Sam’s Club Membership Deal – Zulily

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Deal site Zulily has a special Sam’s Club Plus membership deal where for $45 you get over $91 of value:

  • One-year Sam’s Club Savings membership ($45 value), which includes a membership card for the primary cardholder and a complimentary membership card for a spouse or other household member.
  • $20 Sam’s Club gift card
  • Coupons good for free stuff ($26.83 total value):
    • Free Take and Bake Pepperoni or Cheese Pizza (16”, up to a $7.99 value)
    • Free Cheesecake Squares (16 count, a $11.98 value)
    • Free 5” x 7” Canvas Mini Print With Stand (a $6.86 value)

New members only, so you can’t use this to renew a current membership. Deal ends May 19th, 2014 at 6am PDT, and must be redeemed by August 17, 2014. Free stuff can be redeemed up to 30 days after joining. Valid at any Sam’s club location.

Remember that you can save a bit more on your Zulily purchases with cashback shopping sites like eBates ($5 new customer bonus) and Mr. Rebates ($5 bonus).

Too Busy To Buy Paper Towels and Soap? New Amazon, Target, and Groupon Shopping Services

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Who knew that the next big thing would be toilet paper and soap? We must be running out of things to “disrupt”, as everyone wants to deliver household and grocery products to your doorstep. What’s next, door-to-door milk delivery?

Amazon Prime Pantry. Amazon has been in the game for a while already with their Prime and Subscribe & Save services, but with Prime Pantry you can buy individual products in everyday sizes (not bulk), up to 45 lbs in a box, all for a flat $5.99 shipping fee. Must be a Prime member.

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Target Subscriptions. Target just started its own regular delivery service that offers an additional 5% off and free shipping with no minimum purchase requirement. You can still get another 5% off by paying with the Target REDcard. Newly expanded but still limited selection compared to Amazon. No membership fee.

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Groupon Basics. Groupon’s new bulk shopping service offers 100+ household products with free shipping on orders $24.99 and up within the continental US. Currently, get 5% back in the form of Groupon Bucks which can be used towards future purchases. Limited selection that is more focused on certain brands, but supposedly growing soon. No membership fee.

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Hanscom Federal CU Thrive Review: High Interest Starter Account

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savebuttonbank(Update: As of 5/11/2014 the rate is back down to 3% APY. This is still much higher than most saving accounts and it should still be worthy of consideration.)

To celebrate their 60th anniversary, Hanscom Federal Credit Union (HFCU) has increased the interest rate on their CU Thrive account to 6.0% APY (5.84% rate). The CU Thrive account is an interesting “starter CD” that rewards consistent saving. The rate is set for 12 months, and during those 12 months you can transfer up to $500 every month from a HFCU checking account. No monthly fees. However, you cannot make any withdrawals during those 12 months, or you will be subject to an early withdrawal penalty of 90 days interest.

This product is not meant for those looking to stash larger $10,000+ balances in a certificate of deposit.

More account details. If you maxed out this account and set aside $500 a month for 12 months, at the end you’d have put in $6,000 and earned about $180 in interest (~$193 if you made every transfer on the 1st of the each month by my quick calculations). The low deposit limits make this account best for people who can benefit from a little extra carrot to start saving, as you can tell yourself that you are getting 5% more or six times the interest rate on other “high yield” savings accounts. NCUA-insured! $6,000 also happens to be just about the same amount as a full Roth IRA contribution. Hint, hint.

At the end of the 12 months, all accrued savings plus earned dividends will be transferred into your primary savings account. Each member can only have one CU Thrive account open at one time, but after one 12-month period ends you can open up another one (assuming it is still offered). Full disclosure (PDF).

Eligibility details. To open a CU Thrive account, you must first open an HFCU checking account. HFCU offers a free checking account with no direct deposit and no minimum balance requirement. To open a checking account, just must be a member. Like most credit unions, membership is open by family, employer, or by membership in a partner organization (which makes it open to nearly everyone). You must also keep $25 in a share account as long as you are a member.

(Update: Right now if you are referred by an existing member, you can get a $30 bonus after being an active member for 90 days, and the referring member gets $30 as well. If you’d like, here is my referral link. The $30 should help offset any membership fees you might pay to be eligible to join.)

Account opening process. This is just the type of thing that I would like to set up for my kids – something with a high enough interest rate that they can “feel” the compounding effect. (Their minimum age is just 7 years old with an adult joint account.) I do wonder if it would actually create a habit of saving.

I started the online application and said I would join the Nashua River Watershed Association for a one-time $35 fee. I had to provide the usual personal information and then answer questions based on my credit report to verify my identity. I don’t know if they actually did a “hard” pull on my credit report (I hope not). You can fund with an online bank transfer but they also gave me the option to fund with credit card up to $2,000. They didn’t mention if this would be considered a cash advance or not. (Update: So far it is showing as a purchase on my American Express card.) Finally, you must print out, sign, and mail in a signature card. You can also open an account in-person. All of their physical branches appear to be located in Massachusetts.

When it comes to paying a one-time fee to join a credit union, I like to see that the credit union has a history of offering member-friendly products. In addition to the free checking, HFCU also has a competitive Home Equity Line of Credit (HELoC) with no application fee, no annual fee, and no closing costs if you keep it open for 24 months.

Amazon Mom: Buy $45 in Gift Cards, Get $5 Free

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azgcAmazon Mom is running a gift card promotion where if you buy $45 or more of selected gift card packs, you’ll get a free $5 gift code by June 15th. Give them as gifts or use them yourself and essentially get 10% off $50 in gift cards. This offer is good ONLY to Amazon Mom members with a free trial or paid membership to Amazon Prime. While supplies last.

Amazon Mom is a program that has some nice perks for parents (open to anyone… mom, dad, grandparent, or caretaker). The main draw is the 20% off diapers & wipes as well as baby food and other household items (5% Subscribe & Save discount + 15% Amazon Mom discount) and the fast shipping.

If you already pay for Amazon Prime at $99 a year, you can sign up for Amazon Mom for free. New Prime/Mom members are eligible for a 3-month free trial of Prime (must not have had free trial previously on your account) where you’ll also get the free 2nd-day shipping of Prime but not the video streaming or free Kindle book borrowing. Canceling is easy, you can even cancel the trial ahead of time while still getting the remainder of your 3 months.

Also see my Amazon Mom Subscribe & Save program tips. I use Amazon Mom and get an S&S delivery every single month.

Student with .edu e-mail? Get a 6-month free trial of Amazon Prime and then 50% off after that with Amazon Student.

Flickr Photo App: 1,000 GB Storage Free + iCloud Replacement

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flickrapp2Photo site Flickr recently updated their iPhone and Android apps. This just happened to coincide with me running out of space both on my Apple iCloud and Dropbox accounts, so I took another look at the Yahoo-owned site and found it actually fit my needs at a great price point – free!

As they say, the best camera is the one that you have with you. Since the birth of our first child, we’ve quickly racked up over 20 GB of pics on our phones alone, and much more from our point-and-shoot. iCloud only gives iPhone users 5 GB of free storage, so I found myself paying $40 a year for the 25 GB upgrade (with a discounted iTunes gift card of course) but ate through that as well. Since I keep both USB hard drive and online cloud backups, I was also running out of room even on my free Dropbox account. I used to pay for an unlimited photo service called Everpix, but they shut down last year.

In comparison, Flickr offers everyone 1,000 GB of free photo and video storage at full resolution with no caps or image compression. (I figure that should last us until kindergarten…) 100 GB of space runs $100 a year on both Dropbox and iCloud – I know there are cheaper options but these have the most convenient sync software.

flickrapp4My favorite iCloud feature was the ability to automatically and continuously backup the photos on my phone. Nothing to remember, just take pictures. With their updated free app, Flickr can also auto-upload and sync your iPhone photos taken with the default Camera app. (I’m assuming the Android app has a similar feature.) It doesn’t appear to upload any of your old pictures automatically, just the ones taken after you install the app and enable the Auto Sync feature (see screenshot). Auto-uploaded pictures are always set to Private by default (viewable by you only).

The new Flickr app also has several new features like an in-app camera with Instagram-like filters, sharing feeds, and better photo editing tools. After I manually back up the old photos, I plan to downgrade my iCloud account back to the free 5 GB level.

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 18 Months, No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

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citisimplicity175I usually focus on rewards-earning credit cards, but I know many folks are still carrying some balances and thus more concerned about their whopping 15% interest rate rather than a relatively puny 2% back on purchases. The Citi Simplicity® Card is uniquely suited for those that want to transfer higher rate balances to a long 0% intro period while also offering some “accident forgiveness insurance”. The highlights:

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening. Balance transfer fee is 3% of balance transfer amount, $5 minimum. This is one of the longest offers out there for balance transfers.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 18 months. This means you can keep charging your new purchases on this card as well and also enjoy no interest for 18 months. Also one of the longest 0% offers available for purchases.
  • No late fees. If you’re late on a payment, you won’t be dinged with a ~$40 late fee as with many other cards.
  • No penalty APR. Even worse than a late fee, a missed payment can lead to a rate hike into a “penalty” APR rate as high as 25% or more.
  • No annual fee.
  • Direct to human help. If you call in and say “representative”, you’ll be transferred directly to a human, 24 hours a day.

The Citi Simplicity card does not earn any cash back, points, miles, or free toasters; I’d open a separate card for rewards. It does include additional purchase benefits such as Citi Price Protection (price drop protection on brick and mortar purchases) and free Extended Warranty (extends manufacturer’s warranty for up to 12 months).

Alternatively, the Chase Slate® Card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months with no balance transfer fee, but does not include some of the more consumer-friendly features of this card that ensure your low rates don’t get hiked.

To summarize, the Citi Simplicity® is a solid card for those in the midst of the debt payoff process looking to pay no interest for 18 months with minimal gotcha fees compared to the competition.

Lyft Promotion Credit Codes: Free Ride Credits

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lyftappLyft is a smartphone-based ride service that competes with traditional taxis. They are similar to Uber, but Lyft calls their fares “donations” and aggressively recruits casual drivers who can apply directly from their app. (Uber does a similar thing with their UberX service whereas their UberBlack and UberTAXI service employs professional full-time drivers.) Lyft drivers are screened with DMV and background checks, as well as provided $1 million in liability coverage. Riders pay entirely through the smartphone app. Drivers keep 80% of the total fare.

Here is a list of all the cities they serve. Right now Lyft is aggressively expanding and the following promotions are available:

  • Download their iPhone app or Android app first.
  • New users: Get free ride up to $25. Hail a pink-mustached car driven by a private individual in their private car. Cities. Get $50 off your first ride with promo code SLICKDEALS. If that doesn’t work, you can get a $25 ride credit via my referral link. If you live in a city where they are just starting out, you may also get a bunch of additional free rides for being a “Lyft Pioneer”.
  • Residents of Pioneer cities get free rides for two weeks. Pioneer cities are places where Lyft is just starting out. If you join the app in a Pioneer city, you’ll automatically get a number of free rides (up to $25 each) valid for the first 2 weeks after you join. Currently, Pioneer is only available in Indianapolis, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, Denver, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Baltimore, Orange County, Sacramento, Houston and Columbus for a limited time. (I think Cincinnati, OH, Detroit, MI, Tampa, FL, and Tucson, AZ also qualify.) Details here. Launched 4/24 as part of “Lyftapalooza” were ALBUQUERQUE ANN ARBOR BUFFALO COLORADO SPRINGS CORPUS CHRISTI FRESNO JACKSONVILLE KANSAS CITY LEXINGTON LINCOLN LOUISVILLE MEMPHIS MODESTO NEW HAVEN NEWARK OKLAHOMA CITY OMAHA RALEIGH DURHAM ROCHESTER SAN BERNARDINO SPOKANE TOLEDO TULSA VIRGINIA BEACH.

Get free ride credits to other ridesharing sites including Uber, Flywheel, Gett, Sidecar, Silvercar here! It is pretty neat to summon a ride from your smartphone and track it by GPS as it gets closer to you.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card – Limited Time Offer

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citihilton180emvLast update: Offer expires Friday, 4/18/14. Citi has a new limited-time promotion for its Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card. The sign-up bonus has been improved by 10,000 points and a $50 statement credit over their standard offer. This offer is only available on a handful of sites, not even on Citi.com.

  • LIMITED TIME: Earn a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at any hotel and resort within the Hilton HHonors Portfolio during the first 6 months of cardmembership as well as 50,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of cardmembership.*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio. *
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations. *
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases. *
  • No annual fee.*

*Click for additional pricing and to learn more.

Due to the way the bonus is structured, this card is really best for people who at least occasionally stay at Hilton hotels (as this card is also giving you a bunch of points and complimentary Silver status to try and get you to become more loyal). Hilton HHonors points are worth the most when redeemed for a hotel stay, as there aren’t really that many great cash-equivalent redemption options. You can use this search tool to see how much a hotel will cost in any specific area (i.e. Honolulu or Paris).

This card has no annual fee. If you are willing to pay an annual fee in exchange for a bigger bonus and better ongoing perks, check out the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.

Target Mobile Coupon Text Codes: $10 off $50 in Food Purchases & More

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targetgroceryAttention Target shoppers… Target is offering some special coupons if you text specific messages to them at 827438 (TARGET). They’ll reply with a link to a unique coupon code that you just show the cashier on your smartphone. This week there is a pretty good $10 off coupon if you spend $50 on food and beverage purchases, and then I got sucked down the rabbit hole and wanted to find all the other available codes (even though I’m really not an avid coupon person). Here are all of them that I could find:

  • Text GROCERY to 827438 for a $10 off $50 coupon good on food and/or beverage purchases. Excludes alcohol, baby food, nutrition shakes and bars, pet food, Target Cafe and Starbucks Cafe. Expires 4/19/14. (GROCERY2 works as well.)
  • Text OFFERS to 827438 for a link to sign up for future coupons offers on your phone. Obviously, this means you’ll get ongoing marketing messages from Target. Up to 5 texts per month.
  • Text BABY to 827438 for a link to sign up for Target Baby Alerts. New subscribers get 10% off your first online baby order (excludes clearance items, diapers, wipes, training pants, and formula). Up to 6 texts per month.
  • Text APPAREL to 827438 for a $5 off $25 coupon good on Apparel and/or accessories purchase. Men’s, Women’s, Kids all included. Expires 4/19/14.
  • Text RECIPE to 827438 for a bunch of various food-related offers (this week $2 off $5 fresh fruit purchases, $1 off various easter and Target Pantry items). Expires 4/20/14.
  • Text SPRING to 827438 for a bunch of various offers (this week food, detergent, toilet paper, diapers). Expires 4/23/14.
  • Text THANKS to 827438 for a bunch of various offers (looks very similar to SPRING code above). Expires 4/23/14.
  • Text BAREURHAIR to 827438 for a bunch of various grooming-related offers (razors, shampoo, toothpaste). Expires 4/23/14.

Messaging and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 827438 to end. All the coupons say “Limit one identical coupon/offer per guest, purchase total must be met for each coupon/offer individually.”

Some of these coupons you can just find on their Weekly Ad coupons page.

Free PDF of Rich Dad Poor Dad Book

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richdadRich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter is probably one of the most controversial best-selling personal finance books out there. Some people love it, others hate it. I am bringing this up because until 4/13 you can download a PDF of the book for free at RichDad.com. Specifically, you have to sign up for an account with your name and e-mail. Unless you really want a lot of spam, I’d use a disposable or temporary e-mail address. After verifying the e-mail I was able to download the PDF without issue.

I read and reviewed Rich Dad, Poor Dad in 2005, and while I do admit the book has many flaws I guess I still have a little nostalgic soft spot for it. Somehow his message of buying assets with your hard-earned money and not liabilities connected with a lot of people. Don’t get me wrong though – having read three other Kiyosaki books and listened to an audio CD series, my opinion is to skip everything else Kiyosaki sells! Just read the original. Don’t buy any other books or products, and please please don’t pay for a get-rich-quick seminar.

American Express Twitter Promotions (Updated)

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twitter-bird-white-on-blue(New offer for $20 off $100 at Staples (gift cards eligible). Get a one-time $20 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $100 or more in-store or online at staples.com by 4/30/2014. Tweet #AmexStaples. Details. Staples sells a variety of gift cards, I’m going with Home Depot myself.)

American Express and Twitter continue to have some unique discounts for specific stores. You may also be able to access these discounts via the AmEx smartphone app or by logging into your account and scrolling down to the “Offers For You” tab, but I’ve found Twitter to be the most reliably available to everyone with an account. Highlights include:

  • Lowes Home Improvement. Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $50 or more on qualifying purchases at Lowe’s by 5/31/2014. Lots of gift cards at Lowe’s as well. Tweet #AmexLowes.
  • BP Gas. Receive a one-time $5 statement credit when you make a single purchase of $30 or more at a BP pump by 5/31/14. Tweet #AmexBP.
  • Sports Authority. Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected card to make a single purchase of $50 or more in store at The Sports Authority by 4/30/14. In-store and phone orders only. Tweet using #AmexSportsAuth.
  • Petsmart. Get a one-time $5 statement credit when you spend a total of $25 or more at PetSmart by 4/30/14. Tweet #AmexPetSmart.
  • Petco.com. Receive a one-time $5 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $25 or more online at Petco.com by 6/16/2014. Online only. Tweet #AmexPetco.
  • Zappos.com. Get a one-time $30 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $150 or more on qualifying purchases online at Zappos.com by 5/31/2014. Tweet #AmexZappos.
  • Crate & Barrel. Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected card to spend a total of $50+ on qualifying purchases at Crate & Barrel by 5/22/14. Tweet #AmexCrateBarrel.

(I also got a $5 off $5 at iTunes under my “Offers For You” tab that isn’t available on Twitter.)

The best way I’m aware of to keep track of new hashtags is via the Favorites list for @AmericanExpress.

Haven’t signed up yet? Link your American Express card and Twitter account at sync.americanexpress.com. You can also link up your Facebook and Foursquare accounts for similar (usually identical) offers. If you wish to change your linked card (useful to checking which one is linked), go to sync.americanexpress.com/unsync.

Finally, don’t forget to follow me @mymoneyblog!

Free Starter Personal Finance Book: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly

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ifyoucanbookWilliam Bernstein, author of several books on investing, has recently released a short book targeted at giving young folks a primer on saving for retirement. The title is If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly (Amazon link for the reviews). It costs the minimum 99 cents there, but you can also download it for free in PDF, MOBI ebook, and Amazon AZW3 formats. From his website:

For years I’ve thought about an eleemosynary project to help today’s young people invest for retirement because, frankly, there’s still hope for them, unlike for most of their Boomer parents. All they’ll have to do is to put away about 20% of their salaries into a low-cost target fund or a simple three-fund index allocation for 30 to 40 years. Which is pretty much the same as saying that if someone exercises and eats a lot less, he’ll lose 30 pounds. Simple, but not easy.

Not easy because unless the millennials learn a small amount about finance, they’ll fall victim to the Five Horsemen of Personal Finance Apocalypse: failure to save, ignorance of financial theory, unawareness of financial history, dysfunctional psychology, and the rapacity of the investment industry.

The book is only 27 pages long, but there are also several “reading assignments” of other books to complete your education. Those other books are not free but they have all been around long enough that it shouldn’t be too difficult to borrow a copy from your local library.