Hello my frugal friends! A Life on a Dime is back with MORE side hustle ideas for you! Let 2020 be the year you get your hustle on! Use these along with my original 6 Legitimate Side Hustle Ideas and these to earn yourself some extra money!

There are lots of side hustle options out there if you know where to look. And how to spot the scams. You should never pay to join any sites or be out more money than you are guaranteed to earn when working a side hustle.

The only exception I can think of here is equipment investment or site hosting fees for a blog. Even if it is just a passion project, be sure to keep it in budget!

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


As I mentioned in my recent Side Hustle Update, I made over $100 last year in gift cards simply by participating in taste tests through the local university’s Food Science department. It’s simple, usually takes 20 minutes, and yields $10-$40 in gift cards each test!

I find this to be a fun way to earn Walmart gift cards and purchase items that may fall outside the budget. Just check out the Food Science Department’s page on the university website for more information to get started in your area!

This is probably my highest earning side hustle to date. I am so excited that class is back in session and I have been contacted about two tests this week! It’s a two-step process being chosen with the first being a questionnaire and availability check. Then, based on your answers and availability, if chosen a second email is sent with the test time and any special instructions.

I sign in, participate in the taste test, and walk out with a gift card or cards depending on the payout. It’s simple, easy, and gives me a little kid-free time.


Did you know you can be paid to test food at your favorite restaurants? How’s that for a tasty side hustle?! Write a simple review in exchange for gift cards to the establishment! And there are a lot more side hustle ideas with this option than I even realized.

The possibilities seem almost endless if you’re willing to put in a little effort with the research to find them. Or just click the links below for some of the ideas I found.

Review Wendy’s for a Secret Diner! Click Here!

Review Subway for a Secret Diner! Click Here!

Become a Snack Tester! Click Here!

Review and keep a iHop gift card! Click Here!

This is a good way to eat out on a tight budget!


Get paid to shop sites and places like Amazon, Costco, and more! In exchange for reviewing it you can keep up to $200 in free product! Do you want to try out a Mamaroo Bouncer? Get one free in exchange for reviewing the product!

There are lots of ways to be a mystery shopper including apps. Field Agent is a popular app that works by crowdsourcing “the smartphones of workers across the United States and six other countries to equip brands, retailers, and other businesses with fast, accurate retail information, shopper insights, and digital product demos.”

In other words, you can get paid to use your smartphone to complete a simple task while you’re out running your regular errands. I have not personally used the app, but have seen it mentioned often in the debt-free community on social media.


Market your services with tasks such as errands, home cleaning, item removal, furniture assembly, and more with sites such as AirTasker and Task Rabbit. This can be a great way to earn money on the side when you have the time. Get paid to help someone move, deliver appliances, get some landscaping done, you name it!

You could do this one offline and offer to walk the neighbor’s dogs, help with yard work, or wash the windows. Additionally, you can try your luck in another neighborhood.


Have some great recipes to share? Why not release an ebook? Maybe you have an awesome idea for an app or online course? There are lots of platforms like Teachable and GumRoad to help you do just that. Build your course online and start earning money!

Set up an eCommerce site, do a little online promotion, and automate some additional income! And this is a great way to market services such as online coaching, social media management, and a lot more, so do a little research, see if there is a need for your knowledge and expertise, then get building!

If you are able to build a faithful following through a blog and earn an income sharing your knowledge and connecting with others.


Obviously this is a career field that is on the rise and worth looking into. There are lots of part-time work from home jobs on the market. A simple search on an online job site will yield some great leads on companies and the pay range you can expect for the field you’re interested in. This is also a good way to find out if you need to meet any additional requirements.


Do you have a side hustle? Maybe a passion project that has turned into a little hustle or has the potential to. I’d love to hear about it. At a minimum, my goal for my side hustles is to break even with my hosting fees and operating costs for my blog and YouTube channel.

My ultimate goal is to earn a steady income with one or more of these hustles to at least contribute to the household budget on a regular basis.

Either way, I am passionate about this little blog and my other hustles and love the challenges they bring. It keeps my mind sharper and prevents me from getting too lazy or anti-social being at home.

I’d love to hear about your side hustles or why you are motivated to find one or more! And do tell me if you take up a hustle suggested in my posts! I’d love to hear how it works out for you!

I’ll keep posting more side hustle ideas as I find them. Until next time, stay frugal and get your side hustle on my friends!

more side hustle ideas


side hustle update


I’ve posted before on the need for side hustles, even offering 6 Legitimate Side Hustle Ideas in a previous post, but I haven’t quite broken down what I make on my little side hustles. I figured it was about time to do just that so this post will serve as a little side hustle update of sorts.

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


It cost about $80 to set the blog up last June and I was able to completely pay our savings back in mid-September solely through side-hustle income. I had earned some blog income at this point but had not yet cashed out. This was paid mostly through babysitting. I may have thrown some birthday money at it as well. But, one thing is for sure – from September on this little blog has financed itself! That feels good to be able to say!


I earned about $75 last year in babysitting. Again, that mostly went to pay us back for blog hosting expenses. It was a small, occasional hustle, but a fun one that also kept my kids entertained. This was most handy in the summer months.


I try to sell perfectly good items around the house we no longer need before donating them. I also try to trade in clothing and supplies the kids outgrow that is in good condition. I’m not going to lie; I had very little luck with either this year. I made about $20 selling a playpen with sunbrella on Craigslist last year and probably got about $30 total in trade-in value on stuff from the kids at Once Upon a Child. It’s not exactly hustling income for me, but it does help lower some of the expense of keeping the kids clothed.

cashback and survey app income update

Admittedly I am not consistent with this one. Every two weeks I scan all my receipts into Fetch Rewards and try to find deals on what I’ve bought on Ibotta. I am a bit too frugal for Ibotta, but I hold out for the “any item” deals and that occasional offer on an item I had already planned to purchase.

Admittedly I am not a heavy couponer and I do not plan my shopping around what has a cashback offer. I simply buy generic with a few exceptions and prefer to save my money rather than get some back. Most apps require $20 to cash out with the exception of Fetch; points add up to redeem gift cards. It really just depends on what gift card you want.

I have not participated in many surveys the last month or so, but plan to pick that back up now that the oldest is back in school since I am fairly close to cashing out. Here are my running totals for each app.

Ibotta – I have earned a whopping $8.60 so far.

Fetch Rewards – I have the most luck “earning” with this app even though it adds up differently. I have a total of 8,900 points, which is enough to redeem $8 in gift cards.

Inbox Surveys – I am so close to cashing out! I am currently at $16.72.


Looking back through Instagram posts I added up about $130 in gift cards from taste testing last year. Not bad! Especially considering I wasn’t chosen for any for three months after canceling last minute the day of our son’s orthopedic surgery.

Quite a bit of this side hustle money was used buying kid essentials as well as upgrading a few things to stainless steel in the kitchen. Things tapered off closer to the end of the fall semester. I hope they pick back up again once this semester is in full swing. It is a fun and easy little hustle that also allows me a little break from the kiddos.


I recently took on a new side hustle; I am reconciling 2019 bank statements for a family friend’s small business. This is fun to put on my old Accounting hat again and brush off some old skills I hadn’t used in a while (apart from managing our household finances and balancing our budget).

It is enjoyable and I make a reasonable hourly rate. This is also something I can do from the comfort of my own home thanks to Quickbooks being online. It is also something I am open to taking on for other small businesses should the opportunity arise this year.

So far this is my favorite side hustle as it actually earns a steadier income (for the moment while this project lasts at least) and will work well for me when the time comes to update my resume and apply for a new job. It probably won’t be till our youngest enters kindergarten, but adding experience to fill in the gaps should really help in the long run.


This one isn’t exactly a great source of income – yet. Here is a short, simple breakdown of what the blog has brought in so far.


Last year I made a grand total of $55 for two sponsored posts and one video. More experienced bloggers will probably sigh and roll their eyes at this total, but these were offers I jumped at made to help jump start my affiliate status. The best part? I only did sponsored posts for products/brands I already used and felt confident endorsing. I also got a few greeting cards out of the deal. Recently I made a 20 cent commission on a  sale stemming from one of those posts.

I would like to note that in making the blog pay for itself I used the money from the sponsored posts to pay for six months’ use of a PO box, enabling me to start my weekly newsletter! If you’re wondering why I needed the PO box in order to do this, anti-spam laws provide you provide an address in emails. I would rather pay $20 for six months’ use of a PO box than a monthly subscription of almost $20 to use a service that provides a PO box number for my emails. Obviously sending my home address out isn’t an option for privacy reasons.

I also used blog income to purchase a tripod with ring light for my smartphone. It has come in handy for my YouTube videos and was money well spent. I am still working out the best angles and how to get my phone to sync with the remote, but the whole thing is a learning curve when it comes to this blog and now the channel.


I’ve made almost $14 total from Amazon commissions. I can’t really complain there. I don’t promote products in every post and don’t qualify to be an Influencer with my own storefront. I’m not really sure if that’s an eventual goal or not at this point.


I was gifted $100 in free merchandise that I got to pick out as an affiliate to review on the blog. I also did a YouTube video. And I absolutely love what I picked out and will put my planner to good use. One lucky subscriber will also benefit from this in the January 15 giveaway.


While it seems none of my side hustles make much money, they are still important to me. Babysitting helped break up the monotony of the summer break and taste testing offers me a little time away from kids (as they’re not allowed in the testing center if they’re not old enough to wait in the lobby unattended) and provides a little spending money outside the budget for household or kid essentials.

Bookkeeping enables me to keep my brain and skills sharp and provides good resume experience during these “gap years” I am home with the kids. It also keeps me up to date with the software. It’s nice to utilize my training again.

Blogging, while it is for the moment a self-sustaining hustle, I hope will become more than that. I shared my five-year plan back in October in the post Life Goals: My Before 40 Bucket List and one of the items on my bucket list to do before the age of 40 is to become a certified financial coach of some sort. This blog is a great precursor to that and gives me a new skill set that could potentially open up doors in a different career field.

I also really enjoy the blog and the relationships I’ve forged with other content creators. it fulfills a creative outlet for this creative mind that can’t draw well and enables me to write often, which I have always loved to do. It also helps this introverted heart of mine be more social and come out of my shell some.

So while I’m not exactly rolling in the dough with my little side hustles I do enjoy keeping up with them. I plan to work on building them up this year to increase my income. What about you? Do you hustle? What are your favorite side hustles to bring in a little or a lot of additional income?


2019 in Review

2019 In Review and Best Wishes for 2020

I say this every week in the newsletter, but I can’t believe how fast the year has gone! And now not only is the year ending, but also the decade! I just started this little blog and June and it has far exceeded my expectations. I have all of you to thank for that and I am most grateful! This little post will serve as both my wishes for the new year and decade as well as a little 2019 in review post.

I want to start by saying I am so excited that I am closing out the year with my one hundredth blog post! This is a milestone I really wasn’t sure would happen so quickly, but we can thank Blogtober for that.


Oh my, so much happened in 2019. There is a hashtag trending on Twitter, #2019infivewords, and I honestly cannot sum up the entire year in five words. So here are a few highlights of how our 2019 went down.


  • We closed on our new house toward the end of March. It was a huge relief to get back into our own space once again. My dad had been gracious to let us live with him since the end of April 2018 while we finished the last renovations at the old house and then during the build.
  • We moved in and immediately started a giant purge. I had thought I had been minimalistic when packing up the old house, but I was oh. so. wrong.

April and May

  • I honestly can’t remember hardly anything that happened in April and May!
  • Somewhere in here, my husband started his side hustle at a local retailer.


  • June saw both kids’ birthdays and a backyard pool party for family and close friends.
  • As part of her birthday gift, our daughter started martial arts classes.
  • I started this blog!

July 2019 in review

  • July was a busy month!
  • Our son cut his hand and had to have orthopedic surgery to repair as much of the damage as possible and salvage at least most of the use of his thumb. The jury is still out as to how much feeling he has in his thumb, but he’s a little too young to tell us. You can read more about that here.
  • Shortly after cutting his hand our little man started speech therapy. He is talking much more now, which makes life a little easier for him and us!
  • I taught at Vacation Bible School for the first time in a few years. I taught the toddler class, so our son was with me all week, bandage and all. It was a long, but very blessed week.
  • The week after VBS our daughter started two weeks of swim lessons. I’ll be looking at different options for the summer of 2020 as this did not go well compared to her first year at the same aquatic park.
  • On the way to one of those disappointing swim lessons a “buck deer” as my daughter calls them jumped out of a ditch and ran into my husband’s front bumper and headlight. No one but said “buck deer” was seriously injured, unless you count the headlight which is still held together with packing tape.
  • My dad remarried! This was one of the brightest spots of 2019 and continues to be a bright spot. After four years alone my dad deserves all the happiness Cathy brings him and we thank God for her every day. My sister and I cooked for and hosted a modest spaghetti dinner after the rehearsal. The kids all love her too!


  • August saw our daughter start the first grade! We finally had a customary first day of school pictures on our very own front porch! On her first day of kindergarten, we were at my dad’s house and it was pouring rain, so all pictures were inside and hope for the picture of us standing where our front porch would one day be were dashed.
  • I turned 35, but we can just ignore that little fact and move on…
  • We set up a much-needed auto maintenance sinking fund to take care of some maintenance and repair needs. Within a week we needed a new tire and a car battery; neither expense was able to be covered by the account, but we have tried to add to it and now have enough to get some upcoming routine services done, which feels good.

September 2019 in Review

  • In September we started attending a new church. It was very scary leaving the unknown and going where we felt God lead, but it has been such a blessing. The kids love going and my daughter goes to school with most of the kids in her Sunday School and Children’s Church classes which adds another a greater sense of community.
  • We celebrated our thirteenth anniversary home with the kids this month as well. Budgetary restraints didn’t allow much in the way of celebrating, but I am already mentally planning a little 15th-anniversary getaway. I just might have to set up another sinking fund in 2020!


  • In October I was finally able to resume my little side hustle of taste testing after canceling the day of our son’s surgery. It was little, but much welcome sign of things returning to normal.
  • We DIYed my daughter’s Halloween costume after her Wonder Woman accessories didn’t come in.

November & December 2019 in review

  • The last two months flew by with the holidays and much-needed family time.
  • I started a little bookkeeping side hustle project and will probably look to pick up more little jobs like it in the new year.

My hopes for 2020 and my word of the year

I am really looking forward to 2020. I think it’s going to rock! We seem to have crammed a lot of stress and change in 2019 and I’m looking forward to a year of calm. Last year I used a word of the year generator and was assigned the word know. I still don’t know what that was all about! Guess I missed the point of that one. I actually had to dig around my Instagram to remember what this year’s word was! This month I took a word of the year quiz from Dayspring and based on my responses the word I was given bloom as my word of the year.

At first, I was confused by the choice and discounted it as I had last year’s word. Then I decided it was perfect and I’m going to do my darndest to make sure I bloom in whatever situations I find myself in for 2020. I kind of feel like I got a head start on my word of the year without even realizing it; I’m finding my rhythm with this stay at home mom life, enjoying this blog, and venturing out into new projects. I find all of these things challenging, rewarding, and a source of joy.

So I plan to bloom away in 2020! I hope you do too! Thank you so much for following along with me as I document my family’s journey to live life to the fullest on less. In January I have some simple goals in mind. I resolved a long time ago not to put needless pressure on myself with new year’s resolutions. I’ll probably share those in the next few days. I haven’t quite articulated them yet.

In the meantime, tell me what your word of the year for 2020 is if you chose one and how you plan to focus on it. I pray for a happy and blessed 2020 for each and every one of you and I look forward to getting to know you more in the new year and decade. And thank you so much for being a part of my life in 2019. Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe via email (the big pink button on the right of the screen!) before January 15th! That’s when I’ll be picking one random email subscriber to win the Erin Condren Budget Bundle!


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!


my before 40 bucket list

I started a post (and made pins) on advice I’d give my younger self shortly after my birthday a few months ago. I am getting nowhere with it. Then I saw some posts on bucket lists and advice on keeping them, so I thought I’d just post a bucket list of goals I’d like to accomplish before I turn 40! I have a few months shy of 5 years, so why not?! Here is my do before 40 bucket list.

  1. Be a full-fledged work at home mom – with a regular income.
  2. Get back (and stay) in the habit of regular Bible study – I miss this! I need this!
  3. Take a trip of some sort with my husband sans kids for our 15th anniversary (just 2 years to go)! – We went to Eureka Springs for two nights for our 10th anniversary and that’s the first and only time we’ve gotten away without kids.
  4. Become a Certified Financial Coach – I want to take my love of budgeting to the next level. This seems like a logical step to accomplish the next goal.
  5. Help people get out of debt and take on clients who want to change their family tree! Yes, I can do this without a certification, but I want the added credibility.
  6. Make one new, good friend a year.
  7. Nurture the friendships I already have more.
  8. Take a girl’s trip to Ikea.
  9. Attend a DFC (Debt-Free Community) meetup in my area. I will organize it if I have to.
  10. Take the kids on a couple of vacations. So far we’ve only done day trips since we’ve had our second child. We didn’t go much of anywhere with just the one either.

I’ll be honest, I had originally thought it’d be fun to post a 40 before 40, but apparently I don’t have that many goals! This is a pretty short post, but I have been enjoying my weekend. I’m back tomorrow with another Meal Plan Monday! Have a happy and frugal Sunday, my friends!



ways to save

If you’re looking for ways to save money but aren’t sure where to start or you need new ways to save money I have you covered! Just in time for day three of #blogtober, here is my list of 30 frugal money-saving tips to help you save money every single day.

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

  1. If you haven’t already, get on a budget and evaluate spending over the last few months for insight ASAP.
  2. Set your thermostat on a schedule.
  3. Shop with a grocery list and only buy what is on the list.
  4. Meal plan prior to making the above-mentioned grocery list.
  5. Put that meal plan into use and cook at home.
  6. Shop around for home and auto insurance on a yearly basis.
  7. Drink homebrew coffee most days.
  8. Use cashback apps such as Ibotta (referral code itxrhcs) and Fetch Rewards app (referral code 8H9Y1) to earn cash back or gift cards to major retailers on purchases you already make! Use my referral codes and we both get free points!
  9. Cut the cable already!
  10. Buy clothes second hand to save lots of money on your wardrobe – especially for the kids since they need clothes more often.
  11. Participate in a no-spend challenge on a regular basis.
  12. Understand the difference between being frugal and being cheap – know when you need to pay for quality to avoid repeat purchases.
  13. Plan your errands and trips out of the house to save money on gas
  14. Take advantage of free shipping with Prime – and enjoy streaming Prime Video to get more bang for your buck!
  15. Don’t be too brand loyal
  16. Set up auto bill pay on utilities, the mortgage, insurance, and schedule recurring transfers to savings. Pay yourself first and you’ll spend/waste less money!
  17. Take on some home improvement tasks yourself instead of hiring out simple odd jobs. And do your own lawn care!
  18. Wash and vacuum out your car at home.
  19. Don’t buy bottled water; get a reusable water bottle and bring water with you everywhere
  20. Don’t overpay for your gym membership; the workout is just as good at the cheaper gym as it is at the elite clubs and often includes a trainer.
  21. Or, skip the gym and use free workout videos on YouTube or Prime! There are videos featuring several popular programs such as H.I.I.T included in your Prime membership!
  22. Invite friends over for dinner or take turns hosting potlucks instead of going out to eat together. You don’t have to be antisocial to save money!
  23. Take advantage of the free activities your local library has to offer – free movie screenings, book clubs, workshops, computer classes, storytime for the kids, even yoga! Libraries have it going on these days! They’re also a great place to schedule play dates and catch up with other moms while the kids pick out books and play puzzles!
  24. Unplug small appliances and electronics when not charging or in use to save money on your electric bill.
  25. Skip traditional portrait sessions and book the kids in seasonal mini sessions – local deals are usually promoted on Facebook. Ask for recommendations if you have trouble finding any offered near you.
  26. Send out a fun Christmas video to friends and family instead of the usual card. Save on postage, cards, and get bonus points for creativity!
  27. Cancel magazine subscriptions.
  28. Cut back on one-time-use products such as paper towels.
  29. Buy concentrated cleaning solutions and DIY your own cleaning products. It’s healthier and better for the environment!
  30. Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post and follow a Life on a Dime on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Tell me your favorite ways to save in the comments! Or let me know if you implement some of mine and you find them helpful! I love to hear from you! I’ll be back with more new content tomorrow for #blogtober day 4! Hope to see you then!

This post was proofread by Grammarly


end the month strong

Can you believe it’s September 30th already! Where has this year gone?! It’s hard to believe there are only three months left to 2019! Some days it seems like we just moved but in reality that happened six months ago! That may have something to do with the fact that most walls are still bare, but I’m a minimalist on a budget, so… If you’re wondering where the month went and aren’t quite prepared for October I’ve got you covered! Here are a few simple tips to end the month strong and get ready for next month.

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Update Monthly Spending Transactions to End the Month Strong

Make sure you update your spending transactions for the month and make any necessary adjustments to the budget. Come in under budget?! Congratulations! Make an extra snowflake payment to end the month strong and save yourself some interest next month. Already paid off your consumer debt? Send that money to savings or make an extra principal payment on the mortgage! Reflect back on the goals you set after reading Three Questions to Ask Yourself Each Month to Get Those Goals Accomplished.

Come in a little over budget? Don’t beat yourself up too much about it. If you came in under budget in any other categories reallocate those funds to the category that got out of control. If it looks like you come in under or over in particular categories on a monthly basis make an adjustment for next month.

Scan Those Receipts for Cash Back!

Did you know you can scan receipts for popular cashback apps that are up to two weeks old?! Dig those receipts out of your purse and start scanning! Just this week on Ibotta alone there are any item offers on dry cat food, training pants (this one is major – Huggies has $1 off if you are brand loyal in this category), yogurt, vine-ripe tomatoes, laundry detergent, waffles, diapers, probiotic beverages, yogurt, salsa, almond butter, body wash… I could keep going. If you don’t currently use Ibotta download the app or get on their site and use my referral code itxrhcs to get started; it’s free to you and I can earn $5. You can earn up to $50 for referrals once you sign up!

After you scan those receipts in Ibotta open the Fetch Rewards app and scan all your grocery receipts there too! Use my referral code 8H9Y1 to get started and we’ll both get 2,000 points when you scan your first receipt! Redeem points for gift cards to major retailers such as Amazon or make room for date night at restaurants such as Olive Garden or The Cheesecake Factory!

Set Savings on Auto-Pilot Wherever Possible to End the Month Strong

If you have monthly savings goals, sinking funds you contribute to, or retirement accounts outside of work make sure you contributed the budgeted amount this month and if you haven’t already set them up on auto-transfers so the money goes where it needs to automatically every month.

We recently split our monthly savings goal into two smaller deposits corresponding with payday rather than one large deposit. Since they were smaller I upped the overall amount a little. Little changes like this can help you end the month strong every month and meet your savings goals easier. Pay yourself first and you won’t be tempted to spend money earmarked for savings or retirement!

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Get Next Month’s Budget Ready so You can Start Strong!

Once you’ve tied up all the loose ends to end this month strong it’s time to make sure you’re ready for next month! Set yourself up for success by completing that budget! You just made things easier for next month by automating your savings and sinking funds contributions – make sure the budget reflects this update.

Consistency is key here; make sure to update your budget throughout the month every month and the 30th or 31st won’t be so stressful. Check out my previous article on 3 Month End Actions to Take for Continued Budgeting Success for more tips on how to end the month strong.

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month-end actions

Month-end Actions for Budgeting Success

Since you’ve already asked yourself three questions concerning your goals for the month (if not, go back and read Get Those Goals! 3 Qs to Ask Yourself Every Month first) and set up your monthly budget. Now that the month is about over it is time to evaluate how you did this month. Don’t worry if it didn’t work out so well! The first few months can be bumpy when you’re just getting started, but it gets easier with time. Here are three simple month-end actions needed in order to set yourself up for continuing budgeting success.

1. Finish Tracking All Income and Expenses

This isn’t difficult if you have done this all month. If you haven’t been good at logging transactions it will take some time. I like to do it on a weekly basis so I don’t get too far behind. If you use a budget tracking app such as EveryDollar that can connect to your bank account you can download all the transactions at once and simply allocate them to budget categories. I use EveryDollar, but I do not have the Plus version. It is $129.99 a year.

If paying for the convenience of downloading all your bank transactions makes the difference in whether or not you budget by all means pay the fee. I choose not to for the savings as well as the added accountability. You feel the money more when you have to enter it yourself.

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If you are using the cash envelope system you may just find it easier to track spending with pen and paper as you go. Just keep a notebook with your cash. You don’t have to spend money on fancy envelopes; I use the bank envelope from the initial withdrawal for our cash sinking funds. If you do choose to invest in an envelope system be sure to buy reusable envelopes. I am personally not a fan of printable envelopes because ink costs money and I prefer to print as little as possible at home. We’re trying to be frugal and sustainable at our house. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get organized.

2. Calculate Actual vs Budgeted Amounts in Every Category

After recording all transactions and assigning them to their budget categories it is important to analyze the total actual spending and income versus budgeted amounts. Chances are you will need to readjust.

If you come in under budget in one category consistently and over in another you can simply “borrow” from the category you were under and reallocate it to the category with the overage. It may seem tedious, but these month-end actions are important if you want your budget to succeed. The goal is to eventually be able to put some of these categories on auto-pilot and not spend as much time calculating the budget. This takes time and practice.

Once you actually see what you spend in a given month on certain expenses (cable, lattes, and dining out are good examples) you can decide whether or not to make room in the budget or buckle down and pack a lunch, drink homebrew, or stream your favorite shows. If you need help deciding what to cut check out my article Cut it Out! 7 Budget Cuts to Make Now.

3. Reevaluate Monthly Spending in Relation to Your Monthly Goals

Look back at the monthly goals you wrote out earlier in the month. Were your budget expectations realistic? Did your budget help you make progress toward your goal? Did you follow your budget? These are all important questions and you need to be honest with yourself. If the answer to any of these is no don’t give up! This is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate how realistic your expectations may have been or face your bad habits head-on.

If it seems overwhelming just pick one problem category in the budget and tackle it. Say you spent too much money eating out; pack your lunch and meal prep (bonus points if you batch cook and freeze for later) some easy dinners and repeat after me, “We have food at home!” Say it again now, “We have food at home!” We probably have coffee at home too if we’re being honest.

If you did really well and didn’t spend all the money in multiple categories or just have a few bucks left over, great! Excellent work! Take that money and use it to get you one step closer to your goals! Make that snowflake payment, transfer it to your new sinking fund, or simply cash it out and set it aside for spending money next month.

Practicing These Month-end Actions Makes Progress

This isn’t about perfection. Implementing these month-end actions and using them consistently every month will help you get the traction you need to achieve your goals. It will take a couple of months to get into the rhythm of things, but it does get easier with time.

Chances are it will take a few months of consistency before you can start to see the bigger picture. Each month you should see improvement in your budgeting skills, strengthening of your new habits, and progress toward your goals! The momentum may build slowly at first, but keep moving toward those goals! Financial independence is not an overnight destination.

Don’t Give up!

The important thing to remember is not to give up! It can be discouraging when you first get started and don’t see how it’s possible. Feel free to email me if you need help! I want to see you succeed! I am available for encouragement, can help you get set up on a budget, or just cheer you on.

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get those goals

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Each Month to Get Those Goals Accomplished!

If you’re like me you set goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly… fill in the blank basis. Sometimes I set a goal for what I can get done in the 30 minutes or hour I have before I leave the house or pick up a kid somewhere (please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it easier to get stuff done when they’re not home).

That’s all well and good, but what about our big goals? Our game-changing, earthmoving possibilities we entertain? What are we doing about those? Slowly but surely we are working on ours. Here are three questions to ask yourself every month to help ensure your monthly plan and budget are helping you achieve your goals.

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Three Questions

1. What is your goal?

What are you focusing on this month? Maybe you have two smaller goals you want to accomplish this coming month. Maybe you have short term goals as well as one big, longterm goal (financial security on anybody else’s list?).

It’s going to be pretty hard to get those goals accomplished you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Am I right? It may seem like a no brainer, but stop and think about how often you set a monthly budget or fill your calendar for the month with no obvious goal or overall plan. I am so guilty of this. Part of being more intentional (my word for the last four months of this year since I forgot the word I started the year with) is having a goal. Your plans should help you move toward that goal. So write down your goal or goals you hope to accomplish in the next month.

2. What action(s) do you need to take this coming month to move you closer to accomplishing this goal?

Figure out what actions you can take this next month to bring you closer to your goal and then if necessary, build this into your budget! If you set a goal of saving $1,000 by the end of the year but do not add savings to the monthly budget what will that do? Not much. If you don’t have a budget, you need to get one set up ASAP! I encourage you to email me if you need help.

We recently started a sinking fund for auto maintenance. You can read my article, How to Fund Auto Maintenance – Our New Sinking Fund for more on that or check out all posts on that category by clicking here. I’m clearly a fan.

Anyway, we wouldn’t be able to set up the account if we didn’t put in the budget. Furthermore, we won’t make the account grow if we aren’t intentional about budgeting money to deposit going forward. So you include your goals in your budget. No, it may not be comfortable, but it is necessary.

If your goals do not require money you need to budget time to accomplish them. One of my goals for September (which I actually started early, yeah me!) is to fit in some sort of physical activity every day. Even if I do not go to the gym I need to get off my butt and move to get those goals!

Yesterday I walked a few laps up and down our driveway. It is a long driveway, but it didn’t take much effort and I felt better.

3. How will you measure your progress with this goal? Bonus points if you ask for an accountability partner to help you get those goals.

If you’re going to set a goal and work toward it you have to have a way of measuring your progress. If your goal is financial you can set an overall goal to accomplish, divide by the number of months you think it will take, and put that number in your budget. Then every month you can look at what you managed to save, compare it to your goal, and adjust the next month so you stay on track.

If your goal is more related to how you will spend your time and not your money download a fun calendar online and check off the days you meet your goal. Visuals can be great motivators; start a goal journal to chronicle your successes.


A lot of people do these on social media for additional accountability and motivation. Add a daily or weekly update to your stories and cheer others on while you’re at it! There are even accounts that share goal setting visuals.

The #debtfreecommunity is a source of great encouragement and support. Check them out on Instagram! They’re also a funny bunch. No online community seems complete without the meme accounts. These people cover it all; they even have a fitness hashtag!

Now You’re Ready to Get Those Goals!

Yes, it really is that simple to get started! The key is being intentional in the day-to-day. But if you have a plan and you commit to that plan and you make yourself accountable I have no doubt you can reach your goals! You may even surpass them!

What are you waiting for? Go get those goals! And find a Life on a Dime on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to let me know how you’re doing. I would love to cheer you on!