Monday, May 13, 2013

Maximizing Your Dollar

We understand the value of money and we know money does not grow on trees (Mrs. Y secretly wishes money falls off the money tree). There are very few things we pay full price for - internet....and milk. Yes, we said milk. Milk does taste better when it comes in a glass. 

Anyways, back to what we were saying, we are known amongst our friends and family as the people who can find a very good deal. We just happen to be very lucky to find certain things at ridiculously cheap prices. One of our friends once said to us: "When you guys get something, it's either free or close to be free". 

We are not extreme couponers, but we do use coupons on products that we use. Before we spend money on anything big, we do extensive research and compare prices. We combine coupons, gift cards, deals, credit card cashback to spend the minimum amount of money possible. 

Target is one of our favorite places to shop. It is like a treasure hunt when you go through the clearance end aisles. Many things goes down to 50% off, and you never know what you're going to find. Just last week, we found an Ooma that we've been looking at, for half the price. We also actually make money off things we buy at Target. Target sometimes has web coupons that can be used in conjunction with manufacturer coupons, making your purchase free or even better - a money maker. Combine that with shopping apps like Ibotta, you're making quite a bit of money doing your groceries. 

So as you can see, we try to minimize the amount of money we spend on ANYTHING we need to buy. Never buy anything full price - there's always a way to make it cheaper. 

In our next post, we will talk about some of the bigger purchases we've made and how we got a deal on those things.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My $2 dollar shoes

All girls love shoes. Me, not so much. But there are times it's just so hard to turn down a pair of shoes because it's almost like taking them home for free.

So here's the pair of shoes I bought the other day:

Guess how much I paid? I guess my title kind of gave it away. Yes, $2. To be exact, $1.98 plus tax. This pair of shoes is retailing for at least $60. Let me tell you how I found this pair of $60 shoes for $2.

There's this wonderful shoe store called DSW (Jim Cramer recommended this stock on Mad Money, along with Men's Warehouse). If you sign up for their rewards program, you'll get their coupons either in the mail or through email. Once or twice a year, they'll have coupons for $10 off your purchase (of course, your purchase has to be greater than $10). And a lot of times, there are shoes marked down with a yellow label at 80% off. So, I spotted this pair of shoes with a yellow label for $11.98. Luckily, I had a $10 coupon. So, you do the math and you get $2 shoes.

Let me tell you a secret - I don't ever go into DSW until they send me a coupon. And when I go into the store, I go straight to the clearance racks and look for yellow tags. I usually come out with a pair of shoes that are less than $10. Many times, I also come out with almost free socks or stockings.

The moral of the story is - Mrs. Y never pays full price for anything, and she has a good eye for super deals.

Disclaimer: We do not follow Jim Cramer's crazy advice on stocks even though some of his recommendations sound interesting.

First Time Home Owners - First Offer

Two years ago, we were debating about whether we should rent or buy. We were paying about $900 for a 2 bedroom at the time, and once our lease was over, our rent would go up to almost $1,200 a month. There's no way we were going back to a one bedroom!!! (Once you have the space, you just put junk in it :) )

With the technology nowadays, there's no need to step out of your bedroom for anything, even house shopping. We started our search on Zillow in areas we were interested in. Then we saw the property tax that comes with the house, and we were thinking to ourselves, that's like paying rent with no one fixing broken things for you. We used online tools to calculate whether we should rent or buy and the results were always towards the middle. 

Then one night, Mrs. Y was randomly looking at a map on Zillow and found an area with reasonably priced houses and fair property taxes. We were excited and contacted the seller's agent. The very next Saturday we went to see the house. We really liked it, but the house was on the market for a while and according to Zillow the house wasn't worth that much, so we decided to wait.

Christmas came, we went on vacation for 20 days. We came back and saw a similar house in the same area, listed really cheap. This is when we started researching what a short sale meant. The agent that showed us the first house happend to email us to see if we were still looking for a buyer's agent. Wonderful timing. We asked him if he could arrange a showing for the short sale and we would sign him on as our buyer's agent.

So we arrived at the house. Surprisingly the owner of the house was still inside. To not bore you with the details, it was a weird showing. Our agent scheduled another very recently listed house down the street, so we went to see that house too. It was a foreclosure, but when we walked in it looked like a model home. But we had our mind so set on the first house because of the price, we told ourselves we wouldn't even consider. The very same day, we drafted a contract with the agent and presented an offer over the phone.

Credit Cards We Use

Last time we talked about using credit cards instead of cash. You can delay your payments, earn you rewards, extend your warranties, and much more. Now we would like to share our personal favorite credit cards we have been using for the past few years.

#1. Chase Freedom

We've been using this card for almost 3 years. You get 1% cashback for every purchase you make. It is a great card if you make many, many small purchases and have a Chase checking account. For every swipe, we get 10 points (which translates to $0.10) plus 10% on every $1 you spend. The great thing about redeeming your cashback is that it is directly deposited into your checking account, and there is no minimum to cash out. They also have the great rotating 5% categories every quarter, so you get even more cash back for everyday purchases.

We even used our credit card to make a down payment on a car and got tons of cashback through that.

#2. American Express Costco True Earnings

One thing about this card is that you must be a Costco member. It's 3% on gas (if you're a Costco member, you get gas there anyways and it's usually cheaper), 2% on restaurants, and 1% everywhere else. The drawback of the card is the cashback comes in the form of a check that you have to go to Costco to cashout once a year. However, it is an American Express card, so it does extend warranties on many products and offers some travel insurance (such as car rental).

American Express also has many promotions with merchants. For example, they had $20 back for spending $200 at BestBuy last year. Also American Express is a great company that gives back to the community. Every year, they have a small business Saturday event where they give you $25 cash back on a $25 or greater purchase from a local small business. We've gotten a lot of (almost) free food, and helped our local businesses.

#3. Target RedCard

This is a great card if you shop at Target a lot, which you should. It's 5% off your purchase and they give you free online shipping from Sometimes, they give you useful coupons with your bill.

Target is a great place to shop if you know how to find deals and do not mind going through clearance sections, which is definitely worth another post.

#4. Discover

We only use it for shopping online through ShopDiscover, since they have cashback up to 30% on many popular merchants. They usually have at least 5% cashback for most merchants, so definitely take advantage of this when shopping online. They also have the rotating 5% categories for physical purchases, similar to Chase Freedom.

So, those are the cards we currently have. We know it's not good to have so many credit cards, but you have to have great self discipline to control yourself not buying things you do not need or things you cannot afford.

What are your favorite credit cards? And please do share.