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, subconsciously, 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 on 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 3 pm are 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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October 05, 2016

October Goals

I say this every month.. but how in the world is it already October? I'm actually terrified with how fast this year has flown by!

I've always been one to get real with you on the blog, and so today's post is no exception. Sometimes, I suck. I miss the ball and I feel like a failure. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, it just feels like it's not gonna click. Do you know what I'm talking about? I started sharing my goals every month as a way to keep myself on track and motivate myself to complete them every month, and while I love doing it and I've been mostly successful, I feel like a fraud.

You see, this month, I failed. I didn't achieve a single goal. Maybe like a quarter of each goal.. but nowhere near crossing it off the list. You know times when you feel like no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to get it right? That's post-grad for me. I don't know what it is... but it's hard. Between work, and the blog, and my social life, I can't seem to get any of it right. I know there's a learning curve, an adjustment period, but it's been almost five months since I've graduated college and moved home and I just feel like I can't get it right.

I'll work my ass off at work.. then come home and pass out and wake up way after the sun sets and it's too late for me to run. I'll spend time with family, but not enough time with friends, and then vice versa. I'll try to fit in some time to blog at night, and I'm practically falling asleep at work the next morning. I just feel like I can't do it. And then I see people crushing it... doing well at work, finding time to travel, work out and go out, and I feel like there must be something wrong with me.

So today, I won't be recapping September's goals, because they're just becoming October's goals. I have the motivation to do them, but I just feel like a failure sometimes. Maybe that's ok. But for now, I'll try my best.

SEPTEMBER OCTOBER GOALS

1. Create a 6-week content calendar // OK, so because I failed majorly last month with this one, I'm determined to get some order back into my life and create a (somewhat) flexible content calendar for the next six weeks. I'm gonna start with blog posts, but the goal is to eventually move into managing my social media too! 

2. Get back into a workout routine // Once I got back from my trip, I just did not have the time. I ran here and there, and tried my best to keep up with my routine, but once I started to work, the only thing I wanted to do at 6pm is crawl into my bed, not lace up my sneakers. My job started off pretty flexible in terms of schedule, but in the past month has gotten a lot busier and I'm in office 8 to 5 every day. I originally wanted to workout in the mornings, but I now know it's not the best idea, so afternoons are going to have to do for now.

3. Schedule my life out fully // I know this is the most un-creative thing I could do, but I seriously need to stick to a serious schedule. In between working full-time, I need to schedule in time to dedicate to my freelancing, to the blog and running all the social media platforms, to working out, to being a VA and to having somewhat of a social life. Some days I feel so unproductive when I know it's not necessarily true... but I want to be able to fit everything in without having to go to bed at 3 am and struggle to wake up at 7. 

4. Cut out all soda drinks and drink more water // I'm not the biggest soda person, but I love me a diet coke. I will drink it just for drinking it sake, and while it has zero calories, it is so unhealthy it's not even funny. When I was at school, I cut out everything but water and the occasional ginger ale when my stomach needed it, and I felt so much healthier. As of right now, I don't drink enough water every day. So I need to commit to drinking more - maybe by buying a bigger water cooler, and getting back on track! 

5. Utilize Helene's Blog Boss Babe // So one really exciting thing that happened to me when I was on vacation in the Grenadines (and thankfully one of the random times I managed to have wifi!) was that I won one of Helene's big giveaways - including a year's membership to Blog Boss Babe! I want to spend some time utilizing the tools and services and tips on there and commit the effort to re-establishing this blog and my presence!

So that's that! I got super honest, as usual! Linking up my goals this month with my good friend Jenny from Breakfast at Lilly's

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