Keeping Memories Alive, While Saving $!

I love everything about photography: the composition of photos, telling a story, looking back at memories.  Unfortunately, in this digital age, so many people take photos and just sweep through them on their phones!

Scrapbooking is my go-to hobby, along with card-making.  There’s nothing better than giving someone a handmade card or album that you personalized just for them – and with cards running $5-9 a pop, sometimes card making can be cost effective in the long run (depending on how many papercrafting supplies you purchase!)… I could talk about craft supplies for days.

Anyway, back to the point.  Scrapbooking isn’t digital. It’s physical evidence, with printed photos, flipping through pages, designed however I desire.  In order to scrapbook, I need to actually PRINT photos.  Even with backup USB’s and backup websites, I still want a guarantee I’ll have those photos forever – and the only way to do that, is to print them!

Printing can be pricy.  But, of course, I save up my photos until there’s a great coupon.  Right now on shutterfly, they are offering $20 off of a $20 purchase (on basically anything – prints, cards, address labels, photo books, photo gifts)!  I made sure my total hit just at the $20 mark.  With tax and shipping, I paid under $10 total for 147 4×6″ photos.  This ended up being cheaper than going to a drug store or big box chain to print them – plus I don’t need to leave my house, and they’re delivered right to my mailbox.  Use code FIRSTGIFT until October 14th at checkout.  Plus, If you spend over $39, there is also free shipping with code SHIP39.

Don’t have a shutterfly account yet? Go sign up.  You’ll automatically get 101 free prints just for signing up.  They offer free, unlimited photo storage, which works as a great back-up system to your phone or computer.

So, next time you are showing photos to your friends and family, don’t hand them your phone, hand them actual photos!

Overspending on our Furry Friends?

Today, I’m going to stray away from my usual posts on fashion, home décor and everyday grocery/pharmacy items.  In honor of International Rabbit Day this upcoming Saturday, I want to focus on our furry friends! I happen to have an adorable mini lop rabbit that I love.  As much as I love my bunny, I’ll have to admit I don’t necessarily love the prices of pet supplies.  I also don’t love the smell of pet stores… or lugging large, heavy bags of litter and hay to my car.

There are SO many ways to save on things we need to buy for our pets.  I have found that almost everything sold in Petco stores, is actually cheaper online.  I’ve also found that stocking up is the way to go especially for something like litter that doesn’t expire.  I could literally buy a year supply and not worry about it for the next 12 months.  It was time for me to stock up.

So today – a 20lb bag of bunny litter that is normally $19.99 in the store, was marked down to $14.39 online.  I added 4 bags to my online ‘shopping bag’ – That’ll last me a few months.  I figured I’d get a chew toy as a treat too – that was marked down to $3.99 from $4.99.  Had I bought these items full price in store, I would have paid $85.00 + tax.

I also had a 20% coupon off my entire purchase (Use code BFF20 online until 9/26/15).  After calculating the sale prices and removing the 20%, my sub-total came to $49.24.  Every purchase over $49 pre-tax also gets free shipping.  I think 24¢ is my record of how close I can get to the limit!  After tax, my order came to a total of $52.37.  That’s 40% off in total, but that’s certainly not all!

Before I placed my order, I made sure to click the Petco link on the ShopDiscover section of the Discover Credit Card website – Clicking this link automatically earned me 10% back from my purchase total (pre-tax) which comes out to $4.92 in cash-back bonus that I can use toward my statement or toward gift-cards!

I also made sure to use my Petco Pals Rewards number when I placed the order, which earns 5%.  Every time I spend $100, they send me a $5 coupon! This rewards card is completely free – so there’s no reason not to sign up.

PetPic

Ultimately, I could find time to add Petco to my list of errands every time I’m running low on hay, litter, treats or other supplies – OR I could continue doing what I’m doing.  I’ll stick with the latter.

Labor Day Sales are Upon Us – Check These Out!

Labor day is upon us:  The end of summer, and the start of pumpkin-everything.  Kids are back in school, and soon enough we’ll be throwing on our sweatshirts and jackets. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the cooler weather – but I am looking forward to weekend sales!

Here’s a list of places to find the best deals this weekend on designer goods:

  1. CLEAR THE RACK at Nordstrom Rack – in stores & online.  Take an extra 25% off all clearance items through September 7th – with savings up to 90% off the best brands!
  2. Nordstrom Clearance – in stores & online.  A ton of summer items on sale for the whole family!
  3. Big Brown Sale at Bloomingdales – A huge selection of items are 20-70% off, plus use code BIG20 for an additional 20% off sale and clearance items! Don’t forget to use your free loyalist card to earn points toward rewards certificates too!
  4. Lord & Taylor – Use the savings pass available on their website in stores & online for an additional 25% off clearance items and an additional 20% off sale & regular price items.  On their mailing list like I am? Check to see if you also received a “$15 off $40” coupon in the mail that you can combine with the other deals!

Almost every store and outlet will have amazing promotions to clear out any remaining summer merchandise – and you might even score some great deals on things for autumn!

Heading to the outlets? Make sure to stop by the information desk if you have a AAA Card.  You’ll get a great coupon book for additional savings.  There are also extended weekend hours – be sure to get there early for the best parking or take advantage of the shuttles and valet offered this weekend due to the large crowds!

Check back to see my great finds!  ‘Till then, stay stylish!

Why would your rent when you can buy for less?

As I was deciding what to write about a few things crossed my mind, like Tax-Free Week.  But then I started wondering, why do people bother with the hassle of renting dresses, when they can buy and own them for almost the same price?

RentTheRunway: the website where you rent an item of clothing or accessory for 4-7 days, and then return it.  I can think of one reason to use this site – you live in a studio apartment in the City and don’t have a closet.  If you don’t fit that description – then I would definitely steer clear of RentTheRunway.

While I’ve never actually rented from the RentTheRunway (and never will), I have browsed it quite a few time.  While I understand the concept, I just don’t understand why anyone would use this site to rent clothes for four days when they can own the same exact product.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Some of these are $1,000+ dresses that I can’t afford.”  Well, yeah there are some $1,000 dresses (original price!).  But they are also most likely on sale at Saks, Bloomingdales or Neiman for just slightly higher, the same or even lower than the rental price.

Lets take a look at a few examples from some of my favorite dress designers (dress photos below):
ML Monique Lhuillier & Carmen Marc Valvo

Example #1:
A gorgeous cobalt blue ML Monique Lhuillier sheath which originally retailed for $398 can be rented on RentTheRunway for $75 (4 day rental) or $120 (8 day rental). 
The dress is actually selling for $398 at Bloomingdales.
The same exact dress is currently on sale at Lord&Taylor for $298.50, free shipping, free returns, plus an additional 20% off with code SUMMER, bringing it to $238.  But, that’s not cheap enough.  Keep looking.
Guess what, the same exact dress is on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue (online) for $148.06, free shipping, free returns – almost every size is still available too.  If you sign up for e-mails you get an additional 10% off bringing it to $133.26 to OWN – plus if you shop with your discover credit card through Saks on shop discover, you’ll get an additional 10% cashback bonus toward your credit statement.  So if you’re doing the 8 day rental, wouldn’t you rather own this dress, for only $13 more!  Don’t need it right away? Wait until Saks has an additional 25% or 30% off their sale items, it’ll be even CHEAPER than renting for 8 days.

Example #2
A long flow-y Coral “Ella” Toga Neckline Gown by Carmen Marc Valvo that originally retails for $1,075 can be rented for $160 (4 day rental) or $256 (8 day rental)
Saks wins again.  Same exact dress = $266 to own in either the coral color or royal blue.  Use that 10% coupon from signing up for e-mail bringing it to $239.40 and it’s CHEAPER than renting for 8 days.

(I could go on and on.  There are plenty more examples with Kay Unger, Teri Jon, Badgley Mischka, Kate Spade, ect.)

 

 Another reason I don’t understand RentTheRunway:
Normally, when I buy a dress or jumpsuit I need it altered in some way to fit perfectly: taken in through the waist, shortened, or taken up in the shoulders.  Unless you are 6′ tall or going to wear 4″ heals, don’t count on a maxi dress, ball gown or jumpsuit from RentTheRunway fitting you.
And since you don’t own the item – you can’t alter it anyway.  Plus, who wants to deal with making sure the mailman delivers it on time and making sure it gets back to the company by your deadline!  If you don’t even see it until the day you wear it, or one day before how do you know what shoes & accessories work well?

At least if you buy a dress from a department store and it doesn’t fit, or if you don’t end up wearing it, you can simply return it for a refund.  If that dress you rented doesn’t fit you, or if you end up not wearing it, you’ve lost your expensive rental fee!  Next time you consider renting – take the time to check a few websites and find it on sale – for cheaper than the renal fee.

Only end up wearing the designer dress once?  Bring it to an upscale consignment shop (such as Second Time Around) or sell it on e-bay or Tradesy.  You’ll most likely be able to sell it for the sale price that you paid.
(If you keep the original tags, that helps the resale value when selling!)

My First Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse-Sale Experience!

I normally never shop at the Tanger Outlets in Westbrook.  Their store options are lacking with the exception of Williams-Sonoma & Waterford – plus it’s another 10 minutes past the Clinton outlets so I can never justify the extra drive.  Yet, for some reason I recently liked their facebook page to get sale updates.  Low and behold, last Thursday night, they posted info about their one-weekend-only Splash of Pink/Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale.  (I also found out that there will be a full time Lilly Pulitzer outlet opening in Westbrook very soon)!

While I waited in line, I noticed some women were being dropped off by their husbands who opted to wait in the car with their travel-mug coffees. Boyfriends who thought they could handle the line impatiently ended up asking where they could go grab breakfast nearby.  My fiance on the other hand had a crash-course in the Lilly patterns I like the night before – possibly only agreeing to be a second set of hands in the hopes that we could get out of the store faster.

 Lilly sale photo

The sale started at 9AM.  Our 8:45 arrival put us pretty far back in line and didn’t allow us to be the first batch through the doors.  As we peered through the window for 15 additional minutes, I joined in discussions with the women around me – pointing to items we would LOVE to get our hands on, if only we could get inside!  9:15 arrived – Enter Lilly central.

After the initial mob entrance, it wasn’t a sale that allowed time constraints.  I hit the dress area first, moving on to the shorts, then the shirts & exercise apparel.  The line to the “shared dressing area” was as long as the line to get in the store – ladies holding heavy armloads full of anything they could grab.  There were extremely greedy women filling large boxes and not willing to give any item up, but there were also plenty of very nice women who would share their ill-fitting rejects in the dressing room if you asked nicely.  Thankfully I had my helper to stand in the line to the registers, which wrapped around the entire store perimeter.

I wasn’t thrilled with prices – the Facebook post mentioned items up to 80% off – I definitely didn’t see any sales that great.  Dresses averaged 40% off and shorts were only 30% off – but when you know that discounted Lilly is very hard to find, it can be worth it (even re-sale at consignment stores & e-bay doesn’t yield any significant discounts).  Plus, mostly every item in the store was a 2015 pattern, so they were still current styles.  My favorite pattern of the year was “TuskInSun” and after standing near the dressing room exit for a while, I was able to snatch a cotton t-shirt dress someone left behind.  I also have an odd pineapple obsession, and found this gorgeous yellow pineapple jacquard dress just waiting for me!

Lilly Finds

Two hours later, I left the store with 4 items and we were on our way to nearby Niantic for some Paddle Boarding, followed by a delicious surf & turf dinner in Hartford –
Rocking my new Lilly pineapple dress (paired with a clearance-priced
pineapple necklace I picked up last year at Ann Taylor)!

 Lilly Dress Yellow 2

The sale ends today (August 9th) at 5PM –
so you still have a few hours if you’re up for the trip!
Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for the Lilly outlet grand-opening!

‘Till next time, stay stylish 🙂

The Style of My Summer (Another Dillard’s Find) – at 81% off!

Think back to my post about the Eliza J. embellished dress from Dillard’s – I happened to leave with another great find that day: a light and airy J.McLaughlin Tunic at 81% off!!

Dillards J.McLaughlin Tunic

While I’ve browsed the J.McLaughlin store many times while strolling down the block in West Hartford Center, I’ve never actually left with anything in hand.  Reason? I never find anything within their extremely small inventory that doesn’t have an insane price tag.  But I have to admit, their clothes are really cute and seem to be very well made – almost a more grown-up, sophisticated Lilly Pulitzer.  I was pretty excited when I saw a lone tunic mixed in the clearance rack at the Orlando Dillard’s.

It’s a great tunic – light and airy for hot summer days that turn into cool nights.  I have to admit, as much as I hate ironing, it only took about four minutes out of my day to iron both the shirt and shorts (which I picked up at J.Crew last summer on clearance!) for my #ootd.  The tunic was $125. Wait, what? Well, that was before the markdowns and the additional discounts.  The markdown price was $43.75 – still way too much for a summer shirt.  Since the entire rack at Dillard’s was marked 50% off the sale price, I justified paying what I think clothes are worth – about 20% of their original price.

Dillards J.McLaughlin Tunic Original Price Dillards J.McLaughlin Tunic Sale Price

I ended up waiting in the horrendously long, slow moving line for the dressing room – but I’m sure glad I did because the tunic made it’s way into my shopping bag.  The price dropped from $125 to $22.  At a grand total of 81% off, the J.McLaughlin tunic was a great addition to my summer wardrobe!

‘Till next time, stay stylish & stay tuned for my upcoming post featuring the free laundry detergent I picked up today!

Act Fast – Free Item Alert!!

I’ll get to the point and make this post short and sweet.  If you don’t like free stuff, then move on to another blog – otherwise keep reading, then head over to your local CVS.

This week (until August 1st) at CVS, the 33.8oz bottle of Colgate mouthwash is on sale for $4.79. You’d be crazy to pay $4.79.

If you received the Sunday newspaper, cut out the $2 Colgate mouthwash manufacturer coupon.  If you didn’t get the paper, I’m sure one of your neighbors or family members did – so snatch theirs.

As soon as you walk into CVS, scan your Extracare card at the kiosk and a $2.79 coupon will print out automatically.  I’ve already harped upon getting this free card – but if you haven’t taken my advice yet (why not?), you can easily sign up for one within a minute at the front desk.

It’s as easy as this:  Bring the mouthwash up to the register.  The cashier will scan your Extracare card, ring up the sale-priced mouthwash,  scan your $2.79 CVS coupon and then scan your $2.00 manufacturer coupon.  Total: $0.00 Free. Free. Free.  

  

Lets just say you didn’t get the newspaper, and you don’t know anyone else who did…. you can still print off a 75 cent coupon from the Colgate website.  Combine that with the $2.79 CVS coupon and you’d get the mouthwash for $1.41 (including CT sales tax)!

‘Till next time.  Don’t wait too long or they’ll be sold out!

Deep into Summer, Deep into Savings

As the hours of daylight get shorter each day, and the nights get just a little bit cooler, stores need to make way for their new autumn inventory – and that’s good news for shoppers! Take Talbots for example: about a month ago, they marked down their entire summer line and added an additional 30% off sale prices soon after.  30% turned into 40% off… and now the sale has deepened even further to an additional 50% off most clothing, and an additional 60% off shoes, accessories & dresses!

Honestly, the longer you wait, the better the sale will be.  By mid August, the sale at Talbots can reach anywhere between 70-80% off the already marked-down prices – and they’ll still have plenty in stock to choose from! Unless you fall in love with an item, and it’s the last one left in your size – be patient!

I was not very patient, but I still got this great summer outfit that will take me into the beginning of autumn for UNDER $50!  Even though it’s stylish, it’s not too trendy – these are classic items that I can bring back year after year!  The shirt was 50% off the markdown at Talbots ($17.50 down from $39.50), the matching sneakers were 60% off the markdown at Talbots ($16 down from $79.50), and the chinos were 60% off the markdown at J.Crew ($16 down from $75)!  I could have paid $194 for these three items, but I ended up saving 74%!  I could have saved even more with the extra savings tip below –

Extra Savings Tip: If you have a Talbots charge card, you will save an additional 5% on top of all the other savings this weekend! Or if you open up a new card, you’ll get an even better deal – an additional 15% on top of all other savings! Be sure to sign up for a free rewards card too, so you can build up points toward rewards certificates with every purchase.

JcrewPantsPrice TalbotsShirtPrice TalbotsSneakersPrice

‘Till next time, be patient … and stay stylish!

Another day, another CVS haul… $30.47 down to $1.97

A little over a week ago, the unimaginable happened.  I couldn’t squeeze another dollop out of the Colgate tube and my normally full stash had diminished to zilch.  Completely shocking.

Even more shocking, I woke up on Sunday, July 12th with the assumption that the CVS app and website had both gone haywire as my drowsy morning-eyes read an error stating “no deals available in your area“.  After cursing technology, I realized it couldn’t be a huge coincidence that the paper boy also forgot to slip a CVS flyer in the Sunday paper.  I had to accept the fact: there were actually NO sales.  Say WHAT?! I unfortunately lived in one of the many test markets that tried a new marketing technique – one week without any sales or promotions. Guess what CVS: it didn’t work for JCPenny, and it will not work for you.

Anyway, since I wasn’t about to go pay full price for toothpaste, I’ve been relying on those tiny travel-sized tubes stashed deep in the pockets of my suitcase for the past week.  Luckily for the long-term vitality of my pearly whites, CVS reinstated their sales yesterday and I was able to replenish my stockpile of oral hygiene products.

After a weeklong hiatus from CVS shopping, I strolled in, flyer & coupons in hand: A $10 ExtraBucks coupon from buying P&G Products a few weeks ago and $4 worth of manufacture coupons for Colgate products and Arm&Hammer Laundry Detergent (one of only 3 brands I can use for my extra-sensitive skin).

WordPressCVS3

There were some great in-store deals too: for every $10 you spend on Colgate, you get $5 back, plus the detergent is B1G1Free! So to make the most of my money, I decided to split my purchase into two transactions.

WordPressCVS1

Todays outcome: two tubes of Colgate Total, one bottle of Colgate mouthwash and two bottles of Arm&Hammer laundry detergent.  Without sales and coupons, my total would have been $30.47.  And I paid $1.97 total for both of my transactions combined! That’s less than what the cheapest item in my shopping bag would have cost!  Not too shabby.

WordPressCVS2

‘Till next time, keep your wallet full and your shopping bags fuller!

Semi-Annual & Anniversary Sales Galore (Promo Codes in Contents!!)

Recently, Athleta (among most other stores) announced their much anticipated Semi-Annual Sale!  Athleta has an amzing product guarantee – you could literally wear an item, wash it, and they’ll still take it back if it doesn’t fit right, if it has a defect, or if you can’t let go of your buyers remorse (I wouldn’t recommend admitting the latter to the sales person processing the return…)

I had been eyeing a few items throughout the season, but I knew I should be patient: tick, tock, tick tock. Sure enough, today (a meager one week after the sale was announced) I got the e-mail announcing an additional 20% off sale items in store and online.  Definitely worth the wait.  Gap recently sent me a $10 reward certificate too, which can be used at any of their brands including Athleta – perfect timing.

I feel in love with a black&white striped rash-guard with matching baithing suit bottoms and a pair of matching swim tights (leggings made for water sports – with sun protection!) The outcome: A three-piece matching outfit originally totaling $187+Tax.  Free shipping. Sale Prices. Additional 20% off. $10 Rewards Certificate.  All brought me down to $65+Tax = 65% off!

  

Want to save an additional 20% off sale items at Athleta?
Use current Promotion Code Extra20 until 7/20/15 online, or it’s automatic in store!

I’ve also had my eye on a few items at Lands’ End: their swim tee’s in particular.  Honestly, they are perfect for beach days, paddle boarding & kayaking – they keep you warm when it gets chilly, they keep you cool when you’re sweating, and they prevent sunburn with built in UPF 50 protection!  The shirts went on sale a few weeks ago but I just couldn’t get myself to buy them at JUST the sale price.  Again, the waiting game begun: tick, tock, tick, tock.  What arrived in my inbox today? A good ol’ coupon for 20% off my entire purchase, PLUS free shipping.  The coupon is online-only, because it is celebrating their 20th “cyber” anniversary – but there is actually an advantage to ordering online: more color and size selection as well as extended sizes (I love the extended sizes to get the perfect fit.  Even though I borderline the petite section for some items, I end up ordering the shirts in the “tall” version, so that they are longer in length!)

Outcome? A $39 pink swim tee for $15.99 (60% off!) and a $35 navy&pink swim tee for $9.59 (73% off!).  After adding the dreaded tax, I still only paid $27.20 for BOTH.  As if that’s not enough, for an added bonus, I made my purchase through the Discover Card website, and earned an additional 10% cashback bonus that can go toward my billing statement!

Want  free shipping and 20% off your entire purchase at Lands’ End too?
Use Promotion Code YEAR20 and PIN 2020 until 7/20/15

‘Till next time, stay stylish!  Follow me on instagram for the latest pics of my finds! @VJean25

July 31st Update: Athleta has reduced some sale prices and also reinstated the additional 20% off sale items in-store (not online) between July 31st – August 2nd.  Don’t miss out!