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Kay Lynn

Buy Your Vacation from a Daily Deal Site

vacation daily deals

Daily deal websites have come a long way since Groupon introduced the concept in late 2008. Many of us buy them regularly to stretch our budgets with 50% off or more on entertainment, products, restaurants and services. Some even overspend due to the lure of the deal!

While I have had good luck getting refunds when the retailer didn’t honor a deal certificate, the risk is prepaying for the good deal is usually less than $100. Now that risk has been kicked up a notch with vacation deals!

My sister recently bought a week-long stay at a Mexican all-inclusive resort from a group buying business. It was a great deal, but cost several hundred dollars for something they won’t use for a few months. She felt comfortable with the purchase because of previous experience with the site.

If you are always on the lookout to save money on travel plans, consider subscribing to a few travel deal sites. You’ll get a feel for the type of offerings at each site and figure out if you’re up for this type of vacation purchase. Let’s look at a few of the sites.

Groupon Getaways

Find Local Deals 50% - 90% OffThe granddaddy of group buying has travel offerings ranging from hotel rooms to a safari for $3,600. One of the features here is recommendations for things to do nearby a destination or hotel.

Groupon stands behind the purchase with their promise to refund the money if you’re unable to book the stay you want.

Living Social Escapes

Living Social was close on the heels of Groupon and started in 2009. Their travel deals are called Escapes and have a wide variety including hotels, rafting trips, and more. You have 30 days post-purchase to return your voucher, no questions asked.

Bloomspot Travel Getaways

This is another site with interesting, discounted travel offerings. The day I checked there was a 11 day tour to New Zealand at 55% off the regular price. I couldn’t find information regarding travel purchase guarantees or refunds.

Expedia ASAP

Although technically not a daily deal site, Expedia is offering what it calls “A Sudden Amazing Price” or ASAP. Every morning at 9 a.m. Pacific time a new deal is available for 12 hours only.

At most sites, the offers are available for several days to give you a chance to coordinate calendars before purchase. Be sure to read the fine print to understand expiration dates, additional charges and other important details before completing the purchase.

Another option to daily deal sites are membership discount travel sites such as Jetsetter.com and Vacationist.com which both offer free memberships. Don’t forget your warehouse club or other membership organizations.

What do you think about buying your next vacation from a daily deal site?

Photo: Some rights reserved by Simon_sees

Let’s All Go to the Movies…Cheaply!

cheap movies

Have you cut back on going to the movies because of the ticket prices? I don’t blame you for not wanting to pay anywhere between $8-13 just for a regular evening show. You don’t have to give up seeing new releases to save money. Here are some ways to see that movie for less.

Screenings

A few weeks ago my husband and I saw Real Steel before the official opening by going to a screening. We attended this screening thanks to a media invitation, but there were hundreds of other people who took advantage of free seats.

The studio doesn’t want the experience at screenings to include the audience reaction and will fill the theater with press first and then non-press afterwards. You can sign up for screenings in your city at various websites including Film Metro and gofobo.

A word of warning is to go early. More passes are awarded than there are seats so if you really want to see the movie go at least an hour early.

Matinees

We’ve been fans of the matinee shows because the prices are lower, the crowds are lighter and we’re not too tired! Many theaters not only have lower prices before 4-6 pm, but they also may offer an additional discount for the first showing of the day.

Check the price structures of your local movie houses.

Discount Tickets

Most theater chains sell discounted tickets to groups. You can buy these through work, a warehouse club or the entertainment book. I’ve found the price to be comparable to matinee fees but you get to go to the evening show!

Sometimes you may have to mail in for the discounted tickets as well so this option requires advance planning.

Rewards

We recently received two movie tickets just for drinking coke products and entering codes online. One of the rewards available from my credit card is gift cards to a national movie chain. Swagbucks can be redeemed for a gift card to Fandango.

These are just three ways you can see free movies from some type of reward program. You may already be building points that can earn you a free movie seat.

Daily Deal Sites

Websites that sell one deal a day offer discounted movie tickets usually at least 50% their regular price. Sometimes they’re packaged with refreshments. You are usually limited in the number of tickets that can be purchased and there is an expiration date if not used.

We’ve taken advantage of this several times and are happy to get two tickets, a popcorn and soda for $15. If you don’t normally buy food then it might not be as good a deal.

Getting tickets for free or half price means you don’t have to miss the latest installment of your favorite movie. How do you save money at the movies?

photo: by gailf548

Home Remedies Already in Your Kitchen

sweet honey

 

Got a cold or a headache? You most likely have relief in your kitchen. Home remedies can fight these illnesses and others for many of us.

Why and When to Use Home Remedies

There are many reasons to want to try something at home versus a pharmaceutical solution for a medical concern. Natural medications may cost less and are usually better for the environment. There’s also the motivation to reduce chemical intake.

But how do you know when to use a home remedy and when you need to get additional medical help? Before using any treatment, do your research to make sure you understand the directions, use and expected benefits. You should check with your medical provider when in doubt.

Foods with Healing Powers

There are medicinal benefits to many common foods, spices and herbs. Below are a few foods and some of their benefits you might use in a home remedy.

Honey

Honey provides more than sweetness, it also has been used for centuries in medicine. Don’t put butter on a mild burn; use honey. You can actually buy medicinal honey at natural health stores.

It is also wonderful for nagging coughs in children over one and adults. One teaspoon before bed performs better than cough syrup in one study.

Ginger

One of my childhood memories consists of my parents giving me ginger ale whenever I had an upset stomach. The ginger in the drink is known to provide nausea relief especially with motion sickness or morning sickness.

There are many folk treatments using ginger root, tea or some other form that have not borne out scientifically.

Coffee

This is a drink that has scientific backing for many health claims. Coffee consumption can relieve headaches and prevent the chance of many disease including prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, gout, Parkinson’s disease and more.

Be sure what you add to the coffee doesn’t work against those health benefits!

Olive Oil

Besides adding great flavor to foods, this unsaturated oil has many uses in health. The mild laxative quality not only is a stool softener but also can be used to soften ear wax.

Longer term benefits are lowered blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Baking Soda

Not only is baking soda great for home cleaning it has medicinal applications. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply on mild burns. It is also helpful to relieve itching from allergic reaction rashes whether it is from poison oak or detergent.

These are just a few of your kitchen staples that can provide more than just flavor to your meals. What super foods do you use for good health and home remedies?

Photo: Some rights reserved by Siona Watson

Makeover Your Bathroom for Cheap

bathroom makeover

Our three bathrooms still have the original finishing and are starting to look dated. Although bathroom remodeling costs have a high rate of return at resell time, it would be a pretty penny to tackle three of them! This is where my hours of watching HGTV are finally paying off. Here are five ideas for making over the bathrooms with a low price tag.

Replace Light Fixtures

Swapping out out of style light fixtures with a current style can quickly refresh the look of any room. Be sure to pick a style that will integrate with the overall design and look of the room. The price range for a new light fixture can range from $20 to over $500, but you can find a very nice light in the $50-$100 range.

Frame Your Mirror

I’ve noticed the trend in bathroom mirrors is to have them framed. Ours are the traditional style of mirror which is affixed directly to the wall. One of my friends told me about kits to frame the mirror without having to remove it from the wall.

Since our mirrors have started to lose some of the silvering around the edges, this solution has the extra benefit of masking that problem. The kits are available in a wide variety of finishes and materials with a price range of $150 – $250.

Change the Color

Yes, painting the room a more contemporary color is a fast and easy way to refresh the look of a room. But did you know that you can repaint that pink or blue bathtub?

It is a lot of work due to the requirement of sanding down the entire fixture before applying the porcelain paint. However, it can save a lot of money especially if your bathtub is tiled in. Since toilets and sinks are relatively cheap, I would replace them versus repainting.

Reface Cabinets

It can be costly to replace bathroom cabinets, especially when they’re attached to or built into the walls. A trick you may know from kitchen remodeling is to replace only the doors. New doors can move the look from the 1960’s to contemporary. We need to strip the white paint off our cabinets and refinish along with attaching new doors.

Replace Hardware

The hardware I’m speaking of includes the faucets, toilet paper holder, towel racks and cabinet handles or pulls. Make sure the style for all of these are complementary and the same color. These are easy to overlook because you see them every day but can add up to making the room look old.

Just because you don’t have $10-30 thousand dollars doesn’t mean you can’t remodel your bathroom. Get a great new look for under $1,000 with these tips. What changes do you want to make at your home?

Photo Credit: steve r watson

4 Tips for A Successful Interview

dress for job interview

 

Do you know what it takes to ace the next big interview? Whether it’s for a college admission, award or the next job these tips will help you make the most of the opportunity.

Do Your Research

The first step to success is doing your homework. Study the company website and know the mission, products and history. Google the organization for information available from other sources. Not only will this provide insight into the job, but give you fodder for questions to ask the interviewer.

Don’t forget to research the interviewer or panel to find out information about them.  Use it to connect with the person if the opportunity arises.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice answering interview questions. Have friends and family interview you and provide constructive feedback. You can find lots of articles on common interview questions.

Develop a list of examples that may fit the bill for several questions so you’re not stumped in a stressful moment. Also, be prepared for a variety of interview styles. Some interviewers may not ask you traditional questions but may ask you to “sell” them on why you’re right for the job.

Be Prepared

Don’t forget to think about the small details. Do you know how to get to the interview address? If possible, drive there in advance at the same time of day. This way you won’t be surprised by traffic or bad directions.

It is ideal to arrive 10-15 minutes early for the appointment. Be sure to bring extra copies of your resume. Sometimes, the interviewer won’t have it or the formatting might be messed up from the transmission.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to dress appropriately. This means a professional appearance even if the regular wardrobe may be casual. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. If the interviewer remembers what you wore, it most likely was inappropriate .

Follow-Up

Too many people don’t following up after the interview. Ask for the business card of the person interviewing you. Be sure to send them an email within a day thanking them for the interview and providing any follow-up information.

At the same time, send a hand-written note via the mail highlighting why you are the best choice for the position. Make it about how much they’ll gain from selecting you!

Lastly, follow-up with a phone call in 3-4 days if you haven’t already been contacted. Let them know you’re still interested and find out if further information is needed.

If you have the right skills for the job, these steps will help you stand out from the average applicant. What’s your best interview tip?

Photo: Some rights reserved by drewzhrodague