Feb 262013
 

I am a soulful lover of travel. Thanks to Andrea Woroch, you lovelies can get the first-hand scoop — on saving on airfare! For me, that usually means more money for travel related leisure — or some much coveted beauty/fashion must-haves! But, either way…saving is always a plus! Read on to learn how ;-*

*Enters our chic guest blogger — Andrea Woroch*

As you likely know, across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect this Friday, Mar. 1, unless last-minute action is taken by Congress. These cuts will impact most federal agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration, whose annual budget will be reduced by over 5 percent. Hand and money plane

Unfortunately, these cuts will trickle down to consumers in the form of fewer flights, according to the National Air Traffic Control Association. Fewer flights means higher demand and increased fare costs in some markets. Since the busy spring and summer travel season is just around the corner, consider the following ways to save on airfare.

1. Wake Up Early
The time you fly can impact the cost of your flight significantly. Waking up before dawn or catching a late-night redeye may get you the cheapest flight of the day. For example, a departing Southwest flight from Denver to Spokane at 8:05 a.m. costs $148, while the flight that leaves at 10:20 a.m. costs nearly $50 more ($196).

2. Get a Credit Card
It’s important to sign up for an airline’s frequent flyer program, but just as important to find a credit card that offers award trips. Most credit card companies offer mileage points for use toward flights, hotels and even car rentals. Airline-specific credit cards, like the United MileagePlus Visa or Frontier World MasterCard, enable you to earn miles for everyday purchases.

3. Look for Discount Gift Cards
Pick up a few discount travel gift cards from sites like GiftCardGranny.com to save on airfare. For instance, you can find discounts of up to 15 percent on Frontier Airlines gift cards and 8 percent on American Airlines.

4. Shop for Flights on Tuesday
According to FareCompare.com, booking flights at 3:00 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon is your best chance to find the cheapest airfare. Since more airlines bid for flights on Mondays and companies are busy booking their business travelers, less expensive flights abound on Tuesday and Wednesday.

5. Stop Over
I’m not a fan of making connections, but it’s a great way to lower your overall fare costs in some cases. Look for short connection windows but make sure there’s enough time to catch the next flight in case of a delay. Also, be sure the amount of savings is enough to justify the hassle of a layover.

6. Travel Midweek
Flight prices peak around the weekend as business travelers fly home and leisure travelers escape for a short getaway or vacation. A departing flight from Denver to Las Vegas costs $83.99 when leaving on Wednesday, while the return flight on Sunday rings in at $205. Depart one day later on Monday and the fare drops to $124.

7. Track Flight Price Drops
Some airlines like Southwest will issue you an airline credit if your itinerary drops in price after you book it. Yapta.com will alert you when your itinerary drops in price so you can request a credit or book the trip if you’re holding out for a better deal.

8. Compare Airports
You might assume smaller airports with limited flights will always have costlier airfare, but this is not always the case. With limited schedules, these airports can’t accommodate all travelers, making select flights and trips in less demand and therefore less expensive.

9. Search One Ways
When you’re flying to and from the same city, you may limit your search to roundtrip flights. However, booking one way flights on different airlines may get you a better deal in some cases. Plus, it’s easier to redeem miles on one-way flights because the cost of one leg is significantly less than the cost of a roundtrip flight.

10. Don’t Check Bags
You can save $50 for a roundtrip flight if you don’t check a bag and even more if you were planning to check multiple bags. Pack light with a carry on or pick an airline like Southwest or JetBlue that offers a free checked bag (or two, in the case of Southwest).

11. Book with Airlines Directly
I always recommend comparing prices and schedules with a search engine like Kayak, but don’t forget to search airlines separately. Airlines like Southwest don’t allow their airfare to be posted to third-party sites, so you could overlook a better deal. What’s more, buying directly from the airline will reduce the hassle associated with dealing with a third party in cases of flight changes or cancellations.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

May 122012
 

So you waited too long again. Mother’s Day is Sunday and you failed to get Mom’s card in the mail, and your options are running out fast. Instead of beating yourself up and sending Mom an “I owe you,” look at this as an opportunity to get a bit creative…and more personal.

Consider the following list of last-minute gift ideas and surprise Mom with your thoughtfulness.

1. Magazine Subscription
There are magazines for every interest, from river rafting to raising rodents. Check out the tens of thousands of discount magazine subscriptions offered by Amazon.com and find something that will make Mom smile every month.

2. Online Gift Cards
Don’t have time to run to the store, or perhaps Mom’s favorite place to shop is online? Just about every major merchant offers online gift cards that you can have emailed to her within 24 hours, and sometimes instantly. Save by purchasing a discounted online gift card from GiftCardGranny.com, where you can find deals like 20-percent off a Dress Barn gift card.

3. A Phone Call
If Mom lives at a distance, a long phone call is one of the best gifts you can give. Set aside a chunk of time, think about the stuff going on in your life and questions you’d like to ask her, then dial away. If it’s an option, make the call even more special by using Skype video chat or iPhone FaceTime.

4. Club Memberships
You can order special monthly club subscriptions for everything from fruit and wine to movies and massages. Check out SpaFinder.com to get her pampered or set her up with monthly DVDs from Netflix. Birchbox.com is great resource for discovering new beauty products with tips on how to use them.

5. Flowers
It’s never too late to send flowers for Mother’s Day. Search online for last-minute deals from merchants like FTD or 1-800-Flowers. Otherwise, call a few local florists to see what they can offer for under $30. If Mom’s local, hit up your supermarket’s floral department for a nice bouquet or find a garden plant for the mom with a green thumb.

6. Financial Advice
This one definitely falls within the “unique” category, but the gift of financial advice is invaluable for most people. This is especially true for anyone nearing retirement age, and the savvy ladies at LearnVest understand this. Through May 30, you can purchase a Core Financial plan for yourself and gift another plan to your mom for free. If you already have a plan, LearnVest will offer the Core Financial package for half off as a gift to Mom. Visit LearnVest.com for details.

7. Brunch
Mother’s Day brunch deals abound in cities across the country. Call Mom’s favorite restaurants to find the best specials. If reservations are booked up, consider preparing an at-home brunch. Present your mother with a menu of her preferred breakfast dishes like banana pancakes, veggie omelette or french toast. Don’t forget to buy a bottle of inexpensive champagne and orange juice for a special toast.

8. Her Own Domain
This may not work if your mother’s name is Mary Smith or Susan Jones, but otherwise you might just have a chance of securing an Internet domain in her own name. If you’re handy with the computer, you might whip up a silly website focusing on something she loves. You can often purchase your desired url from GoDaddy.com for as little as $12.

9. Slideshow
Every mother loves to relive family moments and photos are sure to bring a smile to her face. Put together a slideshow of Mom’s favorite pictures with captions that spark each memory and sit around the computer while you watch it together. If Mom is miles away, share the slideshow via email so she can access it on the computer or from her smartphone.

 

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Sephora.com, Inc.

Dec 272011
 

Hello Darlings,

Before the holidays there was endless advice about setting a budget and sticking to a shopping list. Those who ignored the wisdom shared by experts will be in for a shock when credit card and bank statements arrive in the mail.

According to a Consumer Reports poll, six percent of us are still paying off holiday debts from 2010. That means any new purchases racked up over the past holiday season will inflate those interest charges and make paying down the old and new balances more difficult and expensive.

If the bottom line on your bills is looking ugly, it’s time to get a financial-management makeover. Consider these tips for balancing your holiday debt:

1. Double and Triple Up
Multiply your credit card minimum payments two or three times to reduce the amount of interest you’ll end up paying. Merely meeting the minimum means you’ll never see bottom.

2. Now’s the Time to Negotiate
Talk to your credit card company about negotiating a better rate on interest, fees and other expenses. If your interest rate is above 15 percent and they won’t negotiate, it may be time to transfer much of the balance to a lower-cost card. Just make sure you pay off the debt before the interest rate climbs again.

3. Go On a No-spend Diet
Stick those credit cards in the freezer, if you have to, but do what it takes to avoid impulse shopping sprees. Better yet, give them to a trusted friend or family member for safekeeping.

4. Get Couponing
Using coupons for necessary purchases not only saves you money, but the practice helps you make more educated purchasing decisions. You can find online and printable coupons for thousands of stores on CouponSherpa.com, or download their mobile app for instant access to coupons while you shop.

5. Stick to Cash
There’s something about parting with greenbacks that makes us less likely to spend. Keep a budgeted amount on hand and stay away from the cards. Using the envelope system is expecially helpful in tracking your cash spending while working toward financial goals.

6. Cut Back on Luxuries
You’ve had your fun during the holidays; now it’s time to get serious. Cut out the restaurants, nail salon and triple shot mocha latte until the bills are under control. Of course, too strict of an economic diet is as easy to break as a weight-loss regimen. So figure in an occasional, small splurge to keep you going.

7. Set Small Goals
Don’t try to do everything at once. If paying off credit cards in three months means going hungry, you’re biting off more than you can chew. Set smaller, obtainable goals and you’ll appreciate the final results more. For those with multiple credit cards with high balances, try paying down one card at a time to feel that sense of accomplishment needed to push on to the next goal.

8. Meet With a Financial Planner
If you’re barely treading financial water, it’s time to get some assistance. A professional financial planner can help you establish a reasonable plan that won’t leave you paying off debts until next Christmas. You can find a qualified guide through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website or you might check for non-profit assistance.

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Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert who has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.

Dec 262011
 

Hello Lovelies,

Here’s an interesting statistic from Consumer Reports: Nearly 50 percent of people surveyed by the national research center tip their cleaning person for the holidays with cash, checks or gift cards. The same genorosity is shown to hairdressers (36 percent), manicurists (35 percent) and barbers (32 percent).

It sounds like people know exactly what to give their beauty-care specialists and, since gift cards are the most-requested present for the fifth year running, you have to bet a large portion of those holiday tips came in the form of gift cards.

Tipping with gift cards adds a personal touch you can’t get with cash. It shows you know something personal about the recipient, other than that they provide a good service. If this sounds appealing, read on for five suggestions on tipping with gift cards.

1. Consider The Individual
Those who stand on their feet all day would likely love a spa treatment. Delivery people who use their own vehicles, like newspaper carriers, would probably appreciate a gas gift card.

2. Give an All-purpose Card
If you’re totally clueless, a grocery gift card from Whole Foods, Safeway, etc., could hardly go amiss. Other gift cards to fall back on include iTunes or big-box stores, like Wal-Mart or Target.

3. Buy Discount Cards
You can prove your largess without spending large. Check out websites like GiftCardGranny.com, where you can buy discount gift cards at up to 50 percent off the face value. The recipient will never know and you’ll save enough to tip your newspaper-delivery specialist.

4. Give Them Something to Chew On
Check with local eateries for discounts on gift cards. At this time of year, some restaurants — big and small — offer bonus cards when you buy a minimum amount, like California Pizza Kitchen.

5. Point Them Towards Gift Card Exchange Day
Should the recipient give you a blank look when you hand over their gift card, you might casually mention Gift Card Exchange Day, when they can exchange their card for cash on Dec. 26 through a variety of resellers.

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Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.

Dec 262011
 

Hello Lovelies,

Gift cards have topped the list of most requested presents for five years running, but some recipients inevitably end up disappointed. Whether you have a collection of unwanted cards you’re looking to unload or just haven’t decided what you want to buy, use these tips to get the most from your holiday gift cards.

1. Review Details
Despite new federal regulations for gift cards resulting from the Credit CARD Act, retailers are finding their way around the rules. A recent article in Canadian Business points out bank-issued gift cards from MasterCard and VISA often include additional purchase fees on top of the balance of the card. Other cards included as a bonus with your purchase are actually treated more like coupons, with short expiration dates or product restrictions. Before you stick these away in your wallet, read up on the rules and regulations.

2. Follow the News
With the economy still struggling, businesses come just as quickly as they go. If you have a gift card for a store that’s struggling to stay afloat, it’s smart to use it up as quickly as possible. Once they go under, you’ll lose out on the entire balance.

3. Sell or Exchange Unwanted Cards
There’s no mystery when it comes to gift cards; you either like them or you don’t. If your plastic haul falls on the “don’t” side, there’s still hope for getting something out of them. Gift Card Exchange Day — a one day event created to raise consumer awareness about exchanging gift cards for cash — is set to take place on Dec. 26. Just enter the store name and gift card amount to receive instant bids from resellers wanting to purchase your card.

4. Consider Regifting
Do you have family or friends with a post-Christmas birthday or perhaps an upcoming wedding or baby shower? Unwanted gift cards make quality presents at no cost. Just make sure such holiday gift cards don’t feature a season-specific design when gifting for another celebration.

5. Get Registered
Once you’ve decided you’re going to use your gift card, get it registered. Call the issuers’ customer service department and provide your name and address with the card’s unique account number and PIN. If the card is lost or stolen you’re able to get the balance credited back on a new card.

6. Keep It Close
Though gift cards work like cash, they certainly don’t get the same treatment. Cash is closely guarded and meticulously monitored while gift cards get tossed into the sock drawer. If you’d tuck a $20 bill into your wallet as soon as you got it, why wouldn’t you do the same with a gift card? To ensure they’re around whenever you need them, put them in a secure place such as your purse, wallet or car. That way you have your gift card ready for unexpected purchases and you don’t have to use cash or credit.

7. Shop Smarter
In a surprising find, Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney discovered gift card recipients typically spend 140 percent of the card’s face value during their redemption trip. This indicates shoppers don’t spend as carefully as they would when using cash or a credit card. If you spend just to spend, take more time to weigh your gift card purchases. Also, use gift cards for stores like Walmart or Target on household items and boost your budget for a few months.

8. Make a Donation
Unwanted cards can be donated. Many organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation accept donations of gift cards that are used toward granting wishes. If smaller, local charities don’t accept them, use your card to buy items like food and clothing you know they’ll take. It’s best to donate directly instead of through a third-party site so you know the money got there and you’re guaranteed a tax deduction.

9. Keep Up with Balances
To avoid leaving partial balances unredeemed, keep notes about how much you’ve used and store balance receipts along with the card. You can also check your balance on such sites as GiftCardGranny.com if it’s been a while since you last used the card. In some states you can even request a cash refund when the balance falls under a certain amount. Currently the minimum is $10 in California and $5 in a handful of other states.

10. Start a Portfolio
This year the investment site, GoalMine, is taking a unique approach to gift cards. From Dec. 19 through the end of January they’ll sell your cards and deposit the value into a FDIC-insured savings account or one of their mutual funds. Instead of filling your cart up with candy bars to spend the last of your store credit, get a college fund going for the kids.

11. Recycle
Several companies such as Target, REI and Walmart began using bioplastic gift cards made with a corn-based material that will biodegrade in a regular compost bin. Though some gift cards aren’t biodegradable, you can mail them to Earthworks System, a PVC recycling company that began accepting gift cards for recycling last January.

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Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

 

 

Oct 252011
 

Hello Lovelies,

Media Maven here, and we have an awesome pet friendly Halloween post courtesy of  our fave LifeStylista, Andrea Woroch:

Cats loathe costumes but some dogs positively revel in dressing up for Halloween. Strap on a pair of fairy wings and they begin to strut their stuff, eager to trick-or-treat like a little kid.

Dressing up your dachshund can get pretty pricey, however, without sewing skills or a big budget. Here’s a list of easy and frugal ideas to keep Toto happy come Oct. 31. And before you costume your canine; be sure to check out “Dog Halloween Safety Tips” from PuppyinTraining.com.

1. Octopus
This works best with taller dogs. Stuff pantyhose with a light material, sew eight of them together in a cluster, and pin to your dog’s harness.

2. Chippendale Dancer

Two English Bulldogs dressed up as a Bee and Devil

Cut the collar and cuffs from a disposable white shirt and secure to to a large dog’s neck and front paws. Create a bow tie out of a strip of black cloth. Encourage donations by tucking a few $1 bills into their collar. This works really well if you have a dog able to dance on their hind legs.

3. Little Red Riding Hood
A good costume for a small dog, this one is also easy on the sewing impaired. Hit Joann Fabrics for a yard of red material with some starch to it, like felt or flannel, and a length of red ribbon. Cut the material into a hood and cape shape then baste the ribbon to the neck of the hood.

4. Gangsta Pup
Let your street-wise hound go gangsta style with a hoodie and gold medallions. Make the bling out of Yoplait yogurt lids and pick up a hoodie on the cheapside with a Petsmart coupon from sites like CouponSherpa.com.

5. Vampire
Those canine teeth will come in handy when your dog takes on the most popular costume of the decade. Simply cut a swath of black silk into a cape shape and attach it to the collar. If you have sewing skills or a glue gun, create a stand-up collar by melding red silk to a cardboard frame.

6. Winged Fairy
Teacup pups might be too tiny to handle wings, but a small dog should be able to pull off this low-cost outfit. Read how to create this look with directions from instructables.com.

7. Rescue Dog
This one’s a natural for St. Bernards, but even funnier on a small dog. Strap an empty beer or pop can to their collar and use a long piece of red felt to create a waistband painted with a white cross. For a humorous twist, larger dogs might be able to handle an empty coffee can instead of the expected beer barrel.

8. Pillow Camel
From all reports, dachshunds enjoy a bit of dress up now and then. Turn your weiner dog into a camel by attaching an old sofa pillow in a caramel shade to a center harness. For a lumpier look, wrap a belt around the middle to give them two humps.

9. Go Pre-made
Walmart has added to their online costume section with an entire line of outfits for dogs. Here you’ll find everything from maid to sheriff costumes for various size dogsand all at bargain-friendly prices. And with so many other online Halloween stores selling pet costumes, you’ll likely find something fitting for Fido, whether freaky, festive or funny. Just remember to search for promo codes to score savings and free shipping before checking out.

 

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc.

Oct 032011
 

Hello Lovelies,

Now that New York Fashion Week have come and gone (and it was FABULOUS), now is the time to rack up on those summer 2011 sales that will translate into 2012.

Check out the scoop and some fashion tips from Andrea Woroch…

Marc Jacobs showed bold colors in a minimalistic style for next spring. The grand dame of New York fashion, Diane von Furstenberg, splashed her runway with brilliant whites and light greens paired with beige. All can be found at post-summer sales and re-purposed for next year.

Here are eight other ways to get that luxury look without emptying your wallet.

1. Shop Sample Sales
Search for sample sales in your city for a chance to score current designer looks for a fraction of the cost. For those who don’t live near a big city where such fashion sales are abundant, don’t stress. You can shop flash-sale websites like Gilt Groupe, which feature designer duds for 50 to 70-percent off. Returns are accepted on most merchandise, but make sure to read the site’s policy before making the purchase so you don’t get stuck with ill-fitting goods.

2. Consignment Shops
Second-hand stores dedicated to designer fashion are popping up in many major cities. You can also find gently used fashion online at Plato’s Closet, where you can sell your undesired clothes as well. As with traditional retailers, consignment shops are selling off last summer’s clothing and accessories.

3. Use Coupons
Don’t dismiss the cost cutting potential coupons offer. Even high-fashion retailers these days rely on money-saving vouchers to attract new customers. You can find coupons for free shipping at Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and other luxury good stores at sites like FreeShipping.org.

4. Swap
Coordinate a clothing swap with friends or coworkers. Or try swapping clothes and accessories online at such sites as Rehash Clothes.

5. Follow the 30/70 Rule
Maintain a wardrobe that’s roughly 30 percent trendy and 70-percent staple pieces that won’t go out of style. You then won’t feel the need to restock your closet every season but can still mix and match to recreate the latest looks.

6. Department Store Designer Finds
More and more high-fashion designers are collaborating with department stores and discount retailers to offer exclusive and affordable collections for everyday women. Check out Simply Vera Wang at Kohl’s and Lela Rose for Payless to find the styles you crave and prices your wallet can manage.

7. Nix the Dry Cleaning
Avoid clothing that requires dry cleaning and, if not possible, buy products you can clean with the popular dry-cleaning pouches you just pop into your dryer. While it’s not exactly dry cleaning, the result is the same.

8. Rent What What You Can’t Buy
When it comes to a special event, the most affordable and practical options for finding designer frocks is renting. Sites like RentTheRunway offer current season fashion from over 95 top designers at 90-percent less than retail prices. Simply choose a dress or piece of jewelry you wish to wear and return it after the occasion.

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AndreaWoroch is a nationally recognized media source, featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

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