Tag: shopping

Online Groceries?

So there has been a recent boom with discussions on online retailors for groceries. While this seems like a great idea, I also have my hesitations. Call me Type A or whatever, but I like to be able to touch, smell, and sometimes squeeze my produce to make sure it is ripe but not too ripe. So the idea of having someone else do that for me??? Okay, yeah, I’m type A.

I wanted to take a quick look at some of the non-produce items between two online retailors as I begin to dip my toe into the ever growing pool. You all know that one of my favorite online stores is none other than Amazon so I wanted to see what it’s competition was doing to stay competitive (wow, be jealous of those English skills). I am a member of Thrive Market, which I was able to get for free due to being a student (graduate students count too). While I do shop at Thrive, I was questioning some of the prices and if it was really saving time and/or money. I wanted to compare the exact same item so it was even, but if I couldn’t get that, I labeled below the closest substitute.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post and I am not in any way affiliated with Thrive Market other than having been a customer on my own journey to healthier food selections.

So without further delay… Thrive Market versus Amazon. Ready?

Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo – 12 oz jar
Thrive Market – $7.45
Amazon – $14.28

Calbee Non-GMO Lightly Salted Snapea Crisps Snacks
Thrive Market – $1.45 (3.3 oz bag)
Amazon – $17.99 (6 x 3.3 oz = $2.99/bag)

Mavuno Harvest Organic Dried Jackfruit
Thrive Market – $6.95 (6 oz bag)
Amazon – $26.45 (6 x 2.0 oz = $13.23/bag)

Lundberg Farms Rice Chips – Fiesta Lime
Thrive Market – $2.45 (6 oz bag)
Amazon – $26.62 (24 x 1.5 oz = ~$4.44/bag)

KETTLE & FIRE GRASS-FED BEEF BONE BROTH
Thrive Market – $8.95 (17.6 oz package)
Amazon – $15.95 (17.6 oz package)

ANNIE’S HOMEGROWN ORGANIC MACARONI AND CHEESE
Thrive Market – $2.25 (6 oz box)
Amazon – $36.34 (12 x 6 oz = ~$3.03/box)

Now keep in mind that Amazon’s prices do change frequently AND they offer 2-day shipping to Prime members so that is important to keep in mind. Also, Amazon is well known for their price-matching should the item you bought change in price within a couple of days. On the other hand, Thrive does offer free shipping and sample products (sometimes full size) over a minimum purchase – usually $49 or more. Thrive usually ships within 2 days and ensures their products are well secured/packed (wrapped with bubble wrap, include an ice pack, etc.).

Thrive Market DOES offer a free 30-day trial period and a free grocery item (mine was a jar of coconut oil).

End result? In this case, Thrive Market is the winner. I have purchased items from them previously and have been very happy with their selection, delivery, and packaging. The key to detail far surpasses other online retailers I have worked with in the past.

However, more of than not, Amazon is usually ahead with the pricing and selection – plus you can also grab that iPhone stand or new pop socket with your order from Amazon. Plus with Amazon’s enhanced Amazon Fresh program, Prime members can get groceries delivered within hours for free as long as you live in an Amazon Fresh area.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Thrive Market or Amazon Fresh? Do you shop for your groceries online? Have you tried pre-ordering and curbside pick-up?

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Shopping – Prime Wardrobe

Third time is a charm, right? Well, not in this case. Regrettably, this will most likely be my last Prime Wardrobe post. Frankly, I cannot believe I am breaking up with a part of Amazon but it’s definitely them and not me.

Truthfully, I have had some success with Prime Wardrobe but the cost of the items and the lack of personalization makes me feel like I might as well just do this on my own –why do I pay a stylist fee if the selections look completely arbitrary? I was really underwhelmed with this last order even though the items looked decent online AND I had my box completely redone because the original selections were all flops.

Amazon did extend me an offer that credits me the stylist fees up to 3 times, which seemed like a great plan and I really appreciated it. But alas, this box was nothing to write home about so it is not easy to get excited for another month.

So without further ado, here is this month’s Prime selections…

Okay, I cheated this time because I was not a fan of the outfits once I received them so I did combine some of them but nevertheless, I’ll break down each item.

Tahari ASL – Women’s Inverted Midi Pleat Skirt (in Black Ivory Dot) – $24.99
This skirt has pockets! It is very elegant and had an underslip so it was very professional. I just did not like the waist or where it fell on me. I have an hourglass-esque figure and I have been noticing that even when I one-up the size, some skirts or pants just sit way too high so it cuts my torso making me look shorter. I received this in a size 8 and a size 10 would be too big so alas it was returned.

Nine West – Women’s Stretch Kiss Front Jacket (in Cyprus) – Price currently unavailable
This was a great little jacket for work that I could through on top of a camisole (like I did in both pictures) or a blouse. It was large enough and had some stretch so it would be comfortable for the workday. There was no way to close the jacket and the pockets are fake. The sleeves have slits so you can fold them up for a bracelet length or let them down for full-length sleeves. For me, the biggest turnoff was the color. I have olive skin overall that with purples or olive colors, I tend to look yellow. Unfortunately, this was too olive so I had to return it.

Nine West – Women’s Stripe Midi Dress with Self Sash (in Fireg Low/Candy Multi) – $63.31
While this looked great online, this does not look great in person. It has a slip underneath that has zero give so if you have curves, it fits like a sausage casing. I felt so constricted and uncomfortable. The bust area also stretched so it looked like it was too small for me but any bigger would be too loose. Also, the length isn’t right for me as it cuts my legs in a weird spot. Overall I wanted to like this dress for a vacation or weekend, but it was not a winner.

Donna Morgan – Women’s Split Sleeve Fit and Flare Dress (in Tea Rose) – $96.05
Okay so the color was great and it is a totally comfortable dress. There are no pockets and it is a back-zip closure. But my goodness – where is the flare? The model makes this look loose yet totally work appropriate. I, on the other hand, could not get this to look good. Maybe if I added Spanx? Meh. Another return.

Nine West – Women’s Bi Stretch Trouser Pant (in Biscotti) $61.8
Can you tell that I have sizing issues with clothing? So these pants that, when you look on Amazon, are supposed to be loser fitting than what I ended up trying on. These pants were way too tight in the thighs to be work appropriate. They had false pockets too which I don’t understand why women can’t have pants with pockets… The color is quite nice and would’ve been great for fall transition. Alas, these were all returned.

Moral of the story? My Amazon Prime Wardrobe account has been paused. I am unfortunately not very happy with what I have been sent and feel that there are other companies, like StichFix, that are listening to the survey you complete, the notes you enter, and know the clothes they send. I do not foresee myself doing another box with Prime Wardrobe but I will still purchase selective one-off clothing items from Amazon!

And on a complete side note…I need a vacation and some sun! Sheesh.

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you have a Prime Wardrobe subscription? Do you have any clothing subscriptions? What is your favorite clothing line?

Shopping – StichFix Box

As I mentioned during the conclusion of my last Amazon Prime Wardrobe haul (this one if you want to read it again), I took the plunge and subscribed to a StichFix order.

What is StichFix? If you haven’t ordered a StichFix box (or frankly been bombarded with ads on Instagram or Facebook), it is a personal-stylist curated box of approximately 5 items. You answer a few questions based on your needs, measurements, wants and dislikes. For example, I look horrendous in deep purples because of my olive complexion. I also hate paisley patterns. But I do need clothes that are staples and easily adaptable from work to dinner. Then your stylist is assigned to you, reviews the information, and sends you a box of clothing. Unlike Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe, you do not get to see the items before they arrive on your doorstep so each box is a bit of a surprise. You then get 3 days to try the clothes on and make a decision to keep or return.

How much does it cost? This is more expensive than Prime Wardrobe. You pay a $20, non-refundable styling fee. Now I say non-refundable but if you buy the clothing that you’re sent, you get that fee applied to your purchase but if you return everything, you get nothing back. You do get a prepaid envelope to send back the items that didn’t work out so that’s one fee you don’t have to worry about.
Each article of clothing is then a different price – depending on how you answered your questions and what your stylist selects. If you do order everything then you get an additional 20% off your order. So boxes typically range from the low $100s to significantly higher, especially if you opt for the premium items (luxury brands).

My order came in quite quickly – 2 days earlier than the estimated date and it was very neatly organized, folded, and packaged. Before we get into the clothing, my stylist included a personal note to me as well as suggested ways to dress the clothing – either he/she copied and pasted some of my note to them or they genuinely read my note, but either way that was a nice touch. I was also given a breakdown of each article of clothing and its cost.

So now for the important stuff…how are the clothes? Well, see for yourself…

1) Fun2FunMackenzie Henley Blouse – This lightweight blouse is one of those “dress-up or dress-down” tops that can easily transition through different seasons. It has two buttons on the front so there is no ‘peek-a-boo’ and you don’t need to add an additional camisole or bralette. The sleeves have a button and hidden strap to roll them up or you can wear them down and button them at the wrist. I love that it is long enough to cover my backside but has the side splits to give it shape and definition. I styled it with my NYDJ jeans.

2) 41 HAWTHORNChace Pocket Blouse – Similar to blouse #1, this polka dot top is in navy blue with white. The front has hidden buttons so it looks like a regular blouse but has a relaxed neckline. Lightweight and transitional, this blouse can be worn to the office or on the weekend. I appreciate the length and the overall relaxed fit. I styled it with the same NYDJ jeans.

3) MIX BY 41 HAWTHORNAbrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan – Fall has arrived! This orange color is perfect for the season. I paired it with a simple white cami from White House|Black Market and my NYDJ jeans. It is light but still has weight to it. It is great for the fall! There are no pockets which is a total bummer but it is a great length for work or play!

4) 41 HAWTHORNKassidy Faux Wrap Dress – I honestly was so scared to put this on… It is a form-fitting, sleeveless dress with a blue and red pattern. This dress is a faux wrap and it gives the appearance of a cinched waist. It also has a belt, made of the same pattern. It has a v-neckline but is high enough that you don’t have to wear something underneath. It is knee-length and can easily transition to fall with tights and boots or booties. I paired this with a pair of black pumps for these still too hot for fall days.

5) VIOLETS & ROSESRuthy Solid Zipper Bootcut Pant – These pants have no zipper or buttons at the waist but rather are elastic. The brown color is very fall and paired great with my white cami and blazer from Chico’s. It is a little bit tight around my backside so I will have to wear something underneath. This is a great length for basic heels when in the office, which is a rare find for me. Being 5’8″ means a lot of pants are capris! These are super comfortable and have a lot of give so they are quite forgiving!

So final consensus? Everything was a keep which resulted in a final payment of $184.07, including sales tax and a 25% off discount for purchasing every item. Not too bad for items that I can dress up, dress down, and enhance my wardrobe with some essentials. This will prompt me to donate some of the items I do have to make some space, so that is also a benefit!

If you are interested in StichFix and want to give them a try, you can click here. This is my personal code so I will get a small compensation, but you will also get $25 off your first box!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried StichFix? Have you tried a different curated clothing box? Are you interested in trying StichFix or Amazon Prime Wardrobe? Comment below or tag me in your IG story if you are a StichFix-er – @ms_bella_daniela!

Shopping at Local Businesses – Clothing

I have something I need to confess. I hate shopping. Not for food or skincare but retail
I remember growing up in New Jersey, shopping was a past time, a sport if you will. If you weren’t in school or at work, you were shopping. If you lived in Bergen County (Go Maroons!), you went out of the area on Sundays to shop. Honestly most of the jobs for the teenagers and young adults were, yeah, you guessed it, in retail (hence more shopping). I mean, you know you are in New Jersey when you are able to easily access not 1, not 2, but at least 4 malls within a 30mi radius. Plus the lack of sales tax on clothing…yeah that was a bonus.
So for me, I avoid shopping for clothes or shoes like the plague. No, really! I have to mentally prepare myself and caffeinate heavily while repeating calming mantras in my head (sometimes aloud too if it is close to the holidays). If I can shop online, I do it without thinking twice; but sadly I have to try on most clothes because I literally can go from a size 4 in one item to a size 10 in a different clothing line. And if I shopped online without knowing it fits – the return process is almost always worse than the shopping experience! So I default to my brick and mortar stores to try on clothes (which is just as difficult as a 1-hour workout at the gym), avoid salespeople (hooray “introvertedness”) and stand in lines for 15 minutes only to choke when they ring up the items for a grand total of way more than I had mentally calculated before entering the store. No? Just me? Okay, cool.

But sometimes, and usually when I am really desperate, I have to go shopping. When I say desperate, I mean that I cannot literally wear those pants one more time without being sent home from work due to inappropriate attire… And if I can be completely honest, sometimes I find myself wanting something new because I feel “less than” in my current wardrobe items, especially since I strive to minimize my closet. I don’t know why exactly but that little rush of finding the perfect sweater or the right fitting jeans (ha…I can dream)…that little rush really helps me reinvigorate myself to keep my chin up and my workout schedule consistent.

So when one of my friends ranted and raved about a local business, I did some very typical social media sleuthing. Ladies, and gentlemen, if you ever find yourself in Fresno, California, please swing by:

Google Maps Generator by embedgooglemap.net

1755 Broadway Street, #105, Fresno, California

Or you can check them out on Instagram: The Shop at KLSD.
Or you can shop some of their products them online too!!

This boutique is new but it is so fresh. Though there are not hundreds of items, the selection is handpicked and signature pieces you won’t find in that big box store. You even get to talk with the owner which is frankly not a lost art on some of us. You are never pressured to buy items, you are not followed around the store, and you can try on just about everything before you purchase it! So naturally what happened?? I bought two items! And of course they are totally not appropriate for 100+ degree temperatures but I like to think this is my way of thinking for my future self and planning ahead…

I am so happy that I found this gem of a store! I will certainly be back!

So inquiring minds want to know… What have you seen for the fall season in terms of fashion? Going to jump on the trends or stick with classics? Do you love to shop or shop only when needed? Comment below!

A New Take on Groceries

When talking about our home budgeting needs, the one area that always gives us some pause is the “groceries” line item. We have been saving money when it comes to our no spend weeks and our pantry challenges (which is using only what you have in the house for food) which we usually combined! In fact, this past weekend is the first in a month where our fridge is back at capacity!

We are eating healthy, cooking more, and enjoying the time together without interruptions. And yet we are still spending more than we really need to for a household of 2 (humans and 2 pooches).

So we are going to try a little something new and I am bringing you along for the journey! We are taking a new look on groceries and trying HomeChef!

So what is HomeChef? It is a meal delivery service that allows you to customize your meals on your dietary needs (say vegetarian, gluten free, and so on) BUT you are actually the chef. So that means that all the ingredients, including the “dash of pepper” or “sprinkle of salt” is included, along with the main ingredients and the recipe guide. Then you cook the meal. So, if you’re like me and you don’t use much salt in your meals, you can customize your dinner. The best part is that they provide the ingredients per the number of people and the recipe -nothing more. So there is less waste and no science experiments growing in the back of the fridge (c’mon…I know I’m not alone on this one).

Now you are reading this and thinking, didn’t you just say you are being frugal and not spending money? How does that align with ordering meals delivered to your door every week? Well thanks for asking!

We were lucky enough to get a promotion for our first box (slated to arrive Tuesday the 27th and I’ll bring you along for the ride) which only came out to $57.50 for 5 days worth of meals for 2 people. Now I’m not a mathematician by trade but… $57.50 divided by 5 days means that we are eating dinner for $11.50. And if you divide that by 2 … $5.75 per person, per meal, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I’ve spent more at Starbucks on one coffee that I finish in 5 minutes (don’t challenge me on that…I’m a coffee addict and proud).

But lets say we did not get a promotion to try out. The normal box of meals that we are trying is for 5 days and 2 people which equates to an average of $99 (some prices vary depending on the recipes you choose – like scallops would cost more than chicken). That still is only $19.80 per day or $9.90 per person.

That all means that in a month, we will be spending under $400 for varying meals on the most hectic nights of the week!

Now if we just supplement that with fresh, in season, produce from our farmer’s markets like fruit and some vegetables for our smoothies and weekend meals, then we can stay under $500 a month. And that means a monthly savings of over $100 for us! What?! I told you we like to eat! Plus we need to look at the bottom line which includes time spent looking at flyers, comparing prices, and actually going to the stores. And speaking of going to the stores, lets not forget gas!

So now you’re asking me what type of food are we looking at because you know I love to cook and won’t eat just anything… Since I won’t receive my first box till next week, I can only share what my menu is slated to be in no particular order:

Meal 1: Steak with Sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes
Meal 2: Salmon with Dill Crema and green beans amandine
Meal 3: Jalapeño Popper Burgers with chipotle mayo and fries
Meal 4: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta with Parmesan & green onions
Meal 5: Chipotle Refried Lentil Flautas with queso fresco & sour cream

I am very interested to see how these are packaged because with the 100+ degree weather we have been having, I don’t want my food to spoil before we get to cook it and eat it!

So tune in this upcoming Tuesday (8/27) as we uncover the world of meal deliveries you have to cook yourself! You may even want to follow me on IG where I’ll do some reviews live!

Prime Wardrobe – Yay or Nay?

Back in July, I mentioned how I was giving Prime Wardrobe a try. For those of you that do not know what Prime Wardrobe is, it is very similar to these wardrobe subscription boxes that you see through IG or FB, except obviously through Amazon. This is great for those of us that, like me, hate to go shopping but obviously need clothes every now again – you get to try these on before committing to the purchase to make sure it fits and is truly your style!

That has always been a fear of mine when it came to online shopping, if I may be completely honest. The models that are used are just that models so how do I know it is going to look just as good on me as it does on them? Then there is the dreaded computer screen & color – what you see online may not actually be what the product looks like in real life so what if that blue-ish is really purple? Or what if that medium really needs to be a small? I really hate to go shopping in the store for clothes, but I often find myself having to suck it up and go because shopping online for someone with curves is not easy – sometimes the same size in the same brand won’t fit the same! So I wanted to give this Amazon Prime Wardrobe a try and see if it would be a success or not.

You get about 5 items to pick from and a 7-day try on window after your box arrives. That is actually fantastic because we all know that there are some days we are more bloated or sluggish than the next so what fits great today may not fit tomorrow. Also, this is all risk-free so you can return parts or ALL of the items without a charge in the return package that Amazon sends you. Plus, you get to see the box before it ships so if there is one item that is definitely not up your alley, you can swap it out for something else!

I was able to try my first box for free and received quite a few items that my personal shopper selected for me based off of a few questions that I answered. Below are the results of that box…

As you can see, I did return all of these items as they did not fit me well when I tried them on or just didn’t say anything! For example, the Adrianna Papell dress was way too form fitting for my comfort zone to wear to work even though I purchased a larger than normal size. The blouses were fairly standard but the Nine West blouse looked way more purple in person than on the model so when I tried it on, I was washed out and yellow. So overall this box was a “nay” but I haven’t given up all hope…

Recently Amazon has revamped their Amazon Wardrobe where now you have to spend $4.99 for a stylist fee but the types of questions that are asked are FAR better than before which can help your stylist find pieces that are more appropriate for your taste and budget.

I am giving it a try again this month and will share the results with you once I receive my box and will even do a little look book! So stay tuned!

Amazon Favorites – July

It’s the second half of the year and we are turning the corner on holiday shopping!! I know, you did not want to be reminded of that when the temperatures are nearing 100 and the sun doesn’t set till almost 8pm, but it’s true…

In fact, I have already started my savings account for holiday shopping. Using Digit (which I posted about here), I have started a bucket of funds for the holidays specifically so I know how much I can spend and am not hit with a large bill in December/January! I have also started to write my list AND buy some off-season items so I am ahead of the game.

One of the great things about Amazon and the month of July is the famous (or infamous) Amazon Prime Day which became Prime Days this year. It allowed us to buy a couple of the off items that we have been eyeing for ourselves or the house and not spend as much as we normally do. Plus we started our Amazon Gift Card which automatically renews monthly (giving us our spending limit) and adds an additional 2% if you link your checking account.

So with all of that, lets dive into July’s Amazon haul!

Disclaimer: Please note that these photos are the stock photo from Amazon; they are not mine. Also all links are affiliate and if you purchase the item through my link, I do receive a small profit but it does not change the price or experience for you!

After doing some research on shower puffs, or poofs or loofas or whatever you call them, it was apparent that the bacteria that was festering was too much for me! So I wanted a better alternative. I tried hand towels but that just felt awkward, didn’t provide a good lather, and ultimately would be only a slight improvement to the loofah unless you washed it every time you used it. Then I tried just the bar of soap but that was ill-fated. So I found this silicone loofah on Amazon and because of its material, it does not harbor bacterial growth the way that the loofahs do as it rinses clean every time and is not as permeable. I have to say that after using it for almost a month now, I will NOT go back and have already bought one for my mom and husband! It allows the soap to lather well, rinses completely clean, and is soft enough for all areas of the body. The reverse side has harder, exfoliating heads so you can scrub a little better on your arms, legs, what have you. For only $8.99, I think that this silicone loofah is amazing!!

So maybe this is TMI, but since we all go #2, having one of these in the home is so helpful -especially if you share a bathroom with someone! I bought this as a part of the Amazon Prime Day sales. I had tried this in the past but stopped buy them because my husband and I wanted a less floral scent than the original ones. So we tried this one and loved it so much, we signed up for the subscribe and save! We want to have one in each bathroom we, as well as guests, can have their own bottle! It normally is around $10-$12 per individual bottle.

Another item from the Prime Day deals is this back-up battery from Anker. With having so many technological gadgets running on battery and traveling so much, having an extra battery is fundamental. However so many models are big, heavy, and cumbersome to try and cram into a bag with the power cords and adapters. This model is very slim and compact but carries a big charge! It charges quickly and works on Android as well as Apple products – in fact it can charge my iPhone 2x on one charge! It even comes with a carrying bag so it doesn’t get scuffed up and it’s silicone exterior won’t scuff your phone! This is currently $35 dollars but the price has fluctuated. Click here to purchase yours!

I have been wanting to get over-the-ear headphones for over a year now but could not bring myself to shell out hundreds of dollars! So I purchased off-brand headphones that went in your ear for the gym and traveling but it would get annoying especially on a long flight. So when I saw these for 1/2 the price on Amazon during Prime Day, I bought TWO – one for myself and one for my husband. I figured that if they didn’t work, I could return them but if they did, it would be a steal. And thankfully it was! These have a 30+ hour playtime, are noise-canceling, and are super comfortable! I even fell asleep with these on! They are bluetooth but also come with a connection cord if you are on a plane, for example. They are made by COWIN and come in so many great colors! You can use them to listen to music, talk, or just to drown out the surrounding noise. These are the E7 model, which has been recently upgraded, but I honestly don’t need anything other than these! They are great! They are currently $59.99 with a $10 coupon!!

So many of you know that I no longer drink regular dairy milk anymore and have switched almost exclusively to almond milk. While it is delicious, one of the draw backs is that I cannot get those gourmet lattes at home as good as those purchased at those fancy coffee shops (you know who I am talking about). Almond milk just doesn’t foam/froth as well as regular milk so my coffees were always standard and my matcha lattes never had that little extra “oomph”. So when I saw this on sale, I figured it was worth the $10 to try it and worst case, I could save it for the holidays when I make hot cocoa with regular milk for my family or when my husband wants to make coquito – Puerto Rican egg nog (more on that during the holidays). With two AA batteries, I washed this and gave it a go… The results are amazing!!!!!! And clean-up is a breeze. It comes with a stand to prevent damage to the device as well which makes for a nice little display. It also works with eggs and powdered supplements! I can froth my almond milk for my morning coffee in less than 30 seconds!! I honestly don’t know why I didn’t try this sooner. This milk frother by Zulay is currently $14.99 with a $3.00 off coupon.

My husband and I have been working on making some important changes in our home – some of them including green cleaning products while others are healthier alternatives for those overly fragrant aerosols. So I decided to try one of the top rated Amazon diffusers with my doTERRA oils (more on this in a future post) to see if this could truly replace those candles or sprays. I actually took this one to my office to try it before buying one for the home especially since it is only $14.99 (currently with a $2.00 off coupon). This little diffuser is no bigger than the iPhone X but it packs quite the punch! It does light up if you want it to too and can either change colors or stay one color depending on your preference – I personally don’t use the light option in my office. It also has the option for intermittent diffusing -30 seconds on, 30 off or continuous. It has a large enough reservoir that I can have it running for an 8-hour day and I still have some leftover. It evenly dispersing my essential oils and leaves my space fresh and with a hint of cool mist which is essential when living in a very dry climate! I highly recommend the InnoGear diffuser for bedrooms or smaller rooms in your home as it is whisper quiet and has an auto-off feature so when it runs out of water, it turns off! You really should try the Ultrasonic Diffuser!

So I didn’t go completely overboard in July but I definitely purchased more than I had anticipated! These have all been great additions to the home and were items that I was already waiting to buy any way so I did not overly indulge in my splurge Amazon shopping. And of course with Prime these all came in 24 or 48 hours which far beats many other retailers for only shopping!

Have you tried any of these items? What are your thoughts? Anything that you want me to purchase and review for you? Comment below!

Fiscal Health – Updates and Apps

Some of you that read my post on “No Spend Week”, know that my household has opted to have one week where, unless it is a bill or medical, we do not spend money! That means no frivolous expenses, no outside meals, and no grocery shopping! While we will be starting our second No Spend Week on July 9th (through July 16th), I have learned a few helpful tips & tricks as well as wanted to share our results from our first run!

Update
Overall, drum roll please, we saved about $250 during our first No Spend Week!
How?
We did not grocery shop at all! We did some fresh produce shopping on the Sunday before our week started and then reverted to eating the food items we already had on hand. It did force us to get a little creative with our meal planning (see my take on a burrito bowl dinner) but we did not find ourselves tossing any expired goods and started to cleanup our deep freezer items!
Another way we saved is putting some of our desired items on ice and came back to them a week later. We did this in three ways: first we literally just put items in our online shopping carts and then closed out of the page; secondly, we put items on our grocery list so we knew exactly what we needed when we could shop again (added bonus is we had the time to go through our cabinets, fridge, and freezer before adding an item to the list or purchasing only to find out we already had it at home); and thirdly, I put things on ice meaning I could not even add it to my shopping cart!
The last way that we saved is through finding free things to do with each other. So instead of going out to eat, we cooked at home -together. We played video games, watched Netflix, went to the gym, played with the dogs, went on walks, and other fun things at home that we normally have to try and squeeze into the day.

Apps
So I mentioned that I learned a few tips and tricks during this time to help us save those big bucks. Some of the tips are apps that we never really got around to researching before while another is an extension I was able to add to my browser (Chrome).

Starting off with “putting things on ice” – introducing Icebox. This extension is free to add to your Chrome browser and reduces your impulse buying at many online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Sephora. How it works is it literally replaces the “add to cart” button with “put on ice” and it saves it for you depending on the “thaw” period you set, with the recommended 30 days window as a default. This means that those impulse buys you may regret later or even forgot you ordered when you’re scrolling through the Amazon abyss at 2 AM instead of sleeping, will be saved instead of purchased so when the thaw period is over, you may find yourself realizing you don’t need that hipster cat throw pillow after all. But if there is an item that you really need to purchase, you can override Icebox and purchase the item!

Another two extensions that I automatically added to my browser for those times that I can shop help me save money by either offering cashback or adding coupon codes that I did not previously have. These two extensions are Ebates (which is now called Rakuten) and Honey. Just install and when you are shopping, these two extensions will automatically notify you when they can save you money!

There are three main apps that we have been using lately to help us save money through scanning our receipts, and in the case of the latter two, matching them up with savings within the app for additional money in our pockets.

  • Receipt Hog – This also has a Chrome extension and can automatically link to your Amazon purchase and email, With this app, you get tokens that you can redeem for cash through a visa gift card, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card.
  • Fetch Rewards – This app scans your receipts for points and can link up with additional savings. You can also make money for gift cards at several retailers or donate your profits to charity.
  • ibotta – When you scan your receipt with this app and match it to a number of specific, or general, products, you will get money added to your account that you can cash out after accruing $20. Some items that are specific to a brand can save you up to $4+ dollars while some of the “any” items will save you less but you can still save money and those pennies add up!

So for our first No Spend Week, we were able to do a lot with a little and decided that we will be doing this every month! This is a good way to take back some control in an economy that strives on spending! Plus we get to take our debt down and save more by finding ways to use our time more effectively and get back to basics.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate and will pay me through a sign-up or utilization bonus. This does not impact your experience or my honest review of the services.

Please share with me any tips you have used to curb your spending and if any of these methods are tools you will use for yourself.