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I'm Hannah B, wedding & portrait photographer based in New York State. I'm a lover of intricate details and story telling- both visually & through writing. Here you will find glimpses of my life as a photographer, wife, dog-lover & Chick fil-A obsessed creative!

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April 21, 2017

Ways I Always Save- my product weaknesses & favorite stores

It is no secret that this girl LOVES to shop, but I always joke that my mother’s coupon-loving, money-saving blood runs DEEP in my veins. My best friend and I include “getting a great deal” in our list of hobbies. Completely normal, right?

While I truly love to save, I am by no means cheap. I recognize the value of great products and am incredibly brand sensitive. (Yes, I am a lover of Apple! Guilty!) Even so, I always find a way to save money in one way or another! At the risk of giving up all my secrets, I feel it is only right to share my shopping knowledge and hacks with the world. This blog post may become a little lengthy, but hopefully it will present living proof that even the most expensive products can be discounted if you try hard enough!

Makeup: Sephora
People will try to tell you seven ways ’til Sunday that it is next to impossible to save money on high end beauty products. Wrong. I used to be one of those people who didn’t even think twice about stepping foot into Sephora. Now I will never go back to Target’s health and beauty aisle for so much as a tube of mascara. (Just kidding, Target, I still love you.) Are the products at places like Sephora expensive? YEAH GIRL. But will your skin & face thank you? HECK YEAH. And are there still ways to save? ALWAYS.

-First, Beauty Insider Rewards Program. You get free gifts, exclusive shopping events, makeovers, shipping discounts, and so much more. Granted, you’ve gotta rack up some points to get the really great perks, but even some are better than none! And trust me… it doesn’t take long to build up those rewards. Best of all– they NEVER expire!

-Second, Sephora is ALL about their customer experience. They stand behind their products and aim to please. Did you know you can a purchase, go home and open your product, try it out a few days, and if you decide you don’t like it… you simply take it back? Seriously. You take the product and the receipt, and you are able to receive a full refund. Girl, don’t tell me it isn’t at least worth the risk of trying!

-Third, if you buy makeup and it suddenly goes on sale a week later, you can get a price adjustment within two weeks of the purchase.

-Fourth, Sephora holds mid-annual sales every mid-April and mid-November, offering discounts of 10-15% to Beauty Insiders. (It’s going on right now guys… the 20th through the 23rd. You’re welcome!)

-Fifth, every time you order online, you can choose up to three samples to try… fo free. You also can earn free shipping with any $50 purchase, or you can spend a one time fee of $10 in order to get free two day shipping FOR A YEAR. Yes, Sephora has officially created an AmazonPrime for high end beauty products. This is not a drill.

-Lastly, while they may not run crazy specials this is a fool proof way to always save even a little bit. You can purchase discounted gift cards online from a website like Raise.com, and receive automatic discounts. I once was standing in Sephora about to check out. Miffed that everything was full price, I logged onto this website, purchased a digital gift card worth $100 that was discounted to $80, and then proceeded to check out using the gift card immediately after. I automatically saved myself 20%! (This hack can be used at ANY store, but I really love using it at Sephora most!) Remember: Sephora is also a part of JC Penney, so you can purchase either brand’s gift cards to be used IN-STORE. JCPenney’s are usually higher discounted on Raise, so be sure to check both. If you’re still not sure how Raise works, I highly recommend taking the time to learn more about it!

Statement Necklaces & Scarves: Zulily

Accessories: one of my largest weaknesses. (I blame it on the fact that I’m a lover of intricate details) So Zulily may or may not become the death of my monthly budget. I cannot tell you how many times my Mint app has notified me that I “have exceeded this month’s shopping budget” by ‘x’ dollars. I need to just go ahead and raise that budget because I have obviously set my self control expectations far too high.

Zulily is a website which runs sales on certain items for short periods of time. You can find name brand clothing, shoes, accessories, gadgets, you name it… for up to 70% off! Every morning you wake up to find new brands and products on their website. Every. Single. Morning. On top of that, if you make a purchase, they so kindly give you free shipping for three days afterward. I have ordered from Zulily four times in the past week. Every Fall, they come out with the best selection of chunky, knit scarves at AMAZING prices. Needless to say, I now own 7 of them.

A sweet way to save on shipping: even if you find ten items you are going to order, and trust me, you will….you only purchase ONE to begin with. Because of that sweet little “free shipping for three days after a purchase”  perk, you can get away with paying $5.95 for the one item and then $0.00 in shipping for the next nine! If you bundle them and do it all one order instead, the shipping will increase with the number of items you have in your cart. So again, purchase one… then go crazy!


Shoes: Shoe Carnival
Oh my dear sweet shoe obsession. There are about fifty different places I purchase shoes, but I’m listing this one because it’s a coupon queen’s paradise. Naturally, I’m in the rewards program at Shoe Carnival called Shoe Perks. Every $200 you spend earns you $10 in rewards. I won’t tell you how many certificates I’ve received thus far in life.

Shoe Carnival has a really stupid business name and honestly I think whoever chose it needs a career change. If brand equity could be given an actual value, it’d equate to maybe that of a wheat penny. Regardless of how high end it doesn’t sound, this store carries all my favorite brands: Steve Madden, Sperry’s, Converse, Nike. You can buy sandals, wedges, heels, running shoes, boat shoes, flats, and more! The best part of all? In store, ALL shoes are buy one pair, get one pair 50% off. One more time for the people in the back: ALL shoes are BOGO 50% off here! Do we see why I can’t stay away?!


It looks like I’m dancing because we’re at a wedding. Really I was just excited because that dress & necklace together only cost me $20 😉

Dresses & Rompers: Marshalls & TJ Maxx

I am simply obsessed with dresses and rompers. It’s so easy to throw on one piece of clothing and run out the door. There is no fuss and very little effort required. I wear rompers for busy session errand days and sessions, while I wear dresses for weddings and church on Sundays! Every other day you’ll be lucky to see me out of my pajamas, which ironically also come from these stores… TJ MAXX AND MARSHALLS.
Self proclaimed Maxxonista over here. I’m sorry but how can you NOT love these stores?! I shouldn’t even narrow this down to simply dresses and rompers but anyone who knows me, knows that I buy everything when I walk in the door here. They have name brands at extreme discounts and every fiber of my being rejoices when I snag a new Michale Kors shirt, handbag or watch at 40% off MSRP. Within the last year or so, TJ Maxx came up with a rewards program. Then they came out with a credit card. Caution: We are now entering the danger zone.

I don’t love credit cards, if we are being completely honest. They get people into a lot of trouble and ruin their credit scores and cause more harm than good. BUT I will say this: if you are responsible at paying your credit card bills every month and don’t allow them to accrue interest, I support you in having one. Especially the TJX Platinum, because I already was shopping here so frequently that it made sense to start earning rewards for it! (If only they’d come out with a Chick Fil-A credit card… I’d be set for life!)

By no means am I promoting that you become a TJX MasterCard holder if you cannot commit to paying it off every.single.month. A characteristic that goes hand-in-hand with loving to save, is that you hate interest and owing others money. So the Dave Ramsey within me is telling you to make good choices and remember that interest never sleeps.


My latest home decor buy! *Not pictured: me attempting to move it inside by myself*

Home Decor: HomeGoods & Hobby Lobby
When I grow up and am done being a photographer, I think I’ll become Joanna Gaines. Hobby Lobby is my favorite place to buy picture frames, wall decor and huge clocks. They always run coupons in their ad, but just in case you don’t have a paper copy with you, the phone app “RetailMeNot” is the perfect way to score coupons at any store.  Just download, type in your store and any available coupons pop right up. Hobby Lobby almost ALWAYS has a 40% any regular priced item.

For those of you who don’t know, HomeGoods is owned by TJ Maxx, meaning they complete the TJX Rewards Credit Card trifecta: TJ Maxx, Marshalls, & HomeGoods. (Lord, help us all) I am no stranger to the clearance section at each of these stores, and on top of that, I earn 5% back on all my purchases. As a matter of fact, last week I scored the riveted barrel chair, pictured above, for almost 35% off an already low price.  I’d been eyeing it up for months and stumbled upon it just hours after they put it on clearance. (I can’t wait for y’all to see the space I am going to use it in!)


This picture brought this blog full circle: Apple desktop computer. Flowers from HomeGoods. Notebook & mug from TJ Maxx.


Desktops, Laptops & Smart Phones: Apple
Last, but certainly not least…technology. I am an Apple brat, through and through, and I feel zero shame in admitting that. I don’t care if your Samsung GalaxyS7342 can walk your dog and take out the trash for you at the click of a button. I am still going to purchase an iPhone; it’s just who I am. I love the seamless design and integration that Apple uses and that alone will keep me on their team. My computers and phone are all connected and I can easily access files through iCloud or different applications on any of them. Not to mention iMessage. I cannot give up iMessage.ANYWAYS. Apple is expensive. It really is. But, again, your girl loves her rewards programs. Discover Deals have been my life saver in so many instances where I thought I was about to pay full price and not earn any savings at all. Through my Discover card, I can automatically earn cash back on certain purchases throughout the year. (Right now it’s home improvement stores and wholesale clubs. Next month it might be department stores and Amazon. etc.) BUT if I am going to purchase anything online, I go to my Discover account, look up to see if the store is on “Discover Deals,” shop through their link, and earn 5% cash back on purchases.

Guess who is on the list? Apple. Guess who earned $125 back on her last computer purchase? This girl.

Discover has amazing customer service 24/7, and I have loved using them as a credit card provider thus far. If you’re in the market for a good credit card, I love them! So here’s a link to sign up if you’re interested! (Doing so earns you $50 right off the bat… so really it’s not a bad gig!)


So this completes part one of my shopping blog posts; I’m sure there will be so many more to follow! (I can’t wait to share more nerdy saving tips soon!) Happy shopping, friends!

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