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!



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!


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

Budget Round Up Challenges and Cheers – Month #1


End of the month…Time to pull out the calculators and see how we did with savings and budgeting this month!


For me personally, this was a challenging month to save. My husband and I are traveling to Europe this month (read all about it here) and have had to make some out-of-the-norm purchases for the trip. Lots of little extras that we wouldn’t usually be buying as well as setting aside extra money for the 7 days that my husband is off work (he doesn’t have vacation pay). We’re also saving up money for souvenirs and restaurant eating. And pastries…I plan on eating lots of pastries!


We’ve been budgeting for this trip to Europe for the last year so I’ve still been able to save for Disney alongside saving for Europe. It’s not as much as I’d like but I also don’t want to scrimp on my European trip either!


Disney Visa savings points – $51.74 total -$9.10 earned last month.

Contest Winnings – $500 for groceries from this Pinterest contest (Sprouts gift cards). This definitely helped offset our budget and we didn’t have to shop for food anywhere else all month.

Made birthday presents for kid parties instead of buying them – savings of $30

Bought vacation clothes from ThredUp instead of new at the store – savings of around $50 versus buying new


New shoes for the trip – $54

Driver’s License Renewal (for both of us in the same month!) – $66

New shorts for my trip (they didn’t have my size on ThredUp) – $24

Husband’s birthday present – $39

Ate out three times with the family last month (late nights at work & too hot in the house to cook!) – $65

BorrowLenses camera lens rental for my trip – $118

Husband needed new hardhat for work – $24

Target “whirlwind of stuff” for my trip (like NuSkin for blisters, trip journal and new sunglasses) -$75


  • Savings – $589.10
  • Loss- $465
  • Net Savings – $124.10

Disney Vacation Bank Total – $189.82

Okay, not as much as I would have liked, but better than nothing. Especially when I’m sharing my Disney Vacation Bank with my European Adventure Bank! Hoping to be back on track in another month.

How did you do on your savings and budget this month? I’d love to hear from you with your budgeting challenges and cheers!


Budgeting Tips – 9 Easy Swaps…I Promise They Don’t Hurt!

Budgeting and saving doesn’t have to mean sacrificing. It might just mean making small changes or tweaks in what you’ve been accustomed to. Swapping should be easy and painless, it just takes creativity and preparation!

Budget Swaps that are easy and painless! {Saving up for Disney}

Secondhand Charm

Secondhand books and clothing are honestly just as good as new most of the time. Buy new only for gifts and buy used the rest of the time and you’ll save a ton, especially when it comes to kid’s clothes. My tip is always to buy the best that you can afford, so I’d much rather have a nicely made but gently used item than something new but cheap and poorly made.

I have sung the praises of ThredUp previously for their great variety and high quality of gently worn (or new!) clothing, handbags and shoes. When my kids ask, “Is this new?”, I tell them, “Yes, it’s new to you!”.

Consider pulling together a few girlfriends and host a swap. Bring jewelry that doesn’t get worn, shampoo or lotions that was only used once, or best-selling books that you’ve read and shelved. Trade or borrow and make those thing “new to you, too!”.

Know Where to Shop & What to Buy

Know your stores and where you get the best deals. Pay attention to prices and specifically your cost per ounce. Take notes if that helps you with your budgeting and shopping list.

I’m a Target lover but I know that if I buy my office and craft supplies or fresh fruit and dairy there, the price will be at a premium. However for some grocery items like canned soup or shampoo, it’s often cheaper for me to purchase at Target than at the grocery. And of course Costco is king for bulk so we only buy our peanut butter, bread, dairy and meats there. I know that Costco isn’t the best place for me to buy cereal though, because I can usually score a better deal at the grocery store with a coupon. And of course, there is always the dollar stores to consider especially for party and craft supplies.

Talking about bulk, consider items you purchase now in single uses that you could be purchasing in bulk and dividing up. Yogurt is number one for us. Instead of the 75 cents or more for one tiny yogurt, we buy a huge tub at Costco for around $5 and serve a scoop of it into a reusable container to take with us for breakfast on the go. Same with snacks for my kid’s lunches. The single serving chips and cookies are very pricey and often more than I want to give my child as “one serving” anyway, so I buy bulk and divide items up into individual baggies in advance.

Drink water

I love a nice glass of orange juice as much as the next gal, but juice is expensive and frankly, sugar-laden and unnecessary. At the very least, juice should be watered down 50/50. If you need flavor (and believe me, I am not much of a water drinker), squeeze in fresh lemon to make it more palatable. My favorite is to drop a few frozen raspberries into the glass and it will flavor your water tremendously, without the cost or calories.

Work in Leftovers

Eat your leftovers…or don’t prepare as much in the first place. If you always have leftovers and they sit in the fridge untouched until they spoil, you have several options.

  • When preparing something, plan what the following day’s meal will be so you can work any leftovers in.
  • Freeze leftovers for future use. I doctored up a jar of spaghetti sauce the other day with sauteed green pepper, onion and ground beef. I immediately divided up half into a freezer bag to save for another meal.
  • Don’t make so much! Make only enough for each person to have one dish to eliminate leftovers.
  • Have a leftover night (I call it “potpourri night”) where everyone has their choice of leftovers from dinners during the week and we round it out with a green salad and call it good!

Many foods are marked with a “sell-by” date that is mistaken for an expiration date. Read here to see lists of foods that are still good to eat after their “best by” date so you aren’t mistakenly tossing food that is still good.

Shop less often

If you are used to running to the store every day to “just pick up a few things” you are probably spending more than you need to. You should be doing the bulk of your buying only once a week (or every two weeks if possible) with perhaps just one side trip for fresh fruits and veggies.

In that vein, try planning meals one week out to make sure that you already will have all necessary ingredients on hand and eliminate those last moment trips to the store.

Eliminate Trash

Don’t throw it away if you can wash and reuse. This goes for paper products including plates, towels and napkins. I only use that stuff if I’m having a party and need mass quantities. For everyday use we use our dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner, melamine plates if we are eating outside, dish towels instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper. Very easy to toss the place mats, towels and napkins into the hamper after dinner for washing and reusing and nothing has to be thrown in the trash.

If your kids are good about remembering to bring home their lunch bags, then of course a bag that can be washed frequently and used everyday is going to be more economical than paper bags. Same goes for reusable containers and sandwich bags rather than foil or plastic zip-top bags. Unfortunately I have one child who lost three lunch bags and the reusable containers inside last school year and at some point I had to cut my losses and start sending her with a paper sack and plastic bags. With the cost of the lunch bags down the drain, it was going to be more economical for me to use paper bags instead. Consider what is best for you and your family in cases like this.

Turn it Off

If you aren’t using it unplug it or turn it off…I’m looking at you blender, toaster, ceiling fan and nightlight! Get in the habit of turning off electronic devices when not in use to save batteries (I only buy rechargeable). This goes for water too…turn it off when you’re washing pots and pans. We even turn off the shower water when we’re scrubbing clean and then turn back on to rinse. Saves us from wasting gallons, which is very important in our drought area.

The DIY Alternative

Why buy if you can make at home? A quick search of Pinterest and you can find the DIY alternate for everything from bleach to Bisquick. The DIY alternate is almost always going to be cheaper, just as effective and infinitely more satisfying to use when you see the dollars you save!

And yes, finally..Make Your Coffee at Home!

This also goes for making your breakfast at home instead of driving through fast food for something expensive and unhealthy. A smoothie at home is going to be better for you and help you pocket the $3.50 or more you’d spend buying it out. Packing a salad-to-go instead of buying a premade one at the deli could save you $6.00. It’s all in just being prepared for the days ahead by making sure you have it already on hand so you aren’t scrambling out the door without a plan.

Helpful links:

Ready for Zero – Budgeting tips

Holy Craft – Things to Buy in the Dollar Store

Pinterest – DIY Alternatives



Budgeting Steps to Savings – Realistic Ways of Cutting Back in Your Budget

Realistic Ways of Cutting Back in Your Budget

It’s not always fun to cut back, but if you have a set goal in mind, then cutting back in your budget can be a game and less of a bummer. If it’s time for you to figure out where you can shave off in your expenses, here are some realistic ways of cutting your budget.

Be realistic.

Anyone who has ever been on a diet, knows the rule that “Slow and steady wins the race”. You aren’t going to be able to stick with anything long term if you do drastic things with your budget. If you immediately cut out everything fun or stop buying toothpaste and start making your kids brush with baking soda then you are going to have some very disgruntled family members! Budget changes should feel natural and not too much like a sacrifice or you won’t be able to keep it up. It’s definitely a balancing act.

Cutting your budget doesn't have to be a scream! {Saving Up for Disney}

Cutting your budget doesn’t have to be a scream!

Plan Your Frivolous Purchases

You really want something. However it’s something you don’t need. Planning these kinds of frivolous purchases instead of just buying on the whim will give you the time to rethink and reevaluate whether you want to spend money on it or move on. I love to shop online because it gives me time to put things into my virtual cart, walk away and do something else. Then after thinking it over, I can either click submit or close the window.

And another thought for online shopping, if you do decide to buy always do a quick search for a promo code. Ebates is a great site to find a coupon and also earn back a percentage on your purchases (affiliate link).

Assess the Need

Before you buy it, assess the need of it in your life. Are you okay without it or do you just really want it? Before buying new clothes take a good look in the closet, clear out stuff you don’t wear and then assess what it is you really need. I realized a few years ago that I needed to do that when I assessed my closet and saw that I had six nearly-identical black tees…oops!

Before grocery shopping go through cupboards, fridge and freezer. Toss out old stuff and make note of what isn’t getting eaten (don’t buy that again!). Take a quick inventory before you buy, make a list and stick to it.

One of my pet peeves is back-to-school shopping! There is a big push in the stores to buy everything new for the first day of school. Assess the need for new clothes, a new backpack, fresh pencils and markers and only buy what is absolutely necessary. I bought a great backpack for my son three years ago from L.L. Bean and it’s still looking good and going strong…no need to buy a new one each year if you buy a quality item that lasts longer than one season. Read also my post, Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School.


Cut it Out

There was a time that whenever I went to Target, I literally strolled down every single aisle. I would go in to buy lunch supplies and end up buying really cute (but totally unnecessary) home decor items, seasonal stuff, Dollar Spot goodies, DVDs for the kids, t-shirts, etc. I was spending $50 more than I needed to each time I stepped in the door.

I know you…you do the same thing, don’t you? *wink*

So I did something drastic. Because I had such a hard time keeping myself in check at Target, I stopped shopping there for a while. If I needed to buy lunch stuff, I only bought it at Costco or the grocery store. I didn’t die from not have those adorable (but totally unnecessary) items and I had a lot more money in my account.

If you can’t make it through Target without picking up cute (but totally unnecessary) home decor like me, maybe you need to resist the Target urge and shop somewhere else for a little bit. I have done the same thing with other stores, simply cutting them out of my routine. I recycle my unused Kohl’s 30% coupons, delete my Gymboree emails about a sale before I start adding things to my online cart and absolutely, never-ever go to the mall!

Buy it Used

Someone else’s family outgrew it and now you can own it for pennies on the dollar. We have a large family and tend to trade clothes, books and toys between the cousins. Most of my kids clothes come from ThredUp (affiliate link) and I’ve started buying clothes for myself here too. Clothes from ThredUp are all in like-new condition so I know I’m getting clothes that are only gently worn (some still have the tags on them). I just bought some gorgeous dresses for less than $13 each and they would have easily been around the $100 mark at full-price!

Keep it at Home

Eating out costs more than cooking at home. Taking the entire family to the movie theater is way pricier than pulling out a favorite DVD and having movie night in your living room. When you’re watching your budget, try to minimize those “out on the town” times and enjoy a fun evening at home…where it’s free and you can hang out in your pajamas! Instead of going to the ice cream shop and getting scoops all around, hit the store, buy a few fun toppings and a big tub of vanilla bean and make sundaes at home. Put the money you would have spent on a night out in your Vacation Bank!

Do it at Home

If you can make it at home instead of buying it at the store, you should! Some things are easy and more cost effective to make at home, like popsicles, smoothies, salad dressing and birthday cards. Need your morning coffee fix? Make it at home and take it to-go in a thermos. Handy with a sewing machine? You can quickly whip up your own pillowcases, shorts or skirts and of course, Halloween costumes. Need a car wash? Get a bucket and sponge and do it in your own driveway. We minimize water use with a pressure washer. Why pay a premium price for having someone else do something that you can easily do yourself at home.


Bring it from Home

Planning a day out? Don’t forget to bring stuff from home so you’ll resist spending money while you’re out. Maybe that means packing lunch in a cooler for a mid-day picnic between errands, filling bottles of water so you aren’t stopping for drinks on the go or toting a few snacks in your purse to appease kids when they see treats in the check-out line. If it’s sunny don’t forget the sunglasses, hat and sunscreen. A first aid kit in the trunk, stocked with bandages and pain reliever can be a life saver. And I always keep a bag in my car with a clean shirt for everyone in case someone has a run-in with a bottle of ketchup (hey, that happens!). If you already have it all with you in the car, there’s no need to buy it when you’re out.

Big Bills

Take a look at your larger expenses or rotating bills and see if there is any way of cutting back. As much as I enjoy going to the gym, I can get just as good of a work out walking around the block and lifting my kettle bell at home, so I cancelled my $10 a month gym membership. We hardly ever watch TV outside of the local news, so bye-bye pricey cable bill. Check with your utility departments and see if the rate that you have is the best they can offer. Sometimes just threatening to leave will be enough for them to offer you a better rate.

If you shop at a grocery store that doubles coupons, this can be a great savings…however, it’s only practical if these are items you already buy! Don’t buy unnecessary items just because you have a coupon! I recall when I was coupon shopping and decided to stop. I was driving all over town to shop at several stores and had enough shampoo in my closet to soap up a small army! I very rarely coupon shop anymore because most of my purchases are in bulk from Costco.

Get Everyone on Board

Families need to be united with the same goal in mind if you want to be successful in your budget trimming. That goes for the kids too. Our kids know that if it’s not their birthday and it’s not Christmas, that they can look but not ask for toys when we go to the store. When they really want something they have the option of using their own money (which we have to approve) or doing without. Generally they make the choice to do without. Our kids know that we’re saving up for a Disney trip so it’s easier to tell them that is where our money is going. And they are saving along too in their own bank accounts.

Save now and splurge later, on your dream vacation!

Save now and splurge later, on your dream vacation!

It Gets Easier

I know, even small changes can be an adjustment if you’re used to doing things a certain way. Before I remarried, my son and I had Disneyland Annual Passes along with the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and Legoland!  We were eating out a lot, shopping whenever we wanted to and sadly, spending money I didn’t have. I was in debt and though we were “having fun”, I was stressed out about money. When I remarried, my cutback was drastic and it was very hard at first. However now that we’ve been doing this for a few years, it’s very easy for me to see where we can continually improve on our budget. I’m having a lot more fun now, knowing I have minimal debt (one car and our home mortgage) and I’m much less stressed now that we have money in a savings account!

Having your set goals (ex. being debt-free, developing a savings account, saving up for a dream vacation) will help keep the spotlight focused. Don’t look at your neighbors and what they are buying. Buy what you can afford and make do without. Keep your eyes on the prize and make saving lighthearted. Take your focus off what you aren’t doing (ie: spending) and look at what you are doing instead, like spending more time at home with your family and saving up for that big vacation, of course!