How To Recoup Bank and Credit Card Fees

If you use credit cards or ATMs, you have probably been charged fees. Finance Charge fees and Out of Network ATM fees are a few ways that financial institutions make money by loaning us or handling our money.

In the past there was no way of avoiding paying those charges- once you paid them, the money was gone.

Now there are websites, apps, and programs that can help consumers recoup the fees that they have paid out. Here are a couple that I have looked into or used.

Harvest links your bank accounts and credit card accounts to their AI and once every 90 days you can request their program contact those institutions on your behalf to credit previously paid fees. Harvest takes a portion of those fees. Harvest was not able to get any money back on my behalf. I have only been using it for about 50 days. Once my 90 days are up and I can re-negotiate, I will try it again.

Cushion: I looked into Cushion, but did not use it, because it costs on average $50/year. I don’t have a lot of outstanding debt, so there was no way that I could save that much from their AI negotiations. Also, there is this:

Basically, you don’t get the money credited back to you, you earn “rewards” through Cushion’s program. A quick internet search leads me to believe that it’s mostly Amazon Gift Cards, which as much as I love Amazon Gift Cards is not what I want. I want cold hard cash in my hot little paws.

I recommend that everyone look at their bank account at least monthly (I do it once a week when I balance the checkbook-yes, I do that) and look for any fees or charges that may not look familiar. Doing the same with your credit card statement when it comes as well is a great idea. Recently I caught a $90 charge that was fraudulent. A quick call to American Express and I filed a dispute, the charge was removed and all is well!

If you find a lot of ATM usage fees on your bank statement, download your banks app to locate fee-free ATMs. My credit union has fee-free ATMs at 7/11’s!

Note that I use the term Bank- I use this interchangeably for credit union, as that’s what I use. I have been a member of a credit union for almost 30 years. There is no monthly fee for having a checking or savings account, and I have my car loan through them as well (the rate is really low). Credit Unions are great because they offer low rates, and no or low account fees. And usually, membership is free.

If you have used a service like Harvest or Cushion with success, I’d love to hear your results! Leave a comment below.

 

Comfy Critters Hooded Blankets- A Warm Gift!

Our family tends to give a few meaningful gifts each holiday. One gift my kids always look forward to is a new, warm, snuggly blanket.

I found a company called My Comfy Critter and it has all of the things that kids want in a blanket: it’s big enough to wrap around them, a hood to cuddle in, and their favorite cartoon characters (Paw Patrol and PJ Masks) or animals (oh hello Speedy the Sloth!).

 

 

Each blanket features:

  • 100% Polyester Chenille fleece
  • Velcro tab with woven label that helps turn him into a pet or pillow
  • Blanket Size:  36″x47″
  • Machine Washable

Not only are these great gifts that kids will cuddle with for years, but they are a great buy at less than $30 each!

Socially Distanced Halloween Activities for 2020

Halloween is looking a lot different this year, with social distancing, and a lot of places still having quarantine/limited contact with others.

We usually do a lot of Halloween events. We usually go to Brick or treat at Legoland, and we usually go to a pumpkin patch and several Halloween carnival the week of Halloween.

Unfortunately, a lot of the events we go to aren’t happening this year. Instead, a lot of the groups/organizations that put together carnivals and fun events have instead opted to switch to contact list or drive-through trunk or treat/trick-or-treat events. We haven’t gone to any yet, so I’m not really sure how it’s gonna work but will be going to a bunch this week and weekend. We skipped one that was taking place last Saturday because we did not have our costumes prepared.

Here is a small list of trunk or treat/drive-through events that I have found after a quick search on Facebook. If you have any other events that you would like to add, please leave a comment below with a link to the event page. I love Halloween, as do my kids. Any excuse to dress up, and I know there are so many people out there that look forward to Halloween every year.

10/30/2020

10/31/2020

November 1st

 

 

FREE Mr. Mummy Pancake this week at IHOP!

I’m a little late to the game- I usually post about this deal a few weeks beforehand, but… Gestures at the state of the world… You know.

Celebrate Halloween With a Freaky Freebie From IHOP®!
Happy Halloween from IHOP®! Treat yourself to some seasonal stacks & treat the kids to a FREE Mr. Mummy Pancake when you visit your local IHOP® from October 26-30.

The kids and I are going to pass this year. They don’t like frosting on their pancakes, and the big one doesn’t like their butter (it’s really hard and it doesn’t melt on the pancakes, it tears the pancakes when you try to spread it).  I don’t like IHOP’s coffee. I know, I know… We are Denny’s snobs.

The Fine Print: For dine-in orders, kids age 12 & under receive one free Mr. Mummy Pancake between 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. from 10/26/2020 – 10/30/2020 at participating IHOP® locations. Limit one per child. For online orders via the IHOP® website or mobile app of $20 or more, receive one free Mr. Mummy pancake per order. Tax, gratuity and price of Mr. Mummy Pancake excluded. Not valid with other offers, coupons or discounts. No cash value. Offer valid from 10/26/20 to 10/30/2020. At participating restaurants. Further restrictions may apply.

10/23/2020 Friday Freebies and Deals!

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This Friday’s freebies and deals have some awesome goodies! Keep your eyes peeled for some great upcoming freebies and deals. A lot of retailers are not doing the usual Black Friday deals to keep the stores open and enforce social distancing.  Deals and freebies will be trickling out slowly from now until the winter holidays.

As always, if you find an amazing deal or freebie, please share it in the comments below.

Freebies:

Free BABE Wine Chatterbox Kit
Tasty Freebies from Social Nature!

Chalkola Chalk Markers Giveaway

Allure Beauty Enthusiasts – Free Beauty Products
Free Kinder Joy
Free Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers
Free Subscription to Entrepreneur Magazine
FREE Amazon Baby Box Samples Back in Stock
Free Boursin Cheese
Free Sample of Vitafol Ultra or Gummies Prenatal Vitamins
Free Coors Seltzer 12-Pack
Free Alpha Foods Breakfast Burrito
Free Dr. Praeger’s Oaties Oatmeal Dippin’ Sticks
Free KVD Vegan Beauty Sample at Sephora
Free Drink at Blaze Pizza
Free Sample of The Nue Co. Beauty Serum
Free UNIQLO Heattech Top Item
Free Positive Promotions 2021 Wall Calendar Sample Pack
Free Latinas en Marcha Pledge to Vote Stickers, T-Shirt & Bag
Free GoGo squeeZ Applesauce
Free Sample of Tom Ford Black Orchid

 

Deals:

Cute Buckle Ankle Booties ONLY $27.99 (Reg $60)
Buffalo Plaid Clutch ONLY $11.99 Shipped (Reg $25)
Medela Advanced Breast Pump with Tote ONLY $107 (Reg. $250)
BIC Xtra-Precision Mechanical Pencils ONLY $5.47 (Reg. $13)
NuWave Brio 7.25-qt. Air Fryer ONLY $67.99 (Reg. $130)
Save up to 30% on Simple Modern Tumblers & Water Bottles
Power Bites Chews Dog Treats ONLY $2.21 Shipped (Reg $7)
Save 50% on Lady Gaga Makeup on Amazon
Dinosaur Bring Along Backpack and Dinosaur Toy $8.32 (Reg. $23)
Hot Wheels id HiWay Hauler ONLY $2.99 (Reg. $7)
Crock-Pot Express 6-Quart Pressure Cooker ONLY $49.99 (Reg $100)
5-Minute Halloween Stories Hardcover ONLY $5.81 (Reg. $13)
MUK LUKS Women’s Patti Boots ONLY $39.99 Shipped (Reg. $76)
Mytex Deena 3-Pc Comforter Set ONLY $18.99 at Macy’s (Reg $80)
Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee Machine ONLY $99.99 (Reg $193)
MUK LUKS Women’s Clog With Fur Lining ONLY $14.99 (Reg. $32)
Room on the Broom Board Book ONLY $4.00 (Reg. $8)
MUK LUKS Women’s Kathleen Boots ONLY $36.99 (Reg. $89)
Bella Pro Series Coffeemaker ONLY $14.99 (Reg $30)
50% Off 3 Pack Booty Bands – Pay $6.49 with Coupon
Kids Nike Sets ONLY $19.99 at Belk (Reg $48)
MUK LUKS Traditional Scarf ONLY $16.99 (Reg. $40)
Amazon Fire HD 10 32GB Tablet ONLY $79.99 (Reg $150)
Modern Essentials Standard Pillow ONLY $2.99 (Reg $14)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Gel Soother ONLY $3.60 (Reg. $11)
Moscow Mule Copper Mugs 2-Pack ONLY $7.49 with Coupon (Reg. $25)
Blistex Medicated Lip Balm 3-Pack ONLY $2.70 (Reg. $7)
Folding Banquet Table ONLY $40.54 (Reg. $90)
Cuisinart 10-Pc Ceramic-Coated Cutlery Set ONLY $13.99 (Reg $40)
Kids Headphones ONLY $6.79 (Reg. $20)

Coupons for Healthy Foods!

One of the most common complaints I hear from people who want to start couponing but are hesitant to is, “There are never coupons for healthy foods!” And while it appears on the surface to be correct, a few minutes of looking and I found a bunch of really great coupons for healthy food.


Save $1.00 On any Unbun product, limit one per visit
Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) package of Green Giant® Veggie Tots, Riced Veggies, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Veggies, Harvest Protein Bowls, or Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) package of Green Giant Veggie Spirals™
Save 35¢ On Any California Dairy Product That Carries The Real California Milk Seal

In addition to printed coupons, there are usually all sorts of deals or offers on cashback apps. There are several cashback apps that specifically cater to healthy living/organic products. Check out my list of Cashback apps to find my favorites.

If your budget is very tight and you find yourself unable to afford the produce that your family needs, there are free and low-cost alternatives out there for you.

If you need tips for stretching your food budget, here is a post I wrote a few years ago.

Review & Giveaway: Chalkola Chalk Markers!

If your kids are anything like mine, quarantine2020 has been one long art project, punctuated by snack breaks.

The cool peeps over at Chalkola sent us a 40 pack of Chalk Markers and these are a game-changer!

The 40 pack is a mix of neon, classic, and metallic color.

Whether you’re a mom looking for holiday decorating with kids, a clean alternative to standard chalk or paint for the kids, a teacher on a quest for the most sought-after education classroom supplies, these markers are a must-have!

Not your average chalk markers! Unlike other chalk markers I’ve tried in the past, Chalkola offers high-quality water-based ink is washable and delivers smudge & dust free – saturated, clean, flowing fine lines that go on smooth and quick dry within minutes.

The best part- Chalkola Chalk markers are Kid safe and odor-free. The Xylene-free, dustless, nontoxic formula is both eco-friendly and safe for use at home, For Adults Coloring & Painting Canvas, Wedding parties, DIY crafts projects, in the classroom & kindergarten, and anywhere else that could use a vibrant touch.

Does all of that sound fun? Well, now it’s your turn to give these Chalkola Chalk Markers are try! I am giving away a 40 count box! Entering is easy- Leave a comment with your kid’s favorite color. I’ll select a winner on October 27th in the evening. The winner will be notified via email. Winner must reside in the US.

Lola Tag- Recover Your Lost Items in a Snap!

If you have kids, you know they lose stuff all the time. Labels are great, but in the age of stranger danger and keeping our kids safe, tagging their belongings with something safer than their names seems like a good idea.

Lola Tags are the answer to our needs.

Lola Tags don’t reveal your name or personal phone number (conserving your and your kid’s privacy). They are dishwasher and washing machine safe, and best of all, there is no app or other costs to use them.

And the best part is that they are a really good deal! 1 sheet (of 7) for $5 or 3 sheets for $10.

I’ve put them on our water bottles, backpacks, and jackets. Fingers crossed we don’t lose them, but if we do… Lola Tag has my back.

 

10/18/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I went to the Vons on Friday and I was able to score 4 Taylor Chopped Salads for $2.96 after Vons Club special and a special coupon ($5/$5+ purchase). This is all we needed to complete our shopping for this coming week.

Thanks to some local deals, offers, and the school lunches the kids bring home, I have been able to keep our grocery budget to $60 per week for the past MONTH! It’s amazing. The extra money is going into our holiday savings account.

If you have kids between 2-18, check with your local school to see if they are offering free lunches and/or breakfasts. You can also check the USDA Website– but it might be a little out of date.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM. I’ll be posting the recipe for his current favorite this coming week.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers (we’ve got a lot of salsa chicken leftover- maybe I’ll make them into Quesadillas)
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Tika Masala, rice, veggies (It didn’t happen last week)
  • Wednesday:  DIY salad bar, garlic bread
  • Thursday: Soup and Quesadillas (or grilled cheese sandwiches), fruit
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

10/16/2020 Friday Freebies and Deals!

bright boxes

This Friday’s freebies and deals have some awesome goodies! Now that Amazon Prime day is over, there will be other deals (and some might say better deals).  And the Freebies- awesome!

As always, if you find an amazing deal or freebie, please share it in the comments below.

Freebies:

Free Pancakes at IHOP
2 Free Hemp CBD Cigarettes
Free Subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids
Free Sample of Clay Love Face Mask
Free Back to the Roots Terrarium Kids Grow Kit
Free Sample of Face Love Co. Antioxidant Face Oil
PINCHme – Free DIY Compressed Facial Mask
Free Back to the Roots Self-Watering Succulent Kit
Free Sample of Clinere Earwax Cleaners
Romano’s Macaroni Grill – First Responders Eat Free in October
Free Hartz Pet Toy
Free Medium Fries w/ Any $1 Purchase at McDonalds – Every Friday
Free 32 oz Dr Pepper at A&W
Free Pipcorn Cheese Balls at Sprouts

Deals:

Paint by Sticker Book ONLY $6.11 (Reg. $10)
Artificial Christmas Trees ONLY $75.00 (Reg. $250)
Toy Story Glow In The Dark Wall Decals $6.09 (Reg. $16)
Rainbow Unicorn Cuddleez Plush ONLY $6.98 (Reg. $35)
Tools of the Trade 13-Piece Cookware Set ONLY $41.99 (Reg $120)
Tools of the Trade Nonstick Roaster & Rack ONLY $11.99 (Reg $30)
Melissa & Doug Farm Animals Puzzle ONLY $9.12 (Reg. $20)
Lightweight Microfiber Comforter ONLY $19.99 (Reg $110)
Melissa & Doug Beauty Salon Play Set ONLY $23.09 (Reg. $50)
Mason Jar Wall Sconce Décor Set ONLY $15.33 (Reg $28)