Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Years ago, my Uncle gave me the book Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben for Christmas. My Uncle had heard him talk and thought that I would be interested in the book and economics and ecological ideas it contained. Grad school precludes reading anything for fun so I have lots of books that I have been meaning to read and hence, I finally got around to reading this book. And I loved it.

This is a great book filled with great, big ideas that get you thinking. McKibben writes about our relationship, as humans, with each other, our communities, and our planet and how that relationship works in economic terms. He fills the book with rich examples and stories about a year of eating only locally grown food, radio stations and how they represent our community, that our American way of life is absolutely unsustainable to the planet if we exported it to countries like China and India, and offers ideas as to how we can live and grow our economy in a durable and sustainable way, both for our communities and for our planet.

The book was written in 2007 and is an interesting discussion to have knowing that the following year the boom would finally bust and we would fall into the Great Recession. McKibben makes the reader think about the local and global ecological and economic impact of our decisions to consume large quantities of oil for food, to buy larger houses and commute farther, to become so immersed in satellite radio, television and internet that we forget the local community we live in, the shipment of food around the world, the growth of third and second world economies and what the world will look like if they all follow the American growth model.

The book asks deep questions like: What should development look like?, Is continuous growth realistic or sustainable? Should the whole world strive to live like Americans? Does prosperity insulate us from relying on our communities?

I encourage everyone to read this book and expand your mind while pondering these deep questions. This is a great read for anyone interested in economics and ecology and shows the deep intertwined relationship between the two. It made me think harder about the economic and ecological choices that I make, why I make them, and what impact they have on my community and planet. Hopefully it will make you think too.

Do you love to read and write? Grammarly offers an instant grammar and plagiarism check because copycats aren't nearly as cool as real cats (or dogs), plus they can get kicked out of school, get disapproving looks from Mom, and learn how to ask if you want fries with that. Everyone likes fries but not everyone wants to sell them. Think about it. Grammar is important. Check out Grammarly next time you write a paper or review. It's free and awesome (like cats, and dogs, and fries).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

21 of the Best Discount Shopping Sites For Clothes and Home Goods

I'm re-posting this from my fashion blog What I Really Wear because I think my frugal Earning My Two Cents readers want to look great for less too. Enjoy!

There are so many great sites to shop on the internet, but where can you find consistently great deals
on clothing and home goods? Daily deals sites offer an ever changing array of brand name products
at great discounts because they are available in limited quantities for a limited time. Sign up for your
favorite sites email lists to get the best deals sent directly to your inbox. Also, online shopping from
discount and foreign retailers can get you a great price on great clothes and accessories. Here are some of my favorite sites for a great deal.

Clothing & Accessories
JollyChic- Great fashion deals direct from China, offering clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories.

SammyDress- Hong Kong direct fashion deals on clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, and lingerie.

H&M- Finally! Our favorite Swedish clothing store finally opened an online store offering women and men’s clothing, kid’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and a new home goods line.

ThreadUp- An online consignment store where you can sell and buy high quality used women’s and kid’s clothes, shoes, and handbags. Start with a free $10 credit!

Twice- Here’s another online consignment store offering a place to buy and sell used women’s clothes and handbags at great prices. Get a free $10 credit on your first purchase or sale!

BaubleBar- Fashion jewelry with the latest trends at affordable prices. Each week they have a special
hidden bauble available for just $10 when you solve the riddle and find it on the site!

JustFab- Get personalized shoe and style picks emailed to you. Every shoe is just $39.95 (with free
shipping!) and they offer handbags, clothes, and jewelry at hot prices. Styling tips included. Also offer kid’s clothes and athletic wear. Get 50% off your first order!

Little Black Bag- A unique social shopping site that allows you to swap your deals online with friends and save up to 70% off retail on handbags and accessories. Get 25% off your first order too!

Dorothy Perkins- The fab and affordable British retailer’s online store makes buying classic business and casual clothes a breeze. They offer a large selection of women’s clothing, shoes, and handbags. Plus get a 10% discount with a student email address and 15% off when you sign up for their email updates.

Hautelook- My favorite daily deal site offering women’s clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, men’s and kid’s clothing, and home goods. Save over 75% off retail on luxury brands and shop Nordstrom Rack deals too. Their items are affordable and beautiful so prepare for compliments. High quality, brand name, well made items at a fraction of the cost? Yes please.

Beyond The Rack- Another daily deal site offering a dizzying array of women’s clothing, shoes,
accessories, home goods, as well as men’s and kid’s clothing. Plus, if you are a Memolink member you can get points on your purchases to trade in for gift cards or cash!

Handbag Heaven- Just what the name implies. Tons of discount handbags in the latest styles starting at $10 and all under $85. Save 15% on your first order too!

6pm- Amazing deals on name brand, department store products including clothes, shoes, accessories,
handbags, menwear, and kid’s clothing, all at 70% off plus free shipping on all orders!

DailyLook- A daily deal site offering clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories at amazing deals. Create a style set to complete your look and see how other DailyLook members style their finds on Instagram.  Rachel Zoe is one of the investors in the site!

Home Goods Sites
Joss and Main- An amazing flash deal site offering furniture, rugs, lamps, and home goods for every
room in the house. Shop their style collections to inspire you to create and decorate at amazing

Wayfair- It’s like shopping inside HGTV but at up to 70% off retail. Offering both daily deals and everyday steals with free shipping on orders over $49. They have items for every room in your home, including home improvement, outdoor, and kid’s items.

Hautelook- Check out Hautelook’s daily deals on home goods and furniture too! Sales change weekly so there's always something new.

Beyond the Rack- Don’t miss Beyond the Rack’s big selection of flash deals on home items.

One King’s Lane- Unique and beautiful home pieces, perfect for finding something for you or for a gift. They offer top brand, designer, and vintage items and flash sale discounts. You can get $15 off your first purchase!

Overstock- The original discount online home goods store sells everything under the sun and ships
everything over $50 for free, even furniture!

Rugs USA- A hugs selection of discount designer rugs in every style and size with free shipping!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Got Paid!

Online surveys and mystery shopping get a bad rap. Many people think that they are just scams but there are really some great (and legitimate) companies out there that will pay you for your time and effort. And to prove it, here's what I earned from online surveys and mystery shopping last month, among other endeavors. I completed these mystery shops and surveys in the previous month (or earlier) and received the payment this month. Some of these mystery shops required me to pay something out of pocket to purchase a good or service (which I get to keep) but I was reimbursed for my purchase and was usually paid an additional fee. The amount I earned from mystery shops includes the reimbursement for my purchases.

Mystery shopping usually requires that you purchase something specific from the store you are evaluating for which you are then reimbursed. I usually charge those purchases onto my credit card so that I get rewards points and so that it does not use up my grocery budget for that month. When I am paid for mystery shopping I pay myself back and transfer the amount of money I spent on those mystery shopping purchases back to the credit card. The remainder is my profit.

February 2014
Pact app- $11.00
Freelance Writing- $135.00
Blogging/ Ad Revenue- $15.00
Marketforce- $311.76
BARE International- $77.93
Corporate Research International- $15.00

Total: $565.69

What did I do with this extra income?

We are working to pay off medical bills that we are in a payment plan with so the bulk of this money went toward paying off one of those bills and making payments on two others. I also made payments to my sister and my mother toward housing costs for our upcoming family trip to England for my sister's wedding. My sister and mother booked housing and paid upfront for it while allowing me to make payments to them to pay them back prior to the trip.

Did you make any extra income last month? What are you using your side hustle money for?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Roundup: Best of the Internets

Phew! What a week it has been. We adopted a second dog last Sunday and it's been a whirlwind of training, Petco purchases, long walks and runs, and trying to get our older dog to warm up to the new dog.

Also this week I got picked to be a member of the VIP Launch of When She Makes More, Farnoosh Torabi's new book! I'm so excited to share this book with you guys. It empowers breadwinning women (and the men who love them) everywhere! The book launches May 1st but you can pre-order a copy today and win freebies! I'll be reviewing the book soon!

Here's some posts I wrote that were published recently and some of my favorites from around the web (some of these aren't from this week...but I finally got around to reading them).

Posts I Loved

Yes I Am Cheap- Help A Reader: I've Got Serious Student Loans

Frugal Rules- 4 Steps to Saving for a Down Payment

 Dinks Finance- 4 Things I Always Do With My Money

A Practical Wedding- Tiny Steps to Adulthood: Managing Your Money

Young Adult Money- The Dirty Little Secret of How People Make Money Blogging

Shameless Self Promotion

Krazy Coupon Lady- Shell Fuel Rewards Network: Fuel Your Savings With Discounted Gas

Krazy Coupon Lady- Earn Money Running Errands with Gigwalk!

Go Girl Finance- Side Hustle Series: How to Become a Mystery Shopper

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Budgets & Relationships Both Need Compromise

Image Credit
I'm cheap. Thrifty. Frugal. Penny pinching. Embarrassingly so. I have brought a sandwich to a restaurant, always take home leftovers, squeal about how much I saved on something, and duct tape stuff together rather than replace it (it still works!). I buy shoes at Walmart because they are a steal (and who doesn't love bright green flats for $7!). I make my own shower cleaner, send away for rebates and free samples, am constantly doing some side hustle to make extra cash, and spend hours making spreadsheets and worrying about money.

My husband, on the other hand, is not. He knows the value of a dollar and he's not a spendthrift, but he likes to spend money. He would rather shop at Nordstrom, likes buying new things over used things, likes new cars, TVs, video game consoles, phones, and gadgets. He loves eating out at restaurants, ordering take out, ordering movies on demand, randomly taking a weekend trip, staying at a nice hotel, and spending money for entertainment and the pleasure of a casino atmosphere (aka gambling). He doesn't stress about money in the same active way that I do and accepts that if we can't pay for something, we can't get it (though he will still perk up at new car or TV ads).

I like spending money too, but we have different priorities sometimes on how to spend our money. Sure, we agree that we need to have a roof over our head, food in our bellies, heat, light, and running water, but we also disagree on some things. He has taught me to pay more for quality items that last (and for shoes that are well made and don't hurt my feet). I have taught him to plan ahead and budget our money so that we can pay for our needs as well as some of our wants.

Every relationship requires compromise, and especially so when it comes to money. I am the nerd and make the spreadsheets so I handle writing checks for the bills and entering our receipts against our budget categories. I will draft up a budget for the month and show it to him for his feedback. We have to be in agreement about where our dollars will go and that means we have to talk about it and come to happy mediums where we both sometimes get what we want but not all the time.

So what are the major things we compromise on?

If it was up to me, I would all week with eating very little meat and then only chicken or lunchmeat. I don't eat as much as him (he's kind of a bodybuilder) and definitely nowhere near as much protein. I grew up not eating much red meat and don't crave it, plus steaks and roasts can be pretty expensive, way more so than chicken. He would eat a steak every night for dinner if he could. We have a tight budget so we have to keep groceries reasonable and we don't go out to eat more than once or twice a month (and then usually with a Groupon).
Our Compromise: I do the grocery shopping using coupons and checking the sale ads to save us as much as possible. I keep an eye on beef, chicken, and other meat prices so that when it is on sale I scoop it up in bulk since it freezes well. We limit restaurants and he doesn't randomly order pizza so that when we do it is a special occasion. We keep our eyes peeled for restaurant deals, sign up for promotional emails from our favorite restaurants, and buy Groupons so we can treat ourselves on occasion without guilt.

Cable Television
I am a football fan by proxy: I would never have been interested in it had it not been for my husband. Still, I don't have a deep need to watch every NFL and college game like my husband does. I would be happy with a basic cable package and just watch whatever is on TV or whatever free movies are On Demand, but he loves movies. In fact, we both love movies. We enjoy queuing up a movie, popping some popcorn, and snuggling on the couch to enjoy the film. We also enjoy going to the movie theater and used to go weekly until we saw how much it was busting our budget. Still, I could do without and read instead, but that's not an option for him.
Our Compromise: We pay extra for the NFL Network and the sports package on our cable network. Otherwise it's just cruel to deprive him of something he loves so much just because we want to save those few bucks a month. We pay for HBO but no other premium networks. With the amount of movies and shows available on HBO we are set with that and he watches Banshee on Cinemax online using his friend's account login. We pay just $5 a month for HBO and it's well worth it for the amount of movies we watch. We also pay for Netflix streaming because it gives us so many options to watch. And when we just have to see a specific movie? We use a Redbox free rental promo code and will go to the theater to see certain blockbuster "they are best on the big screen" movies but only on occasion. We also have a spending limit and always discuss purchases with each other that are over $50 or $100 unless it's groceries. We are accountable to each other and each have a vote on how our money is spent.

Fun Stuff
We both have to rein each other in from time to time. I will find a great deal on massages that he will say no to and he wants a new XBox One that I vetoed. Sure, having some fun stuff is important. Remember, all work and no play makes Johnnie a dull boy. But we can't afford a lot of the stuff that's out there and enticing us.
Our Compromise: We spend a lot of time at home or doing free and frugal fun stuff. Mardi Gras parades are free and a ton of fun. Visiting with friends and family to share a potluck meal or have game night is a blast. Watching our favorite shows at home, going for a walk together with our dog, working out together, and cooking together are fun and frugal dates. We will spend some money on entertainment when we find fun Groupons for stuff we like to do, get a deal on tickets to LSU football games, or its just an occasional splurge. We also each have budget line items for our own blow money that we can spend on whatever we want that makes us happy. We have a shared "Miscellaneous" budget line item that covers everything from movies to dog food, so we have to agree together when we want to spend some of that money on tickets to a show or save it for a fun trip somewhere. As for clothes shopping, he used to shop at Nordstrom whenever he needed new clothes but I taught him the wonders of Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx.

Your partner is not you and you will have different (and often conflicting) spending priorities, but compromise is essential to any relationship. Some fights are not worth it and sometimes spending that money on a fun experience is essential to your relationship. Everyone needs some fun in their life but it has to be balanced with responsibility. For us, we balance each other out and he encourages me to spend money on things that are worthwhile and I encourage him not to spend on things that aren't.

What do you compromise on in your budget and relationship?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How I'm Saving Today

It's been a busy week for me. I've struggled to get over a cold for the past two weeks and I finally have a week where I'm feeling better. So naturally I've been running around busy working out at the gym, running and training for the Cosmic Run, freelance writing, mystery shopping, and catching up with friends.

I've been working hard on side hustles lately and have started freelance writing which is bringing in some extra which we can use to go towards medical bills we are paying off. I went grocery shopping and stocked up using a bunch of coupons and getting a lot of sale items so my cost was over $220 and dropped to $160. That's more than I would usually buy in a week but I am trying to stretch it out and we are eating only at home so I think it's worth it.

How have I been saving? I haven't eaten out this week or spent any extra money on anything. I am sticking to my spending diet, even though I really want to go to the outlets and spend my Banana Republic/Old Navy/Gap Groupon. Of course, as soon as I said I wasn't gonna shop 'till I lost weight I started snacking more and didn't lose weight. Well I'm back on the horse again and signed up for the My Fitness Pal app to be vigilant about what I'm eating and it's been going well the past few days, so hopefully I can shop soon!

I also just finished the third and last book in the Divergent series. So good. Yes, it's a young adult series but my friend recommended it and I immediately got sucked in. I am ready for the movie to come out in a couple of weeks!

My hubbie and I are going down to New Orleans this week to watch some Mardi Gras parades! This will be my first time going since I missed it last year. I'm so excited!

I've had a few articles recently published around the web and I thought I would share them with you.

An Insurance Guide for Your Furry Family Member on the Krazy Coupon Lady

Save Bucks By Booking a Vacation Rental Instead of a Hotel on the Krazy Coupon Lady

The Pact App: Financial Incentives for Healthy Living on the Krazy Coupon Lady

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Frugal Valentine's Day!

This adorable print is just $5 on Etsy!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Love is in the air, chocolate boxes are opening, and heartfelt cards are being written. I am not one to go overboard on Valentine's Day and my husband and I instead celebrate by doing something fun together and usually going out to eat at a restaurant we like.

This year we are going out to eat at a favorite local taco restaurant and are using a Groupon we bought a while ago. And this weekend we are going on a swamp boat tour that we also have a Groupon for. Gotta save those dollars!

We like to keep it low key for Valentine's Day. You know who didn't keep it low key? My brother in law. He proposed to his girlfriend this morning and they are getting married! Yay for a sweet Valentine's Day engagement! We are so happy for them!

How are you spending a frugal and fun Valentine's Day?