Wedding Registry for Apartment Dwellers

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Infused Water Recipes To Help You Hydrate & Detox In The New Year

We all know that living in an apartment means less space. When you are living alone, this isn’t a big deal, but throwing a spouse into the mix is a different story. Creating your wedding registry should be an exciting experience, don’t let apartment living hold you back. There are a variety of items that should be put on your apartment wedding registry that will make the both of you feel at home. From nesting end tables to hand-held vacuums, we’ve got you covered on all of the must-haves for your apartment wedding registry!

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What to Do if There’s a Fire in Your Apartment Building

Within minutes, small flames can spread and grow into a deadly fire. Preparation is a great way to help reduce the risk of panic in any emergency. Experts say to be quick, but also be in control. And while a blaring alarm system can be nerve-wracking, it also acts a powerful lifesaver.

To prepare for a fire, you should think about how you would get out of the building long before the alarm rings. Know the fire safety features where you live. Your leasing office or property manager should also share insights. Occupants should all be aware of what it takes to keep the building as fire-safe as possible.

The threat is real

According to the National Fire Protection Association Journal, there were 95,000 apartment fires in 2017 — 19 percent of the structure fire total for the year. Sadly, 2,630 people died as a result of home fires that year.

house fire statistichouse fire statistic

Source: Reader’s Digest

It’s a good idea to be proactive. If you see a damaged smoke alarm or broken glass on a fire extinguisher case, don’t ignore it. Let your apartment building maintenance team know right away.

If you notice smoke or a fire in your unit or building, follow these steps to stay safe.

1. Stay calm

There’s a natural inclination to get out as soon as possible. But you could actually be putting yourself in more danger trying to do that. If the fire has spread, it could be a no-win choice.

Fire safety begins with you. Be prepared for how you’ll react and protect yourself, your kids and pets. It’s critical to know the location of exits on your floor. If one is blocked due to smoke and fire, you should know what your alternative options are.

Some basic fire safety prep on your part includes:

  • Don’t exit your apartment without your keys. If you have to turn back because of flames in the hallway and smoke in the stairwell, or a blocked entry, you need your key to get back into your apartment.
  • Always check a doorknob before opening it. Heat is an indicator of a blaze behind the door. Knowing how to tell if a door is safe to open during a fire could save your life.
  • Know where all the exit doors and stairs are on your floor
  • Never take an elevator. If the stairs are a clear and safe option, use them.
  • Get down low if there’s smoke in a hallway, it will be easier for you to breathe if you stay lower down to the ground
  • Be sure to count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan
  • Practice an escape drill for your apartment. This is especially important if you have kids and/or pets. Determine a place outside where everyone should meet if you get separated.
  • If a fire starts spreading, remember that your goal is to escape

2. Call 911

If you see or smell smoke, call 911. Let them know where you are in the building. If you’re in a massive building on fire, your location can help firefighters get to you if you’re unable to get out on your own.

3. If you have to leave, stay low to the ground

If you’re in the thick of smoke, move quickly, covering your head and hair. Keep your head down (12- to 24-inches above the floor) and close your eyes as often as possible. Smoke and poisonous air can hurt more people than the actual flames do, so crawl low under smoke to your exit.

4. If you can’t leave, stay where you are

First responders say that if your apartment is not threatened, you should stay put. Be sure to put wet towels, rags, bedding or tape under your doors. And cover any vents in your apartment to help limit smoke from coming in.

No matter what, don’t break a window and don’t try to jump out of your apartment. Wait for first responders to arrive.

If you’re outside of the building, don’t go in. Wait until firefighters tell you it’s safe to go back before returning home. If you think a neighbor or pets are still inside the apartment building, tell the firefighters. Be sure to let them know where you think they are inside the apartment complex.

Toddler and pet rescue stickers can help firefighters

toddler stickerstoddler stickers

Source: Amazon

As part of your prep work, be sure to put a window cling or sticker on all entry doors or windows that say how many children or pets you have in your home. Don’t leave anything up to chance. Stickers are a warning technique to let firefighters know there might be kids or animals trapped inside. You can buy these stickers online for just a few dollars.

Be sure that the rescue stickers you use come in a reflective material. This way, if a flashlight or other light shines on it, a firefighter will see it. It’s a good idea to check with your property manager first to make sure you’re allowed to hang stickers.

Renters insurance can help with damages

Depending on your renters insurance policy, fire damage is likely covered. It should be part of your policy’s personal property loss coverage. If a fire makes your apartment uninhabitable, check your policy. It should have a loss-of-use provision to cover any of your extra living expenses. Ensure that smoke damage is also part of the policy.

Make fire safety a habit

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that apartment fires are the result of everyday activities. Think cooking, heating, using appliances and electrical malfunctions. Keep an apartment fire safety guide close by for easy reference.

The threat of fire is constant. By developing safer habits you can help to reduce your risk. Always take precautions and have a fire action plan you can rely on.




10 Items You Are Probably Forgetting In Your Budget

Your budget is important.  It also needs to include everything on which you spend money.  Have you forgotten to add anything to yours?  Learn the top items most people don’t remember to add to their budget.

Items You Forgot To Put In Your Budget

Items You Forgot To Put In Your Budget

It’s no secret you need a budget, but if you’ve left off some essential items, it’s not going to do you much good.  After all, if you have to spend more than you plan, then your budget is a worthless piece of paper or an app taking up memory on your phone.

The problem is not that you intentionally left them off. More than likely, that hey were overlooked Here are ten items you might find are missing from your budget.

If you don’t yet have a budget, make sure you grab our free printable budget form to get started!



If you happen to belong to Amazon Prime, you have an annual membership fee of $99. You should include that and other memberships and subscriptions like magazines, gym memberships, etc. Determine the monthly cost (divide the total by 12) and make sure you are saving that amount every month.


As a parent, I never forget that my kids need clothes. However, it is easy to forget about my own needs. If you’re like me, you’ll want to remind yourself and account for necessities like undergarments and socks in your budget. And try to prepare for unexpected items as well. As soon as you buy a new pair of sneakers for your oldest, your youngest will suddenly hit a growth spurt, and you’ll be out shopping for him too.

To determine the amount to save, look at your total spending over the past 12 to 18 months. That will give you an idea of what you spend annually and how much you may need to pay for the expenses this year.  Always make your deposit of this amount your cash envelope.

Read More: How to Create and Use The Cash Envelope System


Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays….they come around again every single year, so make sure to include them in your budget. You will also want to look ahead for one-time events like a wedding (which may require travel costs as well as a gift).

To determine the amount to save, take a look at what you spent the prior year. Then, divide the total paid by 12 to get a monthly budget amount.


You work hard for your money, so you should treat yourself to something special now and then. It might mean a latte on the way to work or even that new book you’ve wanted to read.

Don’t suffocate under the stress of your budget. Allow some room to have a little fun every now and again. When you do, you will find it easier to stay on budget with your other expenses.


Don’t forget to include the four-legged family members. Your pet needs food. He or she may need grooming monthly. There are also annual visits to your vet along with vaccinations.

You may also need to board your pet during your family vacation. Just add in a “PET” line to your budget, so you aren’t caught having to cover expenses above the budget.

Read More: How to Save Money on Your Pets


There may be bills which come around quarterly or annually. Make sure to include these in your budget. Use the simple formula of dividing the total you owe by 12 to reach the amount to set aside each month.

Read More:  How to Create a Budget with Irregular Income


You probably remembered your monthly car payment, but did you add in fuel costs? What about oil changes and new tires? It is a simple item to forget about, but always budget for the routine maintenance needed to keep your car running.


Each spring you know you will replace the mulch in the garden. When winter rolls around, you will get the furnace serviced to ensure it works correctly. Are these items in your budget? It is essential to plan for the home maintenance expenses you know about as well as those that will creep up when you least expect them.


If you plan on taking a vacation, it is vital that you include it in your budget. The amount should take into account fuel, hotel, food, venues, etc.

Read More:  Brilliant Vacation Money Saving Tips


 You know that you have to pay for your insurance. You may even have a savings plan at work to help cover the out-of-pocket expenses. But, what about the items that may not be covered? Do you need new glasses? Is your monthly medication covered? Make sure you are setting money aside each month to pay for these.

Your budget is your roadmap to financial success. There are bound to be some detours, but if you can plan, you can make sure you follow an alternative track and still achieve your goals.


A Quick Guide to How Much Car You Can Really Afford

This Article was Updated July 5, 2018

When you are looking to buy a vehicle, the first thing you should do is apply for a preapproved loan. The loan process can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think and getting preapproval prior to going to the car dealer may help alleviate a lot of frustration along the way.

Here are five steps for getting a car loan.

  1. Check Your Credit
  2. Know Your Budget
  3. Determine How Much You Can Afford
  4. Get Preapproved
  5. Go Shopping

1. Check Your Credit

Before you shop for a loan, check your credit report. The better your credit, the cheaper it is to borrow money and secure auto financing. With a higher credit score and a better credit history, you may be entitled to lower loan interest rates, and you may also qualify for lower auto insurance premiums.

Review your credit report to look for unusual activity. Dispute errors such as incorrect balances or late payments on your credit report. If you have a lower credit score and would like to give it a bit of a boost before car shopping, pay off credit card balances or smaller loans.

If your credit score is low, don’t fret. A lower score won’t prevent you from getting a loan. But depending on your score, you may end up paying a higher interest rate. If you have a low credit score and want to shoot for lower interest rates, take some time to improve your credit score before you apply for loans or attempt to secure any other auto financing.

2. Know Your Budget

Having a budget and knowing how much of a car payment you can afford is essential. You want to be sure your car payment fits in line with your other financial goals. Yes, you may be able to cover $400 a month, but that amount may take away from your monthly savings goal.

If you don’t already have a budget, start with your monthly income after taxes and subtract your usual monthly expenses and how much you plan to put in savings each month. For bills that don’t come every month, such as Amazon Prime or Xbox Live, take the yearly charge and divide it by 12. Then add the result to your monthly budget. If you’re worried, you spend too much each month, find simple ways to whittle your budget down.

You’ll also want to plan ahead for new car costs, such as vehicle registration and auto insurance, and regular car maintenance, such as oil changes and basic repairs. By knowing your budget and what to expect, you can easily see how much room you have for a car payment.

3. Determine How Much You Can Afford

Once you understand where you are financially, you can decide on a reasonable monthly car payment. For many, a good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 10% of your take-home income on a vehicle. In other words, if you make $60,000 after taxes a year, you shouldn’t spend more than $500 per month on car payments. But depending on your budget, you may be better off with a lower payment.

With a payment in mind, you can use an auto loan calculator to figure out the largest loan you can afford. Simply enter in the monthly payment you’d like, the interest rate, and the loan period. And remember that making a larger down payment can reduce your monthly payment. You can also use an auto loan calculator to break down a total loan amount into monthly payments.

You’ll also want to think about how long you’d like to pay off your loan. Car loan terms are normally three, four, five, or six years long. With a longer loan period, you’ll have lower monthly payments. But beware—a lengthy car loan term can have a negative effect on your finances. First, you’ll spend more on the total price of the vehicle by paying more interest. Second, you may be upside down on the loan for a larger chunk of time, meaning you owe more than the car is actually worth.

4. Get Preapproved

Before you ever set foot on a car lot, you’ll want to be preapproved for a car loan. Research potential loans and then compare the terms, lengths of time, and interest rates to find the best deal. A great place to shop for a car loan is at your local bank or credit union. But don’t stop there—look online too. The loan with the best terms, interest rate, and loan amount will be the one you want to get preapproved for. Just know that preapproved loans only last for a certain amount of time, so it’s best to get preapproved when you’re nearly ready to shop for a car.

However, when you apply, the lender will run a credit check—which will lower your credit score slightly—so you’ll want to keep all your loan applications within a 14-day period. That way, the many credit checks will only show as one inquiry instead of multiple ones.

Get matched with a personal loan that’s right for you today.

Learn more

When you’re preapproved, the lender decides if you’re eligible and how much you’re eligible for. They’ll also tell you what interest rate you qualify for, so you’ll know what you have to work with before you even walk into a dealership. But keep in mind that preapproved loans aren’t the same as final auto loans. Depending on the car you buy, your final loan could be less than what you were preapproved for.

In most cases, if you secure a pre-approved loan, you shouldn’t have any problems getting a final loan. But being preapproved doesn’t mean you’ll automatically receive a loan when the time comes. Factors such as the info you provided or whether or not the lender agrees on the value of the car can affect the final loan approval. It’s never a deal until it’s a done deal.

If you can’t get preapproved, don’t abandon all hope. You could also try making a larger down payment to reduce the amount you are borrowing, or you could ask someone to cosign on the loan. If you ask someone to cosign, take it seriously. By doing so, you are asking them to put their credit on the line for you and repay the loan if you can’t.

When co-signing a car loan, they do not acquire any rights to the vehicle. They are simply stating that they have agreed to become obligated to repay the total amount of the loan if you were to default or found that you were unable to pay.

Co-signing a car loan is more like an additional form of insurance (or reassurance) for the lender that the debt will be paid no matter what.

Usually, a person with bad credit or less-than-perfect credit may require the assistance of a co-signer for their auto financing and loan.

5. Go Shopping

Now you’re ready to look for a new ride. Put in a little time for research and find cars that are known to be reliable and fit into your budget. You’ll also want to consider size, color, gas mileage, and extra features. Use resources like Consumer Reports to read reviews and get an idea of which cars may be best for you.

Once you have narrowed down the car you are interested in, investigate how much it’s worth, so you aren’t accidentally duped. Sites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds can help you figure out the going rate for your ideal car. After you’re armed with this information, compare prices at different car dealerships in your area. And don’t forget to check dealer incentives and rebates to get the best possible price.

By following these steps, you’ll be ready to make the best financial decision when getting a car loan. Even if you aren’t ready to buy a car right now, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Start by acquiring a free copy of your credit summary.

It is always a good idea to pull your credit reports each year, so you can make sure they are as accurate as they should be. If you find any mistakes, be sure to dispute them with the proper credit bureau. Remember, each credit report may differ, so it is best to acquire all three.
If you want to know what your credit is before purchasing a car, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly,’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get a free credit score updated every 14 days.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Image: istock


The Best Home Fitness Equipment of 2018

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The Best Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment

There are many perks of being able to workout in the comfort of your own home, but apartment living doesn’t always afford the space for large equipment. These 10 pieces of home fitness equipment are perfect for your small space.  Kick the excuses and stay on track with your fitness resolutions by picking up one or two of these items!

Fitness Training Adjustable Speed Jump Rope

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | Fitness Training Adjustable Speed Jump Rope

TRX Weighted Exercise & Slam Ball

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | TRX Weighted Medicine & Slam Ball

Gliding Disk Exercise Sliders

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | Gliding Disc Exercise Sliders

Bosu Balance Ball With Resistance Bands

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | Bosu Balance Ball With Resistance Bands

  Body Weight Resistance Straps & Anchors

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | Body Weight Resistance Straps & Anchors

BodyBoss Full-Body Portable Home Gym

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | BodyBoss Full Body Portable Home Gym

Ab Carver Pro Roller

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | Ab Carver Pro Roller

11-Piece Resistance Band Set

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | 11-Piece Resistance Band Set

Low-Impact Portable Pedal Exerciser

Small Space Home Fitness Equipment For Your Apartment | Low-Impact Portable Peddle Exerciser

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Best Dog Friendly Apartments in DC

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Moving to a new city with a dog can be stressful…for both you and your four-legged family member. We know how important your furry friends are to you. We also know how important it is to find the best dog friendly apartments when you’re moving to DC. So we researched the inventory to find some affordable apartments and some luxury communities that will cater to you and your furry friend. We also created a guide for moving with your dog to keep you both calm on the big day. This will help you live happily with your dog in the apartment.

The Shawmut is a rent control building in Northwest DC.  This community goes way beyond simply accepting pets. They 100% embrace being dog-friendly.  The Shawmut is one of the few apartment communities that does not have breed restrictions. Your four-legged family member will have to interview with the building manager to make sure they are well behaved.   The Shawmut is situated right next to Kalorama dog park and the surrounding streets are perfect for walking you and your pup’s walks.

4031 Davis is a small rental community of one-bedroom apartments is located in Glover Park in Northwest DC.  Not only does this community does accept dogs, there’s no pet rent or pet fees…making it not just pet-friendly, but also budget friendly.  Glover Park has tons of walking trails for you and your pup to explore.  It’s also super convenient with Whole Foods and Safeway both less than a half-mile away. 

2M‘s luxury offering in the NoMa neighborhood goes beyond simply accepting pets.  They love your four-legged friends so much that they put a private dog park right in the middle of the interior courtyard of the building.  Where 2M really takes it a step further is with their building pet ambassador, Emmy.  Emmy is a ridiculously adorable Miniature English Bulldog that spends her days in the leasing office with the rest of the 2M team, inviting belly rubs and head scratches.  Residents are able to take Emmy for supervised walks in the interior dog park, allowing those who cannot (for whatever reason) have their own pet to still get their puppy fix from the comfort of home.  

Located in the hotter than hot Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, Park Chelsea is the first of 3 pet-friendly buildings that will make up The Collective – a collection of 3 apartment buildings that will all share amenities.  With both Phase one and Phase two, the Agora now complete, your pooch can enjoy 2 separate rooftop dog parks, and this summer, a dog park is opening right across the street! But for now, they’ll have to settle for the Park Chelsea rooftop, puppy agility course, and dog run.  Another great offering is the dog washroom, which allows you to easily shampoo, rinse and blow-dry your dogs without ever leaving home – and without the mess of trying to do it in your own bathroom!  

City Market at O offers a luxurious lifestyle not just for us humans, but for your pets as well.  With a rooftop dog park boasting sweeping views of the city and pet spa rooms perfect for grooming, your pooch will be more pampered than ever!

Looking for more moving tips? Check out our Ultimate Renters Guide to Washington, D.C.

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Rakuten Review – Earn Cash Back for Shopping at Your Favorite Stores

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a popular website that offers cash-back rewards and rebates on everyday purchases from more than 2,500 retail partners. Offers usually range from 1% to 10%, with an impressive crop of “10% cash-back stores” that include some of the biggest names in retail.

Rakuten also offers thousands of product-specific coupons with much larger instant discounts, including “buy one, get one free” (BOGO) offers. Major retailers including Amazon, Macy’s, eBay, and Target are all represented in Rakuten offerings.

It’s free to join Rakuten, though purchases must be made in order to earn cash-back, discounts, or coupons. To make money on a deal, simply click the applicable link on the Rakuten website and complete your purchase with the retailer. Cash back accrues to your Rakuten member account and is automatically sent to you via PayPal or check each quarter. With instant discounts and coupons, the purchase price is reduced before you buy, so your rewards balance doesn’t increase.

How does Rakuten offer these deals? Simple: It collects an affiliate bonus, which varies by retailer, on every purchase members make via the Rakuten site. Rakuten keeps a portion of the bonus for itself and passes the rest along to the member. The exact amount Rakuten keeps varies from deal to deal.

How It Works

Creating an account with Rakuten is easy. Simply enter your email address or Facebook login, click the verification link in the email that appears in your inbox, and create a password. Once you’ve created an account, you can start seeking and taking advantage of offers.

Website Cash Back

The Rakuten homepage displays an array of retailer-specific deals (called “panels”), and the cash-back amount offered by each. When you click on a panel, you’re shown a host of details, including the specific products you can get cash back on, the amount of time remaining for the deal (if applicable), quantity restrictions, and other caveats or limitations.

You can also use the onsite search feature to find specific products or retailers, or browse categories and subcategories displayed on the homepage.

While most cash-back offers apply to direct product or service purchases, others cover coupons purchased through social deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. These offers allow you to get cash back when you purchase the coupon in addition to the coupon’s advertised discount.

To earn cash back, you must sign in to your Rakuten account, click the outbound link in your chosen deal listing, and make a purchase without navigating away from the retailer’s website. If you navigate away and return later to complete your purchase, Rakuten doesn’t earn its affiliate payment and thus can’t offer cash back on the purchase.

Rakuten Button

All Rakuten members are eligible to download the free Rakuten Cash Back Button, a browser plugin (browser extension) that eliminates the need to sign in to your Rakuten account.

The Rakuten Cash Back Button automatically notifies you of cashback opportunities on Rakuten’s retail partner websites. The plugin offers a search box for finding products, and when cash back is available, a small Rakuten logo is visible next to the results. Depending on the retailer, cash back is either automatically activated as soon as you visit the retailer’s website or after you click an orange “Activate Cash Back” link.

In-Store Cash Back

Rakuten offers plenty of opportunities to earn cash back in-store too. To qualify, you need to navigate to the corresponding in-store cash-back panel on your Rakuten mobile app, follow any purchasing instructions, and present your device at checkout for verification. Some merchants offer buy-online, pick up in-store deals for added convenience.

Since in-store cash-back offers are often tied to clearances or seasonal sales, they may be more time-sensitive than online-only deals. Plan accordingly.

Tracking Cash Back

Your Rakuten account dashboard tracks all shopping sessions initiated through Rakuten or the Rakuten Button during the past three months. If you suspect a particular transaction failed to post cash back to your account, you can check your dashboard to see if the transaction was logged and, if so, contact Rakuten to find out what happened.

A transaction’s actual cash-back value can take as few as one or two days to appear in your account, or longer than 30 depending on the retailer and the time of your purchase.

Once earned, cash back never expires. If you return an item whose purchase earned cash back, Rakuten reduces your account balance by the cash-back amount.

Cash-Back Payouts

Rakuten issues quarterly payments for cash-back credit, either as a mailed check (dubbed a “Big Fat Check“) or PayPal deposit. You can also send your Big Fat Check to a recipient of your choice. Payouts come 45 days after the end of the quarter:

  • January 1 to March 31: May 15
  • April 1 to June 30: August 15
  • July 1 to September 30: November 15
  • October 1 to December 31: February 15

To be eligible for a payout on the upcoming payout date, you need to have at least $5 in your account on the last day of the quarter. Smaller balances roll over into the next quarter.

Instant Coupons

In addition to cash back on purchases, Rakuten offers instant discounts through exclusive coupons on individual products or product categories. There are more than 10,000 coupons active at any given time, though many apply to different products from the same retailer. Some coupons are paired with cash-back offers.

Each listing shows the retailer and product to which the coupon applies, the coupon code to enter at checkout (if applicable), the available discount, and any restrictions or limitations.

Key Features

The opportunity to earn cash back on everyday purchases is what brings most shoppers to Rakuten, but the site also has these value-added features:

Sign-Up Bonus and Referral Program

New Rakuten members are eligible for a sign-up bonus worth $20 payable as a gift card to Walmart or a cash bonus to your Rakuten account. To earn the bonus, you must spend at least $20 through Rakuten within 90 days of becoming a member.

A reciprocal referral bonus opportunity allows you to refer new members once you’ve signed up and started shopping.

Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card

The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card is a branded Visa cash-back credit card that pays 3% cash back on most purchases made through Rakuten, including in-store cash-back offers and most travel purchases. All non-Rakuten purchases earn 1% cash back. You also get a $10 cash bonus after your first card purchase.

Mobile Apps

Rakuten has responsive mobile apps for iOS and Android. These apps are the best way to take advantage of coupons for in-person shopping trips. Simply display the coupon or promo code on your phone or tablet’s Rakuten app at checkout.

Customer Support

If you can’t find the answer to your question in the FAQ section, there’s a support ticketing system that typically produces a response within one or two business days. Rakuten doesn’t publicize a customer support phone number.


Rakuten has some notable advantages, including a mobile-friendly website, plentiful instant discount opportunities, and a generous cash-back credit card.

  1. Highly Functional, Mobile-Friendly Website. Rakuten’s website runs smoothly and is mobile-friendly, aided by an impressive browser extension (the Rakuten Cash Back Button). Some competing platforms are dogged by frustrating website errors or poor mobile functionality.
  2. Plentiful Instant Discount Opportunities. Rakuten features thousands of active coupons at any given time. Some are good for discounts on specific products, while others cover broader product categories. Some retailers appear to use Rakuten coupons to clear seasonal inventory. By comparison, TopCashback hardly has any instant deals or coupons, a major drawback for shoppers who want immediate discounts.
  3. Cash Back Credit Card Offers Another Way to Earn. The Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card offers 3% cash back on purchases made through Rakuten. It also comes with a $10 sign-up bonus and 1% cash back on all other purchases, similar to the Chase Freedom card and other popular cash-back credit cards. Some competing cash-back websites omit credit card options, disadvantaging reward-seeking consumers with above-average credit scores.
  4. Nice Sign-Up Bonus. Rakuten offers up to $40 simply for signing up and making qualifying purchases during the first 90 days.


Rakuten’s disadvantages include no “highest payout” guarantee, pushy prompts, and a potentially inflexible payout schedule.

  1. No “Highest Payout” Guarantee. Rakuten has a lot of competitors that offer deals and discounts with the same retailers. TopCashback has an expansive “highest cash back” guarantee that essentially promises to beat any nonsubscription competitor’s posted deals. If you’re looking for such a guarantee, Rakuten isn’t the shopping discount or cash-back platform for you.
  2. Pushy Sign-Up Prompts. Nonmember visitors to Rakuten are inundated with frequent popups advertising the company’s sign-up bonus. Since the ad is embedded in the site itself, it’s immune to most popup blockers. Though all competitors pressure nonmember site visitors to some extent, Rakuten is probably the most insistent.
  3. Quarterly Payments Can Be Inflexible. Rakuten’s infrequent cash-back payout schedule is a major drawback for shoppers who count on cash back to provide breathing room in their monthly personal budgets. You get paid a maximum of four times per year, regardless of how much you shop or earn.
  4. Payments Only Come by Mailed Check and PayPal. Rakuten only pays out by mailed check or PayPal. Its competitors tend to be more flexible – some offer Amazon credits, for example.

Final Word

Rakuten is a great resource for shoppers who want to get more for less. If you’re a regular online shopper, there’s little downside to creating a Rakuten account, joining the rewards program, and keeping tabs on the site. It’s a legit platform, not a scam, and offers real potential to earn free money.

Then again, Rakuten and its fellow online cash-back sites don’t create money out of thin air. They simply put a small portion of the funds you spend back into your pocket. So while Rakuten is great for saving money on items you were already planning to purchase, don’t let it dictate your shopping decisions or encourage impulse buying.


Best Websites To Shop To Furnish Your First Apartment

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Best Websites To Shop To Furnish Your First Apartment

Moving into your first solo space is an exciting time you’ve set your budget, determined your needs, and have finally found the perfect place. The apartment hunting process is not an easy one, but now it is time for the fun part decorating! Determining the essentials and filling a new apartment can feel overwhelming, but we’ve got you covered. With our helpful checklist and our favorite places to shop to furnish your first apartment, you will be living in style in no time.



We love All Modern for basic furniture needs. They have everything you need, from bedroom and living room furniture to rugs, bedding, and kitchenware. With three different themes to choose from Minimalist, Mid-Century, and Modern Farmhouse All Modern has designs that will appeal to anyone. Furniture is a great place to start when working with a blank slate, and All Modern’s pieces will give your apartment a clean and classic look.



Honestly, what can’t you find on Amazon? Furniture, decorative pieces, cleaning supplies, pantry items…the list goes on. Not only do they have everything you could imagine, but it will arrive soon after ordering too! For those of you that are hesitant to make all of these purchases online, not to worry, Amazon makes returning un-wanted items feel virtually effortless.
Best Places To Shop To Furnish Your First Apartment



Buying a new mattress is a huge commitment they are a major investment, and we spend almost a third of our lives using them. That being said, finding the right mattress for you is important. Buying a Casper mattress guarantees great sleep. Their mattresses are designed with comfort and alignment in mind, and their 100-night free trial allows you to make sure you’ve made the right choice. Free shipping and a 10-year warranty are icing on the cake!



We can’t get enough of CB2, Crate&Barrel’s sister store. Modern and unique pieces are their specialty, and they have everything ranging from furniture and artwork to bedding and bath necessities. Believe me when I say, their latest collaboration with Fred Segal is everything. Stock up on some of the essentials for a very low price chic and affordable, what could be better?



If you aren’t already shopping on Etsy, your life is about to change. Etsy is a global community where curators and creators can share their goods with others interested in supporting small operations, local artists and global finds. Etsy is the perfect place to find one of a kind pieces that will add a unique feel to your new home. We especially love the wall decor and candle selection.



H&M has moved into the home décor market and we couldn’t be happier about it! Their custom pieces will give your home a personalized touch without breaking the bank and you can do it all without losing your security deposit. Their latest collection features everything linen sheets, duvet covers, bathrobes, pillowcases, and more. We love the relaxed look of linen and it will be perfect for when the temperatures begin to rise.
Best Places To Shop To Furnish Your First Apartment



What is home decorating without Ikea? Ikea is one of our go-to stores, and for good reason. You can always count on them to have some of the most affordable and customizable furniture and home décor options on the market. Shop here for kitchen basics, throw pillows, organization items and, of course, furniture!



Target is another must-go-to when shopping for your first apartment (or when you are shopping for anything, really). You can find all of your household essentials, home appliances, furniture, décor, and much more. If you prefer to do your shopping online, they categorize all of their home goods into décor styles this is a huge help for those who struggle when picking out the right pieces. If you are shopping in the store, we recommend bringing a list of what you need, it is way too easy to get carried away in Target!



T.J. Maxx has always been a favorite of ours for affordable and unique fashion finds, and their Home section has recently become one of our favorites as well. Shop everything from bedding to rugs to funky decor, they have it all. If you are shopping online, they break things down by room and style very helpful for those that are overwhelmed with the thought of decorating an entire apartment from scratch.



Urban Outfitters has everything you need for your apartment if you like to keep things looking trendy. They have all the apartment necessities, but with a bohemian twist to them. Think, tapestries, neon lighting fixtures, shaggy rugs, and floor pillows, and you’ll have the right idea. While a lot of their furniture and larger pieces trend on the more expensive side, plenty of their décor selection is reasonably priced. Their candles, picture frames, and wall art will give your apartment a great aesthetic feel, without breaking the bank.
Best Places To Shop To Furnish Your First Apartment



While it is one of the more expensive options out there, West Elm is one of our guilty pleasures for furnishing and decorating an apartment. Everything about their selection is modern, classy, and unique. If there are certain items you plan to splurge on, we recommend West Elm. Insider tip: they have GREAT sales. Sign up for their mailing list for sale notifications, these are definitely the best times to buy from them.

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Best Websites to Shop for Furniture for Your First Home
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Best Websites to Shop for Furniture for Your First Home
Furnishing your first apartment can feel like an exciting and daunting task all at once. Make these websites your first stop when shopping for your first apartment and you’ll be feeling at home in no time – without breaking the bank.
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