5 No-Heat Meals That Will Save You Money This Summer

It’s hard to justify using heat to cook when it only makes you lose money, and time, so read on for some great no-heat meals to make now.

This summer, try preparing no-heat meals to save money on air conditioning and expensive foods that require heat. Using your stove and oven in the summer can release extra heat into your home — the last thing you want during the warmest months. This extra heat means turning up your air conditioning, resulting in extra expenses. Even when grilling, the cost of coals or fuel can quickly add up.

If you want to avoid using heat to cook because it cuts into your comfort or your budget, read on for some great no-heat meals to make now.

1. Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

If you can’t stay away from meat, opt for a previously cooked option like rotisserie chicken because it’s easy to pick up from your local store. You can slice, pull or shred it to add protein to any no-heat dish. Additionally, a rotisserie chicken can serve four to five people for only $5. You can make a barbecue chicken sandwich using rotisserie chicken, store-bought barbecue sauce and pickled vegetables, like cucumbers, to create a hearty meal perfect for a quick dinner or lunch in the summer. Even if barbecue isn’t your thing, food website Delish has plenty of sandwich recipes that use rotisserie chicken. Bonus: All the components can be prepared ahead of time, making them perfect for picnics or travel.

2. Tomato Gazpacho

Summer is tomato harvesting season, so take advantage of the cheaper produce offerings with a refreshing tomato gazpacho. This cold soup is perfect because it’s vegetarian, low-calorie and has 10 or fewer ingredients. RealSimple.com has a version of gazpacho that features corn and cucumbers, two more staple summer vegetables. If you like, you can serve the gazpacho with garlic-rubbed crostini to add an element with contrasting texture.

3. Vegetable Salad With Peanut Butter Dressing

Salads are a great healthy option and the slightly decadent peanut butter dressing adds just the right amount of sweetness and richness to the dish. The Kitchn has a recipe for tofu and broccoli salad that also uses peanut butter dressing. The salad is so fun and colorful it might help persuade your kids to eat their vegetables. Some recipes call for baked tofu, but for a no-heat version of this dish you can use raw tofu. Opting for vegetarian meals will also help you cut costs, as tofu is cheaper than meat and just as versatile.

4. Unicorn Summer Rolls

One of the hottest trends right now is rainbow, or unicorn, food. From bagels to sushi to cake, people are making all their favorite foods colorful. No-heat unicorn summer rolls are perfect to make to keep up with trends while maintaining a budget. Today.com has a great version of this easy recipe. Fresh, seasonal produce can be inexpensive, and it’s easy to chop and shred everything on your own. Plus, a key ingredient, rice paper wrappers, are only 10 cents each. With their color and veggies, these rolls are fun for everyone and filling enough for an affordable summer lunch.

5. Picnic in a Glass

One of the greatest summer pastimes is having a picnic. Nothing beats heading to the beach or park with friends to enjoy fresh air and a flavorful meal. A “Picnic in a Glass” is an ideal no-heat dish to bring to a real picnic, or enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Made in a mason jar, this dish is convenient and pre-portioned, which makes serving and cleanup a breeze. If you’re looking for a recipe, MyRecipes.com has an easy one. A tangy yogurt dressing adds dimension to leftover or store-bought shredded chicken. Load the jar up with vegetables to complete your no-heat meal.

While shopping for ingredients for these no-bake summer meals, consider using rewards cards for extra value. There are plenty of great grocery store rewards cards but they often require decent credit. Before applying, see where you stand. You can check two credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: Geber86

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14 Ways to Save at World Market

It's easy to overspend at World Market but with these ways to save, you can breathe a sigh of relief when checking your receipt.

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

Brightly colored throw pillows, exquisite area rugs, rugged outdoor furniture, international foods and eclectic jewelry are just a few of the options awaiting shoppers at World Market. While a trip here could rack up debt due to the sheer volume of goods you’re likely to come away with, save yourself some sticker shock by using these cost-cutting tricks.

1. Sign up for Emails

Visit the site and sign up for Cost Plus World Market emails to receive 10% off your next purchase. This deal only works for new customers.

2. Shop the Sales

Check the sales section for discounts on everything from furniture and décor to wine and beer.

3. View Your Local Ad

Insert your zip code on the website for access to discounts at the store closest to you through the local ad.

4. Join the World Market Explorer Rewards Program

Sign up for the World Market Explorer Rewards Program and get 15% off your next purchase just for completing your profile. After that, you’ll get a $10 reward for every $200 you spend, plus exclusive access to coupons and deals, special member pricing on wine, beer and other products and a special surprise on your birthday.

5. Have Rewards Sent to Your Phone

Never be without access to your member discounts when you get them sent to your phone. Check the website for registration details.

6. Apply for the World Market MasterCard

Customers who use the World Market MasterCard receive perks like no interest if paid in full within 6 months or 12 months, 5% back in rewards for every $1 spent at select partner stores, 2% back in rewards for every $1 spent on gas and groceries and 1% back for every $1 spent anywhere else MasterCard is accepted.

Plus, you’ll receive a $10 reward certificate for every $10 in rewards you earn automatically. Rewards you earn with the Cost Plus World Market MasterCard are separate from the World Market Explorer Rewards Program. (APR will be variable 24.74%, 18.74% or 14.74% based on your credit, so pay your card off in full each time you use it.)

Remember, opening a new credit card can impact your credit. Check your credit score to see where you stand before applying. You can check two credit scores for free on Credit.com.

7. Use Your Cost Plus World Market MasterCard at Affiliate Stores

Besides earning 5% back in rewards for every $1 you spend at Cost Plus World Market, you’ll earn those same rewards when you use it at Bed Bath & Beyond, buybuy BABY, Christmas Tree Shops, andThat! and Harmon Face Values.

8. Use Your Cost Plus World Market MasterCard for Big Purchases at Other Stores

You’ll earn 1% back for every $1 spent anywhere MasterCard is accepted at all times, but spend $1,000 in the first six months on your card outside of the affiliate stores and you’ll earn a $25 gift certificate, or $75 when you spend $6,000 in the first six months.

9. Get a Designer Discount

Professional designers receive a 10% discount at World Market Stores. Just show your proof of occupation (business card or state business license and photo ID) to a store manager to start using your World Market Designer Discount Card today.

10. Check out World Market Coupon Offers on the Website

The website offers World Market coupons, offers & promotions page, filled with deals to help save you money.

11. Search Sites for Additional Coupon Offers

Check out places like Offers.com for other potential coupon or promo codes.

12. Follow Them on Social Media

Add World Market as connections on both Facebook and Twitter to never miss another sale opportunity.

13. Don’t Forget Free Shipping

Ordering furniture online at World Market pays off, since orders of $150 and over receive free shipping. Just don’t forget to put in the code.

14. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

Check out the World Market section on sites like Gift Card Granny to purchase gift cards at discounted prices.

Want more helpful brand hacks? Check out these 15 Ways to Save at Crate & Barrel.

Image: Eva-Katalin

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 14 Ways to Save at World Market appeared first on Credit.com.

16 States Offering Sales Tax Holidays in 2017

The back-to-school season can be an exciting but expensive time.

Buying school supplies adds up, even before new clothes, backpacks, and shoes join the list. Needs such as a new laptop, textbooks, or graphing calculator can cause costs to escalate.

The good news is that for the last 20 years, some states have offered holidays on which they don’t collect state sales taxes on many items on your back-to-school shopping list.

Craig Shearman, vice president for government affairs public relations for the National Retail Federation, a retail trade federation, says consumers can save about 5% to 10% during sales-tax holidays. Actual savings for consumers depend on the state sales tax rate in their state.

Sales Tax Holidays 2017

This year, 16 of the 45 states that collect sales taxes are offering tax holidays, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators, an organization that provides research, training, and other resources to state-tax administrators. Most of these holidays revolve around school-related purchases, though some states also have other tax holidays throughout the year for things like disaster preparedness items, firearms, hunting supplies, or energy- and water-saving appliances.

Here’s a schedule of upcoming tax holidays by state:

How does a tax holiday work?

Sales-tax weekends are a set period of time in which the state doesn’t collect typical sales tax on certain items up to a certain dollar amount. Each state defines what will be exempt during the holiday, but common items for July and August holidays include clothing, shoes, school supplies, and personal computers.

Eight states holding tax holidays this year are doing so during the first weekend of August to help families buy back-to-school items. For example, Florida isn’t collecting sales tax on school supplies that are less than $15, clothing, footwear, and certain accessories that are less than $60, and personal computers and computer-related accessories less than $750.

Things to watch out for: Timing and spending caps

Just because a state offered a tax holiday in the past doesn’t mean its residents can expect to get one in the future. Georgia is not having tax holidays this year, after having two in 2016 that covered back-to-school supplies and Energy Star and WaterSense appliances. It’s the first time since 2012 Georgia will not have a tax holiday.

Previous sales-tax holidays in Georgia have helped mom Cheri Melone, 45, save on school supplies, lunchboxes, and backpacks for her sons, ages 11 and 3. Melone, who lives in Watkinsville, Ga., estimates she saved about $10 to $20 per child each year.

“It’s disappointing,” Melone says. “I know a lot of my friends that have big families, they wait for that weekend to go shopping.”

Massachusetts lawmakers are still determining whether the state will have a tax holiday this year. The state canceled its 2016 holiday after a Department of Revenue report found that the 2015 holiday caused it to miss out on $25.51 million in revenue.

In addition to double-checking if and when a state’s holiday is happening, shoppers will want to familiarize themselves with the holiday’s limits: The holidays only apply to certain items and often impose tax-free spending limits. And even though a state isn’t collecting sales tax during this period doesn’t mean that shoppers won’t see taxes added to their bill at checkout. Some states allow counties, cities, and districts to choose if they want to stop collecting their specific sales taxes during the holiday. In 2017, 49 of Missouri’s 114 counties will collect county sales taxes during the state’s back-to-school sales-tax holiday.

Beyond that, not all retailers may participate. Retailers in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are required to participate in the tax holidays. New Mexico does not require retailers to participate. Missouri lets retailers opt out if less than 2% of their merchandise would qualify for the tax exemption. Florida lets retailers opt out if less than 5% of their 2016 sales were from items that would be exempt during the 2017 back-to-school tax holiday.

Guides to the sales tax holiday in Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, and Mississippi don’t specify if retailers are required to participate.

What are the pros and cons of tax holidays?

Shearman says the events benefit retailers by bringing customers into the store and help consumers by saving them money.

“Because [consumers are] excited about the prospect of what amounts to a sale going on, they’ll be in that frame of mind, and they will buy other things that are there that are not tax exempt,” Sherman says. “So the boost in sales per items that are still being taxed very often offsets the tax revenue lost from the tax-free items.”

However, economists like Ron Alt from the Federation of Tax Administrators says he thinks it is a bad tax policy because states lose the revenue. Also, retailers may mark up prices for the holiday to make money off the hype of a tax-free weekend, says Alt, senior manager of economic and tax research.

A March 2017 study from economists at the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve System found that tax holidays boosted retail sales throughout the whole month.

Shearman says that while 5% to 10% saved is “relatively small,” it can help families that are financially stretched.

Georgeanne Gonzalez, 32, an Athens, Ga., mom who buys school supplies for her two children and her niece, says the state’s tax-free weekends helped her out a lot in the past as the school supply lists grew.

“It made it a lot easier when having three children to buy school supplies for,” she says.

The post 16 States Offering Sales Tax Holidays in 2017 appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

13 Ways to Save at Michael Kors

Try these tactics the next time you simply must have the latest Michael Kors offering.

Sophisticated and chic shoppers delight in the fancy yet practical options that abound at Michael Kors. Unless you’re loaded, though, it helps to have a couple of ways to save on hand when shopping here. Try these tactics the next time you simply must have the latest Michael Kors offering.

1. Shop Sale Items

Check out the sales section of the Michael Kors site to score up to 50% off everything from handbags and wallets to watches, clothes and shoes.

2. Sign up for the Newsletter

Catch all the Michael Kors promotions, sales and in-store events when you sign up for the newsletter. Scroll to the bottom of the homepage and look left for a sign-up option.

3. Score Coupons Online

Check sites like Groupon, RetailMeNot and Coupons.com for promo codes you can use toward Michael Kors purchases.

4. Shop for Michael Kors Items at Discount Sites

Places like Overstock.com and Nordstrom Rack often have Michael Kors items for a fraction of what they might cost at an actual Michael Kors store or online.

5. Score Coupons for Discount Sites to Use Toward Michael Kors Purchases

Save even more on your Michael Kors purchase from a discount site by signing up for newsletters from those other sites that might send out special promo codes or coupon offers you can use as well.

6. Wait for a Major Sale

Like most retailers, Michael Kors tends to have sales in conjunction with the change of season — like a spring sale, for example — so if you can stand waiting, you might be able to score major deals on those items you covet. Be sure to check the site frequently for information on upcoming sales.

7. Follow Michael Kors on Social Media

Become a follower of the brand on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with sales and promotions as well.

8. Shop at a Michael Kors Outlet

It is possible to score great deals on luxury items at a Michael Kors outlet if you’re patient and know what to look for. Generally speaking, boutique items available at an outlet store will be in the same section (usually in clearance), and a sales rep should be able to help you find what you’re looking for.

9. Sign up for a Credit Card at a Department Store That Sells Michael Kors

You can usually find Michael Kors items at department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdales, so save even more by signing up for a credit card from your department store of choice (just be sure they offer Michael Kors products, first) and using the points you earn to make your Michael Kors purchases. Do your research first to make sure points can be used on Michael Kors products, of course, and read the fine print before signing on the dotted line for any credit card. (Check your credit score to make sure you’ll qualify as well. You can see two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

10. Use a Rewards Credit Card

This will let you earn points, miles or cash back on your purchases. So, whether you use the card to purchase Michael Kors and then benefit from the savings later, or use it to make your daily purchases and buy your next Michael Kors bag with the cash back you’ve earned, this can help you save in all kinds of ways. Just make sure to pay your balance in full each month so interest doesn’t eclipse your rewards. Here’s some help if you’re having trouble choosing a rewards card.

11. Buy Gift Cards at a Discount

Check out sites like Gift Card Granny and Cardpool.com for Michael Kors gift cards you can buy at less than face value.

12. Get a Price Adjustment

Michael Kors will offer a one-time price adjustment on any full-price item within seven days of the date of purchase, so keep your eyes peeled for things that go on sale after you purchase them.

13. Check out eBay

Michael Kors items abound on eBay. With a little patience you might be able to score a precious product for less than you would pay for it in the store.

Want more luxury brand hacks? Check out 14 ways to save at Ralph Lauren or these 11 ways to save at Louis Vuitton.

Image: labsas

The post 13 Ways to Save at Michael Kors appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Common Couples Fights That Can Be Solved by Shopping

Whether you’re bickering about mattress firmness or the fact you’re not saving enough, fight no more.

No matter how harmonious your relationship, the occasional fight with your significant other is unavoidable. Whether you’re bickering about mattress firmness or the fact you’re not saving enough, fight no more. These common couples’ issues can be solved by something as simple as going shopping.

1. The Bed  

The Conflict: One person likes it firm, and one likes it soft.

The Solution: Next time you’re in the market for a mattress, consider a customizable one from companies like ReST Bed and Reverie, which allow you to adjust the firmness on each side of the bed. Some even offer sleep data and the ability to change the temperature.

2. No Closet Space

The Conflict: You can’t see your slacks for the suits. Or shoes. Or sweaters.

The Solution: Exchange your plastic hangers for extra-slim velour ones like those from Closet Complete or inventor Joy Mangano.

3. Too Much Stuff on the Floor 

The Conflict: All those piles are turning into a sore spot, and your tiny home looks like a bomb site.

The Solution: Designated hooks for each item would help, but who has the time to install them? Instead of classic hooks, look for ones that can be installed tool-free like High & Mighty or Command.

4. Moving

The Conflict: You’ve found a new home and are ready to leave, but moving feels like a chore.

The Solution: A full-service moving company, like Moving.com or Mayflower, can manage every part of your move. You’ll pay a bit more, but having the peace of mind — and peace in your relationship — is worth it.

5. Storage

The Conflict: You love your old beat-up rug and massive collection of record albums. Your partner doesn’t.

The Solution: Rather than insist these items take up precious real estate, get some storage. Self-storage can feel like moving, but full-service firms like Sparefoot and Closetbox come to you, take an inventory of your stuff and cart it off to a secure facility.

6. The Lawn

The Conflict: No one wants to mow it.

The Solution: You’ve heard of the Roomba robot. Imagine the harmony an automated lawn mower could bring. Today, mowers from brands like Worx and Robomow can get the job done hands-free. They also do amazing things like return to their charging station for more juice.

7. Saving Money 

The Conflict: You’re spending too much and saving too little.

The Solution: Cutting back on spending is a good first step, but if your budget has minimal wiggle room for socking money away, try using a service that rounds up your purchases like Acorns, Digit or Bank of America. They’re all a bit different, but once you set up the service, your debit card purchases will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and saved or invested on your behalf. (Be sure to track your finances by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Image: PeopleImages

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6 Things You Need to Know About Amazon Prime Day

Online shoppers are gearing up for Amazon’s third annual Prime Day — a period of deep discounts on many Amazon items in mid-July. Since the company began Prime Day three years ago, it’s become the summertime answer to Black Friday.

But what’s all the fuss really about? In years past, there have been complaints that the site’s sale items aren’t all that exciting, with the hottest items selling out too quickly for many to take advantage of the deals.

Amazon hasn’t said much about what 2017’s Prime Day will look like, but to help you prepare, here are some things you need to know.

Q: When is Amazon Prime Day?

A: July 10-11

Prime Day kicks off at 9 p.m. EST on July 10, when the best deals will be posted online, and run for the next 30 hours.

New deals will be offered every five minutes, according to Amazon.

Q: Where can I find the best deals on Amazon Prime Day?

Electronics

Benjamin Glaser, features editor at DealNews, says that last year, Amazon Prime shoppers saved about 30% to 40% on electronics. Globally, people bought over 90,000 TVs, and in the U.S., people bought over 200,000 headphones during the 2016 Prime Day, according to an Amazon press release. However, Glaser cautions that TV deals tend to sell out fast.

It’s a safe bet that the best deals will be on Amazon-branded electronics, such as the Echo, Kindle, Fire tablets, and Fire TV products.

Glaser is anticipating seeing $15 off of the Fire TV Stick, which is currently at $39.99. The Echo, priced at $179.99, dropped to $129.99 on Monday June 26 for the day — the best deal on it this year.

It’s also likely that there will be deals on electronics that tie into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, such as Philips Hue smart lights products — the starter kit is priced at $173.99 — and smart thermostats such as Nest, which is currently $246.85 (at the time of this writing).

Toys and more

Also, considering that 2 million toys and 1 million pairs of shoes were bought globally last Prime Day, it’s also likely there will be deals in those departments.

For example, among the best deals last year was $699 for the Segway miniPRO Smart Self Balancing Personal Transporter, which at the time was the lowest price for it on Amazon by $300, according to DealNews. The game Exploding Kittens: A Card Game was also on sale for $15, the lowest price on Amazon by $9 at the time.

Expect some products to have record low prices for Amazon.

“We have confirmed over the last two years that a lot of the prices rival the best prices we see on the site all year,” Glaser says.

Q: How long will deals last on Amazon Prime Day?

A: Amazon promises new deals every 5 minutes starting at 9 p.m. EST on July 10.

Some deals will expire in mere minutes, while others will last several hours, and some will last for the duration of the sale event. Each deal will have a timer that shows how long it is available.

Q: How do I know when an item goes on sale?

A: The Amazon App specifically includes a feature called “Watch a Deal” that will let you know when a deal you’re interested in is about to go live.

You also can join a waitlist (by selecting that button on the page) for deals that are 100% claimed.

Q: Do I need to be an Amazon Prime member?

A: You must be an Amazon Prime member to access the Prime Day deals. A Prime membership costs $99 a year or $10.99 per month and includes a number of other perks. Recently, Amazon announced a reduced price for Prime membership for low-income households.

“So, if that [$10.99] is less than what you think you’ll save on the stuff you want to buy [on Prime Day], then it’s a worthwhile investment,” Glaser says.

Amazon also offers a 30-day free trial, so if you haven’t had Prime before, you can use that to participate in Prime Day.

“This might be a good month to give Prime a test drive and see if you get good value out of it,” Glaser says.

Q: How will I know when they announce deals?

A: Glaser says Amazon will likely soon start releasing ads for some of the deals, so keep an eye out for them. Look particularly at Amazon products, electronics, small kitchen appliances, and shoes. Plan what you want to buy and set a shopping budget.

Since some deals will only be available for a certain time, you might want to set alerts for items. If you don’t already have an app that you use to track prices on Amazon, Glaser recommends the free apps CamelCamelCamel or If This Then That.

With all of the deals, it will be easy to buy things you weren’t planning on and don’t need. Glaser cautions against getting swept up in these deals and recommends sticking to your budget on Prime Day.

“If you see something that’s 95% off, you might spring to buy it and not really think about how much money you’re still spending, and whether it’s something you actually want,” Glaser says.

The post 6 Things You Need to Know About Amazon Prime Day appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

6 Brand Loyalty Programs That Are Actually Worth Joining

These brand loyalty programs are worth the extra emails.

There are probably a lot of things that draw you to your favorite stores. The products, obviously, the sales and the friendly salespeople all might be part of it, but a seriously rocking loyalty or rewards program is probably not far behind. Whether a loyalty program is free or has a small fee, if the benefits are plenty, it can be worth all the extra mail and email you’ll likely receive — or even a small yearly charge. (If you tend to pay balances off in full and want to maximize your earning potential, you may want to consider a rewards credit card as well.)

Here are some of the best loyalty programs we’ve seen around.

1. CVS

If not all pharmacies are created equal, then not all pharmacy rewards programs are created equal either. CVS’ ExtraCare Rewards stands out, for starters, because it’s free. Customers earn 2% back in ExtraBuck Rewards every single time they use their ExtraCare card, and additional savings are easy to find through ExtraCare emails, the CVS Pharmacy app and the weekly ad or throughout the store. You can save paper by using the “send to card” option to send selected offers from online directly to your ExtraCare card rather than printing them off to bring to the store.

2. Barnes & Noble

Becoming a B&N member isn’t free — it’ll cost you $25 a year — but if you’re an avid reader, the fee will likely be worth it. For starters, new members receive $50 in bonus coupons for joining. (Use ‘em all and you’ve already made up your initiation fee!) Members also receive member-exclusive savings options, free express shipping online with no minimum purchase, plus 40% off the list prices of current hardcover bestsellers and 10% off the price of other eligible items.

3. PetSmart

Animal owners can join the PetSmart PetPerks rewards program to start saving more on their pet purchases. Membership is free, and members receive discounts on in-store purchases, as well as special coupons sent directly to them in the mail. For more ways to save on your furbabies, sign up for the brand’s auto-ship plan, which provides 20% off and free shipping on the first auto ship order, plus 5% off and free shipping every time after. (Some exclusions apply.)

4. Sephora

For product lovers, the Sephora Beauty Insider Program is a dream come true. Sign up for free on the Sephora site and every dollar you spend earns a point that can be put towards free beauty products. (The points you need to purchase certain products can be found online.) Members also get a birthday gift, access to free beauty classes, and for an extra $10/year members get access to flash two-day shipping on all online orders.

5. Bed Bath & Beyond

Home goods superstore BB&B doesn’t have a specific rewards program, per se, but creating a free account online and providing your home address at the store will supply you with endless coupon offers. The best part? The store usually accepts coupons even after they’ve expired — though you probably won’t need to bother since you’ll likely have a new one waiting for you in your mailbox or inbox by your next purchase, anyway.

6. Starbucks

Pricey as their drinks may be, Starbucks does have a smashing (and free) rewards program. Starbucks Rewards members earn two “stars” for every $1 spent with your registered card to put towards future drinks. There are four ways to enroll in the program (online, through the mobile app, directly from a retailer or through a business affiliate), and you can earn also stars by entering star codes found inside specially marked packaged of Starbucks products as well. Starbucks fans can find more ways to save on their daily cup of coffee (or two) here.

Remember, you don’t want the lure of rewards to lead you to overspend. High levels of debt can affect your bank account and credit score. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that prices for products and services frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms cited in this article may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with the company directly.

Image: oneinchpunch

The post 6 Brand Loyalty Programs That Are Actually Worth Joining appeared first on Credit.com.

12 Ways to Save at DSW

For anyone with a gold medal in shoe-shopping.

If Carrie Bradshaw has a gold medal in buying shoes, I happen to know a good many other people (this writer included) who would earn a close silver. Any shoe lover is bound to have checked out designer shoe warehouse DSW for their footwear needs, but next time you find yourself feeling a little foot fancy, try these suggestions to save a bit on your haul.

Here are 12 ways to save at DSW.

1. Enroll in DSW Rewards

Membership is free, and you’ll earn 10 points for every $1 you spend at the store. You should also be on the lookout for Double Point Days and free birthday offers.

2. Become a Premier Member

Premier membership is actually based on how much you spend: DSW Rewards members who earn 6,000 qualifying points by spending $600 in a calendar year qualify for Premier membership. If that’s you, be sure to ask about the program, which offers free next-day shipping, five more points earned per every dollar spent at DSW and access to the Premier Choice Card, which earns you a Triple Points day every six months, (you get to pick the day).

3. Apply for a DSW Rewards Visa

Only Rewards members can apply for the DSW Rewards Visa, but once you do, you can really start racking up the savings. You’ll earn 20 points for every $1 you spend at DSW, two points for every $1 you spend outside of DSW, and when you reach 1,500 points you’ll earn a $10 Rewards certificate. You also get free return shipping, a one-time $25 offer when you spend $500 outside of DSW within 90 days of your first purchase and a $25 application offer when your card arrives in the mail. Just be sure not to revolve a balance — otherwise, you’ll lose those points to interest. (You can see how your credit card use if affecting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

4. Use a Rewards Credit Card

A general purpose rewards credit card can also give you some kickback on your kicks. Here are some of our favs for shoppers.

5. Search the Site for Bonus Point Offers

Scroll through the entire homepage of the site to be sure and catch any additional rewards or bonus offers that might be hiding throughout. For example, ahead of Father’s Day, DSW was offering 25% off men’s dress socks with purchase of any men’s footwear.

6. Shop the Clearance Section

Don’t forget to check out the online clearance section frequently for new markdowns available online.

7. Sign Up for Email Newsletters

For exclusive offers and news sent directly to your inbox, enter your email address in the box at the bottom of any page on the site.

8. Search for Coupons

Besides your inbox and mailbox, search online at places like Coupons.com, RetailMeNot and Groupon for additional promo codes to use when shopping.

9. Follow Them on Social

As with most brands, DSW loves to engage with its customers, and one way they do so is by making sure their social media followers are up-to-date on the latest deals and special offers. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know.

10. Go Where the Dots Are

The best way to save some cash when shopping in-store is to know what you’re looking for. At DSW, keep your eyes peeled for colorful dots that show up on clearance shoes — find them and you could score an extra percentage off the already marked down price. For example, a purple dot signifies 20% off, red is 30%, blue is 50% and green is 70%.

11. Ask for a Discount

Customers have also claimed success at saving by simply asking for a discount, especially on purchases with small defects. Why not give it a try — if nothing else it’ll help you practice your haggling skills.

12. Return Your Online Purchases in the Store

If you aren’t a rewards member, you’ll pay $8.50 in shipping to return (not exchange) purchases made online — unless you do it directly in the store, so skip the charge by hitting the streets.

Want more brand hacks? We’ve got you covered. Here are 19 ways to save at Target

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: oneinchpunch

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19 Ways to Save at Nordstrom

save_at_nordstrom

A staple when it comes to department stores, Nordstrom is known for offering top brand options in apparel, shoes, handbags, beauty and more. It’s also known for providing plenty of ways to drive down the costs of those luxury goods.

If you’re a frequent Nordstrom shopper, here are 19 ways to save at Nordstrom.

1. Shop the Sales

Take stock of all the goodies available in the sales section of the Nordstrom site before clicking on anything else. You’ll find great deals on stuff for men, women and kids, not to mention home and trend goods.

2. Make the Most of Free Samples

Stock up on free samples of the products you’re dying to try before dishing out lots of cash for the whole item. Each online or in-store beauty or grooming purchase comes with three free samples, so pick wisely.

3. Apply for a Nordstrom Debit Card or Nordstrom Retail Card

Get the Nordstrom store credit card or debit card and earn two points per every dollar spent online or in stores, plus a $20 bonus note when you spend $100 at Nordstrom with your card the day you’re approved. There is no annual fee, but be sure to check out the APR information and read all the fine print before applying. Be sure to check your credit, too, so you know whether you can handle an inquiry. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

4. Apply for the Nordstrom Visa Platinum or Visa Signature Card 

The Nordstrom Visa Platinum and Visa Signature cards provide all the same benefits as the regular Nordstrom retail card, but you’ll also earn one point per every dollar spend everywhere else that Visa credit cards are accepted. You can find a full review of Nordstrom’s credit card right here.

5. Use Your Nordstrom Card at Affiliate Stores

You’ll earn two points per every dollar spent online when you use your Nordstrom card at Nordstrom Rack, HauteLook and Trunk Club, as well.

6. Wait for the Anniversary Sale

Nordstrom’s biggest sale of the year is their Anniversary Sale, and it generally kicks off every July. If you can wait, you’ll score major deals on all kinds of goodies, and Nordstrom cardholders get early access before it opens to the public.

7. Become a Nordstrom Rewards Member

Join the Nordstrom Rewards program for free by providing your name, email and phone number and you’ll earn one point for every dollar you spend at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and HauteLook. You’ll earn extra points by shopping on bonus days, too, and for every 2,000 points you earn, you’ll receive a $20 Nordstrom Note, good to spend on absolutely anything.

8. Sign up for Nordstrom Emails

Provide your info to receive Nordstrom emails and you’ll never miss another upcoming sale.

9. Shop at Nordstrom Rack

Skip the regular Nordstrom store and site and head over to Nordstrom Rack, where you’ll find many of the same great items at deep discounts every day.

10. Shop the Nordstrom Rack Sales

Check out Nordstrom Rack’s clearance section for even more savings on the already marked-down items.

11. Shop at HauteLook

HauteLook is another Nordstrom property, with luxury brands available at up to 70% off retail.

12. Get the Nordstrom Apps on Your Phone

View your Nordstrom Rewards points and use your Nordstrom Notes anytime directly from the free Nordstrom app for iPhone, iPad and Android, and load the Nordstrom Rack app on your phone as well for access to the newest markdowns and clearance items. HauteLook also has an app that’ll help you shop exclusive, limited-time sale events from anywhere.

13. Search for Nordstrom Coupons Online

Do a quick Google search or use sites like Retail Me Not, Groupon and Coupons.com to find promo codes to use when shopping at Nordstrom.com.

14. Follow Nordstrom on Social

Catch up on all the sales and promotions when you follow Nordstrom on their social sites, like Facebook and Twitter. (Follow Nordstrom Rack and HauteLook as well, to be sure you really get access to all the sales that Nordstrom has to offer!)

15. Purchase Discount Gift Cards

Use sites like Gift Card Granny to score Nordstrom gift cards at major discounts.

16. Refer a Friend 

Nordstrom offers $20 in rewards when you refer a friend who then opens a credit or debit account with them.

17. Write a Review Online

Check back with Nordstrom.com for opportunities to win gift cards or discounts when you leave product reviews on the site.

18. Ask for a Price Match

Nordstrom offers a price match guarantee when you find the same item in stock for cheaper at a competing store.

19. Ask for a Sales Adjustment

Nordstrom will adjust the price for you on items that go on sale within two weeks of your order date. You can find more about the price-match and sales adjustment policies here.

Want more brand hacks? No problem! We’ve got 17 ways to save at Sephora here

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: RiverNorthPhotography

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6 Common Money Traps That Are Draining Your Wallet

Perhaps you, too, have fallen victim to one of these money traps.

Sometimes, when I look back on the way I handled money in my 20s, I want to smack myself. During that time, I built up a lot of debt — so much it led me to declare bankruptcy. My poor money management almost ruined my life.

When I really think about my attitudes toward money in my 20s versus my 30s and now my 40s, they are so different. My 20s were about spending, my 30s were focused on building up my finances and now in my 40s I’m busy enjoying them. As I look back, I noticed that I fell into some pretty common money traps.

Perhaps you, too, have fallen victim to one of these money traps. Here, I’ll share the most common ones to avoid before it’s too late.

1. Instant Gratification

We often decide we want things because they work in the moment. Look at dinner out. If you don’t feel like cooking, you go out to dinner. But the convenience of letting someone else cook for you is a trap.

To learn your own money traps, you need to create a spending plan. A spending plan can help you identify where you every cent of your money is going. Once you’ve learned how you spend, you can better determine what to cut back. (Here are 50 things to stop wasting your money on.)

2. Not Having (Or Ignoring) Your Budget

Some buy into the myth that if you have a budget, you won’t get to spend your money as you’d like. Don’t fall for this trap. Your budget is your money road map, and you get to plan your route every payday. That means you can determine the exits and detours your money will take. If you want to go out to dinner this week, no problem — just include it in your budget.

However, a budget is never “one and done” — it should be evaluated every month. The reason to look at your budget is that your spending and circumstances may change. Perhaps the cost of food went up or you received a raise. That will affect how well your budget is working.

Once a month, try to set aside time to go through your budget and make sure it still works. Update the bills and your income as needed. Make sure you still account for every single penny. If your salary has gone up, now is the time to increase your debt payments or your savings account. (Here are some quick ways to boost your emergency cash cushion.)

3. Falling for Sales Gimmicks

You see something on sale and feel you should get it. After all, it’s on sale, so you’ll be saving money. Right?

Not so fast. When you purchase something simply because it’s on sale, you’re often spending money you would not have otherwise. Before you buy the item, ask yourself if it’s something you’ll need in the next three to four weeks. If not, it might be best to pass.

While you’re at it, avoid store sales tactics such as two-for-one offers, purchase limits and quantity discounts, which encourage you to spend more.

4. You Love the Word Free

Free is one of those words that many find hard to ignore. It makes you feel as if you are getting something special. However, free does not always mean free.

For example, stores often offer free financing offers. These are tempting because you can either make no payments on your new furniture for six months or get your new television set interest-free for 12 months. The truth is, for most, that “free” period will cost more than they realize. Let’s look at both scenarios.

If you purchase something with no payments for any period, you can make the purchase and not have to worry about your budget. But what you may not realize is that you will still accrue interest on that outstanding balance.

Let’s say your loan is $500 and the interest rate is 18%. The store offers no payments for a year. Each month, you will add at least $7 to your outstanding balance. That means your $500 item will now cost you nearly $600. Not such a good deal, is it?

The same is true with 0% financing. Even though you pay no interest, your interest will still accumulate. So, if you have a 0% interest rate for 24 months, you better make sure to pay it in full before the end of the term. Otherwise, the store may revert back to the original balance and calculate your interest based on the outstanding balance, which can make the loan cost even more.

Before you make any large purchase, make sure you can really afford it. A deal is only a deal if it doesn’t cost you more than the ticket price.

5. You Can’t Walk Away

Sometimes it’s best to give up. If you have a vehicle costing you money in repairs every month or two, it might be more cost effective to get rid of it and put that money toward something newer and more reliable.

It might also be the right time to upgrade (or even downsize) your home. If you have added two kids to the family and now live on top of one another, is it worth trying to find ways to add more space? Are you paying to rent a storage unit because you can’t fit everything into your home? It might be better to move or even sell items you can’t use.

You might be trying to keep up with your friends and family. As much fun as it is to take vacations, go shopping every weekend and have the latest electronic gadgets, it may not be feasible, given your budget. Your envy could be forcing you into debt. (Debt can also be rough on your credit. You can see how by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Changing your lifestyle is not easy. However, it is a change you must make to get out from spending more than you should.

6. You Don’t Track Your Purchases

When I ask people why they don’t use cash, they usually say it’s because it’s too easy to spend. But the real reason is because they’re probably not tracking their spending. They don’t see where their money goes, so they spend without thinking about it.

Look at the $1 to $5 purchases you make. They don’t seem like much in the moment. But what if you make seven $3 purchases a week? That’s $21. And it’s not just $21, but $21 for which you can’t account.

When you start to keep track of every penny you spend, you force yourself to be more accountable. You become more aware of where you spend and how you spend it. Once you do that, you’ll begin to think twice before buying a second latte.

Money traps don’t have to trip you up while you’re working to achieve your financial goals. Recognize them and do what you can to avoid falling for them.

Image: shapecharge

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