Shopping

Protect Your Credit with These 15 Online Shopping Safety Tips

Every minute, 19 people fall victim to identity theft. Add in all of the high-profile cases of credit card security breaches in the news lately, it's no surprise that it is fast becoming one of the most common crimes in America.

Are you planning on shopping online this week?

More than 80% of the population has purchased something online and the sales from online shopping will rise to $1.4 trillion dollars by next year, according to CPC Strategy. So the real question is not are you going to shop online, but how do you plan on staying safe while doing it?

Before you make your next purchase, read these tips on how to shop safe online:

Using Credit

How to Protect Your Credit Card Number Online

Flickr / Fosforix

Always use a credit card. There are more than 9.9 million incidents of identity theft each year. But the good news is if you are using a credit card for shopping online, you are only liable for fraud or unauthorized use up to $50. Skip the debit card, bank account transactions, cash, checks, and money orders.

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10 Manly Father's Day Gifts for Every Dad

Father’s Day is fast approaching, and since it’s the biggest shopping day of the year, we figured we’d put together our list of the Top 10 Manly Father’s Day gifts! (Ok, so Father’s Day is not even close to the biggest shopping day of the year, but a fellow dad can wish, can’t I?)

The truth is, more gifts are purchased for mom on Mother’s Day than for dad on Father’s Day. To help change that trend, we’ve compiled for you the best tech gifts, the toughest tools, and everything in between for all the manly dads in your life.

Hose Hideaway Reel

Lawn & Garden Equipment

The best time of the year to buy lawn and garden equipment (even better than Black Friday!) is often around Father’s Day. So even if you’re just shopping for new lawn care gear for yourself, now is probably the best time to strike. What’s a more manly pursuit than striving to achieve the best lawn on the block? This Suncast Hideaway Hose Reel will help you get there. Water the lawn, stow the unsightly hose away, and at $20 a piece, this is the best price we could find as well.

Cheap Samsung Smart TV

Smart TVs

Just as flip phones have given way to smartphones, internet-connected smart TVs are beginning to dominate the HDTV market. They combine HD television with built-in internet to connect dad to all of his favorite streaming content. One great example, from well-liked brand Samsung, is this 40” Smart LED HDTV for $410.

Cheap Craftsman Tools

Power Tools & Hand Tools

Some might say that tools are a cliched Father’s Day gift. Well they’re not nearly as cliched as the dreaded necktie, and many dads consider upgraded tools, especially ones from trusted brands like Craftsman, to be necessities. Check out this Craftsman Sale at Sears, with tons of tools at up to 50% off.

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Student Discounts: 40+ Stores Offering Discounts for College Students

Isn't it funny that some of our happiest, most exciting, and (dare I say) care-free years--our college years--are also some of our poorest?

List of Student Discounts

College students can get some sweet discounts with a student ID!

Any student or parent with a student in college will tell you that college can be a stressful time on a family's budget. For both students and parents, balancing tuition expenses, grocery bills, rent, and transportation costs can be a juggling act. We have compiled a list of 40 stores with student discounts to help you or your college student save big!

Student Travel Discounts

College offers students a plethora of travel opportunities. Whether your student is studying abroad in Europe, or celebrating spring break in Mexico, there are a number of student discounts on flight,  hotels, hostels, activities, and even traveler's insurance available to students. We found a variety of fantastic travel discount websites exclusive to students, but these are the cream of the crop:

Discounts with Student ID

While some savvy student shoppers are familiar with showing a student ID to receive in-store discounts, many people are unaware of this little trick until after graduation! Our advice to college (and even high school students) is to bring your student ID with you when you shop, and to ALWAYS ask a sales associate if that store provides a student discount. Most stores do not publicly advertise their student discount, and the discount is often spread through word-of-mouth. By asking the sale associate, students can be confident that they will get the best discount possible. Here is a student discount list that offers deals just for students:

  • Academic Superstore: Provides student discounts on computers, electronics, software, and other college necessities
  • Amazon Student: Free Amazon Prime trial for 1 year; includes unlimited free 2-day shipping with all orders and one-day shipping upgrade $3.99 per item
  • AMC Theatres: Student discounted movie tickets every Thursday
  • Amtrak: Save 15% with your Student Advantage card or your International Student Identity Card.
  • Ann Taylor LOFT: 15% off
  • Ann Taylor: 20% off
  • Apple: 8% off (online and in-store)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago: $50 annual student membership, plus other various discounts within the Art Institute
  • Banana Republic: 15% off
  • Blockbuster: discounts when you show your report card
  • Broadway in Chicago: Ticket prices as low as $14.50 for select performances
  • Burger King: 10% off (varies by location)
  • Charlotte Russe: 10% off in-store with ID
  • Club Monaco: 20% off regular-priced items
  • Dairy Queen: 10% off (varies by location)
  • Dell University: Savings vary by college
  • Dominos Pizza: various student discounts based on location
  • Eddie Bauer: 15% off on regular priced merchandise in-store with valid student ID
  • The GM College Discount: offers savings on  Chevrolet, Buick or GMC cars
  • HP Academy Store: offers exclusive student discounts on laptops and desktop computers
  • J. Crew: 15% off regular-priced items
  • JoAnn: 10% for Student Discount Program members
  • JourneyEd: provides student discounts on computers, electronics, software, and other college necessities
  • Kroger: 5% off at select locations
  • The Limited: 15% off
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art: $10 admission for students or $8 admission for students outside New York City, $2 for students within New York City with groups of $10 or more
  • Papa John’s: various student discounts based on location
  • Pizza Hut: 10%-20% off (varies by location)
  • Qdoba: student burrito meals $5
  • Ralph Lauren Rugby: 15% off
  • Regal Theaters: Up to 25% off tickets for select shows and dates
  • Sam’s Club: Collegiate Annual Membership $40 plus FREE $15 Sam’s Club gift card
  • Subway: 10% off
  • Taco Cabana: 20% off (varies by location)
  • ThinkEDU: student discounts on software, textbooks, dorm supplies, Apple products, collegiate apparel and more
  • Topshop: 10% off
  • Urban Outfitters: 10% off (on select dates only)
  • Waffle House: 10% off
  • Western Digital Store: 20% off all products when you create an account with a school email address.

Choosing your student discount strategy is up to you, but students should be aware that there are always discounts to take advantage of. After all, our college years fly by, and the prices of “the real world” can wait.

Make sure to check out our compilation of Teacher Discounts that can help your favorite professors save big!

Are we missing any student discounts? Leave a comment and we will update our list!

Looking for a printable version of our student discount list? Just click the link below and hit the "Print" button in your browser!
40+ Stores with Student Discounts (PDF, 94KB)

Last updated 7/11/14

Take the best online coupons and deals with you on the go! Download the newly updated Brad's Deals iPhone app today.

Senior Discounts: 100+ Stores Offering Discounts for Senior Citizens

Gone are the days of your grandmother's "early bird special" at the local diner. As our baby boomers reach retirement age, hundreds of retailers are featuring new and improved discounts exclusively for the 60 and older crowd. We have composed a list of senior savings that will help you keep more cash in your pocket. Whoever said getting older was a bad thing, obviously didn't know about these fantastic senior discounts!

Discounts for senior citizens can be found in some unexpected places!

Restaurant Discounts

  • Applebee's: 15% off  with Golden Apple Card (60+)
  • Arby's 10% off (55+). Varies by location, please call your local Arby's.
  • A&W All American Food: Varies by location.
  • Ben & Jerry's: 10% off (60+)
  • Bennigan's: discount varies by location
  • Bob's Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
  • Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
  • Burger King: 10% off or a $.75 drink  (60+). (varies by location)
  • Captain D's Seafood: discount varies on location (62+)
  • Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee (55+) (varies by location)
  • Chili's: 10% off (55+)
  • CiCi's Pizza: 10% off (60+)
  • Culver's: 10% off (60+)
  • Dairy Queen: 10% off (60+), varies by location
  • Denny's: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members (55+)
  • Dunkin' Donuts: Free donut if you show your AARP card and buy a large or extra large coffee.
  • Einstein's Bagels: 10% off baker's dozen of bagels (60+)
  • El Pollo Loco: 10% off (55+) varies by location.
  • Friendly's: Discounted breakfast (60+)
  • Fuddrucker's: 10% off any senior platter (55+)
  • Gatti's Pizza: 10% off (60+)
  • Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
  • IHOP: 10% off (55+)
  • Jack in the Box: up to 20% off (55+)
  • KFC: free small drink with any meal (55+)
  • Krispy Kreme: 10% off (50+)
  • Long John Silver's: various discounts at participating locations (55+)
  • Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
  • Ponderosa: Senior menu from 11a-4p (60+)
  • Shoney's: 10% off
  • Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+), varies by location
  • Steak 'n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday (50+)
  • Subway: 10% off at manager's discretion (60+)
  • Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
  • Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
  • TCBY: 10% off (55+)
  • Tea Room Cafe: 10% off (50+)
  • Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
  • Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
  • Wendy's: Discount and age limit vary by location.  Ask your local restaurant for details.
  • Whataburger: Discounted soda
  • White Castle: 10% off (62+)

Retail and Clothing Discounts

  • Banana Republic: 10% off (50+)
  • Bealls: 15% off every Tuesday (50+)
  • Bed Bath and Beyond: 10% off mailing club (55+)
  • Belk: 15% off first Tuesday of every month (55+)
  • Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days with a BonTon credit card. (55+)
  • C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
  • Clarks: 10% off (62+)
  • Dress Barn: 10% off (55+) (varies by location)
  • Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
  • Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
  • Hancock Fabrics: 15% off on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month. (55+) In-store only.
  • Kohl's: 15% off  (60+) on Wednesdays
  • Lens Crafters: 30% off for AARP members
  • Michael's: 10% off on Tuesdays with AARP card
  • Modell's Sporting Goods: 10% off
  • Rite Aid: 20% off on the first Wednesday of the month for wellness+ members (65+)
  • Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
  • Tanger Outlets: Free coupon book for AARP members
  • The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off (55+)
  • TJ Maxx: 10% on Tuesdays, varies by location.
  • Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month (55+)
  • Walgreens: "Senior Day" once a month. (Balance Rewards members 55+ and all AARP members). Day of the month varies by location. Discount is 20% off Walgreen brands and 15% of most everything else.

Grocery Discounts

  • American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday (50+)
  • Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
  • DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
  • Fresh Farm: 5% off Tuesdays and Thursdays (55+)
  • Fry's Supermarket: free Fry's VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday (55+), or 10% first Wednesday of every month
  • Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
  • Kroger: 10% off  first Wednesday of the month. (60+) (select locations only, contact your local store)
  • Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Pathmark: 5% off $30 every Tuesday (55+)
  • The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday (50+)
  • Publix: 5% off every Wednesday (60+; only valid outside FL)
  • Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
  • Uncle Guiseppe's Marketplace: 5% off (62+)

Travel Discounts

  • Alaska Airlines: 10% off (65+)
  • Alamo: up to 25% off for AARP members
  • American Airlines: various discounts for 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
  • Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members
  • Best Western: 10% off (55+)
  • Budget Rental Cars: 10% off; up to 20% off for AARP members (50+)
  • Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Clarion: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
  • Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off (50+)
  • Econo Lodge: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members
  • Greyhound: 5% off (62+)
  • Hampton Inns & Suites: 10% off when booked 72 hours in advance
  • Hertz: up t0 25% off for AARP members
  • Hilton Hotels: AARP members are eligible for a 5% senior discount at Hilton properties worldwide.
  • Holiday Inn: 10%-30% off depending on location (62+)
  • Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
  • InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
  • Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler's Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Marriott Hotels: 15% off (62+)
  • Motel 6: 10% off (60+)
  • Myrtle Beach Resort: 10% off (55+)
  • National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members
  • Quality Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Red Roof Inn: 10% off year-round; 15% off through September 2014.
  • Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Sleep Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50 and up
  • United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)

Entertainment Discounts

  • AMC Theaters: up to 30% off (55+)
  • Bally Total Fitness: up to $100 off memberships (62+)
  • Busch Gardens Tampa: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)
  • Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
  • Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
  • U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
  • Regal Cinemas: 30% off
  • Ripley's Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket (55+)
  • SeaWorld Orlando: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)

Cell Phone Discounts

  • AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $29.99/month (65+)
  • Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service (50+)
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+)

*Check out our Secret Cell Phone Discounts to view all cell phone discounts available to you!

Miscellaneous Discounts

  • Great Clips: $3 off hair cuts (65+)
  • Super Cuts: $2 off haircuts (60+)

Since many senior discounts are not advertised to the public, our advice to men and women over 55 is to ALWAYS ask a sales associate if that store provides a senior discount. Also, please note that some senior discounts vary by region. That way, you can be sure to get the most bang for your buck.

Looking for a printable version of our list of discounts for seniors? We've got you covered! Click this link to view, then just hit "Print" in your browser:
100+ Stores with Senior Discounts (PDF, 123 KB)

Last updated 7/11/14
Photo by Dana Robinson

Take the best online coupons and deals with you on the go! Download the newly updated Brad's Deals iPhone app today.

Top 5 Times When You Should Always Use A Credit Card

Every time we make a purchase, we have to decide which method of payment to use. Credit card users may wish to charge some things to their cards, but use other forms of payment when convenient.

Yet there are certain types of transactions that you should always use a credit card for. Here are the top five:

Extra Miles for Office Supplies

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

1. When buying anything that you will receive bonus rewards for. For reward credit card users, there is nothing better than receiving extra points, miles, or cash back for your transaction. For example, I always charge office supplies, telephone, television, and Internet services to my Chase Ink Bold, as it offers five Ultimate Rewards points for each dollar spent.

2. When purchasing any goods or services to be delivered in the future. Ordering something off of the Internet? Paying for a hotel reservation? Pre-paying for a year's worth of voice over IP (VOIP) telephone service? In each of these cases, using a credit card will protect you in case the merchant never provides the goods or services you paid for, or they are significantly not as described. For example, if you never receive your Internet order, the hotel doesn't honor your reservation, or the telephone service provider goes bankrupt, you can request a refund using a process often called a charge-back.

Federal law requires credit card issuers to refund your money when a merchant fails to deliver what it promised. All it takes is a quick phone call which will result in an immediate, but temporary credit to your account that will become permanent when you document your loss. In contrast, those who use other forms of payments must resort to the courts in order to try to get their money back.

How to Rent a Car

Jthompson5254 / Wikimedia Commons

3. When renting a car. Perhaps the only thing worse than trying to rent a car without a credit card is being stuck in line behind a person who isn't. If the car rental agency will rent a car without a credit card, they may ask for multiple forms of identification, proof of residence, insurance, and a large cash deposit or hold on your checking account. Even after this arduous procedure, renters will still need to purchase their costly insurance policy that is sold by the day.

But when you pay with a credit card, you just show your driver's license, decline the optional insurance, and you are on your way. Nearly all credit cards come with a collision damage waiver that is in effect in most cases when cardholders decline the optional coverage.

4. When buying airline tickets. Not only are these services that will be provided in the future, but many credit cards offer additional benefits for travelers who pay with their credit card. For example, trip cancellation and trip interruption policies will help you cover extra costs during delays, and lost baggage policies will reimburse you for some costs when an airline misplaces your checked luggage. In addition, airline credit cards, like the US Airways Premier World Mastercard, offer bonus miles for purchases, and may provide benefits to travelers who pay with their co-branded card. Finally, most credit cards include some sort of travel accident insurance that covers travel on so-called common carriers such as airplanes, trains, buses, and boats.TV Warranty Credit Card

5. When you need an extended warranty. Do you know the feeling when you are about to pay for a new television, and the cashier is pitching an extended warranty policy. On one hand, paying an extra $50 might seem like a small price for some peace of mind, but on the other hand, you know that these policies are sold so aggressively because they are so profitable. You can avoid that dilemma by using one of the many credit cards that have an extended warranty policy. These policies typically add one year to a manufacturer's warranty terms at no additional cost.

47 Things You Always Should Buy at the Dollar Store (+ 21 Things You Never Should)

It sounds too good to be true – buying something for $1.

Shopping at the dollar store can be hit or miss. Some items are fantastic deals, while others should be left on the shelves.

Here are 47 items you should always buy at the dollar store and 21 items to never buy.

Housewares & Décor

The nice thing about buying house décor and house wares at a dollar store is they’re easy to replace if they break or switch up when you want to update your home style.

Cheap Votive Holders

  • Reusable food storage containers
  • Bins for organizing
  • Wine glasses
  • Mugs
  • Plates
  • Silverware
  • Kitchen towels
  • Vases

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5 Military Discounts You May Have Missed

Memorial Day is upon us and while many stores offer special deals and coupons over the Memorial Day weekend, we instead wanted to share our list of discounts offered to veterans and active military members. Being in a military family, you may already know about a free meal on Veteran's Day at Applebee's or 10% off at Bass Pro Shops, but there are a few discounts that you may have missed. We wanted to point out some of our favorite and lesser known discounts available to active service members, veterans and sometimes even to their families.

(Photo: shawn1 / Pixababy)

Veteran Tickets

Veteran Tickets Foundation provides sports and events tickets to serving military and honorably discharged veterans from all branches of service as well as family of those killed in action. By teaming up with major sports teams, organizations, venues and ticket holders, they are able to provide free and discounted tickets to the more than 21 million military and veterans.

Birdies For the Brave

Complimentary admission for active, Reserve, and military retirees and dependents at select PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, and Web.com Tour events. Many tournaments also offer discounted admission or complimentary admission for non-retired military vets.

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Amazon Prime's Video Library Just Got a Lot Cooler

This morning, Amazon announced it's rolling out the first wave of HBO content on Prime Instant Video. When news broke a few months ago on Amazon's $20 price hike for Prime users, many suspected this was coming. Now that it's here, what does it mean for subscribers?

Watch The Sopranos Free at Amazon

Now you can watch all six seasons of The Sopranos free with an Amazon Prime account.

HBO, which has been notoriously stingy with its library of critically acclaimed programming, has released a solid volume of shows for availability on Prime, albeit most of them a few years old.

Starting today, Prime subscribers can stream:

If you're looking to give Amazon Prime a spin, check out this free 30-day trial being offered until June 30th. Be sure to cancel within 30 if you don't intend to sign up for a yearly subscription, as Amazon will charge your card $99.

How to Look Like a Pro Runner on an Amateur Budget

Running is perhaps the most basic sport of all sports in the history of humankind. Our ancestors had to run for survival - both as hunter and prey. It's really only in the last few hundred years that running has evolved into a sport wherein we push the limits of our endurance solely to stay fit, or sometimes in pursuit of a record - or maybe just the bag of goodies at the end - all while kitted out in the latest stylish gear.

Cheap Running Gear on a Budget

Photo: Chris Hunkeler / Flickr

That's possibly the greatest trick the athletic supply industry ever pulled on the public - convincing us that in order to run we must have shoes designed by NASA scientists, the latest hi-tech ultra-wicking apparel, and that running is a privilege that must burn a hole in your wallet.

This, of course, is mostly a lie. While there are a few essentials that will help keep you safe from injury, there is one basic truth when it comes to running: All you really need to do is put one foot in front of the other and go.

In this spirit, we asked the runners on the Brad's Deals team, our running friends, and even /r/running over at Reddit for their best tips on how they avoid the gear and fashion traps and generally save money on running as a sport.

Running Shoes

Without a doubt, the first and most important concern for any runner, whether new or experienced, is getting the right running shoes. For your first pair, find a running store like Fleet Feet Sports or Road Runner Sports. Most offer a free gait analysis that will tell you what kind of shoes you need. Then the salesperson will put you in a pair of shoes that will seem very expensive.

What do you do with these expensive shoes? You buy them.

Here's the thing about running shoes: If you get the wrong kind, you are setting yourself up for a running injury. So for that first pair, do not skimp. Get the good ones, because visits to the orthopedist and the resulting diagnostics are a lot more expensive than a pair of good running shoes.

How to save money on running shoes

Photo: Candice Villareal, US Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Those expensive shoes will eventually wear out, though. If you're running regularly, the treads will wear down by the end of the season and you'll be in the market for your second pair.

But you've already been fitted once and know precisely what to buy. You are now in a position to shop around. And all running shoes after that initial pair are where you can save money on the shoes.

Keep an eye out for sales. Look for coupon codes from your favorite athletic stores. Buy last year's model of the same shoe, which are always cheaper than the latest shoes. And when you do find those sales, don't limit yourself to just one pair. Buy two or three and stash the extras away for when that second pair wears out.

By the way, do yourself a favor and never buy a pair of running shoes based on how cute they are. Cute doesn't help you much when your doctor bans you from running for six weeks on account of a stress fracture. Get the shoes that will keep you healthy.

How to Find Cheap Running Clothes

Photo: Mike Baird / Flickr

Clothes

When we asked the runners on Reddit about saving money on running clothes, most of them thought we were crazy. "It's running," said one commenter. "You could literally do it naked."

Point taken. But until public decency laws catch up with that notion, we do still have to wear something, and that really can be any comfortable t-shirt and shorts. Personally, I do like athletic apparel quite a lot, and I'm especially always on the lookout for shorts that don't ride up while I'm running. But do you have to splurge at Lululemon to get good running clothes? Absolutely not!

Most of my running apparel comes from Target, which has a really nice line of Champion gear that copycats a bit of Lululemon's style for some seriously cute outfits. You can click through this link to get an automatic $5 off a Target purchase of $50 or more. I've also amassed a collection of gear from the clearance racks at Kohl's, where I found my favorite Fila running pants and a warm moisture-wicking pullover for colder weather. Shoppers can take an additional 15% off with coupon code CELEBRATE through June 17th, and Kohl's usually has plenty of coupon codes available at any given time.

Most of my favorite running shirts are those I've gotten from various races I've run. A few runners we talked to suggested looking for old tech shirts at thrift stores.

The ladies almost universally made a point of mentioning that you cannot, cannot skimp on sports bras, especially if you've got a lot to contain. Redditors mentioned spending up to $100 on the Cadillac of sports bras, but I've had pretty good luck with the C9 by Champion, available at Target for around $20.

Running Gear & Accessories

Most of the extra gear that runners often get is actually pretty unnecessary. When I first started running two years ago, I didn't have an arm band or a fuel belt - I simply carried my phone in one hand and a water bottle in the other, and did that for the entire season. I did eventually buy an armband for my phone, but I still carry my water bottle. It can get pretty slippery on hot days when my hands are sweating and condensation builds up on the plastic, but I solved that problem by cutting the bottom off an old beer coozy and pulling it onto the bottle. My personal opinion on fuel belts is that you probably don't need one for any distances shorter than 10K.

Coupon Codes for Races

Photo: Demetrius Kennon, MC1, US Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Race Fees

At some point in your running experience, you're probably going to want to run a race. And you should do that! The energy of a race is incredible, you get a shirt, and there's a party with snacks and beer at the end! But all of that party atmosphere comes at a cost, and race fees can be pretty steep as a result.

Early Bird Registrations
Early registrations are often a lot cheaper than if you wait until the last minute. So if you know you want to run that race, register for it right away. Plus, early birds often get better corral assignments.

Follow Races on Facebook
The better organized races often have their own Facebook pages, and you can often get a heads up on race discounts over there. The added bonus here is that they're often posting links to results and photos here before the notification email shows up in your inbox.

Join a running club
Clubs are always in the know when it comes to upcoming races, and are often part of the marketing, organization, and volunteer efforts. They also sometimes get exclusive member discounts. One Brad's Deals team member called out running clubs specifically. "As a member of the Chicago Area Runners Association, I get discounts to tons or races and training programs, a free Runner's World subscription and invites to social runs and events."

Join your local running store's email list
The only reason I subscribe to my favorite local running store's email newsletter is that they'll often send out exclusive coupon codes for the races that they sponsor. This is seriously handy.

Look for coupon codes
Seriously, just Google the name of the race + coupon and see what comes up. You may be surprised. There's a promo code box on the registration page for a reason!

Check with your employer
Employee wellness initiatives are gaining popularity at companies nationwide, and some may cover your race fees. For example, Brad's Deals recently began offering to cover race fees for employees, encouraging the team to be healthier. (And yes, we're hiring!)

Training for a Race - Cross-Training is Essential

Photo: Arctic Warrior / Flickr

Training Plans

Preparing for a race requires training, and running your first 5K can be intimidating when you don't know where to start. The internet is practically bursting with free training plans. Some are good, some are not so great, but a quick check with some running forums will uncover the good stuff quickly. I am a huge fan of Couch to 5K and its follow up program Bridge to 10K, both of which are free. Even the most cursory search for a half marathon plan will turn up Hal Higdon's training schedules. Joining a running club is also bound to be a goldmine for advice from experienced runners. Our Reddit runners also suggested raiding your local public library for running books.

But if all you're doing is running, then you're setting yourself up to fail. Just as you shouldn't skimp on a good pair of shoes, you also should not skimp on cross-training on non-running days. Whether you're playing tennis, going to yoga class, or weightlifting in your basement, building muscle strength between runs is critical to keeping yourself injury-free. I totally credit my barre fitness classes with keeping me healthy.

When I took a break to play softball last summer (which involves a lot of standing around and not very much running as it turns out), my body took notice and I developed some runner's knee that set my training schedule back by a few weeks. Likewise, when I briefly took up running many years ago (and did everything wrong) I developed a serious knee injury that required an MRI and 6 weeks of no exercise to heal. Let me tell you, an MRI is a lot more expensive than cross-training.

Many employers with wellness benefits will cover all or a portion of a gym membership fee, where you can take yoga classes, kickboxing, Zumba, swim laps in a pool, and take advantage of weight equipment, so be sure to ask your boss!

Nutrition & Energy

I read recently - I wish I remembered where - that if you're running any distance shorter than a half marathon, then you really don't need anything more than a banana for an energy boost. Sure enough, when I was feeling uncharacteristically sluggish in my own routine, an athletic friend suggested that I try eating a banana 30 minutes before my run. It worked like magic.

I'm not personally big on electrolyte-replacement drinks like Gatorade, but if you are, consider buying the powders in bulk to save some cash.

Cheapest Fitbit One is BurgundyTracking your runs

Wearable tech is all the rage, and Fitbit is my favorite tool. Check around for deals. Prices can vary wildly based on the color, too. My burgundy Fitbit One was several dollars cheaper than the same model in black.

Check out the Garmin Forerunner, too. Says one runner, "I recently purchased an older model of the Garmin Forerunner at a huge discount.  For an even greater discount, look at a refurbished model.  The new versions have extra bells and whistles, but nothing I would have used so not worth the extra money."

And don't forget to track your run with a free running app like RunKeeper, which lets you program intervals, gives audio cues, and breaks your run down into mile splits, maps your route, and keeps track of your personal bests.

What are your best tips for running on a budget?
Tell us in the comments below.

Why You Need To Buy $200 Gift Cards From Staples.com

Recently, Staples started selling $200 Visa gift cards online at Staples.com. So what, they sell these in the stores, right?

The difference is that you can purchase these cards online and earn valuable travel rewards in the process.

In fact, you can even come out a few dollars ahead in the end!

Buy $200 Visa Gift Cards at Staples with a rewards credit card to get more points faster with cash you'd spend anyway.

How this works:

Step 1: Sign up for the Staples Rewards program. You won't actually earn rewards directly from Staples for purchasing Visa gift cards, but you will receive free shipping on your order. It also saves time when you make repeat orders.

Step 2: Purchase the $200 Visa gift cards with your favorite rewards credit card.  Each $200 card will cost $206.95 after fees in your shopping cart.

Step 3: Spend the cards as you would normally spend any debit card.

Which credit card to use?

Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus. These cards a great option for several reasons. First, they are currently offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points to new applicants who spend $5,000 within three months of opening an account. Furthermore, cardholders earn five points per dollar spent at office supply stores such as Staples, on up to $50,000 spent annually. Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to airline and hotel programs, used to book travel, or redeemed for cash back. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year.

American Express SimplyCash Business. This card offers 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores on up to $25,000 spent annually. There is no annual fee for this card.

How much cash back and travel rewards can you earn?

If you use an Ink Bold or Ink Plus Visa from Chase, you could earn the 1,033 points in Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. These points can be redeemed for $10.33 in cash back or converted to 1,033 points or miles with airlines and hotels. When used for premium class international travel, or luxury hotels, it is possible to receive as much as 4 cents per point in value, making the rewards worth about $40.

Using the American Express SimplyCash Business card would result in a net gain of $3.38 in cash back for each $200 Visa gift card purchased.

Finally, if you use your Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express, you will earn just 207 points, but you will be closer to earning much more. This card offers new customers 10,000 Starpoints after their first purchase on the card and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after using the card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first six months of opening an account. Also, cardholders get Gold status in the Starwood program when they spend $30,000 on their card in a calendar year.  So using this card might not earn a lot of points, but it will get you close to reaching those threshold bonus.

What can you do with Visa debit cards that you can't do with a credit card?

You could use these Visa debit cards to make any purchase, and pocket the savings, but in fact, debit cards are more versatile than credit cards since they are accepted in more places. Here are some examples:

1. Use Visa debit cards where American Express isn't accepted. If you want to earn as many points as possible with your Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express, but it isn't accepted everywhere you shop, you can always use a Visa debit card.

2. Use debit cards to pay bills with Evolve Money. This service offers free bill payment services to thousands of businesses, but only with a debit card, not a credit card. So you can use Visa debit cards to pay rent, utilities, and even to pay back home, car, or student loans.

3. Pay your taxes. By using a debit card, you can pay taxes by using one of the services authorized by the IRS. There is a processing fee of between $2.49 and $3.48 per payment, which is far less than the rates for credit card purchases. Nevertheless, this cancels the value of much of the points or miles earned, but still leaves you closer to reaching a spending threshold for a large bonus.