Looking for something sweet to do with the kids when they get off the bus today? Maybe you’d rather just make a memory together than get your little Valentine gifts this Valentine’s Day? Forget you volunteered to set up for the class party? Either way, Dollar Tree has you covered! Check out these sweet ideas for a quick, easy, and inexpensive new tradition and put together some awesome fuss-free Valentine’s Day ideas! I’m sharing how we do Valentine’s Day on a dime on our house every year in this post.

** This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.**

You can buy Valentines with popular characters on them for the kids to exchange at school or get everything you need to make your own there! And as always, everything in the store is $1! Since Valentine’s Day is an approved (small) expense for No-Spend February I picked up everything I needed for the day at Dollar Tree just four days beforehand!

fuss-free valentines day on a dime at dollar tree

Get Valentine’s Day Decor on a dime at Dollar Tree


We do not buy each other gifts for Valentine’s Day, but our daughter is exchanging valentines with the class and having a party. We are decorating her valentine box this year. I volunteered to be a helper. Since she doesn’t do dairy well and they’re having ice cream sundaes I will be bringing her some dairy-free ice cream.

I also thought it would be fun to make a special snack for this week, and already have some frosting and gluten-free baking mixes in the cabinet. I should have some heart-shaped goodies baked up before the kids get off the bus.

We needed to decorate a  box for the kids to drop Ella’s valentines in, so I saved the box from this month’s oily order. For the decorations, I just headed to Dollar Tree and picked up a couple of small bags with sparkly pink and red hearts as well as a pack of red letters to spell out her name. I considered getting construction paper, doilies and helping her make her own valentines, then I found some color-your-own valentines with stickers that I knew she would love. It’s hard to go wrong with unicorns for six-year-old girls!

fuss-free valentine's day haul

My $4 Valentine’s Day haul

She loved the valentines and filled them out Monday night. She colored them in and applied stickers Tuesday evening. Her box turned out adorable as well! After wrapping it with contractor paper left over from the house build I was able to let her loose with the hearts and letters. Easy peasy lemon squeezy as she likes to say! She enjoyed it, not a lot of supervision was required, and the mess was very minimal. That makes this mama happy!

fuss-free valentine's day box

Ella’s masterpiece


If you haven’t yet bought your sweetie a valentine don’t pay $4 plus at the grocery store! Just head into Dollar Tree and check out their Heartline collection! You can get Hallmark brand cards for as little as just 2 for $1! As you can see they have quite a collection!

I will never pay grocery store prices for cards again! I love the fact that I can get the same quality cards at Dollar Tree than I can in the card stores for a fraction of the price! That is definitely a frugal find! You can check out their Heartline and Expressions collections and more on the Expressions page!

fuss-free valentine's day cards

My husband and I are continuing our favorite Valentine’s Day tradition this year; we got a babysitter and are cooking pizza at home for a quiet meal sans the kids. This doesn’t happen very often since I became a stay at home mom, and I am looking forward to it!


Do you go all out or prefer to keep it fuss-free on Valentine’s Day like we do? We like to keep things simple because that’s just how we roll. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy some quality time with your honey and make sure your family knows they’re loved! Happy Valentine’s Day from a Life on a Dime my frugal friends!






Valentine's Day on a dime


Just like any other holiday or special occasion Valentine’s Day can get expensive – if you let it! Luckily a Life on a Dime is here for you with the ultimate list of ways to do Valentine’s Day on a Dime!

While the jewelry store ads and florists might want you to believe it’s necessary to spend a lot of money, it is entirely possible to celebrate the spirit of the holiday and show those closest to you how much you love them without breaking the bank. Here are dozens of ideas for you to choose from! Everything from frugal gift ideas to a date night that won’t break the bank.

The best part is, most of these items are from Amazon or Target! Simply use your Prime membership (or use this free trial here) or order online and choose the pick-up or drive up option from Target and save yourself the time of aimlessly wandering through store after store looking for the perfect gift!

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*


It doesn’t take a lot (and as a minimalist, I am not really up for a lot!) to make the kids feel special. One special treat is usually enough. My kids love activities as well, which can be a great way to prevent clutter! Here are several activities and gift ideas to choose from, some being free (if you have the supplies on hand) and all being under $15! Kids are actually pretty easy to do Valentine’s Day on a dime with.

  • Bake and decorate Valentine’s cookies together
  • Give your tween some cute items for her room such as this faux fur heart pillow or tabletop squishy lip.
  • For the toddler in your life a cute board book such as Guess How Much I Love You or Llama Llama I Love You make great choices. They’re also favorites in our house with the littles!
  • How about a craft? A kit such as this color-your-own mug or woven heart kit would also go over well.
  • Get out the construction paper, safety scissors, and pom-pons and make Valentines with the kids for school! This is a fun quality time project. Since they’re probably going to be exchanging them with the whole class why not make them unique?
  • Get your screen-tee loving boy a fun dinosaur or love sign shirt. They’re fun and can be worn year-round.
  • I know a lot of little girls who would love this bangle bracelet set.
  • If gift-giving isn’t your style (or you’re on a no-spend month with me) why not make a special breakfast with pancakes shaped like hearts or spring for a donut? The small gesture will still make the kiddos feel loved.


Set up a scavenger hunt with clues around the house and make them find their own goodies. It could be something as simple as a few treats or an actual gift. The fun will be in the game!

Just keep it simple and fun. Look for ways to get the littler kids off the screen and immersed in a sensory activity. Engage with older kids and let them know you care about what they have to say. If you have a teenager a coffee date might be in order.


Is it just me or do men typically seem hard to shop for? Maybe just expensive. I know my husband’s tastes and interests pretty well, I just typically can’t afford them! Here are some great ideas, all under $30 that will be sure to please that cover a variety of interests!

  • Protect the investment of his beloved air pods in this personalized vegan leather case with protective cover.
  • Why not give him a place to park his keys, wallet, and change when he walks in the door? This leather valet tray can be very helpful if your man is always looking for his keys on the way out the door.
  • For a more light-hearted approach, try these novelty pizza socks.
  • Give him the gift that keeps on giving with a starter kit from Harry’s. I got my husband a kit for Christmas and am considering switching over myself. The prices and quality are that good.
  • A comfy pair of memory foam house slippers with a hard sole make a great, practical gift as well.
  • Claim your territory with a novelty tee that says he already has an awesome girlfriend or even that this beard is taken. There are lots of fun shirts available for $20 or less.


It’s not that hard to find great gifts to do Valentine’s Day on a dime for the ladies either! Here are several suggestions ranging from sweets to handmade jewelry. And they’re all under $30!

  • If you want to get sweets for your sweet and chocolates are a favorite, these Ghiradelli strawberry bark squares with layered milk and white chocolate should be a hit!
  • These vegan bath bombs would make a great treat to leave her feeling pampered.
  • If you have the time and a few pretty glass jars or canisters you can make a spa kit for your Galentine or teen in your life. All it takes to make a luxurious bath salt is some all-natural Epsom salt and a few drops of lavender essential oil. A sugar scrub can be made with just sugar, peppermint essential oil, and for bonus points a little green food coloring to set it off.
  • A personalized set of stacking rings would make a great impression! Have them engraved with your anniversary, the kids’ names… There are lots of possibilities here.
  • A unique, handmade pair of earrings such as these burnt copper hearts or these genuine leather leaf earrings would be very thoughtful.
  • This jade roller set. Jade is great for reducing puffiness and dark spots without chemicals! It’s also very popular in skincare right now. If your lady loves an all-natural approach to beauty this is a great gift.
  • I’m going to mention a great pair of house slippers for the ladies as well. This is one of those items that is worth the investment, but we’re rarely willing to make it for ourselves. I am guilty of buying a cheap two-pack of slippers and then lamenting when they fall apart too soon only to buy another cheap two-pack. No more!
Valentine's Day on a dime


My husband and I have a pretty simple Valentine’s Day tradition. It works well for us as Valentine’s weekend is always a busy one and we are on a smaller budget. We have a long-standing tradition of eating pizza and sharing a bottle of wine at home. It just so happens that this year Valentine’s Day is on a Friday, which is typically pizza night at our house!

We may switch our tradition to Saturday if we are able to get a sitter. Romantic meals at home are a little bit more romantic when the kids aren’t there!

You can find ways to go out for Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank or waiting in a long line for a table. You just have to be more creative. In the past, we have gone out to eat on a different night. You get in faster and prices aren’t inflated for a special menu.


  • Pick up a meal at your favorite street vendor and take it to a local hangout for a drink. Locally we have a cider house that does not serve food but allows you to bring your own in. Occasionally they even have a food truck on the premises. We have loved going there on date nights in the past. They even have games to play at the tables and now host a comedy night.
  • Plan a romantic lunch date, maybe even surprise your honey by showing up at their office to take them out to one of your favorite spots. Day dates can be romantic too!
  • Treat them to breakfast in bed! This may be easier to do on the weekend, but the effort is sure to be appreciated!
  • Prepare a special meal together. Working in the kitchen together can also be a good way to catch up and reconnect. Set a fun, romantic atmosphere with the music and get cooking!
  • Find a deal on a half-price gift card site for one of your favorite places to eat.
  • Make a photo book of memories together and look at it over a quiet dinner at home.
  • Weather permitting have a picnic at the park (or on the living room floor).
  • Even playing a game such as Let’s Chat or The Ultimate Game for Couples can be a fun way to reconnect. There is even this Date Night Box Set with three games.


Get creative and think outside the box! Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to consist of a dozen overpriced roses and an expensive dinner date. Put more thought and effort into it and the amount of money spent isn’t as big of a consideration.

Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions of your own? How do you try to keep it in budget? Let me know if you try any of my ideas! I’d love to hear how it turns out! A Life on a Dime wishes every one of you a terrific and frugal Valentine’s Day!

Stay tuned for more no-spend February tips and tricks coming your way! If you’d like to join the challenge be sure to hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out on the additional information as well as the weekly newsletter and meal plan! Until next time my frugal friends!


2020 Erin Condren planner review

In the first week of November as I filled out my special dates, goals, and note to self sections for the new month I was reminded of my 2019 planner’s shortfalls. For one, the goals section is small, and on the inside of the left-hand page by the spiral so that I can’t fit my hand comfortably to write out my goals. There is also only lined one page (ONE PAGE) per month to write out longer handed notes. 

To be fair there are a few lined pages for notes in the back, but they have long been doodled up my helpful two-year-old.

So when I became an affiliate for Erin Condren through Share a Sale and was offered to pick out my own planner I jumped at the chance! I have long admired the style and design of these beautiful planners. Just to be clear, the planner, as well as a few other accessories, were gifted, but I will give my honest opinion of the products.

And before I forget, you should know that you can shop Erin Condren planners and calendars at 20% off or stationary and other accessories at 30% off through January 2nd. It doesn’t get much better than that folks!

Let’s break this 2020 Erin Condren planner review down with the specifics and what I was looking for in a planner versus my 2019 cheapo from Walmart…



I love having more room to write. My gifted planner has so much more room to write, as evidenced by this size comparison. I love being able to write and not being crowded by the rings. And I LOVE the rose gold ring! You can customize the color of the ring with Erin Condren, and for my planner, I had to try the rose gold. I was not disappointed! It measures 7″ x 9″.

2020 Erin Condren planner review


As far as design goes I LOVE the design, and I was able to personalize my planner like no other place I know. I picked the cover design, interior color scheme, coil color, and put my name on it. None of which were options with my cheap planner from Walmart last year. I think this definitely falls in the category of Frugal isn’t Cheap as it serves my needs and suits my style. Now I won’t constantly be adding notes to my phone or buying additional notepads because my planner doesn’t have space to… plan.

I chose the watercolor flower design and I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome! The cover is laminated, which not only allows for dry erase notes (yes, there is even a lined space inside the cover for that), but is just an added layer of durability. Also worth noting, I chose the vertical layout. My only qualm on the design is small – I would like to have an option on the design of the interior pages and not just the color scheme; I’m not a huge fan of the popular kaleidoscope theme.

Erin Condren 2020 Planner Review


I am a mom and  I carry a large handbag. It’s just a fact of life. This planner fits in my handbag. It’s large, but not huge. It has just enough of what I need and not much I don’t. Each month has a bullet journal space. While I like the idea, I admittedly am not the most artistic person. 

I love the fact that each month has more space to write my goals, notes, and special dates to keep track of. There is also a month at a glance page to write all important dates on the same page.

Erin Condren 2020 Planner Review

I do not see any sections of this planner that will not be put to good use. It may take me a while to decide how to use the bullet journal portions on every month at a glance page, but I am excited to figure it out!


It’s not that I don’t like stickers, but I do not really use them. And I have a six-year-old who REALLY likes them and uses them at every chance. So the odds of me using stickers and not getting them swiped weren’t that great. I like the fact that stickers can be ordered separately.


I am very impressed with the design, ease of use, and durability. It is fairly safe to say I am a convert for life! I enjoy reading the inspirational messages on the pages, and immediately got to work meal planning and writing out regular appointments. I have my goals set for January, know what appointments I need to make, and have a head start mapping out blog posts as well. This planner is definitely worth the small investment and would even make a great gift.

2020 Erin Condren Planner Review


This is a solid notebook. I took it to church with me and wrote sermon notes in it. The paper is of good, thick quality which I can really appreciate. Pages are also lined front and back, which allows for much more note-taking. 

Even though it is about the same size as the Life Planner it still fits in my handbag (again, mom so I have a huge bag, but…) and it didn’t weigh it down. This notebook will probably be in my bag more often than not going forward. I also chose the watercolor flower design and had my name engraved on the notebook. 


I must say I was intrigued when I saw a  budget planner so I included it in my cart. Not only is it incredibly colorful and stylish, but it is also very useful. It comes with 12 budget spreads, weekly spending summaries, savings goal tracker, a debt tracker, monthly savings and expense spreads, as well as a metallic sticker sheet. The stickers are pretty cute and can help to make budgeting a little more fun. 

In addition, the Budget Bundle also includes two sets of sticker sheets, a dual-tip marker set, and the Petite Planner. The smaller planner includes 80 checklist pages. This set would be great for a beginner budgeter; the colorful pages and stickers can make the somewhat tedious task of budgeting a little more fun.


All in all, I am very impressed with the Erin Condren products I have tried so far and plan to continue to buy and possibly even gift more of these in the future. I noticed they also have a planner for children, so that is something to keep in mind for a certain middle school-aged niece and my own daughter when she’s ready. I also know a teenaged girl or two who probably wouldn’t mind a 2021 planner next Christmas. 

And now, the fun part! A giveaway! I am a digital girl when it comes to budgeting, so the entire Budget Bundle will go to one lucky blog subscriber! The winner will be chosen on January 15th, 2020. All you need to do to enter is to be an email subscriber to the blog. If you live outside the continental US I will email you a gift card. Please do not subscribe only to unsubscribe after the giveaway.  

I hope you are all having a splendid last few days of 2019 and look forward to getting to know you more in 2020! Stay frugal my friends and don’t forget to subscribe for your chance to win! In conclusion, I give the Erin Condren Life Planner and other products reviewed in this post a 9 out of 10. If you feel so inclined to shop Erin Condren please help a blogger out and use my links and remember the sale ends January 2nd. Until next time!


Its Christmas Eve! We are experiencing beautiful, springlike temperatures here in Arkansas! Yesterday we played frisbee and watched the kids play out in the weather just soaking up the sunshine for almost two hours.

Today, and yesterday we’ve had the windows open to air the house out! It doesn’t necessarily feel Christmasy, but we’ll still take the sunshine.

I’ve cleaned house, gotten the toddler to take a nap (truly a Christmas miracle!) Daddy took big sis to the park to ride her bike and out for lunch, and he’s currently tilling in the yard to even out some spots and prepare for a garden this spring (I hope).

Rotel is cooking in the crockpot, Alexa is playing Christmas carols, the Christmas tree is lit, and the windows are open. We don’t get many white Christmases around here but this is a bit different.

Today I write my 97th post just to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I appreciate your support for this little blog the last six months and look forward to creating more content in the new year.

My Christmas wish for this little blog is to publish my 100th post before the new year and hopefully exceed 5000 pageviews on Google Analytics! The second goal is a bit lofty, but I think I’ll come close even if I don’t hit my goal.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your families and loved ones. For those of you missing loved ones or spending a first holiday alone I pray God makes it a peaceful time of comfort and healing.

Merry Christmas my frugal friends! I hope it’s a great one.


Favorite Amazon Finds

a Life on a Dime’s Favorite Amazon Finds This Year

Since I am just about done with Christmas shopping and not really interested in any spoiler alert posts showing what I’ve done for everyone, I thought it would be fun to do a post on my favorite Amazon finds from this year.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

We have really enjoyed our Amazon Prime this year! Besides being our main source of streaming entertainment, Prime has also come in handy for all of our frugal and sustainable purchases this year.

If you don’t already have Prime, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial or gift someone on your Christmas list with a three or twelve-month Prime membership.

Since shopping without kids in tow isn’t usually an option I have relied more on more on two-day shipping. I don’t really enjoy shopping like I used to (or spending lots of money for that matter), and trying to shop with a budget while keeping up with kids isn’t exactly my idea of a good time! Here are some of the Amazon items I’ve really enjoyed this year.

Favorite Amazon Finds in the Kitchen

Stainless Steel Straw Cups

This is one of my favorite examples of how frugal isn’t cheap so far this year! I admired these stainless steel straw cups for a few months before finally adding them to my cart. The kids love them too! As a bonus, typically when I pull these up there is a 5% coupon to be applied at checkout.

I was surprised at how easily our two-year-old adjusted to drinking from a straw; we’d had a few messy experiences prior to purchasing them. Now I just use his last two remaining plastic sippy cups as a backup in his bag just in case. I am leaning toward getting some portable stainless steel straws to use instead.

These cups are handy for multiple children because all five are a different color. The stainless steel tumblers also have a silicone lid, wrap for easy gripping, and silicone sleeves at the top of the straws. The last part is one of my favorite features; they can’t chew these straws up easily OR hurt their little teeth on the steel straw.

Reusable Bags

I got so tired of buying zipper bags for snacks and lunches. They’re cheap, but every month or two they made it on the list and one by one into the trash they went. It just seemed like a waste.

As I shifted to a more minimal, frugal, and sustainable approach in the kitchen this summer I resolved to stop buying most one-time-use products in the kitchen. This included zipper bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and paper towels.

See Also: 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money on and You Shouldn’t Either

As I started looking at replacements for these I came across these reusable storage bags. They were definitely worth the small investment. These little bags are sturdy, easy to clean, and zip well enough to put raw meat in. I just can’t include them in my first grader’s lunch bag; one did make its way in the trash.

My husband uses them every day in his lunch for his chips since we stopped buying single-serving bags. It is worth noting if you have really pigmented chips there may be some color transfer; I bought salsa flavored chips and one of the bags was left with a slight orange tint afterward. This is still a product I would definitely buy again, especially for the price.

Silicone Baking Cups

I finally used up my stash of paper baking cups. I have yet to replace them with a reusable option, but I have these gems saved to my Wish List and plan to move them to my Shopping List once the January budget is finalized.

There are a total of 36 liners in different shapes and colors in this set which makes it a winner in my book. In addition to baking, I plan to use these in my daughter’s lunch containers (next item on the list) to make a bento-style box lunch for her.

Stainless Steel Food Containers

I bought a nesting set of stainless steel bowls to contain everything from sauces, morning snacks, to my husband’s daily yogurt ( as mentioned earlier, we have eliminated daily single-use trash from his container). Sometimes they even get used for small amounts of leftovers.

We also have a set of stainless steel sandwich boxes to use and they have worked out very well too. They’re durable, easy enough for my daughter to open, and travel well. The exact ones we bought are not currently available, but these look like a good alternative.

Pioneer Woman… Anything

I LOVE Pioneer Woman! Last Christmas I was given a set of tea towels and have been admiring her stuff all year! I purchased the stainless steel measuring cups and spoons as part of the continuing phaseout of plastic in our kitchen.

We are down to two stoneware mugs after declutters/purges/a few broken handles and would love to buy this set of four next year for hot teas. Stainless steel is fine for drinking coffee, but for hot tea I just prefer stoneware.

Favorite Amazon Finds For the Kids

Ride-on Tractor

We purchased this adorable ride-on John Deere tractor for our son’s second birthday this summer. While his little hand was recovering from orthopedic surgery we eventually brought it inside for him to be able to play with since he couldn’t play outside much.

At first, we just wanted him to be able to have a little supervised fun in a clean environment. We were also afraid he’d outgrow it before he healed up. He’s all healed up now, but the tractor is still in the house. It has provided a lot of entertainment!

No Tie Shoelaces

When we purchased new tennis shoes for back to school over the tax-free weekend there weren’t a lot of in-store options. The only shoes my daughter really liked and I thought she’d actually wear had shoelaces that tied. Very long shoelaces.

She isn’t very good at tying shoes yet either. After the first week or two of school, I knew no-tie laces were in order. These have been lifesavers. Even better, they come in a two-pack!

Waterproof Mattress Pad

This favorite Amazon find is pretty self-explanatory. It has worked rather well.

Favorite Amazon Finds in Health & Beauty

Eco Frenzy Kids Bamboo Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Squeeze

My kids love using their bamboo toothbrushes. I love using more eco-friendly products that fit in my budget!

We also have these handy dandy toothpaste squeezes that help get the last of the toothpaste out of the bottle. Even when you think you’ve gotten all you can, pop one of these on and get a few more days worth of brushing!

Bamboo Wrapped Vial Jars and Roller Bottles

It is no secret that I love a good DIY! I also love frugal items of good quality to store them in! I have had my eye on these vials and rollers wrapped in bamboo for oily DIYs for a while.

These Diffusers

I was cheap when I bought my first diffuser; it now sounds like it is trying to go somewhere every time I turn it on. I am honestly surprised it still turns on every day.

I really want a Dessert Mist, and love the owl diffuser in our son’s room (which I need to be more intentional about using) but since it would be nice to have multiples so I didn’t have to unplug and move the same one for use in other rooms. I’d prefer to leave one in each bedroom and one in the kitchen.

This set of two diffusers is a great deal and comes highly recommended on several of the oily soical media accounts I follow.

Favorite Amazon Finds for Vlogging on YouTube

This list is pretty small this year. Next year I’ll have a better idea of what I need and like to use for my YouTube videos. Be sure to check out a Life on a Dime’s channel on YouTube. Let me know what you think! Be sure to like and subscribe if you enjoy the content, and be sure to click the little bell so you can receive notifications when new videos are uploaded!

Tripod Stand with Ring Light

This beauty came recommended by a blogger and social media coach I follow on Instagram. I love the rose gold color of the tripod and the fact that it has a ring light included.

I am relatively new to YouTube, and needed a good, sturdy tripod in order to up my game. There was also the fact that I also knew I might want to upgrade to a remote and ring light later on, and this has both! I recently ordered this USB adapter so my phone will work with the remote.

What are your favorite Amazon Finds of 2019?

I’d love to hear what awesome, frugal products you’ve come across this year! You can check out the full list of items I recommend here. As I continue to switch over to more frugal and sustainable items you can be sure to see more posts and more items I recommend in the new year!

I’ll be back next week with a few more Christmas related posts as well as the weekly newsletter and meal plan going on out on Monday! If you haven’t subscribed yet you can do that here now! Until then, stay frugal my friends!


Last minute gift ideas

If you haven’t quite gotten it together or just haven’t started, here are a few very helpful last minute gift ideas that won’t break the bank.

On a side note, you can probably still use my previously posted gift and stocking stuffer ideas. I wouldn’t want to wait too much longer though! There are barely two weeks til Christmas as of publishing this article and the postal system is only going to get busier! Not to mention that shipping costs increase the longer you wait.

**This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.**

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Gift Cards

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; gift cards can be very thoughtful gifts! If someone on your gift list has a coffee habit why not gift them a reusable mug and gift card to their favorite coffee chain?

Know some kids who love going to a local arcade or movie theatre? A gift card makes a great gift! And by taking a little time to think about the recipients you can come up with a very thoughtful and useful gift.

A Voucher for an Experience

Want to treat someone on your list to an activity that doesn’t offer a gift certificate, say an experience together? Or maybe an experience coming up that you can’t purchase yet (or have in time)?

Not a problem at all! Get on the computer and print out a voucher good for whatever it is you have in mind and place it in a gift tin or envelope with something related.

Want to take your bestie to a concert but tickets aren’t on sale yet? Maybe a movie that isn’t out yet. Wrap up a t-shirt for the band and put it under the tree with the voucher.

Say you want to take someone hiking or camping when the weather warms up a bit. Pick up some small piece of gear to go with their voucher.

This can also be a good idea if you don’t have the money now to do what you plan. The important thing is to remember to follow through! A last minute gift idea is not a forgotten gift!

Cash is the Original Last Minute Gift Idea

And for good reason! Cash is s versatile and doesn’t limit the recipients to one store or chain. It can be set aside for a larger purpose, used for necessities, or as a special treat.

Sometimes friends and family need a little help. The offer to pay a bill or help out with groceries may be a very appreciated and needed gift. This isn’t necessarily a last minute idea, but the awareness of the need may come up last minute.

Or maybe you know someone on your list is saving up for a large purchase or vacation. Cash can help them achieve their goals a little faster.

Gift Subscription

Did you know you could gift someone a three month Prime membership? There also gift subscriptions for Audible and other services? This is a gift that keeps on giving! Best of Al it takes only minutes to prepare.

The best thing about gifts like these? No shipping is required!

Gift a Donation in Their Name

If you are having a hard time figuring out what to get someone who has everything make a donation in their name! This can be through Heifer International, Salvation Army, their favorite humane society… The possibilities are endless! Organizations no doubt count on an increase in donations this time of year.

A quick peek at their social media pages should be enough to give you a few ideas. Have they shared stories about homelessness, adoptable pets, or maybe water issues in third world countries? All of these examples have nonprofits established to address the problem/need that concerns your loved one.

Last Minute Gift Ideas: A Homemade Gift Basket

This doesn’t have to be really expensive. Baskets aren’t the only acceptable container either. This can be as simple as some homemade cookies on a pretty plate or a tote bag with a scavenger hunt kit or other activities in it.

There are local, small businesses that would love to make a gift basket special for you. Onion Creek in Farmington and Our Handmade Market in Fayetteville come to mind as great options love to me. Just be sure to tell them your budget before getting started.

Get Creative with Last Minute Gift Ideas!

It doesn’t have to be obvious you got around to shopping late if you put some thought into it. By tailoring a simple idea around the person’s interest and taste you can turn a last minute idea into a favorite gift!

Have you given any last !minute gifts that were a hit? Any that were a flop? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


inexpensive stocking stuffers

Inexpensive Stocking Stuffer Ideas for the Whole Family

Stockings are fun. I remember them being a particular specialty of my mother’s: the stockings could’ve been the whole gift! It is fun filling my kids’ stockings (and the hubby’s) with useful, fun things for Christmas morning. I always have fun picking out what to put in them but do not like allocating a huge chunk of the Christmas gift budget for them. For this post, I have compiled a list of inexpensive stocking stuffers your whole family will enjoy emptying on Christmas morning that won’t leave your wallet feeling empty!

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.*

First, a Small Admission…

I must confess that this year we do not even own stockings! In my YouTube Episode 107 Pre-Holiday Decluttering, I mentioned that I would probably donate quite a few holiday decorations that didn’t go with the color scheme of our new house. The stockings didn’t make the cut!

In an attempt to buy more “adult” looking stockings our first year married I bought really formal, dark-colored burgundy and sage-ish stockings. After having a child I bought two more similar color schemed stockings on sale in preparation for the second child we planned. After not seeing them last Christmas (we lived with my dad in between selling and building our new house) we realized… we don’t like them!

I’d rather not have a nonessential item (I am a minimalist now after all) than hold onto something I don’t like, so they went into the donation box along with a few other breakable decorative items.

In case you’re new here, we are trying to keep glass to a minimum around the house after our son’s injury this summer.

For the Kids

I like to keep stockings fun and simple for the kids while still making the contents useful and not just something that will end up thrown away or donated in short order. Luckily my kids are young enough that saying no to most electronic items is still really easy! Here are a few examples of inexpensive stocking stuffers I have included or plan to include in my kids’ stockings:

Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers For Him

I’m not going to lie; these are ALL things my husband has or suggested! A lot were gifts from previous years and one or two were just ideas he gave me. The names of some of these products are funny, but they really are good products. In years past I was guilty of going to Lowe’s on a lunch hour and shoveling random stuff in my basket for stocking stuffers for the hubs and my dad. Not so much anymore. Here are some inexpensive stocking stuffing ideas based on what my man already owns and loves.

  • A good stocking cap – my husband is still sad he’s misplaced his Carhart cap somewhere in the move to our new house.
  • a good Mag Light because what man doesn’t appreciate a great flashlight?
  • a big a$$ bar of soap- I bought this as a joke one year for my husband, but he is a Duke Cannon convert now! They have scents anywhere for everything from beer to different military branches. They even have a soap on a rope pouch that is hubby approved.
  • Duke Cannon solid cologne – my hubby wears Redwood. I am in no way affiliated with Duke Cannon (I wish) but I LOVE their products! You can google the ingredients and not worry! I’m all about that nontoxic life on a budget!
  • Beard oil – Whether it’s Duke Cannon Big Bourbon or Young Living’s Shutran Beard Oil, you can’t go wrong with an all-natural product!
  • Harry’s razor starter kit – Give him a great shave at an even better price! Set your subscription and get blades delivered to your door when you need them!

For Her

This is the hardest one for me to write and you’d think it’d be the easiest! Here are some items I wouldn’t mind finding in my (nonexistent) stocking this Christmas. Hopefully, I am not the only one. This isn’t the longest list on this post, but I do hope it is helpful. Since my mindset has changed to a more minimalist one it is harder to think of a number of smaller things. I envision clutter. Maybe it’s just me. Please let me know in the comments if that’s how you feel as well!

  • a pretty mug, like in this Pioneer Woman set. You can call me weird, but I do not like drinking hot tea in a stainless steel cup or mug.
  • a bath bomb, plus the guaranteed time to enjoy it
  • lipgloss, not just any lip gloss, but a clean beauty brand
  • a good lip scrub
  • a ponytail beanie hat – I didn’t know these existed, and I’m already in love! Keep your hair up AND your head warm. Brilliant!
  • Smartwool socks – I own a pair from Duluth and I love them. I believe they are worth every penny.

There You Have it

I do not advise going overboard with stocking stuffers, especially if you have younger kids. Once everyone is older smaller, more valuable gifts may be more appreciated, but when they’re younger I prefer to keep it simple. I do believe I’ve added a stainless steel mug or pair of house shoes to my husband’s stocking in the past, but those were probably the most substantial items I’ve purchased to make their way in a stocking.

Do you use stockings at Christmas? I’d love to hear what you stuff them with! Let me know in the comments! Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel! Fun things are coming later this week! And I’ll be back on the blog in a couple of days with more helpful holiday-themed tips. Until my next post, stay frugal with your holiday shopping my friends!


thoughtfully thrifty Christmas

25 More Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift Ideas

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts. Maybe you’re all for a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas, but not so much handmaking it yourself. No worries! Here are 25 more thoughtful gift ideas that will still fit nicely in your budget with no hot glue or needles required on your part! If you’re on a really tight (or nonexistent) budget you might also want to check out these Five Helpful Tips if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.*

1. Have the Kids Help You Make a Masterpiece

Get some art supplies from Dollar Tree and set the kids loose with markers or washable paints (depending on their age) to gift Grandma and Grandpa an original piece of art! Kids also love to paint items they find for special collections. This gift is thoughtful, thrifty, and handmade – just not by your hands!

2. Get the Journaler/Planner in Your Life a Great Notebook Set

If you have someone on your list who is big on making lists, journaling affirmations, or keeping life neatly organized in a great planner https://www.erincondren.com/”>Erin Condren has the perfect gift! You can even get it customized with their name or initials! There are lots of great accessories for sticker lovers as well.

3. Scrapbook or Photo Album (Physical or Digital)

If you want to share the memories without taking up a physical hardbound album or wall space a digital photo album may be a great option for a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas gift! It may cost a bit on the front end, but imagine NEVER having to print pictures again! Just share them instantly via WiFi! It’s the gift that keeps giving.

4. Diffuser Necklace

Know anyone who could use the power of aromatherapy everywhere they go? Who doesn’t?! This beautiful tower-shaped pendant is very striking and doesn’t look like most diffuser jewelry. It has a daintier feel and can be dressed up or down.

5. Memory Jar

If it’s someone you’ve known a long time fill in a few of the 180 included tickets in this Top Shelf Good Memory Jar with your favorite memories with them. If it’s someone special you’re just getting to know better fill one or two out and explain that you look forward to adding to it together.

6. Personalized Jewelry

A beautifully engraved necklace or bracelet doesn’t have to break the bank! This nameplate bracelet can be engraved with a favorite phrase, name(s), or even the latitude and longitude of somewhere special. Sterling silver options can be found under $30 as well!

7. Coupon Book

take a stack of notecards, punch a hole, and use a metal ring to hold together a one of a kind creation from the kids. Coupon ideas can include help unloading the dishes, doing their least favorite chore without complaint, a hug… let the little ones come up with a few of their own. This gift is thoughtful, thrifty, and coupon ideas can come completely from the kids’ imaginations.

8. Buy a Good Pair of Slippers for a Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift

Some people appreciate a quality slipper but never fork over the money for a pair themselves. I am in that category as well; time and time again I have to throw out ratty slippers and tell myself I’ll buy better quality ones. Time and time again I go to the store, see the price difference, and go for the cheap two-pack. Frugal isn’t cheap and I know this, but man is it hard to spend money on this sort of thing for yourself.

If you know someone who may have cold tootsies while at home and would appreciate a good pair, there are several good options for men and women. I particularly like these soft slip-ons for women and classic Dockers for men.

9. Stainless Steel Razor Gift Set

Upgrade your loved one’s shave game with a durable and eco-friendly stainless steel razor set like this Bigfoot Shaves kit for men. There are also some traditional Harry’s gift sets with aftershave skincare products included.

10. Letterboard Photo Frame

It’s a slightly different take on the current letterboard craze; include the latest picture of the kids with a sweet note or share the big news with the letterboard in the middle. This is a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas gift that’s also on-trend!

11. Stocking Cap

Buy a Love Your Melon beanie and 50% of the proceeds go to nonprofit therapeutic experiences for families affected by cancer. There are lots of color and style options to choose from. These are also 100% cotton and made in the USA!

12. Gift Cards Can Make a Thoughtful Gift Too!

Gift cards are a lot more thoughtful than they get credit for! Have a coffee addict on your list? Get them a card to their favorite coffee shop! Know some frazzled parents who would love to have a date night? Get them a gift card for one of their favorite restaurants. Maybe throw in a coupon for free babysitting that night?

How about gifting that college student on the list a gift card for a sandwich shop near campus or grocery store. The possibilities are just about endless! Just consider the recipient and buy a gift card or certificate you know they will enjoy or find useful.

13. Handwoven Serape That Gives Back

Wrap your loved one in the warmth of this authentic Benevolence LA Mexican Serape. Benevolence LA has a mission; So far, according to the product page on Amazon proceeds from purchases have “provided 4 villages with clean water for the very first time. More than 2,500 Africans no longer suffer from the debilitating water-borne disease.” That’s not all these blankets do. Check out their purpose by clicking the link above. The packaging is also eco-friendly!

14. Heifer International

Make a donation in the name of someone who doesn’t need or want anything at the moment. Shop the Gift Catalog to provide farm animals to help lift families out of poverty. Gifts start at around $10 for a share in a larger animal. You can donate as little as $20 to donate a flock of chicks to provide eggs and a source of income.

15. Skip the Gift Exchange with a Friend and Perform an Act of Service Together

Make this year more memorable and instead of exchanging gifts spend time with a particular friend or relative volunteering somewhere together. All it will cost is your time and it can be a much more rewarding experience! You can volunteer together helping at a local animal shelter, serving a meal to the homeless, or just take the money you would’ve spent on the gift and purchasing supplies or making a cash donation to a local food bank.

16. Commemorative Ornaments

Keepsake ornaments can be a very special way to remember a special trip taken together, baby’s first Christmas, couple’s first Christmas, you name it. Just please, please, please give a Christmas themed gift to someone a little early. It’s not really fair to give someone Christmas decorations shortly before they get packed up.

17. Lava Diffuser Bracelet with Empower Charm

This adorable minty charm bracelet does a lot more good than just carry your favorite scent all day all proceeds from sales of this little beauty go to benefit the Young Living Foundation. Empower is exactly what your purchase will do the foundation makes a point to empower people in underserved communities around the world.

18. Find a Thoughtful, Handmade Treasure from Amazon

Shop from Amazon’s small business gift section under handmade gift items and find that perfect gift for someone special on your list. There are truly unique artisan-made finds in this section. From jewelry to bath bombs to beard combs you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

19. Give the Gift of an Experience Together for a Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift

This one doesn’t actually have to cost anything! You can decide to finally take your friend on that hiking trip you’ve always talked about and call that their gift! Pick an activity you both enjoy and do it together. The cost can obviously vary quite a bit on this one, but quality time with the people you love is always a plus be it hiking, wine tasting, a tea party, or a road trip!

20. Write a Poem or Short Story

If you have a flair for writing why not write your sweetie a love poem or the kids a one-of-a-kind story? There are lots of ways to present it; have the book printed at a photo kiosk or online, or the poem or shared phrase printed out on canvas in a color scheme fitting with the decor.

21. Give the Gift of Softer Lips with a Lip Balm Set

Chances are you know someone with dry lips (or a little girl who just loves lip balm). Why not gift them with an all-natural gift set of essential oil-infused lip balms? The Yule Love Your Lips lip balm set comes pre-wrapped!

22. Have Fun with the Thoughtfully Thrifty Gift of a Caroling Kit in a Box

If you live in a neighborhood or visit someone who does this can be really fun; print out some carols, drop in a few mugs, some cocoa powder, marshmallows, maybe even throw in matching scarves and spread some Christmas cheer throughout the neighborhood! As an added bonus leave a treat of peppermints or homemade cookies at each stop!

23. Professional Massage

This isn’t the thriftiest gift idea, but it is almost always appreciated! Trust me!

24. Buy a Childhood Favorite and Make it a Tradition with Your Family

Was there a movie you watched every year? Did you get matching pajamas on Christmas Eve? Why not keep the tradition alive? It can be a special game, movie, matching slippers or mugs…

25. Adopt an Angel

The deadline for turning gifts should be coming up fast. If you have any money left in your budget I highly encourage you to adopt an angel from the angel tree or see if your school district has a program. Include the kids if they’re old enough too! I believe generosity should be taught from an early age. It’s so much easier to appreciate what you have when you help someone in need.

That’s 25 Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift Ideas

I’ve given you 50 gift ideas total now! What are you waiting for? Make that list, check it twice, and be sure to stay in budget! I’ll be back later in the week with stocking stuffer ideas for the whole family! Until then, as always, stay frugal my friends!

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life update

A Life Update Just in Time for Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving being a few days away I figured this would be a good time to give a life update and explain what we’re so thankful for at a Life on a Dime.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

We have so much to be thankful for! We have two healthy kids, great results on our annual health reviews earlier this month. I am currently enjoying a week at home with both kids. Okay, I’m enjoying most of it. We’ve had our moments, but it just goes with the territory! Without further ado, here is our life update!

How We Kicked off Thanksgiving Break

Last Thursday the kids all dressed as either pilgrims or Indians and then the families were invited to come to school for a Thanksgiving feast at lunch. We missed the parade due to little bubby’s speech therapy, but Thanksgiving lunch is something I’ve made every year, even at daycare before she was in school. It’s just tradition at this point.

Friday morning was the start of the break for my daughter since we opted out of the day-long field trip. We took bubby to speech therapy and then we girls went across the street to do a little Christmas shopping. I got a good start on supplies for gifts I’m putting together before grabbing the little man and heading home.

Monday was not that great, but our plans fell through. We planned to visit my daughter’s former children’s church teacher (and previous babysitter) and just enjoy some time with Ms. Linda. We are praying her hubby gets over his pneumonia enough to come home from the hospital today.

Yesterday we had an appointment across town and decided to head over to Barnes and Noble. The kids had some birthday gift cards previously mentioned in How to Keep the Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break. It was a new experience for both to wander through the children’s section and pick out whatever they wanted within their budgets. Needless to say, it was very exciting for them! Thank you, Aunt Cara!

In the end they each settled on one new toy (a sparkly owl beanie baby for her and a trainset for him) a book, and they split a cookie in the cafe. All in all, it was a great afternoon out. Then they came home and fought over the train set cuz… kids.

As mentioned previously in the Thanksgiving break survival guide post I budgeted for one meal out for me and the kids. We don’t do this often. Logistically and budget-wise it just isn’t always appealing!

I wanted to do something special and I was so glad I did! When my best friend and I organized a playdate her suggestion to eat at Chick Fil A and talk while the kids ran around the indoor play place was in the budget! We got to catch up a little, the kids ran off some steam, and Chick Fil A is always yummy!

This is What Answered Prayer Looks Like

Today I want to show you what answered prayer looks like. If you’ve been following a Life on a Dime you know our son cut his hand this summer. Quite literally days after I published a post titled Emergency! Why You Need an Emergency Fund Now we experienced our own emergency. You can read Our Emergency: Why We Cash Flow Medical Bills and Trusting in Him Always if you need to be caught up.

Several hours in the emergency room left us with more questions than answers. Would he be able to use his thumb? Had he done more damage than we realized? We went through days of uncertainty, consulted an orthopedic surgeon, opted for surgery, and I am happy to report that he now has use of his thumb!

We opted for surgery not knowing how severe the damage was but knowing if it was extensive it was better to repair sooner than try to reconstruct what was left later.

The surgeon confirmed we made the best choice for our son and his little hand when he told us the extent of the damage; had we not chosen surgery our little boy would’ve lost the use of his thumb. He uses it now!

life update

Here we are four months later and he is using his little thumb. I just have to massage his little hand regularly to get the scar to stretch as he grows. It isn’t 100% and still too soon to tell the extent of nerve damage and repair success, but this is definitely an answered prayer!

Blog Life Update

October was a great month for a Life on a Dime! Blogtober was a huge success, literally doubling this little site’s total views! Overall, for the year, not monthly views! It was a lot of work to keep up with daily posts and pins, but somehow I managed to pull it off.

Thank you to everyone who visited and continues to visit! I have decided to try to post twice a week going forward, and for some reason that seems even harder to keep up with!

I do have lots of exciting content planned and will continue to bring you weekly meal plans via the newsletter (you can sign up here if you haven’t yet!)

The YouTube channel is growing slowly but surely and I love coming up with and posting new videos there, so it is definitely worth the work! If you haven’t seen the channel yet, you can check it out here. Now is a good time to get caught up since there aren’t a whole lot of videos yet! Stay tuned for my first guest in next week’s video! It’s going to be a fun one so be sure to subscribe and hit that bell so you know when it goes live!

Thanksgiving Plans

We’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving with my side of the family. My sister nor I were interested in eating two large meals in one day, so we all went to her house on Saturday evening. The kids love playing with their older cousins. My shy takes a bit to warm up toddler went up to my nephew and promptly asked for some “hucks!” (trucks) to play with and just like that the ice was broken!

Tomorrow night we’ll all go to my sister-in-law’s house for another yummy meal and family time. Their kids are closer in age to mine so it’ll be wild. Literally wild, but definitely entertaining. I am looking forward to my hubby’s peanut butter pie!

How is Life? What Are Your Thanksgiving Plans?

That’s about it for my little life update and Thanksgiving plans. Do you have a tradition for turkey day every year? Have you already celebrated? What are your plans? I’d love to know. I’d REALLY love to know if you have any answered prayers from this year you would like to share! Those we are truly thankful for and they are worth celebrating!

Here’s to a safe and happy Thanksgiving to all my frugal friends!

This post was proofread by Grammarly


sunshine blogger

a Life on a Dime Has Been Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award a Second Time

Just Tuesday I posted that a Life on a Dime was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, and come to find out I’ve been nominated again! This time by Jenni at I on Image. Jenni is a stylist who blogs about fashion and if you’re not already following, you should be!

First off, thank you so much! To have your work recognized by not one but two fellow bloggers is truly an honor! In case you missed the last post, here’s a bit of a recap:


If you aren’t a blogger, you’re probably wondering what the Sunshine Blogger Award even is. Nominations are given by bloggers to other bloggers to inspire and encourage positivity and creativity. In other words, it is recognizing bloggers who are spreading their sunshine throughout the blog world with their writing.

Since I have already nominated 11 bloggers and am excited to see their responses, here are just the questions posed by Jenni and my answers. I hope you enjoy!

Sunshine Blogger Nominee Questions

How do you express yourself through your personal style?

I don’t really think about that to be honest! I am a stay at home mom, so first and foremost I like to be comfortable and wear something I know can be washed and cared for easily!

What does your style tell about you?

My style probably says that I am rather laid back! These days I major in skinny jeans or leggings and tunics! I do love my boots though!

Do you have any style icons?

Audrey Hepburn! I LOVED her style! Admittedly, I rarely emulate it, but she was my favorite! I loved the simplicity of her style and the fact that she kept her eyebrows fuller. I am pretty low maintenance so I don’t really achieve her look much, but I love it. She was iconic. When they released the perfume made exclusively for her I wore it for a while.

Is style important to you?

Somewhat. I may keep it simple, but I don’t live in sweats!

What is your blogging niche?

I kind of have two niches, but I feel like they blend well; my focus is on personal finance/budgeting and minimalism. I actually dabble in a third, non-toxic living since it is also a passion of mine.

How does your blog reflect your personal brand?

It is me! Everything on this blog is based on my life and who I am, what my family values.

What do you enjoy the most about blogging?

I have always loved writing. And I love the fact that I can write and share things that hopefully help other people. I really love it when it really connects with others and inspires, educates, or just gives them a little entertainment.

What sparked the inspiration to start blogging?

Really I just needed something to do for me, to talk about the things that inspire and motivate me, and I wanted to be able to help others through it. I like to think I’m good with budgeting, and I’m passionate about minimalism due to family circumstances shaping my views, and I wanted to share my story with the world.

I felt like if I can help people, give myself a creative outlet, a new sense of community (without increasing my gas budget!), and maybe make a little income on the side it would be such an awesome adventure! So far it has been!

How do you practice self-care during the dark winter months?

I am not so great at self-care. I tend to choose for really easy options that don’t take a lot of time or money because I don’t have a lot of either to spare right now being a stay at home mom! Sometimes just painting my nails, putting on makeup when I don’t really “need” to, or talking to a friend can really serve as a pick me up.

Where should I shop in your home town?

We have a really cute little boutique store called Chic Gypsy Boutique and an amazing little antiques and gift store called Onion Creek Home. I never leave either without seeing something I love! I also love purchasing gifts there because they fit the ladies I know so well and I love supporting local businesses.

Where should I eat in your home town?

You should go to Fat Rolls Bakery in Prairie Grove for breakfast or lunch. Go any day but Monday and enjoy walking around the historic district downtown! Most stores are closed on Monday. At breakfast, they serve biscuits and gravy, orange rolls, cinnamon rolls, peanut butter rolls… and for lunch, they serve sandwiches on their fresh-baked bread. It is very affordable too, which I love for my budget. For dinner, you should definitely try Gabriela’s, the local Mexican restaurant.