How Kids Can Save Money for Disney (+ Disney DIY Tutorial!)

Saving money for a family vacation generally falls on parents who pitch in the big dollars, of course. But when it comes to nickels and dimes, there’s no reason that kids can’t jump on board too! Here are some ways that kids can save money for Disney so they’ll have spending cash for treats and souvenirs of their own. This quick Disney DIY bank tutorial will help them save their pennies!

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through this link helps support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

By Doing Extra Chores

I believe that kids should pitch in on housework on a regular basis but for those chore that go “above and beyond”, I’m not above a bit of extra monetary compensation. A few bucks here and there for extra chores can add up in a kid’s Disney bank.

With Good Behavior/Good Grades

This one works especially well with little guys! I keep a good behavior chart for my preschooler in the two weeks leading up to the trip. This allows him 14 days to earn a little spending money based on good attitude and helpfulness around the house. For big kids, you could also reward good grades on a special pay scale, with bonuses for all As!

By Selling Something

Coordinate a yard sale as a family where the kids can sell their outgrown toys and/or clothing and earn a few dollars. Or set up an old fashioned lemonade stand or bake sale, though this is often more work for grown-ups involved!

Receiving Gifts

One of my kids favorite ways to save money for Disney trips is by saving monetary gifts given for birthdays and Christmas. If someone is planning on purchasing a gift for your child and asks what she’d like to receive, recommend a Disney gift card!

By Collecting Change

And here’s the perfect place to store all that loose change! Follow this easy DIY for create your own Disney vacation bank.

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

You can customize the bank with whatever Disney-themed charms you like. This DIY only cost me about $7 to make. I used a half price coupon from the craft store for the most expensive item. Or you can purchase them inexpensively on Amazon.

I purchased my supplies at Hobby Lobby. Here are similar items available at Amazon:

Wide Mouth Glass Mason Jar with Metal Lid,

Glitter Alphabet Sticker Letters

Disney Button Embellishments, Mickey And Minnie Glitter

Wish Lucky Charms

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These peel and stick letters have a cute sparkle stud detail. You can customize your jar with whatever lettering you want (the hardest part of this entire project is getting the letters straight!)

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I found these inexpensive items including Mickey and Minnie buttons, metal “Wish” charms and sparkly dangles. Kids can loop the charms onto a length of narrow ribbon and tie it around the neck of the jar. There are enough charms in each package to make several banks, so they would really be a great gift for another Disney-loving family!

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

Save Money on a DISNEY WORLD Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and Walt Disney World vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.


Kids Can Save Money for Disney! Read the money saving tips & check out the DIY Disney Bank Tutorial

For more ways to save money for your Disney vacation,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money for Disney Loop:


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!



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!


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 – 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 – 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!


“I Want to Save More Money” – 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

"I Want to Save More Money" - 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

It’s not simply enough to say that you want to “save more money”. Money has a way of disappearing from your bank account and wallet so quickly if you don’t keep track of it. If you want to save more money, the first thing you need to do is set your goal!

When my husband and I were working with a broker/Realtor to purchase our first house, he told us the minimum we’d need in cash for a down payment/closing costs. We set our monetary goal, figured out the timeline and made a savings plan. Within four months, we had more than enough set aside in our savings account. We’ve continued putting money aside in our savings account, though not as aggressively as when we had that particular goal. What a great feeling to have cash in the bank to fall back on when brakes on the car need repair, your husband is laid off for six weeks or your ceiling has a leak (all things that happened to us last year!)

Get that dream Disney vacation you've always wanted! "I Want to Save More Money" - 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

Get out your note pad and make it real by answering these 5 basic money saving questions —

1. What is your monetary goal? 

Write down a number. Best to overshoot and make the number higher than you think you’ll need.

2. What are you saving for?

Keep your savings on track by pinpointing what the money is earmarked for. Whether it be you’re saving up for something grand like a home down payment or you just want to buy that gorgeous Dooney & Bourke handbag, make the goal real by writing it down. Maybe even print a photo that you put in a prominent place to keep you on track!

3. How long will it take you to reach your goal?

Set a deadline for yourself that’s within the foreseeable future. If your ultimate goal number is really big, break it up into quarters and set a date that is close at hand to help keep your savings spirits up!

4. What are you willing to give up to make saving possible?

Make sure you know your True Budget first and see where the extra savings money is going to come from to make your goal savings a reality. Try using this helpful worksheet. What’s in your budget that you’re willing to sacrifice to meet that goal? I’ve covered this topic in my articles Learning to Live Without and Realistic Ways of Cutting Back in Your Budget.

5. Is your savings plan reasonable?

The last thing you want to do is crash and burn on your goal because it’s too stressful or unrealistic. Make sure your budget has flexibility to continue to allow for fun things or emergencies.

Get that dream Disney vacation you've always wanted! "I Want to Save More Money" - 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

Once you’ve answered all these questions, figure out exactly how much you’ll be setting aside each month to meet your goal.

Simple formula: Total amount you want to save divided by the months that it will take you to reach the goal = How much you need to save each month

It’s never too late to make meaningful changes! Please read up on the other topics in my Resolution Series –

I Want to Start an Exercise Routine

I Want to Look More Put Together Head to Toe

I Want to Eat Healthier


8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Make it Through the Holidays

8 Budget Friendly Ways to make it through the Holidays -Helpful Tips!

With autumn here and winter fast approaching, we move into the festive “holiday season”! For some though, this time of year is also wallet-draining, stress-inducing and all-around nerve-wracking!

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tips to make it though the holidays with your budget (and nerves) still intact.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


Before the holidays even begin, sit down and outline your thoughts and expectations for each upcoming event. Let your thoughts run free and jot them down; having a calender with you may help. It’s not set in stone but it’s at least a rough outline of what the next few months may hold.

Questions you might ask yourself:

  • What parties will you be attending?
  • What parties will you be hosting?
  • Are you making or buying costumes and/or gifts for the family this year?
  • Are you going to be traveling?
  • What school events are coming up that will require money?
  • Are there special outfits that you’ll need to buy for upcoming events/pictures?
  • What are your New Year’s Eve plans?

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


Break down the holidays and roughly plan out how much you’ll be spending on each event. After all, the extra holiday expenses have to come from somewhere…and you should not be running up your credit cards or spending money you don’t have!

  • How much will you be spending on Halloween costumes and candy?
  • Is your biggest Thanksgiving expense in preparing the big meal or in travel costs?
  • In regards to Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, come up with an amount that you plan to spend on each person. Keep track and stick with it!

Spend where it most makes sense to you and your family and shift around your budget as needed. It’s easy to get carried away with the holiday spirit and overspend. This is one time of the year where you may need to put a hold on your credit card use to resist overspending and use cash only instead.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


About six months before Christmas, I start taking notes for gift ideas. I keep a spreadsheet of past gifts and take note of what was a “success” and what was a “flop”. I use that history to make my gift list for the year. I write down what I have for ideas (private Pinterest boards are good for this too) and then mark what I’ve actually purchased. This is also where I note the price so I’m keeping within my budget.

  • If you are hosting a party or a big dinner, make a list of the foods you’ll be preparing including all the ingredients. Work those costs into your holiday budget.
  • Make a gift list for each family and friend you plan on purchasing for. Keep that list updated as you buy so you avoid overspending.

Keep track of what you are buying. It’s very easy to overbuy if you are shopping early and stashing the gifts away. My mom was notorious for finding a gift she’d misplaced and giving it to us in March!

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


Now’s the time to review your list and pare it down. Even if you feel like you’re already being frugal, see where you can cut back.  Do you feel that you overbuy when it comes to your kids or are the things you buy even getting used or played with? Gifts should be thoughtful and not just “filler” under the tree.

  • Can’t afford to hand out candy this year? Do like we do and take the kids out trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhoods so you aren’t home to answer your door.
  • For the big Thanksgiving meal don’t take it upon yourself to provide the entire spread. Contact your guests at least a few weeks in advance to request they bring a dish large enough to share.
  • Think before you purchase Christmas gifts. Is that stocking stuffer going to end up at the bottom of the toy box by December 26th? Are the things on your list meaningful and purposeful for the recipient? If not, take them off the list.
  • Instead of buying a gift for every single person in the office bring in a special treat on December 1st to kick off the Christmas season instead.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


In November you’ll start to see the fronts of the grocery stores stocked with “holiday essentials” like pumpkin pie filling, canned cranberries, stuffing mix, etc. And the mailers will come pouring in with coupons for those exact same items as well. Now’s your chance to stock up and save! If you know you’ll be using these items before the end of the year then by all means, buy them at the best price you can.

This is also the perfect time to pick up a few extra items to donate to your local food pantry or soup kitchen.


The invitations are rolling in and it’s not uncommon to have every single weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas booked with holiday events.  Choose your favorite events and respectfully decline the others. You certainly don’t have to feel obligated to attend them all, especially if there is an expense tied to each event.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


If your holidays are more stress-inducing than joyous and you can’t for the life of you even remember what you bought your kids for Christmas last year, it might be time to get back to the basics of the holidays and take the focus off the stuff.

Meditate on what each holiday means to you and your family and make that “thing” your seasonal motto. Creating traditions and memories are the heart of a holiday!

  • I know a family that doesn’t celebrate Halloween but instead uses that day to take their family on a local hike through their mountains. It’s their family tradition and something they all look forward to each October 31st.
  • If it’s most important to you that your family be together on Thanksgiving Day then it really won’t matter if your table settings coordinate.
  • Capture the meaning of the season and ask your family what their favorite part of the Christmas season is. I asked my kids what their favorite part of the holidays is and the answers were surprising. My daughter said, “Going to church” and my son said “All the good food”. Neither of them said “presents”. For me, I love lighting a fire and curling up in a blanket to talk with my family. Only the Christmas tree is lit and there is a magical feeling in the air. To me, that is the epitome of the holidays. Find your holiday “sweet spot” and make sure to hit it each year!

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays


Is there something on the list that you could make yourself? Or at the very least that you could purchase from someone else who made it by hand? Consider supporting small businesses (like those on Etsy), rather than padding pockets of big box stores.

Ideas for handcrafted items –

  • Make or buy handcrafted Halloween costumes or accessories.
  • Consider sewing up your own table runner and coordinating cloth napkins for a special Thanksgiving table setting.
  • Make or buy handmade coordinating pajama pants for the kids to wear on Christmas morning. Hair bows are perfect to stuff in a stocking. Unique handcrafted jewelry is plentiful on Etsy. Appliqued tees are so cute for the kids to wear for holiday parties. Bake your favorite brownies or give a jar of your favorite salad dressing…I promise you, everyone loves a handmade gift!



Budget extremely tight? Reverting to going the creative route instead of store-bought can be more meaningful all around.

  • No money for Halloween costumes? Simply put an outfit together with items you already own. One of my favorite Halloween costumes was as a gypsy with a long patchwork skirt and layers of my grandmother’s costume jewelry.
  • Bring the outside in for Thanksgiving by decorating with leaves and pine cones instead of store-bought decor.
  • Consider a thoughtful Christmas card with a “coupon” for your services. Perhaps you have a friend who loves your homemade tamales; You could offer an afternoon of cooking classes where you teach her how to make them! Kids in particular love the coupon book idea so this would be a great stocking stuffer for them! Give coupons for a family movie night in the living room, one night of their choosing to stay up 30 minutes later than bedtime, a “spa” day complete with at-home pedicures or even just an extra storybook on a night of their choosing.
  • Skip the grand ballroom on New Year’s Eve and get comfy in your pajamas at home. We love to have an appetizer-only dinner and snack on all the homemade treats that our friends gave us at Christmas. We stay up late and play Scrabble. For little ones you could ring in the New Year of a different time zone and send them off to bed.

With a little preparation, all wallet-hardship and stress-inducing thoughts should be minimized. Here’s to having Happy Holidays!

What ideas do you have for preparing for the holidays? Share them in the comments.




Kids are FREE in San Diego during the month of October!

Offering 100+ FREE things for kids in the San Diego area, Kidvasion in October has begun!!

Photo: San

October is a great time to visit San Diego. The summer crowds have gone, the weather is still quite warm and of course, all the fun, free things for kids that are being offered in the San Diego area for the entire month.

From free restaurant dining, free museum visits, free amusement park tickets to free transportation; We are talking big deal savings here, including free admission to the World Famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park , Sea World San Diego and Legoland California! See the Model Railroad Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Children’s Discovery museum. Take free rides on the Amtrack Pacific Surfliner and free cruises on the Hornblower. Visit the Birch Aquarium, U.S.S. Midway and Belmont Park…for free!

Check out this link to San and find out more about this promotion. It’s a great time to visit our great city!

Budgeting Steps to Savings -Buying the Best You Can Afford…Without Going Broke

Cheap stuff is cheap for a reason.

For me, I’d much rather buy a higher quality item than something made cheaply. I use the word “cheap” as something that is inexpensive and also of lesser quality. I know there are many out there who would prefer to buy the same cheap items each year so they can have something “new”. They buy a brand new coat each winter, new bedding for everyone in the family, and new backpacks for back-to-school. But I like to have the quality item up-front and not waste money, time and energy replacing it every year. Not to mention the waste of throwing out a broken item that can’t be repaired because it wasn’t made well in the first place.

How to buy the best that you can afford...without going broke!

In the long run, it’s more savvy (and more economical) to put your money into something that will last you longer than just the year and will need to be replaced. Yes, high-quality items usually do come with a higher price tag as well. Naturally when better materials are being used the price is going to be higher. But high-end items do go on sale. Pay attention to trends and know when to buy. Get on the mailing list of your favorite stores that sell high-quality products and shop smart – Take advantage of sales, use coupons and the store credit card if they offer one to get the best price.

Heed this…just because something is expensive does not mean that it’s high-quality! Do your research on what brands are actually high-quality. Read reviews online. Go to the store and physically examine them.  Is the plastic on that toy too flimsy to hold up to multiple play sessions? Are the seams on that sweater sewn sturdily and finished off or will they unravel upon the first wearing? Are the online reviews on that dishwasher bad enough to make you consider handwashing instead?

Know your product before plunking down your hard-earned money. This is all about buying the best of what you can afford. It is not about living outside your means or going into debt. If you can’t afford the item that you really want to get, consider waiting and saving up for it and not just settling for the cheap alternative. You can afford the best if you are willing to wait for it.

Divide to conquer

Divide the cost of the item by how many times you expect to use it. My littlest son alternates between two pairs of shoes. Rather than purchase him 10 pairs of cheap shoes that wear out quickly or are made so poorly that they hurt his feet, I choose to buy him only two pairs of high-quality shoes. Yes, these shoes (I buy Pedipeds) may cost $35-50 each but I know that I’m getting my money’s worth because he wears them every other day. After six months my son has probably outgrown his shoes but they are so nicely made that I’ve been able to hand them down to another child because they are still in great condition!

Pediped shoes


My friend and I were just discussing the paper-thin tees that are now sold in every store; The fabric is so bad these shirts develop holes after just a few wearings! Cheap construction also often means loose seams and poor shaping. These are clothes that are so cheaply made they are literally falling apart as you wear them!  Did you know that clothing is often starched to hold the shape on the store hangers? Once the piece is washed at home, the collars go wonky and the seams pucker.

Buy well-made and high-quality classics that will last more than just a year. Take a look at your closet and see what pieces you wear the most each season and replace the cheap items with a higher quality item one at a time as you can afford it. Think about classic pieces that don’t go out of style like black slacks, coat, boots, denim skirt, wrap dress in a solid color, cardigan sweaters, etc.

Take care

If you owned a high-quality handbag, would you even think of setting it down on the floor in a public place or would you make sure it was kept clean and off the ground? What about a brand new BMW? You probably wouldn’t be eating drive-through fast food tacos inside your fancy car! Make a point of taking proper care of what you have and eliminate the necessity of having to replace it. If you buy something high-quality, even if it gets dirty or needs fixing, the parts and fabric are going to be able to hold up to repair and cleaning so much better than inferior items.

Clean items regularly and do proper maintenance. Resole boots instead of purchasing new. Have winter items dry cleaned before storing away for the next season. Keep your jewelry and watches in the original boxes or in a divided jewelry organizer so they don’t get tangled or broken. Take care of your stuff and it will be there for you when you need it.

Armitron watch

Buy Less often

Assess your need before you buy. Having new things is fun but not always necessary. I’ve addressed this before in my post Learning to Live Without.  If you don’t need anything specific then simply avoid the stores (and ultimately, any binge buying). If you have two pairs of winter pajamas and rotate them when you launder, why would you need to buy another pair? And who really needs 30 pairs of white socks when you can probably get away with less than ten pairs if you do your laundry at least once a week. Keep it simple, pare things down and only buy when the need is great.

Spend more for every day use items

I knew someone who used to redecorate her bathroom twice a year: a new shower curtain, new rug, new towels, etc. Was it because she just wanted to freshen things up? No, it was because the items that she’d purchased six months earlier were already falling apart! The cheap plastic shower curtain was torn from the hooks, the edge of the rug lost its seam after one wash and the thin towels were faded and developing holes. If the cost of that “cheap” bathroom redo is $75 every year and the cost of higher quality bathroom accessories would be around $150, wouldn’t it make sense in the long run to buy higher quality items that will last at least 5 years instead of only six months? Look for items that will hold up to frequent cleaning (like a fabric shower curtain instead of plastic) or glass pieces instead of plastic.

Organized bathroom

It’s a guarantee

I’ve mentioned this before in my post Tips for Making Returns but it’s always better to purchase a higher priced item if you know it has a full replacement guarantee. Also check the warranty before you buy and this may sway you to a particular item knowing that it could be replaced if it breaks within a certain time frame.

Keep it around for a while

Think about the items that you plan to have for the next 10-20 years (your car, furniture, bedding, mattress and some large appliances). These should be considered investment items.

In the case of appliances, this is one area that I find that buying a high-quality item is going to pay off for you in the long-run. We burned out the motors of three cheap blenders in three years. We finally wised-up, did our research and bought a Ninja. Yes, it was $150 but we use it nearly every day and have never had an issue. Same goes for the vacuum. I bought my Kirby 15 years ago and have never even had to get it serviced while other family members have gone through several cheap vacuums along the same timeline.

For furniture, try to shop vintage or antique. These items were made to a higher quality standard back-in-the-day and feature real wood instead of laminate and dovetailed drawers instead of staples. Ask what the return policies are before you purchase large ticket items in case it doesn’t work out as you’d intended.

Handcrafted patio furniture

To last a lifetime

There are items that are intended to last a lifetime and you’ll probably only have to buy it one time ever. Would you replace your wedding ring after a year of wearing it because you simply wanted something new? No, because it’s a classic piece, something you bought intending to keep forever and not something to get bored with and replace on a whim. Same should go for many of your daily use kitchen items, including your silverware, dishes, stemware, knives and cookware. Apply this to your occasional use items like luggage as well.

Choose classic designs that won’t look dated in a few years. Look for brand names with high quality and don’t be afraid to spend more in this area since you’ll hopefully own them forever. It’s not boring to keep the same items especially if you purchase classic pieces in the first place. I don’t think I could ever tire of my beautiful Lenox Chirp design dinnerware! These items will become sentimental to you so choose something you really love and enjoy using every day.

Summer Pasta Salad recipe {www.savingupfordisney}

Do you have an example of something that you will only buy high-quality? Please share in the comments below!

Please read my other Steps to Savings articles to get your budget on the right track!


Birthday Party on a Budget – Make it Totally Fabulous on the Cheap!

TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

I love to host birthday parties! The cake, the balloons, the coordinating table settings, the treat bags…I love planning it all. What I don’t like is spending a ton of money on a few hour celebration! I have dozens of ideas on how to host a fantastic birthday party on a budget. When planning a birthday party this is my intent:

  • I want the focus to be on the birthday celebrant.
  • I want my party guests to have a memorably good time.
  • I want to show my creative side with tasteful decor and thoughtful party favors.
  • But ultimately, I want it to be cheap!

I’ve included ideas depending upon how much you’d like to spend, how much time you have and how creative you’d like to get. Keep in mind, the more time you invest and the more creative you are, the less money you’ll have to spend! Keep reading for how to host a birthday party on a budget!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through will help me in a small financial way, thank you!

TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

10 Things to Consider When Planning a Birthday Party on a Budget

    1. Party Location
    2. Choosing a Theme
    3. Guest List
    4. Invitations
    5. Cake
    6. Party Favors
    7. Decor
    8. Table settings
    9. Food
    10. Games and Entertainment

1. Choosing the Best Party Location 

Choosing the party location first will determine the rest of your party, in relation to party size, decorations and budget. If you are planning a birthday party on a budget this is obviously not the time to book an ice skating rink or take your child’s entire class to the movies!

  • The best place to look first is hosting at your own home, backyard or clubhouse.
  • If you don’t have a location and booking a venue is a must, ask friends and family first if you can “borrow” their home or yard.
  • Local parks are free to host a party and if the weather is good, that can be your best bet. Some parks will have a clubhouse or gazebo at an additional cost.
  • If hosting outside, have an alternate location or risk having to cancel. Our kid’s birthdays are in November, December and March. We often get rained out and require an alternate inside location in case of rain (like Grandma’s house!).
TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

We got rained out and had to move the party inside for her 8th birthday.

Making a birthday party more like a play date can really take some pressure off the budget too. I hosted a Disney Preschool Playdate and offering a few snacks, cupcakes and juice was just perfect for these little ones.

2. Choosing a Theme for Your Party

Having a theme allows you to pinpoint the feel of the party. A theme is also a cheap way to get more bang for your buck! Requesting that party guests wear a costume or dress in the theme allows them to be more invested in the party. Here are a few fun theme ideas that translate into budget-friendly parties!

  • Doughnut theme- Invite party guests to wear their pajamas for a morning brunch-time party. Serve doughnuts, chocolate milk and juice.
  • Water theme – Bring your bathing suit and towel. Either go swimming, play in the sprinklers or (if there is no water!) have a beach theme inside with inflatable beach balls to toss around.
  • Craft theme – Request that party guests bring clean recycled items, like cardboard boxes and metal cans. Check out Pinterest for inexpensive ideas on making cool crafts with the addition of wrapping paper, glue, and scrap ribbons.
  • Movie Night theme – Is there a popular movie being released on Netflix or BluRay? Have guests bring a pillow and blanket, then host a movie night with popcorn and the feature film.
TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

A Sesame Street themed party required Cookie Monster cupcakes!

My kids love coming up with cool themes. In the last few years, I’ve created simple budget-friendly themes like Mickey in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Nautical and Basketball.

Ask your child for input on the theme and then work with them to find perfect details that can be recreated for the party. My son was really into the Seven Dwarves Mine Train at Magic Kingdom so I created a very simple theme around that Disney attraction. Kids can really be the catalysis for some fun and creative ideas! Check out his Mine Train party ideas.

See more details on creating a Sorcerer’s Apprentice party!

TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

3. Invitations & Guests

The invitation really sets the theme in my book. Once you’ve chosen the theme, picking the invite is a fun way to bring that theme to life!

  • Make your invites with scrapbook paper and stickers.
  • Create your own invitations in Canva and then print them at home on my HP printer (love HP Instant Ink and HP Card & Invitation Kit!)
  • I love the invites from Tiny Prints with the photos on them and if you buy in quantity they are only about a dollar each.
  • Save a stamp and buy invitations that can be emailed, like te beautiful ones from Paperless Post. I love the freebie options too, including these adorable Disney-themed invites. There is a way you can track RSVPs as well, which is handy if you are too busy to call and follow up with your guests.

Tips for Creating a Guest List

Narrowing down the guest list can be a challenge. Every child wants to invite all the kids in class to their parties but with budget and space restrictions, this isn’t always possible. If you’d like to have a more elaborate party, keep the guest list to under 5. If you want to invite the whole group, keep the celebration simple with cake and punch.

TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

4. Birthday Cake or Cupcakes

Cake is a birthday party must-have! Checking out the cake at a birthday party is my preschooler’s favorite. Putting a good amount of budget towards a special birthday cake can be worth it. Here are a few ways to save on the expense.

Make It Yourself From Scratch or a Boxed Mix

I have made many-a-boxed-cake in my party days and believe me, nobody turns them down! I recommend following Tidy Mom’s tip on doctoring up a boxed mix. You could get canned frosting or whip up your own quite cheaply with a bag of powdered sugar. I usually go for plain vanilla or a cream cheese frosting and add gel food coloring to decorate with.

Happy Birthday to Me! - Budget ideas for Birthday Parties on the Cheap (sure to make you smile!)

Happy Birthday to you! A simply sweet smiley face.

No need to get fancy – For the pink and green cupcakes below I just divided a tub of white store-bought frosting and colored it with gel food coloring. Simple but bright and colorful!

TONS of birthday party on a budget ideas! Dozens of create theme, decorations and food ideas for all types of parties.

Buy Cake Premade from the Store

Sometimes you simply don’t have the time to be baking and store-bought is the way to go. I bought these cupcakes from the grocery store for less than 70 cents each and they were delicious. You could certainly dress these up with some store-bought sprinkles, fondant toppers or royal icing flowers but I kept it simple for an adult party.

Tips for hosting a party on a budget

Add Unique Details

I took a boxed white cake mix and designed this amazing rainbow cake for my baby’s first birthday, which had an It’s a Small World theme. I was as easy as dividing the batter into separate bowls, adding gel food coloring in a variety of colors and then plopping a cupful of batter one color at a time on top of each other into the cake pans. Ultimate impact for no extra cost!

DIY rainbow cake from a boxed mix!

For my stepdaughter’s 6th birthday, she loved Tinkerbell. I simply baked her cake in a Pyrex bowl to create a little “grassy” hilltop and then added plastic play figures to the top. See what toys you have that you could clean up to use for decoration.

Tips on planning a birthday on a budget!

My son made the request for this birthday cake: Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Darth Vader playing soccer. Okaaayy…here it is! I added the Lego Stormtrooper at goalie for good measure. He was thrilled to see his idea come to life!

Darth Vader playing soccer with Indiana Jones (and a Stormtrooper goalie!). Click through for budget birthday ideas.

5. Party Favors for Guests

I’m not big on party favors but kids LOVE them. I like to choose favors that fit my party theme. However they also should be fun, practical items that won’t end up at the bottom of the toy box (ie: trash). Aim for quality over quantity. Shop early and with your theme in mind to find the best bargains. Here are a few creative party favor ideas:

Home-baked Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

This one is not going to cost you too much but these cookies are definitely time consuming. I pace myself over several days when I make these, baking the cookies one day, icing another day and adding details on a third. I follow the recipes and techniques from Sweet Sugar Belle. Practice makes perfect & my decorating skills have improved over the years!

Birthdays on a Budget - Tons of easy DIY tips!

For an Alice in Wonderland themed 7th birthday I made little pastel flowers and mushroom shaped cookies. For the baby’s It’s a Small World party I used the same cookie cutter but added colored candies to accent the center of each whimsical flower.

For my son’s second birthday we had an Elmo theme and I made “Elmo-breadmen” out of Sweet Sugar Belle’s gingerbread recipe. To save time I only frosted the faces and added small details. They came out so cute (and the gingerbread was yummy!).


Hand-painted Wooden Dolls

I found these little unpainted wooden peg dolls on Etsy (cost about $1.25 each). For my baby’s It’s a Small World party I painted the dolls in Disney characters from around the globe.

It's a Small World Birthday Party - Budget party tips!

We had Lilo representing Hawaii, Merida from Scotland, Aladdin from India and Woody from the USA among others. I painted two dolls a night leading up to the party to pace myself, using acrylic paint and a small brush. I used the dolls as part of the party decor around the dessert table and then told the kids to choose one to take home. By far, the most popular favors I’ve ever given out!

It's a Small World birthday party. For more budget party ideas, click through!

Worst pictures ever! Sorry for the blur…

Treat Bags with Goodies

  • Figuring out your theme early helps if you’re making up goodie bags.
  • Keep an eye on the dollar bins or sale sections for items to include in treat bags that work for the age group.
  • Save coupons for the craft store and use those 40% off offers to buy favors.
  • I aim for about 3 items inside a treat bag, usually with something edible (like a sugar cookie) being one of them.
  • Stickers are easy and inexpensive.
  • Costume jewelry, a tube of lip balm and hair accessories are perfect for girls.
  • If you have a large enough treat bag, a coloring book from the dollar store in the party theme is perfect!

At my daughter’s 6th birthday party we had boy and girl themed bags (boys got race cars, girls received bracelets). For my son’s second birthday I only handed out treat bags (filled with a package of crayons & Sesame Street stickers) to the littlest of party goers.

Birthdays on a budget. Tons of ideas!

6. Budget-Friendly Party Decor

The decor sets the theme and it can be done simply for greatest impact. Decide on a color-scheme of two or three colors to keep the look bright and lively. I’ve included a few tips and some ideas on decorations for a tight budget.

  • Choose large decorations instead of tiny ones and you’ll only need a few around the room.
  • Instead of decking out your tables with every piece from a themed line, pick one item whether it be the dessert plates, the table cloth or the napkins. Complete the look by choosing complimentary colors or designs to the themed item.
  • Use toys or decorative items that you already have around the house to complete the theme.
  • Balloons, paper streamers and oversized tissue paper flowers add a lot of color without a big price.


I crafted simple paper pinwheels out of leftover scrapbook paper and hung them with twine. In the center of one pinwheel I taped a color print of a vintage It’s a Small World poster.

Punch out simple circles from scrap book paper. Easily sew them up on the sewing machine to make a paper streamer.

DIY birthday decorations on a budget.

7. Themed Table Settings

Creating an exciting table setting as a focal point for your birthday party can be done in even the smallest spaces. Include a collection of foods or treats, colorful paper ware and maybe even a themed-toy.

  • Solid colored plastic tablecloths are cheaper than themed ones. Dress them up with a strip of wrapping paper as a colorful runner.
  • Choose sturdy paper ware and utensils. Better to pay a bit more for durable versions than have to double up flimsy plates or replace plastic forks that break tines.
  • Create interesting heights by using cakes stands. Or wrap cardboard boxes in coordinating wrapping paper to use for stacking items on the table.

For my son’s Elmo party, I used red as the main color for the plates and napkins and white on the tablecloths. Then I cut a strip of Dollar Store rainbow wrapping paper to use as the table runner. A Tickle Me Elmo toy set the theme and we didn’t require any expensive themed paper products from the party supply store!

Sesame Street Elmo party on a budget. Tons of party ideas!

Wrapping paper came in handy again at my adult birthday party. I used a roll of black wrapping paper and layered it over a gold tablecloth. Writing with an inexpensive white Sharpie pen on the black paper looks like chalk and created a sophisticated element to the tables, for $3.50 total.

Use black wrapping paper and a white sharpie for a chalkboard effect.

8. Feeding Your Guests

Food can easily be the most expensive part of party hosting. Depending on what you purchase you might be spending several hundred dollars feeding your guests. If you are budgeting, choose foods that are filling but inexpensive.

  • For parties during cold weather, consider soup. I like to make a big pot of turkey-bean chili and pans of homemade cornbread.
  • In warmer weather purchase sandwich fixings and include several loaves of bread or rolls, deli meat and a few cheese selections.
  • Even pizza can get expensive, especially if you add additional toppings. Find a location with a great coupon and save!
  • Steer away from prepackaged party platters because they also tend to be pricier.
  • If you want to serve veggies and fruit, buy them whole and cut them yourself. This is always going to be cheaper than buying pre-cut.

Birthday party on a budget, tons of helpful ideas.

Consider a salad bar! For this party, I chopped a few romaine heads and tossed in a box of spring mix. A little lettuce went a long way! Each one of the toppings cost an average of $1.50 each and I placed them in glass dishes, each with their own spoon. The most expensive item was the chicken, which my husband  seasoned & grilled. I was able to feed 25 for about $50 and we had quite a few leftovers.

Black paper and white sharpie create a chalkboard effect at this party.

  • If the budget is very tight, consider hosting your party at an odd hour (like 2 pm) and don’t offer food other than cake with drinks. Make sure you note on the invite that guests are joining you for dessert so they don’t expect to be served a meal.

9. Games & Activities for Party Guests

Parents often over think this and tend to plan too many activities during a party.  Kids are more easily entertained than you think. If you host the party at a park, let the playground be the entertainment. The most simple things are the best:

  • Pinatas are cheap enough but then you have to fill it and that can get really expensive. Use leftover Halloween or Easter candy!
  • Pipe cleaners from the dollar store are fun to bend into headbands or silly glasses.
  • If you have an outdoor space, Play-doh is always fun for little guys.
  • Search Minute to Win It games on Pinterest and find a wealth of things you can do using things from around the house.
  • Jot up a scavenger hunt list and have kids search either inside or out.
  • An art project with inexpensive watercolors and paper or thin canvas boards and acrylics.
  • Turn on the music and dim the lights to host a dance party.
  • Gather fun accessories from around the house or costume box for a photo booth. Take pictures of the guests being silly. The photo can be printed and sent out with thank you cards!

Happy Birthday! Tips for throwing a party on a budget.

10. Party Entertainment

Booking entertainment for birthday parties is usually very low on my checklist. I’m of the opinion that kids enjoy each other’s company enough that playing together is often fun enough!

  • Characters, princesses and party clowns are popular for parties. But sorry, Elsa & Anna from Frozen probably won’t be greeting guests at your party if you’re budgeting! That is unless you can convince a cool family member to dress up and act out the part.
  • Check your local Groupon website first if you’d like to get a bounce house or hire entertainment; they often have specials for 50-70% off.
  • Want to include face painting but don’t want to hire out? Buy your own kit and offer simple face painting designs yourself (or ask an artistic family member or friend for their assistance).

Parties put a smile on my face! Tons of tips on hosting a party on a budget!

Hosting the Best Birthday Party (Budget or Not)

The bottom line is to focus on the birthday kid and not get too wrapped up running around that you actually miss the special moments. It’s all about making memories and not the hoop-la, after all. Take lots of pictures and have fun!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to me! Ways of throwing a birthday on a budget

Budgeting Tip – Don’t Want It? It’s Defective? Tips for Making Returns

Tips for making returns to the store {Saving Up for Disney}

If you got it home and changed your mind, don’t keep it or give it away…take it back to the store and get a refund! It’s broken or defective, even months after you bought it? Again, take it back and either get a replacement or a refund!

My husband has earned the title “King of Returns” for a reason. He knows the policies of the store before he buys so he knows his consumer rights to return or exchange if the item is broken, defective or just simply doesn’t work out.

Don’t want it, Don’t need it

  • Tried on a blouse at Kohl’s but wanted to see how it looked with a particular pair of pants at home. Bought the blouse, it didn’t work out so back to the store it went.
  • Ordered a pair of shoes online from but they were the wrong size. Used their return label to get the right size.
  • Tried a new color lipstick at Target. Oh boy, wrong color for me! Returned it for a full refund, no issues.
  • Purchased clothes from Lands’ End online (free shipping) and whatever didn’t fit, I was able to return directly to my local Sears store.

What do you have in your home that you bought and had second thoughts about once you got it home. You should have taken it back but you kept it instead? From now on, when you bring something home, retain all the packaging and tags for one week. If that blender just doesn’t mix as well as you’d expected, clean all the parts, box it back up and return it to the store. The more timely the return, the more likely the store will accept it back without issue.

Defective or damaged items

  • We had plants die within a week of buying them. My husband took them out of the ground and returned them to Home Depot for a full refund.
  • The hanging loop on my daughter’s backpack frayed and L.L. Bean replaced it for free (they no longer had the same style so we had to choose a new one, which was totally fine with her).
  • My new craft table from Costco had a sway in the middle and was off balance so my sewing machine was bouncing up and down when I ran it…back to the store went the table.
  • The knob on our Cuisinart Griddler melted after we’d had it for a year! I looked at the warranty info online and was told to return the item to any Cuisinart retailer for an exchange, which we easily did at Kohls.

If that t-shirt hem unravels the first time you wash it, take it back with the tags and let them know what happened. At the very least you’ll receive back a store credit and you won’t be stuck with something that didn’t hold up to the proper quality.

Know the Store’s Policy

Kohl’s return policy is legendary…return anything at any time for any reason. Home Depot, Target and CVS are easy as well. Read up on the store’s return policy (in particular before making large purchases) so you’ll know what your return window is and if there is a restocking fee.

My construction worker/electrician husband will only purchase tools from Home Depot or Sears because the return policies are so great that if a tool breaks or wears out, it can exchanged for a new one.

Keep receipts, sometimes.

Some stores will not accept returns at all without a receipt. Some will only give store credit without a receipt. Some stores limit their returns to within a certain timeline. If you are shopping at smaller shops or boutiques, keep your receipts. At bigger stores, they may have a record of your purchase so you may not need your receipt to return.

Handy Links:

Good Housekeeping –How to Shop Smart so You Can Return Almost Anything

Lifehacker – How to Return Nearly Anything Without a Receipt