Join my mailing list!

saving money

Updating your wardrobe without breaking the bank

This post was sponsored by Groupon. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Β 

A few days ago, I shared with you one of my newest favorite outfits, and I humble bragged about how it only cost me $17. Because here’s the thing, y’all: I. am. cheap… maybe even cheaper than cheap. To give you an example, I was at a thrift store and saw a pair of shoes I liked well enough for $10. But I didn’t get them because I thought $10 was too much for a like-new pair of shoes. I seriously am that cheap.

Like I also mentioned, I LOVE clothes. I love pinning outfits on Pinterest, I love trying clothes on, and I love hanging clothes up and putting them in my dresser (not to be confused with laundry, mind you). Clothes very well might be my love language, if that’s even possible. The 6th one nobody really talks about because they don’t want to be misunderstood. Come let me give you a hug and tell you that your shirt is cute, because I have your back.

I see people post outfits and share that their pants cost $60 or their shirt was $45, and I can’t fathom that. I keep thinking “I spend $20 at a thrift store and I feel like I’m making it rain money.”

You can imagine that when I buy a brand new article of clothing, it is a big freaking deal. I’m ALWAYS looking for ways to make brand new clothes more affordable. When I walk into a store, I walk right past the displays at the front and past the new arrivals and 20% off sales” and I make my way to the “Additional 60% off clearance” racks. I love when my mom gives me the $10 gift cards you get if you spend a certain amount of money, because I can buy a clearance shirt for thrift store prices. I’m crazy about this stuff, y’all!
updatingyourwardrobe

The other day, Justen and I were trying to find a code for Redbox (good news – he’s cheap too!) and suddenly he asked me if I knew there was such a thing as Groupon Coupons, so we spent time looking through all of the different coupons they offer. Lo and freaking behold, guess what they have coupons for? CLOTHING STORES!

Not just lame, irrelevant stores I never shop at. That’s the worst, right? When you stumble on a great deal for stuff you have no interest in. Groupon Coupons has coupons for stores I love like Aerie, Macy’s and… wait for it… Kohl’s (HELLO, LAUREN CONRAD!).

Even if you’re not as crazy cheapskate as I am, Groupon Coupons has plenty of great deals you should always check before you buy anything. As if Groupon couldn’t get any better πŸ™‚

What are your tips/tricks for buying new clothes without making your bank account weep?

 

Share this article

Saving money isn’t just about money.

Nothing lights a fire under my butt financially than spending time with Ernie Halter.

I talk about Ernie and his wonderful family a whole freaking lot. The Halters have changed my life in so many ways, and one of the ways Ernie has really influenced me the past few years is by encouraging me to be smart(er) with my money.

For the past few years he’s talked about managing your money and I’ve listened and thought about it, but it wasn’t until earlier this year when I was slowly sinking to rock bottom that I realized it was time to put into practice all that I’d been soaking up.

Here’s what happened, #longstoryshort version. I met a boy who owned a coffee shop. I loved the coffee shop and kinda had a crush on him. Then we dated for a little bit, and then he shut me out of his life in a really overdramatic, immature, and incredibly painful way. and then I had to drive past the exit to his coffee shop, the one I visited 3 or 4 times a week EVERY SINGLE DAY. and you know what I wanted to do? Keep driving. I wanted to drive and never stop and get as far the heck away from that exit, that coffee stand, and that human being as I possibly could.

But I couldn’t, because #carpayment. and #dentalcredit and #creditcard. I had roughly -$24,000 to my name. and that moment is when I realized what Ernie verbalized last week:

Money = freedom.

Saving money isn't just about saving money // stephanieorefice.net

Saving money isn’t about being a hoarder or about having more money than the person next to you just to say you do. It’s about knowing that if your car broke down tomorrow, you’d have enough in a savings account to cover the repairs (or even buy a new one in cash). It’s knowing that you’ve been preparing for your future so that one day you’ll have the freedom to retire. Seeing the end of the light on your mortgage payment. Daring to quit your job to pursue your dreams because you’ve been responsible and have created a safety net.

It’s easy, in the moment, to feel like freedom means “I can buy this $30 scarf in two colors because I work hard and pay my bills on time,” but is freedom about doing what you want when you want, or is freedom what happens when you reach a point where something in your life needs to give and you can choose anything you want without the worry of finances and how you earn the money to live?

I’m not anywhere near perfect in the way I deal with money. As a matter of fact, my debt repayment journey has been experiencing radio silence because I’ve been struggling with it a lot. But each conversation I have about the heart behind repaying debt – each time I tell someone my secret dreams of being self-sufficient (my blog? ebooks? other? professional traveling dish washer/babysitter? any ideas?), I stir up the determination pool of my heart and I am quicker to hard pass on the dollar section at Target.

Buying two cute, polka dotted pens and a basket I don’t need and all the cute notebooks and pens and coffee mugs has a weird sense of freedom… like “hey I’m a grown up, I have a job and I do whatever the bleep I want,” but then every month I send 1/3 of my paycheck to Toyota Financial and I pay $20 in interest fees on my credit card each month and I don’t have much saved or invested. So how free am I, really?

As we enter the new year and you re-visit financial goals, remember that being able to freely spend $30 whenever you feel like it isn’t real freedom if you’re chained down to $800 in payments each month. And for what it’s worth, being free of those $800 monthly payments isn’t so that you can buy all the things at Target. That financial liberation should birth and give way to saving so that you will never have to be anyone’s slave. Prepare for that now so that you don’t go crazy later, because having money isn’t about money. Having money is about investing in freedom by saving it.

 

 

Share this article

$0 GIFT GUIDE

My bloglovin feed is FULL of “Gifts under $50” or “Stocking stuffers under $20” or “Gift Guide for the girl who has everything” posts. I get it. It’s a great time to affiliate link the crap out of pinable posts. I get it, 100%. and I’m not mad.

 

But holy crap, guys. Let’s rebel against the consumerism monster a little bit more this year, shall we? This year, my friendships have leveled up. I’ve depended on my friends more than ever, and I feel like there are more people who are on my list for gift giving than ever. Which sucks because I’m also trying to pay down my debt, right?

So here’s my gift guide for all of you this Christmas.

$0 gift guide // stephanieorefice.net

These are, essentially, $0. Some of them might require supplies, but you should be able to make do with what you have.

$0 Gift Guide

$0 gift guide // make breakfast // stephanieorefice.net

MAKE BREAKFAST

When I was on Whole 30, a friend of mine wanted to get breakfast. I was so nervous about ordering from a restaurant so I invited her to my house and said I’d make breakfast. While we were eating our egg scramble she said, “This is great. Nobody does this.” I started thinking about it, and it’s SO TRUE. We don’t often make breakfast with our friends. We go get breakfast with them, for sure. But there’s something really wonderful about having someone over first thing in the morning and making a big, hearty meal. Or even better – offer to do it at their place, and agree to clean up after yourself (extra plus points if you leave it cleaner than you found it)

 

$0 gift guide // get you' craft on // stephanieorefice.net

GET YO’ CRAFT ON

Everyone think about the Pinterest board you have for DIY projects, and think about how many of them you’ve pinned for the sheer simplicity of it. You probably have SOMETHING you could embellish laying somewhere around. Give the gift of crafting together. It doesn’t have to be the same project – it could even be a bunch of random supplies and seeing what comes of it. A lot of the time those projects don’t get finished because they’re more fun to do with friends. Pick a date.

$0 gift guide // no phone date // stephanieorefice.net

NO-PHONE DATE

How about giving someone the gift of two uninterrupted hours of your life? Get coffee with someone andΒ leave your phone in the car. There’s getting coffee with someone and then there’s getting coffee with someone and being completely present.

$0 gift guide // pj movie night // stephanieorefice.net

PJ MOVIE NIGHT

You know that movie your friend is always telling you that you HAVE to watch? or the movie that they’re always saying they would LOVE to see? Invite them over, with the only rule that you MUST wear pajamas. Watch a movie of their choice with them. The cozier the better.

$0 gift guide // share a recipe // stephanieorefice.net

SHARE A RECIPE

Comfort food? Most questionable yet delicious combo of ingredients? Tried and true, could win awards if you entered it in a competition? Whatever you think they would be down to try, give them a recipe (or two or three or color a cover and staple them into a book).
$0 gift guide // take a hike // stephanieorefice.net

TAKE A HIKE

You don’t have to be some sort of insane outdoorsy adventurer for this one. Just ask around for a good hike in your skill level, and make plans to go. I like hiking and it’s okay to do alone but most of what I take back from every hike I go on is the conversation; the experience; the feel of the air and how that made me see someone in a new way. Taking a hike with a friend is a gift for you as well as them.

$0 gift guide // take pictures // stephanieorefice.net

TAKE PICTURES

Thanks to the magic of the iPhone, we’re all freaking photographers…. right?? πŸ˜‰ We’re always taking pictures of others or sticking our hand out and taking pictures of ourselves… but how much do we really love when someone takes a good picture of us? Even if you only have a phone as a camera, tell them you want to take pictures of them. Find a cool location, pick out a cool outfit. Take some pictures – of them by themselves, or with their significant other, or whomever. Just free someone up from being the one who takes pictures.

 

Some other ideas:

  • BABYSIT FOR FREE
  • ACCOMPANY THEM WHEN THEY RUN ERRANDS
  • SET UP A CLOTHING SWAP
  • LEARN HOW TO KNIT TOGETHER & GIVE EACH OTHER YOUR PROJECTS
  • PEOPLE WATCH
  • INVITE PEOPLE OVER FOR COFFEE (thanks Kim!)

what else?! Add anything else you think of in the comments below and I’ll update the “some other ideas”! πŸ™‚

 

Share this article

How to earn free flights with Southwest Rapid Rewards

How to earn free flights with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Points // stephanieorefice.net

My friends don’t ask me what airline I’m flying anymore, because I always fly Southwest. I usually travel alone, so open seating doesn’t bother me, and I LOVE that bags fly free. Not only that, they offer competitive prices (especially when you factor in the money you save on the checked bags).

As I mentioned in a post last week, Ryan and I are flying to Southern California and it only cost $24 for the both of us. I believe that the way to make rewards/loyalty programs work the best for you is to be 100% completely brand loyal. That said, I’m sure some of these tips would roll over into other air reward programs, but I can only speak confidently on what I know.

First, I’m going to show you my RR (Rapid Rewards) points for 2014 and 2015.

How to earn free flights with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Points // stephanieorefice.net How to earn free flights with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Points // stephanieorefice.net

Let’s discuss the blue items in the list. The blue items are flights. I usually buy two one way tickets whenever I fly anywhere because instead of paying one large sum of money, I’d rather pay two smaller fees. There are three different levels of airline tickets with Southwest: Business Select, Anytime and Wanna Get Away. Business Select is the most expensive and offers 12 points per dollar spent. Wanna Get Away is the cheapest and offers 6 points per dollar spent. I’m cheap; I always travel Wanna Get Away fares.

My account history shows the following flights:

  • January ’14 trip to Nashville (1,061 points)
  • May trip to California (round trip – 926 points)
  • September trip to Nashville (1,820 points)
  • January 15′ trip to Nashville (1,492 points)

Those points alone are 5,299 points. That would most likely get me a one-way ticket on a weekday to a city on the West Coast. But flights aren’t the only way I earn Rapid Reward points!

 

View this post on Instagram

off to nashville.

A post shared by stephanie (@stephanie.martian) on

Rapid Reward Dining

Do you have a debit card? Do you ever go out to eat? If you answered yes to these two questions then you need to sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining. You link a debit card or two or three or four or however many you use, and connect it to your RR account. They have a list of restaurants that give you 1 point per dollar spent when you dine. Then if you fill out a feedback survey you get additional points on top of that. I’ve earned 81 points from that.Β You can see that for awhile I was really consistent in that, and there’s absolutely nothing to lose by being faithful to the Rapid Rewards Dining Restaurants. You just earn more Rapid Rewards!

View this post on Instagram

big plans for today! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

A post shared by stephanie (@stephanie.martian) on

e-Rewards

Many years ago I was invited to be a part of a survey panel that eventually became e-rewards, an invitation only survey panel. One of the options on redeeming credits earned is Rapid Rewards. There are other options like iTunes gift cards and Starbucks cards, but I decided that since it’s not actual money, I’d rather bulk up my RR account to get free flights.

InstaGC, Swagbucks, etc.

I swear by Swagbucks (all about brand loyalty!) and once redeemed 10,000 Swagbucks for a $100 Southwest gift card. They currently don’t offer SW gift cards BUT they offer PayPal money which could be used for paying for a flight.

InstaGC is similar to Swagbucks and offers $10 – $500 Southwest gift cards. Southwest limits the amount of gift cards you can use for airfare, so it’s ALWAYS best to get the highest priced gift card you can.

Rapid Rewards Shopping

On the Rapid Rewards website is an option to earn points by shopping online. Each online retailer offers a different point per dollar. I’ve never done this because I prefer to use my online shopping to benefit Swagbucks. If I was really trying to save up points for a big trip, I would definitely use this option. When you shop online, make sure you only stick to things you would have purchased even without the point incentive or else you’re not actually earning a free flight – you’re paying for it with a few dollars here and there in other useless expenses.

Rapid Rewards Credit Card

As you can see in my Rewards history, the most significant point-earner for me is the Rapid Rewards Credit Card. Thanks to a new member incentive, I have earned 27,337 Rapid Rewards this year because of my credit card. Even without the 25,000 bonus points I have earned 2,337 Rapid Rewards points (more than I’ve made on any one trip!) in the past 3 months. I make all of my purchases on my Rapid Rewards Card and make a payment each night I have charged something. That way, I am literally just collecting free Rapid Reward points.

View this post on Instagram

next stop NASHVILLE! βœˆοΈπŸ‘―πŸ’•

A post shared by stephanie (@stephanie.martian) on

 

When it came time to buy our plane tickets, I had 35,691 Rapid Rewards points. Each flight was 12,112. I had points left over andΒ with this month’s credit card points, I’m already back at 11,467 points!

For the most part, when it comes to loyalty/rewards systems, I tend to hoard my points so that if there’s ever a moment when I absolutely need them (like say I want to take my favorite guy to meet my favorite little twins because they’ll be on our coast) I have sufficient resources to do so.

My advice is this: If you are in ANY sort of loyalty program, figure out every way to take advantage of their perks and point-earning. Find the ways your everyday purchases/decisions can help you earn additional points, and STAY LOYAL.

Share this article