Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Referrals Round-Up

I've learned about some pretty cool websites by having friends send me referral links, so I figured I'd do the same for others. Obviously each of these referrals comes with some sort of benefit for me, but I wouldn't be sharing each link unless I've personally used the product/service and can confirm it's legit. Here are sites I use and like, along with my assessment:

1) Stitch Fix - I've ordered from them at least 5 or 6 times and I've purchased at least 1 item from each shipment. It definitely gets better the more fixes you do, because you can fine tune your style preferences and request specific things. I like their service because often I look at something they've shipped and initially go "I would never try this on at the store." Then I put it on and fall in love. It makes you step outside of your comfort zone and expand your style portfolio. These aren't discount items, though, so don't expect to get a great bargain. You can spend $30-$45 on tops, $60-$100 on bottoms, and then it varies on dresses, shoes, accessories, jewelry, etc. You rate each item whether you buy it or not, with price being one of the variables, so you can let them know if items are too expensive. The first time you try a fix, through my referral link, you'll get your styling fee waived. Going forward, you get charged $20 when you schedule the fix and that gets applied to anything you decide to buy. If you like all 5 things they send, you get a 25% discount off the total. It's worth a shot!

2) Rue La La -  this site features boutiques for a few days at a time and sometimes you can get really good deals. I love whenever they feature Hudson Jeans because you can snag some amazing pairs for half off. They also feature luxury brands occasionally, so if you've been eyeing a designer handbag or pair of shoes, it could be a way to land it for less than retail. The majority of their offerings are everyday brands, though, so you don't have to break the bank. It's not just clothes, too. They also offer home furnishings, jewelry, kids' toys, pet accessories, etc. I've found good deals on Melissa & Doug items in the past. 

3) Ebates - I love ebates! I've been a member for 5 years and have earned $500 cash back during that time. It's a simple concept. If you're going to shop online, go to the ebates site first and see if they partner with that retailer. If they do, click through to the retailer from ebates and you'll get credit for your purchases. They pay you 1-3% cash back at most places, but some even go up to 15%. You get money back on things you were going to purchase anyway. Easy peasy. Another pretty great feature is that they check for all available coupons for a site, so you might save even more. I've been very pleased with ebates and haven't seen a downside to using it. (The only negative is that if you forget to go to ebates before making a purchase, there is no way to get credit for it after the fact. So, you just have to be diligent about always navigating to ebates first! There are plug-ins you can add to your browser to help you remember, though).

4) Ibotta - this is a fairly new program I've joined, but I've earned $25 in less than a month, so I'm pretty happy with it! After you make an in-store purchase, you take a picture of your receipt and upload to Ibotta and you get cash back on certain items or on the whole receipt. They partner with grocery & warehouse stores, home furnishings stores, home improvement stores, electronics stores, convenience stores, etc, so chances are you are already shopping at a place where you can earn cash back. The nice thing about this app is that you don't have to tell it ahead of time that you're going somewhere, or what items you're going to buy, so there's no preparation necessary. However, you can click on a store before you go to see what kind of offers they have. That might lead you to buy a certain brand that has a good deal attached to it, or remind you of something you need. After you are done at the store and have a receipt, you upload a picture of it and select which things you purchased that are eligible for cash back. They verify it and put the money in your account quickly. If you sign up through my referral link, you'll get a bonus in your account.

5) Tesla - I know this one won't get used as much, BUT, if you are in the market for a new Tesla Model S or Model X, you should definitely go through a referral link first. If you do, you'll get free supercharging for life. Use mine!

6) Personal Capital - if you've used Mint or another website like that, you'll be familiar with the general idea of Personal Capital. It's great for seeing all your transactions in one place and staying on top of your finances. Where Personal Capital differs, though, is that it's better at long-term or goal-based financial planning. It lets you see a consolidated view of everything, plus includes investments and forecasting. You can see how likely you are to meet retirement goals, analyze your investments for risk and fees, and get recommendations for what to change in any area. And, it tracks all of it over time so you can see how you are progressing. If you want to give it a shot, use my referral link and we'll both get a $20 Amazon gift card.

7) Energy Ogre - If you've lived at your residence for at least a year and think your electricity bills might be too high, you should consider Energy Ogre. (You have to live in an area where you can choose your electric provider). Whenever our electricity provider contract came up for renewal in the past, I would wade through the gazillion options and try to figure out which plan would be best for our household. It wasn't easy - there are so many different types of plans, fixed versus variable rates, tiered prices, specials related to nights and weekends, etc. I never knew if I was paying too much. When our annual electricity costs hit $3,800 for the second year in a row, I knew something needed to change. I discovered Energy Ogre and signed up. It costs $10/month, but they do the work for you. They review your usage for the prior year and find a plan that is tailored to your household. After we made the switch to the plan they recommended for us, our costs went down to $2,200 for the year. Can you believe that? We use a lot of electricity each month because of the size of our house, the fact that we work from home, and because of our pool equipment. They found a plan where the price per kilowatt hour went down to a ridiculously low amount once you went above a certain threshold, and based on our prior usage, Energy Ogre knew we would always hit that level each month. I was SO happy with their efforts and Meezy and I both had a hard time believing it was true! When that plan expired after a year and we weren't eligible to renew it, they found a new plan with not quite as good of a discount, but still a marked improvement over the $3,800/year bills. We spent $2,650 this past year, and even after factoring in the $120/year cost of Energy Ogre, we still came out $1,000 better off than before we signed up with them. I wholeheartedly recommend this site if you feel like you use a lot of electricity or are paying too much for what you do use.

8) Frontpoint Security - I've talked about my bad-ass home security system in the past and I'm happy to talk about it again! We love how connected we feel with Frontpoint. I have indoor and outdoor cameras, door and window sensors, smoke detectors, keyless locks, and a garage door opener. I can manage everything from my phone! I can see a video feed at any time, lock or unlock my front door, open or close my garage door, and see what window or door has been opened/closed at any time. I get reminders to set my alarm if I forget to, and I can do it from any location as long as I have access to my phone or a web browser. I get a reminder if my garage door stays open for more than a few minutes, and I can close it remotely, if necessary. I get a notice if the battery is running low on any of my sensors. I can set motion rules on my cameras so that it records clips if anything passes into the frame during certain times. It automatically records and saves clips in the event of an alarm. I can easily set up user codes for family members or guests or contractors and then deactivate them at any time. If a friend needs to pick up something from inside my house when I'm not home, I can turn off the alarm and unlock the door for them remotely, and then lock and set everything back when they leave. Seriously, I'm a big fan of their offerings. Their customer service is also fantastic. If you want to sign up for service, check out their website, but don't fill anything out yet. Send me your email address and I'll refer you. We'll both get a free month of monitoring.