earn free birthday rewards. MVP app users earn one point per $1 spent and 100 points automatically becomes a $10 reward credit to be spent at any Duffy’s MVP Sports Grill location.

11. fresh&co

This app requires you to link a credit card to it, so unless you frequent fresh&co it may not be worth it. (You might want to check your credit score for free with Credit.com before doing so to see where your credit stands). You earn $3 for creating an account. By paying with your mobile app and the card connected to it, you earn $9 for every $100 spent with $1 is donated to a charity dedicated to ending childhood hunger. Plus, you earn a free meal on your birthday.

12. Schnippers

The Schnippers app allows you to earn $8 in rewards for every 10 visits. Scan your QR code and spend at least $8 at each visit for it to count toward your reward.

13. Hale & Hearty

The Hale & Hearty app gives you a $2 credit for downloading and $2 per friend you refer. You’ll also earn $5 for every $50 spent.

14. Krispy Kreme

Earn a free doughnut for signing up and downloading the Krispy Kreme app. Scan the bar code with every purchase to rack up points toward free drinks and doughnuts. Plus, earn a free gift on your birthday. Bonus perk? Be notified when doughnuts are hot and fresh out of the oven at nearby locations. Yes, please!

15. Panera Bread

While the app itself isn’t necessary for rewards, it works well with the MyPanera rewards system. Create a MyPanera account or log in using an existing one and use the app to easily keep track of rewards. You can also turn on push notifications to tell you when you have rewards expiring soon so you’ll never miss out on freebies.

Image: monkeybusinessimages

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10 States Facing the Most Foreclosures Right Now

foreclosure

This summer there’s some good news. June foreclosure activity has dropped to its lowest level since November 2015. In June 2017, there were a total of 73,828 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing, down 22% from a year ago and even more from previous years.

This is all according to ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s largest multi-sourced property database, which released its Midyear 2017 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, showing a total of 428,400 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings. This includes default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions that occurred in the first six months of 2017. Data has been collected from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, with those counties accounting for more than 90% of the U.S. population.

Although the study is full of foreclosures, they’ve become fairly rare in the housing market.

“With a few local market exceptions, foreclosures have become the unicorns of the housing market: hard to find but highly sought after,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions.

As homeowners stay on top of their mortgages and housing payments, fewer foreclosures have been occurring. (If you’ve been faced with foreclosure, you’ll likely see the damage to your credit score. Not sure? You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com).

Here are the ten states with the highest foreclosure rates as of June 2017.

10. New Mexico

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 272 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 10.57%

Change from January to June 2015: Up 1.77%

9. Ohio

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 229 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 18.49%

Change from January to June 2015: Down 24.33%

8. South Carolina

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 221 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 15.05%

Change from January to June 2015: Down 14.31%

7. Florida

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 217 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 33.60%

Change from January to June 2015: Down 56%

6. Nevada

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 215 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 30.59%

Change from January to June 2015: Down 40.45%

5. Connecticut

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 200 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Up 3.19%

Change from January to June 2015: Up 44.75%

4. Illinois

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 183 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 10.19%

Change from January to June 2015: Down 25.78%

3. Maryland

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 161 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 30.62%

Change from January to June 2015: Down 31.55%

2. Delaware

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 137 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Down 6.48%

Change from January to June 2015: Up 20.42%

1. New Jersey

June 2017 Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 101 housing units

Change from January to June 2016: Up 1.8%

Change from January to June 2015: Up 8.53%

Image: fstop123

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4 Ways to Have Your Dream Honeymoon Without Paying a Dime

The party won't end when the wedding ceremony does when you can go on your dream honeymoon for free.

You don’t need a ring on your finger to know that weddings are expensive. In fact, according to The Knot, the average wedding costs around $32,641. Honeymoons can often be put on the back burner when it comes to wedding expenses, because most dreamy tropical islands and European cities aren’t cheap. But with some careful planning and smart strategies, it’s totally possible to go on your honeymoon for free. Here’s are some ideas as to how.

1. Try an Online Honeymoon Registry 

Websites like Honeyfund, Honeymoon Wishes and Traveler’s Joy allow you to raise funds for your honeymoon rather than registering for wedding gifts. In lieu of creating an online gift registry, you could encourage guests to make a monetary gift of their choice to your honeymoon registry website. While some deem it tacky to do so, it has perks for your guests, too. It removes the stress of gift giving and allows your guests to help you afford a wonderful experience with your new husband or wife. Plus, most of these websites allow guests to choose what their gift is going toward, whether it be a tour of Santorini or a wine tasting in Italy.

Be wary of the fees these websites charge to either the givers or receivers of the funds. Oftentimes it’s a small percentage, but if you have a lot of gifts, the fees can quickly add up. Also, check that the websites are legitimate — there are a lot of wedding scams out there that can ruin your special day.

2. Use Credit Card Rewards

Whether you have a rewards credit card already, or you’re considering getting one, using the perks that come with it could really help you save on your romantic getaway.

If you have a travel card, you could use your rewards to cover the hotel stay or airfare, depending on what the card offers. Or, if you have a cash back card, you can use that to pay for any of the honeymoon expenses you incur. You may also opt to mix and match travel rewards — some cards offer great airline miles while others can reward you with free hotel nights. For example, combining hotel rewards earned by using the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express with airline miles earned by using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can get you a flight and a few nights in a hotel.

A lot of cards offer sizable signup bonuses that can also be put toward your trip. Be sure to read the fine print — most signup bonuses require a certain spending threshold in a set time period to earn perks or bonuses.

If you’re getting a new card, it’s important to take the time to explore all of your options before signing up. And remember, a good credit score is necessary to qualify for many rewards cards. See where your credit currently stands by viewing two free scores on Credit.com.

3. Enter Giveaways & Sweepstakes

Many giveaways and sweepstakes out there can reward you with your dream honeymoon for free. Plus, winning any trip or cruise in general can make for a fabulously free honeymoon. Trip giveaways are often a hot spot for scammers, so be careful and ensure make sure you’re not being ripped off with hidden fees and taxes.

4. Ask for Monetary Gifts

This is a smart option for the less tech-savvy couples who still wish to receive honeymoon funds instead of gifts. Alongside a registry, express that monetary gifts for your honeymoon would be appreciated.

Image: tsenphoto

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12 Ways to Save on Pet Food

Pet food is a recurring cost that doesn't need to be an expensive one.

Most people will agree that pets are worth the cost, but a new member of the family doesn’t have to lead to a lot of debt. A lot of people treat their pets like children. Like kids, pets can be expensive. Feeding your pet is a necessary cost, so you might as well save on pet food when you can. These tips will help you save without compromising your favorite furry (or scaly or feathery) friend’s health.

1. Buy It Wholesale

Before investing in bulk food, first buy a smaller size to see if your pet enjoys it. Unlike picky kids, pets won’t eat their food when threatened with a time out.

2. Make It at Home

If you’ve got extra time, finding a few recipes can be a cost effective alternative to buying pet food. This also allows you to control what goes into your pet’s diet, which can potentially lead to a healthier pet — and fewer visits to the vet. Just be sure to do your research and avoid dangerous foods before becoming a chef for your pet.

3. Shop the Sales

While your favorite furry friend might only enjoy certain types of food, it doesn’t hurt to try more affordable alternatives. Keep an eye on weekly ads and savings at local grocery stores, wholesale stores and pet stores. You never know when your pet’s favorites could be on sale.

4. Properly Store Food

When not stored properly, food can go stale or be infiltrated by unwelcome bugs. Invest in storage that allows pet food bought in bulk to stay airtight and fresh without making a mess. Also remember to keep track of expiration dates when transferring food from its original packaging to large containers. Expired food can be dangerous for your pet.

5. Be Careful What You Feed Them

Before sliding leftovers under the table to Lucky, make sure it’s safe. Feeding your pet “people food” can be dangerous, which could mean having to buy medicine or specialty foods. A lot of foods you might think are safe for your pet might not be. It’s always best to check first.

6. Buy Specialty Food Only When Necessary

Don’t assume your pet requires a special type of food unless advised to do so by a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. Not only is this safer for your pet, but also it can help you save. Specialty foods can be pricey and may be a needless expense. If your pet does require specialty food, it’s probably best to invest in it — vet bills can be a lot pricier than food.

7. Follow Pet Food Brands on Social Media

You never know when they could share special discount codes or offers. Signing up for email lists for food brands and pet stores can also pay off. Most pet food brands and stores are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

8. Measure Food & Track Servings 

It can be easy (and expensive) to overfeed your pets. At your next veterinarian visit, ask how much you should be feeding your pet. Serving size and proper portions are important for humans, so it’s no surprise they’re important for most pets. A food scale or measuring cup are both great tools when it comes to controlling portions and avoiding excessive feeding.

9. Name Brand Isn’t Always Best

Focus on the ingredients and nutritional value, not the name. Some foods are worth a little extra because of the nutritional value. Always check labels before choosing the cheaper option. More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more nutritious. If your pet has dietary concerns, check with your vet before switching to a different, more affordable brand.

10. Join Rewards Programs

Pet food is a recurring cost that comes with owning a pet, and being loyal to one brand or store can pay off. Joining membership programs at stores like Petco and PetSmart can help you earn rewards and special offers. There are also certain credit cards with great rewards for pet owners. Before applying for these cards, it’s smart to ensure you qualify. You can check two of your scores free on Credit.com.

11. Try Before Buying

No more buying a lot of food your pet ends up not wanting to eat. There are plenty of websites that offer pet food samples. Plus, reaching out to certain pet food companies and asking for samples can’t hurt. They’ll often be happy to introduce you to their products. This is an especially good tip for picky pets.

12. Pet Food Subscription Services

These aren’t necessarily cost effective for everyone, but if you love doing your shopping online and don’t want to worry about running out of food, this is a great option. Places like Amazon and PetSmart offer subscription services, allowing you to control the frequency of delivery and what’s being delivered. By subscribing versus ordering, you generally receive a discount and free shipping.

Looking for more ways to save on your pet? Check out these 15 ways to save at PetSmart.

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15 States Where People Spend the Most on Lotto Tickets

States are spending big bucks on trying to get lucky, some more than others.

There’s a tiny chance of winning the lottery, but that doesn’t stop Americans from buying tickets. This past year, income from state lotteries was a combined $66.8 billion.

LendEDU, a student loan marketplace, conducted a study that looked at states that spent the most on lottery tickets. The study consisted of 43 states. The seven states not included were Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming because they don’t have their own state lottery. The study measured lottery spending per capita, calculated by dividing a state’s lottery revenue by its population.

Luck for Your Buck

People spend a lot on the lottery. If we divide the income made by all of the U.S. lotteries by the population of the U.S., each American spends an average of $206.69 on lottery tickets per year. (Don’t let lotto tickets put you in debt. See where your credit stands before trying to get lucky by checking two credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Unsurprisingly, the most populated and largest states make the most revenue from the lottery. The top three states with the most profit? New York, California and Florida. Although these states make the most, their residents aren’t necessarily buying the most tickets. In fact, California didn’t even make it in the top 15 states that spend the most on lotto tickets per capita. Here are the 15 states that did.

15. Illinois

Lottery Spending Per Person: $221.68

14. Ohio

Lottery Spending Per Person: $233.57

13. Michigan

Lottery Spending Per Person: $254.40

12. Florida

Lottery Spending Per Person: $256.05

11. South Carolina

Lottery Spending Per Person: $262.61

10. Pennsylvania

Lottery Spending Per Person: $277.42

9. Connecticut

Lottery Spending Per Person: $301.89

8. New Jersey

Lottery Spending Per Person: $316.52

7. Maryland

Lottery Spending Per Person: $354.28

6. Georgia

Lottery Spending Per Person: $356.34

5. West Virginia

Lottery Spending Per Person: $359.78

4. New York

Lottery Spending Per Person: $398.77

3. Delaware

Lottery Spending Per Person: $420.82

2. Rhode Island

Lottery Spending Per Person: $513.75

1. Massachusetts 

Lottery Spending Per Person: $734.85

Image: BanksPhotos

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10 Ways to Save on Movie Theater Concessions

Being on a budget doesn't mean having to give up the signature movie theater popcorn.

The only thing nicer than enjoying buttery popcorn and a new film is doing so while saving money. Movie theater concessions are infamously pricey, which is why most of us have fond memories of trying to see how many bags of chips and bottles of soda we could smuggle into the theater in our purses and pockets. There’s some great news for those of us whose moral codes have evolved — there are plenty of ways to save on movie snacks without smuggling them in.

1. Join Rewards Programs

Many popular chains like Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Regency Theatres, Cobb Theatres and AMC Theatres offer points-based loyalty programs. Through these programs, you can earn free concession upgrades, free refills and free snacks. Some of these programs also give out special birthday freebies, like free popcorn. Plus, many of these programs allow you to earn discounts on movie tickets, giving you more to spend on concessions.

If you’re a frequent moviegoer, it might also be worth your while to invest in paid rewards clubs or premium membership at theaters you frequent.

2. Use a Cash Back Credit Card

Even when the theaters themselves don’t offer deals, you can still generate rewards for yourself using a cash back or rewards credit card. You can check some of the best credit cards for rewards to find the right one for you. (Make sure your credit score is high enough to qualify before applying for a new card. You can check two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

3. Buy Them Elsewhere

Generally, theaters sell candy and chocolate at marked-up prices. A box of Sour Patch Kids, which can be purchased at most stores for $1 to $1.50, can cost around $4 at most movie theaters. Even if you’re not planning to break the rules, treat yourself to snacks before or after the movie to avoid buying them at the theater.

4. Buy Large & Share

Splitting the cost of a large popcorn is generally cheaper than buying several small ones. This is an especially good option for families with children. Bonus sharing hack: Eliminate fighting over the popcorn, and the need to pass it around, by bringing your own bags to divvy it up.

5. Change the Movie Time

Instead of seeing movies when you’ll be super hungry, plan to see the show before or after a meal. Having a full meal before visiting the theater or making a reservation right after the movie can help curb your cravings for snacks.

6. Order Snacks Beforehand

Some cinemas, like AMC, allow you to order snacks and drinks ahead of time. You can pick up your treats right before the movie. This is perfect for curbing a sudden craving to upgrade that medium-sized popcorn to a large.

7. Use Your AARP Membership

At Regal Cinemas, AARP members receive $3 off any popcorn and soft drink combo when they present their AARP membership card and Regal Crown Club card (it’s free to join). It also doesn’t hurt to ask other theaters if they offer discounts, whether you’re in AARP or still a student. 

8. Become an Email Subscriber

Some theater and cinema chains, such as Cinemark, send out weekly discounts and deals, including coupons for concessions. Check your local theater’s website for information on email subscriptions. 

9. Check the Combo Deals

Most theaters have deals that package drinks and snacks together in a deal-saving combination. Combo deals can be tempting, but avoid getting sucked into spending more than you wanted just because it seems like a good deal. For example, avoid certain combos if you opt to drink water instead of soda since you can get a cup of tap water for free.

10. Check Deal Sites

Apps like Groupon often offer ticket packages that come with popcorn. You can also find deals on movie tickets themselves.

Image: gilaxia

The post 10 Ways to Save on Movie Theater Concessions appeared first on Credit.com.

I Tried It: Google Chrome Extensions That Saved the Most Money

So many Google Chrome extensions swear they’ll save me money, but will they really?

There are few things as satisfying and dangerous as online shopping. When you’re not swiping your card or handing over cash, it’s easy to overspend and forget that online shopping is still shopping.

While there isn’t a Google Chrome extension to pry the computer mouse out of my hand while I browse the Sephora website, many Google Chrome extensions boast they’ll help you save while online shopping.

Although I was skeptical, I was optimistic because technology has never failed me before. Kidding. Anyone who has a smartphone knows that’s a lie. However, technology can be amazing and I love Google Chrome extensions. I probably spend more time with Google Chrome than with my own family. Let’s see how these extensions added up.

The Test

I shopped on four store websites and tested each extension on the same purchases. I avoided items that explicitly said they were excluded from coupons and deals. I added a variety of items to my cart to cover more potential deals and coupons.

Macy’s Total: $292.26

Honey: After one click and a few seconds, Honey notified me that I saved $58.51 and earned a small cash bonus. Honey found a deal on shoes that the other add-ons had not found. ResultI saved $58.51.

InvisibleHand: The extension showed me two “deals.” One was an ad for discounted Macy’s gift cards. The other was “Up to $50 off select sunglasses purchases.” I was not buying sunglasses. Result: No money saved.

Offers.com: I had to hunt down codes from their list. Most were not applicable to my order. This extension caused a lot of pop up windows. I used the first applicable code it suggested. Result: I saved $4.93.

PriceBlink: It did the same exact thing as InvisibleHand, promoting the same two non-applicable “deals.” Result: No money saved.

Winner: Honey. This saved me the most money by a long shot.

For my fellow shoppers looking to max out on their deals, you can consider using a Macy’s credit card can increase your savings, as well. Read our review on the Macy’s credit card for details. (Before applying for any new credit, it’s best to make sure your credit score is high enough to qualify. You can check two of your scores free on Credit.com.)

J.Crew Total: $562.50

Honey: Honey found 10 coupon codes and applied the best one. Result: I saved $43.20.

InvisibleHand: When I clicked on the coupon code I wanted to use, InvisibleHand open a new tab, said I was on my way to deals and then just brought me back to the J. Crew homepage without applying any code. This happened for every deal I tried. Once again the top “deal” was an ad to buy J. Crew gift cards for cheap. Result: No money saved.

Offers.com: All the offer codes I tried from this extension were expired or not valid. Result: No money saved.

PriceBlink: The extension opened a pop up with deals, similar to InvisibleHand. It brought me to a new window, bringing me to the PriceBlink search engine. The only code that popped up was expired. Result: No money saved.

Winner: Honey. This was the only extension that saved me money.

LOFT Total: $375.50

Honey: Honey said the store had no working codes but did offer me a 0.1% to 5% cash bonus. The LOFT website clearly had a promotional code all over the homepage, but Honey missed it. This extension might not be as flawless as I was starting to think it was. Result: No money saved.

InvisibleHand: The pop-up contained the coupon code promoted on LOFT’s homepage for 40% off. I was able to copy and paste it without leaving the page. Result: I saved $150.20.

Offers.com: Once again, one code popped up and it was the same 40% off deal. I did, however, have to visit a new window to get the code. Result: I saved $150.20.

PriceBlink: PriceBlink also found me the 40% off deal, but I had to visit two separate web pages to access it. Result: I saved $150.20.

Winner: InvisibleHand. While three out of four of the extensions found the same deal, InvisibleHand was the most efficient and easiest to use of the three.

Payless Total: $154.93

Honey: After trying a bunch of codes, Honey settled on a 15% off discount. Result: I saved $23.24 and earned a small cash bonus.

InvisibleHand: This found a few deals but, again, most were not applicable. Result: I saved $21.33.

Offers.com: It found me a bunch of codes, but most were not applicable to my order or broken. Eventually, I saved 15%, but only after Offers.com opened 10 tabs. It was a different code than the one Honey found, but it got me the same savings. Result: I saved $23.24.

PriceBlink: Once again, it showed me a lot of codes that were not applicable. Result: I saved $21.33.

Winner: Honey. Although most of the extensions got me a similar deal, Honey was the most efficient and provided a cash bonus.

Final Verdict

Overall, these extensions are all capable of saving you money while you shop, though some are more efficient and effective than others. If you’re looking to save, strategically using a rewards credit card or subscribing to newsletters can also help. (In fact, we’ve rounded up a list of great credit cards for online shopping.) Here’s how I’d grade each extension I tried:

1. Honey: A

Honey was the most user-friendly and helpful extension of the bunch. It’s automatic and takes a lot of work out of finding the best deal. No need to manually to experiment with different codes and offers. It does it for you.

This extension requires a sign-up through e-mail or Facebook, but it offers a rewards program. Their “HoneyGold” rewards program gives you Amazon gift cards as you shop at Honey-supported online stores or refer friends to the extension, a great perk for frequent online shoppers.

2. Offers.com: B-

Although it usually provides many discount options, some of the codes had expired and most were not applicable to the order. I had to click on codes to reveal them, then new windows would pop up. I then had to copy and paste each code in to see if my order qualified. You also have to search for the store you’re in and sort through codes for some web pages. Not great.

There was also an Offers.com pop up on every page of the store I visited. The main way this extension could’ve saved me money was by aggravating me until I gave up on shopping.

3. InvisibleHand: C

Every time I was browsing a store on every single page of the online store there’d be a pop up across the top of my screen telling me about deals. Very irritating. A lot of the deals were not really deals or were expired.

The app promised to “automatically get the lowest price on whatever you’re buying,” but that’s not what I experienced. The process is not automatic. The only thing it automatically did was irritate me. This extension was pop-up city. It opened new windows each time I clicked on a code but didn’t actually apply the code. This extension often prompted me to apply for credit cards and buy gift cards, which I wasn’t looking to do.

4. PriceBlink: C-

While shopping, I faced constant pop-ups as well as ads for cheap gift cards. I also had to click multiple times and open many tabs to access the deals, a lot of which had expired. I did save some money, but it was inefficient. It would have been easier to use Google to find discounts.

Image: pixelfit

The post I Tried It: Google Chrome Extensions That Saved the Most Money appeared first on Credit.com.

10 Tips for a Frugal Picnic

The only thing better than a summer picnic is one with a low cost.

The sun is shining, watermelon is officially in season and the park nearby is simply begging for a picnic to be had. Picnics are a simple and affordable way to bring people together and have fun in the sun, but like most things in life, the cost can add up if you don’t plan carefully. Avoid letting your outing turn pricey with these tips for a frugal picnic.

1. Avoid Disposable Plates & Cutlery 

Single-use paper plates and plastic cutlery are tempting, but reusable items are better for your budget — and the environment. For easy transport, place used items in a plastic bag to be washed once you’re back home.

If using reusable cutlery and plates is not a viable option, try making alternate swaps. Using reusable water bottles and food containers also makes a difference.

2. Avoid Splurging on Precut Items

If you can make the time, you can cut some costs. Most fruits and vegetables fare just fine if precut and kept in a cooler or consumed shortly after your arrival.

Extra perk? This is a healthy grocery store hack because cutting your own fruits and veggies yourself means avoiding preservatives found in a lot of prepackaged foods.

3. Stockpile Ice 

Got coolers to fill? Start collecting ice as soon as you’ve got your picnic planned. Fill your ice cube tray as often as possible on the days leading up to the picnic, keeping the ice in a bag in your freezer. This is also a great hack for parties everyone enjoys a cold drink.

Loading up on ice before the big day can help cut down or eliminate the need to buy it. To cut down on the amount of ice needed, use food-safe ice packs to keep smaller items and containers cold.

4. Keep Leftovers

If there are leftover chips, snacks and fruit, take them home for tomorrow. Be careful to check food regulations before putting certain leftovers back in your fridge. According to the Food and Drug Administration, perishable food that’s been at room temperature, between 40 and 140 degrees, for more than two hours can be unsafe to eat.

5. Make It a Potluck 

Have each picnic attendee bring something. This is an easy way to add variety to the picnic while ensuring the burden of having a picnic doesn’t fall on one person. To stay organized and avoid having three side dishes but no dessert, create a group chat or a Google Sheet to track who’s bringing what.

6. Skip Fancy Picnic Blankets

Waterproof picnic blankets can be costly and, unless you picnic frequently, might not be an investment that pays off. Use old sheets with towels or inexpensive dollar store plastic tablecloths underneath to create a washable and waterproof do-it-yourself setting for your picnic. Also, research beforehand to see if the area where you’re planning to picnic has tables available.

7. Plan the Menu in Advance

Do you have extra pasta in your pantry? Is there a great deal on sliced turkey breast this week? Whip up a large batch of pasta salad and some turkey sandwiches. Plan your picnic menu based on what you have and what is currently on sale. For extra savings, use these five ways to drastically save on groceries while you shop.

8. Save on Location

Gas costs money, too. Search for local parks or picnic areas to avoid driving too far out of your way. You can also try to carpool with friends and family to cut costs on transportation while being more environmentally friendly.

If you must drive, you can save on gas with certain credit cards. To get these rewards, you typically need a good credit score. See where you stand by checking two of your credit scores for free with credit.com.

9. Buy the Store Brand

Oftentimes, it’s similar to the name brand and it’s generally much more affordable. If you’re a little unsure about which swaps to make, here are 12 Items You Should Buy Generic.

10. Keep It Simple

Remember, picnics are about enjoying nice weather and great company. There’s no need to go crazy with the menu or splurge on anything too fancy.

Image: oneinchpunch 

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