6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages

6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages

click photo for more information
6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages
The porch pirates got me good one holiday season.  I arrived home after a long day at work to find two empty packages on my front stoop. The thermal sweatshirt that was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my dad? Gone. The pricy face cream I bought for myself? Gone. And the townhouse I was living in, which was on a residential street, didn’t have security cameras.  There were plenty of places to tuck the packages out of sight, but the delivery person was either too busy or had done so only to be foiled later by the thieves. That was years ago. Now I can simply install a smart lock on my front door and have Amazon or Walmart deliver items directly to my living room. Thieves can’t steal your packages if there’s nothing on your doormat to yoink. But what if you’re trying to receive packages and deliveries without allowing our e-commerce big brothers to let themselves in on a regular basis?  6 Ways to Stop Porch Pirates Once and for All In a 2017 report, insuranceQuotes estimated that 25.9 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep that year. And across the United States, 36% of consumers have reported having a package stolen at least once, at an average cost of $109.  Don’t want to be a part of that very sad group of people? Try one or more of these methods to deter package thieves when you’re doing your online holiday shopping.  1. Make Delivery Requests Some online ordering systems allow you to make delivery requests, like putting the package in a secure area. Making a request doesn’t guarantee that it will be met, but you may be surprised at how attentive delivery people are when dropping off your goods. “Leave on basement steps” or “upstairs neighbor can sign” are simple instructions that can help ensure your package gets to you. If you happen to run into your regular local USPS, UPS or FedEx carrier, you may be able to make requests in person. But keep in mind that your neighborhood delivery person may have the best intel on which bushes are ideal for concealing packages. 2. Work With a Neighbor If you know your neighbors — come on, go meet your neighbors — you can work together to thwart package theft. If you have alternating or overlapping schedules, swiping a package off their stoop — for good, not evil — means you can make sure it gets into their hands after dinner or whenever they get home.  3. Get Packages Delivered to Your Workplace Not every employer will welcome your holiday shipments with open arms, so check with your office manager to see if they’d mind signing for packages you don’t want to risk having delivered at home.  Hauling items home can be cumbersome later, but if you want eyes on a package ASAP, your workplace may be your best bet. 4. Pay for a Package Receipt Service This isn’t the cheapest option, but it may be the most secure. Some businesses offer to receive packages for customers for a small fee.  I once lived around the corner from a dry cleaner that always had a line at the counter. Why so popular? Not only did it offer quick cleaning services, but you could pick up your dry cleaning and your packages in the same trip — and the hours were convenient, too. 5. Get Your Stuff Delivered to an Amazon Locker It’s not quite as convenient as home delivery or the corner store, but if you’d rather have your Amazon package delivered to a secure location, add an Amazon Locker location to your account.  Amazon will deliver the package to the locker and when it’s ready for pickup, you’ll receive an email with a six-digit code to pick up the package from the self-service kiosk. Lockers are located in stores, apartment buildings and malls across the United States, which offers you convenient times to pick up packages on in the evenings or on weekends. And if you’re a Prime member, you get to use the lockers for free.  6. Watch Your Tracking Info Like a Hawk Ah, the beauty of technology. I can see the exact moment my package went from a warehouse plane to another warehouse and onto a truck. And I can see the moment it finally lands at my home. Tracking services may not prevent you from losing packages to theft, but the available tools can help you stay up to date on its path and estimated arrival so you can plan accordingly.  Frequently, you can sign up for text or email updates on your package’s journey, and if you miss a delivery you need to sign for, you can sometimes have the package rerouted to a shipping service center, like the UPS Store, so the delivery person doesn’t spend three days knocking on your door.  Pro Tip If you have the Ring doorbell camera, sign up for reports on the Neighbors App, where you can share info about package thieves if they hit your area. The postal service even offers Informed Delivery, which sends you images of small pieces of mail that are on their way to your mailbox that day. If you’re willing to make a bigger investment, home security systems like the Ring can also let you monitor your front door — and the police department can use the footage to track down the porch pirates. If the worst-case scenario happens, detailed tracking information and video can help make a case to your credit card company, which may reimburse you for lost or stolen packages, or it could help you get a replacement item from the retailer. Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
1
55

Comments

Write a comment

Get Paid to Spread Holiday Cheer as Santa Claus. Here’s How to Find Gigs

click photo for more information
Get Paid to Spread Holiday Cheer as Santa Claus. Here’s How to Find Gigs
Remember that sixth helping of stuffing you devoured? Oh, and countless heaps of grandma’s cherished mac and cheese? Don’t regret eating them. (We don’t.) Instead, think of those extra pounds as preparation for the grandest holiday side gig of them all. Every year, thousands of shopping malls, department stores and corporations throw Christmas-themed events and parties that rely on guest appearances from Ol’ Saint Nick himself.  (Spoiler alert: not the real one. He’s too busy. It’s actually a complex network of Santa Claus impersonators.) If you’ve got what it takes — e.g. a burly chuckle, a mean beard, a background check and liability insurance — you can find a variety of Santa Claus jobs this time of year. How to Find Santa Claus Jobs (Mrs. Claus, Too!) Becoming Santa Claus is a little more complicated than walking into your local shopping mall with an application in hand. Many malls and department stores rely on event companies, talent agencies and freelancers to meet their Kris Kringle needs. Here’s how to join those ranks. Work at an Event or Photography Company When you think of Santa Claus jobs, do you think of a winding single-file line through the atrium of a shopping mall, everyone waiting for a photo with the big guy? These types of events are often coordinated by events and photography businesses.  Some companies contract with shopping malls or department stores as full-service vendors – handling all the staff, decorations and photographs. Others may only provide photography services or Santa-staffing services.  Cherry Hill Programs and Instant Photo Corporation of America (IPCA) are two national companies that partner with regional shopping malls across the nation to hire Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other festive characters (as well as some photographers). Pro Tip Not having any luck with national Santa companies? Narrow your job search to local events and photography companies. If all else fails: Call your local mall to see how they usually hire Santa. Use a Talent or PR Agency Maybe you have experience as Santa under your well-worn leather belt. In addition to looking the part, you sing or act to enliven your impersonation. Simply put, you’re down to do more than sit on a red velvet throne for a few pictures. A talent agency is just what you need. Such agencies find the Santa Claus jobs — the corporate events, the media appearances, the charity drives — and reach out to you if you’re a part of their network and meet certain criteria. Pro Tip Real-bearded Santas are generally higher in demand and can charge better hourly rates. Some agencies may even require the applicant to have a real beard. Three free nationwide Santa networks, Hire Santa, Real Santa and Santa for Hire, are looking for talented actors to play the part. Applications are open for Mrs. Claus as well. Freelance as Santa Whether you find gigs through an events company or talent agency, you can always boost the profile of your Santa enterprise by finding clients on your own. This will require a bit more legwork on your part, but the reward can be well worth it. Some Santas we spoke to earn up to $7,000 a season by running their own show. In our ultimate guide to becoming a professional Santa, The Penny Hoarder spoke to several pros who built their own websites or made listings on talent-freelancing websites like Gig Salad. They shared insider tips on finding the best clothes, enrolling in Santa school (it’s a thing — we checked) and getting into character, even when you’re off the clock. “Before you become a Santa, you really need to understand what it’s going to do to your life,” said Santa Tim, a retired professional Santa from Kansas. “You are going to have to be Santa Claus.” Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
4

Our December Bucket List for This Year

click photo for more information
Our December Bucket List for This Year
One of the most requested podcast episodes has been for us to talk about our Christmas traditions, what Christmas looks like for our family, and how we do gifts for our immediate and extended family. In this episode, we sat down with Kathrynne, Kaitlynn, and Silas and had a discussion on our favorite Christmas memories, why we make a December Bucket List, what we chose for our bucket list this year, some things we’re doing differently for Christmas this year, how we do gifts, and what Christmas Eve and Christmas Day look like for our family. One of our biggest goals for each December is to keep things simple, not over-commit, and focus on memory-making and shared experiences. We sit down at the end of November and talk about what we want to prioritize for the Christmas season and then we make a list and block out days and times on the calendar to make these priorities happen. We’re excited about some new things we’re trying this year and we’re looking forward to another special December season of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and spending lots of time together as a family! In This Episode:  [01:58] We kick off the show by each sharing one of our favorite Christmas memories. [07:29] Want to know what’s on our December Bucket List this year? [11:16] Hear about our Dollar Tree stocking tradition and why we’re stepping it up this year. [13:16] How we do presents at our house. [15:45] Giving is something that is always a big priority for us, thanks to the kids’ initiative in this area! [18:00] What does our actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration look like for our family? [21:38] The kids share our quirky wrapping tradition. Links and Resources: Dollar Tree Stocking Stuffers Jesse Tree Ann Voskamp She Reads Truth He Reads Truth Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
1
10

7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle

click photo for more information
7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Why toss things in the trash when you can repurpose or recycle them?  In addition to diverting items from the waste stream and keeping them out of landfills, you can also make extra money or help out worthy causes. From scrap metal to ink cartridges, bullets to construction materials, you can recycle a huge variety of items in exchange for cash or goodwill. Ready to see all the different things you can recycle for money? Find a Collection Point To find a recycling center near you, head over to Earth911.com and plug in the item you’re looking to recycle along with your location. The site lists collection locations for everything from antifreeze to ammunition. Of course, not everything pays, but it’s important to properly dispose of potentially hazardous items.  Prepare Items for Recycling Check with your local collection point for specific rules for preparing your recyclables for the collection center. Some centers require you to remove bottle caps, rinse and bag bottles in certain increments, or sort and tie together cardboard. Checking the rules before you go will save you time later on.  Be sure to properly bag items that may make a bit of a mess. Even if you thoroughly rinse all your bottles and cans, there might be water and other residue on them, so be sure to transport them in bins or bags to protect the interior of your car. If you’re donating a cell phone or other electronic item, be sure to clear your personal information from it, including contact lists, voice mails, text messages, photos, passwords, downloads and anything else that you wouldn’t want random strangers to access. Back up your information on your new phone, your computer or a cloud-based service, then restore your phone to factory settings before recycling it. 7 Items You Can Recycle for Money Depending where you live, you can get paid to recycle certain items. Here are some common recyclables and how to recycle them. 1. Scrap Metal Scrap metal is one of the more profitable materials to recycle. For this reason, scrap metal theft is not uncommon. Many local recycling programs fund their programs through scrap metal collection, so be sure to check your local rules or laws about collection. Copper, steel and aluminum are just a few of the scrap metals that you can recycle for money. Google your local area and “scrap yard” to find a facility that takes whatever metals you have and learn their procedures for drop off. Once you have rounded up your metal, find out if it is ferrous or non-ferrous by seeing if a magnet sticks to it. If it does, the metal is ferrous and likely a common metal like steel or iron. These items typically aren’t worth much, but it’s still worthwhile to recycle them. If the magnet does not stick, you likely have copper, aluminum, brass, bronze or stainless steel on your hands. These metals are more valuable.  You can make money recycling a variety of these metals. Copper is one of the more profitable metals: Some scrap yards offer over $2 per pound. Aluminum typically earns between 40 and 70 cents a pound, yellow brass can yield $1.40 per pound, and die-cast metal goes in the 30-cents-a-pound range, though local prices vary.  2. Bottles and Cans One Penny Hoarder writer made $1,500 cashing in soda cans he collected at work. You, too, can make money by rounding up bottles and cans, whether from work, friends and family, at events, or just the recyclables you use at home. California offers 5 cents for most plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans smaller than 24 ounces, and 10 cents for 24-ounce or larger containers. It’s technically a bottle deposit, but many people don’t bother to collect their refunds, so it’s easy money for bottle and can collectors.  Michigan has a 10-cents per bottle recycling rate, which has prompted people to illegally smuggle in empty bottles purchased out of state to cash in. (This was even the plot of one Seinfeld episode!) Many states have similar deposit programs, so check what’s available where you live. 3. Car Batteries Advance Auto Parts offers a $10 store gift card to customers who bring in their used car batteries (light-duty truck batteries are also accepted). If the company doesn’t have an outlet near you, call your local auto parts stores to see whether they offer similar deals. 4. Ink Cartridges A number of office supply stores, including Staples and Office Depot accept used ink cartridges for recycling. Staples offers $2 back per cartridge, with a maximum of 10 returns per month, and you have to spend at least $30 on ink or toner within 180 days of recycling.  Office Depot also gives you $2 back in program rewards for each ink or toner cartridge you recycle, up to 10 cartridges per month. But you must also purchase ink from them the same month. There is no limit on the number of cartridges you recycle, but you will only receive points on the first 10 per month. You can use your points toward a number of different perks and discounts.  5. Electronics Eco-Cell is one of many companies that offers cash for old cell phones and other electronics. The company accepts working or broken phones, tablets, rechargeable batteries, circuit boards and a variety of other electronics. Even if an item is broken or was submerged in water and is unusable, Eco-Cell will accept it in order to divert electronics from landfills and properly dispose of their toxic components and metals. Many cell phone providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have trade-in programs where you can receive a voucher, gift card or other reward for turning in your old phone. Amazon Trade-in is another way to earn gift cards. A number of charities also accept cell phones, whether to re-purpose or sell and use the funds for a charitable purpose. Cell Phones for Soldiers refurbishes and sells your old phone to active-duty military members and veterans. If a phone is too old or broken, Cell Phones for Soldiers sells it to recyclers who strip it for parts and dispose of its metals responsibly. The proceeds from the sales go to purchase international calling cards for troops and provide emergency financial assistance to veterans. And of course, you can always sell your old phone yourself. 6. Junk Cars Your rusted old jalopy? You can recycle it for money. There are companies that pay cash for broken down cars.  Junk Car Medics is one, and you can sell your car to them online or over the phone. You enter details about your vehicle, such as condition and mileage, and quickly get an offer. If you accept it, you’ll have to provide proof of ownership and a few other details before you get paid. The company says most transactions are same-day, and they take the car away for you. 7. The Rest of Your Unwanted Stuff You can “recycle” belongings you no longer want on a variety of apps and platforms and get a little something back for them. ThredUp and Poshmark are popular second-hand clothing apps where you can sell your wares.  ThredUp will send you a free shipping label and apply credits for anything that sells to your own account, but it’s often not a lot of money. Poshmark offers bigger potential payouts, but you have to put in more work to make your items move. Letgo is a second-hand site where you can buy or sell just about anything you no longer use. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
2
14

Up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys!

click photo for more information
Up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Today only, Amazon is offering up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys! Here are some deals you can score… Get this PlayMonster 5 Second Rule Game for only $7.99! Get this The Game of Things for only $8.99! Get this Relative Insanity Party Game for only $7.99! Get this MOLUK Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy for only $9.02! Get this Patch ProductsToss-Up Dice Game for only $5.05! Get this MOLUK Bilibo in multiple color options for just $20.99! Shop the PlayMonster sale here. Valid today only, December 4, 2019. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
1
29

All the Best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Still Available!

click photo for more information
All the Best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Still Available!
Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals with this round-up! This year has had a CRAZY amount of Cyber Monday Deals and Black Friday Deals, so we thought we’d round them all up in one post for you! Crystal’s Top 10 Picks: Get a year of Hulu at just $1.99 per month! Chromebook Cyber Monday Deals | Acer Chromebook for $124.99 shipped, plus more! Denise Albright 2020-2021 Planner Bundle for just $19.95 + shipping! Get over 50% off one of my favorite sweaters for Cyber Monday!! Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 Electronic Power Rechargeable Battery Electric Toothbrush for just $89.94 shipped (Originally $250)! Old Navy: Sherpa Pullovers for the Family only $10 today! *HOT* The Children’s Place: Fleece Pullovers and Pants just $4.99 shipped! Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker only $49.99 shipped! DaySpring Hand-Thrown Mugs for just $2.80 each! *HOT* TaoTronics Essential Oils Diffuser for just $6.99!! Cyber Monday Deals Still Available: Get 50% off ALL of my courses! Hypoallergenic Shredded Memory Foam Pillows for just $14.99 each, shipped! Amazon FreeTime Unlimited | 3 Months for just $0.99! {$29 Savings!!) Shark Vacuum Cyber Monday Deals *HOT* 61-Piece 3D Magnetic Building Tile Play Set only $19.49 (Reg. $100!) MUK LUKS Anais Moccasin Slippers only $12.99 shipped! Target: 40% Off Bedding and Bath! T-Rex & Triceratops Dinosaur Bump & Go Toy Cars (Set of 4) only $14.99 shipped! Ring Video Doorbell with Echo Dot 3rd Generation only $79.99 shipped (Reg. $150!) *HOT* Free $5 Starbucks Gift Card with $20 Gift Card Purchase {Limited Quantity!} Carter’s: 7-Pack Baby Bodysuits only $10 shipped! 50% off Hydro Flask Bottles at REI! Carter’s: Toddler & Girl’s Leggings only $5 shipped! Cricut Explore Air 2 only $179.99 shipped, plus more! Dreamworks Holiday Collection DVD for just $6.99! HOT Deals on Marvel Action Figures! HOT Discounts on Play-Doh Sets, Playskool Toys, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Baby Alive Dolls! *HOT* HUGE Savings on Monopoly and Hasbro Games! HOT Cyber Monday Deals on LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Tegu Blocks, K’Nex, Playmobil, and Tinkertoys!! *HOT* Up to 50% off Nerf Toys! Keurig K-Mini Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker for just $42.49 shipped (Reg. $90)! Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones for just $139 shipped!! Dinosaur Racetrack for just $16.99 shipped! Men’s Croft & Barrow Festive Microfleece Sleep Pants only $3.99! Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High & Low Top Sneakers only $25 shipped! Black Friday Deals Still Available: Holiday Doormats and Accent Rugs as low as $3.99! Dick’s Sporting Goods: 25% off Hydro Flask Bottles and Tumblers! Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Kit for just $260.99 shipped (Reg. $750)! Robotic Vacuum Black Friday Deals Apple Macbook Air for just $649.99 shipped (Reg. $999)!! Gift an Amazon Prime membership at 10% off! Women’s Sweaters only $7.99! Muk Luks Women’s Bootie Slippers for just $7.99 shipped! Elmer’s Rainbow Slime Starter Kit only $4.99! LEGO Classic Creative Fun Box for just $20! Dick’s Sporting Goods: Extra 25% off YETI Tumblers, Coolers and Mugs! *HOT* Sam’s Club Membership Deal | $50 in Savings! Echo Show 5 for just $49.99 shipped! Echo Dot 3rd Generation for just $22! HOT Deals on Dinosaur Toys!!! Matching Family Pajamas 60% Off! Get two holiday graphic shirts as low as $14.98 each, shipped! Women’s Boots only $19.99 at JCPenney! Royal Luxe White Goose Feather & Down Comforter (Any Size) for just $50.99 shipped!! *HOT* Pura Vida Bracelets Black Friday Sale | 50% Off Plus Free Shipping! LEGO Minifigures Series 19 Building Kit only $2.99! Nike Men’s Running Shoes only $29.99 shipped (Reg. $60!) Mega Bloks Building Basics Let’s Get Learning 150-Piece Set only $12.97! ABCmouse Deal: Annual subscription for just $3.75 per month! American Explorer Hardside Luggage for just $39.99 (Reg. $180)! *HOT* Roku Streaming Stick+ only $29! Kindle Black Friday Deals | Lowest Prices on Record! *HOT* Adventure Academy Annual Subscription for just $3.75 per month! Starbucks Black Friday Deal: Free Coffee & Tea in January with Tumbler Purchase Amazon Fire TV Cube for just $89.99 shipped! Black Friday Deals on Sony and Beats Headphones at Target! Fire Tablet Black Friday Deals | Lowest Prices on Record! *HOT* ReadingIQ Deal: Annual subscription for just $2.49 per month! {Silas loves this app!} *HOT* Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote for just $19.99! Step2 Modern Cook Kitchen Set for just $34.99! KiwiCo Promo Code: Get a box for just $7.98 shipped! We hope you grabbed some great deals over the past week! Also, be sure to sign up for our Hot Deals newsletter and join our Deal Seekers Facebook group so that you don’t miss out on any of the hottest, time-sensitive deals as soon as they go live throughout the rest of the holiday season! [...]
2
33

It’s Cyber Monday: Here Are the Best Deals at Amazon

click photo for more information
It’s Cyber Monday: Here Are the Best Deals at Amazon
Not to worry if you missed out on any deals on Black Friday. Cyber Monday — today — brings plenty of second chances. In fact, on Amazon, you will find many discounts that are at least as steep as they were on Black Friday — as well as deals that weren’t even available on Black Friday. Just take a look at the hundreds of deals on Amazon’s Cyber Monday site. Or... [...]
1
67

3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress

click photo for more information
3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress
Downsizing — what exactly does it mean? Smaller house, fewer bills, less stuff? Yes, yes and yes. Many think of downsizing as moving to a more compact house after the kids have grown and gone. And it is. But let’s not stop there. Downsizing makes sense in other ways, too. Following are other areas of life where downsizing can yield serious financial savings, not to mention save you... [...]
3
33

5 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday

click photo for more information
5 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. The concept of buying discounted gift cards is simple enough. You “stack” your savings by combining Black Friday sales with discounted gift cards as payment.  And most retailers let you use their cards in-store or online.  Here are five ways you can buy gift cards for less than face value. 1. Online Gift Card Vendors Sellers that specialize in gift cards normally sell them at face value, but they do have sales.  Typically, quantities are limited and the deals sell out fast, so check often. You can sign up on Doctor of Credit to receive phone notifications of these types of deals. 2. Discounted Gift Card Sites Many websites help you buy discounted gift cards with unused balances. Discounts vary according to demand, and from site to site.  Gift Card Granny currently shows that a Cold Stone Creamery gift is available for 14% off and a 1800Flowers gift card is available for 8% off.   3. Local Store Promotions I once bought gift cards for several retailers at Dollar General for 15% off. To find these deals, check weekly ads online for various stores near you. Gift card promotions are usually on or near the last page.   Gift cards at Sam’s Club (online and in-store) often sell at a discount, but the selection is limited and the best deals are usually for restaurants. You can currently get two $25 cards for Olive Garden, Subway or Starbucks — a total value of $50 — for $39.98 online. 4. Use a 5% Cash-Back Category Reward If you have a credit card that pays 5% cash back on certain categories, you can use it to get 5% back on gift cards for non-category retailers.  For example, Discover’s 5% categories currently include Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target. Discover doubles your cash back after the first year, so you actually get 10% back if you’re a new card holder. Chase Freedom is another card with rotating 5% cash back categories (new ones every three months). Just remember that with both Chase and Discover, you have to activate your 5% bonus online at the beginning of each quarter. 5. Use Amex Offers If you have an American Express card, take advantage of Amex Offers to get discounted gift cards. Just watch for offers at places that sell gift cards. For example, my offers (each account theoretically gets different ones) once included a $10 statement credit for spending $50 at JCPenney. I can go to JCPenney, find their gift card rack, buy a $50 card for some other store, and get $10 back.  American Express says they’ll credit your account within 90 days, but it has never taken more than two weeks for my credit to appear.  You might even get gift cards for free. I used an offer of $10 back for any purchase at Newegg to buy a $10 Home Depot gift card — three times. There was no shipping charge, so I got $30 in Home Depot cards for free.  Get Ready for Black Friday   To prepare for Black Friday, you may have to guess where you’ll spend the most money, and how much, in order to buy the right gift cards in advance.  If you’re uncertain, just buy cards for places where you usually shop. That way, you can easily “liquidate” them after Black Friday if you haven’t used them all. If you wait until the last moment (or are reading this on Black Friday), you can still buy digital gift cards as necessary and print them out at home. Most vendors say it takes up to a day to email you the link to print your “card,” but I’ve always received it within two hours.   If you’re a scientific shopper, you’ll prepare a list of doorbusters and other items you plan to buy, and where. Then you’ll find the necessary gift cards at the best discounts available. You’ll also use… More Advanced Gift Card Strategies Paying for Black Friday purchases with discounted gift cards is a simple way to “stack” your savings.  But you can save even more if you add additional savings tactics, like using the right rewards credit card. Here are some examples of how to really stack up those savings. Example #1 Suppose Gap and Old Navy gift cards are currently on sale for 20% off at Staples. Buy a $50 card with a Chase Ink or American Express Simply Cash Business card (I have both), to get $2 cash back on the $40 purchase (5% back at all office supply stores).  Spend $50 on half-priced gifts on Black Friday, and pay with the gift card for a total net cost of $38 for things that would normally cost $100.  That’s how you stack three savings tactics: a sale, credit card cash back and a discounted gift card. Example #2 You plan to spend $140 on gifts at Michaels, so you do this: Go to Cashback Monitor and enter Raise to see which cash-back portal pays best for shopping at that discount card vendor. At the moment, the best rate is 5% from Mr. Rebates. Go to Mr. Rebates and set up an account, because they offer 5% cash back if you shop at Raise through their link. Use the Mr. Rebates portal link to go to Raise. Search through the many Michaels gift cards. As I write this, a card with a balance of $202.25 is listed for $174.95, a 13.5% discount. Buy the gift card with a credit card that gives you cash back, like Citi Double Cash (2%) or Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard (1.5%). Buy stuff at Michaels for at least 50% off on Black Friday. Here’s the breakdown on what you would save on the first $140 of purchases, if you buy only Black Friday deals that are 50% off: Half-off sale savings: $140.00 Gift card discount: $27.91 Portal cash back: $3.36 Credit card cash back: $2.24 By stacking four savings tactics, you save $173.51, and pay just $106.49 for gifts that would have cost $280 at the regular prices. Example #3 Add a coupon to the last example to use five savings tactics for one purchase. I once a five-level stack recently (not for Black Friday).  I earned portal cash back (1) when I bought a discounted gift card (2) with a cash-back credit card (3), and then I used the gift card and a coupon (4) to buy items already on sale (5) — all just to get cheap cat food at Petco in that case, but the strategy can also work at all of your favorite Black Friday stores. Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far). This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
31

10+ Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $30

click photo for more information
10+ Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $30
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas this season? We have you covered with this Eco-Friendly Gifts Guide — and they’re all under $30 to help you stick to your gift budget! This Eco-Friendly Gift Guide was thoughtfully put together by Meg on the MoneySavingMom team — who is very passionate about making healthy and eco-conscious life choices. Do you know somebody who is striving to live an eco-conscious, lower impact life by choosing more sustainable products in their everyday life? Check out this list of fun eco-friendly gift ideas that are sure to excite that person in your life! Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas 1. Essential Oils Diffuser — A diffuser is a great gift idea for someone wanting to replace candles with essential oils to avoid polluting the air in their home. There are lots of great diffusers less than $30 on Amazon that come in all shapes and sizes! 2. Beeswax Food Wraps — One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic use is to stop using plastic baggies for food storage and transportaion. These Beeswax Food Wraps are the perfect replacement solution, and you can get them in all kinds of really fun designs! 3. Bamboo Toothbrush — Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable, so it’s a great option to replace plastic toothbrushes! I personally love the ones with activated charcoal for an added whitening effect! 4. Stainless Steel Straws — For someone who loves using straws at home, a stainless steel straw is an excellent option to help reduce plastic use. Straws are one of the biggest plastic pollutants, and it’s such an easy replacement! I use these inexpensive straws in my YETI every day and love them. 5. Reusable Produce Bags — These mesh produce bags are a great way to reduce plastic bag use when you’re at the grocery store. I have this set and love them! And they’re easily washable. 6. Ella+Mila or Zoya Nail Polish — If you know someone who loves doing her nails, this is a great eco-friendly gift idea! Zoya Nail Polish is 10-free and Ella+Mila is 7-free. These are two of my all-time favorite nail polish brands, because not only are they more eco-friendly than other brands but they’re also quality polishes that go on nice and opaque and have beautiful finishes to them. 7. Starbucks Reusable Cup with Gift Card — Do you know someone who frequents Starbucks? Consider buying them a Reusable Starbucks Cup! It saves on plastic and also gives them a $0.10 discount each time they use it. Stick a Starbucks gift card inside for a nice little surprise! 8. Mason Jar Lids and Straws — This is such a fun, eco-friendly way to hydrate! Gift someone this set and they can just re-use mason jars that they already own. This works great for on-the-go hydration — perfect for water, infused fruit drinks, lemonade, teas, and more! 9. Lush Body Care Products — Lush has worked really hard to almost completely eliminate plastic use in their packaging products. Many of their products are “naked” without packaging and the rest are made from recycled and recyclable/compostable materials. To encourage recycling even further, you’ll receive a free face mask when you bring in 5 empty Lush pots. They have tons of beautiful gift ideas, including luxurious bath bombs and yummy lotions. (This Sleepy Lotion is my FAVE.) 10. Reusable Grocery Bags — This is an idea that’s been around for a long time now and has become more mainstream, but it can be fun to give cute and different reusable grocery bags as a gift! Amazon has lots of fun options! Maybe even add a gift card to a whole foods grocery store! 11. Organic Cotton Socks — For someone who loves socks, organic cotton is a great sustainable option, because it doesn’t use any chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Plus, they’re extra cozy! 12. Tarte Cosmetics — All of Tarte’s products are made without harmful parabens, mineral oil, or sulfates. They also have an entire line called Rainforest of the Sea that are made from entirely plant-based ingredients. Be sure to check out their sale section for lots of options under $30. 13. Succulents — Plants are a go-to gift idea for someone who is interested in a sustainable lifestyle. And succulents are so much fun and easy to take care of! 14. Zero Waste Home Book — For someone interested in reducing waste and lowering their environmental impact, this book would be a great gift! It’s full of all kinds of easy and creative ideas. Bonus Ideas (Over $30) Have a little extra wiggle room in your Christmas budget and willing to spend a bit more? Try one of these bonus recommendations for eco-friendly Christmas gifts: 15. YETI or Hydro Flask — This is another easy way to hydrate in a plastic-free way! I love my YETI and Hydro Flask and use both almost every day for different uses (YETI for everyday water drinking and Hydro Flask for yoga or working out). Both are quality brands that will last forever and keep water super cold. 16. Pela Phone Case — These phone cases are really cool because they’re 100% compostable! Choose from lots of different colors and fun designs! I’ve been eyeing these for a while now, but haven’t splurged to buy myself one yet! This is a really unique gift idea for the eco-conscious person on your gift list! More Holiday Gift Guides Looking for other budget-friendly holiday gift guides? Don’t miss these: Beauty Gift Guide Tweens Gift Guide LEGO Gift Guide Outdoor Gift Guide Gluten-Free Gift Guide Little Boys Gift Guide Expectant Mothers Gift Guide Psst! Be sure to sign up for our hot deals newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest deals each day this holiday season! Can you think of any other great eco-friendly Christmas gifts? Let us know in the comments! [...]
1
60

Feel like a failure?

click photo for more information
Feel like a failure?
What do you do when you experience failure in your life or your business? One of our wonderful listeners asked how you get back up and keep going after failure, and Jesse and I had a lively and honest discussion around this in this week’s episode of the The Crystal Paine Show. Failure is a part of life, but it shouldn’t define who we are. For instance, for a long time, Jesse identified as a lawyer and that title made up his identity in many ways. If he failed or if he perceived a failure, that lack would directly impact his identity.  For many others, they don’t feel like they are good enough. When this is the case, it’s so easy to see failure and setbacks as defining you as a failure personally. The truth is that true failure only occurs when you stop trying and give up. Until you stop trying, you haven’t failed! So keep moving and learning and growing from your mistakes. Also, don’t forget to stop and celebrate your wins. It’s so easy to focus on what we’re doing wrong instead of recognizing what we’re doing right. In This Episode:  [01:23] What’s saving our lives? Under Armour hoodies and my Sole F80 treadmill. [07:36] I’m reading Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian. [12:25] Jesse shares how he gets up and does the next thing after a big fail?  [16:03] So many people identify as “failures,” how do you separate the act of failure from your overall identity?  [19:01] Everyone fails and each failure is a lesson learned. [21:51] True failure is when you stop taking action. Just keep moving forward. Links and Resources: Zulily Under Armour hoodies Sole F80 Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
1
46

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap for just $1.94 each, shipped!

click photo for more information
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap for just $1.94 each, shipped!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Stock up on dish soap with this Seventh Generation deal! Amazon has this Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap 6-Pack for just $11.65 shipped when you clip the 20% off e-coupon and check out through Subscribe & Save. That’s like paying just $1.94 per bottle, shipped! This is such a great stock-up deal for this brand. Note: Once your order ships, you can go into your Amazon account and cancel your subscription if you don’t want recurring orders. Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
1
21

This Week’s Kroger Shopping Trip + Amazon Order = $63 spent!

click photo for more information
This Week’s Kroger Shopping Trip + Amazon Order = $63 spent!
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. I only ended up going to Kroger once this past week, but I got some great deals and markdowns! The Cream of Chicken soup was in the markdown section and it was just $0.49 each + it was part of the Buy 10, Get $5 off deal which meant that I got $0.50 off each — making them free! I was super excited about finding the Yoplait 8-count packs of yogurt for just $0.99 and also the Off the Grid Waffles for just $0.99 each! There is a $0.50/1 iBotta rebate with a limit of 5 so I got back $2.50 for buy 5 boxes! And finally, I was super thrilled to find eggs marked down! We were down to our last few eggs so it was perfect timing! Kroger Shopping Trip: 5 Campbell’s Soup — marked down to $0.49, got $0.50 off each because they were part of the buy 10, Get $5 off deal 2 cans of Swanson broth — $0.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 4 cans of Green Beans — $0.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 2 pounds Land O Lakes butter — $2.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 3 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each when you buy 10 participating items, used $1/3 coupon from a Kroger mailer = $0.50 for all three 2 cartons cottage cheese — $1.49 each when you buy 10 participating items 3 boxes of Swiss Miss hot cocoa — $0.99 each when you buy 10 participating items Annie’s Mac & Cheese — marked down to $0.45 5 boxes Off the Grid Waffles — marked down to $0.99 each, plus I got $0.50 back per box from iBotta Old El Pasa Taco Shells — marked down to $0.39 2 boxes SO Right frozen burrito bowls — marked down to $0.89 each 1 dozen Kroger eggs — marked down to $0.59 5 dozen cage-free brown eggs — marked down to $1.29 each 2 Chobani yogurt flips — marked down to $0.19 each Kroger peanut butter — free with Kroger coupon from the Kroger mailer Kroger water — $0.89 2 Dannon Oikos yogurt — marked down to $0.49 each 2 packages Roasted Turkey — marked down to $1.79 each Broccoli crowns — $0.70 Kroger smoked sausage — free with Kroger mailer coupon 2 8-count packages of Yoplait yogurt — marked down to $0.99 each 1 bunch of green leaf lettuce — $1.79 Bag of 3 apples — marked down to $0.99 Bananas — marked down to $0.50 Dole Salad Kit — $1.79 4-lb bag of oranges — $3.99 Milk — $2.99 Total with tax: $53.28 Since I had some extra wiggle room in the grocery budget, I went ahead and ordered this great deal off of Amazon. Dinners This Past Week Monday: Frozen Pizza Tuesday: Lasagna Casserole, Green Beans, Rolls Wednesday: Chicken Noodle Soup, Best Bran Muffins, Cinnamon Apples Thursday: Homemade Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, Grapes, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Friday: Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs Saturday: Leftovers (fend for yourself) Rebates earned: $2.75 back from iBotta + 225 points from Fetch Rewards [...]
1
52

Who wants a FREE $5 Amazon gift card??

click photo for more information
Who wants a FREE $5 Amazon gift card??
This is a super easy way to earn a quick $5 gift card for your holiday spending! Trying to stretch your holiday budget? I’ve got a way for you to easily earn a $5 Amazon gift card in just minutes — completely free! If you are planning to do any errands or shopping in the near future, don’t miss this! Here’s how to earn your free $5 gift card: 1. Sign up for Shopkick through this link, use code MOM5 during the registration process. 2. Go to one store listed in the app within 7 days. (Some of the stores listed: Kroger, CVS, Walmart, Target, Publix, Dollar General, Aldi, Sprouts, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Sam’s Club, and more!). 3. When you’re at the store, open up your app and click on the store and then scans. Scan one product listed in the app. 4. That’s it! You don’t have to purchase anything. Just use the code MOM5 when signing up and then scan one item in-store. 5. Because you used the code above, you’ll get 1250 bonus “kicks” instantly added to your account. You can trade these in for a $5 Amazon gift card! (Or any other gift card!) Want to Earn Even More Points? Want to earn more points? Make sure to have the Shopkick app open when you walk in the store (you’ll earn kicks for this) and then scan all the other items listed in the app that you can earn points for. For instance, right now, I can earn 24o kicks just for scanning products in the app at Kroger, or 335 kicks for scanning products in the app at Publix, or 75 for scanning products at Aldi. I don’t have to buy anything at the stores. All I have to do is open up the app when I’m in the store and scan the specific item and I’ll earn the kicks. Best of all, I can do this every single time I go shopping — and it’s FREE points to use toward FREE gift cards! Find Out More About Shopkick Read more about how Shopkick works and how to earn more points with Shopkick here. Also, check out my post on 7 Easy Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards for other ways to earn free Amazon gift cards. Psst! Getting ready for the holiday season? Be sure to check out our Holiday Shopping Survival Guide! And don’t forget to sign up for our Hot Deals Newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest Black Friday and holiday deals! [...]
1
45

8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

click photo for more information
8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
Think there’s nothing you can do about life’s little annoyances? We’ve taken it upon ourselves to help change your mind! From adapters that magically transform one outlet into three — for less than $5, we might add — to silicone lids that prevent liquids from boiling over, we’ve rounded up a variety of products available at Amazon that put an end to the everyday... [...]
1
65

The Enneagram and Marriage

click photo for more information
The Enneagram and Marriage
We had a lot of fun with this episode — and we learned a few things about each other in the process of recording it! What’s today’s podcast episode topic? The Enneagram and marriage. Whether you love all things Enneagram, are skeptical of it, or don’t even know what it is, I think you’ll enjoy this candid conversation about our differences, how we have worked through them, and what it looks like to love and respect someone who is the complete opposite of you in many ways. Pull up a chair (or a load of laundry!) and listen in as we chat about our big foster care news, grilling meat, my favorite makeup cleaner (and I make a confession that I might get some flack for), a book I’m reading, and marriage and the Enneagram! In This Episode:   [01:55] What’s saving our lives? Butcher Box and Mary Kay 3-in-1 Timewise Cleanser. [07:20] I’ve been reading Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher. [11:28] How do marriage and the Enneagram tie in with one another? [14:37] Jesse talks about what it’s like to be married to a very strong Enneagram 8. [18:30] On the flip side, I share what it is like being married an inquisitive Enneagram 5. [25:34] How do we reconcile our differences? [30:19] Learning more about our personality types has helped us to build a stronger marriage through understanding. [33:57] Choose to see differences as strengths and it will change your perspective — and maybe your relationship! Links and Resources: What is the Enneagram? (Podcast I did with Leigh Kramer) Butcher Box Mary Kay Timewise 3-in-1 Cleanser Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
1
58

20 Gifts for Tweens Under $30

click photo for more information
20 Gifts for Tweens Under $30
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best Christmas gifts for tweens this holiday season? We have you covered with this Tweens Gift Guide — which includes gifts for tween girls and gifts for tween boys that are all under $30 to help you stick to your gift budget! Silas and Kaitlynn had a blast helping to choose ideas for this gift guide. I hope that their selections of things they and their friends love will give you some great suggestions for gifts that might work well for your tweens, too! -Crystal Pre-teens can be kind of difficult to buy for! But this list of gifts for tweens will give you lots of fun and budget-friendly ideas to pick from! Gifts for Tween Girls 1. Bath & Body Works Fragrance Spray — My girls love these. They have so many different scents and Bath & Body Works is often offering fantastic deals — especially if you buy multiples. Sign up for their email list to be notified of when their best sales are. 2. Bath Bombs — You can make your own or purchase a set like this from Amazon. {These would make a great stocking stuffer gift, too, if you have multiple tween girls to buy gifts for. You could put one or two in cute little bags with a ribbon.} 3. Scrunchies — You’ve probably heard that scrunchies are back in style and our girls can’t get enough of them! {Again, these would make fun stocking stuffers or get an entire set for the girl who loves to wear lots of different colors! Psst! It’s pretty easy to sew scrunchies if you have basic sewing skills.} 4. Letterboard — These are such a great way to display a tween girls’ personality and originality. Best of all, Letterboards now come in many different colors and styles. 5. PopSocket — The girls cannot figure out how I manage to have a phone without a PopSocket on it. Just call me old-fashioned! They adore PopSockets and there are so many cute and fun ones to choose from. This one is a favorite of Kaitlynn’s. 6. Craft Kits — Most tween girls love creating, so a craft kit is usually the perfect idea and something they’ll spend hours enjoying. Plus, if it’s something they can display in their room or wear after they make it, they’ll get even more fulfillment from it! 7. Twinkle Lights — You just can’t go wrong with Twinkle Lights — and there are so many fun uses for them. Kaitlynn is often rearranging her room and coming up with some new way to display her twinkle lights! Gifts for Tween Boys 8. Nerf Toys — When I asked Silas to help me put together some gift ideas for tween boys, he literally picked out 7 different Nerf Guns to include on the list! Suffice it to say, these are a big hit with him and his friends. And it seems like you just can never have too many Nerf Guns, according to him! 9. Sports Pillow — Silas has a football pillow he got last year that he uses as room decor — and to sleep with. In fact, he brings it on every trip! There are pillows for just about every team under the sun. 10. LEGO Kits — There are SO many different LEGO kits to choose from and there’s practically something for everyone. This LEGO Movie Kit is a fun twist combining stop motion film plus LEGO design. 11. 3D Maze Game — These are so much fun, not just for boys, but for adults, too! If you have a son who loves to solve puzzles or be challenged, this might be a great gift idea! 12. Catapults & Crossbows — This kit would be perfect for a tween boy who loves science and engineering and nerf guns. It’s kind of like building your own nerf gun! 13. Flag Football Set — Jesse bought the kids a flag football set a few years ago and it has been well-loved and well-used. A great gift for sports lovers and something the whole family can end up using! 14. Mini Basketball Hoop — Any boy who loves basketball will likely get hours of fun from a mini basketball hoop. Mount this on a door for lots of indoor entertainment. By the way, this Hamper Hoop is a unique twist on a mini basketball hoop — and it might actually get your tween to put his laundry in the hamper! 🙂 Stocking Stuffers for Tweens 15. eos Lip Balm — Kaitlynn loves eos lip balm and it’s such a practical and useful, but also cute and appreciated gift. Perfect for stocking stuffers! 16. Fuzzy Socks — What girl wouldn’t love fuzzy socks? I’m 38 and I still love them! Bonus points for tween girls if they have unicorns on them! 17. puravida bracelets — These bracelets are waterproof, handmade and come in many different colors. They are so fun to mix and match! 18. Thinking Putty — This stuff is always a hit and it comes in so many different colors! (I personally think the Liquid Glass one is the coolest!) 19. Baseball Cards — You can never go wrong with baseball cards if you have a baseball lover at your house! 20. Cool Socks — Socks are such a practical and useful gift… and if they are cool-looking that makes them even better! More Holiday Gift Guides Looking for other budget-friendly holiday gift guides? Don’t miss these: Beauty Gift Guide Gluten-Free Gift Guide Little Boys Gift Guide Stay tuned as we roll out several more gift guides over the next couple of weeks — put together by several different MoneySavingMom.com team members! Psst! Be sure to sign up for our hot deals newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest deals each day this holiday season! What other fun ideas do you have for gifts for tweens? Let us know in the comments! [...]
1
75

12 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

click photo for more information
12 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
What better way to find your next great purchase than to consult financially savvy consumers much like yourself — you know, the kind of people who read Money Talks News? We couldn’t think of a better way, which is why we rounded up the Amazon products that were most popular last month among Money Talks News readers, including our own staff and contributors. Don’t worry: [...]
2
71

Ready to Leave Your Bank? How to Make the Switch in 5 Easy Steps

click photo for more information
Ready to Leave Your Bank? How to Make the Switch in 5 Easy Steps
Love them or hate them, there’s no escaping the fact that you need a bank to keep your money safe. But if your current bank isn’t cutting it, you may be wondering how to switch banks and if switching to a new one is more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re looking to change banks but aren’t sure where to start, this step-by-step guide will set you in the right direction. What to Consider Before Switching Banks Before you do anything with your current bank account, you’ll need to choose a new bank. Here are some things to consider. Bank or Credit Union? The first decision you’ll need to make: credit union vs. bank.  The main difference between the two is how they are run. Banks are designed to make a profit by investing their money and growing their business. Credit unions are owned by members, who receive dividends on annual profits. Each have their pros and cons. Online or Traditional? Many credit unions are local organizations, so you’re likely to have an ATM close by you.  Banks can be trickier. Local banks and larger national banks may have physical branches in your area so you can stop by and speak with someone in person with any questions or issues. But if you choose a bank without a physical branch near you or an online bank that doesn’t have brick-and-mortar locations, you’ll need to ask your questions online or over the phone. That can be stressful if customer service isn’t up to scratch. You could also end up paying ATM fees if your bank doesn’t have a location near you, but many online banks will reimburse these fees. Perks and Benefits When you choose a bank, consider how much interest your money will earn, as well as any perks or benefits offered. You might be eligible for a cash bonus just for joining.  But you’ll also need to weigh the perks against the fees, including overdraft charges. Also be aware of any minimum balance requirements. Read Reviews You might find a bank or credit union that looks perfect for you, but what do current customers think? Look for reviews online and ask your friends or family members to share their experiences. You might be put off by bad reviews and continue your search, or you might find good reviews of your chosen bank that put your mind at ease. How to Switch Banks in 5 Steps Ready to say goodbye to your bank? Here’s how to switch banks in five easy steps. 1. Open Your New Account Once you’ve decided on a bank or credit union, you can start the process of opening a bank account. Whether you do this online or in person, it’s important to be prepared with the right documents, including a photo ID. You’ll want to open your new account at least a few weeks before you want to make the official switch. This will ensure that your bills will be paid and you won’t be hit with late or overdraft fees. 2. Redirect Automatic Payments You probably have a lot of your bills set up to autopay from your bank account. It’s vital that you switch these automatic payments to your new account as soon as possible to avoid missing payments. Make a list of all the automatic payments you have. This might include, but isn’t limited to, the following: Mortgage or rent Car payment Student loan payments Credit card payments or other loans Utilities, including gas, electric and water TV provider, including cable, satellite and streaming services Car insurance Internet  Cell phone bill Gym or other club memberships Charitable donations Check previous bank statements to make sure you have all automatic payments listed. Once you have your list, start switching over your autopay information. It’s a good idea to ask for an email receipt for confirmation. Pro Tip Go back through 12 full months of bank statements to make sure you don’t miss automatic payments that you only make quarterly or annually.  3. Contact Your Employer Many employers, especially larger ones, pay via direct debit. Contact your employer ASAP to let them know your new account details to avoid a paycheck delay. Your employer may require you to fill out a form with the new information or provide a voided check. Make sure you ask exactly what they need from you to ensure the switch goes smoothly. If you have more than one employer or receive other direct deposits, such as child support payments, make sure you update that information as well. 4. Transfer Your Money Once you’re sure your automatic bill payments and direct deposits are up to date, move any remaining money from your old checking and savings accounts to your new ones.  Depending on your bank, you may be able to transfer the money to your new account free of charge. If you’re faced with a fee for the privilege of moving your money, you can request a check from your old bank that you can deposit into your new account. 5. Close Your Old Account Once your new account is set up and established, it’s time to close your old account. Wait a month or two to make sure all direct deposits and automatic payments are set up properly with your new bank before closing your old one. The last thing you want is to have your water cut off for non-payment when you thought you’d switched that bill over. Make sure you’ve paid off any outstanding balances on your old accounts before moving funds. Failing to do so could make it harder to open bank accounts in the future. No matter why you’re switching banks, it’s important that you feel confident in your decision. Follow these steps to ensure an easy transition between your old and new banks. Catherine Hiles is a writer, mother, runner and avid reader. She enjoys cooking (and eating), good beer and spending time with her husband and two young children. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
69

Spend Too Much on Vacation? These 5 Tips Will Help You Rebuild Your Savings

click photo for more information
Spend Too Much on Vacation? These 5 Tips Will Help You Rebuild Your Savings
The best vacations are carefree escapes from everyday stresses. Bills and budgets? That’s for non-vacation life. When you’re on the beach or at a five-star mountain resort, you buy the lobster dinner, you splurge for the couples massage and you make sure to pick up a few souvenirs along the way. But once you return home, you’re hit with the realization that you spent much more than you intended. Making up for a huge dent in your savings can be tough, but these five ways will help you save up money when you’re coming down from that vacation high. 1. Try the Pantry Challenge Going to the grocery store to restock the fridge is a natural response after spending a week or two away from home. But what if you delayed that shopping trip and got creative with what you already have? The pantry challenge involves using up the often overlooked food in your cupboards, freezer or fridge before buying new ingredients. Then, if you normally drop about $100 on your weekly grocery trip, you can add that to your savings instead. Of course, pantry items won’t sustain you forever. Making a meal out of rice and ketchup is really pushing it. When it’s finally time to go shopping, try using some of these tips to save money on groceries. 2. Sell Clothes You Never Wear As you’re unpacking your suitcase and putting things away, take inventory of your closet and drawers. Surely you’ve got a few items in there that never see the light of day. Turn a profit by selling your old clothes online, using a clothes-selling app or going to a brick-and-mortar second-hand shop to make the sale. Not only will you get cash to pad your savings, but now you have extra room for those graphic tees you bought on vacation. 3. Take a Break from Spending If you blew through a lot of money over vacation, balance things out with a no-spend challenge. You don’t have to commit to a month of not buying anything besides essentials — though that would do wonders for rebuilding your savings. You can customize your no-spend challenge in a variety of ways, like focusing on temporarily nixing your weakness for buying things on Amazon. While you’re on your spending freeze, try not to think of it as deprivation. Try some free ways to have fun, like exploring the great outdoors, being a tourist in your own city or hosting a game night at home. 4. Automate Your Savings Use automation to take the work out of saving money. Money-saving apps like Digit and Acorns pull small amounts from your checking account to save without you even thinking about it. A few dollars here and there will add up over time. If micro-saving apps aren’t your thing, arrange for a percentage of your paychecks to be deposited directly into your savings account, or pay yourself first by setting up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account right after payday. 5. Bite the Bullet and Start Budgeting Your Money You may think you’re getting by fine without budgeting, but establishing a plan for your spending — and prioritizing saving — can help you make up for overdoing it on vacation. Learn how to develop — and stick to — a budget next month with these seven steps to budgeting. If you think you’ll have trouble sticking to your spending limits, try the cash envelope system. This method keeps you from overspending, because you physically have no more cash once the envelopes are empty. No cheating and swiping your debit card! Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
2
53

I earned 117 Swagbucks today

click photo for more information
I earned 117 Swagbucks today
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Did you see that I earned 195 Swagbucks yesterday? I thought I’d give you an update on what I earned today, too… Want to earn some free gift cards to cover some of your Christmas expenses? I highly recommend signing up for Swagbucks. Swagbucks is one of my favorite ways to earn free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, Target, and more! There are lots of ways to earn — printing coupons, watching videos, signing up for offers, taking surveys, and more. Go sign up for Swagbucks here and then check out my extensive post here on how to earn more Swagbucks fast.   I Earned 117 Swagbucks Today! I earned 117 SBs (these are points you can redeem for free gift cards) today. Here’s how I did it: I uploaded a receipt for purchasing bread — 20 SBs I watch some videos — 20 SBs I answered the Daily Poll, Profile Questions, and a quick Survey (and earned some bonuses) — 18 SBs I signed up for the Pillsbury email list — 70 SBs (Also, I’m not sure why that doesn’t add up to 117 so the math is off somewhere but I can’t seem to figure out what I’m missing where.) How many SBs did you earn today? What are your favorite ways to earn SBs? Looking for more ways to earn free gift cards? You can earn free gift cards from Shopkick and Fetch Rewards. And here are 15 More Ways to Earn Extra Money. [...]
1
69

4 Ways to Earn More on Your Savings — Despite Another Fed Rate Cut

click photo for more information
4 Ways to Earn More on Your Savings — Despite Another Fed Rate Cut
The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark federal funds rate on Wednesday. It’s the Fed’s third rate cut this year — and bad news for your money sitting in the bank. The interest rates that banks pay on interest-bearing accounts like savings accounts rise and fall with the federal funds rate. So, after the latest Fed rate cut, the chances are good that the interest rate your bank... [...]
1
111

Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee

click photo for more information
Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee
Have you ever wondered how to stop drinking coffee? This post and podcast episode is my journey of why and how I did it, plus the unexpected results of how it really changed my health and life! {To see what I drink instead, check out my favorite Decaf Chai Latte recipe or this list of my favorite decaf teas to drink.} Any time I mention that I no longer drink coffee, I get so many questions on why and how I did this. I decided it was high time I write a post about my journey with quitting coffee! Why I stopped drinking coffee Let’s be clear. This is not something I ever wanted to do and I never ever dreamed I’d be a non-coffee drinker! {So there’s still hope for all you coffee drinkers out there who would like to try giving up caffeine but can’t imagine a world without your coffee!} I started working with a nutritionist in August 2016 in hopes of clearing up my eczema and acne, and one of the first things he told me was that I had to stop drinking coffee. I immediately replied to him and said, “Hold up. I’ll do anything else that you say, but I can not give up my coffee.” He told me to just give it a try, trust him, and see what happens. So I did (reluctantly). Giving up coffee wasn’t easy If you’ve ever wondered how to stop drinking coffee, I’m here to tell you that it was not easy. Prior to that I had been drinking two BIG cups of coffee every single day for a really long time — and even three cups on the really rough days. And let me tell you, it was really, really hard to think of giving it up. I ended up deciding to stop drinking coffee cold turkey, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that method. I started drinking a gallon of water every day, and I was also doing a cleanse at the time — eating only greens and then slowly adding foods back in. The first 8 days were awful. I had a horrible headache and I craved coffee like crazy. I missed it SO much. Mostly, though, I missed the routine of my morning coffee. I had a ritual of getting up and pouring my cup of coffee, and I didn’t know what to do without that morning ritual. I really loved savoring my morning over a cup of coffee, and it was something that was really cathartic for me. Because I couldn’t drink coffee, I had a horrible headache and was extremely lethargic. All I wanted to do was sleep nonstop! I was sleeping about 10 hours every night in the beginning. (And this is a lot more than normal for me. I typically only need about 7 hours for a really good night’s rest.) But you know what was happening? My body was finally trying to get caught up on all the sleep I had missed! My body had become SO dependent on coffee for so many years. I didn’t even realize this until I stopped drinking coffee, but I had been masking my exhaustion and lack of energy with caffeine. How giving up coffee was life-changing for me I never imagined I’d learn how to stop drinking coffee, and it did take a few months for me to stop craving coffee. (And honestly, every once in a while — even after two years — I still crave it! But it’s not worth the headache I immediately get even if I just have a few drops of caffeine!) Over time, it got easier and easier, and I slowly started noticing significant health changes from not drinking coffee. And I learned I can actually survive without drinking coffee — something I never thought would be possible for me! Giving up coffee was a radical choice for me, but the radical results and changes were totally worth it: I finally felt rested. For the first time in months, I felt caught up on sleep. Because I was getting enough sleep every night, I wasn’t getting tired in the middle of the day! I felt happier. I had SO much more energy and was way less irritable. All around, I was just in a much better mood every day. It helped my anxiety. I didn’t realize giving up caffeine would help my anxiety, but this was a life-changing result I wasn’t expecting. I’ve now realized I am extremely sensitive to caffeine, and I can immediately feel the effects even if I have a tiny bit. Not drinking coffee has helped me feel calmer on a daily basis. It improved my overall health. This — combined with drinking more water and eating better — really helped improve my overall physical health. Also, it’s been really empowering for me to realize that I’m not dependent on coffee anymore and I have the energy to get through my days without it! What I drink instead Since the morning ritual was what I missed most about coffee, I had to replace those habits so that I could still enjoy waking up and savoring a hot beverage first thing in the morning. Because I’m highly sensitive to caffeine, I don’t drink caffeinated teas. So I’ve replaced my cup of coffee with a huge cup of strong herbal tea. I typically use two bags of tea so that it’s super strong, I add lots of cream (just like I did when I drank coffee), and I add honey to sweeten it. This strong cup of herbal tea with lots of cream and honey has become a great alternative for me without sacrificing my morning ritual. If you’re looking for some tea ideas, you can check out my favorite Decaf Chai Latte recipe or this list of my favorite decaf teas to drink. Listen to the Podcast on This Topic For more about how and why I stopped drinking coffee, listen to this week’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show. In This Episode:  [00:41] This is going to be a hot button episode – learn all about why I stopped drinking coffee! [01:44] Jesse and I chat about the Spartan Race the family ran. [05:54] Mint Majesty Tea is saving my life these last few weeks! [07:09] Check out The Only Plane in the Sky. I finished it this week and it was captivating. [10:10] So… why did I stop drinking coffee?  [12:49] What did it feel like to even think of giving up coffee?  [13:39] It was hard… awful… miserable… yep, all those things! [16:56] But I stuck with it — and I’m so grateful that I did!  [18:22] Jesse too has been focusing on drinking more water and it’s changed how his body reacts to caffeine. [19:23] I had no idea how much caffeine was affecting my sleep and my overall health. [23:11] Do I miss or crave coffee still?  [26:02] If you’re feeling tired or sluggish, here are some others options for a pick-me-up. [27:03] Learn more about my favorite coffee replacements! Links and Resources: Mint Majesty Tea The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff Dandy Blend with Morning Motivator Crystal’s Favorite Teas Teeccino Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Do you have any other tips on how to stop drinking coffee? I’d love for you to share them in the comments! [...]
1
121

Target: Free Shipping On All Online Holiday Orders!

click photo for more information
Target: Free Shipping On All Online Holiday Orders!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Woohoo! Target is once again offering FREE shipping this holiday season! Starting November 1st, you’ll be able to get FREE shipping on any Target online orders — no minimum purchase required! (Go HERE for the press release!) No promo code is needed for this deal. Just buy anything online and you’ll get automatic FREE shipping — including Black Friday and holiday season purchases. This is a great deal, because you usually have to make a $25 minimum purchase in order to get free shipping. And not only that, many of the shipments will get to you as soon as the next day after your order is placed! Looks like lots of competition for Amazon again this holiday season. Valid through December 21, 2019. [...]
1
92

You Could Save Money by Ditching These 9 Disposables and Buying Reusables

click photo for more information
You Could Save Money by Ditching These 9 Disposables and Buying Reusables
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Saving the planet doesn’t always come cheap. Many of the disposable products we use and love are easy to buy at lower prices than their reusable counterparts. But the convenience of disposable products often comes at a steep cost to the environment. Plastic bags and straws pollute the ocean and end up being ingested by sea animals. Disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. Reusable products often cost more up front, but you may be surprised to find out how soon they end up paying for themselves since you can use them again and again instead of buying more of the disposable versions. 9 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over Time We took nine household products, searched for both reusable and disposable versions on Amazon and compared the costs. Here’s how they stacked up. Editor’s note: The prices in this post are valid as of Sept. 23, 2019. Diapers Diaper prices can vary widely. For example, cheap (read: leaky) store-brand diapers cost just a few cents each, while Pampers can set you back $40 a week. The same is true of cloth diapers.  For this comparison, take a cloth diaper costing $4.50 and 16 disposable diapers at 28 cents each, and the cloth diaper has paid for itself after 16 diaper changes. Multiply that over two years of a child’s life before potty training, and there are major savings to be had by reusing cloth diapers — many of which have different settings that adjust to your baby’s growth. Dryer Balls If you’ve never heard of dryer balls, they’re little wool balls about the size of a tennis ball that you throw in your dryer with your wet laundry in place of fabric-softening dryer sheets. Because the wool can absorb some moisture from your clothes, manufacturers claim they cut down on energy use and drying time. They can also save you some pennies. A set of six reusable wool dryer balls costs $7.97, while a box of 240 disposable dryer sheets costs — wait for it — a buck more. This one’s a no-brainer. Feminine Products Listen up, gal pals. We’re here to tell you that you are not — we repeat, NOT — doomed to pay an exorbitant monthly fee for tampons and liners and pads (not to mention Midol) simply for the privilege of being female. With a box of 40 tampons costing $6.47 and 38 pads ringing in at $6.97 times every month of your adult life, it’s … a lot. So consider this: One pair of Thinx period underwear is $23, and a Diva cup is $24.48. K-Cups Did you even know there was a reusable alternative to those little pods of delectable, life-giving coffee? There totally is!  While a box of 40 Starbucks K-Cups will set you back $28.36 (OUCH), a set of four reusable pods that you just refill with your favorite ground coffee runs $9.95.  Paper Towels One cloth kitchen towel at $1.33 is only slightly more than the cost of one roll of paper towels at a cost of $1.10 per roll. Enough said. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Teaching Your Kids to Save: I am a Bit Confused (HELP) 10/10/19 @ 8:24 AM Traveling All 50 States On a Budget 10/9/19 @ 4:40 PM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 2:00 PM Saving money on pet meds 9/11/19 @ 11:41 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question Razors Razors are synonymous with disposable. A box of 100 of the plastic ones: $17.90. A single chrome reusable safety razor (that will make you feel like Don Draper): $12.66. You do have to replace the blade on the reusable one. Don’t worry, they’re cheap. A box of 100 is about $7. Straws A stainless steel straw costing $.75, or $5.99 for a set of eight, is equal to the cost of about 19 disposable straws at 4 cents each. That means that after 19 uses, the reusable straw has essentially paid for itself — plus you’ve got seven more left over. Sandwich Bags This set of six reusable sandwich bags costs $9.99, while a box of 280 Ziploc bags runs about $8.38. Think about it this way: The first time you replace that box of disposable bags, you’ve nearly bought another whole set of the ones you could be reusing. Water Bottles One reusable water bottle costing $15.76 is equal to the cost of about 72 single-use water bottles at 22 cents each.  Translation: Refill your bottle 72 times and then you’re done paying for water entirely. That’s a considerable up-front cost, but these products — and really all reusable replacements — are all about long-term savings. Not to mention tossing a little less waste in the landfill. Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Senior editor Molly Moorhead contributed to this report. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
57

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup Recipe

click photo for more information
Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup Recipe
Looking for a yummy and easy slow cooker soup recipe? This Chicken Tortellini Soup Recipe is one you should definitely try! I cooked dinner for the first time in six weeks on Monday! And it felt SO good to be back in the kitchen after weeks of not being able to stand doing any food prep because of morning, noon, and night sickness. Since the weather has cooled down here, I though an easy soup recipe would be perfect. Boy oh boy did this one hit the spot! Every person in our family loved it and the entire slow cooker pot was finished off in less than 15 minutes (see above)! Also, everyone declared this recipe a win! Or, maybe they were just so excited that Mom was finally cooking again so they were extra enthusiastic about it?? 😉 This recipe is so simple to make and it’s a fun twist on traditional chicken noodle soup. Plus, it can be made ahead in the crock pot! The only thing I would recommend would be buying more flavorful cheese tortellini (we bought the Kroger brand and I thought it was kind of bland) OR adding more salt and pepper to the soup to make it a little more flavorful. Chicken Tortellini Soup 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used three frozen breasts.) 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 2 stalks celery, chopped 6 cups chicken broth 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning Salt/pepper 18 oz. refrigerated cheese tortellini Put the chicken, carrots, and celery in a slow cooker. Pour chicken broth over and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for 6 hours. Take chicken out and shred/chop. Add chicken back in to slow cooker along with tortellini. Cook until tortellini is tender. adapted from Delish.com Looking for more yummy soup recipes? Here are some of our favorites: Crockpot Taco Soup Best Ever Black Bean Soup Cheesy Hamburger Potato Soup Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe What is your favorite soup recipe for fall months? I’d love to hear! [...]
1
92

Why Jesse and Kathrynne Went to South Africa

click photo for more information
Why Jesse and Kathrynne Went to South Africa
As a mom, there’s not much that warms your heart more than seeing your child find such fulfillment in loving on others. We usually go to South Africa every year to spend time with our friends there and to see the progress and work being done by Take Action Ministry — the ministry that is near and dear to our hearts and the one we are very involved with there. (If you’re interested in reading about previous trips, you can read more and see lots of pictures here.) I couldn’t go this year because of my pregnancy, but I got to send Jesse and Kathrynne instead and they had the absolute BEST time! I just couldn’t stop smiling as Jesse sent me pictures when they were there. To see my 14-year-old so happy and at home in the country that has stolen my heart made me beyond thrilled and proud as a parent. There’s a lot of things we’ve gotten wrong and are getting wrong as parents, but we will never regret the priority we’ve placed on travel and experiencing other countries and cultures. It has so profoundly impacted all of us for so much good. In this week’s episode of the podcast, I sat down with Jesse and Kathrynne and asked them to share about their trip. I loved getting to hear their perspective, what they experienced, and what they have learned from our time spent in South Africa. In This Episode:  [01:19] Jesse and Kathrynne share why they went to go to South Africa. [02:33] We all talk about what the flights to South Africa are like and the anxiety that sometimes has surrounded these long international flights. [08:03] Jesse chats about some of the highlights of this year’s trip and how the area has changed so much. [08:51] What does Take Action Ministry do at the centers and what is the purpose of these centers?  [13:06] Kathrynne shares her experience with the food prepared and served at the centers. [15:09] Hear about Kathrynne’s trip highlights. [18:14] What was different about this trip from the ones taken in the past? [20:32] We could just give them money, but going and being there is so much more impactful.  [22:50] How have these trips impacted Kathrynne’s and Jesse’s lives?  [27:45] Kathrynne ends the conversation with how appreciative she is for all of the opportunities she has in her life. Links and Resources: Take Action Ministry Take Action Donations Joint Aid Management Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
1
78

What has triggered the explosion of payments for order flow? Not Fidelity

click photo for more information
What has triggered the explosion of payments for order flow? Not Fidelity
The Robinhood effect popped up again, as Schwab slashed its stock commissions to zero and forced TD America, E-trade, Interactive Brokers, Ally Invest, and Fidelity to follow suit over the next few days. Schwab called this the zero commission brokerage war, on CNN. This war is just the beginning of a broader trend that will […] The post What has triggered the explosion of payments for order flow? Not Fidelity appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
1
87

9 of the Hottest Products on Amazon Today

click photo for more information
9 of the Hottest Products on Amazon Today
Whether you’re an impulse shopper or just like to be on top of the latest trends, you need to check out Amazon’s “Movers & Shakers” lists. These are the hottest items on Amazon right now, based on how much their sales rank has jumped compared with 24 hours earlier. According to Amazon: “For example, if a music item has a current sales rank of 10, but was ranked 30... [...]
1
71

30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money

click photo for more information
30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money
Want some easy ways to save money? Here are 30 easy ways to save money submitted by my Facebook followers. How many of these do you currently do? 30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money 1. Set up auto deposit to a bank that is hard to access. Susan suggested: “Auto deposit to a bank you don’t have easy access to. I use our local credit union that is only open 9-3. While I’m working.” Rachel says: “This is how I saved enough money to buy my first home outright. Lived on one check and sent the next 2 to a bank I didn’t have easy access too. (I had an account at a credit union 3 hours away so it was definitely a job to get the money out.)” Kim says: “I automatically have money transferred into a savings account before I even see it from my check.” 2. Ask some questions before making a purchase. Kelley says: “I ask myself more than once before making a purchase, ‘Do I really need this and will this make me happier a year from now?’ Pretty much stops me in my tracks most of the time!” 3. Take advantage of free family fun! Lacy suggested: “We like to do outdoors activities and nature adventures as a family instead of dining out and shopping as ‘something to do’ as our family time.” 4. Cook and eat at home. Hope says: “Cooking all our meals at home and making my own coffee drinks is enabling me to stay home.” Moni also said: “Cooking homemade food and eating at home saves us a lot of money. My hubby also saves a ton of money each week bringing lunches and eating breakfast before he goes to work in the morning. Also coffee! Brewing our own saves as much as not getting food out!” 5. Shop at thrift stores. Rachel says: “Shop at salvage stores and thrift stores.” 6. Record every purchase. Shannon says: “Recording every purchase (yes, even things like a vending purchase!) in our budget spreadsheets helps us track categorized expenses and make sure we are staying within budget.” 7. Cancel your catalogs and unsubscribe from emails. Jennifer says: “Limiting my exposure to beautiful things by canceling all the pretty catalogs and email blasts from the same stores is an easy way to save money.” 8. Cut your cable. Rachel says: “Cut off your cable! Wish I had done it months ago!” Laura also said: “We just did this, too! It’s saving us $65/month.” 9. Set a goal. Tammy says: “When I have a goal set (usually travel), I can save money very easily. I have no problem not spending unnecessarily. No goal = I buy things I DO NOT need.” 10. Do it yourself! Rachael says: “Easy ways we save money: Making my own DIY face/skin/cleaning products, canning, freezing, gardening, making our own wine, cutting my daughter’s hair, and doing handmade/homemade Christmas/birthday gifts!” 11. Only buy groceries on sale with coupons. Valeria says: “Only buy groceries when on sale, using coupons and app rebates. Plus, purchase enough to get you to the next sale of that item.” 12. Order groceries online. Edith says: “I save money by ordering groceries online. It keeps me out of the store and eliminates impulse shopping. I make my list at home, do the order, and pick it up outside the store.” 13. Stock up when an item is on sale. Keiva says: “I use coupons with sales to buy more than we need at the time so it’s available to us when it’s not on sale. Also, stock up on sale items. This week, our grocery has Mott’s Apple juice 64oz. for $1. I’ll buy 40. With 6 kids, it goes quickly! They also have Peter Pan PB for $1, so I’ll buy about 20. I’ll be set for the next 6 months!” 14. Get rid of expensive habits. Tiffany says: “Get rid of habits that cost money. I gave up coffee and tea a long time ago. Started saving me $15 to $25 a week. I stopped buying books unless they are $1 or less and just reserve books at a library.” 15. Cut your hair at home. Barbie says: “Doing my husband’s and sons’ haircuts myself. My husband and older son only take about 10 minutes a piece. My younger son takes twice as long because he fidgets. I still figure I save on time by not going to a barber shop, and I save $60-ish every round of haircuts. My boys think going to a barber shop is quite the treat!” 16. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it! Tosha says: “Remembering that just because it’s posted on MSM or another blog doesn’t mean I need to buy it! If I don’t need it and I buy it because it’s on sale, I’ve spent money I didn’t need to spend.” 17. Stay out of Target. Sandra says: “Staying out of Target and buying necessities on Amazon is an easy way to save money.” 18. Don’t shop without a list. Oghma: “I don’t go inside a store until I have a list. Also, don’t shop just one item and then feel like you need to buy other things so the trip is ‘worth it’.” 19. Use a wood burning fireplace. Holly says: “We bought a wood burning fireplace insert to save money. We’ve gotten firewood free but when we’ve bought it, the wood was still 1/3 the price of natural gas. Also, when we had a natural gas outage, we had no power but we still had heat.” 20. Use Rakuten to earn cash back. Michele says: “We save money by using eBates when online shopping (now known as Rakuten). In the years I’ve been using it, I’ve gotten almost $1,000 back. They send you a check every three months. I never order anything without checking to see if the website is on eBates first.” 21. Get a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year. Melisa says: “We have a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage. Yes, monthly payment is higher, but not double. Plus, it’s going to save us $112,000 in interest on a $290,000 home.” 22. Use your local library. Patricia says: “We utilize every aspect of our local library. DVDs, audiobooks, reading programs with prizes, free events for kids, game night, kid computer games, online library for ebooks, etc.” 23. Pack food before you leave. Bethany says: “We save money by packing lunch/dinner if we go out, bringing coffee along for the ride, and eating before we leave!” 24. Don’t buy beverages! Robin says: “We don’t drink pop and we don’t buy beverages when we are out and about. Bottled water is also a no-no. I can fill a bottle at home real cheap.” 25. Watch the prices as they are scanned. Beverly says: “I watch the prices as items are scanned in at the register. I save often by catching an accidental higher price being scanned in. Also, 2 main stores I shop at offer a price scan policy. If it scans in wrong, you get one free if it’s under $10. Or, you get $10 off if it’s over $10.” 26. Don’t buy things the same day. Betsy says: “I take pictures of things I like at stores like Target and don’t buy them the same day. Sometimes I do this and then find something similar at the thrift stores.” 27. Plan your menu based upon what you already have. Elizabeth says: “When I’m meal planning, I shop my pantry and freezer first and try to utilize what I have and not let things go to waste.” 28. Don’t shop just to kill time. Andrea says: “Don’t go shopping just to fill time. If I go wandering because I’m bored, I will find things to buy. I’m trying to simplify and save money for adventures instead of ‘stuff’ for my little one and me.” 29. Ditch your clothes dryer. Tricia says: “I save money by hanging all my clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.” 30. Don’t buy it just because you want it. Jennifer says: “I’m learning to be an adult and understand that I don’t HAVE TO buy everything I want.” What are some of yo [...]
1
80

*HOT Clorox Wipes Deal | $10 Money Maker After Rebate!!

click photo for more information
*HOT Clorox Wipes Deal | $10 Money Maker After Rebate!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. WHOA! If you’ve been needing to stock up on Clorox Wipes, this is a deal you don’t want to miss! Top Cash Back is offering a $14.65 rebate on any $11 or more Clorox Wipes purchased from Staples, making it FREE! But that’s not all! Right now when you sign up as a new member, you also get a $10 bonus! That means you’ll get back $24.65 when you purchase this slow cooker — which is a $10 money maker deal! Here’s how to get your FREE Clorox Wipes + Bonus $10: 1. Head here for the special Clorox Wipes offer and sign up for a new Top Cash Back account. 2. Spend at least $11 on Clorox Wipes. Select free in-store pickup at your local Staples to avoid shipping costs. 3. Within 21 days, your Top Cash Back account will be credited with $14.65 — so all you’ll pay is tax! Once your account is credited with the $14.65, you’ll immediately see the bonus $10 in your account, too! That means you should get $24.65 cash back total! 4. After you receive the $24.65 payment in your Top Cash Back account, you can choose to transfer it to your bank account or request a Paypal payment. This is for new TopCashBack members only. If you are already a member, you are allowed to sign up another adult in your household. This deal is valid through October 20, 2019 — or while supplies last. [...]
1
69

2 Ways a CPAP Machine Can Make You Sick

click photo for more information
2 Ways a CPAP Machine Can Make You Sick
A CPAP machine is designed to boost your health. But if you aren’t careful, it could have the opposite effect. These machines are often used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to periodically stop breathing while they sleep. By pushing air through a tube, into a mask and down your throat, CPAP machines help keep your airway open throughout the night. (CPAP stands for &# [...]
1
95

How to Finally Break Free from Anxiety & Stress

click photo for more information
How to Finally Break Free from Anxiety & Stress
Need some practical encouragement to move past anxiety, stress, and survival mode? Longing for life of more wholeness? Don’t miss this episode with Aundi Kolber! Missed previous episodes of The Crystal Paine show? You can listen to them here. Okay, I know I’ve said this before about other episodes, but I truly think today’s episode was one of my very favorite podcast recordings to date! Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Aundi Kolber is a therapist and I felt like I got a therapy session just by spending an hour with her?! 🙂 Listen in to the episode and you’ll see what I mean. Aundi has a gift of sharing so eloquently and yet also in such a heartfelt manner. She just exudes such peace and calmness, but also such profound wisdom and understanding of how we are wired. In this episode, we not only talk about what’s saving our lives (I had to laugh that she talked about something related to brain science and I talk about leggings!) and the books we’re reading, but then we dive into some deep heart topics. She shares what it means to Try Softer (the title of her new book), the difference between Big T trauma and little t trauma and how we might be experiencing the aftershocks of little t trauma without even realizing it and this might be at the root of our stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. Aundi explains thoroughly how the body processes pain — whether physical or emotional. And she provides very concrete suggestions and ideas for how we can start to take steps toward more healing and wholeness. Whether you feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed or whether you know someone who does, this conversation is highly important and one that you do not want to miss. I have thought of it over and over again since we recorded last week and will be taking so many nuggets of truth from it to apply to my everyday life. In This Episode:  [00:25] Welcome back! I am so excited to have Aundi Kolber on the show! [01:06] Aundi shares about a little about her background and family [03:43] Meaningful walks are saving Aundi’s life — and the brain science she shares here is fascinating! And then, to keep things a little more down to earth (!), I talk about my new favorite leggings. [09:25] We discuss our current reads, including one written by a therapist and a novel I finished last week.  [13:08] Why did Aundi write Try Softer? (I loved that she wrote it as a love letter to her younger self!) [17:20] We talk about the stigma surrounding the word “trauma” and why it’s important to understand if you’ve experienced little t trauma. [19:27] How can you tell if you’re holding onto the pain of the past and how does it show up in your life? [23:50] What does it mean to “try softer” and how can we apply this in our every day lives? [27:37] Aundi shares practical first steps for beginning to break free from stress, anxiety, and survival mode — even if you feel so stuck and overwhelmed that you don’t know how to take the first step! Links and Resources: Try Softer by Aundi Kolber Aundi’s Website My New Favorite Leggings Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (Note: Aundi wrote me a few days after the interview to say that she would give a language warning with this book. She said it didn’t show up until the later parts of the book which she hadn’t read yet when we did this interview.) Boundaries for Your Soul by Allison Cook and Kimberly Miller The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay Aundi on Facebook Aundi on Twitter Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
1
87

Smart Bricks meet Clicks & Voice – the Walmart Way

click photo for more information
Smart Bricks meet Clicks & Voice – the Walmart Way
PHYGITAL E-commerce giant Amazon is a big player in many markets. From e-commerce, cloud, delivery, entertainment, payments, smart home devices, and physical stores. Retail giant Walmart, not included in the FANGs or the GAFAs, as it is a native of another tribe (physical retailers), can actually stand respectfully next to Amazon and other large non-financials […] The post Smart Bricks meet Clicks & Voice – the Walmart Way appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
1
119

Life Update: Pregnancy (week 11) & a trip to South Africa & Herndon, VA

click photo for more information
Life Update: Pregnancy (week 11) & a trip to South Africa & Herndon, VA
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. In case you missed last week’s update, check it out here. 11 weeks! I’m so excited to be getting close to the 2nd trimester! This week was a week full of ups and downs. I had some really bad days and two surprisingly decent days where I actually had a few short windows where I didn’t feel nauseous. It was the most incredible feeling and, even though it was short-lived, it was just the encouragement I needed after having a really rough and discouraging week last week nausea-wise. (By the way, it seems that most people have told me that their nausea is always worst in the mornings. For some reason, mine gets progressively worse as the day goes on. By bedtime, it’s at the severe level and often keeps me up for a few hours. I don’t have any explanation for this but it’s how it’s been in all my pregnancies so I guess it just is what it is!) HIGHLIGHTS: I had another doctor’s appointment this week and another ultrasound. Since Jesse and Kathrynne are in South Africa, I took Silas and Kaitlynn with me to the appointment. It was exciting for them to get to see our baby on the screen! Also, my doctor says the baby has grown quite a bit & everything is looking so healthy. NOTABLE: We had the NIPT test done this week. We opted to do it for a variety of reasons, even though it’s not 100% accurate. One exciting side benefit: we should be finding out what we’re having in the next two weeks! We haven’t decided whether we’ll be telling people or not. We didn’t find out with either of the girls but chose to find out with Silas and decided that we preferred finding out to being surprised. However, with Silas, we decided to keep it a secret from everyone, including our extended family. We may or may not do that again. WEIGHT GAIN: A total of 4 pounds so far… which means that I have officially outgrown a lot of my clothes. I ordered a few new tunic tops from Amazon and a few new pairs of leggings. I also went through my closet and pared it down to the looser-fitting tops/bottoms I already own that I can still into comfortably. I’m guessing I’ll be transitioning to maternity clothes sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. (If I remember right, I usually start wearing them around 17-20 week but I feel like my belly has popped faster this pregnancy!) A Peek Into Our Week A number of you have asked for me to post a picture of Quill (our pet hedgehog). He’s doing so well and has grown so big. A Trip to South Africa Jesse and Kathrynne flew to South Africa on Wednesday to visit our friends there and see how things were going with the ministry we support there. (We usually go every year and it’s one of my favorite places ever, but for some reason, I didn’t feel a peace about going this year. It didn’t make any sense at all, but I just felt strongly that I wasn’t supposed to go… little did I know that it was going to be because I was pregnant!) They’ve been sending me pictures of their time there and I am just so happy for them. Jesse said that Kathrynne is having the best time and it warms my mama heart so much to see my girl halfway around the world loving on these kids and teens. While they’ve been gone, we stayed busy back here. I got to interview Aundi Kolber for next week’s podcast episode. I can’t wait for you to listen to this episode; it is fantastic! (Also, we looked like we were dressed for a gender reveal party or something! I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the picture we took together after she left!) I also was so excited one morning to feel well enough to go to Kroger quickly and pick up their Friday-Saturday deals! A Trip to Herdon, VA And then Kaitlynn and Silas flew with me to Herdon, VA for me to speak at the 2:1 conference. (I usually only bring one child with me on speaking engagements, but since they were both on fall break and Jesse and Kathrynne were gone, they both got to come with me!) One of the highlights of the conference was getting to meet Janet Benge, who has co-authored so many of the Christian Heroes Then and Now books. I had to get a picture for my mom. I loved getting to do a breakout workshop about exploding your engagement on Instagram! The attendees were the best and I could have stayed for another hour or two and answered all the questions I didn’t get to answer during the session and at the end! One of my favorite things is getting to help others also fall in love with the power of Instagram. Speaking of which, are you following me on Instagram? If not, you’re missing out as I share lots of behind-the-scenes, money-saving deals, and real-time updates there… many that I never get space to share here on the blog! I also gave the morning keynote sharing how my parents impacted my life and the power of legacy. What I’m… Reading right now: The Only Plane in the Sky (Note: This has a little bit of language in it, but it is a very worthwhile read and I would highly recommend it.) Watching right now: Have you seen the Enneagram Rhapsody? Multiple sent it to me this week and I had to laugh because there was so much truth in it. If you are an Enneagram fan, you’ll probably love it, if you haven’t seen it yet. 🙂 Listening to right now: This week, I’ve been listening to the Serene and Pearl UnShow at night when I have trouble sleeping because of nausea. I love the Trim Healthy Mama podcast and their quirky sense of humor and the way they disagree with one another and tease one another. (A lot of people are annoyed with how they talk over each other on their podcast. I happen to love it — probably because I grew up in a large family and we are always talking over each other and teasing one another mercilessly!) Loving right now: This kimono (I have it on in the photo at the top of this post. It’s perfect to dress up an outfit, so comfortable, and is something I’ve worn multiple times in the last month!) What are YOU reading, watching, listening to, and loving right now? I’d love to hear! In Case You Missed It: Guess what? I actually went to Kroger! Jesse Answers Your Burning Questions 2019 Goals: September Update [...]
1
83

5 Shrewd Secrets from Women Who’ve Fixed Credit, Paid Debt and Made Fortunes

click photo for more information
5 Shrewd Secrets from Women Who’ve Fixed Credit, Paid Debt and Made Fortunes
Looking for some advice when it comes to managing your money? We have stories from a former Merrill Lynch executive, a mom of nine who overcame a job layoff and a college grad who was able to pay off $100,000 worth of debt — then start her own business. They share their tips and secrets for financial success. You can even start using some of their strategies right now. Secret No. 1: Women Should Invest Differently Than Men Traditional investing companies have never really considered the fact that women statistically get paid less, yet live longer. That’s why Sallie Krawcheck, the former head of Merrill Lynch designed an investing company for women called Ellevest. With Ellevest, you can start investing with as little as $1. Plus, when you sign up through The Penny Hoarder, you’ll get a $25 bonus in your Ellevest account.* When you sign up, Ellevest will build an investing plan just for you and your financial goals. It considers gender pay differences, any potential career breaks and overall lifespan. Even better? It invests your money in women-owned businesses. Thanks to Krawcheck, we can invest exactly for our needs and feel more confident in our financial future. Secret No. 2: Be an Advocate For Yourself (and Your Credit Score) It’s easy to pass your credit score off as some silly three-digit number — that’s what most of us did throughout our early twenties anyways. But what happens when you want to buy a car? Or a house? That seemingly arbitrary number starts to play a huge role in your life. And here’s the unfortunate fact: You can do everything right, but if your credit report has an error (one in five reports do), it could be holding you back — for no good reason. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on things. Thankfully, a free website called Credit Sesame will give you your credit score for free and help you detect any errors on your report. If you find any, it will even help you dispute them. Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report — a supposed unpaid medical bill that had definitely been covered by Medicaid. Using Credit Sesame, Buitureria fixed the mistake and took additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.**  Now? She’s focused on buying a home. It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up with Credit Sesame. Secret No. 3: You’re Not Stuck With Your Credit Card Debt Wanna know something? Even if you have loads of credit card debt right now, that doesn’t mean you’ll have it forever. Heck, that doesn’t even mean you’ll have it tomorrow. What? We’re serious. One of our favorite first steps in escaping credit card debt is to refinance it with a personal loan. It might sound counterintuitive — like you’re just moving your debt from your credit cards to a loan — but the truth is, this could lower your monthly payment, save you tons of money in interest over time, and allow you to pay off your debt faster.. If you’re not sure where to start looking, use a website called Fiona. It’ll match you with a low-interest loan (rates start at 3.84%). You can then use that loan to wipe out your credit card debt. Then you’re left with just one bill to pay every month. Pro Tip When shopping personal loans, look for interest rates lower than your credit cards’ and manageable monthly payments. Oh, and don’t take out more than need to pay off your credit cards. Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. We chatted with one San Francisco resident who struggled to keep up with her credit card debt. She faced a minimum monthly payment of $274 plus $154 in monthly interest plus a $99 annual credit card fee. She said it felt like she was on a treadmill. She decided to refinance with a personal loan, which spared her from what would’ve been $14,000 in interest over time. Secret No. 4: You Can Leave Your Kids $1 Million for $5/Month If you have kids, you’ve probably worried about what’ll happen to them if something were to happen to you… For single mom Rebekah Pearsall, this was difficult to consider. “Since my son doesn’t have a biological father in his life, I wanted to make sure he was secure if something were to ever happen to me,” she said. That’s when she started looking into life insurance. Before you start thinking you don’t have the time or money for that, look into policies through a company called Bestow. It offers $1 million policies starting at only $5 a month. Your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes. You can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless. Pearsall had seen firsthand the benefits of life insurance; her childhood friend lost his dad and life insurance helped his family make it through that time financially. It takes only a few minutes to get a free quote. Secret No. 5: You Don’t Have to Have an MBA to Start a Business If you dream of starting a business, don’t let the fact that you don’t have a business degree from an Ivy League school hold you back. (Yeah, imposter syndrome is the worst.) We’ve talked to plenty of women who’ve successfully started businesses on their own. Here’s a story that really resonates with our frugal hearts: The Budget Mom. After graduating college, Kumiko Love had $100,000 worth of debt — student loans, credit cards and medical bills. All that good stuff. Still, she had trouble sticking to a budget. So she gave up. Then she started studying the psychology behind money and that gave her a renewed hope: She started viewing her situation through a positive lens. She combined several budgeting tactics and started logging her process through her blog, The Budget Mom. And guess what? Love is now debt free and she recently quit her full-time job to focus on her seven-figure business, The Budget Mom. *The Ellevest The Penny Hoarder promotional offer is valid for the first 1,000 new clients of Ellevest who enter through this designated landing page. Clients who enroll and fund their non-retirement account will receive $25 added to their highest priority goal in their Ellevest account. Clients who enroll and fund their retirement account will receive a $25 Amazon gift card which can be redeemed by visiting www.amazon.com. Please review Amazon.com Gift Card Terms and Conditions prior to redemption. Ellevest is not responsible for lost Amazon Gift Cards. Ellevest’s processing time for depositing $25 into a client’s Ellevest account or delivery of a $25 Amazon gift card may be up to 60 days. **Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits. Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
145

Getting a Roommate? Here Are 4 Ways to Protect Your Finances

click photo for more information
Getting a Roommate? Here Are 4 Ways to Protect Your Finances
We all have a roommate horror story, right? That roommate who ate all your cereal, the one who borrowed your favorite shirt — without asking — and the one who Never. Washed. One. Plate. That’s the tradeoff though, right? You’ll put up with a few annoyances because having a roommate can substantially cut your living expenses. But what if your roommate stops paying the water bill or moves out halfway through your lease and you’re stuck paying all the bills? Deadbeat roommates can leave you owing hundreds — or thousands — in unpaid bills. And if you’re unaware they’re skipping out on payments and your name is on the lease or utility bill, it could potentially wreck your credit score. While we can’t really help with the irritating roommates (maybe a lock on the cereal box?), we do have ways to split your costs upfront and avoid getting stuck paying more than your fair share. Ways to Ensure Your Roommate Pays Their Share In theory, if you have one roommate, you split everything 50/50. But what if you have the master bedroom — do you pay per square foot? What if your roommate has a dog — does that affect the cut for the security deposit? Putting as much as you can in writing before you move in together will help you both understand the expectations and help preserve the relationship, according to Mark Bauer, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Pro Tip If you’re moving in with someone you didn’t know before, ask for references from former roommates and previous landlords. Be prepared to provide the same. “A lot of people think that having a formal agreement, particularly if the person is a friend, is off-putting,” he said. “But a friendly agreement spelling out responsibilities in advance is something that people who trust each other do.” Protecting your finances becomes even more important when you move out because you are no longer there to monitor what’s happening — and whether bills are being paid. We’ve come up with four ways to help protect your finances from the moment you find a roommate right through the day you move out.  1. Ask for Separate Leases If you haven’t signed a lease yet, this could be an opportunity to protect yourself from getting stuck with the entire rent — typically, the biggest shared expense — if your roommate decides to move out early.   That’s important since if you and your roommate sign a lease, you’re each responsible for 50% of the rent. But it also means either one of you is responsible for 100% of the rent — legally known as joint and several liability, Bauer explained. So if your roommate decides to stop paying their share — whether it’s because they moved out or simply stopped sending in their half of the rent — the landlord can come after you for the entire rent. Pro Tip If it’s your first time living with someone, consider signing a month-to-month lease. That way, if you find out you got a bad roommate after a couple months, you’re not stuck there for a whole year. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve been faithfully putting in your 50% every month including when the other person didn’t,” Bauer said. “As far as the landlord is concerned, you were jointly liable.” Instead, request two lease agreements stating that you’re separately liable — it might result in the landlord having some say over your next roommate (since the landlord can choose another tenant to sign a lease with), but at least you won’t be responsible for covering your roommate’s half of the rent.  2. Create a Roommate Agreement Regardless of the lease, creating a roommate agreement can help everyone get on the same page, so to speak, about responsibilities. Considering you’ll probably be dealing with smaller amounts of money, it’s unlikely you’ll recoup your losses if your roommate really didn’t pay the final month’s electric bill, for instance. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been faithfully putting in your 50% every month, including when the other person didn’t. As far as the landlord is concerned, you were jointly liable. “What are you going to do — pay for an attorney to sue?” Bauer said. “It’s just not worth it. “Small claims court doesn’t yield readily-enforceable judgments, so that’s just kicking the can down the road, too.” For most people, simply seeing everything in writing is enough to prevent most issues — without having to go through the hassle (and money) of making it official. “Whether it’s legally binding isn’t relevant — the fact is that you’re more likely to follow rules that you’ve agreed to,” said Bauer.  He noted that spelling out responsibilities in a document “makes it less likely that there’s going to be a dispute that can rise to the level of contract dispute or legal dispute or a judgment from a landlord in the first place.” So what should you include in a roommate agreement? You can include as much detail as you want — who takes out the garbage, when quiet hours are, the number of guests allowed on the premises — but you’ll want to include some basics as far as financial responsibilities are concerned: Basics For any agreement, make sure to include all of the tenants. You can include separate sections for beginning and end dates for each roommate if they move in after the initial lease agreement, but at the very least, you should include the following info: Names of the tenants. Landlord’s contact info. Address of the residence. Beginning and end dates for the lease. Dated signatures. Financial Responsibilities  For each entry, include the amount due (or indicate each tenant must acknowledge receipt of the amount due if it varies monthly), payment due date, payment submission info, percentage each person owes and the responsible party for submitting payment: Security deposit. Rent. Utilities. Additional shared expenses (for example, food, parking or pets) Roommate and/or Lease Obligations Besides the expenses, you can include sections that address rules and regulations in regards to the residence: Responsibility for finding a replacement and notifying the landlord if a tenant moves out before the lease ends.  How to handle maintenance issues, including purchasing common room supplies like paper towels.  Rules for bringing in outside guests or animals. How the security deposit/damage charges should be divided at the conclusion of the lease. 3. Make Sure Anything That Has Your Name on it is Paid There’s a lot to take care of when you’re ready to move: figuring out the fastest commute route to work, reserving that four-hour window for the cable company, begging your friends and family to help you move. You might be tempted to split up some responsibilities with your roommate to save time, but you should be careful that you’re not setting yourself up for potential unwelcome surprises if your roommate relationship goes south. “Usually they split it responsibly: I’ll call the city to get the water taken care of, you deal with the electric company — that’s a problem if things go wrong,” Bauer said. “I would recommend as many roommates as there are, everyone’s name be on everything because there’s just no other way to secure yourself.” FROM THE DEBT FORUM Debt Payoff Strategy Tips? 9/16/19 @ 3:56 PM Parent loans 9/30/19 @ 11:17 AM Sallie Mae Loans 10/2/19 @ 7:33 AM [...]
1
93

18 Creative Ways We Cut Our Grocery Bill

click photo for more information
18 Creative Ways We Cut Our Grocery Bill
Looking for some creative ways to cut your grocery bill? Here are 18 strategies from my followers that you might not have thought of doing: Creative Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill I recently asked my followers to share some of their best creative ideas for cutting their grocery bill. Here are a few of my favorites that were submitted… (Psst! Have more creative ideas to cut your grocery bill? Please leave a comment on this post and let us know!) 1. Can you make it yourself? “Make homemade items instead of buying them in the store. Example: homemade taco seasoning. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Use less meat and more veggies in your recipes. You don’t have to use all the meat that comes in the package. “Make homemade laundry detergent (for coloreds and darks). It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment just long enough to help you save money now. Almost anything you get at the store you can make at home. Think outside the box.” -Christine 2. Pretend you’re Ma Ingalls! “I always pretend our family is Little House on the Prairie and it’s a day’s horse ride into town to get groceries. So, once I have purchased groceries, I don’t go back to the store. I get clever about what I can make with what I have. Kind of my own version of Chopped.” -Kathleen 3. Order groceries online. “One thing that helps us save money is to order groceries online. I can closely watch what is being spent. Yes, that means I may give up my 25-cent-off coupon, but if I’m saving $5 because I bought something on an impulse, then I still see it as saving. Or, I’ll order online and then shop my coupons in store. Saving money is hard, you always need to be watching, always counting, always scouring for the best deal. It’s a job all in itself. But when it pays off…boy does that feel great!” -Jessica 4. Cash is king! “If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it! We spend $100/week on food and toiletries for our family of 6. It’s hard but doable. The reality is, if you only have $150, you’ll only spend $150. Maybe working a zero-based budget will help you succeed more?!” -Alicia 5. Stretch your chicken. “I buy big packs of chicken breast and can use 1 pack for 3 meals. I separate the chicken tenders from the breast and cut those into cubes for casseroles. Then, I place those pieces and seasonings/marinades in labeled freezer bags and freeze them. The breasts, I fillet, turning one portion into two. These I season/marinade and place in bags or parchment lined tins and freeze — it just depends on how I plan to cook them.” -Jessica Pro Tip: Check out this post on How to Stretch One Package of Chicken to Make 4 Dinners. 6. Have a Waste Not, Want Not Day. “Take a look at what’s leftover at the end of the week from your most recent shopping trip. What meal(s) can you make out if it? Or snacks, treats, etc.? Every so often I have a “Waste Not Want Not Day” and I use up every odd/leftover food items I can find. Be creative.” -Helen 7. Stop using so much! “Rethink how you use some items. Using too much laundry soap? Only use the bare minimum. And sometimes hand wash small batches! Shampoo? Wash your hair every 2nd or 3rd day, rather than every day.” -Sue Pro tip: Read my post on How I Only Wash My Hair Once a Week. 8. Think in terms of cost per meal. “I try to break it down by cost per meal. Most meals (dinners) I make regularly can be done for under $10-12 for my family of 5… $4 or less worth of meat, a couple bucks in veggies, a couple bucks in carbs. “I try to keep snacks under $0.30/each, at most $0.50, so I’ll break down the cost per item or estimate the number of snacks I can get from one box and divide. “It really helps to see exactly what your meals are costing you, if the ingredients you use in your average dinner costs $25 to buy, you either need to reevaluate your menus or reevaluate your budget.” -Jessica 9. Use a store gift card & shop with a calculator. “A tip to avoid going over on groceries is IF you shop at stores like Safeway (Vons) or QFC (Kroger) that offer gift cards for purchase… load up a gift card each week for the dollar amount you have planned. Only use that gift card (as best you can) for grocery shopping. “If your card doesn’t have enough to cover it at checkout, it’ll really make you have to think twice when you have to pull out your debit card to cover the difference. “Also, shop with a calculator in hand. I’ve done that so many times during tight payday periods. Then you can re-evaluate what’s most important in your cart before you get to checkout.” -Helen 10. Shop Dollar General for OTC medicines. “I’ve recently been introduced to Dollar General brand of OTC meds. They actually seem to work better than most of the name brands.” -Alice 11. Simplify your meals. “Simplify your meals. Some nights we don’t do the traditional meat, starch, veggie. We hardly ever have a bread/roll or even dessert. We might have just a casserole or just spaghetti alone with no sides.” -Allison 12. Shop at CVS. “CVS is the best for personal care items. Although their regular prices are high, their deals can’t be beat. One day recently, I walked out with 2 bottles of L’Oreal shampoo, 2 Pantene hairsprays, and 1 shaving cream for $0.53. I used the coupons at the kiosk, with manufacturer’s coupons on sale items. When I get an overabundance, I share with my daughter or donate to one of the local shelters.” -Kathy 13. Make your own convenience items. “Making cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, ammonia provides lots of savings. Also, we stopped using paper towels years ago. (You can even cut up old t-shirts for hand towels. I keep them in a basket by the sink.) “Make convenience items from scratch. Or find homemade solutions for expensive items. “When I had kids at home, I made lots of muffins, baked oatmeal, homemade frozen hot pockets, and frozen burritos. Hillbilly Housewife had a great basic muffin recipe and I made it with whatever I had for add-ins. “Eating breakfast for supper saves lots and having things like pancakes, biscuits and gravy, or eggs and toast. Cooking once to re-use leftovers saves a lot also. Taco meat becomes chili, baked chicken becomes soup.” -Gina 14. Cut down on what you buy. “You can still go broke chasing a good deal! Former coupon instructor here. You can up the amount of your budget OR you can cut down on what you buy. “Perhaps one week a month (or a quarter), do a spending fast and don’t shop. Use what’s in the pantry, and eat what’s in the fridge/freezer.” -Amanda 15. Use Walmart Grocery Pickup. “Walmart Online grocery pickup has been great for me lately. You can see exactly what you’re spending before you get to checkout and you are only buying what you need for the week/two weeks versus buying things that you see that jump into your cart. “I still have to supplement with trips here and there to our local grocery store, but knowing I can purchase the bulk of it for very low prices and control what I’m spending WHILE I spend it, has been a great thing for me.” -Susan Pro tip: Did you know you can earn United Airline Miles by using Walmart Grocery Pickup? 16. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. “Bar soap is also a fraction of the price of liquid, one $2 bar of Dove lasts more than a month compared to a $6 bottle of liquid for 2 weeks!” -Marge 17. Try the Envelope System. “I highly recommend the envelope system. Put your grocery money for the week envelope and only spend that amount (you might need to leave your credit/debit cards at home until you get the hang of shopping with a set amount of cash).” [...]
1
99

12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints

click photo for more information
12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best online photo printing deals? If you love to order prints online but hate paying full price, check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints! {Looking for all the latest photo deals? Go HERE.} Reader Kara wrote in with this great question: “Hello, I was wondering what is the least expensive way to print pictures? I used to wait until Shutterfly did their free prints deals but last time I did that it seemed that their shipping fees had gone up. Any other suggestions?” How to Get Cheap Photo Prints I know many of you are probably like Kara and on the hunt for cheap photo print deals! So I decided to take this question to the readers on our Facebook page to see what their best tips were (thank you to those of you who commented!). They came up with a lot of great suggestions, but these were the top companies! Before you go to order prints online, be sure to check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints: 1. Shutterfly While shipping costs have gone up slightly over the years, Shutterfly is still a go-to option for discounted photo prints because of the amount of coupon codes they offer on a regular basis. In fact, Shutterfly regularly offers free print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 50 free prints and select free products when they sign up. Shutterfly also has prepaid print plans that can give you photos for just 9 cents each. To keep shipping costs lower, try ordering 95 prints when a free print deal is going on. The shipping fees can be up to $4.00 less by simply decreasing your order by a few prints. Or, consider doing in-store pickup instead. During the checkout process, click the “1-Hour Pick Up Available” link under eligible 4×6 prints to search for your preferred local Target, Walmart, or CVS store by zip code. The Shutterfly app offers unlimited free 4×6 and 4×4 prints. You only have to pay for shipping. The app also regularly offers free deals and you’re able to edit within the app. 2. Snapfish Snapfish offers standard 4×6 prints starting at 9 cents each, plus shipping. They regularly offer free and discounted print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 100 4×6 prints when they join. Sometimes they even offer deals where you can get FREE prints with FREE shipping! If you choose to pick up your prints in-store from participating CVS or Walgreens stores, you can see the cost difference on the order screen. For instance, you can get up to 49 prints from CVS at 29 cents each. If you get 50 or more prints, the price goes down to 19 cents apiece. It might end up being cheaper to choose this option instead of paying for the 9 cent prints plus shipping. The Snapfish App gives you 100 free prints each month for the first year you sign up with the app. You only have to pay for shipping and one reader reported her shipping was only $2.95. Shipping costs may vary according to where you live. You can edit photos within the app and see how they will print. 3. Amazon Prime Photos Amazon Photos offers 4×6 prints for 9 cents each with free shipping. Members receive 5 GB of storage free but after that, you’ll need to choose a digital storage plan. If you’re a Prime member, you get unlimited storage for free! They do occasionally offer free prints. Note: If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial! 4. FreePrints App Customers receive 85 free 4×6 prints per month and only need to pay for shipping. You can get up to 1000 free prints in a year! If you need more than 85 prints, you can pay for those. Shipping starts at $1.99 and is never more than $9.99 no matter how many prints you order. There’s also a FreePrints Photobooks app, which will give you one free photo book per month. There are not subscriptions and no commitments. 5. Walmart Walmart offers 9 cent 4×6 prints for home delivery, plus shipping. If you do the 1-Hour Rollback option in the store, it’s 25 cents per print for 74 photos or less and then 15 cents apiece for 75 photos or more. They offer free shipping on orders over $25. 6. Adoramapix Readers really loved Adoramapix’s photo quality, especially for photo albums. 4×6 photos are currently 29 cents each and economy shipping is $5.95. (See their price list.) They also offer a full range of photo sizes so keep them in mind if you need a non-standard print. You can sign up for special deals on their website. And if you’re a new customer, you can get 15% off your first order with coupon code Pixnew15 at checkout. They also have an app for Apple products. 7. Mpix People who prioritize photo quality will also want to take a look at Mpix, a service even photographers recommend. Readers are impressed with the quality, as well as the care they take in packaging your products. 4×6 prints are 29 cents each. Economy shipping is $3.95. They have a Reward Program where you can earn points toward discounts and special offers with every purchase you make. You can earn 100 points just for signing up for a Mpix account. 500 points can earn you free shipping or a $5 off coupon. 8. Costco Prices start at 17 cents for the first 99 4×6 prints at Costco with warehouse pick-up and decrease to 14 cents for 100 or more prints. 4×6 prints are 9 cents if you opt to have them shipped to the warehouse instead; shipping costs vary but it is free if you opt for standard delivery. 9. Sam’s Club 4×6 photos are 10 cents each for 1 Hour Photo. They are 8 cents each if shipped to your home. They regularly offer special deals and you can upload your photos on their app. New customers get 50 free prints when they sign up for an account. 10. Walgreens The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each. 75 or more prints are 23 cents. The price is the same for in-store pickup and mail delivery. Standard shipping costs start at $0.99 and go up to $5.89. Many readers report they’ll place their order through the app or website and pick it up at the store an hour later or at their convenience instead of having it shipped. Customers can sign up to receive special deals by email. The Walgreens app allows you to print the photo off your phone. Readers report they regularly receive free print and coupon deals, along with earning Balance Reward points. One reader went so far as to say she’s saved more money than she’s spent! 11. CVS As a competitor of Walgreens, they have a very similar pricing structure. The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each and 75 or more prints are 23 cents. 12. Groovebook Groovebook is a unique option that lets you create a 4×6 “photo book” with between 40-100 pictures each month. The photo are perforated, so you can tear and share them just like regular photo prints. Subscriptions cost $3.99 per month — so it’s like paying just under $0.04 per print! You can get your first Groovebook for FREE with code MYFREEBOOK at checkout. If you have fewer than 100 photos that month, they’ll fill the rest of the book with duplicates. The app seamlessly integrates with the photos on your phone and is available for iPhone and Android. I’ve heard from a lot of people who use and love Groovebook! Bonus Tip: You might also try your locally owned photography shop, because they typically offer coupons and have some of the best quality around! While this will vary by location, it’s definitely an option to look into! Do you order prints online? What are your best suggestions for getting cheap photo prints and finding the best online photo printing deals? [...]
1
104

5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer

click photo for more information
5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer
For a limited time, the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has an increased welcome offer for new cardholders: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. While... Caroline Lupini is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 5 Great Ways to Use the AmEx Business Platinum Welcome Offer originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
1
249

8 Ways to Snag Big Back-to-School Savings on Cellphones

click photo for more information
8 Ways to Snag Big Back-to-School Savings on Cellphones
This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com. You don’t have to be a student to get in on great back-to-school cellphone savings. But you’ll need to act fast, because these amazing discounts won’t last long. By taking advantage of a buy one, get one free sale, you can potentially cut costs in half when purchasing a phone for yourself and the student in your life (or anyone... [...]
1
100

15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap

click photo for more information
15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap
Want some tips on how to eat out on the cheap? Here are 15 tried and true ideas to help you enjoy restaurant food — on a budget. How to Eat Out on the Cheap Love eating out? Don’t love how much it can cost? Here are 15 ideas to save money on eating out:a 1. Go out to lunch instead of dinner. 2. Always use restaurant coupons. 3. Order water instead of beverages that cost. 4. Split an entree with someone else when possible. 5. Sign up for Birthday Freebies and use those when you eat out. 6. Go out for dessert instead of a full meal. 7. Use restaurant gift cards that you bought discounted. 8. Sign up for restaurant apps and email lists to be notified of great coupons and specials — or even freebies! 9. Earn free restaurant gift cards from Shopkick, Fetch, and Swagbucks. 10. Go on Kids’ Eat Free nights. 11. Eat a snack before you leave the house so you’re not as hungry. 12. Don’t order appetizers or desserts. 13. Eat out at Costco or IKEA instead of a restaurant. 14. Apply to be a mystery shopper and you could get paid to eat out! (I have done this many times in the past!) 15. Go to a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu and let everyone choose 1-3 items off the dollar menu! What are your favorite tips for saving money on eating out? Share them in the comments! P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on How to Save Money on Eating Out. [...]
1
171

6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

click photo for more information
6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money
Instead of choosing from the dizzying array of online budgeting tools, here’s a novel thought: The best solution to keeping track of your money may be writing everything down with pen and paper.   The bullet journal — or BuJo, for short — is an analog organizational system that can help you find the “calm in the chaos” (at least, according to the official bullet journal website). What sets the bullet journal apart from other lookalikes is it’s completely customizable. Each page has tiny bullets to use as a guide to track whatever you want. You can set goals, write down to-do lists and track your finances all in one place.  Unlike with pre-designed planners, bullet journal money management allows you to create spreads for your particular financial goals and tasks, including the visuals that will most inspire you to reach them.  So if you want to buy a house, for instance, you can color each brick of a house as you save for a down payment.  And if you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the constant pings from the calendar on your phone, you’ll appreciate that bullet journals offer a physical, visually pleasing alternative for tracking your bills. And you don’t have to be creative to get started.  How to Start a Bullet Journal Budget Because the bullet journal is what you make it, there are an infinite amount of options for how it can help you manage your money.  To start with, you’ll need an index (aka table of contents) to avoid flipping through endless pages of your journal each time you want to look at your budget. Depending on the type you use, your journal may come with a few pages at the front pre-designed for an index or you can simply create your own. Come up with a list of initial ideas — no worries if you’re not sure about everything you want to cover, as you can always add more pages or sections to the index later.  And because a bullet journal is so customizable, you can address your own specific problem areas or goals.  Pro Tip If you’re getting overwhelmed by ideas you see on Pinterest and Instagram, forget the embellishments and just track your expenses and goals in a format that is easy to follow and maintain. Do you need to be better about sticking to a budget? Do you need to pay off debt? Do you have some big savings goals? Great! There’s a bullet journal “spread” (official lingo) for that. Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She typically shares layout ideas to get people comfortable with tracking their lives both personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s finding people are interested in using the bullet journals for their personal finances. She recently used her journal to save $2,500 for a trip to Italy. “Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel said.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed or a bit stumped, we have some ideas to get you started. 1. Monthly Budget Tracker Seeing where you plan to spend and where you actually spend your money each month is a good way to start your budgeting journey. You can break down your budget into categories, starting with the unavoidables (bills, rent, gas and the like) and work forward from there. Include everything, right down to your Spotify subscription and the fact that once in a while you just need to order the more expensive pizza.   One option is making a monthly budget spread in bars. That way, you can visually gauge your budget based on the week of the month. Color in the bar each time you spend, and you’ll have a simple visual representation of how much you have left in that category.  At the end of the month, add up your total spending compared to your total budget. To create a little internal competition (because who doesn’t like wins?), write your total spending on next month’s budget page, then see if you can spend a little less.  Put the extra money saved toward bigger goals, like paying off student loan debt or saving up a down payment for a house.  Another option for the number lovers: Create a spread that looks just like a checkbook, then write down your scheduled bills on the left and record expenses on the right. Every time you spend money, deduct it from your balance. This method will hold you accountable and help prevent unwelcome surprises when you look at your bank account.  2. Bill Tracker This spread is perfect for the forgetful person. If you’re constantly writing down reminders to yourself (think: All. Those. Sticky. Notes.), a bill tracker should be a must in your BuJo financial strategy.  One idea for a bill tracker is to create a big-picture spread that stretched from now through the next several months.  Start by going back through your bank and credit card statements to make sure you count every bill you pay each month. Then draw your grid, making sure to include a space for the amount, the due date and whether or not you’ve paid it yet.  Leave a few extra boxes at the bottom of my tracker in case you need to add an extra line item or two over the next several months.  Put your monthly bills in one spread, and your quarterly and annual bills together in a separate tracker. As you pay each bill, check the box so you can see at a glance which ones still need to be addressed.  3. Spending Tracker If you’re pretty good about sticking to your budget and paying off your debt (or if you have no debt!), you may decide not to use a spending tracker every month.  Sometimes, though, you might want to add a spending tracker into your weekly or monthly section for a financial reboot of sorts. If you feel like your finances are getting a little out of control in any given month, it helps to see exactly when and how you’re spending every dollar. It can be quite an eye-opening experience. Pro Tip If you see you’ve spent too much half way through the month, don’t give up. Create a mini spending tracker that incorporates the remaining budget for the remainder of the month. The spending tracker has a lot of flexibility in how you choose to set it up, but the main things to include are a space to write the item/food/experience purchased, the store/venue where you purchased it from, the date, the cost, what type of payment you used and whether it was a want or a need.  After a month — or even a week — of tracking your spending, you may start to see patterns and problem areas that you otherwise might not be aware of. 4. Savings Tracker This one is the most exciting of the financial trackers (in our opinion, anyway).  While all of the other BuJo trackers help you watch your paycheck dwindle away each month, the savings goal tracker gets you amped each and every time you get to fill in a little more of that bar because you know you’re one step closer to that dream vacation or that new, extra-deep couch you can’t wait to curl up on.  One idea for a savings tracker: Give each goal its own horizontal or vertical bar. As you move money to your savings, color in the appropriate amount of the bar for the savings goal you’re working toward. Some goals might be small, and some might be huge — but you can move the bigger, unfinished goals from journal to journal as you fill each book.  Need a little more visual enticement? Determine an object that motivates you to save money. Is it a jar? A piggy bank?  Design a savings goal you can track visually. Each time you put money in your savings account, shade in a portion of the object. It’s quite satisfying to complete the picture as you reach your goal.  FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? [...]
1
124

7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality)

click photo for more information
7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality)
If you plan to do a kitchen remodel, you know it can be expensive!  And, that may mean you don’t get the kitchen of your dreams (or even one that functions better). The truth is that most of the time, it will blow your budget.  But, if you know what to do, you can get ... Read More about 7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality) The post 7 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel (Without Sacrificing Quality) appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
1
143

21 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money on Pet Care

click photo for more information
21 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money on Pet Care
We consider our cats our children. We once spent $1,000 to cat-proof a back yard so Jack and Opie could roam outside without escaping to the dangerous world beyond the fence — the life expectancy of a cat is several times longer if it doesn’t run free. Our guys have a variety of cat furniture, and they eat food that costs more than $7 per pound. Maybe you spoil your pets, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money on pet care. For example, you can buy expensive food, but on sale. You can build elaborate (or simple) pet furniture, instead of paying a fortune for it. Here are some more ways to save money on your pets. 1. Buy Smaller Pets If you haven’t yet chosen a pet, consider smaller ones as a way to save money on pet care. A small dog will cost you $295 less per year than a large one ($580 vs. $875), suggests ASPCA data on pet care costs. That’s even less than a cat ($670 per year), partly because of the cost of cat litter. Of course, you could consider even smaller animals. You’ll spend an average of $200 per year on a small bird, and just $35 on a fish. Note: First-year costs for all pets are substantially higher than the figures above because of one-time costs like spaying or neutering, and buying pet carriers and other equipment. 2. Adopt Instead of Buying The breeder price for a dog is multiples higher than the cost of adopting one from a shelter. You’ll probably save money on pet care by getting your dog or cat from a shelter, and you could also save a life. Over 2 million shelter animals are euthanized in the U.S. each year. We adopted Opie from a shelter, and Jack adopted us when he was finally ready to upgrade his alley-cat lifestyle. 3. Join Pet Store Loyalty Clubs I just received a $5 gift certificate from Petco, because I used my Petco Pals Rewards card for the last $100 in purchases there. I bought food that was on sale (rewards card required, of course). Most of the major pet supply retailers have similar programs. Sign up for several if you shop in more than one place. 4. Use Discounted Gift Cards You can buy discounted gift cards on a number of good websites. Most carry cards for more than one pet supply chain. For example, you’ll find Pet Food Express on Raise and Petco on ABC Gift Cards. 5. Watch for Pet Food Sales We buy expensive cat food, because there’s a difference in quality. And evidence linking canine diseases to grains in dog food suggests you could make your pet sick and have future vet bills if you go too cheap. But even the best pet foods go on sale, so why not stock up when it costs less? You can find weekly ads for pet supply retailers online. You can also link your email address to your customer loyalty card to get sales alerts. 6. Feed Your Pets Some Human Food What do baked carrots, steamed broccoli and boiled eggs have in common? They all cost less than cat food (at least the stuff we buy) and they’re all safe and healthy for cats to eat, according to Animal Planet. WebMD has a list of people foods your dog can eat. (Not that cooking for your pets means they’re spoiled or anything.) 7. Stack Savings Tactics for Cheaper Food To really reduce the cost of pet food, try deal-stacking. For example, I recently bought our usual brand of cat food at Petco using a coupon, while it was on sale. And, I paid with an American Express card with an “Amex Offer” for a $5 statement rebate. Or, buy discounted gift cards and use them when there’s a sale — a simple strategy that could make a good sale even better. 8. Store Pet Food Properly We discovered early on that our cats refuse their food if it’s too old — and then we have to throw it away. Even if we just overfill their dishes and the remainder sits there overnight, they won’t eat it.  Check the expiration date for your pet food, dole it out a little at a time and store it properly to keep it fresh. We prefer to use up our cat food months before the expiration date. We store it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. The cats like the food better this way (yes, we tested), and we save money not having to throw away any of it. 9. Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered You spend money upfront to spay or neuter your pets, but there are long-term savings. For example, some of the negative behaviors associated with not spaying or neutering dogs and cats can be expensive. Unspayed cats can damage furniture and carpet by spraying urine on them to attract males. Unneutered dogs can be more violent, leading to injuries or possible lawsuits if they attack people. There’s also the obvious huge cost of not fixing those pets: puppies and kittens. 10. Call the Vet Before You Need One The worst time to find an affordable vet is when you have a medical emergency. If you love your pets, you’ll pay whatever it costs in the moment. To save money on pet care — both routine stuff and emergency treatments — choose an affordable vet before you need one. Use websites like VetRatingz.com to avoid bad vets (we can tell you from experience, they’re out there). Call the acceptable ones and ask what they charge for a basic checkup, vaccinations, teeth cleaning or other procedures. If you have an idea of what services your pet might need, ask about those. In any case, ask about a few different services so you get an idea of the general price level of each veterinary office. 11. Don’t Shop at the Vet Office In our experience, everything from cat toothbrushes to flea collars costs more at the vet’s office. You’re better off buying anything you can at a pet supply store, including any non-prescription medications or treatments. 12. Buy Pet Medications Online Many pet medications are cheaper online. Here are a few places you can fill pet prescriptions: Discount Pet Medicines PetCareRx VetDepot 1-800-PetMeds 13. When It Comes to Pet Insurance, Choose Wisely Unexpected vet bills can be the most expensive part of having a pet. Pet insurance for dogs, cats and even birds can keep the costs of pet care reasonable. While the monthly premiums are an additional expense on top of food, toys, treats and grooming, pet insurance is worth it for medical emergencies, especially serious illnesses or injuries. Like all insurance, it’s a gamble. You will likely spend more over the course of your animal’s life on monthly premiums than the cost of regular vet care if your pet is healthy.  But if your furry friend gets sick or suffers a major injury, insurance will potentially save you a lot of money on pet care. Here’s how to choose the best insurance for your pet. Pro Tip Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet has health problems, try to save the money you would spend on insurance, and instead put it into savings for future care. 14. Make Sure Your Pets Get Exercise Pets benefit from exercise just like humans. It helps keep them healthy and avoid obesity, which means fewer vet bills for you. 15. Make Pet Furniture Why buy pet furniture when you can make it for a lot less? Here are some examples of what you could build: Cat Condos Pet Beds Dog Houses Pet Stairs 16. Make Pet Toys We buy toys for our cats at least a couple times each year. The result is almost always the same: What seemed so cute and fun in the store is completely ignored by Jack and Opie. The good news is they love almost everything we make for them, especially paper balls and anything involving string. Moral of the story: Don’t spend a fortune on unwanted pet toys when you can make better ones. Here are a couple resources to get you started: DIY Dog Toys DIY Cat Toys 17. Make Your Own Pet Enclosures Want to provide a fenced area for your dog or an outdoor “catio” for your cats? Why not do it yourself? You can see one of my own creations in my post about building cat enclosures. More recently, I fenced in a patio area and cat-proofed it for $450 ($140 just for a building permit). The lowest quote I got before going it alon [...]
1
109

10 Ways to Save on National Park Visits with Kids

click photo for more information
10 Ways to Save on National Park Visits with Kids
Guest post from Brigitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Did you know there are over 400 National Park Sites in the United States?! This includes national historic sites, national recreational areas, national sea shores, national monuments, and just over 60 national parks that you can explore with your family. Check out the National Park Service’s website to find one near you (or for your next vacation). Here are 10 ways to save on your next national park adventure! 1. Purchase or Sign Up for an Annual Pass Families who frequent national parks that charge a fee may benefit from an annual pass, which is good for 12 months from the purchase month. Seniors (ages 62+) can take advantage of an annual pass (or even a lifetime pass) aimed specifically at them for an even steeper discount. The senior pass will cover the cost of everyone in a non-commercial vehicle if the site has a per vehicle charge. Great way to enjoy some time with grandkids! Families with a fourth grader can enjoy free entry at hundreds of locations from September through August by getting a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. Even homeschooling families with a fourth grader can take advantage of this opportunity! Active duty military members can receive free annual passes for many sites for them and their dependents by asking for a U.S. military annual pass. Even if your family has an annual pass, it is still advisable to contact parks ahead of time to ensure the pass is accepted at that location. 2. Go on Free Days If you don’t plan to visit the national parks multiple times in a 12 month span, an annual pass may not make sense for your family. Instead, check to see if they offer any free days. It’s suggested to arrive early and be prepared for large crowds of people on these days! (NOTE: Some national sites are free all year round.) 3. Check the Event’s Calendar Junior Ranger days, astronomy programs, family days, historic days, nature walks, sled dog demonstrations, movies, archaeology days, and photography walks are just a few of the low cost or even free events offered throughout the year at national sites. Schedule your visits accordingly by checking the events calendar. 4. Check out the Junior Ranger Program Kids may enjoy participating in the free Junior Ranger Program where they can complete fun yet educational activities and earn badges at each national park. Even kids who don’t have an opportunity to visit many national parks can earn badges at home by completing booklets about bats, archaeology, caves, the Underground Railroad, and more. 5. Create a Webrangers Account Kids (and even interested adults) can earn virtual badges and rewards as they complete activities while learning about people, history, animals, nature, science, puzzles, and parks through the Webrangers program. Registration is free and simple- just create a user ID and password. Once an account has been created, all of the completed activities are saved so progress can easily be tracked. Kids may even have fun personalizing their own virtual ranger station by choosing a theme and customizing the walls, shelves, chair, desk, floor, picture, and window view. What a great way to get kids excited about visiting National Parks and learning more! 6. Carpool By carpooling with others, you can split the cost of the entrance fee if the site charges a per vehicle fee. 7. Visit the Visitor’s Center Visitor’s centers often provide free maps, guides, suggested tips, exhibits, and even videos to ensure you get the most out of your visit. 8. Talk to Park Rangers Park rangers are often quite knowledgeable about the area and can offer additional suggestions and information about the site. You may even be able to get a personal tour if you ask (particularly on a non-busy day)! 9. Plan Ahead Check out the site’s “plan your visit” section to learn more about fees, hours, things to do, suggestions, and more to make the most out of your visit. It’s helpful to have an idea of what you want to see ahead of time since some parks are so big! Also, check the weather to ensure you are wearing weather-appropriate clothing for the day. 10. Bring Supplies Besides wearing weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable footwear, and a hat, it may be beneficial to bring water, a camera, sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen. Finally, don’t take a bag for collecting specimens since it is illegal to remove items from national sites. Instead, bring a bag for any trash you may have and take pictures of all of the neat rocks, shells, and leaves if you want a record of them! What other tips do you have for your next national park adventure? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of the Adventure Writing Prompt Journal, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at BrigitteBrulz.com. [...]
1
136

7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

click photo for more information
7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
fizkes / Shutterstock.com Retirees usually have a limited amount of money to spend during their golden years. Unfortunately, some people make costly mistakes that can deplete their nest egg prematurely. From giving away cash indiscriminately to refusing to embrace lifestyle changes, here are some surprising ways retirees waste their hard-earned savings. The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need... [...]
1
147

8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending

click photo for more information
8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending
When you open a menu, you’re looking at a marketing tool that’s designed to steer you toward choices that increase profits for the restaurant you’re visiting. Like all businesses, restaurants exist to make money. The goal of menu design is to draw attention to the items they are most eager to sell. Typically, these are the costliest choices. So, knowing the techniques of menu... [...]
1
277

Easy Meals for 25 People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 27 People

click photo for more information
Easy Meals for 25 People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 27 People
Need some easy meals for 25 people…or maybe just some easy recipes for large groups? Here’s how we fed 27 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities. Be sure to also check out my post from earlier this year on Our Vacation Menu Plan for a Crowd + last year’s Big Family Vacation Menu Plan! Easy Meals for 25+ People Last week, we drove to Lampe, MO to spend a week at Table Rock Lake with almost all of my extended family. (This time around it was my parents, 2 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids. My youngest brother couldn’t come because he’s working at the Wild’s camp this summer). My dad rented Caboose Junction Resort for us all (it has a main house and then 6 caboose that have been turned into small “cabins”). In addition to spending lots of time skiing, boating, and swimming, we ate a lot of yummy meals. But in order to feed 27 people without it being too much work, we not only stuck with easy meals for 25+ people, but we also all pitched in and helped with the food. Since you all loved my large group menu plan posts, I wanted to, once again, share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 25+ people.   How We Planned and Divvied Things Up Like last time, my sister planned the menu with easy meals that would feed a crowd and sent out a sign-up form using Perfect Potluck (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signed up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of. (A screenshot of the sign up form on Perfect Potluck.) Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking. We also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that one person didn’t have to do a bunch of the clean up and everyone could enjoy plenty of time for fun! Easy Breakfasts for 25+ People Here’s what we served for breakfast: Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Orange Juice Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Sausage, Eggs, Orange Juice Baked French Toast, Bacon, Eggs, Orange Juice Baked Oatmeal Sausage, Eggs, Orange Juice Biscuits & Gravy, Eggs, Orange Juice Homemade Granola with fruit and yogurt Easy Lunches for 25+ People For lunch, we had our usual huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese for sandwiches for the kids and any adults who didn’t just want a salad. In addition, we set out any leftovers from breakfast or dinner. Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Croutons, Dressings Simple Dinners for 25+ People If you’re looking for some really easy meals for 25+ people, here’s what we made for the dinners: Spaghetti Pie, Lettuce Salad, Garlic Bread, Green Beans, Fruit Southwest Rollups (Toppings: Shredded Lettuce, Sour Cream, Salsa), Mexican Rice, Fruit Pizza & Soda Pop (We ordered from a local pizza place — we ordered it online and then my dad went and picked it up.) Baked Potato Bar & Five Cup Salad (The toppings we had: Baked Potatoes, Taco Meat, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese, Chopped Green Onions, Shredded Cheese, Bacon, Salsa, Chopped Tomatoes, Broccoli.) Grilled Chicken, Lettuce Salad, Homemade Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Fruit Salad, Steamed Veggies,  Twice Baked Potatoes. (I used the leftover baked potatoes to make these.) Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Homemade French Fries, Veggie Tray, Leftover Corn on the Cob, Leftover Fruit Salad It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 20+ people if we all pitch in and help! What other ideas of easy meals for 25+ people or easy recipes for large groups do you have? I’d love to hear! Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50. [...]
1
184

How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach

click photo for more information
How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach
A data breach of Capital One, the nation’s seventh-largest bank by assets, compromised the personal information of approximately 100 million U.S. consumers and 6 million consumers in Canada, the bank announced Monday. The breach affected the information of two groups of people: Those who applied for Capital One credit cards between 2005 and 2019. The... Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: ajayakumar@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ajbombay. Bev O'Shea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: boshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @BeverlyOShea. The article How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
1
149

6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s

click photo for more information
6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s
Love Culver’s? Don’t miss out on these 6 easy ways to save money at Culver’s! {Also be sure to check out 16 Ways to Save More at Restaurants and our Master List of Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free!} Guest post from Bridgitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Ask anyone in my immediate family what their favorite restaurant is and Culver’s is the answer! It’s something we all agree on! What’s not to love about ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard? Well, if you are on a tight budget… possibly the price. On the rare occasion my family does go out to eat, we often end up at Culver’s. As a result, I have learned a few tips to save money on those Culver’s visits. 1. Buy kid’s meals. One of the easiest ways to save money at Culver’s is to eat kid’s meals. Even adults can purchase a kid’s meal at all of the Culver’s I have visited. Less calories, less cost, and enough to fill my belly (but not my husband’s who does order from the “adult” menu). Each kid’s meal automatically comes with a coupon for a free scoop of custard and a Scoopie token. Just don’t forget to take the coupon and token off the side of the kid’s meal bag before throwing it away! You can save ten Scoopie tokens to get a free kid’s meal later. You can also save the free scoop of custard coupon for a future visit. It’s nice being able to go out as a treat for just custard and not having to pay anything! I keep the coupons and tokens in an envelope in my purse (along with gift cards) until I am ready to use them. If you are automatically charged for a drink with the kid’s meal but prefer water, you can ask for a cup for water (free) and bring the carton of milk (included in the meal) home to use later. 2. Sign up for their e-mail list. If you want to save money at Culver’s, be sure to sign up for their email list! Those signed up for a free MyCulver’s account receive coupons, updates, a monthly flavor forecast, and coupons for free custard on each family member’s birthday by email. The monthly flavor forecast gives you a calendar of the “flavor of the day” for each day of the month for your local Culver’s. Just keep in mind those flavors are only for your local Culver’s. If you are traveling, you can find the flavor of the day for any other Culver’s on the Culver’s website or the Culver’s App. 3. Purchase Culver’s gift cards during the holidays. Culver’s typically runs a promotional deal on gift cards just before Christmas. For each gift card you purchase (at the amount required), you receive a free value basket coupon. You can keep the free value basket coupon for yourself and give the gift card to someone else for Christmas. You can also purchase the gift cards for yourself to use throughout the year (and still keep the free value basket coupons)! 4. Use expired coupons. One of my tricks to save money at Culver’s is to not throw away my expired Culver’s coupons! You may want to ask your local Culver’s if they will accept expired coupons, but all of the ones I have asked have accepted them. The birthday coupons for free custard typically state they expire in two weeks. The free value basket coupons received with the gift cards at the end of the year typically state they expire at the end of February. BUT, since my local Culver’s accepts expired coupons, I don’t have to use them (or throw them away) until we are ready to use them. 5. Fill out the survey on your receipt. Sometimes the receipts will have information about taking an online survey. If your receipt does, you can go online, answer the questions about your recent visit, and receive a code for a free scoop of custard. Write the code at the bottom of the receipt and bring it in the next time you want a a scoop of custard (possibly on a day that has your favorite flavor of the day). 6. Only go if you have coupons and/or gift cards. I typically purchase a set number of gift cards at the end of the year (when Culver’s has their gift card promotion) using money set aside for that. We also get Culver’s gift cards as gifts from others who know we enjoy Culver’s. Those gift cards and coupons last us for the entire next year of Culver’s visits. If we don’t have a gift card or free custard/free value basket coupons, we don’t go! What are your best tips to save money at Culver’s — or your favorite restaurant? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of Reading Journals for kids, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com. [...]
1
183

Reduce the Pain at the Pump With These 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas

click photo for more information
Reduce the Pain at the Pump With These 20 Ways to Save Money on Gas
Filling up the gas tank can be a thoroughly miserable experience as you watch the counter flip past $40, then $50, and keep on going.  But you can save money on gas based on where you fill up, how you pay, when you visit the gas station, how you drive and even the condition of your car. We’ve compiled 20 smart tips to help you spend less on fuel. You could save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. How to Save Money on Gas at the Pump The biggest savings will be evident in the price you pay at the gas station. So it’s worth shopping around and employing a bit of strategy before filling up. 1. Use Apps to Find the Cheapest Gas You don’t want to buy gas at one place and then come across a station with cheaper fuel just down the street. Several websites and apps tell you the price of gasoline at the stations in your area. GasBuddy and Waze are two popular options.  Look for the cheapest gas stations along any of the routes you normally drive for work or shopping. Don’t wait until your tank is near empty and be forced to buy gas wherever is closest.  The price of gas can vary significantly across state lines, so if you’re planning a trip, check where prices are lower throughout your route. Avoid getting gas at stations just off a highway exit or in the middle of a major city — stations in those locations tend to charge more than ones a little more out of the way. 2. Skip the Premium Option Higher-octane gas isn’t necessary or beneficial in most cars, so you’re just spending more money when you buy premium. Premium gas can cost about 20 to 40 cents per gallon more than regular-grade fuel. Use regular-grade gasoline unless your car’s manufacturer specifically requires premium. 3. Join a Fuel Rewards Program Many gas station chains and grocery stores across the country offer fuel rewards programs to try to turn you into a loyal customer. Each gas station fuel rewards program and grocery store fuel rewards program has its own set of rules on how much you can save and what you have to spend in order to get the rewards, so read up on the details.  GasBuddy also offers its own fuel savings program called Pay with GasBuddy. Join for free, and you’ll  save 10 cents per gallon on your initial fill-up and 5 cents per gallon on every subsequent fill-up. You can also sign up for paid versions (Pay with GasBuddy Plus is $4.99 a month and Pay with GasBuddy Premium is $6.99 a month) to save 20 cents per gallon. (Note: Exxon Mobil, BJs, Costco, Sam’s Club, H-E-B, select Walmart stations, select Arco stations and some small, local gas stations don’t accept the Pay with GasBuddy card.) 4. Use a Rewards Credit Card When you fuel up, choose a credit card that pays you cash back or one that allows you to earn rewards points when you purchase gas. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into before opening a rewards credit card. Pay the fuel charges off in full each month so you’re not paying interest on your gas purchases. 5. Use Cash Instead of a Card Some gas stations charge a lower price per gallon if you pay with cash rather than a card. It’s their way of avoiding card processing fees. While some stations will let you pay the cash price if you use a debit card, others won’t. Check with the gas station before you swipe your card, or simply use cash when it’s time to fill up. 6. Use Free or Discounted Gift Cards You can earn gift cards or cash from survey sites like Swagbucks or Survey Junkie. You can also purchase discounted gift cards from sites like Raise or Gift Card Granny. 7. Fill Up Early in the Week According to a 2018 GasBuddy gas price analysis, gas prices tend to be the lowest on Mondays. Sundays and Tuesdays are also good days to buy cheap gas. Avoid filling your tank on Thursdays or Fridays when gas prices tend to be the most expensive. How to Save Money on Gas With Better Driving Habits How frequently you drive and how you operate your vehicle both play a role in how much you spend on gas.  8. Share Rides If you live near your co-workers and have similar schedules, take turns driving so you can all drive less each week. Organize a carpool with neighbors or friends to transport your children to school or extracurricular activities, and swap driving duties among the parents. Less time on the road means less gas used and more money saved. 9. Plan Routes Plan your shopping trips and other outings in efficient ways to reduce your drive time. If the grocery store is near your job, do your shopping after work rather than waiting until the weekend. Do your errands all in one day rather than making several trips on different days. Cutting a few miles several times weekly can add up to hundreds of miles saved annually. That could save a fill-up or two. 10. Reduce Your Idle Time Don’t start the car and then leave it running for a long time while you wait for everyone to get in or to fiddle with your navigation. Make sure you’re ready to go before starting your engine. Idling just wastes gas and causes more air pollution. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Do You Ever Pick up A Stray Penny? 2/7/19 @ 5:27 PM Do drive-in movie theaters save you money? 7/1/19 @ 7:38 PM What to buy (and not buy) from Fourth of July Sales 2019 6/27/19 @ 1:00 PM M Airfare 6/24/19 @ 5:19 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 11. Accelerate Slowly and Coast More Be gradual when you’re speeding up or slowing down. Generally, the faster you accelerate, the more gas you use. Be gentle on that pedal when getting up to highway speed. You’ll also get better mileage by coasting more, so plan ahead for stops and turns. Take your foot off the gas a bit sooner, and slowly glide to a stop. This actually works. 12. Use Cruise Control — Sometimes When it’s hilly you might get better mileage without cruise control, because the system will tend to downshift too much and waste gas. But otherwise, cruise! Staying at a steady speed with cruise control has been shown to save on fuel usage — plus you can make sure you don’t go over the speed limit. 13. Reduce the Use of Your Heater and Air Conditioning Blasting the heat in the winter or the A/C in the summer has an effect on your fuel economy, so keep that in mind. There’s a long-running but still inconclusive debate about whether using air conditioning or rolling down the windows contributes more to increased fuel consumption, since wind resistance from open windows creates drag on your vehicle.  When driving low speeds you may want to cool down by lowering your car windows, but if you’re driving on the highway (or even driving above 30 miles per hour), you might be better off with the air conditioner on and the windows up. 14. Slow Down Following the speed limit or driving just under it can pay off in more ways than you might think. The faster you drive, the more wind resistance you face, which reduces your fuel economy.  How Your Car Affects How Much You Spend on Gas The condition of your car makes a difference in gas consumption. Learn how to keep your ride in money-saving shape. 15. Check Tire Pressure Having underinflated tires can lower your gas mileage and cause you to lose about 2 cents per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To find the proper tire [...]
1
136

Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books

click photo for more information
Read Up, Parents! 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Kids’ Books
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. What’s better than curling up with a good book? Or, better yet, a series of books? “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Baby-Sitters Club” or “The Boxcar Children,” anyone? But books can get pricy. How can you find books for your little ones to read without spending a fortune? By getting free books, of course. While it’s great to support authors whenever possible, sometimes buying new books just isn’t in the family budget — and you don’t want to deprive your kids of the love of reading How to Get Free Books for Kids Use these strategies to get free books for kids. Some are physical books and others are PDFs or ebooks, but they all offer great ways to give kids access to a wide variety of reading material — without spending a cent. 1. Imagination Library Dolly Parton loves reading so much, she wants every child to have the opportunity. In 1995, the country music superstar started Imagination Library to give free books to children in her home county in Tennessee. She wanted to help preschool-aged children develop a love of reading, even if their families couldn’t afford books. In 2000, she expanded the program, partnering with local communities to send more than 60 million books to kids in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Local partners include preschool programs, libraries and service organizations along with many other groups. To get free books for your child, check the program availability in your area, then follow the instructions to get registered. 2. Free Kids Books Download free PDFs from this online library of kids’ books. With picture books for toddlers, books with pictures and words for bigger kids and chapter books for young adults, this site has something for everyone. You can even get coloring books. The site recommends printing the PDFs and stapling the pages together — or reading them on a tablet or other electronic device. Titles include classics like “The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse” by Beatrix Potter and  newer ones like “Wilbur the Lost Whale,” about a whale who reunites with his family in a conservation area. 3. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program Kids in first through sixth grades can earn a free book by filling out the Summer Reading Journal. Just have your kids read eight books and write about their favorite parts of each one in the journal. Bring the journal into a local Barnes & Noble between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31, and your kids can pick out a book from a selected list. 4. Read Conmigo Immerse your children in pre-k through fifth grade bilingual reading by signing up for Read Conmigo. If you live in California, Florida or Texas, the program will mail you a book every four months. Online resources like bilingual activities and educational tools are available to everyone, regardless of location. The program also offers free ebooks that are compatible with most Apple iOS, Amazon Kindle and Android devices. More than 108,000 parents have signed up for the program since it started in 2011. 5. Little Free Libraries Neighborhoods all over the country are adding Little Free Libraries. These small shelves allow people to share books and always have something new to read. Find a free library near you, leave a book you’ve finished and grab a new one to share. Different libraries will have different offerings. 6. Craigslist, Freecycle and Facebook If you’re looking for some kids’ books, why not put up a “wanted” post on Craigslist, Freecycle or even Facebook? Plenty of people have books they’re not using and would be happy to share, but it’s not on their minds unless you ask. 7. Libraries Of course, your local public library has plenty of books to borrow for free. This is a great option for families who like to constantly switch up their reading selections. But some libraries will even have books you can keep, such as older books they’re planning on tossing out. Ask your local librarian if they may have any available. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Do You Ever Pick up A Stray Penny? 2/7/19 @ 5:27 PM Do drive-in movie theaters save you money? 7/1/19 @ 7:38 PM What to buy (and not buy) from Fourth of July Sales 2019 6/27/19 @ 1:00 PM M Airfare 6/24/19 @ 5:19 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question How to Get Free Online Books for Kids Ebooks are increasingly becoming more popular with readers, and that includes young ones.  Here are several sites where you can find free online books for kids. 8. Amazon Free Books Amazon has a ton of free kids’ books available for Kindle downloads. Just search for “children’s books, Kindle edition” and sort price “low to high” to see all the freebies. Plenty of books are available to download, from “Wiggly the Worm” to “Diary of a Private School Kid.”  A couple of other sites also make it easy to find free kids books in Kindle format, including eReaderIQ and Goodreads. 9. Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Amazon Prime members can borrow books for free through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows users to borrow one book each calendar month. The program offers a wide range of kids’ books to pick from, but you’ll need a Kindle (and a Prime membership) to read them. 10. Project Gutenberg While mostly for older kids, Project Gutenberg has a wealth of free downloads available. Type “children” in the search field and classic kids’ books will appear, from “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” to “Peter Pan” to “Anne of Green Gables” and many other favorites. The site offers a total of over 59,000 ebooks to download for free, including many books for kids. 11. ManyBooks Launched in 2004, ManyBooks aims to create an extensive library of digital books that are available for free on the internet. The site adds new books on a near-daily basis, including an entire section dedicated to kids’ books The books are available for download in a variety of formats and can also be read on the site itself using ManyBooks’ online ereader. 12. Free Children Stories The founders of Free Children Stories set up the site in 2008 as a way of offering quality storytelling to every child, parent or teacher with internet access. The site has a variety of books for all ages, and even offers audio readings of the books for kids who like having a grown-up read to them. 13. Read.gov The Library of Congress has put dozens of classic kids books online for free, including “Anne of Green Gables” and “White Fang.” The ebooks can be read using the Library’s online e-reader, and the ebooks themselves are scans of the original books held in the library’s collection. 14. International Children’s Digital Library The International Children’s Digital Library was established to provide a collection of digital children’s books from around the world. It contains more than 4,600 books in 59 languages, including Spanish, French, Farsi and even Mongolian. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Editor Caitlin Constantine contributed to this post. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, wh [...]
1
147

Easy Meals for 20+ People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 28 People

click photo for more information
Easy Meals for 20+ People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 28 People
Need some easy meals for 20 people? Here’s how we fed 28 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities. Want more easy recipes for large groups? Check out my post on last year’s Big Family Vacation Menu Plan. Easy Meals for 20+ People We recently went to Utah with my entire extended family (parents, 3 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids). My dad rented a huge cabin for us to stay in and we all pitched in and helped with the food. I thought it would be fun to share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 20+ people! How We Planned and Divvied Things Up My sister planned the menu with easy meals that would feed a crowd and sent out a sign-up form using Perfect Potluck (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signed up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of. (A screenshot of the sign up form on Perfect Potluck.) Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking. This time around, we also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that my dad wouldn’t spend the entire trip doing dishes. (He’s always working in the kitchen, it seems! He says he loves it, but 28 people make a LOT of dishes!) What We Made for Breakfast Here’s what we served for breakfast: Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Orange Juice Baked Oatmeal (my sister made the mix of the dry ingredients ahead of time for this), Sausage, Orange Juice Cereal, Fruit, Leftover Pancakes & Eggs What We Made for Lunch For lunch, we had a huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese for sandwiches for the kids and any adults who didn’t just want a salad. In addition, we set out any leftovers from breakfast or dinner. Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Tuna/Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Dressings What We Made for Dinner Here’s what we made for the dinners: Build-Your-Own Haystacks, Homemade Guacamole, Rice Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Fruit, Green Beans, Homemade Rolls Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Tater Tots, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon, Veggie Tray, Steamed Broccoli Here’s what our family contributed contributed (I went to Smith’s — a Kroger affiliate — and was able to get all of this for around $50!) + I brought some salad toppings, canned tuna and salmon, and some extra snacks in our luggage. It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 20+ people if we all pitch in and help! What other ideas of easy meals for 20+ people do you have? I’d love to hear! Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50. [...]
1
268

10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

click photo for more information
10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill
Need some practical ideas to cut your grocery bill? Here’s a list of 10 simple ideas to shave money off your grocery budget. Looking for more tips? Check out my post on 25 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and my $70 Grocery Budget posts. photo by KitAy Guest Post by MaryEllen from Centsible Savings While picking up my milk for the week, I stopped to consider how many people might wonder why I was digging all the way to the back of the refrigerated section. Then I started thinking about how easy it is for anyone to reduce their grocery budget just by following a few simple guidelines. I’m not talking about spending hours every week clipping coupons and scouring the sale papers for deals. These are simple strategies that everyone can use to help keep their food costs down: 1. Look toward the back of the refrigerated section for the latest-dated milk, cheese, meat and other perishables. It certainly won’t help you cut expenses if your food goes bad and you have to throw it out and buy more. 2. Buy whole milk and mix it with water. It will taste different at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. If you can bring your taste buds to agree to mixing your milk half and half with water then you’re getting two gallons for the price of one! (Note: Keep in mind that if you have young children, watering down your milk will affect the nutrition of it.) 3. If you’re buying individual fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, etc.) by the pound, pick out the smallest ones. The total weight will be less, and therefore you won’t pay as much, but you won’t notice the difference when you’re eating your apple. 4. Shop early in the morning if at all possible. That is when you’ll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you can’t shop in the morning, be sure to still keep an eye out for products that have been marked down. 5. Don’t buy too much produce at one time. Produce (especially if it has been shipped a long distance) will not last very long before it has to be thrown out. Try to buy only enough for about one week at a time. 6. If you find a good sale on something you normally buy that has an extended shelf-life or freezer life, stock up. Why wait until later and pay full price when you can buy several now at a much lower price? 7. Be creative and cook with what you have on hand. Make your weekly menus based on what is already in your pantry or freezer. Then you’ll just need to buy a few ingredients to fill in the gaps. 8. Make a list and stick to it when you shop. Unplanned “extras” add up very quickly. 9. Consider how badly you really need something. For example, it doesn’t really take any longer to make pancakes or biscuits from scratch than from a box mix. Yet those box mixes often quite a bit more than just buying the ingredients would cost. (Cooking from scratch is much better for your health, too!) 10. Use coupons. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not talking about spending hours each week on clipping coupons and scoping out deals. But if something is on your list, you should at least check to see if there is a coupon out for it. A good place to check is the coupon database. You’ll be surprised at the difference fifty cents here and a dollar there can make! What other tips or strategies for cutting your grocery bill would you add to this list? (originally published in 2008) [...]
1
173

Easy 4th of July Recipe | Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins

click photo for more information
Easy 4th of July Recipe | Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins
Looking for some really easy 4th of July recipes? These Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are SO good and super simple to whip up in a pinch! {Looking for 4th of July desserts? Check out this Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream — so much fun for the whole family!} The 4th of July is right around the corner and will be here before we know it!! If you’re looking for creative 4th of July recipes to take to an Independence Day potluck or family gathering, try these fun Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins! These Patriotic Muffins are ridiculously easy to whip up and they’re seriously some of the BEST muffins I’ve ever tasted! They’re super moist and delicious — and it’s difficult to eat just one! You might want to make an extra batch just in case. 😉 If you’re looking for easy 4th of July recipes, these Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are really versatile! You could use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snack/dessert! I’d think they’d also be perfect for a brunch gathering! You can eat them cooled or warmed, but I recommend them warm and slathered in butter. YUM! I love the extra flavor twist that the strawberries add to the traditional blueberry muffins taste. But if you love the tart taste of raspberries, you could always substitute the strawberries for raspberries and still have a fun patriotic-themed 4th of July recipe! The best part of these Patriotic Muffins? They freeze really well! Make them ahead of time a few days or even a week before you need them, and then all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer a few hours before serving them! Eat them as-is or pop them in the microwave to warm them up. Oh — and if you’re looking for a dairy free version, just substitute the yogurt with your favorite brand of dairy-free vanilla yogurt. Voila! Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins Eggs, 4 large Sugar, 2 cups Vegetable Oil, 1 cup Vanilla Extract, 1 teaspoon All-Purpose Flour, 4 cups Salt, 1 teaspoon Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon Baking Powder, 2 teaspoons Vanilla Yogurt (I used dairy-free), 2 cups Fresh Blueberries, 2 cups Fresh Chopped Strawberries, 2 cups Beat eggs in a bowl, and then gradually add in the sugar. While beating, slowly pour in the oil. Next, add vanilla and then stir in the yogurt. Combine all dry ingredients and then add it to the egg mixture. Gently fold in blueberries and strawberries. Spoon into muffin tins lined with paper muffin liners (I used patriotic ones). Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Yields: 25-30 Muffins Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home [...]
1
381

Planning Your Wedding? Here Are 4 Ways to Cut Costs Without Compromising

click photo for more information
Planning Your Wedding? Here Are 4 Ways to Cut Costs Without Compromising
Getting engaged is amazing, but the thrill of the engagement can last just a few hours before conversations turn toward the next step: wedding planning. You might be overjoyed while still feeling a rising gnawing in your stomach. You’re going to plan a wedding, and weddings are expensive: In 2018, the average wedding cost more than $33,900. I can think of a handful of other worthy investments for such an amount. A down payment on a house. A brand-new car. A hearty portion of a college degree (or student loan). All of those options seem more worthy of this kind of cash than a one-day celebration. After celebrating the nuptials of many friends and family members, I know there is no “perfect” wedding, and the celebration can be enjoyed on any budget. But managing your wedding budget can be stressful. Do-it-yourself projects offer savings, but require time, some level of skill and patience. But there are ways to lighten your financial load without having to exert a huge effort on the Pinterest front. You want your wedding celebration to be simple and fun — not complicated and stressful. So here are my tips for cutting wedding costs without compromising. How to Save Money on a Wedding With 4 Simple Tricks 1. Seek Alternative Venues When it comes to setting a date and picking a place, some tips are well-known: Some months are priced at a premium; Saturday weddings are usually the most expensive; dinner will cost more than brunch or lunch. One easy tip: Think outside the hotel ballroom. Consider art galleries, performance spaces, church halls and grounds, parks and other “nontraditional” venues for your ceremony and reception. Locations that don’t host weddings around the clock are likely to have more amenable price tags. But many of the beautiful venues you’ll see online are merely shells when you write the deposit check. It takes decorations, a caterer, linens, china and sometimes even table and chair rental to turn a beautiful spot into a reception site. Those costs add up.   So consider a venue that already has what you need for your big day: a restaurant. It may seem prohibitive to rent out an entire eatery, but check out spaces that have separate sections for private or semi-private events. Rental fees for these areas (before food, drinks, fees and gratuity) is often the same as you would pay to host a bridal or baby shower luncheon. And restaurants usually come with place settings, tablecloths and other items you’ll need. If you’re happy with the restaurant’s decor, your job is so much easier. 2. Arrange Your Own Flowers Speaking of decor, let’s discuss floral arrangements. The average cost of wedding flowers in 2017 was nearly $2,400, according to a study by The Knot. Only a few lucky couples will have a neighbor with beautiful flower gardens who offers to contribute bouquets. Instead, turn to a more practical option: a flower wholesaler. Simply search “flower wholesale + [your city or region]” to find one in your area. Pro Tip If you’re not set on having identical centerpieces, search for vases at your local thrift store. You’ll pay a lot less for vases you’ll likely only use once, and the variety may be satisfying. Wholesale warehouses are often open to the public, and staff can advise you on what’s in season or what you could mix and match. By doing a bit of arranging yourself (or with help from friends and family), you can have beautiful bouquets for a fraction of the price.    3. Cut the Cake If you enjoy baking reality shows as much as I do, you know that wedding cakes can be extremely expensive. But when’s the last time you thought about a cake you ate at a wedding? Consider skipping a tiered cake with globs of icing in favor of treats like cookies, doughnuts or maybe even pie. Think about your favorite dessert options, and decide what’s most meaningful for you. Pro Tip Crafty types who aren’t afraid to DIY can skip a custom cake altogether and doctor up a grocery store cake. A Practical Wedding shared a few tasty-looking tutorials. If you’re set on having a cake but want to stick to a reasonable budget, Bridal Guide curated a dessert directory with tricks and tips from professional bakers. Some of my favorite ways to cut costs before you cut the cake: Choose buttercream frosting over fondant; display a small cake while offering unstacked slices from the same recipe to your guests; and choose in-season fruits for garnishes or fillings. 4. Say Yes to a Different Dress I know, brides, I know — your dress is a big deal. It’s hard to compromise on this item. But wedding gowns can run the price gamut, and if you fall in love with a dress with an unexpectedly high price tag, it could singlehandedly wreck your budget. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Save my money! 6/13/19 @ 9:38 AM D SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME 6/7/19 @ 9:31 AM Always buy used when possible 6/12/19 @ 1:48 PM Over Couponing 4/15/19 @ 12:43 PM B See more in Save Money or ask a money question Instead, consider doing a bit of research and embracing the idea of wearing “something old.” Beyond eBay, sites like Once Wed, Tradesy, Nearly Newlywed, Wore it Once and Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses have page after page filled with beautiful dresses that have typically already been cleaned after their first big day. If you have a favorite designer in mind, spending a bit of time searching these sites can help you get a great deal. Just remember to also research tailors near you who can make any alterations you may need. Willing to wear something even older? Many vintage shops sell wedding dresses from yesteryear that could use a little bit of love — a bit of stain removal or seam repair — for as low as $100. If you love the thrill of the hunt, you may find the dress of your dreams. Pro Tip Don’t forget to check the formalwear racks as well. Just because a dress wasn’t designed for a wedding doesn’t mean it can’t make you shine on your big day. But consider that you can skip buying a dress altogether. In that case, try renting your wedding dress instead. If you can’t find a local shop in your area, check out Rent the Runway, an online platform that caters to brides across the country. Other platforms, like Happily Ever Borrowed and Adorn have you covered when it comes to accessories. Want more tips on saving on your big day? Check out this list of 90 (yes 90!) ways to do just that. Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
214

8 Ways to Cut Your Internet Costs Every Month

click photo for more information
8 Ways to Cut Your Internet Costs Every Month
Whether you use the internet for business or pleasure, there’s a chance you’re paying too much for it. The cost of internet service is only going up — even with lower-tier plans. If you can’t live without the internet, here are some of the best ways to cut your costs: Companies like BillCutterz and Trim will evaluate your monthly bills — for internet and other services &# [...]
1
346

21 Ways to Sharpen Your Memory at Any Age

click photo for more information
21 Ways to Sharpen Your Memory at Any Age
WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com It’s time to think beyond crossword puzzles and sudoku. While some research does show that these activities and other “brain-training” games can slow cognitive decline, they aren’t the only ways to keep your mind sharp. Try one of these other strategies to avoid embarrassing memory lapses. [...]
1
350

9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet

click photo for more information
9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet
One day I noticed my puppy was acting strangely. She walked a few steps, stumbled, fell over and slowly got back up, only to fall over again. I realized her tummy was extremely bloated. I rushed her to the vet. The vet examined her for a few minutes and started to chuckle. Then my puppy let out a bellowing burp, and the vet actually started to laugh. When he asked me if I had left dog food out... [...]
1
590

55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas

click photo for more information
55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas
Wondering what to do with ripe bananas on your kitchen counter? I love banana recipes, so I decided to put together a HUGE list of 55 things to make with ripe bananas! (Psst! Be sure to check out our family’s very favorite Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Recipe! We also really love these Homemade Breakfast Cookies!) We love bananas at our house, but occasionally, life happens and it’s easy to let bananas go past their prime. Or, sometimes, I’ll find bananas marked down at the store because they are starting to get too ripe. I’m really weird in that I prefer to eat bananas when they have some black spots on them, but the rest of my family won’t touch them once they are at the “Black Spot” stage. When we have an abundance of over-ripe bananas, I either freeze them to use in smoothies and baking later, or I go ahead and make one of our favorite banana recipes with them. What to Do With Ripe Bananas I thought it might be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite things to make with ripe bananas! The recipes on this list are a mixture of some of my favorite banana recipes right here on this blog, plus some other recipes I gathered from other sites that I hope to try soon. Most of them are fairly healthful (with a few exceptions) and many of them are family favorites. Enjoy!! Breakfasts: Homemade Breakfast Cookies Banana Walnut Oatmeal Fourth of July Toast Healthy Banana Pancakes Brown Sugar Banana French Toast Casserole Pan-Fried Cinnamon Bananas 3-Ingredient Banana Pancakes Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes Breakfast Banana Split Banana Pancakes Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Baked Banana Oatmeal Cups Healthy No Bake Banana Bread Breakfast Bars Snacks: Chocolate Banana Roll-Ups Banana Coconut Pudding Breakfast Banana Pops Copycat Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas Baked Banana Chips Banana Chocolate Chip Energy Bites Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Pops Nutella Banana Crepes Nutella & Banana Sushi Raspberry Banana Frozen Yogurt Popsicles Banana Ice Cream — 10 Different Flavors Peanut Butter & Banana Quesadilla Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas Breads: Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Banana Bread Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Gingerbread Banana Bread Honey Cinnamon Banana Bread Scones Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Scones Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Chocolate Banana Muffins Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Muffins Banana Crumb Muffins Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins Whole-Wheat Banana Coconut Muffins Smoothies: Clean Eating Banana-Coconut Smoothie Pick-Me-Up Smoothie Blueberry Banana Green Tea Smoothie Green Monster Spinach Smoothie Cinnamon Roll Smoothie Desserts: Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake No Bake Banana Split Cake 4-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies Double Chocolate Banana Cake Brown Sugar Banana Blondies Whole Wheat Banana Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Healthy Chocolate Banana Fudge Banana Fritters with Vanilla Caramel Sauce Chocolate Banana Tart What are YOUR favorite ideas for what to do with ripe bananas? Tell us in the comments! #groceryTaglineMobile,#groceryMobileHeading,#groceryMobileHeadingSm {display: none;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_background.jpg) right bottom no-repeat; background-size: cover; margin: 30px auto; position: relative; font-family: "Open Sans", Helvetica, sans-serif;}#groceryImage { position: absolute; top: 0; left: -20px; width: 290px; height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_ebook.png) no-repeat; background-size: contain;}#groceryWordingWrap { position: absolute; top: 20px; left: 0; width: 100%; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding-left: 255px; padding-right: 20px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px; font-weight: 300; line-height: 1; letter-spacing: -2px; color: #4d841e; margin-bottom: 9px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 18px; color: #444; letter-spacing: -.5px; line-height: 1.3;}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 60px; bottom: 0; left: 0; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding: 15px; background: rgba(220, 220, 220, .5);}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { text-align: center;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input { width: 34%; float: left; border-radius: 0;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="text"] { padding: 6px 10px; text-align: center; margin: 0 1.5% 0 0 !important; font-style: italic;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"] { background: #61a328; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; text-transform: uppercase; border: none; padding: 6px 10px; font-size: 12px; float: right; width: 29%; position: relative; bottom: -1px; cursor: pointer; transition: all .3s ease;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"]:hover { background: #4d841e;}@media screen and (max-width: 1020px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 230px;}#groceryImage { width: 250px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 232px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 28px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 15px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {#groceryImage { width: 290px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 255px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 700px) {#groceryHeading { font-size: 30px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {#groceryImage,#groceryWordingWrap { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { display: block; position: absolute; padding: 0 30px; bottom: 65px; text-align: center; letter-spacing: -.5px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.2; color: #444;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 275px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 480px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 255px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 400px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 260px;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeadingSm { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { bottom: 70px;}#groceryTaglineMobile { font-size: 15px;}} Need to overhaul your grocery budget? I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(){var x=document.getElementsByName('FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114b');for(i=0;i<x.length;i++){x[i].EMAIL.style.display='block'; x[i].action='http://app.feedblitz.com/f/f.Fbz?AddNewUserDirect';}} function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bs(v){v.submit();}FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(); Want to take better control of your grocery budget? Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget! This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!) In this eBook, you’ll learn: How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances! New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store! How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come! Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook! Ready to get started? Just use the form above to sign up! medianet_width = "600"; medianet_height = "120"; medianet_crid = "568454786"; medianet_versionId = "3111299"; [...]
1
496

5 Ways to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun

click photo for more information
5 Ways to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun
The temperature is rising, but that doesn’t mean your spending level should go up, too. The long, hot summer months, when the kids are out of school and there’s lots of idle time to fill, can feel like a giant cash trap. But they don’t have to be. Here are five ways to save money this summer. Go Camping Instead of booking airfare and a hotel, save money by spending your vacation in the wilderness. Camping provides a great opportunity to unplug and unwind. Borrowing or renting equipment can help you shave down the cost of your adventure. Anything you cook over a campfire will be cheaper than a restaurant, so plan out your meals, avoid the fancy outfitter stores and be strategic about when you visit campgrounds. Don’t forget the marshmallows — and bug spray! Be Mindful of Utility Use Electricity bills can run high during the summer months when you want to keep cool. Save on your bills by being conservative about your usage. To avoid a high electric bill, adjust your thermostat at different points of the day. Turn it up when you leave in the morning — but avoid setting the temperature too high so your system doesn’t have to work harder to cool down your home once you’re there. Blackout curtains and fans can reduce the need to blast the A/C. Keep your air vents clean and swap out dirty filters to improve your air conditioning unit’s function. Check if your electric company offers the option of letting you pay the average cost of your usage throughout the year rather than getting stuck with super expensive bills in the summer. Join a CSA to Enjoy Summer Produce The summer sun makes for a bountiful harvest of berries, watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, bell peppers and more. A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program can help you save money on fresh — often organic — fruits and vegetables. You may have to pay upfront for the entire season’s worth of produce, but buying directly from local farmers means you don’t have packaging, shipping and grocery store overhead costs tacked onto the price. If you find the weekly haul too plentiful, you can split your share (and the cost) with a friend, or freeze or can the produce to enjoy later. Find Fun Things to Do at No Cost Whoever said you had to pay to have fun? Now’s the time for free summer concerts and outdoor movies at the park. Take advantage of the good weather and go on a walking tour of your city. Or spend your free time indoors playing video games or reading a book from the library. If you think you can’t come up with enough creative free things to occupy your time, check out this list of 100 free summer activities. Work Out for Free Outdoors Take a break from all the A/C and head outdoors to sweat this summer, instead of paying money for a gym membership. Get your heart pumping by using workout equipment at your local park, taking a run around the neighborhood or swimming in the pool at your apartment complex or subdivision — or a friend’s. If you already belong to a gym, ask if you can pause your membership plan for a couple months. Some fitness centers (such as LA Fitness) may still charge you while you’re away but at a lower rate than the regular monthly fee. That way when you want to return when the weather turns cold, you don’t have to pay an initiation fee as if you had canceled your membership. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
1
666

8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help

click photo for more information
8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help
Parents aren’t perfect. Shocking, I know. So even though you may have been planning out your college career, your family’s financial situation may not have kept up with your dreams of campus life. On average, 34% of college costs were paid from parents’ income and savings, according to a national study by Sallie Mae. But families who have a limited income and haven’t been saving may not be able to help cover a higher education price tag. Including tuition and applicable fees, the cost per credit hour at a four-year institution is $301.23, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of National Center for Education statistics. If an average bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours, the total price comes to $36,148 — not including room and board. Whether it’s by necessity or by choice, your parents could end up saying you’re on your own if you want to go to college. But that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to a mountain of student loan debt or to skipping college altogether. But you do need a plan of attack, which is where we come in. How to Pay for College Without Your Parents’ Help You may not want to hear this right now, but paying for your own college education can actually be good for you (just like brussels sprouts or liver). Taking on the responsibility can teach you budgeting techniques and saving strategies that you might not have learned if your parents were picking up the tab. You can start saving on college by choosing a less-expensive school — here’s our list of the best college bargains by state. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, check out these eight ways to pay for college without money from your parents — or student loans. 1. Scholarships and Grants From Your School Already have a college in mind? Then the first place to start looking for scholarship money is the school’s financial aid office. If you’re still in high school, ask your guidance counselor for their help reaching out to the college. It’s important to know what money is available, so ask the financial aid officials about deadlines for applications, opportunities for need- vs. merit-based funding and options for renewable scholarships and grants. Pro Tip Some schools won’t consider you for any of their scholarships until you’ve submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Transferring from another college? Whether you started at another four-year institution or you’re continuing your education after completing your associate’s degree at a community college (a great way to save money, BTW), transfer scholarships offer a niche option. Here are 25 transfer scholarships we’ve found. 2. Federal Pell Grant Federal Pell Grants are need-based awards that are awarded on an annual basis (meaning you need to reapply every year). Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply — here’s a step-by-step guide for filling out FAFSA. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,195 for the 2019–20 award year (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020). The amount you get will depend on the four following factors, according to the Federal Student Aid office: Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The cost of attendance at your school and your specific program. Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. If you plan to attend school for a full academic year or less. Filling out FAFSA requires your tax information, and unless you’re no longer a dependent, that means you’ll need your parents’ most recent tax returns. Providing this information doesn’t leave them on the hook for your college bill, but it could affect your financial aid package. Pro Tip To avoid debt, don’t take more money than you need. Accept free money (scholarships and grants) and earned money (work-study) in your financial aid package first, then student loans only as needed. If your parents won’t provide these details, there are a few options that you can explore. One option is to claim yourself as an independent, but that’s typically only allowed if you are over 24 years old, are married, have kids, are a veteran or can claim special circumstances. 3. Grants From Your State States use your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state financial aid, so you get a two-for-one with that application (actually, it’s more like a three-for-one, since your school will probably use it, too). But some states require additional documentation, and their deadlines are not always the same as the federal ones. Note that most state grants are only applicable for in-state schools, but there are some state grants and scholarships you can use for out-of-state tuition. Check out your state’s FAFSA requirements for rules and deadlines. 4. Work-Study Program Federal aid doesn’t stop with scholarships and grants. If you’re able to work on campus part time while attending classes, you can apply for federal work-study (FWS), which is essentially federal aid you receive for working. Pro Tip IRS Publication 970 outlines 10 tax benefits that students can claim to reduce the income tax they owe. Read more about it on irs.gov. Work-study jobs typically allow you to earn extra money without having to leave campus — that’s helpful if you’re without a car or if making the hike from campus to a job would be cost prohibitive. But don’t expect a work-study program to cover all your costs. Under the FWS program, students typically work no more than 20 hours a week during a semester. And you won’t be allowed to exceed the allotted hours from your financial aid award, so don’t bank on overtime to cover extra costs. Learn more about on-campus job opportunities here. 5. Other Scholarships After you’ve talked to your college’s financial aid office and filled out your FAFSA, it’s time to get a little creative in your scholarship search. Start with your intended career. Corporations and professional associations often offer grants and scholarships for students pursuing degrees in related fields. As a bonus, researching and contacting these organizations early in your college career will help you make connections that can come in handy when you’re applying for jobs when you graduate. Pro Tip Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so start applying during the summer between your junior and senior years. Also check out nationwide databases like Career One Stop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, and The Penny Hoarder, which has its own compilations of awesome scholarships — and weird scholarships. 6. Part-Time Job On-campus work isn’t the only way to make extra cash — and off-campus jobs don’t require you to qualify for federal work-study.   Among the other benefits of an off-campus job is the potential to earn more money than at a FWS job since you can work more hours and keep the job year-round. Additionally, you can potentially turn a part-time gig into a job upon graduation. Here are six tips to help you move from part-time to full-time employee. And if you don’t want to leave campus but still want to earn part-time or full-time money, check out our handy work-from-home portal for legit ways to make money from your dorm. 7. Paid Internship Internships provide on-the-job experience, which can help bolster your resume as your college career draws to a close. Not only does a paid internship offer the same potential experience as an unpaid version, it could actually improve your chances of finding a post-graduation job. Among the 2019 graduates who had an internship, 66.4% of paid interns received a job offer, while just 43.7% of unpaid interns were offered a job, according to the survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. You can start your internship search at your own college, whether it’s contacting the career services department, attending on-campus career fairs, reaching out to your alumni network or asking professors within your o [...]
1
696

Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around

click photo for more information
Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around
Are you one of the thousands of households that started an allowance at some point in the last few years and it just kind of…fizzled out?   You’re not alone. Many parents have told me that they started an allowance that, just like Downton Abbey, ended for one reason or another. Sometimes they don’t even ... Read More about Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around The post Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
1
319