Tag Archives: budget

Marqeta Means More

I’ve been talking about saving money a lot lately on this blog. Well, a lot for me!

Discounts, deals, extreme couponing… I don’t know if it’s just the economy or a fad or a cultural shift or all of the above, but you can’t shake a stick without hitting an offer for a deal or discount. I first became aware of it when Groupon hit Portland, I guess about two years ago. Brian had been getting their emails for a while, but we hadn’t joined any deals. I was co-chairing the Beaux Arts Ball at the Portland Art Museum, and the week of the event we got a call from Groupon asking if we would put the event on Groupon. Tickets to this fundraiser were $125 each. Groupon wanted us to offer the tickets for $50, then they would keep $20 and the Museum would get $30. $30 a person would not even cover the cost of food & beverage at a party like that. I couldn’t understand why they would think we wanted a hundred extra people at the event that would end up costing us money. At a fundraiser!

Since then, I’ve taken advantage of a few Groupons and Living Socials etc. But I always worry about the merchant. I want to ask them if they’re getting screwed, and if getting all these extra people in their doors is really paying off in the end.

People seem to be addicted to these specials and deals, though. It’s part of our culture now, and I’m not sure we realize the value of the services or goods we’re purchasing. I’m all for saving a buck when I can, but feels like the opposite of a market bubble. A market cesspool? It can’t last because it’s not sustainable.

Along comes Marqeta, with a whole new model that works for both merchants and consumers.

Marqeta is like a multi-merchant rewards card. Think of as your Starbucks Gold Card, but for multiple merchants. You commit to spending a certain amount with various merchants, and they all give you more to spend. Some current offers in Portland:

Commit to spend $125 at Finnegan’s Toys & Gifts, get an extra $25.

Commit to spend $50 at Pizza Smizza, get an extra $10.

And all of it is on one card! I used my card just like a debit card, and I didn’t have to worry about keeping track of coupons or printing out a piece of paper.  The Marqeta model is also good for merchants, because it’s not costing them nearly as much to make these offers. Instead of discounting, they’re just giving you more, and the fees they pay to get involved are much much lower than Groupon and friends.  I really think this thing is going far, since it’s much more sustainable in the long run than the reverse bubble/cesspool of deep deep discounts.

Here’s the challenge for us as consumers: Marqeta is so new, that your favorite grocery store, boutique, jeweler, hardware store, pet store, etc, needs to hear from you that they should join the Marqeta merchants. Tell Marqeta what merchants they should be talking to. I keep hoping for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s!

Sign up for your card here. It’s free and easy, and you don’t have to assign a funding source until you’re ready to take an offer. Then recommend merchants. Better yet, link up your favorite merchant on their Facebook page (so the store will see it, to!).

I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this reverse market bubble, and where you want to shop with Marqeta!

Happy shopping,


Disclosure: I am a Marqeta Mom Ambassador and am compensated for my time, but as always, all opinions are my own.


Filed under Home

Holiday Budget: don’t blow it!

I don’t actually go shopping very often for anything other than groceries or things for the kids. I think about it quite a bit, but I rarely take time to do it. Mainly because I have other things to spend my money on than fun things for me. I get most of my clothes from naked lady parties and my fashionable friends’ castoffs.

So whenever I have an excuse a need to actually go buy things – like presents for other people – I inevitably find a lot of things I want to buy for me.

So how does one stay on budget with all of this temptation?

Easy: I don’t use credit cards.

I make a list of all the people for whom I am buying presents, and jot down ideas for each one {Actually, I have a running list going pretty much all year}. Then I figure out how much I have to spend based on – wait – this is radical – how much money I actually have. I know this seems crazy and weird. And maybe even un-American. But there you have it.

This year, I plan to use my Marqeta card to do as much of my shopping as possible. Marqeta is like a pre-paid debit card, where you commit to spend a certain amount of money at a merchant, and the merchant then gives you additional dollars to spend. For example, I load my card with $125 for Finnegan’s Toys & Gifts, and I get an additional $25 to spend there. Who doesn’t love free money? One of their merchants is a kitchenware/household goods store – and it looks pretty good, with everything from kitchen gadgets to toys.

All this won’t stop me from actually taking a day to go shopping downtown with Dayl, mind you. It’s too much fun and such a rare pleasure!

How about you? How do you stay on budget during the holidays?

Cheerfully and frugally,

Mamavation is a community dedicated to healthy living for women.

Disclosure: I am a Marqeta Mom Ambassador, but as always, all opinions are my own.


Filed under Fitness

Learning to Save

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I am not a good saver of money. I have money, I want to spend it. It’s terrible. For this reason, I have set up all kinds of automatic savings processes thereby eliminating my ability to spend my money before it goes in to savings. Some comes out of my paycheck into retirement savings, some automatically goes from checking account to savings. So how does a non-saver teach her children how to save?

Fortunately for me, my husband is much more fiscally frugal/wise/conservative than I am – so that helps.

But here’s how we are helping our kids to understand the value of money:

• Piggy banks, everywhere • The kids have several piggy banks spread throughout the house. Whenever loose change shows up, we say, “Quick! Put it in the piggy bank!” Anna is saving up for our next trip to Disney World. I’m pretty sure Eric thinks his is going towards a robot.

Make comparisons and prioritize • When we’re out shopping and the kids ask for this or that, I ask them to read the price to me. We’ve even gone over to look at the prices of milk and fruit to compare.  Getting through a grocery store with kids is hard enough, so I don’t take this much time a lot, but it does help stop the constant refrain of, “Can we buy this?”  If I’m letting them choose something to buy, we talk about the expense and how long each item might last. Anna in particular is really impressive in her ability to put off an instant gain (small toy now) for something better (Disney World) down the road.

• Counting games with coins • The kids are really in to counting things!  We like to play counting games with change, and they’re starting to get the monetary value of each one. Not that coins will be terribly important in the future – don’t you worry sometimes that coins will go away? I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about pennies, but I am.

One of our favorite stops at the Hollywood Farmers Market

• Let them pay for some things • Especially at the Farmers Market, where we are interacting directly with the producers. There is something powerful about exchanging dollars for honey with the person who produces the honey.

Why do I go to work? • At least once a week, little Eric asks me, “Why do you have to go to work?” {my heart breaks every time!} I used to just say, “Because I have to!” But for the last several months, I’ve been answering, “So we have money for our house and for food and to go on trips!” We’ve had a couple of lengthier conversations about it, because I think it’s good to normalize the concept that we need money to do the things we have to and want to do, and that we have to work to get that money.

I never say we can’t afford something • We are not poor. We are not rich, but we are not poor. We live in a wonderful house with the most amazing neighbors, in a city we love full of trees and access to nature. We have enough food and clothes. So no, we are not poor. If the kids want to buy something and I don’t, I don’t say, “We can’t afford it.” Instead, I say, “We’re not choosing to spend our money on that right now.” I just think it’s good to manifest abundance instead of manifesting need or want!

So what do you do to help your children save and teach them the value of money? This non-saver could use some additional tips!


UPDATE: My mother-in-law wrote a guest post on this topic!
UPDATE: We made our own “piggy” banks
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.


Filed under Family, Travel, Work