Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was a long time in the making! Every year when fall would start to creep up we debated the idea of getting tickets. We attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party before so we wanted to check this event off of our list as well. We also love Halloween (cute version, not horror) so attending this event felt like the ultimate Halloween event to attend.

MNSSHP takes place at the Magic Kingdom from 7pm- closing time. However, Disney lets you enter the park at 4PM (yay). Tickets to MNSSHP is not priced at a regular day ticket, however its pretty close. So with that said, I would personally recommend going to this event if you have previously visited the Magic Kingdom on a “regular” day and received the “magic of Disney.” I recommend this because of (1) the price of the tickets are close to a regular day ticket, (2) the length of the event/time you will be in the park is less than a regular day ticket, (3) several rides are closed during MNSSHP, (4) the parades, shows, and fireworks are different than what you would see on a regular day trip.

TIP: Buy your tickets as early as possible because they can sell out.

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There’s a lot of special entertainment at MNSSHP including the BOO TO YOU parade, a great fireworks show, special Fall/Halloween decorations and lighting, unique (villain) character meet & greets, trick or treating through the park, and even just seeing other guests in Halloween costumes makes it a fun and unique experience!

 

 

As I mentioned before, the party officially starts at 7 p.m., which is when all of the party entertainment begins, but guests can enter with their Halloween Party tickets as early as 4 p.m. You will see plenty of other guests arriving at 4 p.m., and Cast Members in their Halloween outfit.

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Wear a costume! Almost everyone wears a costume to some degree and you’re honestly going to have a lot more fun if you do. You’re spending a good chunk of money to attend one of these parties; it only makes sense to get the full effect. It was fun to see what everyone (of all ages) wore and to see how creative some people and groups got.

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One thing I really enjoyed about MNSSHP was the characters! Usually during special tickets events characters that are not usually out, will make appearances. Also, the “regular” MK characters were dressed up in costumes for Halloween as well! For example, the 100 acres woods characters each had costumes on (Winnie the Pooh is a bumble bee, Tigger is a pirate, etc). Typically, characters have meet and greet stations but many of the unique characters that made an appearance for this event were floaters. Meaning they got to walk around the park freely (accompanied by a character attendant of course).

Mike and I dressed up as Pongo and Perdita from 101 Dalmatians. We got so many compliments and it was fun spotting out other fellow Dalmatians in the park. The highlight was when Cruella Da Vil spotted us across a crowd of people and pushed everyone out of the way yelling “PUPPIES, come to me my darlings!” and squeezed us tight when she got a hold of us. Everyone around us loved it as well.  IMG_1590

There are special Halloween snacks you can purchase during the event hours only. I got this Maleficent inspired ice cream!   Trick or treating around Magic kingdom is fun! Once MNSSHP officially starts you can get a trick or treating bag at any of the trick or treating stations. There are several spots to treat or treat, some lines look longer than others but they all move FAST! We made tried to hit up all of the stations and get as much candy as possible. The cast members are generous! They give big handfuls of candy. As I mentioned, several rides are closed during MNSSHP, that’s because those ride areas become trick or treating stations.

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The Boo to You parade was so good. Make sure to get yourself a front row seat early! Mike and I got dinner at Pecos, nachos and tacos to be exact. We took our trays out and sat down behind the parade ropes. We ate our dinner while we waited for the parade to start (40 mins). We figure we could either eat our dinner inside the restaurant and possibly not have a good view of the parade or take outside and eat it while sitting on the “front row curb.” There were two parts of the parade that made me jump, only because I was expecting the loud noise or the screams. The headless horseman was also a crowd favorite!

The Hocus Pocus show on the Magic Kingdom stage was nostalgic! I mean, the movie is such an iconic part of Fall/Halloween now. I was pretty surprised to see so many little kids know the words to many of the songs or to even really know the movie. Their parts are doing something right by passing down the movie to the next generation <3.

The MNSSHP fireworks were amazing! Definitely “darker”, villain-ish, and everything you would expect Halloween fireworks at Disney to be. They did not disappoint!

For both the Hocus Pocus show and the fireworks make sure to get to your viewing spot early. The area gets crowded and everyone wants a good viewing spot!

It was a fun event, I am glad we experienced it. I think over the entire trip and cost of the event was worth it. However, I think that once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one-time event, it’s worth it if your budget allows.

Watch our MNSSHP video here.

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Orlando Trip for Mike’s Birthday

We decided to go to Orlando for Mike’s 27th birthday and we had so much fun. The first birthday we spent together was mine in 2014 and it was at the Magic Kingdom. We have always said that at one point we would celebrate Mike’s birthday at Disney. I mean its only fair, right?

Our trip was short and only over the weekend. Our flight was scheduled for Friday afternoon, so Mike took Friday off (yay). We spent our morning packing (we are such procrastinators), running some errands, and dropping off Diggy at his dog sitter before heading out to the airport. As soon as we arrived at the airport we got a notification that our flight was delayed. We ended up going through TSA pretty fast so we went to the Green Turtle bar and restaurant to get some drinks and appetizers while we waited.

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Our flight was smooth and the whole process of getting off the plane and into our car rental took about 30 minutes. Super fast right? Since this was only a weekend trip we chose to only travel with backpacks (I’ve learned to pack light). This allowed us to get off the plane really fast, especially since we sat so close to the front. I know MCO like the back of my hand so I know how to get out of the airport fairly quickly. Whenever we fly into Orlando (opposed to driving) we always rent a car so we can get around easier. The rental process with Enterprise at the MCO airport is amazing; it has never taken more than 10 minutes!

Every time we book our car rental Mike tries to convince me to get a “cool” car, so this time we upgraded (on the spot) to a Camero. The car rental company gave us a nice deal since they knew it was Mike’s birthday, waived some of the fees for us, and gave us a red version after mentioning red was Mike’s favorite color. Safe to say, Mike was thrilled!

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Our first stop? Publix of course! No Florida trip is complete (at least for us) without a trip to Publix. Oh, why oh why is there not a Publix in Maryland?! L We got a case of water, juice, and cinnamon bun bread for breakfast, and makeup remover. My favorite thing about Publix is a lot of the items are BOGO free.

We stayed at our friend’s place and they were truly great hosts! My bestie offered us homemade vegetarian lasagna and banana bread when we arrived. They have the cutest apartment and their two pups have a lot of character. We’re so grateful our friends took us in for the weekend.

Saturday, October 20th was Mike’s actual birthday and decided to eat lunch at the Sugar Factory. We had passed by it on prior trips and have always wanted to go. The Sugar Factory is one of those restaurants where all of their menu items are clearly made knowing that they will be Instagrammed. Their menu is extensive and a little expensive, but everything was good and you are also paying for the overall experience. This is a very popular spot for birthdays. It felt like every 5 minutes the music would get turned up and someone was getting their birthday ice cream from the waiters. We ordered a sampler for appetizers that included mac and cheese balls, mini burgers, and wings. For our entrees, I got a Caesar salad (huge), Mike and Jenny got a mac and cheeseburger (they accommodate vegetarian/vegan diets). The portions are huge and the meals are very fillings. If you have heard of the Sugar Factory before you know that their milkshakes are pretty crazy looking so we definitely wanted to order some! I ordered the Make a Wish milkshake and it was so delicious!

We were so exhausted after our lunch feast that we had the itis, so we opted to go back to my friends’ house to chill rather than our original idea to go kayaking. I was rather happy because I hate activities that involve large bodies of water. Actually, all water activities are not for me! We spent a chunk of the afternoon watching Youtube videos. Specifically, David Dobrik vlogs which Mike and I keep up with.

In the evening we went to PF changes for Mike’s birthday dinner, yum! Maybe it’s just me but I hateeeeee trying to be sneaky to get the waiter to bring out “the birthday dessert” that the restaurant makes. Luckily my bestie saved the day and snuck a note to our waiter telling him it was Mike’s birthday.

On Sunday we went to Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party event at the Magic Kingdom. We were SO excited for this event! I love Halloween and themed parties. I have always loved seeing the Halloween costumes that guests go as. If you have seen pictures, Mike and I went as Dalmatians. Pongo and Perdita to be exact! My top highlight from this event was when Cruella de Vil spotted us across a small crowd and pushed everyone aside while yelling “ PUPPIES! Come to me my darlings!”

From the guest costumes we saw, special Halloween themed treats, Boo to You parade, the Hocus Pocus castle show, trick or treating through the park, special characters we don’t normally see and characters in their own Halloween costumes… I have to say the event was so worth it. I’ll write a blog post entirely dedicated to MNSSHP with all of my tips and reviews.

 

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On Sunday, we went out to eat at Disney Springs with our friends before heading off to the airport. I know Disney Springs has a lot of restaurants to choose from but somehow we always end up eating at Splitsville. I mean their menu is pretty large, inexpensive for the portions, and can accommodate to different diets and picky eaters. We always leave satisfied. We walked around Disney Springs for a bit to “walk off everything we ate.” If you’ve never been to Disney Springs, be sure to check it out. It has changed a lot from its “Downtown Disney” days. We got Halloween themed Starbucks drinks before saying our goodbyes. Well, we don’t say goodbye at Disney, we say See ya real soon!

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DIY Costume: Popeye and Olive Oyl

We put together this Popeye and Olive Oyl costume for a Halloween event at a local wine bar. We didn’t win the costume contest, however, we did receive A LOT of compliments.  The contest was an intense competition! A Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause won the contest, and I must say they looked perfect. We chatted with the couple and found out they were newlyweds. They showed us a few pictures of their wedding and since they were an older couple, they gave us some advice on living life. They sure were fun!

As you can see this costume was easy to make and you may already have a lot of the pieces!

 

Olive Oyl Costume:

For Olive Oyl, you may already have a long sleeve red shirt and black skirt in your closet. At the time, I did not, but I was able to find the long sleeve red shirt at Walmart for under $5 and I bought my skirt from Amazon for under $12 (the price has gone up since I’ve bought it). Both of these items are truly investments for your wardrobe as basics for future outfits.  For the shoes, you may also already have brown boots; I opted to wear black ones for my costume.

Olive Oyl has a white shirt collar, white cuffs, and a yellow trim on the skirt. I normally would use a regular felt sheet and hot glue the pieces onto the shirt and skirt. However, I did not want to ruin the shirt and skirt since I wanted to use them for other outfits. Instead of regular white and yellow felt sheets, I bought felt sheet with a sticky side. Regular felt sheets are about 40 cents; felt sheets with a sticky side on it already are about 70 cents (always keep an eye out for 50% off coupons).

Before cutting out the pattern for the collar and sleeve cuffs, make sure to draw out the pattern on the white sticky side with a pen or marker. Once you have the pattern cut out, it should be easy to put the pieces down on the shirt. Be sure to press down for a few seconds to ensure it is fully stuck onto the shirt.  I originally cut out yellow sticky felt sheet to make the yellow trim on the skirt but since my skirt was flowy it kept coming off. If you don’t mind, you can hot glue the yellow trim to the skirt.

Olive Oyl has a low short ponytail. I had very long hair at the time so I twisted it into a low bun and let the ends stick out.

Popeye Costume:

The Popeye costume was very easy to put together. Mike already had a black collar shirt, and how perfect was it that it just so happened to have a sailor logo on it. Pair the black shirt with jeans and you have the foundation for the outfit! We used remaining sections from the yellow sticky felt paper I had bought to cut out yellow buttons onto Mike’s shirt. Mike already had a red bandana but incase you don’t, check out

Wal-Mart, Michaels Craft Store, or Target for one. We bought the sailor hat (under $7) and pipe (under $9) from Amazon; both pieces can be used for a future costume, as well.

We grabbed a canned item from the pantry and taped on green construction paper and wrote Spinach on it since that is what Popeye eats and swears by!

This was a fun and inexpensive couples costume to put together. Let me know if you decide to go as Popeye the Sailor and Olive Oyl, I would love to see how your costumes look.

We Scare because we Care

We made these costumes for a Halloween 5K race and they were so fun to make. These costumes were super EASY to create and inexpensive. Each outfit cost less than $20!

We got our shirts from Michaels Craft Store. My tip is to use a 50% or 40% (more common) coupon when the shirts are on regular price. They have good sale’s on shirts often and if you are lucky, you’ll come across a 20% off on sale items coupon. If you are a teacher, you can add your teacher discount on top of the coupons! Our shirts turned out to cost under $3 each.

We used felt sheets from Michaels Craft Store to make Mike Wazowski’s eye and mouth, as well as the Sully spots. Each felt sheet cost 40 cents! For Mike we used 2 felt sheets of white, 2 black, and 1 blue. For Sully, we used 3 sheets of purple.

We used different size bowls as stencils for the Mike Wazowski’s eyes. After cutting out the circles we hot glued the layers together. We then traced the mouthpieces with a pen prior to cutting out the black part and white teeth for Mike Wazowski’s mouth. We hot glued those two mouth layers together. We then hot glued each set onto the green shirt.

For Sully, we cut out different sized spots and hot glued each one onto the shirt. Make sure to put cardboard or some sort of barrier inside the shirt so that the hot glue doesn’t go through to the other side.

Our hard hats were the most expensive item from our costume. Each one cost $13 from Amazon. We got blue hard hats since thats the color of the hats used in the movie, however you can find yellow hard hats for about $5 on Amazon if you prefer. We printed out the logo from Monster’s Inc. and taped it onto the hard hat. We opted to use tape for the hard hat incase we wanted to use the hard hat in the future for a different costume or purpose.

We received so many compliments on how cute these costumes were! Let me know if you try making these, I would love to see how they turn out.

Mexico Vacation 2018

Mexico was one of the destinations that Mike and I always thought of going to and this past August we finally did. Our top reasons for choosing Mexico was because of the atmosphere, the food, beaches, and the ability to visit one of the great wonders of the world. We also wanted to focus on saving more money this year, so Mexico allowed us to go on an all inclusive, low expense trip, that was still of high quality. We looked at all of the different areas of Mexico and we decided on Cancun.

Incase anyone wants to book this trip, we booked through Costco Travels (our first time) and it was about $1,400 total for an all-inclusive trip for two people. This all-inclusive trip for two people included a 5 day all inclusive resort stay, air fare, hotel/airport transfer, $50 resort credit, and all unlimited food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).  Watch our travel vlog, including a walk through of the resort here!

When we are going to travel outside of the U.S., we usually book the earliest flights possible so we can arrive to our destination a.s.a.p. and enjoy our time there, as long as possible. For this trip, our flight was at 5AM, which meant we had to leave the house super early. But the hardest part wasn’t waking up early, it was traveling with crutches because I had just sprained my ankle a couple of days prior to the trip.

Even though I had crutches with me, it was one of the best traveling experiences we have had. Airport staff were very accommodating; they provided me with a wheel chair and pushed me throughout the airport, giving me short cuts through TSA/security, and took me directly to my gates. I think Mike’s favorite part was our seats were upgraded on every flight. One some, we got to travel first class and on others, we got moved up several rows to the front and had empty seats next to us.

When we arrived in Mexico, we found the area outside where our transportation (through Costco) was and then we were off to our resort. The total car ride was about 20-30 minutes.

When we arrived to our resort, Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas, everyone was super nice and the check-in was fast. We got our room upgraded and the hotel was very accommodating for me being on crutches.  They moved our room to a first level, which had a walk out balcony directly by the pool.

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When we arrived at our room, we raided the fridge since all drinks are included. We also ordered a bunch of items off the room service menu because we had arrived right when breakfast was ending and lunch restaurants hadn’t opened yet. You can order as much room service food as you want, but there is a $5 charge to place an order and you only pay the $5 charge at check out.

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Our days started with setting our towels out by the pool as we walked to the buffet restaurant for breakfast. I advise doing this early in the morning because by 8am a lot of the pool seats were already taken! I think for the most part, every breakfast buffet at resorts are the same. So don’t worry, there are a bunch of options including an omelet station, pancakes, breakfast meats, yogurt, cereal, breakfast breads, spreads, and sweets. There is a huge variety of breakfast drinks and juice from orange juice, coffee, tea, juices, and smoothies. If you really wanted to start drinking at breakfast, you can.

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We always hit the pool during the morning part of the day. Partly because its almost impossible to get a pool chair in the afternoon unless you watch people like a hawk for when they leave. The pool had built in lounge chairs inside the pools, it was very relaxing and gave so much serenity. We worked up an appetite after spending our morning at the pool, so, our go to spot for lunch was Viva Mexico for some tacos, quesadillas, hotdogs, burgers, chips and queso, oh and horchata! YUM. After lunch, we would switch things up and head over to spend our afternoon at the beach. But not before stopping at the bar located at the entrance of the beach. The bar had a jacuzzi, sit in pools on one side, and swings on the other.

The beach was awesome. Finding a beach lounge chair was never a problem. Most of the seats were under shade, which was great, especially in the afternoon under the hot sun! Bartenders would also walk by the beach to take your drink orders, so you never had to leave. There were lifeguards at the beach and you had to stay within a certain perimeter  in the water for safety. There was some seaweed by the shore but no big deal, it wasn’t too much and overall the sand/beach area was super clean. The beach waves were actually a bit rough, so I didn’t go into the beach because I still had my sprained ankle but Mike went in had a lot of fun. The water was clear, which is not always the case for all beaches.

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There are a lot of restaurant on the property and when I book a stay at a resort I always attempt to try all the restaurants. My one tip, make your dinner reservations for your whole stay as soon as you check in on the first day. If a restaurant you like is already booked up, show up before or after the dinner rush to try to get in. Our favorite restaurant was Da Vinci. We went there twice for dinner without reservations. We loved the food, it was Italian and possibly some of the best food we’ve ever had.

We also tried Pina Colada on our last night there. I made Mike order everything in Spanish and our waiter was so patient and had fun with it. There was an open spread for salads, bread, and appetizers. We decided to use our room credit at this restaurant to get a higher tier wine bottle. This restaurant was on the beach front and we slowly noticed a crowd forming at the beach. Mike went over to see what was happening and he got to witness baby turtles make their way from the beach and into water. He said it was an amazing experience to witness. No pictures were allowed because the turtle security (yes, for their protection) was very adamant that no light/flash was to be used.  It had to happen at night so predators would not get to them.

On one of the days, we went on an excursion to Chichen Itza. We booked this excursion through Costco representatives who have an office inside the resort. The excursion was about $60 a person, and it was an all day excursion. It started with the busses picking us up at 8am, right after we had breakfast, and stopped at other resorts to pick up other travelers. I believe it was about a 2-hour ride to the general area of Chichen Itza. We stopped by a local shop that had a ton of artisan items. This is where we ended up buying most of our gifts and souvenirs. We were also given a little mid-day sandwich to hold us over. The tour guides gave us a lot of information while we were on the bus ride and they were very enthusiastic. We finally made it to Chichen Itza where our tour guides gave us more information on the history and gave us recommendations on where to get the best pictures. We were then given time to explore on our own. It was a very impressive site, but also a very hot day! We were then taken to a nearby restaurant where we had a lunch buffet and a traditional dance performance. We were then taken to a cenote, which is essentially a huge sinkhole that resulted from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. People were given life jackets and there were stairs to go lower inside of the cenote to enter the water. You could either walk into the water or jump off after going down the steps half way down. Almost everyone was snoozing on the ride back to the resorts. We got back in time to enjoy more of the beach and have dinner.

Sprained ankle and all, this trip was amazing and I truly enjoyed the culture, people, and food. I was not sure what to expect because there are so many mixed reviews for traveling to Mexico and the quality of resorts but I can’t wait to go back! We definitely want to explore other areas of Mexico in the future. Viva Mexico!

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Apps That Earn you Free Money

Everyone loves free money right? We already spend so much of our time scrolling on our phones so why not earn some free money with just a few clicks! We listed our top 5 apps that we use to earn money/gift cards and get cash back on our purchases!

 

PoshMark

Do you have clothes sitting in your closet that you no longer wear or want? When it comes to selling clothing, shoes, and accessories this is the app to go with! We’ve  attempted several other avenues of posting sale’s whether different apps, websites (such as eBay or craigslist), the Facebook yard sales, and thrift stores but PoshMark has given the most success.

Use our referral code ROCKNOGALES when creating your account to get $5!

Below is the break down of the steps to show just how simple it is to use this app!

  1. Take a well lit, decluttered, and clear picture of the product
  2. Upload picture and fill out description page (size, color, brand name, etc)
  3. Fill in what the original price is and what your SALE price is (please note that PoshMark takes a percentage of your sale price when item is sold. That percentage depends on what price tier your item is listed in but you will be able to see the break down when you fill your sale price in).
  4. Review and post your listing
  5. Buyer may purchase item with the price you listed or may send you an offer. They may also crate a “bundle” of your items in which you can offer a discount. Feel free to negotiate or decline offers.
  6. Once item sells make sure to package item, securely tape the prepaid label (buyers pay shipping through the app at the time of purchasing your item)
  7. Drop off package at USPS and check the tracking through the app
  8. You receive your money through direct deposit or by requesting a check once the buyer has accepted your item (at most you’ll wait 48 hours after the tracker shows as delivered)

Tips for selling FAST:

  • Take a GOOD picture
  • Follow people on PoshMark. Poshmark thrives on people sharing items. In order for your items to reach as many people as possible, follow as many other people as you can. Many of them follow you in return, and some will start sharing your items right away.
  • Share your listings frequently. So the more you share you listing, the more others see it, the higher likelihood of others sharing your listing to their followers as well!
  • If you share someone else’s listing, they usually share your listing back. So every now and then when I have time on my hand, I’ll go to pages of users who have HIGH number of followers and will share their listing on my feed in hopes that they share mine to their thousand of followers.
  • PoshMark hosts “parties” everyday based on type of product or brand, so if you items fits the description it helps to share your listing into the party.
  • Respond to buyer’s questions on your listings in a timely manner.

 

Ibotta

Use our referral code to sign up: rokfqlb

This is a cashback app we use when grocery shopping! You can find all types of grocery stores on this app ranging from Wegmens, Target, Walmart, Giant, etc. The items that have cashback deals available change so we check the app for eligible items prior to our trip to the store or while we are there. Read the EASY steps on using the app below:

  1. Down app and register an account with your email address
  2. Browse through the stores and items available for cashback
  3. Add the items you want to your “cart”/offer list
  4. Go grocery shopping and make sure to KEEP your receipt
  5. Open app and go to redeem offers
  6. Take a picture of the full receipt
  7. Select the items from your offer list that you want to redeem
  8. Some items may require you to scan the barcode (I usually do this while putting away items in my home)
  9. Once you are done redeeming offers, click Collect Purchases
  10. You will receive your earnings within 24 hours in your account

 

CheckOut51

This app is very similar to Ibotta. Great for getting cash back grocery stores!

 

GetUpside

Use our code 9XXUY, to earn an additional 20 cents per gallon off your first use!

If you want to save money on gas (and groceries/restaurants) this is a great app! When you open the app, it gives you a list/map of all the places you can save in your area. Once you have started earning money back, you can receive the money via check or PayPal. So far, we have earned over $50 back (a couple tanks of gas). You can save up to 35% when using this cash back app.

These are the steps you will need to take:

  1. Register for GetUpside
  2. Enter my promo code to get an additional savings on your first purchase
  3. Choose either Gas, Groceries, or Restaurants
  4. Choose from the list or map which place where you want to save money
  5. Press Claim (you will have 3 hours to submit receipt)
  6. Use your credit card/Debt card (no cash) to make the purchase
  7. Scan the receipt and submit it for cash back
  8. You will receive an email (typically within 24 hours) to let you know how much you have earned

To receive the money through PayPal, with no fee, you have to earn at least $15. To receive the money via a check, with no fee, you must earn at least $50.

 

ShopKick

This app will help you to earn gift cards by doing any of the following: either by simply “checking in” when entering a store, scanning the barcode of items (no purchase necessary) on their list, and/or by in-store or online purchases. By completing any of these different tasks, you will earn points (called kicks in the app), which then convert into gift cards. They include: Amazon, Sephora, Target, and more! Sometimes when we are in Target we treat this app like a scavenger hunt and find the items listed to scan the bar code.

It only takes 1250 kicks to get your first reward. By using my invite code KIND118031, you can earn a free 250 points. *Make sure you use the app within 7 days of entering the invite code to receive the free 250 points! *

More details on ways to earn “kicks”

  1. Walk into stores: You earn kicks just by walking in the main entrance of select stores
  2. Scan Bar Codes: You earn kicks by walking around the store and scanning select items in the app (barcode scanner is in the app)
  3. Make purchase with linked credit cards: Earn kicks every time you shop at the select stores using your credit card linked to the app (can be any of your credit cards)
  4. Submit Receipts: Earn kicks when submitting receipts of select items purchased or every dollar spent at participating stores, you earn kicks
  5. Visiting online stores: Earn kicks just by simply vising select online stores
  6. Viewing online product: Earn kicks by viewing different deals and items
  7. Online Purchases: Earn kicks by making purchases online- for every dollar spent at participating stores, you earn kicks
  8. Watch Videos: Earn kicks when you want in-app videos about different products

You can set the app up for it to notify you (through location settings) when you are at a participating store.

 

 

How to pay off Student Loans ASAP

A post written by Mike:

I want to start off by saying that the tips I mention in this blog post worked for my lifestyle and my specific loans. I hope you find my tips helpful and that they offer motivation to get those student loans paid off, without giving up your lifestyle.

I am not a planner, I am a procrastinator. This makes my wife and I complete opposites. She plans and is the type of person that makes lists for her lists. She played a huge role in helping me get organized and motivated.

Making payments on your student loans:

  1. You know those six months after graduation where you don’t have to make student loan payments (grace period)? MAKE PAYMENTS, I did not and I REGRET it. Three of my six student loans were actually earning interest during that time, while the others were not. Had I been making payments on the three that were earning interest, I probably would have paid less in total interest. So, check the terms of you student loan(s) for the grace period to see how to get the best value for your buck.

 

  1. Pay more then the monthly minimum payment requirement. After the six-month grace period, I was paying the monthly minimum requirement. I would look at the grand total (including interest) and feel helpless, hopeless, and dirt poor. It wasn’t until my wife said, “If you feel broke because of your student loan payments then why are you only paying the minimum? You realize your minimum payments cover the interest you earned and barely scrape your actual debt? You’re basically giving away money.” That truly stuck with me. My loans were on a 20 year-payment plan, but I paid it off in two years. Can you imagine how much of that would have been interest alone if I took the full 20 years to pay it off? I understand it can be difficult (and nearly impossible) to make one large student loan payment a month so my tip for this is to make MULTIPLE payments a month. I typically made 2-3 payments a month. The amounts I paid would often vary, I just had to be committed to putting every extra penny to the loans.

 

  1. Focus on the loans that have higher interest. For me, my larger loans also had the highest interest (go figure), it doesn’t always work out that way, so definitely compare your loans to decide which ones you want to focus on the most. For example, I would make the monthly-required payment (which was a total of the minimum required payment of each loan). And if I had an extra $200, I would apply that extra money directly to the loan with the highest interest.

 

Staying motivated and organized:

  1. Make a budget. My wife and I made note of all of our reoccurring expenses/bills such as rent, car insurance, phone bill, vet bill, etc. We then calculated how much we would spend on groceries, date night, social events, and eating out.

 

  1. I use the app, MINT, to make sure we stuck to our budget. My wife and I can go to either extreme… we either are very disciplined and strict with our budget or we go through the “treat yo self” phase. With Mint, you can hook up your bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, and any other reoccurring fixed expense. You can also add in your financial goals, such as saving up for a vacation. With all of that information, Mint will assess where your money is going by putting it into categories! It really helped us see when we were spending too much on entertainment (movies, shows, etc) or at restaurants.

 

  1. We are huge on visuals! As a teacher, I always have chart paper lying around. So, we hung one up on a wall that we always pass. At the top of the chart we labeled it with columns for date, savings account, student loan lump sum, and made a column for each credit card we had. Every time we made any payment, we would update the total debt or savings we had for each category. Having this visual and having to walk by it multiple times a day served as a reminder of what we wanted our goals to be, which was to have “0” listed under our credit cards and student loan columns. We wrote our debt numbers in RED, our payments made and savings deposits were written in GREEN. Having your debt in your face every time you’re about to walk out of the house served as a great reminder to consider where I wanted my money to go and how badly I wanted to get rid of debt! I don’t think we anticipated the impact of having a large chart would have on the speed of paying of my loans. Even now that my loans are paid off, we have kept the chart paper and relabeled our columns. We have some big saving goals coming up!

 

  1. Our biggest motivation. We had a curve ball thrown our way this past January when our dog, Diggy, needed emergency surgery due to a ruptured disk in his neck. Our first priority was Diggy’s health. We put the entire bill on our credit card. For full disclosure, Diggy’s life-saving surgery cost a little over $10K. We were confident that this new debt would sideline us financially for many months. However, we decided to really buckle down and we were able to pay off Diggy’s expensive surgery within three months! We accomplished that by using the extra money we would have normally put towards student loans, towards Diggy’s bill. We put every possible penny towards the surgery bill. I realized that if I truly made paying off my student loan payments a top financial priority, I would be able to pay it off sooner then expected.

 

  1. We lived off of one paycheck. After Diggy’s surgery we decided to “live off of one paycheck.” With this new method, Raquel took over paying bills while dumping remainder money into our savings, vacations, or fun activities. Meanwhile I was able to dump my paycheck into my student loans.

 

  1. Accomplishment satisfaction. Another visual we created that helped was a goal chart completely dedicated to my student loan debt. My new goal was to have my student loan paid off by December 2018. On regular printer paper, Raquel drew X amount of boxes, each box belonging to a month until December. Inside each box was a total number of debt. Every time my debt went down and I hit a “new” goal, I shaded in the box with a highlighter. It might sounds crazy but I felt a lot of satisfaction knowing that I was hitting my goals and also seeing that I was slowly becoming ahead of schedule.

 

Hustle and Get Deals:

“Never depend on a single income. Make investments to create a second source.”

“Work hard, play hard”

 

  1. Raquel and I have a high work ethic. In addition to our “9 to 5” careers/salary jobs, we are ALWAYS on the search to make extra avenues of income. We dog sit, at one point we also delivered for Uber Eats, we sell items we no longer use, and use apps and websites that provide cash back on items we purchase, etc… If you are interested in knowing more about the apps we use to earn rewards, cash back, and some extra money let us know!

 

  1. We put everything on our credit cards (and pay it off right away) to rack up on reward points, which we redeem for restaurant/store gift cards, movie tickets, amusement park tickets, etc.

 

  1. A lot of the experiences we do are found from Groupon! Anything you find on there is already a good deal but you can also apply a discount code for additional savings.

 

  1. We grocery shop in bulk to save money. We have both a Sam’s Club and Costco membership. These memberships help save so much money not only on groceries but other items as well. We were able to get our Sam’s membership off of Groupon.

 

  1. There are so many different ways to save on vacation packages, flights, hotels, excursions and activities, etc. If you are interested in knowing how we travel at a low cost, let us know!

 

There are SO many ways we save and monitor our spending that I am sure we are missing a few tips!

 

This is not to say that we are perfect in our spending. HECK NO! We love to splurge every so often. You know, sometimes when you are at a certain store and their sales are SO good, that spending the extra few (many) dollars just feels so right. Maybe, you land five-dollar bus tickets to New York, or $50 flights, free hotel rooms, gift cards, or just simply need a few days away to stay sane. We absolutely love to travel, eat food, and try new things. As I grew up learning, “there is a time and place for everything”. One thing we have learned is that you need to quickly pay off debt, but stay sane while doing it!

As Raquel will put in another post, there are SO many free, complementary, or alternative ways to stay sane. One thing I love about Raquel is her ability to score amazing deals, discount codes, free items, or amazingly affordable vacations. Just from some of our recent trips and purchases, in 2018 alone, we have saved thousands of dollars.

Before buying something, ask yourself, “Do I need this? Can the money go to the loan/debt or savings instead? Can I find this cheaper on Amazon or get a code on Groupon?” So much more thought goes into our purchases, now.

We have been extremely blessed to have two continual incomes. But NO… we do not make bank. Paying off any debt takes diligence, a plan, motivation, a staying committed.   We did not create a plan or goal in one night. At the beginning, it was pushed by laziness, fear of never buying a house, and the reality that I WAS STUCK in debt. There was a lot of trial and error creating a plan. We found a visual that worked for us and stuck with it. Both of us learn visually, and so having our charts were extremely beneficial.

 

None of this would have been possible if we were not committed. We believed we would succeed and took the necessary steps. Even though we had our “cheat days”, we still pushed through. Sometimes this meant getting back out of bed to chart our small $100 or $50 payments, it was the act of holding ourselves accountable that helped.

For those of you that are in our boat or maybe about to take on a debt, just know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Our way might not work for everyone. However, our core values behind paying off the credit card and loans will hold fast in any situation.

  1. See the debt
  2. Make a realistic goal for when you want the debt free
  3. Create a plan
  4. Make a chart or visual aid
  5. Start your plan
  6. Stay committed to your plan
  7. Do your best to have fun along the way

 

These steps and tips truly helped us get out of debt and grow our savings at the same time. We hope they help you or inspire you as well!