I’ve always loved eating out, but I found that I was spending way too much on each trip and thought I would have to give up restaurants completely. I was totally wrong, though! Eating out doesn’t have to be banned completely when you’re on a budget – especially if you follow these tips…
Instead of ordering an entire kids meal that your kiddo likely won’t eat more than 3 bites of, just get a few dishes that the whole family can share! Just be aware that some restaurants may charge an extra fee for sharing plates.
Opt for water
Ordering soft drinks (or coffee or juice or tea) for everyone in the family is going to add up quickly – you could buy a whole liter of soda for around the price of one glass at a restaurant. Instead, have everyone opt for a water! Not only is it healthier, but your wallet will thank you.
Find promotions and discounts
Groupon always has lots of great discounts for restaurants, and it often forces you to try out somewhere new! Also, lots of places offer days where kids eat free, and sign up for emails to score birthday discounts (lots of places offer up a free entree for the birthday boy or girl), free appetizers and more!
Take leftovers home
Never be shy about asking for a to-go container to take home the rest of the bread or the last few bites of pasta. You’ve paid for all of it, so don’t just leave it behind!
Say “no” to appetizers
You’ll likely get plenty of food with your entree, so unless you have a coupon for a free appetizer, or it’s your favorite part about that restaurant, steer clear. Ask for extra bread or a basket of fries to munch on instead.
How full is your piggy bank?
If you’re looking to save up for a vacation, put some extra money away for the future, or just cut down on costs generally, one of the best the best ways to do this is to first of all analyze how much you spend. Put together a spreadsheet, write it in a notebook, or use an online budgeting site! Calculate your monthly transportation and/or gasoline costs, how much you’re spending on groceries, eating out, etc. Sometimes it can be a shock to see how much you spend vs. how much you really should be spending, but in order to be more financially savvy, you’ll have to face the reality and look at all of the numbers in order to know what needs to be cut back and come up with a game plan!
Some expenses are frivolous. Did you really need to go out to dinner 4 times that week? Or perhaps you could’ve waited for a sale before grabbing those expensive shoes? Each family is completely different when it comes to the extra expenses and how they work them out. If eating out is important to your family, don’t stop it entirely! Perhaps just opt for less expensive restaurants, share large dishes, or cut down a bit on the number of times you go.
Other costs are just plain necessary (like gasoline, groceries, etc.) but there are obviously ways that you can cut back on them, too! For example… Carpool, take the bus, meal plan before grocery shopping, use coupons… etc etc etc.
Those are just a few tips – here are a few more!
1. To save money on utilities, disconnect all the electronic household appliances when they are not being used. The microwave, televisions, and even computers that are turned off but still connected to a charger in the wall can still be using up electricity. Even though it’s a small amount, it adds up!
2. Also, you can reduce gas consumption and electricity by turning off the thermostat in winter season and using the fireplace instead (depending on the type of fireplace you have). Or just opt to not have the heat on as high at night and layer everyone up with a few extra blankets and warmer pajamas. As long as everyone is still comfortable, changing the temperature by just a few degrees can make a big difference!
3. When it comes to furnishing your home, buying clothes or household items, try to purchase second-hand whenever possible. Many people sell their objects and furniture online or at yard sales, and you can usually find quite a few pieces are are in almost-new condition! (I once bought barstool chairs for super cheap, and they hadn’t even been used! The previous owner bought too many a while back, and just stored them in her garage.)
4. Or, instead of buying anything at all, do some research and figure out how to restore or even just repaint your current furniture, or learn to properly clean your old shoes or patch up worn-out clothing for cheap.
5. As mentioned before, to cut back on gasoline costs, try to find someone that may want to carpool – whether that’s a carpool buddy for work, or perhaps a group of parents that trade off taking everyone’s kids to school. Not only are you spening less on gas, you’re also helping the environment as well! Woohoo!
6. And, also as mentioned before, try to find ways to cut back on food expenses as well. Simply look for ways to not to leave each day to eat in restaurants – packing lunches for work, taking turns with cooking to lessen the meal-making burden, and simply setting a limit for how many meals can be take-out or eaten at a restaurant.
7. When grocery shopping, check the supermarket ads before you go to see what is on sale. Also, learning how to use coupons can help you save so much! Plus, never go to the store hungry, and try to have recipes already planned out so that you don’t end up wasting money on items you don’t even need.
Those are just a few specific tips that have personally helped me to save money. Each family is different, with different expenses being more important, so be sure to take some time to see what would really help you best!
If you have any tips on saving more money each month, leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you do, and I’m sure other readers would as well!
If you’ve got a party coming up soon, and you’re worried about pulling it off without breaking the bank, you should know that it is TOTALLY possible to have a super fun an successful party without spending much money at all! Be sure to set a budget ahead of time, and then check out these tips…
Get creative with finding decorations for your theme. Balloons are fairly inexpensive, and can make a room feel very festive. You can also use decorations from a previous holiday or party, or ask to borrow decorations from a friend or family member. Remember not everything has to be of excellent quality; if your budget is limited there are always good options that don’t break the bank.
The amount of money you spend can vary greatly depending on the number of guests. If you do it only for a small group of children your expenses will be much lower and if you consider that there will be adults, obviously the expense will be greater.
The schedule is very important, plan it after lunch or after dinnertime so you can prepare only snacks, appetizers and other light foods. That way you can leave more free room in your budget for other things.
The cheapest option is your house or in the house of a family member or friend – or if weather-permits at an outdoor park. If you choose to rent a place like a club house or a party room do it during the week and at earlier hours, as that will also reduce rental costs.
Sure, you could save more money if you use your regular plates and cutlery. But time is money, and spending hours doing the dishes after your event is, in my opinion, not worth the few dollars you can spend on disposable items. Try to buy them at your local dollar store or buy with coupons during a sale to get them for cheap! And don’t throw out the extras, save them for next time (no one is going to care if there are a few Batman plates mixed in at your 4th of July BBQ).
If you decide to have a lunch or dinner party, make it a potluck! Ask your close family or friends to help you by bringing a favorite dish or drink. That way you aren’t spending as much and you will have a larger variety of foods. Plus, the homemade dishes can be a great conversation-starter!
Do not consume soda if you have the option of preparing flavored waters. Aside from being healthier, it can also be less expensive. Also, put names on the cups so the children and adults will keep their own as this limits the amount of orphaned cups that get thrown away.
Instead of shelling out a fortune on a cake from a bakery, try your hand at making your own! You can snag a box of cake mix for a couple bucks and whip up your own frosting from ingredients in your pantry. A couple dollars worth of sprinkles and fun candles will be all you need to make a cute cake.
Do not spend money on paper invitations. Instead, use social networks like Facebook to create your own event with all of the details on your party. It’s easier to see who can attend this way, and all without spending a single dollar.
Hate throwing out moldy berries?
Every time I head to the grocery store I seem to end up with at least on package of berries. Whether they’re for a recipe I’m planning to make, some smoothies, or just as a snack, I love keeping my fridge full of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries at all times.
Berries can also be a big pain, though. I find that unless they’re all eaten within a few days they go bad and I’m forced to throw them out. It’s particularly sad when I know I spent nearly $5 on an 8oz carton of raspberries, and they’re all going to waste!
After doing a bit of research, I’ve come up with 3 tips that can help all you berry fans out there save some serious money and make sure that you never have to toss out moldy berries again!
Stock up during sales
It’s rare to find a coupon for berries, but if you do, run to the store and use it! Also, check the weekly ads from your favorite grocery stores to see if anyone is offering up a sale. When the prices have been cut on the berries you like, stock up! Don’t worry, even if you grab 5 packages of blueberries, I promise none of them will go to waste if you follow the other 2 steps…
Soak in a vinegar bath
I’ll admit, when I first came across this “vinegar bath” tip for extending the life of your berries, I was skeptical. But now that I’ve tried it and have seen raspberries last in my fridge without any mold for nearly two weeks… I’m sold.
Simply mix 1 cup white vinegar with 3 cups water in a large bowl. Place the berries inside the mixture and let soak for at least 2 minutes. Afterwards, rinse off the vinegar and pat dry. The pH of the vinegar is what kills off any mold spores and bacteria – greatly extending the life of your berries.
Store extras in freezer
Place the amount of berries you expect to be able to eat in the fridge and then store the rest in an airtight freezer-bag. Berries stay good in the freezer for around a year! I love to add a cup of frozen blueberries to my warm oatmeal for breakfast, or I make smoothies or berry pie!
There ya go! 3 simple tips to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to berry-buying! Let me know what you think in the comments below! 😀
Authentic Enchiladas Verdes
My mother-in-law is from Mexico City, Mexico, so naturally, she is an incredible cook. From homemade salsas to quesadillas to tamales, she can make it all, and it’s all positively mouthwatering. I’m going to share with you one of her most favorite recipes for Enchiladas Verdes – translated from Spanish to English just for you!
- 1-2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 large onion
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 or more serrano or jalapeño chili’s (depending on how spicy you’d like it)
- 25 tomatillos
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 branch of cilantro
- 20 to 25 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Shredded or crumbled fresh cheese (mozzarella or queso fresco work great!)
- Optional: sour cream, avocado, and extra cilantro for topping
Cook the chicken with onion and salt in boiling water for 25 minutes. After it is thoroughly cooked, strain out the chicken and shred it. Be sure to reserve the water and onion for later use.
In a separate pot, cook the tomatillos and chiles for 5 minutes in boiling water. (Note the cute little sister-in-law photobombing the tomatillos. 😉 )
Then in the blender, add some of the reserved water and onion and liquefy the tomatoes and the boiled chili peppers along with the garlic cloves. (Add water little by little when necessary.) Pour pureed salsa back into stockpot and bring to low boil.
Pour the oil into the bottom of the frying pan and heat it up so that you can fry the tortillas lightly on each side (do not leave the tortilla in the oil for a long time).
Dip each fried tortilla into the boiling salsa, then place on a plate and put the shredded chicken on top of the tortillas placed on the plate or roll them in. Pour additional sauce on top of the enchiladas, and finally, adorn with crumbled or shredded cheese, onion, cilantro and sour cream to taste.
Did you know that specific items are cheaper to buy in specific months throughout the year? EVEN December. I’m sure many people think that ALL the sales happen in November and December. But, there are actually specific products that are DEEPLY discounted in December. Remember, it’s the end of the year, so stores need to make room for the new 2016 versions and models of products. Check out this list:
CARS: It’s time to make room for the newer models. Now is the time to pick up a new car. Not sure how many people have money after holiday shopping, but if you’re in the market for a car, you may want to budget your spending this holiday and buy that car you’ve been wanting. Car lots have got to move inventory to make room.
Gas Grills, Portable Air Conditioners, Cooling fans: Stores are really trying to push out summer items. Who wants to keep summer stuff in stock when no one is buying it? These items can be found deeply discounted to move them out!
Champagne: Get ready for your parties and stock up on the champagne. You will find amazing deals this month.
POOLS: You may not want to swim in them right now, but winter is the best time to buy a pool! Why? Because no one is buying them and the pool stores need to keep up work. So, they are deeply discounted as well. And the quality of work is much better because they are not rushing to the next job.
TOYS: Yes, with holiday shopping brings tons of toy sales. Stock up now for birthdays and parties that will come in the new year.
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College is expensive. There is no way around that fact. You start paying for your education in high school. Paying for practice tests, then SAT’s and ACT’s. College admission applications cost money. Once you’re accepted it’s time to start paying for college classes, housing, a food plan, transportation, and more.
If you did not get a full scholarship, keep reading. If you did get a full scholarship, I suggest you still keep reading. Save every penny now. It’s so much easier to start your career debt-free. And yes, it can be done!
There are a lot of tips to save money. I have added a few of my TOP tips below.
Buy, rent, or borrow used textbooks. Did you know you can now RENT textbooks? I love this idea. Also, ask friends and family if you can buy or borrow their used textbooks. This goes for study guides too. We are buying used study books for the A.P. Exam this year (high school).
Open a savings account that earns interest.
Consider becoming a resident advisor to save on housing (or get it free!)
Limit eating out at restaurants.
Make your own coffee. This can save you hundreds.
Skip cable and other non-necessary items.
Try to avoid loans
COUPON! use coupons as much as possible for food, health and beauty, and more.
GO TO CLASS! You paid for it, so get what you paid for!