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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!




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!




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Practical Gifts on a Budget (that are still FUN!)

Practical Gifts on a budget (that are still fun!)

No surprise to me, when I brought up Christmas this year, my husband said, “Let’s get the kids practical gifts”. We’re both practical people and for him especially, the clutter of tiny trinkets in our teeny-tiny house is well, terrible! We plan on minimizing the toy buying and keep with purchases that will go to good use.

“Oh, underwear for a gift! How wonderful!!”, said no kid, ever!

But practical gifts can still be fun to receive on Christmas morning, I’m here to prove it!

Practically Perfect Christmas Gifts! For added fun, I’ve included images and links from the Disney Store (affiliate). Click the picture to learn more about each item.

PILLOW – My kids all have the most sad looking bedroom pillows and each of them need a replacement. I’m going to buy them a new pillow and make a colorful pillowcase in a favorite fabric theme to put on it. No wrapping needed, just lay it under the tree! I will post a tutorial on how to make your own pillowcase soon.

SHOES OR SLIPPERS- I think it would be funny to hide the shoes somewhere in the house, as if the shoes “walked” away from the Christmas tree! Have the open shoe boxes under the tree and a treasure map with clues inside to find your missing new shoes…doesn’t that sound like something kids would get a kick out of?

WINTER ACCESSORIES – Replace last years missing scarf, hat and gloves. Place one of your child’s stuffed animals under the tree and “dress” it with the new accessories.

BLANKET – What kid doesn’t love a cozy warm blanket? Have you ever made one of the snuggly knotted fleece blankets? They are super-easy and there are so many sweet designs to choose from! I will post a tutorial on how to make your own knotted fleece blanket soon.

BOOKS – All year-long I keep a list of books that my kids would enjoy receiving and gift them with about five fun titles. This year I’m going to give my daughter a book about Finding Hidden Mickeys along with some short chapter books. My son mentioned wanting a field guide about minerals so I’ll give him that and a few other interesting field guides that I know he’ll enjoy. Stack the books into a tower and tie it up with a bow!

LUNCH BOX – Give their lunch a refresh with a bright and shiny new lunch box and thermos.

PAJAMAS – I don’t know about your kids but mine like to put their pajamas on right after school! If you know how to sew, making your own pj pants is quick and easy. Find a fun fabric theme and sew up a bunch! Make one pair in a holiday fabric and give it to your child on Christmas Eve. Roll them up tightly and slide several pairs into an empty wrapping paper roll for a whimsical decoration!

PIGGY BANK – Start them with a jingle-jangle of coins and a few bills inside and this practical gift becomes fantastic!

ART SUPPLIES – Maybe some households don’t consider this a necessity, but as a creative person I know that new drawing paper, pencils and crayons are a MUST! Put everything in an art box (plastic storage bin) along with some stickers for them to decorate the box with.

BATHING SUIT & BEACH TOWEL – Bring the summer fun to the winter chill! Present these summer essentials in a beach bucket with a tube of sunscreen and new sunglasses and you’ll be ready for the pool when the warmth returns.

SOCKS & UNDERWEAR – Yes, I know…no kid want that for a gift, but every kid needs them! Give kids a giggle and stuff one pair inside each present you give them this year.

Practically FUN Stocking Stuffers –

TOOTHBRUSH – My kids get a snazzy new electric version with a favorite character on it.

T-SHIRT -Roll it up and stuff it into the toe of the stocking.

BAND-AIDS – Get a box with fun designs for each child. Great to have in the first aid box when you need them.

BUBBLE BATH – Most of the time my kids take a shower but when they are feeling under the weather there is nothing like a warm soak in the tub. That’s when bubbles are a special treat!

WATER BOTTLE – Encourage hydration with a fun new bottle (choose different designs/colors for each kid so they don’t get mixed up).

COMPACT UMBRELLA – Slide one into their stockings and this spring they’ll be covered (literally!) when rain comes!

Do you have ideas for practical and budget-friendly (but fun!) things for a child’s gift? Share them in the comments!