Author Archives: femmefrugality

Rules for Gifting Money at a Wedding

Geez, I never would have thought of the rules for writing checks to newlyweds! Important read for all wedding guests: rules of etiquette for gifting money.

Today’s couple is less likely to want consumer goods as wedding gifts. Millennials are getting married at an older age, and have often established households prior to the wedding–whether that be on their own as individuals, or as a couple.

That means as you attend weddings, you’re more likely to catch a hint that the couple is looking for something else in lieu of that department store registry. That “something else” is cash.

Gifting money for a wedding can be a touchy subject, though.

How much do you give?

Do you make the check out to her maiden or married name?

Wait, is she even taking her fiance(e)’s last name?

How much money should I give as a wedding gift?

Many couples today have cash registries. You may get a URL in your wedding invitation. Once your on the site, there will likely be cutsie things you can “pay” for like the honeymoon suite, airline miles or dinner at a nice restaurant.

These are things the couple has likely already paid for, but it’s a polite way of asking you for cash.

These registries give you an idea of what is appropriate to spend in the couple’s eyes.

What’s the etiquette if there is no registry?

The old rule of thumb was to pay for your plate. Consider the venue, price point, and how much the couple paid to entertain you at the reception.

Generally, though, $100 is a good gift if you’re a family member or close friend. If you are bringing a large immediate family to the reception and have the means, giving up to $200 would not be inappropriate.

Co-workers can probably get away with less, but don’t dip below $50 if at all possible.

If your finances are tight, don’t overspend just to impress. If this is a good friend or family member, they’ll be grateful for the gift and understand your situation. If not, they might not be as good of a friend as you imagined.

When your money’s tight, check out their department store or other registry if they have one. Often there are smaller ticket items on there that look better wrapped up than a small-ish check. Fifty dollars is still a good threshold, but again, do what you can afford.

How to Write a Check as a Wedding Gift

Writing checks to and from couples is an aspect of personal finance that can be pretty confusing. Nine times out of ten a bank clerk, in person or remote, will let errors slide. But if you catch that one ultra-scrupulous teller, your check is worthless.

Unless the bride and groom are incredibly close with you, it can be tremendously uncomfortable for them to ask you to rewrite the check, making your gift null and void. Here’s a list of to-dos and to-don’ts to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Writing Checks to Newlyweds


  • Write “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”  You need to use first names. You don’t need to write any titles such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.
  • Write “and.”  For example, you shouldn’t write: “Mary and John Smith.”  This is only appropriate if they have a joint bank account, and that’s most likely information you’re not privy to.
  • If it’s a check for a wedding, don’t write it out to the bride’s new name; she can’t change the name on her accounts until after the wedding, so this may delay or even prevent her from depositing the check. She may not even take her partners’ name at all.


  • Instead of writing “Mary and John Smith,” write “Mary or John Smith.” By writing “or,” either Mary or John can deposit it, regardless of whether they have joint or separate accounts.
  • Write checks out to the bride’s maiden name. You can include a note on the memo line to clarify the gift is for both of them if you feel it necessary.

Writing Checks from Couples

  • Print your name on the signature line.
  • Sign both your names on the signature line.  It’s unnecessary, and is likely to get the check turned down at the bank when they try to cash it.
  • Sign your name. In cursive. Even if it looks like a six-year-old did it.
  • Sign ONLY ONE of your names. It doesn’t matter if you share a bank account or not.  If you are trying to make it clear that the gift is from both of you, include a card with both your names on it.  If you really want to emphasize the point, put something like “From Brooke and Nina” on the memo line.

Don’t Wait to Speak Up

The decision to publish today’s post was not made lightly. This is a personal finance blog, and the below has but loose ties to personal finance. Though white supremacy does engender real consequences for the personal finances of millions of people: the economic oppression felt by minorities when one race or culture is named “supreme” over the others—which is real and dramatic as evidenced by our history.

Ultimately, today’s post is presented in keeping with this blog’s theory that thoughts and ideas are a stronger currency than paper money.

You don't have to look too far back in history to see that white supremacy has real and devastating consequences. Don't wait to speak up.

Government-sanctioned white supremacist rallies aren’t something new in the United States. When my husband was growing up in the metropolis of Pittsburgh in the 90s, he ran into them every once in a while as he hopped buses and trains to get to school.

They weren’t exactly the epitome of peaceful, either. Objects were thrown. Threats, both explicit and implied, abounded. All this in a city that I consider to be more than tolerant compared to many others in the US.

But those who were marching in those rallies–in the name of the KKK and unabashed racism–wore hoods. They knew they had to because they were doing something shameful.

What we saw this weekend wasn’t new. If you can pay for a city permit, you can have your voice heard no matter how harmful your words—at least if you’re white and by-and-large adhere to Christian culture.

The Dissipation of Shame

What was different this weekend was that no one felt the need to cover their face. No one felt shame for the hatred they were spewing—the same hatred we, as a nation, fought so hard against with the rest of the world not 100 years ago. The same hatred we are still battling to overcome as we examine our own deeply-ingrained intentional systems of oppression.

The problem has always been here. We are a kyriarchal society who resorted to genocide, slavery and colonialism to build our empire. But in the past few decades, it felt like we were getting better. We were seeing the errors of our ways. We were becoming a more enlightened people. There was pain, and we were far from cured. But we were making forward progress—however slow—in the right direction.

Now we see a pushback. In an election that, like it or not, had questionable enough results to garner an investigation, a minority of the American populace managed to get a majority of Electoral College votes in order to put a man into one of our highest offices whilst he surrounded himself with white supremacists.

Astonishingly, the shame dissipates. The hoods come off.

This is 2017.

You’re Not Alone.

We need to remember that those who would inspire fear, who would incite violence, who would commit an act of terrorism by turning a vehicle into a weapon, who would claim that they are divinely superior over the “others”—other races, other genders, other sexual orientations, other human beings who were born into a different part of the world or into a different economic class—do not constitute majority political opinion in this country.

The hope is that the majority will keep their heads down. That they freeze up and go about their business until the drama starts affecting them directly.

Because the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (wo)men to do nothing.*

After WWII, we really wanted to know why people went along with Nazism. We had heard the atrocities. We had seen the camps. So we launched psychological studies. They found that as human beings, we’re able to pass the buck pretty easily. Given orders to harm another human being, participants did so with little remorse.

“It’s not my fault. It’s the guy giving the orders!”

We have an uncanny ability to shut our empathy off in favor of self-preservation—even while in a controlled lab.

Never Again

Let’s not let all this happen again. Let’s not fall into a world of anti-intellectualism where falsehoods are touted as facts. Where false moral equivalence at a societal level distorts our own, individual moral compasses. Where we create a society devoid of hope.

Let’s not regress to the same patterns of economic oppression our nation has enforced through policy over the past 241 years.

Let’s do less “othering” and start recognizing that we need each other to get through this messy thing called life. We are facing some of the most challenging times in our nation’s history—and really, some of the most potentially devastating times during human beings’ history on the planet. Let’s rally together to lift each other up and remove each other’s obstacles rather than staunchly placing more in the way.

Unless your power relies on oppressing others, the empowerment of others–who have been historically oppressed–is of no threat to you.

What Can I Do?

I’ve found myself grappling with this question for the past couple of days.

I wasn’t able to come up with many answers on my own, but I did stumble upon this list of action items Sara Benincasa put together. It includes ways to raise money–and your voice–for positive causes that work for unity across experiences rather than division.



*This quote has never successfully been attributed correctly, though most people would tell you I just riffed off Edmund Burke.



Pittsburgh Programs Helping Women Get Back to Work

This is such a great resource! List of programs that help women reenter the workforce after a period away or a life tragedy.

There are so many situations that can lead to hardships in returning to the workplace. Divorce, becoming a displaced homemaker, being a single mother trying to decide between childcare or a pay check, or other life circumstances can make it difficult to get things like training, transportation and appropriate clothing to get you that job that you need to get back on your feet.

There are organizations out there that exist to help women get back into the workforce. Here are some of my favorites in the Pittsburgh area.

North Hills Community Outreach

Get scholarships and training to go back to school as a mom.

These people really do it all. They connect you with the programs that will best meet your needs–and they have a slew of programs.

Currently you can get hooked up with WorkAble, a program that helps people get in touch with a career coach.  From there your coach can help you get the training  you need along with information about job openings in the Pittsburgh area.

North Hills Community Outreach also runs Community Auto–a program that helps you get a used car at a seriously reduced price. There is usually a long wait line for this one.

They connect women in Northern Allegheny County with scholarships so they can get the education they need to get that great job.

They provide computer training courses which are particularly wonderful for displaced homemakers or those who may be mature and didn’t get computer training in their traditional schooling.

They can help you set up a basic financial plan so that you can live within budget and improve things like your credit report that will help your lifestyle overall.

Believe it or not, they offer even more resources than the ones listed above.  To check all of them out in depth, go to their website.

Treasure House Fashions

Get help getting clothes to reenter the workforce with Treasure House Fashions in Pittsburgh, PA.

Founded 16 years ago, Treasure House Fashions on McKnight Rd. is a gently used clothes store for women. Slightly more expensive than Good Will, the quality of the clothes is guaranteed and in season.

Anyone can shop here. Absolutely anyone. But the heart and soul of their business is helping women in transition or need.

Places like North Hills Community Outreach often distribute Treasure House gift certificates, which can be perfect if the expense of a professional work wardrobe is the thing holding you back from employment.

If you’re a single mother or a woman who is 55 years of age or older, ask about their SMART card which gives you a 50% discount certain days of the week.

Treasure House Fashions also holds bag sales every February and August–pile as much as you can into a brown Giant Eagle bag for only $20!

Pennsylvania Women Work

Check out these programs that help women in Pittsburgh reenter the workforce.

If you’re trying to get back into the workforce but just don’t see how it’s feasible, Pennsylvania Women Work has you covered in all areas.

First, there’s their New Choices program. This provides training in areas such as reading, math, computer literacy, Microsoft Office and career development. You also get one-on-one career counseling.

There are sites across the whole state, including one in Pittsburgh that will start its new season in the fall.

That’s not all the organization does. They also provide discounted transportation to those seeking employment or who are in career-training.

They have a clothing closet where, once referred, you can get free, fashionable clothing for job interviews.

They’ll help you write  your resume, do mock interviews with you and get you individualized job placement.  Childcare assistance is even available.

I know they’ve hosted a sort of job fair in the past where major companies from the region come with the goal of specifically hiring women. There seems to be absolutely no losing with this organization.

Jeremiah’s Place

Check out these programs in Western Pennsylvania that help women get back to work.

Jeremiah’s Place is a crisis nursery, but you don’t necessarily need to be in the middle of a crisis to utilize it.

Here’s the problem: in order to get childcare assistance, you have to have a job. Getting a job can be a challenge if you are bringing your kids along to interviews.

Jeremiah’s Place solves that problem by providing drop-in daycare services so Mom can go nail that interview.

They also provide services in instances of domestic violence, hospitalization, emergency respite and more.

The United Way

Need help getting back into the workforce in Allegheny county? This list of resources will help.

Check out your local branch of the United Way.  In Allegheny County they are able to provide you with transportation assistance, programs at local colleges that will fund your tuition, programs that subsidize childcare costs and access to even more agencies that will help you on your way to employment.


Know of any other organizations that should be added to the list? Please leave them in the comments!

Making Money as a Rover Dog-Sitter

Today’s post is written by Nat Smith, Rover community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

Holy moly can you earn some extra MONEY by dog-sitting adorable puppies! Signing up for this platform pronto!

Becoming a Rover sitter is a wonderful and rewarding way to make money. As a dog-sitter or dog-walker, you get to spend time with dogs and get paid for it. The best part is that it’s totally flexible! You can easily arrange your side gig around everything else you already do.

What will you be doing?

Play with puppies. Earn extra income.

Owners will pay you money to spend time with their pets and look after their needs. Typically, owners book Rover caregivers when they’re traveling, or they’re away at work all day and want their dogs to have a mid-day adventure. Services fall into two broad categories: overnight and daytime care.

Overnight Care: Dog Boarding & House Sitting

Looking for a side-hustle that pays well? Sign up to be a dog-sitter on this primo platform!

Dog boarding takes place in your own home, and is ideal if you have dog-friendly infrastructure in place. You might want to dog-proof your home, add a doggy door, and make sure you have a secure fence around your yard. If you already have a dog, you’ll need to ensure that they get along with your canine clients, or create a separate space for each pet.

Many sitters prefer house sitting, where they stay in the client’s home. The dogs are already comfortable in their own homes, so the transition can be easier. This is a great option if you’re able to spend your nights away from home.

Daytime Care: Drop-In Visits, Doggy Day Care & Dog Walking

Get paid to play with puppies!

Owners want their dogs to be happy, and sometimes that means extra care during the day. They seek out Rover sitters because of the site’s reliability and the high quality of the care provided.

A client seeking doggy day care might drop off their pet in the morning and pick them up after work. For drop-in visits and dog walking, you’ll stop by to check on the dog and provide exercise, food, or potty breaks.

The beauty of Rover is that you can create a perfect schedule for your own needs, and Rover 101 walks you through every step of the process to create your profile and build a steady client base.

How will you be paid?

Earn extra money by dog-sitting with Rover!

Exact rates vary based on several factors, mainly your location and experience. Check Rover’s site to find out what local sitters are charging. When you start out, set your rates slightly below the local average.

You can raise your rates as you gain loyal clients, five-star reviews of your services, and more experience.

You keep 80% of the rate you set. The rest goes to Rover—covering insurance for booked stays, 24/7 emergency support, advertising, and site features. You earn excellent compensation without having to do the legwork of running a business; Rover makes it simple.

Owners are charged for the stay when they book it. Payment will be released to you two days after the service is completed. This way, the company ensures that both parties uphold their agreements—and that you’re paid promptly.

The Rover referral system is an amazing bonus, too. For each Rover sitter you invite who books a stay, you receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

Dog lovers have great things to say about Rover, and it’s bringing financial independence to women everywhere by providing both part-time and even full-time income to its sitters.


This post about earning extra income is compensated and contributed by Rover.

Back-to-School Jeans for Only $8.88

Over the years, our family has come to love Crazy8–even as an alternative to consignment shops. Their clothes are super stylish, quality and come at reasonable prices which are further brought down by frequent and stellar sales.

This year, as we get ready for back-to-school shopping–


–we are on the lookout for great prices to keep our budget in check. One of my kiddos doesn’t need a ton of stuff as far as back-to-school is concerned, but the other definitely needs a wardrobe update as the weather changes from oppressively hot to color-changing, autumnal temperatures.

We were so excited when we saw that Crazy8 has a killer deal on their denim products–only $8.88 for jeans!

Here are some of the favorite back-to-school styles from the Frugality household. My kids are at the age where they have their own style now. They’re probably more fashionable than their mother!

Girls’ Back-to-School Looks

Girls' back-to-school outfits on sale at Crazy8

Jean Jacket – $20.93
Sparkle Girl Tee – $5
Jeggings – $8.88

Find great deals on kids' jeans for back-to-school with this sale.

Metallic Sweatshirt – $14.93
Skinny Jeans – $8.88

Check out this deal on girls' jeans at Crazy8.

Sparkle Tee – $5
Bootcut Jeans – $8.88

Boys’ Back-to-School Looks

Crazy8 Denim Back-to-School Sale

Plaid Shirt – $7
Rocker Jeans – $8.88

Back-to-school jeans for only $8.88

Stripe Tee – $5
Bootcut Jean – $8.88

Affordable, quality back-to-school looks on sale.

Speckle Zip Hoodie – $12
Baseball Tee – $5
Straight Jeans – $8.88

Share Your Shopping Secrets

We’d love to hear from you. Leave an answer to one of these questions in the comments–we read each and every one!

  • How do you score a great deal during back-to-school shopping?
  • Do your children need a complete wardrobe overhaul, or just a few items this year?
  • What’s one item your kid would like from Crazy8? Are you happy with the price?





I have been compensated for the writing of this post. Regardless, all opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own. It’s always a great experience to be paid for promoting a product I love and recommend to my friends. Please note that all prices are current at the time of writing, but are subject to change.

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