Monthly Archives: April 2015

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts

These are some great unique mother's day gift ideas that will also get used! I'd love every one of these. Great ideas to save for Christmas and birthdays too.

Mother’s Day. What if you don’t want to do the flowers or box of chocolate business? You want something a little more fun and thoughtful. Even if you know your mom well, it’s sometimes nice to have a little extra help brainstorming ideas.

Here’s a list of 10 unique Mother’s Day gifts to help you in your shopping. Hey, they’d be great options for Christmas or birthday too (maybe you’ll even want to add them to your own list).

Fair Trade Earrings

I’m loving these funky paper bead earrings from Mercy House. Not only can you get your mom a fun pair of earrings you are also supporting moms in Kenya.

Essential Oil Diffuser and Essential Oils

There are countless diffusers out there. Check out this post for some reviews.

I love Plant Therapy oils. They have become my go to. Great quality, great customer service, and great prices. You can order from their site or Amazon.

Himalayan Salt Lamp

This has been on my wish list for a while and we were just given one last week. We have it set up in the bedroom. The light is fairly bright, so it might be something you only want to use during the day. It releases negative ions and is supposed to purify the air. Not only that, it looks cool.

Tea

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a good mug of tea. Branch out and try a few new kinds. Some of the brands I always browse through are: Yogi (has my current favorite Egyptian Licorice Tea), Traditional Medicinals, Tazo, Stash, Twinings. One of them will have something that would be perfect for you mom.

Books

Splurge for a hard cover edition of the mom in your life’s favorite book. If classics are her thing, maybe Pride and Prejudice. Check out the other classics in this Clothbound Classics set. These Puffin in Bloom books of some of the childhood classics are adorable too!

Lip Balms

Lip balms are one of those things that everyone uses. Lips get dry, kids dig in purses and slobber all over your tube, and they get lost. Of course I’m partial to mine and you can even get a set of 3 for a great price. (Check out the rest of the store for more ideas.)

Herb Garden

Assuming the mom you are shopping for enjoys cooking, go to your local home and garden store and pick out some pots and plant an assortment of herbs. It would be a fun gift that keeps on giving. You can’t beat fresh herbs.

Something Fun for the Kitchen

I’m loving some of these dip bowls from Target. Aren’t the bicycle ones too cute?

Cotton towels also seem to dry dishes the best and these ones from MightyNest are adorable. Might as well make dishes a little more fun.

 Specialty Foods

Buy an assortment of those foods you know she loves but seldom splurges on. It might be something like fabulous bread and cheese, gourmet chocolate bars, an assortments of nuts or her favorite cheesecake. I think we all have these things that we feel guilty spending on.

Wall Art

Obviously you have to know the mom and their taste but there are so many creative people out there. I’m always finding things I love or know the perfect person for.

Hey Emily Thomas has some awesome prints that are affordable or you can splurge on a mixed media canvas. She does great work and I get excited when I see her share one of her new pieces.

Sariko Designs has cute signs on reclaimed wood that I love. We have one of her name signs hanging up in our living room.

One last place I always check for wall art is Dayspring. They have some neat wall art and canvases. Don’t forget to look at the clearance section – I’ve found some good stuff there before.

I love these ideas. They are fun, kind-of practical, and different than the standard flowers. Write a heartfelt card to go with your gift and you are all set.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Earn Swagbucks on Your Phone

Super easy way to earn gift cards on your phone using Swagbucks' mobile apps. We love it and it covers our gift budget!

Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t have a smart phone. Sometimes I think about getting one, but have yet to commit to increasing our phone bill. Maybe after we hit our big financial of paying of our house I’ll reconsider.

For those of you that are higher tech than I am, I have a super easy way for you to earn gift cards on your smart phone! You might already know how much I love Swagbucks. In fact, I have a post of my favorite ways to earn Swagbucks on your computer (which earns me at least $160 a year in gift cards).

Since my husband has the smart phone, we set him up with an account and downloaded the apps. It’s SO easy to earn on the phone – in fact, I think I could pay for a smart phone using Swagbucks. It’s even easier (and less time consuming) than the computer.

There are several video apps you can download, but I recommend starting with just two. If and when you find yourself maxing out those two, then add another to your daily to-do list. If you aren’t going to earn all the points off of 5 apps, why have them downloaded?

Reminder, be sure you are streaming the videos on the apps when you can use wi-fi to ensure you don’t have data overage fees. It’s no fun to get those notifications.

(Side note, If you are a smart phone user, you’ll want to be sure to download the official Swagbucks app and search app – you’ll be able to do things like search, enter Swag Codes, and answer the daily poll directly on them. These are all ways I talk about in my post on how to earn Swagbucks on your computer for us phone-less folks as well.)

For those extra Swagbucks though, you’ll want to download a few other (free) apps!

Number 1 App to Download

This is my number 1 pick and the first video app you’ll want to get on your phone – SwagBucks TV Mobile. You can earn 36 Swagbucks EACH day on this. One of the best things about it, it will keep on going from one video to the next without you having to do anything! On occasion it might freeze up or have an ad for you to get out of, but over all it’s super easy.

Set it up to run and put your phone on your desk when you are working or on the couch while you are watching a movie. (Extra tip, you can click to the next video approximately 3-5 seconds into each video.)

This is the first app you should max out on your phone each day!

Other Apps to Download

Word of Caution: On the app above you can select categories and I feel confident I can find a family friendly channel and my daughter finds it fun to go through the videos. With the apps below, I don’t like my daughter using my husband’s phone just in case.

After you’ve gotten to the point you are maxing out SwagBucks TV each day there are a few other apps. These apps are put out by Yowgo LLC. They tend to have more glitches than the official one above. The first few days my husband used these apps they definitely glitched a lot. They’ve since gotten better. These apps allow you to earn 18 Swagbucks a day each.

Right now, we are only using the Mobile TV app and the first one below, because you do have to actually remember and take the time to stream these videos and my husband doesn’t always.

EntertaiNOW TV Mobile – this is the app we are using along with SwagBucks TV Mobile..

If you max out both of those, check out the other apps by Yowgo LLC:

  • Lifestylz.tv
  • Sportly.tv
  • MovieCli.ps
  • Indymusic.tv

Let’s just say, you max out all 6 of these apps every day for a year – you could get over $450 in gift cards. If you are anything like us, that won’t even close to happening. Maybe you just do two of them and you’d get almost $200.

Think about the difference that money could make for to your grocery budget. You might even be able to cover Christmas with that money. If you are working hard to make ends meet, these little things really can make a difference.

It’s completely free to sign up, so give Swagbucks a try and see what happens!

If you enjoyed this post, we’d love for you to join our community on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest!

You might also be interested in these posts:

Linking up to these fun parties!

Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget - You can do it!!! These tips will allow you to buy real, whole foods without clipping coupons. My grocery budget is $150 a month!

“I wish I could buy more fruits and vegetables, but I just can’t afford it.”

“I want to eat healthier, but it costs too much.”

If you haven’t said either of of those things, I’m sure you’ve heard them! They can do it and you can as well. In fact, I think in most cases, families can spend less money and eat healthier at the same time! The majority of people I know, spend more than we do on groceries and buy less healthy foods!

So many people want to change their eating habits and start buying more nutrient dense and less processed food, maybe you do as well, but it can seem overwhelming. You might feel there are so many changes to make and wonder that since you can buy generic brand processed foods for cheap – a lot of times just a dollar of two if it’s really affordable to switch.

There are so many different definitions of what’s healthy, in this post and for our family I focus on whole ingredients, making food from scratch or buying products with minimal ingredients, fruits and vegetables, whole grains,  no artificial sweeteners etc.

You can buy healthy food on a tight budget. These tips really make a difference. For added inspirations, be sure to check out the post on reducing your grocery budget.

Eating Healthy on a Budget - You can do it!!! These tips will allow you to buy real, whole foods without clipping coupons. My grocery budget is $150 a month!

Tips for Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget:

Baby Steps!

Don’t feel like you have to go and throw out everything in your pantry and refrigerator and start over. Transition one ingredient at a time. Replace your canola oil with coconut oil, olive oil, and butter. Buy another bunch of bananas instead of the chips. When your flour runs out, try whole wheat.

Menu Plan!

This is a huge deal to me – I have an entire post on why it’s important. If you go to the store and just start putting things you think you need into the cart, you will spend a lot of money. Plan your meals and snacks so you know exactly what to purchase (but if you find an awesome sale or markdown be willing to adapt when you are at the store).

Stick to the Basics!

The basics are almost always going to be cheaper than specialty ingredients. Don’t feel like you need to buy 10 different fats just because you’ve read about them. Stick to coconut oil, olive oil, and butter.

Cook from Scratch!

Avoid the “healthy” convenience foods. Make bread, cook your own mac and cheese, mix up a marinade for the chicken, make muffins instead of buying Poptarts.

In Season Produce!

Vegetables and fruit will make up a big chunk of your meals and snacks. Buy what’s in season and on sale. Also, don’t forget about the frozen produce. Sure, I love fresh produce but fresh green beans in the winter just aren’t happening.

Don’t Feel Pressured to Buy Organic!

If you can’t buy organic, it’s okay. Produce, even conventional, is going to be better for you than a bag of chips or a candy bar. Don’t let not being able to buy what you think of as best keep you from buying what is better.

Free Range/Grass Fed/Pastured. . .!

This follows the same advice as the produce. Sure, I think grass fed beef is the best, but if I don’t have access to someone splitting a quarter of a cow with me or I don’t find it marked down in the grocery store, my budget simply doesn’t allow it. Do keep your eyes open for great deals, but in the mean time feel good about cooking up your own chicken instead of buying lunch meat or browning ground beef instead of picking up taco bell.

Beans, Lentils, and Grains!

These foods are all pretty affordable. Buy several different kinds-of beans and lentils. Try quinoa. Have oatmeal for breakfast a couple times a week. I like meat but I also like these other foods and they happen to be a little easier on the budget so you’ll see them often on our menu plan.

Don’t Waste!

Plan to use those leftovers! I often have each meal I’m cooking twice a week and then there will be another meal that’s leftovers of the leftovers. Instead of eating the same meal twice in a week you could also plan to freeze the other half and pull it out at a later date.

Not only do you not want to waste leftovers, you want to watch the dairy products, produce, potatoes, and onions and make sure you don’t let all the odds and ends go bad! Turn them into a soup or stir fry. Slice up the bell peppers and stick them in the freezer. Freeze the milk in cup portions.

Stock Bag!

This is a continuation of don’t waste! The ends of the celery, pieces of onions and carrots, parsley that’s going bad etc – throw them into a zipped bag and keep in the freezer. The next time you are making stock, add it to the pot with the bones for extra flavor.

Shop Online!

Don’t assume local stores are the cheapest! If you can’t find local honey, order raw honey online (my favorite place for honey is Vitacost – they have an amazing price. If you sign up for Vitacost with my referral link, you’ll get $10 off your first order!) I also like to check (affilate link) Amazon.

Don’t Be A Short Order Cook!

Make one meal and have everyone eat it. In our house we all eat the same thing for supper. There’s no fixing something different for a child. It’s good for the kids and it’s good for the budget! Weekday lunches the kids eat the same thing and the adults do salads. Breakfast my youngest likes oatmeal and us other 3 eat the same thing. Having to buy ingredients to fix two separate meals adds up!

Garden. . . If You Have a Green Thumb!

Herbs are an awesome thing to grow. Fresh ones from the store are expensive. I’m about the worst gardener ever, and have yet to really succeed with planting, but my sister’s herbs flourish! Try tomato plants, squash, lettuce. See what grows well in your area and try something!

Limit the Snacks!

Snacks really aren’t necessary. Even for kids. If we don’t have fruit with breakfast, my kids will have some midmorning and then around 3-4 in the afternoon they’ll have a little something. Fruit, veggies, nuts, popcorn, rice cake etc. It really varies. That’s it. There’s no snacking in the evening because they didn’t eat dinner. Snacks are easy to inhale and can be expensive. Plus, they often cause your meals to go to waste.

How do you handle eating healthy when you are on a tight budget? Any favorite tips to share?

You can do it! Just take baby steps and keep plugging away. We are all doing the best we can. Thankfully there are lots of ways to save, if gardening was the only one we be broke and starved.

If you enjoyed this post, we’d love for you to join our community on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest!

Eating Healthy on a Budget - You can do it!!! These tips will allow you to buy real, whole foods without clipping coupons. My grocery budget is $150 a month!

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

Easy Ways to Save Money

These are a few of the ways we use to save money! They really make a HUGE difference as we live on a low income and work to pay our house off early!

Saving money. It’s probably something most of us want to do for one reason or another.

We are in the middle of paying off our house early. Hopefully that will happen within the next 15 months. This means we are always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. Every little thing adds up.

After the house is paid off we’ll still be trying to save money so we can put more toward retirement, take a vacation, and save some money up for kids’ college funds. Watching what we spend, budgeting, and making our money work for us is a part of life.

I have a list of 10 easy ways we save money.

Some of them we are doing for a season and others are a pretty permanent part of our lives but together they are allowing us to live on less so that we can put more toward our mortgage.

10 Easy Ways to Save Money

1. Lower Your Grocery Budget

This is one of the first things to look at when you are trying to save. It’s easy to gradually start spending more and more on groceries over time. If you don’t want to keep it super low forever, that’s fine but do it to help out while you income is lower or your are trying to reach a savings goal.

This is a big one in our house. In fact, our most popular post is on how I keep my grocery budget at $150 a month. Over the next year, these tips are especially important  for us as our extra money that sometimes went toward grocery splurges is now all going to the house.

Some favorite ways to lower your grocery budget: cook from scratch, menu plan, and using meat as a condiment.

2. Simplify Birthdays, Christmas, and Holidays

It is super easy to go overboard. How often do we keep on finding one more present for our child or want to give them the newest and best gadget. The Easter basket has to be piled high.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but you might want to consider scaling back. Set a smaller budget and stick to it. Spend time with your kids and make memories with them instead of spending.

You or your spouse can consider doing without gifts altogether. As an adult, it’s easy to understand why and see the big pictures. Shaun and I aren’t giving each other birthday or Christmas presents and we keep things simple with the kids.

If you minimize your gift spending try using the next tip and you might be able to cover a good portion of your gifts without spending anything out of pocket!

3. Earn Gift Cards with Swagbucks for Presents

I love Swagbucks. It’s an easy way to earn points you can redeem for gift cards. If you follow tip number two and cut your birthday and Christmas spending down, the gift cards you earn will cover a good chunk.

If you work at using Swagbucks (and have a smart phone) you could earn over $300 in a year. This post has some of my favorite easy ways to earn Swagbucks on your computer and I’ll have another one coming on how easy it is to earn on your smart phone!

4. Drink Water

Forget the pops, juices, coffees, and teas for a while and just stick to water! Not only is it good for you, it’s also the most affordable! The costs of all those other beverages really add up. I promise your kids won’t die without milk at every meal and juice for breakfast.

Milk for drinking and juice are super rare purchases in our house and it really helps save money.

5. Skip the Vacation

Our vacations consists of trips to see family and a season tickets to a theme park 5 hours away. This year, since we knew we were going to be pinching pennies, we decided to forgo the season tickets.

We aren’t saving a ton on money because as vacation go, it really is quite affordable but the ticket purchase and gas costs for driving there several times save us hundreds of dollars. If you take bigger vacations, this could equal thousands of dollars.

We are still looking forward to a few trips to visit family though and having fun locally and frugally!

6. Shop Your Closet

Avoid the mall and all the clothing deal sites for a while and just wear what you have. I’m already a big fan of buying used clothes and shopping clearance racks but sometimes you just need to take a break from even that.

A perk of this, when you have some money to spend on clothes again and go through  your closet you’ll know exactly what to get rid of.

7. Eat at Home

It’s nice to get a break from cooking, but restaurants aren’t cheap. You have the cost of a meal and then add the tip in and you could cook a lot of meals at home with what you just spent going out. Even at a fast food or fast casual restaurant things add up when you are buying for a family.

If eating out is something you love, put gift cards on your birthday and Christmas list (and use coupons when you go out to make them go even further). Otherwise, think about your big financial goal or view it as something you are giving up until your finances increase.

8. Cut the Cable

Get rid of your paid television service. No more cable or dish.

It’s okay. I promise you’ll survive.

When we got rid of it several years ago I think my husband was pretty skeptical. It really hasn’t been that bad. Then take it a step further and don’t replace it with Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime. How much TV do we really need to watch anyway? Utilize your library, free Hulu, and free streaming on network sites so you can keep up with a couple of your favorite shows.

9. Cheaper Cell Phone Rates

Cell phones are straight up expensive but there are a few things we’ve found to do to save money.

  • Save money by negotiating lower rates with your cell phone provider. We saved an additional $15 a month by talking to the retention department.
  • My husband has a smart phone and uses Google Voice instead of paying for a texting plan. It has its quirks, but it is fine for his needs.
  • Use a dumb phone. I’ve occasionally thought about getting a smart phone over the years but it’s something I can’t justify doing right now. An extra $15 to $30 a month might not seem like a lot, but all those things add up so I keep my basic talk only phone. (Yes, I even have texting turned off). Maybe after we get our house paid off or our income increases I’ll reconsider, but right now it works.

10. DIY Lawn Care and Pest Control

Okay, so honestly weeds in the yards are something that don’t really bother me. Let them grow. (Bonus: it would  mean no toxic chemicals I have to worry about.) My husband, on the other hand, can’t stand them. Plus it makes all your the people in your neighborhood upset if you don’t take care of your yard. Instead of paying a lawn care company to come take care of it, he went to the local lawn and garden store and got their recommendation on what to use and when. It takes a couple hours a few times a year but it saves a lot of money and we can put the money saved toward something else.

The same goes for spiders and insects. I’m not a lover of toxic chemicals being sprayed around the house, but I’m also really not a fan of venomous spiders (or actually any kind-of creepy crawly insect) in my house. You can pay someone or once again you can go to the local store and get recommendations for your area and do the spraying yourself.

This is just the start of the ways we’ve found to save money in our house. I think a part two might be coming.

Those little things that you don’t think make a difference really do add up. Put them together and you’ll find you are saving a decent amount!

What are some of your favorite easy ways to save money? 

Be sure to join our community on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest!

These are a few of the ways we use to save money! They really make a HUGE difference as we live on a low income and work to pay our house off early!

Linking up to these fun parties!