How to Save Money on Back to School Clothes

How to Save Money on Back to School Clothes

Back to School Money Saving Tips

The first few months of school can be crazy. I remember it as a teacher and I’ve experienced it as a parent. There are a bunch of events, everything has a cost, and you feel like you’re running out of money pretty quickly.

 

Depending on how many kids you have in school, your costs can add up fast. There are definitely ways to save money during this crazy Back to School Time that won’t leave you pinching pennies or feeling like you can’t get something you need.

This post may contain affiliate links which cost you nothing extra to use but may provide me with a commission. To read my full disclosure head on over here.

 

 

 

Your costs will vary depending on your kid’s age so take the tips below and adjust them to fit your needs. In our home, my stepson will be going into 6th grade (eep! Middle school!) and my 2.5 year old is starting preschool for 3 days a week! That means we have a variety of costs that will come up to keep on top of but luckily, we can start to plan ahead.

Tip #1 Create a Budget for Back to School Shopping 

The first thing I suggest you do is to create a budget for all things you consider Back to School. Spend 15-20 minutes and write out all of the costs that you remember from last year. I use a Trello board so that I can easily just reference what we spent last year but, if you don’t have a record anywhere, just estimate to the best of your ability. You are bound to forget things but, that’s okay, we’ll build it into the budget.

Once you’ve created your list, go back and highlight the things that are absolutely essential (maybe you have to pay the school for supplies upfront or need to pay for sports fees) so that you can really look at what you NEED vs what you WANT.

Now, don’t get me wrong I am not Scrooge, but I am someone who is trying to pay off as much debt as possible and I need to do an ego check every once and while to see where I’m spending unnecessarily. I’ve seen moms spend upwards to $500 on back to school clothes and supplies and, while your kids might need some clothes, you need to determine how much is reasonable to spend on them.

Determine what you will be spending per kid on clothes and stick to it. Take the money out in cash and don’t go over that budget. If you have older kids, you can make it a teachable moment for them and give them the money and let them try to find deals. This was a lesson that we taught my stepson since he currently is obsessed with name brands and realized very quickly that Walmart has just as nice things as Nordstrom.

Tip #2 Save Money By Shopping Online  

 

Speaking of clothes, there are a TON of ways you can save money when creating your kid’s back to school wardrobe.

 

If you’re going to shop online, I highly suggest signing into your EBATES  account before hand. EBATES will give you coupon codes and cashback just for doing the shopping you are planning on doing.

 

Also, whenever you log into a website, if you wait about 30 seconds, most stores will have a pop up that offers you at least 10% off your purchase. Make sure you give them your email (you can always unsubscribe later) so they can send you the code before you shop. It may take up to 24 hours for it to come to you so just sign up a few days before you plan to use it.

If the site you are on doesn’t have a coupon code readily available, you can always just search google and find codes for discounts or free shipping. I try never to pay for shipping if possible!

 

Tip #3 Shop discount or thrift stores for great deals

 

You can also get great deals in the stores if you shop smart. If you have an idea of the sizes you need, you can shop clearance racks in advance to grab stuff that they will need.

It’s tougher because my kids grow either super fast or super slow and I am never 100% sure what sizes they are in. My daughter has been in 2T for almost 2 years and my stepson has gone up 4 sizes this year!

 

Make sure you check out stores like Burlington Coat Factory or Ross where you can get nicer quality of clothes and some name brands for super cheap. Consignment and thrift stores always have great finds and things you would pay over 50% more for if you bought them brand new in a store. Really ask yourself if your kid needs a red shirt or if they need a red Ralph Lauren shirt.

Tip #4 Create a Capsule Wardrobe

 

Creating a capsule wardrobe is also a super smart way to stretch the clothes your kids wear while not having them in exactly the same thing. We know the truth, your kids (and probably you) only wear about 10-15% of what you own. So why not utilize the stuff you love and get rid of what doesn’t serve you.

 

The first step to creating your kid’s capsule wardrobe is to inventory what they have. Take a few hours and inventory all of their closets and dressers. I create a Trello board for all of the clothes so that I can know exactly what’s there when I need to shop or plan outfits.

 

Make your kids try things on (which we both know they’ll love), pack up what’s out of season, donate or sell on the Facebook Marketplace (extra clothing budget money!) anything that’s still in pretty good shape and really make it to they can see everything and, nothing is being stuffed in a drawer.

 

They do not need a whole month of new shirts but just a few staple pieces that they can mix or match. Take the time in advance to create 2-3 weeks of a clothing plan for them. Write down which tops and bottoms you want to mix and match and make sure you’re getting your bang for your buck when it comes to clothes.

Tip #5 Do a Clothing Swap

 

If you have friends who also have kids around the same age as yours, see if you can organize a clothing swap. Have everyone come with over with gently used clothes and you can all swap what you already have.

 

I find for my stepson, this type of thing works better if he has no idea where the clothes came from (the same when I shop at consignment). I just take the clothes home and wash and fold them and tell him, “oh I got you these for back to school”. He just assumes I took that tags off to wash them and we’re good to go.

 

And while I know teaching him about being thrifty is important (and we do it very often in this house) I also know that I need to pick my battles and this is one I don’t feel like fighting.

BONUS TIP! Don’t buy clothes right away!

 

So often, we’ll do all of our back to school shopping weeks before school starts to get it done and 3 days into school, our kids come home saying they want something else that they saw their friend has.

 

If you can get a handful of new things and then wait a week or so, you can get the ‘back to school’ clothes on sale because stores are making room for the next season!

 

Don’t let back to school have you turning to credit cards and stressing over how you’ll be able to get all the things your kids ‘need’. Remember what matters, what they may really need, and stick to the budget. Once you decide on that budget DO NOT steer from it!

 

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6 Ways to Make Money From Home (without doing surveys)

6 Ways to Make Money From Home (without doing surveys)

6 Ways to Make Money from Home (without doing surveys)

 

I was a teacher for 8 years and I loved it. But I was burnt out. I was finding myself crying on the way to work, not having time to see my family, and just felt so lost in my purpose. I knew I wanted to stay home with my kids and would do what I needed to in order to stay home with my kids.

 

Once I made that decision, nothing could stop me from finding a ton of side hustles that actually paid off. I work daily at my money mindset and knew that even a few dollars here and there would pay off.

 

I got started being a work from home mom with direct sales and network marketing. I found a product I loved and it felt super natural for me to share it with others. That allowed me to have the freedom to be home and now, I have multiple streams of income that help pay our mortgage each month and a ton of ideas on the backburner.

 

If you’re a mom looking to stay home with your kids, know that you CAN do it! Every little bit will add up and it is possible! Below are some of the ways that I make money and some that friends and readers have shared with me!

 

This post may contain affiliate links which cost you nothing extra to use but help me fund this page. To read my full disclosure head on over here.

 

Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

Ways to Make Money From Home 

 

1. BestMark

 

Best Mark is a legit way to make money as a secret shopper. While the money may not add up quickly, you put in your zip code and when shops in your area come up you can complete them. In my area, I am always getting shops to go to the local Best Buy or the casino that is just a few miles away. For some of the shops, like the casino or a restaurant, they will reimburse you up to a certain amount on food and also pay you. You have to complete a phone survey once your shop is complete. If you are interested in this and sign up, I suggest grabbing opportunities as soon as you see them in your inbox! They are first come, first serve n go very fast!

 

2. User Testing

 

User Testing is a way to give feedback to websites about usability. You can log into your portal (which is the only way you know if they have any available reviews) and once you hear the ding, jump on it! This is another site that is first come, first serve but if you qualify for the review, you can earn $10 for each review. You are given instructions to go to the test website and audio record your thoughts based on questions that they provide. I’ve made a few hundred dollars over the past few months just doing this once and a while! Sign up here!

 

3. VIP Kid

 

VIPKid is a virtual teaching community where you teach English via the internet to students in China. You do need a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible and their interview process is very extensive! I made it to the end of the process but ultimately, decided that the hours (either super early in the AM or after kids went to bed) didn’t currently fit into my schedule. You can earn a part-time income through easily if you’re willing to put in the work!

 

4. APPEN

 

Appen is a virtual site where companies hire assistants to complete basic data entry jobs for them. You can apply for data entry, research, social media and more! Pick things that you are skilled in and interest you and, if a job becomes available, they’ll email you to apply. I’ve applied for a few jobs that came in but never actually gotten picked so I can’t 100% tell you how much you’d make. You can check it out for yourself here!

 

5. Network or Multi-Level Marketing

As I said at the start of this post, I got into entrepreneurship via network marketing. I know what you’re thinking… “network marketing isn’t for me, I don’t want to sell to my friends, doesn’t everyone do that”. And I hear you.

But I want you to hear me out. Network Marketing is NOT for everyone. I’ll just put that out there. But I believe if you have a product you love, that you’d buy anyway, and you want to share that passion with others, than I truly believe you can be successful in direct sales.

I’ve been about to make over $100,000 in the 5.5 years that I’ve worked as a health and fitness coach because I loved the products, saw my own results and wanted to help other women feel amazing. If you think this option is for you, check out a product and ask the distributor if they have an option to get a discount and sell it. If you are curious about health and fitness, email me at coachingwithcara@gmail.com and we can chat more!

6. Create Your Own Products and Courses


While I loved what I did as a health and fitness coach, I knew that God had a bigger purpose for me to impact women on a larger scale. Because of that, I began to branch out and currently work more as a virtual life coach. For me, this has been the main way I bring in income, helped me reach more women on my own schedule, and lets me us the spiritual gifts I know God has gifted me.

The main ways you can make income this way is to start your own blog OR create a course on your own. I started my blog after a few years of thinking about it in just 3 weeks at 2 am while I was nursing my newborn! If I can do it, so can you! There are many ways to monetize a blog and I learned so many of them in this awesome course; Blog by Number. I HIGHLY suggest anyone serious about getting a blog up easily and quickly to take Suzi’s course. She makes it super simple from start to finish and really walks you through how to get it off the ground.

When I got started with my blog, the first thing I did was pick my domain and where I wanted to host it because, as you’ll find, the first few names you love might be taken. As soon as I thought of “A Purpose Driven Mom” I headed right to Siteground and grabbed it up for the year!

Once I got my blog off the ground, I started to create my own products. You actually don’t need a blog to make your own e-book or course, but I highly suggest having an email service provider and that be the first investment you make in your business! I LOVE Convertkit! It’s super easy to use (I am NOT very tech savvy) and super affordable!

If you are ready to make your own e-book or e-course you can easily head to Canva or PicMonkey to get it off the ground! For hosting courses, I host all of mine on the Teachable platform.

It can be super overwhelming to get started on your own blog or products so, if you want to talk about if it’s an option for you, email me at coachingwithcara@gmail.com {Subject Line: Consultation} and we can set up a free 20-minute consultation to talk through your ideas! I also offer business coaching to any moms to want some step by step help and you can email me to talk about payment plan options!

 

There are a TON of ways for moms to make money from home that doesn’t involve doing surveys that pay pennies (though I have done those too!) and really can make a difference to either a business or someone else! And again, if you want help figuring out your next steps, let’s talk! Just email coachingwithcara@gmail.com and we can set up a consultation! I love to help moms figure out how they can make money from home, fit it into their busy schedule and make a difference!

 

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Make Money From Home as a Stay at Home Mom

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How to Change Your Money Mindset

How to Change Your Money Mindset

What is a Money Mindset?

“Everyone has debt.”

“You need debt for your credit score.”

“I mean, who doesn’t have student loans?”

“You’re supposed to have a mortgage forever.”

“That’s what credit cards are for!.”

Statements like these are what is keeping people in lifelong debt. And it’s what kept me in debilitating debt for years. I grew up in a household where the phrase “we don’t have enough money for that” was played on repeat and where I saw my parents go into bankruptcy and struggle to pay bills. And for many of us, we just assume having debt is what life is ‘supposed to be like’.

Well, what if I told you, YOU had the power to change that narrative. You could get yourself out of debt and start to shift the money story that your family has? You can be the change for your financial legacy and your children’s story. But you have to start with your mindset.

This post may contain affiliate links which cost you nothing extra to use but help me fund this page. To read my full disclosure head on over here.

What’s holding you back?

A lot of times when we have a negative money mindset, it stems from the way we grew up. And honestly, as a parent now, it is frightening to think about how much impact I really do have on my children. How much what I say (and don’t say), how I interact with them, and just our day to day life really will make a difference in their future.

And for most of us, when it comes to money, it all comes down to how we were taught to treat it. If you think about money, does it make you anxious? Is money something you and your family don’t talk about at all? Are you constantly complaining about what you don’t have? Do you do it in front of your children?

Because I guarantee, if you dig into it, and think about how your parents were about money around you, you’ll see yourself looking into a mirror. And it’s up to us to start to change that story for our future and the future of our children.

To determine why you think the way you do about money, ask yourself some questions about how it was for you growing up…

  1. When you think about finances, what emotions are brought to the surface?
  2. Did you grow up in a household where people talked about money?
  3. Did you ever hear the phrase ‘we can’t afford that’?
  4. Did your parents argue about money?
  5. Did you ever feel like you didn’t have as much as a friend or another family?
  6. Did you see your parents stressing over bills?
  7. Did your parents ever talk to your about creating a budget?
  8. Did you earn an allowance?
  9. Did your parents buy you whatever you wanted?
  10. Did you ever have to have a job to pay for things yourself?
  11. Did you ever have to go without important life staples such as food or heat?
  12. Would you consider yourself spoiled?
  13. What would you have changed about the way your parents talked about money?
  14. Did you ever have a period of lack where your family struggled to have a place to live?
  15. Do you harbor any unforgiveness around money and your parents?

As you dive into these questions, realize how your parents interacted with money played either a negative or positive role in your money mindset. They either left you a really great example of how to be frugal but smart about money,how to have an abundance mindset even when the money might not be there, and how to work hard to be able to make smart purchases OR they made you feel insecure about money, that bills and finances are something to stress over and that there will never be enough money for you and your needs.

And honestly, this may really sting. I know for me, I grew up with a really negative money mindset and can vividly remember times where it was ingrained in me that I will always struggle with money and felt very financially insecure. I am someone who struggles with anxiety and, for me, money issues are a HUGE trigger. WHen I have to spend money at all, I become that little girl again hearing my parents argue about bills and feeling guilty for buying anything.

Can I ask you… are you still becoming that little girl too? Do you blame your parents? Are you holding onto those mindset that they taught you? If so, the next step to changing your mindset is…

Forgiveness 

 

Maybe you didn’t realize until you started going through the questions that a lot of your mindset was shaped by your parents or maybe this is something that you struggle with day to day. Whatever the case, I want to encourage you to LET.IT.GO.

 

If you hold onto this spirit of unforgiveness about finances towards your parents, or maybe their boss for making them work long hours but not paying enough, or someone who borrowed money from your parents and never paid it back, or anyone that impacted your mindset, then you will never be ready to move on financially. You will always be that little girl afraid of money and feeling inadequate when it comes to finances.

 

You have to give forgiveness to those people in order to move on. Maybe your parents didn’t realize how much you heard of conversations whispered in the kitchen, or realize how much it would impact you (I mean as parents, how often do we think about it?) or understand just how much the words we put into the universe impact how our minds are shaped. Or maybe they did; maybe they thought they were teaching you these incredible lessons to ‘harden you’ in the world, or maybe they wanted you to see what hard work really meant (but in turn just taught you that you have to struggle no matter what).

 

Today, I want to encourage you to write down those people’s names and experiences in a journal. Brain dump all of the thoughts you have, all the emotions both positive and negative, and at the end I want you to write out the words… I FORGIVE YOU.

 

Because especially as parents, we don’t realize how much we impact our children in the long run. And just because they may have said things that could have impacted our mindset negatively, it really is up to that person's personality to either become resistant or have negativity ingrained in them. And even if you felt it was deliberate, most of the time, our parents DID THE BEST THAT THEY KNEW HOW.

 

If you felt a sense of peace after this activity, I want to challenge you to give that person a  call today to talk about it, to say that ‘this is how I felt, and I’ve been holding it in for a while but I'd like to move forward. Giving forgiveness is the first step!

 

How can you change your money mindset?  

 

Visualize 

 

After you’ve made the decision that you’re ready to move forward, forgive anyone who might have had a negative impact on your money mindset and took part in creating those money blocks, the next thing you need to do is visualize your future.

 

What do you want it to look like? Why do you want to be debt free? What would you do with your money if you didn’t have any bills each month?

 

When you take the time to dream big, and to actually picture what things could be like and how you would feel without money stress, your brain start to realize that these things can actually be a reality. Take 10 minutes today and either journal, draw or just dream what a debt free lifestyle would feel and be like for you.

 

15 minutes a day 

 

Whenever someone comes to me and says that they need to adjust their habits to be successful, I always suggest they start small and just with 15 minutes a day. So often, we become paralyzed because we don’t feel like we can ‘do it all’ so we don’t even do anything at all. Don’t let perfectionism stand in your way of making a change.

 

Start with just taking 15 minutes a day to adjust your money mindset. The best way to do this is to inventory what you are putting in your mind. If you are spending your time around people who complain about money, or brag about what they have, or only watching TV where consumerism is in our faces every single moment than your mindset will reflect that.


If you intentionally choose to put positive money thoughts into your head, over time, positive money thoughts will start to become your reality. I Like to listen to a good podcast every day that helps me learn financial tips, develop a more positive money mindset and start to dream big and realize that I CAN become debt free if I truly work at it.

 

You can do this through podcasts, youtube videos, books or audiobooks or any of the great free resources at your local library. Don’t let the fact that you ‘don't have money for a new book’ stop you from changing your mindset now!


Take 15 minutes while you are folding laundry, cooking dinner or waiting in the drop off line at school and, instead of scrolling social media, daydreaming, or listening to music or news that doesn't fuel your soul, and turn on some podcasts that will do just that!

 

Some of my favorites include;

Money for the rest of us

Journey to Launch

Afford Anything; build a better life

Suze Orman Women and Money

The Dave Ramsey Show

Optimal Finance Daily

Money for the Rest of Us

Planet Money

Chris Hogan's Retire Inspired

Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life

 

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How to Survive When Money is Tight

How to Survive When Money is Tight

“Ma’am, it says your card didn’t go through. Do you want to try it again?”

I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes already because I knew that if that card didn’t work I had no other options to buy the rest of the groceries I needed for the week.

“Ummm, no sorry. I’ll just have to put it back”, I said as my voice cracked.

I hear a soft voice behind me at the check out, “I’ll get it hunny, no problem” she said as she slid the cashier a $10 bill to cover the measly amount I couldn’t afford at the moment.

I somehow managed a “thank you” before making it to my car to ugly cry and wonder when it would happen again. My husband had been out of work 2 months at this point and anything we had saved had been pretty much used up. I knew that I would keep running into a similar scenario each week at the store (or probably not even make it to the store) if I didn’t take some steps to focus on our budget.

Thankfully now, 10 months later, my husband is back at work after 7 months unemployed. And, while we are still working to get back on track after being in a struggling season, I know that if I hadn’t made the choice that day to get in control of our finances again we never would have survived… let alone actually thrived as a family, during this time.

 

When Money Is Tight 

 

When you are in a tough financial season you have a few options. Some people stay in denial and continue to spend because ‘things will work out at some point’, some people just go right to their credit cards for things, some decide to not spend anything at all, and some make a plan so that they can actually LIVE and not just survive.

Our months in this season were not easy at all, we had very few luxuries, holidays meant little or no gifts, and we had to give up some more exciting food choices to make ends meet. Luckily through this season, God humbled us to realize what we actually need in life, made us become closer as a family, and kept us on track to be good stewards of our money.

I want to share with you the tips that helped keep us afloat in hopes that they spark you into realizing that you can thrive during this time. You don’t have to be in the victim in this story, you can take charge and help your family make ends meet (or even get ahead).

Before I dive into those tips, I just want to give you my most important one that is to PRAY. God knows your needs and will ALWAYS provide. But you need to talk to Him, you need to ask Him for help, you need to humble yourself because you can’t always do it alone. Maybe you pray to have a way to get groceries one week and pass a sign for a food pantry. You might need to humble yourself and go get the assistance, it’s there for a reason and maybe that’s the sign God wanted you to have.

The other thing I want to share is that, during this time, we tithed 10% every single week. This money was definitely not the same as it was when we had more income but that’s why God only asks us for 10% of what we have. It’s personal and nothing to compare to anyone else. This came from money we got from unemployment and what I was bringing in from my blog and coaching services. Some weeks it was only $20 but we knew that that $20 needed to go back to God. Money is just something He lets us borrow while we are on earth and nothing we need to get attached to. Give back to the Lord and He always provides (may not be on our timeline but hey… it’ll came back around!)

 

How to Make Ends Meet 

 

Focus on your budget and track your spending

First things first, you NEED to have a budget. You can download free apps, create an excel spreadsheet or just use a notebook but, whatever you do make sure you are tracking your money. If you don’t know how much you need to make for bills you won’t know how to create an action plan.

Start with printing out last month (or even 2-3 months) bank and credit statements. Go through with a highlighter and categorize what spending you already have done. Make pink for eating out, green for kid’s stuff, yellow for groceries, purple for bills etc…. This will give you a great overview of where the money is going.

Next, go through and chart out all of the spending so you can see where you are putting your money. You can go through this list and start to see what you can start to cut out. When times are tough, or you just want to pay off debt, cutting out unnecessary spending is a must. Sometimes, we don’t even realize how much we are swiping our cards and where our money could be going.

Once you’ve tracked your spending, you can use this information to create a budget based on the bills that have to get paid (always priority #1), the spending that is a necessity each month (food, gas, diapers etc…), and what you can cut out to make ends meet. Stick to this each month and, while you are in this season, realize that luxuries are just something that have to go. Your kids don’t need a toy every time you go to the store and you can DIY a mani/pedi at home!

 

Cash Flow Life

Once you’ve created your budget, I highly recommend a cash flow system. If possible, do NOT use your credit cards at all during this time. There were times the past 10 months where we had to use a credit card for emergencies, like when my husbands car broke down, or bills that we couldn’t cover by cash. This is NOT ideal and if you can freeze all credit card use you’ll be in a good position.

This way, if you don’t have the cash for it (or in your account and use your debit card to pay online bills) than it doesn’t happen. This helped us take what I thought our grocery budget should be down to a place we could really stretch. We currently spend $100-$125 a week on all of our groceries, toiletries, and diapers and there were weeks in this season I cut it down to $50. You can read more about my tips on cutting grocery spending here!

Call the companies

If you are struggling to make ends meet or some bills are just out of control, your first call should be to the companies you owe money too. We immediately called our student loan lenders (ugh student loans) and got on smaller payment plans and some forbearance time while we figured things out.

You can call your cable company or gas company and see what they might have to lower your bill. I also suggest calling your auto and life insurance policies! We were able to drop almost $300 a year from our bill just by a simple call and filling in some paperwork. It’s worth the time to save the money!

If you are ready to pay a bill that you are late on, always call and see what they can offer you. Once my husband was back at work and we had steady income, we called all of our creditors to make things right again and almost every single one helped us lower a more reasonable monthly payment AND got rid of the late fees once we explained our circumstance.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is the #1 suggestion I give to moms when they tell me they want to save money. Meal planning allows you to eat out of the pantry and use up the food you already have (during our hard times I never got another box of cereal unless I couponed it for free or we had NONE in our pantry! The kids don’t need that many choices!). Meal planning helps you waste less food and get creative in the kitchen. I’ve done an entire series on meal planning on a budget that you can check out if you want to learn more about how to do it!

If you’re not sure about meal planning, the first two things you CAN start doing right away to see some financial gain is to stop eating out and bring your lunch to work. By packing just one meal a day for your family you can save anywhere from $15-200 a week depending on where you all eat! When I was a teacher, if I didn’t pack my lunch, my only option was the cafe across the street where I’d spend $15 easily on a meal for myself. I can pack 3 days (or more) worth of my lunches for $15!

I won’t go too much into eating out because I think you and I both know it’s a no brainer. If you are struggling to cash flow it, don’t do it! Spend time planning meals so you don’t have to and you’ll save a ton! For my family of 5 to eat out, we’d spend anywhere from $50-$100 each time and that’s just ridiculous! If you do choose to eat out, make sure you check out your local newspaper for coupons or find places where kids can eat free with an adult purchase!

Put yourself on a fun budget… but learn to say no

While luxuries were limited during this time for us, we knew we had to have some fun and live a little or we’d struggle mentally. It can be really hard to plan activities for the kids and your family when money is tight but I suggest you make a small fun budget. Maybe it’s just $20 a week that you spend to do something as a family but that little amount can go a long way! $20 a week could get you a trip for some ice cream, some rides at the local carnival, or a date night to the diner with your husband.

I suggest checking out sites like Groupon for discounts and deals and always plan ahead. You can also hit up the movies for a matinee when the prices are less or host a game night at your house and make it a potluck. I have more suggestions and a great list to get you started right here!

Declutter + Sell things

If your problem isn’t a spending problem but an income problem, you’ll have to find ways to make the money come in. The first thing I did was start to clean, declutter and organize my house. This way I came across so many things that I could get rid of (and outer order leads to inner calm in my mind!) and sell on the Facebook marketplace.

I love the marketplace for good finds and an easy way to make some cash. I suggest pricing things super low just to get them out of your house and pay it forward with a good deal. If you price too high you’ll never sell anything and, I don’t know about you, but I would rather have an extra $10 than hold out for $15 and get nothing at all!

You could also take all of that stuff and have a yard sale and hope to get rid of it in one fell swoop. Whatever you do, start to look around your home with a new lens. What are things you and the kids aren’t even using? Could they provide value to someone else? How much do you need this week to pay the phone bill, get some extra groceries, or that pair of sneakers your kids need? Use that as your goal for the week and aim to sell that amount. I can’t tell you how many times our sales from the marketplace covered things we forgot about like school activities, haircuts, or dog food.


Grab some side hustles

While you’re out there looking for ways to bring income in, I know it can be tough to find something that fits with your passions, the salary you need to make, and the life you live. Trust me, my husband was a school principal and I can’t even begin to tell you how tough finding a job that fit those criteria was for him!

While we were looking, I thankfully have my blog which brought in extra income though my e-courses and books, work as a health coach (email me at coachingwithcara@gmail.com for a free consultation!), and found some other side hustles to make ends meet.

I am thankful that working as a health coach helped me bring in enough money each month to cover our mortgage during this season. This way, a lot of the pressure was taken off my husband and we were scrambling a lot less. And luckily, since this was a passion of mine, I really was able to stay home with the kids instead of going back to work myself. {If you are passionate about health and fitness too, you can learn more about coaching here}

If you are in a tough financial period I first want to say that I’m sorry. I know how hard this is on your wallet, your mentality, your relationships, and your life. But know that you WILL get out of it. You need to just begin with being a good steward of your finances and taking control of what is happening with your money!

 

If you want to get started and more tips, head over and grab my Kick Your Debt to the Curb 5 Day Challenge!! And if this information was helpful, please PIN it or share it on Facebook!

 How to Survive When Money is Tight

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4 Steps To Cheap Summer Activities

4 Steps To Cheap Summer Activities

With summer right around the corner, I am SO excited to spend most of our days outside, getting inasmuch sunshine as my super fair skin can handle, and making memories with my family!

 

In the summer, I find that we spend way more money than needed because of all the fun events and things we want to do and this year, I vow to stick on my budget! We are coming out of a season of financial hardship and for the past few months, haven’t really had any space in the budget for luxuries and events.

 

Due to that, I’ve had to get super creative in finding and creating fun that our whole family can enjoy. So I sat down and said that no matter what we will have a fun summer, not break the bank, and find things that they all enjoy! I came up with a simple summer activity planning system that will keep the kids busy, you from going crazy, and your wallet happy!

 

Step #1 Identify your time pockets

 

Depending on your household, your kids may or may not have a schedule for the summer. Some families send their kids to camps, some prefer to keep their schedule more open and some take a lot of trips or homeschool events.

 

For us, none of our kids will be attending camp regularly (though my stepson has the occasional basketball drill on the calendar) and we’ve decided to keep a more open schedule. This helps a lot because currently, baby naps rule our life! I am a HUGE proponent of good sleep practices and try my best to make sure that the baby and the toddler get their sleep!

 

Their nap schedule also helps identify when we will be doing things and what days we have more free time. There are days when we will want to do a fun day trip and naps will happen in the car but, for the most part (and my sanity) we’ll try to be home for nap. Since I also work from home, that nap time is crucial for working so I plan to keep it as much as I can.

 

Identify for yourself what your typical day will look like this summer. How structured is your time? Do you have to do a lot of driving to activities? Will kids have time at camp or be home all day? How many activities do you want to plan each week?

 

Once you have that time picked out you can look at a typical day and see where you might want to add in an activity. For us, we have about a 2 hour window right now in the morning where all of the kids are up and we’re ready to be out and about so that is when I will plan something fun or an errand. Otherwise, we keep the day open. The kids are encouraged to play with their toys, read and do other crafts, and play outside. We’re also fortunate because we have a pool so that keeps the 11 year old pretty happy! I’m hoping this year goes better with the toddler in the pool because last summer she hated it!

 

Step #2 Determine your summer bucket list

 

Once you see your week at a glance, you’ll be able to see how many day trips, overnight trips, or just fun activities you can fit in. I’m not huge on planning every little bit of the day out but I do like routine and I like a plan in advance. I’ll encourage the kids to just do their things most days but I will plan out a few fun things or playdates just so we can get out of the house and have fun together.

 

If you’re trying to stay on a budget, you won’t be able to always do every single thing on your and your kids’ lists. There may be a limit to how many trips you take and places you go. So many of the fun places out there cost a fortune and when you add parking and food you’ve spent almost $100 for a few hours, and in my mind that is not worth it! I also suggest picking a ‘summer fun’ budget for eack week. This will give you the freedom to do things while making decisions that fit your budget. 

 

Sit down with your family and come up with a list of things that they’d love to do this summer. Is there a place they really want to go? Can you determine one big weekend (or longer) trip you want to take? What do they want the day to look like?

 

This is much easier if you have older kids because my toddler really has not idea what we’re planning but, if you can invest the older kids in the summer plans they may be more excited to do things or less bummed out if you can’t visit all of the places that they heard their friends talking about.

 

 

Step #3 Plan Ways to Enjoy Summer Activities on a Budget

There are actually a lot of fun things you can do with your family that doesn’t cost a ton. You just have to do a little research, some planning, and being creative and you can all have an excellent summer. I know sometimes we look at other moms and see their pictures and get envious because we’d love to take our kids to a lot of the same places but maybe it’s just not in the budget. We need to get rid of that mindset and realize that you can all have an amazing summer without always doing things that cost a lot.

Join local groups and community pages

You can go to Facebook to search local groups and community page and will be able to see a bunch of events going on. The other day in my area I randomly found a post about a free carnival for the kids. It wasn’t huge at all and we only stayed an hour but it was a free, fun activity and got us out of the house.

You can save these events as you see them on Facebook or, I like to write them directly into my planner so that I didn't forget about them or have to look somewhere else to plan activities for the week.


Local colleges are also a great place to look for activities and events because they are always posting things that might be open to the public. The library is another great stop. Ours has movies outside for free, fun day time activities for the little kids, and it’s always a great place to just go spend a few hours.

You can also check out the newspaper to see community events or things happening in the area. I just saw an ad the other day that some Regal CInemas offer $1 movies on Wednesdays and it’s the perfect time to try out taking the toddler to the movies!

Find Out Policies In Advance

Check out a place’s website before you go and see all of their policies. You might be able to bring in your own lunch, find a special place to park for cheaper, or a cool special free event one day.

We live super close to Sesame Place and last summer went a few times a week. I knew from their website that I could bring in all my own food so when we were there we never even went into the food places so the kids wouldn't even know to ask and we’d just have our snacks that we brought in. Most places will let you do so and it never hurts to ask or check. It just takes a little extra planning to do it.

Look for discounts

I am a HUGE couponer so obviously before we go anywhere I scour the internet for coupons. They often aren’t too hard to find if you just search google! You can also find discount codes on apps, in other Facebook groups and in some stores just sitting right on the counter! Our local library also has free tickets for local zoos and parks and all you have to do is call and pick them up!

If you know you might be going to a place a lot, like we did with Sesame Place, it may not hurt to get a season pass. Ours paid for itself in 3 trips and, like I said we went 2x a week! You could also maybe get passes to split with another family or meet up at someone’s house before going and split the cost of parking.

Also make sure you check out local YMCAS for what activities you can get with a membership or kid’s gyms that have discounts for open play! And before you get tickets to anything, check out discount sites like Groupon to see what events they have going on!

Budget Friendly Summer Activities

Step #4 Have fun at home

There are also a ton of activities that you can do right in your backyard without spending any money at all (or maybe a few bucks at the Dollar Store!)  So on those days when you don’t want to leave the house, spend money at all, or have a ‘home summer camp’, just have the kids go outside or do something fun together!

Check out this list of activities that you could do that are free and cheap and super fun!

Bubbles

Family Walks & Bike Rides

Water Play

Hikes

Geocaching

Make  a Time Capsule

Take a park tour

Go local

Nature Walk

Find cheap museums

Baking Day (bring to a neighbor)

Game Nights

Make a summer scrapbook

Puzzle

Parks and Splash Pads

Farmer’s Markets

Find free classes (college campuses)

Utilize the library

Outdoor games

Busy Bags

Sensory Boxes

Pick a Summer Read Aloud

When you’re planning out your summer activities, don’t let the stress of spending money get in the way of making fun memories! Use this system and ideas to get the ball rolling and just enjoy the memories!

And don’t feel like you have to plan out every minute. I know we want our kids to have a fun time but there is something magical that happens when we let them get bored and use their imaginations!

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Budget Friendly Summer Family Activities

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5 Ways to Save Money on Groceries (without using coupons)

5 Ways to Save Money on Groceries (without using coupons)

 

 

How to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons

 So I want to start with saying that I actually LOVE coupons.

Using coupons was one of the strategies that helped us when my husband was unemployed for 7 months and we had virtually NO money coming in for groceries.

During that season of our life, I used coupons to stretch the budget, pinched pennies like crazy, and did a lot of small side jobs to make ends meet. Thankfully now, he is back working and we on our way to getting back on our feet.

 But just because we have more of an income coming in, doesn’t mean that we went back to spending like crazy. Our time of no income actually taught us a lot about wants vs. needs and helped us create amazing habits that is really helping us get rid of a lot of the debt we accumulated in those months.

 Yes, I still use coupons for things that we use (it’s actually one of my hobbies now!) but I also incorporate it with a variety of other money saving hacks that allow us, as a family of 5, to have a $100 a week grocery budget with ease.

 

Use a Meat Delivery Service

 

I have been looking for a great meat delivery service for a long time. I kept hitting a lot of roadblocks in my search, such as they were WAY out of my budget, the meat quality wasn’t as high as I hoped, or that they didn’t deliver in my area.

 So when Zaycon Fresh opened in my area I was jumping for joy. 

I had heard a lot about their farm to table meat services and was super excited to try them. The way it works is that you order your meats (they have everything from chicken breast to beef to bacon) online in bulk (orders go in sets of 40 pounds a package) and select a pick up date. When it’s your day and time to pick up, you simply drive through the line, give them your name and get your meat. The process takes minutes and you get a TON of great meat.

Since we don’t have a large freezer space, I got my first order and split it with 2 friends. I also had a coupon code for … get this… $1.49/pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (!!!) so I couldn’t pass it up. The typical price for chicken there is $1.89 a pound which is still a steal and the meat tastes great.

You do have to order about a month in advance but, we’re at the point where we’ve ordered enough so we have a great selection and variety in the freezer which makes cooking so simple. And seriously… the price can’t be beat!

 Even if you’re not sure you’re going to get it now, I recommend making a free account  because they’ll email you a ton of promo codes each week and you can take advantage of sales. If you’re a blogger or influencer, or think you might recommend the service to others, you should take advantage of their referral program! You get $15 per person that uses your link to order (so thanks in advance if you use mine!) and that’s a great way to pay for your meat! Oh, and at some locations you can even volunteer to help on delivery day for a $10 meat credit.

 

Check it out now!

Shop Now at Zaycon Fresh

Look for Grocery Markdowns

Using grocery markdowns is one of the major ways we not only got some variety in our menu but, save money on fresh produce!

Most grocery stores have a section of clearance or markdown items. For my local stores, you can find them in the back corner by the produce and also by the meats. These are items that are either close to expiring (but not expired, they aren’t allowed to sell those), the manufacturer is getting rid of, or were seasonal and didn’t sell.

The cool things about these sections is that they change daily based on what gets pulled off the shelves so essentially, if you wanted to go to the store each day, you could make a killing using these items.

You’ll often find bags of fruit where maybe one of the apples is bruised, meat that is about to expire (but you could toss in the freezer to extend the shelf life) or really random pantry items that most people in your area might not buy.

What’s great about this section is you can also use a coupon if you happened to have it to make it even cheaper but, if you don’t, most things go from as low as .50 cents to around $5. You could grab items from this section to make your dinner that night (so they don’t go bad and you wate them) or just freeze them to use later. We’ve often frozen fruit that is close to going bad to toss in smoothies at a later date or make banana ice cream with.

Shop the Discount Stores & Farmer’s Markets 

People have told me for a LONG time that I needed to check out Aldi Markets and I never bothered with it. SHAME ON ME.

Aldi is the best thing since sliced bread and now, between one Aldi shop and one coupon shop, I have everything we need for the week for less than $100.

Aldi is an employee owned store that is a ‘brother store’ to Trader Joes. They have some pretty odd quirks you have to remember like bringing your own quarter to get a cart and bagging your own groceries (so make sure you grab those reusable bags) but if you can get passed that and not be a brand snob, you’ll LOVE Aldi too.

They also have a great line of gluten free and organic products at a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else. They save a lot of money because they don’t sell name brands (you might see the occasional name brand floating in the clearance section) and because they don’t always have the same items. For example, my Aldi will always have yogurt but might not have the cauliflower rice that is a new staple in our home.

I also love that I can get more snacks for the kids without the gift. All of their cereals don’t use food dyes but instead use natural coloring and many of their meats are without added nitrates (we love their deli sliced turkey breast and turkey bacon for that reason)

Save Money at Aldi Markets

The one thing I will say is I don’t love the produce at my local Aldi so I do go to a farmer’s market for that. Our farmer’s market has a great selection and I love knowing that I’m helping our community while giving my family stuff that has been treated with less pesticides and is better for their little bodies and our environment.

Meal Plan and Use Leftovers 

The #1 way to save money on food is not to waste what you have. How often have you thrown out that gross moldy tupperware container of leftovers that no one eats or had to toss the product that you forgot you put in the crisper?

Each week, I spend a little time adjusting my meal plan (I plan a monthly dinner plan so I only need to adjust some lunch and breakfast ideas) and do a shop to get any ingredients I am missing. I spend about 2 hours on Sunday cooking and preparing (and making a huge mess in my kitchen) so that I can save time during the week. You can see my whole system here!

This saves me a TON of money because I only shop for the ingredients that I actually need (not just some random impulse buys of things that I think I need) and use what I already have in my pantry. We also make sure to use leftovers to mix up some menu items and repurpose them for lunches which helps us save.

Every 3 months we also take the challenge to eat only what we have in our pantry (but can buy some fresh stuff that we need) and see how creative we can be. I love the site SuperCook where you can put in the ingredients in your cabinet and it gives you sample recipes. If you do this for one week every few months it’ll help you clean out the pantry and save money.

 

Use Rebate Apps

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about coupons but I have to add a bonus section for Rebate Apps… I mean technically they aren’t the same as clipping coupons right?

I love rebate apps and find them to be the easiest way to save some money here or there. Rebate apps get downloaded directly to your phone and you can use them after you shop to get cash back. You use what you already purchased on your receipts to claim money that they’ll send you, most of the time via paypal.

For most of these apps, you may only get a few dollars each time you shop but, trust me, I’ve gotten HUNDREDS of dollars from these apps by just claiming a few dollars each time I shop. You can read more about my favorite apps and why I love them here!

So whether you love or hate coupons, know that you CAN save money on your groceries if you’re willing to take a few steps to get there! I suggest aiming for $20-25 per person per week for your budget and really look at what you’re buying. Cut out some luxury items for a bit, clean out your pantry and shop smarter to save money and cut costs!

 

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