Saturday, May 28, 2011

Awesome Hotel Deal!

Okay, so when Chris and I got married my wonderful aunt and uncle gave us an amazing gift and that is where this story begins. In the process of arranging this gift my aunt let us know that since the hotels we would be staying in on our honeymoon were Marriott brand hotels, we should apply for the Marriott Rewards Program.
No charge, just a member number where points add up for each stay at a Marriott hotel which eventually earns you free nights (and actually our honeymoon stays earned us a couple of free nights in themselves). So we did it!
There were several times over the next year when the program would offer special incentives (in the form of bonus points) which we would try to apply. I mean, you have to stay in hotels sometimes so we figured we might as well be building up free nights for it - not to mention that Marriott beds and pillows are amazzzing!
At some point, through the rewards program we were offered a Marriott Visa Card. We are not big credit card people - in fact the ones we do use we pay off each month and only keep for the incentives and cash back. This particular card would have no annual fee the first year and would add points to our rewards card for every dollar spent on it as well as automatically depositing several thousand points into that account. So we took the bait.
And it was GREAT!
We have probably stayed free 7 or 8 times in the last 4 years. Who could ask for more! Even if its just getting away to Charleston for the night - nothing is better than free (and if you do your research you can find a place that serves free hot breakfast). :)

ANYWAY - the purpose of this blog is to fill you all in on the deal we just got this month. Cause YOU can get it too!!

There is now a NEW Marriott Visa (shocking, right). It's called the Marriott Rewards PREMIER Visa and I wanted to share the info with you all so you can enjoy the benefits that we have.
(assuming you qualify)
NOTE: We in no way encourage anyone we know (or don't know) to get a credit card if they are not able to limit their spending and pay off what they spend each month, its just not a good idea so if you fall in that boat, please stop reading. :)

This new card has no annual fee the first year.
You get a free night stay at a category 1-4 hotel automatically when approved.
You also get 30,000 rewards points put into your rewards account when you make your first purchase.
When you use the card at a marriott location you get 5 points for every dollar spent.
Any other purchase on your card gets you 1 point for every dollar.

Let me make that more clear:
A category 1 hotel (some Fairfield Inns and Townplace Suites) costs you 7500 points per night. A category 2 hotel (Some Fairfield Inns, Townplace Suites, Springhill Suites, and Courtyards) costs you 10,000 points.
Category 3's (Some above listed and Residence Inns and Marriotts) cost you 15,000.
And so on with category 4s-8s increasing by 5000 points each.

So if you get 30,000 points with your first purchase on the credit card you automatically have enough for at least 3 FREE nights in a marriott hotel. PLUS the free night stay you get when you qualify for the card.

Here is a list of the different types of Marriott hotels:
Don't be fooled by the listings above - we have stayed at some fairfield inns that are nicer than courtyards - it just depends. Usually the category 1s are a little farther from big cities. (for example, Charleston, SC doesn't have any but they have a category 2 that is right by the outlets off I26 about 15 minutes from downtown).

Ok so that sounds pretty good right? Well, theres more.

After the first year there IS a fee for the card. It's $65 a year. Normally we would cancel a card if it has any annual fee, BUT with this one you automatically get ANOTHER free stay at ANY hotel (Category 1 through 5!) put into your account on the anniversary of when you got the card. Since it gives you a night at a category 5 hotel, to us, that is worth the fee. We would pay more than that for some budget hotels so it still sounds like a great deal to us.

And this free night you continue to get EVERY year as long as you have the card!

Those of you who know me well know that I am always looking out for a good deal and this one was too good to not share. I mean, can't afford a vacation this year??? - well this could cover a few days lodging for you for free and free breakfast if you pick your hotel wisely.

Just don't plan anything before the points and everything are credited to your account or the timing might not work out.

If you decide to give this a try STEP ONE is to register for the Marriott Rewards Program (remember its free and always is) *DO THIS BEFORE YOU APPLY FOR THE CC.
From there you should see a link to apply for the Premier credit card. They will notify you by mail if you got it (by sending your card).

So its up to you, please be careful!! Don't go for the deals they offer if they are not really worth it, but the ones I have mentioned are (in my opinion).

**Notice I didn't state what the interest rates and late fees are - thats because you shouldn't use them!! Haha, if you can't pay your card off each month, as I said before, don't get it!! Some people really can't handle that - they convince themselves that it will be ok to overdo it "just this once". If you are one of those people please don't tempt yourself. :)

If this was too confusing or you have any questions you want to ask me, feel free!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why I Love My Garden

Last spring I pioneered a small veggie garden in our backyard. It was an all new experience for me (and Chris). That being said I was pretty excited when things ACTUALLY started to grow. We ended up with tomatoes and banana peppers and cucumbers and some teenie green bell peppers. We planted a few other things but....they decided not to make it. :)
This year I decided to try, try again and I ventured into further unknown territory by planting some things from SEEDS (last year we started with all small plants).

Guess what....I can grow things! Well, I can manage to "not kill" things anyway. :) And so far this year everything is blossoming and growing - very exciting for me!

Here's some of what we have now:

Tomatoes (these are cherry tomatoes - we also have reg. size)BrocolliSquashString beans

And we also have hot and green peppers again and lettuce and cucumbers.

I am pretty excited about having a garden that actually produces everything you hoped it would. I have learned a few things about fertilizing and watering that I think has helped. I knew that in some respects this would be a "learn as you go" type thing so I'm glad it has started to pay off in only the 2nd year cause I'm not sure I could have justified spending money on plants/seeds/soil/etc. for a 3rd year without decent results (after all, the goal is to save money by growing it ourselves, among other things).

So here are 3 reasons why I love my garden:

1- I know what I'm eating and where its been.

2- I can wear whatever I want when picking out my veggies cause no one else has to see me. For example, the other day I grabbed the 2 flip flops closest to me and went to pick some goodies....did it matter that 1 flip flop was zebra print and 1 was black- NOPE! ;) Better than getting dressed properly to head to the grocery store again! (and yes I realize this is a very silly example and no its not meant to be taken seriously.)

3- Zach LOVES to help me water the garden and I love to see him getting involved in growing things from such a young age.

4- There's nothing like a spinach salad fresh picked from your own garden! (I won't lie - it was a little thicker than spinach I have bought at the grocery store, but that did not damper my enthusiasm one bit - cause I grew it! And it still tasted like spinach salad to me.)

I think the fact that God gave us the ability to eat things grown from the earth is pretty sweet and I can't think of a better way to get myself and my family to eat more veggies than to keep them right on hand in our own backyard.

On a side note - I have also ventured into the flower garden world this year and I'm pretty excited about that too. I love flowers and I love watching them grow from nothing but a seed.

So despite the itchy eyes, drainage, and pollen covered everything that comes along with spring, I'd say its a pretty great season!