Category Archives: Sales

THE VERY BEST ENCRYPTED MESSAGING APPS

If you’d rather not have the government, hackers, your internet service provider, or anyone else potentially intercepting and reading your private communications, you should make sure you’re using a secure messaging app. Specifically, one that uses encrypted messaging.

As you’ve probably noticed (unless you live under a rock, which is slowly sounding more and more like the way to go) internet privacy has become one of the hottest topics of the decade. In 2017, the United States Congress repealed regulations that would help protect your data from being sold by broadband and wireless companies. In 2016, the UK’s Parliament passed the Investigatory Power Act (also known as the Snooper’s Charter), which expands the surveillance power of the UK Intelligence Community and police. And in 2018, Australia forced famous messaging app WhatsApp to include spyware so they could see what you’re typing. Not to mention what’s going on in the news right now concerning privacy. If you aren’t already worried, now is a pretty good time to start wondering just how safe your online communications actually are, and what the most secure messaging app is.

What makes a messaging app secure?

An encrypted messaging app has something more important than cool widgets and a gigantic library of emojis: it has features that work quietly in the background to make sure the app is secure.

End-to-end encryption

The main thing to check for when choosing a messaging app is whether or not it uses end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption means your private chat messages are scrambled, and only the sender and the receiver of the messages have the “keys” to read them. This ensures that no one besides you and the person you’re talking to can decipher the messages.

Ironically, encryption used to be thought of as something only used by the paranoid or those with a compelling need for secrecy, such as political dissidents. It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents revealing the U.S. NSA’s global surveillance program that the world began to fully understand the importance of encryption and online privacy. Since then, many companies (including Facebook, Apple, and Google) have ramped up encryption on their software.

Default encryption settings

Just because an app offers end-to-end encryption, doesn’t mean that it’s the default setting. Some messaging apps require you to go into the app’s settings and actually turn on the encryption feature, while others only encrypt messages in certain scenarios (for instance, blue iMessages versus green text messages). Because the importance of encryption is still relatively new, many people may just assume the app is safe without knowing if or when their messages are encrypted — so look for one that has encryption on as the default for you and whomever you’re messaging.

Open source code

While fears of reverse-engineering or code backdoors may make it seem counterintuitive for an app maker to reveal an app’s source code, doing so is now widely regarded as an indicator of the app’s integrity. Open source code opens the app up to outside accountability and auditing by experts, which can be a useful way to bring attention to any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the code.

Data collection

While many messaging apps today have started using end-to-end encryption, some still collect data information about you, called metadata. Metadata is kind of like your electronic fingerprint, and includes data such as who you talk to (via your contacts list), for how long, and at what time, as well as information about the device you use, your IP address, phone number, and more. Setting up a VPN app on your mobile device is an easy way to block the collection of this kind of personal information. Both AVG Secure VPN for Android and AVG Secure VPN for iOS are available to help you seamlessly protect your online privacy.

Try AVG Secure VPN for Android

What are the most secure messaging apps for Android & iPhone?

1. Signal

additional-image-signal-620x300

Originally known as TextSecure Private Messenger, Signal has been touted as the gold standard of messaging security by cryptographer Bruce Schneier, Edward Snowden, US congress, and even the European Commission. Available as a free messaging app on iPhone and Android phones, as well as desktops, Signal sends messages across its own data infrastructure.

Signal security features

  • End-to-end encryption
    Messages sent via the Signal app can only be viewed by the sender and receiver. Not even the company behind the app, Open Whisper Systems, can decrypt the messages. In addition to instant messages, you can also make voice calls, group messages, and encrypted video calls.
  • Open Source
    Signal has open source code that can be viewed by anyone. This kind of transparency allows for routine auditing and helps ensure that the app’s security is always up to date.
  • Disappearing messages
    For extra security, Signal allows you to make both sent and received messages “disappear” after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
  • Minimal data storageUnlike many other messaging apps, Signal only stores the metadata required for the app to work, such as your phone number, random keys, and profile information.
  • Password security The app also allows you to set a password to lock it. So even if your phone falls into the wrong hands, your messages will still be protected.

Signal security risks 

The best thing about Signal is that there are virtually no security risks. As long as the app’s developers continue to be diligent about fixing vulnerabilities, Signal will remain at the top of the messaging app food chain.

2. Wickr Me

additional-image-wickr-620x300

Available on both iPhone and Android, Wickr has distinguished itself from the pack by offering secure messaging options for both personal use (Wickr Me) and for businesses and enterprises (Wickr Pro). While Wickr Me is free, Wickr Pro is a paid service that comes with a 30-day free trial.

Wickr Me security features 

  • End-to-end encryption
    In addition to encrypted messaging, in 2018 Wickr announced that its “Me” service will also offer encrypted calling and voice messaging (which are already offered in the Pro version).
  • Screenshot detection
    Wickr recently announced that they will be offering a new feature that allows users to detect screenshots. This means that you will receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of a message you send.
  • Screen overlay protection
    On Android devices, Wickr has released a new feature that allows users to disable “Screen Overlays”. This prevents users from being able to interact with the app when an overlay is detected, and helps protect the app from TapJacking.
  • Third party keyboards
    On iOS, Wickr lets you block Third Party Keyboards. This helps protect your information by preventing third party keyboards from recording usernames, passwords, and other information that is typed into the app.
  • Secure Shredder
    This feature adds an extra layer of security by making sure your already deleted files can’t be recovered with special tools or technology. While Wickr does this for you periodically, you also have the option to manually erase information from your phone.

Wickr Me security risks 

Like Signal, Wickr is generally considered almost foolproof from a security standpoint. Though it was previously criticized for keeping its code closed source, in 2017 Wickr finally released its cryptographic protocol on Github. If you feel like getting technical about the app’s security, you can check out Wickr’s Customer Security Promises.

3. Dust

Dust

Formerly known as Cyber Dust, Mark Cuban’s brainchild messaging app Dust is available on both iOS and Android. The main purpose of the app is to send private messages (or photos and videos) called “Dusts” to your contacts that “turn to dust” and disappear within 100 seconds of being read. “Blasts” are another type of message that can be sent to a group of people, but are read privately. Finally, you can start group chats, simply known as “Groups.”

Dust security features

  • End-to-end encryption
    Dust uses “heavy encryption,” although the code is not actually available for viewing. You can send encrypted text, photo, or video messages, but the app does not allow for voice or video calls.
  • No permanent storage
    Not only are your messages not permanently saved on your phone or the company’s servers (instead they’re sent to the app’s RAM memory until they are accessed by the receiver), you can also erase your messages off of other people’s devices.
  • Screenshot alerts
    If a screenshot is attempted on an Android phone, the name of the person who sent the message is removed, effectively eliminating context from the conversation. Apple prevents apps from blocking screenshots, so instead, iPhone users receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of their sent message.
  • Auto “Dust”
    Messages are automatically erased either within 24 hours, or as soon as they’re read. You can choose.

Dust security risks

There are currently no significant security risks associated with Dust, aside from the potential risks and lack of transparency related to the app’s code not being open source.

4. WhatsApp

additional-image-whatsapp-620x300

With over 300 million daily users, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps being used today. The app’s popularity is definitely one of its strong points, along with the fact that it’s available for free on both iPhone and Android and doesn’t show any ads. You can easily send text messages, photos, as well as short video and voice messages. But are WhatsApp chats private?

WhatsApp security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    In April 2016, WhatsApp implemented a super secure encryption protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems (the company behind secure messaging app Signal) across all mobile platforms. Thanks to this protocol, only the sender and receiver have the keys to decrypt messages sent via WhatsApp, meaning they can’t be accessed and read by anyone else. Voice and video calls are also encrypted.
  • Verify encryption 
    WhatsApp also has a “Verify Security Code” screen in the contact info screen that allows you to confirm that your calls and messages are end-to-end encrypted. The code is presented as both a QR code and a 60-digit number.
  • Two-step verification 
    An optional feature, two-step verification allows you to add more security to your account by setting a PIN number that is required to verify your phone number on any device.
  • Messages not stored
    The only time your message is kept on a WhatsApp server is the period after you send it and before it is delivered to the receiver. If it can’t be delivered for some reason, then the message is deleted from the server after 30 days.

WhatsApp Security risks

  • Unencrypted backups
    WhatsApp messages can’t be intercepted during transmission, but what about message backups on iCloud or Google Drive? The good news for iPhone users is that WhatsApp added encryption protection to iCloud backups in late 2016. But Android phone messages backed up on Google Drive are not encrypted, leaving them potentially vulnerable to hackers, governments that could legally force Google to turn over your messages, or even Google itself. So how can you protect your privacy on WhatsApp as an Android user? Fortunately, you can disable WhatsApp message backups on Google Drive.
  • Facebook privacy issues
    WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014, transferring concerns about the social media conglomerate’s reputation for invasive data collection to the messaging app. While Facebook assures users that there is no possible way for them to view encrypted WhatsApp messages, WhatsApp did announce that they would be sharing user metadata with Facebook, for various purposes such as ad-targeting.

5. Telegram

additional-image-telegram-620x300

Claiming over 200 million users on both iPhone and Android, Telegram has been steadily growing in popularity since its debut in 2013 and is known for its unique group chat feature that can support up to 100,000 members. Earlier in 2018, however, a clash with the Russian government over the app makers’ refusal to hand over the encryption keys resulted in it being banned in Russia entirely. Telegram has also been viewed as controversial because of its status as the preferred messaging app of ISIS. This has further driven the conversation about what responsibility messaging apps have to work with law-enforcement versus keeping user data fully protected.

Telegram security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    Telegram offers a feature called “Secret Chat” that allows you to protect your messages with end-to-end encryption. However, the feature is not default, so you’ll need to know how to turn it on.
  • Passcode Lock
    You can set a 4-digit code to prevent intruders from accessing your messages, which can be useful if your phone gets lost or stolen.
  • Two-step verification 
    Found in Settings, two-step verification requires you to use both an SMS code and a password (be sure you know what not to do when creating a password) to log in to the app. You can also set up a recovery email address in case you forget your password).
  • Open source code
    Anyone can check Telegram’s source code, protocol, and API to make sure it is up to par.
  • Telegram Cracking Contest
    Telegram challenges “hackers” to attempt to break through their encryption and decipher messages, offering a $300,000 reward for anyone who is able to do so. This helps ensure that any potential vulnerabilities will be found and fixed.
  • Self-destructing messages 
    Like many other messaging apps, Telegram also offers a Self-Destruct Timer (for Secret Chats only) that will delete private text messages and media within a preset time limit.
  • Remote logout 
    Because you can log into Telegram from numerous devices at the same time (web, PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.), the app offers the ability to log out of other sessions from the current device you’re using through the Settings menu. This way, if your device is lost or stolen, you can still make sure your messages are secure.
  • Account self-destruct 
    After your account has been inactive for a certain amount of time (six months being the default), your account will automatically self-destruct, completely wiping clean all of your messages and media.

Telegram security risks

  • End-to-end encryption isn’t default 
    You must manually enable Telegram’s “Secret Chat” feature, otherwise chats are only encrypted between your device and Telegram’s server.
  • Logging chat data
    If you don’t enable the Secret Chat feature, then your chat data is saved on Telegram’s servers. The company claims this is in case you lose your device and want to recover your messages, but from a security standpoint, this is a big no-no.
  • Possibly flawed encryption technology 
    Telegram created its own MTProto protocol, instead of using one that is already proven secure, such as the Signal protocol. Many experts have questioned the reasoning behind this, and have expressed skepticism about the lack of transparency surrounding the protocol.

6. Apple iMessage

additional-image-imessage-620x300

The instant messaging service developed by Apple Inc., iMessage is supported by the Messenger application on iOS version 5.0 and later. Allowing users to send text, documents, videos, photos, contact information, and group messages over the internet, iMessage is very popular among iPhone users (and can only be used between them). We’ve already gone over tips on how to keep your iPhone safe, but is iMessage actually secure?

iMessage security features 

  • End-to-end encryption 
    iMessage end-to-end encryption only protects messages between iPhone users (which appear in blue). If you send a message to an Android user for instance, the message is sent as a normal text message (in green) and is not encrypted. Unlike many of the other apps on this list, it seems like Apple won’t be coming out with iMessage for Android. Though iMessage doesn’t directly allow for video or voice calls, its sister app FaceTime does (with encrypted protection).
  • Self-destructing messages
    Many iMessage users are unaware that the app provides a feature that allows you to control how long each photo, video, or message will appear before it’s gone. You can also choose how many times the viewer can see the message. However, the feature is only available with iOS 10 and later.
  • iMessages deleted from servers
    Your encrypted messages only remain on Apple’s servers for 7 days before they are deleted.

iMessage security risks 

  • Encryption weaknesses
    In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed a flaw with Apple’s encryptionimplementation that could leave iMessages vulnerable to decryption. Later, in 2019, researchers from Project Zero presented 6 high-level exploits that allowed them to use iMessages to take over a user’s device. All these issues were quickly patched, but it does imply the risk of other, unknown vulnerabilities lurking in the code.
  • iCloud backups
    If you back up your iMessages to iCloud, these messages are encrypted on iCloud using a key controlled by the company, not you. This means that, if your iCloud is hacked or subpoenaed by a court, they could be revealed. And while Apple has been firm about not creating “back doors” into their system or weakening encryption, they and other tech companies do have a history of cooperating with authorities when it comes to turning over information stored in the Cloud.

7. Facebook Messenger

additional-image-messenger-620x300

Facebook’s messaging app is available for both iPhone and Android phones, and provides a convenient way to keep up with friends and family thanks to its sheer popularity.

Facebook Messenger security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    In 2016, Facebook added its Secret Conversations feature to secure messages with the Signal end-to-end encryption protocol (also used by WhatsApp). However, Signal and WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption by default, while Secret Conversations must be activated.
  • Self-destructing messages
    You can set Facebook Messenger messages to self-destruct after a certain period of time (between five seconds and 24 hours).

Facebook Messenger security risks 

  • Encryption not by default
    As mentioned above, end-to-end encryption for messages must be activated by the user. This means that messages sent without this feature are only encrypted when sent to Facebook’s server, and then encrypted again when sent to the recipient (whereas end-to-end is directly between sender and recipient). This means a copy of the message remains on Facebook’s servers.

App to avoid: Google Hangouts

additional-image-hangouts-620x300

Despite being available for free on both iOS and Android, Google Hangouts is riddled with privacy and security concerns. Though it does encrypt hangout conversations, it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption — instead, messages are encrypted “in transit”. This means that they are only encrypted between your device and Google’s servers. Once they are on a server, Google has complete access to them. If ordered to do so, Google can tap into private communication sessions and relay that information to government agencies. And with Google’s Transparency Reportrevealing that the company does indeed receive and often fulfill requests for customer information, this is a very real concern.

Additionally, images sent via Hangouts are shared through public URLs, meaning that virtually anyone (who knows a thing or two about URLs) can view your private images. This is definitely not the app you should be using to send…sensitivepics.

How can I stay safe?

We believe everyone has a right to online privacy, and deserves to message their friends and family without worrying about who might be sneaking a peak. In an ideal world, everyone would be using super secure messaging apps like Signal or Wickr to communicate. But with the popularity of less secure or privacy-questionable apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, sometimes the middle ground is more convenient. If you do choose to use a less secure messaging app, pair it with VPN protection. A virtual private network encrypts everything you do online, including messaging as well as other tasks that may expose your sensitive personal info like online shopping and banking. We offer AVG Secure VPN for iOS and AVG Secure VPN for Androidto keep your information safe.

30 BEST WEBSITES FOR WOMEN TO SHOP

1. Boohoo

Boohoo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce sites. The booming retailer offers non-stop fashion with up to 100 new pieces hitting the site every day. The majority of styles on offer are under AU$100, and some are even as low as $2, so fill up your basket without any pesky spending guilt.

2. Nasty Gal

Created by “girlboss” Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal began as a humble eBay store selling vintage clothing. Since then, the brand has grown into an e-commerce giant that sells a broad range of genuine vintage and new, vintage-inspired pieces. This site is perfect for girls with a little bit of attitude who like to have a lot of fun.

3. H&M

Do we even need to introduce H&M? The Swedish super-retailer is everyone’s first choice for affordable, fast-fashion clothing, and its online store makes it all available from the comfort of your home. Sit on the couch while stocking up on great basics, lingerie, trends, accessories, workwear, activewear, and even homewares.

4. Free People

If you’re a free spirit or a hippy at heart, Free People is the online shopping destination for you. This bohemian retailer dishes up the goods when it comes to dreamy designs. Fill up your basket with wonderful pieces that are fit for brunch, the beach or a trip around the world. Also, take a look at the brand’s Movement label for great activewear.

Nordstrom has been a leading fashion retailer for over 100 years and is continuing to uphold the title. Although the brand’s online store is obviously a lot younger, it follows suit from Nordstrom’s physical stores in terms of excellent service and extensive product range.

6. Mango

Mango, also known as MNG, offers a broad range of minimally chic clothing and accessories. The brand’s designs are pieces that can be worn every day that easily blend into the rest of your wardrobe.

7. Luisa Via Roma

From sporty to chic, this site has it all. It offers pieces fresh off the runway, exclusive collaborations and discounts across some of the world’s biggest labels. If you’re after curated styles that will make you stand out from the crowd, you can’t look past Luisviaroma – it’s the one-stop-shop for all things beautiful.

8. ASOS

If you haven’t shopped online at ASOS, you’ve seriously been missing out. This site is a one-stop destination for all of your fashion and beauty needs at a reasonable price. Filter through thousands of on-trend products from a variety of brands as well as the ASOS house labels.

9. The Outnet

Created by the people at Net-A-Porter, The Outnet is the ultimate destination for exclusive discounts on more than 350 designer labels. Some of the featured brands include Chloé, Stuart Weitzman and Oscar de la Renta. This is a great place to visit if you’re after your first luxury piece, but don’t want to spend your entire paycheck on it.

10. Farfetch

There’s only one of you, so why wear something that everyone else has? Finding your perfect piece of clothing shouldn’t be a hassle, thanks to Farfetch. With vintage pieces from the labels you love like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace, you can be seen in something that no-one else is wearing.

11. Shopbop

Since its launch in 2000, Shopbop has become a site that fashionistas know and love. It’s the perfect place to shop for both contemporary and designer labels and has an impressive selection of apparel, shoes, bags, and accessories. Another major highlight of this site is that it offers lookbook and wardrobe advice features, which makes the online experience all the more enjoyable!

12. Revolve

You can always count on Revolve to bring you the most trendy pieces you’ll need for a season update, and the site features many prominent designer brands. They’ve even added face masks to their list of products —  so you know they’re keeping an eye on current trends and needs. For convenience, fashion lovers can also get their favorite beauty products on the site, which is super appealing because you don’t have to order from multiple retailers. Revolve’s Shop This Look section is also a fantastic way to find outfits you want to recreate, and their dedicated customer service team will help with any issues.

13. Nordstrom Rack

If you love a bargain, then Nordstrom Rack is the place to go! We all know that designer clothes can come with a high price tag, but this is the site that helps you save money while also getting your hands on your dream brands. At Nordstrom Rack, you can get up to 70 percent off the original department store and boutique prices, and they are continually adding new items to the inventory. Be sure to check in weekly for new arrivals and shop your favorite styles, which can be done from the comfort of your living room. If you want to browse on-the-go, the mobile app also makes shopping super easy!

14. Saks Fifth Avenue

Most people have heard of Saks Fifth Avenue, the famous New York department store, and their online site does not disappoint. Saks is known for fashionable and exclusive items, and you can now shop them from the comfort of your home. Choose from a wide range of designers, pick the trendiest apparel, handbags, and shoes, and finish off your looks with interesting pieces of jewelry and chic accessories. If you need inspiration, The Edit highlights seasonal favorites and trends, and the editorials are always impressive.

15. Topshop

One of our favorite British high street brands, Topshop, is also available online. This site offers all the great styles that you’re used to finding in-store at the same affordable price. Tall, petite and maternity ranges are also on offer for those who want Topshop’s on-trend style but need a different fit. On top of all that, standard international delivery, which is up to nine days, is free when you spend over £100.

16. SSENSE

For the lovers of luxury fashion and independent designers, look no further than SSense. With thousands of incredible curated pieces available, you can find a one-of-a-kind piece that others will adore, or the latest items fresh off the runway. Whether you’re gaga for Gucci or a lover of La Perla, this is the site for you.

17. Uniqlo

Uniqlo is the place to go for basics on a budget. You may not find the most fashionable pieces here, but you will find some great, quality pieces to be the core ingredients of your casual wardrobe. Think comfortable cotton hoodies, cashmere sweaters, down puffer jackets and essential seamless underwear, all for the lowest prices imaginable.

18. Verishop

Verishop is the one-stop-online-shop customers love because they have so many different apartments. From men’s and women’s clothing and apparel to beauty and wellness or stylish pieces for your home, this is the best way to find items you love or the perfect gift for friends and dear ones. Shop from both global and digitally native brands, including Billie the Label, and leisurewear brand LETT. Another highlight is the fast and free shipping and 24-hour customer service, which makes the whole experience easy and fun!

19. MyTheresa

MyTheresa has been around for over 30 years, first as a fashion hotspot in Munich, and later an online extension of the exclusive store. What can you expect from this site? For starters, fast delivery within one business day, free returns within 30 days, and an impressive collection of designer items! The site stocks over 250 international designers, and is known for being one of the best sites to purchase luxury buys, with big names including Acne Studios, Emilio Pucci, and Fendi.

20. & Other Stories

If you live in the U.K., U.S., or one of a selection of European countries, then you are lucky enough to be able to shop online at &OtherStories. The brand focuses on the whole outfit, making accessories an essential part of its business. The clothes are nice, but the pieces to buy are bags, shoes, sunglasses, and jewelry.

21. Coggles

Discover your next favorite piece of clothing on Coggles. Featuring designers like Victoria Beckham, Balmain, and Kenzo, you can filter through thousands of beautiful clothes and accessories to find something perfect for you. From sneakers to fine jewelry, it’s the perfect shopping site for a friend or yourself.

22. Missguided

Missguided is your online shopping destination for young and fun fashion. This site is perfect for anyone who’s not afraid to show a bit of skin. Low cut tops, bodycon dresses and short shorts are a regular occurrence here. Pick up a few of the brand’s continuously on-trend pieces as a cheap way to spice up your usual wardrobe.

23. MatchesFashion

Everyone deserves to treat themselves once in a while, so why not do it on Matches Fashion? From the essentials to the exquisite, this site offers unmatched assistance. If you’re having difficulty making a decision or you need a bit of extra help, let the MyStylist service help you out. Whether you’re unsure of how to put a look together or you need to spark some inspiration, this team is here to help.

24. Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters stocks a huge range of brands and styles so that you can find what you need for the price that you want. Filter products by categories, styles, lengths, sizes, colors, brands and prices to quickly hunt down key items, or just click through pages and browse all the lovely styles.

25. Forever21

Forever 21 offers super-affordable casual wear that is both cute and stylish. This user-friendly online store is the perfect place to pick up all the trends that you want to try without investing too much financially. The brand also loves social media and often re-posts customers’ photos, so get buying and then get snapping to feel the online love

26. ModCloth

Visit ModCloth if you’re on the lookout for indie, vintage, and retro-inspired clothing and accessories. This brand’s democratizing approach to fashion is incredibly refreshing, featuring a variety of models on its site and selling styles to suit everyone. Take a look at the dress section to find some truly beautiful pieces that are perfect for summer days and picnics in the park.

27. Miss Selfridge

Miss Selfridge, which initially began as a part of Selfridges department store in the U.K., is now a part of the Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop. Visit this retailer’s site if you’re looking for fun party dresses or gorgeous day wear.

28. COS

COS is like the older, cooler and much more refined sister to H&M. Made by the same company, COS steers away from fads and passing trends while H&M embraces them. Offering a range of minimal and modern wardrobe essentials, COS will provide you with pieces that last beyond the current season. Although you will pay more than you would at H&M, you’ll get your money’s worth.

29. Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer, which launched its Australian web store this year, offers a range of relaxed and chic styles that are all well within budget. Check out the brand’s extensive range of accessories to find affordable pieces to match every outfit. Also, explore the M&S & Alexa Chung Collaboration for great vintage-inspired styles.

30. Princess Polly

Shopping multiple brands that you love in one spot is as convenient as it is fun. Proving this point is the online retailer, Princess Polly. This site carries several fashionable and affordable brands, including Evil Twin, Minkpink, Somedays Lovin, The Fifth Label, Windsor Smith and Nobody Denim

BEST 30 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY IN GROCERIES

Alex Santiago – Editor & Publisher

It’s easy to waltz down the grocery store aisle and fill up your basket with things that aren’t on the list. Maybe it’s the fluorescent lighting, strategically placed products at checkout, or that squeaky wheel on the cart that messes with your sanity—and your budget.But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to spend like crazy! It’s time to reel it in and learn how to save money on groceries.

How Much Do Most People Spend on Groceries Each Month?

Around here, we recommend spending 10–15% of your take-home pay on food, which includes both groceries and eating out. But (like you probably guessed) most people spend a lot more than that. The average cost of monthly groceries for one person ranges from $162–372. Married couples clock in at spending somewhere between $371–773 each month. And when it comes to a family of four, the average cost for their monthly grocery bill shoots up to $570–1298!1 Yikes!

Spoiler alert: You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on groceries. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are 30 easy ways to go grocery shopping on a budget, plus some tips from Dave’s Facebook fans!

1. Redefine dinner.

If the word dinner makes you picture a big homemade meal with a nice cut of meat, two steaming sides of fresh veggies from the farmers market, a warm loaf of French bread, and a chocolate dessert—chill out and cut yourself some slack! This isn’t 1952, and supper doesn’t have to be a big feast.

Your kids and spouse will survive on BLTs, omelets or a big salad several times a week. Don’t be afraid of serving simple meals or doing breakfast for dinner to make your groceries stretch! Eggs are inexpensive, and you can whip them up into different dishes like frittatas and quiches if you’re feeling fancy. Or make egg salad sandwiches if you want to keep it simple.

It’s time to shrink your guilt and your budget by rethinking the most misunderstood meal of the day. Freeeeedom!

2. Crunch some numbers while you shop.

If you keep a running tally of how much money is adding up in your cart, you’ll save yourself from any surprises when you get up to the checkout line. Pull out the calculator on your phone and keep track of all those veggies, fruits and other staple items you’re putting in your cart. This might make you stop and ask yourself—wait, do I really need that fancy $5 sparkling water that isn’t on sale?

“Stick to your list and use a calculator as you shop to stay under budget. We’re under $50 a week for our family (two adults and a toddler). No junk food either. It’s doable!” — Amanda N.

3. Round up your grocery cost estimates.

This is a fun little trick to play on yourself when you’re stumped for how to save money on groceries. While you’re walking around with your calculator, round up each item’s price. The $1.59 product becomes $2, that $7.75 item becomes $8, and so on. If you do this for everything in your cart, you’ll still know roughly what you’re spending, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re standing at the checkout line and coming in under budget every time.

“I use tally marks to keep track of what I’m spending, and I always round up every item. Even if the item is $1.29, it gets two tally marks. That way, by the time I check out, I’m both aware of approximately what to expect and surprised to still be under what I wanted to spend.” — Jillian H.

4. Raid your pantry.

Challenge yourself to look through your pantry (or fridge) and see what kind of meals you can throw together with the ingredients you already have. Who says you have to stock up on more groceries when there are perfectly good chicken thighs shoved in the back of your freezer and a couple unopened cans of black beans and salsa on your shelves?

“Don’t feel like you need to buy something just because you’re out of it. Raid your pantry and fridge for substitutes first. Make your meal plans around what you already have.” — Carla A.

5. Think before you bulk up.

Buying in bulk is amazing . . . when it actually saves you money. Don’t assume that the big bulk buys at the discount stores are automatically the cheaper option. When you’re grocery shopping on a budget, be sure to stop and compare the price per unit or ounce for the item you’re buying.

As tempting as it is to stock up, don’t buy more than you really need—especially when it comes to perishable items. Buying bulk cereal might be a great investment for a family of four, but if it’s just you and your spouse, that 40-count of Greek yogurt might not be the best buy.

6. Start freezing and storing meals now.

Need to figure out how to save money on food fast? Say hello to freezer meals. There are a ton of freezer meal recipes online. Look them up! You can set aside a Saturday to make a bunch of freezer meals and then reap the benefits later on down the road. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also save time. Can’t beat that!

“Cook big meals and divide leftovers into portions and freeze them. Freeze as much as you can from your shopping.” — Anthony R.

7. Pay with cash.

It’s like Dave Ramsey always says: Cash is king! The best way to be sure you’ll end up with a lower grocery bill is to stick to the budget and pay with cash. When you go to the store with cash in hand, you know exactly how much you can spend—because once the cash runs out, that’s it!

Plus, it’ll help you prioritize the meat-and-vegetable necessities rather than the ice-cream-and-cookie impulse buys. Those little extras are okay if you plan for them!

If you still find that you’re eating like royalty at the beginning of the month and then scraping by at the end, take out cash for groceries every week instead of once a month. That way, you’ll have a better picture of how much you can actually afford to spend each week.

“Use the envelope system and put unnecessary items at the end of the counter. I would tell the cashier I only had a certain amount of money to spend and to stop when I got to that point. Instead of it being an embarrassment, it was a bonding moment for me and the cashier when I made my goal, or even if it didn’t work out.” — Jan B.

8. Don’t allow for budget-breaking surprises.

This is one of the simplest ways to save money on groceries. When you get to the store, stick to your list! That’s the key to staying on budget. And if you go shopping as a family, let your kids help plan the meals and then find the items. It’s much easier to stay on budget when you’re shopping with a plan and working as a team . . . and when you get comfortable saying no to candy.

“Our grocery store offers ‘scan it.’ You can walk around with a scanner and scan your items as you shop. It keeps a total for you so you’re never surprised at the register—and you can decide if you really need certain things.” — Jamie M.

9. Shop in season.

When you’re grocery shopping on a budget, it’s super important to live by this rule. Buying a pomegranate in mid-July will probably cost you an arm and a leg—and it might not even taste good! So, throughout the year, make it a point to only buy fruits and veggies that are in season.

10. Ignore eye-level items.

Have you ever noticed how the most expensive items on the grocery shelves tend to be right at your eye level? That’s no random fluke. It’s on purpose. Grocery stores are smart. They want you to go for the splurge items!

Instead of falling for those marketing tricks, look up and down as you shop. The more affordable brands could be higher or lower on the shelves. Think of it as a treasure hunt for the best price!

11. Try different grocery stores.

Why did you pick your grocery store to shop at? Is it the friendliest? Is it the closest to your home or most convenient to your commute? If we’re being honest, most of us probably shop where we do out of pure habit.

Don’t let a comfortable routine cost you money.

In the U.S., the top seven cheapest ranked grocery stores to shop at are Aldi, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, Food 4 Less, Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s.2 But keep in mind, things might stack up differently near you, so if you’re not sure which grocery stores are worth your time and dollars, ask around and compare prices.

Also, if you want to save money on food, be sure to check the weekly ads in your area for what’s on sale at competing grocery stores. You might find that shopping at the store down the street is costing extra money in the long run. Figuring out a new shopping plan may be frustrating at first, but it’s worth it to keep extra cash in your pocket.

12. Learn the sales cycles.

Are you ready to do a little detective work? Start paying attention to when your favorite items go on sale and how much the price drops. You might even want to jot it all down in a small notebook or on your smartphone. Whatever you do, just make sure you’re keeping track of those sales so you can see if there’s a trend. Soon you’ll be able to predict them before they hit!

13. BYOB.

Nope, it’s not what you think.

It’s time to bring your own bag to the grocery store! Lots of stores will give you a discount off your total grocery bill just for bringing in a reusable bag. How easy is that? Your savings will usually run somewhere between five and 10 cents per bag! Five bags could save you anywhere from 25 to 50 cents. Hey, savings are savings!

14. Don’t shop when you’re hungry.

People do a lot of silly things when they’re hungry. They say things they don’t really mean, eat all of their roommate’s chips, and aimlessly stroll the grocery store aisles like zombies.

And while your best friend might not hold you responsible for what you said when you were “hangry,” your grocery bill won’t let you off the hook so easily. Step away from the 48-count of frozen waffles, and put back that pineapple upside-down cake from the bakery.

Walk into the grocery store with a full stomach, and you might be shocked by how much lower your grocery bill is!

15. Stick to a meal plan.

It sounds like a chore, but meal planning can actually be a lot of fun when you’re learning how to save money on groceries. Pick a day of the week when you’ll plan out the meals. Once you decide what you’ll make for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, write out each ingredient needed for those meals—plus a few snacks, of course. Try to use ingredients you already have on hand before you think about the other ingredients you need to shop for.

And remember: A list can make or break your budget. So stick to your meal plan for the week and let your list be your guide!

16. Don’t buy more than you need.

We love a deal. Everyone loves a deal. But if you get suckered into buying stuff you don’t really need, did you really get a deal at all? Buying something just because it’s on sale is a good example of this. If it wasn’t part of your planned grocery list, then you still spent more money than you were intending to—deal or no deal.

“Just because something is marked two for $5, four for $10, etc., doesn’t mean you have to buy that many items. You get the same discounted price if you buy just one.” — Stacy H.

17. Test out your green thumb.

This might not be for everyone, but if you can grow your own tomatoes, bell peppers and cauliflower in your garden, you’re sure to save money at the grocery store. Why? Because you don’t have to buy any of those things there! You can just go out and grab them from your garden, Little House on the Prairie style. How awesome is that?

18. Shop online and pick up at the store.

If you’re looking for another hack when it comes to grocery shopping on a budget, you might want to consider using curbside grocery pickup. You can select the exact items you want online, pay for them, and then pick them up at whatever time works for you.

A lot of grocery stores are offering this service, and customers seem to be enjoying the convenience factor. But here’s why we really love it: You tend to cut out the impulse buying and stick to your grocery list and budget! No more getting up to the register only to discover that family-size box of cereal isn’t on sale after all. And no more buying rolled oats just in case you’re out at home (you can walk to the pantry to see for yourself—mind blown).

Some stores offer a pickup service for free, but others will make you pay a small fee, so be sure to budget that into your overall cost too.

19. Use apps on your smartphone.

When you’re searching for ways to save money on groceries, don’t forget about all the rebate apps out there!

Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Checkout 51 and Fetch Rewards are just a few of the great apps that can help you save. While rebates don’t give you a discount up front (like a traditional coupon), you should see savings in the long run.

20. Try going meatless for a meal.

Look here, carnivore, don’t be afraid to branch out and have a meatless meal once or twice a week. Buying large quantities of meat can make your grocery bill skyrocket (especially when the meat isn’t on sale). So instead, find some meatless recipes to whip up on Meatless Monday—or whatever day of the week you choose!

“We do a meatless meal one to two times a week. We budget $500 for a family of five. Sometimes it’s too much, sometimes it’s the perfect amount. If we don’t spend it, we put it toward our debt snowball.” — Holly M.

21. Eat leftovers for lunch.

We all know this—going out for lunch will seriously eat into your food budget. If you’re dropping $10 just twice a week, that’s $80 a month being spent on going out to eat (and we’re not even talking a nice dinner out with friends on Friday night).

Don’t waste your money like that when you can take leftovers and save a ton!

“We almost always have a nice dinner every night and are really good about taking the leftovers for lunch. No matter what you cook, if you consistently eat at home, it’s way cheaper than going out all the time.” — Cindy N.

22. Buy generic.

You know generic pasta is cheaper, but you’re still not convinced it won’t ruin your grandmother’s lasagna recipe. Are generic brands really as good as the name brands?

Consumer Reports found that most store brands measure up to the name brands in taste and quality—and they’re usually 20–25% lower in price too! And if that isn’t enough to sell you, a family of five can save up to $3,000 a year just by making the switch to store brands.3 In other words, your less expensive lasagna will taste just as delicious as Grandma’s.

Still not sold? The National Bureau of Economic Research says when buying staples like salt, sugar and baking soda, chefs were more likely to buy generic than everyday grocery shoppers.4 And they’re the food experts! The study figured out that if more consumers purchased store brands, we could save roughly $44 billion.

With that kind of money on the line, it pays to be brand disloyal.

“We shop at a great grocery store known for their low prices, and most stuff we buy is generic. We no longer buy desserts or junk food, which cut probably $200 from our budget.” — Erin A.

23. If you buy it—use it!

Nothing is worse than discovering funky vegetables and fruit floating through the abyss in the back of your fridge. And to make it worse, all those rotten cucumbers and moldy peaches are dollar signs you just wasted. Ouch!

Try your best to actually use what you buy at the grocery store. Put a list on the front of your refrigerator if you think that will help jog your memory. Whatever you do, just don’t let those items go to waste.

24. Shop the farmers market at the end of the day.

Okay, heads up—not everything at a farmers market is going to be inexpensive. But by the end of the day, most farmers don’t want to take their food home with them. It’s to their advantage to part with the items, even if it means they barely break even.

Walk around your local farmers market toward closing time and see what kind of deals you can score. Make a reasonable offer for the box of produce they have left. Chances are, you’ll get a great deal on delicious, fresh fruits and veggies!

25. Preserve and store away.

When ingredients are overflowing at the farmers market (or in your garden), buy in bulk and preserve them for the winter. Yeah, it may seem like you’re spending more during the summer between the extra produce and canning jars. But think of each one of those jars of tomato sauce or pickles as an investment.

You can buy a box of pasta for a couple of bucks and pull a container of your homemade “summer in a jar” tomato sauce off the shelf in the winter. You’ll have created an affordable dinner. Plus, think about how gratifying it will be to eat sauce you made!

And speaking of sauce, you can save yourself time and effort if you invest in a vacuum sealer. Plan a day where you make big batches of sauces—like curry, tomato, cheese, etc. Vacuum seal and freeze them for when you want all the comfort of a flavorful sauce with minimal effort. All you need is some simmering water or a slow cooker to revive the sauce. Bon appétit!

26. Shop the perimeter of the store.

The inside aisles of the grocery store are mostly made up of processed food that can derail your budget. Instead, shop the outer edges of the store for fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and beans. Look for nutrient-dense items and fresh, seasonal food. Your food budget will thank you later.

27. Skip the packaging.

A pre-packaged bag of lettuce with a dressing packet and fixings will cost double what a head of lettuce with some simple, homemade dressing would. Go for the unpackaged fruits and veggies whenever you can. They’re cheaper and usually healthier too.

28. Grow herbs and spices.

A store-bought pack of rosemary, mint or chives can get pricey. So even if you don’t have a ton of space to garden, it’s worth it to plant a few fresh herbs indoors or on your patio to save money. And if you can’t use your harvest right away, puree and place it into ice cube trays to freeze.

29. Only buy meat when it’s on sale.

No secret here: Meat can be expensive. And if you want grass-fed beef or extra lean cuts of organic meat, the price is going to go up. So, what’s a savvy budgeter to do when grocery shopping? Well, you could become a vegetarian, sure. Or you could just learn how to become a better meat shopper.

Look for great deals on meat when it’s on sale. Don’t worry about it going bad before you can use it all, because you can always stash it away in the freezer. Also, look for cuts of meat that are cheaper alternatives to what you usually buy. Instead of chicken breasts, opt for chicken thighs. Skip the sirloin and use ground chuck. Pass on the pork chops and grab the pork loin.

30. Leave the overspenders at home.

Word to the wise, if you find that your kids are the culprits of adding all those “not on the list” items to your cart, you might want to leave them at home. Yes, we’re looking at you with the box of cookies, little Jimmy. On the flip side, maybe it’s your spouse who needs to stay far away from the grocery store.

“My #1 [grocery store hack] is banning my husband from going to the grocery store! We saved at least $300 a month by him not going.” — Melissa W.

Grocery Shopping on a Budget Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

A few new habits can help you lower your monthly grocery bill, stick to your budget, and meet your money goals faster. That means more cash to pay down debt, invest for the future, or save for something fun—like a babysitter and a nice meal out where someone else cooks and cleans up.

Try one of these grocery store hacks on your next trip down the grocery aisle, and you could be pleasantly surprised by how much cash stays in your pocket!

Don’t have a grocery budget? Well, what the heck are you waiting for? You need one to figure out how to save money on groceries! Create your budget with our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, and get ready to hit the grocery store armed and dangerous next time

BEST SALES PROMOTIONAL EXAMPLES

Successful companies know that sales promotions are among the most effective methods of increasing sales and building customer satisfaction. Sales promotions have been used for decades to great success, and no matter what your industry or the size of your business, there are sales promotion tips and techniques that can benefit you. With so many ways to promote your business with or without money, there is no need to suffer from sluggish revenue.

What is a Sales Promotion

A sales promotion is any undertaking by an organization designed to increase sales or encourage the use or trial of a product or service. Sales promotions take many different forms, but they all focus on persuading a target audience to make a purchase or become a client of a business.

Sales promotions are just one type of marketing strategy but are often confused with advertising. In fact, the two are different, as each appeals to a different nature of the consumer. Advertising is emotional in nature and invites consumers to purchase products or services through visceral images, sounds, or alluring experiences. Sales promotions, in contrast, appeal to a customer’s logic and rational mind. Sales promotions—“buy one, get one free,” for example—are immediately quantifiable in a customer’s mind.

Sales Promotion Examples

There are many different types of sales promotion activities you can pursue. Unlike advertising, sales promotions don’t necessarily present upfront costs. Sales promotion activities are common in both consumer and business-to-business markets, and can help your customers in their decision-making process.
Here are some sales promotion examples for your reference:

1. Google Promotions

Did you know that you can get free promotion on Google through your Google My Business profile? Google My Business allows you to create four different types of social posts: What’s New, Events, Offers, and Products. Use our Google My Business Posting Guide to identify the best way to make your promotion known.

Of course, in order for your promotion to get exposure, your profile needs to show up in search results. Use our free tool below to make sure your Google My Business profile is optimized to get found on Google search.

<img class=”i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer” style=”max-width: 100%; display: block !important; margin-bottom: 0px;” role=”presentation” src=”data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />

Get your Google visibility score
In 30 seconds, find out whether your Google business listing is optimized to get found and stand out on search.

2. Free Gifts

Fairly self-explanatory. There are many ways to utilize this particular sales promotion techniques. A restaurant, for example, may offer free dessert with the purchase of a meal. An electronics store may offer free batteries to customers. Chik-Fil-A recently launched a popular promotion where they offered the first 100 customers to their newly-opened stores free chicken sandwiches for a year. Massage Envy often offers a free one-hour massage with the purchase of a $150 gift card—who doesn’t love a free massage?

3. Free Samples

Costco uses this method with great success. By providing samples to all customers in the store, regardless of whether they purchase something, they encourage customers to buy products they may not have considered before. Small businesses don’t have the budget that Costco does but can still provide free samples to customers.

Do you have a new product that you’re trying to sell? Give out samples! This works best with food but can also work at spas and salons with tester lotions and perfumes or aromatherapy products. If you’re promoting a new face product, let people try it out! People like something they can try before buying.

4. Discounted Prices

Everybody loves a deal, and as Black Friday and Cyber Monday consistently demonstrate year after year, consumers will go crazy over a good price. Use holidays and events in our Marketing Calendar to your advantage by having sales or specials at your business.

5. Joint Promotions

Joint promotions can be done both between brands owned by a single company, or between brands owned by separate companies. Joint promotions are easy if you know other business owners in a similar or related industry. Offer them some of your products or services to be bundled into a package at their business and offer the same bundle at yours. This is free promotion for each of you at the other owner’s business.

6. Vouchers and Coupons

These are offered in magazines, newspapers, on product packaging, and online. You can offer vouchers and coupons via email to your email list or as a thank you when people subscribe to your blog or email newsletter.

7. Social Media Contests and Giveaways

Purchasing a product provides a consumer entry to these giveaways. Such sales promotions are particularly popular with food items such as chips and sodas, which provide prizes related to the business inside the packaging or offer codes on bottle caps. But you can do the same with a Facebook or Instagram giveaway to get new customers interested in your business.

8. Fair-Trade, Made in the USA, and Cause-Related Products

Products that are either fair-trade or contribute to a charitable cause are sales promotion tools that are rarely recognized as such. However, such products can not only benefit a charity, but also the business selling them as well. GAP and Apple, for example, both received great reception to their (RED)-branded products, a percentage of whose sale prices went to supporting HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

But small businesses can do these promotions as well. If your products are produced or manufactured domestically, brand your business as “Made in the USA.” If your coffee shop’s coffee is all free-trade, make it known! People seek out businesses whose values are aligned with their own so if something is important to you, chances are it’s important to customers.

9. Buy One, Get One Free

Buy-one-get-one-free deals (aka BOGO) are among the most well-used promotional methods. Within business circles, they are often referred to as “self-liquidating” promotions because they encourage the clearing of stock. Still, rarely do buy-one-get-one-free promotions cost a business anything. In fact, they are designed to increase revenue. For example, say it costs a business 10 cents to produce a loaf of bread. If that bread is sold for two for $1, that business still makes a profit. In fact, profits soar because more bread is sold.

BOGO deals work with more than just product-based businesses; they also work for services. Fitness studios, spas, salons, consultants, and trainers can offer BOGO deals on their classes or trainings as a way of filling their schedules or getting new clients during the slow season. Since service-based businesses are more time than product-value related, the only thing you’re losing is time and during the off-season, a BOGO deal will be well worth the investment if it leads to new customers in the long run.

10. Customer Loyalty Programs

Punch cards are a common example of customer relationship incentives. For example, a customer gets a stamp for every coffee drink she buys, and after the 6th stamp, she is eligible for a free drink. Other customer retention and loyalty programs include an insiders club where there is a small fee buy-in that gives customers extra discounts and first pick of services as well as client referral programs.