Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

How to Save Money as a Motorcyclist

Interesting trend--motorcyclists shouldn't try to save money on safety gear, but should try to save it on "the look" and financial products.

Did you know that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month?

Neither did I until a couple of weeks ago. Essentially, auto drivers need to be aware there are motorcyclists on the road. They’re more difficult to see, and far more vulnerable to injury in case of an accident.

Motorcyclists, for their part, are reminded to follow the rules of the road, including keeping a safe distance from other vehicles.

I have a few motorcycle enthusiasts in my life, and they were kind enough to let me pick their brains on the subject. How do you save money? Which products are worth the spend?

A funny pattern emerged. The one place everyone agreed you should splurge is safety gear. Everything else is negotiable.

How Motorcycle Enthusiasts Can Save Money

Areas of saving included non-tangibles. With such a “cool” hobby, it’s easy to get caught up in the ego of it all—but that’s not necessarily the best financial move. I was also told it’s also very uncool to spend more money than you have to on financial products. I concurred.

You don’t need brand name.

I repeatedly heard that that brand name doesn’t always equate to high quality. Sometimes the sticker price reflects popularity—which is fine if the product lives up to your expectations. But sometimes you’re just paying for a name.

If you’re buying brand name, make sure the current product lives up to its established reputation. Research product quality rather than name recognition.

Scooters are cool. Just ask Macklemore.

I was advised that for budget shoppers, scooters are great. They can easily be had for under $1,000, get phenomenal mileage (think 100 MPG phenomenal,) and maintenance is cheap because you’re driving a comparatively small vehicle.

Shop around for the best rate on financing.

You should be as enthusiastic about your interest rate as you are about your hog. Lower interest rates can save you a ton of money over the course of your loan.

I typically like to look at credit unions when I’m looking at financing. Overall they offer lower rates, and because they’re so community oriented, you get treated like a person rather than a number.

Many credit unions are regional, but my favorite national recommendation is PenFed Credit Union. Applying online for membership is easy, and their rates on motorcycle financing just happen to be fantastic.

Shop around for the best rate on insurance.

Just like car insurance, be sure to shop around for multiple quotes so you know you’re getting the best rate. You should also make sure to ask about any discounts the company may offer—some of them are so far out there that they’ll surprise you!

Where to Splurge: Motorcycle Safety

Because you are so vulnerable on a bike, you never, ever want to skimp on safety products. Be sure to buy quality and look for industry-approved products.

Here’s what to look for in a helmet.

Your brain is so important that the Federal government has set regulations to protect it. When you buy a Department of Transportation (D.O.T.)-approved helmet, you know you’re getting something that meets at least the minimum safety standard. Don’t hit the road with an inferior product. Your life depends on it.

Protect your phalanges.

When you’re on a motorcycle, you want to remember to protect your feet with good boots, but you also want to remember to protect your hands with quality gloves. Some of them even have metal plating over the knuckles and wrist in case of a crash. Because life would be a heck of a lot harder without full use of your fingers.

No pleather.

When you’re shopping for a jacket, get the real thing: a thick, leather jacket. This is the clothing item that’s going to be protecting your torso, and along with it, your internal organs.

You need to see the sign(s).

One area that may be easy to forget is eye protection, but a good pair of safety glasses or goggles is critical. Not only do they protect your eyes, but if you have an inferior pair that slip or in any other way limit visibility while you’re out on the road, you’re more likely to get into an accident.

Spend on Safety, Save on Financial Products and Ego

It will always be worth it to spend money on quality safety gear when you’re a motorcycle enthusiast. It can be a lifesaving purchase—literally.

You don’t have to spend more on financing or insurance, though. And if you shop smart and are willing to step away from brand names, you can save a ton of money while still enjoying the sport.

*This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union.*

Father’s Day Gift Guide Under $20

On a budget, but still want to get dad something he'll love? Check out this Father's Day Gift Guide where everything is under $20.

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and while it’s good to celebrate Dad, buying gifts should always be done within your budget. I’m not encouraging you to be chinsy. If you can afford something very expensive that would add value to his life, go for it. But if your budget is a little tighter, know that you’re not alone and that you can still get the father in your life something he’ll appreciate without draining  your bank account.

Here’s a Father’s Day Gift Guide for some inspiration. Keeping in mind that budgets may be tight, everything is under $20.

 MLB Watches

MLB San Diego Padres Men's Spirit Watch

Because this is ‘Murica and we love baseball.

Price: The majority of teams cost $19.99. For some weird reason, a few teams cost $24.99, like our beloved Pirates.

Where to get it: Bed Bath & Beyond

Pour and Shoot Mug

Pour and Shoot MugPerfect for all the Dads out there who are photographers–amateur all the way to professional. Help bring their day “into focus” with this clever coffee mug.

Price: $17.99

Where to get it: ModCloth

 

3-in-1 Soap for Men

Soap for Men - Cedar and CitrusSimplify his grooming routine with this 3-in-1 soap. It serves as shampoo, body wash and shaving “cream,” if you will. It’s all natural and smells manly.

Price: $6.95

Where to get it:  Thrive Market. This is a membership site, which is how their prices are so crazy low, but you get a free, 30-day trial to start so you can get this at the lower price without risk.

The Heroic Adventures of Super Dad Planner/Notebook

Super Dad Day Planner, Notebook, or Address BookTotally customizable with your own pic and <3(child’s name). Sure to make any dad feel good, and either document his journey or keep track of his Super Dad schedule.

Price: Starts at $16.00

Where to get it: Minted

Portable Lap Desk

Portable Lap Desk with Wrist Pad in Silver/BlackDid you know that using a laptop actively receiving a WiFi signal causes a decrease in sperm mobility and can even cause the sperm to no longer be viable? Well, now you do. If dad wants to be a dad again, or even just doesn’t want his computer messing with his reproductive parts, one way to cut back on the damage is using a lap desk. This one’s built for ergonomics FTW.

Price: $19.99

Where to get it: Bed Bath & Beyond

What Mon Mari Frugality Will Be Getting

Every year, we go with experiences for Father’s Day. The kids make some type of craft that costs us $0, and then we spend the day together. One year when I was not capable of leaving the house, he went on a Ducky Tour of the city with his offspring. Another year we all went to the zoo where dads get in for free on Father’s Day.

As our kids get older, this is getting admittedly more expensive. While we used to just have to pay for me or sometimes me and the husband to get in, now my kids are above the age where they get in everywhere for free. So we’re not in the $20 range anymore.

But if you would rather spend time together than give a gift, remember that spending time together can be the greatest gift. And there’s tons of ways to do that on the cheap.

LEGO® Brick Fest Live! Promo Code

Nice! Promo code to save on LEGO Brickfest Live! tickets in Pittsburgh.

A little over a year ago, we went to LEGO® Kidsfest. It was awesome. The event was insanely fun, the venue and staff were amazing.

The only not-so-awesome thing about it was that it was in Harrisburg. Driveable, for sure. And worth the miles. But it was a trek.

This year, I’m excited to let you all know that LEGO Brick Fest Live! is coming to Pittsburgh, and we have a promo code to help you save some money on your tickets.

Promo code to save money on LEGO Brick Fest Live! Tickets

What is there to do at Brick Fest?

There will be a ton of fun things going on at Brick Fest Live! this year. When we attended the LEGO event last year, we realized it was as much fun for us as it was for the kids. Brick Fest Live! looks to be in the same vein.

The Brick Show Experience

Meet popular YouTube LEGO show hosts from The Brick Show and be featured on in an upcoming video.

Brick Fest Derby

Build and race your custom built LEGO derby car down one of our 35-foot long timed tracks!

Collaborative Building Activities

Contribute to large-scale mystery floor mosaic.

Inspiration Stations

Add to existing LEGO cities and make them your own by building custom creations.

Video Game Arena

Have a favorite LEGO video game? Come challenge your family or make new friends in the Brick Fest Gaming Arena playing your favorite LEGO title head to head.

Mini Golf

A miniature golf course built to inspire! Take your game to the next level on the Brick-Links.

Brick Fest Theater Trivia & Entertainment

Participate in LEGO trivia all while taking a break from what will be an overwhelming amount of awesome!

Mosaics

Using a colorful variety of LEGO bricks, build a piece of art to proudly display for other attendees.

Shopping

Find new, vintage, rare, and custom LEGO sets and merchandise from one of the many merchants in attendance.

Get discounted tickets to LEGO Brick Fest Live!

LEGO Brick Fest Live! Pittsburgh: Time and Place

Luckily, yinzers don’t have to go far to enjoy the LEGO festivities this year. The event starts July 15 at 9a and ends on July 16 at 6p. It will be held at the Monroeville Convention Center.

LEGO Brick Fest Live! Promo Code

When you purchase your tickets, be sure to use the promo code USFGTHREE to save $3 off your tickets.

 

Oh, Snap! Frugal Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

Shoot! Totally forgot Mother's Day was this weekend! These are awesome last-minute ideas--I don't even think Mom will be able to tell!

Mother’s Day isn’t like Christmas. It doesn’t come on a set day every year. I can’t mark it on my mental calendar without first consulting my actual calendar and storing the new information in my brain.

Almost every year, this unpredictability leads to an “Oh, Snap!” moment, where I realize that despite all my grand schemes and ideas, I haven’t actually taken any action to secure a gift.

Since I’m now a pro at not being prepared, I wanted to take this, the Monday before Mother’s Day, to share some of my experience-gained knowledge with you. Here are five last-minute Mother’s Day gifts that she’ll never know were last minute.

Do Something with Mom

This is a lot easier to do if you’re local—or at least within driving distance. There are tons of free and paid events on Mother’s Day. If you’re looking at the ones themed around the holiday, you’ll have sore luck thanks to your procrastination. These tend to fill up quickly.

But if you look for free events that aren’t necessarily advertised as Mother’s Day events but do take place that weekend, you’re much more likely to score a great deal and create some lasting memories with mom.

Get Her a Last-Minute Spa Day

Gift cards are always awesome, but they’re also usually hard to get “on sale” without looking at the resale market.

Right now, SpaFinder just happens to be offering their gift cards for 10% off when you purchase $100+ worth. That means if you buy mom a massage, which is usually in the $100 range after tip and without first-time customer discounts, you’ll only have to pay $90.

I Love Mom Magnets

We made these a few years ago, only we used “Grandma” instead of “Mom.” Essentially, you just buy a big sheet of magnet paper. One side is has a backing that you can peel off, revealing a sticky surface. You print your pictures from you home computer—it’s totally fine if they’re on printer paper rather than actual, glossy photos—and stick them on there. Cut around the edges and you’re done.

Sign Language Cards

This is probably only going to be satisfactory if you have kids. Trace their hand, cut it out, and fold it into the shape of the “I Love You” handshape in ASL. Slip a heart under the ring and middle fingers.

Need more detailed directions? Check it.

Help Mom Remember Her Own Family

If she’s into genealogy, you could get her an Ancestry membership. If you don’t have the cash to drop for the 6- or 12-month membership, buy a one-month membership for yourself. Do a little digging, and see if you can find any new documents she may have never seen before. Even if you’ve done genealogy before, it’s worth checking as new documents are being scanned, uploaded and indexed all the time.

Bonus points if you’re able to find anything new from her mother or grandmother. These were and are important people in her own life, and learning something new about them–even if it’s just seeing their name on a census or other record–can be a beautiful way to remember and celebrate the influence they had on her life.

 

Have you ever slipped and had to buy a last-minute Mother’s Day gift? Tell us about it in the comments!

How to Make Poké Ball Cupcakes

Such cute Poke Ball cupcakes! You can even bake a pokemon inside--I choose Ponyta!

This winter, we had a birthday party for one of my kiddos. It was a great time. We went to an indoor bouncy place, got a lot of energy out, played with friends and ate some amazing cupcakes.

How do I know they’re amazing? When I asked the birthday child what their favorite part of the day was, they sat and thought for a second before saying, “The cupcakes.”

Just so you don’t think I’m tooting my own horn, Grandma made these. Our oven was unfortunately broken at the time, so I bought all the materials and passed my vision along to her. But in the end, the delicious and good-looking cupcakes were 100% done by her.

I should have known she’d pull it off. I grew up with Little Mermaid and Snow White cakes that looked like they were ordered from a bakery. They weren’t. Grandma’s just got that baking magic.

Not only did they end up being the favorite part of the day, but they ended up being the most frugal, too.

How do you throw a frugal birthday party in the winter?

That’s not a rhetorical subheading. I really, truly want to hear some comments on this one, because I have no idea.

We live in a small apartment with no yard. Even though this winter was pretty warm in Pittsburgh, it’s unpredictable enough to not plan an outdoor party at a park or something like that at the beginning or end of the season.

And all the indoor places are expensive.

I knew it was going to be costly to go to the bouncy kingdom, but their package looked cheaper than other kid-friendly spaces I could find. Then I got hit with a much larger bill than I was expecting because of overpriced add-ons suggested the day of. Mental math was not my friend that day.

I digress.

We were talking about our super frugal, super awesome Poké Ball cupcakes.

How to Make Pokémon Cupcakes

Here's how to make Poke Ball cupcakes for a Pokemon birthday party.

Making Pokémon cupcakes is actually a lot simpler than you may think. You only need to buy six things–assuming you’ve got a muffin tin at home.

Poké Ball Cupcake Ingredients

The cake mix and frosting should be cheap enough–especially if you shop sales and use coupons.

The sprinkles, pearl candies and cupcake liners all feature affordable options. You may have to buy two packs of the first two items–especially if you’re making two dozen–but one order of cupcake liners is more than enough.

The icing will probably be the most expensive part, but you can cut costs by buying a tiny tube.

Poké Ball Cupcake Directions

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to start working your own baking magic.

  1. Bake cupcakes as directed on the box, using red cupcake liners. Let them cool.
  2. Ice with white frosting.
  3. Dump your red sprinkles out into a bowl. Dip half of each frosted cupcake into the sprinkles.
  4. Use the black icing to draw a line diving the red an white halves of the cupcake.
  5. In the middle, put a relatively large dot of black icing.
  6. Gently push a pearl candy into that black dot.

Simple! And fun.

We also thought about baking a small Pokémon toy in the center like a King’s Cake, but that was going to get expensive. If money’s no object or you find a great place to buy cheap Pokémon toys, I think it could be super fun to find one inside your Poké Ball!

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