Saving Up for Disney

Budgeting Tips for Your Entire Life!

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

I’ll pass on the pricey red roses. Please don’t spend a fortune on teddy bears, chocolate and diamonds, either. Not to say I don’t love those things or wouldn’t appreciate them, but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day the prices on them just seems to skyrocket.

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

Need a few ideas for Valentine’s Day that still respect your budget in the morning? Some of these are family appropriate and others are just for you and your honey.

  •  Bacon for breakfast 

Just add one special treat to your day that will make everyone happy. For us, it’s adding bacon for breakfast. Just the scent of that bacon baking in the oven gets us all giddy! It’s a rare treat. What is one special thing that you don’t have very often that fills your family with joy?

  • Love Notes

We all toss around “I Love You” but how often do we write down our thoughts and feelings? Store-bought cards are so expensive! Make a simple card with scrapbook paper and write something sweet inside…it’s the sentiment that counts. I crafted some out of simple black construction paper and a white Sharpie to give it a “chalkboard” effect. I’m going to gift them to my family at dinner…along with a small box of chocolates to share for dessert.

  • Special dinner…at home

We eat dinner at home nearly every night so eating at home on Valentine’s Day certainly wouldn’t be very special. Serve something out of the ordinary as a treat. Buying steaks or seafood at the grocery and preparing them at home is going to cost at least 50% less than if you went out, especially if you want to have a glass of wine with dinner. Add a little romance with a pretty table setting and candles. Leave the dishes for tomorrow!

  • Movie night…on the sofa

Save yourself a bunch by renting a Redbox or streaming on Netflix for a fraction of the cost of watching in a theater. We buy a big bag of popcorn from Costco, bulk bin chocolates from Sprouts and have a movie marathon after the kids are in bed. Best part? We can watch in our jammies! Pick a “new-to-you” movie or a classic you’ve seen already 23 times. I’m in love with Jane Austin movies, so I could watch Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly over and over but I’m not sure my husband would be able to stay awake past the opening scene! Choose something you’ll both enjoy.

  • Cuddle Up

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

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

Hope you have a wonderfully happy Valentine’s Day!



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

Resolution Series - Kick Start the Year Towards a Healthier, Wealthier and More Organized You!

It’s not simply enough to say that you want to “save money”. The first thing you need to do is set your goal!

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

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

1. What is your monetary goal? 

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

2. What are you saving for?

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

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

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

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

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

5. Is your savings plan reasonable?

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

Once you’ve answered all these questions, figure out exactly how much you’ll be setting aside each month to meet your goal.  Simple formula: Total amount you want to save divided by the months that it will take you to reach the goal = How much you need to save each month

There is still time to get those resolutions in for the year. It’s never too late as you know, to make meaningful changes! Please read up on the other topics in my Resolution Series –

I Want to Start an Exercise Routine

I Want to Look More Put Together Head to Toe

I Want to Eat Healthier



Fitting “Fancy” into your Holiday Budget – All the Glitz and Glamour on a Shoestring

Ideas for capturing holiday glitz on a tight budget

There is no time like the holidays for a bit of glitz and glamour. And even on a tight budget, it’s do-able! You just have to do your research (and resist the tempation to buy the first sparkling thing that catches your eye!) You can have fresh flowers in your home this holiday, along with hosting a holiday party and wearing the prettiest holiday cocktail dress…you just need to know how (and where to shop).


Instead of a fancy designer bouquet from the flower shop that costs an arm and a leg, choose an inexpensive collection of blooms from the grocery. Split them up into multiple vases and spread them down the table runner for more impact. To really capture the sights of the season, choose bright red poinsettias. Ditch the crinkly foil pots and place them in inexpensive but sturdy pots tied up with a ribbon for the full holiday effect. From left to right, images from and Mark




“Fancy” doesn’t mean “Over-the-top”. Restraint is chic and elegant and when used correctly, a little goes a long way. Decorate with natural materials from your yard (like pine cones) or with cast-offs from the Christmas tree (use the branches to create a wreath or table decoration). Add DIY pillowcase covers in a holiday theme to your usual sofa cushions. Wrap gifts in one choice of paper with high impact, like this black and white striped version! From left to right, images from ThriftyStories, Tracy’s Trinkets Treasures and Pinterest.



No need to break the bank by stocking your party with expensive beverages when there are many reasonably priced options that will keep the party going! Consider serving one beautiful signature drink in a holiday theme for all guests to minimize purchasing several kinds of liquors. From left to right, images from The Style Celeb, The Top Inspired, A House in the Hills and Will Cook for FriendsPeruse this list from Food and with the 150 best wines under $15.


If you are trying to stretch your dollar, opt for serving appetizers over a full meal (unless you suggest to guests to make the party pot-luck and each person can contribute a dish). Hummus is quick and easy to make. Toss together a colorful chunky salsa to serve with chip. Or skip food and go straight to dessert! Images from left to right, Cooking Classy, Inspiring Healthy Living and Printabella



If you’re on a budget, you probably don’t have the money to hire a photographer to capture just the right image for your Christmas card. Take the photos yourself and create a collage of the best shots. Or ask your friend with the “artistic eye” to take a group shot of your family. If you don’t have a “nice” camera trying renting one from Borrow Lenses (affiliate). I rented a lens for a trip this past summer and loved the entire process; they were great (and my pictures looked so professional!)

Look online for fun photo ideas to pose your family and take a look at this article on how to take better photos of your kids. Shutterfly (affiliate link) has lovely photo gifts including holiday cards, ornaments, mugs and more. I have been making calendars and photo books from Shutterfly and gifting them to my family every year for the past 7 years; they are always a welcome gift, especially personalized with photos of your family!


A natural photo of the kids is perfect for the annual Christmas card (and cheaper than hiring a photographer!)


Tired of dragging out that same ol’ little black dress year after year? No need to splurge and buy something you can’t afford. Ask a friend if you can borrow a showstopping accessory for the evening. ThredUp (affiliate link) has some incredible holiday items at a fraction of their original costs. Pick up a sequined jacket to fancy-up that ol’ dress, sparkly new shoes or an evening bag…or even a new gown altogether!

Everyone loves to dress up their little ones in special holiday clothes for parties and school or church functions but the cost of all those outfits can add up. For boys consider purchasing one nice pair of solid color slacks and a white shirt that can be dressed up with different ties or a colorful sweater vest. For girls, accessorize a plain dress with a fun scarf or patterned tights. Again, I recommend ThredUp for incredible, like-new clothing at resale shop prices.

 In what ways do you “fancy up” your holidays on a budget? Share your tips in the comments!