Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

Finding Ways to Save Extra Money for Next Vacation

This post is brought to you in collaboration with ValuedVoice.

Going to be making some calls to save on those recurring monthly bills. Totally worth dealing with a CSR if it means I can afford that next family vacation!

Everybody wants to go on a fun, relaxing vacation every now and then, but it can be hard to save up enough money and get the time off work. While we can’t help you with your work schedule, we can help you find a few ways to pocket some extra money and start building your vacation fund. If you really need a bit of extra money, you might even consider picking up a side hustle to bolster your income. In any case, here are our top tips for saving vacation money.


If you’re trying to cut back on your monthly spending, the first thing you should look at is how much you’re spending on monthly bills and how much you can reduce that number. There are a lot of monthly bills that are set in stone, such as your rent, but you can actually take steps to reduce numerous bills.

For example, there are a number of ways to reduce your auto insurance bill. By bundling your auto insurance with other types of coverage, shopping around and looking for any eligible discounts, or even raising your deductible if it’s currently too low. Simply speak with your Pittsburgh insurance agent to learn more about how you can save.

Other bills you may be able to save on include your power bill, water bill, cable and internet bill, and your cell phone bill.

Saving Tricks

For some people, employing a simple trick is all it takes to start saving more effectively. It can be difficult to save money when you’re simply spending and putting some aside with no regard for your budget. Instead, you should make a list of all of your expenses compared to your income. You can use this list to make sure you’re staying on track and saving enough.

Many people find the envelope system to be a good method of saving. All you have to do is separate your money into envelopes for various purposes: one for rent, one for groceries, etc. As long as you only use the money from each envelope for its intended purpose, you will have some money left over at the end of the month.

Side Hustle

If you’re really having a difficult time-saving money with your income, you might consider trying a side hustle. Now is a better time than ever to find these sorts of gigs, although a traditional second job works as well.

The biggest benefit of having a side hustle is that you don’t have to dedicate too much time to it. If you want to drive for Lyft, for example, you get to choose your hours to make as much money as you need. If you were particularly busy at work this month so you made enough money and didn’t have time for your side hustle, you aren’t obligated to do it.

If saving money were easy, everybody would do it. However, as long as you follow these tips and make a conscious effort to budget and save, you can make your next dream vacation come true.

Money-Saving Tips for Your Next Backpacking Trip

Today please welcome Mads from MightyGoods as he shares some great tips for backpacking on a budget! Loving these money-saving tips as a backpacker myself. 2018 is the year of travel!

You are going on a big backpacking trip that could literally take you all over the world, but you really need to do your homework first. You could save thousands on your trip because you have taken a few smart steps before even leaving the house.

These money-saving tips for your next trip can be very helpful because they let you get some of your investment back on every little thing that you do. This is a simple way for you to cut back on your costs so that you can actually do more on your vacation.

1. Plan Ahead

Planning will always be the best thing that you can do from getting a good backpack to planning where you will go. You must choose a backpack that will help you carry all that you need for the length of the trip. You might need a really big bag for a really long trip, or you might get something smaller for a shorter trip that may only take up a few days of travel.

The planning that you do must be done with regards to everything that you are doing. This means that you have gotten the bag, packed the bag, and then made certain that you know where you are going. You have to have the tickets for all your transportation bought, and you also have to find some places that you can stay. You could pick anything from a hostel to a hotel, and you might find campgrounds that you can hang out in.

It is literally impossible to take a successful vacation without a plan. You will run into snags along the way, and your plan is the only thing that will save you when you are in a foreign country possibly all by yourself.

2. Cheaper Accommodations

You could be going anywhere from the jungles of South America to Asia on your trip, and you must be certain that you have places to stay that you can actually afford. You might stay in a hotel in one town, on a campground in another, and in a hostel in another. You might want to make your experience as varied as possible, and you must see if the locations that you choose are along your route.

The accommodations that you have chosen must have all the things that you need at that point in your trip. If you are backpacking without a tent, you cannot go to a campground, or you might find a hostel that has a trunk where you can lock all your belongings. Comparison shopping is what all the best travelers do. If you are buying a hotel room that you found on your first search, you are wasting money.

3. Transportation

Transportation could be the most frugal part of your trip, and you must be certain that you have selected the modes of transportation that you think would be best for you. You could get a ferry instead or trying to take a train, or you might take taxis instead of renting a car. You might take a bus instead of driving, or you might actually get a plane that takes you to your next step along the trip.

You can package your transportation as part of a trip, and you should never go up to the counter and just buy tickets. You are wasting money every time you do not plan ahead. You could get a rail pass to travel through Europe, or you could get a plane ride into the hills or mountains you want to see in places like Nepal.

4. Souvenirs

Buy from local vendors who always have the lowest prices, and you might get to know these people at the same time. There are many people who are buying too much, or they cannot travel with these items because they do not have a place to put them. Have your souvenirs shipped home because you do not want to slog these items around.

5. Conclusion

Your next backpacking trip could be the best time of your life, but you will have a very hard time trying to figure out what to do if you are spending too much money. You must have a plan that will help you cut down on the costs of the trip, and you also need to see if you could plan places to go where you know you will always have service on your smart phone and be near the transportation you paid less for. Each of these things works only when you plan ahead and think like a smart traveler.

Garage Sale Gems

She got a lot of amazing stuff for under $60! Definitely hitting up garage sales in my area this season using these tips.

A few weeks ago I moved into my new place. I’m doing it slowly, which means it’s been low-stress, but I’ve also had a few moments of, “Crap, why do I not have anything in my house that I need?”

Some of those things are coming. But some of those thing I straight up need to purchase. Like tables. The only table I own is now home to the TV.

Well, that is until this past weekend. I was super lucky in that I moved into the neighborhood a few weeks before the neighborhood garage sale. I was determined to only buy the things we needed, and the kids could get one toy/bauble each. That didn’t exactly work out the way I planned, but we got some cool stuff and met our budget without going over.

Living Room Table

fushimi inari souvenir

I needed to set some lamps up, which is why tables were so important. This one is actually a sewing machine table that I found at the first house we went to for $10. I may get ambitious and bust out the sandpaper to stain it black like the rest of this furniture by the end of summer. But I might not. It would be cool to have them all match, but I’m trying to spend my limited free time doing things I actually enjoy, and inhaling stain fumes isn’t necessarily one of them.

School Desk

winne the pooh lamp

Another lamp situation! For this one I got an old school desk from the same lady for $5. Right now we’re not storing anything inside because little fingers. But it is working really well for giving that lamp a home–and some of the child’s display items. We actually got that truck thing (they know way more about it than I do) at the garage sale for $5. With a mint condition box and all.

Outdoor Tables

two for ten dollars

I picked two of these up for $5/each. I already have a chair out on the patio, but now I’ll have somewhere to set drinks or food when entertaining. Or my mouse pad when I’m working outside.

Crazy Glass Table

glass table swiveling arms

This one was $10, and is going in my room–which I don’t completely have figured out yet. I know I’m going to need a nightstand, and this one is just super cool. The two outer circles swivel, so they can curl up for a compact table or spread out at various angles to accommodate all your stuff.

Stuff like this globe I got for $2. That’s for both me and the kids. They like seeing where I travel, and I like encouraging them to learn more about the world outside our own borders.

Indulgent Vase

beautiful vase home decor

I was at this one house and they had a bunch of vases from India, where the couple was from. They were gorgeous. I got caught looking, and asked how much. Five dollars.

Too much for an indulgent purchase. As I was walking away, I got an offer for $3.

It’s beautiful, so I coughed up the money. He told me it’s supposed to be a Chinese scene. He may have even gotten more specific, but I unfortunately don’t remember.

All About that Cello

cello for five dollars

My one kiddo couldn’t stop playing with this child-sized cello every time we walked by it. The second time, I found out it was only $5. The third time, I decided to buy it. It came with a bag, looks to be in functional shape, and supposedly orchestra lessons are offered next year in school. Now I just need to find out how expensive a bow would be…

Budget Kept!

We literally came in right on budget–sixty dollars. Five hundred points to us!

This is a really great time of year to hit up neighborhood garage sales. You can find them online, or even just keep an eye out for signs as you’re driving around. To get the best stuff, you’ll want to wake up pretty early. Most start at seven or eight, but my sibling has turned up even earlier than that before to catch people as they’re setting up.

Before you go to the store for that one thing you truly need in your home, be sure to pick through you’re neighbor’s stuff first.


Budget-Friendly Apartment Décor

Today please welcome Darlene Mase, who lives in Newnan, Georgia, a town 40 minutes south of Atlanta. In her spare time, she enjoys writing for her personal blog and for popular sites like When Darlene’s not writing, you can catch her outdoors with her husband and daughter or at the gym burning off the calories of something delicious she just ate.

Ohhh these are such great ideas! Redecorating the apartment right now--on a budget this time, though!

We’ve all seen them. Those houses that look as if they were designed by Joanna Gaines herself and maintained by Dobby the House Elf. The design and layout are perfection. Everything is crisp, clean, and organized.

And then there’s us. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would say that most people probably feel as if their living space could use some fashionable updates. Unfortunately, our budgets often prove to be a hindrance in our endeavors to fancy up our homes.

Fear not. Even if you’re on a tight budget, or have no budget at all, you can revamp your apartment décor with these cheap home décor ideas.

Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere!

I am no interior design expert, but I don’t think there was ever a time where the “my house is a dump” look was en vogue. Just because you only have a few cents to your name doesn’t mean that your house should like Oscar the Grouch’s.

Clean up and get tidy and organized. Not only will decluttering reduce stress but you can’t have the sleek and clean minimalist look you’re going for with shoes strewn about your bedroom floor and cups all over your kitchen counter.

Work with you’ve got.

A tight budget is a good opportunity to improve your DIY skills. Look through your home, storage, and even ask friends and family members for old items that you need that they don’t use (think bedroom sets, tables, patio furniture, etc.). Sure, it may be in need of some TLC, but there is not much that a little sandpaper, wood stain, and elbow grease can’t fix.

Yes, you may get your hands a little dirty, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you made (well, refinished) something with your own hands, and you stayed on budget.

Incorporate live plants into your design.

Plants come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors and add an element of design to the room you put them in. And did you know that you can easily grow many houseplants from a cutting of a leaf?

If you have a friend who is into plants and you’re on a budget, ask them for some cuttings from their plant. Though you won’t have a substantial plant for at least a few months, you can still reap the benefits of having plants indoors.

Sansevieria, more commonly known as the Snake Plant, or Mother-in-law’s Tongue is often seen indoors because of its unique tropical appearance and its health benefits. A study by NASA found that the Snake Plant, along with some other indoor plants, improve the quality of air in a space and recommend having one in the bedroom.

What’s more is that you can easily propagate this amazing plant (and others) by cutting a leaf at the base of the plant, letting the leaf dry and scab over for a few days, and placing the leaf in a cup of water. Within a few weeks or months, you’ll start to see little roots forming at the base of the leaf which can then be planted for some healthy, attractive, and cheap apartment décor.

All you need is a window, fire escape, balcony, or some other place where your plants can soak up the sun and you’ve got yourself some low cost home décor.

Move furniture around.

You can make a boring, worn-out space look new and refreshed simply by moving furniture around. It doesn’t cost you a thing and it can work wonders for your home’s look. If your living room or bedroom are looking too tight and stuffy, consider moving things around.

Go for maneuvers that will make the room feel larger than it is and that allow the room to flow better.

Frequent the “free” section of Craigslist.

People post so much free stuff on Craigslist. The only stipulation is that you have to go and get it. You can find some seriously cool stuff on your city’s Craigslist. You just have to be vigilant and check the site on a regular basis.

Grab a paintbrush and set free your inner Picasso.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, you can make some bold and impactful art that can liven up your living space.

You can purchase a large canvas, paint, and a paintbrush from your local craft store for under $20. Then get to work painting some parallel and perpendicular lines for a clean, abstract look. Not only will you have some eye-capturing art to hang on your wall, but you will have saved a ton of money doing it on your own.


We don’t all have a fortune to spend on apartment décor, but that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a life of outdated furniture hand-me-downs. You can make your apartment look sleek and fashionable, and you can do it if you have a small budget or no budget at all.

Trying your hand at DIY and incorporating some live plants into your home’s décor can really liven up a space at little to no cost. And even simply taking into consideration your apartment’s floorplan can help you arrange your furniture in a way that maximizes space and makes your small living space seem larger.

Regardless of what’s in your wallet, know that budget friendly apartment décor is possible.





Shrines are Cheaper Than Temples

Great travel tip! I want to visit so many spiritual sites while I'm in Japan, and now I know how to do it more affordably to make the most out of our trip.

When we were planning our trip to Japan, I was really interested in seeing Buddhist temples. We did that, and it was amazing, and I’ll tell you all about it on another day.

Somehow, though, I overlooked another spiritual option: Shinto shrines.

They’re completely different and separate from Buddhism as I understand it, and serve to worship the spirits of the natural world. They were everywhere–in the middle of the city, the countryside, near natural wonders…

I felt a ton of peace at these shrines as I watched others come to pray. These shrines appear to be an integral part of Japanese life, so our friend taught us how to pray, too.

Kishiki Shrine

Kishiki shrine

The very first shrine we visited was the Kishiki Shrine behind Kishiwada Castle–which is also beautiful and worth a visit.

Here, we learned about the spirits of nature, and how they are never represented with icons. We learned to wash our hands and mouths, offer up our goyen (5 yen coin), ring the bell to alert the spirits of our presence, bow, clap our hands, pray and bow again.

We also learned of the fortunes you can purchase, as our friend was kind enough to get us each one. my sibling got a very lucky one and I got a medium luck one. But if you get bad luck, you can hang your fortune on these clothesline-like cords, and hope that prayers will remove your ill fortune.

Study Shrine in Wakayama

prayer plaque japan shrine

This shrine was located not too far away from a school my friends attended. Here, you’d come to pray for luck on an exam or other school-related endeavor. This is where I learned you can also purchase these plaques–you write the thing you’re hoping for on the back, and then hang it with others’ prayers.

To get to this one, you climb some pretty steep steps–or go around the side and climb up a trail. The views from the top were way worth it.

Shrines are Cheaper than Temples

We did visit other shrines–most notably Fushimi-Inari. That’s coming in a future post.

I’m hesitant to tie money to spirituality, but I know you’re all here because of the personal finance. While there were some extras you could purchase at the Shinto shrines, visiting them was 100% free. You could spend the equivalent of less than a nickel if you wanted to pray, and you could go on to get your fortune or put your prayer to pen with a plaque, but it wasn’t a requirement.

Buddhist temples, however, did sometimes have a few extras you could purchase, but were primarily somewhere from 300-500 yen just to visit the grounds. It wasn’t money I minded parting with, but if you’re planning on visiting Japan and want to hit as many spiritual sites as possible, that’s definitely something to keep in mind with the budget: shrines are more affordable.

More Shrine Pictures

Don’t forget to follow on Instagram for more shrine and castle pictures this week. We visited some really gorgeous locations courtesy of my amazing friend and host–you will want to see them!