Money Saving Tips
In August, I was invited up to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to chat about saving money on back-to-school supplies on WBKO, the ABC-affiliated television station for South Central Kentucky. (Click here to watch the segment.)
This week, WBKO and TopCashback invited me back on WBKO Midday to chat about saving money on fall travel. I hadn’t done much traveling in autumn until last year, when Mr. Handsome and I took a cruise to Mexico in November, but we were thrilled to find thinner crowds and cheaper prices. The cost of the cruise itself was much lower than we had expected. Fall really is a great time to get away!
Hope you enjoy the segment (embedded below). Even if you don’t plan to take a vacation this fall, the money saving tips can apply to travel in any season.
You need a gift for a family member or friend, and you keep putting it off because you have absolutely no idea what to give them. A gift card is always an option, but that just seems so impersonal. Has anyone been in that situation? I know I have.I was at my aunt and uncle’s house recently, and my cousins were saying that they have stopped exchanging gifts with their siblings and siblings-in-law because they felt like there was an invisible $50 bill changing hands in the form of a different type of gift card at every birthday.
Now don’t get me wrong, gift cards make great gifts (if someone gives me a gift card, I certainly won’t turn it down), but sometimes it’s nice to spice things up a bit and give an actual object.
I know you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Well, if you’re searching for a gift for a female friend or family member, I have the perfect suggestion. Treat her to a spa gift basket!
Pick up a cute basket at a thrift store, and head to a beauty store (or Walmart) to fill it with girly stuff. My gift basket contains the following:
2 Miss Spa face masks ($2.50)
1 lavender candle ($2)
1 Tree Hut Shea sugar scrub ($5)
1 Bodycology cherry blossom body lotion ($4)
1 Yardley Oatmeal & Almond soap bar ($1)
1 bath sponge ($1)
1 Bodycology cherry blossom bath fizzies ($4)
If you need additional suggestions, feel free to add nail polish and remover, a nail file, a pumice stone, a bar of chocolate, a book to read in the bath, bubble bath, or shower gel.
Now I want to hear from you–what are your gift suggestions?
I have another laundry confession to share. Sometimes when I wash my kitchen towels, they come out smelling almost as bad as when I put them in. It’s gross.
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but let’s be honest. The point of a washer is to clean and freshen linens and clothing, so if your laundry comes out with a lingering stench, it’s a bit disconcerting. Can anyone else relate?
Well, I looked long and hard for a solution, and I finally found one. When my kitchen towels start to smell, I soak them in baking soda and white vinegar using the recipe below, and it works like a charm! My towels usually only need the treatment every few months, but feel free to do it as often as necessary.
1/2 cup baking soda
1-1/2 cup white vinegar
- Soak towels in hot water with above ingredients for 2 hours. (I turn on my washer soak setting and pause it for 2 hours.)
- Wash towels in hot water using a strong detergent. (I use Whisk Deep Clean with Oxi Complete.)
- Dry towels until they are completely dry. (This step may sound obvious, but it’s a very important part of eliminating odors.)
With 4th of July only one week away, it’s time to start planning the menu. If you’re in Canada gearing up for Canada day or in any other country in the world just looking for a tasty meal suggestion, this post applies to you, as well. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good BBQ?
Whether you’re cooking for the masses or just looking to make a delicious, patriotic meal for yourself, this BBQ on a budget is sure to make your mouth water.
Let’s start with homemade burgers. Thumb through your local grocery store fliers for sales on ground beef, or head to a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club to take advantage of their regular bulk deals. To learn how to grill the perfect burger, click here to watch Mr. Handsome’s grilling tutorial. Make sure to buy buns, or just pick up a loaf of bread and toast and season the pieces individually.
While you’re at the store, pick up some corn on the cob. This time of year, delicious sweet corn is easy to come buy, and you’ll usually find great prices. Who doesn’t love a good 8 for $2.00 deal?
After you grab the corn, pick up some on-sale fruit (preferably types that can add a little red, white, and blue to your spread, like watermelon, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries).
For a side dish, throw together my healthy pasta salad.
When it comes to dessert and drinks, the sky is the limit. Whip up my easy blueberry pie or my even easier blueberry cobbler. If you want your guests to love you forever, make a batch of homemade mocha smoothies. On Thursday, I’m going to share an easy way to add a festive flair to even the most plain looking drinks.
How many of you have heard of Groupon? The site has been around for quite a while, but I recently learned about a new service called Groupon Coupons. The company has partnered with more than 9,000 retailers from across the globe to provide consumers with great coupons…all for free.
You can search coupons by store or category on the Groupon Coupons page. There are tons to choose from, but I am especially excited about the clothing store coupons. Kohl’s, one of my favorite stores, is on there!
I always remember to search for coupons for online orders, but when I
clip coupons for in-store use, I’ll admit that I often forget to use
them. That’s something I need to improve on.
If you are familiar with Groupon Coupons, I would love to hear how you have used the site to save money. And feel free to share your general couponing tips, as well.
Photo courtesy of Groupon Coupons
What did you think of Mr. Handsome’s “Gift Ideas for Your Outdoorsman” guest post? (Click here to read.) Well he has one more to share with y’all.
As you have seen from his YouTube videos (“Silent Night” on guitar, “Away in a Manger” on guitar, “Flash Flood” on banjo, “Come Thou Fount” on guitar, and “Amazing Grace” on an antique violin from the 1700s) he is quite musical. So that’s how he came up with the idea for this post:
Do you know anyone who enjoys playing music? Does a list of quick and easy gift ideas for musicians sound like music to your ears? These ideas are sure to speed up the tempo of your holiday shopping.
Every musician I have ever known (including myself) has trouble keeping track of tuners. You can buy a simple one that just does tuning or a complex one that has a metronome and different settings for tuning different instruments. If he’s technologically savvy, purchase a tuning app for his smart phone.
Engraved guitar strap (or other instrument strap):
A local leather worker should be able to make an awesome leather instrument strap with your musician’s name engraved in it, or you can order one online. A personalized instrument strap is something she will cherish every time she sits down to practice.
Does your music enthusiast have a favorite band? (I can probably guess the answer to that question…) Most bands have shirts, hats, scarves, and other merchandise that any fan will love.
If your musician is a beginner or intermediate, she will appreciate a gift that helps her improve her craft. In-person music lessons from a local musician are always great, but in the age of the internet, students can also earn from the comfort of their home. For example, a subscription to artistworks.com would make a great gift. For $30 a month, she can watch videos of some of the greatest musicians in the world and learn their tricks of the trade.
Concerts can be quite expensive, but if your musician’s favorite band is coming to town and tickets are within your budget, it is sure to be a night he will always remember.
Musicians like good music, but they like to listen to their music through good speakers. Speakers come in all levels of quality and price. (Visit your local music shop or electronics store for more information.)
Studio monitors give the best quality sound and truest representation of what the artist recorded. (KRK speakers are a great option.) You have to be decently tech savvy to set them up, but with a little patience and research, you’ll be able to figure it out. If your musician enjoys listening to music through an iPod or mp3 player, high quality studio headphones would also make a great gift.
You have probably already thought of this, but a CD of your musician’s favorite band is always a great option. If you don’t know what bands she likes, just purchase a gift card to iTunes or Spotify.
If your musician is an aspiring professional musician in Nashville, he is probably struggling just to get by. So buy him some food, or treat him to dinner. (Okay, that’s a joke, but honestly, anyone would enjoy a nice meal at their favorite restaurant.)
Do you have other great gift ideas for musicians? Let us know in the comment section below.
If you’re wondering where the above photo came from, it’s a throwback to 2013 (before we were engaged). Through mutual friends, we were able to visit the Lucas Mansion, an estate located in Carmel, Indiana, and owned by Forrest Lucas (Lucas Oil products, Inc., founder and owner of the naming rights to the Indiana Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium). We took the opportunity to snap a few pictures.
A friend of mine recently asked if I had any tips on how to take an inexpensive road trip. I thought about it for a while and came up with a few suggestions. Mr. Handsome and I took several road trips with his family before we were married, and we plan to continue that tradition in the coming years.
1. Planning Ahead is Key
Before heading out, sit down and map out your route. Consider how far you plan to drive each day, and search the internet for inexpensive accommodations. If you plan to stay in hotels, booking ahead will usually give you the best deal, but be sure to ask about the cancellation policies beforehand. Research attractions that you plan to visit, and calculate the cost (if any) of each.
2. Campgrounds are Cheaper
If you’re traveling in summer, consider camping. If you already own tents and sleeping bags, it’s a great way to keep costs down. But keep in mind that campgrounds are much less numerous than hotels, and some may require you to book ahead.
3. Pack a Cooler
Depending on the size of your family, eating out at every meal could double the cost of your road trip. When I was a kid, my mom always packed a large cooler of food, and when we ran out, we stopped at grocery stores instead of fast-food chains. Many hotel rooms have mini freezers, which came in handy when our ice packs thawed. Otherwise, we purchased ice at gas stations.
4. Budget for Souvenirs
Picking out a few mementos is a great way to remember your trip, but souvenirs can be pricey. Before embarking on your adventure, decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it. If you don’t end up finding something you love, then you can save that money or spend it on something else. A friend told me that she and her husband decided when they married to budget to purchase a small Christmas ornament on every vacation they take.
5. Leave Wiggle Room
When planning your route, allot extra time each day for unexpected stops. That way, when you see intriguing signs along the highway for attractions or historical landmarks, you’ll be able to pull over.
6. Bring Your Own Entertainment
Pack a box of board games and family-friendly movies and TV shows, in case you arrive at your hotel or campground early. Not only will this provide additional opportunities for family bonding, but it will also help avoid unnecessary entertainment costs.
6. Relax and Have Fun
Saving money is important, but it will all be for nothing if your road trip is not enjoyable.
Do you have any tips to add?
During my college years–which I spent living in a house with three dozen other Christian girls–I decorated my dorm room walls with paper flowers from the Michael’s clearance rack. Each flower cost only 50 cents. After graduation, I packed the flowers into a box and forgot about them.
While moving into our rental home after our wedding, I was surprised to find my 50-cent wall decorations. How exciting! Using sticky tack, I carefully placed the flowers throughout our kitchen, which instantly made the room seem brighter and more cheerful.
For those who are wondering, I have not been able to find these flowers for sale online. Perhaps check the clearance rack at your local Michaels. 🙂