Red christmas sock hung on the old wooden wall

50+ Stocking Stuffers for Under $3 Each!

Red christmas sock hung on the old wooden wall

Are you looking to save money on stocking stuffers this year? Here’s a list of stocking stuffers under $3 each! Thanks Midget Momma for compiling this great list! Prices can change any time!

ways to celebrate the holidays

12 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays (Without Going into Debt!)

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

ways to celebrate the holidays

At the beginning of the year, I started a process of purging items from my home that served no purpose. These items were things that didn’t bring joy to my life and took up valuable space. I donated several loads of our “stuff” to the local thrift store. I didn’t even realize we had so much stuff, but I knew that I needed to control the in-flow if I didn’t want the clutter to build again. As I get older, I’m finally realizing what’s important in life. It’s not the stuff that fills up my home. It’s not my possessions. It’s my family, my relationships with others, and it’s my time. What I do with my time now matters to me. I spent so much time collecting “stuff” that did not fill my life with joy or contentment. It was the process of letting go of these things that taught me what truly matters in life.

With the holiday season approaching, it’s important to remember the true meaning of the holiday season. The holidays aren’t meant for spending too much money on gifts and going into debt during the process. While giving is important, we don’t always have to give “stuff.” We can give our time. We can get creative and spend time with the ones we love instead of trading gifts that could potentially fill empty space in our homes and become clutter. This holiday season, I’ll be focusing on the things that matter. My children love spending time with my husband and I. I want to give my children the gift of time this holiday season — time spent with them creating, making, doing, experiencing this thing we call life. I want to show them the importance of giving to those less fortunate. Here are a few of our favorite things to do during the holiday season that we will be focusing on!

12 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays Without Going Into Debt

1. Decorate the Christmas tree
2. Bake and decorate cookies
3. Build a gingerbread house
4. Make an ornament for the tree
5. Watch holiday movies
6. Listen to Christmas music
7. Drink hot chocolate
8. Make Christmas crafts
9. Read holiday books
10. Look at Christmas lights
11. Participate in Elf on the Shelf
12. Give to the needy

The items listed above are not expensive and are great for creating memories together as a family. Instead of giving stuff this year, plan and create fun experiences to make memories that last a lifetime!

The holidays are for focusing on moments that matter. But for many Americans, financial stress can get in the way. This year, you can make small changes that make a big difference for your financial well-being.

In this holiday planning guide, you’ll find tips for getting organized and making a plan for holiday spending so you can feel confident in your ability to stay on track with your budget. You’ll see how other Americans are shopping, traveling, celebrating and giving in ways that make the holidays cost less, but mean more.

Download Guide

For more holiday planning advice visit  holiday resources

Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending.  Download here.

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

ways to shop smart the holiday season

3 Ways to Shop Smart this Holiday Season

ways to shop smart the holiday season

According to an article on, the average American family spends just over $877 on basic holiday purchases such as gifts, decorations, trees and cards a year. While some families may be able to spend that much or more without batting an eye, for families who are pinching pennies, finding an extra nearly $900 in the budget can be next to impossible.

The good news is, $877 is simply an average. There’s no need to spend that much if you don’t want to, and half of American families don’t.

Instead of running out to the stores this year to grab all of the season’s latest and greatest toys and electronics in order to keep up with the Jones’s, shop smart this holiday season and save big. Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Choose Toys Carefully

Have you ever purchased tons of great toys for your children, only to have them play with one or two and ignore the rest? This used to happen in our family year after year. Why not save money by buying fewer toys, but toys that your children will actually play with?

This year, take some time to think about the sorts of toys your children truly love and play with all of the time. Do they love dress up clothes, puzzles or books? Toys that allow them to use their imagination or toys with buttons? Find a few toys you know they will love, and skip all of the season’s hot items or clearance items that are just going to sit on the shelf. Even if you find a killer low price on a hot toy, it’s not a good deal if your children aren’t going to play with it.

2. Give Things Kids Need

Do your children already have a room full of toys? If so, they don’t really need several more. Instead of buying things because you’re “supposed to,” why not buy things your kids actually need or take the things you were going to buy anyways and call them Christmas presents?

For example, is your toddler ready to move from the crib to a big girl bed? Instead of buying the bedding just because, buy it as a Christmas present. Do your kids need new shirts and pajamas? Find some they will love and give them for Christmas. Sports equipment, fees for extracurricular activities, musical instruments and new shoes all make great gifts. Toothbrushes, hair brushes, hair bows, chapstick and fun socks all make great stocking stuffers.

Related: 50 Stocking Stuffers for Under $3

3. Spend Wisely

There are SO many ways to save money this holiday season, you’d be foolish not to try some of them, even if you can’t do them all.

  • Keep an eye out for great deals (We’ll have tons of them right here on The Frugal Free Gal!)
  • Use coupons
  • Shop sales
  • Hit the clearance racks first
  • Price match
  • Shop on Black Friday – Check out the current Black Friday Deals
  • Comparison shop online
  • Use Ebates
  • Look for free shipping
  • Make a list and stick to it
  • Make a budget
  • Pay with cash instead of credit

The truth is, you only have to spend as much on Christmas as you want to. It’s your money and you control how you spend it. There’s no reason to overspend to keep up with the Jones’s or because you feel you have to. Shop smart this holiday season and make this year your best one yet!

How do you keep your holiday spending under control? Share your best tips below!

Related: 3 Ways to Get Your Christmas Shopping Done Early

save money on groceries

4 Ways to Save Big on Groceries (Without Coupons!)

save money on groceries

With the holiday season fast approaching, if there was ever a time to cut back on your budget and create a little extra breathing room, it’s now. Unfortunately, however, many of the most popular strategies–such as cutting coupons and shopping around, for example–can be too time consuming to be practical when your schedule is jam-packed with holiday events.

While I still definitely recommend checking for coupons quickly before you head to the store, clipping coupons doesn’t have to be your primary strategy–especially during this busy time of year. In fact, here are four great ways to reduce your food budget without clipping coupons at all.

1. Shop Your Pantry First

Instead of constantly running to the store to get the things you need for dinner, take a minute to shop your pantry first. What can you throw together from ingredients you already have on hand?

  • Pasta Roni, chicken and peas
  • Salsa Chicken (chicken, salsa and cheddar cheese)
  • Meatloaf (hamburger, whatever else you have on hand–this one is very versatile)
  • Macaroni and cheese with deli ham and broccoli
  • Breakfast for dinner (eggs, french toast, etc)
  • Leftovers from the night before

The possibilities are endless! Even if you truly don’t have all of the ingredients for a meal, by checking your pantry to see what you do have first, you can often come up with a dinner idea that only requires one new ingredients from the store–not five.

2. Substitute Ingredients

Alternately, if you’re only missing one ingredient from a recipe you want to make, you may be able to substitute it or leave it out altogether. For example, you could…

  • Use Ritz crackers instead of bread crumbs
  • Use plain yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Use a different meat, vegetable, type of noodle, etc.

You can also make many of your own ingredients with things you already have on hand. For example, you could make your own:

3. Reduce Food Waste

How often do you throw leftover meals or ingredients away simply because you don’t get around to eating them? Instead of tossing them, use them up!

  • Eat leftovers for lunch the next day (oldest first)
  • Hold a weekly leftover night
  • Meal plan so leftover ingredients will be used in another recipe later the same week
  • Save extra vegetables in a bowl in the freezer to be made into vegetable soup
  • Save chicken bones and turn them into homemade chicken stock (it’s easy–and yummy!)

4. Cook Once, Eat Twice

Are you guilty of going through the drive thru or buying frozen foods more often than you should because they are fast and easy? Save time and eat healthier with the “cook once, eat twice” technique.

The next time you cook your favorite meal, instead of cooking one batch, cook twice as much. Freeze the second half for later, and the next time you don’t have the time or energy to cook, all you’ll have to do is heat it up!

Not a fan of leftovers? Why not trade with a neighbor? You can cook for both families on one night; she can cook for both on another. You don’t even have to have dinner together. Simply walk the dish over by dinner time. This way, you don’t have to cook nearly as often and you get to try tons of new and exciting meals.

Saving on groceries doesn’t have to require hours browsing through deals sites, clipping coupons and writing out match-ups. If you’re running short on time but need to see some big savings on your groceries, these four grocery savings techniques will help!

cancel cable and save money

How I Cut the Cable and Saved Almost $1,000 a Year

cancel cable and save money

How I Cut the Cable, added Hours to My Day, and Saved Almost $1,000/year

A guest post from Andrea at Single Working Mama

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was a self-proclaimed Discovery Health addict. Despite my doctor’s recommendation to avoid the “baby shows”, I watched them religiously  — especially at the end of my pregnancy when I was placed on modified bed rest.

One of my greatest discoveries during that time was Netflix. At the time they had only recently introduced instant streaming, and the first movie I watched was The Business of Being Born. I was instantly hooked on watching movies right there on my computer. It made the time I spent staying off my feet go by much faster.

After Angelica’s birth, I became a newsaholic. I got hooked on MSNBC, and being a liberal during election season, I was able to stay on top of what was going on during the presidential primaries and election.  I also continued to channel-hop, watching Style network and all of my favorite baby shows (hello, Baby Week on Discovery Health)!

Fast forward to July of 2010. As part of our budget renovation, we decided to cut cable.  We started off with a trial run. We unhooked our cable boxes and configured our Playstation 3 so that it would run Hulu and Netflix. I also found a way to stream my beloved MSNBC on After a month of having the cable boxes unhooked, we found that we didn’t really miss much.

Sure, I no longer had Discovery Health or Style, since they don’t put their shows online. But, I gained hours of my life back. My evenings were no longer spent channel hopping. We were limited to the shows that were available on Hulu the day after they aired on cable, and of course, our beloved movies on Netflix (which, by the way, is only about $10/month). Regular old Hulu is free and you can get almost any of the major network shows if you don’t mind waiting an extra day.

Looking for other ways to save on cable? Check out the Amazon Fire TV Stick or the Roku 4 Streaming Media Player!

The day we called to cancel cable was liberating. Our bill dropped about $85/month (since we kept our cable modem for internet access).  That equals about $1,020/year in savings.  Imagine what you can do with an extra grand each year!

Sure, sometimes I miss being able to just mindlessly channel surf. But on those days, I tell myself, “It’s JUST TV!” There really are much more important things in life. TV is just a luxury.

If your budget is tight, and you’re looking for ways to save money, just give it a try for a month – turn off your cable boxes and turn to other alternatives. Or don’t watch TV at all. You’ll be surprised at the time you get back and how little you actually feel that you’re missing.

Read more great posts at Single Working Mama!

ways to save on cat expenses

6 Ways to Save on Cat Expenses

ways to save on cat expensesAre you looking for ways to save on cat expenses? While cats may not seem like terribly expensive pets to have, the costs can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. In addition to following the typical money-saving advice such as shopping around and using coupons, here are six more ways to save on cats that you may not have fully considered yet. Try them today–who knows who much you could save!

1. Groom at Home

Keeping your cat clean and beautiful doesn’t have to require expensive trips to the groomers. Many basic cat grooming tasks can be done at home to save you money. These routine grooming tasks include brushing your cat’s teeth, cleaning her ears, bathing her, brushing her and trimming her nails.

If you are uncertain about how to do these things at home, ask your vet or watch carefully the next time you take your cat in to the groomer. You may pick up some valuable tips or methods.

2. Purchase Fewer Toys

While you will undoubtedly want to buy your cat a few toys, that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard. Instead of picking up a new toy every time you are out or for every special occasion, stick to a few classic toys your pet is sure to love and use time and time again. Make sure you purchase quality toys as well, so they will last a while.

3. Subscribe to Newsletters

Have you signed up for your local pet store’s newsletter or the newsletter of your favorite cat products companies? Some companies routinely mail or email coupons, special offers and information about upcoming promotions. Not only is signing up for these newsletters a good way to keep up-to-date on the latest products you likely want to know about as a cat owner, but it can be a great way to save big as well.

Related: 7 Ways to Save on Dog Related Expenses

4. Watch Portion Sizes

When you feed your cat, do you pay attention to how much you are serving or do you just quickly toss some food in his bowl? If you routinely offer your cat more food than he really needs, you are wasting money in two ways. First, you are spending more money on cat food than you need to, and secondly, you may be setting yourself up for big medical bills down the road if your cat becomes too overweight.

Just because your cat food comes in handy serving sized tins does not mean that that’s the amount your cat needs. Figure out what your particular cat needs in order to be healthy and feed him that amount instead.

Related: 6 Tips for Saving Big on Pet Expenses

5. Keep Your Cat Indoors

While some cats love to be outdoors, the truth is that letting your cat wander around as she pleases exposes her to several new dangers–and expenses. For example, your cat could get lost, which means you would have to spend time and money to find her. She may get a parasite or infection or eat something that makes her ill, which means that you would need to spend time and money at the vet. The safest and most frugal place for a cat is indoors.

6. Work at a Pet Store

Lastly, if you have some spare time on your hands, you may consider getting a part-time job at a pet store. Pet store employees often get great discounts, which can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on your pet. Plus, you may be able to get certain deals, freebies or other perks just for being an employee. Even if you only have a few spare hours a week, it may be worth your time to inquire if your local pet store is hiring.

Related: 6 Ways to Save Big When it Comes to Vet Bills

Are you a cat owner? How do you keep your cat expenses affordable?

earn extra cash and rewards

Ways to Earn Extra Cash and Rewards for the Holidays

earn extra cash and rewards

Christmas is around the corner! Have you started your holiday shopping yet? There’s still plenty of time! This year, if you are in need of extra cash and rewards to put towards Christmas presents, 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!

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. My lifetime Swagbucks: 68,488 = lots of Amazon gift cards!

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

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

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

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.

ShopAtHome – Get cash back for shopping. Find over 100,000 grocery and restaurant coupons, printable coupons, coupon codes, cash back and hot deals. Click through your favorite merchants to find great deals!

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!

Panda Research – Participate in offers and surveys and get paid up to $50 per offer completed.

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

Ebates – Get cash back for shopping.

SendEarnings – Earn CASH when you need emails, take surveys, shop online, redeem coupons & more!

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

Points2Shop – Earn free rewards and points from shopping!

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.

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

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.

Halloween Costumes

How to Save Big on Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes

Between the haunted houses, the creepy decorations and the spooky costumes, Halloween is one time of year that we all love to be a little frightened. Unfortunately, however, the scare doesn’t always stop there. If you go all out on all of your Halloween gear, the fright might extend to your bank account as well. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to. Here are seven ways to save big on your kids’ Halloween costumes this year.

1. Use Items that You Already Own

You might be surprised at the number of costumes you can make using items you already own. For example, if your child already has a toy tool belt and tools, he could go as a construction worker. If your daughter already owns a beautiful white flower girl or christening dress, she could go as a bride.

2. Choose Quality Costumes You Can Hand Down

When it comes to Halloween costumes, you often get what you pay for. If your child will only wear the costume once, going cheap is fine. If you have multiple children and you intend to hand the costume down, however, choose a timeless and quality costume that will last for years.

3. Make Your Own Costumes

If you are crafty, why not make your own costumes? You can make a poodle skirt by cutting a very large circle out of a piece of fabric, cutting a circle out for the waste, and sewing in some elastic. Pirate eye patches, ghost costumes and spider costumes are all super easy to make as well.

Related: 10 Fun and Frugal Halloween Costume Ideas You Can Make Yourself

4. Buy Pieces Instead of Entire Costumes

Instead of purchasing an entire costume, why not choose costumes that only require accessories? For example: Cat costumes only need black clothes, ears and a tail. Chef costumes only require a whisk and a chef’s hat. Artist costumes only require a set of paints and a beret. Ninja turtle costumes only need a shell, a weapon and a piece of fabric for a mask.


5. Watch for Great Deals

Whether you choose to purchase an entire costume or just pieces, be on the look-out for great deals. Many Halloween stores have coupons and promotions that allow you to get a great costume for cheap. You can often save big just by checking out the deals.

6. Buy Secondhand

Since most children only wear their costumes for one night before they are done with them, it is very easy to find like-new Halloween costumes for cheap. Check Ebay, Craigslist, garage sales and your local thrift stores or consignment shops. You never know what you might find! Your options will be a little more limited this way, but you are sure to get a great deal, so it is definitely worth a look.

Related: 8 Cheap Homemade Halloween Decorations

7. Hit End of the Season Clearance Racks

If you can remember and afford to plan ahead, November is the perfect time to purchase Halloween costumes for the next year at great prices. Pick up a costume or two when they are severely marked down on clearance, and you’ll be all set well before the next Halloween rolls around.

Halloween is a ton of fun, but that doesn’t mean that it should cost you a ton of money. Use these seven ways to save big on your kids’ Halloween costumes this year, and save the frights for the haunted house. Your kids will have amazing and unique costumes that they will be proud to show off at a price that you can afford.

How much do you usually spend on Halloween costumes for your kids? What tips do you have for getting a great Halloween costume for less?

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.

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?

save when dining out

Five Ways to Save Big When Dining Out

save when dining out

How much does the average restaurant meal cost a family of four? Somewhere around 50 or 60 dollars? Maybe a little more if you get appetizers and a few margaritas for mom? Sure, a break from cooking and doing dishes is totally worth it, but if you dine out often (at least once a week), those breaks can add up.

The good news is, it’s pretty easy to save money while dining out. What’s that mean? It means you can dine out more often … or save that money to hire a maid to do your cooking and dishes for you!

  1. Don’t Forget the Coupon! – Oh sure, when you go grocery shopping, you’ve got binders full of coupons, but where are those money-saving scraps of paper when you’re dining out? Find them and use them to score free appetizers, half price desserts, and good deals on drinks.
  1. Just Say No to Drinks – This one takes a lot of willpower, but you can shave 10 to 20 percent off your dinner tab simply by order water (free!) instead of regular drinks. If you usually order alcoholic beverages, try cutting those first (they’re the costliest) and opt instead for soda or iced tea, which usually include free refills.
  1. Just Say No to Appetizers – While we’re in the habit of saying no to things, skip the appetizer, too. Yeah, you’re hungry and those jalapeño poppers look amazing, but they’re not $8 amazing and they’re not worth ruining your appetite over.
  1. Skip the Kids Meal – Yeah, kids meals usually only cost about $5, but that’s five bucks you don’t need to spend. Instead, give your tot a taste of what mom and dad is having by sharing a little bit of your entrees. Those meals are gigantic enough, so you won’t really miss a few bites, will you?
  1. Score a Free Kids Meal – Some restaurants offer “kids eat free” discounts, which means you can ignore tip #4 and have your dinner all to yourself. To find one of these deals near you, check out My Kids Eat Free – a website that lists more than 6,500 family-friendly restaurants nationwide.

Related: How to Cut Back on Eating Out (and Save Money, Too!)

cut back on eating out

How to Cut Back on Eating Out (and Save Money, Too!)

cut back on eating out

For the last few years, my husband and I developed a bad habit of eating out at restaurants often. We were being foolish with our money, and I was ready to change. The first step towards changing was admitting that we were wasting money on eating out instead of being wise with our money and investing towards our kid’s college or our own retirement. The second step was finding out exactly how much we were wasting on eating out at restaurants. This step was the eye opener. I went through our statements and wrote down every restaurant expense. It was a shocker. We were blowing so much money on restaurants without even realizing it. Then, we added up our grocery expenses and added that to our overall total and it was at that moment that we knew we needed to make changes.

The last few months, my husband and I have been following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps towards a healthier financial life. This book is the book that motivated us to start. We do not carry debt, but just because we had the money to spend, did not mean we could blow it on anything we wanted. We wanted to be good stewards of our money and make sure it was going to the right things — our emergency fund, college, retirement, and giving.

On September 1, we made the commitment to stop eating out and to cut back on it. We didn’t give it up entirely, but we do limit it to only a few times a month. If and when we do eat out at restaurants now, it’s a treat for us because we don’t do it often.

How to Cut Back on Eating Out (and Save Money, too!) 

1. Add it up.

Go through your (and your husband’s) previous month’s statements and write down every restaurant expense on a piece of paper. Add the amounts up to come up with your total. This will give you an idea on how much you are spending monthly on restaurants. Do the same for groceries and then add the two together to get your total food expenses. Take some time with your significant other to discuss the total. Too high? It’s time to make some changes! This is time to get creative and come up with a plan to cut back on eating out.

2. Shop from your kitchen.

If you were to place all of the food items from your pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards onto a conveyor belt at the store and let the cashier ring it up, what do you think the total would be? You’ve already purchased the items in your kitchen, now it’s time to eat them up! Each week, I take a piece of paper and divide it into five categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Drinks. Then, I look through my kitchen to see how many items I have that I can place in each category. I try to come up with different meals to make with what we have and write those down in each category. When I see that our items are running low in each category, that means it’s time to shop for groceries.

3. Meal plan.

When there’s no plan for meals, it can be easy to opt for eating out at a restaurant instead. When we weren’t meal planning, we were buying a lot of random items at the grocery store. Many times, we couldn’t even come up with full meals from those items, so we either found ourselves eating out more, or making several trips to the grocery store for food. Now that we meal plan, we only get the items we need from the store to make simple meals for a week or two. Meal planning has been a huge factor in cutting back on eating at restaurants.

Related: 5 Reasons You Need to Start Meal Planning Today

4. Shop for groceries. 

Once you have a meal plan in place, then it’s time to shop for 1-2 weeks worth of meals. Shop from your list only. It may be tempting to pick up a few items here and there while shopping, but you’ll save money if you stick to the list. It’s a good idea to set a food budget every time you shop.  Use coupons to help you save more at the grocery store.

Related: The Best Places to Find Online Printable Coupons

5. Limit eating out at restaurants.

If you’ve been used to eating out at restaurants, it can be hard to cut back entirely. You don’t have to give up eating out altogether, but limit it to special occasions or even just once a week. We try to limit it to once per week, if that. When we do eat at a restaurant, we try to go the cheapest route possible to save more money.

6. Get creative if you do eat out at a restaurant.

If and when you do eat out at a restaurant, get creative to find how you can cut your bill down even more. Do you have kids that don’t eat everything on their plate? Order one meal and split it up so they can share it. Order water instead. Skip the value meal and order from the $1 menu. It has become a game that whenever we do eat out at a restaurant now, we try to find ways to shave the cost down.

Related: 5 Ways to Save Big When Dining Out

7. Have date nights at home.

The night my husband and I discussed cutting back on eating at restaurants was the same night we dropped $75 on our meal during date night. It was our anniversary dinner and we hadn’t discussed saving before then, but I’m glad we don’t spend foolishly like that anymore. For date nights, we decided to skip eating out and spend time at home cooking in our kitchen and on the grill for a delicious homemade dinner. My husband usually grills up a delicious steak and I cook the veggies inside. We love to cook, so for us, this is something we enjoy. You may not enjoy having to cook on a date night – totally understandable! But if you do, this is an option. We also watch a movie after dinner to avoid paying for a movie, drinks and popcorn at a theater.

8. Pack your lunch.

Prepare lunches at home and take them to work! When you have food available to eat, this helps you to avoid the temptation of wanting to go out to get something to eat from a restaurant.

9. Pack snacks and food for the kids. 

This has been a HUGE money saver for us. I keep a snack box filled up for the car with some juice boxes as well. When I pick my kids up from school, they choose a snack and drink from the box and that keeps them satisfied until I can get home to make dinner. If I know we are going to be out for a long period of time running errands, etc., then I’ll pack lunches for everyone and stop for a picnic or allow them to eat their food in the car.

10. Take advantage of free meals.

There will be times when you’ll find activities and things to do where food will be free. Take advantage of these free meal offers! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying free food if it’s being offered. Some restaurants offer free meals for kids. Plan ahead if you must eat at a restaurant and take advantage of the kids eat free feature.

11. Skip the coffee shops.

Coffee shop expenses can add up, too. Make your own coffee at home and you’ll save a lot! We used to go to the coffee shop to get doughnuts. Now, we purchase a big box of doughnuts at the store for under $5 and freeze them for those times my girls want to enjoy a doughnut! They haven’t asked to go back to the doughnut shop since switching to buying store-bought doughnuts.

12. Tell your family and friends about your plan.

If you are in the habit of going out to eat at restaurants with family or friends, they may not be as motivated as you to save on eating at restaurants. Kindly inform your family and friends of your plan and come up with ways to still enjoy each other’s company without having to spend a lot of money eating out. It may be a hard adjustment at first, but remember, this is YOUR money and you get to decide where your money goes.

You can do this!

At the end of each month, total up the amount spent on eating out at restaurants and the amount spent on groceries. Challenge yourself to keep these amounts as low as possible. Set time aside to talk to your significant other on your progress and come up with ways to improve, etc. Cutting out restaurant expenses can be difficult at first, but once you have a good plan in place and see how much money you are saving by not eating out motivates us to keep going! Try this for a month and see how you do! You may become hooked to this plan like we are. The money saved by not eating out will be added to college funds, retirement, and giving to others instead of wasted on restaurant expenses. That sounds like a winning plan to me!

Do you have any tips to help cut down on eating out at restaurants? 

ways to get christmas shopping done early

6 Ways to Get Your Christmas Shopping Done Early

ways to get christmas shopping done early

Christmas is only a few months away! The next few months are going to be busy for many families. The back-to-school season is approaching as well as football season. The holidays will be here before you know it. Christmas isn’t on the mind for many families until towards the end of November. Many families wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to complete their shopping. Some may complete it all at once and some may complete it throughout the end of November and during the month of December. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars all at once to complete your Christmas shopping, why not shop throughout the year?

First, you’ll want to make sure you have your list ready of people that you need to buy for throughout the year. Then, create a budget of how much you’ll be spending for each person, and what he/she may like or want.

How to Shop for Christmas Presents Throughout the Year (Instead of All At Once) AND Save Money, Too!

1. Shop for 1-2 People Each Month

If you set aside money each month for 1-2 people on your list, chances are, you won’t go into a huge amount of debt by getting all of your shopping completed month by month. Budget for about $50-$100 a month for 1-2 people and do this each month until you are finished shopping.

2. Shop the Clearance Aisles

Just about every store has a clearance aisle. You can score some pretty great items at a low price on the clearance racks. If you see items on the shelves that you think your recipient will like, purchase the items and put them in the gift closet and save them for Christmas.

3. Use Rewards Points

If you have any accounts earning rewards points, use your rewards points for Christmas presents! This includes any credit or debit card rewards, Pampers Rewards, Kellogg’s Family Rewards, or other rewards.

Related: Ways to Earn Extra Cash or Rewards This Summer

4. Re-Gift

If you have new items sitting around your home unopened, consider putting them away for someone that may need or want it. Just make sure you don’t give it back to the same person that gave it to you! Re-gifting is not a bad idea if you know you don’t love the item or if you know you’ll never use it.

5. Shop for Brand New Items at Thrift Stores

You can find brand new items at thrift stores at a low price. You’ll be able to tell since the items usually still have the tag hanging on them or the item is still in the box. You’ll pay way less for the item at a thrift store than you would at a retail store.

6. Shop the Lightning Deals at Amazon

I check Amazon just about every day. This doesn’t mean I buy something every day, but I do browse through the Lightning Deals at Amazon to see if there’s anything that would make a great Christmas gift. Many of the times you can get deeply discounted deals on items through the lightning deals if you catch it at the right time!

Remember, you don’t have to go into debt in December because of Christmas gifts. If you plan your shopping ahead of time and complete your shopping throughout the year, you’ll save money and have all of your shopping done early. Then, you can enjoy a less stressful holiday season!

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?

great ways

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.

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

ways to build an emergency fund

7 Ways to Build An Emergency Fund

ways to build an emergency fund

If you are trying to save money, then you’ll probably hear about the importance of having an emergency fund. An emergency fund is just that – a fund set aside for emergencies only. You never know when you’ll need to use the emergency fund (your car breaks down, your AC goes out, etc.) Whatever the reason, the money will be there if you set it aside for a rainy day. Many experts will say that it’s a good idea to save at least $1,000 in an emergency fund if you are starting out. Then, once that fund is set and you’ve paid off your debts, you can always add to it and create a solid emergency fund of up to 3-6 months expenses.

Funding your emergency fund doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are a few ways to build your emergency fund.

1. Earn extra income.

Find a second job or work a few side jobs. Work a few extra nights a week and add the extra money to your fund. You can even try babysitting, mowing lawns, washing cars, etc.

2. Sell your belongings.

Go around your home and start finding items that you and your family can live without. You’d be surprised with how much you can find. Then, either sell those items at a yard sale, online through Craigslist or eBay, or consign the items.

Related: 5 Easy Steps for Throwing the Perfect Yard Sale

3. Avoid Eating at Restaurants.

If you are in the habit of eating fast food on a regular basis, I challenge you to add up your restaurant expenses for one month. Then, try to cut that amount in half, or avoid eating at restaurants at all.

4. Set up automatic payments.

Treat funds going into an emergency fund “like a bill” and set up automatic payments from your checking account. You don’t have to add a lot, but start small, maybe $25 each month. Set the payments up automatically and have it go to your savings account each month. You can increase this amount if you’d like until your emergency fund is where you want it to be.

5. Cut your grocery bill significantly.

Food can be one of the highest expenses in your household. Create a budget for food and stick to it. Most food budgets I’ve seen run around $200-$400 per month for a family of 4. Use coupons to save even more at the grocery store.

Related: The Best Places to Find Online Printable Coupons

6. Shop at thrift stores instead of retail stores.

Thrift stores are a great place to find items you may need or want. Instead of paying full price for items at a retail store, shop at thrift stores. I actually buy the majority of my children’s clothes at thrifts stores, paying only $1.79 per item. This beats paying $10-$15 per item or more at the mall or other retail stores!

7. Earn extra income through online surveys in your spare time.

Look into online surveys that pay for your time. Here’s a list of survey companies that you could sign up for to earn money or rewards for completing surveys.

Having an emergency fund in place can certainly help on a “rainy day.” Start as soon as you can to get your emergency fund in place.

Do you have an emergency fund in place? What tips would you add to the list?

halloween costume ideas

Ten Halloween Costume Ideas You Can Make Yourself

halloween costume ideas

Think you have to spend a fortune to get great looking Halloween costumes for your children? If so, think again! Not only can you save big on Halloween costumes by finding them on sale, purchasing them secondhand and handing them down between siblings and cousins, but you can also save a bundle on your children’s Halloween costumes by making them yourself. Here are ten fun and frugal Halloween costume ideas that are cute, easy, and most importantly–cheap!

1. Black Cat

For an affordable Halloween costume purr-fect for girls of all ages, a black cat costume is the way to go. All you need are black leggings, a black long sleeve t-shirt, and black shoes. Accessorize with ears (felt triangles glued to a black headband), a tail (stuffed black pantyhose pinned to the pants), and black eyeliner whiskers. Easy, cute and cheap!

2. Ghost

There are few DIY Halloween costumes as popular or as well-known as the classic ghost costume. All you need is a sheet, a black marker, and a pair of scissors! Choose a white sheet for a classic ghost look or a colored sheet to create one of the Pacman ghosts!

3. Construction Worker

Does your son have a tool belt and a tool box in his toy chest? If so, pair them with a pair of jeans and a white shirt, and you’ve got an inexpensive and creative construction worker Halloween costume. The tool box can even double as his candy basket.

4. Princess

Your daughter loves playing princess on the other 364 days of the year, why make Halloween the exception? If she doesn’t have a pretty princess dress already, a flower girl, Easter or other church dress can work just as nicely. Then, all you need is a tiara and a wand, which you can always find cheaply at Halloween costume stores, toy stores or the dollar store.

5. Hockey Player

Do your children play any sports, such as hockey, basketball, or football? If so, dress them in their uniforms for Halloween! You already have everything that you need, and they are sure to look great.

Related: 7 Ways to Save Big on Your Kids Halloween Costumes This Year

6. Dancer

Is your daughter taking dance? If so, have her be a dancer for Halloween. You know the costume will be comfortable, look adorable and fit well, and you won’t have to spend any extra on it either. Be sure to do her nails and hair so she’s all glammed up for the big night.

7. Waitress

Do you have any old waitressing uniforms lying around from your days of working in a restaurant? If so, maybe your children would love to be a waitress for Halloween. All they need are jeans, a plain t-shirt (the messier, the better!), your apron, and a notepad and pencil. One order of Halloween candy coming right up!

8. Ninja

For your overly energetic young boys, how about a ninja costume? Dress them in black, tie a belt around their waists, and send them running down the streets with their fake plastic swords. They are sure to have a ball, and better to have them running down the sidewalk than crashing through your house!

9. Pumpkin
The pumpkin costume is another fall staple, and it’s incredibly easy to make. If you are dressing a baby, simply take a men’s large tshirt, place it on the baby, and stuff it with newspapers or rags. Secure the bottom by tying it and draw, glue or attach a felt face to the front. Adorable!

Related: 8 Frighteningly Cheap Homemade Halloween Decorations

10. Spider
Lastly, why not try an eight-legged spider costume on for size? Dress your children in black, and then use old black panty hose or leggings stuffed with newspaper or plastic bags to create additional legs, which you’ll pin to your child’s sides. You can even use fishing wire or string to connect the extra arms to your child’s sleeves, so all of the arms move when your child’s do. This costume can be as silly or as scary as you and your kids prefer.

Are you making your children’s Halloween costumes this year? What are they going to be?

DIY Halloween Decorations

8 Cheap Homemade Halloween Decorations

DIY Halloween Decorations

One of my fondest childhood memories involves my mother digging the Halloween stuff out of the attic and decorating the house with all sorts of spooky (and goofy) decorations. Most of them were things we’d bought from the store, but there were a few that we took some time to make. For me, those homemade decorations were the best, and the DIY décor tradition is one that I’m looking forward to continuing now that I have a little one of my own.

But figuring out which decorations to make can be tricky (and not in a “trick or treat” kind of way). If you’re working with kids and your craftiness skills are like mine – about a four on a scale of one to 10 – you’ll want to choose homemade decorations that are simple. You’ll also want to make things that are relatively inexpensive … so you can spend more money on candy!

Here are eight super easy, super affordable, super spooktacular Halloween decorations you can make at home:

1. Spider Webs – They don’t get much easier and more kid-friendly than this. To make spider webs, take cotton balls and stretch them apart. Then tape them to windows, walls or wherever you need a little extra spookiness.

2. Halloween Tissue Ghosts – kids have a ton of fun making these! Display them with a pumpkin or stick them in styrofoam and set around your house for frugal decor.

3. Scarecrow – The scarecrow is fun because he (or she?) is a fun way to recycle old clothes and you can keep him in the front yard long after Halloween ends. Also nice: you can stuff him with leaves. Leaves your kids will gladly rake up in the front yard!

4. Scary Ghost Craft – fun and frugal for the kids to make. Perfect for setting on a bookshelf or stairway as decorations.

5. Giant Pumpkins – To make these oversized yard ornaments, simply take orange trash bags and stuff them with leaves (again, your kids will never be so eager to do yard work). Then use a black marker to draw a fun jack-o-lantern face.

6. Ghost – There are many ways to make a ghost, but this is among the easiest. To make this ghoul, turn a punch bowl upside down on a broomstick (you can also try a 2-liter bottle or milk jug) and drape it with a white sheet. Then draw a ghost face on with a marker, stick the broomstick in the yard, and watch the neighborhood kids run away in mock fear.

7. Mason Jar Jack-O-Lantern Use a glass mason jar to create a cute jack-o-lantern display.

8. 3D Halloween Ghosts – these scary ghosts are super simple to make using cupcake liners to create a 3D effect!

Related: 10 Fun and Frugal Halloween Costume Ideas You Can Make Yourself

Do you make your own Halloween decor? What do you like to make? 

Inside home temperature thermostat set  to seventy one degrees fahrenheit

7 Ways to Save on Home Heating This Winter

Inside home temperature thermostat set  to seventy one degrees fahrenheit

With October nearly over and November right on its heels, chances are high that your family will be turning on your heat soon if you haven’t already. While there’s nothing better than snuggling up in a warm house as the snow falls outside, keeping your home a warm and cozy temperature can become costly quickly. Don’t spend a fortune heating your home. Here are seven ways to save on your home heating this winter.

1. Open the Blinds

If you’ve ever opened your blinds wide to enjoy the sunshine, you know that letting the light in can really heat up your home. Wintertime is the perfect time to use this to your advantage. Open the windows during the day, especially on the side of your house that faces the sun. You’ll feel warmer in no time, and it doesn’t cost a thing!

2. Dress Warmly

Just because you can crank your heat and wear shorts all day doesn’t mean that you should. Dress warmly, including socks and warm sweaters. Leave cozy throw blankets out where they’ll invite you to snuggle up. Put an extra blanket on your bed. You’ll be able to turn down the heat and still be comfortable.

3. Adjust Your Ceiling Fans

Did you know that you are supposed to switch the direction your ceiling fans turn seasonally? It’s true. In the winter, your ceiling fans should run clockwise in order to gently push the warm air that floats to the ceiling back down again.

4. Check for Leaks

According to, the average family wastes $350 every year due to air leaks alone. Common places for air leaks include around doors, windows, fireplaces and sockets. Go through your home looking for leaks, and fill them with insulation, spray foam or weather stripping. The process is pretty simple, and you can find everything you need at your local home improvement store.

5. Invest in More Insulation

In addition to small leaks, your home may have large areas that are not well-insulated as well. While the heat may not seep out as fast in these areas, if the areas are large, you could still be out a substantial amount of money. Insulation is relatively cheap, and putting it up isn’t too difficult. Even a roll or two added to the attic can help.

6. Use a Space Heater

If your family spends the vast majority of your time in one or two rooms, it doesn’t make much sense to heat the entire house. Instead, turn the heat on as low as you can and then use a space heater in the rooms you frequent. You’ll stay nice and warm at a fraction of the cost.

7. Get Regular HVAC Maintenance as Needed
For those of us trying to live frugally, putting off home maintenance and repairs can be very tempting. Yet, some amount of regular HVAC maintenance is necessary to keep your system clean and running well. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting a ton of energy because the system is too dirty and inefficient to heat your home properly.

At the very least, you should change your furnace air filter every couple of months, or as often as every month if you have pets or allergies in your family. If your heat doesn’t seem to be keeping up, however, or if you are spending way more than you should, larger maintenance and repairs may be in order.

How painful are your home heating bills? Do you follow any of these steps to reduce your bills, or do you just crank the heat and not worry about it? What other tips work well for you?

Frugal Tips for Halloween Fun

Frugal Tips for Halloween Fun

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post brought to you by Nikki at Dollar Tree Deals.

Frugal Tips for Halloween Fun

Frugal Tips for Halloween Fun

Halloween is a great way to welcome in the cooler weather. It’s a good break from the routine for the kids, and it also helps children to use their imagination and creativity in coming up with costumes. There’s still time to plan out your afternoon and evening for the main event with these frugal tips for Halloween fun.

Being the Cool House
There’s always at least one house on the block that’s “the cool house.” It’s decorated for Halloween, and there’s someone dressed up at the door giving out treats. Whether your kids are into trick-or-treating for Halloween, or they’re at the age where they’re staying home and passing out the candy, you can put up some decorations to make it more fun and maybe even be the cool house. The trick is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. Throw a sheet over your lamp post to make a ghost, and put on some spooky music.

Related: 8 Cheap Homemade Halloween Decorations

Pets Are People Too
Something to remember about Halloween candy is that chocolate is bad for dogs. They can become quite ill. Be sure to tell your children. Keep the baskets and bags of candy away from Fido. Encourage your children to let your dog have treats that are healthy for pets, not people. If you don’t want your favorite canine to feel left out on Halloween, you can pick up some cheap dog toys and treats so that your furry family friend can join in on the festivities. You might also take your dog along trick-or-treating if you feel like it can behave without intimidating others. Your kids can have some fun coming up with creative Halloween costume ideas for your pet, whether it stays in or goes out on the town.

What’s Next?
When your Halloween crew gets back from trick-or-treating and parties, they could be cold and tired. Help them thaw out and enjoy something besides candy with warm drinks and snacks when they get home. Use a slow cooker to create up some hot drinks. If you haven’t used a crockpot before, you’ll find that you can make what you need ahead of time in one of the these small kitchen appliances. Let it cook or heat for several hours, using a recipe that fits in with your schedule. For example, you can set it up for a hot drink in the afternoon and turn it on low. You’ll have a tasty treat to come back to after the outing. Mulled cider is a non-caffeinated option that isn’t loaded with sugar. Pick up a jug of apple cider at the store or local farm stand. Spice it with some cinnamon sticks and cloves. Another option is to make some herbal tea, then add some sliced citrus fruit. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can pick one up inexpensively at the discount store.

Related: Ten Halloween Costume Ideas You Can Make Yourself

Nikki is an independent writer for Deals offers low prices on everyday essentials, party supplies, pet products and more.