How to Host a Super Fun + Super Inexpensive Birthday Party

Posted 06-22-2017 at 09:52 AM by Jessica

Blowing out his birthday candle

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a successful and fun birthday party! Here are 10 tips for planning a party on the cheap…

1. Set a budget: The most important thing about starting a party is your budget. Set the maximum limit of your budget and do not spend more than budgeted.

2. Guest list: The amount of money you spend can vary greatly depending on the number of guests. If you do it only for a small group of children your expenses will be much lower and if you consider that there will be adults, obviously the expense will be greater.

3. Date and time: The schedule is very important, plan it after lunch or after dinnertime so you can prepare only snacks, appetizers and other light foods. That way you can leave more free room in your budget for other things.

4. Location: The cheapest option is your house or in the house of a family member or friend – or if weather-permits at an outdoor park. If you choose to rent a place like a club house or a party room do it during the week and at earlier hours, as that will also reduce rental costs.

5. Using disposables: If you want to use disposable items for cups, plates, utensils, and tablecloths try to buy them at your local dollar store, or buy with coupons during a sale. And don’t throw out the extras, save them for the next time.

6. Food options: If you decide to have a lunch or dinner party ask your close family or friends to help you by bringing a favorite dish or snack. That way you aren’t spending as much and you will have a larger variety of foods. Plus, the dishes can be a great conversation-starter!

7. Drinks: Do not consume soda if you have the option of preparing fresh waters with flavors. Aside from being healthier, it can also be less expensive. Also, put names on the cups so the children and adults will keep their own, and prepare ahead of time to make your own ice.

8. Cake: Instead of shelling out a fortune on a cake from a bakery, try your hand at making your own! You can snag a box of cake mix for a couple bucks and whip up your own frosting from ingredients in your pantry. A couple dollars worth of sprinkles and fun candles will be all you need to make a cute cake.

9. Invitations: Do not spend money on paper invitations. Instead, use social networks like Facebook to create your own event with all of the details on your party. It’s easier to see who can attend this way, and all without spending a single dollar.

10. Decorations: Get creative with finding decorations for your theme. Balloons are fairly inexpensive, and can make a room feel very festive. You can also use decorations from a previous holiday or party, or ask to borrow decorations from a friend or family member. Remember not everything has to be of excellent quality; if your budget is limited there are always good options that don’t break the bank.

Diaper Swapers

6 Frugal Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

Posted 06-19-2017 at 02:22 AM by Jessica

Oftentimes, when people mention eating out they mention how expensive it is, and a lot of times, they’re totally right. However, there are various ways that you can save money when eating out so it’s not such a huge burden on your wallet!

Here are just a few of my favorite tips…

1. Find promotions and discounts

Groupon always has lots of great discounts for restaurants, and it often forces you to try out somewhere new! Also, lots of places offer days where kids eat free, and sign up for emails to score birthday discounts (lots of places offer up a free entree for the birthday boy or girl), free appetizers and more!

2. Share meals

Instead of ordering an entire kids meal that your kiddo likely won’t eat more than 3 bites of, just get a few dishes that the whole family can share! Just be aware that some restaurants may charge an extra fee for sharing plates.

3. Skip the soft drinks

Ordering soft drinks (or coffee or juice or tea) for everyone in the family is going to add up quickly – you could buy a whole liter of soda for around the price of one glass at a restaurant. Instead, have everyone opt for a water! Not only is it healthier, but your wallet will thank you.

4. Save the leftovers

Never be shy about asking for a to-go container to take home the rest of the bread or the last few bites of pasta. You’ve paid for all of it, so don’t just leave it behind!

5. Go during lunch hours

Either choose to go out for lunch instead of dinner, or go for an early dinner! Lots of restaurants offer great prices on lunch specials.

6. Skip the appetizer

You’ll likely get plenty of food with your entree, so unless you have a coupon for a free appetizer, or it’s your favorite part about that restaurant, steer clear. Ask for extra bread or a basket of fries to munch on instead.

 

3 Fun Flip Flop Wreath DIYs For Summer

Posted 06-14-2017 at 10:00 PM by Jessica

3 FUN flip flop wreaths

Summer is officially HERE! Well, in terms of school being out it is. The first official day of summer according to the calendar is the June 20th, so we’ve got just a bit longer to go. As soon as the weather gets warm enough I transition from my boots, flats and sneakers to nothing but flip-flops. I’m honestly a very lazy person. So much so that even the thought of taking a few extra seconds to strap on sandals is enough to keep me wholeheartedly addicted to flip-flops.

Even if you aren’t a huge flip-flop wearer like I am, I doubt you’ll be able to resist how cute these flip-flop wreaths I’ve found are! They are the perfect symbol of summer, and you can usually score them for super cheap at Walmart or during a sale at Old Navy! Take a second to look through the following tutorials – then get crafting!

A few of my favorite flip-flop wreaths…


06-16 JOY SA FLIP FLOP WELCOME SIGN BETH WATSON MAIN

You can make this fun flip-flop “wreath” welcome sign in under 30 minutes! Now that’s my kind of craft! Head here for detailed instructions.


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Head here for a tutorial on this style of flip-flop wreath. There are 6 different flip-flop wreath themes that A Day in the Life with TJ has crafted, from Patriotic to Wild Colors!


photo 6

This last wreath is also super inexpensive to make, and has a cute flower in the middle! Check it out here.

HAPPY CRAFTING!

Selling Your Cloth Diapers

Posted 11-12-2014 at 11:54 AM by Banana Cat
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This is a typical picture you might see attached to a diaper-selling posting. Nothing fancy, but it does the job!

There is a large market for used cloth diapers. If you’ve never thought about using used cloth diapers before, your initial reaction might be: eww. I mean, I wouldn’t buy used underwear. And diapers take a heck of a lot more punishment than underwear.

However, unlike most modern cotton underwear, cloth diapers can hold up to some hardcore cleaning. A couple of good washes and some bleach and cloth diapers are basically as good as new (assuming your washer or dryer doesn’t catch fire and char everything to a crisp in the process; unlikely, but always a vaguely potential possibility when working with electrical appliances). The advantages to buying and selling used cloth diapers are many: when you buy used, you save more money than you would buying new diapers, you will want to wash them but you don’t need to prep them six or seven times before using them, and you can try different diapers for cheaper than it would be to buy them all new. Once you’re finished cloth diapering, you can sell off your diapers to make back some of the money you spent buying them. Don’t think that just because your diapers might have holes or stretched out elastics that they’re unsellable—many thrifty people look for cheap, worn diapers that they can repair themselves, if they happen to be handy with a sewing machine! But where should you sell these cloth diapers once you’re done with them?

As you are currently reading this article on a website called Diaperswappers.com, you may have guessed that this website is one place to sell your diapers, and you’re right. Diaperswappers has several forums and subforums you can sell your diapers on. You can also use sites such as Craigslists or Facebook to sell diapers locally, if you’re not up for paying for shipping diapers across the country (or even internationally!).

And Then I Used Disposables

Posted 07-24-2014 at 02:54 PM by Banana Cat

I’m a huge advocate of cloth diapers. Really, I think they’re one of the Most Amazing Things Ever, Plus Our Ancestors Used Them, and yadda yadda. They’re cute and seem comfy and it’s kind of nice seeing them all lined up on a shelf.

Sure, I would say things like, “Of course everyone must use the diaper system that fits into their lifestyle,” but I won’t lie, when a family member discovered he had run out of disposable diapers for his son and refused my offer of a loaned cloth diaper with a, “Well, thanks, but we’re not into cloth, that’s kind of icky,” I felt VASTLY superior for a while. I mean, *I* got over the ick factor! There you are, polluting landfills with your son’s waste for the next several hundred years while I am responsibly using eco-friendly cloth…and accidentally clogging the toilets with disposable wipes, but never mind that!

Disposables1

Cloth vs disposable: One catches poop. So does the other.

 

While I was pregnant with my second child, we went camping with family. I dragged along a tote of cloth diapers because I simply refused to buy disposables for a three day trip. To be fair, my daughter often broke out in rashes when she was in synthetic diapers, so I liked putting her in 100% cotton. She was comfortable and rash-free that way—that was what worked for us.

Then, my son was born. You know how they say every kid is different. Well, I knew that. But I didn’t know that until I had my second child. While my daughter would happily sit in an overflowing diaper without making a peep, my son seemed highly distressed if he felt even a drop of liquid in his diaper. We quickly learned that when he cried, it usually wasn’t because he was hungry (like my daughter), it was because he wanted his diaper changed. The moment we changed him he went from loudly shrieking monster to sweet, cooing, baby-commercial baby.

Ways To Reuse Cloth Diapers

Posted 07-1-2014 at 09:24 AM by Matrivine

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You have your last child potty training now and it’s time to get rid of those cloth diapers. Don’t just throw them out! That would defeat the purpose of those eco friendly diapers. Besides they can have so many other uses.

Pass Them On
If you know you are done having children and now all your children are potty trained perhaps it’s time to pass those diapers on to someone who will need them. Perhaps you know an expecting mother or someone who is being eaten alive trying to keep up with the cost of disposable diapers. Or perhaps you have noticed your little one has a friend with sensitive skin and could use cloth diapers. Whoever you choose to pass those clothies on to it will help save them a great deal of money.

Sell Them
That’s what our For Sale or Trade Forum is for! Sell your cloth diapers and other child rearing supplies. You’ll make some money and the buyer gets a great deal buying used. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

But Where Do I BUY Cloth Diapers?

Posted 06-26-2014 at 08:05 AM by Banana Cat

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You’ve decided to start using cloth diapers, part time or full time, for one or several reasons. Congratulations, and say good bye to all of your money, because cloth diapering can get pretty addictive pretty fast. Well, it doesn’t have to be addictive, but more often than not you’ll start hearing those trendy prints calling out your name and you’ll find yourself reaching for your wallet. If you can resist the temptation, well, double congratulations! For the rest of us with weak willpower, here are some places to buy cloth diapers:

Online

As this article is being published on a website called Diaperswappers, it only feels right to start off my list with the “online” option! Most people are connected to the internet these days and indeed, if you live in an area without any fancy stores this might be your only option! Sites such as Diaperswappers provide an online marketplace where members can buy and sell used diapers. It’s not as gross as it sounds; as long as the diapers are washed well they are good to be used on your child! The advantage to buying used diapers is that they are often cheaper than new diapers, so you can get a decent deal. If you are savvy with a sewing machine, some members list old diapers in need of repairs for just a couple of bucks per diaper, so if you are able to put in a little bit of time repairing these old diapers, you can get some amazing deals!

If you’re not so keen on used diapers, or if you’re buying friends some new diapers for a baby shower, then there are many, many cloth diapering stores online to choose from. All of the major brands such as bumGenius, Blueberry, Fuzzibunz, etc., have their own websites you can purchase diapers directly from.  There are also many online cloth diaper boutiques which sell dozens of brands—great if you want to try a few different brands all at once— and also have their own customer rewards programs, often offer free shipping over a certain purchase amount, and have “extras” such as cloth wipes and liners you can buy as well.

Pay Attention! The Most Important Part Of Being Thrifty

Posted 03-31-2014 at 11:30 AM by happysmileylady

grocery shopping

This morning I made a quick stop at Kroger.  Tyson fresh chicken was on sale and there was a coupon in this Sunday’s paper for $1 off any Tyson fresh chicken.  While I was examining packages of chicken that were sale priced at $1.50 to $1.75 per package (meaning I would pay 50c to 75c a piece,) I noticed another lady with Tyson chicken in her cart.  She had several packages, although her packages were not sale priced.  I also noticed that she had no coupons and little else in her cart.  It appeared that she was stocking up for a party.  I counted out 5 coupons for chicken from my stack and handed them to her.  I finished picking out my chicken, paid, and headed out of the store.  On my way out, I stopped at the free newspaper box in the front of the store, which was full of free papers containing the very same coupon inserts.  I picked up 5 more papers, which gave me 5 more inserts, replacing those coupons I gave away.

The other day, I went to get gas.  There are several gas stations near my house, so before I left, I checked the gas prices online.  Because of this, I chose to drove 2 blocks farther than the gas station on the corner closest to my house, because it was over 25c cheaper per gallon.  To fill up my 25 gallon tank, that’s a difference of over $6, almost 2 whole gallons worth, just for a difference of 2 blocks.

These are just two examples in my own life of how the simple act of paying attention to things can really save money.  I spent substantially less on my chicken than the other customer, even after the coupons I gave her, because I paid attention to the sale.  In fact, she saved $5 because I paid attention to the coupons that were right in front of the store, for free.  And I saved $6 just by paying attention to the gas prices instead of simply pulling into the closest gas station when the tank was low.

Cloth Wipes, Revisited

Posted 03-26-2014 at 03:12 PM by Banana Cat

In a previous post, I talked a bit about cloth wipes. Most people would recommend that if you decide to cloth diaper, you also use cloth wipes, because of similar benefits—they are reusable, they are gentle, no chemicals, etc. They do seem to go hand in hand, but for various, complicated, insurmountable reasons such as “I forgot to use them,” I ended up using disposable wipes with my first child. And I was okay with that.

Then appeared my newborn boy (okay, “appeared” is severely simplifying things, but you know what I mean). Suddenly, I had two children in diapers full time. I knew adding a newborn would up my diaper laundry load quite a bit, but I was not at all prepared for the amount of disposable wipes piling into our trash can. It was crazy how many were being used, but my kids have always been mega poopers as newborns. Whatever science articles exist that claim some newborns can go days without pooping absolutely do not apply to my kids. It seemed like I was replacing the disposable wipes container every time I changed a diaper. Like many families, we’re on a tight budget and every time I pulled out a couple of wipes to use I imagined pennies clattering into the trash can.

babywipes

I never knew you could go through so many baby wipes so darn fast.

Frugality and the Dreaded B Word

Posted 02-14-2014 at 11:36 AM by Hope4More

Budget.  *shudder*  We love to hate them…

YOU TOO can stop the cycle and budget your finances.  You don’t have to pay off cards… you can do it just to help you get less stressed when bill time comes.  Message me if you choose YNAB, or join us in the family>thrifty>dave Ramsey forum.  We are there every day… SEE YOU THERE!

We recently tried to purchase a home.

We got pretty far into the process.  We got right to the part where they say “sign here” on the purchase agreement.  And that was when my husband and I looked at each other and realized that to get this house, we would be doing the following:

  • Giving our whole emergency fund in a down payment, which still wasn’t 3.5%
  • Add monthly payments to the builder to get to 3.5% over the course of the next few months, effectively cutting us off from refunding the emergency fund.
  • We would literally more than DOUBLE our mortgage payment.

And so we walked away.  We cried.  We drank.  We put our 3 year old to bed, and then cried and drank some more.

And then we wondered: WHAT THE HECK ARE WE DOING? WHY AREN’T WE SAVING?????

So yesterday Mommy started the Mommy Budget.  We are using the You Need a Budget software (you can google it), but are using it to follow the Dave Ramsey budgeting plan (you can read about that, too).  The two philosophies work just as well as the other.  YNAB focuses first on wealth building, while Dave focuses first on debt relief.