6 Simple Ways to Shop Smarter

What if you could not only save while shopping but make money? Keep reading to learn how I changed my shopping habits for good…

If you’re like me, you love to shop. What I didn’t love was the credit card bill that came weeks later reminding me how much above my means I had spent. I tried shopping less but when I saw something I had to have, I couldn’t resist. This cycle would continue to repeat itself and continue to leave me with buyer’s remorse.

Then, after making these easy changes (and sticking to them), I not only began saving money when shopping but actually started making money. My hope is that by sharing the process I follow, you too will shop smarter. Now, let’s go shopping…

Step 1: Calculate Cash Back from Spending

 When I first started to change my habits, I knew I needed to figure out exactly how much I was spending (as painful as it is). After looking through the bills I determined I was spending over $800 every month on stuff I wanted, not needed.

Most of that spending was online and when I started looking for ways to still shop but spend less, I came across Ebates. They’ve given their members over $325,000,000 in cash-back for shopping at the stores they already do. Now when I shop, they deposit my cash back directly into my account. It’s actually that easy.

Registering is completely free and they even give you a $10 Welcome Bonus. If you’re already going to buy from these stores anyways, you might as well get cash back for it on Ebates.

Step 2: Save Smarter, Not Harder

While Ebates gives me cash back for most of the stores I shop at, I didn’t find absolutely everything. Any by everything, I mean shoes. Yes, I too have a shoe addiction and I needed to find a smarter way to buy them and other stylish pieces.

Before, I was spending almost $50 for a new pair of shoes. Not only was it an expensive habit but I wasn’t even happy with the shoes I was buying. When I became a VIP Member with JustFab it was the best of both worlds. Not only did they completely customize my online shopping experience but I started spending 50% less on a pair of shoes.

It was so easy to get started, all I did was answer a few questions about the styles I like and instantly got access. Plus, they gave me a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon, free shipping & exchanges just for signing up.

Step 3: Spend Less Money on “Needs”, Get More For “Wants”

When I set out on this journey I was only interested in saving money on my “wants”, I didn’t even think about my “needs”. After some trial and error, I realized there were plenty of ways I could reduce spending on “needs” which gave me more for my “wants”!

At first, I tried my local dollar store. Some of the things I found were good but most of it was garbage and I ended up having to buy from the full-price places anyways. When I discovered Hollar.com is when the serious savings started. Not only do they offer Free Shipping but they have $1 stores for almost every category with name brand products that I actually use.

Needless to say if I don’t find it on Ebates or JustFab, Hollar.com is my next and final stop.

Step 4: Make Extra Cash for “Wants”

I realize that for some, in order to shop smarter you need the resources to do it. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been short on cash and shopping wasn’t even an option (or put me further into debt). As a college student, in between jobs and plenty of other times I had to be resourceful not only in saving money but making it too.

In the past, I would look for jobs around town but it was almost never worth the effort. One day while on my computer I found Swagbucks.com and signed up. I’ll be honest that at first I was very skeptical but after I started completing some actions on their site, I was receiving “Swagbucks” right away. In the first day I made 500 Swagbucks and received a $5 Amazon Gift Card! Now whenever I’m a little tight on cash and want to shop, I just spend some time on Swagbucks.

Step 5: Save Cash Where You Already Shop

If you’re anything like me, you have days when you go to Target for toothpaste, and walk out with a birthday card, a dress, a few groceries, throw pillows, a small area rug, a nightstand, and completely forget the toothpaste! One day the cashier pointed out how much I could be saving if I opened a Target REDCard. REDCard holders save 5% on all purchases – which would have equaled $13 that day (the day I decided a nightstand, rug, and all the other items in my cart were must-haves). Add that up over the years, the savings are immeasurable. I signed up instantly and my savings to date equal $228.63!

On top of the 5% savings every day, I now receive Free Shipping on all online purchases, as well as 30 extra days for returns. This really helps for my impulse buys when I just need to have that top!

Step 6: Buy Smart, Sell Smart

By now you know I love a good deal, and one of my favorite places to find one-of-a-kind, new and used products is eBay. Believe it or not, I was able to snag my new, still-in-the-box, KitchenAid Professional Mixer for $45 on eBay last summer. That’s over $175 off retail price!

Before the eBay app, I would find myself setting reminders when auctions were coming to a close so I could make sure I was at a computer and the last one to place a bid. No longer are those days. I get notifications every time I am outbid and when an auction closes so I can stay up to date, whenever, and wherever I go.

My favorite feature of the eBay app is how easy and fast it is to sell your own items. With a quick glance around, I found a few things that I didn’t use anymore that could use a new home. I was able to set these up and get the auctions live in a matter of 15 minutes. When the auctions ended in three days I had made a little over $120! I simply had to pack up the items and ship them to the winners and voila! Extra cash in my pocket just like that. I try to make a habit of doing this every month to clean out the clutter.

Whether you’re looking for a deal on a particular item or you simply want to make a quick buck, the eBay app can help!

One final note before I get going: The one mistake I made through this all was never really getting started. I dabbled into a few of these options but never fully embraced it. Don’t let that happen to you, get started right now, no excuses!



Travel Further: Use These Apps To Plan Your Next Vacation

With the new year on the horizon, you might well be thinking about how you’re next going to jet off and see the world anew. While the thought of hopping on a plane and going wherever the wind might carry you can seem appealing, the reality can be a whole lot different, taking a big chunk out of your energy reserves. If you find the process of getting a flight, arranging a hotel and making all the last minute details stressful, you need to turn to technology in order to help you out. There are a whole load of travel apps on the market designed to make your vacation a lot easier, reducing the worry factor remarkably. These apps are the cream of the crop, making picking a flight and jetting off a much closer reality.

Hopper

Juggling multiple websites to ensure that you’re getting the best deal for your flight? There’s an app for that. If you’re finding searching on competitor websites time consuming and exhausting, you can try using Hopper to streamline your travel search. A mobile app, Hopper compares all of the deals on flights for the dates that you have chosen, locating the best deal out there for you. All you need to do is select your route, punch in the dates and the app will tell you what to do and when to do it. Better yet, you can also set alerts to tell you when flight prices drop, helping you get your hands on a ticket sooner than ever. With savings of up to 40% to be had, the app will seriously change the way that you travel.

Hitlist

If you’re the type of person who has an ever growing travel wishlist, you can turn to apps in order to make your adventuring dreams a reality. Hitlist is a mobile app that allows you to enter all of your dream travel destinations into its servers, in turn sending you alerts when flights to these places are at their lowest. If you’re not sure what city it is that you’re looking to go to, you can define your search according to region or country, helping you to see parts of the world that you might otherwise have overlooked. The app lets you stockpile all sorts of trips and travel variants, giving you the chance to jet off whenever your fancy takes it!

TripAdvisor Hotel Flights

Keeping tabs on different hotels can be a tricky business, particularly when you’re using different vacation websites to get the job done. If your computer screen is a sea of open tabs, you need to turn your attention towards an app that’s going to streamline everything into one easy place. Enter TripAdvisor Hotel Flights. An offshoot from the comparison website, the mobile app makes it easier for you to scour pages of hotel reviews wherever you might be, and keep tabs on the ones that are really taking your fancy. As well as giving you an insight into the best of the best, the app will help you find the best deal for you on hotels and travel, making it easier for you to enjoy your vacation in style.

Tripit

In this day and age, who uses paper anymore? Rather than getting all of your affairs in order in a paper document, you can make the task a whole lot easier by turning things digital and putting them on your phone. If you prefer to have everything in the palm of your hand, Tripit is the travel app for you. Putting your tickets, reservations and itineraries into one easy-to-access place, the app cuts down on document loss for good, making getting on top of things a walk in the park. You can also share your vacation details with family and friends, giving them a chance to get on top of your itinerary and store their information along with yours. Travel has never been so easy.

Gate Guru

Do you find that you’re forever running through the airport in a desperate bid to find your gate? Gate Guru will make things a whole lot more easy for you. Rather than running from one area of the airport to another in order to find what you want, the app can help you to make the most of what’s located near your gate, meaning you never have to wander too far off. The vacation app also comes equipped with airport alerts, telling you before the crowds if there have been any changes to your gate number or departure time.

Weekend Wanderings: The Quick Travel Guide To San Francisco

Weekends are there to be discovered. Making the most of your time off each week is the perfect way to travel further, expand your horizons and see a little more of the country. While jetting off to an exotic location might not be exactly in your remit, there are tons of places in the local vicinity just waiting to be discovered.

When it comes to wonder spots, there are few places as well kitted out as San Francisco. Offering up its fair share of city hangouts, seaside spots and hiking zones, the city has a little bit of something for everyone. Culturally vibrant and packed to the rafters with foodie spots, San Francisco is just begging to be explored over the course of a weekend. All you need to do is pack your bags, note down your favorite travel spots and get exploring!

Hotels come in many shapes and sizes in San Francisco and there is something to meet any kind of budget. In terms of budget spots, you might be hard pressed to find anything quite as luxe as the Mayflower Hotel. A family owned establishment, the hotel dates back to the Victorian times, boasting a more than impressive history. Inside, rooms are vintage and plush in style, kitted out with all of the essentials for an overnight stay.

If, however, you’re choosing to go a little more upmarket with your sleep spot, San Francisco is a real melting pot of different spots. The Parker Guest Hotel is a fantastic mid-range budget spot, offering up airy rooms with an impressive amount of space. The hotel is within a five minute walk of the Mission Dolores Park, giving you a great excuse to get out early and explore the local area. Hotels on the higher end of the spectrum don’t disappoint, either, and if you’re going to spend a little more on your stay, you should do so in the vicinity of The Fairmont. Within walking distance of all the essential districts, the hotel makes getting around a real breeze. If you don’t want to spend a night in the hotel, you can still get the Fairmont experience by popping in for an afternoon tea experience.

Hotel sorted, it’s time to cast your net a little further and get acquainted with what the city has to offer in terms of entertainment. Riding a cable car is a great activity to undertake just after having arrived in the city. The transport is cheap, spans most of the city’s essential districts and is quintessentially San Franciscan. If you’re heading to the bay, you have to stop in to take a look at Pier 39. While it might be one of the more touristy places in the city, the area serves up all the best parts of bay living, helping you kick back like a real local.

Culture is high on the cards in San Francisco and there are plenty of spots worth checking out. If you have a little more time on your hands, a trip to Alcatraz Island should be high up on your list. Make sure you plan your trip ahead to get the best out of your experience and take a good pair of walking shoes with you. You can also try taking your wanderings a little off the map with a trip to Chinatown. The largest of its kind outside Asia, San Francisco’s Chinatown is buzzing with life at any point in the day, serving up a whole other sort of local culture.

Rural spots abound in the city and if you’re looking to kick back, there are plenty of picturesque walks to be had. While you might want to head to the Muir woods for a stroll amongst the trees, you would do just as well to take a peek at the Sutro Baths. A local favorite, the baths are located at the end of a picturesque coastal walk, letting you take in all the marine beauty that the city has to offer.

Eating is just as a big deal in the city, so make sure you have all of your foodie facts before heading out into San Francisco. If you’re on the lookout for a few sweet treats, heading to the Tartine Bakery should be high up on your list. Kitted out with a fantastic selection of pastries, breads and baked goods, the spot is the perfect place in which to sip on a morning coffee. If on to go food is more your thing, try turning your attention to The Mission area of the city. Delicious street food abounds in the area, so make sure you have plenty of cash to take with you. You also can’t leave the city without taking a visit to Hog Island Oyster Co. A classic San Franciscan seafood experience, the restaurant is bursting with local goodies and always worth a try.

San Francisco is a city waiting to be discovered and whether you have just one day or a long weekend, you can really lose yourself in the coastal Californian spot.

Staycation: How To See More When You’re Staying At Home

Vacations are a great way to see the world, get out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. What happens, then, when you’re staying at home? With everyone jetting off at all times of the year, it can begin to feel like you’re getting left behind. It turns out, however, that adventure could be waiting for you. Your hometown is bursting with opportunity and even if you’re staying at home for your holidays this year, you can still have a great time. It’s all about adjusting your perspective. Once you take off your resident hat, you can see your town through the eyes of a tourist. There is a whole world out there to be discovered and it starts with where you live!

Throw Your Routine Away

Your vacation time is your chance to kick back, relax and forget about who you are for a little bit. If you’re going to make the most of traveling where you live, you need to throw your normal routine to the wind and explore your local area in a different way. Forget about the places that you normally go to and look to a different part of town. To make your task a little easier, you can try renting an Airbnb or hotel room in a different part of town. Treat yourself to the things you normally would if you were on holiday. Get up late, take a long bath and make yourself a special breakfast. Give yourself a cultural task to do for the day and try that bakery on the other side of town. The aim is to explore further, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

Turn Off Your Emails

Just because you’re still at home, it doesn’t mean that you should make yourself available to work emails at every moment. While staying at home might make you feel like you have to keep checking in with work, you should try and take a break from your usual schedule in order to kick back. Turn off your email alerts and put your out of office on your phone. Give any pressing information to your colleagues and tell them to phone you only in the case of an emergency. This is your time to relax, so you should make the most out of it.

Eat Out, Often

It is so often the food that makes our holidays memorable. If you’re used to eating in when you’re at home, try treating yourself to a few great meals out when you’re on your staycation. Make a list of all the places you’ve been meaning to try and make a few reservations. Try choosing somewhere a little more expensive than normal, or stopping in for a coffee and a pastry on your way home. Making each meal an event of sorts is a great way to really kick back and feel like you’re having the vacation of your dreams.

Make A Local Bucket List

We all have a number of places in our local towns that we’ve been meaning to try but simply have never got around to. Your staycation is the perfect opportunity in order to get more done. Before your holiday comes into effect, try making a list of all the places that you’ve been meaning to try. Experiencing your hometown through the eyes of a tourist can help to up your appreciation of where you live. Add as much as you like to the list and get exploring!

Keep Your Camera With You

A staycation isn’t really a staycation unless you capture a few of your memories along the way. Reaching for your camera when you’re on holiday might be second nature but when you’re in your hometown, you might struggle to find an opportunity to take a snap or two. To create a memorable experience, try taking a camera with you wherever you go. The chances are that if you do, you will begin to look at places in greater detail and spot areas that you had never seen before. Taking the time to document small details will help to boost each experience and help you to capture the essence of your staycation!

Treat Yourself

One of the joys about going on holiday is the opportunity to splurge a little now and then. While you don’t need to drop huge amounts in order to have fun, you can allow yourself a little extra spending here and there in order to make the most out of your time off. Try going for a nice meal, treating yourself to a new clothing item or seeing every museum in the local area. You’ve already saved a huge deal on flights and hotels, so don’t be afraid to go the extra mile for yourself.

Travel Further: Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Traveling further can open up your eyes to all sorts of cultures that you never knew existed. Getting beyond the everyday might just help you to see the world anew, find a new purpose, or discover where it is you’re meant to be in your life. Taking that one big trip, however, can be a very big deal and unless you’re born with a self-assured sense of confidence, you might find it hard to really put yourself out there. Getting out of your comfort zone and going further with your next big trip can seem like a very scary prospect but once you finally do it, you can reap all kind of benefits. Getting up the courage to get out there starts from the inside out and as soon as you start to adjust your perspective, you can go further than you ever dreamed.

Pick Up A New Language

Want to feel more assured once you hit the ground? Try picking up the local language. If you’re journeying to a place in which the locals speak a different language from your own, then you might feel concerned about getting around and finding the essentials. While there will always be somebody there who can help you with what you need, learning a new language can help you to feel more at ease and more aware. Knowing that you can cover your back in a crisis is a great sense of relief and simply being able to communicate with the locals will make your experience all the more sweet. If you pick up enough of the foreign language, you can even try forging friendships with people who live abroad. The bigger your circles of friends around the world, the smaller the place will feel.

Venture Out On Your Own

If you really want to experience what’s out there in the world, heading out on a solo trip is a great way to go about it. While traveling alone should be done only after you’ve weighed up all of the pros and cons, doing so can completely transform your trip. When you travel alone, you are forced to put yourself out in the world and communicate with the people around you. With only yourself to rely on, your sense of confidence is likely to shoot through the roof and before long, you will be able to take on anything the world throws your way. Going it alone will be scary at first but before long, you will feel right at home in the world.

Talk To The People Around You

Want to know the best way to really get to know a new place? Talk to the people around you. Whether it’s with locals or other travelers, talking to the people that you meet can introduce you to a whole range of different places you might never have found otherwise. If you’re staying in a hostel, try to get to know the other people that you meet along the way. It’s more than likely that you will meet individuals from all sorts of different cultures, which will give you an insight into another way of life. Traveling can open up your eyes but it is the people you meet who will really surprise you.

Make Up Your Own Mind

Not sure whose advice to listen to when it comes to picking a country? Try going with your heart. While getting to grips with a place before you leave can give you a greater understanding of how it works, don’t take other people’s’ opinions too seriously. A travel review is just that; a review of another person’s experience, dependent upon a whole range of different circumstances. Make sure you’re safe before you travel, of course, but try and leave your judgment at home before you venture off.

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Scared

While the whole “do one thing a day that scares you” thing might be a little on the clichéd side, it can be a great way of approaching your trip away. Before you go, try thinking about what it really is that scares you (within reason) and aiming to tackle it head on when you’re away. If you’re unsure about foreign food, make it your mission to try a different local dish every night. If speaking in a new language makes you feel uncomfortable, try to find one local person to speak to at least once a day. Putting yourself out there can feel hard at first but eventually, your fears will melt away into new habits.

Think Fast: How To Plan A Last Minute Getaway

Jetting off into the sunset is the thing of dreams and yet, with a busy working life and social commitments, you might have let this year’s vacation fall by the wayside. How can you get your share of sun? Never fear; it’s not too late to plan a summer trip and even if you want to go over the next few weeks, there are a ton of ways to make your vacation happen.

If the stress of life is getting too much a last minute getaway could be the very thing that you need and by following these simple steps, you can really make the most of your summer break.

Stop Being Picky

Ok, ok, so you really want to spend 2 weeks in an Italian villa, but unless you have a wad of cash saved up, it’s unlikely that you’re going to make it last minute this year. Luckily, however, there are a whole range of things available at your fingertips and by casting your search net out a little further, you can stumble across something truly great. The trick is to refine your options and go from there. Do you want a city break, or a beach holiday? Are you looking for somewhere really hot or do you prefer a cooler stay? Once you have refined what you’re looking for, you can head over to websites like Skyscanner to compare flights to numerous airports. Make sure you do your research before you go; your dream holiday is out there but it’s up to you to find it.

Tap Into Flight Alerts

Want to keep up with all the latest travel news? It’s time to tap into flight alerts. There are a number of different travel websites out there that each offer up to date news on your customized flight alerts, helping you to stay on top of any deal that might suddenly pop up. Websites like Airefarewatchdog and Kayak are amongst some of the best, making it easier for you to keep your nose to the ground while doing other things, too. Don’t be afraid of looking for something last minute; there are a load of deals to be had if you remember to look in the right place.

Call Up Your Friends

Do you have a long list of buddies living around the world? Now could be the moment in which to give them a call. Using your trip as an opportunity to catch up with an old friend or family member can help to you recharge your batteries and save the cash on a hotel room. If your loved one doesn’t have any spare room at their place, consider asking if you could crash with one of their friends nearby. Having friends across the world can be a gateway to a whole range of new cultures; it’s up to you to tap into them.

Think About House Swapping

If you’re really short of cash then jetting off into the sunset hardly feels like the responsible thing to do but incredibly, there is always a way to find your dream vacation. House swapping is a great way in which to get away, save money and experience a new place like a local. Places like Home Exchange and Home Link can provide you with everything that you need in order to get set up and make the most out of your trip. Even vacation rentals through sites like Airbnb can be cheaper than a hotel room and will help you to feel more settled in the new place.

Be Prepared For The Unprepared

Last minute travel can be one of the most exhilarating experiences out there and as long as you’re prepared to make things up as you go along, it can be incredibly successful. While not having a plan can feel like the scariest way to find yourself in a new country, it can also teach you things you never knew about yourself and help you to become stronger on your own. Your trip is a chance to see a new part of the world, interact with a foreign culture and potentially meet new people. Embrace whatever comes your way and never forget what you learn!

Essential A List Travel Tips For A Dream Vacation

Jetting off into the sunset is something that many of us fantasize about doing and yet, the realities of modern travel can wreak havoc with our best laid plans, transforming our effortless stay in the airport lounge into something that more closely resembles a nightmare. Travel can often be stressful for reasons that are out of our control and yet, if we simply changed our approach and took our time about the whole ordeal, we could make it into something much more enjoyable. It’s time we took a cue from the people who really know what they’re talking about.

Celebrities might have access to some of the best travel in the world but even that doesn’t stop them from having to deal with the same kinds of checks and processes and we have to. Given their time in the air, however, many of the A listers that we love so dearly have picked up a whole range of tips and cheats, helping to make their travel experiences as comfortable as they could be and now, it’s time for you to take influence from those who know it best. Are you ready to travel like a star? Come fly with us.

Have A Facial On The Plane – Chrissy Teigen

While whipping out all of your cosmetic products while you’re mid flight can seem a little much, you can try streamlining your carry on makeup bag to include the essentials for your trip. Air travel is notoriously harsh on the skin and when you’re going to be making long trips, you might want to take something along to keep your face glowing for your arrival. Facial spray and sheet masks are a great way of keeping your skin moisturized and fresh, without any of the extra mess. Try using the products half an hour before you land; that way, you will arrive looking rested and fresh, no matter how tired you might actually feel.

Drink Your Weight In Water – Jennifer Aniston

While actually drinking your weight in fluids might leave you in a mad dash to the bathroom, you should make sure to hydrate sufficiently throughout your trip. Keeping your body’s fluid levels is a great way of staying hydrated, feeling alert when you’re struggling with jetlag and flushing out any toxins that might have built up along the way. Try sipping on a large bottle throughout your flight; that way, you will land feeling and looking at your very best!

Top Up Your Immune System – Jessica Alba

When you travel, you expose your body to a whole set of germs and bacteria and often, you can pick up a bug or two on your flight. In order to give yourself a fighting chance against infection, make like Jessica Alba and take a few vitamin C tablets before you fly. During the flight, you can also fight against germs. By keeping a hand sanitizer in your bag, you can keep your hands fresh and clean, warding off anything that might come in your path.

Travel With Weights – Karlie Kloss

Staying in shape can be hard when you’re on the go and even though you might be on vacation to relax, you can still keep your body looking and feeling at its best. To avoid finding a local gym when you arrive, try traveling with a few small weights and resistance bands in your hold luggage. You can quickly work out in your room when you arrive and keep your fitness levels ticking over.

Stretch Out With Yoga – Alessandra Ambrosio

When you travel for long stretches of time, you can end up feeling all the worse for it when you land and even if you make sure to keep moving mid flight, your muscles can really pay the price on the other side. To avoid any strains and keep yourself feeling limber, try stretching out from your flight with a little yoga when you get to your hotel. You can strengthen your muscles, iron out any knots that might have built up and effectively destress before your holiday really begins.

Travel is something that many of us go through but by simply thinking through our routine before we step on board the plane, we can end up feeling and looking a million times better when we land. We might not have the cash to go for a private jet but armed with these A list travel tips, we’re guaranteed the trip of a lifetime.

Los Angeles: Eating Like A Local In The City Of Angels

Los Angeles. City of angels and starlets, the town is packed to bursting with must-see spots and if you’re visiting for the first time, the chances are that you will want a really authentic experience. Getting to know a city through its food is one of the best ways to understand its values, its locals and in the case of L.A., catch a glimpse of your favorite movie star in the process. With so many influences hitting the city, though, knowing where to begin can be just as big of an issue as knowing what to wear when you’re there.

These city spots might not cover all of the bases out there in Los Angeles but they are sure to give you something to write home about. Are you ready to dine like a local and begin your journey into the heart of Los Angeles? It’s time to get eating.

Honor Bar

Small, intimate and oh-so delicious, Honor Bar is one of the most popular spots in the city and tables there can fill up fast. While waiting in line to eat might seem like a drag, you will realize just what all the fuss is about once you take a bite into one of the place’s famous sandwiches. If you know what’s good for you, you will try Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, a dish that has already earned itself a reputation across the city. There’s more to the place than just bread and meat and with each sandwich being served up with a side of sushi and fries, you might just make this place your regular spot.

Little Sister

Looking for that perfect weekend hangout joint? Little Sister is here for you. Serving up Vietnamese food with a creative twist, the restaurant is about so much more than spicy, fragrant dishes. With each plate taking influence from both traditional and modern cooking styles, you’re guaranteed something with a whole lot of flavor and bite. If you find the place too busy to get a table don’t worry; there are now 2 locations across the city, giving you more opportunity to get your foodie fill.

Pine and Crane

When it comes to great tasting Asian food, Los Angeles sure knows what it’s doing. Decked out in an interior that is sure to live up to your minimalist Pinterest dreams, Pine and Crane is a great resting spot amidst the traffic-laden streets of the city. The food there, of course, is what it’s all about. Serving up a range of traditional, entirely authentic Taiwanese-Chinese food, Pine and Crane should be a staple spot on the map of any Asian food loving tourist. Choose a selection of small plates, wash them down with some fresh tea and you’re good to go.

Alcove Cafe & Bakery

If you’re in Los Angeles over any weekend, then you’re going to want to do brunch. When it comes to proper feasting, the locals really know what they’re doing so you’re guaranteed a plate of good food practically anywhere that you go. If you want something really exceptional, however, you need to set your sights on the Alcove Cafe & Bakery. Serving up a range of classic brunch dishes, the cafe is the perfect place in which to while away a lazy Sunday morning and catch up on your weekend reading. There’s so many good things on the menu, you might just want to come back more than once!

The Luggage Room

Los Angeles is the city of a thousand flavors and no matter what you’re looking for, you’re guaranteed something that is going to taste amazing. If you’re really in the market for a thin crust pizza, then nowhere other than The Luggage Room will do. Crispy, packed with flavor and served up using only the finest of local ingredients, the pizzas at the restaurant might be among some of the very best that you’ve ever tasted. If you’re looking for a bit of a party, you can try to sample any of the cocktails on the menu; the night is yours for the taking.

Eating in L.A. is one of the best ways to get acquainted with its culture and explore the local scene on your own. With any number of incredible eating spots on the city streets, making the most out of your time there is as simple as pie and before long, you might be returning to taste it all over again!

Mamma Mia!: Travel Off The Italian Beaten Path

As far as the movies, travel guides and personal blogs tell us, Italy is one of the most beautiful places in the world and getting there should be something towards which we aim at least once in our lives. With any number of ancient sites to choose from, however, knowing where to start in the Mediterranean country can be the biggest challenge of all and with so many well documented guides already out there, it can be hard to feel like you’re seeing anything for the first time.

It turns out, however, there might be another side to the country that we simply haven’t seen before and by traveling off the beaten path, it’s possible to experience a much more authentic, less captured side of the historical country. But where should you start? These spots might not be exhaustive but, use any one of them as your starting point and you’re guaranteed to have a trip to remember.

Orvieto

Located a short 90 minute trip outside of Rome, Orvieto is a great way to glimpse the Italian countryside if you’re taking a longer trip in the country’s capital. Located on a picturesque hillside, the winding town offers spectacular views of the local area and surrounding countryside, showing off the wonders of the Umbrian landscape. Inside the city walls, it’s much the same story and with many of the city’s older buildings still well preserved, it’s very easy to get a glimpse of what life was like hundreds of years ago. While there are any number of picturesque spots to see, the local cathedral really takes the cake, filled with intricate mosaic tiles and stained glass windows like you might have never seen before.

Rimini

Want to cool off at the beach? Rimini is the spot for you. A local favorite, Rimini is a great seaside resort off the beaten track, offering you all the benefits of Italian culture will the possibility of cooling off at the end of the day with a quick seaside dip. With a whopping 9 miles of seafront, the beach options in the town go on for days and you might be hard pressed to choose a beach that you prefer the most. It’s not just all about the water either; you can stroll the city’s promenade and sample any number of local dishes, stopping into bars and cafes as you please.

Parma

The city that gave its name to the celebrated ham, Parma is about so much more than great food. While most tourists do flock to the place for its celebrated cuisine and local delicacies, there is a great deal to see within the town. There are many walking tours on offer which give you a glimpse into Parma’s long and winding past, giving you the backstory on any number of buildings and monuments. If your tummy’s rumbling, there’s plenty for you, too; one of the most popular walking tours takes a look inside a number of cheese making shops, letting you sample the local delicacies before you settle on a choice.

Puglia

If you’re looking for a quieter, calmer version of the Amalfi coast then Puglia has you well covered. Renowned for its unique cone shaped huts, the town has a rich and vibrant culture and many of its older buildings still stand today. As well as the picturesque local views and noteworthy architectural feats, the town is renowned for its great selection of local foods and produce and whether cheese, olives or bread is your thing, there’s bound to be something out there to suit your tastes.

Portofino

One of the most colorful places in the country, Portofino is a real photographer’s dream. Dotted with pastel colored houses, sparkling turquoise swimming spots and any number of sailing yachts, the seaside towns is one of the prettiest places in Italy and one of the best places to unwind after a long day. While most travelers head to Portofino to kick back and relax, there are a number of great walks to be had in the town, offering great view over the local area and coastline. Try heading up Castello Brown Fortress for the best view of the region; located high up on the hillside, it takes in the place in one sweeping view.

6 Simple Ways to Shop Smarter

What if you could not only save while shopping but make money? Keep reading to learn how I changed my shopping habits for good…

If you’re like me, you love to shop. What I didn’t love was the credit card bill that came weeks later reminding me how much above my means I had spent. I tried shopping less but when I saw something I had to have, I couldn’t resist. This cycle would continue to repeat itself and continue to leave me with buyer’s remorse.

Then, after making these easy changes (and sticking to them), I not only began saving money when shopping but actually started making money. My hope is that by sharing the process I follow, you too will shop smarter. Now, let’s go shopping…

Step 1: Calculate Cash Back from Spending

 When I first started to change my habits, I knew I needed to figure out exactly how much I was spending (as painful as it is). After looking through the bills I determined I was spending over $800 every month on stuff I wanted, not needed.

Most of that spending was online and when I started looking for ways to still shop but spend less, I came across Ebates. They’ve given their members over $325,000,000 in cash-back for shopping at the stores they already do. Now when I shop, they deposit my cash back directly into my account. It’s actually that easy.

Registering is completely free and they even give you a $10 Welcome Bonus. If you’re already going to buy from these stores anyways, you might as well get cash back for it on Ebates.

Step 2: Save Smarter, Not Harder

While Ebates gives me cash back for most of the stores I shop at, I didn’t find absolutely everything. Any by everything, I mean shoes. Yes, I too have a shoe addiction and I needed to find a smarter way to buy them and other stylish pieces.

Before, I was spending almost $50 for a new pair of shoes. Not only was it an expensive habit but I wasn’t even happy with the shoes I was buying. When I became a VIP Member with JustFab it was the best of both worlds. Not only did they completely customize my online shopping experience but I started spending 50% less on a pair of shoes.

It was so easy to get started, all I did was answer a few questions about the styles I like and instantly got access. Plus, they gave me a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon, free shipping & exchanges just for signing up.

Step 3: Spend Less Money on “Needs”, Get More For “Wants”

When I set out on this journey I was only interested in saving money on my “wants”, I didn’t even think about my “needs”. After some trial and error, I realized there were plenty of ways I could reduce spending on “needs” which gave me more for my “wants”!

At first, I tried my local dollar store. Some of the things I found were good but most of it was garbage and I ended up having to buy from the full-price places anyways. When I discovered Hollar.com is when the serious savings started. Not only do they offer Free Shipping but they have $1 stores for almost every category with name brand products that I actually use.

Needless to say if I don’t find it on Ebates or JustFab, Hollar.com is my next and final stop.

Step 4: Make Extra Cash for “Wants”

I realize that for some, in order to shop smarter you need the resources to do it. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been short on cash and shopping wasn’t even an option (or put me further into debt). As a college student, in between jobs and plenty of other times I had to be resourceful not only in saving money but making it too.

In the past, I would look for jobs around town but it was almost never worth the effort. One day while on my computer I found Swagbucks.com and signed up. I’ll be honest that at first I was very skeptical but after I started completing some actions on their site, I was receiving “Swagbucks” right away. In the first day I made 500 Swagbucks and received a $5 Amazon Gift Card! Now whenever I’m a little tight on cash and want to shop, I just spend some time on Swagbucks.

Step 5: Save Cash Where You Already Shop

If you’re anything like me, you have days when you go to Target for toothpaste, and walk out with a birthday card, a dress, a few groceries, throw pillows, a small area rug, a nightstand, and completely forget the toothpaste! One day the cashier pointed out how much I could be saving if I opened a Target REDCard. REDCard holders save 5% on all purchases – which would have equaled $13 that day (the day I decided a nightstand, rug, and all the other items in my cart were must-haves). Add that up over the years, the savings are immeasurable. I signed up instantly and my savings to date equal $228.63!

On top of the 5% savings every day, I now receive Free Shipping on all online purchases, as well as 30 extra days for returns. This really helps for my impulse buys when I just need to have that top!

Step 6: Don’t Find Good Deals, Find Great

There’s something else you don’t know about me. I. Love. To. Travel. And while the steps above are great for you day to day shopping needs, you need to be finding those great deals when you get the travel bug.

Last year, I took the most amazing trip to Mexico. The kind of trip I never thought I would have the chance to take. After spending hours each day trying to find the best deal (while coordinating with 3 other girls) on hotels and flights, a friend suggested downloading the Priceline app.

I know what you’re thinking and yes, the same Priceline with William Shatner and the silly tune. Believe me though when I say, I have never been on a trip like that while paying as little as I did. With the Priceline app, it not only made it easy to book everything but the savings were incomparable. If traveling is anywhere on your horizon or you just want to look at the options out there, I promise you won’t be disappointed with what you find on Priceline.

One final note before I get going: The one mistake I made through this all was never really getting started. I dabbled into a few of these options but never fully embraced it. Don’t let that happen to you, get started right now, no excuses!