HOW TO DO VALENTINE’S DAY ON A DIME

Valentine's Day on a dime

YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO DOING 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.*

GIFT & ACTIVITY IDEAS FOR THE KIDS

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.

MAKE IT FUN!

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.

VALENTINE’S DAY IDEAS FOR HIM

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.

IDEAS FOR HER

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

DATE NIGHT IDEAS FOR A 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.

SOME FRUGAL BUT STILL ROMANTIC DATE NIGHT SUGGESTIONS

  • 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.

IN THE END, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY SPENT BUT THE MEMORIES MADE

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!

MORE SIDE HUSTLE IDEAS

MORE SIDE HUSTLE IDEAS

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.*

#1. BE A TASTE TESTER THROUGH A LOCAL UNIVERSITY

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.

#2. BE A PRODUCT TESTER

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!

#3. BE A MYSTERY SHOPPER!

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.

#4. HIRE YOURSELF OUT FOR A TASK OR TWO

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.

5. LAUNCH A DIGITAL PRODUCT

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.

#6. BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT/ WORK FROM HOME PART-TIME

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.

HOW DO YOU HUSTLE?

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

A LIFE ON A DIME’S SIDE HUSTLE UPDATE

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.*

SIDE HUSTLE UPDATE – 2019 INCOME

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!

SIDE HUSTLE UPDATE: BABYSITTING INCOME

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.

CRAIGSLIST SALES/ KIDS RESALE SHOP TRADE-INS

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.

SIDE HUSTLE INCOME – TASTE TESTING

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.

MY NEW SIDE HUSTLE – BOOKKEEPING

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.

BLOGGING AS A SIDE HUSTLE

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.

SPONSORED POSTS/VIDEOS

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.

AMAZON ASSOCIATE SALES

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.

GIFTED MERCHANDISE

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.

WRAPPING UP THIS SIDE HUSTLE UPDATE

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?

USE GRAMMARLY & FOCUS ON YOUR CONTENT: IT’LL HANDLE THE PUNCTUATION

use grammarly

Focus on Your Content and Use Grammarly to Proofread Your Work

If you’re really into blogging or knee-deep into midterm papers but aren’t sure where to put all your commas I highly encourage you to use Grammarly. It’ll even check your spelling! I have it and it makes blogging so much easier. I just type and it suggests corrections as I work. Instant proofreading happens while I work! This saves me so much time!

**This post was sponsored by Grammarly. All reviews or opinions expressed in this post are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.**

It’s Good for All Your Proofreading Needs

Grammarly can check your resume for errors. Do not send out a resume and cover letter without properly proofreading it first! It will do that for you as you type. It can even check your emails so you don’t have any embarrassing mistakes! No one wants to look unprofessional, so be sure you have it proofread your email prior to hitting send. I recommend using it because it is the best grammar checker on the market.

Best Plagiarism Checker & Proofreader

It can even check work for plagiarism! This is a huge plus for bloggers, especially if you invite guest bloggers to post on your site. No one wants to be accused of copying someone else’s work. Just open the document in the Grammarly Editor and check Plagiarism; your work will be checked” against an index of publicly accessible websites and major proprietary databases.” It will also make sure you spelled plagiarism correctly!

This post was proofread by Grammarly

When I started my blog I didn’t have to search to find the best spelling and grammar checker; I already had it! It was already handy for everyday use and has helped me tremendously since I started this blog. I can focus on creating new content and let Grammarly take care of the majority of proofreading; I just reread to make sure my post is clear and concise and my message comes through. I highly recommend this tool for anyone who types on a regular basis, and definitely think it is a must-have for all bloggers.

Grammarly Writing Support

SELF-CARE FOR MAMAS: SELF-CARE ON A DIME

self-care for mamas

Self-Care for Mamas: Take Care of Yourself so You can Take Care of Your Family!

Blogtober post #4 is all about self-care for mamas. My main focus is on stay-at-home moms because, well, that’s where I’m at and it is easily one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Working moms can use this too. I’ve been a working mom as well. Sometimes arriving to work to spend the day with adults can feel like a little vacation; other days it feels like you’re just dealing with really big toddlers!

This should go without saying, but some of us, myself included, are not good at this one. So this post and my advice is for me too today. Momming is not for the faint of heart! It takes grit, determination, and a strong stomach to raise kids well! But we can’t take good care of our families if we don’t take care of ourselves.

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

Self-Care for Mamas Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

You don’t have to go to the spa every week to practice self-care; kudos to you if you are able to make it, but if your budget doesn’t allow that level of pampering I have some frugal suggestions for self-care at home.

Last Sunday morning I looked down at my toes and realized I hadn’t done anything besides trim my nails since using a gift card in late July to get a pedicure (admittedly, it was a gift card my husband gave me for my birthday last August and I had to scramble to use it before it expired!).

So, I trimmed my toenails, dropped a few drops of lemongrass oil on a cotton ball, and rubbed it on my nails to take off what was left of the old polish. I then applied one layer of fresh polish to wear sandals to church. It felt so good and I wondered why I had waited so long to do such a simple thing for myself.

If You’re Taking Care of Yourself it Qualifies as Self-Care

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or even a lot of time to practice good self- care. You just have to recognize the need for it, ask for help, and do what you can to decompress and make sure you’re better able to be there for your family.

I’ve struggled with anxiety the past month. It’s apparently an unwanted gift bestowed to both sides of our family, and while it is easier to deal with now that I am not employed full-time outside the home, I tend to miss signs when it starts to get out of hand. Most recently I let unchecked anxiety keep me from attending a family wedding. While the nuptials were taking place I was pounding out my issues on the treadmill at a local gym. Not my proudest moment, but I had to acknowledge my situation and do what I could to alleviate it.

self-care for mamas

The World’s Best Automated Proofreader

Case in Point:

Yesterday, (Thursday actually – I am writing this post in advance) I felt a little off and was easily irritated by the kids (never good when you’re a stay-at-home mom) and just felt a bit like a hamster on its wheel; I was spinning my wheel and going nowhere fast!

When my two-year-old decided he wanted to “hulp” mama cook I had to scramble to keep him from pulling the bowl of raw meatball ingredients down off the counter and dropped the unopened glass jar of minced garlic I had been trying to open. I almost caught it, which probably prevented it from completely shattering, but it broke.

I immediately panicked; we had quite an ordeal this summer when this same little boy pulled a glass jug down from a shelf, fell with it, and lacerated his hand badly this summer. I hurried him out of the kitchen and grabbed the broom to sweep up the spilled bits of garlic and glass on the floor. When my husband got home and assessed the situation the look in my eye was enough to make him want to head for the hills. He took the kids outside to play while I swept, vacuumed, and steam-mopped the floors.

Know When to Ask for Help

As I cleaned it struck me that our schedule was a bit different this week, he was working later, and I hadn’t been to the gym since that aforementioned weekend session. Light bulb moment. This is my me-time. I don’t really like going to the gym, but I like how I feel when I go regularly.

I’ve felt less than motivated lately and with our schedules being off and the little out of daycare due to budget constraints it’s been harder to go. I immediately reached for the phone and asked a family member if they were available to watch him. I made it to the gym today and felt so much better for it.

It may seem like I’m rambling at this point, but my point is you have to recognize when you need help and ask for it.

Self-Care Ideas for Mamas on a Budget

Here is a simple list of five ideas for self-care when you’re on a budget.

  1. Call a friend up for coffee and reconnect. A cuppa with a good friend can be good for the soul. It’s worth the $5 once a month to catch up with a gal pal.
  2. Give yourself a mani/pedi. If you have any little girls running around make it a bonding moment. I recommend not using it as a reward, but just a nice moment. I know I don’t do this near enough. I’m curious to try a DIY powder nail kit after the damage my nails experienced with a gel manicure.
  3. Ask for help. I am working on this one, but have gotten better at asking my husband to help with bedtime. I’ve considered making it a set weekly thing for both kids. Hi honey! I love you!
  4. Pamper yourself with a DIY hair mask and diffuse a calming blend of oils.
  5. Drink a nice cup of hot tea (or coffee or wine – your choice) and curl up with a good book once the kiddos are in bed.

These are all very simple things but can be so hard to actually do. If you’re not a mama but you know and love some mamas make sure you give them some love this week! Call one up and invite her out for a cup of coffee or offer to take the kids for a few hours so she can decompress. Take care of the mamas in your life; they deserve it so for taking such good care of everyone else.

GREETING CARDS AT DOLLAR TREE! ONE YEAR OF HEARTLINE & EXPRESSIONS

Did you know you can buy Hallmark greeting cards at Dollar Tree?! September 22nd actually marks one year of Heartline a Hallmark Company and Expressions by Hallmark being available in all 6,800 Dollar Tree stores nationwide! That’s a lot of savings to celebrate!

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

Who doesn’t like the sound of a Hallmark quality card for $1? How about 2 for $1?! Expressions by Hallmark cards are 2 for $1! I love greeting cards but hate spending almost $4 a card for something decent at the grocery store.

I’ve actually been buying these cards at Dollar Tree for wedding showers, birthday parties for several months and I’ve never been disappointed. Just look at the quality of these cards; these do not look like cards you paid $1 on. And the Heartline cards are 2 for $1!

These are an awesome frugal find! And you know I appreciate those. When I budget for a birthday gift I don’t want to spend $5 of that money on a card!

Those aren’t the only Hallmark quality cards you’ll find at Dollar Tree either! Also available at select stores are the Mahogany line celebrating black culture, the Vida line, which expresses the voices of Latinos of all generations, Tree of Life which celebrates Jewish holidays and traditions, and joyfully yours from Dayspring!

There are hundreds of cards to choose from for everyone and every occasion. You can find out more about their collections here.

So what are you waiting for?! Stop spending more money on greeting cards and get them at Dollar Tree instead! Your budget will thank me; no need to apologize to your wallet for overspending!

greeting cards at dollar tree

This post was proofread by Grammarly

 

APPS I LOVE AND USE ON THE DAILY

apps I love

The Apps I Love and Use Daily

Below are several of the apps I love and use on a daily basis. Apps make life just a little more organized.

 

I can’t talk about apps I love without mentioning Google search first! It is literally at the top of my home screen on my phone and I consult it several times a day. A whole world of knowledge is at my fingertips. All I have to do is say, “Ok Google,” and I find out what I need to know in seconds.

You might guess, I’m a big fan of Google! I love that I can default my phone pictures to save to Google Photos instead of the phone’s built-in gallery. This way all my photos are backed-up online and accessible anywhere, but when I change phones they are automatically accessible as soon as I log into Google.

And not just my photos, but my email and phone contacts as well!

Budgeting, Rebates, and Surveys

I love EveryDollar by Ramsey Solutions. I have used this almost as long as it’s been around. It’s free and it works so well! It is also really nice to always have my budget with me. I first started budgeting on an Excel spreadsheet and the Quicken at home. This is much more user-friendly. And free! Did I mention free? You can pay for the Premium version and have it linked to your bank account but I like the added layer of accountability I get with entering transactions manually.

I love a good survey or rebate app. I use quite a few. When I have a few spare minutes I scan my receipts or take a quick survey and it adds up to free money. Cash-out once you reach $20. It’s that simple. You can earn cashback in gift cards or cash depending on the app. If you want a signup link/referral code check out my Recommendations page. One-stop for several links and codes.

Visit the Library on Your Tablet!

apps I love

I use a Kindle Fire. It is a great e-reader and tablet, especially considering its budget-friendly price point and our Prime friendly life. However, it is not compatible with Libby by Overdrive. Enter Hoopla to save the day! I can check out ebooks from my local library on my tablet instead of checking them out on my phone and defaulting to read in the Kindle app. Anything to streamline the process! This is also free!

I love to read and have made a point to learn more this year. I read books on minimalism, finances, motherhood, and the list goes on! Be on the lookout for a Recommended Reading page on this site before too long! I’ve read some good stuff this year.

apps I love

I’ve probably mentioned before that we enjoy Prime at our house. Netflix and Hulu just don’t have free 2-day shipping. Since I do a lot on my phone I also research planned purchases using my Amazon shopping app. If there is something I know I want to buy I can check prices, compare reviews, ask verified customers questions, and do all my research prior to putting the item in my budget. It is so handy! Knowing what things cost beforehand makes it easier for me to stay in budget.

You know I’m frugal. You also probably know by now that I’m oily. I love using the Young Living share app! Want a sample of some of our most popular oils? I can send it through the app. If I need graphics to share or more information on how to use a particular oil that’s new to me it’s all there. There are plenty of DIY tips and recipes for frugal oilers like me as well!

apps I love

Last, but certainly not least I use the WordPress app a lot! I can check my site stats, approve comments, reply to a reader, and even edit posts while I’m out and about! It is great for when I get an idea I know I won’t remember the next time I sit down to work on the blog at home. Are you interested in blogging? Download this app, check out Dream Host for self-hosting, check your budget, and then GO FOR IT! Let me know when you do; I love connecting with other bloggers!

What are some apps you love?

This is just a sampling of apps I love. I have more, but these are most of the apps I use daily. There are a few more I can get into more depth on if I ever post about my experience as a blogger. Let me know what apps you use! I am always interested in free productivity apps! Just haven’t researched them in a while. I just set up lots of reminders on my Google Calendar. Happy app browsing my friends!

TIPS FOR A LESS STRESSFUL, EASIER MORNING ROUTINE

easier morning

Your Easier Morning Starts with a Better Night Before

The first thing you do to ensure an easier morning is to start the night before. Read my post on 6 Tips to Get a Better Night’s Sleep Now. A great night’s sleep helps a lot. But before you go to bed you’ll want to make sure you get a few things done.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.*

Before bed…

Clean the kitchen at night to avoid overwhelm in the morning. It makes things so much easier. This is definitely worth the effort. I need to be more consistent with this one. It is so much easier when you can just walk in and start preparing food without first clearing space to work.

I also try to go through her backpack and take home folder as soon as we get home in the afternoon. It helps a lot to get this out of the way. Make sure to check pockets for “souvenirs” and “gifts” your child may have received from friends on the bus, including food or candy. We had a lot of surprises in the backpack last year. I don’t want a repeat!

We get the kids bathed in the evenings. It helps a lot to have a plan for dinner and to eat a little earlier to avoid feeling rushed in the evenings. I also keep a Thieves roller on the kitchen counter so I remember to give her added immune support when I pass out vitamins. Anything I know I’ll likely forget needs to be out in plain sight.

It can help to lay your clothes out the night before. If that works for you great! I tend to change my mind in the morning so I just wait until before my shower to pull something out to wear. I have a lot fewer clothes now since decluttering so it takes much less time.

Start a Little Earlier and Don’t Rush

This has taken me almost 35 years to appreciate. I am NOT a morning person. My personal preference has always been a hit the snooze three times and then see how bare-bones my routine can be. I got so good at it I knew how many minutes I’d save if I cut out certain portions of my morning routine.

It just doesn’t work out that way with kids. They don’t really follow your time table. Last week I finally accepted the only solution was to get around before they’re up.

I am now up a full two hours before we have to step out of the house. This allows me to shower, dress, and have breakfast on the table before I go wake up my first grader. When our youngest isn’t up yet I have about 15 minutes to myself.

It also helps that I stick to the same routine when it comes to getting ready of a morning and when I go to bed; I do things in the same order I’ve done them for years. I’ve yet to step out the door without brushing my teeth or applying deodorant, so I’d say it works for me!

You know your child better than anybody and how long they need to get ready; I have learned that my daughter needs 40 to 45 minutes to get out the door. This allows time to make her bed, get dressed, eat, brush teeth, and fix hair. Any longer and she will be sidetracked and we can still end up late!

For an easier morning, you need a game plan

If you don’t want to be stressed you need to have a clue before you turn on the kitchen light. There is nothing quite like a frantic rush to figure out what to feed kids (who aren’t all that patient) to derail your morning.

I find my kids don’t fill up on cereal. It’s all they’ll request of a morning, but 3 bowls later and they’re still hungry! Oh, and someone has a tummy ache. I try to feed them scrambled eggs, muffins, or other heartier options rather than cereal. They don’t always cooperate, but a full belly is always better than a hungry or hurting one. Smoothies can also be a great, frugal option.

My planner has meal options already planned out through the rest of the month. I pick a breakfast or lunch option listed on a day prior to my next planned grocery trip and I should have the ingredients.

When my daughter informed me this morning, the day before grocery shopping day, that she wouldn’t eat the lunch I was going to prepare yes, I winged it. But I did know what I had on hand so it didn’t slow me down. Much.

Aim to get out the door 5-10 minutes before necessary and always have the diaper bag

If you aim to be early it’s harder to be late. I typically try to be ready to leave 10 minutes before necessary and you know something? I’m rarely early! But I’m late much less often than in the past.

With babies and toddlers, it is always best to bring the bag in every evening and repack it then. It is no fun to get somewhere, have an epic diaper, and be unprepared. I’ve been there, done that, thrown away all the evidence. Don’t do that to yourself! I take my son’s bag with me just to drop off his sister at school just in case. We’re only planning a 30 minute round trip back home, but you never know, right?

These are the tools I’m using to help get out the door on time and with less stress of a morning. What are your tried and true ways to keep an easier morning routine?

6 TIPS TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP NOW

How to Get the Best Sleep Ever

If you’re like me you’ll do anything to get a good night’s sleep. I’ll be honest; I’m pretty good at some of these tips, but terrible at a few as well. Read on to for a few very simple tips to get a great night’s sleep now. This is a perfect time to discuss a good night’s sleep since kids around the country are going back to school this month! Mine starts tomorrow!

1 – Ease into an earlier bedtime

We could all probably stand to go to bed earlier, but don’t rush it. If you typically go to bed at 11 PM don’t expect to start hopping in bed at 8:30 and start getting lots of sleep. It’s probably not going to happen. Make a goal to go to bed up to half an hour earlier at a time until you find your ideal bedtime.

We started two weeks before school started getting our daughter accustomed to a regular bedtime. It’s a good thing we did because what we thought would work well turned out to be a little too late and we still had to tweak it some to avoid morning meltdowns. She is now accustomed to going to bed at 8 PM and getting up between 6:30 and 6:45 AM.

2 – Turn off Your electronic devices

I am one of the worst at this. I know you don’t fall asleep as fast if you’ve been staring at the TV screen, tablet, or cell phone before bed. It really should be off at least an hour or two prior to trying to get some shut-eye in order to ensure the best sleep ever we all know we need.

If you’re not willing to shut it off early in the evening at least turn on the blue light filter and reduce the strain on your eyes. I keep mine on my phone all the time with no problem but only use it on my Kindle Fire if I’m reading later at night. The screen turns an orangy tone and I find that distracting during the day. Do yourself a favor and put your screen down a little earlier. This goes for me as well. If reading helps you fall asleep it’s best done the old fashioned way – turning the pages!

3 – Get yourself some lavender for the best sleep ever

Lavender not only smells great but is great for sleep support. I diffuse lavender and cedarwood every night at bedtime and I fall asleep faster than I ever. I have also decided to make it a priority to budget for a diffuser or our problem sleeper’s room in order to help him get his best sleep ever at night and quit interrupting ours. If you don’t feel like a diffuser is your style but still want some natural sleep support a dab of lavender with a carrier oil behind the ears and/or misting your pillow can help you drift off as well. Click here to receive free samples of three of Young Living oils.

4 – Cut off caffeine after dinner

If not earlier. Everybody reacts differently, so the more affected you are by caffeine, the earlier you need to cut yourself off. Try to get all your hydration needs in well before bedtime so you’re not waking up because you gotta go in the middle of the night.

If you have to have something to drink after dinner stick with water or herbal tea. I love a good cup of hot tea a little before bed. There are also several herbal blends specifically designed to help you sleep.

5 –You’ll get your best night’s sleep in a dark room

White noise is really the only noise you need. A ceiling fan and the sound of the diffuser are more than enough for me, but our six-year-old also uses a small fan on top of her armoire for white noise.

Also, make sure it is dark enough so your brain knows it’s supposed to let you sleep. Our master bedroom is closest to the driveway where we have an LED light on the electric pole. You don’t have to worry about stubbing your toes on furniture in our room at night! We have thermal curtains but they aren’t enough so I am researching the cost of blackout shades like these. We have large windows, which is great for letting in natural light, but a little harder on the budget to buy blinds or shades!

6 – Get into a bedtime routine

One of the best things you can do that costs no money and requires little effort is to get into a predictable bedtime routine. This can help to signal your body that it’s time to go to sleep.

If you’re like me and you have kids you know your sleep is dependent on theirs, so use these six tricks on them as well, five of them at least. I know mine prefer their night lights, so making the room as dark as possible isn’t the best option for them yet.

How well do you sleep? What are your tried and true routines to help you nod off and get a great night’s sleep? I’d love to hear them!

10 UNDER$10 TO SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY

save time and money

Make Life a Little Easier

Life can be hard. And it can be expensive. If you’re living that budget life like I am chances are you are always on the lookout for anything that will save you a little time, money, sanity, or all three. Here is a list of 10 under $10 I’ve curated to do just that!

These items align with goals I have been working toward and at around $10 these items definitely qualify as frugal.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*

10 Under $10

10 under $10
  1. Meal prepping and cooking at home can save you a lot of time and money, but if you don’t know where to start, get a meal prepping cookbook like this one by Alea Milham. A small investment like this one can save you hundreds of dollars a year if not more in the long run.

 

productivity journal

2. A good productivity journal or planner like this Shine Bright diary can help keep you organized. Write down appointments, bill due dates, even work up your monthly budget and to-do lists on these customizable pages. If you aren’t feeling particularly creative pick out a planner with preset calendar pages instead.

10 under $10

3. I hate using a store’s plastic shopping bags; I have to take them back to Walmart to recycle. That is why I love reusable shopping bags and am looking to replace my Aldi ones – store ones rip. A few sturdy canvas bags like this one seem like a much better option. This one is natural cotton and customizable!

10 under $10

4. If you love coffee a stainless steel travel mug is a must. This Jura 20 oz tumbler has an average rating of 5 stars with over 1500 reviews! Sounds like a pretty good mug. It also has a straw and two lid functions. Brew your own coffee at home for pennies a day or take your own travel mug to your favorite coffee shop or convenience store for a discount!

k-cup reusable filters

5. Speaking of brewing at home, if you use a single-serve brewer you know K-cups are not cheap compared to ground coffee bought in bulk. And they generate a lot of trash. Reusable filter cups like these make life easier and save some cash every month. Just compost those grounds and rinse out the filter when you’re done. Buy a K-cup variety pack to see which blends you like best and then buy bagged grounds of the blends you know you love. You can even grind your own if you prefer. This will can save you about a quarter a day, which can add up to some serious savings on your daily cuppa joe! It can also save space in your cabinets not storing bulky boxes of k-cups.

10 under $10

6. Stop throwing your money out every time you use a Ziploc bag. They may seem cheap, but get one wet and it isn’t reusable and it definitely isn’t environmentally friendly. I like this five pack of reusable bags.I think the variety makes it worth the extra 99 cents. If you don’t trust silicone or PEVA then it is worth it to spring for stainless steel. They’re also freezer safe!

We purchased these and love them! They are easier to clean than anticipated and work for everything. I just can’t send them to school for snack time because my first grader threw one away by accident. I keep raw chicken in them, can freeze them, use them for my husband’s chips in his lunch, our son’s snacks for the diaper bag… They are definitely worth the small investment!

10 under $10

7. Never lose another baby sock or ruin another bra in the wash with these color-coded mesh wash bags. The excellent reviews give me more confidence in them than the cheapo one I bought at Walmart that ripped and lost its contents in the wash.

10 under $10

8. A sewing emergency kit like this one can save you money by extending the life of your wardrobe. You don’t necessarily have to invest in a sewing machine to repair a hem, sew a button back on, or patch a hole. You do however need a sewing kit. Needles, scissors, several colors of thread, etc are included. This is a bargain when you consider how much you could save on your wardrobe over time by simply taking better care of your clothes.

10 for under $10

9. Get a toothpaste squeeze like this one and never waste toothpaste from the tube again! We recently cut open a tube of toothpaste once we thought we couldn’t possibly get any more out. Were we wrong! These dandies come in a four pack.

playdoh

10. The last item on this list is solely a sanity saver. If you have kids you probably already know how invaluable a few minutes of your kids entertaining themselves can be. I was not a fan until recently. Trying to keep a class of six two-year-olds happy during Vacation Bible School made me a believer. Play-doh is inexpensive and non-toxic.  I’ve even seen recipes with peanut butter if your kids are prone to eat them. Any inexpensive sensory item is good to have around when you need to get something done or just drink a cup of coffee without a million interruptions.

Pick up any of these 10 under $10 and save yourself some hassle today! What are your must-have items for saving time, money, and your sanity? I’d love to hear from you.