7 Ways to Save at Home Depot

Want to do more around your house without spending a ton of money? Here's seven ways to lower your costs when shopping at Home Depot.

If you work in the home improvement field or love do-it-yourself projects, there’s a good chance you’ve spent some significant time and money at Home Depot, one of the country’s largest suppliers of home improvement merchandise. But enthusiastic Home Depot shoppers know that, even after hunting down great deals, the bill can quickly spiral out of control at the register.

Luckily, there are many tricks that can save you a lot at Home Depot. Here are seven ways you can cut costs on your next expedition. 

1. Discounted Gift Cards 

Websites like Cardpool.com and Raise.com provide discounted Home Depot gift cards that save you a percentage of the total gift card value. For instance, as of writing this, Raise.com had gift cards discounted with up to 5.1% off their total value. 

2. Hunt for Coupons & Deal Alerts

You can look out for Home Depot flyers and coupons in your mailbox or in the store, but you can also get alerted to special promotions, deals and offers by signing up for Home Depot’s email or text alerts. Signing up right now will also get you $5 off your next purchase of $50 or more. 

3. Work the Low-Price Guarantee 

Home Depot offers a low-price guarantee for both online and in-store purchases. For online purchases, Home Depot will match any competitor price, including the item price and shipping costs. For in-store purchases, Home Depot will beat competitor prices on identical items by 10%. You’ll have to bring the ad, printout or photo to the cash register when you check out. Several exclusions apply to this policy, including custom products, open-box merchandise and auction pricing. 

4. Rent Equipment 

For equipment you’ll only use once or twice, you might want to evaluate the cost of renting versus buying. Many items can be rented on an hourly, daily or weekly basis at a fraction of the cost. For instance, we found a $188 leaf blower that can be rented for $23 a day. If you only need to blow leaves once a year, this can be a much more cost-effective option. 

5. Visit the Clearance Section

Many Home Depot locations have clearance sections located throughout the store (although they can sometimes be hard to find). Check out the far reaches of the store for deeply discounted items. 

6. Consider a Home Depot Credit Card

Home Depot offers a credit card (we’ve got a full review here) to help their customers finance home improvement projects. Home Depot is currently offering an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for all purchases of $299 or more if you pay off your balance in six months. They also offer cardholders up to 24 months of interest-free financing for special categories such as roofing supplies or custom kitchen cabinets.

If you were already planning on charging your Home Depot purchases to a credit card, you could avoid interest by taking advantage of these offers (although you can also avoid interest by paying off your balance in full each month).

Remember, before applying for any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to see where you stand. You can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

7. Join the Garden Club 

Avid gardeners should take a look at the Home Depot Garden Club, an email and text alert club that delivers special garden promotions and offers right to your inbox or mobile device. Plus, Home Depot is currently offering $5 off your next purchase of $50 or more when you sign up.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: ferrerivideo

The post 7 Ways to Save at Home Depot appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Easy Ways to Achieve Vacation-Level Relaxation Without Traveling

relax-without-traveling

Vacations can be expensive — there’s the cost of travel itself, as well as lodging expenses and all the money you drop once you get where you’re going. When it’s all said and done, you could potentially spend thousands of dollars on a getaway.

But aside from emptying our wallets, vacations can help us decompress and cut back on stress. But there’s a way to enjoy the same result without having to overspend on a vacation. Here’s how you can save money by achieving epic relaxation without ever leaving your hometown.

1. Disconnect From Technology

Modern technology keeps us continuously plugged in, something many people tie to causing high stress levels. Think about it: Your boss can now email you when you’re home, and social media can constantly bombard us with information.

It can be beneficial to step away from digital communications once in a while. To help you relax, consider turning off the TV, smartphones and computer at least a few evenings a week, if you can. At the very least, you can try to remove tech from your bedroom so that you can wind down before going to sleep, as research has shown that the light from screens throws off our sleep cycles and melatonin production.

2. Establish a Zen Place

There’s a reason we go on vacations to relax. Perhaps we find it easier to unwind in a place we don’t associate with work or home responsibilities. But you can establish a place at home that’s used just for relaxing and in time your mind can start to associate that place with a calm, tranquil mindset.

The exact nature of your relaxation space depends on your resources and preferences. You may have a backyard or room to devote to relaxing, or you may only have extra floor space. But whether it’s a garden patio, relaxation room or beanbag chair next to your bookshelf, you can designate a certain space at home for relaxation.

To help boost the relaxation vibe in that space, consider repainting calming colors on the walls, listening to tranquil sounds (relaxing music) or adding accessories such as plants or Zen sand gardens. You can also try to remove anything from that space that stresses you out – like phones, mail and other stressors.

3. Hire a Pro

Massages, spa days and yoga classes are just a few examples of services that can help you relax. Sure, a trip to the spa may be a seen as an unnecessary extravagance, but it is likely less expensive than a vacation and could be worth the investment. After all, relaxation professionals can help you recharge and refresh. If this is outside of your budget, there are less expensive alternatives you could consider, too, like finding free yoga instruction videos online or soaking in your tub at home instead of at the spa.

4. Revisit Your Own City

Relaxation doesn’t all have to take place within your home. In fact, you can reacquaint yourself with your own neighborhood. Whether you’re in the city, country or somewhere in between, your region should have some great attractions you may not have checked out before (or perhaps it’s just been a while). Try approaching your area from the perspective of a tourist: What would you recommend they try if they were visiting your area?

Whether it’s hiking, museums or fine dining, you can get a vacation-level experience by discovering (or rediscovering) the best your town has to offer. You could develop a new appreciation for your region and find new places to explore and enjoy to boot.

No matter how you decide to relax, whether through yoga, a zen garden or something else, it’s a good idea you don’t overspend — after all, you don’t want to find a good relaxation tool just to find out it’s landed you in credit card debt. To help you stay on the right track, consider using this free tool to see how your spending is affecting your financial goals, like maintaining a good credit score.

Image: m-imagephotography

The post 4 Easy Ways to Achieve Vacation-Level Relaxation Without Traveling appeared first on Credit.com.

Lunch Is More Expensive Than Ever. Here’s the Easy Way to Save

save-money-on-lunch

Are you taking your lunch to work? Good. You’re probably saving a lot of money, and very likely calories as well. You’re also part of a growing movement.

It turns out that people aren’t eating lunch at restaurants as often as they used to, according to recent data from NPD Group, a global research firm. Lunch visits to restaurants, which represent 33% of U.S. restaurant traffic during the day, were down by 4% percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, according to NPD.

Part of the reason is the rise in the number of people working at home, the research firm said. Add to that more shopping online, which cuts down on foodservice meals and snack breaks, and increases in menu prices, and you get less overall lunch traffic.

A pricing analysis done by NPD Group found that the price point where consumers are most satisfied and most likely to visit is when they feel it is “affordable to eat there often” and “good value for the money.” Average lunch checks in the second quarter of 2016 have increased by as much as 5% compared to the same quarter a year ago. NPD Group said that has also moved them beyond consumers’ “sweet spot” price.

“Simply said, who can afford to go out to lunch on a regular basis when checks have risen for some as much as they have recently,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group, restaurant industry analyst, in a press release. “Historically, foodservice lunch has been the occasion where consumers didn’t want to invest a lot time, money or energy into this meal. It’s apparent by the drop in lunch traffic that the current value proposition isn’t meeting these needs.”

How to Spend Less Than $2 a Day on Lunch

If you’re still buying your lunch most days, chances are you could experience some significant savings with just a little bit of advance planning. In fact, it’s possible to spend less than $2 on lunch every day by making it yourself. You can see how the savings can quickly add up, especially if you’re currently spending $10 or more each time you eat lunch.

That extra money can go toward saving for a dream vacation or a new car. You could even pay down your student loans or credit card debt, which can dramatically improve your credit scores. You can see how your spending habits and debt are impacting your credit by viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: Maridav

The post Lunch Is More Expensive Than Ever. Here’s the Easy Way to Save appeared first on Credit.com.

13 Things Grocery Stores Will Do for You for Free

free_stuff_grocery_store

Your grocery store has a lot more to offer than just groceries and household necessities, and if you aren’t taking advantage of these offerings, you could be spending more money than you need to.

Fortunately, we’re here to help you find those cost savings so you can put that money to better use by adding it to your retirement fund, taking that vacation you so desperately need, paying off your credit card debts, or any one of dozens of other things you could better spend it on. (You can see how much your current debts will cost you over your lifetime with this calculator and how they may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.)

Here are 13 things you might not know most grocery stores will give to you for free.

1. Sharpen Your Knives

Did you know the butcher at your local grocery store will very likely sharpen your knife for you? For free? It’s true. All you have to do is ask. It’s best to do this early in the morning right after the store opens and the meat counter isn’t terribly busy. You can just drop off your knives, do your shopping and pick the knives up on your way out.

Pro tip: Buy some inexpensive plastic knife sheaths to protect your blade edges and yourself during transport.

2. Provide Wi-Fi

A lot of grocery stores these days have free Wi-Fi available, particularly those with cafés, coffee bars or beer and wine service. So, if you’re going to be checking online recipes or comparing prices on your phone while shopping, reduce your data usage by asking for a password (if needed) and connecting to the Wi-Fi.

3. Trim Your Meat

Back to the meat counter we go. If you want that beautiful chuck roast cut into pieces for a stew, you’d like that rack of lamb Frenched, or you want that whole chicken quartered, the butchers are happy to do it for you, though it might take a bit of time (and be sure to check out these butcher secrets for saving money on meat).

4. Chill Your Wine

A lot of higher-end grocery store wine sections now have rapid chillers that can get your bottle of bubbly or rosé chilled to perfection in about 10 minutes. Just make your selection, drop it in the chiller, pick up any other items you’re in need of and bam. Your wine is cold and ready to take to your party, on a picnic or wherever your day takes you.

5. Provide Boxes

If you’re moving and you’ve priced boxes at your nearest packing and moving store, you know those cardboard cubes add up quickly. Check with your store for when they receive shipments of products like toilet paper, paper towels, baby diapers, cereal and other dry goods and ask them to hold some of the boxes for you.

6. Clean Your Fish

If you like buying whole fish but hate scales flying around your kitchen during the cleaning process, ask the grocery store fish monger to hook you up (Get it? Hook? OK, I’ll stop). They’ll even filet the fish for you if that’s your preference, and freshly cut filets are always better than those sitting in the cold case.

7. Provide Doggy Poop Bags

So, this isn’t really a free item or service provided by the store, but if you keep your produce bags after you’ve unloaded your fresh vegetables, you can use those to pick up your dog’s daily business instead of paying for fancy dog-branded bags. Of course, the produce bags don’t decompose the way most of the fancy poop bags do, but at least you’re giving them a second life before tossing them.

8. Arrange Flowers

If your favorite grocer has a flower counter, they also likely have a florist on staff who can prepare arrangements for you. So instead of just grabbing a bunch of flowers, next time you can have the florist arrange a lovely bouquet for you.

9. Provide Free Samples

Ah, weekends at the grocery store. In some places, it’s a veritable buffet as you comb the aisles for provisions. It’s a great opportunity to try new products and also save money, because there’s no way you’re needing lunch after this.

10. Ice Your Cold Items

If you’re buying a lot of cold and refrigerated items, your store might provide ice to keep your purchases from getting too warm, particularly in the summer months. More stores are making this service available, so it could be worth your while to check.

11. Provide Entertainment

In their ongoing effort to improve profit margins, grocery stores, especially higher-end chains, are doing everything everything they can to keep customers in stores longer so they can spend more money. Whole Foods, for example, serves beer, wine and even food in some select stores (not for free) and even offer free live music performances in some locations.

12. Deliver Groceries

Competition has grown fierce in the grocery sector, with more and more people ordering grocery items online or having them delivered through companies like Burpee and Fresh Direct. It’s no wonder more grocery stores are offering delivery, sometimes even for free. Check with your local grocer to see what options they might offer.

13. Special Order Products

Not seeing the item you want? A lot of grocery stores will special order a product for you if their vendors carry it. And if it’s something you plan to buy on a regular basis, they might even consider stocking it as a standard item. It never hurts to ask.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: poba

The post 13 Things Grocery Stores Will Do for You for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Ways a Bicycle Can Make You Wealthier

ride-a-bike-to-save-money

As spring slowly gives way to summer and temps begin to heat up, bicyclists everywhere are heading out to their garages, tuning up their wheels and hitting the pavement or trails.

About 100 million Americans ride a bicycle each year, including 34% of people over the age of 3, according to a survey by Breakaway Research Group for People for Bikes.

Few forms of exercise are as fun or relaxing as a long bike ride. Cycling is the perfect way to boost both your physical and emotional health. It’s also a wonderful way to boost your bank account.

Following are five ways that your trusty two-wheel ride can make or save you money this summer, and they don’t involve driving a pedicab — although that’s an option, too, if you’re up for the challenge!

1. Commute to Work

Your boss might actually pay you to bike to the office. Sound appealing? Speak to your company’s HR rep about the federal Bicycle Commuter Act. Here’s the rundown, according to the League of American Bicyclists:

Any employer, if they chose to do so, may provide a reimbursement of up to $20 per month for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee in conjunction with their commute to work by bike. The reimbursement is a fringe benefit paid by the employer [so] the employee does not get taxed on the amount of the reimbursement.

Even if your employer chooses not to participate, you can still use bicycle commuting to pad your bank account. Claes Bell, mobile editor at Bankrate, commuted on two wheels for nearly 5 years. In an article at Bankrate, he wrote that he and his wife saved a bundle by becoming a one-car family:

According to my calculations, over that period we saved around $7,219, which helped us accomplish financial goals like improving our home and building an emergency fund.

These savings aren’t surprising when you consider how much people typically spend on car payments, gas, insurance and car maintenance, or even on public transportation.

2. Work as a Courier or Delivery Person

If you love to ride, you may want to consider becoming a bicycle courier. Companies like Postmates hire couriers to deliver goods on demand to customers in major cities.

Although you can technically use any form of transportation to deliver the order — as long as you get there fast — you’ll save gas money and pocket more cash by pedaling to and from destinations.

You can also check out Instacart, a similar service that deals exclusively in grocery delivery.

3. Rent Out Your Bike

Not planning on pedaling for a few days? Sure, you can let your bike sit in the garage when you aren’t using it. Or, you can build wealth by renting your bike to those in need.

Spinlister, a global bike share service, is essentially an Airbnb for bicycles. You list your “bike for rent” on the website. Spinlister keeps 17.5% of the rent you earn. You get the rest.

So, rent your bike for $20 for an hour, and you keep $16.50. And the company says it will reimburse you up to $10,000 for damage, theft or loss.

4. Use Your Bike for Errands

The next time you have a bunch of errands to run, opt for two wheels instead of four. This can net you a lot of green in the long run, according to Mr. Money Mustache.

Let’s start with the bare minimum: Any mileage you put on your bike instead of your car saves you about 50 cents per mile in gas, depreciation, and wear and maintenance. From this savings alone, doing a couple of bike errands per day (4 miles) in place of car errands will add up to $10,752 over ten years.

Plus, think about all the health and environmental benefits!

5. Cancel Your Gym Membership

Why dish out all that dough with a fancy gym membership when you can buy a bike and reap similar — or even better — benefits for a fraction of the price? According to the website I Love Bicycling:

As anyone with a gym membership can tell you, gyms are expensive. At least with an exercise routine that involves biking, you can pay a onetime fee for the bike and get several years out of that purchase before the bike wears down. The bike lasts longer the less you strain it and keep up on the little bit of maintenance the bike may require. In the long run, this will save you money on gym memberships or exercise equipment.

Do you have other tips for making or saving money using your bike? Share them in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

[Editor’s note: Finding creative ways to save money can help you get out of debt faster and, as a result, make progress toward improving your credit. You can keep track of how you’re building credit by getting a free credit report summary, updated monthly, on Credit.com.]

More from Money Talks News:

Image: Leonardo Patrizi

The post 5 Ways a Bicycle Can Make You Wealthier appeared first on Credit.com.

The 16-Cent Breakfast That Will Satisfy You for Hours

oatmeal

If you like oatmeal, you’re going to love this: You can eat breakfast for less than 16 cents every day. Yes, 16 cents. So, if you’re stopping for oatmeal at, say, McDonald’s a few times a week and paying $1.99 a pop (national average) — or at Starbucks, where you’re shelling out $3.45 for your oats (suggested retail price, and you know you’re also buying coffee) that’s an annual savings of somewhere between $285.48 and $513.24 on oatmeal alone.

You can find the full recipe for 16-cent oatmeal here. Below is the breakdown for the cost of oats three times a week (156 days a year):

$24.96: Oatmeal at home (oats at 12 cents, milk at 3 cents, sugar at less than 1 cent)

oatmeal_bowl

Oatmeal might be the cheapest healthy breakfast option around.
Photo: Diane Labombarbe

$310.44: Oatmeal at McDonald’s

$538.20: Oatmeal at Starbucks

Increase those oats to five days a week (260 days), and the savings start looking like an extra car payment (or two), a sweet new barbecue grill or a weekend getaway — between $475.80 and $855.40.

$41.60: Oatmeal at home

$517.40: Oatmeal at McDonald’s

$897.00: Oatmeal at Starbucks

Beyond the financial factor, oatmeal at home is just healthier for you. McDonald’s fruit and maple oatmeal has 290 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 32 grams of sugar, while Starbucks blueberry oatmeal has 220 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 13 grams of sugar.

If you make your oatmeal at home, you can closely control how much fat and sugar are in it, but you can expect that a single serving of oatmeal with blueberries will have roughly 161 calories, 1.6 grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar. (The blueberries are going to tack on additional cost per serving, but you’re still looking at HUGE savings.)

You Have Time to Make Breakfast. Here’s How

Don’t think you have time to make oatmeal every morning? Make it ahead. Get bored eating the same thing every day? Mix it up a bit with different fruits and nuts. Try some bircher muesli. It’s delicious, and you can store it in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go breakfast that’s especially good in warmer months.

There are plenty of ways to save tons of money on food, especially if you’re willing to cook a little. You’ll find that planning ahead is key, as is using some smart shopping techniques.

Your credit score is also a huge deal when it comes to saving money over your lifetime. If you’d like to see how, check out Credit.com’s lifetime cost of debt calculator. You can also check your free credit scores, updated monthly, to see where you can make improvements on your credit report.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: MarkHatfield

The post The 16-Cent Breakfast That Will Satisfy You for Hours appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Ways to Turn Your Thanksgiving Leftovers into Hearty Meals – LEGAL APPROVED

thanksgiving-leftovers

Many throw in the towel after maxing out during the Thanksgiving holiday and may not even want to look at food for the next few days. Others may live on leftovers for quite a while. What do your families do with their Thanksgiving leftovers?

Don’t let those casseroles and pieces of turkey go to waste in your pet’s food dish anymore. Let that inner chef shine through and really awe your family with these recipe ideas for the following week with a different type of cuisine for each night!

First, you’ll want to pack and freeze that meat and other leftovers for your later Martha Stewart use. If not, you’ll need to eat them within the next few days.

Le Francais? For the French Palette: CROQUE MONSIEUR

Yes, your leftover ham may be great for making Denver omelets for breakfast for the kids, but try switching it up with a Croque Monsieur! Found all over France in cafés & bistros everywhere, a Croque Monsieur is a glorified ham & cheese sandwich, as we know it in the states. Easy to prep and to make, it’s great for breakfast, for lunch, or for dinner! Don’t forget the egg on top in the am!

Italiano: TURKEY BOLOGNESE

Have the itch for Italian and craving those carbs? Ragu Bolognese in Italian is a meat-based sauce originated from Bologna, Italy. Usually made with ground meats varying from beef, veal, and pork, you can easily substitute the dish with leftover turkey.

Indian: TURKEY TIKKA MASALA

This is a spin on the Chicken Tikka Masala; however, the recipe substitutes the chicken with leftover turkey. If you have a taste for ethnic spices, this is the perfect dish for you and is also very easy to make.

Asian: TURKEY LETTUCE WRAPS

Similar to the popular chicken lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang’s, this recipe from Pinterest calls for another substitution of chicken for turkey and can be prepared in just 20 minutes. You can make a meal out of it, or since it’s quite light, it can be prepared as an appetizer or a side dish along with your meal.

Mexican: TURKEY ENCHILADAS

The enchilada originated in Mexico, as the act of rolling tortillas around different foods is known to be dated back to Mayan times. You can make your enchilada stuffed with leftover turkey instead of beef or chicken. Don’t forget the mole sauce!

All American: TURKEY NOODLE SOUP

Who doesn’t love a good ‘ol chicken noodle soup simmered with various vegetables and noodles? Another comfort food, here is a great recipe substituting chicken for turkey to make for the family to keep the cold away for the holidays!

Old English: COTTAGE or SHEPHERD’S PIE

Is it the last day before your leftovers reach their expiration date? How about a hot cottage pie with the remaining leftovers? Originally known as cottage pie in the 1700s for the poor, it is also synonymous with the shepherd’s pie, created as a way to use up leftover roasted meats. The nice thing about a cottage, or better known as shepherd’s pie is, you can throw in any or all of the odd assorted remains from dinner to your liking to create the ultimate comfort food.

You don’t have to be a master chef to experiment in the kitchen with these recipe ideas. Enlighten your family’s palette with these 7 easy recipes from cuisines around the world, and skip the trip to the grocery store for at least another week following your Thanksgiving dinner!

The post 7 Ways to Turn Your Thanksgiving Leftovers into Hearty Meals – LEGAL APPROVED appeared first on ReadyForZero Blog.