Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Working Through the Holidays

It is very quiet here at work. Most people are away. This a very popular time to take vacation days and go home for both Hannukah and Christmas and stay through New Years Eve. Since my family lives near work there is no extensive travelling needed for me to visit them. More importantly I am going to be taking a large chunk of time off soon when I have the baby! So I have opted to keep working.

Graduate school ends when I have accumulated a decent enough amount of data to make a "significant contribution" to my field. I also have to display a mastery of knowledge in my field. So every day I work gets me that much closer to that goal. That is why I am here in a very quiet workspace. Where there are usually 20 of us, today there are 4-5. But I don't mind. I do not receive any flack about taking time for numerous religious holidays or leaving early on some summer days to travel to visit family for the weekend. Therefore I am happy to make up a little of that time now and take care of things that there is nobody else to care of. Remember, if you give back a little then people are much more willing to give you lenience later on down the road.

I am also using this time to take care of last minute baby prep. I finally got around to packing my bag for the hospital. In the U.S. you cannot take a baby home without a car seat so we knew we needed to buy one. This is even though we do not own a car and live down the block from the hospital. It is state law here, and I understand that it is needed to protect babies, even though in my case it seems  a little silly. Luckily, one of the Professors here had a baby last year and just upgraded to the next size car seat. He graciously offered us his car seat! This was a complete surprise and so nice of him to think of us. Generally I advise not using certain used baby products - like car seats and strollers - when they are past a certain age because straps loosen and these things do have an expiratin date. However this car seat is well within it's life span, has never been recalled and is in perfect condition. That's one expense spared and one thing off my mind.

We also finally put together our baby registry. We used Amazon because the selection was very good, they let you put on stuf from other websites too (although they had everything we could possibly want and more), I could read lots of reviews on products before deciding, and the prices were generally the best overall. Do I need every item on there? nope. And I am not commiting to buying them. They are there because they would be nice to have and if we decide we need it, then we have all ready done the work of picking out a brand and model. Plus if someone wants to give us a gift (some co-workers have asked) this makes it easier for them. Want to know what I selected? Let me know and I will post it for you with reasons why I thought that item was or was not necessary.

My apartment has transitioned from a complete tornado to a slightly crowded, but neat and clean domicile. My husband really helped with this and I am so grateful. Now we just have to keep it clean until the little one arrives.

So here's to getting things done over the holidays!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carters Infant and Kids Sale at Kohl's

Kohl's after Christmas sale places many items on sale from 40-60% off, including a lot of kids and infants items. Code "SNOWY15" gets an extra 15% off any order and "SNOWY20" can be used to get 20% off orders $100 or more. Shipping is 99 cents an item or try code "gift4kc" for free shipping.

Some have reported code "jingle2078" is giving 20% off any order. It worked for me!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Watch Out for These WAHM Scams

Around this time of year many, many people are looking to earn a little extra cash for the holidays and gift giving by taking on Work at Home jobs. (I advocate taking on such jobs during the entire year if you can find and handle them to increase savings. ) This brings out scammers in full force. What out for these common scams that can cost you a pretty penny:

E-Commerce Con There are a lot of ways to legitimately make money by running an e-commerce business and using affiliate marketing. This scam builds upon that. A company will offer to set up a website for you featuring goods for sale or a service like credit card processing. You will be in charge of encouraging people to shop at this website, and every time someone buys a product you will get a piece of the profit. All this will be done for you after you pay a one time fee of a few thousand dollars. After you fork over the money, you will never hear from these people again. Lesson learned "if it seems to easy to be true, it probably is".

1-900 Numbers The scammer will post a legitimate seeming job opportunity and give a 1-900 number for you to call to get more information. You will be put on hold so that you rack up charges - 1-900 numbers are numbers that allow the phone company to charge the dialer certain fees per amont of time spent on the phone. The owner of the number then gets a hefty portion of these fees. Never call them. By the time the phone company learns of the scam and shuts down the number, the scammer has moved on. The phone company is not liable to repay your fees and the scammer still gets his payday.

Overpay This crops up all the time in many times. In all cases you are providing a service and the recipient is paying via check. They unfortunately send you more than needed. They ask you to deposit the check, take your fee and whatever incidental charges you need, and then wire or mail the leftover back to them. By the time you find out the check has bounced or is a fake you will have all ready sent the scammer a check or money wire. So not only do you lose your fee and have to pay for a bounced check but you have just lost some of your own money by paying the scammer. Never take more money for a service than is required. Never send money back to people. Always wait for a check to clear before providing a service. Never agree to cash someone else's checks for a small fee.

Medical Billing This is a legitimate profession. However scammers will promise you thousands per week for processing medical bills after you complete their training course to get certified as well as receive a list of potential Dr.'s to market your services too. Usually these training materials can be purchased for a tenth of the price at a store like Best Buy, the list of potential clients is fake and the promised training sessions are never held. If you really want to get into medical billing find someone you know that is in the profession, that is employed by physicians you have heard of and know are legitimate, and ask them how they got their training. Get your software at Amazon, Circuit City or Best Buy, and realize that there is a lot of competition out there, it is hard to find jobs and neever pay for a lead list of clients.

Mystery Shopping Yes there are some legitimate mystery shopping sites out there. The scammers however, typically charge you a sign up fee. This is a very good sign that they are not legitimate. Another good sign is when they promise that you will earn tons of money this way. Legitimate sights will warn you that at best this is going to be pocket change. Another mystery shopping scam resembles the overpay scam - your first assignment is to evaluate Western Union or some other money wiring system. You are sent a check to deposit into your bank including your fee and told to send some cash via Western Union back to the main office and then evaluate the service. Except that the check bounces after you have wired the money. Never Ever wire money to someone who is supposed to be paying you.

Several lessons emerge from these scam. Never, ever pay to sign up for a service, to receive a list of jobs or for the promise of a future job. Do not pay for kits to make products that someone else is going to sell. Never take overpay and then send back a refund. Never send money to those who are supposed to be paying you. Unfortunately many of these scammers go ahead and use the names of legitimate business when communicating with you. There is no way for the legitimate company to stop them because by the time you alert them to this scammer, the thief will have moved on to another scam.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Amazon has the Uppababy G-Lite stroller for $50.21. That's more than half off the usual price. Free shipping with prime. This is gong to sell out fast.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Combat Education Debt

I once ran a post about colleges that offer a great education for free. To read it, go here. I can honestly say that going to such a college, and getting all my subsequent education for free as well, has put me way ahead of some of my peers who are struggling with figuring out how to pay off student debt plus new debt accrued as part of building a family. Many are still accruing student debt. However, I also realize that not every student is the same and different students have different needs. For many going to a lower cost of free school is not an option (perhaps they did not get admitted, perhaps they feel the experience at a much pricier school is worth it for their specific educational need). Who knows? I am not here to judge. I am here to try and help those who do need to take out student loans to find the best way possible to manage and control student debt before it balloons out of control.

Get a Job Preferably one that is not work study. Average work study rates are $6 an hour. Working a cashier at a local retail store can get you $8-9. Or consider freelancing a bit if you have a talent in a marketable area like tutoring, web design or babysitting. Then put this money away in a savings account or invest it wisely and do not touch it. This will help offset your loan repayment when you gradaute. Working ten hours a week, all four years of college could easily garner you  $13,000 or more. More lucrative jobs like bar tending can earn you more in less time. It could also help your resume. Even working as a waitress means there is some supervisor who can speak about your work ethic and responsibilty when you are applying for your first "real" job. Other jobs like being a paramedic are great experience for preheatlh students who could also use the cash. Obviously you need to know yourself as a student and realize when you have time to work and when you don't. If working is gong to cause you to fail your courses it is not worth it. Most college students can handle working part time if they would jsut get themselves organized.

Save 80% on Textbooks - Free Shipping Both Ways Stop Buying New Textbooks Just because it is shiny and new does not mean it will get you a better grade. There are a LOT of spoiled undergrads out there who turn up their noses at buying used books, taking books out of the library and renting textbooks. I know. I was one. I wisened up quickly. It will cost you a good $500+ every semester to get all of your textbooks new, especially if you need anything that is designed as a textbook or reference manual. Do not delude yourself into thinking these books will be useful later on. They quickly become obsolete. The minute a new edition comes out younger students and bookstores stop buying the older edition (this generally only garners you back half of what you paid or less anyway) and by the time you graduate the information in those books may be outdated as well. Tax law changes. Science advances. New education theory emerges. What you need to know will be provided by your emplyoer or found on the web - not in an old textbook from six years ago. And it will be a loooong time before these things turn into collectibles (if they ever do). Find out from someone who took the course last year if the book is even needed. Buy your books used from the book store or from more senior students. You can flip through them to make sure the hightling or underlining is not too excessive. Use the reserve copy at the library. Or try renting your textbooks. New renting services have popped up making this a very affordable practical option. To learn more, check out rental services like Amazon Kindle Textbook Rental, Book Renter, and College Book Renter.

Stop Putting Things on Your Credit Card Those who read my blog know I am a fan of using credit cards wisely to earn rewards and build credit. However college students often do not fully understand what possession of a credit card means. It does not give you license to buy thing you otherwise would not purchase and you cannot afford. Credit card companies love recruiting on college campuses. Walk away from them. Their offers to lure you in- a bag of M and M's, a snuggie,- are not as good as the offers you can get online. Plus they don't tell you the fine print about their card - is there an annual fee? what's the interest rate? etc. They also don't tell you how to use a credit card responsibly - by only buying things you would have bought anyway and paying it off completely every bill cycle. Just because you have been given a caertain creidt limit does not mean you have to use it. In fact it is better for your credit score if your percent utilization is low. A lot of students are not ready to understand that and therefore rack up huge credit card debt. Do not be one of them.

Get it at Home If you can stomach living with your parents while in college, and if your distance to school allows for it, you can save a bundle by living at home. I know someone who saved enough to take a year off and travel Europe this way. You won't have dorm bills. Even if you can't manage this, try doing things like laundry at home. If your campus requires you to be on a meal plan get everything you can out of that meal plan and not a penny more. Extra food? Take it home for later. Spent all your meal plan allowance? Stop going to the cafeteria and start making food at home or in your dorm room. It's much cheaper and probably healthier for you. I know you don't have a stove. You don't need one. All you need is a sandwich maker, a rice cooker and a microwave. Maybe a refrigerator. And for Pete's sake stop buying coffee just so you can look like a cool college kid studying at the Starbucks.

Waste Not, Want Not Remember how you got all these neat goodies for cheap - like your used textbook and mini fridge? Yep, by buying them off a departing student. Well, when you are on your way out or no longer need an item, sell it. Post it on your campus message board. If your neighbour is leaving all their stuff in the hall for free or saying they will throw it out - grab it. Sell it on ebay if you need to. College students have a tendency to look at things as disposable. Don't fall into this trap. If you bought a brand spanking new mini fridge upon moving in, chances are there is a freshman who is a lot wiser than you who would like to buy one off a departing senior. Of course this means you should take care of your stuff. No one is going to buy that fridge if it smells like feet.

Be An Agressive Scholarship Seeker Go into the office of financial aid or grants and scholarships and ask what they can do for you. If your parents earn too much for you to get aid (like most students) ask about grants and scholarhsips instead. Search for these on the web and on department bulletin boards. No amount of money should be considered too small. If your campus women's history department has an esssay competition for the best short story written with a strong female lead that takes place in 1955 with a prize of $100, well you and three other students are probably entering so there's not a bad chance you get that extra cash. You never know....

College is expensive. This can help defray the cost, but nothing short of a tuition free school is going to get you debt free completely. Minimizing loans is key. Just because you are offered a certain loan package does not mean you should use all that money. In fact it is probably unwise for you to do so. Especially when the loans are given by private banks and are not federal low interest loans. Doing whatever you can to minimize loan burden and save up cash to pay off loans upon graduation is crucial. Sure it might cramp your style a little, but it will give you the freedom to explore your career options, maybe taking a lower paying job with room for advancement, or taking a job in your field of choice rather than something elsewhere that has a higher starting salary but no room for growth, that you hate. Being debt free truly is freedom - freedom to make your own choices and pursue your own path. That certainly won't cramp anyone's style.

Mendy's is on Groupon

Mendys, the popular Kosher NY Deli is on Groupon today. While I do not eat out often, I know my Father-in-Law is at Mendy's A LOT and I know many others who work in the vicinity and are there a lot too. So this deal is a great gift for them. Plus Groupon had offered me $10 free with my first purchase. (Sign up and see if you get a similar offer). It seems to be a holiday promotion offered to people who have signed up but never made a purchase).

The deal:
Two Sandwiches
Two Soups
Two Sodas
(up to $40.90 value)
for $19.

1 per person, 1 per gift, 1 per table, not valid for delivery. Valid only for small soup. Not valid for beef tongue and veal. Expires March 31 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ventee-Privee Sale - Bakeware

Vente-Prive is offering 20 statement credit when you make your first pruchase via an AMEX. Today's sale on Revol porcelain has many items under $20. There is $6 shipping. so go ahead and pick something small and get it for free! But act fast, these things sell out.

Free Music

The Amazon MP3 Store is currently offering over 3,300 MP3's for free download. All you need is Amazon's MP3 down loader installed (this is free too). Also up for grabs are 273 MP3 albums MP3 albums for free. Happy listening!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Classics Never Go Out of Style

I love cookbooks. One of the great benefits of my joy of cookbooks is that ingredients are just about always cheaper than buying pre-made items. Lately there are a slew of new cookbooks on the market. Many of them call for bizarre ingredients that are expenssive and hard to find. While I enjoy tracking down these exotic items in the various ethnic markets of NY (where they are actually relatively affordable) sometimes you just can't beat a classic cookbook with ingredients that are found in the standard pantry and store. Who has time and money to go scouring the streets ins earch of non dairy sour cream, hoisin sauce and rutabagas?

This week I am celebrating the traditional cookbook by making my Friday/Saturday menu from the classic cookbook "The Spice and Spirit" by Esther Blau. While this book has no glossy photos, it does have an incredibly large number of fool proof recipes that are easy to follow and always turn out well. Unfortunately it is also out of print!!! I find this insane. This book is such a classic. Every home should have one. I was still giving it to people at bridal showers. If anyone happens to have a copy they want to sell, please email me:

In the meantime I will enjoy the copy I luckily saved for myself and will be making the following recipes:

potato leek soup - page 133
sweet and sour meatblass - page 214
knaidlech - page 140
kishke - page 310
mocah oatmeal cake - page 369
lemon merinuge pie - page 369

along with some acorn squashes, a salad and maybe a cholent. The ingredients I need to "hunt down" - potatoes, a leek, carrots and lemons. Not too tough. What a relief.

Great Puzzle Deal!

I just bought these for my nieces and nephews. I love things are both educational and fun. They are great holiday gifts and much cuter than the average puzzle since they are 3-D! Plus at close to 60% off, you can't beat the price. Prices listed below are for one puzzle. However, if you buy two or more you get another 35% off. Just make sure the puzzle is age appropriate and keep it away from younger children.

Ravensburger Ocean World of Colors 108 Piece Puzzleball for $7.99
Ravensburger Dinosaurs 108 Piece Puzzleball for $7.99
Ravensburger Enchanting Princess 108 Piece Childrens Puzzleball for $7.99
Ravensburger CHildren's World Map 108 Piece Puzzleball for $7.99
Ravensburger Numbers 24 Piece Puzzleball for $7.99
Ravensburger Farm 24 Piece Puzzleball for $7.99
Ravensburger Eiffel Tower 216 Piece 3D Building Set for $9.99
Ravensburger Empire State Building 216 Piece 3D Building Set for $11.99

Ravensburger Big Ben 216 Piece 3D Building Set for $8.99

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ventee Privee Stacking Amex Deals = Free

Ventee-Privee is the latest bargains-in-designer-goods website on the block. In an atempt to compete with websites like Guilt and The Outnet, American Express, the parent company that owns Ventee-privee, is currently offering a $20 statement credit with your first purchase when you pay with an AMEX. This is good until 12/31. No minimum purchase is required. If you are registered for the Amex gift chain you will also receive a gift for purchases over $25 made through December 21. Gifts are varied and selected randomly.

I got a lovely Villeroy and Bosch bowl, that typically retails for $50, for $22 Pus $5 shipping. After the statement credit that totals $7. My Amex gift was a $5 statement credit and so my bowl was $2!

Currently there are several items tht can be free - including a nice selection of kids shoes for $20-$30. With the $5 flat shipping that means you will spend $5 a shoe and any gift from Amex will be a bonus.

Sometimes items appear for $15 or less, which means that even after shipping they are completely free. However they will not qualify for a gift from the gift chain since they are less than $25.

Amazon Toy Deals

If you need to get some toys this holiday season, here are Amazon's best deals. Although, as always, I advise waiting until after the holidays. You can sometimes get really great deals as stores move their excess merchandise. Shipping is free if you have prime membership, or if you spend more than $25. You can get prime membership for free for six months if you are a student or a parent.

Aurora plush Toy Maltese for $7.99
Ty Dora the Explorer XL for $9.99
LittleBigPlanet Sackgirl/Sackboy 6 inch for $9.99
Bopt it Bounce for $10.89
LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: GLobe Earth Adventures for $12.99
 Crayola Glow Dome for $15
LEGO Heroica Castle for $19.99
TinkerToy Classic for $19.99 (a personal favorite since the pieces are wooden.)
GI Joe Sky Striker with Capt. Ace Figure for $19.99

Friday, December 2, 2011

$25 at Barnes and Noble for $15  is offering a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card for $15 as today's daily deal. Simply click here, and order yours. Quantities are limited.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Domain registration for $1 is offering domain registration for new domains 1 year for only $1. An 18 cent ICANN fee also applies. Eligible domains include .com, .us, .mobi, .biz, .net, .org, .ca,, and .in Use code "GETFIT" at checkout.