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Online Shopping Tips: Buy Yourself a Gift Card

To me, a trip to the spa is a mini-vacation. I want tea, brownies, possibly champagne. I want magazines, outdoor seating, the sounds of a rippling stream. I want saunas, steam rooms, and a hot tub. I want to escape for hours on end.

Handing over my credit card at the end of a blissful day adds a bit of stress. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to save money at the spa.

*Note: You can apply these tips to practically any online retailer, not just spas.

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I Got Rid of Cable and the Kids Survived

In my last post on cutting the cord, I ended with my intention to subscribe to Sling TV via the Roku 3. Since then, I changed my mind and purchased a Kindle Fire stick and a subscription to PS Vue’s basic “access plan”: the benefits of cable without cable.
A little background . . .

Six liberating months ago, I made the decision to cut the cord. I waited for my kids to notice. They happily continued watching their favorite shows mainly on Netflix, occasionally on Amazon Prime and YouTube, and sometimes through apps on Apple TV, the latter of which allows access to limited preselected full episodes on channels like Disney and PBS Kids. Life was good without cable. I watched the local news using my free digital antenna provided by my internet company, viewed “featured stories” on CNN through the Apple TV app, and added an HBO Now subscription to my lineup.

Admittedly, my husband missed live television more than I did. A couple of months ago, I first learned about PS Vue. Playstation

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Meet Poshmark, My Newest Obsession

Poshmark had been on my radar for some time now. A few weeks ago, I took another look and got “sucked in” and I mean that in a good way.

My handbag collection was a sad bunch, one more beaten up than the other. All the years of sippy cups, snack crumbs, and toy-carrying had taken its toll. It was time.

I downloaded the Poshmark app and initiated my search. In a nutshell, Poshmark is a high-end eBay mainly geared towards women, with more of a Facebook layout. To get started, you create a profile, including your size in dresses, jeans, pants, shoes, and sweaters. The app keeps track of this information and customizes your search results accordingly. (You can also buy children’s and men’s clothes, but I ignored that fact). Looking for Lululemon clothes, Vince Camuto shoes or even a Louis Vitton bag? If you wish it, you can find it; Poshmark claims to save you up to 70 percent off.

Here’s how it went down for me:

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Moms, You Need Venmo. You Really Do.

Yes, I realize that if you have a teenager at home or work with a group of twenty-somethings, Venmo is very old news. However, when I mention Venmo to my group of mom friends, I tend to get blank stares and radio silence. Further, when I suggest that they pay me back with Venmo, they respond, “I’ll just give you cash or a check. It’s easier.” Actually, it’s really not easier.

Now that the school year is winding down here, it seems that every time I open an email, someone is collecting money for a teacher: dance, preschool, elementary, and coaches. More often than not, that email actually comes from me as I am the class mom for both of my children. Just this morning, walking into my daughter’s preschool, a gathering of nannies and moms awaited me, shoving cash, checks, and various papers into my hand as I passed them. If it’s not apparent from my earlier posts, I do not like handling cash. I either misplace it, forget who already paid, who still owes me, and I never have the correct change on me. I create lists upon lists to keep track of everything. Don’t you wish there was an app for this? Meet Venmo.

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Moms Unite: How to Create A Babysitting Co-op

As a new mom, the most important thing you can do is to find a group of like-minded moms whom you trust. You will trust these moms with your new mom questions, your deepest, darkest mom confessions, and eventually, the care of your child.

I moved to Hoboken, New Jersey when I was eight months pregnant, about to embark on life as a stay-at-home mom, knowing no one. I describe this place, a tiny one-mile city, minutes outside of Manhattan, as magical, although I didn’t know it yet. Urban and completely kid-friendly, the streets runneth over with strollers and babywearing mamas. At the time, I had no idea how much support a new mom needed, but it was here in Hoboken, that I found my circle of moms, the women who got me through daily life as a first-time mom.

When we finally came up for a breath from mommyhood and realized how much more we could accomplish without children in tow, it was only natural that we decided to create our babysitting co-op together. At first, it allowed us to get that overdue haircut or make a doctor’s appointment, but soon we progressed to date nights with our husbands. This co-op proved so successful that I did not hire my first official babysitter until my son was close to two-years-old. And, with a sitter costing 12 to 15 dollars for one child, that added up to quite the savings.

What You Need to Create a Babysitting Co-op:

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We Got Rid of Cable and My Kids Survived: Part 2

C’mon, I know you’ve thought about getting rid of cable at least once. Do you really need all those channels? What could you do with more than $1600 this year? Even if you bought ten series on iTunes, you still come out ahead. What do you have to lose? Cut the cord! Cut the cord!

For more on watching your favorite shows without cable, click here to read my previous blog post.

If you decide to go ahead with ditching cable, you will need:

A Netflix account or Amazon Prime account. My kids were already Netflix-junkies. If you don’t already have a Prime account, click here for a free one-month subscription. You not only get free two-day shipping from Amazon but also access to over 40,000 movies and TV shows.
One or more streaming devices (there are others out there that I will not discuss):
Apple TV: this is what I use. Many apps are included such as CNN, PBS, PBS Kids, and Lifetime. FYI: I find the remote control too small and hard to navigate so the remote app on my phone eliminates this problem. Although

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We Got Rid of Cable and my Kids Survived: Part 1

Cord-cutter: that’s who I am. Two months and proud. My kids haven’t complained yet.

You may think that my sizable cable bill motivated this decision, however, the real reason was that I simply could not justify paying one more month for my home phone. With the exception of telemarketers who dialed me incessantly (despite my placement on the no-call list), my home phone sat silently accumulating dust until I finally unplugged it. FIOS informed me that if I chose to keep internet and cable TV but dropped my home line, my bill would actually increase. (I had the Triple Play package).

Frustrated, I shopped around online and discovered CableVision’s Cord-Cutter package. For $50 per month including taxes, I could receive high-speed internet, a router, and digital antenna. My FIOS bill cost me close to $200 per month. Do the math. At the end of the year, I would have an extra $1600 in my pocket.

Sure, cable makes channel-surfing convenient, but I can honestly say I do not miss it. I still manage to watch all my favorite shows: Downton Abbey (may it RIP), Vinyl, The Affair, Girls, Shark Tank, Real Housewives, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

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How In-Store Pickup Saves You Time and Money

Few activities exhaust me as much as shopping with my kids. When my youngest learned to walk, such excursions reached an all time level of craziness that hasn’t really subsided since. The expression “kids in a candy store,” certainly applies; when stores display toys in their aisles, my frustration level hits an all-time high. You know the drill, a fifteen-minute trip turns into an hour plus, ending with me blindly grabbing things from shelves, carrying my children out of the store kicking and screaming. OK, most of the screaming probably comes from me.

“Never again” I remind myself at the end of each and every trip. “Never again.”

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