What is a Cashback Credit Card?

Some things in life sound too good to be true, and getting cash back for purchases may seem like one of those deals. But an increasing number of credit cards, called cashback cards, offer clients money back when they charge what they buy.

Many people are familiar with the concept of credit card rewards, when lenders give clients a little something back—points, airline miles—as an incentive for using their card.

In the case of cashback cards, that reward is, well, cash.

How Does Cash Back Work?

Cashback credit cards reward clients based on their spending, providing a credit that is a small percentage of the total purchase.

If a cashback card provides 1% back, for instance, the cardholder would generally earn 1 cent on every dollar spent, or $1 for every $100 they charge to their card. If, over the course of the year, a person charges $10,000 in purchases to their cashback credit card, they’d earn $100 in cash back for that time period.

best type of credit card will ultimately depend on the individual. Here are some things to consider.

Rate of Cash Back

Not all cashback credit cards offer the same rate of return, so it’s best to comparison-shop. Though differences in percentages may sound negligible, getting 2% instead of 1% means double the cash back—and those small amounts can add up over time.

Some credit cards also provide different rates of cash back depending on the spending category or how much money the cardholder charges in a year. For example, some credit cards may provide a higher percentage on expenditures such as gas, travel, or groceries and a different rate for other types of purchases.

Tiered cashback cards may provide a higher (or even lower) rate when annual purchases exceed various thresholds.

Some credit cards also offer higher introductory cashback rates.

What is a Good APR?

Redemption Terms

A good question to ask a lender before signing up for a cashback credit card is “Where can I get cash back?” The terms of redemption can vary across credit card products.

In some cases, cardholders may see an annual one-time credit for the full amount earned. Other cards allow cardholders to redeem their cash back at any time.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Cashback Card

While signing up for—and using—a cashback credit card is the first step to getting money back on everyday purchases, there are some ways to optimize the returns.

Pay Off Your (Whole) Credit Card Bill on Time

With few exceptions, credit card charges are not subject to interest until after the statement payment due date. But after that payment becomes due, extra interest and fees can quickly add up—erasing any cashback benefits.

Optimize Redemptions

When it comes to redeeming cash back, it’s worth seeking the biggest bang for your buck.

If a card offers different rates of cash back depending on how rewards are redeemed, being strategic when cashing out can result in a greater windfall.

Consider Extra Fees

Though a cashback credit card can make it tempting to charge everything you buy, that’s not always the most cost-effective strategy.

Though it’s generally an exception, some merchants impose surcharges for using a credit card or may provide discounts for paying in cash. In such cases, it’s a good idea to crunch the numbers to ensure the extra fees don’t actually cost more than the cashback reward.

The Takeaway

Free money may be hard to come by—but not if you use a cashback credit card. When choosing a card, It’s best to look at the rate of cash back, any annual fee a card may charge, and the APR if you carry a balance.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1

Plus, there is no annual fee*.

Look into the cashback rewards of a SoFi credit card today.

1See Rewards Detailswww.sofi.com/card/rewards
*See Pricing, Terms & Conditions at SoFi.com/card/terms
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Source: sofi.com

8 Ways to Save Money on Magazine Subscriptions

Even in the digital age, magazines have something to offer. They provide a weekly or monthly deep dive into a topic that interests us — something we can’t get from a quick skim of our Facebook feeds.

And we have thousands of magazines to choose from. From science to sports to celebrity gossip, there are choices in every category and for every demographic, including magazines for kids.

The biggest downside of magazines is their cost. The cost per issue is significantly lower with a subscription than it is when you simply grab a magazine off the newsstand, but it still isn’t trivial.

At Discount Magazines, subscription prices for popular magazines range from around $1.50 to $5 per issue. Some weekly magazines cost as much as $190 per year.

Ways to Spend Less on Magazine Subscriptions

If you’re trying to save money on a tight budget, your first impulse might be to slash out all unnecessary “extras,” including magazine subscriptions. But cutting your budget to the bone this way can actually backfire by causing frugal fatigue.

A much better idea is to find ways to enjoy your favorite magazines for less.

1. Ask the Publisher

The first place to look for a better deal on your favorite magazine is with the publisher. For instance, many magazine publishers charge you significantly less per issue if you subscribe for more than one year.

This is a good way to save on a favorite magazine you know you’ll want to keep reading for at least a couple of years. Check your renewal notice or the little subscription cards tucked inside the magazine for offers.

Another way to save is to call up the subscription office and negotiate the price. If you’ve been subscribing to the same magazine for several years, you’re probably paying quite a bit more now for your subscription than you did when you first signed up.

Magazine publishers tend to offer their best rates to new subscribers in the hope they’ll get hooked on their content. They pay less attention to long-term subscribers because they assume they’re committed already.

However, you don’t always have to be a new reader to get the introductory rate. In many cases, all you have to do is call and ask to have your old rate reinstated.

This strategy tends to work best if your subscription is up for renewal, since you can threaten to cancel if you don’t get the cheaper rate. There’s a good chance the publisher will give it to you rather than risk losing your business.

To give yourself this leverage, make sure not to sign up for the “auto-renew” option when you first subscribe to a magazine. If you do, your automatic renewal will likely come with the highest possible rate.

2. Seek Daily Deals

From time to time, daily deal websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer magazine subscriptions at extraordinarily low rates. You can save as much as 90% off the regular price for a one-year subscription.

Typically, you can find deals on only a few magazines at any given time. You probably won’t be able to snag discounts on your particular favorites the first time you look.

However, if you check these sites regularly, you can spot deals on the magazines you love as soon as they pop up and snap them up before they disappear.

3. Use Your Rewards

If you use rewards programs and apps such as Swagbucks or Ibotta, you can often cash in rewards for magazine subscriptions. You can earn rewards points from these programs in a variety of ways, including shopping online, searching the Web, taking surveys, or even playing games.

Since many of these are things you’d do anyway, you might as well earn your way to a free magazine subscription at the same time.

You can cash in rewards from other sorts of programs for magazines as well. For instance, some credit card rewards programs allow you to redeem your points for a magazine subscription.

And if you’ve earned a bunch of frequent flyer miles you haven’t had a chance to use, you can visit MagsForMiles to exchange them for a magazine subscription. The site accepts unused miles from multiple major airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Spirit, and United.

4. Check Magazine Discounters

The subscription price listed on the little cards inside the magazine or on the magazine’s website isn’t necessarily the best price you can get. There are various outlets that sell magazine subscriptions at discounted rates.

Sites to check include Magazines.com, Discount Magazines, DiscountMags.com, and Magazine Values.

If you don’t want to check all those sites individually, you can save some time by going to Magazine Price Search. This site doesn’t sell magazines directly. Instead, it compares subscription prices from a dozen magazine sellers and tells you where you find the lowest rate.

It’s also sometimes possible to find magazine deals on Amazon and eBay. However, some users warn to use caution when ordering from eBay or smaller online sellers, which can take six to eight weeks to process a magazine order.

If your magazine doesn’t arrive as promised when that time period is up, it’s usually too late to cancel the charges on your credit card. Still, if the price is low enough, it can be worth the risk.

5. Look for Free Offers

Discounted subscriptions are great, but free ones are even better.

The discount site ValueMags has a whole page devoted to the most special deal of all: subscriptions of up to a year long for absolutely no cost. Most of these free offers are for digital versions of a magazine, but occasionally you’ll find one for a print subscription.

Of course, like many things that are “free,” these subscriptions come with a catch. To get them, you have to sign up for promotional emails from the website.

If you actually want to receive emails offering discounts on magazines and various other products, that’s not a downside. But if you don’t, it’s up to you to decide whether the free subscription is worth its cost in spam email.

Another site that offers free subscriptions is FreeBizMag. All the magazines here are specialty publications focused on specific professions, from education to beverage manufacturing. These can be useful for business owners, but they’re not of much interest to the general public.

The site also provides access to free research reports and e-books. Along with reports on specific businesses, there’s some general-interest material here, such as shopping guides.

6. Go Digital

Part of what makes magazines expensive is the cost of printing and mailing them. Publishers can avoid these costs by releasing their magazines in digital form, and they pass on these savings to customers.

So, if there’s a magazine you love but don’t love the price of, check to see if there’s a digital version of it you can view on your phone or tablet. If there is, you can probably save a nice chunk of change by switching your subscription from pages to pixels.

Digital magazines have other perks besides their lower price. For instance, because they don’t have to go through the mail, they’re likely to be delivered sooner than a paper copy. They can also include extra features, such as links to videos, that a printed magazine doesn’t have.

Another nice feature of digital files is they’re easier to search. You can just type in a keyword to look for specific topics or terms that interest you. It’s also easier to bookmark a digital article for future reference than it is to tear some pages out of a printed magazine and try to find a place to store them where they won’t get lost.

As a final perk, subscribing to a magazine in digital form saves paper. This makes it a way for you to save money while going green.

7. Swap With Friends

Do you have a friend or neighbor who subscribes to all the same magazines as you? Do you love getting together and discussing the articles from the latest issue? If so, you can do more than just chat about your favorite magazines — you can share your actual subscriptions.

For instance, suppose you both read two magazines every month: Better Homes & Gardens and Family Handyman. In that case, you could decide to drop your subscription to Better Homes & Gardens and keep Family Handyman, while your neighbor does the opposite.

When you get your copy of Family Handyman each month, you read it first and then pass it on to your neighbor, who gives you the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens in exchange. Each of you gets to read your two favorite magazines while only paying for one of them.

Another way to share your magazine subscriptions is to start a magazine swap at your workplace.

Choose a central location, such as the break room, to drop off copies of your magazines when you’re done reading them. Then encourage all your coworkers to do the same. You’ll get access to your own magazines and all the ones your coworkers read as well, at no extra cost.

If you commute to work by bus or train, you can even set up a magazine swapping station at the local bus or train station.

Just put out a small box or rack labeled “Take one, leave one” and use it to drop off the magazines you’re done with instead of tossing them in the recycling bin. Other passengers will get to enjoy your old magazines during their commute, and you can hopefully pick up the ones they leave behind.

8. Visit a Library or Bookstore

If you only tend to read through a magazine once before discarding it, maybe you don’t need your own subscription at all. If your local library subscribes to your favorite magazines, you can simply read them there.

Usually, there are comfy chairs and couches to sit in, so you can stop in and curl up with a magazine whenever you have a free hour.

Many bookstores also allow you to peruse their magazine offerings to your heart’s content without paying. Here, too, there are often cozy chairs to sit in as you read. Some bookstores even have cafes, so you can enjoy a snack or a drink to go with your reading material.

The one catch with this strategy is that you can’t take the magazines home. You can only stop in to browse through them when the store or library is open. This isn’t much help if you like to spend a few minutes paging through a magazine to decompress before bed.

However, there are ways around this problem too. For instance, libraries typically keep only the two or three most recent issues of a magazine on their racks and discard the older issues. If you ask, there’s a good chance the library will let you take these back issues home rather than simply tossing them in the bin.

Some libraries also provide digital access to the magazines they subscribe to, so you can download them to read on your tablet or e-reader.

Final Word

When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, even a few extra dollars a month for a magazine is sometimes more than your budget can handle. If you’re in that situation, you may have no choice but to let your magazine subscriptions lapse for a while.

Painful as it can be to give up your celebrity gossip or sports coverage, giving up on being debt-free would hurt even more.

Fortunately, dropping your subscriptions doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite reads entirely.

You can browse through them at the library or borrow them from friends and neighbors. You can also get some content for free on the magazines’ websites. These freebies can tide you over until your budget loosens up and you’re able to subscribe again.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Staples: Save $5 on Activation Fee of $200 Visa Gift Cards (4/11/21 – 4/17/21), Limit 5

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Staples stores are selling $200 Visa gift cards with a $5 discount off the regular activation fee cost ($6.95) from 4/11/21 – 4/17/21.

The Fine Print

  • Limit 5 per customer
  • Valid 4/11/21 – 4/17/21
  • In-store only

Our Verdict

Not as good as the deals where the full activation fee is waived, but still good enough for people with cards that earn at a high rate on office supply store purchases.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

3 Credit Cards Bargain Hunters Will Love

Americans are lucky to be offered hundreds of competing credit cards, but it can be difficult to find the right one to suit your needs. Therefore, it’s important to know what your spending habits are in order to choose the card that makes the most sense for you.

Cardholders who carry a balance should look for a card with the lowest interest rate, and possibly one with 0% APR introductory financing. A lower interest rate means you will pay less money toward interest charges as you pay down the balance. Meanwhile, those who can avoid interest charges by paying their balances in full every month should choose a card that offers the most valuable rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back.

Make sure you also generally meet the credit issuer’s criteria. It’s a good idea to know what your credit score is so that you can target your search to a card you’re more likely to get approved for.

You should consider any benefits offered by the card, such as purchase protection or travel insurance. Finally, applicants should also take into account any applicable fees — such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Source: credit.com

Tips for Making the Most of Your Holiday Budget

Saving Money on Holiday ShoppingSaving Money on Holiday ShoppingHolidays are a time to give, vacation, and catch up with family and friends; simply put, holidays are a season to spend. Even with a proper budget, it’s possible to find yourself losing track and spending more than you should. One of the best ways to avoid the stress that comes with wasteful expenses during the season is planning and sticking to a budget. To help you with this, here are tips for making the most of your holiday budget.

Hunt for Special Offers

Stores see increased traffic during the holidays. This allows brands to offer products at low prices and also introduce new merchandise at discounted prices. You can take advantage of these special offers and sales to get most out of your budget; be on the lookout for events such as Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays during which expensive items go at much lower prices.

Shop Early

Even with special offers and sales, holiday-related products like certain gifts can be quite expensive during the season. If you are planning on such purchases, then plan and shop early. This will give you ample time to shop around for the best deals.

Be a Smart Customer

Having to move from one shop to the other in search of good deals can be frustrating and probably lead to going off-budget. This can be avoided by employing the best shopping practices. Such include;

  • Do your window shopping online. This will help you reduce the time spent on your feet.
  • Do searches on online stores for coupons and discount codes. Some could call for a magazine subscription or opting for an email service; which you can always opt-out after you have applied the promotional codes during checkout.
  • Bargain from a point of advantage by price-matching.
  • For electronics, where possible, buy last year’s models which are way cheaper but just as effective gifts.

Make your Own Gifts

If you are good at DIYs then you can free up much of your budget by fashioning gifts. Not only will this give the gifts a personal touch but you will have more money left to spend on other holiday expenses. Here are some ideas;

  • A framed drawing from your kid will surely make your parents happy.
  • A thank-you handmade certificate will do as a gift for the baby sitter.
  • Special home-cooked treats can also do as gifts.

Creativity doesn’t have to be handmade gifts only- what about giving out new shoes and clothes that you have never gotten to wear. You can also hand down children’s toys, bicycles, skates, etc.

Avoid Shopping Sprees

It’s very easy to find yourself in the holiday shopping frenzy especially if you are easily swayed. To avoid such shopping sprees that leave your budget stretched, prepare a shopping list in advance and stick to each item. Clearly mark the quantities needed and if unsure on the price then have a range- this will ensure you don’t stray no matter the incitement from shop attendants.

Stick to Cash

With a shopping list at hand, it’s hard to overspend when you pay in cash as opposed to putting purchases on a credit or debit card. This strategy will call for shopping at the store which means you will avoid the drawbacks of online shopping; such as getting wrong product sizes, delays in delivery and so on.

The Takeaway

Holidays are a time to be generous but this does not mean spending more than you should. You can enjoy the season’s merriment wisely by working within a budget. You can do so by sticking to a budget, making your own gifts, shopping early on or before the holidays start, opting for cash payments, and avoiding shopping sprees among other measures outlined above.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Blanket Mortgage Loans – Definition, Pros & Cons of Using for Real Estate

For real estate investors, juggling multiple property deals and loans can get complicated.

Blanket loans often help simplify matters. Borrowers take out a single loan to cover multiple properties.

Even so, blanket loans come with their own quirks and have their pros and cons. Before entering into a blanket loan as an investor, make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

What Is a Blanket Loan?

A blanket loan is simply one loan that attaches to several real estate investment properties.

For example, if you buy a portfolio of five properties, a blanket loan allows you to take out one mortgage that covers all five buildings. The lender attaches a lien against each property, so if you default on your loan, the lender can foreclose on all five properties to recover their money.

Lenders do typically include a release clause, allowing the borrower to sell individual properties held as collateral as part of a blanket loan. However, they require the borrower to either repay a portion of the loan at the time of sale or put the money toward another investment. The lender then attaches a lien to the new investment property as a replacement for the sold collateral property.

That keeps their collateral — your remaining properties secured by the blanket loan — sufficient to cover their loan risk.

Who Takes Out Blanket Loans?

Blanket mortgages are exclusively for real estate investors and developers, not homeowners.

Investors can use blanket loans in many ways to invest in real estate. Landlords can take out a blanket mortgage to buy a portfolio of turnkey rental properties, as outlined above. Flippers could do likewise, to buy several fixer-uppers to renovate and flip, all with one loan. As they sell off properties, they typically repay a proportion of their loan.

Real estate developers use blanket loans to buy large swaths of land that they plan to subdivide into many units. As they build and sell off those units, they can either repay portions of the loan or put the money toward adding more properties to the portfolio.

Businesses with multiple locations and commercial properties can also use blanket loans. That could mean refinancing multiple existing loans into one blanket loan, or using a blanket loan to buy several new locations in one sweep.

When You Should Use a Blanket Mortgage

As touched on above, you can either use a blanket loan at the time of purchase or you can refinance to consolidate multiple mortgages into one loan.

It makes sense to use a blanket loan at the time of purchase if you plan to buy multiple properties simultaneously. You may also be able to negotiate staggered funding if you buy multiple properties in rapid succession but not quite simultaneously.

Another possibility with blanket mortgages includes buying only one new property, but securing the loan against other properties you own for additional collateral. Real estate investors sometimes do this in lieu of making a down payment on the new property.

For example, say you own a property worth $100,000, but you only owe $50,000 on it. You want to buy another property for $100,000, and the lender demands a $20,000 down payment.

Rather than cough up the $20,000 in cash, you offer your existing property as additional collateral for the new mortgage loan. The lender agrees to fund the full $100,000 for you to buy your new property, but puts liens on both properties. They now hold the first (and only) lien against your new property, and they have a second lien against your old property.

Advantages of Blanket Loans

Blanket mortgages come with several upsides for real estate investors.

To begin with, they can save on lender fees and settlement costs by holding one combined closing rather than having to pay separately for several. Lenders charge flat fees in addition to points, and those flat fees add up quickly. Title companies also charge many flat fees for each closing. With blanket loans, borrowers can pay those flat fees once, rather than at each settlement.

Aside from saving money, combining financing for several properties into one loan can also keep your finances and cash flow simpler. Rather than keeping track of 20 mortgage payments and loans, you need only track one or two.

When buying new properties, blanket mortgages can potentially reduce or eliminate your down payment if you use equity from an existing property for a cross-collateralized loan. Consider it one more way to pull equity out of your properties — and one that doesn’t require a totally separate settlement with its attendant costs.

Larger loans often mean more negotiating room for you as the borrower as well. Lenders don’t need to charge as many points on a $1 million loan to make it worth their while, compared to five $200,000 loans. Similarly, borrowers can often negotiate lower interest rates as well.

Downsides of Blanket Loans

Blanket mortgages come with their share of risks and disadvantages.

To begin with, it can be hard to find lenders that offer these loans. Up to this point in your real estate investing career, you may have established relationships with two or three lenders — none of whom might offer blanket loans. That forces you to go out and build new relationships with lenders who do.

Expect more intensive scrutiny by the lender for these larger, more complex loans. Rather than using a garden variety underwriter, bank managers might underwrite these larger loans themselves. Lenders might ask more probing questions and require more extensive documentation and paperwork from you. They may require higher credit scores than their typical loan products.

Blanket loans often come with shorter loan terms than traditional mortgage loans. Rather than the 25- or 30-year loan terms you’re used to, lenders often limit blanket loans to 10 to 15 years. That could come in the form of a balloon payment, or the loan could be entirely amortized over those 10 to 15 years. In the case of short-term amortization, that means higher monthly payments.

Finally, blanket loans pool your risk for many properties into a single loan. If you default on that loan, you could lose all the properties secured by it to foreclosure, not just one. In contrast, if you hold separate loans for each property, in a crisis you could isolate your losses to one property as long as you can afford to make your other monthly payments.

Where You Can Borrow Blanket Loans

Conventional mortgage lenders don’t typically allow blanket loans. Commercial lenders, portfolio lenders — who keep loans on their own books rather than selling them — and hard money lenders often do allow them.

Make no mistake, these lenders usually charge more than your personal home mortgage lender. But they also allow far more flexibility, and as a real estate investor, that flexibility is often necessary.

Call up your local community banks to ask whether they offer blanket loans for real estate investors. You can also reach out to portfolio lenders such as Lending Home and Rental Home Financing to inquire about them. For commercial loans, make sure you choose a commercial lender, because even many portfolio lenders only handle residential (single-family and 2-4 unit multifamily) properties.

Word to the wise: start building these connections now, before you actually have a time-sensitive deal on the line. Real estate investors need to be able to move fast and close deals quickly, else they risk losing the deal entirely.

Final Word

The average mom-and-pop property owner with a couple units on the side of their full-time job will probably never need to take out large blanket loans. But for real estate developers and full-time real estate investors, blanket loans can help them scale their investment portfolios faster and cheaper.

Start expanding your network of lenders now, before you have a hot deal at risk of falling through. Think in terms of building a financing toolkit of many different options for buying your next investment property — or portfolio of properties.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Here’s Where to Buy Stamps for Cheap

Fewer people are sending items by mail these days opting instead for online bill pay, email and social media. But some prefer the traditional feel of mailing cards, bills or letters, or trust the postal service more than the internet with their correspondence.

If you use a lot of stamps, the cost can quickly add up. As of March 2021, U.S. Forever stamps cost 55 cents each. The great thing about Forever stamps is that they don’t list a value on the stamps themselves, so you can stock up and still use them even if the value of a Forever stamp increases.

But you can get postage stamps for cheaper than face value if you know where to look. Here are a few options to get you started.

Best Places to Buy Stamps at Discounted Prices

Buy Discounted Stamps on eBay

If you’re buying stamps in bulk, eBay can give you a great deal on stamps.

You’ll see hundreds of auctions on eBay for unused postage stamps. Like most eBay products, they’re cheaper than the retail price.

Most stamp auctions on eBay come in rolls of 100 Forever stamps. If you need that many, you can get them for as little as 40 cents. That’s a 27.3% discount on the retail postage rate.

Even if you don’t need 100 stamps, you could still save by going in with a friend (or several) and splitting the roll between you. If you have five friends who mail things, your cost for 20 stamps (the size of a book) would be $8 compared to $11 if buying directly from USPS.

On top of these savings, when you buy stamps (or anything else) on eBay, you can enroll to earn eBay Bucks on qualifying purchases.

Check Stamp Dealers For Discounted Postage

Stamp collecting is a big business. Dealers make a lot of their money buying and selling stamps from collectors, but they also make money selling mint stamps at a lower cost than their worth.

Stamp collectors often buy unique stamps when they come out, thinking they may become valuable someday. But often, they don’t grow in value, and the collector may sell stamps to a dealer at a discount. The dealer then sells these stamps to you, the consumer, at a low cost.

Buying stamps this way might mean you have to use several stamps of random value in order to get to the 55 cents required for regular postage, but it can save you money (and make for a unique envelope to the recipient of your mail).

Look for Deals on Amazon

At first glance, postage stamps on Amazon seem to sell for the same price as at USPS, and in some cases they are more expensive. But if you have patience, you can find good deals on stamps on Amazon.

For example, I stumbled upon a listing selling a roll of 100 stamps for $50.35 on sale, which works out at just over 50 cents per stamp, or an 8.5% discount.

You’re not guaranteed to find cheap stamps on Amazon, but if you can find them it might be worthwhile — especially if, like me, you have an Amazon credit card that earns you points on your purchases.

Sign Up for a Stamps.com Account

If you listen to podcasts at all, chances are you’ve heard of Stamps.com in an ad. They usually offer a free trial period that includes freebies like postage, so you can try out the service before paying for a subscription.

Stamps.com is currently offering First Class (i.e. Forever) stamps for 51 cents each, saving you 4 cents per stamp, or 7.3%.

Membership is $17.99 per month (plus applicable taxes), but that includes a free digital postal scale when you sign up, plus the four-week trial that includes $5 in free postage. You can cancel anytime, as there are no long-term contracts. If you do a lot of mailing and shipping, a subscription should pay off in the long run.

Check Out BuyDiscountStamps.com

Another online option is BuyDiscountStamps.com. You can get a roll of 100 stamps for $49.50, which works out at 49.5 cents per stamp, or 10% off retail price.

In addition to rolls, you can also buy sheets of 20 stamps for cheaper than at USPS. At the time of writing, you could buy a sheet of 20 Arnold Palmer-themed stamps for $9.90, which is also 10% off retail price.

BuyDiscountStamps.com advertises no taxes and free shipping on all orders.

Buy Stamps Directly from the Post Office

For smaller orders of stamps, buying directly from the United States Postal Service can be a good option. USPS also offers a wide variety of stamp designs, whereas buying them elsewhere usually limits you to the traditional American flag design.

USPS makes stamps in many different designs to celebrate holidays, public figures, seasons and more.

Buying postage stamps directly from the post office means you will pay the going rate for a Forever stamp, but it does give you more options than any other seller.

Buy Stamps at Other Retailers

The post office is the most obvious place to buy stamps, but it can be inconvenient. You can find postage stamps at full retail price at several different types of retailers that you probably frequent often, which can save you the additional trip even if it doesn’t save you money. Generally, anywhere that sells mailing supplies will also sell stamps.

Office retail suppliers such as Office Max and Staples usually sell stamps at retail price. In addition to office supply stores, you can buy stamps at the gas station, the UPS store, chain stores like Target and Walmart, pharmacies and grocery stores.

How to Save Even More

Rebates and rewards are two more ways to save money on postage stamps.

Check Rebate Sites

For additional savings, check Cashbackholic to find the best cash back deal when buying stamps through eBay. Those amounts vary from day to day.

Once you find the best rebate site, search for Forever Stamps on eBay through that site to earn your rewards.

At 5% cashback on that $40 auction, you’ll 32% on a coil of 100 Forever stamps. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that.

Use a Rewards Credit Card

This is one of the best deal-stacking tips. With a cash back credit card, you get money just for purchasing things you would buy anyway.

If your card offers 1% cash back, you’ll save an extra .4 cents per stamp on that coil of 100 Forever stamps, bringing your cost down to just 39.6 cents per stamp, or $39.60 for the coil.

That’s more than 15 cents savings per stamp — or, around the cost of a stamp in 2007.

You might not think to look for rewards and discounts on items like this, but think about the money — and hassle — you can save! How much first-class mail do you send each month?

One hundred stamps could go pretty far — you could be set up for months for about $40.

Catherine Hiles is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

10 Ways to Save Money on Halloween Decorations

If you live a frugal lifestyle, holidays can test your commitment to thriftiness. It feels silly to spend money on decor, tableware and lawn ornaments that only come out for a few weeks a year. But that’s the point of a holiday – spending time and energy to celebrate a fleeting moment, regardless of how pointless it might seem.

The good news is, tricking your place out for Halloween can be a cheap treat if you approach it the right way. Here are some of our best tips from frugal experts.

Hit Up Craft Stores

Justin Pritchard, CFP of Approach Financial Planning likes fabric stores such as Joann’s, Hobby Lobby and Michael’s for their huge selection of Halloween-themed fabric prints to brighten up your home. You can drape them over your dining room table or front porch. If you’re truly crafty, you can even buy raw materials to create your own decorations from scratch.

These stores usually have readily-available coupons for 40-50% off if you’re willing to look, and they usually match competitors’ coupons.

Check Out Yard Sales and Craigslist

When you live in a home long enough, you tend to acquire an abundance of holiday decorations over time. Chances are, someone near you is looking to unload some Halloween decor.

Check local yard sales, look at Craigslist and ask on NextDoor if anyone has Halloween decorations they want to get rid of. If a friend or neighbor is moving, they might also be looking to dispose of some plastic skeletons and glow-in-the-dark pumpkins.

Thrift stores almost always have a large selection of Halloween decorations, as well as costumes for much less than you’d pay at a party store. If you’re hosting a Halloween party, you can probably find spooky tableware for just a few dollars.

Buy in Bulk

If you and a friend are both struggling to find Halloween decorations on a budget, buy in bulk together and split the cost. This also works if you’re shopping at a warehouse club, where large packages of Halloween candy are much cheaper than the grocery store.

Activate Rewards

If you’re shopping online for decorations, don’t forget to use browser extensions like Ebates for cash back. You should also check your credit card for cash back at retailers like Amazon. Look for promo codes and coupons wherever you’re shopping.

Compare Prices

Ten dollars for a skeleton sounds like a good deal, but is it? Most of us don’t have a good sense of what Halloween decorations should cost, so we fall for bad deals. If you’re looking to fully deck out your apartment or house for October, those little mark-ups can be a real budget murderer.

Before buying decorations, compare similar products at a couple stores to see what they charge. You might be surprised at the wide gulf in prices for the same items.

Scour the Dollar Store

While the Dollar Store isn’t great for items you want to last a long time, it’s perfect for seasonal decor.

“The Dollar Tree has those same plastic hands sticking in the ground as Walmart does for one-fifth the price,” said Sarah Wilson of Budget Girl.

Before you visit big box stores, check your nearest dollar store for cheap deals. Make sure not to go over budget just because the prices are good.

Recycle Your Trash

Have lots of online purchases coming to your door? Don’t throw those boxes away.

“Turn your Amazon cardboard shipping boxes into tombstone markers by cutting them out in the shape of a gravestone and painting them gray or black,” said Katie Rucke of DebtWave Credit Counseling, Inc.

You can then place these in your front yard and drape them with fake cobwebs or spiders.

Repurpose Decorations

Instead of buying individual items for every holiday, why not make things easier for yourself? There are a handful of decorations that work for multiple holiday seasons.

For instance, pumpkins and gourds are great for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. A string of white lights can work for any holiday. A plain wreath can be decorated with holiday-specific trinkets to use year-round. If you get creative, you’ll probably think of other ways your decorations can multi-task.

Use Household Supplies

Plenty of household supplies can be used for Halloween decorations. Drape gauze from your medicine cabinet onto your bushes to create a cobweb effect. Cut up a black trash bag vertically and hang it from your door (bonus points if you glue fake spiders to it). Drip red nail polish on a cheap black tablecloth for a bloody look.

“Grab garbage bags and put two horizontal holes near the bottom of the bag, insert a hanger at the bottom seem, flip over and you’ve got your ghost,” said Angela Matthews of Happy Investor Method.

You can find more ideas on Pinterest and YouTube, which have projects ranging from basic to complex. If you don’t have all the tools needed to make your own decor, ask your closest friends to come over for a Halloween decorating party. By pooling your resources, you might have enough to decorate your whole house.

Plan for Next Year

Prices for decorations drop significantly right after the holidays end. If you don’t end up finding enough decorations this year, you can stock up for 2019 the day after Halloween. Decorations will be significantly marked down, sometimes up to 80-90%.

“Invest in quality décor items if you’ll continue to use them year after year and you have a place to store your decorations,” Rucke said.

Store your decorations somewhere airtight and safe, not a leaky basement or creepy attic. You don’t want real spiders crawling over your fake ones. Remember not to buy more than you can comfortably keep.

Financial writer Leah Ingram said one year she and her husband saved seeds from their Halloween pumpkins and planted them in their backyard. The plants grew so well, they had extra pumpkins to give out to each of their neighbors. You’ll need a lot of room to grow pumpkins, so make sure your backyard is prepared.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Intuit Inc, Mint or any affiliated organization. This blog post does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.
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