19 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store

Surprised man shopping for groceries
Bodnar Taras / Shutterstock.com

Do you love your neighborhood grocery store and buy everything you need there?

If so, your local grocery store probably loves you, too. It loves that you’re willing to spend so much on items you could get for a whole lot less money elsewhere.

You can continue supporting your local grocery store, but skip buying these goods there because cheaper options are available.

1. Greeting cards

Woman with greeting card
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Anyone who’s bought a grocery store greeting card has felt the sticker shock — $4.95 for a piece of cardstock with a pretty design? You can do better.

Go to the dollar store and pick up some equally nice options for a buck. Greeting cards are one of the “21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store.”

If you don’t want to make a trip to another store, check out the options on Amazon. Or if you’re the crafty type, make your own.

2. Batteries

Couple in living room using remote control
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Batteries are an essential part of life, whether you’re a parent on Christmas morning or someone who relies on the TV remote. However, there’s no reason to overpay.

Head to the warehouse club of your choice, where you can stock up on bulk packages that bring your per-battery cost down. Amazon also sells bulk packages of batteries, including its own AmazonBasics brand.

3. Magazines

Kinga / Shutterstock.com

A single issue of a magazine at the grocery store can set you back $3 or $4. Or more.

For many publications, you can subscribe to have them delivered to your home for the entire year for less than $20.

There are also plenty of ways to get discounted access to your favorite titles, as we detail in “4 Ways to Read Magazines for Free or Cheap.”

4. Diapers

Baby drinking a bottle of milk
Flashon Media / Shutterstock.com

Who knew it cost so much to cover your little one’s bottom? Well, experienced parents know, but it’s often a surprise to new moms and dads.

Using cloth diapers that you wash and reuse is always cheaper and more environmentally friendly. But for many people, disposables are the only way to go.

Buying them from a grocery store is easy, but you’ll pay a lot less per diaper using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save service. It gives Amazon Prime members up to 20% off diaper subscriptions (basically just recurring deliveries), depending on how many subscription deliveries you buy.

If you’re willing to watch and wait for sales to stock up, another option is drugstore-brand diapers. See “7 Things You Can Buy for Next to Nothing at the Drugstore.”

5. Alcoholic beverages

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

Beer and wine are money makers for grocery stores. You can minimize the markup by shopping at a warehouse club instead.

You may not even need a membership, as we explain in “18 Best Buys at Warehouse Stores”:

“In some states, nonmembers can buy booze at a warehouse club due to state laws that regulate alcohol sales. So call your closest club and ask about its policy for selling alcohol to nonmembers.”

6. Toothbrushes

Mom and daughter brushing teeth together,
Creativa Image / Shutterstock.com

Are you really buying toothbrushes at the grocery store? Don’t you go to the dentist? If you do, you’ll find they have drawers full of them for the asking.

Yes, most people go to the dentist once every six months, and you should change your toothbrush more often than that. However, we’ll bet that, if you ask really nicely, your dentist will give you one or two extra to last until your next visit.

7. Special occasion cakes

Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

Getting a birthday cake at the grocery store is convenient, but it isn’t all that cheap, especially if you need to feed a crowd.

Instead, we’re going to send you back to your warehouse club, where you can get a giant decorated sheet cake for the same price many grocery stores charge for their small ones.

8. Pet food

woman kissing cat
garetsworkshop / Shutterstock.com

The grocery store isn’t the worst place to buy pet food, but you can do better.

These retailers are among those offering discounts when you set up automated shipments:

Some pet store chains also offer coupons and loyalty programs that can lower costs, as we detail in “8 Ways to Cut Your Pet Food Costs.”

9. Bottled water

Patramansky Oleg / Shutterstock.com

Unless you happen to live in a city where the water is unfit to drink, there is no reason to buy bottled water.

The water from your tap will hydrate you just fine. Invest in a couple of reusable water bottles, and fill them for cheap at home.

Does the local tap water taste iffy? Buy a water filter or a filtering pitcher, and keep it in the fridge for when you want a cold drink or need to refill those reusable bottles.

If you must have bottled water from a store, buy it at a lower price at your warehouse club.

10. Frozen pancakes

farbled / Shutterstock.com

It is a mystery why anyone buys frozen pancakes. Making pancakes at home is super easy. A basic recipe takes a few minutes to whip up, and slightly longer to cook. We know you can do it.

Cook up a big batch on the weekend and freeze the extras to eat throughout the week. Your cost will be pennies per pancake.

11. Basic baking mixes

antoniodiaz / Shutterstock.com

Let’s take it one step further and say you should banish buying all basic baking mixes from the grocery store. If you’re baking with Bisquick, you really aren’t saving any time if you think about how long it takes to mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. All you’re doing is paying more.

The same can be said for basic cookie, cake and brownie mixes. These things aren’t hard to make from scratch. By skipping the mixes, you’ll save money and possibly be a little healthier, too, because of those mysterious added ingredients in processed foods that you don’t put in at home.

Need a recipe? See “10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself.”

12. Kitchenware

lenetstan / Shutterstock.com

Speaking of baking, the grocery store knows you might need some equipment to cook up all the delicious food you’re buying. That’s why many have a selection of pots, pans and even small kitchen appliances for purchase.

Resist the urge. You can probably find better prices and quality at big retailers stores like Walmart and Costco, or at Amazon.

13. Spices

Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Herbs and spices can be another item leading to sticker shock in the grocery store. That tiny little bottle costs how much?!

If you have a bulk food store that sells spices, you can save a bundle. Not only could the per-ounce cost be less than at the grocery store, but you can also buy only as much as you need. No reason to get a whole jar when you only want a teaspoon for a recipe.

You can also find cheap spices at the dollar store, but the quality and freshness may be questionable.

14. Party supplies

Family Together Christmas Celebration diverse multi ethnic family
By Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Like greeting cards, party supplies are sold at the grocery store for a premium. Don’t make the mistake of getting your candles, tablecloths and colorful napkins there.

Swing by the dollar store and buy them on the cheap instead.

15. Coffee

TORWAISTUDIO / Shutterstock.com

It’s the elixir of life for many people, which is probably why it costs so much at the grocery store. To get cheaper coffee, you have a couple of options.

Your warehouse store — noticing a theme here? — is a good place to stock up on bulk packages of whole-bean, ground and K-cup coffee.

If you have a Keurig machine, you can also register it at Keuirg.com, where they send out the occasional good deal.

Perhaps most surprisingly, you can find low sale prices on coffee at office supply stores, like Staples, for instance. These shops also have online coupons and loyalty programs to help you save even more.

16. Toilet paper

Toilet paper
Gavran333 / Shutterstock.com

There may be no more essential product to family harmony than toilet paper. And it’s shocking how much tissue paper rolled around a tube can cost in the grocery store.

Head to your warehouse club or office supply store for discounted bulk purchases. Amazon’s Subscribe & Save service is also your friend here.

17. Light bulbs

Rido / Shutterstock.com

It can cost a lot of money to light up your house. Walk past that display in the grocery store if you want to save some cash.

You could go to a warehouse club for lower prices, but you may find the best selection at Amazon.

18. Individually wrapped snacks

Woman eating cookies with milk
Ivan Cheremisin / Shutterstock.com

You know you should buy the jumbo box of goldfish crackers and put them in baggies for school lunches, but that’s way too much work. OK, fine. Just don’t buy those individually wrapped snacks at the grocery store.

You can get a big box of them at a much cheaper price per serving if you go to a warehouse club. Or, see what your local dollar store has in stock.

19. Gift cards

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Forgot to buy a gift? No problem. Grocery stores have set up convenient displays of all sorts of gift cards by the checkout lanes.

Now, for many of these, you might only pay face value. So, you’re probably wondering why we’re saying that you’re overpaying. That’s because you can go to a warehouse club and get, for example, $100 worth of gift cards to many restaurants for only $80. Different chains offer different options, as you can see by looking at:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

a shopper regrets a purchase
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

There are certain purchases that buyers tend to regret.

No, that doesn’t mean everyone: There are plenty of happy boat and hot tub owners out there, and surely more than a few people count their timeshare property as a true delight.

But when faced with one of the potential purchases listed here, it’s a good idea to take a breath and think seriously about whether to buy it.

1. DVDs

Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com

Movie-watching has moved online, with streaming and downloadable films that are easier to manage and watch than ever. You can buy or rent movies on demand from streaming services like Redbox or Amazon’s Prime Video.

What’s for sure is, you don’t have storage space for hundreds of DVDs. You’re not Blockbuster Video, and besides, look what happened to them.

2. Extended warranty

Extended Warranty
rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

You’ve bought the product, but the sales pitch isn’t over: Now your clerk is gunning to sell you an extended warranty, just in case the brand-new product falls apart.

Research the product you’re buying. Extended warranties can be complicated. We explain the ins and outs in “Should I Buy an Extended Car Warranty?” and “Are Extended Warranties Worth It?”

Whatever you do, first check whether you have coverage through other sources, such as a manufacturer’s warranty or through your credit card. You may not even need to fork out for extra coverage.

3. Boats

Motorboat
freevideophotoagency / Shutterstock.com

There’s an old saying: The two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.

Owning a boat is a lot of work. If you live on a lake and have plenty of room for it, and are willing to spend the money needed to keep afloat, then ship ahoy! But most of us can get by with an occasional boat rental, or wait until our friend Gilligan invites us over for a sail.

For more options, check out “4 Ways to Go Boating Without Buying a Boat.”

4. Timeshare

Virginia Beach, Virginia
JoMo333 / Shutterstock.com

Timeshares, which give you a partial share of ownership in a vacation property, are probably one of the most stereotypically regretted purchases — and for good reason.

You may love vacations, but do you always want to vacation in the exact same spot? Yes, you can exchange your timeshare with others, but booking a hotel or resort is more flexible.

Those are a few reasons why Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says, “I’d chop off my own foot with a dull ax before buying a timeshare.”

5. An extravagant wedding

Wedding couple
Cedric Carter / Shutterstock.com

A wedding lasts one day, and then it’s all photos and memories.

You’ll be just as legally married in a $100 gown as in a $5,000 one, and you’ll have a lot more money left over. You can pull off a wedding elegantly without going into debt in the process.

Learn how: “Your Own Royal Wedding: 20 Classy Ways to Save on the Big Day.”

6. Pricey engagement ring

Diamond ring
Vladimir Sazonov / Shutterstock.com

And speaking of weddings, consider whether a whopping diamond ring is really the best way to tie the knot.

Modern jewelers offer more price-conscious alternatives that are just as lovely. Your hard-earned dollars can bring more satisfaction if they’re used for a down payment on a home. So, consider lab-grown diamonds — not only are they cheaper, they’re more environmentally friendly.

7. Desktop computer

NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

Desktop computers once were an amazing innovation, but few people need that kind of computing power these days. A tablet or laptop gives you the flexibility to move your home office around and travel with your computer if you wish.

Think different, a la Apple’s motto. And when it comes to home computing, don’t think big — think small.

8. Giant tent or other expensive camping gear

dezy / Shutterstock.com

For hardcore campers, owning a nuclear-fueled camp stove, a three-bedroom tent, an enormous inflatable mattress or a kit specifically made for roasting s’mores might make sense.

But for those of us who camp maybe only once every year or two, a small tent and standard sleeping bag work just as well. And you can always just toast marshmallows on sticks, which are still free.

9. Camcorder

StockKK / Shutterstock.com

Most of us carry smartphones these days, and their video capabilities keep getting better and better. Hauling around a camcorder, storing it and getting the videos off of it is a chore few of us need.

10. Home printer

Using a printer to print out documents
FabrikaSimf / Shutterstock.com

Even those who run a home business are finding fewer and fewer opportunities to use gigantic printers, since so many documents can be filled out, signed, sent and received electronically.

Printers take up a ton of space and require replacement ink cartridges that can cost as much as a new printer.

Those in major cities who need a printer for a one-time use can make the occasional trek to the public library or local business offering printing services.

11. Pedometer

Andrew Haddon / Shutterstock.com

Counting steps to keep yourself moving is trendy again, but it’s not pedometers that brought it back. Instead, it’s wrist-worn fitness trackers and smartphones and smartwatches.

You have to plan to wear a pedometer. With a smartphone or smartwatch, you can track your steps almost without thinking.

12. Home exercise equipment

Sladic / Shutterstock.com

There likely have been days when you wished you didn’t have to make the trek to the gym to work out. At those times, buying exercise equipment seems like a no-brainer.

But the equipment is huge and bulky, and storing it takes up precious space in your home. Did we mention that it’s also seriously expensive?

13. Single-purpose kitchen gadgets

Woman making fruit juice with a juicer
ABO PHOTOGRAPHY / Shutterstock.com

Some kitchen appliances make solid sense: Coffeemakers and toasters earn their keep every day. But appliances that are super-specific and can perform only one rarely needed task? They’re rarely worth the money.

Will you really use a juicer, a bread maker, a hot-dogger, a food dehydrator? Maybe once or twice, but it is unlikely to earn the space it takes up on your kitchen counter.

14. Pools and hot tubs

kurhan / Shutterstock.com

Sure, some people swim every day. And some of us can’t imagine gloomy winters without a hot tub.

But for many people, there’s only a short period of time when a pool or hot tub is used enough to earn its keep. After that, it becomes a huge bowl of water that needs to constantly be cared for and cleaned.

15. Piano

Skumer / Shutterstock.com

If you’re on Facebook, head to the online shopping section to see how many people are desperately trying to give away pianos for free. Few things take up more space and are more difficult to move than a piano.

If you truly have a junior Beethoven in your house, you may genuinely need a piano. But if your kid hasn’t even learned where middle C is, you can start with a borrowed portable keyboard and see if music lessons hit the right note.

16. Fine china

Kondor83 / Shutterstock.com

Once, fine china was on every couple’s wedding registry and was broken out regularly for dinner parties and family holidays. Ours is a more casual world now, for good or for ill. Few engaged couples want 12 place settings of Royal Doulton china.

If china appeals to you, check with the older generations in your family. They may be happy to give you theirs.

17. Collectibles

Toy Collection
Tinxi / Shutterstock.com

Face facts: Beanie Babies that were the rage in the 1990s are never going to make you rich.

The same goes for most collectibles, from Franklin Mint collector plates to Department 56 Snow Village buildings.

If it makes you happy to buy a spoon or shot glass from each country or state you visit, have your fun. But don’t collect with the expectation that you’ll make money from the collection one day.

18. Baby gadgets

Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

New moms and dads don’t need half of the things on many baby registries. Diapers and clothes, sure. Burp cloths and bassinets? Go for it. But a diaper wipe warmer?

If you’re giving a present to a new parent, consider a gift card.

19. Giant desserts

Man eating giant sundae
Todd Castor / Shutterstock.com

Many restaurants have one on the menu — the giant, jumbo, lollapalooza, monster-sized dessert. But eat one, and you’ll quickly regret it.

Unless you have a soccer team or hungry family to help you eat the giant treat, skip it.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

10 Best Places to Buy Shoes & Sneakers Online (at Discounted Prices)

Footwear isn’t just a fashion statement. Shoes should provide comfort, support, and even protection, depending on the type of job or hobbies you have.

There’s also no denying that shoe and apparel shopping is satisfying in general. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, consumers spent nearly $1,900 on apparel and related services. If you’re prone to shopping sprees or have upgraded your wardrobe recently, you understand how easily expenses can rack up.

But if you’re trying to save money on a tight budget, shopping for shoes can cause dread rather than enjoyment. If you want to reduce your footwear expenses, one of the best strategies is to buy discount shoes online rather than shopping in a store.

Best Places to Buy Shoes Online

If you know your size and style, there’s no reason to pay full price for shoes ever again. Try one of these online stores instead.

1. Amazon

  • Price Range: Under $25 to $200 or more
  • Return Policy: Return policies vary depending on the seller and whether you shop for used or renewed products through the Amazon Warehouse or buy new; in most cases, you can return Amazon products within 30 days of purchase
  • Shipping: Free shipping for Prime members; shipping rates vary for non-Prime members based on their purchase and location
  • Verdict: If you already enjoy Amazon’s ecosystem and are a Prime member or Amazon Rewards Visa Signature cardholder, shopping on Amazon for footwear is another way to benefit from your loyalty

It’s already easy to save money on Amazon if you take advantage of a Prime membership, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card, and generally shop around to find low prices.

Shoes aren’t an exception. In fact, Amazon is one of the best options to buy discount shoes online if you shop through Amazon Warehouse.

Amazon Warehouse is a collection of refurbished and returned Amazon products available for resale. Products get returned all the time for multiple reasons, and warehouse products aren’t in bad shape. Different condition categories include:

  • Used — acceptable
  • Used — good
  • Used — very good
  • Used — like new
  • Renewed (which means the product looks and works like new but might have repairs)

Used products have a 30-day return or replace policy, and renewed products have a 90-day return or replace policy. That means you can safely shop on Amazon’s Warehouse without buying ill-fitting shoes or styles you dislike.

Amazon Warehouse has plenty of footwear options, including brands like Fila, Skechers, Under Armour, Adidas, New Balance, and Ugg. Many shoes are in like-new condition, and you can usually find popular footwear brands for under $30. The Amazon Warehouse also has a clearance section where you can search for footwear discounts.

Amazon’s regular selection of footwear is also worth exploring. If you spend time deal hunting and take advantage of free shipping with a Prime membership, Amazon is one of the best places to buy discount shoes online.


2. Shoes.com

  • Price Range: $13.95 to $1,000 or more
  • Return Policy: You have 60 days to make returns; exchanges are free; refunds to your original payment method cost $7.95
  • Shipping: Free U.S. shipping on all orders
  • Verdict: Shoes.com is one of the most affordable online footwear retailers if you shop using the discount shoe section or make use of coupons

It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for sneakers, boots, or sandals: Shoes.com probably has what you’re looking for.

Shoes.com has an impressive inventory of shoes for men, women, and kids. You can shop for popular brands like Skechers, Birkenstock, Merrell, New Balance, and Clarks, to name a few. However, where Shoes.com truly shines is in its discount shoe section.

Seasonal and warehouse sales mean you can find shoes for up to 75% off. These are leading shoe brands, and there are enough inventory and size selections to give you options. If you don’t find a style you like, you can also use Shoes.com coupons to buy regularly priced shoes at a discount.

For more savings, you can join the Shoes.com rewards program. As a member, you earn one point for every $1 you spend, and 100 points equal a $5 reward. Plus, first-time members earn a $5 welcome bonus, making your first purchase at Shoes.com even cheaper. You also earn points for writing product reviews on Shoes.com. The only downside is that points expire within six months, so you have to spend them quickly.

U.S. shipping is free, and you get most orders within three to 10 business days. Shoes.com also ships internationally. You have up to 60 days to return your purchase if you’re unsatisfied. Returns must be unworn and include original tags and packaging. Shoes.com provides a prepaid shipping label for returns.

Between the range of discounts and a fair return policy, buying from Shoes.com is an economical yet fashionable choice.


3. 6pm

  • Price Range: $7 to $75 or more
  • Return Policy: You have 30 days to make returns; customers are responsible for shipping charges
  • Shipping: Free shipping on orders of at least two products or orders totaling $50 or more; standard shipping is $3.95 otherwise
  • Verdict: Shop at 6pm if you want extensive brand selection and to take advantage of a well-stocked clearance section

Like Shoes.com, 6pm has a range of shoe options for adults and kids. Plus, the clearance section and overall brand variety is nothing to scoff at.

The retailer carries over 1,400 brands, many of which go on clearance for up to 80% off. Some of the most notable brands include:

  • Asics
  • Coach
  • Cole Haan
  • Michael Kors
  • Nike
  • Reebok
  • Skechers
  • Toms

Clearance aside, you can also find shoes and apparel for under $10.

If you order at least two products or spend $50 or more before tax, shipping is free. If you don’t meet these requirements, standard shipping is $3.95. This shipping policy isn’t as generous as Shoes.com, but your savings can make up for it.

Standard orders arrive within four to five business days. However, 6pm only ships within the United States. For returns, you have 30 days to return unworn shoes with the same tag and packaging. The company doesn’t provide prepaid shipping labels, which is another downside.

Despite slightly less favorable shipping and return policies, 6pm is still a reliable option for Americans who want to buy inexpensive shoes and accessories online.


4. DSW

  • Price Range: $9.98 to $200 or more
  • Return Policy: You have 90 days to make returns; return shipping costs $8.50; returns made within 60 days process to your original payment method, while returns made after 60 days refund as store credit; some loyalty club members have longer return windows and free return shipping
  • Shipping: Shipping costs $7.95; loyalty club members get free shipping
  • Verdict: Shop at DSW if you can take advantage of its VIP rewards program and want the flexibility to shop in-store or online to save on footwear

If you live in the U.S., there’s a solid chance you’ve shopped at Designer Shoe Warehouse, or DSW, for footwear. With over 500 stores and affordable prices, DSW is a convenient way to buy shoes in person.

But DSW also lets you shop online for footwear to save money. Its website offers hundreds of brands for adults and kids. Footwear brands include Adidas, Converse, Cole Haan, Nike, Asics, and Brooks. Additionally, with DSW’s acquisition of footwear design company Camuto Group, private-label brands are also in the works.

Whether you shop for private-label DSW shoes or name-brand shoes, DSW helps you save money. The online clearance section has thousands of shoes to choose from, and that’s just scratching the surface.

DSW has three tiers of VIP membership that also unlock more savings and perks:

  • VIP Club: Free to join; earn 1 point for every $1 you spend; 100 points for a $5 reward; $5 birthday gift; free shipping and in-store returns
  • VIP Gold: Requires $200 annual spending at DSW; same benefits as Club members, but you also get free online returns and two double-point days per year
  • VIP Elite: Requires $500 annual spending at DSW; earn 2 points for every $1 you spend; $10 birthday gift; triple point day once per year whenever you choose; free two-day shipping and returns

If you shop with the DSW Visa credit card, you also receive 1 point for every $1 you spend anywhere outside DSW. VIP Club and Gold members earn 2 points for every $1 spent at DSW, and Elite members earn 3 points. Plus, if you spend $500 outside DSW within 90 days of your first purchase, you get a $25 bonus regardless of your VIP level. Note that you must join DSW’s VIP membership program to apply for the credit card.

The DSW Visa isn’t the most lucrative cash-back credit card. However, if you stack DSW Visa rewards with its clearance sales and VIP program, you can certainly save money on your annual footwear expenses.


5. Zappos

  • Price Range: $15 to $200 or more
  • Return Policy: Free returns or exchanges for 365 days
  • Shipping: Free shipping on all orders
  • Verdict: Zappos’ generous return policy is useful if you’re an astute online shopper and want the flexibility to return or exchange footwear for free, and teachers, students, and military members should take advantage of the 10% discount

Zappos is an Amazon-owned apparel and footwear company, but it still operates independently and offers its own unique and affordable styles.

Zappos carries a variety of shoes for adults and kids. Top brands include Nike, Ugg, Vans, New Balance, and The North Face. On Zappos, filters help you shop by brand, color, occasion, material, and price.

What makes Zappos an excellent choice for buying shoes at low prices is its extensive sales section. There are thousands of shoes to choose from, and you can easily compare the sale price to the regular MSRP. Zappos also offers free shipping on all orders with no minimum purchase requirement.

Additionally, you can save money on your wardrobe by joining Zappos VIP, a free loyalty program that unlocks:

  • Free expedited shipping
  • 1 point for every $1 you spend, with 100 points equaling a $1 discount code for future purchases
  • 5 points per day for logging in and 10 points for writing a review
  • Bonus points on select brands during promotions
  • 1 extra point for every $1 you spend after linking your Amazon Prime membership

If you’re a teacher, student, or military member, you also save 10% on Zappos. Military members unlock this discount for life, while students and teachers get a year-long discount.

Unfortunately, Zappos doesn’t ship internationally. However, you have 365 days to return your order as long as it’s unworn and still has original tags. This generous return policy makes Zappos a risk-free way to buy affordable shoes online.


6. OnlineShoes

  • Price Range: $19.95 to $150 or more
  • Return Policy: You have 30 days to make returns; returns cost $5 to ship
  • Shipping: Free shipping on orders over $25; shipping costs $3 for orders under $25; Alaska and Hawaii shipping costs $30
  • Verdict: OnlineShoes makes up for its lack of brands with competitive discounts and low prices, making it an excellent footwear choice if you aren’t incredibly brand-loyal

As the name suggests, OnlineShoes is a one-stop destination to buy shoes online. While the company also sells clothing, affordable footwear is still the focus.

You can save up to 60% by shopping for sales, and OnlineShoes carries classic shoes and new arrivals from brands like Sperry, Merrell, Keds, and Hush Puppies.

OnlineShoes ultimately keeps things simple by carrying only a dozen brands. That inevitably means it has less selection than websites like Shoes.com and 6pm. However, if you’re shopping for work boots or hiking boots, OnlineShoes is a particularly good choice due to its low prices. Plus, you can still find other footwear styles, provided you don’t mind the limited brand selection.

Free shipping for U.S. orders over $25 and a 30-day return policy also help you shop with confidence. Returns also process to your payment method rather than in-store credit.

If you’re OK with a limited number of brands and find a style you like, OnlineShoes is another way to buy affordable shoes online, especially if you find a 60%-off sale. If you’re immensely brand-loyal to a company OnlineShoes doesn’t carry, retailers like 6pm and Shoes.com are better alternatives.


7. Zulily

  • Price Range: Under $10 to $500
  • Return Policy: You have 30 days to return footwear for store credit; shipping one return costs $4.95; shipping two to five returns costs $8.95; every extra five returns then costs an additional $8.95
  • Shipping: Shipping costs $5.99 for your first order of the day; you can buy free shipping for 30 days for $5
  • Verdict: Shop at Zulily if you can take time to wait for the right deal and aren’t in a rush to buy a new pair of footwear

While Zulily doesn’t exclusively sell shoes, it’s still an effective way to keep more money in your wallet when shopping for footwear and apparel.

Zulily is a flash sale website that sells apparel, toys, electronics, sports gear, books, and maternity wear. However, this diverse catalog doesn’t make Zulily feel cluttered. Its goal is to help you find sales and save.

Zulily has regular sales that are usually available for 72 hours. After you make a purchase, it waits until the sale ends to bulk order the inventory before shipping to you. This type of fulfillment process takes time, but buying in bulk lets Zulily save money and offer the best price possible. That’s why you can find many products for up to 70% off.

Shopping for shoes on Zulily is no exception. While most sales are for specific brands and styles, sales happen every day. If you regularly check for deals, you can find footwear that suits your needs without spending hundreds of dollars.

It’s worth noting that Zulily usually carries popular brands like Adidas, Hush Puppies, Asics, Reebok, and Puma. But the shoe section also has plenty of lesser-known brands and different categories.

Zulily ships to dozens of countries, and domestic shipping starts at $5.99. However, you can buy 30 days of free shipping for $5, and if you place multiple orders in a single day, you only pay shipping for the first order.

Consider the pros and cons of flash sale websites before placing an order. Ultimately, the best way to save money with Zulily is to shop often and keep an eye on sales. If you only shop for what you need, it’s another effective way to find affordable footwear.


8. Famous Footwear

  • Price Range: Under $30 to $75 or more
  • Return Policy: You have 60 to 90 days to make returns, depending on your rewards program level
  • Shipping: Free shipping on orders of at least $75; orders under $75 cost $7.95 unless you’re a rewards program member
  • Verdict: Famous Footwear has one of the best rewards programs and a competitive clearance section, making it an outstanding retailer for frequent shoe shoppers

Famous Footwear is a nationwide footwear retailer similar to DSW in terms of brands and pricing. With thousands of shoes for adults and kids, there’s no shortage of selection. Plus, like DSW, Famous Footwear carries dozens of name-brand shoes, like:

  • Nike
  • Converse
  • Fila
  • New Balance
  • Puma
  • Reebok
  • Toms
  • Vans

There’s no lack of shoe type either. Famous Footwear carries everything from dress shoes and heels to casual sneakers and boat shoes.

In terms of savings, Famous Footwear is also competitive. The company runs seasonal sales, and its clearance section has thousands of shoes, some up to 50% off. Parents can also find kids shoes for $29.99 and under.

Regular shipping is $7.95 on orders under $75. You have up to 60 days to return unworn shoes. In-store returns are free, but sending returns by mail costs $7.95.

If you plan to shop at Famous Footwear regularly, joining the Famously You Rewards program is also a smart financial move. You can join the program in stores or through the mobile app for Android or iOS. As a member, you unlock multiple perks, including:

  • Reward Cash. Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend and get $5 in store credit for every 100 points. You can earn up to $250 per year in reward cash.
  • Free Shipping. As a Famously You Rewards member, you always get free shipping.
  • Birthday Rewards. Get $5 in reward cash on your birthday and earn double the points per dollar you spend during your birthday month.
  • Extra Deals. Redeem a buy-one, get-one 50% off deal and an extra double-points day once per year.
  • Member Deals. Members receive exclusive offers and discounts throughout the year, and you can stack reward cash with coupons or member-exclusive deals.
  • Upgrade to Superstar. If you spend at least $200 in one year at Famous Footwear, your membership upgrades to Superstar. That lets you earn 50% more in reward cash, get a $10 birthday reward, and redeem a triple-points day during the year. Superstar members also have up to 90 days for returns.

Famous Footwear becomes more affordable the more you shop because of its rewards program. If you rarely buy shoes online, that isn’t a selling point. But if online shopping is how you typically buy your shoes, take advantage of the clearance section and rewards program, especially if you can upgrade to Superstar for extra perks.


9. Overstock

  • Price Range: Under $20 to $150 or more
  • Return Policy: You have 30 days to make returns; non-Club O members pay for return shipping; Overstock only provides refunds for defective products (otherwise, expect store credit)
  • Shipping: Free U.S. shipping in all states except Alaska and Hawaii
  • Verdict: Overstock is worthwhile if you’re willing to check for red tag sales regularly or shop enough to warrant paying for the Club O program

While Overstock doesn’t exclusively sell footwear, there’s no denying that this liquidation titan has affordable prices and an extensive selection.

Overstock carries shoes for adults and kids. Brands include Nike, Adidas, Clarks, Kenneth Cole, Jimmy Choo, Geox, Prada, and Steve Madden. Regular footwear pricing starts under $20 and even includes more expensive categories like boots, running shoes, and heels.

However, in terms of savings, red tag sales are the name of the game. These time-sensitive discounts apply to a range of products, including furniture, kitchen appliances, and footwear. For footwear, you generally find red tag deals between 10% to 30% off. Deals last for 24 hours or less, so it’s worth checking Overstock regularly to see what’s on clearance.

If you’re a serious Overstock shopper, you can also join the Club O program for $19.95 per year. Club O is free for active military members and veterans, first responders, nurses and medical providers, teachers, and students. This loyalty program unlocks:

  • Rewards. Earn 5% back on every purchase and redeem reward points for future Overstock purchases.
  • Free Returns. As a Club O member, you get free return shipping for in-store credit.
  • Price-Match Guarantee. Overstock price-matches with select competitors, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Hayneedle, and Home Depot. You can price-match up to three products per month and send price-match requests within seven days of your purchase.
  • Extra Rewards Store. Earn up to 40% in rewards for shopping in the Club O Extra Rewards Store.
  • Double Review Points. Earn double the rewards for writing reviews for your purchases on Overstock.

Paying $19.95 per year probably isn’t worth it if you just buy footwear on Overstock. However, 5% back on major purchases like furniture or appliances could add up.

Overstock currently offers free U.S. shipping to every state except Alaska and Hawaii, in which case shipping costs vary based on your purchase and location. Overstock also ships to 200 other countries with variable shipping rates.

You have 30 days to return unwanted items for store credit, but you pay for shipping unless you’re a Club O member.

As an extra tip, sign up for Overstock’s email the next time you shop to get a 15% off coupon. If you stack this coupon with Overstock’s already low pricing, you can score your next pair of footwear at a serious discount.


10. Poshmark

  • Price Range: Under $25 to $500 or more
  • Return Policy: All sales are final unless your order doesn’t match the listing
  • Shipping: Buyers pay $7.11 for shipping
  • Verdict: Poshmark is best for buying designer shoes at lower prices as long as you don’t mind buying from other people instead of a retailer

Poshmark is a consumer-to-consumer marketplace where you can buy and sell apparel, footwear, home decor, jewelry, and beauty supplies. For sellers, Poshmark is an effective way to make extra cash on gently used pieces in your wardrobe. For buyers, Poshmark is an excellent place to buy sustainable clothing and footwear while staying within your budget.

Clothing is undoubtedly the most popular category on Poshmark. However, plenty of Poshmark sellers list footwear for adults and kids. There’s also a healthy mix of designer and casual brands, including:

  • Aldo
  • American Eagle
  • Balenciaga
  • Birkenstock
  • Dr. Martens
  • Jordan (Nike)
  • Keds
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Target

Poshmark lets you search for listings under $25 to find the lowest-priced shoes. If you don’t want to buy used, look for “NWT” (new with tag) listings. These products have never been worn, so you can benefit from Poshmark’s low prices while enjoying new shoes.

For shipping, Poshmark charges a flat rate of $7.11 for buyers. All sales are final, but you can ask for a return within three days of receiving your order if the shoes don’t match the listing.

Ultimately, Poshmark takes some digging to find the right size, brand, and style. However, particularly for designer shoes, you can find some incredible deals on Poshmark, even with the lack of free shipping.


Final Word

Buying shoes online might seem difficult at first. There’s something reassuring about trying on shoes in a store and giving them a test-walk before spending.

However, if you know your size and avoid common online shopping mistakes, buying online can save you money and time. This trend will only continue as more retailers turn to e-commerce.

Plus, with money-saving browser extensions, you can also earn cash-back rewards and use online coupons to take your savings one step further. For example, the Capital One Shopping extension automatically applies coupon codes at checkout and lets you earn free gift cards for shopping at partner retailers.

Just remember to read return policies carefully to avoid getting stuck with an ill-fitting pair of shoes. Shopping for footwear online takes getting used to, but your wallet will ultimately thank you for making the change.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best President’s Day Kitchen and Home Decor Deals – AOL

Reader's Digest

Megan Wood

February 11, 2021, 8:23 AM

You Won’t See Sales This Good Again Until Memorial Day

In 2021, President’s Day and Valentine’s Day fall on the same long holiday weekend. Along with honoring our nation’s history and celebrating the love in your life, you can also do some serious sale shopping. The upcoming February holidays are the time to check must-have kitchen upgrades and a home decor refresh off your list. This year, deals kicked off as early as February 1st! (How many of these essential kitchen utensils do you own?)

The discounts are deep, and you likely won’t see this much inventory on sale again until Memorial Day weekend in May. Some of the sales are billed as President’s Day deals, while other retailers are calling their markdowns Valentine’s Day or winter sales. To make it easier on you, we rounded up all the dates, details and promo codes below (and we’ll keep updating).

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

Best President’s Day Kitchen and Home Decor Sales

Macy’s is offering 20 to 50% off kitchen and small appliances during their Valentine’s Day sale. Get an extra 10% off an already marked down Aerogarden with code VDAY. We also spotted Cuisinart knives, a heart-shaped Le Creuset casserole and Ninja blenders on sale.

Overstock is having a President’s Day blowout with up to an extra 15% off home decor, home improvement, kitchen accessories and more. Plus, free shipping on everything!

KitchenAid is offering up to 22% off deals on their bestselling attachments (which are finally back in stock). We love their pasta maker attachment!

Delta Children is offering a spend $200 get $30 deal, or spend $300 and get $50 deal at Target from February 11 through February 15. If you need a new kids’ table set, this is the time.

Nordstrom included their home department in their winter sale from February 12 to February 21. Save on Le Creuset, kitchen accents and bedding.

The Home Depot’s President’s Day sale is valid through February 24th. Look for 30% off robotic vacuums, 25% off washer and dryer sets and 15% off dishwashers. Right this way to deals on Dyson vacuums.

Amazon isn’t going to be left out of a sale! They’re running their Big Winter Sale from February 5 through President’s Day. Stock is limited and changes daily, but we love deals on Instant Pots, refrigerator organizers and espresso machines.

Bloomingdale’s is inviting customers to save 60-70% when they take an extra 50% off items labeled “Extra 50% off Clearance,” from February 10 until February 15. Hello, deals on All-Clad frying pans and a Nespresso espresso machine!

Nutribullet has a 20% off sitewide sale with promo code PRESIDENTS from February 12 to 16. Score the new NutriBullet go cordless blender for just $30!

Anthropologie is giving an extra 25% off all sale home items (excluding furniture) for a limited time. We’ll take multiple Capri Blue scented candles, cute coffee mugs and cozy throw blankets, please.

Walmart’s clearance section is overflowing with tons of deals on kitchen appliances, gadgets, small appliances and more. Check out this cute and handy kitchen rolling cart.

Bed Bath & Beyond is offering great home deals. Look for $60 off cookware, $40 off air fryers, $70 off Shark vacuums and 30% off rugs.

Boutique Rugs has a Valentine’s Day sale with up to 60% off area and floor rugs using promo code LOVE60 from February 8 to February 18! When’s the last time you replaced your kitchen rug?

Appliances Connection lets you save big on thousands of items during the President’s Day Sale, including 20% off washer-dryer pairs, 10% off select LG appliances and closeouts on stainless steel ovens. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, this is your sale!

Dyson is offering major vacuum deals, including $100 off the V11 Outsize, $50 off the V7 Motorhead, $100 off the Torque Drive and $50 off the V7 Absolute. These deals ALSO come with free tools worth up to $75, and free shipping.

Target’s clearance section has kitchen items on sale. Psst! there are lot of deeply marked down holiday items if you want to shop smart for next year.

HSN has thousands of items currently on clearance, including storage finds and kitchen essentials.

Drizly is offering $10 off for new customers with promo code LUV until February 14. Get sparkling rose or cocktail supplies delivered straight to your door!

Le Creuset has tons of discounts on enamel cookware in their sale section. Plus they’re gifting free heart ramekins with any $200 purchase using the promo code HEARTS (while supplies last). How cute!

Want more deals and product picks sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for the Stuff We Love newsletter.

The post The Best President’s Day Kitchen and Home Decor Deals appeared first on Taste of Home.

Source: aol.com

Are Home Warranties Worth It?

Congratulations on the new home. But hang on. The garbage disposal isn’t working as it should. The hot water doesn’t seem to be hot anymore. A home warranty can ease the headaches and financial strain of fixing or replacing appliances and home systems, but any contract will require much more than a glance.

A policy can be purchased directly from a home warranty company at any time, not just upon a move-in. In some cases, the seller may provide a home warranty with the sale of the home.

Home warranties can help protect new homeowners and existing owners from troubles here and there, but is a home warranty really worth it?

What Exactly Is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty—different from homeowners insurance—covers specific items such as home systems (things like the HVAC system), washers and dryers, kitchen appliances, pool equipment, garbage disposals, and exposed electrical work.

Homeowners insurance covers theft and damage to a home from perils like fire, wind, and lightning strikes.

While homeowners insurance is typically required by a mortgage company, home warranties are optional.

Price of a Home Warranty

The cost of a home warranty can range from about $350 to $600 a year, or more for coverage for items not on the stock home warranty list. Extras may include pool systems and septic systems.

Those who purchase a home warranty will pay that annual premium, but if they do call in a service provider they will likely have to pay a fee for service calls, too.

Depending on the extent of the issue, the service call may cost anywhere from $60 to $125.

Pros of a Home Warranty

resale value. When selling a home, homeowners with a home warranty may be able to transfer the warranty to the new owner, which could be a bargaining chip for those attempting to sell an older home. (Some home warranties are non-transferable, so it’s up to sellers to do their due diligence when adding this to the deal.)

Cons of a Home Warranty

A downside of a home warranty is that it can be complicated to understand. That’s why it’s up to every purchaser to carefully read the contract before signing and ask all the questions they need to in order to understand the warranty.

For example, a home warranty may come with a financial limit per repair or per year. So if someone ends up having one heck of a year with the appliances, some of those repairs may not be covered.

You may need to request additional coverage for appliances that are considered optional or replaced frequently. And will your Sub-Zero fridge and Wolf range be covered if they go kaput? (Not likely.) Most warranty companies list excluded items on their sample contracts.

Ask: Will the plan repair or replace a broken item? If a repair is considered too expensive, the provider might offer to replace the broken item—but give you only the depreciated value.

Claims can also be denied by the warranty company for a variety of reasons, including if it believes an appliance hasn’t properly been maintained. The warranty company can also ultimately decide if a problem is worth fixing or not, despite how the homeowner feels about the situation.

Home warranties also cannot guarantee timeliness. If something breaks, homeowners may have to wait longer than they’d like to get it fixed.

Home warranties will also likely not cover preexisting conditions. If a person moves into a home with a termite problem, the warranty will likely not cover the cost to repair issues. Before you sign the warranty, the company will probably come inspect all the items covered, and could deny coverage for certain items.

Choosing the Right Home Warranty

This really comes down to personal choice and research. It’s important to look into each contract to see what is covered, what isn’t, the cost of services, and more.

While searching the internet for the right home warranty, it may be best to go beyond online reviews. Rather than looking on public listings, head over to websites like the Better Business Bureau and search for individual companies.

There, would-be home warranty buyers can search for companies to read the vetted reviews, alongside any potential complaints.

Is a Home Warranty Really Worth It?

A home warranty could be the right call for people who are not up for having to perform repairs themselves or don’t have time to hire technicians.

home’s inspection report. If there are red flags about a home’s condition, it may be a good idea to purchase a home warranty to cover any additional expenses that crop up.

Alternatives to Home Warranties

If homeowners are worried about protecting their investment but aren’t sure a home warranty is right for them, there is an alternative: Build up an emergency fund.

Homeowners can start stashing away cash into an emergency savings fund that they can dip into whenever they need repairs done. This acts as their own “home warranty” without having to pay a premium to a company.

To take it one step further, homeowners could also create a spreadsheet with the names of repair workers when they need something fixed.

The Takeaway

Are home warranties worth it? Anyone looking into purchasing one will want to take a close look at the annual cost, the charge for service calls, exactly what is and isn’t included, and how much of a replacement item is covered. Convenience is a benefit, but an alternative is to self-insure with an emergency fund.

Buyers might face another decision: choosing the right home loan lender. Looking into a SoFi mortgage is a great place to start.

House hunters can check their rate in a snap.

SoFi members can save a chunk of change on loan processing fees and enjoy all of the other benefits of membership.

Shopping for a home? See how a SoFi mortgage sizes up.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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.

SOHL20056

Source: sofi.com

Black Friday Shopping During Coronavirus: Tips for Success

div#contentdisclaimer background: #fff;padding: 1.5em;line-height: 1.25em;max-width: 500px;
Advertiser Disclosure

Disclaimer

Many people choose to do their shopping on Black Friday to get great deals for the holiday season. It’s one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and consumers make Black Friday purchases both in-store and online. According to research compiled by Adobe Analytics, shoppers spent $7.4 billion on online purchases alone on Black Friday in 2019.

But many people might be wondering if Black Friday will happen in 2020. Read on to find out how COVID-19 might affect this holiday shopping day.

Black Friday Shopping Is Not Canceled: Great Deals Will Be Available Online

You might be wondering if Black Friday will be happening as usual this year. Though it’s not canceled, expect some changes to your typical Black Friday shopping experience.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers’ shopping and spending habits are changing. For 2020, it’s recommended that consumers take advantage of online Black Friday deals to avoid visiting crowded stores for safety and health reasons.

The CDC recently issued guidance for Thanksgiving-related holidays. It notes that shopping in-person around the holidays is a higher-risk activity. But don’t worry–it’s pretty likely that your favorite stores are making online accommodations for Black Friday shoppers.

Yahoo! Finance notes that the more traditional Black Friday shopping experience won’t likely happen in 2020. Consumers can expect online sales to begin weeks before Black Friday to be more spread out over time.

As Black Friday approaches, you can also start thinking about how to save and spend when planning your Black Friday shopping. This year, Black Friday weekend will happen on November 27 and will be followed by Cyber Monday on November 30. You’ll be able to take advantage of a number of Black Friday deals both days.

Tips for Smart Black Friday Spending

Even if money is tight because of coronavirus budget cuts and layoffs, you probably still hope to do some shopping during the holidays. Planning carefully can help you save even more money and keep your holiday spending within your means, even during the excitement of Black Friday. Follow some of the following tips for smart Black Friday shopping.

Set a Budget

Having a budget in place helps ensure you spend only what you can afford. Look at your finances and savings to determine how much you can afford to spend on Black Friday deals.

Not sure where to begin? These budgeting tips can help you set and stick to a realistic budget.

Make a Shopping List

When you don’t work from a list when shopping, it can be easy to make mistakes and forget to buy what you need. Take some time to outline a list of your must-have Black Friday shopping items.

Don’t forget to include gifts for the holidays and essentials you’ve wanted to buy, such as kitchen appliances and electronics. That way, you get everything you need and you maximize your spending.

Don’t Stray From Your List

You made a shopping list for a reason. Be sure to stick to it while you shop. It’s also a smart idea to tally up the purchase amounts of your list to make sure the total fits your budget. Refer to your list while you shop.

Compare Sales

Some retailers might offer better deals on products than others, so do your research before Black Friday. This makes it easier to shop at the stores with the best deals and maximize your Black Friday savings. Check your favorite stores to see what Black Friday discounts they’re offering. You can even view Black Friday sales for major retailers on their websites or on sites such as Slickdeals and TechRadar.

If you plan to do your shopping online because of COVID-19, don’t forget to take a look at each retailer’s shipping costs. Ensure the total purchase price, including taxes and shipping costs, fits within your budget.

Use Your Rewards Card Responsibly and Strategically

It’s never a good idea to go into debt over shopping habits. This is true during Black Friday shopping too. When using credit cards to shop, use them responsibly. Don’t spend more than you can afford, and stay within your credit limit.

You might also want to use your credit cards strategically. Choosing to use the right credit cards when buying can help you rack up more rewards points and miles or earn more cash back. Be sure to take a look at the cards in your wallet well before Black Friday, and check each card’s terms and policies before you shop.

Look Into Store Credit Card Options

Another option is to take out a store credit card. Many retailers offer this option, sometimes with a special 0% interest promotion. That means you can make credit purchases on Black Friday without paying interest on them as long as you pay off the total within the introductory period.

Montgomery Ward Credit Card

Apply Now

on Montgomery Ward’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:

Ongoing Apr:
5.75% – 25.99% Variable

Balance Transfer:

Annual Fee:

Credit Needed:

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Buy Now, Pay Later on 1000s of items with Wards Credit
  • Get payments as low as $10 a month.
  • No annual fees
  • Quick approval
  • Secure & confidential online account management
  • Buy now, pay later on a huge selection of furniture, electronics, appliances, shoes and more.

Card Details +

Review Your Purchases Before You Check Out

Before you check out, it’s smart to review your purchases. Ensure you know exactly how much you’re spending and that you’re staying within your budget. This can help you avoid last-minute and unnecessary purchases. Remember not to ignore shipping costs when you’re buying online.

Pay Off Your Credit Card Statements in Full

Carrying a balance results in interest charges if you don’t have a 0% APR offer. Credit card interest can be very costly, especially over long periods of time. It can also add up, making it easy for you to find yourself in a difficult financial situation.

Instead, consider paying your credit card statements in full every month. After you do your Black Friday shopping, pay off the cards you use. This helps keep your finances on track and set you up for continued success. If you struggle with carrying a credit card balance, other tips can help you use your credit cards more responsibly.

Be Smart When Shopping Black Friday Deals

If you’re ready to get some major deals this Black Friday, get ready to do a ton of online shopping. Following the above tips can help you reduce overspending risks and save money on Black Friday shopping. Familiarize yourself with your current financial situation and credit score before making purchases.

You can monitor your credit scores and keep track of your credit history by using Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card tool. If COVID-19 has affected your finances, there are financial resources available. If you plan to apply for a new rewards credit card, Credit.com can help you choose the right one.


Sign up now.

Source: credit.com

Steps to Building a House

In this article:

If you can’t find your dream home on the market or if you want to create a home that’s uniquely yours, you might consider building a house. Buyers who decided to build new homes were more likely to say that selecting the floor plan, having everything in the home be brand-new and customizing their home features were among their top reasons.* Before deciding if new construction is for you, you’ll want to learn about the different types of new-home construction and familiarize yourself with the process, from the initial land search all the way to selecting finishing touches. 

Typically, when someone says they’re planning to build their own home, they are referring to a fully custom build where they have a say in almost everything (short of items restricted by local laws and zoning regulations). But, in the realm of new construction, there are three different approaches buyers can take: 

Spec homes. With a spec home (short for speculative home), a home builder designs and constructs a single-family home without having one individual buyer in mind. Instead, they plan on selling the house to a buyer once it’s finished. Depending on how early in the process you are able to go under contract, you may be able to select some of the home’s final touches, like flooring, kitchen appliances and paint color. Sometimes these homes are listed for sale as “pre-construction.” 

Tract homes. With a tract home, a developer purchases a parcel of land and divides it into individual lots. Then, a home builder constructs all of the homes in that planned community. Tract homes can be condominiums, townhomes or single-family homes. Most homes in the community will look similar, and shared amenities are common. Similar to spec homes, you may be able to select some finishes in advance, depending on the timeline. 

Fully custom homes. With a fully custom home, you typically find the land on your own then hire a builder to build your dream home. You have total control over the floor plan, layout and finishes, but the process requires a lot of decision-making, attention to detail and disciplined budgeting — custom homes can be expensive. 

Since custom homes are the most complex new construction option out there, we’ll spend most of this article explaining the process.

Check your financing options

Once you’ve decided that building a custom home is the right choice for you, the next step is figuring out how you’ll pay for it — and a traditional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage isn’t an option for custom home construction, at least not at first. 

Unless you can pay for the entire build with cash, you’ll likely be looking for a construction loan, which is also sometimes called a self-build loan or a construction mortgage. Getting a construction loan is often more difficult than getting a traditional mortgage, as you’re borrowing money for a concept and not a physical house. You’ll need to provide your lender with a timetable, budget, floor plans, materials needed and extensive details to be considered. Other things to know about construction loans:

  • They have variable rates that are often higher than typical mortgage rates.
  • A 20%-25% down payment is usually required.
  • The loan can include the land you’re purchasing or it can cover only the construction costs if you already own the land. 
  • There’s an opportunity to refinance into a traditional fixed-rate mortgage once construction is complete.

Locate the right lot

If you don’t already own the land you plan to build on, you’ll need to shop around for the right lot. A real estate agent can help you identify lots for sale in your area. 

As you narrow down lots you like, you’ll want to loop in your architect and builder to make sure the lot you select fits the needs of your home’s floor plan and design. They should be able to help you check zoning laws and restrictions and identify any attributes of the lot that might make it more expensive to build on — for example, a steeply graded lot may require more engineering, or a lot in a remote area may necessitate a septic tank.

Plan and design the home

Figuring out the size, layout and style of your home is a big task, and it can happen before or after the lot is selected, depending on your individual plans. When you’re building a custom home, the sky’s the limit, although you will need to keep in mind your budget and any limitations of your lot. And, if you don’t plan on living in the home forever, consider how design decisions will affect the home’s future resale value. 

The professionals on your team will be able to help you home in on the right style and layout, but it doesn’t hurt to get a feel for what you might want in advance. Drive around your area and identify homes you like. Look for interior design inspiration online or research the latest smart home features to see if you think they’re worth the added cost. 

Here are a few important design decisions that need to be made early on:

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms. How many people will be living in the house? Is your family growing, or are you downsizing? What about houseguests?

Single story vs. two story or more. Are there mobility issues that should be accommodated? Would a one-story home be easier for those with limited mobility living there? 

Outdoor space. How important is outdoor space and how much should you have? The bigger the yard, the more maintenance involved. 

Open concept or individual rooms. How open you want your house to be depends on your taste and lifestyle. Individual rooms give a more classic feel, while open concept homes are more modern. 

Home style. What aesthetic do you want your house’s exterior to have? Tudor, Cape Cod, craftsman, colonial?

Interior design. Are you partial to modern design, a more traditional look or something in between? If you plan on using the same furnishings you have now, will they match the look of the new home? 

Additional features. Think through other features that need to be decided on early in the process, like smart home compatibility, eco-friendly materials or solar panels. 

Future resale value. If you think you’ll sell the home at some point in the future, consider the home’s possible resale value. For example, if you add a pool or an upscale kitchen, will your home be priced too high for the neighborhood?

Hire professionals

Building a home isn’t an easy task, and it’s rare to take on the entire project yourself. So, you’ll need to have several different professionals by your side to ensure your home is structurally sound, follows local code and suits your needs.

Home builder

Hiring the right builder can make or break your custom home experience. Choose someone who is not only a licensed general contractor but also has a portfolio of custom homes and success stories in recent years. 

To find your builder, you can ask for a referral from friends and family, search online, or ask your real estate agent for recommendations. A good builder will help with:

  • Budget
  • Zoning laws, including acquiring permits
  • Infrastructure needs, like utilities and sewer

Architect

In most places, in order to even apply for permits, you’ll need architectural plans. Discuss the following details with your architect before they create your blueprints:

  • Square footage
  • Stories
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Layout
  • Functionality

Interior designer

You may also want to hire an interior designer who can help with the finishes once the framing and structural elements are in place. From flooring to bath tiles to fixtures, there are many design choices that need to be made, and it can get overwhelming for the average home buyer. If you do plan on making all the interior design choices on your own, don’t wait until installation time. Start researching finishes and fixtures early so you can set your budget.

Other professionals

In addition to these key players, there are other professionals involved in the custom-home-building process. Many of these people are hired by your home builder or general contractor:

  • Land clearing crew
  • Surveyor
  • Structural engineer
  • Inspector (from the city)
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians

Understand the process of building a house

After the designs and blueprints have been finalized and your permits have been approved, that’s when construction starts and your home begins to take shape, generally following these steps: 

1. Land prep
The first step in the construction process is getting the land ready. This includes clearing the area, digging trenches and making sure utilities are installed. 

2. Footings and foundation
Your foundation will be made of poured concrete reinforced with steel rods. Depending on the part of the country you’re building in and the design of your home, you may have a slab foundation, crawl space or a full basement. No matter what kind of foundation is poured, it will be sprayed with a waterproofing material and inspected by the city before framing begins. 

3. Framing
In the framing step, the bones of the home start to take shape. Framing includes the floor joists, subfloors, studs that form the walls and roof trusses. During this step, the crew will wrap the house to protect it from moisture. If construction is taking place during a rainy time of year, your builder may also install windows, roof shingles and siding during this step. 

4. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC
Once the home is “dried in,” subcontractors will start installing the home’s major systems, including plumbing pipes, electrical wiring and heating and cooling ducts. Each of these steps requires signoff from a local inspector. 

5. Insulation
Your home’s insulation needs will vary by climate, but in general, insulation will be applied to exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces and attics. Fiberglass, cellulose and foam insulation are all options. 

6. Drywall
Drywall panels are hung with screws, taped and mudded, and a spray texture is applied. Then the new walls are primed with paint.  

7. Interior finishes
In this step, most of the home’s interior features will be added. This includes doors, baseboards, casings, window sills, stair balusters, kitchen counters and cabinets, bathtubs, vanities, and hard-surfaced flooring. Interior painting and hardwood installation are sometimes done during this step, but they may be done later if there is risk of damage due to continuing construction. 

8. Exterior finishes
Driveways, walkways, patios and final grading to direct water away from home will all be completed. Landscaping and exterior decorating happen during this step too. 

9. Fixture installation
With the house close to completion, toilets, faucets, light switches, heat register covers, the hot water heater, the electrical panel and the HVAC systems are all installed. Many of these items require another round of inspection. Another task that happens in this step is the installation of glass fixtures like mirrors and shower doors. 

10. Flooring installation
Carpet and hardwood flooring are added in this late stage. Make sure to check with your builder on the status of your hardwood finishing process so you don’t accidentally damage them. 

11. Final inspection
Once construction is complete, a final inspection will be conducted by a local building official. Upon passing, you’ll receive a certificate of occupancy, which gives you the green light to move in. 

12. Final walkthrough
Before you move in, you’ll want to do a final walkthrough with your builder to identify punch list items that need to be repaired for the job to be considered complete. Common punch list items include electrical defects like nonfunctioning outlets, damage to drywall and paint, or missing fixtures.

Skip construction and buy renovated

Building a custom home is a complicated process, and it can take well over a year depending on your location, lot complications, house size, laws and the permit-approval process. Another option is to buy a home that has already been renovated — you get a fresh and updated feel without having to do the work yourself.

Shop Zillow-owned homes

Buyers of Zillow-owned homes can be confident that the homes they buy have been professionally renovated by local contractors. With Zillow-owned homes, you can avoid the stress of a custom build and make yourself at home.

*Zillow New Construction Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019

Source: zillow.com

Minor Home Improvement Projects Can Provide Major Returns

home improvements

Home Improvement projects are a great way to increase the value of your home. Especially if you are getting ready to sell your home. 

Granted, some remodeling projects can cost a fortune and take a lot of time to complete. Major projects like, finishing an unfinished basement or building an addition to your home are costly undertakings that can require months to complete. Fortunately, there are smaller home improvement projects that still add value but requiring less time and money to complete. 

Exterior improvements generally bring a higher return on investment than interior improvements. So, it makes sense to start with exterior upgrades.

Landscaping

This is one of the easiest ways to make your home stand out from others. There are many landscaping projects you can do like, planting trees and grass, building outdoor spaces like wooden decks or patios. These projects provide a good return on the money spent on them. For instance, if you spend $10,000 installing a wooden deck or patio, you could recover over $9,000 which is a healthy return for a home improvement project. Outdoor landscaping projects also give you a good place to relax when you want to spend some time outside.

Improve Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is really important when you’re trying to sell a house. Improvements here go a long way in helping you sell your home for top dollar. Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression and curb appeal is the real estate version of a first impression. Look over your front lawn make sure it’s green, healthy and free of weeds leaves and brown spots. You can even add a little color without creating a full-blown garden by simply adding window boxes or planters full of flowers. 

Upgrade the Front Door

One of the best ways to make your home look new is by adding a new door. You can choose one of the modern wooden door designs or a steel design. Just make sure that the material you choose is a high-quality one that will be appealing to most buyers. Steel doors are great because they provide additional security to the property. Wooden doors on the other hand also look great and should be used with other security measures such as alarm systems. Installing a door to your property will allow you to recover over 90% of the cost when selling which makes it a good project.

Replacing the Garage Door

The garage is one of the areas in a home that most buyers are interested in. This makes the garage door very important in boosting the resale value of the home. By installing a new garage door, you’ll be making your home more attractive and as such, improving the chances of selling it faster. It is also one of the projects that can allow you to recover all your money. 

Upgrading windows

This is one of the best home improvements to increase the value of the home. It is also one of the most expensive updates as far as home improvement is concerned. The type of windows you choose will determine the value and as such, the amount you get back. For instance, if you install modern double lane windows or tinted windows you’ll be able to get a higher value because of their ability to save energy. Do some research and find out what most buyers are looking for in windows then install those to get an upper hand.

Make the Home Smarter

Smart Home technology is a great and affordable way to upgrade your home. More and more, home buyers, are considering smart home technology as a must-have. Examples include smart sprinklers, smart thermostats, smart smoke detectors, and smart locks. Most of the smart home features increase convenience for the homeowner, enhance safety as well as security which makes them very valuable. You’ll be able to recover the cost you spend on the installation.

Flooring

If you have old floors you can easily change them to new ones that are more attractive. Most people ignore flooring but bad floors tend to lower the price of a home. Flooring materials and options come in a wide range of options and prices. Here are some of the flooring types buyers are really attracted to. A visit to a flooring store or even the local home improvement store will really get you excited about the options available.

Minor Kitchen Upgrades

You don’t have to change the entire kitchen to make it better. You can change a few areas like the cabinets, or even paint the walls differently and get new modern kitchen appliances to get an increase in value. Changing the counter-tops is another idea that will not cost as much as changing the entire kitchen. You’ll be able to recover at least 80% of your money when you’re done.

Minor Bathroom Updates

For most people buying a home is a long term investment which means that they may be looking for a home that they can raise a family in or grow old in. Having a bathroom that improves convenience and safety is, therefore, a great way to increase home value. Make changes here that will appeal to the handicapped by installing things like sidebars and lowering your switches. These will also appeal to those with your children and get you a higher value.

Conclusion

When considering the best home improvements to increase the value of the home, you should first find out what drives up home values in your specific area. This is something a Realtor can help you, especially realtors that work with buyers. These Realtors know what buyers are looking for and more importantly what they value.

Additionally, make sure the improvements convey a sense of quality. You can certainly make these improvements yourself if you have the skillset for this kind of work, many don’t. If this isn’t something you want to undertake yourself, look for a reliable professional. once again a realtor can help prefer dependable contractors for these types of projects. Either way, it’s important that the quality of the improvements is apparent. If the quality of the work is shoddy or unprofessional, you may end up having to redo these improvements and that is counterproductive, so make sure you do it right the first time. 

Source: realtybiznews.com