Author Archives: femmefrugality

Income Goal Updates, PF by Women Member Feature & Cool Things Happening in Pennsylvania

I’m a little late with my income goal update this month. I apologize!

Sort of.

I was in Japan recently for one of my longest and best friend’s wedding. I took my time while I was there, which resulted in this update coming a little later than usual.

I’ll tell you all about my most recent Japan adventures soon. You can check out tips from my last trip by browsing the travel section. Or, if you just can’t wait, I maaaaayyyyy already be sharing some pics on Instagram.

But right now I want to catch you up on how my charts have been working.

Today I’m icy but I’m praying for some more snow.

Inspired by Nicki Minaj and Queen Bey, October’s income chart definitely helped me get inspired to pursue more work. And to do so ever-so-close to successfully!

I had some banking issues while I was abroad — which I’ll also cover in a future post — so my personal finances don’t look as good as my business income this month. But I’m still anticipating payment for some of the work lined up on this income chart, and I’m so fortunate to know my money woes are something I am reasonably capable of fixing.

Just watch my wildest dreams come true…

November’s chart is inspired by Paramore. I did lower my income goal this month. I want to be sure I’m stretching myself, but also that I’m setting achievable goals.

With the travel and some paperwork responsibilities I have this month just to keep my household running, I knew that I would not be able to dedicate the time necessary to keep my goal as high as it has been.

Don’t worry. It’ll be going back up again in December.

I am decently happy with how quickly this smaller chart is filling up, though. The chart has filled in a tiny bit more since I took this pic, and I’m close enough that I’m super motivated to hustle. Should I happen to beat my goal, that’s all the better!

Check out past income goal charts:

Personal Finance by Women

Thank you everyone for all of your support of Personal Finance by Women! The effort launched a couple months ago, and we’ve already gotten a lot done. We’ve completed a service project using financial literacy to fight the opioid epidemic, generated income-earning opportunities for our membership and have another service project on its way in the Spring.

On top of all this, on Friday we had some exciting news go live.

Business Insider — whose editorial team values diverse writers — featured PF by Women member Charis Hill’s story of home ownership on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Please check out more of the deets — it’s such a well-written and eye-opening story!

Black Friday Family Day at the Mattress Factory

installation art pittsburgh

To my readers in Pittsburgh:

I’m so excited to let you know about a really fun event at the Mattress Factory on Black Friday! Rather than going out and spending hoards of money on things, they’re offering families an opportunity to build memories at a great event.

Great events are the only type of events the Mattress Factory does.

You can skip the lines at the mall and stop by the Mattress Factory on Friday, November 29, from 1-5 PM, for a day of family-friendly, hands-on activities and three buildings of installation art.

Family Day activities have something for everyone and will include zine making, face painting by Rikki, early learner explorations, teen activities, a hot chocolate bar and music courtesy of DJ Dave Zak.

The event is free with regular museum admission which is:

  • $20 for adults
  • $15 for students and seniors
  • $10 for veterans
  • $1 per person in a family with an ACCESS card (up to 4 tickets)
  • Children under 6 free

Aside from a fun way to spend the day after Thanksgiving, Family Day also gives guests the opportunity to learn more about the Mattress Factory’s regular educational programming.

Dinosaur Adventure

If you’re looking for something to do over the winter holiday break with the kiddos, you might want to head to the Monroeville Convention Center.

On December 27-29, 2019, the Convention Center will be hosting Dinosaur Adventure, and it looks sick.

Dinosaur Adventure is an all-new, one of a kind exhibit featuring realistic, life-sized dinosaurs that come alive with their life-like movement and roars. Learn about the most popular dinosaurs — Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Diplodocus, Velociraptor — and explore recent finds with exciting discoveries!

As part of Dinosaur Adventure, children of all ages will enjoy a variety of activities: fossil crafting, Jurassic jeeps, themed obstacle courses, riding their favorite dinosaur, and more! The whole family will also be amused by our live entertainment featuring a walking dinosaur show, and a baby dinosaur meet & greet.

Best part? Because you’re a reader of this blog, you can save $3 on your ticket using code: FLASH3

You don’t have to be in the Pittsburgh area to attend! This is touring the country, and Pittsburgh is actually the last stop. Find out if your city is on the list.

Crayola Experience Easton

If you live a little further east in PA, you can check out Crayola Experience on the regular. As a Pittsburgher, I prefer to make the trek out east in the warmer months.

But either way, I just found out the Crayola Experience in Easton offers annual passes for just $29.99. ALSO, if you purchase a pass between now and November 30, you get 13 months of membership instead of the usual 12. These deals are exclusively offered to you as one of my readers.

So if you’re looking for something to put under the tree…

I’m really excited to head out that way once the weather starts turning!

Deals & Steals I’m Watching

In addition to affiliate links, I may be compensated for the inclusion of some of these deals. Regardless, all opinions on the deals are 100% honest and my own. There are deals that did not make the cut.

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving and I’m here to talk about Christmas shopping.

Forgive me.

I’ve found in years past that shopping ahead of time and throughout the year makes the holiday season way less stressful on my wallet. While I’m not always perfect at this, it is always the goal.

This year is particularly interesting. I’m finding that more and more online retailers who traditionally offer Cyber Monday or Black Friday deals are extending the savings throughout a larger chunk of the month of November. Some retailers are going to have additional price cuts on Cyber Monday or Black Friday, while for some this appears to be the same deal extended throughout the entirety of the sales period.

I digress. The point is, sales season seems to be getting longer, so you can start shopping now instead of when you’re in a turkey coma.

As I’ve been shopping myself, I’ve indexed a few of my favorites from these nouveau-leisurely deals.

AncestryDNA + AncestryHealth

AncestryDNA is consistently the deal you guys get most excited about each year. I think it’s a really cool tool. I know it’s told our family more about our own history, and has opened the door for a ton of cool reader stories, too.

This year, you can get AncestryDNA for $59 through 11/27. On top of that, Ancestry is providing a couple new tools this year.

If you purchase any time through 12/31, you can get the new traits feature for just $10. Normally it’s an extra $20 charge.

If you’re looking for something more health-oriented, Ancestry has come out with a product to up their competitiveness in this arena. You can now upgrade your AncestryDNA test — whether it’s new or existing — to AncestryHealth.

If you’re purchasing a new test, it’s $149. However, if you want to just add this service to your existing AncestryDNA sample, you can upgrade for just $49.

Entertainment Coupon Books

Entertainment.com

Did anyone else’s mom introduce this as a frugal hack in their childhood? Entertainment coupon books provide you with a bunch of big savings for your purchases at restaurants, local attractions, hotels, services and more. We always made up the cost of the book within two family meals out.

Now through 3PM Eastern on 11/18, you can get your Entertainment Coupon Book for 30% off by using the following code:

DEAL30

Scrape-A-Round

We had our first snow here last night, so the horror of scraping ice off the car in the morning has hit me hard. As fortune or the Google algorithm would have it, I had an email in my inbox today notifying me that this nifty little tool was down in price from $43 to $27 for a six-pack. Not only that, but you can score free shipping on your Scrape-A-Round with promo code:

BSAFE

Leatherman for Mom

Every once in a while after moving out on my own, I realize there’s something I don’t have on hand. But I’m kind of cheap so I don’t always spend money on an actual solution.

Ask me where the bottle opener is and I’ll direct you to the messed up fork in the drawer, its prongs pointed every which direction.

Ask me where the can opener is and I’ll provide you with a simple solution: I don’t eat things out of cans at this point in my life.

Ask me where the corkscrew is and I’ll ask you what one looks like. I’m a recent convert to wine consumption, and admit that it’s not a habit I engage in enough to understand how the twisty tool is supposed to work.

The moral of the story is I should invest in some tools — particularly kitchen tools. But instead, I’m probably going to put them on my Christmas list. I was excited when I saw this Swiss Army knife-like tool sans knife. I won’t be as concerned with it around my kids, and happens to be on sale for under $20.

Hint. Hint.

Nudge. Nudge.

Saatva Sheets

best place for organic cotton sheets

In case you didn’t hear, I’m madly in love with my Saatva sheets. They’re not necessarily the cheapest item, but they’re one that’s well-worth the money. I sleep so much better with them.

Right now through 12/10, they have a deal going on where you get $150 off of $1,000 in purchases. This is especially handy as Saatva makes big-ticket items like mattresses in additions to amazing cotton bedding. The discount is automatically applied when you use this link.

What deals are you eyeing? Let us know in the comments!

7 Pocket-Friendly Ways to Explore Australia

by Britt Sharman

Australia has a lot to offer during the summer between beaches, deserts and mountain ranges (come back for the snow in winter, we’re not joking it’s amazing!) However, you might have heard it is super expensive.

Well, after plenty of years as broke students we know all the best budget things to do in Australia! Here are some favourites!

Some Sweet Treats

You don’t have to shell out restaurants to try Australia’s best food! Just head to the bakery. Bakeries are pocket-friendly and full of treats you will have never seen before!

The next two are best to get from a bakery. First is the lamington. It is basically a fist-sized piece of sponge cake filled with jam, rolled in chocolate and then coconut, sounds like a mess, and it is, so grab a napkin! 

Next, grab yourself a vanilla slice. The name might seem unassuming; however, the Vanilla Slice is an iconic treat. The slice has a crispy pastry bottom and top of thick, vanilla custard filling. Simple yet life-changing, again thank us later!

Last but not least (and not from a bakery) is a classic Tim Tam. Now, this is something that will most likely be life-changing. Grab your Tim Tam and bite off two opposite corners. Grab a cold glass of milk, please don’t use anything hot! Dip in one corner, then use the other corner like a straw and suck. What you have is a delicious chocolate milk drink, then the biscuit turns into a fudgy chocolate bar.

Hang Out in Byron Bay

Byron Bay. You might have heard of this idyllic town that is now home to many famous people. But its reputation is well-deserved; it is bloody beautiful! Azure blue water, the softest sand you’ve ever touched and a a beautiful beach-side village. While it can normally be pricey in these types of spots, lucky there are many house sitting opportunities!. It can be competitive so find out the best tips to getting started.

How About Some Shopping? 

Melbourne is famous for its shopping. If you’re after cheap boutique finds head to Smith St in Collingwood or Greville St in Prahran. Both streets are full of treasure troves of designers.

If you come at Christmas time, you have to head to Myer. They are famous for their beautiful window displays as well as stocking all the best brands!

If you’re looking for some bargains, head to DFO. You wouldn’t believe the location. It’s set on the side of the Yarra River, with lovely restaurants overlooking it. The perfect place for an afternoon espresso martini. You can pick one up at happy hour for around $4. 

Master the Art of Surfing

Surfing is more than a sport in Australia. It is a lifestyle. Take a surf lesson during your travels. It may not be budget, but once you master it, it’s free for life! Trying to stand, fall, and trying again… the attributes of perseverance and persistence create grit which is a necessary personality trait for any Australian. Nothing beats the sense of achievement when you succeed. 

Swimming Under a Waterfall 

The Blue Mountains in rural NSW has some beautiful waterfalls. There are many tracks, so enjoy the bushwalk to a beautiful waterfall then strip down to your togs and jump in. The walking tracks are endless here so make sure you grab a national park map! 

Get Lost on a Road Trip

Australia is best seen from the road. If you fly you miss out on all the best beaches and parks. Head off on a road trip, you can find looks of cheap/ free cars and campers by searching for relocation cars. 

 Eat Fish ‘n’ Chips 

Having a ‘feed’ of fish ‘n’ chips is about as Aussie as you can get. However, these fish ‘n’ chips are not the kind that comes served in an ironic serving basket for $35.99 at your local fine dining restaurant. We’re talking about the real fish ‘n’ chips!

This is going to your local fish shop, ordering a $20 family pack and heading down the beach to eat it with your hands while watching the sun go down. Every fish ‘n’ chip shop has a $20 family pack. However, what is in the family pack can differ from place to place. You will usually find they contain something along the lines of 4 pieces of crumbed fish, 2 scoops of chips, a couple of hot dogs & a small army of potato cakes.

This delicious pack of deep-fried goodness will always come wrapped in last week’s newspaper, which is used as your table at the beach! Always remember your can of tomato sauce and lemon to get the full experience.

There you have it, all the best things to do in Australia just like a local. Not only that, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg. So what are you waiting for? 

Brittnay is one half of the Travelling House Sitters. They are professional house sitters, who have looked after homes in over 10 countries including Italy, France, Greece, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia & The UK. If you want to become a house sitter, they have just released a brand new course. Or you follow along their journeys on Instagram.

How to Handle Medical Bills You Can’t Afford

This post is brought to you and contributed by Amara Etter.

Many people think of bankruptcy as the result of people spending above their means on lavish vacations, large houses, expensive vehicles and fine dining.

But the truth is that about two-thirds (66.5 percent) of bankruptcies occurr because of medical expenses, either resulting from the direct cost of healthcare or because people had to take time off work due to an illness. The same research shows only 44.4 percent of bankruptcies are attributable to living beyond one’s means. This just goes to show many Americans experience financial distress because of something they have little to no control over.

Have you ever found yourself wondering how you’re going to pay off your medical bills? Here are some tips for dealing with healthcare-related expenses you can’t afford to pay out of pocket right away.

Review Your Charges Carefully

Medical bills are not always the most fun reading material. In fact, oftentimes they’re convoluted and difficult to understand. This is exactly why it’s so important to read them over rather than assuming everything must be correct simply because they came from a hospital or doctor’s office. Your medical bill may actually include an error like an overcharge — and you can only correct this costly mistake if you identify it.

Here are some steps Investopedia recommends when it comes to reviewing your medical bills:

  • Ask for an itemized breakdown of charges so you know exactly what each procedure costs.
  • Make sure you received all the services and medications listed; ask specifically about any charges you don’t recognize or understand.
  • Ask your healthcare provider and insurance company to audit your bills and correct any mistakes on their end.
  • Ask questions and develop a relationship with the finance departments, as the professionals within can help you navigate the complex process of handling your bills.

Before you start stressing over how you’re going to pay your bills, make sure the charges are accurate.

Try Negotiating Your Bill Right Away

Try negotiating down your medical bills before they become delinquent. Ask if the medical establishment in question has an assistance program — and if so, whether or not you qualify.

You can also ask for a rate reduction based on financial hardship. You may be able to work out a deal where you pay a percentage of the total original sum or work out a payment plan with low or no interest. You never know your options until you ask.

You also may be able to buy yourself some additional time to come up with funds before the hospital or doctor’s office sends your account to collections; it’s important they know you’re trying.

Explore Your Debt Relief Options

Are you already saddled with medical debt? If you’ve ever had to use a credit card to pay off a medical procedure, you know how frustrating and hopeless this cycle can feel.

Before filing for bankruptcy, explore your options. Many Americans have undergone debt settlement through Freedom Debt Relief due to overwhelming unsecured debt — like medical bills and credit card debt. Another option is to work with an NFCC-member credit counselor, who may be able to get you on a Debt Management Plan (DMP) in which the credit counseling agency distributes your monthly payment to creditors in exchange for more favorable terms.

Create an Emergency Fund

Last but not least, try to protect yourself from future medical debt by building an emergency fund slowly but surely. Even tucking away a few dollars a week can help you build up a protective buffer against debt. Having an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses ready to go can help you accommodate medical bills before they turn into staggering debt.

Are you facing medical bills you can’t afford out of pocket? Don’t panic. Review the charges, ask questions, negotiate and explore your options for debt relief strategies. Then focus on building an emergency fund for the future.

How to Plan a Budget Trip for the Whole Family

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Planning a trip for the whole family can be a bit of a daunting task that requires a lot of patience. It first starts with resorts booking. So, to make your trip budget-friendly, you can plan your family accommodations with Norwalk Inn. Imagine planning a family trip with adults, teens, children, and even babies. Nothing beats the pleasure of a light, relaxing vacation with your entire family.

One of the factors that greatly aggravates would-be-family-travelers is the variation between the ages of travelers. Many give up even before they start planning a family trip. But you don’t have to despair, we’ve sorted out options that will help you prepare a vacation you can enjoy and everyone is happy with.

Book your budget hotel

An excellent option for those wishing to travel with their families on a budget, budget hotels have become increasingly common. You can easily go somewhere within walking distance to all the attractions for three nights, so your time and financial resources are not that great. Renting a room in Norwalk Inn is an excellent option for those who want to organize a budget family trip.

All-Inclusive Resort

If your family members are active and independent, nothing better than Norwalk Inn to make the holidays fun for everyone. Options such as tennis, cycling, golf, dance classes, sightseeing, programming for children and adolescents separated by age. Diversified programming, food and drink all with ease, comfort and safety. What more could you want on a family vacation? 

This is all part of family travel packages when the option is a resort, plus all-inclusive food and drink at your leisure. You just need to decide what type of resort you would like. One on a beach with a lot of water sports, a mountain resort or even a ranch hotel. Everyone can live different experiences during the day and share their adventures at the dinner table.

Cruises

To plan a family trip knowing that members have different interests, cruising is a good alternative. What family members need to come to terms with is the destination, date and cruise line. Comfort and fun on the high seas.  Cruises are a great travel and entertainment option for the whole family. Once you are aboard the ship, family members can be as active or as relaxed as they wish, stay together or stand independently, just like at a resort.

Ideal for travel with grandparents with grandchildren, as it is much easier to find activities of interest or want to participate in the programming of the other. Since most costs are paid in advance, no one has to deal with the embarrassment of who is financing each meal.

Organize the family trip

Of course what defines the format of the family trip is how your family is structured, how you interact and how intimate you are. These tips were to show that family travel can be a lot of fun, as long as everyone’s taste is respected and the moments together are given priority. An international trip can be complicated to organize, especially a family trip with so many members.