Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

Free Mother’s Day Events in Pittsburgh 2017

Free Mother's Day Events in Pittsburgh! I can't decide between #1 and #4!

Mother’s Day is coming! Seriously, it’s not even two weeks away on May 14th, 2017. Are you ready?

Here are some free Mother’s Day events in Pittsburgh for all of you in the Steel City on a budget.

Free Mother’s Day Admission at the Zoo

Free admission for mom when she brings a paying child!  We did this last year for Father’s Day (same deal, only for dads,) and had a great time. Oh, and also, your child can be grown. They don’t have to be a little one to earn you free admission!
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Free Art Fun at CMOA

Head to the Carnegie Museum of Art on Mother’s Day to catch a fun, hands-on, family-oriented experience in the Scaife Gallery. If you’re a member, ARTventures is 100% free. If you’re not, you only have to pay the regular price of admission. Check out ways to get admission discounts at CMOA at the bottom of this post.

More Info on ARTventures

Wings Over Pittsburgh

It’s baaaaccckk!! For the first time in six years, you can check out the mad skills of the 911th Airmen Wing as they soar over our city’s skies. It’s free, and it’s happening the 13th and 14th–which is the Sunday of Mother’s Day.
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Race for the Cure on Mother’s Day

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure happens on Mother’s Day. While this would require the work of either fundraising or helping out the day of the race by volunteering your time, it could be a meaningful gesture to your mother, especially if breast cancer has touched your lives in any way.
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Free Admission to Hartwood Acres Mansion

Moms get a free tour of the mansion when another paying adult comes along on May 14, and if you feel like splurging, you can enjoy Mother’s Day tea for $33/each on May 13.
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Free Photo Exhibition and Meet & Greet with Hannah Price

If you’re down with celebrating on Saturday, check out Hannah Price’s photo exhibition opening May 13th at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. While the exhibition will be free the entire month it’s there, if you go Saturday evening between 7p and 9p, you’ll be able to meet the artist herself. Price’s work focuses on social perceptions, race politics and relationships in general.
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How will you be celebrating your mother?  Or how do you hope to be celebrated yourself?

Easy & Unique Mason Jar Centerpieces

The marble mason jar centerpiece is gorgeous--super easy and unique! Love it for a modern wedding.

When I got married the first time, we lucked out and found a novice florist who was willing to contribute centerpieces for no cost other than word-of-mouth advertising.

When I got married the second time, we went with the simple, standard candles that the venue provided.

I’m not walking down the aisle again, but I still love the thought-process behind planning gorgeous, frugal weddings. And as wedding pieces are some of our most popular content, I know Femme Frugality readers like reading about them, too.

So over the weekend Homme Frugality and I put on our creative hats and messed around with super simple and frugal ways we could made easy, unique mason jar centerpieces without dropping a ton of cash.

For materials, we obviously got some mason jars. You can get mason jars at an affordable price from Paper Mart. We raided our closets and found some marbles and candles. We hit up the reuse store and got some fabric and ribbon for super cheap. And we’ll get to the part about the candy. (I know–chocolate makes it hard to wait.)

frugal marble mason jar centerpieces

Light Up Marble Mason Jar Centerpieces

We weren’t 100% sure what we were going to do when we found the marbles, but they reminded me so much of Katie’s wedding theme with polka dots and bright colors that I knew we had to find a way to incorporate them.

You can see the end result above. We love the pattern the lights made on the wall and how the light shined through the marbles at the top. We saw room for improvement, though, so here are the instructions on how we would have liked to do this centerpiece:

  • Get a mason jar and a circular, glass tube. It should be big enough to fit your candle, but keep it as small as possible so the marbles will fit around it.
  • Put the tube with the candle into the center of the mason jar. Carefully slide marbles between the tube and the mason jar.
  • Light candle. Look at the awesome.

With the glass tube, you’d be able to make all of the marbles light up instead of just the ones at the top.

frugal mason jar centerpieces for wedding

Lacy Mason Jar Centerpieces

This one was super easy and turned out really pretty. For a more traditional wedding, just get some lace and ribbon that matches your wedding colors. Carefully use a hot glue gun or superglue to wrap the lace around the outside of the jar. Use the same method to secure your ribbon around the lip of the jar. Insert and light the candle for a quick and gorgeous centerpiece!

Personalized M&M mason jar centerpieces for wedding

Personalized M&M Mason Jar Centerpieces

While chocolate is always a good thing, the reason we picked M&Ms for this centerpiece is that I went to a wedding not long ago where they had personalized M&Ms for the centerpieces and party favors.

They were adorable.

You can get them with messages and images printed on them. They had four different “prints.” One had the bride’s face, and another had the groom’s face. The remaining two designs were the date of their wedding and their names printed together.

It was so unique and fun. You can even order them in your wedding colors exclusively. For 2017 they have a promo going on where you get 10% off all orders $50+.

For this centerpiece, we literally just filled it up with M&Ms and wrapped some lace around  the top. Simple, but different and fun.

 

How did you do centerpieces at your wedding? Were your frugal? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

This post is in partnership with Paper Mart.

Alternatives to Payday Loans

Super smart alternative to payday loans!

Ever had a car break down with no other way to get to work?

How about an unexpected medical expense?

Want to fly home to help out in a family emergency, but don’t have the cash on hand for a plane ticket?

In all of these instances, you should turn to your emergency fund. Ideally, you already have one that holds enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses.

Realistically, though? Only forty-one percent of Americans turn to their savings account in a time of financial emergency. That means that over half of us are using alternative methods to get through rough fiscal periods, and all too often we look at high-interest financing as the solution.

In these situations, one of the better solutions is a personal loan. They can be used for just about any expense you may incur and the interest rates tend to be significantly lower than other financing options. Let’s compare.

Credit Cards vs Personal Loans

If you have a line of credit available to you, it really can be a lifesaver. Charging your emergency is only viable, though, if you can pay it off in full before it accrues any interest.

Many credit cards charge 15.99%-24.99% APR. Currently, PenFed Credit Union offers personal loans for rates as low as 9.99% APR.  That’s a major difference in interest rates.

On top of that, when you take out a personal loan, you’re paying a fixed balance. Every month that you pay your fixed monthly payment, your balance will go down and a set portion of your payment will go towards interest.

Credit cards have no fixed monthly payments. While minimum payments are required, these amounts are dependent on your balance. If you can pay your balance off quickly, you’ll pay less interest than if you only chipped away via minimum payments. But if you could pay it off quickly, you probably wouldn’t be charging an emergency in the first place.

Cash Advances vs Personal Loans

Sometimes you may not be able to charge your next big expense. Let’s say you spent $1,000 on your latest emergency, but now you need to pay rent. It is also $1,000, and because of your own series of unfortunate events, you don’t have the cash on hand to write the landlord a check.

In these situations, there is a common temptation to yet again pull out the credit card—this time for a cash advance. This is even less advantageous than charging your card. Cash advances typically come with associated fees.

They also charge interest. While the rate is usually the same as for traditional purchase, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for your statement to close and become due before interest accrues. On cash advances, interest starts building up the day you make your purchase.

So to review, with a cash advance, you’ll start incurring interest right away, making it more expensive than charging something to your credit card as a purchase. In many situations, you’ll also have to pay cash advance fees, making it even more expensive.

Because the personal loan in our example is cheaper than purchasing on a credit card with minimum payments, it is most certainly cheaper than doing the same with a cash advance.

Payday Loans vs Personal Loans

If it is ever at all humanly possible, stay away from payday loans. Their interest rates are usually significantly higher than personal loans offered by credit unions or banks. Also, the computed interest rate could be triple digits.

For example, you may see rates advertised as a “low 15%”, but what these companies don’t advertise is that the interest is charged weekly. That makes your effective APR 400%.

Four hundred percent.

Exhaust the personal loan option first. Remember in our example that the effective rate on a PenFed personal loan is as low as 9.99% APR, and the payment structure is far more reliable than payday loans, which often balloon even higher with excessive fees that are unfortunately easy to accrue.

Note: If you need to borrow less than $500, you may not qualify for a personal loan. That does not mean you should turn to a payday lender. Check out this alternative.

Build Your Emergency Fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund, you’re obviously not alone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start to improve your financial situation today.

Even if you live paycheck-to-paycheck, you can start socking small amounts of money away quickly. If 3-6 months’ worth of expenses sounds like too big of a number, set a lower goal. Maybe $500. Maybe $1,000.

Once you’ve reached your goal, by all means keep going. But by setting something achievable from the start, you’re more likely to stick with it.

Fun fact: If you set aside $25 every other week, you will have a $650 emergency fund after twelve months—not bad!

This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union.

To receive any advertised product, you must become a member of PenFed Credit Union

Rate and offers current as of April 21, 2017 and are subject to change. Federally insured by the NCUA.

 

Frugal Ways to Teach Your Children Literacy

Number one is such an awesome freebie! Can't wait to implement these five frugal ways to teach literacy.

Literacy–and education in general–is very important in our house. We’ve been reading books to our kids since before they could sit up. We’ve been encouraging them to practice writing their letters since before preschool.

And it’s paid off. My kids can now either read or sound out words, depending on the child and their age. It’s an amazing thing to watch. One moment you have this tiny little baby who can’t do anything for themselves, and a few short years later they have the skills they need to consume any bit of knowledge they seek after. I’m simultaneously proud and awestruck.

Along the way, we’ve used some tools that have been super helpful. They just happen to be pretty darn frugal, too.

ABCmouse

ABCmouse.com has been one of our favorites since toddlerhood. It’s a curriculum disguised as a computer game, built by educators. The kiddos actually beg me to play it.

Not only has it been a huge help in teaching them how to read, but it’s also been great for teaching them computer literacy. A year-long subscription is affordable as far as I’m concerned, but you can check and see if it’s a good match for your kids by trying it for free for 30 days.

Super Why

Super Why: Puppy PowerTrue story: sometimes our kids watch TV. We noticed that after they started watching Super Why their interest in reading in general skyrocketed. It’s not like they weren’t interested at all before, but they started working harder at things like writing their letters and learning what the heck a “rhyming word” was.

We did this for $0 through Netflix, but the program will likely get rotated out eventually. You can also find episodes at Barnes & Noble.

Alphabet Magnets

Uppercase and Lowercase Magnetic LettersBefore they could write, we would practice “writing” their names on the fridge with their alphabet magnets. As they got older, we started using them to sound out words. Today, we’re using them to sort out when to use a capital and when to use the lowercase.

We got ours for free at the library, but you can find an affordable set via Discount School Supply.

Magnetic Doodle Board

The Doodle Pro SlimOur magnetic doodle board was the number one thing that encouraged our kids to work on their fine motor skills–which enabled them to write letters. While we’re definitely going to work on writing more legibly with lined paper, this device is what sparked interest at all.

Our first was a hand-me-down, and the second was a birthday gift. You easily find one for under $25, though, if you’re buying new.

The Library

Frugal tools to teach your kids literacy

The library, of course, has been our number one tool to teach our kids literacy. Every time they go, they have the freedom to pick out a book that meets their current interests. When they were younger, we did weekly story time. Every year, we participate in the summer reading program. As a reward, the library gives them a book to take home for keeps.

The best part of the library? It’s absolutely free, and odds are, there’s one near you.

Getting the Most Out of Pregnancy Health Insurance

Holy shoot. I wish I had gotten more out of my pregnancy health insurance now. Spent so much of my own paycheck unnecessarily!

There are a lot of health care costs to manage when you’re expecting. If you have purchased short term disability to cover income while you’re on maternity leave, or hospital indemnity insurance to cover things like hospital admission or NICU costs, you’re likely paying even more.

These policies’ premiums generally aren’t too insane, and it’s common for employers to bring in a salesman once a year to try to sell them to you as a benefit. Depending on your near-future plans they can be a good price/value ratio.

While you’re paying out insurance premiums, make sure you’re taking advantage of every last benefit.  Here are a couple ways to get the most out of your pregnancy health insurance that most expecting mothers don’t think to ask about.

Get Your Breast Pump Through Health Insurance

The ACA requires insurance companies to cover breast pumps. TRICARE and most state’s Medicaid plans also cover this benefit. There are a few private insurers that are still trying to catch up with the law, but odds are your policy should be paying instead of you.

If your pregnancy health insurance policy doesn’t cover a breast pump for you to own, odds are it will cover breast pump rentals.  Especially while you are in the hospital, and especially if you and baby are having feeding problems or any other health issue that is preventing breast feeding.

While it’s great to have coverage, filing even more insurance paperwork while you’re pregnant doesn’t exactly sound like a fun time. Luckily, medical equipment providers will often handle the insurance and prescription nightmare for you. I was so glad for this when I had my kids.

One such medical equipment provider that operates in almost all of the contiguous United States is Aeroflow Breastpumps. They make the process super easy–all you have to do is fill out a single, one-page form.

This video shows you what they do on the back end from there. The fact that they take all of this work off of your plate is a beautiful thing:

Pregnancy Rewards Programs

Many insurance policies also come with rewards programs. These programs are usually set up so that if you’re taking good care of yourself during pregnancy–by doing things like taking your prenatal vitamins and going to all of your doctor’s appointments–you get some type of baby gear.

The three most common things I’ve seen are:

  • a free stroller.
  • a free pack ‘n’ play.
  • a free car seat.

Call and ask your provider if they offer anything like this.  Any one of these items can easily set you back at least $100 if not more, and none of them are the greatest things to buy used.

 

Want more? Check out other potential hidden benefits in your health insurance plan.

 

This post originally aired on Femme Frugality on January 11, 2013. It has been revamped to reflect changes in health care law with the support of Aeroflow Breastpumps.

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