Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dinnerly is the Cheap and Easy Way to Make Dinner

A while ago I wrote a blog about meal kit delivery services (read about it here).  These are companies that mail you ingredients to make healthy meals.  I love this idea because it saves time by not having to go grocery shopping and it delivers fresh produce but just the right amount needed so nothing goes to waste but most of the services are quite expensive.  When I heard about a new company, Dinnerly, that claimed to be the cheaper option, I was interested.

See the source imageDinnerly offers 3 meals of 2 servings for only $30 plus $8.99 shipping.  Most other meal kit services are twice that price.  With the shipping factored in, that's only $13 a meal.  My husband and I often have leftovers as well, usually enough for one lunch.  Granted I can make meals for much cheaper than that, but as I said, not having to buy the groceries or plan saves time and energy which is worth something.  Plus you get to try new things that you might not have before. 

Why is Dinnerly so much cheaper?  They provide digital recipe cards instead of paper and have simple packaging which means less production costs.  They also have fewer ingredients per dish which cuts back on cost.  They also don't spend a lot of money on huge marketing campaigns.

Another thing that I like about Dinnerly is it is simpler than most other services.  With fewer ingredients, the dishes don't take as long to prepare and cook.  Most of their meals can be made in 30 minutes or less.

I have been getting the boxes for 3 weeks now and I have really enjoyed most of the meals.  They are tasty, simple to make, and cost effective! 

If you want to try a free box, comment below and I'll respond with your unique code!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Earn Free Spirit Miles

Airline miles are a great way to be able to travel.  I really love it when you can get them for free so I jumped at the opportunity to earn free Spirit Miles by taking surveys.  Even though it's only a few hundred miles, it can add up over time and may be the difference between being able to get a ticket for free or not.  Sign up today here!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Pet Insurance, A Cheaper Alternative: Save Money and Your Pet's Life!

Our new year did not start out well.  We came home at 4 in the morning Jan 1 after a fun long night out celebrating with friends to find our cat Tybalt crying and having thrown up clear foam several times all over the apartment. We took him to the ER vet and discovered he had swallowed a needle. Their recommendation was surgery which would cost $6,000 - $7,000.  That staggering number forced us to think about how much we were willing to spend on a pet.  Let me tell you, that is not an easy thing to do.  In one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make, we decided it was too expensive for us to be able to afford. We went with plan B, which was still a few thousand dollars, and luckily they were able to get it out by flushing his stomach. He is all better now and is very lucky that he made it through without any damage.

But all of this forced us to think about getting pet insurance.  We have two indoor cats and I never thought they would have any extreme health concerns that would cost that much.  But anything can have accidents.

In looking at all the options, most companies seemed to have roughly the same cost, between $50-$60 a month for two indoor cats.  Yikes!  That's $700 a year.  Considering the lack of need of health services in the years we've already had them and the amount of previous pets, that actually didn't seem like it would save us money in the long run.  Sure that's taking a gamble, but either way we couldn't afford it at this time.

But then I found out about Pets Best accident only insurance.  It is only $6 a month for cats (I think around $9 a month for dogs) and covers the treatment of pretty much all accidents, including exams, x-rays, surgeries, hospitalization and medications because of trauma, poisoning, bites (animal, insects, snakes), hit by car or moving vehicle, foreign body ingestion, bone fracture, laceration, cut, abrasion, wound, torn nail, or medical problems directly attributable to accidental injury.  It has a $250 deductible and 90% reimbursement (the highest I'd seen for pet insurance) and a $10,000 annual limit which was also on the higher end, especially considering the low rates.  This was exactly what we need at a price we can afford!

Of course if they were to get some serious illness that requires constant medication, that would be different.  This insurance doesn't cover cruciate ligament injuries or any illnesses or diseases, including infectious bacterial or viral diseases, parasitic infection, metabolic disorder, or cancer.

But for those people that want a cheaper option than full accident and wellness pet insurance, I believe this is the way to go.  This should help you for those crazy emergencies that pop up out of nowhere and you have to make a quick decision.  Our Tybalt would have been able to receive the surgery and we would have paid less out of pocket than we did for the cheaper alternative.  In fact, we would have paid less than just for the ER visit and examinations alone which were $700.

PLEASE look into pet insurance if you have pets. We never thought a bill would be that high from indoor cats but I would much rather pay a few hundred dollars each year than have to make a decision on how much our pet's life was worth to us again.

If you are interested in Pets Best accident only insurance, click here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

See Unlimited Movies in Theaters for $10 a Month!

My husband and I love watching movies and we especially love seeing them in theaters but it can get very expensive.  I wrote a post a while ago about cheap ways to see movies but I have learned about a new and better way: MoviePass.

MoviePass is a subscription service that allows you to go see a movie in a theater once a day for only $9.95 a month!  While the national average for a movie ticket is $8.61, here in California they are commonly $12-$14 for a regular movie.  That means you save money even just by only going once a month.  But for those that live in areas where it is cheaper than the monthly cost, you will certainly make it up by just going twice a month.  It is a huge savings for people that love to see movies all the time in theaters.

Now here are the restrictions:

  1. MoviePass is not accepted at all theaters.  That being said, it is accepted at many large chains and even some local run theaters.  The biggest chain that does not accept it is AMC.  But check their website to see what theaters in your area do accept it.  I still have choice of all of my favorites in my area.
  2. You have to be within 100 yards of the theater before you can order your ticket.
  3. MoviePass can only be used to buy a standard ticket, i.e. no 3D or Imax.  There is a trick to upgrade your ticket and just pay the difference that MoviePass doesn't tell you about.  See below.

How Does It Work?

Once you sign up for MoviePass, they send you a card.  This card is used to "pay" for the ticket when you have to purchase it at the kiosk at the movie theater.  When your account is activated, you need to download the MoviePass app.  When you want to get a ticket, go to the theatre and "check in" to your movie on the app.  You can either purchase the ticket through the app if it is available at that theater or you go to the ticket kiosk and order a ticket like normal and when they ask for payment, you hand them the MoviePass card which works like a debit or credit card.  It's as simple as that!

Tricks to Upgrade or Reserve Ahead of Time

MoviePass is only for day of standard tickets but there are ways around that.  The first thing to note is that it doesn't really matter what movie you check in to on the MoviePass app.  When you check in, it just gives the okay on your card for one purchase of a standard ticket rate within the half hour time slot.  There is no way for it to specify a certain showing.  That means if you want to make sure you get tickets to a premiere that might sell out, go to the theatre ahead of time and just check in to any movie but when you go to the kiosk, ask for whatever showing you want and use your MoviePass card.  It does mean that you can't see a movie on that day of purchase, but you could conceivably see multiple movies in one day this way.

If you really want to see something in 3D or Imax, you can do a similar trick to "upgrade" and only pay the difference in price from a standard ticket to the other ticket.  Check in to any movie and order a standard ticket.  Then at the theater kiosk, ask to exchange your ticket for the upgraded version and pay the difference.

While these tricks are kind of inconvenient, it is a small price to pay for what money you'll be saving in my opinion!

Sign up for MoviePass today here!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Use an Electric Shaver for Legs!

So lately I noticed I was having a bad reaction to shaving my legs.  I tried special shaving creams, changing my razors more often, aloe after shaving, all kinds of things but nothing helped the red bumps and itching like crazy!  It dawned on me . . . what about an electric shaver?

I'd grown up with my dad using an electric shaver to shave his face but I'd never really seen it advertised for shaving legs.  So I headed to Amazon to search for electric shavers for legs that had good reviews and I came across this beauty:

It had good reviews and was on sale for $13.98 so I thought, why not try it . . . it wouldn't be that much of a waste if it didn't work well.

I've been using it for a couple weeks now and I have to say it's been awesome!  I haven't had any razor burn, no bumps at all, no redness and certainly no itching!  It takes a little while to get used to using it to get the closest shave (underarms are very difficult!) but I think it's getting easier.

So why am I writing about this on my blog about saving money?  Well this will save me a lot of money on the long run.  Instead of constantly having to buy new disposable razors and shaving cream, I will have something that should last a lot longer.  Even if you spend a little more on a nicer shaver, it can save money over time.

So why not try it out?!  And in combination with the grapeseed oil as talked about in this post, you'll have nice smooth legs without spending a lot of money!

Have you known about electric shavers for your legs all along and I've just been missing out?  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Get Healthy Ingredients for Meals Delivered Right to Your Door . . . For Cheap

It's been a while since I've done a post.  I've been busy but I've also been trying out different services for this post since November, so I have been working on this, just in the background :)

I'm sure a lot of you have seen things on meal kit delivery services, they've been becoming quite popular.  You might recognize companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.  If you haven't heard about these companies, basically they provide you with a fully planned meal (except drinks) with all the ingredients you need to make it, delivered right to your doorstep.  What's even better than just having everything planned and purchased for you, is that they are usually tailored for the amount of people you'll be serving so you don't have to make a meal sized for 8 people and end up with leftovers for weeks and they also usually provide you with the exact amount of an ingredient needed so you also don't end up with random bits of extra items that usually go to waste.

It's really awesome.  And they're usually very tasty, healthy, and not too difficult to make.  But it's expensive.  Of course, because it does so much for you -- planning and grocery shopping are eliminated, which is worth a lot.  Prices average around $50 - $70 a week for 3 meals for 2 people.  I can certainly make meals myself for a lot cheaper than $20, I try to keep it under $10 a meal (for both my husband and myself together).

The good news is, they offer great discounts on your first delivery or through referrals (like mine below!) and you can also earn money for referring others.  You just have to make sure you cancel on time before your next delivery so you don't get charged the full amount!  This can definitely make it worth it because it is really a fun experience, you get to keep the recipes you really like to make it again in the future (though you have to buy the ingredients), and I learned a lot about cooking in general.  Many also offer a lot of different options for different dietary restrictions, especially vegetarian.

So here's my breakdown on the companies I tried.  If I try more in the future, I'll be sure to add it on to this list.

Chef'd logo
The Good: They have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options.  I only chose 2 items from their "Quick and Easy" section and they have been simple but tasty.  There's a variety of serving sizes and meal options to choose from.

Ingredients for each meal are separated into bags.

The Bad: Prices are a little high, that's why I chose some of the cheapest meal items.

The Price: Meals range from $12-$79 depending on serving size, breakfasts start at $10, and desserts start at $15.  Shipping is free if it's over $40, otherwise shipping is $10.

The Deal: Get $10 off with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: You don't have to sign up for a plan, you can just buy when you want.  If you do sign up for the weekly plan, you need to cancel at 11:59PM PST Wednesday before your delivery week.

Green Chef logo
The Good: The veggies are often pre-cut, makes prep time so much faster!  Good customer service.  Many different diet options.

The Bad: Very healthy, almost too healthy for me (you know where you notice that you're eating healthy because it's not the best tasting things).  I did have a problem with freshness on a bag of arugula, though they did refund a little :)

The Price: $10.49 per meal for a 2 person plan, $11.99 per meal for a family plan.  $9 for shipping.

The Deal: 4 free meals with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: 7 days before your next scheduled delivery

See the source imageThe Good: This is my favorite.  This is the cheapest meal kit service I've found out there.  It's cheap enough that I am continuing to use it.

Part of why it is so much cheaper is that it has less ingredients which means that it is easier and takes less time to make.  But the meals have still all tasted really good.

The Bad: I don't really have anything bad to say about this one.

The Price: $5.00 a meal for 2 or 4 portions.  $8.99 shipping.

The Deal: Get your first box free by commenting below and I will give you a unique code.

When to Cancel or Change Items: 6 days before your next scheduled delivery

Hello Fresh logo
The Good: This is a runner up only based on price.  They're very fresh (duh!), fun and unique flavors, and not too difficult.  Plus they give old customers a lot of 50% off coupons to restart again so I've actually received several boxes from them.  I don't think there's a single recipe I haven't liked.

All the ingredients (except meat) are separated by meal into individual cardboard boxes to make it easy to store and to grab everything you need for each meal.

The Bad: I don't really have anything bad to say about this one.

The Price: $9.99 a meal for 2 or 4 adults, $8.74 a meal for 2 adults and 2 kids.  Free shipping.

The Deal: You get $40 off your first box with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: 11:59PM PST 5 days before your next scheduled delivery

Munchery logo
The Good: The chicken was already diced!  I love it when prep time is cut down.  Ingredients are separated by meal into boxes.

Order as many or as few meals as you want for as many or as few people as you want.  It's not a set number of meals for a certain number of people.  You can also add sides, salads, and desserts!  There's lots to choose from.

The Bad: You can't remake the recipe later because it doesn't have amounts listed :(  I also had trouble cancelling and had to contact customer support.

The Price: Dinners range from $8-$18 per serving for adult meals; $4-$6 for kids meals; sides, salads, and desserts $4-$8.  There is a delivery fee, though I'm not sure how much since I got this through a Groupon and can't find out through their FAQ.  There's also a membership option that's more like the other companies, though you have to be in a specific area and I didn't qualify so look that up if your interested.

The Deal: Get $20 off with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: 6 days before your next scheduled delivery

Sun Basket logo
The Good: Another yummy one.  They also separated ingredients by meal into bags.

The Bad: Monday delivery only.  Also, they wouldn't cancel right away, they kept sending me follow up emails and/or calls to make sure I wanted to cancel.  That was kind of annoying.  They did give me a $20 credit for my next order though, so worth it?

The Price: $11.49 per serving for 2 or 4 people, $9.99 per serving for 4 people + $5.99 shipping after first order

The Deal: 3 free meals with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: Thursday at 12:00PM PST

The Good: Very easy!  Spices were already chopped and prepped and I think that's the most time consuming thing.

There are a lot of meal options.  You can also add salad, meat, and sides.

The Bad: You have to return the box (they schedule a pickup for you but if you're in an apartment complex, like me, and delivery people don't always go into your building for that, you'll have to bring it to your local FedEx).  I guess it's better for the environment though :)

The Price: Meals range from $9.99 to $17.99, minimum order of $62.99 and $64.99 for free shipping

The Deal: Get $40 off with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: I couldn't get an exact answer on when you have to cancel by.  On their website it just says it has to be before something is in "process" to not be charged.

I put this one at the bottom because it is a little different than the rest.  These are not meals you make, they are pre-cooked and packaged, you just need to microwave and eat!

The Good: No prep or cook time!  A lot of meal choices, though they don't change each week, they only add new ones every so often.  So if you go back to order more, there aren't as many options.  But hopefully they'll keep growing and adding more!  This is a great option for single people because you don't have to have 2 of each meal.

The Bad: Nothing really bad to report :)

The Price: From $8.99 per serving to $12.50 per serving, depending on how many meals per week to you get.  Free shipping.

The Deal: Get your first 6 dinners for $39 with this link!

When to Cancel or Change Items: Again I couldn't find out exactly when you need to cancel by.  It's always safe to say a week before your next delivery.

I also tried Blue Apron, Gobble, Marley Spoon, and Plated but they didn't offer referral programs.

The one complaint I have is that getting herbs off the stems takes so much time!  I discovered this nifty little product and it works great and saves so much time!

 Is there a service you tried that I should check out?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Make Money Driving for Uber and Lyft

I'm sure most people by now have heard of ridesharing, a popular new way to get around.  If you haven't, read this.  As many of you know, about a year ago I tried out driving for Uber and really ended up liking it!  (Read about my experience on my first day driving here).  I did it in my spare time for a few months but then I got really busy with my actual work.  Fast forward to September 2016, when my husband was getting ready for work and got a call from his work saying not to come into work that day, they were shutting down and he could pick up his paycheck that afternoon.  No warning.

Needless to say we were in shock for a while and didn't know what to think.  We were leaving the following week to go to Texas to pick up and drive back to California my grandparents' old Prius that they weren't going to use anymore.  That gave us time to think about what he should do.  It dawned on me, now we would have two cars, he could drive for Uber or Lyft while he tried to get another job.  Problem solved!  I didn't think my husband would consider switching altogether to just driving for his job because . . . well . . . he hates driving!  But we quickly saw how the benefits of doing this outweigh any of the negatives.  So here you have it, the positives and negatives of driving for a rideshare company.

Benefits of Being a Driver

  • Flexibility.  Create your own hours.  Want to go on a vacation?  Take some time off!  Need more money, go out driving for a few more hours.  You are in total control of when you work.
  • No boss to deal with.  Sure you still work for a company and they can have some strange rules or frustrate you with something, but there isn't someone constantly there above you.
  • Perks.  Companies are now offering perks like discounts for gas, car maintenance and insurance but also fun things like movie tickets!
  • Meet new people.  You can meet some interesting people and have some great conversations!
  • Explore new areas.  You really get to know the area around you and found out new places that you might want to visit yourself!
  • Bonus.  When you first sign up, they offer a bonus which can be anywhere from $300 to $2,000!  (Make sure you find out what the requirements are.  See details below).  They also offer other bonuses throughout the year.  You can also get money for referring people.

Downsides of Being a Driver

  • Paying for gas.  Rideshare companies don't reimburse you for gas.  So you should probably have a fuel efficient car if you are considering doing this.
  • Wear and tear on your car.  You will be putting a lot of miles on your car which depreciates value and means more upkeep and maintenance.
  • You'll owe taxes.  You will be an independent contractor which means your taxes aren't automatically taken out of your paychecks and you will owe money to the government come tax time.
  • Your body can hurt.  Just sitting around driving for hours on end several days a week can give you some aches and pains.

What You Need to Drive

  • Be 21 with a valid driver's license and at least 1 year driving experience (3 years experience for under 23 with Uber)
  • A 4 door car (generally 10 years old or newer but that varies by city and state).  If you don't have a car, they both have programs to buy and car through them.
  • Proof of registration.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Pass a driving record check and background check
  • Smartphone with good data plan (I recommend MetroPCS)
Chances are you already have everything!

What Do You Make?

Uber and Lyft take 25% of the fare.  You keep the rest.  That simple.  My husband has been driving around 20 hours a week and averaging between $20 - $35/hr.  You can figure out based on those estimates about how much time you'd want to put in for how much money.  Keep in mind that the amount will vary depending on where you are and when you're driving.  It can be a lot less than that or a lot more.  I say why not try it out and at least get the sign up bonus and that will be worth the trial time at least.

Misconceptions About Driving

The biggest misconception is that it is unsafe.  While I won't argue that it is 100% safe and nothing could happen to you, it is a lot safer than people think.  Yes you are letting strangers into your car, but they aren't just any old person.
  1. They have to own a smartphone and a credit or debit card.  Obviously since these companies run off an app, you have to own a smartphone to use it. That means you won't be picking up homeless people.
  2. Riders get rated too.  If you've used a rideshare as a rider before, you know you rate your driver and those ratings affect whether or not they can keep driving.  Most people don't realize that the riders are rated by the drivers too.  While it isn't as strict, a person can be banned from using the app if they are rated low enough by enough drivers.  That means the crazies are weeded out.
  3. Phone numbers are kept anonymous.  Riders and drivers both get routed through another number so you can't contact that person later.

Bonus for Couples

I mentioned a sign up bonus and a referral bonus.  Well if you both sign up, and the second person signs up with the first person's referral, you'll double down on the bonuses.  For example, I signed up for Uber a year ago.  My sign up bonus was $300.  When my husband signed up in October, he used my referral link and got $700 for his sign up bonus and I got $700 for referring him.  Together that's a $1,700 bonus!  Each bonus is different at different times of the year and for each company so chose when to sign up wisely!

So what are you waiting for?  Sign up today!

If you sign up through these links, you'll be provided a bonus from mine or my husband's referral links.  The bonuses change throughout the year (remember I've seen them vary from $300 to $2,000) so keep that in mind when signing up.  If the bonus seems low, you might want to wait a bit.  There are specific requirements for getting the bonus, so make sure you read everything and understand what you have to do to get it!

 Drive for Uber

 Drive for Lyft