How To Budget When You Are Broke

creating-a-budget

Budgeting for anyone takes time and a lot of energy. However, in a society where everything is going up and wages are staying the same, you need to know how to budget even when there isn’t much there. Are you ready to take a look at your budget and start inserting some new tips?

:: Look Again

There is always some wiggle room in a budget. How is this? Well, each time you take a closer look at your budget, you might find some available money. Can you call and get another discount on your cell phone? Are you willing to get rid of some channels on your television? In all honesty, if you’re that broke, it may be time to cut the cable bill completely. Are you stopping to get coffee on your way to work because it is “only” $1 (when you can make it cheaper at home).  Hitting the vending machine at work for a $0.75 soda?

Every time you take a second look at your budget, you become a little less broke.

:: Pay Necessities First

A lot of people who are on a tight budget are faced with what they should pay first. If your family is going to be suffering financially for a while, you need to pay your main bills first. What constitutes as a main bill? Paying your mortgage or rent first would be an example of paying your necessities first. Of course your heat, water, and electricity can also be considered your main bills.

If you can’t make major credit card payments, loans, and other debts, then it’s time to start calling your creditors.  This is a time to look at every bill you have and to take an even closer look at where all of your money is going!

:: Get Creative

Okay, no one likes eating macaroni or ramen noodles for an extended period of time, but if you’re broke, it’s time to swallow your pride. There is no shame in putting yourself on a tight food budget. After all, cutting a food budget is one of the easiest ways to stretch a budget. It’s a little scary to reduce this part of your budget, but you may not have a choice.

Buying just the necessities like milk, chicken, beans, and bread is something you may have to partake in for a while. Don’t get discouraged though because there are a lot of different recipes you can try out thanks to Pinterest and the Internet. (Have to cut the Internet out? No problem, take exclusive advantage of free WIFI in various places in your town.)

Are there other places you can get creative in your budget? Sure! Maybe now is the time to learn how to sew and patch your own clothing. When you are broke, there is never a wrong idea for getting creative with your budget, as long as it’s legal.

:: Increase Your Income

It’s understandable that for some families, increasing the revenue coming in is simply not doable. However, if you can get a part time job, then now is the time to do so. Even if you only have the job for a short period of time, any extra money coming in will help pay down debt and balance out your budget.

Most people have experienced being broke in their lifetime and there is no shame in it. Sometimes being broke is our fault and sometimes it’s not. That’s why you have to reevaluate where your money is going and double evaluate what you can cut. Use these tips to create a lasting budget while you’re broke. Things will get better, but until they do, it’s time to cut back and create a new budgeting plan.

What are your best budgeting tips?

5 Inexpensive Ways To Decorate For Fall

fall decorations

After Labor Day has come and gone, people really start to think about the upcoming fall season. Are my pumpkin treats available at Starbucks yet? Where are my fall and Halloween decorating items?

If you have any of those questions above, then you are in step with the rest of the population.  I love to decorate my house when the seasons change, but it can make a huge dent in your wallet if you are not careful.

5 Inexpensive Ways to Decorate For Fall

1. Create or Download a Cute Printable

Having a cute and fun printable on your television stand can really make your house scream fall. Not only does it show your creative side, but it costs hardly anything if you are downloading them.  All you really need to have is a photo frame and a printer with paper.  You can also create them very easily on PicMonkey. It is a free photo editing website where you can create unlimited printable images. There are so many different graphics you can use, even with the free version.

2. Add a Wreath on Your Front Door

With almost every holiday or season, you will see a different kind of wreath on people’s front doors.  You can easily find inexpensive wreaths at WalMart or Michaels. If you have a creative side to you, you can always make a gorgeous fall or Halloween wreath for nearly nothing. This is where Pinterest will start to become your friend, if it hasn’t already.

3. Add Fall Themed Placemats to Your Table

In my local Michaels they have so many different fall items; they have to have some type of fall placement. It can be anything from fall leaves to pumpkins. If you check on Michaels website you will be sure to find either a 40 or 50 percent off coupon. What an inexpensive way to add cute placements to your table.

4. Add Pumpkins Either Inside or Outside {Or Both}

If you have been to any type of store in the last couple of weeks you should have started to see pumpkins. Pumpkins are everywhere right now –large, small, and medium ones. I have the cute small ones sitting on the back of my stove. It only cost me $2.98 for a small bag of five.  Many different stores, especially craft stores, have artificial pumpkins that cost very little. The plus sides of artificial ones, they are reusable each year.

5. Add Fall Themed Dish Towels in Your Kitchen

If you haven’t already added fall themed dish towels in your kitchen yet, you are missing out. They really spruce up the kitchen.  Instead of trying to purchase each dish towel individually, purchase them in a big pack so you can have coordinating ones. If there is a Kohl’s around your neck of the words – they always have coupons available you can purchase them very inexpensively and they are so adorable.

As you can see, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to decorate for Fall. Most of the items you will purchase can be used year after to year to further contain your costs.

What are some of your tips for decorating on the cheap?

What Is On Sale The Month of September

What is On Sale The Month of September

September is the transition from summer to back to school. You’ll find great deals on summer clearance and discounted school supplies. Labor day sales are great for finding last-minute deals on grills, gardening supplies, and other items just before the warm weather ends. There are also lots of great apparel deals throughout September. Look out for harvest season sales too, so you can get lots of great fruits and veggies for those last few cookouts of the season.

Here is what is on sale the month of September:

:: Grocery & Drugstore Deals in September

In-season produce: apples, artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, cucumber, kale, figs, garlic, horseradish, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, nectarines, potatoes, peaches, pears, plums, pumpkins, red onions, spinach, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes.

Harvest season sales: sweet corn, apples, pumpkins, berries, squash, peppers.

Labor Day Sales: steak, hamburger, hotdogs, buns, chips, sodas, cold salads, ice cream, beer, solo cups, paper plates, garbage bags.

Family health: Band-Aids, antiseptic, antibacterial hand gel, sunscreen, sunglasses, deodorant, travel size toiletries, bandages. Restock your bathroom and make sure that the kids are prepared for sports boo-boos, the locker room, and being outside in the sun even though it’s cooler outside.

:: Other September Sales

Back to School: pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, folders, glue sticks, construction paper, colored pencils, watercolors, markers, white-out, cosmetics, clothes, shoes, backpacks.

Summer clearance: sunscreen, outdoor games, summer clothing, beach toys, lawn and garden supplies, bathing suits, summer apparel.

Harvest deals: food preparation tools- dehydrators, freezer bags, vacuum sealers, canning jars.

New cars: Dealerships are anxious to get rid of the current year’s models to make room for the next year’s vehicles. You can get a great deal on a car below sticker price in September. Make sure to do your research before hitting the lot to get the best deal possible.

Camping supplies: propane stoves, tents, tent stakes, lanterns, fishing tackle, fishing rods, hunting supplies, sleeping bags, camouflage clothing, insect repellent, backpacks.

Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | August 24, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be 2 inserts this week: a SmartSource and a Redplum

Don’t understand the terms or abbreviations that I use? Be sure to read my Coupon Lingo post!

Coupons of Note

:: SmartSource Coupons

Trojan coupons: they only put out coupons about 3 times per year

:: RedPlum Coupons

AXE $2/1 bodyspray or deodorant stick: this coupon should make for some god deals at the drug stores

So how many copies of the paper would I buy?

If I were building a stockpile: 1 – 2

Now that I am in stockpile-maintenance mode: not caring that I am travelling home from vacation this weekend and probably won’t be able to grab extra newspapers

It’s a SHOCKINGLY bad week for coupons!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

3 Homemade Stain Removers You Can Make

3 Simple Homemade Stain Removers You Can Make

With kids you will have stains. It is a given. No sooner do you give birth than you find your nice shirts with stains on them. The amount of stain remover I went through when my children were young was insane, and very costly. Had I know about these 3 Simple Homemade Stain Removers back then, I could have saved my family a lot of money and likely had stains coming out of my clothing a lot better and easier.

Each of these recipes contains different ingredients that may already be in your pantry. I’ve used all of them at one point or another and believe they all work equally well. The biggest thing you have to determine is if you want to go completely natural or if you want to have a more simple and inexpensive version of what you buy in stores. Regardless of your preference, you should easily be able to whip up one of these stain removers in a few minutes to suit your families needs.

3 Simple Homemade Stain Removers

THE BASIC – this one is the least expensive. You can usually pick up 9 oz (just over a cup) of Dawn for just $0.99 at the by shopping the drug store deals and hydrogen peroxide is equally cheap!)

  • 1 Cup Original Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
  • 1 Cup Hydrogen Peroxide
  1. Mix together in spray bottle and spritz onto stain. Let soak for at least 15 minutes prior to wash.

THE NATURAL – if you want a more natural stain remover, this is the one for you. Liquid Castille soap and Vegetable Glycerin used to be hard to find, but now I see it in the natural aisles at my local grocery store and even at Target (although the best prices continue to be on Amazon)

  1. Mix together in spray bottle. May add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent. Spray on before washing.

THE HEAVY DUTY – this is for those heavy duty stains. Use as needed, but remember to never use bleach on loads that have been treated with this stain remover. Bleach and ammonia do not mix safely.

  • 1 Cup Original Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
  • 1 Cup Ammonia
  • 1/3 Cup Baking Soda
  • 3 Cups Water
  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in spray bottle or container out of reach of children.
  2. Use as needed, but remember to never use bleach on loads that have been treated with this stain remover. Bleach and ammonia do not mix safely.

Whether you have simple stains from a spot of food landing on your shirt or a heavy duty pasta sauce or grass stain you have multiple choices here in these 3 simple homemade stain removers that will allow you to clean up anything you need to from your clothing.

Have you ever made your own homemade stain remover?

School Lunches The Frugal Way

frugal-school-lunches-back-to-school

School Lunches the Frugal Way

Back to school is right around the corner and it’s time to start preparing by getting school supplies and planning what your child will take for lunches. It’s much easier to plan lunches ahead of time instead of always feeling rushed in the mornings to get it done since you already have enough to worry about on busy school mornings.

Below you will find some great ideas for frugal lunch additions that you can pack this school year. Make sure to change it up every so once in a while so your kids won’t get bored of sack lunches and start begging for cafeteria food. These choices below are healthy and frugal so you don’t have to break the bank finding the best foods for your kids!

Sandwich Ideas: Bread is usually the cheapest option but these other options are also inexpensive and will make the sandwich feel like a whole new meal…even if it has the same filling.

Pita Pockets
Tortillas
English Muffins
French Bread
Buns

Sandwich Filling Ideas: Use one or more of these frugal fillings inside your sandwiches. Or you can always skip the sandwich altogether on some days and have a variety of crackers, cheeses, and meats!

Tuna
Eggs
Peanut Butter
Leftover Meats
Bacon/Lettuce/Tomato

Add Ins:  Lunch wouldn’t be complete if it’s just a sandwich!

Muffins
Apples/Bananas/In Season Fruits
Fruit and Homemade Dip
Cottage Cheese
Salads
Homemade Cookies
Dried Fruits
Pretzels
Homemade Granola Bars
Applesauce
String Cheese or Cheese Slices
Yogurt
Baby Carrots

Other Ideas:  Not into sandwiches every day? Here are some other inexpensive lunches you can pack.

Bagels with Cream Cheese (could also be topped with meats, fruit, ect)
Homemade Soup in a thermos
Pasta Salad
Spaghetti

What are some of your favorite frugal lunch ideas?

Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | August 10, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be 2 inserts this week: a SmartSource and a Redplum insert.

Don’t understand the terms or abbreviations that I use? Be sure to read my Coupon Lingo post!

Coupons of Note

:: SmartSource Coupons

Infusium 23 $2/1 shampoo, conditioner or leave-in treatment: this coupon can usually be used to get it for $1 or less

Lime-A-Way $.50/1 cleaner: they only release coupons about 2 times per year. If you have hard water, this is a nice coupon!

Snack Pack $.45/3 pudding or gel 4pks: we will see these on sale for $1 or less through about the middle of September. If your store doubles coupons, this will make for some nice savings

:: RedPlum Coupons

nothing exciting

So how many copies of the paper would I buy?

If I were building a stockpile: 1 – 2

Now that I am in stockpile-maintenance mode: 0 – 1

It’s a boring week!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

How To Save Money At Garage Sales

garage-sale-tips

All You Need to Know About Garage Sales

Head down a neighborhood road on any given Saturday in the summer or fall and what will you find? Garage sales up and down the roads, people bringing their goods that they no longer have use for out for others to buy.

Ready to try out a morning of garage sales for yourself? Try out some of the tips below to make the most of your morning and score the best deals!

Get up EARLY!

Even though a few garage sales may start at 8, check for the sales that start at 6 or 7 and get up and get ready for them. There will be fewer people out earlier in the morning so you will have a better selection and get a better chance at some of the bigger items you might be wanting. (Those tend to go first at sales.) Don’t worry about how you look or how you are dressed, just throw in some comfortable clothes, grab a cup of coffee to go and head out for your adventure.

Plan your list out ahead of time.

Don’t wander around to whichever garage sales you can spot unless you aren’t looking for anything in particular. (And if you aren’t looking for anything, why are you out shopping in the first place? Sounds like an impulse buying trap!) Make sure to check the newspaper, Craigslist, and Facebook the night before to make a list of all the sales you want to hit. You will also want to have an idea of where these sales are so you aren’t going all over town looking for a street. A simple search on Google or Mapquest will help you there. Start at the sales closest to your home and go further out as the morning progresses so you have the least amount of driving.

Know what you need.

As I mention above, if you don’t need anything, don’t go out shopping! If you do need to look for some things, make a list ahead of time or at least memorize what you are looking for. If you are looking for clothing, it might be a good idea to write down the sizes and seasons you are shopping for so when you get to a sale you can ask the owners if they have any of those items and you know what to look for.

Know your prices.

Make sure you know or have an idea of what you are willing to pay for an item before you go out shopping for it.  Set a base guideline for what you are willing to pay for a shirt, a pair of jeans, or a certain toy before you go shopping and don’t go over that price. Unless it’s a one of a kind item, chances are you will find it at another garage sale later in the morning or on another day.

Some garage sales you will spend only a few minutes at before you realize that the owners have much too much sentimental value in their items because they are asking too high of a price. In my experience, these are the owners that will not negotiate with you. But for most other garage sales, if you don’t like the price, just ask! Unlike a retail store, garage sale owners don’t need to have a certain amount from an item to break even, they just want to get it sold and often are willing to let it go to a new home for a great deal.

Use the tips above and you should be well on your way to saving money at garage sales in no time!

What is the best deal you’ve ever gotten at a garage sale?

Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | August 3, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be xx this week:

Don’t understand the terms or abbreviations that I use? Be sure to read my Coupon Lingo post!

Coupons of Note

:: SmartSource Coupons

Alberto V05 $.50/2 shampoo, conditioner or body wash: goes on sale for $1 all the time, making it as low as $0.50 each after doubled coupon

Five Star coupons: these will come in handy when you are shopping for school supplies!

Skippy coupons: it has been quite some time since we saw peanut butter coupons. Here is hoping that they start returning on a regular basis!

:: RedPlum Coupons

Brawny $.55/1 paper towels: If your store doubles coupons, this could make for some cheap paper towels (especially if your store sells the single rolls)

So how many copies of the paper would I buy?

If I were building a stockpile: 2 – 4

Now that I am in stockpile-maintenance mode: 2 – 3

The Skippy coupons are pretty sweet, as are the Five Star coupons. Other than that, it is a little un-thrilling.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

What is On Sale The Month of August

What Is On Sale In August

August is the end of summer, so you will be able to find end-of-season clearance as well as fall sales throughout the month. While there aren’t any notable holidays in August, it is back-to-school season, so you can save big on school supplies, backpacks, dorm room essentials, and a host of other school needs.

Keep an eye out for clearance sales on bathing suits and summer apparel, and don’t forget about harvest produce sales.

Here is what is on sale the month of August:

:: Grocery & Drugstore Deals in August

In-season produce: beets, corn, cucumber, eggplant, figs, grapes, grapefruit, green beans, lettuce, melons, nectarines, okra passion fruit, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, summer squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, zucchini.

Fall canning and food storage deals: food storage items, freezer bags, canning supplies, seasonings.

Labor Day Sales: steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, baking potatoes, drink mixes, soda, watermelon, beer, frozen French fries, condiments.

Back to school lunch sales: deli meat, boxed juices, individually packaged snacks, pudding cups, cookies, potato chips, peanut butter, jelly, bread.

:: Other August Sales

Back to school supply sales: pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, glue sticks, crayons, backpacks, folders, lunch boxes, book covers, locker organizers.

Apparel sales: school uniforms, jeans, jackets, socks, t-shirts, underwear, sweaters, long-sleeved shirts.

Electronics: PCs and laptops, cell phones and tablets are on sale for back-to-school. Cell phone providers often introduce new family savings plans just before school goes back. All electronics aimed at or use for educational purposes is on sale at this time.

Summer clearance: Just before Labor Day you’ll find all kinds of end of summer blowout sales. Clothing, outdoor items, sports equipment and several things for in and around the home will be on sale.

Gardening supply sales: August is harvest time so any leftover gardening supplies will be on clearance while stores make canning and food storage and preparation items more affordable. Dehydrators, vacuum sealers, freezing containers, jars and lids and pressure cookers are great deals in August.

Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | July 27, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be 5 inserts this week: 2 SmartSource inserts, 2 Redplum inserts and a Proctor & Gamble insert.

Don’t understand the terms or abbreviations that I use? Be sure to read my Coupon Lingo post!

Coupons of Note

:: SmartSource Coupons

Speed Stick B1G1 free gear antiperspirant/deodorant or body spray up to $4.29: there are always good deals on Speed Stick at the drug stores. This coupon should make the deals even better!

Purell $1/1 8oz+ advanced hand sanitizer bottle: We will see plenty of good deals on this as we get closer to Back To School time

Mitchum $2/1 coupon: this is not on the national lists, but is supposed to be in the inserts in many regions.

:: RedPlum Coupons

Axe B1G1 coupons: if you have someone that likes Axe (yuck!), at least you can save some money on it!

Ragu $.60/2 products: use this coupon to get 3 for $0.47 each at CVS next week!

:: Proctor & Gamble Coupons

the standard coupons but there is a nice $2/1 Tide coupon that should come in handy

So how many copies of the paper would I buy?

If I were building a stockpile: 2 – 4

Now that I am in stockpile-maintenance mode: 2 – 3

We are starting to see the return of some good coupons!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

8 Tips To Make Affording a Cruise Possible

8 Tips To Make Affording a Cruise Possible

Would you love to take a cruise but are afraid it’s just out of reach financially? Cruises are in reality one of the most inexpensive vacations people can take. They are also a ton of fun. We took the family on a Disney Cruise last year and we all still consider it the best vacation that they have ever had!

With a little bit of planning and research you can be on your way to an amazing getaway!  Here are some tips on affording a cruise:

Plan Ahead – You’ve seen lots of lists online stating when the best time is to book airfare or a hotel room to see the best prices. When it comes to cruises, booking far in advance can yield the best savings, especially if you have a family. Even 12-18 months out is not too far in advance to make reservations. Start planning your vacation and doing your research now and you can save a bundle!

Subscribe to Newsletters – Sign up to receive newsletters from cruise lines or travel websites that interest you. They regularly send out specials like “kids sail free” or free onboard credit. If they have any last minute specials you’ll find out about them first through these newsletters. You can also like their Facebook pages to discover promotions.

Pay as you Go – One of the best features of paying for a cruise is that you don’t have to pay the entire balance at once. When you make a reservation you can pay a deposit and then pay as you go. Most final payments are due by 60 days before sailing. This is a great way to space out payments without putting the trip on a credit card and having to pay interest. If you can pay the total at once, you may be able to get a discount as well. Call the cruise line to find out what’s available.

Book an Interior Room – The least expensive rooms on a ship are the interior rooms. The downside is you won’t have a window but if all you plan to do is sleep in the room you won’t really miss out. Before sailing or when you check in ask if there are any complimentary upgrades available. If rooms haven’t sold you may be able to move into a better room for no additional cost!

Be Flexible – You’ll get the best price on a cruise if you can be flexible. Cruising around holidays and school vacations will be the most expensive. Caribbean cruises in the spring will be expensive, but if you can go in summer you’ll likely find better deals. European cruises in the winter will also net a big savings. It may not be ideal but it can save a lot of money.  We went on a cruise to the Bahamas in August and I can honestly say that the only “bad” day that we had was when we were in port at Nassau. We chose not to do a shore excursion (see below for why) and instead spent some time walking around doing some shopping and taking a quick carriage ride, then we went back to the ship to enjoy the pool.  It was HOT (but not miserable).

Seek Alternative Departure Ports – There are numerous ports in the United States to depart from however most cruises leave from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Instead consider leaving from Galveston, Texas, New Orleans, or even Puerto Rico. Not only can you save on the cruise but you also may save on airfare to get there.

Limit Shore Excursions – A big cost in cruising is the port activities. When we went on our cruise, most of port excursions were about $150 – $200 per person! With a family of 5, that could have added up to $1000 to our trip for just a single day! Instead of choosing an activity at every port, pick just one or two activities, and spend the other days and time exploring on your own! Check to see if your cruise still has a full itinerary on port days as this is often a great way to do some of the activities on the ship that are often more crowded!

Stick With What’s Included There are lots of ways that cruise lines can add to the cost of your vacation. It’s easy to rack up a bill before you know it. Instead of buying lots of fancy drinks or eating in the specialty restaurants stick to the food and drink choices that are included. You’ll save a lot of money this way. If you know that you will want to have beer or wine on your cruise, check to see if your cruise line will allow you to bring your own (to enjoy in your room or for a corking fee in the restaurants).

With a little bit of planning and enough lead time you can have a wonderful cruise experience without breaking the bank!

Do you have any other tips on affording a cruise to add?