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I think I speak for all females when I say that shopping for clothing can fall into two categories:  a fabulous, stress-relieving experience or a raging beat down of your body.  We’ve all heard other women talk about themselves in the dressing room, and we’ve probably engaged in that kind of talk ourselves.  From “Wow, I need to lay off the pasta” to “I’m never eating again”, shopping for clothes can sometimes turn us into a mess of self-depricating emotions.

When I started the Weight Watchers program, I can’t really say I was hung up on getting to a particular size-I was much more hung up on getting to a particular number on the scale.  Honestly, I’m not sure why, but it never really occurred to me that my clothes would soon be too big.  Now that I’ve reached the number I had in mind, I’ve had my work cut out for me in the closet.  After weeding through my clothes a few weeks ago, and creating piles and piles of clothes that might never fit again, I have to say, I started to feel some anxiety around the size issue.

There is a lot of conversation around whether or not sizes for American clothing have changed.  As we all know, sizes vary depending on the store, brand, cut, etc.  For instance, when I bought new pants this weekend, I ranged from a size in the single digits to a size in the double digits.  Everything fit just fine, it just fit differently.  But that’s not where the anxiety I’m talking about comes from.

I’ve found on recent shopping trips that my brain simply can’t get used to the fact that I need to take smaller sizes into the dressing room.  I’m still grabbing the same old sizes I wore when I was 17 pounds heavier. My mom and sister look at me like I’m crazy, lol.  In the dressing room, these clothes look ridiculous, but there is still a voice in the back of my mind whispering, “You might need these when you gain it all back.  Don’t waste your money on the ones that fit.”  I’ve found that I often have to be forced to go back to get the smaller sizes, or someone literally has to get it for me and make me try them on.

I know this is all a side effect of  disordered eating.  I simply cannot come to terms with the fact that I’m wearing sizes I never even dreamed I’d fit into.  My brain doesn’t seem to want to let me think that it’s real-even though I can see the results, there is still something telling me that I’ll never fit into clothing of a certain size.  Whether it’s the fear that this weight loss thing is just a phase or the pre-conceived notion that only “skinny people” wear these sizes, shopping for clothes has proven to be a totally different experience for me.  While I’m pleased with how things look, and I’m definitely pleased to see single digit sizes, the whole thing just causes so much anxiety for me that it’s hard to enjoy the results I’ve worked so hard for.

How have other people gotten used to losing weight and needing clothes?  Does the anxiety end, or is it something we just need to work that much harder to overcome?

I’ll admit it:  “Cellfire” as the name of a Web site automatically makes me think of companies spamming my phone.  Luckily, first impressions are not always correct!

If you shop at Shop Rite, Kroger’s, Safeway, Giant Eagle, Shop’nSave or Foodtown, you should be signed up for this site.  Jared and I first discovered it through Fios TV, and I think the concept is awesome.  By registering with the site, you are able to register your store loyalty cards and add coupons directly to the card.  No more coupon clipping or searching for coupons you’ve misplaced (Disclaimer:  I’m still a coupon clipper, and my system is so organized it would make your head spin.  But I digress).  Simply log on, add the coupons you want to your card, and the discounts will be automatically taken at checkout.

The site has a multitude of ways to keep consumers connected to the coupons they choose, whether it’s online, through your TV or through a mobile app.  The offers are for popular brands that you might shop for anyway, making it worth the time to sign up and browse.  The site also features a section that allows you to print coupons by installing an App onto your computer.

I’m desperate to use this site and all its features, but for some reason Jared and I are having a problem with our Shop Rite card, where the site doesn’t seem to recognize it.  We’ve noticed this before too in Shop Rite when they try to look us up, so I think the problem is on our end.  Once I’ve got it up and running properly, I’ll be sure to share any hints and tricks I’ve found when using the site!

Anyone else currently using this with success?  Or have you had trouble as well?

Just when you thought I was finished writing about online discount sites…..

As we all know by now, I’m a bit addicted to online shopping and deals, so I LOVE when emails from sites like Groupon and Living Social show up in my Inbox.  Even if I don’t buy anything, I just like having the option.  A friend of mine recently posted a link on her Facebook profile to Eversave.  Since I always post links to the sites I belong to, and want people to sign up so I can get referral bonuses, I thought I might as well help her out!

There aren’t too many differences among Eversave and the other coupon sites out there.  The referral program seems a bit better (just for signing up I got a $2 credit toward a purchase), but other than that, it’s the same theme:  sign up, get daily emails, buy, and save.  If you refer friends, you get $10 once they make their first purchase.  Pretty decent reward, if your friends remember they signed up for it….

I’m signed up for Eversave NYC, and the deals I’ve gotten so far have all been discounts for e-tailers, which is actually better for me than any NYC deals, since it’s highly unlikely I’d go to the city to take advantage of them.  The sites are all pretty unique and botique-like, so it’s been fun reading through and seeing what they have to offer.

From a location perspective, Eversave has some work to do.  As of today, there were only about 55 locations across the United States, most of them focused around cities.  This hasn’t seemed to matter yet, as I haven’t seen too many deals that can’t be redeemed online, but it would be nice for one site to penetrate the rural areas a bit better than the other sites have done.  It would certainly set them apart.

Another way Eversave is trying to differentiate itself is through the Savings Center, which lists coupons and other deals and integrates with Coupon.com.  I’ve personally never used Coupon.com, because you have to install this special print application, but I might consider doing it just to get some variety in my off-line coupon clipping.  I’d like this feature better if I could add the coupons to my store card and have the deals deducted automatically at check out.  But I won’t judge.

Besides printable coupons, the Savings Center gives you the opportunity to sign up to take surveys, get discounts from clothing stores, and some cool contests and giveaways.  I’m a bit leery of signing up for anything yet, but it might tempt me eventually….

I know what you’re thinking-there’s only so many emails with deals I can stand, Valarie.  That’s ok.  But for those of us that really love to shop, and really love to save, what’s one more discount to browse through each morning?

Sign up here, and start saving!

 

I’ll be the first to admit it-holiday shopping for four families is hard.  While we have created some new Secret Santa traditions with most sides of our families, there are still people that stump me every year-including my husband!  I’ve consulted gift guide after gift guide, and I never find the suggestions to be particularly relevant.

This year, Shop Smart had a list of gifts as well as Web sites with unique gift ideas.  Yet again desperate for new ideas, I went straight to the Web to see what was worth it.  Uncommon Goods proved itself to be my top choice.

Uncommon Goods is exactly what it says it is-a site that has a plethora of unique gifts and products.  Considering most of our shopping these days is for adults that don’t really need much, I like to play the unique part up as much as possible.  However, sometimes it’s hard to find unique gifts that are practical and not totally off beat.  Uncommon Goods marries unique and practical very nicely.  Even better is the fact that they feature a number of handmade goods and keep the environment in mind with all of their production decisions.  Plus, a portion of each order is donated to a charity that you get to choose upon check out.

While I can’t reveal exactly who we shopped for on this site quite yet, I can say that the selection was absolutely perfect for this person’s taste.  Checkout was simple, and the best part was the timely delivery.  We chose the lowest option since we didn’t need it right away.  We ordered on Friday the 17th and our order arrived on Monday the 20th.   Pretty awesome!

The structure of Uncommon Goods makes it easy to find whatever you may be looking for last minute or beyond the holidays.  I have to admit, I thought the prices would be outrageous since some of the products are hand made, but the prices are extremely reasonable.  You can find some great gifts for under $25 by sorting by price.

Happy Shopping!

I talk a lot about shopping online and getting great deals.  In fact, I would actually go so far as to say I’m borderline obsessed with searching for the best prices and coupons.  I have my standards that I’ve mentioned before, like Ebates and Overstock, however, as we begin to decorate a bit more in our new house, I’ve had to expand my horizons a bit to find exactly what I need.

ShopSmart magazine‘s October issue spoke right to me with their “6 New Ways to Save” article.  I was a bit surprised they didn’t mention cash back type sites, but the article was really focused primarily on getting the lowest price, not necessarily the best coupons.  Since I’m a former search engine junkie (and still think I put together a mean search term), I was interested in their first tip regarding using search engines to shop.  The winner out of the four sites they tested was PriceGrabber, a site I have admittedly never used.

In my continuing obsession to find the perfect scarf valances for our living room (because the ones I bought from Overstock just aren’t doing it for me), I decided to give PriceGrabber a try.  The site has a very simple layout, with a huge search box right at the top, making it easy to get started.  While a search for “288 inch scarf valance” only brought up two options I hadn’t already seen, they actually turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, for the right price.  Clicking on the product takes you right to the manufacturer’s Web site where you can continue to shop.

I can see myself becoming obsessed with this site.  PriceGrabber features a deal of the day, where you could save up to 55% or more (today’s deal is a volt impact driver…not super exciting, but a great price!).  When you register for an account, you have the ability save products as you browse.  I think I’d have to do a lot of shopping to make that useful, but still a nice feature for those of us with a poor memory.

For the coupon lover in us all, there is a section featuring merchant coupons.  The list is ridiculously extensive, today featuring 294 coupons.  With the ability to select a merchant from the drop down list, this is a great way to consolidate deals in one place without clicking around too much.

Overall, I can see why PriceGrabber was rated #1 by Shop Smart magazine for being a great place to start your search.  With community features, reviews, coupons, extensive shopping categories and quick search functionality, PriceGrabber could be the first and last place you need to go to start your online shopping engine.

Oh, and did I mention there’s an App for that?

I’ve written about Ebates in the past, but thought I’d take some time this Friday to encourage you all to sign up!  After all, back to school season is almost in full swing, and for us working girls and guys, who couldn’t use a new fall wardrobe and some extra spending money?

Ok, my motive is a bit selfish, too.  Ebates is running a promotion where I can receive a $500 bonus for referring 50 people.  Um, yes please!  So help me out, and help yourself out!  Visit the link below to sign up and start getting your own checks in the mail!

I’ve received about $35 from my purchases online to date.  Not a ton, but it’s more than I get for shopping at other stores!  Also, did I mention that if you sign up, you’ll get to choose your own free bonus?  To the tune of a $10 gift card?  What are you waiting for?

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=iakyuUxzz8Ff5XVpED6Pkg%3D%3D3

I’ll admit it.  I love photos, but I hate printing them out at kiosks at places like Wal Mart and Shop Rite.  There’s usually always a line, so once it’s your turn, you feel rushed or frazzled, plus I never do it often enough, so I always have tons I want to print, and it takes forever.  Not to mention there’s usually not a soul around when you need an associate to punch in the password.  Moral of that story is, I’m interested in ANY method that allows me to not have to deal with that.

I had heard of Snapfish before a million times, but never used it.  Sometimes I don’t trust Web sites that promise high quality photos for your uploads.  But, this time, I was desperate to have some photos people had taken at the wedding without having to ask them to print them for me.  Snapfish allows you to create an account, upload photos, edit them, and have them sent directly to your home (or you can pick them up-if you like that sort of thing).

No more picture printing confusion!

I was in heaven.  The first thing I did was ask my sister for access to her account so I could print all the great pictures she took at my bachelorette party as well as during the wedding.  Once I submitted that order, I started my own account and saved some pictures from Facebook to it and had Jared save our honeymoon pictures there.  In about 10 minutes time, I had ordered over 60 pictures that were going to be delivered in a few days’ time.  And the price?  Only about $13, which included printing and shipping!!

The quality of the pictures was a mixed bag.  For the ones that were uploaded to the site directly from our cameras, these came out beautifully.  For the ones I took from Facebook, their quality was only ok.  I did have the option to choose to have them resized for better quality, but I didn’t choose that.  Maybe I should have.  However, for my purposes, everything was just fine for what I needed!

I’ve used other sites like Kodak before, and I know WalMart allows you to upload photos to their Web site that you can pick up in store, but I have to say I think Snapfish has the best prices for photos of all the sites I’ve used, without slapping you with a huge shipping charge to make up for it.  Gone are my frustrating days of waiting in line! Yay!!

What are you doing this weekend?  If your answer was nothing, then you’re missing out!  On Saturday, my friends and I will be hitting up the 2010 Manayunk Arts Festival.  It’s our fourth year in attendance at the Manayunk, PA festival, but the festival has been running for 21 years.

The festival takes place along Main Street in Manayunk.  Manayunk is just a really cool town, with Main Street being a primo location for great shopping and dining.  Manayunk was named a National Historic District in 1983 and its adorable Main Street borders the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River.  It’s also offers very convenient access right into Philadelphia from the R6, which stops right in Manayunk in walking distance from Main Street.

I think the best part about the festival is that it offers something for everyone.  For the past 3 years, we’ve made it a girls trip, but this year, Jared’s going to join us.  Even though a lot of the vendors are local artists and jewelry makers, there are still a lot of great things that men can enjoy too. Like great food and free drink samples!  Not to mention the fact that the Manayunk Brewery is right along Main Street, making it a great option for lunch along the way.

Another great year at the Manayunk Arts Festival!

The festival runs on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm Saturday and 11 am to 6 pm Sunday.  We’ve always gone on Saturdays, and while it’s certainly crowded, I still feel like there is enough room to see what you want to see-and to buy it too!  Parking has never been an issue, and we’ve never paid more than $10 to park and walk a short distance to Main Street, however, the train is super convenient as well.  While eating establishments do fill up quickly and there’s often a long wait, we’ve never had too many problems finding a great place to grab a drink or some food.

Prices for the various vendors obviously vary from the very expensive to the reasonable.  I’ve bought something almost every year, whether it’s a piece of small art or decorative wine glasses-good stuff that has lasted through a few moves!  So, bring your wallets and get ready to experience the best in arts that the Philly area has to offer!  See you there!

I confess:  I’ve been on a bit of a buying high lately for wedding things.  I’m a marketer’s dream:  I pour over every email and catalog these wedding people send me, hoping to find just one little thing I can buy.  I don’t know what the attraction is.  I guess I feel like it’s another thing I can cross off the list.  And it’s fun to have things in advance to play with before the big day!

The Wedding Outlet was a recent victim of my shopaholicism.  I can’t remember how I came across it, but I found the products to be slightly different than a lot of the other sites I was on.  My mission:  Toasting Glasses and our Cake Server set.  Minor details, I know, but items that I was adamant to find and have engraved.  I’m not sure why this was so important to me, but it’s another one of those lasting things that was special to me.

After sharing my top choices with Jared via Google Docs and narrowing down the finalists, we finally settled on a matching pair of each.  I had to use the live customer service chat for a question, and I found it to be quite good.  Usually I feel like the “people” you chat with are more like computers, but this actually felt like I was talking to a real person who wasn’t scripting out an answer.  Love that.  Everything arrived in a decent amount of time, and I was able to use some coupon codes I found while browsing around.  Sweet deal.

I now am of course enrolled in all of their email campaigns, but I don’t really mind them.  They take a cute spin on the usual emails, and I’m usually tempted to read and click through.  (Like I said, marketer’s dream)  Today’s theme was “Something Blue” and I liked the little history they provided about the sayings.  Very clever.

If you’re still looking for the final or beginning touches to personalize your wedding, make sure you’re checking out all The Wedding Outlet has to offer!

Oh, and as for a picture of our toasting glasses and cake set?  Guess you’ll have to wait for the big day to see those.  🙂

I’m not much of an online shopper.  Every now and then, I’ll go online to order something, but I’m the kind of person that would much rather go to a store and avoid shipping fees.  I also need to touch all my things before I buy them.  🙂

However, recently, with all of the wedding things we have going on, as well as being busy with a new job,  I don’t believe I’ve been on a good shopping trip in months.  When faced with deadlines such as dress fittings, I had to turn to the online world to help me fulfill my shopping needs!

First, I had to turn to Zappos to find some wedding shoes!  I’d only had the chance to look in a few stores, and with my first dress fitting looming, I knew I had to decide soon so we could get the length right the first time I went.  Given the fact that all our weekend are booked from now until kingdom come, there was no way I was going to have time to visit every shoe store in the tri-state area to find the perfect bridal pair.  So, I searched around online for styles I liked and then found them on Zappos for much cheaper.

The great thing about Zappos?  Free shipping for delivery and returns and a 365-day return policy.  I was between 3 pairs of shoes, and was reluctant to pick the final pair without seeing it with the dress.  So, I ordered all 3, and returned the ones that didn’t work.  Great option that wouldn’t have been possible if the return policy was shorter and it cost money to send them back!

I also recently placed some orders with TheKnot.com and Overstock.  I had been receiving emails from TheKnot regarding sales in their gift shop. There happened to be a great sale on one item that must remain nameless for surprise purposes.  Even though I don’t need it until the wedding, I figured there would never be another sale like that!  I searched Google for “TheKnot.com coupon codes” and was able to find one that got me $5 off.  If you’re not currently taking advantage of sites like RetailMeNot and other coupon code sites, you’re not living!  You can find these codes just by searching Google, and they really come in handy.

Recently, Jared’s mom turned me on to Ebates (thanks, Leslie!).  Ebates is “the pioneer and leader of online Cash Back Shopping.”  What does this mean?  If you start an Ebates account and log-in to search for the online stores you want to buy from, you can receive cash back on your purchases!  Recently, I logged in and searched for Sephora, clicked through, completed my order, and now I’m set to receive 8% cash back on my order.  At the end of a 3 month period, Ebates sends you a check for cash earned.  It’s like getting paid to shop-no, it IS getting paid to shop!  I have a feeling I might be doing a lot of holiday shopping online this year….

One last tip for shopping online: look for special promotions.  I’ve been dying to buy Hypnotic Poison from Sephora, but was holding out until I knew I’d have a job.  🙂  While it would have been very simple for me to head over to the store location, I noticed that orders of $25 or more online were eligible for a free holiday clutch filled with free samples.  Um, why would I buy something in the store, when I can get it online along with other free goodies?  With the combination of free shipping and cash back from Ebates, buying online from Sephora was the smarter choice.  Make sure you’re getting the most of your money online before you buy!

So, when you’re shopping online this holiday season, remember to do your homework before you click!  Shop smart and get rewarded!

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