How about an $8 ottoman?

If you’re wondering why things are kinda quiet over here, it’s because I post deals a few times a week via my Unveiled Savings Facebook group. It’s a bit quicker to access and respond to questions, and I have continual contact with members on my mobile device.

In case you aren’t a client and member of the group, I thought I’d share this bargain to give you a glimpse into what you’re missing! Just select me as your Personal Shopper to be invited to the group right away. Remember that the service is 100% complimentary and includes all the custom bargain hunts you need. It’d be my pleasure!

Head over to Kmart for this deal. Don’t forget to shop through a portal to make it even better. If you haven’t used the $15 back on $30 bonus, that would make this A FREE OTTOMAN if you purchase and redeem a Kmart gift card!

Don’t miss deals like this – become a client today!

How I Made $69 in Less Time Than it Took to Write This Post

The world of e-commerce is vast. All you have to do is find an item here and there that is on sale. Hopefully, you can make that sale even better by earning (or redeeming) some form of store loyalty credit, adding a great portal bonus, and paying with a discounted gift card. Please the Rules of Engagement if you aren’t clear on that process. What does this have to do with your wedding? Not a whole lot, unless you, like everyone else on the planet, could use a couple extra bucks, have a father or other men in your life that will be gift recipients, or you opened credit cards to get a free honeymoon and need to meet the spend minimum.

Here is today’s example of making $69 in a matter of minutes (even if it took an hour, isn’t that pretty good?):

Sears is selling an impact wrench (I don’t even know what that is) for 50% off. I’ve added it to my Best Deals catalog. (Hint hint: you should really add me as your personal shopper so you don’t miss out on these offers…there are other great products in that catalog that you can make some money on, too!) Add in tax and my total was $132.80.

wrench

Turns out Amazon sells this product for just under the normal retail – $237.49. It is ranked around the 250,000 mark in Home Improvement, which is good enough for me. The fees look to be around 15%, but for the sake of argument…I’ll call it $40 if I sell the item for $200. I should be able to sell it for $225 and the fees will be less than that, but let’s stick with easy numbers and plenty of margin.

A quick scan through the Sears Deals Center shows a nice $10 back in Shop Your Way Rewards on $100 in tools. Free points!

Ebates is offering 6% cashback (and you should totally be using Ebates and referring people to it while they’re offering a $50 bonus! Yes, that last link helps sort out the details.) Fantastic. 6% on $125 is $7.50. Don’t calculate on tax.

Icing on the cake here…I have a small stash of Sears gift cards that I received in exchange for Discover cash back. $20 worth of Discover cash gets me $25 worth of Sears credit – so $80 worth of Discover cash gets me $100 worth of Sears credit. Not bad, right? On a $125 purchase, I am saving $20 + $5 = $25 (there’s some common core math for you…20% of $100 = $20. 20% of $25 = $5. $20 + $5 = $25.)

  • If you don’t maintain a stash of Sears gift cards…well, you can reload a gift card from the Sears site (which you navigate to by way of Ebates) – you’ll still get the 6% back. In this case, then, instead of a $25 savings, you’ll get a $7.50 savings. Be sure to call Sears right away to get them to process the reload transaction at 888-396-5299.)

Final Tally:

Purchase Price: – $132.80

Amazon Expected Sales Price: $200

Amazon Worst-Case Fees: – $40

Sears SYWR: $10 (hey, they’re also giving me $1 for accepting a one-day slower delivery…fine by me)

Ebates Cashback: $7.50

Gift Card Discount: $25

= -$132.80 + 200 – 40 + 10 + 7.50 + 25 = $69.70 (note that this will be $52.20 if you go through Ebates)

Heck, I think I’ll buy two…

What does this have to do with wedding planning?

As with many of my posts, here’s the list of reasons this is relevant:

  1. You opened a credit card and need to meet a spend threshold to earn a sign up bonus. Do not spend money for the sake of this bonus – spend what you need to spend…and make up the difference on creative “manufactured spend” like this.
  2. You need a couple bucks to cover this that and the next thing. Dear reader…wouldn’t an extra $69 cover at least an elaborate mani/pedi? YES! How about your rehearsal dinner dress? A gift for a member of your wedding party? This is money in your pocket to spend on whatever expenses aren’t yet covered. Else, use it to pay down your debt!
  3. You need gifts for the men in your life – your dad, brother, fiance, groomsmen, etc etc etc…
  4. You need gifts for a couple in your life – engagement party, wedding gift, etc etc etc…
  5. You happen to need this thing yourself.

Does this help?

Are you interested in becoming an Amazon Seller? Does this example motivate you to find great deals of your own? Please leave a comment or send a message if you need guidance!

How to Get $100 Worth of Free Wedding Stationary at Staples

When all is said and done, it’s amazing how many pieces of paper your wedding will consume! Here’s a list:

  • Save the Date Notestyping-vintage-technology-keyboard
  • Invitations
  • Menus
  • RSVPs
  • Seating Placeholders
  • Return labels
  • Ceremony Programs
  • Thank You Cards
  • Photo Prints

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get even one of those at a discount?

Staples Premier = 10% Back in Rewards!

If you reach Staples Plus status, you’ll get a $25 in-store copy and print voucher. Once you make it to Staples Premier status, you’ll get an additional $50.

Screenshot (174)

Certainly, $1,000 is a long way to go to get $75 for free! Keep in mind you’ll get $10 on your way to Plus (2% back on $500) and another $15 on your way to Premier (3% back on the next $500.) Ultimately, on $1,000, that would be $75 + 10 + 15 = $100, or a full 10% back.

How the heck do I spend $1,000 at Staples?

Run Errands for Other Organizations

Your expenses will add up quickly if you’re a small business owner, teacher, etc. The goal is to spend as little as possible out of pocket to maximize your rewards. Here’s an idea – maybe you are involved with a non profit or other volunteer organization that needs supplies. Think about church leaflets, fundraising flyers, and so on. They may let you take care of the purchase and refund you later; if you use your reward number, those expenses will count toward your total.

Purchase Other Stationary at Staples

There are so many great places to purchase wedding stationary, you’ll have to really do some price shopping to make sure this is the best deal. If it is, let’s assume you purchase 100 invitations for $2 each – you’ve already spent 20% ($200 of $1,000) of your total. Don’t forget the envelopes! Be sure to follow the steps below to maximize your savings.

Maximize Rebate Offers

Keep an eye on Staples Easy Rebates! They are easy! It seems like every week includes a free paper offer. Find this week’s offers here. If you can get one free $5 ream of paper each week (usually the offer say “limit 4”) that’s going to be $250 ($5 * 50) in one year. There are often great resale opportunities when Staples offers 20% back in Rewards or 15% off, for example. They even price match 110%. Look for Keurig machines, routers, and other low weight, high price items. I’ve spent $1,000 in a day at Staples just on resale purchases! My Amazon store was happy.

Maximize Your Savings at Staples With These Steps

1. Extend your $75 with Coupons

It’s common to find 15 and 20% off coupons. Use these with your Copy & Print vouchers – just have them type in the code at the bottom.

copyprint

2a. Use Chase Ink for an Additional 5%

This business card offers a 5% bonus on office supply stores. Don’t have one? Consider using my referral link; you’ll get 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months, which is redeemable for at least $600. $1,000 at Staples will earn you 5,000 points, worth at least $50.

2b. Pay with Discover Deals Gift Cards to Save Up to 30%

Redeem your Discover Cashback for $25 gift cards with a limit of 5 per order.

For every $100, you can get $20 off! That’s 20%! Now, your $1,000 in purchases only cost $800.

You’ll still get $100 back in rewards – $100 back on $800 is 12.5%.

When you consider your $200 savings ($20 * 10) plus $100 in rewards, this is like paying $700 for $1,000 worth of Staples merchandise, or a 30% discount without using any coupons! staplesdiscover

 

3. Don’t forget the portals!

While you’re on your way to $1,000, ensure you make your purchases through a portal!

My Experience

I was unable to apply my $50 to an online order for in store pickup, so plan on spending time at the store finalizing your design. My $50 (plus $4 out of pocket for taxes) was enough for a 24×36″ photo print, a wonderful custom return address stamp (if you aren’t having your envelopes printed, this will save you a lot of work!) and 500 business cards – which I can’t wait to pick up! You can have quite the variety of products printed at your store – stop in and chat with them or call to ask.


 

How will you spend your Staples Copy & Print Reward?

Which stationary item are you most excited to get for free with your reward?

 

Bridesmaid Gift Idea: Monogrammed Jewelry

This cute online shop, Ally Anna Gifts, has a number of steals available through Groupon and Living Social. Here is the Living Social list:

livingsocial (2)

The Groupon list is similar. Don’t forget to shop through a portal. Start at cashbackmonitor.com for ideas; I shopped through Discover for an extra 10% back! With the double-cashback promotion from last year, that’s going to be 20% back!

Screenshot (134)

Other AllyAnna Gift Ideas

If you make a selection from one of these vendors, don’t rush off the AllyAnnaGifts.com site! Check out the sale section. I know a few friends at my Alma Mater (Clemson!) that might love the bangle with orange and crystal beads.Screenshot (132)

The prices are great, although I won’t know anything about the quality of the piece until it arrives (review are 83% positive…biggest detriment is for issues with the redemption code – yes, I’m having this problem – and, oddly enough, that the bracelets smell…?)

Screenshot (130)

Bridesmaid Wedding Day Jewelry

I think it’s great if you can give your bridesmaids a gift they’ll use again; jewelry intended for your wedding day might never fit into their wardrobe again. With prices like these, you might have some room in your budget to buy a tasteful gift along with costume jewelry for your event. Or, just the contrary; these would make great gifts if you’ve already picked out wedding day jewelry!

I’m a big fan of gift baskets. You’ll be able to pick out a handful of small items that will be fun to open, especially if you wrap them up and use a trendy tote instead of a woven basket (unless your gals are into that sort of thing.) Take a look at my Bridesmaid Gift catalog for more ideas (please consider the no-obligation option to add me as your personal shopper – I would be flattered!)

Screenshot (129) New to Groupon?

Please consider using my referral link!

Join Groupon and we’ll each get $10 when you purchase your first deal. Be sure to join right before you make a purchase, because the $10 promo is only valid for 72 hours from the time you join!


What gifts did you discover for your bridesmaids?

Leave a comment!

Sears Shop Your Way: Earning VIP Status

Why does this matters to engaged couples or newlyweds?

Choose your registry shops wisely! If you’re in the market for products carried at multiple vendors (Sears, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s…) do you research and see if there are extra benefits at a given store. There is no harm in asking for gift cards and priority-shopping based on what you receive. Plus, this allows you to accumulate the benefits – your family and friends will probably get a kick out of your creativity!

If you’re buying appliances or outfitting a new home, read on to learn how our household earned VIP Status at Sears – you can, too. It’s a benefit that comes along for free, so use it or lose it!

Shop Your Way VIP Status

Since we aren’t homeowners, we don’t run into a lot of large expenses at Sears/Kmart (or other home improvement stores, for that matter.) It’s a good thing! But, it makes it really hard to reach the VIP tiers in their Shop Your Way Program. From the Shop Your Way site:

“To reach each level, there is a minimum annual spend.

  • VIP Silver: $2,500.00 annual spend
  • VIP Gold: $5,000.00 annual spend
  • VIP Platinum: $10,000.00 annual spend

(Just so you know we define “annual spend” as Total Qualified Spending between January and December of a calendar year. Basically, it’s everything you spend on qualified purchases for the whole year).”

Reaching a $2,500 spend threshold seemed unattainable, given the scarcity of resale opportunities; Sears offers “Surprise Points” and discount coupons in their Deal Center, but the rules are convoluted and I usually give up my search. The folks over at SlickDeals have discussed the program at length in this thread, if you’d like more information.

However, our newest residence was lacking a washer and dryer. I ended up buying a more expensive set than I ever anticipated without a lot of sale shopping (gasp!) – but I anticipate getting around 20% back via the Discover Deals portal (purchased gift cards and received 5% back, which will double in a few months per last year’s awesome promotion…then redeemed gift cards again for 5% back which, too, will double. Should.) I’m starting to see the 5% earnings roll in, but I’m not going to hold my breath. We needed the darn things and we needed them right away.

After that, in mid-March, I started to think about accumulating another $1,000 in spend to reach the VIP Silver Status. Much like the Southwest Companion Pass, the status is valid for the remainder of the year plus the entire following year. Also from their site:

“You will be in your VIP level until December 31 of the following year, unless you advance to a higher level. VIP levels get reviewed every week, so in case you qualify for an upgrade, we’ll be checking. Also keep in mind, once you achieve VIP status, at the beginning of each subsequent calendar year your Total Qualified Spend will reset to zero and you will need to achieve the minimum spend requirements to re-qualify for VIP status the following year.”

So, even though I missed out on Quarter 1, I’d still be eligible for 7 of the 8 possible quarters. I’ll pretty much chase after any challenge that’s in front of me. As luck would have it, Sears is wrapping up their April Black Friday promotion (what?) tomorrow – I happened to find an item that I could sell on Amazon for a small profit, plus earned a handful of points to apply toward more household items we actually need (outfitting three bathrooms instead of one, for example, means more shelving and organizers.) While I won’t tell you exactly what I purchased, the Black Friday list isn’t too long! Even better, I put $1,000 on my shiny new American Express business card (it even says “Unveiled Savings” on it!) I’ll be 35,000 SPG points richer in no time!

sears

Tonight, my balance says I’ve spent $2,612 of the required $2,500 to reach Silver VIP Status. I hope – expect – it will update tomorrow:silver

How do you check your VIP Status?

Click this link or the VIP tab as shown below (start at shopyourway.com, click Rewards, and the box for VIP.)

vip

What are the benefits?

Each quarter, VIPs get a “choice benefit” (among other benefits you can find here, such as two $4.99 oil changes w/tire rotations per year.) Some are “free,” such as the watches you see in the photo below. Others are 100% back in points – so the $200 set of pots and pans will earn 200,000 Shop Your Way Rewards points.

choice

I’ll probably select the NutriBullet or the Keurig. I’ve sold these on Amazon in the past and know they move quickly. I might only get a fraction of the cash I spend, but it’s worth it. Here’s an easy example:

In doing so, I’ll put $125 on my credit card (inching toward that SPG bonus!) I’ll come out at least $25 ahead. I’ll also get $125 toward my Gold Status (only $2,375 to go…) I’ll probably buy via Discover or another portal, earning me at least 5% back (another $6.25.)

If you’ve got gift cards that really were gifts, this is a great way to turn them into more cash than you started with!

Are you in the market for any of the items shown? Do you have VIP status?

I would be happy to sell you any of the items listed for the same amount I’d get from Amazon.

Leave a comment or email me!

Why rent? Buy a tuxedo for the same price!

Assuming your tux rental (we’re just talking jacket and pants) is $200 at Men’s Warehouse or other retailers, I am definitely an advocate for having the groom, fathers, and groomsmen purchase a tuxedo rather than renting. If you’re going to choose the economy options that are under $100 with tailoring and accessories, you are probably better off renting. However, buying is especially valuable if it’s inconvenient or implausible to pick up the tuxedos on the day of the wedding – for example, there weren’t any options in Kauai that seemed reliable for our wedding – or if the shop charges a daily fee if you can’t return them the next day. Most of us weren’t returning for an additional three or four days, which would have been an extra $80! There are also fewer opportunities for last minute crises when the guys own, pick up, and tailor their tuxedos in advance. Plus…if you ever need to wear it again (who doesn’t?) it has paid for itself and is ready at a moment’s notice!

There are a handful of places that have outstanding sales throughout the year. Here’s a great option that pops up on a regular basis: Express is offering 50% off everything. That makes a standard tuxedo only $238!

Tuxedo

Of COURSE we can do better by stacking promotions! Take a look at these offers via cashbackmonitor.com:

EXPRESS

If you’re a Discover card holder taking advantage of the Double offer (if not, you should be!) that means you’ll get a whopping 20% back on each tuxedo, for a total of $23.80*2 = $47.60 off, or $190.40.

Done! Less than the typical cost to rent.

 

Don’t have a Discover card? Let’s try another deal. Buying a discount gift card will save us up to 20% off, too. Note that you won’t earn Discover cash back if you pay with a gift card, but that isn’t the rule with most of the other programs. So, you could buy an Express gift card at 20% off and use it to purchase your tuxedo via Ebates, Rapid Rewards, etc, and earn yourself some free loyalty miles.

gcg

What about the shirts, shoes, tie, etc…

Express has those, too. So does Kohl’s, among an endless list of other stores. I have a handful of ideas to help you save some cash on those purchases. Since that “stuff” tends to be custom for each event, I think it’s reasonable to put $30-$50 into the accessories and worth buying a comfortable pair of dress shoes that will get some use.

What do you think?

Are you renting or buying? Where did you pick up your accessories?

Up to 34% Off Engagement Rings at Zales!

This is a darn good deal!

If you’re not a Discover cardholder and it’s diamond-shoppin’ time, you might want to take a few minutes to consider this option.

zales

First, sign up for your card at discover.com/double – this DOUBLES all cash back for your first year as a cardholder (plus offers no interest for a whole year! See the last portion of the post for more…) So, when you see Discover Deals (the Discover portal) offering 10% back, that makes it an easy 20% back. Zales has 10% back through the end of the year – just be sure to read the fine print, as it says not valid with other offers. But, does that rule really apply? The answer is “YMMV” – your mileage may vary (you’ll see this expression around many travel blogs and deal sites as a disclaimer that the promotion might not work exactly as advertised, so proceed at your own discretion.) Zales is currently offering 15% off on $1,500, but it may not pair with the Discover offer. So, it’s your choice whether or not to take the chance. Let’s do the math and decide.

Just the 15% Off: Assuming you’re buying a $2,000 engagement ring. That would trigger the 15% off, or a $1,700 sticker price. You should probably use a new credit card that has a sign up bonus on $1,000 so you can make progress toward that free honeymoon! However, if you use your Discover card, you’ll get the standard 1% back, doubled to 2%, for an extra $34 off. Your price would be $1,668.

Just the 20% Back at Discover: Assuming you’re buying a $2,000 engagement ring, your price would be $2,000 and you’ll get $400 in cash back through the bonus plus the standard 1%, or $20, doubled to $40. Your price would be $1,580.

Use both, cross your fingers it works:  Assuming you’re buying a $2,000 engagement ring, your price would be $1,700 after the 15% discount and you’ll get $340 in cash back through the bonus plus the standard 1%, or $17, doubled to $34. End price is $1,326 – a total discount of about 34% off!

What would I do? I would definitely use the 15% off code and shop through the Discover portal! I could save an ADDITIONAL 16% over just using the 20% portal offer ($1,326 vs $1,580), and will pay an “extra” 6%, at most, if I only get the 15% without the cash back bonus ($1,668 vs $1,580.) The only factor that might change my mind would be a significant travel bonus if I used a non-Discover card on the purchase.

Don’t know what you’re shopping for?

If you need help picking out a stone online, don’t hesitate to ask for help. I also suggest the folks over at Price Scope and the Holloway Cut Adviser as great tools for your search. You should pop in to a store or two to get a feel for your personal preference and corresponding prices to make sure this is the best deal you can find.

I might be poking around for a gift for myself, with these prices…

Obligatory financial responsibility statement

Using a credit card takes responsibility. This card happens to come with 0% interest for ONE YEAR. In other words, if you can’t pay off the purchase in ONE YEAR, don’t make it! The rates skyrocket to 10-20% in the 13th month, which will immediately wipe out any savings from using the card!