Saving Money Archive

How to Use and Save Money with Citi Price Rewind

Citi Price Rewind is a feature of Citibank credit cards that scours the internet to (hopefully) save you money by finding a lower price on items you’ve purchased and registered with Citi Price Rewind. According to the website, nearly 124,000 refunds were issued in the first half of 2016, totaling over $3,000,000. You can receive refunds for up to $500 per item, and the maximum refund you can receive in a year is $2,500. It’s a very straightforward process. Charge your purchase(s) to your Citi credit card, submit a tracking ticket, and Citi will start looking for lower prices for the next 60 days. At the end of the 60 days, you’ll be refunded the price difference if a lower price was found.

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Three Ways to Change the Way You Spend Money

I’m not too good with setting budgets. I generally just try to save as much money as possible by finding deals or being honest with myself about whether or not I really need something. Most of the time it’s a want rather than a need. One area where I could use some help is in the dining department. We tend to eat at restaurants a lot on the weekends since we’re usually out and about. With a family of three, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dine out for less than $25 after tax and tip. Even fast food adds up to around $15 per visit. So why do we continue to do it? It’s convenient, and we’re mostly just being lazy. We rationalize that it’s easier to eat out and it’s less time consuming than going home to cook and save some money. When you add up all that rationalizing, we’re looking at $100 to $200+ each month in dining expenses alone. That adds up to thousands of dollars each year. Yikes! If we could all stop trying to justify our purchases, just think how much money we could all save every year. Here are three mistakes I’ve noticed people make when making purchases:

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Understanding the Value of Hotel Points and Airline Miles

Before my wife and I tied the knot, I was just a shell of the man I am today. At the time I proposed, my net worth in hotel points and airline miles was only the equivalent of one free night at a Courtyard Marriott. She said yes anyway. With wedding planning in full force, one day she said to me, “We should get a Hilton American Express credit card. My parents have it and it helped us get free hotel rooms and free breakfast in Hawaii. That could save us money on future vacations.” It sounded like a good idea so I agreed and applied for the card. After we received the cards is when I really began researching how to earn more points and maximize the benefits. The can of worms was opened. Almost 10 years later (!?!?!), the roles are reversed.

Me: “So…there’s a new credit…”
Her: “We don’t need anymore credit cards.”
Me: “At least let me tell you about the benefits and how this will help us.”
Her: “Ugh….if you must. Is there an annual fee?”
Me: “Yeah, but it’s worth it. <Explains the benefits>
Her: “<Sigh>…..Okay, I guess that sounds good. But what about other cards?”
Me: “Yay!” <runs off>

Ironic, isn’t it?

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Use Cash Back Websites to Boost Your Savings

I’ve been using cash back websites for well over a decade, and I’ve recommended them to many of my friends and family. It’s one of the best ways to save money on your online purchases. If you’re like me, you try to never buy anything at full price. When something is on sale, that’s a perfect opportunity to save even more money by stacking the sale price with the cash back through an online shopping portal.

How Does it Work?

It’s pretty simple. Instead of going directly to the online retailer’s website, you first visit a cash back site that will track your visit and re-direct you to the retailer. From there, you simply follow the normal procedure to complete a purchase. Within a few days, the retailer will notify the cash back site that you made a purchase and the money will be deposited in your cash back account. There’s often a waiting period before you can actually receive the cash though. I believe this is to safeguard against returned and refunded items.

Here’s a quick summary of how the payment process works:

  • You pay the retailer for the goods/services.
  • The retailer pays the cash back website a commission for sending you to their site and making a purchase.
  • The cash back website pays you a portion of their commission.
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My Favorite Feature of American Express Credit Cards

If you’re an American Express card member, one of best features that you may not know about is Amex Offers. These offers present you with opportunities to save around 20% (sometimes more) at major retail chains and other online shops. One of the best offers that I took advantage of was a $30 credit after spending $100 at either Target or Walmart. This offer could be redeemed up to five times so of course I maxed it out. Depending on how much activity you have on the card, you may see just a few offers, or you may see a lot. At the moment, I have 61 available offers and four offers added to my card. I haven’t even heard of most of the vendors so when I see one that I can use, I almost always use it. Since December 2013, I’ve saved $300!

Adding Offers to Your Card

To add Amex Offers to your American Express card, you can either access your account from the American Express website or through the mobile app. The next time you access your account from the website, scroll towards the bottom of the home page until you see this section below your activity summary. Once you see an offer for a merchant that entices you, just click on the Add to Card button.

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Google Play Music – A Better Time Out

Google Play Music is a monthly music subscription service that offers some interesting benefits for parents. With your paid subscription, you get access to Google’s music library of over 35 million songs, ad-free listening, offline listening capability, YouTube Red, and the ability to upload up to 50,000 songs from your own library.

With such a large online library of songs, there are plenty of options for your little ones, like Baby Genius, nursery rhymes (Rockabye Baby FTW!), and even Disney collections. My daughter has her own playlist and I’m constantly adding new songs to it. She has songs from Frozen, LEGO Friends, Pitch Perfect, Snow White, Gummi Bears, Dora, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and of course her favorite, Taylor Swift.

The biggest Google Play Music benefit is YouTube integration. This really sets it apart from its competitors, Apple Music and Spotify. YouTube has such a huge library of children’s content, both old and new. Being a child of the 80s, I appreciate being able to find and watch clips and full episodes from that magical era of cartoons.

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How to Save Money With the Target Cartwheel App

Forty dollars. That’s the amount of money I helped someone save on her recent trip to Target. I just happened to be near the self-checkout lanes with a woman who had a large purchase of women’s apparel. The Target Cartwheel app was offering a 30% discount on purchases in that category so I offered to use my account to help her save a few bucks. She finished scanning her items and her total came out to $163. After applying the Cartwheel discount, the total dropped to $123. She was pretty surprised and happy with the savings. She may not have had the app when I met her, but I bet she does now. Her friend even admitted to seeing the offer plastered all over the store but just ignored it. I bet they’re not ignoring it now!

What is the Target Cartwheel App?

Cartwheel by Target is a mobile app dedicated to helping Target shoppers save more money each time they make a purchase. It’s available for Android and iOS, and is completely separate from the normal Target app. Each week Cartwheel offers discounts on hundreds of items. Sometimes the offers last for a week and sometimes they can last for over a month. You’ll tend to see a big refresh each Sunday, which is common as retailers release new weekly specials, but you’ll also find a few new offers being added throughout the week.

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