Make Auto Shopping Easier With Cars.com

Sponsored post.

Buying your first vehicle is an intimidating process. When I bought a car for the first time back in 2005, I relied heavily on Jai’s advice as I decided what to purchase – he’s spent many, many years working on cars and is very knowledgeable about them. If he weren’t around, I would have been much more at a loss; my parents didn’t drive when I was growing up, so all of my vehicular knowledge has been sought out on my own as an adult. In fact, Jai’s the one who taught me how to drive!

My first car, back in 2007

My first car, back in 2007

Fortunately, there are many more resources available to us nowadays, so if you don’t have a Jai in your life, don’t worry: Cars.com is here to help! Cars.com is your resource for everything automotive, offering a handy database to research new car models, informative videos and DIY repair tutorials to help you become more vehicle-savvy. Once you have an idea of what type of ride you’d like to purchase, you can shop cars for sale directly from the Cars.com website as well as get advice for listing your own vehicle for sale. Doing your homework is crucial when it comes to car ownership, so it’s vital to do your research and learn as much as you can. A website like Cars.com is such a helpful starting point for becoming more auto-savvy!

Cars.com

Who did you turn to for advice when you bought your first car?

How to Start a Blog on a Budget: Choosing a Domain Name

How to Start a Blog on a Budget: Choosing a Domain Name
This is a partnered post.

I’ve been blogging full-time for almost 9 years now – crazy! – and I run many blogs, so I get a lot of questions from people who are wondering exactly how a blog gets started. The answer is that it gets started with a lot of self-motivation! Of course, you could hire someone to create a website and teach you the ropes, but very few people are willing to invest that kind of cash initially. You can absolutely run a blog yourself with very little startup cost, but you have to be willing to put the time in to figure out how. So to give you an idea of what’s involved, I thought I’d share a quick primer on the very first step: Choosing a name for your website.

Step 1: Research. Read. Repeat.

The most crucial part of becoming a successful blogger – and indeed, I think any business venture – is being self-motivated. Are you willing to read everything you can about blogging, business practices, social media, and web design? Are you willing to dig for information, to figure out how to get things done, to solve problems on your own? No one is going to do it for you (unless you hire someone), so you have to figure out how to do it for yourself. Read everything you can, and then read some more. If the amount of work involved in blogging has not yet scared you off, then keep reading!

Step 2: What’s in a Name?

What is the concept for your blog? What do you want to communicate to your readers when they see your blog name? Sometimes, the name becomes obvious quickly. For example, when I was starting this website, I knew it would be a fun collection of sweepstakes and giveaways. I’ve always been a fan of alliteration, so the name “Contest Corner” sprang into my head very quickly. But other times, it’s not as obvious. When I’m looking for inspiration, I think about how I want to brand a specific blog, and I also use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner for inspiration. This free tool shows you what search terms people are looking for, and how many results are out there for each term, along with suggestions. For example, if your blog will be about cake, you might put “Cake recipes” into the Keyword Planner and discover that there is already high competition for that keyword – i.e., the market is already saturated with “Cake recipes” and will make yours harder to find. But you might find that a suggested keyword is “Super easy fun cake recipes” that has thousands searching for it every month and lower competition. This can help inspire your domain name based on what’s available – SuperEasyFunCakeRecipes.com, anyone?

Step 3: Make a Few Purchases (And Use a Few Coupons)

This is the point where you’re going to have to spend some money – sorry! But don’t worry, I got started in this business through coupon blogging, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve. ;)

Groupon

I’ve chosen to buy most of my domain names from GoDaddy over the years because they almost always have promo codes floating around. A good place to find these deals is on Groupon Coupons – they have a dedicated page of GoDaddy promo codes, including a coupon that will buy you a domain for just .99 cents. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that to start a website! When your domain name comes up for renewal in a year, it will be at the full rate – usually around $15. Occasionally, you can find % off discount coupons for GoDaddy, but those are pretty rare and usually don’t apply to renewals. But I always check Groupon Coupons every time one of my domains comes up for renewal anyway, because every so often I can snag a discount on my renewal! (And PS, Groupon Coupons has over 78,000 promo codes in its database of over 11,000 stores, so I check there every time I purchase anything online – it takes just a moment to do and can provide some great savings when you least expect it!)

Once you’ve chosen a domain name, it’s time to decide if you want to tackle building a WordPress website, or would rather stick to a free, pre-made option. Installing WordPress and building your own website will involve the additional expense of web hosting, which should be minimal for new websites – you can get affordable hosting on GoDaddy for around $4 per month for example, and yes, there’s coupons for that too! However, building your own website requires a lot of time and technical components. If you’re not up to that just yet, you can get your feet wet with a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger.com, and point your domain name to direct to it. You can do this by going to your domain settings in GoDaddy, clicking “Manage DNS”, and then select domain forwarding to point to whatever URL your free blog is on. That way, when people type in your domain name, it will point them to your blog.

Choosing a domain name is just one small aspect of blogging, but I hope this has been helpful in giving you some insight into what’s involved when you get started. Knowing the nuts and bolts is a good way to help determine whether blogging would be right for you.

Do you have your own blog, or have you ever wanted to try it?

Win a Dynacraft Disney Princess Carriage! Ends 05/07/17 #DynacraftPrincess #PrincessWeek

Disney Princess Carriage
This is a partnered post.

Just in time for National Princess Week, Dynacraft have launched an amazing video contest where you could win a Disney Princess Carriage just by recording a 15 second video! This fabulous, fully drivable carriage is pink with gold accents and has everything from a light-up wand to a detachable tiara – it is seriously cool and makes me wish they made one in my size. ;)

To help me explain how to enter the Dynacraft Princess Video Contest, I’ve enlisted some mini-princesses to give you the lowdown:

Entering is simple: Just record a 15 second video of your daughter answering the question “What does it mean to be a Princess?” and submit it at DynacraftWheels.com/Contest. One very lucky entrant will win a Disney Princess Carriage worth $398! Click here for full official rules.

Feel free to share your videos in the comments if you enter, I’d love to cheer you on!

Win a Trip to Hawaii in The SOUR PATCH Kids Tropical Vacation Sweepstakes!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #spktropicalsweepstakes #CollectiveBias

SOUR PATCH Kids Tropical Vacation Sweepstakes

If you’re as tired of April showers as I am, then you’ve probably found yourself daydreaming of a tropical paradise! I’ve wanted to go to Hawaii ever since I officiated a luau-themed wedding on Halloween 3 years ago, and I can’t think of a better place to escape from our dreary Pacific Northwest weather. That’s why I’m excited about the SOUR PATCH Kids Tropical Vacation Sweepstakes, where one lucky person will win a dream vacation to Hawaii just by sharing their best tropical selfie.

Paradise is calling! If you’re looking for a tropical vacation this summer, look no further! Enter the SOUR PATCH Kids Tropical Vacation Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for four to Hawaii! Just submit a tropical selfie to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #spktropicalsweepstakes. Contest ends on May 31st, so get on it!

Find out more information here: SPKTropicalSweeps.com.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Legal residents of 50 US/DC, 18+. Ends 5/31/17.  To enter and for Official Rules, including odds & prizes: SPKTropicalSweeps.com. Void where prohibited.

And while you’re at it, try the new Tropical SOUR PATCH Kids Soft and Chewy Candy available at a Walmart store near you. All new flavors include Paradise Punch, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, and Tropical Twist. Which one is your favorite?

Tropical SOUR PATCH Kids Soft and Chewy Candy

If you enter the sweepstakes, be sure to link to your selfie below – I’d love to check it out and share!

Enter to Win a $150 Tiffany & Co. Gift Card + Flowers From Tarn-X! Ends 02/28/17

Double the Love

This is a partnered post.

This Valentine’s Day was very special for me, because it was the day I sent out the Save-The-Dates for my upcoming wedding! Jai and I are so excited for this next chapter and to spend the rest of our lives together. We met in 2002 and yet it feels like it all happened in the blink of an eye. Life passes by fast and before we know it, we’ll be celebrating our 50th anniversary and wondering where the time went, so we’re making the most of this special moment in our lives!

True love never tarnishes, no matter how much time passes, which is why Tarn-X is commemorating 50 years in business by honoring married couples who have been together for over five decades with a special sweepstakes! Now through February 28th, entrants can nominate a couple who are celebrating a 50+ anniversary on the CLR Products Facebook page and be entered to win a $150 Tiffany & Co. Gift Card for themselves along with a bouquet of flowers for the happy couple! Tarn-X has been helping married couples keep their wedding gifts and jewelry looking beautiful for the last 50 years with its wipe and rinse formula that eliminates tarnish on sterling silver, silver plate, gold, diamonds, copper and platinum. It was also one of the first products to ever coin the phrase “As seen on TV”, which makes them noteworthy in my book because you know I love seen on TV products! I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle before the wedding to get our rings sparkling before we walk down the aisle.

Click here to visit the CLR Products Facebook page and enter for your chance to win a $150 Tiffany & Co. gift card and a bouquet of flowers! Sweepstakes ends February 28th.

Enter to Win a Kenmore Elite Washer & Dryer + 1,000+ Other Prizes!

Kenmore Elite Washer and Dryer
This is a partnered post.

A new washer and dryer are on my home improvement wish list, which is why I’m excited about this new sweepstakes! Through November 30th, Shop Your Way members can enter to instantly win a Kenmore Elite Washer and Dryer bundle along with over 1,000 other prizes. If you’re not a member, it’s free to sign up and you’ll have access to lots of other awesome sweeps, too. Click here to enter this awesome giveaway, and be sure to check back daily for another entry.

Special Extra Entry For Contest Corner Readers

But wait, there’s more! After you’ve played the Instant Win game, you can snag an extra entry thanks to being a loyal reader: Contest Corner readers can use our special Sweeps Code laundryday for another entry. Good luck!

Enter to Win Minions on Blu-Ray From Foster Farms!

Minions & Foster Farms

Coupons provided.

Foster Farms is hosting a fun giveaway on its Facebook page for copies of Minions on Blu-ray, plus corn dogs! Here’s how to enter: Click here to visit the Foster Farms Facebook page, and leave a comment on the weekly Minions post for a chance to win. Ten winners will receive the Blu-ray, which features 3 new mini-movies, plus a box of Foster Farms Corn Dogs – perfect for your very own Minions-themed movie night! The contest is open to US residents and runs from November 30th through December 21st.

Also, if you’re a coupon diva in addition to being a sweeper (like me!), you can snag a $2 rebate on the purchase of Foster Farms Corn Dogs and Minions on Blu-ray by visiting FosterFarmsMinions.com.

How a Frugal Person Shops For a New Computer

This is a partnered post.

As a full-time blogger, nothing is more crucial to my business than my computer. And as a full-time penny pincher, I also have a few tricks up my sleeve for shaving off the cost of this expensive, but necessary equipment!

1. Enter Sweepstakes.

The computer I won in 2011

Well, naturally! One of my favorite prizes is this new $1200 computer that I won back in 2011. It’s still my primary PC 4 years on; but naturally, every computer needs work and upgrades as the years go by. Which brings me to:

2. Use Gift Cards.

Last month, it became apparent that I needed to get a few new hard drives to back up my data, and possibly a new video card. I shaved down the cost of this by using gift cards to Best Buy and Staples that I had received for some blog posts I had written. Gift cards are a very common item to win, also! Which brings me to:

3. Use Coupons.

I further reduce my out of pocket cost on big ticket items by taking advantage of coupon codes. I always do a quick search any time I need to make an online purchase to see if there are any special sales, dollar off coupons, free shipping offers, and so on. One of the newest resources for this is Groupon Coupons, which has a database with thousands of offers for big name retailers, including many in the tech category.

Groupon Coupons

Groupon Coupons is a free listing of promo codes and deals, so there’s no registration required. Here’s a couple of promo codes that could save you some cash on a computer upgrade:

Inspiron Touch Laptop for $379.99 with free shipping after promo code at Dell Home

$15 off your order of $75+ at HP Home & Office Store

It only takes a second to look up what coupons are available, and you might just find something that could save you some cash!

So, those are three ways I shave down costs on this spendy, but crucial item! Tell me, do you have any strategies for saving cash on PC purchases?

Thrill The Blogger on Your Gift List With a Canon Rebel From Best Buy!

Canon EOS Rebel T5i

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Do you have a blogger on your Christmas list this year? It might be hard to know what to get them, since bloggers are often immersed in new product ideas as part of their job. If you’re wondering what would be really helpful to a blogger, I can personally vouch for this excellent gift idea: A Canon EOS Rebel T5i.

I bought a Canon Rebel last year – my first DSLR camera – and it’s made such a huge difference for me. Because photography has become such a large part of this job, having a DSLR camera is crucial for shooting product photos, recipes, and crafts. Thanks to my Canon Rebel, I can take the quality photos I need to deliver for work; there are so many things you cannot do with a point and shoot, no matter how good the lighting is or how well you dress up your props, simply due to technical limitations. A DSLR is a game-changer and I am so happy with my Canon Rebel!

And it’s not just a work tool, either – as someone who’s always enjoyed taking pictures as a hobby, it’s great to have a quality camera on hand to capture special moments. The Canon EOS Rebel T5i has an 18.0-megapixel CMOS sensor, a DIGIC 5 image processor, HD video with continuous autofocus and a 3″ vari-angle touch screen, making it an amazing gift for any blogger or amateur photographer on your list. And through December 20th, you can save $150 on the T5i at Best Buy, so click here to learn more!

Do you own a DSLR camera?

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping? Best Buy Has You Covered!

Best Buy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

So Christmas is next week….and I haven’t had time to wrap any presents or mail cards yet. Whoops! I know I’m not the only one who is caught in this last-minute scramble! If you’re like me and need some quick inspiration, Best Buy is your one-stop shop for everyone on your list.

For Mom & Dad: A GPS

TomTom Go 50s

A navigation system is an invaluable thing to have – especially this time of year, when you’re trying to remember what street Aunt Susan lives down. For the GPS-less, the gift of navigation is a thoughtful one that will help them all year long. Consider the TomTom Go 50s, which comes with lifetime access to TomTom Traffic and Maps, or the Garmin 52LM with lane assist. Best Buy has them all on sale!

For Tweens & Teens: JBL

JBL

Tweenagers can be tough to shop for, but fortunately, Best Buy has you covered with a wide range of products from JBL. Between the Charge 2 and the Flip 2, young music fans connect their Bluetooth devices to these speakers and play their favorite tunes with great sound. Or, if they’d rather listen privately – say, on the school bus, or to stop sibling fights about what music to play – the JBL Reflect Earbud headphones are a great solution.

For The Whole Family: Xbox One

XBOX

The Xbox One is a gift that will keep on giving well into 2015 and beyond, offering something for every member of your family. You can play almost any game you can think of: Mom can play Call of Duty, Dad can play Halo, your teen daughter can play Just Dance; whatever your tastes, there is a game to suit them! Beyond that, the Xbox One serves as a vessel to watch movies and more through a variety of apps, so the whole family can gather together to watch their favorite shows. Click here to save $50 on Xbox One consoles at Best Buy!

Are you picking up any last-minute gifts this week?