Happy Birthday! – My Favorite Birthday Deals & Freebies

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get this…FOR FREE

So my birthday isn’t until October. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it. I don’t really don’t do birthday presents anymore. However, the BF will usually get me something, even though we’re not big on presents. For the most part, after the age of 21, my birthdays have been pretty chill, consisting of a lovely dinner and drinks with family and friends.

I’m turning 26 this year and while it’s a little embarrassing to say this, I’ll still say it – I love getting those little birthday freebies from stores and restaurants. While I haven’t tried it, I’m sure you can practically eat for free on your birthday just from using up birthday offers restaurants provide. My friend recently asked me if I wanted to walk with her to Baskin Robins to redeem her birthday freebie and my initial though was “Wait, Baskin Robbins offers birthday freebies!?”, followed by “free ice cream!?!”.

I’ve been compiling a list of what I think are the best birthday deals and freebies. Enjoy and happy birthday to you (some time within the next year!):

  1. Starbucks - I frequent Starbucks way too much, it’s no secret. If you sign up for an account and enter your birthday, you’ll get a free drink on your birthday, any drink (yep, think venti caramel frappucino big!)
  2. Sephora - I don’t shop at Sephora too much since it can get expensive pretty quick. But when I do shop, I try to do it around my birthday. If you sign up for a Beauty Insider account, you’ll get a nice collection of deluxe samples.
  3. Baskin Robbins – Just recently learned about this but it’s awesome. Sign up for their emails and get a free ice cream on your birthday.
  4. Cold Stone Creamery – One free ice cream is never enough. Sign up for their eClub and get a free ice cream on your birthday.
  5. IHOP – The first time I had IHOP was in college and I was so excited they opened on in NYC. Sign up for emails and you’ll get a free Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity on your birthday (or in other words, a really awesome breakfast).
  6. Jamba Juice – I love Jamba Juice and while you can’t get anything free on your birthday, you can get a sixteen oz. smoothie for $2.
  7. CVS – Sign up for their extracare beauty rewards program and you’ll get $3 off any purchase on your birthday.
  8. Applebee’s – I use to be obsessed with Applebee’s, who knows why… But if you still frequent the chain, you can get a free desert shooter on your birthday.
  9. Moe’s Southwest Grill – I think this is one of the best freebies because you can get an entire entree for free, including chips and salsa.
  10. Medieval Times – I’ve been here twice. Once when I was 10 and another time just 2 months ago – still a great time no matter how old you are. On your birthday, you can get free admission.

There are a lot more awesome freebies and deals to be had on your birthday but unfortunately, those chains aren’t in NYC so I can’t test them out. If you know of any others, let me know in the comments!

5 Tips for an Easy Transition from Renting to Buying

Today, I welcome Jennifer Riner of Zillow to Savvy With Saving with this great guest post. As you guys may already know, my boyfriend and I have been considering transitioning from renting to buying for a while now so this post couldn’t have come at a better time. Enjoy! – Connie

zillowMost renters aspire to eventually finance their own properties. After all, homeownership offers plenty of perks. Homeowners, unlike renters, have equity in their properties. Based on initial investment and price of the home, monthly mortgage payments might be comparable to rent rates. Owners also have the freedom to upgrade their properties as they see fit, and ideally receive returns on their investments at resale.

Though owning a home is considered fiscally beneficial, renters with no previous buying experience need to prepare beyond saving for down payments. Consider the following five tips to make a seamless – and financially smart – switch from leasing to owning.

1. Know the costs associated with homeownership

Compare current rent payments with projected monthly homeownership fees. Add together principle, interest, taxes and insurance to roughly estimate potential expenses post-purchase. Use a mortgage calculator to gather projected payments on specific homes. Compare the final figures to rent rates of similar properties to determine which path is more financially responsible.

Don’t forget about closing costs. In addition to a down payment, buyers pay lending and third-party fees due at closing, such as credit checks, title insurance fees, attorney rates and escrow fees. Associated costs may diminish down payment savings, and potentially alter the scope of home searches.

2. Prepare for more responsibilities

Lessees don’t have to worry about maintenance issues, which can turn out to be major financial burdens. New roofs, kitchen overhauls and plumbing repairs can cost homeowners thousands of dollars. While some improvements are elective, such as bathroom remodels and upgraded floors, more critical issues that threaten residents’ safety are not optional. Many homeowners wisely keep emergency funds in case their homes are in desperate need of repairs at any given time. Insurance covers some damage costs, but it’s always good to be prepared for copayments.

3. Think long term

Searching for rental properties is somewhat simplified since rentals are primarily short-term solutions. Leases have foreseeable endings, so any conflicts related to living situations are bound to change. Finding suitable homes to buy, on the other hand, requires more critical examination. Walk through potential homes with unmodifiable features in mind, such as location. Similarly, look past the things that can be altered, especially cosmetic eyesores. Steer focus away from wallpaper and light fixtures. Instead, consider layout, size and neighborhood as determining factors during home purchases. Finally, assess career goals and lifestyle aspirations to decide if it’s the right time to buy. Selling a home is significantly more complicated than breaking a lease.

4. Research mortgage options

As customers, homebuyers have the opportunity to shop around for the best-fitting lender. Compare mortgage rates based on loan type, location, purchase price, down payment and credit history. Depending on the economy, first-time buyers might not have the best rates at their disposal. Keep national and local real estate market trends in mind before breaking a lease, as these can negatively (or positively) affect idyllic property investments.

Much like renters, prospective buyers have to calculate their budgets prior to searching for new homes. When home shoppers are serious about buying they should get pre-approved for mortgages. Having a predetermined budget before house hunting helps buyers eliminate unpractical options, ultimately saving time and minimizing emotions over out-of-reach properties. Plus, sellers favor offers from pre-approved buyers just like landlords prefer first-time renters with cosigners.

5. Consider resale value

Tenants can live in trendy neighborhoods without speculating on home value trends for the future. Conversely, buyers should opt for locations with appreciation history over popular, loud neighborhoods that might deter future homebuyers.

Completely open-concept spaces with no formal dining or living rooms may create social atmospheres, but dissuade homebuyers down the road. Regardless of trending layouts, many buyers still prefer designated regions for formal entertaining on the main floors of their homes.

Likewise, in-ground pools may be suitable amenities for avid swimmers and families with kids who enjoy spending time outdoors. However, pools in cold climates are considered more of a hassle than beneficial, and can ultimately add to a buyers’ list of red flags and/or supplementary maintenance expenses.

First-time buyers are bound to encounter some hurdles in the process of acquiring new homes. With the right mindset and mental preparedness for upcoming changes, they can streamline the process to obtaining a home.

1 Year Blogiversary!

I can’t believe I almost passed this milestone without realizing it but just this past week, I reached my 1 year blogiversary.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SAVVY WITH SAVING!

I first took a stab at blogging while I was in college about 5 years ago. Writing was something I always enjoyed doing and at the time, it was a nice little escape from studying and classes. My first blog was called Little Miss Savvy and it was focused on how to shop for clothing and beauty, on a budget of course. I blogged on and off for about two years and eventually stopped altogether once I graduated and got a “real world” job.

Then flash forward to about a year ago. I found myself in kind-of-a unhappy place – I had just started a new job a couple months back and even though I was making more money, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t being fulfilled. Then one day, I somehow stumbled upon Michelle’s blog, Making Sense of Cents (she’s awesome – go check her out if you haven’t yet!). Michelle had all these detailed posts about how she was making extra income online and I was completely amazed and intrigued. From there, I started reading a whole bunch of other personal finance blogs, which really inspired me to think about my own financial goals more. All I knew was that I wanted to make money doing something I enjoyed doing and I needed to start preparing for that future.

I started saving a whole bunch and diving into my finances more. And since I loved to write, I thought “why not start a blog talking about all this?”. And so, Savvy With Saving was born. I decided to transfer all my old blog posts from Little Miss Savvy to my new blog (I’ve since made most of them private since I find my college-self writing a bit embarrassing nowadays!) and bought a domain name. I started posting more and more and to my surprise, there were actually people who wanted to read what I had to say.

Blogging has really opened up so many doors and possibilities for me. I would’ve never started freelancing as a writer if it wasn’t for this blog and now that little “side job” has kind of taken on a life of its own. Who knows where this blog will take me but I’m really excited to see where it can go.

Most of all, I’m thankful for anyone who’s ever come to this blog, read my posts, or left a comment. Everyone has been so supportive so thank you, I’m so appreciative of all the kind words and advice you’ve given me!

When I first started this blog, I would’ve never thought I would make it a year but here I am!  Hopefully, you will see me on here for many more years to come!

15 Ways To Save Money Every Single Day

5857345827_ecf5d1853a_zWhen I first start budgeting, the whole idea seemed daunting. I certainly wasn’t living an extravagant lifestyle by any means and I really had no idea where I was going to cut corners.

For me, my single biggest expense was, and still is, rent. Can I move somewhere else to save money on housing? Absolutely. But that’s one thing I’m not really willing to do. Rent anywhere in NYC is going to be high, plus moving somewhere with cheaper rent would mean even less space and farther away from work. I’ve commuted 1+ hours before and it was painful to do it. So since I didn’t want to cut down on my rent, I figured I would have to cut down everywhere.

Before I started living frugally, I always thought I already was. I was wrong, very wrong. There were so many areas of everyday spending where there was room to cut a dollar here or a dollar there. Yes, only a buck but over time, they add up. And by frugal, I don’t mean extreme-cheapskate-type-of-frugal. No, I will never go there.

Just a warning, these tips are nothing magical or groundbreaking. You’ve probably heard them all before. But they’ve certainly helped me save over the past couple of years. And here we go:

  1. Cook your meals in bulk. And make extra to bring for lunch.
  2. Skip the coffee trips to Starbucks. Get a french press instead. Or just skip coffee.
  3. Use your plastic shopping bags as trash bags (since there’s only 2 of us, we don’t have much trash!)
  4. Buy fresh produce at ethic supermarkets, farmers markets, or neighborhood co-ops (fresh, cheap, and/or both)
  5. And then buy everything else at Trader Joe’s (never, ever step into Whole Foods, it will suck you in!)
  6. Don’t run your dishwasher unless its full. Better yet, do your dishes by hand.
  7. Remember to turn off the lights and electronics when you’re not using them (my boyfriend always forgets to turn off his computer at night…sigh)
  8. Skip cable or the movies and get Netflix instead (Orange Is The New Black, anyone?)
  9. Buy in bulk, especially toiler paper. Just make sure you are getting the better deal (some stores are tricky!)
  10. Get a credit card with a good rewards program and use it. Just remember to pay it off every month.
  11. Bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere. For those times you are thirsty and get tempted to run to Jamba Juice.
  12. Take public transportation or carpool. I live in NYC so it’s cheaper and more convenient for me anyways.
  13. If you must grab a taxi, get an Uber instead.
  14. When dining out, skip 2 out of these three: appetizer, drink, desert.
  15. Also, cut down on alcohol when you’re eating out. If you must have a drink, go during happy hour only (4-7PM!)

What are some everyday saving tips you live by?

Don’t Let Money Define You

3035489052_37b228f5ca_oIt’s no secret that I think about money all the time…maybe even a little obsessively. Most of us probably do to some degree. I spend a lot of my free time doing research, reading other personal finance blogs, and monitoring investments. And when I’m not doing any of those, I spend the rest of my time working at my full-time gig or working on side hustles. So I guess you can say that I spend 95% of my time thinking about money.

Hence, what I’m about to say may sound a little hypocritical but I’m going to say it anyway:

Don’t let money define you.

It’s sort of crazy for me to even say that because so much of what I do revolves around making money. But it’s true.

I think for a 20-something, it’s hard to come to that realization. It was certainly hard for me. Still is. Throughout college and post- college, every thing I did revolved around how to make more money – what I majored in, what job I took,  what I did in my free time. And you know what? It’s tiring. I don’t try to live up to the ‘Joneses’ by any means but in the past, I’ve definitely let money define me way more than I should.

So what’s wrong with letting money define you? Shouldn’t you always want to make more money? There’s no definite answer but for me, there’s a fine line between working to live and living to work. And those that live to work have it all wrong. Here’s why:

Your job doesn’t make you who you are

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions you usually ask them is “what do you do?” And when they answer, you automatically judge them in your head. So as as a society, we tend to define people by what they do or in other words, how much we think they make. And yes, there’s something really messed up with that. You job doesn’t make you who you are. Some people choose to let their job define them, which is fine. But really, your job is only a small part of you. It’s a means to make a living, not a way to live. When I meet people, I’m much more interested in what they like to do, where they’ve been, what they want to accomplish. At the end of the day, having money doesn’t make you a more interesting person.

Success is different for everyone

I’ve been guilty of measuring how successful someone is in their career by looking at how much they make. Yes, very vain. Success has a different definition for everyone. If someone is making a lot but miserable in their job, would you call that successful? I think the answers would be varied. We can’t say that a person is successful because they have X amount of money because that X amount is so arbitrary. Success is getting to a point of self-fulfillment, regardless of money. Only you can define that for yourself, not someone else.

What will really matter to you 10 year from now? 20? 30?

I’ve come across this story a few different times and it always tugs at something – on their deathbeds, people don’t regret not working enough or not making more money. They regret not spending time with loved ones or not getting to experience this and that. So what will really matter to you down the line? This sounds morbid but when you die, the money won’t matter anymore. So make enough money to be able to make a life. But don’t forget to make a life.