"2018 goals"

Last January, I posted a very lengthy (and ambitious!) article about all of my goals for 2018. Today, we are going to go through each goal and see how we did.  Welcome to the inner workings of Partner’s in Fire, and hopefully my mistakes can help you when you set your goals for 2019!

2018 Goals Recap

Relationship Goals!

My number one goal in January of 2018 was to work on my relationship with my ex. This is one goal that I’m extremely happy to have failed at! After we broke up, I wrote a post about how terrible the relationship really was, and I’m so thankful that I was able to escape it.

I honestly think that this break up had a ripple affect across the rest of my goals. It’s easy to spend all of your free time working on side hustles and other projects when you don’t actually want to spend time with your partner. I knew even back then that the relationship was bad and I needed to get out, but I just didn’t have the strength.  I immersed myself in projects to avoid confrontation. 

In fact, the only reason my top goal of 2018 was to work on my relationship was to placate him. He would’ve gotten upset if I didn’t include it. That alone should have told me how toxic it was. I mean, it did, and I knew way before that how toxic is was, but it really is hard to escape a toxic relationship. If any of you lovely readers are in a similar situation, please please please reach out to me. I’m here for you and I absolutely won’t judge any of your choices. I’ve been there and I get it.

Increase Net Worth by 50K

I’m not nearly as happy about my failure on this goal. My net worth actually decreased by 15K! And that’s after it grew by quite a bit in the first two quarters.  Apparently having a net worth increase goal that relies on external factors like the stock market isn’t the best idea ever.  Lesson learned.

 My net worth loss was due to the drastic changes in the stock market over the past few months – especially December. Market crashes happen, and I’m not actually that upset about it because I’m still invested for the long term. I’ve just been buying stocks on sale for the past few weeks!

I know this is the time of year that everyone is looking at their portfolios, and due to political factors things aren’t looking good. But stay the course! I know it sucks to see such huge losses, but as long as you still have a long investment time-frame, you will be fine.

Blog Goals

My main blog goal of 2018 was to publish at least two posts per month. Win! I actually did way better than that! Outside of my 6-week hiatus, I posted two blog posts almost every single week! I failed at making my blog profitable; my goal was to make a whopping $1200 and I only made $17.00. But hey, 17 bucks is 17 buck! I started a few more affiliate programs late in 2018, and I think those are going to increase my profits for the coming years. 2019 is going to be a great year for Partners in Fire!

I failed epically at all my blog goals for my other website, Travels Near and Far. I didn’t edit any of my older posts and I didn’t write any new ones. It was super ambitious to think that I’d have time to do both. I did not.  Well, maybe I would have if I had stuck to the two posts a month goal, but instead I decided to put all of my energy into Partners in Fire, and I think that will pay off in spades in the future.

Social Media Goals

I actually achieved some of my social media goals! I got over 1000 followers on Instagram and over 100 Facebook likes. My Twitter and Pinterest goals were far more ambitious, and I didn’t quite reach those. I ended 2018 with about 3500 Twitter followers and only about 1000 Pinterest followers. I know I’ll reach the 5K mark on Twitter in 2019, and maybe I’ll be a bit less ambitious about Pinterest.

However, I did learn that it’s not really the quantity of followers that you have but the quality. My ex built up the Instagram account before we broke up, and it was horrible. There were tons of “follow for follow” types of accounts following me. I had to drop all of those and rebuild with an authentic following. I lost a lot of followers while I was doing that, but I think the quality of new followers is much better. Its much better to have 10 real followers than 100 fake ones.

The only social media account I even tried to grow for Travels Near and far was my Instagram account. And guess what, I got to over 1000 followers! Then I lost about 15 of those because that’s how Instagram is. Does it count as a win if I achieved it then backtracked?

Health goals

Do you remember me talking about the biggest loser competition at work? Well guess what, I won! I lost 22 freaking pounds in about 2 months last year! And then I used the next 10 months to gain about 15 of those pounds back. So…still kind of a win? I do still feel pretty healthy, I think losing 20 pounds was actually way too much for me. I could probably stand to lose about 5 pounds right now, so maybe I’ll try to be a tad bit healthier next year.

Unfortunately, I totally failed at my other health goal. I was going to mediate every single night! That lasted about a month.  But it’s definitely something I want to get back into!

Gardening

One goal I actually stuck with in 2018 was making a garden! We built a cute little fence to keep the dogs out and planted all of the things! Unfortunately, I was a bit ambitious, and other than getting some ginormous zucchini, the garden was basically a fail. You can read all about it here! But the important thing is that I tried it, and I learned to be less ambitious for next year. I think I’m going to stick with one or two tomato and cucumber plants.

Side Hustles

 The only side hustle I worked on this year was the blog, and like I said above it was not profitable. But I’m going to keep at it! I’m constantly improving my blogging skills, and I know that 2019 will be an awesome year for Partners in Fire.

The side hustle I really failed at was my resale hustle. I didn’t even go to one garage sale in 2018. There was probably cool stuff on sale in Georgia too! Oh well. Maybe I’ll get back into that now that I live in Pennsylvania. There’s probably a bunch of cool old stuff here too!

So what did I do this year?

I failed on basically all of my 2018 goals. But that’s ok! Things change, and when they do priorities also change. I set these goals thinking I would be in a terrible relationship. As it turns out, when you are in a good relationship you actually want to make time for your partner. Who would’ve thought? I didn’t have the time to focus on all of these things, so I focused on my new relationship and on building Partners in Fire. I think that was the right choice, as I’m incredibly happy in my relationship and I’m happy with where Partners in Fire is heading as a blog.

Lessons Learned

Although being ambitious in goal setting is a good thing (why set goals that are too easy to achieve?), I learned that being too ambitious isn’t always the answer. My goals for next year will be a little less ambitious and a little more thought out. I’ll make them difficult yet achievable, and I won’t spread myself too thin. I can’t do everything, and it was silly to think I’d be able to.

How did you fair with your 2018 goals? Did you achieve them? Did you realize that you were overly ambitious as well? Tell me what you learned about goal setting in 2018!

"2018 goals recap"
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"is georbitrage right for me"

I was into geoarbitrage before I even knew there a was a word for it. Geoarbitrage is a hard word anyway – like how do you even pronounce that? Anyway, I knew that living in LA was too expensive, so I decided to seek greener (and cheaper) pastures. And now, as I’m getting ready to move to an even cheaper location, I’ve decided to take a look at the costs and benefits of geoarbitrage, so you can decide if it’s a good option for you.

What is Geoarbitrage?

Geoarbitrage is the act of moving from a high cost of living area to a low cost of living area to save money.  Many people embrace geoarbitrage when they retire– heading to exotic locals such as Costa Rica, Thailand, or even the Czech Republic where their nest eggs will last a whole lot longer. Others, such as myself, embrace the concept before retirement – finding US cities with available jobs and a low cost of living. The “when” of geoarbitrage doesn’t really matter, the important thing is making the decision to move someplace cheaper.

Pros of Geoarbitrage

Cost Cost Cost

Really the biggest benefit of geoarbitrage is the financial aspect. That’s the number one reason why I left Los Angeles. It was just too expensive. There was absolutely no way that I was going to achieve financial independence living there. I realized that I could transfer my job to Savannah GA and save a thousand dollars a month on my mortgage alone. That’s a huge amount of money!!

Buying a Home

Unfortunately, houses are just not affordable in some of the hottest US markets. Home ownership is out of reach. In Los Angeles, the average home price is currently a whopping $57000! That comes out to about $633 per square foot! You’d have to earn over $95000 to “afford” that! And I put afford in quotes, because that’s with paying most of your income to your mortgage every week. The so-called experts think that’s affordable, but I do not.  

In comparison, the average home price is Savannah is just $111 per square foot. You can buy a decent house for less than $200000. That’s way more affordable! And there are cheaper options available. There are even still places in the US where you can buy a house for under $100000. If you want to pursue financial independence but think it’s out of reach due to home prices, consider geoarbitrage.

Taxes

A lot of people chose to geoarbitrage to states like Texas or Florida that don’t have state income taxes. Others just try to find areas with low property taxes. I always considered moving back to Chicago, but they have some of the highest property taxes in the country! The tax rates are over 7%! I was only paying 6% in Los Angeles (granted, 6% of 570000 is much more than 7% of 276000, the average home price in Chicago). In comparison, the average property tax rate in Savannah is only 1%. And I’m no math genius, but 1% of 200000 is way cheaper than either of those other options.

Crowds

Lower cost of living areas tend to have less people. This has been a freaking huge advantage for me! I can go into almost any restaurant and be seated in less than 30 minutes. Bye-Bye two hour wait times! The roads are less crowded as well. Unless there’s an accident, I can get to wherever I need to go in less than a half hour. Bye-Bye spending my life in traffic!

I actually thought I’d have a hard time adjusting to life in a smaller city. I grew up in Chicago, and lived in Los Angeles for most of my adult life, so I always considered myself a city girl. But small towns can be just as lively as big cities. Savannah has been the best of both worlds, with a hopping down town scene but small crowds and little traffic. My mileage may vary up in Pennsylvania, but I’m sure there will be a few options if I want to go out.

"geoarbitrage"
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Cons of Geoarbitrage

Jobs

If you aren’t financially independent yet, you need to know what jobs are available in your cheaper destination of choice. Unfortunately, high cost of living areas tend to have the highest paying jobs. The median incomes in the cities with the most affordable houses are staggeringly low – it’s easy to see why houses are so cheap, no one in the town would be able to afford them otherwise!

This doesn’t mean that geoarbitrage is unattainable though. There are a few things that you can do to make it work. First, you can find higher paying jobs in these areas if you have the right in-demand skills.  Second, you can always work remotely. And third, sometimes taking a pay cut is worthwhile for the savings. I took a ten thousand dollar a year pay cut to move to Savannah, and I’m still able to save more money. That’s pretty fantastic.

Family

The hardest thing about geoarbitrage is moving away from friends and family. I’m not going to lie and tell you that it will be easy, it’s not. Yes, technology has made it easier. We can face time, talk on the phone, and text; but none of those things is the same as being there. I’ve been away from my family in Chicago for over ten years, and I miss them every day. I’d love to be able to go to all of my niece and nephew’s birthday parties, see them for the holidays, and just do everyday things with them. But I can’t, because I live too far away. I miss being able to go to my bestie’s house for a video game night.  I miss listening to my sister’s mental gymnastics over our favorite lambic. These are the things that you have to give up when you move away, and it sucks.

Actually Moving

Moving sucks. I mean really, it’s awful. I’m in the middle of my second move in less than two years, and it’s freaking miserable. There’s the packing, and the cleaning, and the transferring of services. Then there’s the finding a new place to live and deciding what to do with your old place (if you own…but if you rent you may have to deal with breaking a lease). All that stuff is crazy stressful and time consuming.

But it’s also expensive! No matter how you look at it, moving long distance is going to cost you. Even if you pack your own stuff and use a U-Haul you’re looking at over $1000. Pods, storage, and moving companies cost even more. Then you have to pay all the fees of either buying or renting a new place. You have to pay security deposits, first/last month rents, and pet fees if you are renting; and closing costs and down payments if you are buying.  Whatever way you look at it, a big move is expensive.

So is Geoarbitrage right for me?

Only you can decide whether geoarbitrage is right for you or not. It’s right for me, because I want to decrease my costs as much as possible in order to achieve financial independence, and I’ve been fortunate enough to find good jobs in the cheaper areas. It’s also right for me because roots aren’t that important to me. Your situation and your values may differ. But hopefully, after learning about the pros and cons of geoarbitrage, you can make the right decision for you.

Some of you may have already taken the plunge and moved to a lower cost of living area. What has been your experience with geoarbitrage? Are there any pros or cons that I’m missing?

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"cash back apps"

Every time I turn around there are tons of new fancy cash back apps promising to save you time and make you money. There are so many of these cash back apps that’s it’s nearly impossible to test them all and find out which ones are really worthwhile. Well, I did my best, and I tested twenty cash back apps to figure out which ones (if any!) are actually worthwhile. Read on to find out which apps to download and which ones to skip. 

A quick word on referral links

I have included my referral link for the cash back apps that I highly recommend (if the app offers it). Some of the other cash back apps also have referral bonuses, but I didn’t include my link because I’m not a fan of the app. I’m not going to try to get rewards from having you download something that I don’t personally recommend! 

Download these cash back apps!

Ibotta

I’ve reviewed all twenty of these cash back apps and Ibotta is still my favorite. It’s easy to use and there are tons of offers available every week, on stuff that I actually buy. After about six weeks of using Ibotta, I’ve earned forty bucks cash back – on stuff that I was going to buy anyway. That’s a pretty big win. For more information, check out the Best Guide to Ibotta on the internet. If this short review is good enough for you, sign up using my referral code so we can both get some extra money!

Trunow

Trunow is the only cash back app that is exclusively for gas. The great thing about the app is that you don’t have to go to a specific gas station to reap the benefits – you get 1% cash back on all gas purchases. You just have to upload your receipt. Trunow does partner with some gas stations though, and you get 2% cash back on gas purchases with their partners.

Another great thing about Trunow is that it shows you all the gas prices in the area. There’s a little map that shows every gas station with their price per gallon. This will help you find the cheapest gas near you!

As a bonus, Trunow offers rewards on some gas station purchases, such as snacks, coffee, and cigarettes. These offers are only redeemable at certain partner gas stations, but it was cool to see these items thrown in the mix. Most other cash back apps don’t include gas purchase, and almost all of us need gas.

You also can get $1 for referring friends (you both get a $1!) so if you want to use Trunow, use my referral code so we each get a buck!

The one thing that annoys me about the app is that the stupid little location services icon wouldn’t go away from the top of my phone. I had to disable notifications from the app to get it to go away.

Coupons.com

I like coupons.com because it’s main focus is groceries, and that’s the thing I’m generally shopping for. It is very similar to Ibotta, but unfortunately there aren’t as many offers. One cool difference is that you can link your store loyalty card to your coupons.com account and earn rewards when you use that rather than uploading your receipts – but it still accepts receipts which is awesome. You earn cashback with coupons.com and get paid via paypal.

Coupons.com also offers printable coupons. I don’t like this because I’m not going to print coupons, but it’s a great feature for people who enjoy doing that. There are tons of grocery store coupons available for printing.

There are no referral bonuses for sending your friends to coupons.com. But now you know I’m not just supporting the apps that I get referral bonuses from!

Shopkick

Shopkick is slightly different from other cash back apps in that you don’t actually have to buy stuff to earn points. You can earn points by having a scavenger hunt in the store and scanning the items on your list. This is also a great option for parents. You can set your kids free in the store to do the scavenger hunt while you finish your shopping! It’s a win-win! But be sure your kids are old enough and behaved enough to explore a store on their own! I don’t want anyone telling me they lost their toddler because I told them to have their kids go scan stuff!

You can also earn points with Shopkick by simply walking into certain stores. But the best way to earn, like with most cash back apps, is to purchase the items on offer and scan the receipts. The downside to this is that there aren’t nearly as many offers on Shopkick as there are on Ibotta – or on coupons.com for that matter. Most of the stuff available on Shopkick is stuff that I don’t need (but your mileage may vary, we all need different things).

A disadvantage of shopkick is that you don’t earn cash back. You earn gift cards. This may be helpful for lots of people, but personally I prefer cash. The rewards system is pretty straight forward – you need 1250 points to earn a $5 gift card. You can get to that level fairly quickly if you buy the things they have offers on, but if you are just scanning items in stores it will take much longer.

Another disadvantage is that there are different rules for different stores. Some stores offer you rewards points if you shop there with a linked card, while others allow you to upload a receipt. There are also loads of stores on Shopkicks, but some of them only have a few offers. For example, Bed, Bath, and Beyond is on Shopkick, but only has offers for two very specific items.

If you want to try shopkick, use my referral code so we can both get 250 points towards rewards!

Spent Money App

Spent Money App is a great app for online shopping. There are tons of stores available and they offer 2-10% cash back. You can also get cash back at certain retailers by linking your bank card. Then, when you shop at that store with that card, you automatically get 1% to 2% cash back through the app. It’s very similar to Ebates in the way that you earn rewards.  

I prefer Spent Money to Ebates because it’s more than just a cash back app. It’s also a financial app! Spent Money is the only one of all these apps I tested that tracks your spending for you. It’s like a personal finance app and cash back app all in one! You do need to link your debit cards to the app in order for this feature to work though.

One limitation of the Spent Money app is that you can’t upload receipts, either for cash back or for tracking purposes. If they found a way to incorporate uploaded receipts into this app, it would be my absolute favorite.

Spent Money does not have any type of referral bonus, but it’s a cool app and you can check it out here

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Cash Back Apps that are Worthwhile if you shop a lot

Ebates

Ebates is probably the most popular cash back app on this list. Everyone has heard of Ebates, right? One huge advantage of Ebates is that it has tons of participating stores. I’ve seen offers from Macy’s, Kirklands, Big 5, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and way too many other stores to list. Another advantage of Ebates is that it offers a mix of cash back rewards and coupons.  This is a great cash back app for people who love to shop at major retailers.

One limitation of Ebates is that you can’t upload receipts. In order to get cash back when you shop at these retailers, you have to link your card to your account and play with that card at the store. This is great for people who use debit or credit cards for all of their purchases. However,  for people like me who prefer cash, there aren’t a lot of options for getting cash back.

Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is a little different because you earn points when you buy certain brands. This is kind of nice, because you don’t have to worry as much about getting the exact right item (that’s one issue with Ibotta: is this the right size of cereal?? But at least if give you the option to scan the barcode and check). There are a few items that are more specific though, so you do have to be careful.

Fetch Rewards isn’t exactly a cash back app. You don’t use your points to get cash, you use it to get gift cards. I prefer cash because I don’t want any limits on where I can spend my rewards. Fetch does offer Visa gift cards, but you need tons of points to get them. You need almost twelve thousand points for a ten-dollar Visa gift card. Store gift cards start at $1; and it comes out to about 1000 points per dollar.

A limitation to Fetch rewards is that you don’t know how many points you get for buying a certain brand until after you buy it. I had one item on my list and I only got 24 points for it. It definitely wouldn’t be worthwhile to switch brands for 24 measly points, but I was already buying that particular item so it wasn’t a big deal. It doesn’t hurt to check the brands you buy and try to get some points though.

Fetch rewards makes it really easy to start earning points, but harder and harder to earn them after that. You get 750 points for the first receipt you upload, but fewer and fewer points for each subsequent receipt. My second receipt only earned me 500 points, and my third will earn 250. I guess you can earn a one-dollar gift card just by uploading three receipts though, so that’s a bonus.

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is very similar to Ibotta and Coupons.com; but it has fewer offers and rewards than those two apps. There are some offers that are available on both Ibotta and Checkout 51, and I haven’t seen anything that says you can’t double dip. I’ve also noticed that there are more offers on snacks with Checkout 51 than there are on the other two apps.

If you only want to deal with one receipt uploading app, I’d definitely go with Ibotta. But if you want to double dip and catch all of the available savings, you can use all three.

Coupon Sherpa

Coupon Sherpa is an app that collects coupons. This is a great app for restaurants, because you can use most of the restaurant coupon apps from the app itself. You just go to the restaurant and show the coupon form the app when paying.

Coupon Sherpa offers both in-store and online coupons. Whether an offer is available in the store or online is dependent on the retailers. Some have in store only coupons, while others have online only coupons. But most of the retailers offer both, which is nice.  A lot of the coupons available on Coupon Sherpa are for specific items, but large retailers do have some general “10-20% off entire purchase” coupons.

One disadvantage of Coupon Sherpa is that some of the coupons need to be printed. Most of the grocery store coupons fall in this category, and since that’s where I do most of my shopping, I’m not a fan.

Receipt hog

This is the only app that made me “request” to join. I wonder if they actually have eligibility criteria or if it’s a marketing ploy to trigger people’s Fear Of Missing Out. Either way, I was accepted immediately.

Receipt Hog is pretty straight forward with just wanting your data. In order to start using points, you have to take the survey that asks about your income and shopping habits. It wasn’t that invasive, and they gave me 30 coins for doing it.

One thing I don’t like about receipt hog is that you have to verify your device before you can even see the awards, and you can’t do that until you get to 300 coins. Also, you can only earn up to 100 coins per week for uploading receipts. I don’t like being limited. If I’m doing a lot of shopping so you can have my data, you should reward me for all of the shopping that I do! Am I wrong? But I digress. You can also earn a few extra coins by playing their little slot machine game, which is kind of fun. You earn pulls at the machine by uploading receipts.

I was able to find the rewards system with a google search, and it’s pretty similar to most of the other cash back apps. You need 1000 coins to earn $5, which can be redeemed via Amazon, Paypal, or Visa gift card. One bonus about receipt hog is that if you save your coins, you need a few fewer coins to earn greater rewards. You only need 2900 rather than 3000 to earn $15, and 4300 rather than 5000 to earn $25.

If you are going to use an app that just wants your data, I’d recommend this one over Receipt Pal (reviewed below). The rewards system is more-straight forward, the interface was more user friendly, and it was more fun to use.

Skip these Cash back apps

Receipt Pal

One cool thing about Receipt Pal is that you earn rewards with any receipt.  It’s not store or item specific. On the downside, you need to upload way too many receipts to earn rewards, and there aren’t a lot of options for using your rewards. The options are limited to Amazon gift cards, restaurant.com gift cards, and Visa gift cards.  

Unfortunately, receipts aren’t worth that many points, and it takes a lot of uploaded receipts to earn a gift card. You get 100 points for every four receipts that you upload. You need 400 points to cash out to a $1 Amazon gift card – so that means you have to upload 16 receipts to make just one dollar on the app. Visa gift cards cost even more points. You need 7500 points to get a $25 Visa gift card. That’s 300 receipts!! It’s just not worthwhile to me.  

I guess Receipt Pal realizes that the point system by itself is just not worthwhile, so they also have a sweepstakes feature. The sweepstakes feature offers you the chance to win extra points when you upload receipts. You are automatically entered into the weekly sweepstakes when you upload your first four receipts for the week. If you upload more than eight receipts, you can get multiple entries. Some people may enjoy having the opportunity to win, but I’m not going to waste my time giving companies my data for just the “chance” to win. It’s not worthwhile.

Savings Catcher

I tried the savings catcher app, and I was not a fan. First, it’s way too much work to get your savings when compared to the other cash backs apps on this list. You have to scan the item’s bar code and upload the receipt. Why can’t I just upload the receipt like on the other apps? Who knows.

Another issue I have with the savings catcher app is that there aren’t a lot of products available on offer. I guess that’s because it’s so much work to get your rewards for each item? You’d think that you’d get way more points or rewards for all this extra work; but that’s not the case. The rewards are pretty similar to the rewards you get from all the other apps.

A final issue I have with the Savings Catcher App is that a lot of the offers are only available if you spend a certain amount of money. It’s those “get five dollars when you spend thirty dollars” types of deals. This works if you were planning on spending that much in the first place, but stores often try to tempt you to buy more with deals like that.

Retail me Not

I wasn’t a fan of Retail Me Not. First, there weren’t any deals on groceries and I’m not a big shopper. But my main gripe against Retail me Not is that it’s basically just a collection of coupons that are eerily similar to the coupons you see in spammy circulars. There are lots of deals for percentages or cash off of purchases, and you can get cash back on certain items from certain retailers (but there aren’t a lot of cash back offers).

The one advantage to Retail Me Not is that there are tons of participating stores. There are coupons for Best Buy, Macy’s, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Home Depot, Lowes, and many more. But you don’t get cash back on most of the purchases from these stores, you basically just get the coupon. 

The coupons app

The coupons app was the hardest app to use on this entire list. I’m still not entirely sure if I got it right. From what I’ve figured out, it’s just a storage place for all the coupons you can find in the circulars (Similar to retail me not, but worse because I couldn’t find any cash back offers). The coupons aren’t exclusive, you can find them pretty much anywhere. One thing that I didn’t really like is that I couldn’t find a way to use the coupons at the retailers on mobile. The app wanted me to print the coupons. Why not just use the circulars if that’s the case?

One advantage of the Coupons app is that there are tons of stores and restaurants. There are also designer and outlet brands. I saw coupons for DKNY, Aldi, the Gap, and Express. Talk about a wide range of options!

Yowza

I found Yowza annoying. The app is built mainly for online shopping, which is not beneficial for me because I do most of my shopping in stores. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any in-store offers to use.  Another issue I had with it was that the pages took a long time to load. It could have been that my internet decided to stop working just when I was reviewing this app, but I didn’t have any issues with the other apps I tested that night.  

Another major issue I had with Yowza is that some of the offers didn’t even seem like legitimate offers. It seemed like companies just advertising on Yowza to try to get you to visit their website.

Yowza does have one cool feature that I didn’t see on any other app, and that was the local offers section. I think the point here was to get offers for smaller, locally owned shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, it needs a lot of work. I put in Savannah, Ga as my address, and I was shown offers for restaurants in Houston and in Michigan. I think the app just shows you all the smaller companies nationwide that are Yowza partners, but that makes it really difficult to use. I’d rather they just have a message stating that there are no local offers available in my area than show me cool restaurants in different states.

Krazy Coupon Lady

Krazy Coupon Lady seemed like a great cash back app at first glance. There were lots of coupons for household items and toys, which would be great for people shopping for gifts or specific items. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of coupons for necessities. I did find a coupon for Tide, which is the only laundry detergent that I’ll buy, but it had already expired two weeks ago! Why was it still on the app? I guess Krazy Coupon Lady doesn’t believe in updating regularly.

Another disadvantage to Krazy Coupon Lady is that it was difficult to search for a specific item at a specific store. I searched for Tide, but couldn’t search for Tide at Walmart. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to five different stores to save a few bucks.

Grocery IQ

Groceries are the main thing that I shop for, so I was super excited to try Grocery IQ. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The only way to use coupons is to email them to yourself and print them out. That’s just not something I’m willing to do. I like saving money, but I don’t want to work that hard to save a few cents (have you noticed a theme here?).

One cool thing about grocery IQ is that you can write your grocery list inside the app. I’m old fashioned and I like my pencil and paper list, but I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate the ability to type everything in an app.

Punchcard

Punchcard had such a fun concept. You get to punch in rewards for every store that you visit like you would at a salon or local sandwich shop. You also get to spin a cool little wheel for rewards every time you upload a receipt. Pretty neat, huh?

Another advantage is that lots of stores participate, and some even give you awards for getting your six punches in! Subway offers you a free sandwich after you get your six punches. Not all stores offer these types of rewards though, and this is where Punchcard loses its appeal.

Punchcard acts like you will get points for uploading receipts and spinning the wheel. But when I went to the points screen to view my rewards, it was unavailable. Lots of the reviews stated that Punchcard discontinued the points system. Why the option to visit the page is still available is beyond me, maybe it’s a bug that Punchcard is working on fixing? I’m not entirely sure what the deal is, but without a points system cash back apps are pretty pointless. 

TopCashBack App

I still have questions about Top Cash Back App. It claims to have the best rewards of all the cash back apps, but it has terrible reviews on Google Play. Some people even claimed that it wouldn’t grant the cash back because it thought you already got rewards through a different app.

From what I saw of the app, it is very similar to Ebates. You earn most of the rewards through online purchases. A limitation to the app is that you can’t just browse a store, you have to browse categories. Walmart offers up to 5% cash back through the app, but you have to shop a specific category, such as sports, clothing, jewelry, etc. in order to get it. I’m not a fan of that limitation.

I also didn’t see a way for you to link your card to the app to earn rewards through in store shopping. Therefore, if you are looking for a cashback app on pretty much all of your online and in-store purchases, I’d stick with Ebates.

And a Bonus Specialty Cash Back App

Makeena

I love the concept of Makeena. It incentivizes healthy eating. Most of their offers are on organic products and produce, which tend to be more expensive than the less healthy options. The brands they support tend to be health conscious brands which I think is a great way to discover some of these products.

My issue with it is that some offers are limited to the “first 2000 shoppers” or something like that.  I guess the app is still small, so lots of users will get the offers, but if it continues to grow the app might not be useful to a lot of people. Also, how am I supposed to know if the offer is still available? I may choose organic broccoli over non-organic broccoli expecting the rebate only to be told that I’m shopper #2001, thus not eligible. I know it’s only a few cents, but I don’t like that kind of bait and switch.

Which Cash Back Apps do you Use?

Well, there you have it folks. An honest review of 20 cash back apps that you can use to decide how to earn rewards. I hope you find it useful!

Have you tried any of these apps? Which is your favorite and why? Do you know of one that isn’t on the list? We’d love to hear about it!

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"gift giving guide"

Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this gift giving guide are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

It’s the holiday season! And you know what that means – time for mass consumerism! Oh, I mean it’s time to show your loved ones how much you love them with all the presents! A lot of writers will publish a gift giving guide that tells you what to get your husband or mother or best friend when the author has no idea what types of people they are. Oh, they are a mom so they’d love this! Well that isn’t always true. That’s why I decided to write a gift giving guide based on what people like to do! It’s a crazy idea, but I hope it helps you find that perfect gift for everyone in your life! So what should you get your best friend whose a bit sentimental? This handy gift giving guide has the answer!

Gift Giving Guide 

For the Adventurer

I’m an adventurer, and I have to say the best gifts ever are experiences. If you have someone with a lust for adventure in your life, get them something they can do! If you want to give a lavish gift, book them a trip somewhere (and as a bonus, you get to go with!). Even a short weekend get-a-way will be a huge win for the adventurer! If you want to do something special but not trip special, get them tickets to a concert, sporting event, or theme park. Experiences are way more important than things to the adventurer.

 

Viator 

If you can’t arrange for a new experience; get them something that will fit with their favorite type of adventure. Do they enjoy hikes? Get them a new ruck, new shoes, or a tactical coat. Or just search for hiking gear on Amazon for thousands of ideas. Have a SCUBA diver friend? Get them the best new snorkel or face mask. There are loads of gift giving ideas for whatever your adventurer’s favorite activity is.

For the Gamer

Clearly you must get the gamer in your life this season’s hottest new games! My boyfriend is a gamer, and he’s big into the new Pokémon game, Super Smash Brothers, and Red Dawn Redemption. If they already have enough games, you can try getting them some new gaming accessories. Maybe they need better headphones, or a new controller/mouse. There are tons of options for gifts for gamers. You can even get them a fancy new gaming computer if you want to go all out!

For the Super fan

Super fans are the easiest people to buy gifts for. What’s their fandom? Get them anything that’s related to it. As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s the best show ever.  I’d appreciate any Buffy themed gift – from t-shirts to mugs to action figures!

For the learner

Learners love books!! Find out what their favorite topics are and find books that are related. Do they love science? Look into books on astrophysics, anthropology, or new technologies. History lover? There are thousands of books on every freaking time period you can imagine. Into current affairs/politics? Lots of options there too. The learner in your life will love getting books on their favorite topics.

For the Hipster

The Hipster in your life doesn’t want something trendy from Amazon. Show him/her you know them well and give them a different kind of gift. Try custom apparel from Teepublic that showcases their favorite things. The hipster in your life would also appreciate something nostalgic, like a print or figure from one of their favorite childhood shows.

For the Jock

Sports Gear! You know your jock’s favorite teams, so get them something to commemorate it! You can’t go wrong with jerseys, pint glasses, dish towels – seriously anything with their team’s emblem on it is going to be an awesome gift. One of the best gifts I ever got was a cat bed made with Chicago Bear’s fabric. It was hand made too, which made it extra special. 

For the New Ager

The New Agers in my life are the hardest for me to shop for. This term can encompass so many different things, its hard to know exactly what they would like. Candles can be a big hit for most new agers – they are perishable and you can always use more candles. Depending on what they are most into, you can get them some crystals, meditation aids, incense or maybe even new yoga gear.

For the Homesteader

Even the homesteader who has it all could use more jars! With all the canning and juicing, those get used up fairly quickly. If the homesteader in your life doesn’t have it all, consider getting them a new composter or some garden tools. If your homesteader is into cooking and baking, you can get them some new useful cookware.

For the Sentimental

Sentimental folks love gifts that you put a lot of thought into. If you are crafty, use your craft to create something unique for them. If you aren’t crafty, you can also make them a photo album or get them a framed photo of the two of you together – that will definitely brighten their day! Sentimental folks will also appreciate nostalgic gifts just as much as the hipsters; so, if you can’t put something together, get them something that will remind them of you in a different way.

For the Creative

If you have a creative person in your life, get them something that they can use in their craft. Get the sewer/crocheter some new fabrics or threads. Painters can always use more canvases and paints. You could also go an easier route and get an adult coloring bookand some  colored pencils. Many creative people would love to just zone out with some simple coloring. 

For the Busy Parent

The best gift you can give a busy parent in your life is a night off! Offer to take the kids for an evening so they can do something for them. You can get the parents a certificate for a spa day so they can pamper themselves while knowing their kids are in good hands. If you aren’t into watching kids, think about gifts that will make the parents lives easier. Maybe they could use a new Keurig to make their morning coffee ritual easier, or a crock pot to make dinner easier. There are tons of options!

You do need to be careful here though. Unless your busy parent is a neat freak; don’t get them cleaning supplies. My dad always used to buy my mom vacuums and mops and stuff like that for holidays. Maybe she enjoyed those things, but I’d be pissed if my boyfriend got me anything like that as a gift. Know your loved ones! This is just a gift giving guide with tons of ideas, but I don’t know your loved ones like you do. 

For the kids

Ok, no gift giving guide would be complete without a general section for kids. Kids generally like anything that they can open up, but I prefer to give them fun yet educational gifts. You can find tons of children’s microscopes, telescopes, and experiment kits on amazon! Get the future engineers erector sets, Legos, or Lincoln logs. These types of gifts can lead to hours of enjoyment, and the kids don’t even have to realize that they are learning something. Wins all around!

For the Person who has everything

I guarantee that the person who has everything doesn’t have this:

Funny Mug

Am I wrong? You can get it at Teepublic! But seriously, if you don’t know what to get someone because you don’t really know their style or they seem to have it all, you can’t go wrong with a gift card (unless you are super close to them!). You can either get them a gift card to their favorite store, or get them a general visa or amazon gift card. Either way, that lets them get whatever they want. I don’t advise this for someone you are close with though, because you should absolutely know the style of your closest friends or partner.

So there you have it folks – a gift giving guide that will cover pretty much anyone in your life. I really hope this helps you find that perfect gift for everyone who is special to you. But if I missed an important type of person, please let me know in the comments, and let us all know what types of gifts we should get them!

 

"ultimate gift giving guide"
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Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Holiday shopping season is upon us! Now that Black Friday Weekend is coming to a close, online retailers are stepping up their games and offering amazing sales to entice you to finish your holiday shopping online. Welcome to Cyber Monday! It’s also a great way to support your favorite bloggers!

Cyber Monday and Beyond

After the craziness of Black Friday, don’t you just want to stay home and finish your holiday shopping online? All the online retailers are making that super easy for you, by offering fantastic sales. The best deals can be found on Monday, but great offers can be found throughout the holiday season. Online shopping really is a god send, isn’t it?

Support Bloggers

You might be asking how you can support bloggers during Cyber Monday and beyond, or how the two things even relate. Well that’s an excellent question!

Blogging isn’t free. It costs money to host a website, and it takes a lot of time. Many of us participate in affiliate programs to try to recoup some of those costs. The Amazon affiliate program is one of the most well-known, and one that tons of bloggers participate in.

In order to support bloggers while doing your online Christmas shopping, all you have to do is head to Amazon through your favorite blogger’s Amazon affiliate link. Just click the link and shop like you normally would! It doesn’t even cost you anything extra! How awesome is that? You can support your favorite blog by just shopping like you normally do. And, to make it extra easy, here is a google docs spreadsheet of some of the best small finance blogs! Now you don’t even have to search for bloggers to support! Oh, and if your favorite blog isn’t on the list, let me know and I’ll get them added right away!

I keep this list of bloggers saves as a favorite, and every time I go to Amazon to do some shopping, I pick a different blogger and use their link. It’s so easy!

Want to support bloggers but don’t know what to buy? Check out the 5 best things to buy online!

Other ways to Support Bloggers

I get that online shopping isn’t everyone’s thing. And that’s ok! There are tons of other ways to support bloggers! The best way is to just visit their websites and read their content. Bloggers love getting those sweet sweet page views!

Another great way to support bloggers is by sharing their content on your social media pages. It’s super simple to share a blog post on Facebook and Twitter, or to like a photo on Instagram. You can also support bloggers by simply following their social media accounts. Some bloggers are trying to make ends meet via sponsorship, and the more followers they have on a variety of platforms the better. Facebook is traditionally the hardest social media platform to build (at least it has been for me!), so do your favorite bloggers a favor and like and share their pages. Invite your friends to like their pages. If you love the content, your friends probably will too. (Shameless plug for my Facebook page!)

A final way to support (some) bloggers is to offer donations through Patreon. Not all bloggers have Patreon accounts, but those that do really appreciate any and all donations. I know that Bitches get Riches fully supports their blog with Patreon, and I’m sure that others do as well. If you are in the giving mood, look into whether your favorite blogger has a Patreon and offer them a one-time donation. I know they would really appreciate it!

No Pressure

Clearly you don’t have to do any of these things. As bloggers, we are just super happy that you stopped by! I can’t speak for everyone, but I truly do appreciate each and every person who comes by and gives my simple little blog a read. I’m writing for you. Partners in Fire wouldn’t be a thing without you. I really appreciate all of the support and I wish you all the happiness in the world this holiday season!

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"Be thankful"

In the midst of our struggles to escape the rat race, or while we are complaining about how miserable our nine to five prisons are, we sometimes forget to take a step back and appreciate all the things we have to be thankful for.  I know I’m guilty of it. So today, instead of writing about finance and how it affects our lives, I’m going to write about all the things I’m thankful for. And amazingly, there are so many things in my life that I should be thankful for, I probably won’t be able to address them all in this one post.  That’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

Things to be Thankful For

My Upbringing and family

I’ve written a few posts about my upbringing already- I talked about my lower middle-class background and what my mom taught me about finance. I don’t know if I mentioned it in either of those two posts, but I am incredibly thankful for my upbringing. My parents didn’t have much, but they always had our best interests at heart and did everything they could to make sure we were taken care of. My father drilled the fact that I was going to college into my head for as long as I could remember.

I recognize that there are millions of kids who didn’t have parents who cared that much. There are millions of kids whose parents worked so much just to provide their basic needs that they didn’t have time to offer the kind of support that I got. There are also a bunch of kids who grew up wealthy, and didn’t have to work to succeed. Although that would have been nice, I’m glad that my parents instilled a strong work ethic into me.

I’m not just thankful for my parents though. I have two awesome siblings, and a pretty fantastic extended family. We may not be able to see each other often, but when we get together it’s like no time has passed. It’s amazing.

My Job

I may not like my job, but I am thankful to have it. It pays well, it is slightly related to my college major, and the hours are good. I also have a fair amount of autonomy when it comes to how to run my section. And let’s be honest, having this job is what put me on the path towards financial independence in the first place. I know that there are tons of bloggers on the path with lower incomes, and I just don’t know how they do it. They are freaking super stars! I’m not sure I would have had the willpower if I didn’t make what I do. So although I complain about it on occasion, I really am thankful to have it.

My Honey Bunny

I know first hand what it’s like to be in an emotionally abusive relationship, and that makes me even more thankful to finally be with a person who loves, supports, and appreciates me. Our relationship isn’t perfect (what relationship is?) and unfortunately, he really sucks with money, but I’ve never been with someone who makes me feel so loved and supported. And he’s learning to be better with money! He’s even willing to discuss all his money issues on our awesome podcast. It’s so amazing to have a partner who actually wants to help me with my projects. He’s the best.

If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone who is struggling with an abusive partner it would be this: Leave. Life is short, and it can be so much better. I know how hard it is to leave, I really do. But it’s worth it. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life, and most of it is due to his support.

My Health

I’m very thankful that I’ve been blessed with good health. I’ve had a few minor problems, but nothing that would prevent me from working or perusing my dreams. I know that lots of people are able to excel while dealing with physical or mental ailments, and that just makes things a little harder. I’m fortunate that I haven’t had to deal with those things.

My Friends

Family doesn’t end in blood (Supernatural!), and I have some awesome friends who prove that. I have so many amazing people in my life that I know I will be ok no matter what happens. I have people that I can reach out to if I’m struggling, and you don’t really realize how important that is until you need it. My friends have helped me through tough patches and have been there to celebrate my wins with me. I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I didn’t have them in my life, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them, even if I don’t get to see them that often.

So Many Things

There are so many things to be thankful for, it’s impossible to list them all in one blog post. I hit on the biggest ones, but there are so many little things that I’m thankful for every day. I’m thankful for the food I can go buy at the grocery store, I’m thankful that I can safely drive through my country, I’m thankful for the opportunities available in my country, and I’m thankful for the internet.

Thanksgiving generally is the day that we pause to think about all these things, but lets try to be thankful for these big and little things every day. We all do have a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you thankful for?

"things to be thankful for"
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save money on groceries

Everyone has to eat right? We all need to make our weekly pilgrimage to the grocery store to buy food. And have you noticed that it’s getting more and more expensive? A few years ago, I could easily get by on sixty bucks a week, which is quite a rarity now a days! Even so, there are plenty of tried and true methods to save money on groceries, which of these do you use?

How to Save Money on Groceries

Compare Price per Unit

Bigger isn’t always better, but sometimes buying in bulk pays! How are we supposed to tell the difference? Well, luckily, most grocery stores actually list the price per unit! Usually listed in ounces, the price per unit will tell you whether the bigger package or the smaller package is actually the better deal.

Buy Generic

I’m sure this has been repeated over and over again, but buying generic brands really is a great way to save money on groceries. Name brand hot dog buns are $2.99, while the generics are 87 cents. That’s two bucks! Name brand corn flakes are almost $3 a box, while the generic is 99 cents. Another two bucks! That adds up fast! Below is a small chart showing the differences in price between the generic version and the name brand version of some common items:

 

Product Generic Price per Ounce Name Brand Price per Ounce
Sugar 2.3 cents 3.6 cents
Bottled Water .5 cents 1.2 cents
Crispy Rice Cereal 7.3 cents 14.3 cents
Pasta 4.5 cents 8.4 cents
Chicken Broth 4.3 cents 8.5 cents
Shredded Cheese 18.5 cents 32 cents
Lunch Meat 20.5 Cents 30.5 cents

As you can see, opting for the generic version can lead to some pretty hefty savings. 

Related: 5 Things I’ll Never Buy Generic!

Skip the Drinks

I know this is unpopular, but do you really need all that pop (soda for my west coast friends!) and juice? Most of it is just sugar anyway, and the cost really adds up. A twelve pack of name brand pop costs three to four dollars, and so does a quart of sugar water! Even buying bottled water at the store adds up. It’s cheaper (and better for the environment, and healthier!) to just drink water at home. I actually cut pop out of my life many years ago, and to be honest, I don’t miss it at all. Every six months or so I’ll get a pop with dinner, and its nothing spectacular.

Cook from scratch

Ok, I know this one is hard. We all work long hours, and the last thing we want to do is come and prepare a meal. That pre-packaged freezer crap is so freaking convenient! But alas, that convenience comes at a price. A pre-packaged freezer lasagna costs about eight dollars, and it barely feeds two people (Family meal, yeah right!). Buying lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, cheese, and veggies is tad bit more, but you can make enough lasagna to feed a family for days!

Chili is another great example. I can spend four dollars on cans of chili to feed a family for a night, or I could seven dollars, make my own crock pot chili, and have food for three days.

Chop Your Own Veggies

Ah, the price of convenience again. Most grocery stores now offer pre-cut fruits and vegetables, which are super easy to use, just open and eat! But they tend to be much more expensive than the non-cut fruit. Just look at carrots for example. A pack of carrots costs less than a dollar. A pack of “ready to eat” baby carrots is three dollars (and they aren’t really baby carrots, they are processed carrot waste. Marketing Genius!). You are spending two extra dollars so that you don’t have to take a minute to peel a carrot. Is that worthwhile? Only you can answer that, but I will say that I’ve started buying the cheaper, unpeeled carrots.

Use A Cash Back App

Save money on groceries/earn cash back on groceries, same thing right? If you aren’t using Ibotta to earn cash back on groceries you need to sign up right now. If you have questions, check out my guide to Ibotta, which in my humble opinion, is the best on the internet! I’ve earned over twenty dollars back in just two weeks of using the app. That will really help my grocery bill go down.

Shop at the Cheap Places

Oh, how I would love to shop at the bougie grocery stores like Publix and Kroger. But why would I do that when I can get the exact same food for lower prices at Walmart? Yes, I know that Walmart gets a lot of hate, and some of it is justified. But that doesn’t change the fact that I spend twenty to thirty dollars more every time I shop at a traditional grocery store over Walmart. The prices are a bit higher on most items, and when you are buying 100 items, that really adds up.

I’d really love to transition to shopping at Aldi or someplace similar (cheap but also not terrible!) but unfortunately there aren’t any Aldis in my area.

Make a List and Stick to it!

You know what really eats up your grocery budget? That pesky impulse buy! Did you really need those crackers, cookies, chips, or ice cream cakes? Probably not (but yes on the chips, if you are anything like me!). And if you did need them, make sure you include them on your list! I budget for my chips every week, and being able to splurge a tiny bit on that has really helped prevent me from buying other stupid impulse crap. Make a list that includes your favorite snacks (because snacks are essential!) and stick to it!

Use the Store’s Loyalty Program

Lots of grocery stores still have that loyalty card thing that gives you better deals than the “normal customers”. Anyone can sign up for these cards and it’s really just a giant marketing scheme to collect your data, but hey, it can really help you save money on groceries.

Walmart doesn’t have a card, but they do have a savings catcher program. All you have to do is scan the QR code at checkout, and Walmart will scan your receipt for “bonus savings”, adding that money back to your account. You can then pay with that money on your next visit.

Buy Less Meat

I know, I know – it’s not a meal if there’s no meat (One of my old Army buddies actually said that to me!). But that’s not entirely true. I can make plenty of delicious meals without using meat, and I’m not even a good cook! The truth is, meat is expensive, and not everything actually needs it. You could easily make vegetarian spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter), chili, stuffed peppers, and more. You can even make tacos with potatoes instead of beef! There are so many options for vegetarian meals, you’d be surprised. And, throwback to the beginning of the post, it’s also healthier and better for the environment!

What are your favorite ways to save money on groceries? Any little tip might help, so tell me about it in the comments! Also, if you loved this post, hit that share button!

 

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"the five best things to buy online"

Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Ok guys -confession time! I’m not the biggest fan of online shopping. Blasphemy, right? Do I need to turn in my millennial card? I’m not a fan of shopping in general though, and as a personal finance blogger, I have to say that you shouldn’t buy anything that you don’t need or that doesn’t fit in with your money goals. With all that being said, there are a few things that I do buy online. Even I, the technologically challenged millennial, have accepted that some things are better to buy online. Read on to find out what those things are!

The Best things to Buy Online

Single Use Coffee (K-Cups)

My absolute favorite thing to buy online are single use cups for my morning coffee. I know, I know, those are literally the worst things for the environment. But that’s why I only buy them online! Did you know that you can get compostable single use cups on Amazon?? San Francisco Bay sells a huge variety of flavors, and the cups are compostable! And they are a tiny bit cheaper than the normal cups you get in the store. A win for the environment, a win for my wallet, and super convenient. You can’t beat that. My favorite flavors are espresso and fog chaser, but try the variety pack to find yours! I’ve also tried the Faro brand, which is just as tasty.


Gifts for Kids

My niece and nephew live in Chicago, and I live far far away from there. I still want to send them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas, but I absolutely don’t want to deal with the post office. Being able to buy their gifts online has been a godsend! I just ask my brother what they want, find it online, and have it shipped directly to his house. So easy! I can even get it gift wrapped! Which is really just a fancy box, but hey, I’ll take it.

Books

Books are a great thing to buy online because they tend to ship well and you know exactly what you are getting. Also, there’s no way I could write a post about shopping online without talking about books; the megalith Amazon got started with books! They are obviously a hot online item. That being said, there is something about browsing a bookstore, so I hope you don’t do all of your book shopping online. Buy a few at Barnes & Nobles too so we can keep them in business!

Camisoles

I generally hate buying clothing online. It never fits correctly and then you have to deal with sending it back, which is such a huge hassle. I’ll pass. But there is one clothing item that I love to buy online, and that’s camisoles. I wear them every day, under pretty much everything. So of course, I need to find the best deal. I can usually find them for ten bucks each at target, but the online deals are way better! I can get 4 camis online for only $23, that’s less than 6 bucks a piece, and they come right to my door. The best part is that most camis are sized correctly. A small is a small pretty much everywhere, so I don’t have to worry about returning them because they didn’t fit.


Specialty Items

Do you have a weird hobby that no one else has? Or a hobby that you can’t find supplies for at the normal stores? I do too! I have a microscope and I love making slides of things to look at under it. Unfortunately, most stores don’t carry microscope slides (or dissecting kits, or dyes). I’m so glad I can buy this stuff online. The best thing about online shopping is that you can find pretty much anything! What’s your odd hobby that you can’t find supplies for in the store? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you enjoy shopping online? What is your favorite thing to buy and why?

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"your neighbor is an iceberg"

Hey all! We have a bonus special feature today! Ryan, from over at Arrest your Debt, is a super awesome blogger and one of the most supportive and engaging people I know on Twitter (seriously, check him out on Twitter, you won’t be disappointed!).

Ryan wanted to share a guest post about the illusion of wealth and keeping up with the Joneses for all of our wonderful Partners. And he’s absolutely right, most of our neighbors are icebergs! They look great from the surface, but the part you don’t see is extremely dangerous. Read on to find out exactly how your neighbor is an iceberg!

Your Neighbor is an Iceberg

I saw this image the other day and could not help but think about the facade we put on for others. Earlier in my marriage, my wife and I were starting to take control of our finances and spend intentionally. I was recently promoted but things were tight.

We had a couple of kids and my wife was a stay at home mom. We lived off of my sole income which made things tighter for us than our DINK friends (Double Income, No Kids).  As we socialized with other work friends, it was impossible to ignore the lives they were living.  I knew we shouldn’t judge people, but it’s difficult to avoid comparing ourselves to others.  A close friend of ours was in the same stage of life with similar circumstances.  The husband provided the income and the wife stayed at home to raise the kids. The only difference was he was a level below me and I was making more money than him. However, you would never know that by looking at us. I was, and still am, driving an older vehicle, yet he had a nice new truck and was constantly going on vacation.

What Were We Doing Wrong?

It really hit home when my wife and I would look at our budget each month and constantly ask ourselves what we were doing wrong. We did not have many extras; no cable TV, no car payments, no fancy extras. The only thing we did splurge on was a $150 a month gym membership which was certainly less than our friends truck payment. As we sat there looking at the numbers, there was no way we could afford what they had. “What are we doing wrong” was the resounding theme in our house.

To make things worse, our friends had satellite TV, a new house which was larger than ours, and they were constantly posting on Facebook about Disneyland and their other expensive vacations. Early on, my wife and I began to become somewhat resentful at the fact that we were unable to afford what they had.  We didn’t resent them, we resented our situation and couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong.  Little did we know at the time, we were not wrong – we were more right than we knew.

Related: Partners in Fire gets into massive credit card debt!

Heading For Disaster

As time passed, it was evident that they were not affording their life style. They were an iceberg. On the surface, everything looked great and in order. But under the surface, there was a deep dark side to their finances that was quickly catching up to them – something we couldn’t see from the outside looking in. They were making payments on credit cards and starting to drown. Their mask was quickly being removed which caused them to hit rock bottom with creditors on their heels. They had no savings, no emergency fund, and no retirement savings. After losing much of what they owned, they are now just starting to pick themselves up.

They were living the life that many of my friends subscribed to.  They believe that life is worth living in the moment. Why would they spend their young years saving when they should be enjoying their health and wealth? Unfortunately for my friends, it didn’t work out the way they anticipated.  Life has a way of knocking us down at the most inconvenient times.  As Warren Buffet said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”  Don’t be naked my friends!!!

The Joneses Are An Iceberg

I grew up hearing that you shouldn’t try and keep up with the Joneses. That’s easier said than done, especially when the Joneses are not some figurative person, but your actual close friends. It is difficult to avoid comparing yourself to others when they are living the life you think you want. The truth is, the majority of those lives are in deep financial distress which is hidden beneath the surface.

The other day my wife and I were driving down the road when a younger guy in a sports car sped past us.  My wife looked at me and said, “Awe, he must be broke!”  I don’t think I have ever been more in love with her than at that point!  She gets it – whether that guy was truly broke or not we will never know.  For one, it made us feel better about our 12 year old vehicle we were driving, and second, the odds are he really was broke trying to portray a wealthy image.

If you find yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses, be careful. Remember what happened to the Titanic? If you try and keep up with this image, it will take you out at the knees and sink you. Don’t let the icebergs sink you!

As you continue this financially responsible life style, keep this in mind. When you become disgruntled by comparing yourself to others – realize, they are more than likely an iceberg.

Are you an Iceberg?

If you are an iceberg, I encourage you to check out my other posts, Simple Steps To Start Your Debt Free Life! , Budget Isn’t A Bad Word, and Debt is Financial Slavery!

Do you know any icebergs or are you one? I reassure you, you are not alone! Comment below, I’d love to hear your story about where you have been and where you are going. I would like to give a huge “THANK YOU” to @partnersinfire for allowing me to guest post on her blog.  Stay safe my friends -you work too hard to be this broke!

-Ryan

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"blogger recognition"

Blogger Recognition Award

Wow, I am so humbled to have been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award!  Thank you so much to Jane from ABFAB Travels for the nomination. She’s a newer travel blogger who I first met on Instagram. Jane’s been super supportive and she’s a great blogger to connect with on all of the platforms.

The Award

The Blogger Recognition Award is given by bloggers to recognize others within the blogging community. It’s a great way to recognize each other for the hard work we put in. It’s also a great way to support the bloggers we know and love.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you (me!)
  2. Write a post as to why you started your blog
  3. Include 2 bits of advice you would give to other bloggers
  4. Nominate other bloggers and comment on their response

Why I started Partners in Fire

I started Partners in Fire for two main reasons. First, I really wanted to help people with money. Finances are such an important topic, and it really does encompass every part of people’s lives (hence the lifestyle portion of the blog). I want everyone to be able to get on a path towards financial independence. I want everyone to live the life they want.

My second reason for starting the blog is that I wanted to start a side hustle. I’m not one of those who is going to pretend that I don’t ever want to monetize my blog. I definitely want to monetize, but in a way that’s beneficial to my readers. I never want to be spammy, but I do want to turn Partners in Fire into a legitimate business one day. I’m nothing if not honest, right?

Blogging Advice

The best piece of advice that I can give a new blogger is to stick with it. Blogging takes time!  You may hear stories of bloggers getting thousands of page views in their first month blogging, and although that can happen, it’s the exception, not the rule. It takes most bloggers six months to a year or more to increase their domain authority and start getting organic traffic.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in my 11th month of blogging and just achieved a domain authority of over 20 and I’m just now starting to see organic traffic through google. Stick with it and they will come.

The second piece of advice I can give is to find a niche that you can write about regularly. My first foray into the world of blogging was a travel blog, travels near and far. I love to travel, and I love to write, so I figured it would be a no brainer! I enjoyed writing it, but unfortunately, I just don’t travel enough to sustain a travel blog. However, one of my Fire goals is to travel the world, so I’m keeping the travel blog active and I’ll go back to writing for it when I have more time to travel. In the meantime, I’m loving running Partners in Fire. I have so much information to share on finance and living life, it’s been a year and I’m not out of ideas yet!

My Nominees

Its so hard to pick nominees for the Blogger Recognition Award! I’m going to go with my favorite smaller bloggers to hopefully help some of them increase their domain authorities (some of you may have higher than mine, I don’t know, I’m basing this off of when I met you!) My nominees are:

Debt and Cupcakes

Fiology

Comforting Anxious

The Poor Swiss

Financial Independence Europe

Otterwize

Help Momma Sparkle

Captain DIY

A Dime Saved

Hope you all have fun with it!

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