How to Use an Amazon Gift Card (PLUS a Hack For Those Small Balance Visa Gift Cards)

December 10, 2019 by Kyle
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If you’ve ever clicked around the Amazon “account settings” pages you’ve probably noticed just how many options there are. So many that it often makes it hard to do the “easy tasks”. Whether it be finding your gift card balance, your archived orders, or tracking a package…you just might be clicking around for a while. It’s with this in mind that I wanted to breakdown exactly how to to redeem an Amazon gift card and all the “ins and outs” so you can do it quickly. As a bonus, I also breakdown how to redeem an unwanted Visa gift card (with a small balance on it) so you can use it to shop on Amazon.

How to Use a Gift Card on Amazon + 4 Mind Blowing Gift Card Hacks

How to Add an Amazon Gift Card to Your Account?

Amazon account page

Glad you asked, let’s break it down in 4 easy steps.

Step 1 Login in your Amazon account. If you don’t already have an account you’ll be prompted to create one.

Step 2Click on your Account (typically in the upper right hand corner) and then find the Gift Cards section and click on it. See pic above.

Step 3 Take a look at your physical gift card and find the Claim Code located on the back. It most cases you’ll need to scratch or peel it to find it. On E-gift cards you can just copy and paste the claim code.

Step 4 – On the Gift Cards page, select Redeem a Gift Card and then enter your claim code in the box and click Apply.

Note: The next time you make a purchase your Amazon gift card balance will automatically be applied unless you choose otherwise on the Payment page.

See Also: 8 Awesome Ways to Score Free Amazon Gift Cards

Can I Apply an Amazon Gift Card Directly to a Purchase?

Apply gift card directly to Amazon purchase

You absolutely can and here are the steps to make it happen.

Step 1 Just shop like you normally would and add your items to your virtual cart. When you’re done, simply select Checkout.

Step 2 Once you get to the checkout page you’ll see your Shipping Address, and below that will be the Payment Method section.

Under your payment method is a box titled Add Gift Card or Promotion Code or Voucher.

You’ll simply enter the claim code from your Amazon gift card and click Apply.

If the gift card is only for $25, but your order total is $35, the $10 will be paid by your default payment method.

Likewise if you have money remaining on your gift card after your purchase, it will stay in your Amazon account and be available for your next purchase.

Can I Add an Unwanted Visa Gift Card?

Reload your gift card balance

YES.

Let’s say you have a Visa gift card with $2.37 remaining on it and you’d like to use it up and get rid of it.

Consider adding the balance to your Amazon account instead of holding onto it and probably forgetting to use the balance.

To make it happen just follow these easy steps.

Step 1 Go to your Amazon Gift Card Balance page and click on Reload Your Balance.

Step 2Next you’ll want to enter the remaining balance of your Visa gift card in the Custom amount box. Call the number on the back of your card if you’re not sure of the exact amount.

Step 3 Before you submit you’ll want to click Add a Card and enter the details of your Visa gift card.

Add A Card

Step 4 Then make sure you click/tap the circle next to your newly added Visa gift card so Amazon knows that’s the card you want to use to reload your balance.

Step 5 – Click Reload at the bottom and your gift card balance will get transferred to your Amazon account so you can use it on your next purchase.

See Also: How To Turn an Unwanted Visa Gift Card Into Amazon Gold


By Kyle James

Photo credit to Mike Mozart.

7 Things to Know About the Best Buy Student Discount

December 6, 2019 by Kyle
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If you’ve hung around my blog long enough you already know I’m a huge fan of student discounts. I mean you’re livin’ on ramen noodles and Taco Bell anyways, so why not take advantage of every discount and deal that you can find. So to continue on that theme, I want to breakdown the Best Buy student discount program so you can save money on your next laptop, desktop, tablet, and a BUNCH of other cool products and accessories.

7 Smart Things to Know About the Best Buy Student Discount

What is the Best Buy Student Discount?

The Best Buy Student Discount program offers steep discounts on specific products to college students.

Namely stuff that college students need. Think laptops, tablets, memory cards, charging cords, printers, etc.

Unfortunately the discount program is not available to high school (or younger) students.

So while the discount is not a flat dollar or percentage off like other student discount programs, it’s still worth knowing about, especially during back-to-school season and around Christmas.

What Proof Do I Need to Show?

Typically none.

During the sign-up process on Best Buy’s website you’ll be able to select your university, college, or junior college.

All accredited schools in the U.S. are eligible for their student discount program.

Once your information is entered, Best Buy uses a 3rd party company to immediately check if you’re actually enrolled, or have been in the past.

In 99% of the cases this is a seamless process, but if for some reason you’re not let into the program you should call Best Buy at (888) 237-8289 and they’ll manually add you.

In other rare instances Best Buy might ask you to provide an official transcript to prove your college enrollment.

See Also: All The Places That Offer “Good Student” Discounts & Freebies

So…How Do I Sign-Up?

Student discount sign-up page

First, you’ll need to either Sign-In or Create a “My Best Buy” account.

Next, you’ll be asked for your name, email, mobile number, school, and approximate date of graduation.

After you submit your information, you’ll get a text message with a verification code attached.

Just enter the code and you’ll gain immediate access to all of the current student discounts.

How Do I Actually Get My Discount?

See the Student deals

Once you’re signed up, just click the “Get Your Deals” button and you’ll be taken to the student discounts page on the Best Buy website.

If you see a product that you’re interested in, click “Shop Now” and add it to your virtual shopping cart.

Important: Make sure the product has the “Student Deals” stamp next to it otherwise their is NO discount currently available.

You’ll notice that the actual student discount dollar amount is not shown to you until you get to the Payment Information page.

Once at the checkout page, you’ll enter any missing information and click “Continue to Payment Information”.

This is where the magic happens. On the left-hand side you’ll see Offers and Rewards, this is where you’ll see your student discount on the item you’re buying.

Click Apply next to the offer and your new order total should now reflect the discount.

Student discount Apply button

VERY Important: Remember, if you don’t click “Apply”, you WON’T get your discount.

What Types of Discounts Can I Expect?

As I mentioned earlier most discounts are on college tech items like tablets, laptops, earbuds, cables, and other accessories.

A few recent student deals that caught my eye include the following:

$100 OFF a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

$250 OFF select MacBook models.

$140 OFF a Hewlett Packard Laptop.

30% OFF a bunch of Microsoft accessories like a wireless mouse, keyboard, and Xbox One controller.

$300 OFF a 2-in-1 HP Spectre Laptop.

Are Discounts Available Year-Round?

Unfortunately, NO.

They seems to come-and-go and tend to be most prevalent around the “back-to-school months” like July, August, and September.

BONUS: Best Buy Student Discount Insider “Hacks”

1. Don’t Have To Be a Current Student – When I successfully enrolled myself in the program I was able to use my personal email that was associated with a local junior college that I took a classes at a few years ago.

2. Don’t Need a .edu Email Address – While many student discount programs require a .edu email address, Best Buy definitely does NOT.

3. You’ll Gain Access to More Than Student Discounts – If Best Buy doesn’t currently have any deals specifically for students, you should check out the “member only” deals.

You might just find a sweet deal on something you need for school.

Member Only deals at Best Buy

Ask the Reader: Besides 2-for-1 ramen packages, what’s the biggest student deal, coupon, or discount you’ve ever scored?


By Kyle James

Holiday Shipping Deadlines: EVERYTHING You Need to Know (Amazon Too)

December 3, 2019 by Kyle
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Nothing worse than shopping online, finding that perfect gift, then realizing it’s too late to get it delivered by Christmas morning. With that in mind, I did the research and figured out the holiday shipping deadlines for FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service. I also broke down the deadlines when shopping online at the big 3: Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines: EVERYTHING You Need to Know

USPS

December 14th: USPS Retail Ground

December 18th: Alaska to Mainland 1st Class Mail

December 19th: Hawaii to Mainland 1st Class Mail and Priority Mail

December 19th: Alaska to Mainland Priority Mail

December 20th: 1st Class Mail

December 21st: Priority Mail

December 21st: Alaska/Hawaii to Mainland Priority Mail Express

December 23rd: Priority Mail Express Service

FedEx

December 9th: FedEx Smart Post

December 16th: Ground & Home Delivery

December 20th: FedEx 2Day and 2Day a.m.

December 23rd: Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight and First Overnight

December 25th: SameDay, SameDay City Direct, SameDay City Priority

See Also: The 36 Coolest Things on Amazon for Under $25

UPS

December 13th: UPS Ground

December 19th: UPS 3-Day Select

December 20th: UPS 2nd Day Air

December 22nd: UPS Express Critical

December 23rd: UPS Next Day Air

What About Amazon Prime Members?

Amazon has a slightly different holiday delivery schedule for it’s Prime members

December 22nd: Last day for free Prime 2-day shipping.

December 23rd: Last day for free Prime 1-day shipping.

Non-Prime Members: Place your orders by December 18th and select 3-5 standard shipping.

It should be noted that these shipping dates from Amazon are highly weather dependent as a big storm could easily delay delivery until after Christmas.

Moral of the story: Shop early and not have to worry about it.

See Also: Amazon Prime Package Arrives Late? Here’s What You Can Get for FREE

What About Target and Walmart?

Glad you asked. Here is how their holiday shipping schedules currently break down:

Target

December 17th: 3-5 day Standard Shipping

December 20th: 2-Day Shipping (Contiguous U.S. Only)

December 23rd: Express Shipping (Contiguous U.S. Only)

Walmart

December 17th: 3-5 day Standard Shipping

December 20th: 2-Day Shipping (Contiguous U.S. Only)

December 23rd: Next Day Shipping (Contiguous U.S. Only)

Ask the Reader: When are you planning on wrapping up your holiday shopping this year?


By Kyle James

You Can Now Reorder Chipotle Chow with Your Amazon Echo (PLUS, Score a Free Echo If You’re Named Alexa)

November 22, 2019 by Kyle
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In case your Amazon Alexa enabled device wasn’t useful enough, now you can use it to sit on your couch and order your favorite meal from Chipotle Mexican Grill for delivery or pickup. Chipotle is even giving away free Amazon Echo Dots if you have a certain name. Here’s how it all works…

You Can Now Reorder Chipotle Chow with Your Amazon Echo

What Name Scores you a Free Echo Dot?

Well, let me give you a hint in case you didn’t read the entire headline. It’s not Fred, Ethel, or William.

Drumroll please….

If your name is Alexa you score a brand spanking FREE Echo Dot courtesy of Chipotle.

Oddly, Chipotle’s press release on this freebie had ZERO information on how to collect your free device.

So if you’re lucky enough to be named Alexa, I would just head to your local Chipotle with your photo ID and ask an employee what the dealio is.

See Also: 140+ Hilarious & Helpful Alexa Commands for Your Amazon Echo

How Exactly Do I Use Alexa to Order Chipotle Chow?

Chipotle Skill

Let’s break this down into a few easy steps.

1. Download the Alexa app. If you own an Alexa enabled device you’ve probably already done this. If not, you can download it for iOS or Android to your phone or tablet.

2. Enable the Chipotle Skill within the app. Within the app, tap the menu icon and tap “Skills & Games”. Then do a search for “Chipotle Reorder”. Tap the Chipotle skill, then tap “Enable to Use”

3. Link Your Chipotle Account. Once you tap Enable to Use, you’ll be redirected to Chipotle’s site where you’ll need to sign-in to your account (or create a new one) so you can link your Chipotle account to Alexa.

They’re calling this a “reorder” skill because you can add your favorite meal to your Chipotle account and simply ask Alexa for that.

Unfortunately, you CAN’T order something from scratch, it has to be in your favorites within your Chipotle account.

But it still beats having to wade through their mobile app when your stomach is rumbling like Mt. Saint Helens.

So…What Exactly Do I Say to Alexa?

Great question.

Here are the 2 commands that’ll score you Chipotle grub with VERY little effort.

– “Alexa, tell Chipotle to reorder my favorite for Delivery.”

– “Alexa, tell Chipotle to reorder my favorite for Pick-Up.”

I’ll keep this article updated in case they eventually add more flexibility to this “skill” and let you order other items.

Ask the Reader: Have you tried this Alexa “skill” yet? If so, was it an easy process to get your favorite grub quickly into your stomach?


By Kyle James

Photos courtesy of Chipotle and Amazon.

10 Things To Know Before Using Costco Optical to Buy Your Next Pair of Glasses

November 19, 2019 by Kyle
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I must have walked past the Costco Optical desk a dozen times before I realized that you can actually get your eyes examined in the warehouse. Once I realized this, I immediately had a bunch of questions. Who does the actual eye exam? What does it cost? Does Costco carry all the popular brand-name frames? Do they accept vision insurance? I figured I wasn’t the only one with these questions so the idea for this article was born. I hope I answer all of your questions so you can make an informed decision the next time you need new eyeglasses or sunglasses.

10 Things To Know Before Using Costco Optical

1. What Does a Costco Eye Exam Cost?

Costco Storefront

At my local Costco a regular eye exam costs $65 and a contact lenses exam costs $99.

Your $65 gets you an eye exam as well as a copy of your Eye Health Evaluation and Prescription.

You are under NO obligation to buy eyewear from Costco and can take your prescription anywhere you want.

It’s also worth noting that dilation and visual fields may require an additional fee.

 

2. How Do I Schedule an Eye Exam?

While walk-ins are welcomed when available, you’d be smart to call ahead and schedule your next eye exam.

Just call your local Costco and schedule your appointment.

At my Costco, exams are available from 10 am – 7 pm Monday-Friday, 9:45 am – 5 pm on Saturday, and 10 am – 3 pm on Sunday.

3. Do I Need to Be a Costco Member?

NO.

You do NOT need to be a Costco member to get an eye exam, but you DO need to be member to actually purchase eyeglasses or contact lenses.

If you’re getting an eye exam without a Costco membership, just tell the “card checker” at the door and they’ll happily let you in the warehouse and direct you to the optometry center.

See Also: 8 Cool Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership

4. Does Costco Have an Optometrist on Staff?

While Costco has an optometrist on-site, they do NOT work for Costco.

They are considered an Independent Doctor of Optometry.

This means the doctor has completed optometry school and is licensed to perform eye exams.

They basically “rent the space” from Costco and set up their optometry practice.

The name of the doctor is ALWAYS posted in front of the optometry department at Costco.

So the next time you’re shopping, take note of the their name and do a quick Google search and read any reviews about them, especially on Yelp!.

While the majority of them come highly recommended, it’s always smart to do some research before trusting them with your eye balls.

5. Can I Bring a Prescription from Another Optometrist?

YES.

By no means do you have to use Costco’s optometrist to take advantage of their prices on new eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Just bring in your current prescription and a staff member will help you out.

6. What Eyewear Brands Does Costco Sell?

Costco Eyewear Section

Here are some of the more popular eyeglass frame brands that Costco sells…

  • Bebe
  • Bottega
  • Burberry
  • Fendi
  • Kirkland Signature
  • Mikli
  • Tod’s
  • Veneta

Here are the most popular sunglass brands…

  • Balmain
  • Furla
  • Hobie
  • Kate Spade
  • Kirkland Signature
  • Maui Jim
  • Nike
  • Oakley
  • Ray-Ban
  • Serengeti
  • Vera Bradley
  • Vera Wang
  • XOXO

Of these brands, they carry the most frames by Maui Jim and Ray-Ban.

7. How Do Costco Prices Stack Up?

According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, people who bought eyeglasses at Costco had an average out-of-pocket cost of $184.

In many cases this number was hundreds of dollars less than what respondents paid at stores like Lens Crafters or a boutique eyewear store.

Costco also has an ongoing promotion that gets you $30 off ANY additional pair of eyeglasses when you buy 1 complete pair of prescription eyeglasses.

The $30 savings is a good deal if you want to have a spare pair lying around.

The study also concluded that Walmart and Sam’s Club have very competitive prices as well.

Also, a Costco Optical employee on this Reddit thread said that Costco only marks up frames, contacts, and lenses at 1% over cost.

8. Does Costco Sell Contact Lenses Too?

YES.

Not only does Costco perform “contact lens” eye exams, but they also sell them along with contact accessories.

Top brands they sell include CooperVision, Bausch + Lomb, Kirkland Signature, and Alcon.

The Kirkland Signature contact lenses are by far the best value, with savings up to 50% off.

9. Do They Accept ALL Vision Insurance?

Costco accepts “most” vision insurance plans.

Their website says to “ask your local Costco Optical department for details.”

I decided to dig a little deeper and discovered that Costco accepts the following insurance plans:

  • VSP
  • EyeMed
  • Davis Vision
  • VBA Vision
  • FEP BlueVision
  • MES Vision
  • United Healthcare
  • Spectera

Most Costco locations will also accept regional vision insurance plans.

Unfortunately “Discount Plans” are not accepted.

I found it interesting that a comment in this Reddit thread made the point that even without insurance, Costco Optical is often cheaper.

10. What About Costco Customer Service?

I initially thought that the customer service at the Costco Optical counter must not be very good since they’re a big warehouse and are selling $1.50 hot dog meals a few yards away.

But according to Consumer Reports and this Reddit thread, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are a few examples of great customer service at Costco.

From RicksterA2: “They’re very open to fixing any issues (including changing a lens or both if they don’t work right for you) LensCrafters used to get very annoyed with something like that.”

From JJB723: “One of the little nose rests broke on one of my pairs of glasses. They replaced both nose rests on the same visit for free.”

From Deleted: “I scratched my lens and asked if they could fix them, they couldn’t but the lady was having a good day and just replaced them for me.”

So…What Are the Cons of Using Costco Optical?

It’s not all rose colored glasses when considering Costco for your next pair of frames.

Here are some of the negatives that many people pointed out.

1. Limited Selection – Most locations have about 2.5 cases of men’s frames and 3 cases for women’s frames. While it’s a lot to pick from, it’s significantly less than places (and websites) that sell only frames.

2. Two Week Wait – Once you pick out your frames, expect to wait up to 2 weeks for them to be ready.

3. Not Enough Help – This complaint came from a user who noted there was not enough employees during busy times of the day.

4. Some Websites are Cheaper – I noticed during my research that more than one person recommended Zenni Optical.com as the single cheapest REPUTABLE option for buying frames and contacts.

Ask the Reader: Have you used your local Costco for eye exams or new glasses? What’s been your experience?


By Kyle James

7 Genius Costco Bakery Hacks That Will Save You Money and Time

November 15, 2019 by Kyle
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Some items in the Costco bakery are better deals than others. By knowing which products provide the most bang for your buck, and which bakery items can be “hacked” for even MORE savings, you’ll be way ahead of the game. Here are 7 such bakery hacks that will make you feel like a Costco genius.

7 Costco Bakery Hacks That Will That Will Save You Money

 

1. The Famous $50 Wedding Cake Hack

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jessica | Cottage Farmhouse (@cottagefarmhouse) on


Are you familiar with the couple who recently created an AMAZING wedding cake by using only 2 sheet cakes from the Costco bakery and some flowers from Trader Joe’s?

Well…that’s it in the Instagram post above. It came out kinda amazing and only set them back about $50.

How did they do it?

“Basically we cut them into squares, stacked them with homemade buttercream frosting and then threw some flowers on it from Trader Joe’s,” they told ABC News.

Go check out the pictures for yourself.

2. The Freezer Is Your Friend

Costco Fresh Croissants

My kids absolutely love the 12-pack of Costco muffins.

But they’re HUGE and they weren’t finishing them all before they got stale.

So we decided to try freezing them and much to our delight they freeze great. We found that you can microwave them at 50% power and they defrost quickly and evenly.

Apparently muffins is not all that freezes well from the Costco bakery. This Reddit user said “The butter croissants freeze wonderfully as well! I freeze them 4 a piece in a Ziploc bag, and throw them in the oven in the morning. Turn the oven on to 350 and by the time it’s preheated, my croissant is crispy and delicious.”

Speaking of the croissants at Costco, check out this yummy (and easy) recipe for Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches.

See Also: Costco Hack: How to REALLY Buy in Bulk and Save Money

3. Pies the Size of Manhole Covers

Costco Pies

Not sure why you’d buy pie anywhere other than Costco, especially when feeding large groups around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The pumpkin pie comes in at 3.63 pounds and only costs $7.99.

The lattice-cut apple pie (made with organic apples) is a little more spendy at $12.99 but the thing is HUGE, weighing in at 4.69 pounds.

With an apple pie weighing that much, you’re essentially getting 2 full pies for the price of one.

But this hack is all about the pumpkin pie. The creative ladies at Krazy Coupon Lady have come up with some really clever ways to dress up an otherwise boring Costco pumpkin pie.

From creating mini pies, to making some really clever toppings, to dipping “pie bites” in chocolate, you’ll never look at pumpkin pie the same way again.

Plus, you’ll be less likely to waste leftover pie if you have some creative things to do with it.

4. Costco Bread Prices are Solid

Costco Bread

TheKitchn did a thorough comparison of bread prices (and varieties available) at Costco, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s.

They discovered that Costco won on UNIT price with their french bread, sliced whole wheat, sandwich rolls, and hamburger buns.

Their hot dog buns won as well but they gave the prize to Trader Joe’s as the buns at Costco are too small for jumbo dogs.

You tend to get more bread than a normal family can eat so be sure to use your freezer.

5. The Tiramisu is a BIG Bargain

Costco Tiramisu

The Costco tiramisu cake comes in at $15.99 and is bigger than most logs that I’ve seen Kermit sitting on.

Plus, the 2.38 lb cake is really delicious.

If you’ve ever tried to make tiramisu yourself, you know just how time consuming it is to make and the ingredients can get expensive.

Skip the effort next time and save BIG by buying Costco’s yummy version.

My only complaint….more ladyfingers, less mascarpone.

6. Sheet Cakes are a BIG Bargain

Costco Sheet Cakes

Since I’ve already mentioned Costco sheet cakes with the “wedding cake hack”, I thought I should expand on them a bit.

Coming in at $18.99 for a cake with 2 pounds of filling, the prices at Costco are hard to beat.

But the best part is they’re completely customizable to fit whatever occasion you’re celebrating.

Justine at the Little Dove blog has come up with a very clever way to order a blank “scored” cake from Costco that she can easily decorate however she wants.

The results are amazing and will change the way you buy and decorate cake forever.

7. Check Out the Pull Apart Cheese Bread

Costco Cheese Bread

While not exactly a bakery item, the new pull apart cheese bread at Costco has the Internet in a total frenzy.

It’s essentially a crusty loaf of pre-sliced bread filled with Brie, Emmental and mozzarella cheese.

Warm it up in the oven and apparently you’ll head straight to heaven on the first bite.

You’ll find it in the refrigerated section at Costco and it’s made by Tipiak. It comes with 2 loaves as well.

Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments section.

Ask the Reader: What Costco bakery hacks or tips do you have up your sleeve? Let me know below.


By Kyle James

Verizon Customers Get Disney+ FREE For a Year Starting Today

November 12, 2019 by Kyle
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If you’re a Verizon customer I have a REALLY cool freebie that will take some of the sting out of your monthly bill. Starting today, many Verizon customers can get the new Disney+ streaming service FREE for an ENTIRE year. Here’s everything you need to know to start streaming today.

Verizon Customers Get Disney+ FREE For a Year Starting Today

Are All Verizon Customers Eligible for Free Disney+?

Unfortunately, NO, not everyone is eligible for a free year of Disney+.

Only those with a Verizon Unlimited Plan or 5G Home Internet are eligible.

Specifically, eligible Unlimited plans include Verizon Unlimited, Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, Above, Unlimited, Get More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, and Start Unlimited.

Verizon Business plans are not eligible.

Disney+ costs $6.99/month, or $69.99 for an annual membership, so the savings is nothing to scoff at.

If you have an Unlimited Plan it’s a total no-brainer to take advantage of this Disney+ offer.

See Also: 5 Painless Ways to Lower Your Verizon Bill

How Exactly Do I Sign-Up?

Star Wars on Disney+

Just sign-in to your Verizon Wireless account and the Disney+ offer will be on the homepage.

Just follow the prompts to add Disney+ to your Verizon account.

You’ll eventually be redirected to the Disney+ website where you can create your free account.

Then you can start viewing Disney+ programming on your smartphone, tablet, computer, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, or smart HDTV.

Don’t forget to download the Disney+ app to your device for the best viewing experience.

Remember to set a reminder on your smartphone for 12 months from now to reevaluate your Disney+ experience and cancel if need be.

If you don’t cancel you’ll be billed for Disney+ at the regular monthly price of $6.99.

What Kind of Programming Can I Expect?

Star Wars on Disney+

Not only will you get most of the classic Disney movies, but you’ll also get original programming like Star Wars “The Mandalorian” and the new “Lady and the Tramp”.

BTW, I just signed up for my free year and already watched The Mandalorian. It’s totally awesome and full of some fun Star Wars “Easter eggs”. But having grown up in the 80’s, I’m a bit biased.

You’ll also get all of your kid’s favorite Disney TV series, as well as everything Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and even National Geographic.

In case you’re wondering, you WON’T get any ESPN or Hulu programming on Disney+.

Any Other Cool Disney+ Features Worth Knowing?

Yep, here are the 3 biggest….

1. Stream content on as many as 4 devices at once.

2. Many titles are available in 4K HDR as well as Dolby Atmos Sound.

3. Unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices.

Ask the Reader: What Disney+ programming are you most excited to watch first?

Happy streaming.


By Kyle James

8 Starbucks Benefits ALL Employees Should Know About

November 8, 2019 by Kyle
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Maybe you just got hired, or maybe you’re thinking of applying to be a Starbucks barista. In either case, it’s important to know all of the Starbucks benefits and perks that are offered. After all, one of these 8 benefits could easily sway your employment decision. Starbucks has been a leader in employee perks for years, especially for part time workers. Here’s a breakdown of all of their most important benefits so you can make an informed decision.

8 Starbucks Benefits ALL Employees Should Know About

1. Starbucks Employee Discount

Their employee discount comes in at a very solid 30% off.

That means you get a 30% discount on all drinks when you’re not working as well as retail merchandise.

This discount is good at ANY Starbucks location on the days you’re not working.

But probably the coolest Starbucks employee perk is you get to take home a FREE bag of coffee, Tazo tea, VIA Ready Brew packets, or a box of 12 K-Cups EVERY week.

Plus, when you’re on-shift you’ll score free coffee drinks (up to 4) PLUS a free food item each shift.

2. Health Benefits (Even For Part-Time Work)

Starbucks Health Plans

Starbucks will share the costs of health benefits for you and your family if you opt into one of their health plans above.

Starbucks says that the Silver Plan typically only costs employees $40 per paycheck, significantly less than other retailers.

The BEST part is that these health benefits are also available to part-time employees.

Just log at least 20 hours per week and you’re eligible.

Also, it’s worth noting that you have to be employed for 90 days before you become eligible.

See Also: 7 Starbucks Menu Hacks Guaranteed To Save You Money

3. Free Tuition to Arizona St. University

Starbucks Free Tuition

Via the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, both part-time and full-time employees are eligible for FREE tuition to Arizona State University via their 4-year online bachelor degree program.

Starbucks will actually “reimburse any tuition costs not covered by need-based financial aid directly in your paycheck near the end of the semester.”

Pretty awesome.

The only thing the program doesn’t cover are the cost of books or any special course fees.

It’s important to note that if you work at a “licensed Starbucks”, like in a grocery store, you’re NOT eligible. You must work at a standalone Starbucks location.

4. Maternity Leave

All mothers who work at least 20 hours per week, are eligible to receive 6 weeks of 100% paid maternity leave.

The same 6 week paid leave is also extended for adoptions as well as foster parent situations.

If you’re a non-store Starbucks employee, and work for the corporate office, this maternity leave is extended to 12 weeks paid.

5. Almost Free “Backup” Child Care

Back in 2018, Starbucks instituted the [email protected] program to help parents fill-in child care gaps.

It offers parents 10 subsidized “backup care days” per year.

Parents only pay $5 per day, per child, for child care and Starbucks pays the rest for a maximum of 10 days a year.

Prefer in-home child care? Starbucks will provide that at only $1 per hour and they’ll pay the rest of the bill.

6. Paid Time Off

Retail Starbucks employees start earning paid vacation after 12 months of continuous service.

Part-time employees will also earn paid vacation at a rate of 1 hour per 30 hours worked.

Salaried Starbucks employees earn 1 personal day every July 1 and January 1. They must be used within the following 6 months or they expire.

It’s worth noting that vacation benefits vary by location, position, and length of employment.

See Also: All the Retailers That Pay a $12+ Hourly Wage with Benefits

7. Good Commuter Perks

If you pay for transit passes in order to get to work, Starbucks has your back in a big way.

They offer “pretax payroll deductions” to all employees who fit this bill in order to “make up” for their commuter expenses.

These deductions reduce your taxable income, meaning you’ll owe less tax which more than makes up for the costs incurred during your daily commute.

8. Solid 401(k) Savings Plan

All Starbucks employees are eligible to throw money in a 401(k) retirement plan once they’ve worked for 90 days.

They cleverly call it their Future Roast 401(k) and you’re allowed to add up to $17,000 per year, even more if you’re over the age of 50.

The best part is Starbucks will match your contribution on the first 4% and will often bump this up to 6%.

It’s free money, you might as well take advantage of this benefit if you can.

Ask the Reader: Which Starbucks employment perk do you find the most enticing? Let me know in the comments.


By Kyle James

Hobby Lobby Return Policy: Exactly How It Works + Clever Savings Hacks

November 6, 2019 by Kyle
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Hobby Lobby is an interesting store as they appear to sell very little actual “Hobby” products. They’re more of a home decor store (along with arts & crafts) similar to Michaels. They sell a huge inventory of products and have a large number of returns everyday, making the Hobby Lobby return policy important to understand. Here’s EVERYTHING “return related” that you need to know plus a few bonus hacks to help you save money on your next purchase.

Hobby Lobby Return Policy: Answers to Your 10 Burning Questions

1. How Many Return Days Do I Get?

90 days.

You have exactly 90 days from date of purchase to return items.

2. Do I Need My Hobby Lobby Receipt?

It’s HIGHLY recommended.

If you have your receipt you can opt for a refund to your original form of payment, an even exchange, or store credit.

See Also: Michaels Return Policy: Get Crafty and Shop Smart

3. What If I Lost My Receipt?

If you lost your receipt, you still have options (in most cases).

If the item is in sellable condition, Hobby Lobby will issue you store credit based on the lowest selling price of the item in the last 60 days.

Be aware that they track all “non receipt” returns and they can say “NO RETURNS FOR YOU” if you take advantage of their policy too many times.

In order to track your return history, they will ask for your valid ID.

4. What If I Opened the Item?

That’s okay if the item’s been opened, it just has to be in “Sellable” condition.

This mean it must have original packaging, instructions, etc., and not appear to be in “used” condition.

5. Are There Any Exceptions to this Policy?

Only two exceptions which is kinda nice.

Cricut and Silhouette products CANNOT be returned without a receipt and must be brand spanking new.

6. What About Returning an Online Purchase?

Online purchases come with the same 90 day return policy.

You can return an online purchase to any Hobby Lobby store or you can initiate an online return.

To start an online return, visit their Return Form Page and fill in your order number and billing ZIP code.

You’ll be stuck paying the return shipping charges unless the reason for the return is an error by Hobby Lobby.

For this reason it’s wise to make the return in-store to avoid the return shipping charges.

Plus, it takes up to 2 weeks for your online return to be processed where in-store returns are instant.

7. What If I Lost My Online Invoice?

No worries, just call Hobby Lobby at 1-800-888-0321 or email them and they’ll get you a copy so you can make the return.

Be aware that if you paid for shipping they will NOT refund your shipping charges.

8. What If I Received Damaged Merchandise?

You CANNOT take damaged items ordered via HobbyLobby.com back to a brick & mortar location.

You must call Hobby Lobby at 1-800-888-0321 and they’ll walk you through the process of either an exchange or a return for a full refund.

9. What If I Paid by Personal Check?

You’ll have to wait 10 calendar days before you can make a return and get cash back for the purchase.

Otherwise you’ll have to settle for store credit.

10. Can I Do An Online Exchange?

YES.

But it requires you to either Email Them or call them at 1-800-888-0321 to make it happen.

BONUS: 3 Highly-Clever Hobby Lobby Savings Hacks

1. Score a Price Adjustment – Did you know that Hobby Lobby offers 14-day price protection on everything you buy (except clearance items)?

If the price goes down on something you bought just bring back your receipt, and the item in question, and they’ll refund you the difference.

2. Always Shop with a 40% Off Coupon – When my daughter and I shop at Hobby Lobby it’s always with a “40% Off Any 1 Regular-Priced Item” coupon.

If you can’t find this coupon, just take a look at their Weekly Ad as it always has one attached. The best part is the coupon can be used by me, then we can turn around and use it on her purchase too.

3. Aim for Savings at 90% Off the Original Price – Hobby Lobby continues to mark seasonal items down until they reach 90% off savings.

If they have a lot of inventory of something you want, simply check back the following week as it will surely be marked down again.

Happy returns and happy savings.

Ask the Reader: What’s been your experience returning stuff to Hobby Lobby? Any tidbits about their policy that I may have missed?


By Kyle James

Photo credit to JJBers.

Black Friday 2019: 9 Tricks to Hack Your Way to Amazing Savings

November 6, 2019 by Kyle
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(Updated 11/29/19) If you’re not hacking Black Friday in 2019, you’re clearly doing it all wrong. After all, it’s not Black Friday 2007 anymore, where the only way to save money was to set the alarm for an ungodly hour and go fight the unwashed masses for that last cheap 55″ television.

The game has changed, and so have the strategies and hacks you should employ on Black Friday weekend. Here are nine Black Friday hacks that will not only save you money, but in many cases, will allow you to enjoy time with your friends and family, and still score a killer deal.

9 Ways to Hack Black Friday 2019 to Save Money

1. Know Which Products Are Cheaper Closer to Christmas

Don’t be fooled by the ads, not all Black Friday 2019 deals are created equal, and most are NOT the cheapest prices you’ll find this year. Many popular retailers, selling electronics, toys, apparel and gift ideas will actually have cheaper prices closer to Christmas.

Based on the coupons and deals that we get here at Rather-Be-Shopping every December over the past 16 years, below are the absolute best days to shop this year in order to maximize your savings.

2019 Predictions:

  • Christmas Toys: Thursday, December 12th.
  • Stocking Stuffers: Monday, December 9th.
  • Apparel and Shoes: Saturday, December 14th. (Free Shipping Day)
  • HDTV’s: Weekend of December 6 – 8th.
  • Tools & Hardware: Friday, December 13th.
  • Laptops/ChromeBooks: Thursday, December 12th.
  • PS4 and Xbox: December 12th-15th.
  • Winter Apparel: Saturday, December 14th.
  • Jewelry/Wedding Bands: December 4 – 25th.
  • Fitness Gear: Monday, December 9th.
  • Kitchen Stuff: Saturday, December 14th.

In most cases, these days will definitely give you “better than Black Friday” prices.

For more info, check out our article: The Absolute BEST Days to Shop Between Now and Christmas to Score a Deal 

2. Dumb & Smart Black Friday Buys

First, the Dumb Buys:

Name Brand (Quality) Televisions. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Sure there are always some screaming deals on TV’s on Black Friday. The problem is the brands you’ll find on sale are typically unrecognizable. Along with the 3rd tier brands are questionable specs and quality.

If you’re a college student and looking for a disposable TV from Best Buy for your dorm room you’ll want to head out BF morning. If you’re looking for a quality TV that will hold up for the long run, you’ll want to look for deals right after Christmas through February.

The reasoning is new models are typically released in late January at the Consumer Electronics Shows in Vegas. Plus, sellers always offer sweet deals around the Super Bowl. Both of these reasons will help you score a sweet deal on a high quality brand like Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic.

Christmas Toys Don’t buy on Black Friday. Instead, wait until 9-10 days before Christmas as that’s when prices are notoriously lower than on BF weekend. Sure, you might see some deals sprinkled in the Black Friday ads but none as good if you wait a couple weeks. Also, shop at Costco for toy deals, more on that later.

Fitness Equipment. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Always wait until January to shop for fitness equipment. Retailers notoriously offer some great sales and incentives to folks looking to get in shape as a New Year’s resolution.

Look for products like elliptical machines, treadmills, and weight machines to be offered at up to 50% off in early January at Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Winter Apparel. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Deals will NOT be abundant in late November as retailers take advantage of a cold and captive audience for jackets, hoodies, boots, and parkas.

When it comes to scoring deals on apparel, the general rule is that it is always the most expensive during the season it is being worn. Wait until the last few weeks of winter and you’ll easily save 50% off that next coat or pair of boots.

Large Appliances. Don’t buy on Black Friday. New model refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens hit the sales floor in September and October.

Because of this, you might be able to find a good deal on last year’s models on Black Friday but new models are typically not discounted very much. Smaller kitchen appliances like microwaves, blenders, and mini fridges will be on sale at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Tools and Hardware. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Unless you absolutely need them, power tools are a much better deal during the few weeks leading up to Father’s Day.

Our research has shown that Father’s Day coupons and sales on cordless drills, table saws, routers, and the like, are 30% better than Black Friday weekend. If you can afford to wait you’ll save some significant money.

DSLR Cameras. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Buy your high-end DSLR camera in February after the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. You’ll be able to score a sweet deal on last seasons model as retailer discount them heavily in order to make room for the newest and greatest models.

Also, if a slick little ‘point and shoot’ digital camera is in your future, then there will be plenty of deals to pick from on Black Friday.

See Also: 8 Insider Tips to Save BIG on Cyber Monday

And, of course, the smart buys…

The Smart Black Friday Buys:

3rd Tier Televisions. Buy on Black Friday. Many of your door-buster BF deals are on 3rd tier HDTVs, also known as “off brand” televisions. Last year saw some pretty crazy deals. 42″ HDTV’s in the $150 range.

I have actually seen a couple predictions for Black Friday 2019 that included a 50″ 4K TV in the $125-$150 range. But be prepared to settle for brands you have never heard of in most cases.

A Best Buy employee actually just told me that most of the door-buster TV’s they get for Black Friday are specifically made for that day and are not of good enough quality to stock all year long. Yes, the deals are often amazing but know what you are getting. Buyer beware.

Clearance Apparel. Buy on Black Friday. Retailers really start slashing their fall clothing lines every Black Friday weekend. We are talking like 65% to 75% off at stores like Old Navy, American Eagle, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Lands’ End.

My wife and I regularly stock up for our 3 kids on Black Friday. We’ll buy a size or 2 up and store until the following autumn. With savings in the 75-80% off range it just makes sense.

Plus, if you prefer to stay at home on Black Friday and sleep in, just shop on Cyber Monday when you’ll see the best online coupons of the year at online clothing and apparel retailers.

Budget Laptops (Chrome Books). Buy on Black Friday. Last BF we saw quality budget laptops from Dell ($150 at Best Buy) and the 14″ Chromebook for under $100. Look for similar, or better, deals this year.

These systems usually come equipped with a 14″ or 15″ screen and a dual core processor and RAM in the 2-4 GB range. If you’re not doing any serious gaming, video editing, or going to be running a bunch of programs at once, they will definitely suffice.

Tablets. Buy on Black Friday. Tablets from brands like Samsung, Microsoft, and Lenovo have been a major draw in recent years and the deals have been pretty amazing.

This year look for the Samsung Galaxy 4 tablet to drop to below $80 on Black Friday (currently $149.99 at Best Buy.com). Also, Amazon.com will be running big deals on their Kindle Fire tablet. Black Friday is an excellent day to score a deal. Also, look for the iPad Air Pro to be $100 off at Best Buy.

Apple Products (Except the Newest iPhone). Buy on Black Friday. In 2018, there was only one day when Apple products were on sale almost across the board. Any guesses? Yes, it was Black Friday.

The discounts were modest but definitely noteworthy: $41 off the iPad Air and iPad 2, $21 off the iPod touch, $101 off the MacBook Air, $101 off the MacBook Pro with Retina display and $101 off the popular iMac. Just be sure to not shop at the Apple Store as deals at stores like Walmart and Best Buy will be better.

Look for both retailers to offer significant gift cards with an Apple purchase to entice Black Friday shoppers.

Home/Kitchen Goods & Decor. Buy on Black Friday. Deals are always abundant on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Great time to stock up if you’re not brand specific.

You might not find a screaming deal on All Clad and Calphalon but cheaper brands will really have their prices slashed.

Xbox One and PS4 Games. Buy on Black Friday. According to many gaming websites the single best day to pick up a screaming deal on new and older games is on Black Friday weekend.

Look for new titles to drop by 20-30% and older titles to really be cleared out and sold for up to 75% off. Also, if you are cool with pre-owned titles Gamestop will probably offer the same offer as last year of “Buy 2 used products, get 1 Free”.

Perhaps you’d rather avoid the Black Frenzy frenzy altogether, keep reading…

3. Stay in Bed and STILL Score a Deal

Perhaps my favorite way to hack Black Friday and score a deal is to shop on eBay the few days after BF.

The reason is simple, yet often overlooked. Many “wanna-be entrepreneurs” will stand in line for hours, or days, to snatch up the VERY limited number of door-buster deals. They’ll then try to turn a quick profit by placing their loot on eBay for a quick sale via an auction.

But those familiar with supply & demand realize the market gets a bit saturated and thus you can buy the item for just a fraction more than if you stood in line for hours.

This works best for small electronics, laptops, HDTVs, Blu-ray movies, external hard drives, flash drives, and smartphone accessories.

4. Early Bird Gets the Worm

By “early bird”, I’m not talking about being the first one through the doors on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.

I’m talking about shopping on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Black Friday and scoring a deal. In many cases, you can get the same deal you’d get by camping in a ridiculously long line on Thanksgiving or the Friday after.

For example, I was recently talking to a loyal Home Depot shopper and she informed me that she shops their right before every Black Friday and scores some amazing savings.

She said they put Black Friday “teasers” in the aisles towards the front of the store and last year she got a mini-fridge for $98 (regularly $159) and the year before that she scored a Ryobi Drill set for $99 (regularly $149).

Skip the crowd, shop early, and get the same deal as Black Friday shoppers. Besides Home Depot, look for these Black Friday teasers in Walmart, Target, Michaels, Office Depot, Best Buy, and Toys R Us.

5. Say “Alexa, What Are Your Black Friday Deals?”

Try this before November 23rd and Alexa will tell you to be patient.

Ask her on November 24th and she’ll tell you about a bunch of exclusive Black Friday deals from Amazon that’ll save you a wad of cash.

You’ll even be able to buy the item with your voice and not have to waste an ounce of energy. If you’re like me, and still in a turkey and pumpkin pie comma, you’ll appreciate this.

6. Abandon your Virtual Shopping Cart

During the week before Black Friday this year, try filling your virtual shopping cart with merchandise, then logout of your account.

By doing so, in many cases, it will trigger an automated coupon sent to your inbox pleading for you to come back and complete your purchase with the coupon. Coupons are often for free shipping, 10%, 15% and even 20% off your purchase.

Here are 17 popular retailers that have been known to send you a coupon after you abandon your cart. The key is to register with the site so they have your email address. Give it a try this year.

7. Shop Online…Then Hit Up Live Chat

When shopping online the week of Black Friday, and all the way through Cyber Monday (November 26th), you’re bound to run into a situation where the price, or shipping charge, is a little higher than you were expecting.

It’s times like this where you’ll be happy you stumbled upon this article. Simply hit up the live chat feature that many online retailers employ and politely ask the operator for a coupon for free shipping or a percent off your purchase.

For more info, see: All the Popular Online Retailers With Live Chat Operators Who Hand Out Coupons

8. Arm Your Smartphone Before Black Friday

If you own a smartphone, these are the apps that will save you money and time on Black Friday:

  • Black Friday @ Deal News (iOS, Android): Use this free app to get all the breaking Black Friday ads directly on your Apple or Android device. You can even get alerts for when new Black Friday ad are released. Use the app to find the best deals early on, then plan your shopping trip accordingly.
  • ShopSavvy (iOS, Android): Use this free app to quickly scan the product’s barcode in-store and find out where it may be sold cheaper on Black Friday, including online competitors.
  • DealNews (iOS, Android): On Black Friday, and the days leading up to it, you’ll be able to use their free app to quickly check out the day’s 300 hottest deals, vetted by deal experts.
  • Amazon App (iOS, Android): Use the Amazon shopping app to do real-time Amazon price comparisons while you’re standing in the aisle on BF morning. Why? Well, according to the Krazy Koupon Lady, “Over 17% of items on Black Friday will actually cost MORE than their current selling price on Amazon.com. Don’t get suckered.”

It’s time to use technology to make Black Friday a little easier to navigate. The above apps will help you do just that.

9. Shopping for Toys? Head to Costco

When most shoppers think about buying Christmas toys, they think Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us. But when it comes to finding the best prices on popular toys this year, your first stop should be at Costco.

In Christmases past, they have consistently beat the price of the competition on popular brands like NERF, Melissa & Doug, Fisher-Price, KidKraft, Disney, Hello Kitty, Star Wars, and Maxim to name a few.

Don’t believe me? Use the Amazon app to do a quick price comparison at Costco, you’ll find their prices to be 15-40% cheaper than Amazon. While they might not have the largest selection in the world, the popular toys that they do offer are consistently cheaper than the competition.

In the end, remember that most Black Friday deals will be available online this year. The only exception is the five door-buster HDTV’s that Best Buy and Walmart will have really cheap for those willing to camp-out for a couple days. Totally not worth it, as those 3rd tier models are garbage.

I was even told by a Best Buy employee that they’re made specifically for Black Friday 2019 with inferior parts. So in the end, in terms of quality, they may not be worth the cheap price tag.

Happy savings.


By Kyle James

Photo credit to m01229.