November 04, 2016

5 Ways To Save Money Shopping Online

This is a part of my Ballin' on a Budget series, where I share tips, tricks and best-kept secrets to sticking to a budget while living your best life! 

This post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Caro Diaries!

This week, I shared how I save money on all of my big purchases, and the response was so great that I teamed up with Groupon again to talk about how I save money when I shop online! I'm definitely an online shopper... there's something so easy about browsing, clicking and it just showing up at your door! But it can add up really quickly... trust me, I'd know ;) Luckily, I've learned some go-to tips for saving the most money when shopping online, so you can get even more for even less!
1) Two words: Amazon. Prime. // So Amazon Prime isn't a sale website or anything, but signing up for Prime gives you free two-day shipping on all Amazon orders! Sign up for a free 30-day trial to test out the service and save you tons of money! While it's an initial fee, it'll definitely save you money in the long run!

2) Track prices before you buy // I already mentioned how much I love Price Blink's browser extension that automatically compares prices on any item you're looking at.. which makes it ten times easier to save money! I also swear by ShopStyle that allows you to track prices and set sale alerts on items you're lusting over.. so when that expensive pair of heels that never go on sale go on sale, you'll save yourself money and get that pair of shoes.. talk about a win/win!

3) Check off-price retailers first // While larger-named department stores like Nordstrom, Saks and Neiman Marcus might be your first choice when it comes to online shopping, they can be expensive! Try off-price retailers like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth and Neiman Marcus Last Call so you can grab designer goods and high-end clothes at discount prices!

4) Use ShopRunner // Have you ever heard of ShopRunner? It's a service really similarly to Amazon Prime that gives you free 2-day shipping on websites that usually charge for shipping. Stores like Neiman Marcus, Kate Spade, eBags and more all offer free shipping to ShopRunner members! So like Amazon Prime, there's an initial fee but you'll save tons that make it so worth it. What truly wins you over is the free return shipping with ShopRunner, so if something doesn't fit or look good, you can send it back without paying for the pesky $5+ shipping fees. Plus, if you're an AmEx cardmember, you may be eligible for a complimentary membership!

5) Use Groupon Coupons // I never online shop without first checking online for coupons. I mean it's simple.. why pay full price when chances are there's a 10, 15, 25% off coupon somewhere out there! I always check Groupon before I checkout any online purchase because they have all of my favorite and go-to stores, including Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor! Definitely a lifesaver when online shopping!

So there you have it... those are my big secrets on how I save money when online shopping. Hopefully it can help you out too!

Do you online shop? How do you save money? 

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November 03, 2016

November Goals

Jesusssss how are we in November already?!!! 2016 CANNOT be almost over! October flew by... okay, no, this entire year flew by! I can't get over how quickly 2017 is approaching! But October as a month was much better than September.. so let's just get to recapping the month!

Check out last month's goals and recap post here! 

RECAP OF MY OCTOBER GOALS

1. Create a 6-week content calendar // Wow ok, I suck at this. Once again, I put off creating a full content calendar.. but I did draft out blog post ideas for 15 or so posts, so I'm gonna chalk this up as a half-win!

2. Get back into a workout routine // Finally! I honestly kept putting this off month after month, but last month I bit the bullet and started training with a professional trainer. I thought for sure I'd only go to the gym twice a week, but surprisingly, I started working out five days a week! It's been cool to see results already and he's a pretty fun trainer (and even posts "proud instas" of his clients.. aka me here and here!)

3. Schedule my life out fully // Nope, fail. I mean, I've gotten into more of a routine but I haven't found a way to really schedule out all aspects of my life. It's definitely an adjustment because admittedly, I do have a lot going on in my life. Between working full-time, working on the blog, writing freelance, working as a VA for a few clients and then finding time to workout and have a social life, I'm gonna lose it eventually! So this needs to happen... it just hasn't yet!

4. Cut out all soda drinks and drink more water // I have kinda done this... I've definitely cut down on my diet coke obsession, but I haven't cut it out completely, so I'm working towards this. I definitely need to drink more water too!

5. Utilize Helene's Blog Boss Babe // Ok, so I haven't completely done this but I have been more tuned into her Facebook group, and learning a lot! My next step is to start using the actual web portal more and taking some of her courses.

2.5/5: OK, not a great month but not my worst. I've come to realize that I need to be more realistic about my monthly goals and be honest with myself about what I can tackle each month.

NOVEMBER GOALS

1. Utilize The Genius Bloggers Toolkit // I signed up for this incredible bundle at the last minute because I knew I would benefit from at least ONE of the 67 amazing blogging resources.. so my goal for this month is to get started on some of these tools! Did you buy the bundle too? Join our group and become an accountability buddy so we can actually tackle this massive task! 

2. Take on another client // My contract with one of my clients ended last month, so I'm looking to take on another client this month! Need a VA? Email me

3. Start using Pinterest more // Thanks to some major inspiration from Jenny's Confetti Social newsletter, I want to focus more on Pinterest this month! I really haven't been utilizing my Pinterest to the best of my ability, and it used to be one of my largest sources of traffic. I'm aiming to start back pinning regularly, organizing my boards and scheduling pins for throughout the day so I'm not pinning all at the same time! 

4. Get started on my Christmas shopping // This is the first year I'm "buying" Christmas gifts in my family. In the past, everyone has always picked one name but students were always exempt from it cause #broke. But apparently once you graduate, you start buying gifts! I wanna start online shopping this month and getting good deals on Christmas gifts for my friends and family! 

5. Shoot two outfit posts // I've been feeling incredibly uncomfortable in my body since I moved home, and I've avoided shooting outfit posts because of it, but I'm putting this here to motivate myself to get back into it and get out of my comfort zone and start shooting outfit posts again! 

Here's to hoping November is a successful one! Linking up my goals this month with my good friend Jenny from Breakfast at Lilly's

What are your goals for the upcoming month? 


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October 31, 2016

5 Ways to Save Money on Big Purchases

This is a part of my Ballin' on a Budget series, where I share tips, tricks and best-kept secrets to sticking to a budget while living your best life! 

This post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Caro Diaries!

In the past, I've made my fair share of large purchases. Between expensive flights, professional cameras and designer clothing, I've become somewhat of a pro on big clicks and hard hits to my bank account. But does that stop me from making these purchases? Absolutely not... I've just started to shop smarter. So today, I'm sharing five ways I've learned to save money on big purchases! 

1) Use PriceBlink to instantly compare prices // Available as a plugin extension for Chrome, Safari and Firefox, this tool is genius! When shopping, it instantly pops up at the top of your screen to show you the lowest price it's available for online and shows you average ratings online so you know you're making a good purchase on the product! 

2) Consider an older model // Especially when it comes to technology, there usually aren't massive changes between models. For cameras that release a newer product every single year, the differences usually are a .5" larger screen and one or two megapixels, which, unless you're a professional photographer, doesn't make that big of a difference. Now, I'm not telling you to ditch the iPhone 7 for the original iPhone... but picking up the iPhone 6S at a time when the 7 is hot will save you hundreds of dollars. Dead set on this model? Search online for a used (like new) or refurbished version of the product, it'll save you hundreds and you're likely to be unable to tell the difference.

3) Always check for coupons // Online shopping without utilizing coupons is honestly so dumb, because at any given time, there are at least two coupons that will apply to your order. Whether it's free shipping, 10 percent off or sometimes even more, every little dollar counts when it comes to saving. Plus, saving 10 percent on a purchase of $1000 is $100 back in your pocket...

4) Use a card with rewards // Most banks and credit cards offer some sort of rewards for purchases. When making big purchases, use a credit card with rewards like airline miles, cash back or purchase points that can be redeemed. So while you're not actually saving money on the purchase, you're getting something back and you're getting more bang for your buck. 

5) Utilize Groupon // I'm sure you've heard of Groupon already.. haven't we all! It's the go-to site for good deals on travel packages, spa trips and must-do activities for every season. But did you know that Groupon has a section called Groupon Goods that has daily flash sales with products that you actually want! Everything from technology to makeup to clothes and beyond... it's definitely a first stop when shopping, especially because there are new deals every single day!

So, happy online shopping! What's on your list? 

What are your favorite ways to save money while shopping? Let me know in the comments below! 
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October 19, 2016

6 Secrets for Finding the Best Flight Deals

This is a part of my Ballin' on a Budget series, where I share tips, tricks and best-kept secrets to sticking to a budget while living your best life! 

Traveling is the best. The opportunity to see new places, immerse yourself in different cultures, and quite frankly, just to escape sometimes. But traveling can be expensive, like all the time. After four years of countless flights to and from Trinidad and the U.S., I've become a seasoned pro at figuring out flight tricks.

And while I was trying to decide what to do for Spring Break this year, I booked my flight to Puerto Rico a mere two weeks before our trip, and somehow I still managed to spend more than $200 less than my friends. How? I'll teach you!


1: don't wait to book // I can't tell you how many times I saw a flight at a great price, and thought well what if it gets cheaper, or nah I can wait a week.. and then when I check the price the week after, it's gone up. Sometimes if you're lucky, it's only by a couple dollars. Other times, it can make the entire trip completely unfeasible. I was planning a trip to Houston for a friend's wedding, and each of my flights in the connecting flight (I had two flights to get there) went up by a significant amount, making my flight increase from $350 to well over $700... so not worth it for just a three day trip.

2: compare before you book // If you take anything from this article, let it be this: Google Flights and SkyScanner. They compare every single travel site, airline and discount site to show you every single fare and every single flight going between your destinations, so you always know you're getting the best deal. A lot of times when I'm flying to or from the Caribbean, I think that Caribbean Airlines is the only option. Even though I know that's not true, subconciously, they're my first stop. My father, on the other hand, is a seasoned pro at booking flights (six kids living all around the world does that to you!) and always checks every single airline manually... but I use my millennial brain and have it done for me. Done and done.

3: sign up for flight alerts // Have a trip you're planning on making but want to scope out the prices first, you can set up flight alerts for certain dates, airlines and even particular flights. That way you're alerted if rates are rising and you can get on it and book! But even better than that, for those who have wanderlust, enter AirfareWatchdog. The site is just as it sounds: it looks out for the best deals in airfare, but their Fare Alerts feature is one of my favorites. Enter your home airport and they email you cheap flight deals when they pop up. What better reason to fly to London than a ridiculously cheap fare?

4: know when to buy and when to fly // Booking flights can be a game, and sometimes you have to beat the system. Tuesdays around 3pm is said to be the cheapest time to find flights as that's when discounted flights hit the airlines' websites, so try to book or search for flights on Tuesdays if you can. And choosing when you fly is important too. Flying during the week is usually cheaper than flying on weekends, late-night or red-eye flights are far less expensive than early morning or evening flights. Being smart about your flight choices can save you a couple (or a couple hundred) dollars.

5: book on incognito mode // That being said, when you're searching for flights, your browser history is obtaining the information and feeding it to the websites, so no you're not crazy for thinking that the flight went up just because you went back online to check the price. Switching to incognito mode or clearing your temporary files of your browser history allow you to book as if you're a new person, giving you the same low prices you originally saw.

6: check social media // People don't think to check an airline's Facebook or Twitter before they're booking a flight, but just like any other retailer, airlines have regular deals, specials and discounts. Your favorite airlines often have flash sales. Take it from me, one of my clients at work is an airline, and we've done several flash sale promos within the last month that we advertise throughout their social media. So keep your eyes peeled and get to following those airlines! You never know what'll pop up in your timeline..

I hope these tips help you when you're booking your next trip (or your hypothetical trip... tell me I'm not the only one who does that?!!). Traveling is the best, and now, flights don't have to break the bank!

What are your favorite ways to save money when traveling? Let me know in the comments below!

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