11 Sephora Savings Hacks Everyone Needs to Know

If you can name your top 5 favorite beauty vloggers on YouTube, you’ve probably heard of a little makeup wonderland called Sephora. Bonus points if you’ve ever walked into the makeup emporium to touch up your brows with a free sample and left half an hour later and $100 poorer.

The LVMH-owned beauty store has been fairly successful since it first opened in 1969. It currently boasts 2,000 retail stores worldwide and around 15,000 of your favorite products. All of that revenue doesn’t have to come at the expense of your wallet.

We’ve done some digging to find 12 ways you can save money the next time the smell of perfume whisks you into your local Sephora retailer’s checkout counter with your credit card in hand.

  1. Loyalty Pays

Sephora is good to those who are loyal to the brand. Save on products and services when you sign up for the retailer’s loyalty program, Sephora Beauty Insider.

When you sign up, you’ll get points for each dollar spent in-store and online. The program has three tiers: Beauty Insider, VIB, and VIB Rouge, depending on how much money you spend with the leading makeup retailer.

Beauty Insiders — aka Sephora shoppers who spend less than $350 a year — get a free birthday gift and free classes, plus the option to pay $10 a year for unlimited free shipping privileges. VIBs, or Very Important Beauty Insiders, get all of the above plus additional exclusive savings and one free custom makeover for an annual $350 spent on merchandise.

Spend $1,000 a year in merchandise purchases, and you’re rewarded with the VIB Rouge level. Rouge offers all of the aforementioned perks, but you won’t need to pay the additional $10 a year for unlimited free shipping. You’ll also get other exclusive perks like unlimited custom makeovers.

  1. Get freebies by scanning the Beauty Deals page

Sephora has an entire page of its website dedicated to savvy shoppers like yourself. It’s appropriately titled Beauty Deals. It’s a little tricky to find the deals page as there isn’t a direct link to the page on Sephora’s home page, so make sure to bookmark www.sephora.com/beauty-deals.

It’s where you’re sure to find all of Sephora’s promotional codes for additional discounts and samples. You’re allowed a maximum of three free samples at checkout.

  1. Buy gift sets to save on individual products

If you’re going to purchase one or two items from a product line, you might be better off just buying a gift set. For example, the Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Beauty Gift Set will run you $100 and comes with the Black Opium Eau de Parfum ($91), Rouge Pur Couture lipstick ($37), and Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils ($32).

$91 + $37 + $32 = $160 value.

By getting the set, you’d save $60.

  1. Size up and save

If you buy something regularly, purchase the value size rather than smaller sizes. You’ll almost always spend less per ounce that way. For example, the regular 4.2-oz. bottle of Clinique’s Dramatically Different Gel will run you about $6.24 per ounce, whereas the smaller, half-ounce travel size option costs about $10 per ounce.

  1. Stock up on free samples in store

If you want to try out a product that’s way, way, out of your normal price range, get a free sample in-store to try before you buy. That way you won’t waste the full-size perfume you bought because of the brand more than the scent.

You are allowed up to three free samples per department in-store, and can get even more freebies online with beauty deals. Make sure to take home a sample of that expensive foundation to see if you can apply it as smoothly in your bathroom as the artist did in the store’s lighting.

Samples can also come handy when you’re traveling. So stop by Sephora and stock up on samples instead of travel-size bottles for short vacations.

  1. You can and should return products you don’t like

If you didn’t follow amazing aforementioned advice to try before you buy, it’s OK, I don’t listen to my mom either. What’s great is that at Sephora, you CAN make returns, even on makeup. Learn the return policy: you can return opened goods within 60 days in gently used condition.

  1. Shop out to in, bottom to top

Like at grocery stores, products are arranged at Sephora so that you see what costs the most, first. Check out items on the outer edges and on the bottom shelves first. They are typically cheaper than the ones you’ll see displayed at eye level according to Real Simple.

  1. Shop semi-annual sales

Sephora holds major semi-annual sales twice a year. This is another instance where your loyalty pays. Only Beauty Insiders get access to the major sale, when products are up to 20% off. The semi-annual sales typically happen in the spring and fall, usually mid-April or mid-November, and the sales normally last a few days.

  1. Use discounted gift cards

Purchase a gift card someone else is getting rid of at a discount before you shop. You can buy discounted gift cards for Sephora or department stores like Macy’s or JC Penney’s with in-store Sephora counters.

To find discounted gift cards, use sites like Gift Card Granny, which aggregates discounted gift card offers from around the web for you. Other great resources are Raise, WalletWhiz, and Cardpool.

Right now, we found Sephora gift cards available for up to 9% off through Gift Card Granny.

  1. Download a rebates app

You can get even more of the money you spent at Sephora when you shop using rebate smartphone apps like Ibotta or Checkout 51. For example, when you take a picture of your receipt after spending at least $50 at Sephora, you get $5 back on Ibotta.

With Checkout 51, you’ll browse local offers at stores, then take a picture of your receipt, and your savings will be credited to your account. When your account hits $20, you can cash out.

  1. Learn to DIY

You can save a lot of time and money on makeovers at Sephora by learning a few of the artist’s tricks yourself. Learn how to sculpt the perfect brow or apply flawless foundation at one of the retailer’s free 2-hour beauty classes.

Check online or ask the manager at your local Sephora for find out when and how to sign up for classes. If you have about 15 minutes and want a more personal experience, you can have a professional explain their process to you during a mini-makeover any day.

  1. Like, follow, subscribe

Following Sephora on its social media channels is the most obvious and easiest way to save on goods and snag freebies. Look out for posts on Sephora’s Facebook and Pinterest accounts to hear first about current sales and free samples.

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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