How I Save Money on Large Purchases (18% or more!)

How I save money on large purchases (18% or more!) How to save money on large purchases with I cannot believe the discounts they offer. Can't wait to try this out.

I’ve been using a site called to save on some big ticket purchases. We wanted to buy a grass collector for our lawn tractor. Since we’ve recently moved into a new house, we’ve had a lot of extra expenses and I wanted to save as much as I could on this purchase.

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post – just a tip about a site I’ve personally found super helpful. Affiliate links are present. (Full disclosure)

How to Save Money on Large Purchases through

My husband found the grass collector he wanted online at Home Depot for $299. I clicked over to and found a $300 gift card discounted to $275 (9% off). offers a $5 bonus for new customers so that brought my price down to $270 (10% off). Then I ordered the grass collector through Ebates (sign up for Ebates here) and got an extra 2% cash back!

In total, I saved $36 by spending about 3 minutes to get this deal. (If you’re already as excited about this as I am, make sure you scroll down to see how to save even more.)

What I love about Raise

Raise is a site where you can buy and sell discounted gift cards. If you’re buying, there are no fees for you (if you’re selling a card, they take a commission.) They have a 100% purchase protection guarantee which was the essential factor for me.

I know you can buy gift cards on Ebay or Craigslist, but I would worry that there’s be a problem with my gift card and I’d lose the money. Raise takes care of that risk with a 100% money back guarantee and insures every transaction for 60 days.

How it works

You can browse the website to see all their available gift cards. When you find a card you want, login and make your purchase. If you’ve picked a voucher or egift, your card will be emailed to you in minutes and you can use it right away. If it’s a physical card, it will be mailed to you.

How to save money on large purchases with I cannot believe the discounts they offer! Can't wait to try this out.

Raise has hundreds of stores available with discounts ranging from modest to over 50%.


The prices and selection are changing all the time so if you see something you want, you have to jump on it. Prices and availability are determined by the sellers so the choices fluctuate quite a bit.

When to use Raise

I like to check Raise to save money on large purchases. It’s also a great choice for stores that you shop at regularly (hello, Starbucks at 18% off!). This will also be a great choice for us for birthdays and holidays.


Make sure you check whether a card is a voucher, egift, or physical card.

  • Vouchers can be used in store
  • Egift cards can only be used online
  • Physical cards must be mailed to you and used in store.

You don’t want to purchase a card only to find out that you’ll have to place the order online.

Raise egift voucher screenshot

Check to see if the card offered is an egift, voucher or a physical card. This will make a difference how you can use it.

When I ordered the attachment for our lawn tractor, I specifically wanted to order online so I picked an egift card.

You might have to purchase more than 1 card to cover the cost of whatever you’re buying. On the other hand, if you see a great deal for a store that you regularly shop at, you might want to stock up.

Great stores

Raise currently has cards for a bunch of my favorite stores: Home Depot, iTunes, Amazon, Panera, Michael’s and Redbox. Some of the discounts are fairly low, but if you pair them with an extra 5% plus an extra $5 off (scroll down to see how), you’ll see a decent savings.

Great customer service

Before I made my first purchase, I emailed Raise with a question and got an answer within a half an hour. I was impressed with this level of service.

3 ways to save even more with Raise

  1. Use coupon code RAISE75AF for an extra $5 off your first purchase of $75 or more!
  2. Raise regularly runs specials for an extra 5% off. If you sign up for their site, they’ll send you email when these sales are happening.
  3. Pair your gift cards with Ebates for an even greater savings!

Now I always keep Raise in mind for large purchases to help keep expenses down. It only takes a few seconds to check their site for a great deal.

You can browse the deals on here.

If you make a purchase through them, would you come back here and tell me about it? I love it when I can help people save money!

Have you ever bought a gift card online?

Photo by MoneyBlogNewz

I link up at these fun parties.

How We use YNAB to Manage Allowances

How We use YNAB (You Need a Budget) to Manage Allowances

Quiz: When it comes to kids’ allowances, do you:

A. Wait ’til the kids remind you it’s time and then pay up

B. Give your kids money as needed, but not on a set schedule

C. Pay for chores as they are accomplished

D. Regularly pay an allowance on a set schedule

If you answered A, B, or C, are you frustrated or annoyed over allowances? I find it a real pain to have to dig up cash when my kid reminds me or pay for each little chore that is finished.

Maybe you’d like to try budgeting for allowances.

It’s so easy to do! This is how we do it.

How we budget for allowances using YNAB

Each month, I budget the total monthly allowance dollars into our budgeting software, You Need a Budget (YNAB). On the first Friday of the month, I pay the kids (either in cash or as a transfer into their individual Capital One 360 savings accounts). Usually they choose the transfer option so they don’t have extra cash to keep.

I love using Capital One for the kids’ accounts (by the way, Capital One offers a $25-50 bonus for new customers!) Their handy mobile deposit app allows me to deposit any checks they get without a trip to the bank. I can instantly transfer allowances from my savings account directly into theirs.

How I track loans to my kids

Along with budgeting for allowances, I keep track of any loans I’ve made to the kids in YNAB. My kids have inherited my love of shopping online and so I often will place orders for them. I enter my purchases into my YNAB app and categorize them as loans the kids need to pay back.

How we use YNAB to manage allowances

I purchased an iPod for my son. This is the entry into the free YNAB iPad app. I categorize this purchase as a “loan to kids”. Later I can collect the money back from my son.

When I’m reconciling my accounts, if I haven’t asked the kids to pay me back yet, I notice the balance in the “Loans to Kids” category. In fact, that balance tells me that someone owes me money right now!

Using YNAB to manage allowances

This is the YNAB budgeting screen. I have a category for “Kids Allowances” right above “Loans to Kids”.

Using YNAB for these 2 categories is a perfect fit because:

1. I don’t forget to budget for the allowances.

We don’t spend a ton of money on allowances, but I like to have it accounted for at the beginning of the month.

2. I’m already using YNAB.

I’m in YNAB for all our other money matters so it’s simple to record these transactions.

3. It’s giving my kids a head start with budgeting.

They see me entering their purchases and they know how important budgeting is to me. This is a great start to smart money management for them.

The budgeting is paying off!

My kids have saved a ton and their bank accounts are growing. Just last week the two older boys bought refurbished iPod 5 Touch models off of Amazon. My 7 year old bought his big brother’s old iPod. Now they all have their own personal iPods (secured by my trusty internet security system – did you get your copy yet?)

Max with his new iPod

My son with his new iPod, purchased with his own money.

Would you like a YNAB discount?

If you plan to purchase a copy of YNAB, don’t forget to come back here and use this link for a coupon worth $6 off the price.

You might also like to see how we track our spending in YNAB. This little habit makes it super easy to keep our budget up to date.

How do you manage your kids’ allowances?

P.S. If you liked this post, would you take a second and share it on Facebook? Thanks so much!

Click here to start saving with Capital One 360
I link up at these link parties.

Got chore wars? Try this simple phrase with your kids

Do you find yourself begging, pleading or threatening to get your 4 year old to clean up her toys?
Some kids are born with a knack for ignoring, whining, and explaining their way out of chores. (Like someone at my house just yesterday).

If you’re experiencing chore wars with your kids,  you might try using a bit of psychology to help get the job done. It’s all in your choice of words.

Got chore wars? Try this simple phrase with your kids

“Helping” vs. “being a helper”

In a recent study, researchers Christopher Bryan and Allison Master and their team compared two groups of 3- to 6- year old kids who were encouraged to help out adults with some simple tasks like fetching an item or closing a box. One group heard phrases like “being a helper” and the other group heard about “helping.” The “helper” group was significantly more willing to do what was asked of them.

The simple phrase that points them to a positive identity

The researchers theorized that this technique works well with children because they are motivated to pursue a positive identity. When they are exposed to the idea of “being a helper,” kids readily identify with this image and want to fit the picture. However, when they are encouraged to “help,” it sounds a lot more like work and it doesn’t give them anything to live up to.

How can you use this technique to sidestep chore wars?

You can do just what the researchers did: encourage your kids using nouns instead of verbs. Use nouns that help kids identify with a particular self-image like “helper” instead of verbs like “helping.” Talk about how important it is to be a helper or a hard worker and how everyone in the family needs to be a part of the team to get the chores done.

This type of language works best with younger kids. Your 12 year old isn’t going to jump at the chance to be mom or dad’s “helper.” But that 12 year old might rise to the prospect of being referred to as a diligent worker. Obviously kids don’t want to be patronized so make sure your comments are genuine.

My youngest is an enthusiastic vacuumer.  No chore wars here!

My youngest is an enthusiastic vacuumer.

Is this the magic solution to getting the chores done?

There are no magic bullets. Chores are still work and no one is going to relish washing the dishes or take out the trash. Still, doing chores with a good attitude goes a long way toward making chores seem less like drudgery.

If you or your kids can feel good about a job well done, it’ll make the work go that much quicker. And that is something everyone can appreciate.

P.S. If you have a second, you’d be a great help if you shared this article on Facebook. (See what I did there?)

Want to read the study? It’s called “Helping” Versus “Being a Helper”: Invoking the Self to Increase Helping in Young Children

This post was linked up at Thrifty Thursday and Family Fun Friday.

9 Reasons to Read to Your Kids this Summer

When summer rolls around moms often start hearing the dreaded “I’m bored” by the second day of summer vacation. My solution to this problem is simple: I read aloud to my kids. Reading aloud is the perfect, no-prep activity for a hot summer afternoon or rainy summer day.

Reasons to Read to Your Kids This Summer. The ultimate summer boredom solution!

Here are my top 10 reasons to read to your kids this summer.

  1. Reading is super simple – pick your book and you’re ready to go. No set up (craft projects are fun, but I’m just not a very crafty mom). There’s nothing to clean up. When you’re done, just mark your spot and be on your way.
  2. Reading aloud can occupy multiple ages. Although little ones might not be able to sit through a very long chapter book, you can read tons of books a book to a wide range of ages. My 3 year old routinely plays (and listens) while I read novels to the bigger kids (ages 7-14).
  3. Reading helps lengthen attention span and expand vocabulary.
  4. Reading helps kids exercise their imaginations. Without a screen to supply the images, kids’ own imaginations take off. When you read to your kids, you effectively provide an endless source of inspiration – no more boredom!

    Reasons to Read to Your Kids This Summer

    One of our many bookshelves with all kinds of goodies waiting to be enjoyed.

  5. Reading can be done whether you have a lot of energy or a little. Even if you’re sick in bed, you can probably muster the energy for a half an hour of reading. It’s a great way to end a busy day and help kids calm down for bedtime (much better than TV or computers which may make it harder for kids to fall asleep).
  6. Reading is free! If you’re like me, you probably have plenty of books on your shelves that you haven’t even read yet (or maybe your kids haven’t heard them in a long time). Free books abound on the internet (here are some free Amazon Kindle books). Don’t forget the public library!
  7. Old favorites can be read over and over.
  8. Reading during the summer is less pressure than during the school year – kids won’t have to worry about writing a book report or answering questions – just let them enjoy it (although if they want to write later, by all means give them a pencil)!
  9. Last but not least, reading is so much fun! Reading can take you to faraway places and times, teach you something fascinating or let you get lost in a fairy tale world.

What should we read?

If you want ideas on what to read to your kids this summer, visit my Pinterest Boards, Classic Books for Preschool Boys and Classic Read-alouds for School-age Boys. Everything I’ve pinned there is is a book that I’ve personally read and can enthusiastically recommend.

Classic books for preschool boys

Classic Read-alouds for School-age Boys

Are you reading any books read aloud right now?

This post was shared at Thrifty Thursday and Family Fun Friday.

A Mini-Guide on Internet Safety for Families

Quick – how many devices are connected to the internet in your house?

Your list might include computers, iPods, iPads, phones, Xboxes and TVs. If your house is anything like mine, the number is between 4 and 10. That’s a lot of internet access! As internet access has grown, so has the need for extra measures to create internet safety for kids. Gone are the days when just 1 computer was easily monitored in the family room.

I’ve spent a lot of time researching tools for internet safety.

The dangers are numerous – adult content is just a click away; obnoxious and offensive ads bombard you on Youtube; computer viruses masquerade as useful applications. It’s a real challenge to be adequately protected.

I’ve identified my top 5 tools that we use to keep the bad stuff out and let the good stuff in. Now I’ve put it all together in a handy mini-guide for you.

Internet safety for kids

Scroll down to find out how to get a free copy of this mini-guide.

This guide is called 5 Critical Technology Safeguards: a mini-guide on internet safety for families.

This internet safety mini-guide contains:

  • my goals for our internet safety strategy
  • a list of several critical areas you need to defend and free tools to do just that
  • our sample family internet policy

This guide is free for email subscribers!

If you’re not yet a subscriber, just fill out the form below and you’ll receive a link to download the internet safety guide.

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Already subscribed?

If you’re already a subscriber, look for the download link in the footer of your latest message from me. If you can’t find it, email me and I’ll send you a copy directly.

The internet is full of great stuff! Don’t let the bad guys ruin things and rob your children of their innocence. With a few technology safeguards in place, you can rest easier knowing your family is protected online.
This post was linked up at Thrifty Thursday.