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.

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?

tips for saving big on pet expenses

6 Tips for Saving Big on Pet Expenses

tips for saving big on pet expensesBeing a pet owner comes with a lot of benefits. Not only do pets offer love and companionship, but they can also improve your family’s health, reduce your stress level, teach your children responsibility and help you stay in shape.

Unfortunately, however, these benefits do come at a cost–pet ownership can be very expensive if you don’t take steps to keep it affordable. Here are six ways to do just that.

1. Choose the Right Pet for Your Budget

The cost of purchasing and caring for a pet can vary widely, depending on what type you get and where you get it. If you have a tight budget, you may want to consider purchasing a smaller, less expensive pet, such as a hamster, bearded dragon or fish. These pets provide several benefits without all of the expense.

Alternately, you may consider purchasing your next pet from the humane shelter, from a friend or from a newspaper or Craigslist ad. Find a good pet that needs a new home and you can save significantly over simply stopping by the pet store over the weekend.

2. Consider Overall Cost, not Just Purchase Price

When trying to figure out what type of pet you can afford, don’t just consider the purchase price. You’ll also need to factor in the costs of pet supplies and routine care. Consider one-time expenses such as spaying/neutering, training, microchip implantation and trips to the vet as well as recurring expenses such as food, toys, leashes and other essentials.

Will you need to fence in your yard, build a shaded outdoor area or pay for trips to a kennel while you’re out of town? Are you likely to need to replace or repair furniture, shoes or other belongings while your new pet is adjusting to your home? Is your pet likely to need any special medications as he or she ages? Be sure to factor in those costs as well.

3. Shop Around

Very rarely is the price you see the price you have to pay for pet supplies. Shop around and you may just be surprised by how much you can save. You don’t have to buy all of your pet supplies at the pet store. You can often find a bargain by shopping at a supercenter, dollar store or online retailer. Look for pet supplies on Amazon or check out various online pet supply subscription companies as well.

4. Use What You Already Have

Of course, the fewer items you have to buy, the less money you will need to spend. Instead of purchasing several items specifically for your pet, try to make do with items you already have on hand. For example, you likely already have bowls that will work for food and water, and you may have a baby gate you can use instead of purchasing a special puppy gate. Use a belt instead of a collar and a piece of rope instead of a fancy leash. Get creative!

5. Look for Deals, Rebates and Promotions

For those pet supplies you do have to buy, be sure you get a good deal. Many stores regularly offer sales, rebates, coupons and other promotions. Ask for free samples and inquire about free shipping, membership discounts and bulk purchase discounts. Even small savings can really add up over time.

6. Visit the Vet

Visiting the vet may be expensive at first, but keeping regular check-ups can save you significantly over your pet’s lifetime. Not to mention the fact that routine check-ups will keep your pet healthier and happier as well. Don’t wait until your pet has had an injury or is in severe pain to bring them to the vet. Schedule and keep routine check-ups instead.

Related: 6 Ways to Save on Vet Bills

Just because your pet is worth every penny you spend on him or her doesn’t mean that you should have to spend every penny you have to keep your pet happy, healthy and safe. Use these six money-saving tips and tricks to keep your pet costs low and your time with your pet enjoyable.

What type of pet do you own? How do you keep it affordable?

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 first grade 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?

How to Start a Blog (and Monetize it, Too!)

How to Start a Blog and Monetize it, Too!

I love to save money and I wanted to share my passion for saving money with others online and from the comfort of my own home. My blog, The Frugal Free Gal, started as a hobby in 2009. I was a stay at home mom and found blogging to be a great way to spend my time when my baby was napping. A few months into blogging, I was networking with other bloggers when I discovered a secret! Many of these blogs that I had grown to love were making money from their websites. I wanted to do this, too. Why not? It would be a great way to earn extra income while staying at home with my daughter. I continue to work from home and find new ways every year to improve or monetize my website. I even turned what I do into a business, BSC Media, LLC. BSC = my initials!

During this blogging journey, I’ve had several friends ask about starting a website of their own. The biggest questions were, “How do I start a blog,” and “How do I make money from a blog?” After years and years of doing this, I felt that it was time to write a post about it and share it with everyone. This post is way overdue, but very important to share. My goal is to help others learn how to start their own websites and monetize them, too. Now, here’s something important. This is not a “get rich quick” kind of thing. It took me a few years and HOURS of time building my websites before I started noticing a nice profit. To this day, I still spend a lot of time learning and studying ways to improve my business.

How to Start a Blog (and Monetize it, too!) 

1. Find a topic you are passionate about.

To start a website, you’ll want to choose a topic that you are passionate about. What is something you love? What topics do you absolutely love sharing with others? Do you have parenting tips? Start a parenting/mom website. Do you love to cook and share recipes? Consider starting a food blog. Love to save money like me? Maybe a blog about saving money or finances is right for you. There are so many options out there. Whatever niche you choose, choose something that you will have fun writing about. You don’t want to start a website and dread writing on it everyday because the niche you chose does not interest you very much. My three different websites are about saving money, tips for busy moms, and giveaways.

2. Pick out a blog name.

Once you have your topic of interest, you’ll need to brainstorm names for your website. For this website, I chose “The Frugal Free Gal” because I’m frugal, and I love free stuff! I’m also a gal, so it just worked. I thought the gal at the end of frugal and the Gal at the end of the name was catchy. For my mom website, I chose Mom. Wife. Busy Life. because I’m a mom and wife, and a pretty busy mom and wife, too! Choosing a name for my giveaway website was difficult because most of the names I wanted were already chosen! It took me a while to find something that worked, so Giveaway Fairy it was.

3. Sign up for hosting and choose a domain.

Hosting is like rent. You are paying for your site to have a home online. I recommend signing up for BlueHost for your hosting services if you are looking for an affordable hosting service. Below you’ll see how you can set up your hosting and domain services.

Bluehost offers very affordable plans starting at only $3.95/month*.


Choose the plan that’s right for you, Choose the basic, plus, or pro plan.


Choose a domain that’s available or transfer an existing domain. It’s always a good idea to purchase the domain privacy.

3-Domain Registration

Fill in your account information.

4-Contact Info

Fill in your package information.

5-Choose Plan

Fill in your billing information and click next.

6-Billing Info

Install WordPress.



Select the domain you would like to install to.

9-Install WP

Complete the install process.

10-WP Login


Note: Some of this information may be way over your head and you may be feeling overwhelmed. If you do not feel comfortable setting up your own website, you can always hire this work out to a family member, friend, or other tech guy/gal that knows what he/she is doing. Don’t feel bad about it — I hired help because I’m not good with all of this back-end stuff! I always recommend having 1-2 good referral names on hand in case you need tech support with your website! They come in handy when your site is broken or when things need to be fixed and you are aren’t sure how to fix the issues yourself. 

5. Find a good designer. 

You’ll want your website to stand out from the rest and be visually appealing. Hire a good designer that can help you customize your website the way you want it – from color choice, to logos, to fancy buttons, etc. You name it, your designer should be able to help you create a beautiful website. Laura at Pixel Me Designs designed all of my websites:

The Frugal Free Gal
Mom. Wife. Busy Life.
Giveaway Fairy
BSC Media, LLC

Optional: There are many themes to choose from when working with WordPress. Check out these StudioPress Themes for WordPress.

6. Start writing great content.

Once your website is all set up and ready to go with a great design, you’ll want to start creating great content. Write content that stands out from the rest. Try to remember that adding value is key. Create evergreen content that never goes out of style and can be recycled years from now.

7. Connect your websites to social media and build readership. 

Now that you have an amazing website that you want to share to the world, you’ll want to make sure you create social media networks that connect with your website. My favorites are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. Share your content on your social media outlets and tell all of your family and friends about your new website!

8. Monetize your website.

Now that you have your website ready to go and you are creating content, you can start to monetize your website. You can monetize your website with ads, affiliate links, sponsored posts, and more. Below are the main ways I monetize my website. To get started on monetizing your websites, check out the links below to find the affiliate networks that are right for you. There’s several to choose from, so I listed mine in order based on what I earn in each category as well as my favorites to use.

Disclosure: Some of the links below include my referral link.

Affiliate Marketing:

Ad Placement:

Sponsored Posts:

Blog Services:

Individual Affiliate and Referral Programs:

There you have it! You have all of the best tips and tools to starting your own blog and monetizing it, too!

Do you plan to start a new blog any time soon?

5 books that helped me save money

5 Books that Helped Me Save Money

5 books that helped me save money

My love for frugality and saving money started after college when I started my first teaching job as a second grade teacher. With my husband just starting his career and me starting mine, we had to find ways to live beneath our means so that we could also save for our future. I remember starting our financial journey in the year 2005. It’s true when they say the earlier you start the better, and it’s never too late to start no matter what age you are! I had help though, mostly from reading books. There are only a few books that I have read that have helped to motivate me to save, save, save. Below you’ll find the list of books that helped motivate us towards financial success. These books are placed in order in which I read them. Some books I read years ago, and some I’ve read within the last year or so. Take a look and maybe one or two (or all) of these would be of interest to you, too!

1. Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach

This is THE book that motivated me to take my very first steps to saving, read in 2005 at our first duty station in Pensacola, Florida. When I was a teacher, I found myself reading this during break times. It didn’t take me too long to get through the book because it was very interesting. I was a young teacher and I knew that saving money as early as possible was key, so I didn’t waste time. We found a financial advisor, set up our first investment accounts for retirement during this time and have been contributing ever since.

2. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

After reading Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach, I wanted to read more of his content. I read Automatic Millionaire in 2007 in North Carolina at our second duty station when I was working out on the treadmill at our apartment gym. This was another great read as it taught us how to save money by setting up automatic payments. Each month, we set up automatic payments to go directly into our retirement accounts and savings accounts. To this day, we still follow the automatic savings plan and it works great for us! The money leaves our account and goes directly to savings each month without us having to worry about it. Every bit adds up over time!

3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

I always heard great things about Rich Dad, Poor Dad, so I read this book on a flight back from Texas to North Carolina in 2008. I remember mostly reading about assets vs. liabilities as well as financial investing. We continued to invest monthly towards our future.

4. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover is one of my favorite books of all. I read this book in August 2015 here in South Carolina. This book is the book that got us back on track after years of saving but not aggressively saving. It’s the book that taught us how to be gazelle intense with our finances. My husband read this book after I did and we both continue to listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts daily as well. Thanks to this book, we were able to follow Dave’s Baby Steps and we are currently on baby steps 4-7. We will finish Baby Step 4 for the year next month. We continue to save for college, pay off a rental home, and give at the same time.

5. Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan

This is a brand new book released in 2016. My husband and I read this in January in South Carolina. Retire Inspired is what I call the kick in the pants that we all need to save for retirement. This is an eye opening book as it motivates us to save even more for retirement. After looking at our own numbers, we realized that we needed to kick it into higher gear and put away even more each month. We discovered Chris Hogan (he has an amazing voice!) on one of Dave Ramsey’s podcasts and on another podcast by Ramsey Solutions, Chris Brown on Air. These three guys (Dave Ramsey, Chris Brown, and Chris Hogan) are three financial pros that I highly recommend listening to this year if you want to get on track financially.

If you’d like to get motivated and inspired to get on track this year financially, I highly recommend finding some good books such as the ones listed above to help you get started. It took the very first book on the list to motivate me to get started years and years ago, and I don’t regret the decision to start early and save one bit!

Have you read any of the books listed above? What money saving books do you recommend? 

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

Top 10 Things to Buy for Back to SchoolNo, 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.


Save Money with DIY Pedicures + Print a $15 off (1) Amopé™ Coupon!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amopé™ and CVS. All opinions are my own. #SoftFeetAllSummer

DIY Pedicure 2

Click below to print a $15.00 off Amope coupon!


Do you get regular pedicures at your local salon? I’m guilty of getting pedicures in the past and paying at least $30 (after tip) each time. When I stopped to think about how much money I was spending on something that I could do myself and for free at home, I quickly decided to cut back on professional pedicures and save money instead. Although I do miss professional pedicures slightly, I feel better about saving hundreds of dollars each year with my own DIY pedicures.

DIY pedicures at home are super easy and fun if you have the right kinds of supplies. These supplies typically are inexpensive and once you have a great set of pedicure tools in your collection, you can enjoy your own pedicures in no time.

DIY Pedicure

Here are my DIY pedicure essentials:

  • cotton balls
  • nail polish remover
  • nail polish (at least two to three colors, usually a pink or coral for spring/summer and red for winter)
  • toe nail clippers
  • Amopé™ Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File
  • foot lotion

When I begin my pedicure, I remove any old nail polish with nail polish remover and cotton balls. Then, I soak my feet in the tub and wash them really well with soap. After I soak my feet, I towel dry them and begin my pedicure. I start with my heels and work my way up to the toenails. My heels used to be very rough and cracked, until I discovered the Amopé™ Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File at my local CVS. This electronic foot file removes the dry and cracked skin from my feet and leaves them feeling very smooth.

DIY Pedicures 4

DIY Pedicure 3


  • Smooths feet quickly and easily
  • Ergonomically shaped head for easy & fast hard skin removal from even the curviest contours of your feet
  • Replaceable roller heads available for every need—coarse for regular skin, extra coarse for hard, callused skin & soft touch for a smooth finish.
  • With finely ground Diamond crystals for maximum and yet smooth exfoliation.
  • Safety stop feature ensures that it’s gentle and safe. Contains no sharp blades for safe use

My favorite part about the Amopé™ Foot File is that it’s effortless. No more spending too much effort trying to go back and forth filing down the rough skin. The extra coarse roller head on the foot file does this for me! Now, you can save on the Amopé™ Foot File at your local CVS, too!

$15 off 1 Amopé™ Product Coupon Here

After using the Amopé™ Foot File, I start to work on my toenails. I trim my toenails to the desired length and then paint my toenails. Once dry, I give my toenails one more coat of paint and allow to dry. When my toes are finished, I rub a thick foot lotion on my feet for soft, pretty feet.

I look forward to my DIY pedicures these days. My box of pedicure essentials helps me to keep my feet looking their very best!

Don’t forget to get your coupon for $15 off 1 Amopé™ Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File! Click below to print:


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

save on back to school supplies

Save Time and Money by Buying Extra Back-to-School Supplies

How to Save Time and Money on Back to School Supplies

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Back to school is right around the corner. Have you completed your back-to-school shopping yet? If not, you better make plans to go shopping soon! It’s amazing the amount of things kids need, and finding everything on a long back-to-school list can take some time. It seems like every year, the lists get longer and longer and the trips get more and more expensive. Even with coupons and discounts, the costs can add up quickly, especially if you are buying for multiple kids.

As a frugal person, you may be tempted to buy the bare minimum. If the list says 10 folders–you buy 10 folders and no more. After all, you likely shop from a list and you know that adding a few extras in here and there can really add up. Have you ever considered that buying only the bare minimum can actually cost you more in the long run, however? It’s true! Sometimes, by spending a little more, you can actually save yourself both time and money in the long run! Here’s how.

1. Buying Extra Helps You Avoid High Prices Later

It’s amazing how quickly kids use up their school supplies and need new ones. Not only do their old supplies get used up, worn out, lost and broken, but they always end up needing new things no one anticipated as well. Wait until a few months into the school year and you’re bound to end up paying top dollar for supplies that you could have gotten dirt cheap before the school year began.

Having a few extra supplies on hand, especially pencils, paper, crayons and markers, can help you avoid this sticker shock later. Plus, if you end up not needing them, you can always use them next year.

Related: 6 Ways to Save Big on Back-to-School Supplies

2. Buying Extra Saves You From Last Minute Trips to the Store

Not only does buying replacement school supplies cost you money you weren’t planning on spending, but replacing them usually takes time as well. For some reason, kids never seem to think about the school supplies they need when you are headed to the store anyway. Instead, how often do they wait until just before bedtime to announce that they have a project due and they don’t have the supplies they need?

Unless your evenings consist of sitting around, waiting on your kids hand and foot, chances are, you have other things you’d like to do in the evening than make last-minute trips to the store for poster board, crayons and glitter glue. Having a stash of these things on hand already can save you time–and sanity!

3. Higher Quality Products Last Longer

In addition to buying extras, don’t forget to look for quality products as well. Buying the cheapest products you can find may seem like a good way to save money, but it will only end up costing you if they break or wear out faster and need to be replaced.

For example, some cheap pencils don’t sharpen well. You can sharpen them down to a stub before you get a sharp point. Buying quality pencils may cost you a few cents more at the store, but you’ll need far fewer pencils throughout the year. The same applies to other back-to-school products as well, such as jeans, erasers, backpacks and water bottles.

Related: Top 10 Things to Buy for Back-to-School

If you take the time to do your research, you can find tons of ways to save on back-to-school supplies–purchasing the bare minimum amounts of inferior quality products simply isn’t one of them, however. This school year, save yourself time and money by getting good products and by buying a few more than you’ll need.

Have you completed your back-to-school shopping this year? Did you just buy the bare minimum, or did you stock up a bit just in case?

save on back to school supplies

6 Ways to Save Big on Back to School Supplies

How to Save on 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.

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.

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.

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!

Ways to Earn Extra Cash and Rewards this Summer

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!

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

Pinecone Research – You will earn points for each completed product survey, which can be exchanged for cash and other rewards. PLUS you will be automatically entered into a bi-weekly Sweepstakes to win additional cash prizes for your time. Each interview usually takes 15-20 minutes of your time. Ranked #1 on Survey Police

Global Test Market – Earn rewards like Amazon, PayPal, Macy’s, Kohl’s

Vindale Research – Get paid to review products. Join the finest minds in consumer research and change the world one product at a time. Share your unique opinion and get paid for it! Participation required. Earn $5-$75 Per Survey!

MindsPay – Evaluate products and services of your interest and give us your feedback.You get compensated! Watch your account balance grow, then you can request a payout!

Inbox Dollars – Pays members to read emails, take surveys online, play games, and go shopping! New members also receive $5 just for joining.

Swagbucks – Earn 1,000s of free prizes, for doing the things you do every day – like PayPal and Amazon gift cards, toys, clothes, collectibles, games, electronics and more.

ShopAtHome – Get cash back for shopping. Find over 100,000 grocery and restaurant coupons, printable coupons, coupon codes, cash back and hot deals.

Ibotta – Find great rebates, shop & redeem, get cash back!

Opinion Outpost (US) – Rewards include get cash, Amazon gift cards, game points, donations to your favorite charities, and more. Everyone is also automatically entered to a $10,000 sweepstakes by joining and taking surveys. The minimum cash out for Paypal is $10 and only $5 for Amazon gift cards.

Opinion Outpost (Mobile) – Rewards include get cash, Amazon gift cards, game points, donations to your favorite charities, and more. Everyone is also automatically entered to a $10,000 sweepstakes by joining and taking surveys. The minimum cash out for Paypal is $10 and only $5 for Amazon gift cards.

Valued Opinions – Don’t give your opinions away get paid for them.

e-Poll – Be entered into the $1000 Monthly draw and take surveys to earn rewards.

VIP Voice – Confirmed panelists will be entered into a sweepstakes upon joining and will have additional chances to win cash and other great prizes, with each survey taken.

Nielsen Home Scan Consumer Panel – Earn valuable points, which are redeemable for electronics, household items, jewelry, toy, gift cards, and more.


Nielsen Home Scan Consumer Panel (Canada) – Points are redeemable toward great thank you gifts offered in our catalog.

Opinion Outpost (Canada) – Rewards include get cash, Amazon gift cards, game points, donations to your favorite charities, and more. Everyone is also automatically entered to a $10,000 sweepstakes by joining and taking surveys. The minimum cash out for Paypal is $10 and only $5 for Amazon gift cards.

on up mothers day

What My Mom Taught Me About Money

on up mothers day

I’m the youngest of four children. Growing up, I don’t remember having a lot of excess stuff or the material things I always wanted, but I knew I had everything I always needed. My mom and dad worked very hard to raise us and we didn’t always have extra money laying around to throw towards unnecessary expenses. We did have a house to live in, clean clothes on our backs, hot home cooked meals, clean water, and lots of love.

If I remember learning anything during my childhood about finances, it was from my parents. My mom was very frugal and thrifty. We didn’t shop much, but when we did, we shopped second hand stores, at affordable retailers around town, and used coupons often. As a child, it was hard to be told “no” when I asked for something at a hefty price while out shopping. Now that I have my own children, I find myself following in my mother’s footsteps. I love to shop at thrift stores, pay low prices for quality items, use coupons, and I even have to tell my children “no” often when they ask for something that we either don’t need or if it costs too much.

As a mother now, I hope that I can set an example for my children while they are young. I’d love for them to understand the value of a dollar and how they need to earn money for items they really need or want, while also saving for their future. I’m thankful that I was raised to understand that money doesn’t come from trees and that I must work for the money that I need to pay bills, eat, etc.

SunTrust wants to celebrate moms all month long with #MothersMay. Are you always seeking out more great advice, tools and tips about your money? If so, sign up for onUpdates to get more of “moms” best financial advice tenfold.

I’m very thankful for the financial future that my parents set me up for as a child. Without them, who knows what my financial life would look like!

Did you learn any helpful tips from your mom about finances?

*The picture above is a Mother’s Day gift I received this year from my seven year old daughter!

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.

The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.

Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.

Join the movement

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

ways to save on dog related expenses

7 Ways to Save on Dog-Related Pet Expenses

Ways to Save on Dog Related Expenses

One of the most popular pets in America, dogs are a natural favorite among young and old alike. Unfortunately, this love often comes at a price. According to, Americans spend an average of $1,641 on their dogs every year between the toys, food, vet visits and everything else that dogs need.Thankfully, just because some people spend thousands of dollars on their pets every year does not mean that you have to as well. Here are seven ways to save on dog-related pet expenses that you can try today. Try one or try them all–your wallet will thank you.

1. Sign Up for Store Loyalty Programs

Do you find yourself shopping at the same pet stores time and time again? Ask if they offer any sort of loyalty discount for shopping at their store. The sign up process is usually quick, easy and free, and you can start saving money right away.

Do be careful about signing up for store credit cards or any type of program that requires you to spend a certain amount, however. You don’t want to pay more in fees or interest than you save by using the card or program in the first place.

2. Shop in Bulk

For dog supplies you go through quickly, particularly dog food, you may want to purchase in bulk, preferably when they are on sale. You can save yourself a great deal of time and money by purchasing large quantities less often than by grabbing the small bag every time you are about to run out. Check stores like Costco, Amazon and other online pet supply retailers to see what sorts of bulk discounts you can find.

3. Purchase Quality When It Counts

Do keep in mind that cheaper isn’t always a bargain, however. Purchase cheap dog food and you may find yourself with vet bills after a while. Purchase cheap dog toys and you may find yourself replacing them constantly. Don’t consider just the price when purchasing items for your dog; consider the value as well. Some things are worth spending a little more for.

4. Ask for Discounts

While the price of pet supplies is often non-negotiable, the cost of the services your pet needs can sometimes be negotiated, especially if you choose an individual provider or small business for your services instead of a corporation. The next time you take your dog for training, grooming or to the vet, don’t be afraid to ask if the price is flexible. You may be able to take advantage of a two-for-one or percentage off deal, or you may be able to get certain upgrades or extra services for free.

Related: 6 Tips for Saving Big on Pet Expenses

5. Request Free Samples

Are you considering choosing a new brand of dog food but you aren’t sure which type your dog will enjoy? Why not write a few dog food companies and request a free sample? While you probably won’t get a large amount of food this way, you can save yourself a fair amount by not having to buy several full sized bags to find the brand your dog likes. If you’d like to try a few new products, this is a great, low-risk way to get them.

Related: Freebies and Free Samples

6. Consider Dog Insurance

You pay for health insurance for yourself and your family. Have you ever considered purchasing health insurance for your dog? Every dog will need to visit the vet at some point, and you never know when that huge, unexpected expense will occur. Arm yourself in advance by looking into dog insurance, especially if you have reason to suspect that your dog may have health issues either now or in the future.

Related: 6 Ways to Save on Vet Bills

7. Start a Pet Blog

If you love dogs and dog products and want a great way to get tons of great, new products for cheap or free, you may even consider starting a blog about pets in general or dogs in particular. Oftentimes companies will send bloggers free products in exchange for their honest review. Grow a quality blog and you may just be surprised at how many free products and opportunities you receive.

Your dog may be your baby, but that doesn’t mean that he needs to be as expensive as another person. Use these seven tips to keep your dog costs low and spend your days enjoying your dog–not working to afford him.

ways to earn extra cash

Five Ways to Earn Extra Cash

Five Ways to Earn Extra 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.

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!

Related: Creative Ways to Make Money on the Side

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 Toluna, Vindale Research, and Pinecone Research!

Related: Ways to Earn Extra Cash and Rewards

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

What ways do you like to earn extra cash? 

saving money on clothes

Saving Money on Clothes – 5 Tips to Maximize Your Money

saving money on clothes

Saving money on clothing is a big deal. It’s not like clothes are something we can go without – at least not without getting arrested. With that in mind, we have to figure out how we can make saving money on clothes something that is attainable without making us LOOK like we’re trying to save money on clothes.

Saving Money on Clothes is Totally Doable

It’s not that difficult to be beautiful on a budget for you and your family. Of course, any time you implement a budget you’ll have to make sacrifices, but those sacrifices don’t have to be monumental changes that totally strip you of your style.

Related: How to Create a Budget that Really Works

Lose the Name Brands

Everyone wants the “swoosh” or the “fox” or some other name brand logo. The thing to remember is that you do not need them. You can be just as stylish in a trendy look put together at Old Navy as you can in the same look put together at some store that sells shirts for 3 times as much because they have an embroidered logo on them.

Shop for Sales

Like all stores, clothing stores have sales. Watch for those sales, and swoop in when there’s  a really good one. A good sale on clothes can save you an obscene amount of money when the store is trying to clear out seasonal inventory.

Use Those Gift Cards

If you have gift cards, stockpile them for the sales I just mentioned. You can stretch those little plastic wonders so far when you hit on a really good sale.

Use a Store Credit Card

This is a great options for saving money on clothes if you have a large family. Using a store’s credit card can help you earn points towards future purchases at that store. For example, with an Old Navy card, every purchase – not just at their store – nets you points for use at Old Navy stores or online. When you combine those points with sales, you can save tons and tons of money.

The Thrift Shop

It’s not just a Mackelmore song folks. You can find some unique, funk-tacular pieces at your local thrift shop, and you can find them for dirt cheap. If you already like the eclectic look, the thrift shop is ground zero for saving money on clothing. Because sometimes, you really do look incredible when you wear your grandpa’s clothes. 😉

Saving Money on Clothes Doesn’t Mean Sacrificing Style

You don’t have to look like you haven’t been in style since the late 90s when you’re on a saving money mission. Looking for deals and saving money on clothing are not synonymous with being out of style. All you need to do is make smart decisions and wait for your moment. And if you’re already into that eclectic look, hit the thrift shop. Hey, you never know what you’ll find!

Related: 100+ Ways to Save Money

Do you have any tips on saving money on clothes?

monthly grocery budget

How We Found an Extra $1,000 in Our Monthly Budget

How We Found an Extra $1,000 in Our Monthly Budget

My husband and I got serious about money in August of 2015. We’ve always been frugal for the most part and we’ve always been savers since graduating from college, but over the last few years, we were a little “arrogant” with our money and we spent whatever we wanted to. We were not being good stewards of God’s money and resources like we could have been, so we sat down and made changes. We are back to aggressive saving and we continue to be debt-free with the exception of a rental home. We also put extra money each month towards our kid’s college accounts and retirement. Romans 3:8 “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” 

If you need any motivation on saving for retirement, I highly suggest reading Chris Hogan’s new book, Retire Inspired. If you are serious about simply saving more, I recommend Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover and following Dave’s Baby Steps.

Do you know how much you spend on groceries each month? If you are unsure of the amount you spend at the register on a monthly basis, I challenge you to sit down and dig through your finances and come up with a total for the last month. This will give you a good idea of what you are spending. Be warned though – this can be a very eye opening process for some. Your grocery expense might be one of your biggest monthly expenses!

After my husband and I went through our own finances for the month in August to determine what we were spending on groceries, our mouths dropped to the floor. We were a bit shocked and this opened our eyes to where our money was going each month. We also determined what we were spending on other food purchases. Not only were our hard earned dollars going towards groceries, our money was also going towards fast food purchases that occurred often during the week as well as fancy date night dinners. With my husband and I being big tippers as we are (Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”) sometimes our date night dinner would cost anywhere from $60-$100 for just two of us! Get this. One month, our grocery and restaurant purchases totaled $1,500. That, my friends, is foolish. We were being DUMB with our money and we were throwing most of it away each month on food. Not anymore.

Related: How to Create a Budget That Really Works

We set a strict food budget and watched what we spent on groceries for the next month. We were able to significantly reduce our food expenses from $1,500 to only $600, and we are still trying to find ways to cut that expense down even more. Our goal is to get our grocery budget down to $400 and cut out most of the fast food purchases. After looking at this month’s finances, we are right on track. Do you know that by watching what we spend on food purchases, we were able to give ourselves a $1,000 raise each month? $1,000!!! That’s a lot of money! While I know many of you come no where close to spending as much as we were, that was one area we really needed to improve.

Instead of throwing this money away each month, we are now smart with our money again. We invest for our retirement each month as well as put away for our kid’s college. We also continue to tithe 10% of our income each month. Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” 

Related: How to Cut Back on Eating Out

Do you know how much you are paying for groceries and food expenses each month? 

buying a car new used

Buying a Car: The Pros and Cons of New vs. Used (and the Best Time to Buy It!)

buying a car new used

Your house will always be the biggest purchase you’ll make, but your car is probably second on that list. And while you put a lot of thought into your home, you should also put some careful thought into what sort of vehicle you’ll be parking in your home’s driveway.


The first question you might ask yourself when you start the car-buying process is a simple one: New or used? Here are a few things to consider when answering that question.

New car advantages

New cars are reliable and accident-free. They’ve also got a great warranty (although many used cars do, too). And that new car smell can’t be beat!

New car disadvantages

The biggest drawback is the higher cost. A brand new family sedan without all the fancy extras will probably cost around $30,000. The same sedan loaded with features but three years old can be had for $20,000 to $25,000.

Used car advantages

Lower cost is a big used car advantage. Like we discussed above, used cars cost far less than their newer counterparts.

Used car disadvantages

Used cars are, well, used. They’ve got some miles on them, which means repairs will be needed sooner than they might if you bought a new car. The warranty on a used car also has a few years on it, which means it will likely expire soon (if it hasn’t already).


Now that you’ve decided whether you’re buying new or used, your next decision is figuring out when you’ll buy your car. Believe it or not, there are times of the year, month, and week when buying a car is better. There’s even a good time of day!

Best time of the year

The end of the summer and the end of the year are the best times to buy a car. The end of summer is good because that’s when dealers are trying to clear out the current year’s stock to make room for next year’s models. The end of the year (December) is good because that’s when dealers are trying to meet their year end sales quotas.

Best time of the month

Like the end of the year, the end of the month is a good time to buy because dealers will be anxious to meet their end-of-month sales goals.

Best time of the week

Hit the dealership in the middle of the week – Tuesday or Wednesday – to get the best deals. That’s when the dealerships will be least crowded, which means salesmen will have more time to focus on you and will be more likely to want to make a sale.

Best time of the day

If you’ve applied all the lessons above, you’ll be headed to the dealer at the end of the summer (or December), on a Tuesday or Wednesday at the end of the month. What time of the day should you stop in? About an hour before closing is best. That’s when dealers are wrapping up for the day and more likely to make a deal before clocking out.

How did you save on your last car purchase?

ways to save on laundry

7 Ways to Save on Laundry

ways to save on laundry

Doing load after load of your family’s laundry doesn’t just take a lot of time; it can also end up costing you more than you realize financially as well. In fact, it is estimated that American families spend anywhere from $80 to $600 per year on laundry alone! Just imagine the savings you could have if you didn’t have to do laundry all of the time!

While you probably can’t stop doing laundry altogether, it is possible to save big on this common household chore. This post will show you how.

1. Wear Things More Than Once

Just because you’ve worn something once doesn’t automatically mean it’s dirty, especially if you only wore it for a short period of time. Sweaters that don’t even touch your body, the pajamas you can barely keep on your toddler and the shirt your son only wore to church for an hour are all prime candidates to go right back in the drawer. Towels can be used more than once as well.

Similarly, make sure your children are only putting clothes in the wash that are actually dirty as well. If your daughter develops a bad habit of deciding what to wear by throwing everything on the floor or your son throws everything in the hamper to avoid folding it and putting it away, that’s a lot of extra laundry you don’t need to be doing.

2. Wash Only Full Loads

Rather than doing laundry after a specific amount of time as passed (such as every morning or every evening), wait to do a load of laundry until you have a full load. Not only will you spend less time doing laundry, but you can save big on your water bill as well.

Alternately, if you need to do your laundry on a schedule to make sure that it gets done, try lengthening the amount of time between loads. For example, instead of doing laundry every day, you could do laundry every other day or every three days, depending on the amount of clothing your family owns.

3. Use Less Laundry Detergent

When adding detergent to the laundry, do you usually just throw some in without bothering to measure? If so, you may be using way more than you need. While a little extra laundry detergent won’t break the bank right away, all of that wasted detergent can really add up over time. Not only will you need to buy extra detergent, which can be expensive, but you may shorten the lifespan of your clothes or washer as well.

4. Invest in an Energy Efficient Washing Machine

Consider replacing your old or run-down washing machine with an energy efficient washing machine. My sister has an energy efficient washing machine and she absolutely loves it. Our washing machine is about 10 years old and still working, so when that time comes that it decides to give out, we will be replacing ours with energy efficient machines.

5. Switch to Cold Water

Unless your clothes are exceptionally dirty, chances are that hot water isn’t really necessary. Make the switch to cold water for the majority of your laundry loads and save the hot water for the towels and undergarments only. This will ensure that the germs on these sensitive items are well taken care of without needlessly wasting money with every load.

6. Skip the Fabric Softener

What if I told you that you really didn’t need fabric softener to get your clothes nice and soft? It’s true. Skip the expensive fabric softener and use 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of vinegar instead. Vinegar not only helps soften your clothes, it also helps prevent fading, keeps your washing machine cleaner and helps remove excess detergent from your clothes. Just be careful not to mix it with bleach, as this can result in a toxic gas.

7. Don’t Forget the Laundry!

Have you ever thrown in a load of laundry, only to completely forget about it until several hours later or even the next day? Having to rewash a load more than once isn’t just frustrating, it’s also an expensive and time-consuming habit to get into. Set a timer if you need to or make the laundry part of your daily routine, but don’t forget to flip it!

Related: 5 Tips to Keep Up With Laundry

If you are looking for additional ways to save money that don’t take a lot of time and effort, saving money on the laundry is one easy and excellent way to do just that! Try it out for a few weeks. You may be surprised at what a big difference just a few easy changes can make.

How do you save on laundry?

create a budget

How to Create a Budget that Really Works

create a budget

According to an article on, the third most popular New Year’s Resolution people made last year was to spend less and save more. This comes as no surprise, considering that the average American household owes an average of $7,283 on their credit cards, not including their hefty mortgage and student loan debts. (Source)

Whether you owe a lot or a little, one thing’s for certain: If you want to get control of your finances and pay off your debt, you need a budget, and you need a budget that works.

If you’re one of the many Americans who has tried to budget before and failed, you aren’t alone. Many Americans have trouble making and sticking to a budget. The good news is, creating and keeping a budget that really actually works doesn’t have to be so difficult. Just follow these five steps!

1. Write Down the Numbers

Before you can figure out where you’re going, you have to figure out where you are now. Print out the last few months of bank and credit card statements. Get out a sheet of paper and write down how much you make every month (from work, child support, loans from your parents… everything that comes in). If it varies, write down the lowest amount you consistently make.

Then, write down ALL of your expenses and how much you spend on them. This includes bills like the mortgage, groceries, and cable as well as all the little things like gas station snacks, Starbucks trips and Target runs. If you use cash and you don’t know where your money is going, put that money in a “cash” category.

While you’re writing down numbers, go ahead and write down all of your debt on a separate piece of paper as well. It’s time to get honest.

2. Set Some Tangible Goals

For most people, budgets themselves aren’t intrinsically motivating. Therefore, if you want to succeed, you need to figure out your why. Do you want to get out of debt? Do you want to be a stay-at-home mom? Do you want to save up for a nice vacation? Figure out your motivation, and then put a tangible reminder where you can see it. For example, you might put a picture of a beach house on the fridge. This will help motivate you when times get tough.

Related: 7 Ways to Build an Emergency Fund

3. Adjust the Numbers Accordingly

Once you figure out what you’re making and spending, it’s time to adjust the numbers so everything fits. On a clean sheet of paper, list ALL of the things you spend money on each month, and divvy up your income into each category. Your grand total of expenses has to be equal to or less than your income (with wiggle room!) for your budget to work.

Do your best to make your numbers frugal, but realistic. After all, if your budget is unrealistic, you won’t be able to stick to it. Make sure you include a category for fun or anything else that you HAVE to have as well, even if the category is small.

Depending on how much you need to cut back, you may need to get rid of some things, sell some things, work longer hours or even get another part time job. But you CAN make it work. It might just take work and sacrifice.

4. Choose the Right Budgeting System for You

Figuring out how much you can afford to spend is the easy part. Sticking with the budget is much harder. While having a motivating goal can help tremendously, choosing the right money management system is crucial as well. I’m a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and follow most of his advice. You can find several great books that may help you create a budget and pay down your debts. Here are two books I recommend of many:

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

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University

5. Stick to the Budget!

Lastly, stick to the budget and wait! It won’t be long until your debt starts slowly melting away, your savings start piling up, and you experience financial freedom like you’ve never felt before! Just imagine how amazing that will feel!

Your debt isn’t going to get rid of itself, and the longer you wait, the worse it will get. The time to take action is now. Start today and bring yourself one step closer to financial freedom.

Do you need to take better care of your finances this year? What’s standing in your way?

decluttering saves money

Five Ways Decluttering Can Actually Save You Money

decluttering saves money
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.

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!

Related: 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.

Related: 10 Ways to Declutter Your Home

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.

Here are more Decluttering and Organization Resources if you’d like to keep reading!

Do you declutter on a regular basis?


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.

Related: Four Ways to Save on Gym Memberships

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.

Related: Skip the Gym Membership! 10 DVD Workouts to Do At Home

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