No Spending Month – 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

I have a 30 day dare with myself and my family not to have any extra expenses. January is our “no spending month” and I’d love for you to join me on this challenge. Read about my “why” and how I plan on implementing these no spending rules, without undue stress or resistance from my kids!

The Start of my No Spending Month

It was January 2nd and I needed to make a Target run for more whole wheat flour and canned tomatoes. I had no reason to walk through the Dollar Spot area but I did, you know, just to see what was there (I know you feel me on that, right?)

Into my cart went stickers ($1 – for the students I teach at the rec center), Valentines ($3 – for my preschooler) and a Day planner ($3 – for my husband, who’d mentioned wanting one). Then I remembered that the dish soap had run out so I grabbed a refill bottle ($3.99).

Almost eleven dollars spent. Sure, that’s not much. But in hindsight, it wasn’t anything I needed to buy. I already have stickers I could use for my students, I didn’t need to buy more but they were cute and “cheap”. Valentines Day is still a bit of time away and I actually could probably print them myself at home. The dish soap wasn’t really needed. I have multi-purpose soap concentrate that we bought in bulk that can be used as dish soap. And my husband said he didn’t really need the paper day planner after all, he’s going to use a free app on his phone.

If I took a more serious look at my budget I just know that there are more ways I could be cutting back; I know there are extra expenses I’m making that don’t really need to be made! I’ve decided to make January my “No Spending Month” and intend to go at least 30 days without extra expenses.

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

What are “Extra Expenses”?

Extra expenses mean different things to different people. Perhaps for you it’s skipping the coffee shop and making your morning brew at home. Maybe it’s brown bagging lunch to work or not buying any clothes for the month. Or eschewing entertainment costs for at-home family fun.

For us, eliminating extra expenses means-

  • Not eating out
  • No frivolous food purchases, including chips/crackers, dessert items and alcohol
  • Nothing that we don’t imperatively need or require to run our family or home.

What are your “No Extra Expenses” rules? Write them down to make them real and do your best to stick to it for at least 30 days.

Discuss it as a Family

Everyone will need to be on board to accomplish getting through 30 days without extra expenses. Talk about your plan with the kids so they’ll know what to expect. If they’re used to spending money out on the weekends or dinner in a restaurant a few times a week, they’ll need to see and hear why you’re making changes in the usual routine.

However saving money doesn’t have to be a downer and here’s a story to reiterate that. Once in a while I take my preschooler out to lunch, just the two of us as a special treat. Those “special treats” are usually only twice a month but with the average cost around $15 a visit, that’s $30 I could be saving! Today when I picked him up, he asked if we could go to lunch in a restaurant and I had to tell him no, that we aren’t doing extra spending this month.

However I want to make saving money a positive thing for thing, so I told him we could still do something special. When we got home, we made pizza together for lunch. It cost me about $1.50 in groceries (that I already had at home) and it was still a special treat for just the two of us!

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Why are Your Doing it?

In essence, why are you making this change to eliminate extra expenses? Your reason might be different from your spouse, and even your children.

  • Do you feel like you’re overspending?
  • Do you have too much unnecessary stuff in the house?
  • Are you an impulse buyer and need to rein it in?
  • Do you want to save up extra money for something specific?

Consider the Cut-Back First

If your family is accustomed to movies, date nights, dinners and shopping every weekend and you’re planning a nix to all of it, a drastic change in the usual plans may be a shock to them! Perhaps consider a cut back for 30 days first before completely cutting things out.

If you’re used to eating lunch out every day, cut back and only indulge in one or two lunches out and pack your lunch for the other days. If you always purchase concessions at the movies, still go see a film but have a snack at home first. When you’re ready to cut back further, skip movies in the theater and watch them only when they come out on DVD.

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Fun Stuff Already in the Plans

What is you already have something planned during the 30 days? Use good judgement and don’t outright cancel your fun plans. If you’re going to a birthday party it would be okay to purchase a gift rather than showing up empty handed.

What About Entertainment?

We’ve slowly eliminated most costly entertainment over the years so it won’t be much of an affect for my kids during the 30 days of no extra expenses. We eat at home before we go somewhere or pack a lunch and snacks to take with us so we aren’t tempted to eat out when hunger strikes.

We choose free things around town to do, usually something that gets us up and moving. We’ll take the soccer or basketball to the park or we’ll set out on foot to explore a trail. We can usually find a family movie on Netflix or we pull out one of our tried-and-true DVDs to watch in the evening.

What Will We Do With the Extra Money?

As usual, I’m saving up for travel”! Hoping to be able to take my kids to a conference at Walt Disney World this year and airfare is over-the-top expensive for all of us. But $11 saved here and there really can add up! My goal is to save $200 a month for the next 4 months to get the airfare costs covered.

What will YOU do with the extra money you’ll save from this challenge? Share with me in the comments!

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? – Free Printable Checklist!

If planned and budgeted right, I believe that most anyone can take a Disneyland vacation without going into crazy debt. There are a few factors, including planning ahead and estimating the cost before you make the reservations! Planning a Disneyland vacation is more than just deciding between visiting Tomorrowland or Adventureland first. Before you book the hotel and buy any tickets, you need to find out how much a Disneyland vacation is going to cost! You’ll need to figure out budget-wise if you’ll be able to afford the vacation of your dreams or if you’re okay with Disney on a budget.

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost Me?

There are many factors to consider before planning your trip. You’ll need to decide on the time of year to visit, how you’re going to get to Disneyland and how long your vacation will last. Then you’ll need to determine how many days you’ll visit the Parks, where you’ll stay and what meals you’ll be eating. Keep reading for all the Disneyland vacation cost tips (and a free printable for figuring expenses).

Please note that my post contains affiliate links. Clicking a link and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Do the Research

With the internet at your fingertips, it’s easy to do pre-vacation research to get a rough idea on costs. I’ve included the list of things that you’ll need to consider when travel planning and you can jot down the estimates as you do your research. Pin and print the free checklist of items for you to price out and research (keep reading for the link).

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

2. What’s Your Travel Style?

We all have a travel style. Is your style on the frugal side, choosing the cheapest hotel and packing in all meals & snacks? Or do you prefer to splurge on vacation by staying at a 4-star hotel and booking special dining packages and tours?

I think most of us probably fall a little in between. Maybe you splurge on some things, like Character dining meals but then pack in all snacks. Or you book the cheapest hotel which allows you to purchase extra Park day tickets.

Check out this article on various ways you can Pinch Pennies or Break the Bank on your Disneyland vacation.

3. Choose a Reputable Travel Agent

Did you know that using the services of a travel agent costs no extra? In fact, your travel agent often offers additional incentives and specials when you book a full package vacation through them. Choose an agency that specializes in Disney travel, like Get Away Today. They are educated on all things Disney and can work out a package that fits within your budget. They even have special offers like free days when you book a vacation package! Get Away Today also offers a layaway plan.

Save Money on Your Disney Vacation!

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

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).

4. Paying Upfront or Using Credit?

If you plan on paying for your vacation in cash, take a close look at your budget and estimate where you can cut back in small ways to save. Once you know roughly how much you’ll be spending on the trip you can plot out the date of your vacation and figure out how much you’ll need to save each month to meet your goal. Figure out about how long it would take you to save your amount. Or work backwards and start with an approximate trip date and then figure out how much you’ll need to save each month to meet your goal.

If you plan on using your credit card, certainly consider using a card that offers rewards. The Disney Visa is a good option or Southwest, if you’re needing airline miles. Just pay close attention to interest rates and work that amount into your budget if you aren’t going to pay off the debt right away.

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

Vehicle has a full tank of gas and we’re on our way!

5. Travel Expenses

How are you going to get there? For us, Disneyland is just a 90-minute drive away, so gasoline is really our only expense. If you’re coming from farther away, the travel expenses are often the most costly part of your vacation.

If you’re flying in, check out this article about flying to Disneyland from fellow blogger Leslie from Trips with Tykes.

If a long drive is part of your travel plans, check out this post with Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney.

Travel Expenses to Consider:

  • Shuttle cost to get your family to the airport
  • Airfare
  • Airline Baggage fees
  • Transportation to the hotel
  • Rental car
  • Gasoline
  • Overnight hotel stay if you are driving long distance, plus the cost of meals and kid’s entertainment for the drive

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.

6. Hotel

The great debate, will you stay on-site or off-site? Lots of consider here, including amenities, luxury or budget, proximity to the Parks and overall cost.

I have reviews on all three Disneyland on-site hotels as well as a post from Traveling Mom with my 18 Valuable Reasons to Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. For us, we love the close proximity, Magic Morning Hours and the amazing Disney pools.

On the flip-side, because the Disneyland Resort is in the center of the city, it’s very easy to find a reasonably priced and well-appointed hotel within walking distance of the Parks. We recently enjoyed our stay off-site at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel, which offers a free shuttle transport to the Parks.

If you choose a hotel that is not within walking distance, check out this article with brief coverage about transportation at the Disneyland Resort.

Hotel Options to Consider:

  • Cost per night
  • Location – Is it within walking distance or will you need to drive to the Parks each day?
  • Is complimentary breakfast available?
  • Parking or “resort” fees
  • Sales tax
  • Is there transportation available to the parks? Is it complimentary or is there a fee?
How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

7. Park Tickets

When pricing out tickets, know that the cost per day is lower the longer your stay.

Ticket Options to Consider:

  • Number of days
  • Number of tickets (kids 2 and under are free)
  • Would it be cheaper to purchase an Annual Pass?
  • Parking fees at the parks
  • Park Hopper or not?

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.

8. Meals & Dining

Placing Advance Dining Reservations at Disneyland is generally unnecessary so you can usually eat on a whim throughout the day. Though platters are pricey, they are also usually large so consider sharing meals (see this post about which meals are the best to share).

Naturally the special dining packages and Character dining locations are going to be on the costly end but you also receive a fun plus with your meal. You can bring snacks with you into the parks if you prefer and that will help with costs. You can also request free ice water at any quick service restaurant to avoid having to buy drinks.

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.

Famous Lobster Nachos at Cove Bar

There are many establishments (from sit-down dining to fast food) in the walk able area just outside the Park gates if you want to leave for food. Think about how many meals you’ll be eating in the Park, if you’ll be leaving the Park to eat, if you’re going to do full-service or quick service and if you’ll be buying beverages throughout the day.

Dining Options to Consider:

    • Breakfast (eat at hotel or in the Park?)
    • Number of meals eaten in the Park
    • Number of meals purchased outside the Park
    • Snacks purchased in the Park
    • Snacks pre-bought and brought into the Park
    • Character dining meals
    • Beverages
    • Dining packages

Looking for Discounted Disneyland Dining?

My partner Get Away Today offers discounted Character Dining vouchers for Chip ‘n Dale’s Critter Breakfast, Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn, Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast or dinner inside the Disneyland Hotel.

Click under TICKETS for the DISNEYLAND RESORT. Enter the date of your trip, then click DINING on the left side to purchase discount dining vouchers!

9. Special Events

Throughout the year, Disneyland offers special events and tours as an “add-on” to your Park ticket. This might include Mickey’s Halloween Party (which includes an abbreviated day Park admission). There are also dozens of special tours, some that are offered year-round and others seasonally.

Check the Disneyland website to verify cost and availability of these tours as they are required to be reserved ahead of your trip.

10. Souvenirs

Naturally, you’ll want something special to take home as a memento of your magical vacation. Work the cost of souvenirs into your budget to help resist overspending. Consider purchasing Disney gift cards up front for family members so that only a specified amount is spent per person on souvenirs (buy them at Target with your Red Card and receive an additional discount!). You’ll also need to decide if you want to pre-purchase the Disney PhotoPass, MaxPass or snap photos on your own camera.

      • Souvenier budget
      • Disney PhotoPass
      • Disney MaxPass

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.

*Free Printable Research Checklist*

Pin and print this FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST to help you plan your magical vacation!

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.



How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.


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.




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!


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

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 – Learning to Live Without

Learning to Live with Less {Saving up for Disney}

Certainly never an easy topic. Learning to live without.

It probably feels better to think, I’ll just “Learn to live with less“. And that’s definitely the place to start!

I’ve used the analogy of dieting in comparison to budgeting before. It’s the same here…work your way into the changes and you’ll be more likely to stick with it long term, maybe even the rest of your life. Live with less and eventually it will be easy to slip into living without.

And before you start thinking about what you are losing when you learn to live without, think about what you’ll gain. More on that in a bit…

Learning to Live with Less {Saving up for Disney}

When I got remarried and my husband and I combined our families, I had a challenging time learning to live with less. I was accustomed to a certain lifestyle that involved eating out several times a week, decorating the house with adorable and useless things and buying cute clothes when they were on sale (regardless of if I needed them). After several rather upsetting talks with my husband about how we couldn’t afford the mindless spending, I did what any other gal in my situation would have done. I bought the stuff and hid the receipts! I tore the tags off new blouses, disposed of the evidence and snuck the new items into our closet.

And I felt lousy about it.

Since I was also the one budgeting for our household, I knew firsthand how our expenses were laid out and decided that I needed to change. We were in the process of saving for a home and anything I’d been spending frivolously before now went directly into our savings account. I felt so much better and a load of relief not hiding the spending anymore. I tell you this to let you know that I have learned to live without. It was hard. It took time. But it is possible.

Learning to Live with Less {Saving up for Disney}

Key note here: Learning to live without in your every day life doesn’t mean a forever sacrifice or complete abandonment of fun. If you have a goal in mind, you are learning to live without in order to advance upon and accomplish that goal. In our case, we forgo cable television and restaurant meals because we’re saving the difference for a trip to Disney World. We scrimp now so we can splurge later!


Game plan for learning to live without – 

Purge what you don’t use, want or need. Be brutal. If you haven’t looked at it or touched it in months and you have no immediate plan for it, then ditch it. Have a garage sale, give it to someone who can use it or donate it. This first step was very hard for me. I come from a background of close family that had a hard time getting rid of anything (yes, bordering on hoarding) and it’s my natural instinct to keep it, “just in case”. But 99% of the time, I’ll never need it. We purge and clean so we can mentally start fresh. Only keep what you love.

Keep what you have in good condition. Now that you’ve narrowed your “stuff” down, you should only be surrounding yourself with things you absolutely love and use frequently or everyday. Maintain what you have by taking the best care of them. Keep your appliances in tip-top shape with regular cleaning (even in-between the buttons on the blender!). Put DVDs back in their case each time to avoid scratches. Clean up that spill from the carpet or sofa immediately before it stains. Fix the loose buttons on your sweater before they fall off. Take care of what you have and you won’t have to replace it as soon.

Take a look at your budget. Do you see any areas in your budget that seem a bit high? Any areas that you feel could be cut back upon? We took a close look at our budget and realized that we watch very little cable television. Why were we paying for 300 channels that we very infrequently watched? So we nixed the extensive cable and got basic (which gives us perhaps 10 channels) and a subscription to Netflix. Not only do we save about $50 a month, we also don’t feel chained down to the television or feel like to we have to watch it because we’re paying for it.

Borrow. If the time comes when you need something short-term, see if a friend or neighbor will allow you to borrow it. This is good advice before you make a large purchase (like a new bike, power tool or 8-foot kayak…speaking from experience here.). Borrow (with a firm return date) and see how often you really use it before buying one yourself.

Learning to Live with Less {Saving up for Disney}

Tweak Your Thinking.

I remember reading in a book something about paying bills that has stuck with me. The writer noted that each time she mailed a bill instead of getting upset about the money she was paying she would send the letter off with positive thoughts and mental thank yous. Thanks to the water company for the fresh clean water in her home. Thanks to the landlord for the safe and cozy home. Thanks to the department store for extending credit. It was her point of view that changed her thinking from a negative to a positive.

Learning to live without isn’t so much about what you lose, it’s in your point of mind and in what you gain when the excess is stripped away. It’s a simplicity that cannot be bought.

Back to what I’d said earlier about what you gain when you learn to live without.

  • Time – Because I don’t have 300 channels to surf through, I’m more likely to have time to work on my hobbies or play with my kids.
  • Appreciation- I am thankful for what I have already been blessed with…and try to remember this before I buy.
  • Organization- Less to keep track of and so much easier to organize and clean.
  • Creativity – If we don’t have tons of new toys, we’re more creative with what we do have.

Learning to Live with Less {Saving up for Disney}

Live with less and eventually you’ll find that you can easily live without. The photos accompanying this article are my own, taken of my family at La Jolla shores in California, about 30 minutes from where we live. It was a beautiful warm day in January when much of the country was covered in snow. It was a day that stuck with me because of its simplicity. A walk along the coast, wading in the water and watching the sunset. I was so happy I’d taken my camera to capture the moment.


Other helpful links about learning to live with less:

Andreabcreative – Learn to Live with Less: My 365 Experiment

Kanelstrand – Learn to Live with Less and Enjoy It

Gaiam – Learn to Live Simply

Tripping – How I Became a Minimalist

Eat at Home and Save – DIY Artisan Bread

Eat at Home and Save - DIY Artisan Bread. Make it fast in just five minutes a day!


Give me a warm crusty loaf and a drizzle of olive oil with cracked pepper and I’m in Heaven! A coworker brought in one of these beautiful artisan loaves and I just had to know how she made it. She lent me her book and after trying out a few recipes I was hooked and bought it for myself.

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking will make you rethink everything you ever thought you knew about baking bread at home.

  • Magic touch required in regards to yeast and warmth? Nope!
  • Time consuming? Not a bit.
  • Endless kneading? Never.
  • Fancy mixing machine with a bread hook? No, a wooden spoon or your bare hands work just fine!

This is how I bake my loaves, with the Dutch oven instructions. The recipes generally call for extremely high temperatures which, during the summer, make your home impossibly hot. So this recipe would be fun to try:  Baking focaccia on the grill!

Eat at Home and Save - DIY Artisan Bread. Make it fast in just five minutes a day!

There are only a few ingredients needed (flour, water, salt and yeast) for a basic loaf. Extremely inexpensive to make (especially if you buy your flour out of the bulk bins). The new methods presented are worth the cost of this book as you can make many different types of breads from the one recipe. And here’s the nifty part…wonder why the book is called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day? Because once you make the recipe you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and only remove the amount you need at a given time. So great when you just want to make a quick loaf to serve with dinner.

Eat at Home and Save - DIY Artisan Bread. Make it fast in just five minutes a day!I’m having a great time with the book, trying out new recipes. And my husband, who is very particular with the food he eats, loves knowing exactly what ingredients are going into the loaves. I promise, even if you’re scared to bake with yeast or you’ve had trouble with getting bread to rise in the past, this recipe is delightfully foolproof. You will love this book!

I took the last bit of dough I had last week, flattened it out and set it on a baking stone covered in cornmeal. Slathered in tomato sauce and covered in mozzarella, it was one of the tastiest pizzas I’ve ever had! And I made it myself at home, perfection!



DIY pizza with Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day {Saving Up for Disney}

This post contains affiliate links 


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!