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5 Awesome Ways to Frugally Ring in the New Year

With the end of the year upon us, we have time to enjoy one more party together. And New Year’s Eve can be a lot of fun! However, it can also cost a bit more than you’d think if you aren’t careful. Therefore, I’ve found 5 awesome ways to frugally ring in the New Year that are also a blast!


Most people don’t even think about state run museums, or private ones for that matter, when it comes to how to ring in the New Year. However, in our city, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Museum of History have their own celebrations during the day on New Year’s Eve. These museums have crafts and events all throughout the day for families to participate in, for NO COST.

They also vendors outside the museums that are either performing dances or music. Some of these vendors are specifically geared towards families by setting up arts and craft tables outside to partake in. This has been a huge boon to my family as it has something for all of us to enjoy while celebrating together. So, if you haven’t checked out these options around your town or city, I highly recommend it!


Even if you haven’t been able to find cool free New Year’s Eve events at museums in your area, most downtowns have a celebration at night. Our city is no different and it’s also completely FREE to enjoy. Most of it, at least. There are vendors set up with food and drinks, crafts, and some games and rides. While a lot of these do charge, you are welcome to walk around with your own food and drinks, which helps make this event even more frugal. My favorite part of the event is when they ring in the New Year early by dropping the acorn (our version of the glittery ball), so we can all get home before the kids fall asleep.

Once they finish the kids/families version of the New Year’s Eve party, they reset it for the adults. This is when most families leave and you can find more adult centered activities, including live bands and alcohol. We simply love this idea because we don’t have to do much on our end, other than show up.


Another way we’ve rung in the New Year is via a house party. Some friends have created a New Year’s Eve sleepover party for close friends and their kids. I thought this was a great idea because it was fun for kids and adults. There were video games and party games for the kids to play, as well as some kid friendly foods and snacks. While the kids partook in those activities and foods, the adults got to chat and catch up over some themed adult beverages and more palate teasing foods.

The hosts provided sparklers, hats, and noisemakers for the kids. Which we all loved because it meant that we all got to have fun as a family. Plus, we got the bonus of showing off our cool holiday pajamas and spending the night together. This idea is a blast, if you have the room and desire to host it.


Along a similar vein, one of my favorite New Year’s has been spent with friends at their house. Similar to the family house party, but adults only. And to make it more cost effective, everybody signed up to bring a dish and and adult beverage of some sort.

One of my favorite things about potluck parties is that you just never know what people are going to bring. Which means, we usually get introduced to some new foods and drinks to try. I love trying new things, so this was a huge bonus for me!

As an added bonus, at his particular party, each couple/single had to bring one of their favorite board games. This was a really cool addition because board games tell you a lot about a person and their likes. Just when you think you know somebody, you get to learn even more about them, while having a party at the same time. Huge bonus!


For the slightly less frugal option to ring in the New Year right, there are quite a few options that still won’t break the bank. There are quite a few places that have started offering all-inclusive ring in the New Year parties. These are awesome choices to consider since the entrance ticket usually includes:

  • food
  • non-alcoholic beverages
  • alcoholic beverages (some have a limit on how many and some are unlimited)
  • live music
  • dancing
  • coat check
  • champagne toast at midnight

Not only are these events indoors, where it is warm, but there are bathrooms at your disposal. For me, personally, that’s a huge plus. And I don’t have to worry about spending any more money after I’ve purchased my all-inclusive entrance ticket. Therefore, it might be worth it to look around your city to see who might be offering this option on New Year’s Eve.

frugally ring in the new year summary

Whether you have kids or not, there are a few really good options to frugally ring in the New Year right. Some of my favorite finds for families include:

  1. State Museums
  2. Family Celebrations
  3. House Party

If you’re a single or a couple, or have a babysitter for the night, then these 2 options are good considerations:

  1. Potluck Party
  2. All-Inclusive Adult Party

Either way, as long as you’re with family and/or friends to ring in the New Year, and haven’t killed your wallet in the process, then you’re doing it right. So here’s to ringing in the New Year right without breaking the bank!

What are some of the best ways you have found to ring in the New Year without breaking the bank?

5 Delicious Budget Friendly Thanksgiving Foods

With the fall comes the beginning of the big holiday season. And next up just happens to be Thanksgiving. While this holiday may not get as expensive as the following holidays, it can still get pretty pricey. This is especially true if you happen to be the host and aren’t having a potluck style Thanksgiving. Luckily, we’ve found 5 delicious budget friendly Thanksgiving foods that have helped keep our wallets and our bellies filled.


Cranberries tend to be fairly traditional in American Thanksgiving spreads. These little red berries are not only a pretty healthy addition to your Thanksgiving meal, but are very cost-effective also. Even if you choose to purchase them in a can, they’re pretty budget friendly.

Typically, a can of jellied or whole cranberries can cost anywhere from $.95 to $1.60, depending upon the brand, location, and store. These prices are for a 14oz can, and they certainly have a lot of added sugar. Due to that and the added cost, this isn’t our preference. But they will do the trick if you don’t feel like making your own cranberries from scratch.

If you can manage making your own cranberry sauce, it’s certainly the healthier and more cost effective way to do it. I just found a 12oz bag of organic cranberries for $1.98. This bag of cranberries will make us a heck of a lot more than one 14oz can and save us more money too.


Green beans are a phenomenal vegetable to add to your Thanksgiving food selection. They are not only really budget friendly but extremely nutritious also. Green beans contain decent amounts of Fiber, Vitamins A, C & K, Beta-carotene, Folate and Potassium, so they are a nutrient power house. Adding both these and cranberries into your Thanksgiving spread can help boost your immunity for the winter, which is a bonus for all of us!

Recently, I’ve found a 12oz package of fresh green beans for around $2.79, or a 14.5oz can for around $.98. While the can may seem cheaper, a lot of that is water weight. Plus, the can contain around 3 servings and the fresh serves around 4-6.

One of our favorite ways to make green beans for the holidays is by sautéing them with some olive oil and spices. This is quick, easy and really flavorful and only costs us approximately $3.07 for the whole batch. Plus it serves all 7 of us nicely.


Potatoes are something that pretty much everybody loves. They’re easy to make in so many different ways for added diversity. And they can be extremely healthy as a added bonus, depending upon what you put in/on them. Which is just more proof that healthy food doesn’t really have to cost more money.

The easiest and most budget-friendly way to make them is either mashed or roasted. With this specifically in mind, I prefer to use either Yukon Gold or Red potatoes. Finding a 5lb bag of Yukon Gold potatoes for under $5 seems pretty easy to run across. For mashed potatoes you just need to add butter, milk and any spices of your choice. If you are roasting the potatoes, olive oil and spices are the only additions needed.

Depending upon what ingredients you use and how much of each, the cost will vary. But for us, we can turn a 5lb bag of potatoes into delicious mashed potatoes for a little over $.50 per person. And at that price, I am definitely going to have seconds!


While I love the main Thanksgiving course, I certainly can’t forget about dessert. And for many years now toffee has been one of my favorite things to make. It’s not only horribly addicting because it’s so delicious, but it’s also really east to make and cost effective to boot.

Here is my simple and easy toffee recipe (which can be made vegan if you substitute vegan butter for the regular version):

  • Unsalted Butter (1lb) – $2.99
  • Sugar (16oz) –  $2.49 for a 4lb bag (9.5cups) = $.52
  • Water – FREE! (usually)
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (1tsp) – $1.99 for a 3.3oz (16.43tsp) jar = $.12
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (12oz)– $2.12

TOTAL: $5.75

Put everything except the chocolate chips in a large pot. Stir constantly while the pot raises to a boil. Once it begins boiling, keep stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees. This is approximately 8-12 minutes, depending upon your pot and stove. Once it reaches that point, pour the toffee into a sheet pan to cool. Add chocolate chips to the top of the toffee and spread around to form a thin layer. Let cool on the counter to room temperature and then pop it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to get a hard crack. This stuff is so freaking delicious that we all start eating it right out of the pan!

While the total may sound like a lot, it’s really not. I get a huge sheet pan full of the stuff and it can easily serve 10-12 people.


Another dessert favorite about Thanksgiving tables is pumpkin pie. Just like the cranberries and the green beans, pumpkins also happen to be really good for you. They contain a good amount of Magnesium, Vitamin A, Iron and B Vitamins. So not only is pumpkin pie healthier for you than some of the other dessert options, it’s also delicious and pretty easy on your wallet. Trifecta for the win!

Typically, the crust is the most expensive part of the pumpkin pie. Therefore, if you can make your own crust, it’ll be more cost effective. But if not, there are a plethora of pie crust choices starting at $1.99 for each one.

For one of the best, and easiest pumpkin pie recipes, the breakdown is the following:

  • Pure Pumpkin (15oz can) = $.95
  • Light Brown Sugar (3/4cup) – $2.29 per 2lb bag (4cups) = $.43
  • Eggs (3) – $.99 per dozen = $.25
  • Cinnamon (1 1/2tsp) – $5.99 for 7.12oz (42.72tsp) = $.21
  • Salt (1/2tsp) – $1.99 for a 3.3oz (16.43tsp) jar = $.06
  • Ginger (1/2tsp) – $2.79 for a .7oz jar (4.2tsp) = $.33
  • Allspice (1/2tsp) – $.78 for a .65oz jar (3.9tsp) = $.10
  • Nutmeg (1/4tsp) – $2.99 for a .9oz jar (5.4tsp) = $.14



Since a regular sized pumpkin pie serves approximately 8 people, you’re looking at about $.55 per slice. That’s much more delicious than any slice of pie you’d get out at a restaurant!

budget friendly THANKSGIVING FOODS summary

Overall, there are plenty of budget friendly Thanksgiving foods that can adorn your table this year. None of these 5 foods will break the bank or your pants. So if you want to keep your wallet fat and your waistline a little smaller, think about incorporating these into your Thanksgiving meal. Heck, at these prices, you could easily make these part of a regular diet and still be saving money. What’s not to love?

What are some of your favorite budget friendly Thanksgiving foods to incorporate at your table?

How to Make the Most of a Winter Garden Now

Since we are now finally into the fall season, the weather has finally started to cool down. But it also means that we’ve started to notice less fresh produce at our local farmer’s markets. Since we have been actively working on creating our own garden this year, this next season will be a new challenge. Our hope is that we can make the most of a winter garden by starting it now. And in turn  save us some money on food and help us eat healthier throughout the cold season.

PREPARing for a winter garden now

When preparing for a winter garden, the first thing to determine is which hardiness zone you live in. This is important because each zone has different first frost dates. All crops are organized by first frost dates, so this is important to know ahead of time.

Since each crop needs a certain amount of light, water and growing time to reach maturity, you want the crops to reach maturity before your first frost hits.

Once you have your approximate first frost date, then you should determine where you want to plant your winter crops.

Each crop will have slightly different requirements for the following:

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Spacing
  • Soil pH
  • Nitrogen content
  • Phosphorus content
  • Potassium content

Your soil will have varying degrees of vitamins, minerals and nutrients so it might be very beneficial to have it soil tested. You can send your soil off to be tested for free (I’ve done this many times before). Or you can purchase a soil testing kit to use at home instead, if that is your preference.

Since I live in North Carolina, we can send our soil off to the Department of Agriculture for a very in depth soil test. The results of these tests tend to be a lot more in depth than the in home tests, which I happen to be a big fan of. However, it does definitely take much longer to get the results back than a home test would. So this will depend upon how accurate you want to be with your garden, as well as if you’re looking at different areas around your yard to plant.


Once you have determined what your soil makeup is and how much sunlight you get, choosing the crops is the next step. Obviously, don’t choose crops for your winter garden that aren’t things you would regularly eat. Unless you want to branch out and try new things (which is what we love to do!). I would suggest including crops that might be used more for seasoning and flavor enriching also, as these “spices” can certainly kill your grocery budget if you’re not careful..

After making your list of the the more common crops you like, then add in the garden potentials that you may eat more of if you had it available. Once you have your list of potential crop candidates, the next step is to narrow them down by how long they take to reach maturity.

Most seeds will tell you how long they take, on average, to reach maturity. So you want to make sure you plant the crops that take the longest to mature first.


This is the time frame you should be looking for during this time of the year in order to reap the most benefits from your winter garden.

Some of the most common winter crops in this maturity window are:

  • Basil
  • Bush Beans
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips


Overall, even though we are starting to see less and less fresh produce at this time of year, there are still some things we can plant. Proper planning is the best way to start any new project, and a successful winter garden is no different.

It’s helpful to determine your hardiness zone first and then get your soil tested. After that, start narrowing down the list of winter crops that you’d like to grow and where they might grow best in your yard. Once you’ve chosen your crops, make sure you have enough time for them to reach maturity prior to the first frost in your area. After that, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and hopefully save yourself some green this winter also!

Have you begun planting your winter garden yet? If so, which ones have you planted and when?

3 Easy Ways to Teach Kids About Money

As a parent, one of our big jobs is to teach kids about money. Whether we like it or not, at some point our kids will be out on their own in the world. And the last thing I want is for them to have to move back in years later because they couldn’t figure out the financial aspect of living on their own. Therefore, teaching them about money and budgeting is high up on our list of regular priorities. So, here are the 3 easiest ways we’ve found to teach kids about money, for long term retention. Hopefully!

1. BASIC money lessons

Since children’s brains  process information differently than adult brains do, starting with basic money lessons is the way to go. This generally breaks down into creating information into smaller chunks. The more simplistic the concept the better, as these concepts lead to longer term retention.

One of the easiest first money lessons to teach kids is by using a simple piggy bank (doesn’t have to be a pig though!). This is due to the fact that kids are very visual learners. Just giving them something to physically see and touch begins the teaching process.

Some great ways to utilize this simple tool are:

  1. What each coin looks like
  2. How much each piece is worth
  3. How many of them it takes to make $1.00

Once they have that down, a good next lesson is about sales tax. This helps kids learn just how much things actually cost, besides what just on the sticker. In order to do this, you’ll need to know the sales tax rates in your city specifically so that you can teach them how to properly calculate it.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to take my kids shopping with me. I have them pick out something they want for educational purposes only. Much to their dismay, I’m not actually planning to buy them anything for this lesson.

Teach Kids About Money EXAMPLE

If my child has $10.00 with them and sees a toy that costs $9.99, they’ll assume they have enough to buy it. This is where sales tax lessons come in.

Our sales tax here is 7.25%. Therefore, the sales tax will cost an additional $.71 on top of the $9.99, for a total cost of $10.71. Which means if they only have $10.00, they’ll still need another $.71 to afford the toy.

Even if you happen to be one of the few who doesn’t have sales tax in your area, this is still a necessary lesson to be taught.

2. SAVING money

Once kids grasp the concept of how much they actually need to purchase the things they want, saving money is up next. This can be a very difficult concept for a lot of children (and adults too!), because they want everything immediately.

I like to start with smaller savings goals, because this can help keep them on track for their larger goals. This is where the piggy bank comes in great handy. Since they can physically see how much money they’ve saved, it’s easier for them to see how far they still have to go. I typically like to have them take out all of their money once a week and count it. This not only helps them get a better grasp on what each denomination is, but also lets them see how far they’ve come.

Once this basic saving skill has been grasped, it’s time to move on to compounding. This is usually a good lesson to be taught with larger ticket items, which is all age dependent. Typically, at this point, the piggy bank isn’t the best way to save for the larger items. So, this is the time when I begin talking to the kids about moving money into a high yield savings account. The rates vary, but they will be able to save more, faster, simply due to the magic of compounding.


Here is a great example of how compounding works with $100.00. If this is all they have to put in and the high yield savings rate is 4.35% (which is what ours is currently at), then at the end of one year they will have $104.35 in that account. This may not sound like much, but they just made an extra $4.35 without doing anything. Help them imagine how much more they could save if they add money monthly instead of just once a year!

3. make that MONEY, kids!

Now that they are more motivated to earn money, getting them to work for is up next. Getting children to do chores around the house is one good way to put kids to work so they can earn money. While this is not always my favorite way to teach them (because some kids can be so difficult sometimes), it’s a good place to start. How much you choose to pay them is entirely up to you. But I like to make the amount determinant upon how much of it they get done and how well the task was performed.

My other favorite way to have them earn money is by working for me. The perk of being a business owner is that I can outsource some things (that are age appropriate) to my kids. And most of the time, my kids prefer to do work for my business as opposed to chores. Therefore, my kids working for me helps teach them how to make some of their own money by working for someone else. Even if the someone else just happens to be their mom!

Teach kids about money summary

Overall, teaching kids about money can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. But, as a parent, it’s our job to give them the building blocks now can help ensure their long term financial literacy, and hopefully, success. To do so as efficiently and easily as possible, keep these skills in mind:

  1. Teach them money basics its worth (Plus sales tax)
  2. Learning how to save is crucial (Plus compounding magic)
  3. Teach them how to earn money

Once they have these foundational lessons down, there are plenty of more  complicated financial lessons on the horizon. Oh the joys of parenting sometimes!

What are some ways you have successfully taught your children about money?

4 of the Best Places to Search for School Supplies

When it comes to August, school starting is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. And ours is no different. Since the COVID pandemic hit, some things have changed regarding the beginning of the school year. But hunting for school supplies isn’t one of them. So, here are 4 of the best places to search for school supplies and not break the bank.

#1 Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree is is one of my favorite places to search for school supplies first. While everything used to be only $1, they have changed their business model recently. Now things are more along the lines of $1.25 each. Still nothing to sneeze at, but that also means some products aren’t built for long-term use. The things we’ve found to fit into that category typically include: crayons, markers, glue and tape.

Ultimately, this is a pretty good place to try first. Some of my favorite purchases from Dollar Tree include:

  • Calculators
  • Composition notebooks
  • Erasers
  • Glue sticks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lined paper
  • Plastic folders
  • Post-it notes
  • Scientific calculators
  • Scissors
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Tape
  • Tissues
  • Whiteboard erasers

#2 Drug stores

Some of the drugstores, such as CVS and Walgreens, tend to have fairly competitive sales during the back-to-school season. In order to get the really good deals, you should use your store loyalty card or app though. Typically, this will either give you extra discounts or a coupon off a future purchase.

Some of the best items I have found to get at the drugstores are:

  • Backpacks
  • Glue sticks
  • Highlighters
  • Lunchboxes
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Water bottles

#3 five below

Five Below is another fantastic place to check out. They are similar to Dollar Tree in that everything used to be $5 or below. But, in the past couple of years they have changed their business model. Now it is more along the lines of $10 and below. Their back to school supplies aren’t usually as vast a selection as Dollar Tree, but sometimes they are higher quality products.

One good example of this is that they carry Crayola brand crayons, instead of the off brand ones. And usually these will end up being on sale for $1 during back to school season.

Some of the best deals I’ve found here are to date are:

  • Backpacks
  • Crayons
  • Glue sticks
  • Headphones/earbuds
  • Lunchboxes
  • Markers

#4 online

Lastly, for an increasingly larger percentage of us who don’t like to run around from store to store, online shopping is the way to go. Some of the aforementioned stores will even have similar deals online and ship your purchases directly to your house! While they can sometimes add a shipping cost to do so, most of the time it’s waived. So, it might actually end up saving you more money in the long run due to less wear and tear and gas for your car. Bonus!

Some of the best places to get cheap school supplies online are:

  • Amazon: Pretty much any and all school supplies can be found here
  • Hollar.com: Character backpacks and lunchboxes, and a $1 section with a lot of school supplies
  • Freecycle: This site is a place for people giving away things instead of selling them, so nothing is a guarantee here
  • Facebook Marketplace: Similar to Freecycle, plus there are some special groups just for parents. This site can be to purchase or give things away, so a great place to check if you’re really trying to stick to a budget.
  • Oriental Trading Company: Not just for party supplies, they also have school supplies in bulk. Plus there is usually an Ebates rebate that you can use with this site. Extra bonus!
  • Discount School Supply: Pretty much everything you can think of, plus they have free 3-day shipping

These are great sites to keep in mind year-round because you never know what you are going to find. One of the best ways I’ve found to cut costs is by keeping my back-to-school supply stocked throughout the year.

School supplies summary

Overall, there are a ton of places you might be able to find great deals on school supplies. But some of my favorite go-to options just happen to be: Dollar Tree, Drug Stores and Five Below. And when I’ve exhausted those, I go straight to the online platforms to see what hidden gems I might be able to find for my kids. The options these days are fairly endless, so now’s the time to begin the search for your kids school supplies.

Where are some of the best places you’ve found great deals on back to school supplies for your kids?

The 2 Best Ways to Get Great Deals on Food

Since food costs only seem to be getting higher and higher each year, reining that in a bit can really affect our budget. Even if we are able to save just a little bit of money each week, it can really add up over time. But, we don’t want to skimp on the quality of food we choose either. Forgive us, we’re picky! That being said, we’ve figured out a couple of really good tricks to help out. Here are the 2 best ways to get great deals on our food, in our opinion.

#1. GROCERY STORE Deals on Food

The first place I always look for good deals on food is the grocery store. Unless, it happens to be a Saturday and I can hit up our local farmer’s market. The smaller one near us has farmers that are close by and all of them use organic practices. Plus, we can get a heck of a lot of produce from them for much less than the grocery store. But, since we aren’t able to make it each week, the grocery stores are our second choice.

While they are more expensive than our local farmers, we have been pretty lucky to find some good, organic produce at most of them. Most grocery stores have weekly deals on different products, some of which are usually produce. Not everything these stores sell will be healthy food though. So just remember to keep an eye out for local organic produce whenever possible. By keeping your diet full of healthy foods, it can only benefit both in quality of life and your wallet (hopefully).

Look for grocery stores that specialize in more local products and/or products from other countries. A lot of other countries can have better quality standards with their food than we do (sadly!). Due to this, it would benefit you to look for those items. Also, these items tend to cost less than some of the products grown here.

Some of the best grocery store options we’ve found the best deals at include:

If you have access to any of these, they are who I would suggest starting with. However, don’t forget to look for your smaller, independent grocery stores that specialize in specific cuisine. I’m able to get a lot of local organic produce from our smaller coop at Weaver Street, and they give us a discount on produce specifically each week. When I’m looking for rice, I prefer the Asian or Indian markets because they have a much wider variety. And I can get huge bags for a fraction of what I would pay in a regular grocery store. Sometimes getting specific things at specialty stores are well worth the extra trip. This is especially true when I can buy things in larger quantities that will last longer to offset the extra drive.

#2. DEALs on food WEBSITES

Aside from the grocery stores, I like to peruse websites that offer deals on food. Some of these websites will offer deals on grocery stores and restaurants, and some are just one or the other. Either way, they are a good place to take a look in case they have something that may work for you to help reduce your overall food costs.

Out of all the coupon websites we’ve run across, the following are our favorite options for deals on food:

  • Groupon – as one of the largest deal websites in the world, there’s always a ton of choices to choose from. Not only can you search online, but you can also get a deal while you are physically at the restaurant. All you have to do is then show the code to your server when it is time to pay and it discounts your meal. Pretty awesome!
  • Living Social – this one is a direct rival site to Groupon. While they don’t typically have as many deals as Groupon does, they always have a lot. And, as a bonus, they are usually the competitors to the Groupon listings. So we like to check both just to see who is offering the better deal in similar genres.
  • LocalFlavor.com – this site operates the same way as Groupon and Living Social, but it is more for local restaurants as opposed to chains. Plus, you get 25% off your first purchase when you sign up for their daily email with deals. This one we like a lot since we prefer to eat locally whenever possible. And deals at these types of restaurants are definitely much harder to come by.
  • Restaurant.com – this site has deals that never expire, which is one of my favorite things. You can go on there and search by genre or specific restaurant to see what they have. A lot of the deals are similar to paying $10 for $25 worth of food. This is the type of savings can really add up and help our bottom line!

Deals on food summary

Overall, there are a lot of great places that you can find good deals on food. If you have access to a smaller, local farmers market, that’s always the best place to start. After that, the grocery stores is where it’s at. These will definitely cost you less than eating at a restaurant, but typically more than a local farmers market. After these two, looking for deals on food websites is the place to hit for restaurants. Ultimately, following these tips can help stretch your food money even further.

What are some of the best ways you’ve found to get the best deals on food?

Gardening to Increase Your Health and Wealth

I will be the first to admit that gardening was never something I figured that I would do. However, as we have ventured further down the path towards financial independence, gardening is one of those things that helps. Embarking upon our gardening journey with growing food has helped to increaser both our health and our wealth. So, here are some of the great tips we’ve learned so far to help us be more successful on our gardening journey.

Gardening for Health

Growing your own food can help you save money on groceries, if you do it right. But, gardening can take some really hard work in the beginning to finally get to the place of balance. Therefore, you’ll have to put in some sweat equity regularly, and be prepared to make mistakes. After all, the best way to learn anything is through the mistakes we make along the way!

No matter what your space is, there is a way to work a garden out. Some of the most common options are:

  • a large space to garden – you can plant many different crops in rows, raised beds, stackable planters, or any combination
  • a small patio or deck – hanging baskets, stacking planters, railing planters are the best options

Even though we have a large back yard, we have found that planting a lot of our crops in planter boxes works better for us. It helps reduce the number of weeds and pests, and it’s easier to keep all of the dogs out of our food.

gardening for wealth

According to the most recent report by the National Gardening Association (NGA), the number of households that participate in gardening has only continued to increase every year. I’m pretty confident that this is due to multiple reasons:

  • COVID affected how people could get fresh food, so personal gardens gained popularity
  • quality of fresh produce has declined throughout the years
  • grocery prices have increased
  • people have started taking more control over their health and wealth and food is a big part of that

On top of increasing individual health, the amount that a household can save on groceries can also increase. For the most part, having your own home garden can save you between $500 – $1000 per year. However, this can be based on:

  • where you live
  • your family size
  • how many different crops you grow
  • what kind of seeds and starters you choose to use

As an example, we are a family of 7, and were able to save a little over $600 the first year we started our food garden. And we only started out with a very small amount of crops, because of time and knowledge constraints. Seeing as we have expanded our garden this year, we are pretty excited to see how much more we can save this year.

choosing seeds

Besides losing crops due to inexperience, choosing seeds can be the next more expensive part of at home gardening. Especially, if you are like us and only use organic seeds.

The reason we choose organic seeds only is due to the fact that we want all of the crops we grow to be organic from beginning to end. Organic seeds and growing everything organically, creates a better end result that is more nutrient dense. And we don’t run the risk of potentially toxic chemicals in our food or soil. Both of these are things extremely important to us, so we’re willing to pay more for it.. But, different strokes for different strokes, and this may not be where you land, which is perfectly fine.

Either way, the cost of the seeds you buy will all depend on whether they are:

  • organic
  • heirloom
  • perennials (they come back every year without you having to replant)
  • annuals(you will only get one crop out of them and will have to replant every year)

We prefer to plant perennial crops because I am not a huge fan of having to do the same work over and over again. It is hard enough work to keep the beds weeded and the pests away. Due to this, we are working on creating a more permaculture type of garden this year, which will naturally keep the pests away. But, we’ll just have to see how that goes!

Gardening for health and wealth summary

Overall, gardening can be a great way to increase both your health and your wealth. However, the costs of starting your garden can vary widely, depending on:

  • where you live (cost of living)
  • how big your family is
  • how much room you have for a garden
  • seed costs
  • learning curve

When you first begin this journey, it will probably be overwhelming. As with everything life though, it gets easier with time and knowledge. Plus, it is so rewarding to be able to go outside and pick your own fresh fruits and veggies and not have to pay anything for it. There is almost nothing better, in my opinion, than being able to create meals right from my own backyard. And we are definitely healthier, and wealthier for it!

What are some of the greatest benefits you’ve had from starting your own food garden?

Fantastic Budget Friendly Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

As we start to come out of the colder winter months and really embrace springtime, there are a lot of great things to look forward to. And Mother’s Day happens to be one of the best things occurring in this season of fun. With it almost upon us now, it’s time to really think about how to get a fantastic budget friendly Mother’s Day gift for your mom.

mother’s day artwork

One of my favorite gifts that my kids give me just happens to be their artwork. While not all of my kids are going to be world renowned artists, they all bring something unique to the table. And a few of them are actually really darn good at the artwork they create for me.

One of my kids is a fantastic potter and has given me many of his one of a kind pieces for Mother’s Day. In the past, I’ve gotten a coffee mug, a plate and some smaller bowls that I use regularly. I’m hoping for another one of his masterpieces this year, if I’m lucky. And these aren’t too expensive either since he makes them in some of the classes offered by our local Parks and Rec programs. And he’s also taken pottery in school before, so those pieces cost even less since he was in public school.

One of my other kids is a fantastic painter and another one one draws like I could never even imagine. So, in the past I’ve received many really cool paintings and hand drawn pieces from them. I have quite a few hanging in different places around my house and office. Last year, one of them even drew a picture of their interpretation of me, which was pretty awesome when it was complete.

For these lovely pieces of artwork, I end up paying for some of the supplies, sometimes. In most cases though, they already have the supplies since they ask for art supplies for birthdays and Christmases.

Mother’s day feast

Another budget friendly Mother’s Day gift that I really love happens to be when the kids make me food of some sort. Sometimes this takes the form of breakfast or brunch, and other times it’s craft coffee and pastries, or sometimes dinner. No matter which one it happens to be, I’m always interested to see what Mother’s Day food concoctions they come up with for me.

Sometimes, what they come up with is really very tasty. Other times it’s a bit suspect, but I’m willing to give it a try. After all, they did put a lot of work and thought into whatever they’ve made me. And it’s all been made with love, so I owe them to give it a shot.

If you’re willing to be a bit adventurous, having your kids make you some sort of food or beverage concoction for Mother’s Day can be a real treat. They get a thrill out of showing off their skills, or sometimes lack thereof. And having them make an effort for me is just as much of a gift as something they’ve bought from the store that I’ll never use.

Mother’s day utilitarian gifts

I realize that not every mother wants the same things for Mother’s Day. That being said, I fall into the more utilitarian camp, as I despise extraneous stuff. Anyone who knows me for 5 minutes can figure that out, and my kids are no different. So, throughout the years, they’ve learned that if they want to get me an actual paid for gift, it better be something that I can use for something.

Some of my favorite past budget friendly Mother’s Day gifts they’ve gotten me include:

  • Giant coffee mugs (I like the ones that are not only unique but are also the size of a soup tureen)
  • Fuzzy socks with the grippers on the bottom (so I stop slipping down the stairs and trying to break my neck)
  • Really cool mousepad with artwork on it
  • Cell phone stand
  • Foam coasters with their artwork on top
  • Travel coffee mugs (because I keep dropping mine and denting them all to heck)

The list could probably go on. But these are some great examples of some good budget friendly Mother’s Day gift options.

budget friendly mother’s day gift summary

Overall, there can be a ton of great ways to celebrate mom on Mother’s Day. And since it’s almost here, it’s time to really figure it out. Some of my favorite go-to’s for budget friendly Mother’s Day gifts are pretty simple and meaningful. Artwork from my kids shows me just how much they think about me. Mother’s Day food options are always fun for me because they are full of surprises. And utilitarian Mother’s Day gifts are also always welcome. I can use them for something, as opposed to them just sitting somewhere gathering dust.

No matter what you choose to do for your Mother, I’m sure she’ll love it. When it comes from the heart and you’ve really put some thought into it, that’s all that matters.

What are some of the best budget-friendly Mother’s Day gifts you’ve either gotten or given?

How to Find a Wedding Dress on a Budget

As someone who has become recently engaged, I know there can be a lot of things to think about when it comes to planning a wedding. This will be my second marriage, so we’re going much more low key than either my fiancé and I did for our first marriages. However, even for my first wedding, I was pretty frugal when it came to finding a dream wedding dress. And this time has been no different. In fact, I’ve been able to find 2 wedding dresses for much less than I even spent on the first one! So, here are some of my tips to find a great wedding dress on a budget.

wedding dress outlet stores

For my first wedding, many moons ago, I had no idea what kind of wedding dress I wanted. So, I did what most brides do (at that time, at least) and looked around the wedding stores near me for design choices. I have to say that I definitely had sticker shock when I first saw the prices they were charging for wedding dresses. Especially since you only wear them once for a few hours. Most of the wedding dresses I saw were priced between $1500 – $5000. These prices are crazy!

So, my mom told me that we should check one of the wedding dress outlet stores not too far away from us. And I’m so happy we did! With these types of stores, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. So, your choices may be more limited based on size and style, but you’re bound to find something.

It took me a few hours to find some choices that would potentially work. I was able to find a fantastic wedding dress for my big day though. With the shoes and a veil I was able to leave the store spending just shy of $600 for all of it. I did have to get a few minor alterations done on my dress closer to the wedding day, but those only cost me another $40. This was still a bit more than I wanted to spend to only wear a dress, shoes and a veil for a few hours. However, it was much more budget friendly than the mainstream wedding dress stores.

Online WEdding dress shopping

For this second wedding, I began looking online for wedding dresses. The fact that there are so many choices online now make any kind of shopping so much easier. For our second marriage, we’ve decided to have a destination wedding in the Maldives on the beach. So, I wanted something much lower key, which also translates to more cost efficient. However, since destination weddings in the Maldives aren’t considered legal in the United States, we have to have a courthouse ceremony before we depart to make it legal also. Therefore, I need two dresses. One for our legal ceremony (which I wanted to be more of a dress that I would wear again to parties and special events) and one for our actual ceremony in the Maldives.

Hebeos and JJ’s House

I began searching and found two great websites that had a ton of wedding dress options for very frugal prices. Hebeos was the first website that I ran across. And I loved quite a few styles on this site, along with the prices. However, their return policy if I didn’t like the dress was a bit more stringent than the second website I found, JJ’s House. JJ’s House had a lot of similar options and also had a Try Before You Buy program. This program let me pick up to 3 different dresses and pay only $10 each to have them sent to my house for me to try on. I had 14 days to try them on once they arrived and return them if I didn’t like them. I loved this idea!

So, I picked one dress for the Maldives and two dresses for our legal ceremony here. I was really excited about them, but they didn’t fit me right when I tried them on. So, I returned them and picked a different style that I knew would work for me. This dress was only $109 and is for my legal ceremony here in the States. Plus, I love it so much that I will definitely be wearing it to other events.

boutique store shopping

My wedding dress proved to be a little more difficult to find. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted, other than I wanted it to not drag on the sand and fit my body well, but give me some breathing room. Plus, it had to pack well in my carry on bag with everything else and not get damaged. My mom and I went to the mall (which I detest doing) to see what we could find at the bigger department stores.

The department stores did definitely have some decent options, but none that were my style, or in my budget. We stumbled upon one of the smaller boutique stores that had a clearance section from last years styles. And we got really lucky. My mom found a dress that she thought looked like my style and was only $33 after tax! I I did need to take it to get hemmed a little bit and taken in on the back. But the total for those alterations was only $30. So I only spent a total of $63 on my actual wedding dress, which is awesome!

Wedding Dress on a budget summary

Overall, there are a lot of great ways you can find a wedding dress on a budget. A lot of it will depend upon your style, time of year and location where your wedding will take place. Wedding dress outlet stores are a good place to check for in person styles and so you can try some things on. Boutique stores and some department stores may also be good places to check. You never know what they can be hiding in their clearance sections. And if all else fails, searching online is probably going to be a win-win because of the plethora of options available.

I’m pretty darn happy with the fact that I was able to get two wedding dresses for a total of under $200. Especially since my first one cost a little over $600. Now, that gives me something else to smile about besides just getting married.

Where are some places that you’ve found a fantastic wedding dress on a budget?

5 Fantastic Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Date Ideas

Valentine’s day is upon us again. As crazy as that seems! And with today being the big day, the even bigger question is how should we show our love just how much we love them? And, is it possible to do just that while also not breaking the bank? Well, it certainly is possible to do both, in my experience. So, I’ve come up with a list of 5 fantastic budget-friendly Valentine’s date ideas that are my favorite options.

#1. Adult arcade adventure

As part of the generation that grew up with arcades as a normal part of life, they are extremely nostalgic for me. And while they seemed to have a slow death for quite a few years, it seems the idea of them has been revitalized lately. Not only are they beginning to come back, but they are coming back with a bit of an adult twist!

The few adult arcades we have in our area now offer a full bar. All of them also either have food trucks outside to grab some delicious food or a full kitchen with mostly bar food. The arcades around us are open to all ages during the day, but at night they are only for ages 21 and up. Which is nice, if you want to have an adult night out without children.

These arcades are usually stocked with all of the old school 1980’s games, for a highly reminiscent night of fun. But, we have found one even newer adult arcade option that also has some new spins on old favorites to make adult arcade night even more of an adventure.

#2. Romantic hike

Hiking is a great way to get out and enjoy nature, while reconnecting with your significant other. There are so many places to explore, that hiking can be an adventure all on its own. However, for a really good budget-friendly Valentine’s date you may want to spice up the romance a bit. And what better way to do that than to pack a picnic lunch or dinner with some wine to share?

Dig out a picnic basket, cutlery, plates, glasses and napkin. Then pack up a delicious tapas style feast to share somewhere along your hike. The best way to turn up the romance once you’ve gotten to this point is to disconnect from everything else and really just connect with your loved one. And the way to do this is to leave your phones in the car or turn them off, in case you need them for an unexpected emergency.

#3. check out a museum

Museums are another one of my favorite places to go for some budget-friendly fun. While not all museums are free, a lot of them are. We are lucky in that we live in the capital of our state, and therefore have a few museum options to choose from that are really good. And, all of ours just happen to be free as an added bonus.

Of course, each of the museums near us (Art, History, Science) also have paid exhibits. These are a little more special than every other exhibit they continually have on display. So, if you’d like to splurge a little bit, consider taking in one of the paid exhibits while you’re there. And a lot of museums will try to do something special for Valentine’s day, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

#4. Wine/beer tasting and pairing

The majority of us live somewhere close enough to a winery, brewery or meadery. And while not all of us will think of these as romantic options, per say, they really can be. A lot of these establishments will put on some sort of special Valentine’s date event to get more people to come in and try their offerings.

We have found quite a few near us that offer some sort of food pairing with their alcoholic options. And these dark chocolate strawberries or more savory concoctions can really add to the overall experience. Plus, it’s something a bit different than what they would normally offer.

While this option may not be quite as budget-friendly as others on the list, it can be a lot of great fun if you find the right space for you and your loved one.

#5. Movie fun

Throughout the years, movies have become more and more expensive. So, this may not be the cheapest option on the list. But, even though movies have become more expensive, they have been also upping the ante with the overall experience at the same time. Theaters have been achieving this by ripping out the old stinky fabric seats and replacing them with luxurious recliners. Some of them have small tables in group style pods also, for an even better experience.

These theaters have also revamped the snack bar to offer a much wider variety of options. On top of that, most of the theaters we have run across near us now also offer seat side service. Which means they will come and take your order at your seat (and have more of a full menu to choose from). They even offer beer and wine now too! So, check out a movie theater near you to see what great Valentine’s day movie options they may have available this year.

Budget-friendly valentine’s date ideas summary

Overall, there are quite a few options you can choose from to show your loved one just how much they mean to you on this special day. But, I’m not a huge fan of spending boatloads of money to do that. So, I prefer more budget-friendly Valentine’s date ideas as my go-to choices. When I’m wanting to have a bit more fun, I typically go the arcade or museum route. If I’m feeling a bit more romantic, I’ll probably opt for a romantic hike. And if I’m feeling like I’d prefer to be around more people and am okay with spending a bit more money, I’ll go for a beer or wine tasting or a movie.

But no matter which option you choose, you’re bound to have a wonderful time with your loved one on this Valentine’s day!

What are some of the best ways budget-friendly options you’ve found to celebrate Valentine’s day with your loved one?