Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

How I Save Money in the Fall

This post is in collaboration with Mention Me.

Pumpkin patches, halloween costumes, leaf piles and holiday shopping...so many ways to save money in the fall!

I’m in love with transition season. Fall. Spring. Nothing’s too hot or too cold, and that period of change is always ironically exciting for me.

But Fall’s on its way, so we’ll focus all of our attention to turning leaves and pumpkin spice everything today. There are a lot of things you can drop money on during this season, but I’ve found some ways to keep my costs down without sacrificing the fun.

I don’t stop playing outside.

Whether it’s me or the me and the kids, I like to spend time outdoors in the Fall. I prefer it to Summer, actually. I like the idea of heat, but not the reality.

By going on walks and hikes, building and jumping in leaf piles or going for a random trip to the playground, we not only manage to get outdoors and stay active, but we also get to have a ton of fun for free.

I start shopping for the holidays.

Nothing is worse than getting to December and having to buy all the gifts. Nobody’s budget can handle that. While I try to pick up things throughout the entire year as I find good deals on things I know people will love, September is when I start kicking things into high gear so I’m not buying everything on one paycheck. There are tons of ways to save money as you shop–especially online. For example, you can browse some of the best online deals at Sello.

I don’t go to the most expensive pumpkin patch.

I’m really lucky that here in Western Pennsylvania, we have a ton of pumpkin patches to choose from. There’s one really popular one in my region laden with cute, farm-themed playgrounds and tons of seasonal foods you can purchase in addition to your hayride.

I don’t go to that one.

And there are a couple reasons why. First, it’s super popular and therefore super expensive. Secondly, I kind of hate the vibe. There are people everywhere, an upsell around every corner and the constant fear that one of my kids is going to run into the crowd and disappear.

So I go to a calmer farm, about two miles down the road. They didn’t even start charging for hay rides up to the patch until a couple years ago, and even now that fee is nominal. They have a hay barn with a slide inside for the kids and a corn maze by the pumpkin patch which is always fun and never overcrowded.

I weigh DIY vs store-bought Halloween costumes.

Halloween costumes can get pretty pricey. Depending on what my kids want to be, I’ll check out what’s available at stores (including kids’ resale stores) and then compare that to how much it would cost me to make a costume myself. So far, we’ve been about 50/50 on this. About half the years I’ve made costumes, and then the other half going store bought was cheaper. You really have to do the math, though, because DIY is not always the most cost-effective option!

How do you save money in the Fall?

I’m not a coffee drinker, so I don’t know the best ways to save on pumpkin spice lattes. I also live in one particular climate. So I’m interested to hear your savings tricks for the fall, too! Leave them in the comments below!

 

Upgrade from a Toddler Bed on the Cheap

#spon Wow---definitely checking out the Big Price Drop at Mattress Firm!!!

 

Do you remember when we were buying a crib for our baby? We went with a very specific type in order to save us money long term.

It was good planning, but what we didn’t know at the time was that we would be living in two separate houses by the time we really needed to upgrade our youngest’s bed situation. While the convertible crib/bed is still at dad’s house, I recently had to upgrade my child from a toddler bed to a big-kid bed in my own domicile.

I was a little bit worried it was going to be crazy expensive, but luckily, I was able to complete the project for under $250. Here’s how that worked.

The Bed

Ikea Bed Reivew

I looked for a bed at the garage sale we went to this spring, but the only thing people were selling was toddler beds. Oh, the irony.

So I went to that place where all shoppers seeking cheap furniture go: Ikea. I found a double bed including the wooden slats that substitute for a box spring for about $197.

When I got it home, the Ikea instructions said I would need two people to put the bed together, but I just had me. Determined to prove the pictorial manual wrong, I successfully built the bed solo. Because I have mad mom power and am just really good at putting things together period.

The Mattress

sleepys slumber at mattress firm

A few years ago, we got a king-sized bed from Mattress Firm and loved it. It’s pretty darn firm, which is exactly what we needed. We loved it, and I see it lasting for many years to come.

We needed something different for the child’s needs, though; we were looking for something plush. I was thrilled when Mattress Firm offered to send me a full-sized Sleepy’s Slumber Plush for review purposes.

They deliver the mattress to your door, even setting it up for you if that’s what you’d like. The delivery men were professional and nice, and actually showed up in the time frame I was given! (Take note, cable company…)

The kiddo was so excited when they saw their new mattress. As the name indicates, it’s incredibly plush–like sleeping on a cloud. It was a real treat for them after they had been complaining of discomfort from the toddler mattress.

Sleepys slumber mattress plush

I wasn’t kidding! It even LOOKS like you’re sleeping on a cloud!

I know I’m incredibly fortunate to have gotten a mattress for free, and that it’s not something you’ll be able to replicate. However, over the years I’ve found Mattress Firm to not only sell great products, but to sell them at great prices.

For example, right now you can get a mattress for a heavily discounted price during The Big Price Drop. All mattresses are priced down a size, so if you bought a king, you’d only pay for a queen. If you bought a queen, you’d only pay for a twin.

That’s a crazy amount of savings on a great product—hop on it while it lasts!

The Bedding

target bedding

I got some super cute sheets from Target for the bedding. They cost $30, but I had a $25 gift card bringing the grand total down to $5.

I’m in the process of making them a quilt from clothes they have beat up and outgrown, but it’s not quite finished yet. The only cost on that should be the backing material and the batting.

Since I’m not done, kiddo is borrowing one of my duvets for the time being. But expect an update on that quilt soon!

Upgrading from a Toddler Bed on the Cheap

Kids are so expensive. But there are ways to cut those costs down. While the convertible crib was plan A, I was able to keep things affordable by shopping at Ikea as plan B.

The mattress needed to be quality as they’ll probably have it until they’re 18 or older, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t skimp. I was fortunate to work with Mattress Firm, and the reason I’m doing so is because they can save you a ton of money while providing you with a quality mattress to boot. Be sure to take advantage of their Labor Day Sale—you’ll get way more than what you pay for!

By shopping with a gift card and putting my basic sewing skills to work, the bedding will come to under $30 by my current estimate—which is pretty fantastic considering the sheets alone cost that much without the gift card.

On top of all this, my child is excited. They have a super comfortable big-kid bed with sheets that express their interests. The complaining about the discomfort has stopped since we switched out of the toddler bed. It’s nice to know that this big expense is out of the way for years to come, and that the kiddo will be having sweet dreams all the while.

 

How did you update your toddler’s bed? Have any extra frugal tips?

 

 

The Feminist Financial Handbook

This book is so needed! Excited to be one of the first to get my hands on The Feminist Financial Handbook. Fighting the patriarchy and kyriarchy while building my wealth.

I’ve mentioned in passing that I’m writing a book.

Well, I can now say that I’ve written a book.

That’s right, guys. It’s getting real up in here.

Now that the manuscript is done, I wanted to tell you guys a little bit more about the project, what it entailed and what comes next.

The Feminist Financial Handbook

Even before I was blogging about money, I was interested in personal finances. I’d read book after book on how to make my money better. There were some crazy great hacks. Like opening CDs before the Recession. Or investing your money starting young so you could take full advantage of the power of compound interest.

And I was all, “I can’t wait until I can do this stuff!”

I wrote out goals and future budgets, but something was missing. That missing thing was an income which met more than just my baic needs so I could do things like save and invest. I was great at money management; I just didn’t have enough green to do all the responsible things I wanted to do.

I now recognize that there were some systemic road blocks in my way at that point in my life. I also recognize that there are women out there who face far larger and more frequent road blocks than myself.

And that’s the piece of financial advice that seems to always be missing: When you’re motivated, disciplined and hard-working,  yet you can’t seem to get around these massive obstacles, what do you do next?

That’s what The Feminist Financial Handbook is about. It’s about recognizing oppression and its  effects on our day-to-day personal economies. Without minimizing these struggles, it looks at ways you may be able to get a leg up so you can do all those fun things like watch your wealth explode over a period of 30-40 working years through diligent investing.

It’s about being real about the real-life situations so many of us struggle with every single day, and finding ways to take action despite them.

Defining Wealth

The first part of the book looks at how we define wealth. Does money actually  make us happier? I don’t want to spoil too much, but the answer is sometimes.

In this part of the book, we also take a deep dive into the things that actually can make us feel more content, and counting them holistically in our personal wealth equations. Because while money scarcity is no good, a relentless pursuit of cash isn’t healthy, either.

Earn More

It’s no secret that women tend to earn less than men. The gender wage gap is real. But I tend to think the commonly cited reasons behind it are sexist and fictitious. Some of these arguments include:

  • Women gravitate towards lower-paying fields.
  • Women don’t negotiate.
  • Women carry babies in their wombs.

These are all poor justifications for paying women less, and some are straight up untrue. in the book, we tackle each one of them.

Gender is not the only reason for lower pay, though. Whether you’re a single mother, disabled, a woman of color, transgender, gay, or bi, society is going to punish you economically. It’s not right. But there are some workarounds for financial success, even within a system that would have you believe you’re worth less.

You’re not worth less, by the way. And this whole section of the book outlines why that is and what we can collectively and individually do about it.

Save More

Not only is there a wage gap, but there is also a gender-centric investing gap. This gap starts young, and can result in poverty in old age. We take a look at some of the basics of financial planning and how to become more aware of any internalized sexism that may be affecting your investing decisions.

We also look at how you or your child can go to college for free–or sometimes even get paid to go back to school. I promise this is real. These strategies have worked for me in real life, and are backed by a professional in the higher education industry.

And, of course, we look at budgeting. Not just budgeting, but judgement-free budgeting. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to spend the money you earn, or that you can’t stash it all away in pursuit of financial independence. But to do either one of these things, you’re going to need a budget.

When One Thing Affects Everything

Ladies, we put up with some intense experiences in our lives. Because of the normalization of sexism and other -isms, we suffer much higher rates of mental illness and domestic violence. Both of these areas have real, long-term affects not just on our mental health, but on our finances.

We also tend to make less money than our male counterparts when a child is diagnosed with an illness or is pronounced differently abled. And that’s on top of the gender pay gap.

This final section of the book looks at all of these things, offering up solutions for living a wealthy life in spite of the effects oppression can take on our bodies, minds and finances.

Pre-Order The Feminist Financial Handbook

Believe it or not, these are just some of the topics covered in the book. The pages take a deep dive into so many issues–issues not typically discussed in the personal finance sphere. Because they’re hard issues to tackle, and there aren’t always easy solutions.

But at the heart of the matter is hope. Hope that we can fight the system to build a successful career for ourselves as women in business or a fat e-fund as homemakers. Hope that you can build a wealthy life even when the system would stunt your cash flow. It affirms that you are worth it and capable no matter what society tells you, because there is no “right” way to be a successful woman with motivation.

Now that we’re getting ready to launch, you can pre-order today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I’d be so grateful if you could hop on board and join the waitlist so you can be one of the first to get your hands on a copy!

I can’t wait to hear what you think. It’s been a huge effort to produce, and I hope it opens up a lot of conversation about what we can do to make the economic plight of women better, whether we’re talking about society as a whole or ourselves as individual females.

This book was very much a collaborative effort. Because I cannot speak with experience to all the different issues women face, it largely features the experiences of others. These are the amazing women who gave so much of their time and heart to the effort:

 

Adventures in Lawn Mowing

A few months ago, I moved into my own place. I had to buy a step stool to reach things like the blinds and my cabinets, but other than that I’m fairly self-sufficient. I built a bed frame by myself when Ikea told me I’d need at least two people to get the job done. I fixed the hinge on the door to the laundry. I’ve killed bugs that in the past would have made me cry out of pure fear.

Okay, I might still cry. But I kill them by myself anyways. Push through the tears.

Also, I have a lawn. Which is pretty exciting after living in the city for nearly a decade. The only problem is that I have to mow it.

That’s not really a problem in and of itself. When I was growing up, I had to mow our nearly-an-acre, hilly plot. I would load up my walkman with my favorite Rx Bandits CD and got the job done.

But to relive the days of my youth, I had to first get a lawnmower. Getting and storing gasoline in a container freaks me out, and I’m trying to save the planet. So gas mowers were out. I looked at electric ones, but they were too expensive.

Then, my friend recommended this gem.

orange push mower

It’s a great push mower. But I wouldn’t have told you that the first time I tried to mow my lawn. It was super hot out. My neighbor had been doing my side of the lawn for me for a couple weeks while I tried to get the mower situation figured out. So I needed to pay it back and mow his.

There were innumerable sticks in the yard. Those could be removed, but there were also tree roots, which couldn’t be. There was a massive hill on his side, which was no fun to take care of. And because I had taken so long to get this done, the grass was super thick.

After about an hour of exerting more energy than anyone would ever want to, I went inside to get a drink or five of water. While I was in there, I heard a gas engine rev up. My neighbor was remowing the lawn. That’s how terrible of a job I had done. Taking pity on me, he also did the part I hadn’t started yet.

I was pretty discouraged, and gave up on my frugality. I set up services with multiple landscapers, all of whom flaked out on me. My neighbor moved out, and I had to figure out what the heck I was going to do.

The other day, I tried it again. I got out the push mower I had given up on. I set out to do my half of the lawn. And you know what?

It wasn’t bad.

Yes, I sweat, but that wasn’t something I had been afraid of. I don’t really know why it was so much easier this time. Maybe the grass was shorter. Maybe it wasn’t as humid out. Maybe I had gotten stronger Maybe my side of the lawn has less tree roots than his did.

Regardless, I’m glad I tried again. I’m glad I proved to myself I could take care of my own self. And I’m super glad I was able to do it without using gasoline, without paying someone else to do it for me, and without spending money on a more powerful electric lawn mower.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. You might still be able to save money. And assert that you are the one with the power–you don’t need a machine or any other human being to exert that power for you.

Seven Years of Blogging

Can't wait to read this book on feminist money and check out the budget travel hashtag on IG!

This is it, guys. Today marks my seventh year of blogging.

Okay, technically it’s tomorrow, but that’s a Thursday and therefore inherently less convenient for my posting schedule.

I really can’t believe I’ve been at it this long. What started as a way to share some of the saving and earning hacks I’d been learning as a less-than-wealthy human being has morphed into a career. It’s absolute craziness and nothing that I could have predicted when I signed up for a free platform on WordPress–and then Blogspot–all those years ago.

The Feminist Financial Handbook

Today, I’m pulling in an income through this site and freelance writing. I’ve been to conferences around the country, and made some of the best friends of my life I would have otherwise never met. I’m writing a book, which you can pre-order, and crazier than it all, I’ve been in touch with people whom my writing has actually helped.

That last one is the biggest one for me. The money is nice, though I’m by no means rolling in it because of my self-imposed non-workaholic schedule. But to know that my writing has directly impacted people’s lives–that’s why I started. And it’s what keeps me going. Thank you for reading. And thank you for letting me know when this stuff works for you in real life.

What’s Changed Over the Past Seven Years

When I started, blogging was a lot more social. We’d all comment on each other’s stuff, share a lot more of our personal lives and connect in direct ways.

Sure, there were people manipulating the SEO machine, which was far easier to do in 2011, but for the most part our community was tight-knit and supportive.

There are still aspects of our community that remain that way. But I myself am guilty of not leaving as many blog comments as I once did. I don’t share as much of my life as I have become more guarded and cognizant of the stories I put out there now that this site is a little bigger and my name is often attached to my work instead of my pseudonym.

And I’m not the only one. We’ve all done it. I don’t know how new bloggers do it anymore. It seems more like a business decision to start a blog than a passionate hobby. At least in the circles I’ve found myself cemented in.

I know some of you newer bloggers will disagree with me–which is great! I want to hear your stories and secrets in the comments!

Which is why I’m all the more grateful for the friendships I made back in those early days. Before everyone started quitting their 9-5. Back when we were just youngsters figuring out this whole money thing as young adults who came of age during the Recession. (Though many of my friends are Xennials–the Recession hit their careers and cash flow hard, too.)

Adjusting to the Times

Share your best budget travel tips every week to be featured!

So much has changed in seven years. But if you want to stay relevant, you have to keep up with the times. I’m not always the greatest at this. For example, I just joined Instagram a couple months ago. Now I understand that platform might as well be the whole internet in 2018.

I’m primarily using it to showcase my travels–which nine times out of ten are hella cheap. It’s kind of cool because while I still get to interact with the personal finance peeps I love, I also have been meeting some amazing travel bloggers who are also typically budget conscious.

I miss the community aspect of blogging, but I think rather than trying to go back and recreate an environment that may no longer exist, I’m going to try something new. Something different for me. Something a little fun–at least from my perspective.

Get Your Budget Travel Tips Featured

So I’m starting a hashtag. Check out #femmefrugalitybudgettravel on Instagram! Then use it within your own post, sharing a great travel experience you had on a low budget. I’ll be sifting through the hashtag and picking a feature to repost–full credit provided–at least once a week for #WanderlustWednesdays, getting your best tips out in front of my followers.

Want to become one of my IG followers? DO IT!

Seven years later, I’m excited to build community in new, fun and exciting ways. Thank you for being here with me all these years, and I’m so excited to continue on this journey with you.