Archive for September 26, 2023

7 Tips to Buy Eyeglasses with Deep Discount

Getting a new pair of eyeglasses can be an expensive endeavor. With lenses, frames, and extras like anti-reflective coating, the costs can quickly add up. However, there are ways to get stylish, high-quality glasses without breaking the bank. Here are 7 savvy tips for getting eyeglasses on a budget.

1. Use Your Insurance Benefits
If you have vision insurance, take advantage of it! Most plans include a yearly eye exam and partial coverage for frames and lenses. Schedule an appointment with an in-network optometrist to maximize your benefits.

Many insurance plans fully cover basic plastic lenses and provide an allowance for frames. With insurance subsidies, you can get a pair of functional glasses for as little as $20-50. Insurance coverage for contact lenses varies, so compare plans carefully.

Even if your plan offers minimal eyeglass coverage, the free eye exam can save you up to $100. Plus, you’ll get your updated prescription, which allows you to shop around for materials.

2. Shop Online Retailers
Online eyewear retailers offer much lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores by cutting out overhead costs. Savings are typically 40-60% less than mall opticians. Options like Zenni Optical, EyeBuyDirect, and GlassesUSA offer complete glasses starting around $6!

To order, you’ll need your latest prescription along with pupillary distance (PD) measurement. PD is the distance between your pupils that ensures proper lens alignment. If your prescription from the eye doctor doesn’t include PD, you can measure it yourself or get help from an optician.

When entering your specs online, take care to input everything accurately. Preview the final look on your virtual face to check fit and proportions before ordering.

While values are excellent, be aware that very cheap online glasses may be lower quality. Prioritize highly rated frames and well-known lens brands to get the best deals on eyeglasses online.

3. Buy Generic Frames
Brand name frames like Ray-Ban and Oakley can cost a small fortune, $200 and up. Instead, seek out no-name frames that mimic the iconic styles. Simple plastic frames with basic shapes generally range from $10-50 online or at discount retailers like Walmart and Target.

Additionally, choose smaller or medium sizes if you have a petite face. Over sized frames are trendy but minimizing frame size reduces materials cost. Classic frame colors like black, brown, silver, and gray make coordinating easy and never go out of style.

Skip premium lens options like progressives, transitions, glare-reduction, and high-index. Stick to standard single vision or bifocal plastic lenses to spend the least. Then jazz up your frames with personality in jewel tones, bright colors, or tortoiseshell patterns.

4. Purchase Frames & Lenses Separately
Purchasing frames and lenses separately almost always costs less than bundled packages. First, search for the lowest cost frames that fit your needs. Then find compatible loose replacement lenses made to fit those frame dimensions.

Many online retailers sell lenses independently. Measure your existing pair and input the dimensions when ordering new lenses. Have them installed by a local optician, which typically costs around $25.

Buying separate components allows you to save money while customizing materials. Splurge on high-quality lenses paired with inexpensive frames for a customized combo at attainable prices.

5. Shop Discounts and Sales
The best deals come from stacking savings from sales, coupons, and loyalty programs. Optical retailers regularly run promotions on frames, lenses, coatings, or exam fees. Sign up for email lists and check social media to stay on top of current deals.

Buy one, get one sales are excellent for doubling your savings. Use the offer to purchase your eyeglass pair along with prescription sunglasses or spare glasses.

Some vendors issue coupons valued from $20 off purchases up to a free pair of frames. Opticians commonly provide percentage discounts for seniors, students, and military.

Cashback apps like Rakuten give you money back for online orders. Ebates, RetailMeNot, and other coupon sites provide optical promo codes year-round.

6. DIY Repairs
Learn basic repair skills to save on eyeglass maintenance. Many common eyeglass issues can be fixed at home for the cost of a few tools and supplies.

Keep screws tight and clean to avoid lost screws or loose frames. Missing screws can be replaced inexpensively by visiting any optician.

Bent metal arms can be gently bent back into shape with pliers. Use hot water or a hair dryer to reheat plastic arms until malleable enough to reshape.

Replace peeled or scratched lenses with over-the-counter reading magnifiers from a drugstore. They pop right into the old frames for an instant fix under $10.

Repair kits also provide replacement nose pads, pads arms, lens retaining screws, and other parts for cheap fixes. Watch online tutorials to learn easy DIY techniques.

7. Consider Blue Light Lenses
If you spend a lot of time using digital devices like computers and smartphones, opt for lenses with blue light protection. Blue light from screens can cause eye strain and disrupt sleep cycles. Lenses filtered to block blue light wavelengths provide relief from digital eye fatigue.

With this inside knowledge, you can upgrade your eyeglasses affordably. Use these tips to see savings along with clearer vision. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Money Saving Tips on Hair Styling Tools

Getting that perfect hairstyle can seem daunting when you take a look at the costs of all the styling tools out there. From blow dryers and curling irons to flat irons and hot brush stylers, the choices are endless. And the price tags can certainly add up, especially if you want to use salon-quality tools at home.

But having great looking hair doesn’t have to blow your budget. With some smart shopping and strategic choices, you can build an arsenal of effective styling tools without breaking the bank. Here are some money saving tips to help you get gorgeous hair for less.

Go For the Must-Haves

When it comes to hair styling tools, you really only need a few key pieces. Trying to buy every curling iron and wand on the market will cost you a fortune. Focus on these must-have basics for versatile styling:

  • Hair Dryer – A hair dryer is arguably the most essential tool for any hairstyle. Invest in a sturdy dryer with multiple heat and speed settings. Concentrator nozzles help direct airflow and speed up drying time.
  • Flat Iron – A good flat iron can straighten, add body, create waves – it’s one of the most versatile tools. Get one with adjustable heat, floating plates for even contact, and a rounded body for creating flips or curls.
  • Curling Iron – For touchable curls and waves, a curling iron is a necessity. Get both a 0.5 inch and a 1 inch barrel. The smaller barrel does tight curls and the larger barrel creates loose, voluminous waves.
  • Paddle Brush – A paddle brush with widely spaced plastic bristles can detangle wet hair and smooth flyaways when blow drying. Look for one with a cushioned base.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

It’s easy to get sucked into buying a huge range of barrel sizes and styles for curling irons and wands. But you can achieve virtually any curl or wave with a 0.5 inch and 1 inch curling iron. Rather than buying a ton of different tools, put your money into one high-quality flat iron and a couple of versatile curling irons. Quality matters more than quantity when it comes to hair tools.

Purchase Entry-Level Options

Contrary to what TV commercials would have you believe, you do NOT need to spend several hundred dollars on a hair dryer or styler. There are great entry-level options between $50-$100 that will get the job done. Some recommended dryers are the Revlon One-Step Volumizer and the Conair Infiniti Pro. Good affordable curling irons are the Bed Head Deep Waver and Hot Tools Pro Signature Curling Iron.

Skip the Hype

Social media and beauty magazines make it seem like you need the latest viral styling tool. But many of these end up being gimmicky. The Dyson Airwrap curler is all the rage, but it’s over $500. A more affordable curling iron will give similar results. Same goes for the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer – it’s an incredible $400 when a $50 dryer works well. Don’t get sucked into hype – go for affordable tools with proven results.

Take Advantage of Sales

Timing is everything when purchasing styling tools. Holiday weekends like Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day often have major sales on hair products. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge for beauty discounts too. Sign up for email lists from beauty retailers to get notifications about upcoming promos. Ulta, Sephora, and Amazon also run random flash sales throughout the year.

Shop Discount Stores

Check stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross for steep discounts on high-end styling tools. Because the inventory fluctuates, you can sometimes score premium $200 flat irons for just $40! These stores get excess inventory and discounted products. With some luck and persistence, the beauty aisle deals are incredible.

Buy Value Sets

Many brands like Revlon, Conair, and Remington offer styling tool value sets. You can get a blow dryer, flat iron, and curling wand for one low price. Or look for bundles like the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer paired with a round brush. Value sets can save you up to 50% compared to buying each piece separately.

Skip the Bells & Whistles

Today’s tools offer tons of fancy extras like digital displays, automatic shut-off, and high-tech coatings. But you can find more budget-friendly options without all those bells and whistles that perform just as well. A basic blow dryer without that snazzy LCD screen will still dry your hair. Focus on function over flashy extras.

Take Good Care

Make your styling tools last longer with proper maintenance. Always use a heat protectant spray before hot tools. Allow devices to completely cool before storing. Clean the barrels and plates regularly with isopropyl alcohol to remove buildup. And don’t yank cords from outlets – gently grip the plug. With care, a $50 curling iron can last several years.

Parents Savings and Tips During Baby Safety Month

The arrival of a new baby is one of the most exciting times for new parents. However, it can also be stressful and expensive to ensure your new bundle of joy is safe and properly cared for. That’s why September’s designation as Baby Safety Month is the perfect opportunity for parents to learn about baby safety while also saving money.

Here are a few tips to help new parents maximize savings during this important month:

1. Take Advantage of Free Inspections and Installations
Many fire departments and law enforcement agencies offer free child car seat inspections and proper installations throughout September. Contact your local stations to find out dates and times. This ensures your car seat is installed correctly to keep baby safe and you don’t have to pay a mechanic.

2. Buy Safe Secondhand Items
Gently used baby items like cribs, bassinets, carriers, gates, and playpens can be purchased secondhand at garage sales, consignment shops, or online exchanges. Thoroughly inspect items for recalls and damage before purchasing. Buying quality secondhand goods saves significantly over buying new.

3. Use Coupons and Loyalty Programs
Take advantage of coupons, sales, and loyalty program rewards when shopping for necessary safety items like smoke detectors, outlet covers, cabinet locks, and baby monitors. Sign up for email lists from major retailers for promotions and discounts on baby safety products. The savings really add up over time.

4. Research and Only Buy What You Need
It’s easy to go overboard purchasing every available baby item. Carefully research safety must-haves versus nice-to-haves. Make a budget and stick to only buying essential safety items for your baby’s nursery, auto, feeding, bath, sleep, and play needs. Save money by not impulse buying unnecessary products.

5. Borrow Instead of Buying
See if family or friends have unused baby items they are willing to lend or donate to you. Borrowing some safety gear instead of buying new helps you save money. Offer to return items once you are done with them so others can reuse. Useful hand-me-downs include baby gates, monitors, safety door knobs, and anti-tip furniture straps.

6. Prioritize Flexible Spending Dollars
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) through your employer, try to maximize your contribution pre-tax dollars this year. FSA funds can be used for qualified baby safety items like cabinet locks, safety gates, monitors, and car seats. This lets you pay for safety gear tax-free.

7. Take a Child and Infant CPR Class
Many hospitals, clinics, fire departments, and community centers offer free or low-cost CPR classes for infants and children during September. Staying up-to-date on these lifesaving skills gives parents peace of mind and helps keep baby safer. See if you can take a class for free or at reduced cost during Baby Safety Month.

Making your new baby’s safety a priority doesn’t have to wreck your family budget. Utilizing coupons, secondhand finds, free inspections, and borrowing from others allows you to get necessary baby safety gear at the lowest possible prices. Being an informed and savvy shopper during Baby Safety Month helps every parent provide their child a safe environment while still saving money.

After School Activities Tips and Savings for 2023 Fall

The new school year is already here and it’s time for parents to start thinking about after school activities for their kids. Between sports, music, art, tutoring and more, the costs can really add up. As a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to find engaging activities that don’t break the bank.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of my top tips and money-saving strategies when it comes to after school activities. With a little planning and creativity, you can keep your kids busy and happy without going over budget.

Tip 1: Take Advantage of Free Community Offerings

Start by looking at what your local community centers, parks and recreation departments have to offer. Many provide quality, low-cost or even free programs and classes for kids. From youth sports leagues to coding camps to art classes, you’re likely to find some great options that fit your child’s interests.

For example, our local rec center offers a free “Kids Club” every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. For just the cost of membership, my daughter gets to try different activities like gymnastics, science experiments and cooking projects. It keeps her active and engaged without much expense on my part.

Tip 2: Seek Out School-Based Extracurriculars

Does your child’s school offer any after-hours programs or clubs? These can be a convenient and affordable choice. Sports, drama, music, robotics, chess – many schools provide a variety of activities at minimal or no cost since they’re built into the budget.

For instance, my son’s elementary school has basketball, soccer and flag football teams that students can join for a small fee. It’s not as intensive or competitive as a travel league, but it allows him to play, get exercise and learn teamwork skills.

Tip 3: Split Costs with Other Families

Whether you connect with other parents at school, in your neighborhood or through community message boards, sharing the expenses of lessons or activities can make them more manageable.

One example is teaming up with other families to hire a private coach. The coach gets a reasonable fee but can take on a group of kids at once, so each family saves significantly. You may also find someone willing to trade watching each other’s kids, allowing you to alternate “on” weeks for driving to practices and games.

Tip 4: See If Older Siblings Can Help

Do you have a high school student who excels in music, art, computers or athletics? Consider asking if they’d be willing to teach or coach younger siblings or kids in the neighborhood. Most teens would enjoy the chance to share their expertise and earn a little extra cash.

This is a win-win – your teen builds their skills and you provide constructive activities for younger kids at a fraction of the cost. Just be sure to talk with your teen about setting expectations, rates and schedules ahead of time.

Tip 5: Organize DIY Activity Groups

If there’s a niche interest your child has that isn’t offered locally, you may be able to organize something yourself for very little cost. Reach out to other parents to see if they’d like to contribute and take turns leading meetings.

For example, maybe your kid loves reptiles. Work with a few parents to start a weekly or monthly reptile club where the kids discuss and learn about different species. Each time, a different parent provides space at their home along with a short lesson or activity focused on one type of reptile.

This allows the kids to explore their passion affordably under the supervision of engaged parents. The same model could work for book clubs, geology enthusiasts, aspiring chefs and more.

Tip 6: Make Use of Free Trial Periods

Want to test out a paid activity at low or no cost? Take advantage of free trial periods many studios and programs offer. This gives your child a chance to try out the classes and see if it’s the right fit before you commit.

For example, a local dance studio by us offers the first month of classes for free for new students. This was enough time for my daughter to experience the different styles and teachers. When the trial ended, we signed up for the ballet classes she enjoyed most at a 25% discount.

Tip 7: Prioritize Quality over Quantity

It can be tempting to pack your kids’ schedule full of activities. But with restraint, you can get quality experiences and still save. Focus on one or two activities per child that align with their biggest interests.

Between schoolwork and those select extracurriculars, their free time will stay limited, protecting your wallet. And they’ll have more focused, meaningful experiences diving deeper into fewer activities rather than skimming the surface of many.

Tip 8: Look for Volunteer Opportunities

Some organizations offer free or discounted activities in exchange for volunteer service. This can be a great way for kids to explore interests while giving back.

For instance, your local animal shelter may allow students to volunteer walking dogs or playing with cats in return for free pet care classes. Or a community theater may waive production fees for student volunteers who help with sets, costumes or promotion.

Giving some time to these organizations can earn big savings!

The bottom line? With a little creativity and planning, you can keep your kids engaged and active after school without breaking the bank. Turn to free community resources, share costs with other parents, and empower teens and kids alike to teach and learn from each other.