Frugal Guide to Valentine’s Day

 Valentine’s day can be expensive. Valentine’s Day retail spending this year is expected to reach $18.9 billion this year in the U.S. That a lot of people spending a lot of money on one day to show to their significant other that love them. Here is a frugal guide to Valentine’s day.

  1. Take a Trip – Taking a trip can be romantic and doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out my guide to Road Trip on a Budget.
  2. Make your gift – Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that you make. Baked goods are great also check out Craftsy great site to learn how to make many things.
  3. Buy a potted plant – A bouquet of roses lasts only around a week and costs $40 to $60 dollars. Buy potted flowers that can be enjoyed in the house then transplanted outside.
  4. Write a Love Letter – Personal gifts always tend to be the best. Remind your significant other why you love them so much.
  5. Make a mix tape – Maybe it’s the 90’s kid in me but I love a good mix tape.
  6. Use Coupons at Restaurants – I can’t stress this enough, never go out to a restaurant without checking for coupons first.
  7. Go out for Lunch instead of Dinner – Lunch is often less crowded then dinner time and lunch prices cost less than dinner prices.
  8. Check Clearance Rack – Christmas just came and went, and spring is around the corner. Check clearance sections for great deals on items for your significant other.
  9. Buy Used Items – Check out sites like Amazon, Ebay, and Craigslist to find great items for less.
  10. Sex Coupons – My personal favorite. Make coupons for a back rub or a sexy night. Plus it’s gift that puts a smile on both of your faces.

*Disclaimer – This post has affiliate links. I do make a commission if you purchase if you’d prefer not to shop through my links feel free to visit the links directly. All opinions are my own and I only promote advertising from companies that I feel I can personally recommend. 

 

Road Trip on a Budget

 

Road Trip on a Budget

My husband and I have been wanting to take a weekend trip from our home in Southern California to Arizona since we got married almost a year ago. So, at the beginning of this year, we decided that at the last weekend of this month we were going to do it. We plan to travel to Prescott, Flagstaff, and Mesa, AZ. Our goal is to enjoy the site seeing, take photos, and my husband wants to show me where he used to live and hang out. How are we going to do this on a strict budget you ask? By careful planning, packing food and staying at family and friends houses, we are going to spend only gas money and about $40 on food.

 

Plan the best route possible

There is nothing like getting lost when you’re on a trip. Not only is it stressful but it’s a waste of gas and time. When planning any kind of road trip make sure you have all your destinations mapped out. If you decide at the last minute to go somewhere else make sure you map the alternate route so not to get lost. I can’t count how many times my Husband and I got lost on a road trip because we didn’t map the route out completely or one of us wasn’t paying attention.

 

Gas Buddy

If you don’t already use this app check it out. It’s perfect for daily use and trip planning. The app uses your location to find the nearest gas stations to you that have the cheapest gas. We will be using this app on our road trip to help us save money on our gas.

 

Pack Food and Snacks

Pack a cooler in your car and fill it up with ice. Use it to keep drinks, sandwich meat and snacks in it. We don’t really want to eat out while on the road and we want to continue to stick to our goals of not eating out. We will be using a cooler stashed with drinks and snacks to enjoy our site seeing road trip. We will enjoy one meal on the go which will be whatever coupons I bring with me.

 

Stay with Family and Friends

Staying at a hotel is expensive. When on a road trip if possible, stay at a family or friends house. Well at least stay with family only if you get along with them. Don’t sacrifice your sanity to save a few bucks. Stay at home instead. While we are in Arizona we will be staying with some family and friends. This will give us a chance to visit with them and catch up as well as have a place to stay.

Our Old Town San Diego Trip


This past weekend we spent a Saturday in Old Town San Diego. We love Old Town San Diego and it is so much fun. It was fairly easy to find public parking and we were able to park till 4pm for free. We walked around the shops and enjoyed the unique displays.

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There are several unique museums and displays throughout the park. They are great for learning the history of the area and how old some of the buildings are.


During our walk, we happened upon this Blacksmith area where they were making soap. I loved their period true costumes. (Except for the safety goggles for safety reasons)


We also went to the Whaley House. It cost $8 per person for a tour but it is well worth it. I can’t say I saw any ghosts, but there a small theater area in the upstairs part that just going near it made my chest feel so tight I could barely breathe. 



 Craft Fair

During our walk, we happened upon this little craft fair. There were many unique vendors with different things to look at. There was one lady in particular who had made wind chimes out of silver teapots and silverware.

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All in all, it was a fun day with little money spent. My hubby and I had an amazing day with friends and enjoyed the sites and entertainment.

4 Easy Ways to Save When Eating Out 

 4 Easy ways to save money when eating out

Eating at restaurants is my guilty pleasure. I love sitting down and talking face to face with family or friends without the distractions of T.V. and technology. The atmosphere is great and the food just tastes better than me or my husband’s cooking (don’t tell him I told you that.) However, when living on a budget you have to find ways to save money, and going out to eat is a luxury. So, how can you still enjoy an occasional meal out to eat while still staying in your budget? Here are 4 easy ways.

1) Check for coupons 

If you have a particular restaurant in mind that you want to go to check out their website for any coupons.com, restaurants.com and retailmenot.com have great coupons. Check your local paper as well. It depends on where you live on the restaurant coupons you will receive. We usually get Red Lobster, Souplantation, and Olive Garden for restaurants. For fast food, we usually get Del Taco and Carl’s Jr. If I cannot find a coupon I don’t go.

2) Sign up for emails and rewards

Most restaurants have an email list where they send you updates and coupons this is another great way to get coupons and save money when going out to eat. Sign up for your favorite places to eat. We love Applebee’s and TGI Fridays. I get coupons weekly emailed to me from them. Some restaurants have rewards where if you spend so much you get a free meal or hamburger. Red Robin, TGI Fridays, and BJs have a rewards program.

3) Gift cards

Most restaurants have deals during the holidays that if you buy a certain gift card amount you get a bonus gift card. Or, if you buy gift cards at places like Von’s and Ralph’s they offer points that you can use towards gas incentives. Which means you save money at the gas pump.

4) Split meals or have the appetizer

How many times have you gone out to eat and ordered more than you could eat? I can’t count how many times my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I would be starving and order a three-course meal and was after the appetizer I would be full. I would promise myself that I would eat the rest for lunch the next day, but then the next day would be a week later and I’d have to throw the food out. So much food and money wasted. if I would have just started out small and ordered more if I wanted to.

My husband and I don’t usually like the same kinds of foods. He is a hamburger man and I’m a pasta girl, but if you both can agree on something split a meal. A lot of restaurants have such large portions it’s hard for one person to eat one meal. Split it with your significant other.

 Do you like to eat out? How often do you go out to eat in a week?

5 Ways to Earn Extra Money

 5 Ways to Earn Extra Money

So, everyone wants to earn a bit of extra income without having to do a lot. I remember before I started this blog, I was trying to find ideas to make extra income when I basically lived in the middle of nowhere. That meant no side jobs like walking people dogs, yard work, or anything else that required me to be near a main city or town. So, here are some ideas on how to make a bit of extra money if you live in the suburbs or rural areas.

Sell on Etsy

Etsy can be a hit or miss for some people. Sometimes I don’t always get a steady income from the site. However, If you promote yourself on social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) you can get a great customer following. It just takes dedication when you first start up to be truly successful. Find your niche. If you are going to sell Vintage Items specialize in Vintage Clothing. Same goes with handmade items. If you are great at sewing but there is too many clothing sellers on Etsy maybe your store specializes in bedding (Remember to make what you love). I am obsessed with geek culture and Steampunk so I decided to put the two together and make unique Steampunk Jewelry.

(Check out post on Making Money on Etsy)

Have a Yard Sale

So this won’t bring in extra money in your pocket daily however, it is a great way to clean out your house and get rid of things you aren’t using anymore and bring in some extra cash. Since I live in the middle of nowhere we tend to bring our items to a friend’s house whenever they are having a community yard sale. This maximizes our chances to have a successful yard sale. Promote your sale on Craigslist and Facebook. Check the weather and try to plan to have your yard sale on a sunny weekend. Preferably when it is not too hot and not too cold.

Sell on Craigslist or Ebay

Sell or Resell on sites like Craigslist and Ebay. Sometimes you can find great deals at yard sales and Estate sales and then resell them on Ebay or Craigslist. My Dad has made his entire side job for the last 25 years buying antiques from estate sales and reselling them on Ebay. He had no knowledge of what things were worth he just look the items up on the internet.

Swagbucks

Okay, so I started Swagbucks years ago when it first started but, just stopped using it because I felt I was never getting anywhere with all those points. Then I saw an influx of people starting to use the site and kept raving about the site. I have finally joined that bandwagon again. So, coming from a skeptic I’m telling you Swagbucks is a great way to earn extra money and gift cards. You can earn points (Swagbucks) from searching the web, watching videos, surveys, Swag Codes, and shopping online. These all add up quick. Once you hit 500 Swagbucks you can cash out to get a $5 gift card for many places or you can choose to save your Swagbucks to get a higher amount gift card. If you use my link referral you will get a free 150 Swagbucks to start. 300 Swagbucks if you join through my link till the end of January.

Referral Link

Also, check out other money making apps and sites like Receipt Hog and Ibotta.

Start a Blog

When it comes down to it, I’m a writer through and through. So, write what you know and write about what you are passionate about and people will follow. If you love fashion, write a fashion blog, if you love couponing a saving money then write a coupon blog. A lot of times the keys to success on the internet is promoting yourself. Get yourself out there on social media sites. The internet tends to get filled up with people who all are trying to do the same thing. So find your niche in those types of trends. Don’t get so general that people overlook you because your blog looks and sounds like that other person’s blog. If you are going to be a fashion blog maybe be a fashion blog that focuses on wedding trends or your own personal fashion. (Tips: Stick with it and plan a schedule) If you want to monetize your blog I suggest become self-hosted. It looks professional and it gives you more flexibility with how you want your blog to look and feel. Bluehost is a great web hosting company and is perfect for starting out. You can start at 3.95 a month and get your free domain name.

What are some side incomes you have tired? What are your favorites?

*Disclaimer – This post has affiliate links. I do make a commission if you purchase if you’d prefer not to shop through my links feel free to visit the links directly. All opinions are my own and I only promote advertising from companies that I feel I can personally recommend. 

A week without soda

 I have been drinking soda and diet soda since I was 13. I used to drink six regular sodas a day then when I eventually switched to diet soda in hopes to lose weight and cut my calories. I cut the calories and lost the weight but my addiction to soda continued. I had read so many articles about how harmful diet soda is to your body so I cut back on the diet. In my attempts to stay somewhat healthy and keep my soda I stuck to around 2-3 sodas a day. I know it sounds ridiculous but, I was addicted and without the soda I couldn’t get through my day without having a headache or feeling so tired that I wanted to just stay in bed and die.

This new year my goal was to kick the habit and stop drinking soda. This will help save money and possibly make me healthier in the long run.

Day 1 – There is nothing like getting up in the morning at 5am and not having caffeine to keep me awake. By the middle of the day I was about to say screw this and buy me a Big Gulp of Diet Dr Pepper (my drug of choice) and drink it all and refill it and drink some more.

Day 2 – I noticed that my intake of water had substantially increased. However, my headaches were starting and I was becoming extremely grouchy. Not only did I not have any soda but I had nothing in the house with caffeine.

Day 3 – I’m not much of a coffee person. I especially don’t like it black which means if I wanted some I’d have to put creamer in it. Which meant more calories. I decided on green tea until I found a better alternative for creamer.

Day 4 – Due to my work schedule today I wasn’t able to get any kind of caffeine in me till after work. It was rough, but I made it. It’s an odd feeling. I didn’t  necessarily feel tired I just felt like a zombie walking through the day. An outsider looking in on what’s going on.

Day 5 – I read some articles today to help boost my confidence and remind me that I’m not doing this for nothing. I found out a lot of details that really supported my path and helped me towards my goal.

Day 6 – I woke up with the wickedest of headaches finally got some Earl grey tea in me. I couldn’t believe the withdrawals I was having. I was moody and wanted nothing more than to stay in bed and do nothing.

Day 7 – My husband showed me how to use the coffee maker. I know I’m weird and I used my new Silk creamer and have officially decided that I like it.
Unfortunately my weekend was a bit rough. I was moody throughout and slightly depressed. I couldn’t believe how much harm soda was doing to me. I have been trying to bring my tea to work this week because it was easier than coffee. No headache this morning and I’m starting to feel a bit better. During my first week without soda I wanted to know more about why I was feeling the way I was? What was so harmful in soda and diet soda that causes withdrawals this sever? And how could I make myself feel better without diet soda?

Reasons to Quit

1) Diet Soda causes you to be cloudy headed, headaches and anxiety.

These are all issues I have. I’m currently on medication for migraines and they have continued to get worse in the pass couple of months. I’m curious to see if quiting soda will help with my headaches and I don’t have to up medication.

2) Quiting Diet soda can start weight loss. 

I’ve heard this one for awhile, but it was a hard one to believe. Yes, when I quit regular soda and switched to diet, I did loose weight. But in the long run diet soda can make you crave sweets. Artificial  sweeteners in diet soda trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode, which leads to weight gain and belly fat.

3) Diet Soda can be the reason you struggle with bloating and stomach pains. 

What is more uncomfortable than stomach bloat and pains. I get this all the time especially stomach pains and have even been hospitalized for it. The doctors ran many tests and had no clue as to why I was having mysterious stomach pains. It’s possible Diet Soda is the reason.

Sounds like a horror story that has been marketed to women promising us that we will be pretty and skinny if we just drink diet. Well, it’s time we put their clever “diet” marketing to rest. Diet soda is slowly making us fat and sick. So, how can we ease ourselves in a better lifestyle and leave the diet behind?

How to help Withdrawals

Granted maybe I should’ve found other alternatives for my caffeine intake before I went cold turkey, but after a week I’ve found some great resources and ideas to help with leaving diet soda behind this new year.

1) Drink better alternatives

Drink coffee, tea, or smoothies. These are great alternatives that can help you start feeling better. There was a dramatic difference between when I didn’t have any kind of caffeine and when I had decided on a healthy caffeinated alternative.

2) Ease off the diet soda slowly

Depending on how much you drink, ease off the soda slowly. This will help your withdrawals to be not so sever.

How many sodas do you drink? Have you quit soda? If so how was the process for you?

Sensory Kits for Less for Adults and Teens

 Sensory Kit items for Less for Adults and Teens

Sensory kits are perfect for people who have general anxiety disorder, sensory processing disorder or Autism. They help channel attention to sensory items that the person can easily control rather than continue to be affected by outside influences. Here are some great tips on what to get for your kit and how to get them for less.

iPods – for music
Music can be essential when trying to prevent a melt down or anxiety attack. It can help channel aural attention and cancel outside noises. Sometimes having a dedicated iPod or music player that is always with you is the best. Sensory issues can happen when you least expect it and it is always best to be prepared.

However, they can be expensive.

Always buy used. GameStop.com usually has a wide variety of used iPods for less. Buy the older versions to save more money. EBay and craigslist are some other great sites. Just be sure you read the description carefully and make sure you are getting exactly what you want.

Use your phone- If you have the space in your phone, put a dedicated playlist so you always have music with you.

Headphones
This depends on the person. I have Bose headphones that are wireless. I prefer the comfort factor and that they are wireless. They also work pretty well with canceling out noise even if I don’t have music on. I got mine on a Cyber Monday sale at Best Buy and combined some gift certificates and MyBestBuyRewards to make the price $50. Usually $200.

However, you can choose to use ones that come with the iPod or used headphones from sites like eBay and Craigslist. I sometimes find knock off brands or older models at yard sales as well. Just make sure you ask to see if they are working before you purchase them.

Portable Gaming

In my kit I have a PSVita. I got it used at Game Stop during Black Friday. Nintendo DS are less now as well. Always buy used. Your Smartphone also is a great tool. You can use it to watch movies and play games on it.

Stress ball
These are fairly simple of find. They can be found at the 99 Cents Store or sometimes you can get them free at Health fairs. These are perfect for a textile sensory. I often use them when I’m in crowded places

How to Earn Money on Etsy

 How to Earn Money On Etsy

I have been an Etsy seller since 2011. I have had my ups and downs with Etsy. However, when it comes down to it, to have a successful business on Etsy you need make something you love to make, find your niche, read the Etsy Handbook, promote yourself and your shop, and consistently stay up with it.

1) Make What You Love

If you’re going to do this as a business or a hobby either way you’re going to want to make something you want to make and are passionate about. First all, that passion is going to carry to your buyers. People respond to sellers who love what they do. Just like when you go into a small business store. If the person is cold and distant and doesn’t seem like they want to talk to you, well you probably aren’t going to buy anything. The same goes for your Etsy business. If you decided you want to make and sell hair accessories but then you no longer enjoy making them or you were just making them to earn money, you might get burnt out quick.

2) Find Your Niche

Find your Niche within making what you love. Do your research on Etsy first. If there are a lot of people who sell Hair accessories maybe you want to focus on a certain style or your own unique way that you make them. I sell Steampunk Jewelry, most are one of a kind made from old vintage jewelry or pieces and parts. I also have a couple of items that I’m able to reproduce like my gear earrings and during Christmas my Steampunk Clock hand Ornaments.

3) Read and Re-read the Etsy Handbook

When I first started my Etsy store I devoured the Etsy handbook. I highly recommend it. The handbook is in easy categories which makes it simple to find the topics. The handbook also is great helping you with tips on how to take photos of your products, how to get found in search engines, etc.

4) Promote Yourself and Your Shop

Etsy has many places in the site to promote your shop. For example, you can pay to advertise your listings. You can also join teams were you can promote your shop and get help and support.

Don’t stop at Etsy. Promote yourself off the site as well. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr are great venues for this. It is a great way to connect with your buyers as well as get your products out there. Let them know how your make your items, promote sales, and promote your listings.

5) Consistently keep your Shop up to Date

Whenever I see my stats fall it is usually because I haven’t posted a new item in a while. So, it is important to stay with it. Make sure you have at least 100 listings and keep them renewed. Post new listings every so often. Every three months go through your tags on your listings and revise and edit. Make sure you are being found in the search engines. Tailor your shop around the seasons and add seasonal items if possible.

 

 

 

The Truth about Credit Cards

 

 The truth about credit cards

I remember when I got out of High School the first thing that was suggested to me was to get a credit card. I needed to build credit. Society tells us that we have to have credit to get anywhere in this life. Every store these days have their own credit cards with their own benefits. If you work in retail you are forced to sell these credit cards to consumers. We are consistently promised that if we only had a credit card, our life would be better and we can get everything we want.

Credit cards aren’t our Fairy Godmother. Visa isn’t going to magically grant you a Valentino dress and glass shoes to wear at an expensive ball. You’ll have to pay for it eventually and with interest. In truth, if we would’ve saved money for the things we need in life instead of using credit, we would all be in a better place. Whether it is a small or large purchase or even a house, it is possible to pay in cash instead of finance or pay credit for these purchases. We just lost our patience along the way. We need to take the time and save the money instead of buying into instant gratification. We will have to save more, but we will have more money in our pockets in the long run. Only then, will our hard earned cash no longer continue to be paid towards interest rates and endless minimum payments.

Maybe, if we saved our money we could get the dress we always dreamed of to wear at the Ball. No strings attached and no Fairy Godmother required!

4 Steps to Having a Successful Yard Sale

 4 Steps to Having a Successful Yard Sale

Having a yard sale is a great way to earn some extra cash and get rid of clutter. Here are some ways to have a successful yard sale.

1) Advertise – Sites like Craigslist and Facebook’s community groups are great ways to advertise your yard sale. Make sure you post photos and give a description of some of the items you’ll have.
For our Geeks – Market your video games and unique gear.  You’ll never know who will show up and pay top dollar.

2) Make Your Yard Sale Appealing – Don’t just throw things into your garage or out on your lawn. There is only so much stuff people will dig through. Take everything out of the boxes so people can see what you have. Fold or hang up clothes nicely. Make your yard an appealing display for your stuff.

3) Be Willing to Negotiate – Price your items at a price you are willing to negotiate at. People are looking for a bargain, and you are looking to make a few extra bucks and get rid of your stuff, so be reasonable.

4) Price All Your Items – Don’t leave your customers guessing. You never know that one person who might want an item but doesn’t want to ask how much? There’s nothing more annoying than having someone ask how much for every item you have. Price all items and make signs clear.