Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Online Rentals

As I finish my college career and begin life as an intern, I realize that life might be a little hard. Working without pay sucks. Fortunately, I have another job where I earn a livable amount, but in order to further my career, I need to start going on interviews. I need to look the part in order to hopefully get the part! I have the credentials down, the only part that is lacking is my appearance, specifically my wardrobe.

I have never been in a professional setting on a daily basis and it is hard to look good in the college girl clothes that fill my closet. Fortunately, I have discovered a cure - online rentals!

I first heard of sites like Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow Or Steal a while back, but I never thought about actually trying it out. That all changed when I realized that I needed to enter the real world...on my own. I couldn't (and still can't) afford all of the nice bags and cute dresses I used to get when I was dependent on my parents, so I revisited the idea of online rentals when a friend of mine brought it up in conversation.

I checked out the sites. Then I went to my favorite online coupon code site, Retail Me Not. I found some codes, so I rented a school bag and some sunglasses from Bag Borrow Or Steal for, get this - free!! I got to keep them for 3 months each (the max rental time, with the lowest weekly rate) and after that, I just returned them in the prepaid packaging that was provided.

After that I was hooked. What a great idea!

I tried Rent the Runway for the first time in late December 2010. I was in Miami for New Years and had yet to find the perfect dress. Everything that looked good enough was way overpriced and I didn't have the extra cash to spend. Then I remembered that I could rent a dress. I checked out the site and found the perfect LBD. I was able to get 2 sizes for the price of one to make sure it fit perfectly. I spent an even $50 on the dresses (that retailed at about $600 each!) for a total of 4 days. I sent it back when I was done and now I have beautiful pictures...and a fuller wallet.

RTR and BBOS is perfect for people who have lots of events to go to. In NYC, they even have same day delivery. When you wear a cocktail dress, it is usually for a special occasion and I would personally never be caught twice in the same dress! So why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a dress you'll only wear once anyway? And as far as bags and accessories go, I usually get sick of a bag after a while and frankly, I can't afford to spend hundreds to thousands on a nice designer bag. Having a bag like the ones on the site make you appear successful and give confidence, but at retail price, it's just not possible for most people. But with BBOS, a 3 month lease on a Louis Vuitton will only cost you a fraction of the retail price.

Have you every used these sites? Are there other rental sites you use? How much have you saved?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Video Chatting

Friday night is date night in my small town. Since my boyfriend and I live together, every night is date night, so I opted for a different kind of date - a wine date with a few of my BFFs. The only problem is, one lives in LA, one lives in Alabama, one lives in New Orleans, one in Tampa, and one in Ft. Lauderdale.

In the past, this would be a sad night where I write letters on my personalized stationary as I drink a glass of wine. But today we have Skype, a video chatting technology that is available not only on computers, but also on smartphones and touch screen tablets. So first I had a wine night with my Florida girls, then moved through the time zones from Alabama to New Orleans, and finally to LA.

Video chatting is an amazing convenience that people of all ages use. My stepmother uses Skype to video chat with her son who is serving in Afghanistan. My roommates "skype" their long distance boyfriends from across the country. And my boyfriend uses it to keep in touch with his grandparents. Video chatting is a phenomenon that has changed communication as we know it and now, we can even do it with our cell phones.

Another cool way to use video chatting is a website called Chat Roulette. On this site, people from all over the country sign on, turn on their webcams, and chat with random strangers. Once you decide you don't want to talk with that person anymore, you can click the "next" button and move on to the next random stranger.

The site was created by a young Russian man and the success has bee phenomenal. It can certainly be creepy, but it is completely safe since you are in the privacy of your own home. My friends and I have tried out the game and it can be quite hilarious. We once chatted with a group of guys from Germany (or some country...) until my boyfriend got annoyed and pressed next. Some people (including me) even play drinking games to Chat Roulette. Just google Chat Roulette Bingo and you'll see what I mean.

Do you use Skype? Have you ever tried Chat Roulette? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Ahh, who doesn't love a lazy Sunday? As I sit here with my glass of wine and popcorn, I realize that the only thing missing is a classic romantic comedy. Unfortunately, there was a mix up with the cable bill and it got cut off yesterday :(. So what's a girl to do? Luckily, I have some inside info on ways to watch movies and shows online -- for free!

Most of us have heard of sites like hulu.com where you can watch some of your favorite TV shows for free (the key word being SOME). Others -- mainly the good ones, in my opinion -- will cost you a little cash. Hey, it's not much compared to paying for cable every month, but it's also not worth it if you can find a site that lets you watch those shoes for FREE. Thankfully, I have found that site. It's located at http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/.It's 100% free and there are thousands upon thousands of TV shows and movies listed! All you need is an internet connection to watch almost anything you want! So if the economy is hitting you hard, this is definitely an option you should consider.

Being able to pay for cable each month is a convenience, but considering the alternate options, it might be better to just skip that convenience. And if you're concerned that your TV will go to waste, worry no more. Most modern laptops, desktops, and televisions have an HDMI outlet. All you have to do is plug one end into the computer and the other end into the TV, and there you go! You can watch whatever is on your computer on the TV instead.

I think it's important to mention that if you want to watch basic cable shows, most of them host recent episodes on their respective websites (abc.com, cbs.com, tbs.com, etc.). Honestly, I think it was a blessing in disguise that the cable got cut off. Why waste $50, $100, or $150 a month on something that you can just as well watch online for free?

Do you use the internet to watch TV or movies? What sites do you use?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pay Your Bills with a Click

Most of us have joined the world of online banking. The clear, up to date balance and transaction list have a way of relieving stress in an instant. For college kids, Mommy and Daddy can keep track of funds to try and guide their children in the right direction towards responsibility. Whatever your reason, online banking is just plain convenient.

Now, other companies are "going green" (aka saving money) by offering online bill pay as opposed to the old fashioned way of receiving bills in the mail, filling out the paper work, writing a check, addressing an envelope, adding a stamp (who even has stamps anymore?), and finally sending it off to be paid. Weeks later, the payment is cleared, just in time to start the process again for a new bill. I remember seeing my mom pay bills when I was little. It took her hours as she sat there with piles of paper all over the table trying to "organize" them and file them away in a filing cabinet. "You'll have to do this one day too," she used to tell me. Umm, I don't think so.

Times have changed and there is new way to pay bills. Yep, you guessed it: online. The majority of billers accept, if not encourage, online bill pay. I personally pay my rent, utilities, cable and internet, and cell phone bill online -- all to different companies. My bank even offered me a $10 incentive (which I took, of course) to pay my bills online through their online bill pay section of online banking.

So next time you get out that pen to write a check, look for the web address on the bill. It's most likely that particular company is already encouraging you to do so.

Ordering Food

Last night my boyfriend and I had our nightly discussion: what should we have for dinner tonight? It was getting late and restaurants were closing, so our choices were slim. Then I did what I always do. I got out my laptop to see what deals I could find on thecampusspecial.com.

The Campus Special is a company that is very dear to me. You see, I just recently got an internship in sales with this INC 5000 corporation. (And I applied for it online, of course.) They list coupons on their site, but in the food court section, they also take online orders. This is perfect for someone like me who hates having to explain what I want 15 times over the phone. When you order online, it's clearly spelled out: NO MUSHROOMS, or EXTRA CHEESE, my common preferences.

Often times, I find myself lazy, in my bed, and hungry. I want delivery, but I don't want pizza. The Campus Special makes sure to cater to the needs of all the picky, but lazy, people at each college campus. Another site that helps with decisions about food is the ever popular urbanspoon.com.

On Urbanspoon.com, you first choose your city or area. Then you can narrow it down to either the type of food or, my favorites, delivery and late night. Other options include romantic, outdoor dining, and live music, as well as a price scale for any budget.

For some reason, online ordering seems to be more popular with restaurants that have delivery, but there are some places where you can order online and then pick it up. I always stick with delivery, though.

Do you take advantage of online specials and coupons? Have you ever ordered food online?

Monday, February 28, 2011


It's safe to say that most girls just looove their magazines. Whether it be US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, or W Magazine, we just can't seem to get enough. When a friend is having a bad day, I run over and surprise her with this week's celebrity gossip in the form of People (and some ice cream, of course). But now, with all the same information just a click away, paper magazine sales are down and a new magazine has entered our lives -- the online magazine.

Now, by online magazine I don't mean cosmopolitan.com or vogue.com, I mean magazines that are only accessible via the internet. One of my favorite online magazines is directed toward college women, or collegiettes, and has its own branch at every school. I am talking about Her Campus. They feature weekly updates of different articles pertaining to college women. In fact, I am a writer for Her Campus at my school! Anyone can be a writer and it looks awesome on your resume. It's a perfect start to any career in the field of writing or digital media.

Another online magazine I recently discovered is JAYE magazine, which has the same audience as Her Campus -- college women. Their slogan is "Because college is more than the classroom" and I believe that 100%!! The thing that is special about JAYE is that it is online, but it looks and feels like a print magazine. It is more than just articles with links and pictures. It is a page by page magazine of awesome fashion collages, interesting articles, and even advertisements. They feature "get the look" pages along with best beauty buys, and all of your favorite magazine regulars.

So next time, instead of shelling out that $4 for this month's In Style, maybe you'll opt for its free counterpart at one of these sites. And don't worry, I'm still on the hunt for more awesome online magazines.

Know any you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Online You

Right now is a very difficult time for me and my fellow Spring 2011 graduates. I am on an endless search for the perfect internship that will turn into the perfect job. One thing that is extremely different about my quest and those of past generations is the fact that I haven't gotten off my ass to search. I sit in my bed with my pink and turquoise Cynthia Rowley laptop cushion and browse the web. I check out sites like ed2010.com and The Intern Queen to help me find what employers are looking for recent graduates in my field. Hell, I even looked on Craigslist! But the question is: are electronic resumes the best way to present yourself?

Most businesses and companies only accept digital submissions and this can hurt those that think of themselves as a 'people person' and those who want to get in fields like public relations or marketing. But there is one way to get around this that I have recently discovered: create an online version of yourself. This includes joining sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. You should also start a blog in which you discuss your interests, including your professional ones. If you like to write, like me, join an online magazine and write for it. One great opportunity that I became a part of is Her Campus. There are branches for almost every university and if your school doesn't have one, you have the chance to start one and be the president!

Finally, the most important part of creating your online personality is to create a website for yourself! One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Wix. Wix is a free website builder where you use no codes or secret formulas. All you have to do is drag and drop images, text, links, whatever! There are several templates you can use, or you can start from scratch. Here's mine: Megan Elliott. This will make you look professional and able to keep up in this ever-changing digital world. Having your own website also makes you one step ahead of everyone else that is applying for the job or internship. Here is another site I made: Meghann Quinlan. These sites are fun and easy to make and hey, if you don't want to make one, I can always do it for you :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Member Sites

I know I just posted about online shopping, but I just have to share my new obsession: members only shopping sites. There are two categories of these sites that I frequent. First of all, there are specialty sale sites like Gilt Groupe, Rue LaLa, and Haute Look that feature events with special sales on clothes, shoes, accessories, beauty products, home decor, and even vacation packages. The sites are free to join and the deals are unbelievable. The brands included in the events range from American Apparel to Chanel and the vacation packages feature destinations from Idaho to Bali. So no matter what your price range, you're sure to find a deal.

The other type of member sites I enjoy are the personalized and price fixed boutiques. I first discovered Shoe Dazzle when I read about it in a magazine. Endorsed by Kim Kardashian, the site begins with a style quiz so stylists can choose which shoes best suit you and your needs. Then, each month, members get a new boutique full of carefully picked shoes, bags, and jewelry. But the best part is the price; each item is only $39.95!! There is a catch though, once you make your first purchase, the credit card used is saved to your account and charged on the 5th of each month. There is the option to skip the month, but if you forget to check, your card will be charged regardless. The credits don't expire, though, and once a certain amount are collected, the monthly charges stop. Just Fabulous works the exact same way and is the same price. Personally, I have ordered a few pairs of shoes from Just Fab, but none from Shoe Dazzle, so I prefer the styles on that site.

Another site similar to these is Jewel Mint. It is exclusively jewelry, but what's special about this site is that each piece is designed by Kate Bosworth and her close friend and stylist, Cher Coulter. The price for these pieces are only $29.99 and I must say, it is well worth it.

Another cool feature these member sites have is the chance to earn points, which can be used to purchase items from the boutique. On Just Fabulous, every time you order something, you earn 20 points and whenever a friend whom you invited joins and orders something, you get 50 points. 100 points = 1 free item, so it doesn't take long to get free shoes, bags, or jewelry! Shoe Dazzle is a little stingier when it comes to points. Invited friend purchases earn you 200 points, while purchases earn you 100 points, with 1000 points being the free item cash in. Jewel Mint, on the other hand, will give you a free piece of jewelry with every purchase an invited friend makes.

Oh yeah, and all of the prices on these sites already include tax and shipping, so you will never pay more than the $39.95 or $29.99, depending on the site. So if I were you, I'd get out my card and start shopping!

Enjoy these sites and comment with any other suggestions!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Online Shopping

One of the best things about online shopping (besides the fact that you can do it in your in your bed) is coupon codes. There are so many great discounts that are available online that don't have in-store counterparts. My favorite website to check for codes is retailmenot.com. This site is made by online shoppers for online shoppers. Anyone can share a code they get in an email, read about in a magazine, or whatever. Others can rate the code so everyone can see if it works or not. There is also a comment feature where people can share more codes. This comes in handy when certain stores "Block User Submissions." I have only come across this problem a few times, but people always find a way to share codes.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I paid full price for an item I ordered online, much less paid for shipping! Some stores, like Victoria's Secret offer free gifts with purchase. I have gotten everything from a free lip gloss to a to-die-for tote full of several full sized beauty products! I'm telling you, this is an opportunity you don't want to miss out on.

What websites do you use for coupon codes? How much have you saved?