Monday, September 27, 2010

New Group Buying Sites

Apparently Groupon and Living Social are old news...

Just to make sure I'm doing my due diligence to save y'all money, here are some newish sites (or new to me, at least) that I wanted to pass along!

Tippr - this site is similar to Groupon and Living Social, except there's 3 deals per day! Available in 11 cities. Bonus - if you click my link and sign up, you get $5 towards your first Tippr purchase!

Eversave - another group saving site, Eversave is available in 57 cities! Deals last from 24 hours to a few days, and run the gamut - cooking classes, online merchants and more! Get $5 just for setting up an account!

BuyWithMe - bummed that this isn't available yet in my city, but it is available in 11 other cities!

SocialBuy - this site looks pretty cool - the daily deal in Los Angeles when I checked was $50 off concert tickets for Roger Waters from Pink Floyd! Might offer more diverse choices than Groupon or LivingSocial. Available in 15 cities.

Adility Daily Deal - available in 45 cities - very similar to Groupon and Living Social.

Woot! - allegedly started the "daily deal" phenomenon, Woot! is an online store sells merchandise for one day only. Most of it is tech stuff, but I just found a queen memory foam mattress for $300. Since it's stuff instead of experiences, you do have to pay for shipping, but it looks awesome!

While I love all these money-saving sites, I do wonder about the group-buying bubble. Will these companies have the same fate as (yeah, remember that?)? Only time will tell, I suppose.

In any case, get the deals while they're hot! Does anyone else have other sites they like to use?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Convenience Fees Make Me Angry

I apologize in advance that this is more of a rant than a blog post but....


Bank of America holds my mortgage and for me to pay my bill online, they just instituted a $3 online transaction fee. Ugh. I purchased concert tickets to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary last month and was charged a $10 convenience fee from LiveNation. Double ugh. If you have less than a $5 at some restaurants that you'd like to put on your credit card, they charge you 50 cents! All these little annoying additions to what you're already spending add up, and I don't like it. Not at all.

For the most part, I can avoid convenience fees. I can mail my mortgage payment, I can avoid purchasing from places that charge for minimum purchases (or carry cash, but you know how that goes for me), and I can get cash from my bank's ATM instead of getting charged double if I use another bank's.

But it's just really, really annoying.

Does anyone else despise convenience fees? What one do you find most annoying? Do you pay them so life's easier or do you do things the hard way to save some bucks?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Free Night of Theater Returns!

Hey all! Just wanted to pass this sweet deal on! Starting today, tickets went up for grabs across the country to celebrate Free Night of Theater during the month of October. Head to the Free Night of Theater 2010 website to find performances for free near you!

Did anyone participate in this last year?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Deals

Haven't done one of these in awhile - sorry if you've been missing out on some good deals! Here's what I found this week!

*FREE samples of Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, Quaker Life Soft Baked Bar and more at

*FREE 3 piece starter kits at Origins with any skin care purchase (that's right, no minimum purchase necessary). Available while supplies last!

*If you're planning on seeing a movie today, grab this coupon from Regal Cinema's Facebook page to get a FREE small soft drink. Only good Friday though!

*Buy one, get one FREE smoothie at Jamba Juice! Use this coupon by September 22nd.

*FREE shipping and 5 FREE samples with orders over $35 at Body Shop. Ends Sunday.

*FREE tote filled with beauty products at Victoria's Secret when you spend $75 or more in stores. Available for a "limited time only" - whatever that means!

*An advance warning, but FREE ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery for Make-A-Wish month on September 30th from 5-8 PM. Receive a 3 oz sample of Kate's Creation - Kate is a client of Make-A-Wish, and her wish was to create an ice cream flavor (caramel apple ice cream with graham cracker pie crust and apple pie filling). Sounds yummy and what's better than free ice cream? Not much. Plus, you can purchase Make-A-Wish stars for $1 at locations and the money goes to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes to terminally ill or severely ill children.

*Do you like shoes? Of course you do. I hope you're a DSW Rewards member - if you're not, sign up and get double rewards starting now through September 27th. These rewards help you get more discounts on shoes and when they ring up twice as fast, you get shoe money quicker!

*And while this isn't a deal per se, J. Crew is opening up their Factory Store online - weekends only, but you can still snag some good bargains on great clothes!

That's all I have! Hope you guys enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Okay, so now in my 4th month of pregnancy, the costs of reclothing my rapidly changing and growing body is starting to become more than I bargained for. Here's what I've done so far:

1) Invest in a BeBand - these things for me have been lifesavers! They are these stretchy bands that fit over your pre-preggo clothes when they become tight (meaning you have to unbutton or unzip your pants because you just can't suck it in anymore). They also act to hold up maternity pants that are just too big. Plus, for $17 at Target, it's a steal! I have them in 3 colors since I'm now at the point where I'm wearing them every day. I look at them as an investment - while they are not actually clothes I can wear, they extend the life of my prepregnancy clothes (as long as my hips don't get any bigger, which I'm sure they will).

2) Scour the sale racks at chain stores - particularly for layering staples, like tank tops and t-shirts. When it turned to fall last week in Seattle, Target put their maternity t-shirts on clearance, so I picked up 4 for $4.99 each. The nice thing about the t-shirts is they are a little long on me right now, which is fashionable anyway. But in a few months (weeks? oh geez), I'm sure the extra length will come in handy to accomodate my growing belly.

3) Received clothes from very generous mama friends - moms really are the best. They know exactly what you're going through, and they've saved clothes to give to people who need them! Thank goodness for my mama friends! :)

But even with all that effort, I've still managed to spend $200 on bands, shirts, and two pairs of pants (I got them for 20% off at Gap but still). Ugh! And I'm barely showing. A shirt I am thinking about spending my money on? This Buddha shirt from Lala Baby Boutique. Um, I'm sorry, but how cute is that?

So what gives mamas and dads out there? Am I doomed to spend a small fortune so I don't have to work in sweatpants? Any good maternity fashion (and budget friendly) tips for us mommies-to-be?

Monday, September 13, 2010

7 Baby Steps

As someone who's very interested in all things personal finance, I like to make sure to research different strategies and methods of looking at how to manage your moolah.

Dave Ramsey is someone I've talked about before - he coined a slogan I love that I talk about here. And a few days ago, Newlywed Next Door introduced me to his 7 Baby Steps. I gotta say - I like his style. I think for some people, taking a hard look at yourself and your spending habits can be overwhelming - how do I get out of debt? How will I save enough for retirement? Will I be able to afford college for my children? Ramsey breaks it down into 7 very simple, one sentence steps.

I'm somewhere in between Steps 2 and 5 - while I have no credit card debt, my husband and I each have a car loan, plus my husband has some student loans. We'll have 6 months of living expenses saved in our emergency fund by the end of October (thanks to Mint's helpful budgeting tool). Right now, I'm investing about 10% of my paycheck into my retirement account, which I should really up to 15% as Ramsey suggests.

Something interesting to note is that Ramsey (as do most financial experts) suggest contributing to children's college funds AFTER you have a really nice retirement cushion. As has been said before, there are loans for higher education, but there are no loans for retirement (although Ramsey doesn't think you should have loans for anything!).

What do you think of the 7 Baby Steps? Where do you fall? Does this inspire you to get financially prepared?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gettin' My Shop On (Holiday Edition)

Okay, no, wasteful spending is not something we promote here at LWG. Shopping when you need things is different, obviously. But let's be clear - holiday shopping is never about need. I always need food, and no one gets me groceries for Christmas. It's about random crap you get people to show them you were thinking about them around the last part of December.

I know it's September, but I am already thinking about the holidays. With me being nearly 7 months preggers around Christmas/New Year's, one of the last things I will want to be doing is walking around a mall with thousands of other people, trying to get gifts for my loved ones. So I'm planning to get my holiday shopping done by Thanksgiving with the help credit card rewards.

For every $1 I spend, I get points. With these points, I can buy all sorts of stuff - a coffee maker, workout DVDs, and thousands of other choices. You can also redeem your points for cash back or gift cards at many stores and restaurants. While I could take the cash back option and add to my savings or retirement, I'm going to redeem my reward points for gift cards for stores that I'll shop at for holiday gifts. Here's how I look at it - it's money I was planning on spending anyway, and it's not coming out of my pocket! Plus, it will automatically set up a budget for me based on the value of the gift card.

What do you think? Good idea or bad idea? Anyone else planning to get creative with holiday shopping?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reader Praise!

I wanted to give a special shout-out to one of our best readers: Newlywed Next Door! First off, she is a regular commentor, she has written a guest post, and she has definitely increased our readers by featuring us on her blog! Thanks!

I wanted people to know that she just finished a year of tracking and budgeting all on her own! She details her experience here, but I wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS! It takes a lot of hard work, patience and dedication to hawkishly track your budget for 12 months!

I wanted to see if any of our other followers had a financial success story they would like to be featured on Lean with Green! What made you realize you needed a change? What was the milestone you reached? Share in the comments or write us a note at and if you'd like, we'll make you your own entry deserving of your success!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Calling in the Big Guns...

As my husband and I prepare to have a baby, I stay awake thinking about our finances. I'm not stressed out about it per se - we've got our emergency fund squared away to supplement my lack of income while I'm on maternity leave, we've got a medical fund set up to cover the out-of-pocket costs of labor and delivery (have I mentioned how glad I am to have health insurance?), and we've even got a baby fund to pay for items in the nursery, medical care, those really cute baby leggings...

But starting a family means a ton of extra cash per kid per year. And I don't think my husband and I are stopping at 1 (talk to me after delivery and see if I change my mind). Are my financial ducks in a row enough to pay for daycare? A car? College (gulp)? Not to mention the day to day stuff that really adds up over the course of time. Okay, now I'm stressing myself out.

When stuff gets a little bigger than me, I want to call in the experts. My husband and I have been looking into getting a financial planner, but where do you start? Here are some tips from the Wall Street Journal of what to look for:

*Make sure they are a CFP (certified financial planner) - CFPs have to take classes and get licensed. Also, some financial planning firms are just sales agencies in sheep's clothing. Which leads me to....

*Make sure your planner receives a flat rate for pay instead of commission. If their livelihood depends on selling more products or services to you, they may be doing that to make more money instead of doing what's in your best interest.

Do your issues with money run a little deeper? Do you get emotional about money? Do you and your partner fight a lot about your finances? Maybe you need a financial therapist. A wha? Yes, a financial therapist deals with the emotions and the roots of your relationship to money. 4 signs you may need to think about enlisting the help of a financial therapist, according to Women's Health Magazine:

1) You don't like spending money on necessities, like going to the doctor when you're sick or fixing the dragging bumper on your car.

2) You avoid coming home to your partner to avoid a fight about money.

3) You max out credit cards to get through the month and frequently overdraw your accounts.

4) You're constantly asking to borrow money from family or friends.

These 4 behaviors are signs you might be trying to deny your money demons... get some help before you get yourself into even more serious trouble.

Don't forget about other financial experts, like accountants and retirement planners!

Does anyone enlist the help of financial experts? Do you feel it's worth it?