15 Must-Have Items for Music Festival Season

These items are so practical, once the weekend is over, you’ll keep using them all summer long.

So you’ve spent a fortune on your Governors Ball tickets, and now you need to figure out what to pack. This is no ordinary long weekend — long days in the sun or rain require planning, after all. To help you prepare for your summer shenanigans, we’ve rounded up 15 must-haves so practical once the weekend is over, you’ll keep using them all summer.

On a budget? Don’t worry, none of the items listed here are more than $100. Here’s a helpful guide to saving on your summer adventures and timeless tips for spending on travel. Keeping tabs on your credit? You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. As always, checking your credit scores will not harm them in any way.

Now read on for our roundup of festival must-haves.

1. Maika Goods Crossbody Bags

Price: $19 and up at MaikaGoods.com

Whether you need a teeny bag or something roomier, these Crossbody bags are your go-to festival satchel. The beautiful colors and patterns have the perfect festival vibe, and the interior waterproof lining protects precious items.

2. Kikkerland Compact Backpack

Price: $20 at Kikkerland.com

This ripstop backpack tucks into its own pouch and expands into a roomy backpack.

3. Monkey Mat Quilted Blanket

Price: $29.99 at ContainerStore.com

This portable mat is padded, durable, waterproof and has weighted corners to prevent it from blowing away. Unfolded, it seats you and a few friends. (Here are some great travel sites to bookmark right now.)

4. Minimus.biz Festival Survival Kit

Price: $20.88 at Minimus.biz

Whether you need toilet paper, have a headache or want to freshen up on the fly, this handy kit has it all: travel-sized sunblock, Wet Ones, deodorant, Advil and much, much more.

5. Hello FAB Caffeine Matcha Wake Up Wipes

Price: $15 at Sephora and Sephora.com

These energizing wipes make water-free cleansing a breeze.

6. Brush on Block Touch of Tan

Price: $32 at BrushonBlock.com

This portable mineral powder is dispensed through its brush, providing broad spectrum SPF 30, oil control and a touch of bronzer.

7. InStyler BLU Mini

Price: $29.00 at InStylerBlu.com

Even if there’s precious little space in your travel gear, this deceptively powerful mini dryer will do the trick.

8. Shēdo Lane Women’s Open Back Long Sleeve Shirt

Price: $35 at ShedoLane.com

This flattering open-back top can be worn over your swimsuit and provides UPF 50+ ultraviolet coverage.

9. RipSkirt

Price: $35 to $39 at RipSkirtHawaii.com

RipSkirt is made of board-short material, providing comfortable and water-friendly protection. The Velcro closure makes it easy to throw on or off.

10. Sanuk Yoga Slings

Price: $38 per pair at Sanuk.com

These Yoga Slings from Sanuk come in lots of festival-ready colors and styles, and the soles are made from spongy yoga mat-like material.

11. Roma Chelsea Booties

Price: $59.95 and up at RomaBoot.com

These adorable rain booties look great with jeans or skirts and are perfect for puddle jumping.

12. UCO Gear Hundred Headlamp

Price: $29.99 at UCOGear.com

While everyone else is holding a flashlight, you’ll be lighting your way hands-free with this stylish headlamp.

13. WakaWaka Power+

Price: $69.99 at US.Waka-Waka.com

This durable gadget fully powers your smartphone in two hours and provides hours of light. It can be recharged via USB or by the power of the sun.

14. Hydaway Collapsible Bottle

Price: $15 for a 12 oz. bottle at HydawayBottle.com

An environmentally friendly alternative to disposable bottles, this refillable bottle packs flat when it’s empty.

15. DreamWave Bubble Pods

Price: $40 at DreamWaveUS.com

Portable and water-resistant with a five-hour play time, this speaker pairs with the music on your smart device to deliver a surprisingly big sound.

Image: PeopleImages

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17 Ways to Save at Sephora

Because beauty doesn't come cheap.

Product lovers know that Sephora is the place to go for all things beauty-related, but shopping there can be a bit of a hazard, financially speaking, even when you do so with a list of needs in hand. After all, Sephora has everything you never knew you desperately needed.

If you’re likely to be tempted by all the sights and smells of Sephora, try using some of these tactics to save on your next haul. Here are 17 ways to save at the beauty chain.

1. Shop the Sales Section

Check out all the awesome beauty bargains available in the Sephora sales section online before you do anything else. From makeup, skincare and fragrance products to hair, beauty tools and bath items, you may just find everything you need for your date night look right there.

2. Check Out Weekly Specials

Unlike the sales section, weekly specials show up for a limited time and include things like bonus offers, limited-time markdowns, and freebie items, among other things.

3. Sign Up for Sephora Newsletters

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Sephora homepage and enter your email to get Sephora newsletters. You’ll have access to all the current promotions, coupon codes and more.

4. Join the Beauty Insider Program

Register for free for Sephora’s Beauty Insider program and every dollar you spend earns you a point that gets you closer to free beauty products. (You can actually find out how many points you need for certain products on Sephora’s website.) You’ll also get a free birthday gift, access to free beauty classes, and for $10 a year, you can receive flash two-day shipping on all your orders online. Here are a few other awesome retailer loyalty programs to consider.

5. Upgrade to the VIB Level

If your Sephora obsession is serious, it might be worth the $350 per year to upgrade to the VIB level program. You’ll still earn points toward free products, get a free birthday gift, free beauty classes and have access to flash two-day shipping on all online orders for an additional $10 per year, but you’ll also get additional seasonal savings, handpicked gifts and one free custom makeover annually.

6. Go All Out with the VIB Rouge Program

Only if you really, truly spend a ton at Sephora will this program be worth it, but for $1,000 a year, the VIB Rouge program will give you access to everything the regular VIB program does, plus you’ll have unlimited free customer makeover access and free flash two-day shipping on all online orders. Plus, you’ll have access to a private hotline and you’ll receive invitations to exclusive events.

7. Create a Sephora Loves List to Share Widely

The next time someone asks you what you want for your birthday, Christmas or Hanukkah, point them in the direction of your carefully curated Loves list in your Sephora Beauty Bag. Simply sign in, click the heart icon next to any beauty items you must have, then print or share via email with your loved ones.

8. Make the Most of Complimentary Services

If you’re already spending money at Sephora, be sure to get the most out of your purchases. For example, 45-minute full-face makeovers are complimentary with a $50 minimum purchase or $50 gift card redemption, and a 90-minute customized skin care, fragrance, and beauty makeover is free with purchases of $125 or more. Both services are free to VIB Rouge members, as well.

Mini-makeovers in the form of 15-minute sessions with Sephora Beauty and Skincare advisers are free in all stores, as well, so be sure to inquire.

9. Don’t Forget Your Free Samples

Before plunking down full price to try out a brand new product, check and see if what you’re looking for is available as a free sample. Each online purchase comes with three free samples, and if you can try it out before buying it, you might save some wasted cash on products that weren’t what you were expecting. You’re also allowed up to three take-home samples per department in store, so ask about those options and details.

10. Apply for the JCPenney Card

Sephora now accepts a JCPenney credit card (full review here) for purchases at Sephora.com, so you can use your Sephora purchases to help you earn rewards on your JCPenney purchases as well.

Just be sure to pay your balances off in full. The card carries a lofty variable 26.99% annual percentage rate. Plus, high credit card balances can hurt you credit. (You can see two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

11. Use a Rewards Credit Card

You can get a little kickback on your beauty purchases by using a solid rewards credit card. Again, just be sure to pay your balances off in full. Otherwise, any points, miles or cash back you earn will just get eaten by interest.

12. Follow Sephora on Social Media

The beauty store often shares discount, contest and giveaway information on its Facebook and Twitter sites. Be sure to follow them so you don’t miss out.

13. Search Online for Discount Codes

Try sites like Retail Me Not and Coupon.com for promo codes to use online.

14. Buy Discount Gift Cards

Check out sites like Gift Card Granny to purchase Sephora gift certificates at less than face value.

15. Get a Student Discount

Search for them online. For instance, you can earn 10% cash back on Sephora purchases at student discount site studentrate.com.

16. Splurge on Makeup Palettes, Not Single Items

Even if you don’t think you’ll use every single color in that lipstick palette, picking up the palette instead of individual lipstick colors you like is bound to save you some cash, as individual items tend to cost an arm and a leg.

17. Wait for the Sales

Beauty Insiders get early access on offers of up to 15% off products twice a year, but sales can be worth the wait in savings even if you haven’t signed up for the Beauty Insider rewards program.

Want more brand hacks? You’re in luck, because we’ve got plenty. For starters, you can find 14 ways to save at Overstock.com right here. Or you can check out these 12 ways to save at The Container Store if you need new bins to put all those beauty products in. Plus, if there’s a particular retail chain you’d like to see us cover, shout it out in the comments section below. 

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: MilanMarkovic

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Should You Pay for a Costco Membership?

Costco membership seems great, but learn the benefits and drawbacks before you sign up.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Shopping at a warehouse store, such as Costco, can feel like a magical treasure hunt. The entire store is yours for the picking, and all you can see are aisles of your favorite products — in supersize. It can be hard to resist purchasing everything in sight. It’s a shopper’s dream. Or is it? Could there be drawbacks to applying for a warehouse store membership?

If you’re trying to save money, your friends and family might have told you one of the best ways to do so is to join a warehouse club, such as Costco or Sam’s Club. In some ways they might be right, but in other ways they’re wrong.

Although there are great deals at Costco, whether they’re worth it depends on the items you buy and your living situation. Take a look at your individual circumstances before getting a membership card. Is a Costco membership worth the price? Let’s look at some pros and cons to help you decide.

Pro: Access to Services

Costco offers members access to an array of services you probably didn’t think you could get from a warehouse store. For example, members can get deals on auto insurance, homeowners insurance and travel packages. Costco also offers access to vision care, banking services and health and life insurance. If you’re looking to purchase a home, Costco provides assistance with acquiring a mortgage and refinancing an existing mortgage.

Con: Not Enough Space

Where will you put everything you buy? If you don’t have adequate storage space, buying in bulk will cause clutter. Think about where you’re going to store your items before going on a bulk shopping spree. Avoid having to apologize to guests because you have boxes of bulk items on your couch.

Pro: Deals

You can get great deals at Costco on items you might not be able to get discounted at other retailers. For example, Costco offers deals on vacations and gift cards. Some of the featured vacation deals are all-inclusive packages, $499 and under deals, and 3% cash-back rewards for Costco Anywhere Visa holders. (You’ll need an excellent credit score to qualify for the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. Find out where your credit stands by looking at two of your credit scores free on Credit.com.) If you and your family frequently eat out, Costco restaurant gift cards offer great savings. Gift cards are available for restaurants like Pei Wei, Shogun Restaurant and Baja Fresh. Gift cards for restaurants are 20% to 30% off the regular price. [Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.]

Con: Overspending

If you don’t have a big family, Costco is not such a lifesaver. It can cause you to spend more than you need. If you live alone, how long will it take to go through ten boxes of cereal or a 15-pack of facial tissue? It might be better to just buy what you need.

Pro: Fewer Shopping Trips

Making several trips to the store is a time waster and potential budget buster. When you need to shop for a group of people, you likely have limited time and money, so every trip counts. It’s often more cost-effective to buy in bulk than to purchase individual items. When you frequently purchase individual items, you risk purchasing something you already have at home. You’re basically on autopilot when you shop frequently, so it’s natural to pick up what you always buy during shopping trips. You can save on transportation costs and reduce the chances of buying the same items when you purchase a larger quantity.

Con: Waste

With all the great deals, it can be tempting to let your eyes do the shopping. However, if you buy a food item in bulk and don’t use all of it in time, you’ll be stuck with a lot of expired food. If there’s no way you can finish all the items you purchase, you’re better off buying in smaller quantities. Instead of throwing away what you don’t use, keep an eye on the expiration date and donate any unused portions.

Pro: Big Savings for Big Families

If you have a big family, Costco is a lifesaver. Living with several people means you’ll run out of toothpaste and other essentials faster. When you shop in bulk, however, you’re less likely to have to reach for the paper towels — or worse, coffee filters — when you run out of toilet paper. Staying stocked with everything you need makes for a happier family.

Con: Unused Membership

Like a gym membership, it can be easy to let your Costco membership go unused. Perhaps you’re too tired to bother with crying babies and impatient shoppers pushing ahead of you. Or you might reason it’s easier to pop into your local grocery store to buy a few items. Remember: A warehouse store membership is only worth it if you use it. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money.

Alternatives to Costco

Only you can determine whether a Costco membership makes sense. Costco offers Gold Star and business memberships for $55 per year, while the Executive Membership is $110 per year and offers additional perks, such as an annual 2% reward on qualified Costco purchases, additional discounts at Costco Services and extra benefits on Costco Travel products. Take stock of the pros and cons, and figure out whether a membership aligns with your financial goals and budget. Here are three alternatives to consider.

Amazon Prime

  • Annual membership: $99
  • Features: Although Amazon Prime is different from traditional warehouse stores in that it is only online, it still offers notable deals. Some features include free two-day shipping, free same-day delivery to certain ZIP codes, free e-books and one free add-on membership.

BJ’s

  • Annual membership: $50
  • Features: Members can get deals on home improvement, eye care and extended warranties. There are also reduced prices on gas and BJ’s store brands. Online shoppers can also take advantage of instant coupons.

Sam’s Club

  • Annual membership: $45
  • Features: Members can save time by ordering items online and picking up their purchases at a local Sam’s Club. You can also upgrade your membership to take advantage of early shopping hours, additional product protection and exclusive pharmacy savings.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.

Image: andykatz

At publishing time, the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi credit card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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.

The post Should You Pay for a Costco Membership? appeared first on Credit.com.

6 Hotels Worth Visiting Just for the Shops

Here are six excellent shops worth a stop on your travels, including one based on a children's book.

Today’s gift shop hawks more than cheap toothpaste and forgettable postcards. Thanks to boutique hotels and upscale chains, everything from kimono robes to portable speakers are now up for grabs. We’ve rounded up six gift shops worth a stop on your travels, based on research and recommendations.

Hotel San José Store at Hotel San José, Austin, Texas

No trip to the live music capital would be complete without a South by Southwest onesie or a leather Baggu backpack roomy enough to fit your iPad Mini. You’ll find all this and more at the well-edited housewares shop — just make sure not to go over budget.

Madison Hall at Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago 

Take a trip back in time to the jazz-fueled 1930s, when Aesop skincare, Tatine candles and Monocle Magazine were all the rage. Oh wait, that’s today? Never mind, you’ll still find what you need — and don’t need — at this stylish extension of the Roman + Williams hotel.

Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shangarry, Cork, Ireland 

Turns out Shangarry, once home of Pennsylvania founder William Penn, is a great place to stock up on bakeware. And kitchen utensils. And Irish cookbooks. After rolling out of bed from the Ballymaloe House next door, you can literally spend the day kitting out your kitchen in Celtic style. Who would blame you?

Drake General Store at The Drake, Toronto

Drake aptly bills itself as “a classic general store, a flea market stand and a museum shop all rolled into one,” where you’ll find practical and not-so-sensible gifts. Local goodies like Nicolas Vahe cake mix and Bata sneakers are tempting, but save your cash for the colorful Kreafunk headphones.

Eloise Shop at The Plaza, New York 

Little girls — and little girls at heart — will be delighted by The Plaza’s pink-and-black homage to its most famous resident. Cool your heels in the living room or stage an impromptu costume party in the fashion room. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy this glimpse into the world of author Kay Thompson’s heroine.

Thornwillow Press at The St. Regis, New York 

If your idea of a perfect weekend is thumbing through books in a wood-paneled library, hightail it to the “cognac room” off the St. Regis hotel’s lobby. There you’ll find the stately ambience of Thornwillow Press, where the selection of paper, ink and gilt are enough to make this writer’s eyes water. As you’d expect, all their printing is done at an old-fashioned factory.

Save on Your Next Trip 

Planning a trip to New York to visit Eloise? You should probably make a plan to save on your travels. Rewards cards are a great way to do it, and they can help you nab some freebies — hello, first class — if you swipe them wisely. Before you hit the tarmac, take time to check out our helpful roundups of the best airline miles cards and cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Remember, before you apply for any credit card, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can do that right here on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your credit scores for free.

Image: Eva-Katalin

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How to Get the Most Out of Amazon’s ‘Subscribe & Save’ Program

You can save both time and money by automating the purchases of things you buy the most. Here's how to do it right.

The Amazon Subscribe & Save program can be a great way for Prime members to save money while automating a bit of life. For my family, Subscribe & Save is a way to buy items like toilet paper that we never seem to realize we’re running low on until the last minute. Here’s how the program works and how you can make the most out of it.

How ‘Subscribe & Save’ Works

Tens of thousands of items on Amazon are Subscribe & Save eligible. Basically, when you buy these items you can either buy them normally to ship with your next manual Amazon order, or you can add them to your Subscribe & Save list. This list sets up regular delivery dates — from monthly to every six months — whatever fits your needs.

One of my favorite parts about Subscribe & Save is that you can set different items to different schedules. For instance, you could have toilet paper arrive magically at your doorstep each month, but get toothpaste shipped to you every other month. The trick is to make sure you’re getting the items you need without ordering more than you need.

What Are the Benefits of ‘Subscribe & Save?’

Besides just making life easier by automating the shipment of certain items you need on a regular basis, Subscribe & Save has a few other benefits, including:

  • Discounted prices. The basic Subscribe & Save price for nearly all items is a little lower than the normal sticker price. But you can stack those savings up even more by adding five or more eligible items to your subscriptions. For some items, the savings is 15%, and for diaper subscriptions, it’s 20%.
  • Coupon options. You can add even more savings by clipping Amazon coupons when you check out. These coupons often apply to the first time an item ships as part of your Subscribe & Save cart.
  • Free shipping. Even if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you get free shipping when you use Subscribe & Save. This also applies to small items Amazon calls Add-On items, which even Prime members have to add to a cart with at least $25 worth of goods to ship for free.
  • Flexible delivery schedules. Like I noted above, you can set items to a delivery schedule that fits your needs. And you can always update your delivery schedule if you find you’re receiving too many or too few shipments for your personal use.
  • Changeable delivery date. On top of that, if you need to bump your delivery date a few days — say you’re running low on toilet paper and need a delivery a week early, it’s no problem. Just log into your Amazon account, and change your delivery date.

How To Get the Most Out of It

Now that you know what Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program is and how it works, let’s talk tips for making the most of the program:

  • Do some price checking. Obviously it’s in your best interest to get familiar with Amazon’s prices versus prices at your local grocery store, discount store or warehouse store. Sometimes the convenience of a Subscribe & Save option will be worth a slight premium, but you should aim to save as much as possible on individual units of each item that you order. And don’t just price check once. Take note of the prices of your favorite Subscribe & Save items each time you’re in the store, just to make sure you’re still getting a good deal. Note that Subscribe & Save offers almost all name-brand items. If you have a more-affordable, off-brand counterpart that you like, you’ll probably save money by going with that item, instead. But if you have certain preferred name brands for personal care, household, baby care or even food items, you may find them on the Subscribe & Save list.
  • Check your cart’s prices every month. One of the worst parts about Subscribe & Save is that prices on these items change with their Amazon list prices. This can be a little tricky, especially if the prices go up. Make a habit to log into your Subscribe & Save account each month to make sure you’re not paying way more for a particular item than you should. Amazon will tell you when you can last edit a Subscribe & Save item, which is typically several days before your scheduled delivery.
  • Add additional items just before your ship date. Loads of deal and coupon websites give lists of the best Subscribe & Save deals for that particular month (or you can download an app like Honey that will automatically check to see if any coupons are available for the item you’re considering). Check these deals out before your order’s last day to edit.
  • Always have at least five items in your Susbscribe & Save account. The best way to net 5% to 15% savings on Subscribe & Save is to schedule at least five items for regular delivery. With all the available Subscribe & Save items, it’s pretty easy to find some household basics to help you meet this savings threshold.
  • Look for coupons. Amazon offers the option to clip virtual coupons as they’re available. Again, you can often find lists of coupon-eligible items on deal sites around the web or with savings apps. These coupons typically only apply to your first Subscribe & Save order, but they can be a great way to net some initial savings.
  • Skip shipments when necessary. Perhaps the hardest part about making Subscribe & Save work for you is figuring out when to order certain items. I know, for instance, about how much toilet paper and how many diapers my family will go through in a week. But how often do I buy a new tube of toothpaste? I’m not really sure. Make your best guess when setting up your shipment times. Then if you’re not running low on an item when it’s scheduled to deliver, hit the “skip” button. This will push the item back a month, and reset its whole delivery schedule based on that shipment.
  • Edit items as you go. If you find yourself consistently “skipping” one or two items, make your life a little easier: edit the shipment times. Again, you can have your Subscribe & Save items shipped as often as once month or as infrequently as every six months. Tweak your shipment times as you go, and you’ll put less time into managing your Subscribe & Save list each month.

You can save even more by applying for one of Amazon’s credit cards. You can read here about whether an Amazon credit card is right for you. You’ll need good credit to qualify, so if you don’t know where your credit stands, you can check your credit scores for free right here on Credit.com.

Like all Amazon tools and programs, Subscribe & Save won’t always save you money. Sometimes there’s a premium to be paid for convenience. But if you use these tips, you can probably get great discounts on items you would have purchased to begin with.

Image: AdrianHancu

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19 Ways to Save at Target

Stack 'em up. Knock prices down.

Target is pretty much the definition of a one-stop shop. Hit up your local store and you could walk away with groceries, your nephew’s birthday present, an ottoman for your living room and dumbbells to keep you fit.

And that’s just the beginning.

Although the chain has some pretty great prices already, it’s hard to leave the store without stocking up on multiple items. So to help you keep receipt totals down, here are 19 ways to save at Target.

1. Start at the Home Page

Target.com should always be your first stop when it comes to shopping. Current sales are listed at the top of the page, which makes it easy for you to stock up on birthday or holiday gifts or items you need for your own home.

2. Check Out the Weekly Ad

Target posts a weekly circular listing items for sale in your area online at weeklyad.target.com. The little countdown clock to the right of the page lets you know how much longer you have until the current sales go away.

3. Click for Weekly Deals

Check out the weekly deals section on Target.com for sale items that might not be included in the weekly ad.

4. Shop the Clearance Section

Check out items on clearance by category on Target’s website, and be sure to check out the clearance section in-store, too, which is usually loaded with seasonal items and placed directly at the front entrance as you walk in.

5. Know Where to Look In-Store

While you’re likely to find deals throughout Target, be sure to especially check the end caps — or the shelves that appear at the end of each aisle — because that’s where additional in-store clearance items tend to end up (besides the display when you first walk in).

6. Score Coupons

Visit coupons.target.com for coupons available directly from Target, then peruse sites like Retail Me Not, Groupon and Deal Catcher for others.

7. Read Your Receipt

From time-to-time you’ll find coupons printed directly on your receipt, so be sure to glance at it before you throw it away.

8. Have Coupons Sent to Your Phone

Skip looking for coupons yourself and have them sent directly to your phone with the Target mobile text-alert coupon program.

9. Don’t Forget Manufacturer Coupons

Target accepts manufacturer coupons as well, so be on the lookout for those in your paper or search for them online.

10. Do Some Comparison-Shopping

Target offers a price-match guarantee when you find the identical item for less on Target.com, select online competitors or in Target’s or a competitor’s local printed or digital ad. Learn all the details here.

11. Apply for the Target REDcard

Become a Target REDcard carrier and get free shipping on most orders at Target.com, 5% off purchases every day and access to additional savings with exclusive coupons. We’ve got a full review of Target’s REDCard credit card here. (It also offers a debit REDCard.)

If you’re interested in the credit card, be sure to check your credit before applying. (You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You’ll want to be sure you can handle the inquiry. You can find more credit cards that can keep you shopping stress-free here.

12. Use the Target Cartwheel Program

Download the Target Cartwheel app on your Android or iPhone and start saving more. Use the app to select from discounts on items from 5% to 50% and add them to your personalized Cartwheel barcode. Scan the barcode every time you shop at Target to save on those purchases. The greatest part is you can use the discounts as many times as you want before they expire.

13. Stack Cartwheel Savings With Your Target REDcard

You can use Cartwheel app discounts along with your Target REDcard daily discount to save even more, plus …

14. … Stack Cartwheel Savings With Your Target REDcard & Other Coupons

Pay the least amount possible when you scan your Cartwheel barcode and use your Target REDcard and use any additional coupons (like weekly ads!) to pay at checkout.

15. Install a Coupon Aggregator on Your Computer

You can skip searching around for coupons altogether when you add the browser extension like Honey on your computer, since it automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout for you.

16. Look for Free Gift Card Deals

Target sometimes offers free gift cards with certain purchases, so be on the lookout for those deals both in-store and online.

17. Purchase Discounted Gift Cards

Check sites like Gift Card Granny to purchase Target gift cards at less than face value.

18. Follow the Brand on Social Media

Add Target on Facebook and Twitter to ensure you see all the latest deals and coupon offers. (Follow @TargetDeals on Twitter, too.)

19. Create a Registry

Create your wedding registry with Target and get a 15% discount on everything left after your wedding, plus bonus gifts from select brands with qualifying purchases. Do the same with your baby registry and you’ll get the same perks, plus a welcome kit with $50 worth of coupons and handpicked samples to get you started.

Want more brand hacks? We’ve got 18 ways to save at CVS right here. And, if there’s a brand you’d like to see us tackle, let us know in the comments below. 

Image: oneinchpunch

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How to Decorate Your New Home for Less

One of the best parts of buying a home is decorating it. Of course, not everyone has an eye for design or the means to upgrade their space. And for those who don’t consider themselves savvy, decorating can feel like a chore.

As someone who’s moved a lot in her life, I’ve learned a few things about perfecting a home on the fly. I’ve also learned how to do it for cheap, but not in a way anyone will notice. Here, I’m sharing a few of my favorite tips for decorating your new home for less.

Buy What You Love

All too often people survey their empty home and feel compelled to rush out and fill it. This is a mistake, and soon they find themselves saddled with things they regret — and a hefty credit card bill to boot. (You can see how your credit card spending affects your overall financial health and view two of your credit scores, with helpful updates every two weeks, for free on Credit.com.) If you focus on purchasing things you love, you’ll be more likely to curate a home that reflects your true style.

Hit the Flea Market

For many, flea markets conjure visions of old women rummaging through boxes of moth-eaten duds. Not so. Antique hunting is one of the great pastimes, and you can always score a deal if you’re willing to haggle. Though you probably won’t want to buy everything, keep an eye out for tchotchkes or objets with character — from vinyl to antique stemware to farmhouse sinks. Word to the wise: Bring cash and try to go with an idea of what you’d like to find so you aren’t distracted. Also make sure to test items out, like electronics.

Just Add Plants 

Nothing enlivens a home like a plant, and I say this as someone who’s murdered more houseplants than I can count. Despite my black thumb, I continue to buy plants because they’re the simplest way I know of to add color and character to rooms without going broke. They also make me happier, and there’s no shortage of cool and affordable planters to choose from. Place a single stem in the bathroom for an elegant touch or set a jade plant on your nightstand to help you de-stress. Bonus points if you hang decorative planters on the wall.

Put Some Paint on It 

Nothing transforms a room like a fresh coat of paint, and you’ll end up saving a bundle if you do it yourself. Of course, you’ll need to shell out for things like drop cloths, brushes and cans, but if you round up some friends (and order some pizza), chances are the job will get done quickly. Remember, if your ceilings are high or you just don’t feel safe, it’s OK to send in the pros. Same goes for homes with decorative features like millwork and molding — you don’t want to mess up those finishes.

Try Consignment Sites

Like flea markets, consignment sites like Chairish and even Craigslist are helpful for scoring design pieces for less. I’ve seen many a popular blogger trick out her home with Craigslist finds, and Chairish makes it easy to check the condition and size of an item before you buy it. As with anything you’re eyeing online, you’ll want to verify it matches its listing and bring a buddy along to pick up the goods, if necessary. Go here to learn more about shopping safely online.

Image: Thomas_EyeDesign

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15 Ways to Save at Crate & Barrel

save_at_crate_&_barrel

Whether you’ve just scored a new abode or you’ve been living in your place for a while and it could use a little updating, Crate & Barrel is a long-standing go-to when it comes to home furnishings. The store sells quality goods, so prices for some items can be on the higher end. Luckily there are some pretty easy ways to save. Here are 15 of them.

1. Sign Up for the Newsletter

Provide your email address for current offers, sales and news.

2. Shop the Special Offers & Rebates Section

Crate & Barrel often offers added incentives for customers to shop by including things like gift cards for free items with purchase in their Special Offers & Rebates section. Examples include things like a $30 gift card with purchase of a KitchenAid Mixer or up to 50% off Viking Contemporary seven-piece cookware sets.

3. Wait for Items to Make it to the Clearance Section

As with any store, Crate & Barrel needs to move inventory frequently to make room for new items, especially as they relate to seasonal goods. Check with the Clearance and Outlet section of the site frequently to see if the things you need have gone on sale.

4. Check the Site for Coupon Offers

Before heading to the store or making a purchase online, be sure to check with the coupon section of the chain’s website to see if any special offers are happening.

5. Never Pay for Shipping

Even if you can’t make it into the store to buy your goods, make sure you never pay for shipping by checking out the Free Shipping section of the site and only order the items you need once they won’t cost you to ship.

6. Apply for the Crate & Barrel Credit Card

If you’re a savvy credit card user and frequent Crate & Barrel shopper, its credit card can earn you 10% back in reward dollars or six months of special financing, as well as other perks like special offers and access to events. The card has no annual fee, but like most store cards it does come with a hefty variable annual percentage rate (27.49%), so only get one if you can pay the card off in full every single time you use it. Favor a different brand? You can learn more about the best credit cards for a stress-free shopping spree right here.

Just be sure to check your credit before applying for any new plastic. Otherwise, you risk a rejection — and a hard inquiry on your credit report — for naught. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

7. Use Your Crate & Barrel Card at its Sister Stores

You can use your Crate & Barrel credit card at CB2 and The Land of Nod as well to really rack up the reward dollars you earn.

8. Create a Registry

When you create a wedding registry with Crate & Barrel, you’ll have access to their 10% completion credit for six months after your event, which applies to anything left on your registry as well as items in the store or online. Learn more here.

9. Search Online for Coupons

Check out sites like dealsplus, RetailMeNot, Coupon Cabin and Savings.com for discount codes that you can apply to your Crate & Barrel purchases, or …

10. … Install a Coupon Aggregator on Your Computer

Browser extensions like Honey will automatically find and apply coupon codes for you at checkout.

11. Purchase Used Gift Cards

Visit a gift card resale site and search for Crate & Barrel gift cards that you can buy at a discounted rate.

12. Follow Crate & Barrel on Social Media

Never miss a sale when you follow Crate & Barrel on their social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook.

13. Keep an Eye Out for Special Ways to Earn More Savings

Every now and then Crate & Barrel will offer additional ways to enter for a chance to save — which is all the more reason to keep an eye out on their social media pages for updates.

14. Earn Cash Back

Use a cash back or rebate site to earn a little bit extra back on your Crate & Barrel purchases.

15. Let the Brand Know You’re Moving

Register your move with the U.S. Postal Service online and be sure to click on the section that allows you to receive coupons from certain home goods stores — Crate & Barrel has been known to send them to new homeowners for 10% off.

Want more brand hacks? We’ve got 15 ways to save at Bed Bath & Beyond and 18 ways to save at CVS.

Have a brand you’d like us to tackle? Let us know in the comments section below.

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: kupicoo

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9 Splurge-Worthy Additions for Your New Home

Upgrade your new pad with splurge-worthy additions.

Image: kupicoo

 

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Here’s Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Shopping List

Spring cleaning is hard work. But with the right tools, sprucing up your home can take a little less elbow grease.

It’s been a long winter, and hibernating has not done us any favors — many of us have probably put off giving our caves a deep spring cleaning. But now that it’s (mostly) above freezing, it’s time to throw open those windows, let in some fresh air and get scrubbing.

A few friendly financial notes before you get going: While you’re sprucing up your home, it might be a good time to do the same with your finances. You can begin by getting a free credit report snapshot, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com. Also, be sure you don’t go overboard when it comes to buying Spring cleaning supplies. If you’re good about staying on budget, consider a solid shopping credit card to reap rewards off of your purchases. Just be sure to pay that balance off at the end of the month, so you don’t wind up losing those points, miles or cash back to interest.

With all that money stuff in mind, here’s what you need to know before you tackle the deepest clean of the year.

1. Spring Cleaning Tools

Sure, you’ve been vacuuming all along, but it’s time to go deeper. There’s no need to scrub on your hands and knees or wrestle with a mop. The Duop System ($29.99 and up) can be used with a handle or your hand. Created for professional cleaners, it’s designed to reduce the risk of injury while cleaning. The handle height is easy to adjust, whether you’re dusting the ceiling or washing the kitchen floor. The interchangeable microfiber pads, which come in a variety of sizes, can be used dry or wet, moistened with water or a mild cleanser.

For other areas, Leslie Reichert, green cleaning coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning likes the General Purpose Cloth or the Kitchen Cloth from e-cloth ($7.99 each). Like the Duop, the cloths are microfiber so they often require nothing but water.

“If you have some spots that have a buildup of grease, you can spray the area with a touch of rubbing alcohol to break up the buildup and then wipe with the e-cloth,” she said. “The fibers in the cloth work to get underneath the dirt and lift it off without harming even delicate surfaces, like cabinets.”

As you move around the house with your Duop and e-cloth, bring your water in a lightweight bucket, like the colorful Kikkerland Collapsible Bucket ($10). When you’re done cleaning, it collapses flat for easy storage.

2. All-Purpose Cleaner

For tasks that require more than water, there’s no need to purchase a product with a long list of mysterious — and potentially toxic — ingredients. The Force of Nature Electrolyzed Cleaning Starter Kit ($59.95) converts salt, water and vinegar into a powerful cleaner by electrolyzing them. The kit includes everything you need to create several batches of non-toxic, fragrance-free cleaning solution. It also comes with travel-sized spray bottles to take on the go.

3. The Many Uses of Vinegar

Alyssa Kaldahl, merchandising manager at women’s apparel site Jane.com, suggests using vinegar for tough cleaning jobs. For instance, use equal parts vinegar and water on a sock to clean your blinds. Cleaning the fridge is a dreaded spring cleaning task, but here’s her fix.

“Throw away any expired food and then wipe down all the shelves and drawers with vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle,” she said. “You can also add some lemon or other citrus essential oil to your mix if you want to leave a nice scent.”

To get out stubborn carpet stains, she suggests spraying the spot with one part vinegar and two parts water, putting a damp rag over the spot and ironing the rag. Repeat until stain is gone.

4. Homemade Stain Remover

Lisa Batra, founder of My Kid’s Threads, an online consignment shop for kids’ clothes, knows stains. She said while it’s ideal to treat a stain ASAP, her team often doesn’t know how long a stain has been there. They inspect about 1,000 items each week and have had success with a homemade stain-remover recipe:

Combine one tablespoon baking soda, four tablespoons dish soap and eight tablespoons hydrogen peroxide in a small container and stir well. “Apply directly to the stain and rub gently with your finger, a piece of fabric or an old toothbrush,” she said. “Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes and then wash normally.”

For surface stains, like on cabinets or counters, decluttering expert Kelly McClenahan, of the Live Uncluttered blog on PriceSelfStorage.com, suggests Mr. Clean MagicErasers ($5.76 at Walmart — check out our review of the Walmart credit card here).

“Use them to remove almost any surface stains, especially the burner areas of the flat-top stove and those occasional crayon marks you may find on your walls,” McClenahan said.

She also recommends using cotton swabs and old toothbrushes “to get down to the details with hard-to-reach, itty-bitty spaces.”

5. Get Organized

According to McClenahan, no spring cleaning is complete without sorting your stuff. “Box up items you no longer need in your home,” she said. “Separate things you want to keep, store, donate and trash.”

A great way to organize the items that you’re keeping but not using currently is to store them in boxes with labels. The Brother P-Touch Label Maker ($39.99 at Staples) is fun and easy to use. It has different fonts and modes to add your own flair. For storage boxes, my go-to is the Container Store, which carries boxes of virtually any size, shape or color.

If you’re worried more about your wallet than your abode as winter breaks, we’ve got 50 ways to give your finances a fresh start right here.

Image: omgimages

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