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Clever Shopping Hacks You Had No Idea Existed

July 29, 2015 by Kyle 1 comment   •   Filed Under ,

With the coming and going of the over-hyped and under-delivered Amazon Prime Day, I figured it was time to share some lesser known tricks (or shopping hacks) at Tricks that’ll be useful when an item shows up late, damaged, broken, or worse yet, doesn’t show up at. You’ll be glad to know you have some recourse with the online retail giant, some of which can add up to significant money. Here’s what you need to know…

Amazon Tricks

2-Day Prime Guarantee Not Met? Get a Credit or Prime Membership Extension

Amazon posts guaranteed delivery dates and they try to meet them if at all possible, and they usually do. But what happens if they don’t meet their Prime 2-day shipping guarantee? After all, if they’re going to use the word “Guarantee” and charge you a $99 annual fee for the service, you absolutely have the right to hold them to this guarantee. So if they don’t meet the guarantee, and your item arrives after 2 business days, you can contact customer service and hold their feet to the fire. Politely explain the situation via live chat, or a phone call, and depending on the order size, they’ll typically give you a $5 credit, a $10 credit, or a 1-month Prime membership extension (an $8.25 value).

Broken or Damaged Item? How to Get Replacement Without Shipping it Back

There is nothing more frustrating than placing an order online only to have the item show up at your door broken or damaged. Whether it’s the fault of the person who boxed the item at an Amazon warehouse, or a lazy delivery person who decides to shot-put your package from 20 feet, Amazon has your back. Simply tell a customer service rep about the problem and if the item is valued at less than $50, they’ll typically send you a replacement without having you ship the original item back. Better yet, they’ll often send it via overnight shipping if you ask for it.

Keep in mind that this works only for items sold directly by Amazon. If you bought it from a 3rd party seller, you’ll have the option of getting your money back or getting a replacement in 3-4 business days.

Item Late or Never Showed Up? Get Next-Day Shipping on a Replacement

If you order something from Amazon, and for whatever reason the item has not shown up after 3-4 business days, you have some surprisingly good recourse. Simple contact Amazon customer service, explain the situation, and they’ll typically upgrade the shipping to “next-day” if the item hasn’t left their warehouse, or create a replacement order post-haste if it got lost in transit.

Ask the Reader: Have you ever used any of these Amazon shopping hacks when they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, or maybe your order got lost or damaged? Or do you consider these tips to go over the “proper etiquette” line? Let me hear from you!

By Kyle James


11 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money on Back-To-School Shopping

July 27, 2015 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

Pencils, crayons, glue sticks, shoes, uniforms, binders, maybe even a new laptop. It may seem early to start thinking about the things on your kid’s back-to-school shopping list, but if you start early and keep an eye out for certain things, you can save a ton of money. Here are eleven tips that’ll not only save you money, but’ll keep you sane as you try to figure out the best back-to-school shopping strategy this year.

Update: Check out our new Back-To-School coupons page. Coupons for stores like Walmart, Office Depot, Lands’ End, Staples, Justice, Old Navy, Kohl’s, Target, Office Max, and many more.

Back to School Supplies

Shop Your Closet & Kid’s Backpack First

Before you go buying a single back-to-school item check out what you already got. My 3 kids typically have a backpack thrown in the corner chalked full of pencils, markers, pair of scissors, ruler, etc. All stuff you won’t need to replenish this Fall. Also, be sure to take a look at what might be stored in the closet. There is a great chance you already have a decent amount of school supplies on hand. This is especially true if you are like me and stock up when you find a screaming deal.

NEVER Buy Everything From a Single Store

The absolute worst, and most expensive, way to do your back to school shopping is to go into one store and knock it all out at once. Why? Well because while you might find a few items on sale, you’re going to have to pay full price for a lot of other stuff and as you know, there is nothing I hate worse than paying full price. Instead, what you want to do is start watching the sales flyers right now and when you see great deals on items on your kid’s back-to-school list, go in and make the purchase. By starting early you’ll have plenty of time to make purchases ONLY when the price is right.

Price Match Sold-Out Items

Let’s say you’re shopping at Office Max and they are completely sold out of their 25 cent boxes of crayons. All hope is not lost. Just take their ad to your local Walmart or Target and as long as it’s a brand they also carry, they will happily price match the screaming deal on crayons, or whatever it might be. Never assume that since a store is sold-out you’re flat out of luck. Here is an article I wrote a while back talking about which stores will price match that will guide you through the different retailers price match policies, both online and in-store.

Buy Only On a Tax-Free Day

If you can wait until your state is offering a tax free weekend in August to make significant back-to-school purchases, you can easily save 6-9%, depending on your state’s tax rate. Here is a list of participating states and their corresponding dates:

  • Alabama Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • Arkansas Tax Free Weekend, August 1-2, 2015
  • Connecticut Tax Free Weekend, August 16-22, 2015
  • Florida Tax Free Weekend, August 7–16, 2015
  • Georgia Tax Free Weekend, July 31–August 2, 2015
  • Iowa Tax Free Weekend, August 7-8, 2015
  • Louisiana Tax Free Weekend, August 7-8, 2015
  • Maryland Tax Free Weekend, August 9-15, 2015
  • Mississippi Tax Free Weekend, August 7-8, 2015
  • Missouri Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • New Mexico Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • Ohio Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • Oklahoma Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • South Carolina Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • Tennessee Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • Texas Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015
  • Virginia Tax Free Weekend, August 7-9, 2015

Shop Around for School Uniforms

If you buy your child’s school uniform from a “Uniform Store”, you’re almost definitely over-spending. Many retailers like Lands’ End, Old Navy, and Gap now offer school uniform pants, polos, skirts, and shorts, and they’re all typically priced much lower than uniform-specific stores. Also, remember that kids grow A LOT, so buy the largest size possible that your child can reasonably wear without swimming in.

It’s also worth your while to be conservative in the items you buy. Don’t buy everything in August, instead, wait and see what your child likes wearing and what their specific needs are. You may actually find better prices as the school year progresses and retailers try to clear out school uniform items.

Always Wait to Buy Non-Essentials to Score BIG Deals

I’d classify “non-essentials” as items your child won’t need during the first few weeks of school. Think items like calculators, Kleenex, protractors, and science project supplies. If you can wait to buy these items, you’ll be able to take advantage of back-to-school clearance deals that happen every September. I’m talking like 75% to 90% off items that retailers desperately need to clear out to make room for Halloween candy and costumes.

Printable Coupons at Target

Were you aware that Target heavily entered the coupon game last year during the back-to-school shopping season? Some good news for you, they will be doing it again this year. You are going to find all of their back-to-school coupon offers on this page. Bookmark it and check it often as you’ll get some fantastic coupons to print on apparel, school supplies, electronics, and more. Do NOT shop at Target this year without a coupon in hand.

Check Office Supply Stores

Some of the absolute best back-to-school deals you’re going to find this Summer are not going to be at the Walmart and Targets of the world. Instead, keep a close eye on sales flyers from office supply stores like Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max. Last year they had some absolutely amazing deals and this year will be more of the same. We saw things like penny pencils, 25 cent glue sticks, dime folders, and 25 cent crayon boxes. But the one catch is that they sold out pretty quickly so be sure to always check the sales flyers in your local newspaper so you can jump on the deals as they come out.

Tech Deals for College Students

Do you have a kids in high school or college who needs a new laptop for school this year? If so, you need to look into education and college discounts provided by many stores and companies. Here are 5 education discounts you need to be aware of.

  • Never buy a new Apple MacBook or iPad without checking this Apple Education Pricing page.
  • Best Buy has a cool webpage that lists all of their College Student Deals – couple that caught my eye include $100 off all Apple MacBooks and $150 off select Lenovo and HP laptops.
  • Also be sure to check out Dell University which details student specific deals on new laptops, notebook, and desktop system.
  • Note: Be prepared to provide proof of your student eligibility with a student ID card or college transcript.

Smart Backpack Shopping

One of the biggest expenses on any child back-to-school shopping list is always the backpack. What is the best way to save on a new backpack? Always avoid the big name brands and more importantly always avoid the character themed backpacks. Those are always quite overpriced and simply not worth extra money. My girls will survive without a Hello Kitty backpack and my son can live without a new Nike backpack every Fall. You still want to look for quality backpacks that will actually last the entire school year. Brands that jump to mind that are of high quality and not incredibly expensive include Timberland, Rockland, and Embark. Also, keep an eye out for deals for up to 25% off backpacks from JanSport and NorthFace.

Leave The Kids at Home

I realize some parents like to take their kids back-to-school shopping as it makes them feel a part of the process. But I’m here to tell you that it’s typically not a good idea to haul them along, especially young kids. Kids are gonna throw off your money-saving mojo because they are going to want the expensive Hello Kitty backpack and they are going to want the G.I. Joe pencils that cost 5 times what they should. Your #1 goal has to be to shop the deals and save the most money. Kids are going to use the good ol’ fashioned yellow pencils that you buy because, guess what, they have to! That’s the way it works, always has, always will. Heck, I’d rather buy them some cheap stickers and let them decorate their back-to-school items until their heart is content.

Ask the Reader: What tips do you have for saving money on back-to-school supplies? I look forward to your comments.

By Kyle James


Highly Clever Ways to Save Money at The Home Depot

July 17, 2015 by Kyle 2 comments   •   Filed Under ,

Home Depot

I have a love/hate relationship with The Home Depot. On one hand, they carry an awesome selection of home improvement products, tools, and supplies at competitive prices. On the other hand, it can be hard to get answers to your questions as each department only has two employees at any given time, and one of them is usually a clueless kid. I know because I was that clueless kid not to long ago, mismatching paint until my orange apron had every color of the rainbow strewn across it.

But anyways, my blogging buddy Lori, at More With Less, recently wrote about some killer ways to save money at The Home Depot and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite tips, plus throw in a couple of my own. Go save some money on your next Home Depot purchase peeps. Here are a few of the great tips in no particular order…

Get a Price Match + 10%

If you find a lower price at a local competitor, (think Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Sears) Home Depot will not only match that price, but beat it by 10%. Item must be identical and in-stock at both locations. From the Home Depot website, “Excludes special orders, bid pricing, volume discounts, open-box merchandise, labor and installation, sales tax, rebate and free offers, typographical errors and online purchases. Online purchases are subject to price match only.”

Get Price Protection

If you buy something from Home Depot, and they lower the price within 30 days, just bring your receipt back in and get the difference. Lori  gives this great tip, “If you make a big ticket purchase, add a reminder to your calendar and check the price for the next 30 days.”

Buy a Discounted Gift Card

A little known way to save money at the warehouse store is to buy a Home Depot gift card for less than the face value at a website like or This works especially well if you’re doing a big home improvement project and know you’ll be making some large purchases because the bigger the gift card, the bigger the savings. For example, you can save 8-9% on gift cards with a balance over $100. Easy money.

Score a Rebate

Check out the very easy to search Rebate Center on the Home Depot website before you make any significant purchases. Worried about not redeeming the rebate, Lori gives this great tip, ” Address the envelope for the rebate and add the stamp right away. Once I add the stamp, I am committed to send in the rebate!” Love it, this totally works for me as well. I just did this with a rebate on Behr paint that I bought to paint my daughter’s bedroom.

Pay Attention to the Cents

This one comes from my article on Cracking the Price Tag Code.  Pay attention to the cents on the Home Depot price tag. If the item has an ending price of .06, it means the product is on clearance and will be lowered again in 6 weeks. If the price ends in .03, it’s final markdown and will be removed from the warehouse in 3 weeks if not sold. By looking for items ending in .06 or .03 you’re guaranteed to get a low price.

Buy Paint on a Holiday Weekend

Having worked in the paint department, I am quite familiar with the times of the year when Behr paint goes on sale. The dates to remember are any long holiday weekend, especially between the months of April and October. So think Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Paint will be $5 off per gallon and $25 off for a 5 gallon bucket. Sometimes you’ll have to mail-in a rebate to get the discount and sometimes you’ll get it when you checkout. If you’re planning a big paint purchase you can save a good chunk of change by timing your purchase to coincide with one of these holiday weekends.

Look For Damaged Packaging

This is also my tip and involves looking for damaged boxes or packaging when shopping at The Home Depot and politely asking for a discount. I did this recently on a damaged kitchen sink box when doing an interview with Inside Edition. The box had a slight tear in one of the corners and I asked for a 15% discount and they offered to take 10% off. Managers want to get rid of anything slightly damaged so use this to your advantage and save some money.

Be sure to click below to read all of Lori’s great Home Depot money-saving tips:

How to Shop at Home Depot Like a Money Saving Pro | More With Less

By Kyle James

Photo by Mike Mozart.


Trader Joe’s Shopping Tips: Shop Smart and Save Money

July 14, 2015 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

Trader Joe’s is a mainstay in my families monthly shopping adventures. My wife and I find that if you shop smart, TJ’s can provide a great value on many items. Plus, my kids love to frantically search the aisles for the stuffed beaver in order to score a free lollipop at the register. Anyways, Business Insider recently broke down a bunch of great savings hacks and tips for Trader Joe’s and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of my favorites. Here they are in no particular order.

Trader Joe's

Frozen Fruit is Expensive

A bag of frozen fruit at Trader Joe’s is very expensive compared to Walmart. As a matter of fact, a small bag at TJ’s is more expensive than the large 64 oz bag at Walmart. We are talking frozen fruit here, probably for smoothies or desserts, so why pay more than you have to.

Trader Joe’s Accepts Coupons

While Trader Joe’s does not have in-house coupons, they do except manufacturer coupons on items they stock. A couple great coupon resources include Money Saving Mom and All Natural Savings.

Frozen Meals are a Steal

Frozen meals at Trader Joe’s are typically a great deal and are usually at least $2 cheaper than traditional grocery stores. Not sure which ones taste good? Head over to the website What’s Good at Trader Joe’s and read a bunch of in-depth reviews on their frozen meals so you have a good idea which ones to try out and which ones to pass on.

Buy the Frozen Mac ‘N Cheese

This one falls into the “Who Knew?” category. Turns out the frozen mac ‘n cheese is da bomb and way better than their boxed version. While I’ve never tried their boxed mac ‘n cheese, the reviews, shall we say, are not glowing.

Tote Your Own Bag

Some Trader Joe’s locations will reward you nicely if you tote your own bags. You’ll be entered in a $25 gift card raffle when you spend at least $25 and use your own bags. Be sure to fill out the raffle ticket when checking out or ask the cashier if you don’t see one. It’s a win-win for you and the environment.

Specialty Cheeses are a Deal

Our fridge is almost always stocked with specialty cheeses from Trader Joe’s. I’m talking about smoked cheddar, brie, and blue cheese to name a few. Why? Because they’re absolutely delicious and at least 35% cheaper than any other grocery store in town.

Buy Bunches of Bananas

At just $.19 cents each, bananas have always been a great deal at Trader Joe’s.

Shop Mainly For Packaged Non-Perishables

“Packaged non-perishables.” A great alternative rock band name, and also the single best reason to shop at Trader Joe’s. Not only are most packaged non-perishables inexpensive, but they’re very high-quality and typically organic. Quinoa is a great example and is sold for $2 less per pound when compared to Whole Foods.

Be sure to click below to see all of the other Trader Joe’s shopping tips:

17 shopping secrets to save time and money at Trader Joe’s | Business Insider

By Kyle James

Photo by K. Kendall.


Amazon “Prime Day”: Joke, Gimmick, or a Shopper’s Dream?

July 10, 2015 by Kyle 4 comments   •   Filed Under , is all set for their inaugural “Prime Day” starting at 12 a.m. PDT on Wednesday, July 15th. A day when they’ll release exclusive deals to Amazon Prime members every 10 minutes. They’re billing the event as a day when they’ll have more deals, and better deals, than their Black Friday event. They plan on having 7 “Deals of the Day” along with thousands of limited time/quantity “Lightning Deals”.

While the perks of being an Amazon […] Continue Reading…


The Only 5 Target Shopping Hacks You’ll Ever Need to Save Money

July 9, 2015 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

How to find screaming deals at Target is a popular topic among shoppers these days. If you’re not shopping smart and looking for ways to save, the retailer can easily become a black hole of overspending. So I decided to cut through all of the clutter and come up with the only 5 Target shopping hacks you’ll ever need to maximize your savings. Tips that will give you insider information on the retail giant […] Continue Reading…


How To Turn an Unwanted Visa Gift Card Into Amazon Gold

July 3, 2015 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

I hate to waste money on ANYTHING! Being a self-proclaimed coupon nerd, this is probably pretty obvious to most of my loyal readers by now.

So when I stumbled upon an old Visa gift card in my desk drawer recently, which was about to expire (GASP!), it was clearly time to put my frugal skillz to work and figure out an easy way to get my money off the card. The original balance was $25 and I knew I […] Continue Reading…


The Best 4th of July Weekend Coupons and Deals

June 30, 2015 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

The 4th of July weekend continues to be an excellent time to shop, as many retailers throw out some pretty enticing incentives and coupons. This year is no different as we’ve been finding some great coupons the past few days. So I thought I would add all of the best coupons from in this post to help you navigate the coupons and quickly find what you’re looking for. Keep checking back to this page […] Continue Reading…


Frugal Hack #27: 8 Cool Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership

June 29, 2015 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

Costco is full of stuff you had no idea existed, but clearly cannot live another day without.

What if you’re on the fence about paying $55 for an annual membership? Perhaps the bulk aspect has you concerned you’ll end up wasting a lot of stuff. Or maybe you just aren’t sure if the savings is enough to justify the membership. If this is you, I have good news for ya. I recently discovered a bunch of really […] Continue Reading…

Share does not have an openly stated price protection policy. But most savvy Amazon shoppers are aware of their “somewhat unofficial” 7-day price protection policy which entitles you to money-back if the price is lowered on their site after you receive the item.

I was always under the impression that the item had to be sold directly by “ LLC” to qualify for price protection. I recently discovered this is NOT the case and the […] Continue Reading…