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Disney-Themed Stocking Stuffers That Don’t Break the Bank

Disney-Themed Stocking Stuffers That Don't Break the Bank

You’ve carefully budgeted your Christmas shopping and then you remember…you didn’t buy anything for the STOCKINGS! Or is that just me? Depending on how well you “stuff the stocking”, this could be a very expensive endeavor! Here are some last-minute practical and inexpensive stocking stuffers that won’t compromise your budget.

I’m a practical gal, I’ll admit it. I tend to gravitate towards stocking stuffer items that my kids already need. A new toothbrush, crayons, winter gloves, bubble bath and yes, even a package of undies make it in to the stocking.

Keep reading for my practical but still fun stocking stuffer ideas and a list of tips at the bottom of this post.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links


 Cozy Up

‘Tis the season to keep warm and these gifts will keep them toasty and stylish. A warm scarf, hat, gloves, slippers or socks are always welcome, especially if they feature a favorite character. Socks in a stocking? Kids will get a kick out of that!

from left to right,  BB-8 Knit hat (Disney Store), Doc McStuffins Kids Lambie Slippers, Star Wars Socks (both from Amazon)

 


 Art Supplies

Always a family favorite in our house. A fresh box of crayons or markers and a coloring book rolled up into the stocking is always a hit. Older kids might like a personalized pen.

from left to right, Disney’s Frozen Magic Ink Pictures Activity Book (Amazon), Walt Disney World personalized pen (from Disney Store), Disney Pixar Cars 12 Jumbo Crayons (Amazon)


Bathroom Fun

My little one  is obsessed with the Disney Magic Timer app that encourages longer brushing. He already has Star Wars mouthwash, Cars toothpaste and an Avengers toothbrush. I was able to find this Frozen-themed set for his stocking that I know he will love. And what’s better to balance out holiday sweets than oral hygiene products! *wink*

from left to right, Star Wars Oral Hygiene Set, Disney Frozen Oral-B Crest and Pro-Health Junior Toothpaste, Doc McStuffins 3pc Bright Smile Oral Hygiene Set (all from Amazon)

Get ’em clean with fun bath time goodies like bubble bath, soap and scrubbers. My older kids like something a little more “grown up” in a more sophisticated scent like the Disney H2O products.

from left to right, Disney Princess Bubble Bath (Amazon), Sea Salt & Marine Spa Collection (DisneyStore) and Bubble Bath Set Disney Pixar Cars (Amazon)

        


Stock Up for the Year

Make practical things a gift. Kids just want to see their favorite character and they are things that you would normally buy through the year anyway!

from left to right, Band-Aid Disney-Pixar Inside Out, Disney-Pixar Nemo SPF50 Sunscreen Stick, Bonnie Bell Disney Mickey Mouse Lip Balm


Vacation Goodies

Think ahead to what your kids will need things for vacations, like sunglasses, a sun hat or a t-shirt. Roll ’em up and stuff it in the stocking!

from left to right,  Elsa Costume Tee (Disney Store), R2-D2 Sunglasses and Minnie Mouse Toddler Girls Pink Bucket Hat
(both from Amazon)


A Little Something Just for Fun

Don’t forget at least one fun little thing that your kids will enjoy through the year. Little ones might enjoy a little stuffy and older girls would love a classy make-up set in a Disney-theme. And don’t forget the Force in the form of a cool new Lightsaber!

from left to right, Minnie Mouse Hair Ties, Marvel Universal “Tsum Tsum” (both from Disney Store)

from left to right, ELF Jasmine Face Makeup Set, Maxx Action Galactic Series Photon Sabers (both from Amazon)


 Something Sweet

I bought these mini candy canes for my kids last Christmas and they were just the perfect size to toss a few of each flavor into each stocking. And how cute is that Olaf Hot Cocoa set?! My kids don’t have candy or sweets very often so receiving a special treat in their stockings is always welcome (we even let them indulge right after breakfast!) It is Christmas, after all!

from left to right, Disney’s Mini Candy Canes, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, Mickey Mouse Special Edition, Wilton Disney Frozen Olaf Cocoa Trimming Kit and Arctic White Hot Cocoa Bundle

      


Stocking Stuffer Tips –

1. What’s your stocking budget? Those little things really add up so make sure you have a cost in mind before buying and don’t go overboard on the cost.

2. Keep size in mind. Take the size of your stockings into consideration. If a gift is too big for the stocking, wrap it up and set it next to the stocking or on the mantle.

3. How many items should you get? Keep the number of stocking stuffers between 3-5 (depending upon the size).

4. Don’t buy junk or just “things” to fill the stocking. Stick to what you know will be used and well-loved.  I want things that will actually be enjoyed so it’s worth spending a little more rather than just filling stockings with bottom-of-the-toy-box items from the dollar store.


 What are your favorite stocking stuffers? Share in the comments…and have a Merry Christmas!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links

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5 Easy Party Preparation Tips & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HostingHacks #CollectiveBias

Easy Party Preparation Tips & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

Preparing for a party can be exhausting! Lots to do and so much to remember. Parties are 90% prep and only like 10% actual party, right?! And when time is tight, nobody wants to forget important things on the “to-do” list and have to make any extra errand runs. I’ll share with you my sure-fire, easy party preparation tips and #HostingHacks, including a free printable pre-party prep list that will have you saving time (and money!)

1. Buy in Bulk

You do not want to run out of toilet paper or dishwashing detergent on the day of a big event. Costco is our go-to store for bulk items, especially Procter & Gamble cleaning products. We stock up and store items in the garage so we very rarely run out of important every day items. It’s the perfect place to pick up everything from your cleaning supplies to your party appetizers.

Party Prep Ideas & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

A few days before your party, do a quick inventory. Make sure you have enough laundry detergent for cleaning your holiday table linens and that the bathrooms are well stocked with toilet paper. Need drinking water bottles, soda or coffee? Butter for the rolls and flowers for the table setting? Costco has it and you can get it all for your party in one place without running around town.

2. Clean early

At least a few days pre-party do your top to bottom deep cleaning. This is the perfect time to take a look at doors, door frames and light switches. See any grimy spots that a sponge just isn’t getting rid of? I love that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser takes off those dirty spots and scuffs quickly and without any damage to your paint or walls. And Swiffer quickly gets rid of all the dust laying around. So easy a child can do it (so save yourself the time and give one of them to the kids!)

Party Prep Ideas & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

In addition to the regular housekeeping, there will be extra party items that will need to be cleaned. Launder your table linens a few days early. We use cloth napkins and placemats every day and I appreciate how Tide Advanced Power detergent removes stubborn food spots (even when one of my kids set blueberries on the cloth napkin and it left purple spots behind!) Toss in bathroom hand towels so you’ll have plenty to stock in the guest bathroom and your kitchen dish towels too.

Party Prep Ideas & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

Pull out the good silverware and glasses and wash them. Some dishes can take the high heat inside the dishwasher and others may need to be hand washed. We have tried lots of detergents for our dishwasher and none work better than Cascade Advanced Power Gel.

Party Prep Ideas & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

3. Party Prep

Plan where guests will store their coats & purses during the party. If it’s the closet, make sure there is plenty of space and lots of empty hangers. If it’s a bedroom, be sure that the bed is made and guests can just lay their items on the blanket.

When you have lots of extra guests in the house, the bathroom has a rotating door. Keep a stack of clean hand towels on the sink and plenty of toilet paper on a shelf or the back of the toilet for guests to replace the roll as needed. Refill the hand soap dispenser and place air freshener in a prominent place. A clean and well stocked bathroom makes my guests more comfortable and nobody is left to hunt for any supplies.

Party Prep Ideas & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

Once you have everything clean and ready, you can decorate for the season. A bouquet of fresh flowers is not only pretty, they smell lovely too. Cluster the entire bouquet into one vase for a showstopping centerpiece or place flowers into individual vases around the house to spread the joy.

4. Last moment tidy

All the cooking we do in preparation for a party makes a big mess in the kitchen. Clean it all up quickly and neatly before your guests arrive. If you don’t have time to wash all the pots and pans, either load them into the dishwasher to deal with later or fill the sink with hot, soapy water and soak them. A quick clean up allows you to clean up yourself with a fresh outfit and make-up before guests see you disheveled!


The party prep doesn’t end when the doorbell rings! You still have a few things to maintain while guests are present. I like to assign jobs to my family members to help so that I’m not the only one maintaining things and missing out on the festivities. Assign one person to greet guests at the door and hang up coats. One of us keeps an eye on the bathroom through the night to make sure it’s tidy. Another of us clears dirty dishes and cups from the sitting areas and takes them into the kitchen. One person makes sure that the trash is taken out frequently so the receptacle is never overflowing. If we work as a team, we can all enjoy the party and still make sure our guests are well served.

5.  Check the bathrooms

Frequently check the bathrooms to make sure they are in proper order. I hate going to a party and the toilet paper runs out and I’m left to hunt for more in the cabinets. Or the hand towel is sopping wet, yuck! Check that there is enough toilet paper on the roll, plenty of hand soap and change the hand towel yourself several times through the evening.

Party Prep Ideas & FREE Printable #HostingHacks @Costco #ad

Be sure to print out my free “to-do” list that discusses more easy party preparation ideas so you don’t forget a thing!

Easy Party Preparation & Pre-Party To-Do Checklist


How will Costco help you in your pre-party planning for your next holiday bash? Share with me in the comments!

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Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining #PotPiePlease #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PotPiePlease #CollectiveBias

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Our holiday leftovers are gone and we’re moving into a busy time of year. With two birthdays, several Christmas parties, decorating, wrapping, cooking and crafting along with our favorite holiday traditions all squeezed into the month of December, we have a lot on our plate! On those days when we have lots of other activities going on, it’s nice to have dinner items ready on hand that can be easily popped into the oven and ready to serve.

After Thanksgiving, I still had a huge bag of gold potatoes. Well, my family never gets tired of having mashed potatoes, so I whipped up an extra batch of them and put them in a casserole dish, ready to heat up in the oven during the week. Buttery potatoes, mixed up with cream cheese to make them even more creamy and then topped with sharp cheddar cheese for that extra “zing”. This is an easy, but decadent accompaniment that goes perfectly with chicken pot pie!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Marie Callender’s pot pies at Walmart…quick, easy and budget-friendly!

I stopped by Walmart earlier this week and picked up a Marie Callender’s pot pie for each of us. They were displayed in three places, an end-cap freezer, the main freezer aisle and the Family Size was with other large frozen dinners. I bought three chicken and one beef, just to be different! I already had the potatoes done, just needed to warm them up and set on the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese on top. Mmmm…it was a homey dinner we all appreciated on a chilly night. Marie Callender’s pot pies are warm, filling and taste like homemade.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

We all enjoyed our individual pot pie and delicious potatoes before heading out to walk through our neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. It’s an annual tradition. We were warmed inside out with our satisfying dinner! Here’s how I prepared them.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Aluminum foil strips prevent the crust from burning.

Marie Callender’s pot pies have a delicate golden, flaky crust so I crimped together two strips of aluminum foil and curved them around the edges of the pie to protect the edges. My kids loved having their own pie to themselves but you can also purchase the Family Size that is convenient for serving to guests.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Perfectly golden and flaky crusts!

I enjoy entertaining but don’t always have the time (or money) for large, extravagant meals. The Marie Callender’s Pot Pies are fast, tasty and reasonably priced for serving to guests. Make sure to check out the rebates available right now for the 10 oz or 16 oz size as well as the Family Size.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Serving Marie Callender’s Pot Pies at a family gathering is a great way to share a delicious meal and not spend a ton of time in the kitchen when you could be socializing. Having the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes prepared ahead of time means you only have to pop the casserole into the oven when guests arrive. Later this month I’ll have guests over for a holiday crafting party and I know just what to serve for dinner!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Broiled cheese send these potatoes over the top!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Ingredients

  • Gold potatoes, approximately 8. Scrubbed, peeled and quartered
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • Milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Steam or boil potatoes until tender.
  2. Melt butter and cream cheese in a pot over low heat.
  3. Add cooked potatoes and mash, keeping heat low to prevent lumps. Mash potatoes until completely broken apart.
  4. Add seasoned salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle milk into potatoes and mash. Continue to add milk until desired creaminess.
  6. Spoon potatoes into medium casserole dish. Can refrigerate until ready to cook.
  7. If preparing dish straight from the fridge, heat at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, until potatoes are warmed. If preparing dish while potatoes are freshly prepared, skip the warming step.
  8. Sprinkle top of hot potatoes with cheese and set under the oven broiler on high for 3 minutes (check constantly to make sure it does not burn). Cheese should brown and bubble.
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What side dish would you serve with your Marie Callender’s Pot Pie? Check out these meal ideas!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

The perfect dinner


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Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MejoresRecetas #CollectiveBias

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

I’m not alone in thinking that a hot bowl of soup truly warms you up on a chilly day. But does it always fill you up? Depends upon the ingredients, because sometimes my tummy is grumbling for more food a short while after having soup for dinner. The key is to making a hearty and filling soup that truly satisfies, and still gives you that warm feeling! It’s also nice to have a soup recipe on a budget that can be easily doubled for a second meal.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

Recipe on a Budget

For me, soup needs to be budget-friendly and it needs to be easy. I made Chipotle Black Bean Soup for my husband and big kids a few weeks ago and they all loved it. Perfect for a chilly fall day, this soup is filling and full of flavor and fiber. With black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, green chiles and La Morena Chipotle Peppers this soup will warm you from the inside out. La Morena gives my dishes an authentic Latino flavor (and spice!) that we love.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

I like that I can serve this soup with a variety of toppings so my family can mix in exactly what they want. And my husband and I? We top it with EVERYTHING! A dollop of Greek yogurt, shredded cheese and sliced avocado. Add in a big bowl of tortilla chips and an icy Coca-Cola…I’m in heaven.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

*ahem* I already took a sip of this Coke…I couldn’t help it!

Take a Little Time to Save Money

I like to cook on a budget so instead of canned black beans, I prep dry beans for cooking in this soup. You could certainly go the canned black bean route but to save a little money, it’s not hard to take a little time when you’re home to soak and boil a bag of dry beans to have ready when you need it. A one pound bag of dry beans costs $1.70 and makes at least six cups. Versus one can of black beans at $1.30 each that only makes about two cups. If you have the time, truly, try making the beans from scratch. I soaked mine overnight and then boiled them up for 90 minutes today so they’d be ready for the soup at dinnertime.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

In Store Special

The rest of the soup goes together quickly, especially with the use of canned diced tomatoes, canned corn, green chiles and La Morena Chipotle Peppers. I picked up the La Morena product and cute Coca-Cola glass bottles at Northgate Market. They are currently offering a special when you combine La Morena products with Coca-Cola: Buy (1) 7.5oz Mini Can or 6 pack PET bottles of any Coca-Cola brand + La Morena product and receive $0.50 off. Consider doubling this soup recipe and freezing half so you’ll have a ready-to-serve meal during the busy holiday season!

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot? You won’t even need this entire pepper to make your soup spicy.

Now, a warning. Chipotle peppers in adobo are HOT. You will not be using the entire can in this soup. I used only 1/3 of the can and probably shouldn’t have even used that much because my soup was still quite spicy. I’d recommend starting with 3/4 of one pepper because you can always add more later if you want more kick. I used 1 1/2 peppers and it was probably too spicy. Fortunately we topped our soup with Greek yogurt which cooled it down.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

Bag up and freeze the rest of the can to use later.

So here’s what I did with the rest of the peppers in the can. I labeled plastic baggies and put them in the freezer so I can use them in another recipe in the future. You could also cut them up and divide into ice cube trays so you have a small shot of spice to use later.

Dinner in 20 minutes

Once you have the dry beans prepped and ready, this soup only takes about 20 minutes to toss together and cook. Great on those days when you’re short on time and need something hot and filling on the table fast!

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

The combinations of flavors is complex and satisfying, and oh-so warming on a chilly day. If you enjoy this recipe, make sure to search #MejoresRecetas for recipes from La Morena and Coca-Cola. For additional savings, also look for the specially marked displays in your stores.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • I lb bag of dry black beans, prepared (instructions follow) OR 2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained - You will need a total of 4 cups black beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • Can of Chipotle peppers in adobo, to taste (I recommend between 3/4 of one pepper to 1.5 peppers)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can chicken broth (2 cups)
  • 1 can of corn, well drained
  • 1 can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 4-oz can green chilies

Instructions

  1. Preparing the Dry Black Beans - Pick through the beans (don't skip that step, I found a pebble once!) Rinse beans thoroughly.
  2. For an overnight soak, add beans to a pot with 8 cups of cold water and let them sit overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse beans. For a quick soak, add beans to a pot with 8 cups of cold water and bring to a boil for two minutes. Remove from heat and cover pot with lid. Let stand one hour, then drain and rinse beans.
  3. To cook the Beans - add 8 cups hot water to prepped & soaked beans. Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is achieved, between 1.5 - 2 hours.
  4. To Make Soup - In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onions, chipotle pepper, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and use spoon to break up pepper into small bits. Cook until slightly softened, about five minutes.
  6. Add garlic, paprika, cumin and chili powder, then stir to combine. Cook another five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add four cups of cooked and drained beans, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, corn and chilies. Stir to combine and then cover.
  8. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Serve with toppings, like Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, avocado slices, shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
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8 Things to Consider When Making MORE Cuts to Your Budget

8 Things to Consider When Making MORE Cuts to Your Budget

Your budget is already tight and now you have to tighten the belt even MORE? That might be enough to make anyone cry, but it’s not impossible.

A month ago I was laid off from my job after 18 years at the same company. I have 3 kids that I care for full time (my two boys and my stepdaughter) and this is the first time I’ve ever been a stay-at-home-mom. We are currently going to try and make ends meet with my husband’s income as an electrician’s apprentice and some side work by me (writing jobs, sponsored posts here on my blog and teaching tumbling class at a local rec center).

Though my family and I are already quite frugal, losing one income is definitely going to affect us and our budget. The last month has given me time to step back and take a much-needed closer look at our spending habits and budget. Here is what I’ve been working on this month:

Take Close Account of Money In & Money Out

You’ll need to know exactly how much you have to work with each month so keep tabs on the income. Gone are the days of willy-nilly shopping trips, where items went in the cart and we worried about paying the bill for them “later”. Now I keep excellent track of all expenses. I want to see exactly how much I’m spending on gas, groceries, utilities and additional expenses that seem to come up. At the end of each week, I’m writing them down and totaling them up. At the end of the month, I’ll add them to my monthly budget chart and see what the grand totals are for each area.

Determine Cut-backs

Take a brutal look at where your money is going and determine what has to get cut. I never thought I’d be able to live without cable television but we cut it out two years ago and I’m still alive! No more gym membership for my husband, he exercises now by going for a run. This is a hard one with kids because it might mean cutting out certain extracurricular activities. I have a feeling when I look at expenses at the end of the month, our grocery budget is what will need reworking. We may need to opt for generic in some cases or start using coupons.

Weigh Wants VS Needs

I really want my kids to get pictures from picture day at school but $20+ per kid for photographs isn’t in my new budget. And do we really need to spend $50 eating dinner in a restaurant when we have food to prepare at home…probably not.

Sure, we want to do lots of things, but we also need to make choices between having food in the fridge or blowing the week’s grocery budget on one meal out.

Making Extra Money With What You Have

We’ve always been very generous with donating toys, clothes and household items we don’t use to the thrift store throughout the year. However with every dollar is being accounted for, we’re planning a garage sale that will hopefully bring in some additional cash. Go through closets, boxes, toys, books and through the garage to find things that you haven’t used or don’t need anymore. List them online, post a “sale” to your friends on Facebook or consider a garage sale.

Shop Sales, Use coupons & Buy Used Whenever Possible

Coupon and sale shopping can be a slippery slope. Too often we buy because it’s such a good price and not because we really need it, so be careful there. I love the 30% coupons from Kohl’s as much as the next gal, but if I don’t need anything, they go right into the trash (sorry Kohl’s!)

And some items can be bought used that are just as good as new. My kids rarely get brand new clothes, because I can find high quality items shopping online with thredUP (affiliate link). Look at local thrift stores before hitting the full priced stores.

Negotiate a Discount

Call your utility companies and see if your income qualifies you for reduced rates. Does your lower income qualify your kids for low-cost lunch at school? Call your cell phone or television provider and let them know you are considering switching services unless they can work out a lower monthly cost. You’d be surprised what companies will do to keep your business!

Take Advantage of Free 

Now that I’m home during the day, I have more time to take my little one out but we can’t go out to eat lunch, stroll the zoo or hit museums every day. The park is free. So is the library. They even have a fun little story time group once a week that we’ve been going to. We’re borrowing books and movies instead of buying.

Check your community’s online calendar to see what upcoming free events are being held. If you’re looking to buy something, ask friends if they have it that you could use, borrow or buy from them.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Ugh, not much worse than having to pay late charges or interest on your credit card because you were a day late paying the bill. That’s just a complete waste of money. I plug the bill due dates into my phone’s calendar so I get a ping a few days early to remind me to pay the bill on time.

What are some ways that you have been able to cut back even more on your budget? Share with me in the comments!

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Disney for free?! Don’t Spend a Penny Inside the Parks…Here’s How!

 

Walt Disney World and Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Everyone knows that a Disney vacation is expensive! But once you have your Park tickets and are inside the gates, you have a choice how much you’d like to pinch pennies or break the bank. What if I told you that you could have an entirely cost-free day inside the Parks, essentially a day at Walt Disney World or Disneyland for free? These are tried and true insider tips from someone who’s gone to the Parks many times on a dime (namely, me!)

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase through these links helps me in a small financial way, so thank you!

Read on for my helpful tips about taking on Walt Disney World and Disneyland for free!

Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Getting into the Park – Money Saving Tips!

Sorry you can’t jump the fence, you’ll still need to buy your tickets! I recommend doing so upfront to save time at the gate. Follow these rules to buying tickets and still save a few dollars.

  • Do not be tempted to purchase from Ebay, on Craigslist or from a seller on the side of the street! Sellers might offer you the extra days left on their multi-day passes but this is a risky move that might cause a loss of your money so don’t do that!
  • Park tickets should only be purchased from the Disney Parks website, Costco, trusted travel agent or through CityPass. I like Park Savers because you can save several dollars on the cost of each ticket as well as knowing you are buying from a reliable seller.

Park Savers affiliate link

  • Note that the multi-day passes save overall as the price per day is lower. If you plan on a longer visit or will be visiting more often than once a year, consider an Annual Pass. Annual Passes also have the option of pay-per-month installments.
  • Keep in mind that if your child is 2 or under, they don’t require a Park ticket so their entry is free!
  • When my family asks me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do the kids want for Christmas?”, request Disney gift cards! They can be used at Walt Disney World or Disneyland towards Park tickets, dining and souvenirs. You can even buy personalized cards online with the recipient’s photo on it.

    

  • Get a Disney Visa credit card. We have one that we use for all expenses from household bills to groceries and pay it off in full each month (important if you’re trying to save money to NOT be paying interest fees!) We are rewarded with points that are placed onto a Disney Rewards Redemption card that can be used towards tickets, hotel, food and souvenirs in the Parks. On a recent trip we used our rewards points and that paid for all of our meals and a few souvenirs for the kids. There are also additional perks with using the card in the Parks, including meal and shopping discounts and a free photo.

Now that you’re in the Park, the rest of the Day can be FREE!

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Minnie’s ready for lunch…bring on the picnic!

Pack in a Picnic

Obviously unless you plan on fasting all day, you’ll need a bit of advanced planning when it comes to eating in the park all day. Here are the things that should be planned ahead of time!

You can bring in your own food to the Parks but there are a few rules.

  • Meals and snacks should be packed in a soft-sided cooler or backpack with a chill pack inside (no hard-sided coolers or wagons allowed).
  • No glass allowed in the Park.
  • Bring bottled water or juice boxes. You can also request ice water for free from any walk-up dining location.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll need a chill pack to keep items cold.
  • Avoid bringing in a bunch of plastic tubs that will add weight. Pack in zip-close disposable bags and bring disposable flatware. Or you can grab flatware from any quick service location.

Good Foods to Pack –

  • Sandwiches (with ingredients that won’t spoil without refrigeration)
  • Green salads in zip-close disposable bags (put the dressing in a snack bag) You’ll need to bring your own fork or grab one from a quick service location.
  • Cold pizza
  • Whole fruit (like apples, oranges or bananas) or cut-up pieces of fruit (like melons & berries) in plastic bags
  • Crunchy granola bars (none with chocolate)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Trail mix (without the chocolate bits)
  • Pre-cut veggies (like carrots, celery or cherry tomatoes)
  • Sturdy chips or crackers (we like Wheat Thins, Triscuits or Goldfish crackers).
  • Juice boxes, sports drinks in plastic bottles, water bottles or refillable water bottles with drop-in flavored powders.

Bad Foods to Pack –

  • Anything with mayonnaise because of the chance it will spoil.
  • Anything that will melt, like chocolate.
  • No glass; you’ll be asked to trash it when passing through security.

For a little money –

You can store your food inside a pay-for-the-day locker if you don’t want to tote it around but we just keep ours in the lower basket of the stroller or in my husband’s backpack.

Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

I have my stroller, hat, glasses and snack…I’m ready to hit the Parks!

Bring It With You

Resist the temptation to buy in the Park…bring these things with you

  • Stroller for your young one. I even recommend strollers for kids up to about 5 years old (all that walking around makes even bigger kids grumpy and tired). Park strollers are notoriously uncomfortable. Consider renting one: I recommend Amusement Park Rentals & have used their services several times at Walt Disney World.
  • Plenty of baby supplies (food, diapers, wipes, disposable bibs). You can purchase these things inside the Baby Care Center but prices are at a premium. You can however use the services at the Baby Care Center for free, including microwaves to warm baby food, highchairs, changing tables and tiny potties. Read about what I pack in my Disney diaper bag.

Park Savers

  • Accessories like hats and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and Chapstick
  • Jacket and/or rain poncho, depending upon the weather
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

My family, in their pre-bought themed shirts from the Disney Store

Pre-Buy Souvenirs 

You’ll have some mighty cranky kiddos at the end of the day when you pass by the souvenir cart as you exit the Park and they’re empty-handed! We very rarely purchase souvenirs in the Park because we plan ahead and buy something for the kids beforehand. It’s nice to have a little something to hand them as you pass through the exit to soften the end of the day.

  • Plush characters are much cheaper brought from home than at the Parks
  • I love 99 cent store glow-sticks to wear during evening parades and fireworks (makes it a lot easier to keep track of your kids after dark too!)
  • For those trinkets that you present to the kids just before leaving, think tiny, since you’ll be toting these treats around all day: Tsum-tsum, costume jewelry, die-cast car or Vinylmation.
  • Pajamas in a Disney theme! This might seem strange but we have our little kids change into their PJs before leaving the Park at the end of the night, especially if we have a long drive ahead of us.

  • A toddler will be happy with a cheap bottle of bubbles to blow from their stroller as you swiftly exit the Park (I am the Queen of Distraction!) Just bring them a pair of clothes or pajamas to change into afterwards because you know bubbles always spill (but it’s better than a temper tantrum, in my book).

Other FREE Things in the Parks

  • Celebration buttons – Pretty much whatever you’re celebrating (birthday, anniversary, first trip), Disney has a free button for that! Request one at Guest Services when you enter the Park and be showered through out the day with well-wishes.
Get a free Happy Birthday button at Disneyland, read more to find out how! {Saving up for Disney}

Happy Birthday buttons don’t go unnoticed by Cast Members.

  • Hand your camera over to a Disney PhotoPass photographer – Yes, they not only take pictures with their camera (which you can purchase online) but they’ll also take complimentary photos with your own camera as well! (more details about getting the best family photos).
  • Sweet and savory bites – At Disney California Adventure, swing back into the Pacific Wharf area. The Boudin Bakery will give you a free sourdough bread sample and the Ghiradelli shop hands out a square of chocolate to each Guest. At Club Cool in Epcot at Walt Disney World, you can have your tastes of soda flavors from around the world.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Club Cool at Epcot

  • Bring something from home to collect autographs from the Characters. I’ve heard of people using a fabric marker and a pillowcase or t-shirt. I love the idea of a photo frame mat for Characters to sign around and then include a photo of yourself with one of them inside the picture frame, clever!

Free things to do inside the Disney Parks - Collect Character Autographs in a book you bring from home!

  • I met this woman at Walt Disney World who was collecting her autographs in a book that featured all the characters! (I found it online, it’s called Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters). So clever and you’ll have all your autographs in one place.
  • Do you have a Disney Visa credit card? – You can get a private meet n’ greet with a surprise character. Just check the website beforehand to find out the location and more details.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Image Credit: Jeff Holz

The great thing about Disney is that once you have your ticket in hand you are completely free to explore the entire Park without any additional costs if you wish. If you are planning a trip to Disney like this budget guide that includes packing in your own meals and not shopping for souvenirs inside the Park, be sure to let your family know ahead of time what to expect. This will eliminate any unhappy surprises once you’re on your trip. I’ve found that as long as everyone knows what’s happening ahead of time this really helps make the day at the Happiest Place on Earth, well…happy!

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Make Extra Money (in Little Ways that Really Add Up!)

Check out these 6 ways to earn extra money (several of these are no-brainers!)

Looking for a side-hustle? Do you think that because you don’t have a full time job that there aren’t ways of bringing in some income? There’s no need to lock yourself into just what you earn in a 9 to 5 salary either. There are hundreds of ways for you to make extra money on the side! These are 6 ways I make extra money for my family!

Make Extra Money

Ever since I was about 6 years old, I had plans & ideas on how to make extra money. I started designing birthday cards and selling them to my family. I sewed sachets filled with potpourri. I made bunny rabbit stuffed animals and convinced my manicurist aunt to sell them at her station. I gathered up unused items and sold them at my own make-shift garage sale. I was an entrepreneur from a very young age!

Even though I’m much older, nothing much has changed. I still work full time and continue to try little ways to make extra money. I teach tumbling at a local rec center and have been doing this for 18 years. I have my blog, of course and sometimes receive a compensation for a sponsored post. I sew clothing on my own Etsy shop and sell personalized appliqued tees for children. When I had a little more time, I used to enter more contests (especially ones with cash prizes). And I’m a Jamberry independent consultant, selling nail wraps. I like having the extra income or “fun money” to play with.

What do you want to make extra money for?

  • Use the money to support your family.
  • Pay off some debt.
  • Keep it solely to pad your savings account.
  • Save up and spend it on a fantastic dream vacation!

This post contains several of my affiliate links. If you click through or purchase through those links, you will be helping to support me in my small business (because that’s what this post is all about!) So, thanks in advance 🙂

Here are six ideas on how you can earn extra money in little ways that really add up!

Make Extra Money (in Little Ways that Really Add Up!)

My son in his gently used clothes from thredUP

1. Trash to Treasure

It’s laying around and you just don’t need it anymore. Consider selling your things online to someone who will treasure them (and pay you for them).

  • Sell valuables on Ebay or vintage goods and excess craft supplies on Etsy.
  • Large sized items can be sold on Craigslist or at a garage sale.
  • I love thredUp to sell my gently worn or new clothes (and my kid’s outgrown clothing, as well). You can receive cash back for what’s accepted or use it as a credit on a future purchase. I’ve been selling and shopping thredUP for years and have always been happy with the process.

MONEY SAVING TIP: Clean up and clear it out. Go through drawers, cabinets & closets and see what you have and don’t use that you could sell for extra cash.

2. Teach What You Know

Do you have a skill that others would like to learn? Teach others how to do it and earn extra cash.

  • You could go into a professional setting, like I do, teaching tumbling classes to children at a local rec center.
  • set up a teaching lesson (like a specific craft, cooking lesson or DIY skill) at home with a group of people that you charge a flat rate.
  • Put it out there (like via email to friends or a post on Facebook) and see how many people are interested.
  • Could you tutor children? Are you a good teacher in a one-on-one setting? This might be something you could do for an hour a few times a week, guiding them in a specific subject or even musical instrument lessons.

MONEY SAVING TIP: Figure out any upfront costs you’ll be putting out and your expected earnings before setting the price and committing the time.

Make Extra Money (in Little Ways that Really Add Up!)

Appliqued Jack tee sold in my Etsy shop

3. Sell Your Experience

What can you do or make that someone will pay your services for?

  • Do you have an eye for photography? Put your portfolio online and set up your portrait fees. Try booking something fun, like “First Day of School” pictures.
  • Can you sew? Put it out there to your friends and family sometime in the summer that you are available to make Halloween costumes.
  • With Etsy, it’s so easy now to sell your handcrafted goods. Do you have a knack for paper crafting, sewing, soap or candle making? How about digital invites, jewelry making or pattern drafting? Start up your own shop, read up on the Etsy rules and start selling! Good photos make all the difference so figure out the look of your shop before you start, as that will really draw customers in. I’ve been selling appliqued tees on Etsy for years. My most popular design? Jack!

MONEY SAVING TIP: Make sure to calculate your time and expenses to figure out how much you can charge and make a decent profit.

4. Independent, but Part of a Team

It can be hard to sell yourself, especially on-line when it’s so easy for people to push “delete” or ignore posts or event requests. However if you can really get a niche of customers or can work out getting samples or at-home demonstrations, your enthusiasm will be hard for your guests to ignore.  I know everyone says this, but I really love being a Jamberry Independent Consultant. There is a great camaraderie and support on my Team. Benefits with Jamberry are fantastic and I really believe in the product (that’s important when you’re trying to get others to purchase from you). Looking for commissions of 30%+ and amazing bonuses? Please consider joining my Jamberry team, I’m having a great time with it and I know you would too!

MONEY SAVING TIP: Find a direct sales product that you love and look into becoming a consultant.

Make Extra Money (in Little Ways that Really Add Up!)

My colorful Jamberry manicure, just before boarding a plane to Walt Disney World

5. Enter Contests

Yeah, no guarantee you’ll make money on this one but for a bit of time and patience, your efforts might pay off. Before I started blogging and writing more for other sites, I was a die-hard sweepstaker, entering up to 100 a day. It was time consuming (I was sometimes entering for about 2 hours or more a night) but the pay off was worth the efforts. One year, I won several trips and cash so it was quite worth it to me. I have a brief overview in this post, My Secrets on How to Enter Contests…and Win!

MONEY SAVING TIP: If the contest allows daily entries, make sure to get your entry in each and every day for the best odds.

6. Get Paid for Shopping Online

You’re already shopping, you might as well make some extra cash too, right? Ebates pays you what they call the “Big Fat Check” just for shopping through their site. They even offer specials and coupons through the site and they are applied when you click the link. Want to earn more money? You can refer others to the site (just like I’m doing here!) and when they sign up and shop, you earn a bonus. Easy as that (really, I’ve already earned over $120).

MONEY SAVING TIP: Install Ebates onto your computer and you’ll receive a pop up reminding you to activate their cash back rebate…couldn’t be easier!

What ways do you have of earning extra money on the side? Share with me in the comments!

 

Create Budget-Friendly “Summer Camps” for Your Kids…At Home!

Create Your Own Budget-Friendly "Summer Camps" for Your Kids...At Home!Preview

I’d love be able to send my kids to camp for the summer, but wow, some of those summer camps are over-the-top expensive! I’d still like to give my kids the experiences that those camps offer, whether it be dance camp or sports camp. With the internet at our fingertips, it’s quite easy to do the research yourself and host your own budget-friendly summer camps for your kids, at your own house! Here’s how:

  1. Talk to the kids about what kind of “camp” they’d be interested in.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Plan out your days. Make each day just a little bit different and write out a schedule to avoid getting distracted.
  4. Get out of the house! It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the chores if you’re at home. Make it a true camp and get outside.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be a little wild, get a little dirty and have lots and lots of fun in the process. This will be your child’s summer to remember! And you’ll have saved hundreds of dollars as well.

NATURE CAMP

Whether it be the great outdoors or your own backyard, nature is there to be explored. If you’re living in the country, this one might be easy for you. In mid-city, you might have to get more creative. Search for local area parks that offer hiking trails, open space, fishing, overnight camping, or evening sing-a-longs or bonfires. You could even include a day at the zoo to explore the plants and botanical gardens.

             

  • Blindfold your child and have them listen to the birds in the trees or the rustling of the leaves. Place different natural items in their hands and ask them to describe them for you.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt 
  • Grab a pair of binoculars and go bird watching. You’d be surprised how many of them can hide out in one tree!
  • Take a picnic lunch and lay outside under the clouds.
  • Plan a camping overnight, even if it’s just in your own backyard.

SPORTS CAMP

Check with your local school to see if they are open during the summer for public use on the field. Otherwise you can hit the park (go early before the crowds). Make sure to pack plenty of ice water. Focus on a different event each day. Jog to warm up and then get out your favorite equipment. Work on a particular skill (dribbling a soccer ball, catching pop flies) or just get out and play.

   

Don’t have equipment? Practice your track skills, including the long jump or 10-yard dash. A stopwatch is something that kids love and they enjoy trying to “beat the clock”. End your camp day with stair climbing and see how many you do the first day compared to your last day.


DANCE CAMP

You’ll need a big mirror and lots of music for this one! I was a dance teacher for many years and dance is great exercise for the body and mind. Memorizing routines can be a challenge but so much fun, especially if you are learning alongside your child.

  • Pick a different theme for each day of the week. Perhaps ballet on Monday, jazz on Tuesday, tap (with or without tap shoes) on Wednesday, hip-hop on Thursday and a recital on Friday.
  • Keep it moving! Choose a good mix of slow and fast music. Have your child follow along with you by watching in the mirror and mimicking your actions. Start with basic steps, like a step-together, step-kick or step-hop (skipping).
  • Focus on the body line, from head to toe. Encourage your child to keep their head up and back straight and to point their toe when the leg is lifted off the ground. When my students do a kick, they always want it to go as high as possible which often results in bent knees, curved back and flexed feet. I tell them I’d rather they had better posture than a high kick so I encourage them to keep the kick lower but to focus on a straighter back and pointed toes. This in turn helps them to straighten their legs as well.
  • Use visualization – For instance, if your arms are gracefully moving back & forth say you are a tree in the wind. If you point your toes, say that your legs are like sharpened pencils. Kids remember the visualization when recreating these moves.
  • For older kids, find an age-appropriate music video (Janet Jackson, circa 1980s is a good place to start, so fun!) and learn the routine. Practice it together until you’ve got it down pat.
  • Keep it upbeat and take a break if you child gets frustrated trying to learn a particular step. This camp should be about fun and you can always go back to try the skill again the next day.
  • On “recital day”, gift your child with something they can continue to use when practicing like ballet slippers or a helpful book for teaching dance like Dance Technique for Children. This CD, Kids in Motion was a must when I was teaching dance classes, it’s fantastic and perfect for teaching at home.

       

Also check out 12 tips for Teaching Tots on Dance Advantage.


LEGO CAMP

I’m not sure there is a kid alive who doesn’t like building with LEGOS. And more than likely you already have the supplies you need for this camp. We keep our LEGOS in a big plastic bin that gets dumped out regularly for play! If you don’t have a big collection yet, the LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box is a perfect place to start.

  • Focus on a different architectural or mechanical skill each day. This could include creating a building with columns, making a staircase or building a bridge.
  • Have a vehicle contest. Set up a ramp with a piece of cardboard on an incline and race your vehicles down to see whose is the fastest (and whose makes it to the bottom in one piece!)
  • Create an animal. See if everyone can guess what the other person’s animal is.

   

  • The LEGO Ideas Book is wonderful. We own this book and my kids have spent hours working on these fun and creative projects.
  • Replicate your own face using only LEGOS. This is bound to be a funny one!
  • Create a three-dimensional art sculpture. Using a thin layer of Mod Podge glue you can paint over the creation and keep it forever.

ARTS & CRAFTS CAMP

Crafting on a summer afternoon sounds like my kind of day! Know your audience and offer craft projects that you know are age-appropriate and that your kids would enjoy. Purchase a few supplies like sketch paper, drawing pencils and acrylic paint. Hit the 99 cent store or scrounge up scraps of what you already have from old projects.

  • Learn a new technique. Attempt tie-dying, make soap or wax candles, paper quilling, build a bird house, try jewelry making or clay. My daughter received Sculpy Clay for Christmas and has been delighting us with her whimsical creations for months.
  • Grab the drawing paper and pens. Set up a still-life scene and have everyone draw it in their own style.
  • Using only recycled products from your house, make an “upcycled” item or creation. Supply tape and glue and see what they make from “junk”.
  • Wooden boxes are great for crafting because they are so versatile. Paint or stain them, cover them in jewels with hot glue, cut out magazine photos and decoupage with Mod Podge…unlimited possibilities and you can use the box for whatever you like afterwards.

    


I’m usually working full time during the summer and my kids spend their days at Grandma’s house. At least once during the summer I plan on taking time off and implementing a “camp day” for my kids, I know they’ll love it. Even if you have to work and don’t have a full week for your own summer camp, try some of these activities over a weekend.

Create Budget-Friendly "Summer Camps" for Your Kids...At Home!

Me, and my three.

If you do decide to sign up the kids for a camp outside the house, don’t feel like you have to take the price at “face value”. Request with management if there are any discounts, whether for early pick-up, multiple children or scholarship (if you qualify). Groupon even offers camps in local areas. Many camps are willing to work with you on price if you ask.


Have fun playing with your kids! 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

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One Easy Way to Save Cash on Disney Vacations!

Save cash on Disney vacations? Yes, this one easy trick can save you a good amount & give you cash back on your Disney vacation booking!

We all want to save money on our Disney vacations, right? What if I told you that you could get back a good percentage of your travel costs just by shopping online? Seriously! That frees up cash for park tickets, souvenirs, food – Whatever you want! I earned back over 10% booking my last Disney vacation online this one easy way. See how you can save cash on Disney, too!

This post contains affiliate links. By clicking through and signing up for Ebates you help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Save Cash on Disney – And Hundreds of Other Things

I love to shop online and I definitely have my favorite shops. I buy new swimsuits for the family each year from Lands’ End. Work shirts for my husband from Hanes. Gently used clothing from ThredUp. Summer sandals from Crocs. And this is nothing to say of all the travel booking I make from flights to hotels for my Disney travels.

I’d say that 75% of my shopping is done online. I like to be able to see a total cost in my shopping cart, to virtually add and remove items and you usually can’t beat the coupon savings! I find that when I shop online my purchases are intentional and less of an impulse-buy than when I’m in the store.

Save cash on Disney vacations? Yes, this one easy trick can save you a good amount & give you cash back on your Disney vacation booking!

Walt Disney World- Disney’s Hollywood Studios

My One Easy Trick to Save Cash on Disney

What is Ebates? I have seen a bit about Ebates here and there but didn’t really know what it was or how it works. Turns out it couldn’t be more simple and I should have signed up a LONG time ago! All this time I could have been earning cash back. Keep reading how I’ve earned back over $100 just by shopping online like I normally do.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Does Ebates Work?

Image from Ebates.com – How Ebates Works

Quick Shopping

When you sign up for Ebates, you can click to “heart” your favorite shops and Ebates stores the list in your dashboard for quick shopping links. Take a look at my list of favorite shops and see where it shows a percentage and “cash back”?

Ebates sends you what they call a “Big Fat Check” every three months based on purchases you made through the Ebates website. Easy as that!

What is Ebates...and can you really get cash back?

Image from Ebates.com – Screenshot of my Favorite Shops

Coupons Too!

Whenever I shop online, I always do a search for coupons first but with Ebates I won’t have to do a separate search anymore. Click on the shop and a list of very usable coupons appear! I was able to get free shipping on a recent order from Gymboree.

What is Ebates...and can you really get cash back?

I also booked three nights hotel at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans – Riverside via Travelocity and there was a coupon code for $75 off – sweet!

Find out how I received 10% cash back and $75 my hotel stay at Port Orleans Riverside Walt Disney World! You can save cash on Disney vacations too, with this one easy trick!

Ebates Cash Back Button

You don’t even have to remember to go through the Ebates link to grab the great savings. By installing the Ebates Cash Back Button, simply shop online as usual and if you are in an online shop that allows an Ebates rebate, the button will pop up in your browser reminding you to click and get cash back.

Simply click the button and Ebates will connect to that site and keep track of your cash back. How easy is that?! And the button will pop up at stores you didn’t even know had an Ebates rebate, like Sur le Table, Coach and Sephora.

Are Your Favorite Shops on Ebates?

Think about all the things you buy online from Amazon, Ebay, or Zulily. Then look at Ebates and know that you can get cash back from those stores just by shopping through the Ebates link.  You can even find local Groupons with a cash back to you of 6%.

I love a good bargain, especially if I don’t have to go out of my way to take advantage of it and this just couldn’t be easier. I’m so glad I finally stopped and read what Ebates is all about because it’s a can’t lose!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

How Would YOU Save with Ebates? Tell me which store you’d shop at!

 

5 Cheap Ideas for Valentine’s Day that Still Respect Your Budget in the Morning!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

I’ll pass on the pricey red roses. Please don’t spend a fortune on teddy bears, chocolate and diamonds, either. Not to say I don’t love those things or wouldn’t appreciate them, but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day the prices on them just seems to skyrocket. I want to have a sweet Valentine’s Day but I don’t want to spend a bunch of money either! If you’re trying to budget you’ll need cheap ideas for Valentine’s Day so keep reading.

5 Ideas for Valentine’s Day that Still Respect Your Budget in the Morning!  5 Ideas for Valentine’s Day that Still Respect Your Budget in the Morning!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine’s Day?

No need to break the budget just to do something special. These try these cheap ideas for Valentine’s Day or save them for any day when you just want to show some love! Some of these are family appropriate and others are just for you and your honey.

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Bacon for Breakfast 

Okay it doesn’t have to be bacon but just adding one special treat to your day will make everyone happy. For us, it’s adding bacon for breakfast. Just the scent of that bacon baking in the oven gets us all giddy! It’s a rare treat.

Perhaps your something-special is dessert? My kids loved when I baked these over-sized sugar cookies and decorated them with their names on the top! What is one special thing that you don’t have or do very often that fills your family with joy? Do that thing on Valentine’s Day!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Love Notes & Decorations

We all toss around “I Love You” but how often do we write down our thoughts and feelings? Store-bought cards are so expensive! Make a simple card with scrapbook paper and write something sweet inside…it’s the sentiment that counts.

I crafted some out of simple black construction paper and a white Sharpie to give it a “chalkboard” effect. I’m going to gift them to my family at dinner…along with a small box of chocolates to share for dessert.

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Another cheap way of making Valentine’s Day special is with sweet decor. I made this chain of paper hearts and was able to store it away and reuse it for years. I hand painted the wooden picture frames myself with acrylic paint for just a few dollars.

Special Dinner…at Home

We eat dinner at home nearly every night so eating at home on Valentine’s Day certainly wouldn’t be anything special. However for Valentine’s Day I plan to serve something out of the ordinary as a treat.

Buying steaks or seafood at the grocery and preparing them at home is going to cost at least 50% less than if you went out, especially if you want to have a glass of wine with dinner. Add a little romance with a pretty table setting and candles. Leave the dishes for tomorrow!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Movie Night…on the Sofa

Save yourself a bunch by renting a Redbox or streaming on Netflix for a fraction of the cost of watching in a theater. We buy a big bag of popcorn from Costco, bake some cupcakes for dessert and have a movie marathon after the kids are in bed. Best part? We can watch in our jammies! Even better if you can get the kids to spend the night somewhere else so you’ll have the house to yourself *wink*

Pick a “new-to-you” movie or a classic you’ve seen already 23 times. I’m in love with Jane Austin movies, so I could watch Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly over and over but I’m not sure my husband would be able to stay awake past the opening scene! Best to choose something you’ll both enjoy.

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Cuddle Up

Grab a big blanket and curl up together on the sofa. Pull out a photo album or scrapbook to reminisce over. It’s one of our favorite past times. Recall your thoughts about when you first met or your wedding day. Kids love hearing those stories too. Or just sit in the dark and talk after the kids have gone to bed, while you snuggle and smooch!

Hope you have a wonderfully happy Valentine’s Day!

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