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BrickSeek Saves Parents Money | Breakdown with Bethany

BrickSeek Brick Seek Helping Parents Save Money Bethany Hollars on The Breakdown with Bethany MomCaveTV

As parents, it’s no secret that we spend a lot of money on our kids. From back-to-school clothes to the madness of holiday gift shopping it seems that there is always something we need to buy. Luckily, there are experts and websites like BrickSeek to help guide us when it comes to smart shopping and saving money.

Bethany Hollars from BrickSeek is my most recent guest and she shares some gems about how to teach kids the value of a dollar and also reveals her favorite place to score epic deals. Check out the episode below.

BrickSeek and Teaching Kids About Money | Bethany Hollars | The Breakdown with Bethany

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Hi, and welcome back to another episode of the Breakdown with Bethany. I’m Bethany Braun-Silva and today we are doubling down on the name of this show. That’s because my guest is Bethany Hollars. She’s the content director of BrickSeek and a money-saving expert. So, parents, you’re definitely going to want to listen to this one.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Bethany, thank you so much for joining us. Obviously, I love your name, but I’m also really interested in what you do. I mean money-saving tips for parents is something that I probably should focus more on if I’m being really honest, but tell us about BrickSeek and all your credibility there.

Bethany Hollars:
Absolutely. I’m so excited to meet you. We just got done talking about how we don’t know many people named Bethany. So it’s really cool to actually sit down with another Bethany. My name is Bethany Hollars. I’m the content director and also the head of media relations at BrickSeek. We’re an online shopping tool. BrickSeek came into existence about 10 years ago. Our founder was actually a Lego freak, loved collecting Legos. It’s a huge community out there. If you know anyone who’s an avid Lego collector, they’re just great people. He was actually buying sets locally to him in stores like Target and Walmart and when a set was getting ready to be clearanced out, he’d try and find it so he could stock up on it before they’d stop making it.

Bethany Hollars:
But he was spending a lot of time and also money searching, running all around, trying to find these sets. He has some software development background. So he created himself a simple tool where he could put the UPC number of whatever that Lego set is that he was chasing into his tool that he created along with his zip code, and it would pull up the closest stores to him, big box retailers like Walmart and Target. And it would tell him here’s how many of those Lego sets are at each of these specific stores, and also here’s how much they cost at each of these specific stores.

Bethany Hollars:
What a lot of people don’t realize is that pricing is not the same across retailers, even if it’s the same retailer. So if you have two Walmarts, one’s 10 miles this way, and one’s 10 miles this way, they might have the Lego set at Walmart A for 20 bucks. But if you just went 10 miles in the other direction, maybe Walmart B has already marked that Lego set down to $10. So he created this tool to save himself money. So he wasn’t going to stores that didn’t carry the Lego. Or time so that he wasn’t going to stores that didn’t carry the Lego, but also money. He was finding the stories that had clearanced this stuff down, and he released this tool into some of the online Lego forums that he was a part of and said, “Feel free to use it. You can use it no matter where you live in the country.”

Bethany Hollars:
It really just took off from there. People saw the value of being able to put in this information, plus they discovered that you can use it for any UPC for any product, not just Lego. So obviously there were so many uses for that. It caught on in the couponing community and the mom deal seeker community and it really just took off like wildfire. So now we’ve grown into the company that we are today, where we have a ton, a huge suite of different tools to help people save time and money as they shop. We’ve added a ton of retailers since then. So basically at BrickSeek, we make it super easy to find really good deals online and in brick and mortar stores.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love that. I mean as parents, moms especially, we are the people that are buying for our kids. We’re buying for the house. We’re buying for ourselves once in a while, maybe we’ll decide to splurge on ourselves. But we’re coming off, obviously the holiday season where people might have gone a little overboard spending. So what do you recommend if you’re kind of trying to tighten the reigns a little bit as we’re going into 2022 and to be a little bit more smart when it comes to your finances.

Bethany Hollars:
So first off, I’d say you want to be aware of some general retailer cycles. A lot of clearance is kind of cut off towards the end of any year because the retailers are finishing up their clearance cycle at the end of fall, late September, and beginning of October, because they know the holidays are coming up. So they’ve already clearanced out the stuff that they need to get out the doors to make space for that limited edition holiday merchandise to come in.

Bethany Hollars:
But then once the holidays are done, they need the limited edition holiday merchandise to get back out the door so that they can restock with the normal stuff they carry. So we see a little bit of a lull in some really good, that super high discount 70 to 90% clearance towards the end of any year. But starting in the new year, all that holiday stuff, any excess inventory that these retailers have brought in that they need to get back out the door, we’re going to start to see that clearance pick up big time.

Bethany Hollars:
Of course, I’m with BrickSeek. I’m going to recommend that you use BrickSeek because we do all of that work for you. We’re monitoring the biggest retailers online and brick and mortar stores across the country. We’re finding those deals before basically anyone else is whether it’s a human or any other kind of program. When those things start to hit clearance we’re monitoring 24/7, millions and millions of products. As soon as those prices start to drop, it’s hitting our website. So I definitely recommend a tool like BrickSeek.

Bethany Hollars:
But also there’s some general saving tips as well that you can follow, which will help you save money no matter what time of year you’re shopping. So if you want to go over some of those, I love giving tips trying to save money.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Well yeah. I mean, definitely. But I’m actually so curious because I think I get a little… Like a lot of parents, we get a little burnt out from spending at the end of the year. So if kids are asking for something come January and February, my response is oh, no, we don’t have the money. Or even if you do, it’s like, no, it’s too expensive. Do you have kind of tips around talking to kids in a way that might be a little bit more digestible for them when talking to them about money-saving tips or spending wisely?

A Mom of Four on Teaching Kids About Money

Bethany Hollars:
Yeah. So I’m actually the mom of four, my kids range from nine down to four. So I definitely know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s been a struggle with me to teach my kids the value of a dollar. I think that’s one thing that sometimes it feels like people are kind of losing touch with. There is still value to a dollar that needs to be taught. That’s not something that we just instinctually know. That’s something that, especially for kids, who you have to teach them that there’s value to money, that money doesn’t grow on trees. Especially in those younger ages, it can be harder to kind of really drive that concept down.

Bethany Hollars:
For me personally, I always try to tie in the fact that there has to be a little bit of personal effort towards getting that money. It doesn’t grow on trees. Whether or not that’s simple chores like unloading the dishwasher and you’ll get a quarter for doing that. I think it’s important, at least for my kids, that they’re able to see that allowance money start to accumulate. So I actually have a clear jar labeled with each of their names and it’s decorated, but they’re able to see, oh my money’s growing. It’s something there that’s a physical visual reminder of the more chores that I do, the more times I clean up my room, this money’s growing. I have more this week than I did last week and I think that’s really important.

Bethany Hollars:
The other thing is, I think just like you said, sometimes it’s a good thing to just say no. The answer doesn’t always have to be yes, especially coming off the holidays. I do try and have conversations with my kids when they ask about why the answer’s no. Not just, no. So exactly like you said, well, we’re just coming off of the holidays. You guys got a lot of gifts. Gifts cost money. You know how much money, how long it took you to earn this much money in your jar? Mom has to save money too and I just spent a lot of it on Christmas. So we have to figure out how to pace our money as well.

Bethany Hollars:
I think especially as kids get older actually allowing them to have some of their own buying authority is probably the best way to drive home the value of a dollar. A quick story about how this is something that I’m going to do with my kids once they get older. Probably the best lesson my parents taught me to teach me the value of money, how to spend it, how to shop wisely. It’s truly what began my career as a deal seeker. They gave me a clothing allowance. So once I hit that age of a tween where I was like, “I don’t want that, mom, that you bought. Ew, it’s so gross.” I started to have my own sense of style. My mom said, “Fine. I’m going to let you do the shopping. You want these brand names that I would never spend that amount of money on, but whatever.”

Bethany Hollars:
So she’d say, “For summer I was going to spend $250. Here’s $250 in an envelope.” She’d set some ground rules. You have to buy socks. You have to buy at least a windbreaker or something like that. But otherwise, if you want to buy three pieces of name brand clothing that’s super expensive, that’s what you get for summer. Or if you want to learn how to start shopping the sales at Macy’s, and figuring out how to do those calculations and get seven pieces of clothing instead… And that really, in all honesty, that gave me the buying authority where I felt like I was in charge and I could make my own decisions. That was the number one lesson that was instilled in me that started me thinking of I can take $20 and spend it on one thing. Or if I shop smart, I can buy two things with it.

Bethany Hollars:
It kind of went from there. It’s the number one thing I plan to do it with my kids that I would recommend for people. It doesn’t have to be clothing. It can be something else as well. Maybe your kids’ really into a hobby. Video games are huge. Here’s what I was going to spend for whatever. Maybe you get them one thing every other month. You spend it, but once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love that. I’m stealing all of these ideas. I feel like part of your BrickSeek app or experience should be your voice coming through telling us do this, do that. I love it so much. But speaking of shopping deals in-store and Macy’s are another… Where can parents find the best deals? Because obviously, especially we’re coming off the pandemic, but I’m wondering is online shopping the best place to find deals? Are people still browsing the racks? T.J. Maxx and all of that. Where is the best place to find deals these days?

Bethany Hollars:
So the question, and I get that all the time, people are like, “What’s the number one place to find deals?” My answer is always everywhere. You would be amazed. If you know where to look and as you learn these tips and tricks of how to shop smart, you can find deals anywhere. Of course, there’s better times a year like Black Friday, cyber Monday and the holiday times where we’re going to see the retailers be much more eager to give us discounts than other times of the year. But there are deals to be had no matter where you’re shopping, what you’re shopping for, where you live.

Bethany Hollars:
Like you said, the in-store versus online thing, that’s definitely a shift in the retail industry that we’re starting to see. We’re starting to see that pick up more and more each year where retailers are really trying to start to push the consumers to shop online. We actually are starting to see better deals for Cyber Monday now than we used to in the past for Black Friday, for the sole reason that it’s more beneficial to the retailer to have you shop online. Not that they want you to stay out of the store, but when it comes to just cost effectiveness, delivery efficiency, overall just the infrastructure of the entire shopping, and ordering and checkout process, it’s easier for them and it’s easier for us to do it online.

Bethany Hollars:
We’re starting to see a lot of brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart, for example, starting to use their individual store hubs almost as distribution centers. Where they’re encouraging you to order online, place your order online, and then they’re using inventory from their actual stores to fulfill those orders locally. So it’s definitely a shift we’re going to continue to see where those retailers are pushing us to do our shopping online. It’s not to say that we can’t find great deals in-store. That’s how BrickSeek started, was helping to find those awesome clearance deals in store. There are still deals to be had when certain categories of items go on clearance in-store.

Bethany Hollars:
Of course, you’ve got the fact that you’ve got to go to the store. You have to find the product. You hope that if the store says that there are four left, that three of those weren’t stolen or broken or someone picked them up and they put them back in a completely different part of the store.

Bethany Hollars:
But online is definitely where I’m encouraging people to go. It’s so much easier. You don’t leave your house, you do it from your phone. You add whatever you want. You hit the checkout button. Again, if you know some of these tips, it’s super easy to save even more online, especially online.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
That’s amazing. All right. Final question. Bethany, where is your favorite place to shop? It could be online or in-store but what is your favorite place?

Both Bethanys Have the Same Favorite Place to Shop

Bethany Hollars:
My favorite place to shop when it comes to basically every single time I check out being like, yes, I got such a good deal is Kohl’s. I feel like Kohl’s is one of the most… Do you like Kohl’s?

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love Kohl’s.

Bethany Hollars:
I love Kohl’s.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Kohl’s, maybe we’ll get them to sponsor this episode.

Bethany Hollars:
Kohl’s. Yes. Kohl’s. Maybe an ad pops up on the side or something for Kohl’s. But no, I love Kohl’s. I feel like it’s one of the most underrecognized retailers-

Bethany Braun-Silva:
My kids love those scratch-offs. When we forget our Kohl’s card we do the scratch offs. They love it.

Bethany Hollars:
Absolutely. They have so many different ways to save. Again, this is something you kind of have to learn through experience, but if you can kind of master the way to shop at Kohl’s, I do all 100% of my kids’ clothing shopping. Again, I have four kids. It’s very inexpensive at Kohl’s. I save on average over 50% because I know how to shop.

Bethany Hollars:
So some examples of how you can save a ton of money at Kohl’s. First off, if you’ve got kids, I always recommend buy whatever size they’re going to need next year this year, when it’s on clearance. Throw it in a tote, chuck it in the closet, pull it out next year when they fit into it, and now instead of spending $25 on that pair of Nike shorts that your kid’s going to get anyway, you bought them a year ahead of time. You’re not rushing around. You’re not fighting inventory limitations and things like that. Also, I get them for $9. You just can’t beat it. Oh, I have a whole stack of stuff over there, actually of my son that just arrived. Under Armor, Nike, the name brand clothes that kids want at literally more than 50% off.

Bethany Hollars:
Kohl’s also has some great coupon programs. As you mentioned, they’ve got their scratch-off coupons, which are super kind of fun to do. I really appreciate that they kind of make it fun to save in that way, but they also allow you to stack coupon codes as well. So you can take, maybe they’ll give you what they call a tier coupon or a category coupon. You’ll get $10 off if you spend $50 in the home decor category. So you spend 50 bucks and you get $10 right off the top, but then they’ll have another coupon going on at the same time that maybe it’s 25% off your whole order. So then you stack that on top of it. Now you’re getting more of a discount. Then they’ve got their amazing Kohl’s Cash program where they’re generally, most times of the month are offering money back on your purchase. So you spend $50, and you get $10 back of Kohl’s Cash that you can redeem at a later time.

Bethany Hollars:
So now you’ve got this $10 off 50, then you got 25% off of the remainder of that and then you’re making money off of whatever your balance is there. So it’s ways upon ways to save. They’ve got a Kohl’s rewards program. They’ve got some great sale prices as well. So basically all these things together make it super easy to save a ton of money. It’s my favorite place to shop. I never check out feeling like I didn’t just get such an amazing deal. It’s such a rush.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I feel like you’re right. It’s underrated because they also have a super friendly return policy.

Bethany Hollars:
Yes.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Great return policy, super friendly, and I actually just bought… You reminded me. I just bought my new winter coat from there. So love Kohl’s. Bethany, thank you so much for… I learned so much. I feel like I have… I’m going to have to go back and rewatch this just for my own money-saving tips and tricks, all of that. So thank you. Tell everybody where they can find you.

Money-Saving Features

Bethany Hollars:
Definitely. You can find me all over the place, but BrickSeek.com is really where you can go to check out some of these great tools. Anyone, no matter where you are in the country, you can access BrickSeek.com. You can use things like our inventory checkers for some of the major retailers where you’re looking for an item and it will tell you where that item is near you. What it’s priced near you. If you have a free account with BrickSeek, you can start setting up some local alerts, and online alerts, where we’re monitoring the products you want to buy for you. Then we just notify you when they come into stock or they drop in price near you so that you don’t have to do any of that legwork. A ton of tools to help you save time and money. BrickSeek is where you can find me and all of those deals.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Amazing. Thank you so much.

Bethany Hollars:
Thank you.

Listen to this interview about BrickSeek as a podcast!

BrickSeek Brick Seek Helping Parents Save Money  Bethany Hollars on The Breakdown with Bethany MomCaveTV
Bethany Braun Silva

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