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.
If you’re interested in an all-natural all-purpose cleaning spray, look no further! One of my favorite all-natural cleaning solutions is made with just orange peels, vinegar and water! With this simple recipe you can save money and protect your family from products with harsh chemicals. The ingredients used are not toxic or harmful to health, and can disinfect your home while also leaving a pleasant aroma behind.
- The peels from 3 oranges
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- A large bottle (preferably glass)
Cut the orange peels into pieces and put them inside the jar, adding a cup of water and a cup of vinegar, seal the jar and let it stand for about 2 weeks. After the 2 weeks passes, open your jar and split it in equal parts and, if you’d like, add a teaspoon of olive oil to one part – making sure to shake it every time you use it to properly incorporate the oil. This mixture with the olive oil is perfect for cleaning your furniture as it will leave it shiny and give it bright and fresh citrus aroma. Put the other part into a spray bottle and use to clean surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom. If you’d like it to be an even more effective disinfectant, add a spoonful of rubbing alcohol.
There you go! A super easy and effective all-purpose cleaning spray made from ingredients you likely have around the house already! You’ll save money while also protecting your family from harmful chemicals.
Need a house-warming gift? Or something for the parents of a new baby? Maybe you just want to give someone more than just a thank you card? One gift idea that I truly love is a fruit basket! It’s relatively inexpensive (depending on the fruits you use) and a very fun idea. For starters, you’ll need a variety of fruits… For example: oranges, pineapple (I love using a pineapple because it’s just so darn cool-looking!) bananas, bunches of grapes, red and green apples, kiwis, melon, etc. You’ll also obviously need a basket. I like using the kind with a handle as it makes it easier to transport, but any size or style basket will do. Also, some colored tissue paper or cellophane, maybe some paper confetti, and a piece of cardboard that you’ll cut to the size of the bottom of the basket. A colored bow or ribbon also adds a nice touch. ALSO, if you’d like to do a little more than just fruit you can always add in a bottle of honey, a bag of granola, some cheeses or chocolates… anything!
Grab your basket, and if you’d like it to be a little more sturdy you can put the piece of cardboard as a base. Start by adding some tissue paper on the sides before adding in the fruit that will hold it all in place. If you’re using a pineapple, place it in the center (because pineapples are the best and they deserve to be the center of attention).Then add in the other fruits around the pineapple, placing the larger fruits at the bottom and the smaller ones like the plums or kiwi’s on top so they can be seen. If you’re using bananas, detach them from the cluster and arrange them individually to add a pop of color all around.
Once the fruits are placed you can add in more tissue or cellophane paper and any other items you’re gifting. If you want to take it one step further, wrap the entire basket with some of the cellophane paper and tie the top with a bow!
There you go! It’s a really simple gift to put together, but it’s creative and lots of fun to do. This is a great gift for any occasion, and no matter how you assemble it, whether it’s just a simple basket with some bananas and oranges or a large one filled to the brim with colorful fruits, whoever you gift it to is sure to appreciate it.
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!
Can you believe January is here? Where did this year go? Well, with the new month, comes new deals. Below are the top 6 things you will want to purchase in January:
Christmas Decor: Stores will want to move out the holiday decor both big and small. Look for sales up to 90% off on trees, holiday candies, ornaments, stockings, and more.
Fitness Equipment & Gym Memberships: I actually purchased my gym membership 2 years ago in JANUARY! It was a New Years Resolution of mine. Since so many people tend to have weight loss or getting healthy on their resolution list, the gyms offer some amazing deals to get you in the door. That is the same with fitness equipment in stores and online.
Linens: Look for deep discounts on both high end and mid-level quality linens in January. You will notice stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s will start clearancing their inventory of linens and offer coupon codes to stack. This is a great time to buy towels, bed linens, and more.
Kitchen Appliances: Both small and large appliances will be on sale this month as January tends to focus on items for the home. Check places like Lowes, Sears, and Macy’s for the best deals.
Winter Apparel: Stores want to be sure they sell all of their winter apparel to make room for Spring lines. Look for coats, sweaters, and boots to be discounted toward the end of the month.
Air conditioners: Now is the time to purchase your air conditioner. No one is thinking of air conditioners in January, so, sales are down. Stores as well as companies that install them will discount them to move inventory.
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Parties and getting together with friends is a ton of fun. It could also mean a ton of food, drinks, and left overs that don’t really fit into dinner plans. While fun at the time, most of us don’t want to waste food, or see food wasted. It breaks our thrifty hearts. Here’s how to reduce the amount of party leftovers you will have and tips for what to do with what is left over.
Think Before You Buy
When having people over consider having foods that will last longer, morph into meals and are semi healthy. When you have candy you will either destroy your diet or never be rid of it. When you have tortilla chips and bean dip you can later add salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream to make nachos for lunch on the day after your get together.
Make It Potluck
Potluck parties are the best because with everyone bringing something you know two things. First, there is going to be plenty of food. Second, everyone should have something there they like. After the party you can just send people home with the leftovers of what they brought. You can send everyone home with something they didn’t bring.
Try To Pawn Them Off
If you have thrown a party or had a family get together, try to pawn some of the food off on those that attended. Often you have paid for the food, but what is left over is more than your little family unit can ( or should ) eat before it goes bad. Make plates or bags designed with the purpose of sending your food orphans home with family and friends.
Left Over Day
Have the day after your party be a left over day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner should all be comprised of left overs. So should any snacks that are consumed on that day. While you will have some less healthy options and some interesting meal combinations, you will also avoid wasting those costly party foods.
No one like to waste money by wasting food. Smaller, more picker members of our families, however, may not care at all how much we are spending on groceries. They may demand a diet of peanut butter sandwiches for a year if we allowed it. It’s tempting some days, but we don’t. Still how can we get our little one to eat right without breaking the bank.
Believe in Seconds
You aren’t sure if your little food critic is going to devour dinner or turn their nose up at it. So give them a tiny portion to see if they like it. They are more likely to try it because it’s such a small amount. This means that your more likely to get them to eat it because they now know they like it. If they don’t like it, you haven’t wasted a full portion on them.
Never Force Food
Having control of what they put in their mouth is big for little independent minds. when you try to force food on a child they are more likely to rebel against eating it. This will set a precedent with all new food. It’s important that your child gets to choose what they will try. Offer small amount of a large variety of foods. You can do this by buying or making fruit, vegetable, and cheese platters with crackers and various dips. There could be yogurt dips, peanut butter dips or just plain old ranch dressing. This gives you picky child the opportunity to pick.
Mix It In
Put a new vegetable in a casserole or in some pasta. Put fruit in pancakes. Make things that are salads (potato, pasta, or egg) that otherwise wouldn’t pass as a salad. Get veggie dogs or vegan chicken nuggets. Make sweet potato fries instead of regular french fries. Get bread with a fruit of vegetable in them. A little camoflauge could go a long way if your little one isn’t paying attention.