We’re in constant search for things that can save you time or money, and this newest discovery is pretty unique. RepairSmith is a service that is currently based in California (primarily) but will be rolling – that’s a car pun – out to major cities across the US later this year.
Their business is simple; take the mechanic to you, wherever you might be. Their mechanics are highly trained, well-vetted and did we mention they come to you? This means that if your car is stalled in your driveway or in the parking garage of your work, you can get it fixed right there. Their vans are exceptionally cool – equipped with a small mechanic’s shop worth of tools, diagnostic equipment and parts, their site boasts that they can handle 85% of common repairs wherever, whenever. They’re open 7 days a week, so even on a Sunday they can get you moving again, and if they can’t fix it on-site, they’ll bring you to one of their partner shops to get it worked on there.
– Brake pads and rotors
– Fluid fills and changes, including oil changes
– Alternator replacement
– Transmission rebuilding and replacing
– Replacement of catalytic converters
– Replacing spark plugs
What all does using RepairSmith entail?
Their website is incredibly easy to navigate – you can get an active quote in just a few minutes by plugging in your zip code. From there you choose from a handful of different repair options, add on anything else you can think might need fixing, and then submit. You’ll be given a number to call for a fast, simple quote and if you’re satisfied, you can set up the visit.
If by chance there’s more going on than they can fix right there, they always have garages standing by for rapid repairs, which is incredibly helpful.
Is RepairSmith worth it?
There are two things to consider when you’re looking at a new service; does it save you money and/or does it save you time over conventional approaches?
RepairSmith definitely saves you time – you can avoid sitting in the lobby of the mechanic while they change your oil and instead stay hard at work at home. Additionally their repair fleet can in many cases service your car before a traditional garage could get to it, meaning less time without a vehicle.
Monetarily, their services are on-par with traditional mechanic services and obviously pricing will vary based on a handful of factors (severity of the problem, model of the car, etc). You can also factor in the fact that this service saves you a tow in many situations, and prevents you from needing to be out of work. Even if their direct cost is more expensive on some jobs, overall you will save more money and time with RepairSmith for common repairs.
One of the best things I feel about their service is their 12-month/12,000 mile warranty on all their parts and services. While a good mechanic will stand behind their work, to have such a long-standing warranty is truly a testament to how confident RepairSmith is in their mechanics’ abilities.
If you live in LA and would like to give RepairSmith a try, there’s never been a better time. You can book at appointment at this link, and if you don’t live in LA, San Diego or Orange County in general, keep an eye on their site for their upcoming expansion. They might be coming to your city this year!
Healthcare and medical supplies for the most economically vulnerable often represent one part of a difficult choice. Choosing between critical medicines and eating, for instance, requires sacrifices that nobody should have to make. There are resources out there for people who are in low-or-fixed income situations to obtain their medical supplies cheap or free, but it’s a matter of the resources and the people being linked up.
Now before we go any further, I do want to say that this article in no way represents legal or medical advice. It’s merely my own thoughts and experience.
With that said, medical supplies, as defined under Medicaid, are typically disposable items for incontinence, diabetes or other chronic conditions that require testing or management. The constant resupplying of these items requires not only monthly payments but also a reputable and reliable provider.
There are, thankfully, a number of programs to help disabled, elderly and low-income families get their medical supplies for free or at the very least, drastically reduced in cost. We’re going to go over some options and help you determine the easiest, cheapest method for you to take care of your ongoing medical needs.
Healthcare Options When You’re Low Income
Qualifying for Programs
The first thing to do is to understand that budgeting for your medical supplies isn’t likely necessary, depending on what your income status looks like. For disabled and elderly people, the first step is to determine your Medicare eligibility. If you qualify, you can dramatically lower what you pay out of pocket every year for health services and supplies.
If you’ve ever served in the military, you likely qualify for veteran’s benefits through the VA. In some cases, these benefits can cover home health supplies.
Finally, check with local hospitals to see if they have clinics for low income families. Many will provide basic medical care and possibly some supplies, depending on where you live. These programs also partner with other local support for lower income individuals as well, so you can find a network of assistance when you need it most.
Once you qualify, find a reputable supplier
Once you have insurance or some other form of health cost coverage like what we detailed above, you can find a retailer that sells and ships medical supplies. For instance, incontinence has a variety of tools and supplies necessary to keep it managed. Finding a supplier that accepts your coverage and will ship directly to you can save you a large amount of money and worry.
One primary concern of people in low income situations is that they will reuse medical supplies because they don’t have the money to use fresh ones all the time when necessary. This exposes you to increased risk of infection or other complications, so having a constant supply of clean, disposable incontinence supplies is critical to maintain your health.
Don’t make unnecessary choices
There is no reason to pay more money than necessary for your medical supplies. Likewise, don’t put yourself in danger by reusing supplies you shouldn’t be. If you qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or veteran’s benefits, you can find a reputable medical supplies retailer who will ship fresh products directly to your door. There is help out there to keep you from having to make difficult decisions about your health, so please check into these programs today and start down the path to better health.
Camping out in a tent, watching people scramble for the last television – sounds like a typical Black Friday, doesn’t it? If you’ve never experienced the tradition of Black Friday planning and shopping, you might only have these examples on which to base your experience. For those of us who love the deals and the energy, however, Black Friday offers a yearly ritual that gifts us a head start on holiday shopping.
While a lot of commerce has turned to online stores, there’s nothing better than getting bundled up to go shopping in actual stores. With a perfect cup of coffee or hot chocolate in hand, you’re ready for anything. Any veteran of Black Friday knows, however, that the best shoppers have a strategy.
We’ve put together some tips that will make you into a Black Friday pro, even if you’ve never braved the craziness before.
Get in the right mindset
Bring your friends, pack some snacks and some tasty drinks; this is a long haul. If you go into Black Friday shopping with an aggressive mentality, you might think that will give you an edge. The reality is that it will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s better to go in relaxed with backup and some treats to refuel. Some of the best holiday season memories are built around the strangeness and warmth of shopping at 3am, as weird as that sounds.
And speaking of – my one absolute “must visit” place on Black Friday is Kohl’s. I’ve mentioned this in past Black Friday posts, but seriously if you want the best of the best deals, Kohl’s is where they’re at!
Black Friday Planning with Kohl’s
Plan, plan, plan
You cannot go into Black Friday department store shopping without a strategy or coupons. Check your local paper the Sunday before Thanksgiving for all the best ads and coupons for Black Friday. If you don’t get the Sunday paper in your area, it’s worth buying one by itself, just for this season. In addition,check out sites like Slickdeals, which houses all of the coupons and hottest deals online in one convenient place. Slick Deals in particular lists the best buys, biggest discounts and strategies for each store. Finally, Slick Deals has a real-time forum where people can contribute information, like what deals are sold out and what prices are better elsewhere!
Make your money work twice
A lot of department stores have a rewards program; Kohl’s, Old Navy and JCP all give you store cash for each dollar you spend. This can be redeemed in increments for anything in the store. One of the best strategies I’ve ever used personally was buying as much of my gift list as I could from Kohl’s on Black Friday. This earned me about $500 in Kohl’s Cash, which I then redeemed during their Christmas sales, saving over $500 and finishing the majority of my list. If you can get some or all of your gifts from a place that offers this type of program, I highly recommend it.
Know what you’re getting for your effort
Those incredibly cheap televisions they have at the front of the store? Those are last year’s model, which if that sale doesn’t bother you then go ahead and fight for them. The same goes with toys during Black Friday; they’re often the hot toys of the holiday season past – the new hot toys will go on sale in December. Basically know when the discount isn’t worth the hassle!
Don’t forget to treat yourself
Last year, I scoured as many ads as I could to find places where the rewards program cash was huge. This lead me again to Kohl’s where I picked up a handful of kitchen appliances I had been wanting – an air fryer and a pressure cooker. In this case, however, these items also had rebates and discounts. After I got my Kohl’s Cash back and sent in the rebates, I got these items for free. In fact, I came out a little bit ahead on each one. The point is, don’t just pay attention to what’s on your list if you find a deal that is just beyond good!
Rethink Black Friday
If you’ve only got a negative impression of the Black Friday rush, I urge you to think twice. It can actually be fun if you let it, and the deals you can get are beyond compare. With a little planning, utilization of coupon codes and sites like Slick Deals, you’ll find that department stores are enjoyable no matter how late (or early!) you go.
Black Friday brings with it some terrific deals but also terrifying mistakes to avoid. I’m not saying there will be pits to jump over or fire to avoid; rather, these hazards are of the shopping-mistake variety.
With some tips and tricks and a little planning, you can avoid these easy-to-fall-for mistakes people make every year on Black Friday, saving you valuable time and money. Here’s what not to buy, places to avoid, and alternatives to both.
If you’ve ever considered mystery shopping, you know it can be kind of…confusing. There are companies that claim to be mystery shopping firms but are really scams. Then there are mystery shop companies that never have any offers and just wastes your time. The fact is that if you’re doing it right, mystery shopping can be fun and earn you some free meals, items and actual cash. The trick is getting into it the right way.
Using this tutorial, you should be able to get started with mystery shopping, avoid predatory companies and start enjoying all the cool perks of the gig.
Earn Freebies and Cash By Mystery Shopping
How to start with mystery shopping
The first thing you want to do is ensure that you know what mystery shopping entails. Most shops will require you to purchase goods or services for which you will be reimbursed down the line, and usually compensated on top of that. With that said, it can be a month sometimes before you’re paid out, so setting aside some funds for the sole purpose of this gig is a great idea.
Open a separate bank account or simply keep a ledger of mystery shopping expenses. This way you can see what you’re spending on shops and set aside some of your earnings to pay for future shops. For instance, we went to a local restaurant a few weeks ago, a shop that reimbursed us for the dining experience and paid us, but we won’t get paid for that until the end of the month. Dining out can be expensive with kids, so reinvesting into your side gig can keep costs from spilling over into your normal budget.
Check out the MSPA Americas’ website. Basically the who’s-who of mystery shopping partners and programs, the MSPA will get you started with companies and opportunities in your area, and help you avoid scammers.
Avoid Mystery Shop Scams
Once you know how to avoid scams, start finding opportunities. We were only signed up with Bestmark for a long time, and it allowed us a handful of jobs a month, usually restaurant visits, but hardly enough to really make money. Once we started to really look for local gigs, we found that we could actually earn additional, relevant income from mystery shopping. A few places to look are:
The best is always going to be Google. Search for your area and find quality companies with shops in your area.
Craigslist is another place where you might find companies scouting your area for shoppers, but be especially wary and only go with these opportunities if you can verify it’s from a reputable company.
Bestmark is a A+ Better Business Bureau company and is the largest, most reputable mystery shopping business there is. We’ve had dining, electronics shopping, cellphone shopping, and service opportunities through them and they always pay.
Secret Shopper is last but not least in our list of reputable, online mystery shopping groups. They also have global opportunities if you’re not in North America.
Take Notes as a Shopper
Keep track of your shops, the companies you worked for and dates you went. This provides you a sort of resume from which you can solicit your own shops. If you know a company in your area is more selective about which shoppers they hire, this can give you an edge.
Be persistent. The best gigs and most opportunities go to the shoppers who are on-the-ball, respond quickly and complete shops regularly. Apply for as much as you can reasonably do, but don’t apply for things you will likely flake on, as that will impact your ability to get future jobs. Finally, complete the exit surveys and questionnaires as thoroughly as possible. Use good grammar, write in-depth, and do a fantastic job and you’ll be much more likely to get more work.
Other things to consider when getting started with mystery shopping
If you’re diligent, you’ll make extra money fast with mystery shopping. That said, be aware of a few things:
You will need to apply to forums, look for jobs regularly, and complete tasks to the best of your ability to make good income this way; no being lazy!
There will be some weeks where there doesn’t seem to be anything going on and you might get discouraged, but the best season for mystery shopping is around the holidays. This is where your diligence pays off, because by slogging through the summer, you’ll be one of the first people picked for good opportunities around Christmas and the New Year.
Never EVER get with a company that requires you to “make a deposit” or send them money to get you on a list or get started. These are always scams. A reputable company will only ever pay you out directly and will never ask for money from you. This is different, however, from shops that require you to make a purchase of dinner or a retail item and then reimburse you later on; these are often how you shops will go.
If you can’t get out to locations, some companies like Bestmark and Market Force have “phone shops”. These opportunities allow you to call a company and ask a few scripted questions. They’re quick, and usually pay $3-5 dollars each, which isn’t bad considering you can do them from home in your pajamas!
If the payment comes before the shop, or it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are scammers that will pose as representatives of actual, reputable companies that will send you a huge check in advance of a shop, or just a big payment for a mundane task. These are scams, and you’ll need to be wary. Nobody is paying $100 to walk into a Best Buy and look at televisions!
If you get offers through text or phone calls, chances are good it’s not legit. Market Force has a tightly controlled app that they communicate with their shoppers through, and Bestmark communicates via email which links to their secure forums. Each company is different, so learn the channels of communication through which they operate and you’ll be safe.
Mystery shopping is a fun, simple way to earn some nice rewards
With a little effort, attention to detail, and persistence, you can get continual cash flow on the side for shopping at places you’d normally go. Free or cheap meals, discounts on goods and services or freebies are all part of the gig if you’re good at it, and seasonal upticks in business can mean some awesome potential around the holidays!
Be diligent and wary of scammers, write great reviews and make sure you’re applying for everything you can find and you’ll get the hang of mystery shopping in no time.
Do you have any experience mystery shopping, either in-store or on the phone? Do you make good money doing it? Let us know in the comments; our newbies would love your tips!
There are apps for everything now, so it makes sense that coupons are going the digital route. From grocery stores to fast food, there’s a discount app or several out there that will scratch whatever particular itch you’ve got going on. Some take some planning to make the most of them and some are automatic but no matter what, each of these are worth the time investment in the money you’ll save.
The Best Money Saving Apps and Extensions
Apps to Help Save Money
I’ve written an Ibotta review in the past and I use it every time I go to the grocery store. It’s a handy little application that allows you to save on things on your meal plan (you are making a meal plan, aren’t you?). You simply search, find what you’re looking for, and then buy it! Sometimes there are caveats like needing to buy something else as well (for instance, pizza with soda) but generally they’re things you were going to buy anyway, and you get a pretty amazing amount of cash back.
Simply snap a photo of the receipt and then the bar code on the purchased product and voila! The savings appear in your Ibotta account.
What’s more, you can use the Ibotta app when you’re shopping online to get automatic savings on the purchases you make through the app on the retailer’s store. Sign up through this link and get $5 deposited into your Ibotta account automatically!
Some stores also allow you to connect your customer loyalty account with the Ibotta app so you can circumvent the entire process of scanning receipts, which is very handy.
Find&Save is an interesting website that partners with local newspapers, media outlets, and retailers in your area to bring you solid deals. While it started as a website, it’s now also added an app as well. In addition to constantly updating their deals and coupons, they also have great leads on back-to-school and holiday sales at over 500 major retailers.
This one is an interesting blend of useful app and fun technology. It’s a points-based rewards program and a discount app all mushed together that sends you deals based on your shopping preferences. One big difference here is that ShopKick uses your GPS to reward you for simply going into a store. If you walk into a brick-and-mortar store with your GPS on using this app, you don’t even need to buy anything to get rewards points. Finally, it uses your location data to ping you with nearby deals, which is especially nice around the holidays when certain stores might have short windows of very juicy sales.
This is an interesting one. You download the app and scan in every receipt, every time, and you’re given an amount of points based on each item from participating vendors. You can then use those points at a huge variety of other vendors like Sephora, Best Buy, AMC Theaters and many, many more. The best part of Fetch Rewards is that it might pick up some items that your other apps can miss, so definitely give it a try.
More Money Saving Apps
SavingsStarworks a lot like Ibotta – you can link in your participating grocer’s rewards card directly to the app. Then you select whatever rebates are relevant to your purchases and shop, checking out and scanning your rewards card as normal. Instead of the discounts being taken off your bill, they’re added to your Savings Star account and once you hit $20, you can cash out through Paypal or your bank. You can also upload receipts too, just in case your store doesn’t have a rewards card.
In the same vein as Ibotta and SavingsStar,Checkout51 scans your receipts for savings you might have missed. Essentially it compiles a wide variety of coupons and then applies them in reverse, giving you money in your account rather than taking it off your total at the register. These various apps are useful independent of each other because some will definitely be better depending on where you like to shop and where you live.
KeyRing is great because it’s a decluttering app and a coupon app all in one. Download KeyRing and start scanning in all of your store loyalty cards and then throw them away because the app holds them for you. Then you can browse discounts specific to the store and have the cashier scan your phone rather than a clunky piece of plastic hanging from your car keys.
This app allows you to search your local area for great discounts on dining, shopping, or entertainment. One thing that differentiates Coupon Sherpa from other apps is that you typically need to print out these coupons to use them, which is helpful for people who are making grocery lists and trying to avoid impulse purchases. At the same time, the app has digital savings and gives you location-based savings information, so it’s win-win either way.
InboxDollarsis such a great way to make and save money! Not only can you access coupons via the app, but you’ll actually get paid to download those coupons!
Honey is a free browser add-on that simply discounts whatever you’re shopping for online. Click through to a store, and it will automatically scan for available discounts and pop up a little box asking if you want to apply them. It’s really super easy, and with their rewards program – Honey Gold – you can get rewards points, even if the store doesn’t have coupons available. Check out Honey and get started earning rewards and saving money on the online shopping you already do!
I’ve spoken at length about how much I loved Ebates and just because it changed its name to Rakuten doesn’t mean I love it less. This site allows you to get great discounts at various retailers online, as well as returning some of your purchase back to you in the form of quarterly payouts. Some retailers offer 1% cash back but some like Dell have 5-10% back, and when you’re making a sizeable purchase, that can translate to a lot of money. Check out Rakuten through our referral link and earn $10 back on your first $25+ purchase in addition to whatever you get back naturally from Rakuten.
Similar to Rakuten and Honey, RetailMeNotoffers another way to find discounts at online retailers through their app or browser extension. Having several of these will allow you to figure out the best possible savings for your needs by comparing and contrasting available discounts.
Find the discounts, wherever they might hide
Using these apps – particularly together – along with making a shopping list and meal plan will help you save a tremendous amount of money. Some give rewards, some save directly on your receipt, and some give you a nice payout each month. Regardless of how you use them, there’s at least a few that will benefit you, so check them out!
Did we miss any great coupon, savings or rebates apps and extensions? Let us know in the comments which are your favorites and we might add them in!