clothes folded up in a retail store

Five Ways to Transition Your Wardrobe from Summer to Fall

clothes folded up in a retail store

Fall is right around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about switching out your summer wardrobe for your fall one. Just because the weather is turning cooler doesn’t mean that you need to put all of your summer clothes away and go buy all new ones for fall, however. Not only would this take a huge chunk out of your bank account, but it would leave your closet feeling stuffed as well. Instead, save yourself time, money and hassle with these five tips for transiting your wardrobe from summer to fall.

1. Layer with Cardigans and Blazers

Extend the life of those summer tank tops and sleeveless blouses with cardigans and tank tops. All you need is a few simple cardigans in colors you wear frequently and a blazer or two in a professional navy, gray or black and you’ll be able to wear your favorite summer T’s long after the weather turns cool. Cardigans especially are very affordable and widely available so don’t be afraid to buy several.

2. Add Thick Tights or Leggings

Think fall marks the end of sundresses? Think again. Add thick tights and leggings underneath your favorite sundresses as well as a cardigan or blazer on top and you’ll be cute, fashionable AND warm all fall long. Tights and leggings are a great way to make summer dresses into a whole new look. I recommend buying a few different pairs in grey and black, but don’t be afraid to throw in a brightly colored pair occasionally as well.

3. Roll Up the Hems

The transition from summer to fall can be tricky. There are plenty of days when it isn’t quite warm enough for short sleeves, but it isn’t quite cool enough for long sleeves either. Plus, the temperature can vary widely throughout the day. Stay comfortable by rolling up your long sleeves or pant legs into cute cuffs. The cuffed pants with heels look is very “in” right now, and it’s a great way to stay comfortable all season long.

4. Add a Scarf

Scarves are one of my favorite fashion accessories, and one of the best parts about dressing for fall. Something as simple as adding a scarf can really dress up your outfit or make it more playful. You don’t have to wear thick wooly scarves to stay warm either. You may just be surprised how warm a light, airy scarf will keep you when you wrap it just right. Check out Pinterest for unique and creative ways to tie your scarves. There are so many ways to tie them that you can create all sorts of looks no matter where you are going.

Amazon has a great selection of affordable scarves to choose from!

5. Switch Up Your Footwear

Don’t put away the sandals just yet. When it comes to footwear, anything goes! Wear flip flops with jeans and t-shirts or tall boots with sundresses and cardigans. During the short time between summer and fall, anything goes! Don’t be afraid to mix and match and see what types of unique combinations you can come up with.

Do you have summer clothes you aren’t ready to put away just yet? What other tips do you have for making your clothes last?


5 Ways to Get Good Furniture at a Great Price

ways to get furniture at a great price

Furniture isn’t cheap. Actually, that’s not true. Some furniture is cheap, but good furniture isn’t. And at the end of the day, we all want good furniture, right? At the end of the day, we all want to save a few bucks on that good furniture, too. Here are five ways to do exactly that.

1. Spend More For Quality – Saving money by spending more money might not make sense at first, but it will in the long run. By spending a little extra on higher quality furniture means your purchase will last longer and you won’t need to buy another couch, bed, or dresser in a few years.

2. Buy Used Furniture – The first rule of buying used furniture is to not think of it as “used.” Instead, think of it as a deeply-discounted great deal! I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to pass on hand-me-down upholstered furniture like couches and mattresses, but hardwood pieces like tables and TV stands are much easier to wipe off and restore to like-new condition.

3. Shop Around – Just about every list of money-saving tactics includes this tip. It’s good advice, especially when shopping for more expensive items like cars, electronics and, in this case, furniture. Compare similar pieces of furniture in at least three different stores – or five stores if you really want to make sure you’ve found the best price.

4. Timing is Everything – The best time of the year to buy furniture is during the big holiday sales (President’s Day, Fourth of July, Christmas, etc.). If you can’t wait until then, shop at the end of the month. That’s when salespeople will be eager to earn some extra commission and, in some cases, they’ll even be willing to negotiate when it comes to price!

5. Buy the Floor Sample – Yes, that couch has already been sat on, but buying the furniture on the showroom floor is an easy way to save 25 to 50 percent. You probably won’t be able to buy it right away (it might be a few weeks or even a few months until they ready to part with it), but if time is on your side, it’s well worth the wait!

back to school clothes

7 Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes

back to school clothesWhile summer may still be in full swing, the new school year is going to be here before we know it. As the mother of a little girl who is going to be starting kindergarten for the first time this year, this is a huge deal in our house! We’re all really excited, but we’re all a little nervous too.

One thing I’m not too nervous about, however, is buying new back to school clothes. Sure she’s going to need a ton of them (How girls go through clothes so fast–I’ll never know!), but that’s okay. I won’t be paying full price for them, and you don’t have to either. Just use these seven ways to save on back to school clothes. I plan to save a bundle, and you can too.

1. Shop the Sales

One of the easiest ways to save big on your kids’ school clothes is ridiculously simple: shop the sales and clearance racks! You can often get the exact same brand new name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost just by waiting a couple of weeks until it goes on sale. Find out when your favorite store marks everything down, and go in ready to stock up and save big!

2. Shop Secondhand

If you don’t mind used clothes, there are tons of places you can find them. Search thrift stores, consignment shops and secondhand kids’ clothing stores. Hit up the garage sales and search on Craigslist and Ebay. How many times have your kids grown out of clothes before they’ve had a chance to wear them more than a couple of times? This happens to other moms too, and you can use it to your advantage.

3. Trade with Friends

If you really want to save big and you have friends with kids who are slightly older than yours, see if you can trade or get free hand-me-downs. I’ve gotten tons of clothes from friends who were willing to let me borrow as well as from friends who just wanted someone to take the clothes off of their hands for free!

4. Buy All Throughout the Year

If you have adequate storage space and are good at planning ahead, buying all throughout the year is a fantastic way to save big on kids’ clothes. For example, if I see a shirt on clearance that is two sizes too big for my daughter but a great deal, I’ll go ahead and grab it now. Then, when the time comes, I don’t have to buy clothes at full price–she already has a whole box full of clothes I’ve picked up for cheap! This does require excellent organizational skills, but it can be done. I monitor the deals at Zulily often to score some great clothes for back to school!

5. Go for Quality

When you see the price tag on a new pair of jeans, it can be really tempting to just purchase the cheapest pair you can find, but resist the temptation! Often times you get what you pay for, and it ends up being much cheaper and easier to buy quality pieces in the first place.

6. Sign Up for Store Deals

If there is a store you shop frequently, make sure you sign up for their sale alerts, newsletter or coupons–whatever they offer. Some stores send out free $10 coupons or $10 off of a $25 purchase coupons to their mailing list subscribers. Get a coupon like this, and you can get clothes for F.R.E.E!

7. Save Your Receipt

How frustrating is it to buy clothes, only to have them go on sale immediately after? Fight back by saving your receipt. Then, if something goes on sale two weeks later, you can just take the receipt back and get the difference.

Honestly, if you are clever and resourceful enough, you really don’t have to pay more for kids’ clothes than you want to. These seven tips will get you off to a great start.

What other tips do you have?

From trash to treasure

Trash to Treasure: 5 Ways to Cash in on Your Trash

From trash to treasure

Do you feel that little tinge of guilt whenever you toss something into the trash? Feeling like you might be wasting something of value is a terrible feeling, but you might be unsure of what is trash and what is treasure. If you have wondered what items in your trash might actually have some value, you have stumbled upon your answer! Below, you will find 5 ways to cash in on your trash. So many of the items you use to pitch are actually worth a little change in your pocket. Give these 5 ways a good look and think twice about what you keep and what you toss.

5 Ways to Cash in on Your Trash:

1. Wine corks.
Crafting with wine corks is really popular these days. Many crafty gals and guys are looking for wine corks to make peg boards, key chains, coasters, and more out of. Save your wine corks and you can get as much as 0.50 cents a piece each. Just gather yours up and head over to eBay or Etsy where you can sell your corks for cash. List them in one giant lot together instead of piece by piece. The more interesting the corks, the more money they will fetch you.

2. Aluminum.
The cost of scrap aluminum keeps fluctuating, but the fact is it is still worth cash. Keep your aluminum pop cans, food cans, food wrapping, house materials, and other aluminum scraps and redeem them at a local recycling center for cash. They pay per pound, so the more you have the better. Kids will love coming with you to watch how the scrap is weighed and fed to the conveyor belt, so take them with you to get in on the action.

3. Broken jewelry.
If you broke a piece of jewelry, are missing the match to an earring, or even just have some extra backings, check them for marks. If they are 10, 14, or 18 karat gold, or if they are sterling, they are worth cash! It does not matter what condition they are in, just head to a local jeweler’s and have them weigh and pay! If you find costume or other scrap jewelry pieces not gold or silver, no worries. Crafters on eBay and Etsy are looking for all sorts of scraps for their creative needs. List your pieces on there as one giant lot and see what you can make!

4. Old clothing.
If you have clothing that is torn or stained, don’t pitch it, cash in on it. Crafters use all sorts of scrap pieces of wool and denim, as well as vintage t-shirts for their creative needs. Offer your scrap clothing on eBay, Etsy, or the Craigslist Crafting Section and see what you can get for it. You may be surprised! Even if you just get a few bucks per piece, that is better than the nothing you would get by throwing it away.

5. Paper items.
Some paper items are highly collectible and valuable. If you are cleaning out a junk drawer and stumble across old restaurant menus, cookbooks, instruction manuals, owner’s manuals, save them. People are always looking for these items on eBay. You may just get a few bucks a piece each, but hey it’s something!

See how easy it is to get cash for items otherwise destined for your trash? Give these tips a try the next time you are cleaning out a drawer or room and see how easy it is to drum up a little extra dough!

back to school purchases

Top 10 Things to Buy for Back-to-School

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for publishing this post on behalf of

back to school purchasesNo, summer’s not over yet, but it’s not too early to start planning your back-to-school budget. Your child’s school probably has the official school supplies list available, so you can make sure that you have the right kind for each class. Most of the items should be available for less at the discount store. Here’s a look at the top 10 things you’ll need to pick up before your kids go back to school.

1. Binders and Folders – Every class requires something to keep loose papers organized. Binders and folders keep them from getting torn and lost in the daily trek to and from class. Your child can also put notebooks, extra paper, a pencil pouch and monthly planners inside their binders so they don’t get lost.

2. Desktop Accessories – From binder clips and pen cups to pencil cases and battery-operated fans, it’s time to stock up for your child’s desk at home and at school. Don’t forget tape, a stapler, pencil sharpeners, erasers and a calendar.

3. Crayons and Markers – Check on the school supplies list to find out what types of crayons and markers are needed. They’ll probably specify crayons by color, or markers by broad tips, felt markers, highlighters or dry erase.

4. Pens and Pencils – Mechanical pens and pencils, lead and standard pencils are always high on the list of required items. Make sure that you have at least some regular #2 pencils, since they’re the standard used for computer-graded tests. Blue, black and red ink pens are common for older kids. Unless your child is perfect, you’ll need ink erasers and correction tape or fluid are needed to fix small mistakes.

5. Tape and Glue – Glue sticks are the most popular options for in-school projects, but glue bottles and dots are also available. Transparent tape comes in clear and translucent styles. Make sure there’s a dispenser in the package, unless you have one at home.

6. Scissors – Children’s scissors are usually five inches long, and they have either pointed or blunt tips. Older kids can use longer scissors.

7. Paper and Notebooks – Depending on your child’s age, you may need wide rule or college rule spiral or loose-leaf paper. Graph paper is an important item for math and geometry in higher grades.

8. Electronics – Once your child reaches sixth grade, items like scientific calculators start popping up on the list. You might also want to pick up some earphones, chargers and extra batteries while you’re shopping – even if they’re not mentioned.

9. Digital Covers and Cases – Keep your child’s phone, digital devices and electronics in good shape with covers and cases. As much as you hate to think about it, they’re going to get dropped and hit. Look for soft plastic phone bumpers and scratch-resistant sleeves. They typically come in an assortment of colors.

10. Hygiene and Sanitizers – Hand sanitizers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Washing their hands is always important, but keeping a bottle of sanitizer or some wipes in their desk, locker or backpack can prevent your kids from picking up germs and getting sick as often. Some schools also request that kids bring in a box of tissues, a roll of paper towels or a bottle of liquid soap for all students to use in the classroom.

Nikki is an independent writer for Dollar Tree offers great deals on office supplies, party supplies and more.

great ways

Five Great Ways to Earn Some Quick Cash


Whether you have back to school supplies, birthday presents or unexpected medical expenses to pay for, chances are you will need some quick, easy cash at some point in your life. Don’t rack up your credit card and don’t mess with an unscrupulous pay day loan company. Use one of these five great way to earn some quick cash instead. They won’t provide you with an extra, sustainable income, but they will get you the cash you need fast.

Recommended Read: 55 Tips On How To Make More Money: Great Ideas to Earn Extra Cash

1. Sell Your Unused Belongings

Do you have extra furniture, clothes, toys, collectibles or other home items lying around your home that you don’t want or need anymore? Sell them in a garage sale, to a consignment shop, or on a site like Ebay or Craigslist. Not only will you declutter your home and help someone who needs those items, but you’ll make some quick, easy money too!

2. Sign Up for Inbox Dollars NOW and Earn $5

Join Inbox Dollars right now and you’ll earn $5 in your account just for joining! Then, you can do things like read emails, take a few surveys, play games, or shop to earn more. Once you reach $30 in your account, you can request payment!

3. Donate Plasma

Are you a relatively healthy individual? If so, you could make big bucks by selling your plasma. Depending on where you live, reputable companies may pay you as much as $20-$50 per visit, and you can usually go twice per week. Your body replenishes itself quickly so you aren’t out anything except an hour or so of your time. And for $50, I’d say that’s an hour well spent!

4. Babysit, Pet Sit or House Sit

Babysitting, pet sitting and house sitting are all great ways to make some quick, easy money without too much work. Depending on the arrangement, you could work from your home or theirs, full time or part time, once in a while or on a consistent schedule. This option is especially great for stay-at-home moms who are home all day anyway.

5. Take Online Surveys

You can take online surveys for cash and rewards from the comfort of your own home. I like using my rewards from surveys for birthday and Christmas presents. My favorites are Panda ResearchToluna, Vindale Research, and Opinion Outpost!

All of these ideas are super easy to do, and there is no wait time to find a job or get paid.

Could you use a little extra cash in your pocket? Which one of these are you going to try first?

grocery bills

Grocery Bills Got You Down? Cheer Up with These Five Cost-Cutting Secrets

grocery bills

There are all sorts of ways to overspend when it comes to grocery shopping, which is kind of sad because groceries are expensive enough as it is. Luckily, there are plenty of tricks designed to help you beat the supermarket system and trim your weekly grocery budget. Below are five tips that will help you do exactly that!

Don’t Shop with the Kids – Kids aren’t easy to shop with – every mother knows that. But in addition to being a hassle to corral in a busy supermarket, kids can also add several dollars to your grocery bill. Take one trip down the cereal aisle with a five-year-old and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Don’t Shop Hungry – Most of us have heard this tip, but few of us actually follow this good advice. As you may know, shopping hungry means you end up buying bags of potato chips, cookies, and containers of deli potato salad that you never really needed (and calories you never needed!). To help, shop only after lunch or dinner and always shop with a list.

Don’t Buy Pre-Cut Foods – Pre-cut cheese, pre-cut sandwich meat, pre-cut lettuce, and pre-cut fruit aren’t really that expensive, but all that pre-cutting comes at a cost. Instead, buy your cheese and sandwich meat from the deli (they cut it for free!) and buy lettuce and fruit whole and cut it yourself.

Don’t Buy Prepared Deli Foods – It’s hard to pass up pasta salad or pre-made tuna salad, isn’t it? After all, they’re not only delicious, they’re also super convenient. But just like the pre-cut foods mentioned above, that convenience costs money. Instead, make it yourself for a lot less money and add your own spices to make it just as delicious!

Don’t Buy Toiletries – Of course, you should buy toiletries, just try to avoid buying them at the grocery store. Why? Because the grocery store has great deals on food, but they don’t always have the best deals on toiletries. Instead, buy your deodorants, soaps, shampoos and other toiletries from a stores that specialize in that type of stuff (like WalgreensWalgreens Deals, Rite-Aid, or CVS).

back to school supplies

6 Ways to Save Big on Back to School Supplies

back to school supplies

Paper, pencils, backpacks, calculators, highlighters, crayons, hand sanitizer… the list goes on and on, and it can add up quick! Don’t just make a trip to your local Walmart and stock up on everything you see. Use these top seven ways to save big on back to school supplies and get all the great gear your kids need for less! How you spend the money you save is up to you. (Shopping spree for mom, anyone??)

1. Figure out What You Need

Before you hit the stores, take a minute to make a list of the supplies you’ll actually need. Many schools publish back to school supply lists. Get one for your school and cross off all the items you have lying around the house already. (For example, you may have glue sticks, hand sanitizer or last year’s backpack on hand already). Once you’ve made your list–stick to it. This way, you won’t waste your money on things you don’t need, and you won’t forget anything, causing you to pay more for it later. USA, LLC

2. Take Advantage of Doorbuster Deals

Back to school time is the perfect time to score some amazing deals on school supplies. All the major stores have sales where they drastically mark down select items. Many stores even sell specific items at a loss just to get you into the store. Instead of getting all of your supplies at once (when some will be cheap and others will be expensive), take a few weeks and get a couple doorbusters each week. Then you can get everything–or at least almost everything–you need at rock bottom prices.

3. Stock Up on Bargain Prices

If you find a truly amazing deal, don’t be afraid to stock up, especially if it is on something that you know your kids will need lots of or that they will need again next year. While you don’t want to be greedy and clear the shelves, don’t be afraid to buy more than you need. For example, one year I saw pencils for 1 cent a box! Now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy plenty.

Shop Back to School Supplies for Less at

4. Shop During Your State’s Sales Tax Holiday

While sales tax is a small percentage of your purchase, it can really add up when you are buying tons of back to school supplies. Many states offer sales tax holidays, when you can get school supplies without paying tax. If your state does this, be sure to shop during those dates to save even more. Click here for a list of states that offer sales tax holidays.

5. Know When to Buy Cheap and When to Buy Quality

Buying generic can save you a bundle, but sometimes name brand is the way to go. It all depends on what you are purchasing and how long you need it to last. Feel free to go cheap on: crayons, paper, pencil sharpeners, basic calculators, colored pencils, book covers and erasers. Plan to spend more on: backpacks, graphic calculators, insulated lunchboxes and pencils (Some of the cheaper brands won’t sharpen in old fashioned pencil sharpeners. They just grind into stubs).

6. Avoid Characters

Your child may absolutely adore that cute character backpack or lunch box now, but for how long? It is not uncommon for kids to change interest as soon as only a month or two into the school year. Stick to basic, character-free designs so they can be used year after year.

School supplies may be a necessary expense, but that doesn’t mean that you should spend more for them than you have to. Use these six tips for saving big on school supplies and get the supplies you need for less. Any other tips use and love? Share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear them!

DIY Frozen Yoplait Yogurt Pops

DIY Frozen Yogurt Pops

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Yoplait. All opinions are my own.

DIY Frozen Yoplait Yogurt Pops

The kids are home for the summer and we are filling our days with fun summer activities. One of our favorite activities is swimming, followed by a tasty treat on the back porch — usually an icy pop, ice cream, or snow cone. This summer, instead of purchasing ready made icy pops that are full of sugar with little to no nutritional value, I decided to make our own yogurt pops for my family (adults included) to enjoy during these hot months. I love that these frozen yogurt pops are the perfect wholesome snack to enjoy. Little did I know how much of a favorite these would become and how easy the DIY Frozen Yogurt Pops are to make. The best part? You can get as creative as you’d like with flavors! I already have several flavor combinations that I am going to try this summer.

For our first DIY Frozen Yogurt combination, we used Yoplait Light Vanilla, Original Orange Creme, and Original Strawberry yogurt.

Yoplait Frozen Yogurt Pops

To create your Yoplait Frozen Yogurt Pops, you’ll want to find and use high a quality ice pop molds. I recommend these molds because I’ve used them several times with no issues. The reason I say to use high quality is because I’ve used molds in the past that didn’t hold and the stick would pull right out, wasting the icy pop. We don’t want to waste any money making our icy pops!

Next, fill each mold with your choice of Yoplait Original, Light, Greek, or Gogurt® yogurt. Get creative and layer your yogurt pop to your liking. You can choose one flavor, too if you’d like!

My family loves these DIY Frozen Yogurt Pops. They are a very refreshing choice on a hot summer day. I can’t wait to make more this summer. Here are three more combinations using Yoplait Original Yogurt that I plan to try this summer!

  • Yoplait Original Lemon Burst + Yoplait Original Key Lime Pie
  • Yoplait Original Pina Colada + Yoplait Original Pineapple
  • Yoplait Original Cherry Orchard + Yoplait Original Vanilla
  • Yoplait Original Orange Creme – I loved the flavor in the recipe above so much, that I’d love to try this alone – tastes like an orange creamsicle!

What flavor combinations would you try?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Yoplait®. The opinions and text are all mine.


20 Fun and Frugal Summer Activities for Kids

summer activities
20 Fun and Frugal Summer Activities for Kids

Summer is around the corner and the kids will be home all day. Have you planned any fun summer activities for the kids? Here are a few fun ideas! Start planning your summer so that you aren’t stuck in the house wondering what to do!

1. Play at the local park. Call ahead to see if there are train rides or ponds with animals to feed.

2. Head to the pool! Enroll your children in swim lessons if they don’t know how to swim.

3. Take trip to the beach. Build sandcastles or play in the waves.

4. Visit your local library. Let your child sign up for their own personal library card. Check library hours for story or activity times.

5. Enroll your child in team sports.

6. Check with the church and register for Vacation Bible School.

7. Enroll your child in a summer camp.

8. Visit the nearest children’s museum or science museum.

9. Take a trip to the zoo.

10. Go bowling.

11. Go to the movies and see the latest kid/family friendly movie.

12. Take nature walks.

13. Take a family vacation to a fun theme park or go camping at a state park.

14. Visit a local nursery and look at all of the pretty plants and flowers.

15. Take a field trip to the grocery store.

16. Visit the ice cream shop.

17. Play Putt Putt golf.

18. Take your child to Chuck E. Cheese.

19. Schedule playdates with other moms and visit at a local restaurant with a play area.

20. Visit an aquarium.

Leave a comment below and tell us about other fun summer activities for kids! 

summer AC

Cool Off Your Summer Air Conditioning Bill With These 5 Tips

summer AC

I’m not really sure how people cooled off on a hot summer day before air conditioning was invented (Answer: Lots and lots of fans!), but I sure am grateful for the cool and relaxing miracle of the AC. What I’m not grateful for is the high cost of running my AC. But since I can’t live without it, I’ve starting doing whatever I can to reduce my summer electric bill. Over the past few years, my cost-cutting tactics have worked wonderfully. Here’s how I did it:

Take Good Care of Your Air Conditioner – Like any major appliance, your AC requires regular maintenance and care in order to run smoothly and efficiently. To get the most out of your window AC, you should change or clean the filter a few times each summer (most experts recommend monthly cleanings). If you use central air conditioning, there are also a few steps to take to keep your unit clean, but you should probably call in a professional to perform that annual tune up.

Don’t Try to Cool the Entire House – Remember when your father used to yell at you for “trying to heat the whole neighborhood” when you left the front door open during the winter? That valuable lesson is also true in the summer. Only instead of cooling the whole neighborhood, you should avoid cooling your entire house. Only cool the rooms you’re using, which means keeping vents closed in unused rooms and keeping window units turned off in bedrooms until right before bedtime.

Follow Your Father’s Advice – Speaking of not cooling the entire neighborhood, you can save energy by keeping doors shut whenever possible and by closing the shades, drapes and blinds during the day.

Keep it Cool, But Not Too Cool – A chilly 70 degree living room might feel nice when it’s 90 degrees outside, but the lower your thermostat is set, the more you’ll spend on electricity. The easiest way to save is to turn the temperature up to 76-78 degrees (each degree will save you 3 percent in electricity to run your AC!). When you leave the house for shopping or work, turn the AC up even higher, to 80-82 degrees.

Run Ceiling Fans or Box Fans – If 78 degrees is too warm for you, run your ceiling fans (if you have them). The breeze from the fan will make a 78 degree room feel like 76 degrees. And even through the fans use electricity, you’ll still save money on your monthly bill versus turning your thermostat down to 76 degrees. View this great selection of box fans and small fans.

How do you keep your home cool in the summer?

Budget barbequing

Budget Barbequing: How to Save Money When Grilling this Summer

Budget barbequing

If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be firing up the grill this week to celebrate the Fourth of July in true patriotic fashion. And why not? A little backyard barbeque is not only delicious, it can also be rather economical … especially if you follow these six tips.

Spend a Little Extra on a Grill – How will spending more money on a grill help you save money? It’s simple. If you have a nice grill, you’ll be more likely to use it. And if you’re more likely to use your grill, you’re less likely to go out to eat (which can cost a lot more than grilling at home). You don’t have to buy a top-of-the-line grill, but don’t be afraid to spend $300-$400 to get a grill that gets the job done and won’t break down after six months of use.

Don’t Go Overboard on Accessories – Now that you’ve got yourself a nice grill, you might be tempted to run out and spend $150 on a fancy 12-piece set of grilling accessories. Don’t do that! All you really need are a simple set of tongs and a spatula. Maybe a grilling fork, too. But guess what? If you’ve got all three of those things in your kitchen already, you don’t need to buy more just for your grill.

Protect Your Grilling Investment – A nice grill will last seven to 10 years, but only if you take good care of it. That includes regular cleaning and keeping it covered and out of the weather when not in use.

Don’t Go Overboard on Meat – You don’t need a bunch of fancy accessories and you also don’t need a bunch of fancy meat. For many backyard grillers, meat is the biggest part of any barbeque budget, but you can trim the fat by skipping the steak and fish and opting instead for staples like hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. If you really want steak, try some more affordable options. Even the cheaper cuts will taste great when cooked over an open flame.

The Butcher is Your Friend – Want to save money on meat? Of course you do. The easiest way to do that is to talk with your grocery store butcher on a regular basis. He or she will tell you when certain meats might go on sale and be able to suggest cheaper options.

Embrace Leftovers – Like any meal, making a little extra means more leftovers the next day. Sometimes that’s not cost effective, but barbeque leftovers taste great even three days later. Grilling extra is also a good idea because it allows you to get more from the fuel you’re burning (especially if you’ve got a charcoal grill).

Ways to Earn Extra Cash and Rewards this Summer

Summer is here! If you are in need of making extra cash and rewards, check out this list below! Companies and brands need feedback from YOU and by completing surveys or even doing simple tasks such as shopping online, you can start working towards earning real cash and rewards. Every bit adds up! Browse through the list below and choose the ones that are right for you to start earning today!

MySurvey – By sharing your opinions about products and services, you are rewarded with Reward Points to redeem for cash and merchandise.

Toluna – Get rewarded for surveys & polls. Sign up to test and review products for FREE!

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mailbox freebies

Mailbox Freebies: How to Get Freebies in Your Mailbox!


Do you want freebies like k-cups, mouthwash, feminine products, body wash, cat food, coupons for FREE products and much more to arrive in your own mailbox at home? It’s simple! Just subscribe to my daily email and you’ll get a FREE daily email that will list several great freebies we found around the internet! All you have to do is click on the links in each freebie post, fill out the required forms, etc!

Check the freebie category on my website often, you never know what you’ll find! Keep in mind that whatever is posted on my website, I try to sign up for as well, so you’ll find us posting only freebies from sources we trust! Not all freebies do arrive, but most do.

How to Get Mailbox Freebies:

Follow me via social media to get updates when freebies are posted:

Check out my mailbox freebies from the past! You’ll need to scroll down the page to see past mailbox freebies!

Here’s what arrived in my mailbox recently:

mailbox freebies

1. Four Folger’s K-cups – Black Silk, Lively Colombian Decaffeinated, Caramel Drizzle, and Vanilla Biscotti + $1 off coupon

2. Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic Mouthwash + $3 off coupon

3. Olay Sensitive Body Wash + P&G coupon book

4. Herbal Essences Body Burst Body Wash

5. Four U by Kotex Pads and two pantiliners + $1 off coupom

6. Coupon for FREE Full Size Suave Professionals Visible Glow Product (up to $8.99 value)

7. Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight Cat Food (2 oz.) + $1 off coupon

8. Kate Somerville Skin Moisturizer, Face Serum, and Exfoliating Treatment packets + coupon

9. Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin, & Nails Gummies with Biotin (2 gummies) + $1 off coupon

10. Nivea Extended Moisture Body Lotion + $1 off coupon

11. Joyce Meyer Enjoying Everyday Life magazine

Tell me what you received in your mailbox! 

Coffee Cans

31 Uses for Coffee Cans, Baby Formula Cans, or Other Containers

My husband and I drink a lot of coffee and we always end up with empty coffee containers. We also use formula now with my almost four month old and we end up with empty formula cans. I am not a fan of throwing these away, so I went on to my Frugal Free Gal Facebook Page and asked my fans what they did with empty coffee cans or other containers. I was amazed at the response, so I wanted to share them here. Here are their responses:

(***Warning: Some containers may have sharp edges. I do not recommend using any cans that could be dangerous. Also, do not pour hot grease in plastic containers. Make sure grease has cooled down before adding it to any container.)

  1. My hubby uses coffee cans out in the garage to store nails, screws, etc.  -Delois
  2. To organize the tools in the garage, cut holes in the bottom of the coffee cans to make a week long watering system for your plants, organize crafts (buttons, string, thread) -Trish
  3. Pencil holders, kitchen tools, garage gadgets, make candles in, stored on their side for fabric, yarn or electronics (cords), Legos, small toys, trash collection in the car -Darcy
  4. I use the plastic Folger coffee cans to throw vegetable scraps, onion peels, coffee grounds etc in. Once a day I empty it onto the compost pile in the back yard. We also use them to start seedlings for the garden. -Leeann
  5. Pens, coins, makeup, small gift containers -Lucy
  6. I’m container gardening this year and plan to use my coffee cans for peppers. -Robyn
  7. Teacher appreciation gifts! -Leslee
  8. Lay them on their sides, cover with mac tac, cover with fabric, decoupage and glue together to make a pyramid…ta da… great looking storage! -Vanessa
  9. I have my kids re-use them for crafts as often as I can, but they can only go so far. So far we made road trip bins with the tall cans of formula. (Example: Filled w/a few action figures, matchbox cars, non perishable snacks, a hand held game of some sort, maybe some pictures etc.) Just enough to fit in the can and take on long trips full of stuff that’s still a novelty. I also had them put wrapping paper on some and decorate them and make piggy banks or jewelry boxes for their grandmas, etc. -Chandelle
  10. I finally found a use for the empty Ovaltine containers, my husband brews beer so he keeps different colored caps in each one.  I saw something for using Pringles containers and Oatmeal containers to give cookies or baked items during the holidays. Wrap with scrapbook paper or wrapping paper, use ribbon, etc. We don’t use coffee cans anymore but I hated throwing those out when we did. Those might work good for giving baked goods during the holidays wrapped in scrapbook paper or wrapping paper. -Tasha
  11. My hubby uses them to sort parts in the garage. -Candice
  12. I am covering some with cute paper and using them as utensil holders and putting balloon weights in them to use as centerpieces at a up coming party. Or have the kiddos decorate them and make banks out of them! -Livy
  13. Make mini first aid kits. -Heather
  14. Kids toys. -Danielle
  15. We have used coffee cans to transport dry dog food camping. Any cans you can slap some cute paper on can become a pencil holder. Or noise maker for kids if you have a lid and put some rice in it. -Nik
  16. I get the plastic coffee cans and recycle them. If metal, I use them for grease. -Rita
  17. I use ours for my makeup in the bathroom. -Jennifer
  18. We glue or tape a decorated piece of construction paper, fill them up with goodies (depending on the holiday) and give them out as presents. People love they can re-use it afterwards for office supplies, etc. And they have a keepsake of my children’s handwriting/drawing skills as they progress. -Jennafer
  19. Paint the cans and attach sturdy wire to make a handle, even curl the wire to make it more decorative and use it for valentines or Easter for holding candy. Use them for birthday parties to hold their treasures like a goody bag or for a candy toss–get the kids to decorated it with pieces of cloth, paint etc. The craft possibilities are endless. -Rachelle
  20. We use coffee cans to put used cooking oil in. -Shelli
  21. I put holes in the bottom of the Folgers buckets and use them for planters. If you “rough up” the outside, you can spray paint them and make them look nice. -Jennifer
  22. Paint them and put hair bows/rubber bands. they could also be used to hold the remotes. -Tammy
  23. In my storage dry room I have rows of coffee cans filled with different beans, rice, and noodles. I use them in the garden for my young tomato and pepper plants to keep earwigs and cutworms away–as the tomato or pepper grows, I add more soil. This gives it a stronger root system and nothing is touching the ground to get spoiled. I also save them for camping. -Dianna
  24. I use formula cans as my vase and I make a bouquet of baby stuff for baby showers. They look really cute! -Angie
  25. I use them for old cooking oil. -Kelly
  26. You could donate them to a preschool or save for VBS! -Janet
  27. Spray paint or decorate them with construction paper, wall paper, etc. -Angela
  28. Check with your children’s ministry leader at your church.  They might be able to use them for VBS. -Lesa
  29. My parents use coffee cans for fat oils and freeze it. -Alison
  30. I use the formula tub for chalk outside so it stays dry when it rains. -Margaret
  31. I use formula containers for small toys or to keep toy sets together. -Jennifer

So, before you throw away those empty containers, think of a way in which you can reuse or recycle them!

If you’d like to add your own idea, please leave a comment in this post!

Thank you to the fans that contributed ideas for this post.

Healthy food on table

Five Reasons You Need to Start Meal Planning Today

Healthy food on table

Now that I meal plan every week, I find it almost hard to remember a time when I didn’t meal plan or to imagine how I ever went to the store without a list. Meal planning makes grocery shopping and cooking so much easier; I don’t think I could ever go back. Sure, I don’t always look forward to sitting down to meal plan when I’m especially busy–it does take a little time one night a week–but once my meal plan is done, I’m always glad I did it.

Haven’t started meal planning yet? Here are five reasons YOU need to start meal planning this week.

1. It Will Save You Time

How much time do you spend each evening looking into the cabinets wondering what you are going to make? How much time do you actually spend making those “quick” trips to the store? Even if you only spend 15 min a night trying to figure out what to make, that’s an hour and 45 min a week. Add in three 30 min “quick” trips to the store, and that’s over three hours of your life wasted each week. By sitting down one night a week for 45 minutes to an hour to make a meal plan and a grocery list, you can easily save yourself a couple of hours every week. Plus, your shopping trips will go much quicker as well.

2. It Will Save You Money

One great thing about meal planning is that it allows you to make your list around the items that are on sale or that you have coupons for every week. Instead of just going to the store and picking up whatever looks good, you can intentionally fill your list with items that you can get for less. or example, if hamburger is on sale this week, then this week would be a great time to make more hamburger-based recipes. Not only will you make fewer impulse purchases when you shop with a plan, but you will be able to buy the things that you do need for less as well.

3. It Will Save You Hassle

Figuring out what to eat very night can be a real hassle. Plus, who wants to make extra trips to the store at 5 p.m. when you just got off work or when the little ones are clamoring for dinner? By planning your meals in advance, you can make sure you already have the ingredients on hand, you won’t have to make decisions every night, and you can even do some of the prep work ahead of time. Get dinner on the table and get on with your evening faster with a meal plan.

4. You’ll Eat Healthier

What happens when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry but you have nothing in your house that goes together to make a real meal? You hit the drive thru or order a pizza instead. While this is okay on occasion, many Americans have taken to eating convenience foods every night only is this very expensive, but it is very unhealthy too. Save your wallet and your waistline by meal planning instead.

5. You’ll Waste Less

Another great perk of meal planning is that you can plan meals with similar ingredients for the same week so nothing gets wasted. Have a recipe that requires half a bag of spinach? Plan another spinach recipe the same week and put that spinach to good use! Stop throwing out all of those leftover ingredients. Make a meal plan, and you’ll reduce your waste and your grocery budget.

Need a little bit of a meal planning boost? Try eMeals Meal Planning. eMeals offers a variety of plans including low fat, low carb, portion control, gluten free, clean eating, paleo, vegetarian, natural & organic, and classic plans. You pick your plan, get great recipes, shop and save, and cook and enjoy! eMeals helps to take the “guessing” work away so you can start planning great meals for your family.

Do you meal plan? If not, what’s stopping you?


Are Yearly Memberships Worth It? (Zoo, Gym, Pool, etc.)

Are Memberships Worth It?

As a frugal shopper, you likely weigh every purchase very carefully before you make a decision. You don’t just want to reduce your spending; you also want to stretch your dollars and get the most bang for your buck.

One way to get an incredible value on summer entertainment is to purchase a yearly membership to a place like a zoo, a pool or a museum. When you divide the price of a yearly pass by the number of times you’re allowed to go, the savings are amazing! But are they worth their high price tag? Here are four questions to ask yourself when deciding if a yearly membership is a good buy for you.

1. How Often Will You Go?

The first and most important question you should ask yourself when considering a membership is “How often will we go?” If you know for sure you plan to visit the zoo, pool, or museum several times over the course of the summer, then a pass is likely a great value. If you enjoy visiting, but probably won’t have a chance to visit often, it may be a waste of money.

2. What Would You Do Instead?

Next, consider the alternative to buying a yearly membership. You aren’t likely to sit at home all summer. If you don’t have a yearly membership, will you visit a new (and expensive) place every week? If so, a yearly membership might make sense to you, because it would save you the expense of doing other activities out of boredom.

3. Do You Have the Money to Purchase One Right Now?

While purchasing yearly memberships for everyone in your family can lead to great savings, they are often quite the investment up front. Do you have the money to pay for one now, or can you skimp and save so you do? If you seriously cannot find a way to come up with the funds, you may have to find a different activity to do this summer and keep saving until next year.

4. What Other Hidden Costs are Associated With This Purchase?

Whether you are visiting the zoo, the pool or the museum, the cost of your yearly membership likely isn’t the only expense you will have. How much will you also end up spending on gas, parking, snacks, sunscreen and all of the extras? Don’t forget to factor these costs into the equation when you are deciding if a yearly pass is right for you.

Yearly passes can be a great investment, but only if you use them frequently enough to get your money’s worth. Be honest with yourself. Would getting a yearly pass help you save money this year, or is it just another thing to spend more money on because it’s such a “great deal?” This is a question only you can answer.

Do you ever buy yearly passes on entertainment? What activities and events do you buy them for?

Price tag over jeans background

Five Ways Decluttering Can Actually Save You Money

Price tag over jeans background
Shopping sales, using coupons and getting items for free are all fantastic ways to save your family money. Unfortunately, however, these money-saving techniques can come with a certain risk that no one talks about very much: clutter. When we get things for cheap or free, we tend to stock up, hoarding more than we really need. We think “Better safe than sorry–I’d better hold onto these items just in case.” And while it is good to be prepared, sometimes there comes a time when “being prepared” crosses the line into being a pack-rat.

You may think that holding onto things and accumulating as many things as you can for the future is a great way to save money. And, honestly, doing this might save you a little. But what many people don’t realize is that decluttering can actually save them money too. (Plus, it’s simply a nicer way to live.) Here are five ways decluttering can actually save you money.

While you are here, check out this bestselling book that helped me with my own personal decluttering mission!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

By: Marie Kondo

1. You Can Earn Money By Selling the Extras

The quickest and most obvious way that decluttering can save you money is simply the fact that you can earn money by selling the items you don’t really need anymore. Sell the clothes and toys your family has outgrown on Ebay or at a consignment shop. Have a garage sale and get rid of all of the extra stuff your family doesn’t need anymore. Just think of what you could do with all of that extra money instead!

Read: 5 Easy Steps for Throwing the Perfect Yard Sale

2. You Won’t Waste Money on Things You Won’t Ever Use

Between coupons and sales, there are some incredible deals out there! With items like toothbrushes, ketchup and bathroom cleaner going on sale for next to nothing, it only makes sense to stock up, right? Yet, how many times have these items gotten lost or gone bad before you’ve even had a chance to use them? Clean out your stockpile and take inventory of which items you actually use and not. Even if certain items didn’t cost you very much, if you aren’t using them, the money you spent on them was wasted.

3. You Won’t Have to Buy So Many Replacements

How often have you not been able to find something, so you go out and buy another to replace it? How often have your things been broken because you have too much stuff to store it nicely (think: kids’ toys)? When you have less, you can keep better track of what you have and take better care of it. It becomes less expendable, and you spend less money replacing it.

4. You’ll Use Less

When you have 30 extra things of toothpaste and 50 extra boxes of cereal on hand, it becomes all too easy to become wasteful. After all, you have plenty on hand. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have a stockpile–you should! But if all of that excess is causing your family to go through items much more quickly than you would otherwise, you may need to reevaluate how much extra you keep on hand.

5. You’ll Have More Time and Energy for Other Tasks

I’m not sure I would even want to know how much time I’ve spent looking for items I couldn’t find because they got lost in all of the clutter! Not only is searching for your items annoying, but all of the time and energy you spent searching for things was time and energy you didn’t spend doing other, more productive tasks, like working from home, cutting coupons, finding deals or cooking from home so you wouldn’t have to eat out.

Read More on Decluttering and Organization.

How is your money-saving strategy working for you? Are you saving your family money, or simply acquiring more and more clutter?

credit cards

Three Ways to Eliminate Your Credit Card Interest Payments Today

credit cards

When it comes to paying off your debts, there are a lot of things that can get in your way. There are surprise medical bills, old habits that die hard, and–perhaps most annoying of all–interest. I absolutely hate paying interest. So, I set out to find ways to avoid it, and I came up with three really good ones.

1. Pay Off Your Balance

This should go without saying, but if you are continuing to buy things you can’t afford by putting them on your credit card, stop! You are only digging yourself into a deeper hole. If you have to put it on a card to afford it, you can’t afford it. Switch to cash and pay off your credit card balance as soon as possible.

Read the book that helped me get out of debt:

The The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

By: Dave Ramsey

2. Switch to a “No Interest” Card

In the meantime–while you are working to pay off your credit card debts–why not transfer your current credit card debt to a new card with a zero percent introductory interest rate? Now, I am NOT advising you to go card hopping constantly–this will hurt your credit. But if you don’t have much left to go, why not speed up the process by getting rid of the interest?

DO read the terms and conditions before you sign. It will completely defeat the purpose if there are huge fees or if the interest rate skyrockets before you are able to pay off your balance in full. This technique works best for relatively small balances on cards with high interest rateswhen you know you will have it paid off before the introductory period ends.

3. Make Payments Immediately

Okay, this one is going to take a little explaining, but it works really well if you can get the hang of it.

Say you had to use your card for an emergency expense, and now you have a $1,000 balance. If you stopped using your card to make any more purchases, you would pay interest on that $1,000 until you eventually got it paid off. That interest would really add up over time, especially if you couldn’t afford to pay the $1,000 off right away, and all of that money would be wasted.

BUT if you CONTINUE to use your card for the normal, everyday purchases that you would make anyways, and you pay off your new purchases as soon as you make them, then you can avoid paying interest on that original $1,000 all together.

Here’s how it works: Say, for example, that this month you need $600 for groceries, $125 for cable, $100 for a doctor’s payment, $75 for new clothes for your family and $100 for miscellaneous purchases. That equals $1,000. Instead of paying cash for those things or putting them on your card to pay off next month, pay them off as soon as you purchase them (or weekly works well too).

When you pay off all new purchases right away, instead of waiting until you get the bill for them, the $1,000 that you pay down on your card will go towards the original $1,000 first–not the new purchases. To you, it will be like you are ignoring that original $1,000 and just paying for new purchases. But to your card, you’ll be paying the previous balance off in full every month, which means NO interest! And then, the next month, when you pay next month’s bills, it will be applied to this month’s balance. And continue on this way each month until you are able to get your debt paid down.

Now, this technique won’t get your balance paid off–you’ll have to pay extra to do that. But it is a great way to avoid racking up interest when you really cannot spare any extra to pay down your debts right now. It kind of puts them in “limbo.” That original $1,000 balance is there, but you aren’t paying interest on it.

Obviously, these three techniques won’t work for everyone. If you are seriously behind on bills, have huge debts or have terrible credit, you probably won’t be able to eliminate your interest altogether. But if you have a smaller debt that you are working hard to pay off, these three tips are a fantastic way to eliminate your interest payment and get your debt paid off faster!

summer activities

Seven Free and Cheap Summer Activities for Kids

summer activities

Summer is right around the corner! How will your children spend their long summer days? While there is definitely a lot of value in unscheduled time running around outside in the backyard, you will want to have some fun activities to keep them occupied as well. Thankfully, fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are seven summer activities for kids that don’t cost much at all.

1. Go to the Library

Has it been a while since your kids have visited the library? If so, you might be surprised at just how many things they have. In addition to free books and movies, most libraries have a kids’ area with games, story time and even computers full of educational games. You can probably even find fun summer classes or programs.

2. Have a Picnic at the Park

You have to eat lunch anyways–why not make it fun? Grab a big blanket and head to the park with a picnic lunch. Bring some of your kids’ friends along too for double for the fun. Just be sure to grab a shady spot and bring plenty of drinks from home!

3. Go Bowling

If you are lucky enough to live in one of several select cities, your children can actually bowl free all summer long. You just have to buy shoes. (Tip: If you plan on going several times, just buy an extra pair of “bowling shoes” instead of paying each time.) Bowling is a great way to beat the heat and have some fun. Click here to see if Kids Bowl Free has a program in your area.

4. Take in a Matinee Movie

Alternately, you may be able to find movies for free or cheap, especially if you go in the afternoon when theaters are dead. You don’t have to live next to a dollar theatre either. Simply call your local movie theater and see if they offer any type of kids’ program or special discount. Many do.

5. Visit the Animal Shelter or Pet Store

Looking for a fun summer activity that also helps out your community? Why not visit the pets at the pet store or animal shelter? These poor penned up pups need lots of love, and if your kids love animals, they will love helping take care of them. Visit regularly and the workers might even allow your children to help with extra, fun responsibilities.

6. Be a Tourist in Your Hometown

Do you live in a city that has a rich heritage? If so, take an afternoon and learn more. Visit your local tourist center in your city to find out what little-known highlights your city has to offer and then spend the afternoon exploring them. This is a great way to make history really come to life!

7. Tour a Museum

Do you have any fun museums in your area? If so, call and see what kind of discounts or special programs they offer. Many kid-friendly museums have special exhibits, events or discount rates for kids. Your kids will love wandering around, you’ll love the educational value, and you’ll all love the air conditioning!

This summer, don’t spend an arm and a leg to keep your children occupied all summer. Check out these seven free and cheap summer activities for kids to have a blast without paying a fortune.

What do you and your children love to do in the summer? Do you have any additional inexpensive activities to add?