Get 25% off EVERY Online Order from Papa John’s with this Pizza Hack (Courtesy of RetailMeNot)

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I am happy to report that I tried this code and it WORKED. Take note, though, that it can’t be used with other offers (trust me… I tried) and there are individual locations and franchises that can opt out of the offer- so make sure you enter in your address first and choose the correct store to see if it works at your local Papa John’s.

I’m always a little skeptical of coupon codes I find online. They have usually not worked and provided tremendous disappointment. As they say, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!” When they do work, it restores a slight bit of my faith in humankind.

Just enter:

25OFF

Then the discount will be applied at checkout. 1/4 of your pizza is on me tonight, guys. Boom.

Apply for Papa John’s Jobs on SnagAJob now!
Search and apply for hourly jobs on Snagajob

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(Via RetailMeNot)

Traveling Across the U.S. on a Budget: Tips for the Young and Adventurous

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For my YouTube video on this subject, click here!

You might see traveling as an expensive luxury reserved for those with the pocket change to handle first-class plane rides and five star hotels. The reality is, though, that if  you set your mind to it, you can travel on almost any budget. When you’re young, it’s great to get out and explore new areas that you’ve never been before. Whether you are in college and taking a summer trip with friends, or a single, millennial 20-something like me, traveling can be a highly rewarding experience.

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Here are my tips for traveling across the continental United States on a budget!

Consider Your Ground Transportation Options

Planes aren’t the only way to get around, it turns out. You can take an Amtrak train, a Greyhound bus, or, in certain areas, a discount double-decker bus line called Megabus. Megabus is a service that is popular in Europe and has now come to the United States. They are known for EXTREME discounts (they claim as little as $1) if you book ahead of time. Most transportation options offer a rate that varies depending on how early you book, but Megabus takes this to the max.

I was able to take a trip with a couple friends from Kansas City, MO to Chicago for about $10 round-trip because we booked several months in advance. While if you book the day of, the price skyrockets to what is often more than $100 one-way, if you plan ahead this could be a good way to save money. Do be forewarned, though- double-decker buses have a tendency to tip over when sliding and there have been a number of highly publicized accidents on Megabus rides. You get what you pay for, so pursue it with a cautiously adventurous spirit.

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Whichever option you take -plane, bus, or train, you can always save money by booking as early as possible. Or drive it yourself and make a road trip out of it!

Visit the Megabus website

Visit the Greyhound website

Visit the Amtrak website

Try Different Lodging Facilities Besides Hotels

When most Americans hear the word “hostel,” we probably have images conjured in our minds of the horror movie. Rest assured, though, that true hostels have NOTHING to do with this movie. I have had only amazing experiences in hostels and you could, too! Hostels, like the Megabus, are another European import that is picking up steam in the U.S. With a hostel, you have dormitory style lodging- think summer camp as a kid with a room full of bunk beds.

Hostels differ from hotels in that they function as more of a community space. There are often free events for travelers such as walking tours and community meals. It attracts a young, diverse crowd of travel-enthusiasts from all over the world. It can be really fascinating to meet the different array of people and, because you are sharing a room with others and pulling together resources, the fees for hostels are very affordable (think $30-$70 per night, depending on the city and size of room).

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In addition to hostels, consider Airbnb. This functions as a service where people can rent out their homes or apartments to travelers and is often much cheaper than a hotel. This requires a level of caution, though, so make sure you have received a good word about the host you are staying with. Plus, don’t ever feel afraid to ask family and friends if you can crash on their couches for a few days while you’re traveling- nothing beats FREE lodging.

Visit hostels.com for hostel listings

Visit the website for Hosteling International USA

(side note- Hosteling International offers a yearly membership that gives you discounted lodging and other benefits such as discounted car rentals, even tickets, etc. with any of their partnering hostels worldwide)

Visit the website for Airbnb

Eat In, Rather Than Eating Out for Most Meals

Now of course one of the best things about traveling to a new city is trying the food and I’m not saying you should deprive yourself of this experience. Rather, when it’s time for the “filler” meals, or those where you’re just eating because it’s lunch time and you need to grab some quick food, go back to where you’re staying and eat there.

Try to pack as much non-perishable food to take with you such as granola bars and soups, then when you arrive to the place you’re traveling to go grocery shopping and take the food back to your room with you.

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Even if the room you are staying in doesn’t have a kitchen, most hostels and hotels have a communal kitchen area SOMEWHERE, so look around or ask the management!

Food can be the one thing that if you really add up can get super out of hand against your budget, especially if you choose to eat out for every meal. Even if you tell yourself that you’ll just get cheap fast food, the prices at restaurants may be higher than you’re used to in the place you’re traveling to, so be wary.

Find Free Things to Do

Sure, there may be different landmarks and tourist traps in your travel destination that likely charge an arm and a leg to get in (not to mention outlandish prices for parking, food, and souvenirs). The real way to truly soak up the culture of a city, though, is to see where the locals are- walk around, window shop, see the different neighborhoods and soak up the ambience. This is totally free (if you resist the urge to buy things, that is!).

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You can also look up free things to do on Google. EVERY city has free things to do somewhere. You may be surprised at the depth of experiences you can have by just doing free activities.

163 Free Things to do in the U.S.

50 Free Things to do in North America

Your Adventure Awaits

Remember, you only live once! Get out and explore while you can and have fun. Don’t think that you have to be held down by a budget. With the proper planning, you can travel on ANY budget without draining your life savings.

If you liked this blog entry, make sure to check out my YouTube channel for more thrifty living tips, plus follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter for updates!

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Getting Your First Credit Card- What You Need to Know!

Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

comparehero-evil-card2Credit cards are a necessary evil. They can be addictive like drugs but you also need a good credit history (judged by your credit score) in order to get certain jobs, get a lease on a house or apartment, or take out a loan for a car. Every bit of your financial history is recorded, sometimes in seemingly unfair ways, and if you aren’t careful your mistakes can come back to bite you years down the road.

What the Heck is a FICO Score?

Building your credit history is important. Your credit history is monitored by the three major credit bureaus in the United States- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion and recorded as a credit score (using a model known as the FICO score) on a 300-850 scale. All
three credit bureaus have their own methods of acquiring information, so each of them may have a different score for you. 

The exact methods that are used to grade your credit score can be a little confusing and you might hear conflicting information from different people. The main things to know are that your payment history (i.e. if you paid your minimum balance due on time), the amount of money you owe, and the length of your credit history all affect your credit score. Additionally, if you have a variety of different types of creditce_fico-score-chart on your credit reports this will help your credit score as well as having a small number of credit inquires (these come any time someone does a full credit check on you). 

So if you just have student loan debt and you pay it off on time each month that won’t help you as much as if you had BOTH student loan debt that was paid on time AND a credit card that was paid in full each month (or a car loan, home loan, bank loan, etc.). 

If You Apply and Aren’t Approved

There are three ways to help build your credit history if you can’t get approved for a credit card on your own yet (due to a lack of credit history). 

  1. You can find a co-signer to apply with you, such as a parent or other guardian.
  2. You can get a secured credit card, where you put down money against your balance that you essentially loan yourself over time (once you close the account you get this money back).
  3. You parents or guardians can add you as an Authorized Buyer on their account. This will allow you to charge but does not give you administrative privileges and may influence you credit history.

Sometimes retail credit cards will have a lower bar to jump over in order to get approved, but be careful- these often have MUCH higher interest rates! 

The Best, Most Responsible Way to Use Your Credit Card (BE CAREFUL)

Once you have a credit card in your name, it is best to try and build your credit history in responsible ways. The primary factor in your payment history isn’t the AMOUNT of money you pay, but the length of time that your card is in good standing. If you don’t have any balance, this neither positively nor negatively affects your score (and most banks will close it automatically due to inactivity after 1-2 years).

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Thus, the best thing to do is find ONE thing that you definitely need such as gas, groceries, your phone bill, or any other recurring charge you have each month. Charge it to your credit card, and then when you get the bill pay it IMMEDIATELY. If you do this each month you can slowly build a good credit history by using it for expenses you would have had anyway- with or without the credit card.

Make sure to resist temptation. Use it only for necessary expenses or emergencies. Don’t use it to go out to bars, buy video games or clothes. When you want to indulge, use REAL money but stick to a budget!

Each of the major credit bureaus lets you get a copy of your credit report for free once each year as a result of the FACT Act at annualcreditreport.com

Good luck kids, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

If you liked this blog post, make sure to check out my YouTube channel for more frugal living tips as well as follow me onTwitter and Pinterest

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