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14 Simple Ways to Cut Monthly Expenses and Save Money Now

14 simple ways to save on monthly expenses

During the past two years of budgeting, we’ve found a lot of ways to trim down our monthly expenses list. There’s no lack of ways to save money on a tight budget. Finding smart money saving tips is the easy part.

The hard part about budgeting is really about making the mental adjustment to changing your spending and to consistently use those personal expense tracker app or monthly budget worksheet.

On the surface, it can feel like being deprived. But when you stop and really think about why you’re doing it, you’ll realize that it’s just about deciding what’s really important to you. Is it owning a house? Getting a cleaning service to come once a week? Or having a cushy emergency fund just in case your employer’s check doesn’t deposit on time?

No matter what your “why” is, just identifying it helps with prioritizing what’s important.

Using these tips, we were able to save ourselves an extra $750 on our monthly expenses! Here are 14 super easy ways to save money. #saving #budget #finance #savemoney

How to Save Money Each Month

If you don’t have a budget, you need to create one as soon as possible. It’s the only way you’ll learn how to how to manage and save money. Without one, you’ll never know where you money is going, and you won’t know where you can cut extra expenses.

The best way to budget is to use a monthly household budget template of some sort, or a monthly expenses app. Without something to reference throughout the month, you’ll never know if you’re on track with staying within your budget.

If you’re following a 50/30/20 budget, that means that 50% goes to fixed expenses. Your fixed expenses list should include items that are fixed costs: your rent/mortgage, insurance, car payment, etc.

30% in this budget should go to variable expenses. Those are items with variable costs every month, like utilities, groceries, gas, clothing and entertainment.

The last 20% of the budget should go into savings. While these are not concrete, this can be a good rule of thumb to get you on track.

So what you do you if your expenses are out of whack?

Chances are, if you’re like 99.6% of people out there, your variable expenses are more than 30%. Which means, you’ll need to cut them down as much as possible.

Average Monthly Household Expenses

It can always be a bit shocking or confusing when someone in a Facebook budgeting group what everyone else’s average household monthly expenses are for a family of 4. Or 6. Or 12.

Because there are so many variables, there is no averge household monthly expense example that will apply perfectly to anyone’s situation.

So instead, take a look at your monthly expenses spreadsheet and aim for cutting 10% to start. Start by listing typical monthly expenses that could be an easy win for reducing their cost.

This will obviously vary for everyone, considering we all have very different obligations in life. Below are 14 ways we were able to learn how to live on a budget and save money. In fact, we were able to trim over $750 a month to put towards debt repayment with these money saving tips:

1. We switched our cellphone from Verizon to StraightTalk.

Savings: $102 a month

Generally, the savings on your cell phone bill will not be this huge for everyone. However, at the time, my husband had a work cellphone. When we switched to StraightTalk, we just dropped his line altogether and just moved my existing line (and phone) to StraightTalk.

It was really simple to get switched over and running, and they even handled letting Verizon know that we were done using them, which was great. They use the same cell phone towers as other companies, but don’t own them – which is why they’re so much cheaper.

Even better? I’m not locked into a contract AND I can purchase a new or refurbished phone on my own to use, rather than paying them $30+ a month for 2 years like other phone companies.

My husband recently picked up an $80 Samsung phone at Walmart to use with StraightTalk, and it works great! In fact, it takes better pictures than my Galaxy S5, which is several years old now.

Another great option is Mint Mobile. They sell unlimited talk, text and data in 3, 6 or 12 month chunks. The bigger chunk you purchase, the cheaper it is. It’s essentially the Sams or Costco of cell plans, since it’s giving you a discount for buying in bulk. Plans start at just $15 per month. Find out more about Mint Mobile here.

2. We contacted our car/home insurance provider about additional discounts.

Savings: $10 a month $62 a month

We were already saving a lot with our insurance because it was bundled and we have multiple discounts, including one for being a credit union member.

We also checked with an independent insurance broker to see if another company might be cheaper, since we’d been with Liberty Mutual for 9 years. However, he could only save us $5 – $10 a year, at most, so it wasn’t worth the switch.

We did call our company and did a review with their customer service rep, and we were able to adjust our coverage and premiums, which brought the monthly cost down $10 a month.

It’s important to review your policies yearly to make sure you’re getting the best deal. I suggest finding an independent insurance broker. You just answer a couple of questions, email them a copy of your coverage, and they have results in about a week!

Update: Another great place to check for savings is seeing if your employer offers any group discounts on insurance. My husband works as a manager for a large nationwide retailer, and they offered discounts on auto and home insurance.

Figuring that they wouldn’t be able to give us much of a savings, we called and spent 45 minutes going through all of the questions and paperwork. Turns out they are able to save us over $750 for the year on both home and auto insurance. And this is with the same (and even better in some instances) coverage! Amazing!

Don’t overlook opportunities to save through work. Make a note to check with your employer for group discounts. If you belong to any associations, groups, or memberships, check to see what they can offer as well. You might be pleasantly surprised!

3. We asked our daycare provider (and any other service providers) if there were any additional discounts we were missing.

Savings: $20 a month

Listen, I’m not above just asking for a discount from just about anyone. The tire store, the dentist, even daycare. While we were already getting the sibling discount, they were able to move my daughter up a class, saving us $20 a month.

It’s worth taking a shot and asking for a discount on just about anything. You never know what you might get!

4. We cut the cord, for good.

Savings: $52 a month

At first, my husband was very reluctant to cut cable. I told him it’d just be for a couple of months, as a trial run. Turns out, we have plenty of other things to keep us busy (when we actually have time to sit down in front of the TV). Plus, he gets more time to play his Xbox, so it’s a win-win!

If you’re looking to cut the cord, start by getting some hardware that you can stream with. We use an Xbox or our Roku, or you can use an Amazon Firestick, among other options.

Then, we signed up for Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Access. Between the three, we’re able to get everything that we like to watch. We specifically sign up for CBS All Access so that my husband could watch football games. You can get a free one week trial of CBS All Access here.

If you want to watch local channels you can get a digital antenna like this one which is easy to hook up, and works with both newer HDTVs and older TVs as well. This is great for haivng access to the local news and PBS, as well as other local channels.

5. We bought our own modem.

Savings: $10 a month

Our internet cost went up just a bit because each product is cheaper when you bundle them (such as internet, phone and cable). To make up the difference, we reviewed all of the charges on our internet bill with customer service. They pointed out that we can purchase our own modem for about $60, which would take a $10 rental fee off our monthly bill.

Time Warner provided us with a list of modems to purchase, and we snagged a good deal on one from Best Buy. Even better, if we cancel our service, we don’t have to fuss with sending them back any equipment!

6. We used Trim to save an additional $20 on our internet every month.

Savings: $20 a month

A perfect way to save money for the ultra busy folks, Trim is a great way to find those small leaks in your budget and easily plug them. For example, we had cut down on our internet, and thought we couldn’t get it any lower. However, Trim was able to negotiate with Spectrum on our behalf and save us $240 a year. And all for 5 minutes worth of work on my end.

Trim also catches those subscriptions you forget that you have and keep paying for every month. They let you know what you’re still paying for, and cancel them on your behalf. Again – saving money without lifting a finger? Sign me up!

7. We reviewed and trimmed life and disability coverage.

Savings: $69 a month

When I was pregnant with our first child, I was determined to get our finances in order, once and for all (ha!). So we went to go see a financial adviser. While the advice given was solid, I somehow didn’t realize that his goal was to make a commission off of us. And boy – did he ever!

Since I’m self employed, I needed life insurance and disability. Once again – this was solid advice, but we were just presented with one plan (which was the Cadillac of all plans). And we took it without questioning the amount of coverage and cost.

6 years later, it dawns on me that maybe this coverage is…over the top. So we reviewed the policies, the same way we reviewed our car and home insurance. We chose to trim some of the coverage, which saved us $69 a month.

While it’s important to make sure you have enough coverage, especially if self employed, make sure to review your coverage yearly. Circumstances change, and there’s no point in paying for something that you don’t need anymore.

8. We began buying groceries at Aldis / online grocery ordering and pickup.

Savings: $80 a month

budgeting win
When you order 6 individual navel oranges through an online grocery service, and get 6 bags instead. #whowantsanorange #budgetingwin #timetomakethejuice

Our switch to Aldi’s saved us a lot of money monthly, and I will always recommend it if you have one nearby. However – for the sake of my sanity and NOT having to wrestle two kids while grocery shopping, I have switched to ordering groceries online and picking them up.

True, it’s not as cheap as Aldi’s, however, it’s worth that extra $20 to me if it means that I don’t have to waste an entire morning getting kids ready, shopping, wrangling, and putting things away – all while hollering at them to “put it down” and “keep your hands to yourself”! Not to mention all the “extras” that’d end up in our cart by walking up and down every aisle.

My latest budget win from ordering groceries online? I ordered 6 navel oranges at 68 cents a piece, which is what they charged me. What we got was 6 bags of oranges instead! That’s a total budgeting win, right? Now, to break out the juicer…

9. We paid off our credit card with a 9.75% interest rate.

Savings: $35+ in interest every month

Enough said. It’s silly to throw away at least $30 on interest every month. That’s a meal out or an awful lot of toilet paper!

10. We dropped our kid’s Tumbling Class.

Savings: $39 a month

Our daughter participated in a tumbling class through daycare every week. Sometimes she refused to go (who knows why). Since she was transferring from daycare to kindergarten soon, and it was summer and she got plenty of activity outside, we chose to remove her from the last three months of class.

While I think that kids need activities to help them learn different skillsets, it doesn’t hurt to question if it’s beneficial or not. Are they even going? Do they want to? Or, maybe it’s worth a temporary pause if you know you’ll be missing classes due to holidays or traveling during summer break anyway.

11. My husband started packing lunches for work.

Savings: $240 a month

My husband works outside the home and is not a planner (putting it lightly – but I still love you, dearest!). Convincing him to take his lunches was hard at first, but once we saw the financial benefits and the waistline benefits, he (somewhat) happily jumped on the bandwagon.

He still goes out to lunch, or forgets to pack. But now that’s part of his monthly fun money that’s part of our planned budget, rather than just a bunch of charges getting racked up on the credit card.

12. We Used iBotta, Ebates, TopCashBack, and Checkout 51, MobiSave, Savings Star to maximize rebates on purchases.

Savings: $10+ a month

I’ve tried just about every rebate app there is, and while they all work differently, it’s worth the time and effort to incorporate them into your shopping routine.

The best rebate apps to try out are:

Click here to read more on how I triple stacking my savings while shopping.

13. We used couponing websites to get the best deals on necessities, such as cat litter, toilet paper, and groceries.

Savings: Average about $20 a month

We’ve saved over $1000 just by using some simple cashback apps. My favorites are:

For couponing tips and tricks, these bloggers know their stuff! This is where I learned to stack my coupons and discounts and look for the best deals every week.

Not to mention, they stay on top of the latest updates to stores’ couponing policies, app updates and changes to all things sales based. These are the best of the best couponing sites to check out (in no particular order):

Learn more about beginner couponing mistakes and how to avoid them.

14. We started using the library to rent movies and check out books.

Savings: $15 a month
If you haven’t checked out your local library in awhile, you need to ASAP! Ours not only has books and DVDs to check out, but you can rent tons of digital items.

I can easily log into the library website, check out the books I want, download them from Amazon to my Kindle, and enjoy. Or, there’s even a streaming service now for movies as well. Now you don’t even have to hit a library in order to enjoy all of the benefits they have to offer!

Total Monthly Savings: $774

 

Additional Money Savings Ideas to Try

You should always be on the lookout for new ways to save money. Whether it reviewing your insurance policies once a year, or contacting customer service to see where you can cut costs, it’s not a “once and done” kind of thing.

For us, I have some new year goals set to find additional ways to save money. Some of them include:

  • Test out the Paribus app, which that automatically finds lower pricing on purchased items and files price adjustment claims for me.
  • Use Erin Chase’s My Freezeasy freezer meal planning program to save more on groceries (and on time!)
  • Reinstate the gift closet so that we’re prepared for birthdays and holidays
  • Budget for after holiday sales to pick up items we need at a discount
  • Research additional summer daycare options to compare pricing
  • Test out the Mint app versus Personal Capital and see which helps me save more money by keeping better track of it!
  • Try creating your own frugal cleaning hacks to save money on cleaning supplies while sparing your family from unwanted chemicals

Figuring out how to save money each month doesn’t mean having to eat rice and beans for the rest of your life. What it does mean is that you get to decide what’s important to you, and focus spending your money on that. Then, find ways to cut back on things that aren’t as important. Get those basics as low as possible and free up money so you can do things like pay off debt, invest, and save for retirement and college.

Do you have any budgeting tips or tricks up your sleeve? Share them below!

Double up on your debt payoff power by picking up a side hustle. Read more about the Ultimate List of Legit Side Hustles here.

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During the past year of budgeting, we’ve learned a lot of ways to save money. Here are 13 ways that we trimmed our budget in order to save over $700 a month! #budget #waystosavemoney

During the past year of budgeting, we’ve learned a lot of ways to save money. Here are 13 ways that we trimmed our budget in order to save over $700 a month! #budget #waystosavemoney

35 Stupid-Simple Ways to Travel on a Budget

35 Stupid-Simple Ways to Travel on a Budget

It’s estimated that 42 million Americans traveled last summer. At an average cost of $1200 per person, that’s a whole lotta dough. Traveling with a family or even friends can add up quick, making a family vacation cost about as much as your health insurance deductible. Ouch.

And that’s just for a summer vacation. What about girls’ weekend trips, holiday travel, and travel with your kid’s soccer team throughout the year?

With all of the commitments we make to spend more time with family and friends (and the soccer team), it can really put a dent on your budget or on your credit card.

Luckily, there are about a million and one ways to learn how to plan a trip on a budget. Whether you’re traveling on a budget with a family or you’re traveling in your mid 20s, here’s some great budget travel inspiration.

How to Travel on a Budget

When traveling, there are three main pieces that create the trip of a lifetime:

  • The dates you pick
  • Your budget
  • Your destination

If you can be flexible with dates or destinations, you can save money. However, if you’re set with a specific weekend or place, then we’ll have to trim the budget with some outside the box ideas.

With all of the commitments we make to spend more time with family and friends, it can really put a dent on your budget. Luckily, there are about a million and one ways to learn how to plan a trip on a budget. Whether you're traveling on a budget with a family or you're traveling in your mid 20s, here's some great budget travel inspiration. #budget #travel #traveltips #travelbudget #frugalliving

Create a Travel Budget You Can Stick With.

Start by creating your travel budget. This can be a rough guestimate of how much you think your vacation will cost, based on the number of days, people, and destinations.

Wondering what to include in a travel budget? Depending on how you’re traveling, and with whom, you’ll want to plan for:

  • Airfare
  • A place to stay
  • Car rental, taxis, Uber or public transportation
  • Gas
  • Travel insurance
  • Snacks, eating out or groceries
  • Tips for hotel staff, drivers tour guides, etc.
  • Activities such as theme parks, ziplines, etc.
  • Spending money
  • Must have trinkets or souvenirs

Obviously, a weekend trip budget is going to be much cheaper than traveling around europe with a family. However, it’s about deciding what’s important to you. Some people are foodies and want to dine at the finest restaurants. Others are all about the activities and couldn’t care less what their hotel room is like. Take some time to rank what’s important to you, and then work on cutting the costs on items that aren’t a priority.

Be Flexible.

The number one rule of traveling on a budget is to be flexiible. If you can be up in the air on dates or destinations, you’ll save a ton of money.

  1. Check out price variations on flights depending upon the days traveled. When searching airfare, there is often a calendar with pricing for each day. Traveling mid-week tends to be cheaper.To find cheap airfare, check out Google Flights. Not only can you view a calendar of flights with pricing, but you can set alerts that will let you know when the price dips for the dates and destinations you want. I love using this to keep an eye on flights for dream vacations.
  2. Consider staying over on Sunday night. Sunday night rates are usually cheaper than Friday or Saturday nights, since everyone heads home on Sunday.
  3. Try picking your destination based on where you can get a cheap flight to. If you’re stuck with traveling during a certain time, use Google Flights or my favorite, Scott’s Cheap Flights, to find cheap travel destinations that fit your schedule.

If you’re not able to change locations or dates, you can still save money by finding ways to trim your budget. There are four main categories where you can cut your budget and still have a great time: food, activities, transportation, and accomodations.

How to Save on Activities & Food During Your Vacation

Depending on your vacation plans, most of these great budget travel tips will work for you. It’s just picking and choosing what makes sense for your family, trip and budget:

1. Research your destination.

Before heading out on your trip, find travel bloggers, facebook groups, instagram accounts or local websites that can provide you with cost effective activities and places to eat. Do your research and find out what touristy activities are worth the money and which to skip.

Once you’re on vacation, don’t be shy. Make friends with the locals and find out where they go to relax or have a great meal. Chances are you’ll find something off the beaten path that you never would have found otherwise.

2. Find free events in the area.

Often you can find free activities through local websites. Some attractions have free days, or you can get free admission through your credit card, AAA membership, AARP or with a student ID.

3. Use attraction coupons found in brochures and tourist booklets.

You know the giant case I’m talking about – with a bazillion brochures and flyers in the hotel lobby. They’re hard to miss, since you’re usually staring at them while checking in. You can also find them in local restaurants or you can ask for extra brochures at the hotel’s front desk. Or, check out ShowTickets before you leave to get your attraction tickets early!

4. Talk to the concierge.

The concierge can not only help you get tickets or find activities, but they can help you find savings as well. They’ll know the cheapest ways to attend events and attractions, and where to find discounts.

5. Eat out for breakfast or lunch.

Since breakfast and lunch tend to be cheaper than dinner, you’ll save money by only eating out for the less expensive meals. Then grab something from the grocery or have leftovers for dinner.

6. Take advantage of continential breakfast or snacks provided by the hotel.

On the other hand, free breakfast is free breakfast, right? Often times there are some great snack options as well during continential breakfast that you can grab and use as snacks for later. By timing it right, you could eat a late breakfast, a snack and an early dinner, and save by skipping lunch altogether.

7. Find restaurants off the beaten path.

Main tourist streets – like the Strip in Vegas or Bourbon Street in New Orleans – are going to cost much more because they’re smack dab right in the middle of the tourist area. A rule of thumb is to walk 4 – 6 blocks away from the main tourist areas to find cheaper restaurants. (Of course, it goes without saying to avoid risking your safety for some cheap grub!)

8. Eat street food.

Depending upon how you feel about food carts and food trucks, these can be a great cheap option for a lighter lunch or dinner. Plus, you’ll get authentic local food that you might not easily find elsewhere.

9. Book a room with a fridge and a microwave.

If you’re staying for more than one night, booking a room with a fridge or microwave can be a perfect way to cut down on food costs. Whether you’re storing leftovers for later, cold water to take with on outings, or preparing meals, it’s a great help in trimming your food budget.

10. Use Yelp to find great eats in your price range.

Yelp is the perfect app/website for finding exactly what you’re want to eat. You can search by price, type of food, or location. Yelp reviews help to take the guesswork out of finding a great restaurant that’s in your budget.

11. Bring snacks with you.

Whether you’re hiking, roadtripping, or cruising the Riveria, bring snacks and water with you, always.

Carrying a refillable water bottle will also help to avoid spending extra money on overpriced drinks. Often there are ample opportunities to fill it up. For example, bring your reusable water bottle empty to the airport, and then fill it once you’re past security. It’s a great way to avoid spending money in the overpriced gift stores that can be found at the airport.

12. Pack a picnic.

My sister packs a picnic to take on car trips, which is brilliant. It gives the kids a chance to get out and stretch their legs and saves money on food at the same time. A total win-win!

This is also a great way to save while on vacation. Finding a local grocery and buying snacks to have a picnic is a great way to enjoy your destination’s parks and monuments.

13. Shop at farmer’s markets and local stores.

While in Switzerland and Paris, my husband and I stopped at the grocery and picked up cheese, bread, and salads, rather than eating at yet another restaurant. It’s a great alternative to yet another overpriced restaurant meal, without the waiting for seating and having to pay extra for tips.

13. Figure out food prior to being hungry.

Or, hangry. If you get hangry, you know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing worse than trying to find food when you’re starved and angry. Try to plan at least a couple of hours ahead so that you have a general idea of where your next meal is coming from.

Otherwise, you’ll just eat anything, anywhere in order to curb your hunger (and anger). Planning ahead means your stomach and wallet will thank you!

14. Take advantage of happy hour.

Plan ahead to have dinner during happy hour. While it is a bit early, chances are you can find a restaurant that has happy hour pricing. It’s the perfect time to split some appetizers, have some drinks, and not pay an arm and a leg.

15. Look for city tourism cards.

We used these city tourism cards in NYC, and I thought they worked out great. You get entry into over 100 attractions for a fraction of the price. Plus, it helped us to plan out which activities we absolutely had to see while we were there.

They were easy to use, and only a few attractions you had to register for. Otherwise, they covered everything from city bus tours to the Empire State building! These are two of my favorites:

Transportation on a Budget

While traveling by car is the cheapest way to travel with family, the recent drop in cost of flights makes flying a close second.

No matter how you chose to get there, transportation is generally the biggest cost. Here are some great shortcuts to help you trim down your transportation costs.

1. Go directly to the airline website to purchase your tickets.

While I’ve never tried it, some people swear by booking directly on the airline’s website once you’ve found the flights you want. The idea is that you’ll be more likely to hit any additional deals or sales by booking directly.

2. Compare the cost of booking two one-way flights.

Sometimes booking open flights, or one way flights, can be more cost effective than booking round trip. Using a comparison website should be helpful in figuring out whether this budget travel method will work for you or not. Some websites to try are:

If you’re wondering how to travel on a budget in Europe, consider open jaw fares. Open jaw is where you fly Point A to Point B, then on the return trip fly Point C to Point A. This is a great way to save if you’re traveling internationally or are planning a vacation with multiple destinations.

3. Book your flights on the weekend.

I’ve never thought to try this, but it’s rumored that booking your flight during the weekend means that it’ll likely be cheaper. The idea is that corporate travel bookings tend to happen during the week, so prices are up.

4. Consider alternate transportation.

Once you’re at your destination, consider alternatives to renting a car. You can Uber, walk, rent a bike, or use public transportation.

Consider booking a hotel that’s central to everything you want to see, so that you can walk when possible and take public transportation the rest of the time.

5.  Make sure your car is in tip top shape.

If you’re headed out on a road trip, make sure your car is just as ready as you are. It’s important to check tire pressure and get an oil change if needed. While you’re there, have the attendant top off any fluids and check your air filter as well.

To make your car as fuel efficient as possible, try to keep your speed under 65. Studies show that going faster than 65 lessens your car’s fuel effiency.

And for the love of pete, don’t pull a Griswold and overpack or drag something behind you!

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How to Save Big on Travel Accomodations

One of the best budget travel tips that I know of is to consider alternate places to stay. While hotels are nice, they tend to be the priciest. If you are up for a little adventure and trying something new, I recommend considering one of these accomodation alteratives:

1. Go camping.

If you want to know how to travel cheap in the USA, look no further. Camping is one of the best ways to cut travel expenses and enjoy the great outdoors. You can stay in a national park, at an HOA campsite, or somewhere in between. To get started finding the perfect spot, check out Camping-USA.com.

2. Rent an AirBnB.

Depending upon how many people you have and your length of stay, you can easily rent an entire house through AirBnB for much cheaper than several hotel rooms. With more people to split the cost, it turns out a ton cheaper and you often have more options than you would at a hotel.

Even better, you have a kitchen so you can cook (or at least use the fridge to stash your booze). With some easy meals and drinking at the rental, you’ll save a ton of cash. All of this makes AirBnBs are the perfect for cheap family vacations!

3. Crash at a friend’s or family member’s house.

We’re not all lucky enough to know someone in Italy with an amazing guesthouse, and who’s willing to put up with a family world travel adventure (dang it). However, chances are you know someone that lives in a pretty amazing place and is willing to let you crash.

Obviously offer them some form of compensation in return – whether it’s money, cooking for the week, or rewiring the electric in their entire house – so that they don’t regret ever opening the door.

By bypassing having to get a hotel room, and being a polite houseguest, you’ll save a ton of money and hopefully become closer to someone you wanted to spend some time with anyway.

4. Stay in a hostel.

I stayed at a working commune type place in Switzerland once. I would like to think that hostels tend to lean more towards that than the horror movies that I avoid watching. If you’re brave enough to try it, hostels are a great cheap alternative to hotels.

And really – you’re not likely to spend much time in your room. So what’s the big deal about sharing a room with some fellow travelers? If you’re comfortable enough, check out your options on sites like Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor is full of great reviews so you can get realistic feedback about everything from places to stay to activities in the area.

If you’re still planning on staying in a hotel

Ok, fine – you’re not the super adventrous type. That’s totally cool, I get it. If you still want the security or luxuries of hotel living, here are travel on a budget tips that will still help you save on hotel rooms:

1. Don’t get the best room.

How much time are you really spending in your hotel room anyway? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

If you’re just looking for a place to crash in between outings, don’t get the best room possible. You can easily trim your budget by not opting for the penthouse suite and getting something that’s clean, simple and budget friendly.

2. Always stay at the same place.

Staying loyal to one particular brand of hotel means that you can sign up for their hotel rewards program and earn points.

However, if you find that their pricing is always higher than other options, I would stick with the immediate savings of a cheaper room than versus the earning of points. Hotel reward programs really only work if you frequent the hotel enough with a year to accumulate enough points to redeem them for free stays.

3. Stay longer.

Staying over a Sunday night is cheaper, and staying more than one night can sometimes work out to a discount. Some hotels reward customers with a free night or discounted nights if they stay longer.

4. Call the hotel directly to book your stay.

By calling to book your stay, you can ask for a discount while you’re booking the room. If you like to live dangerously, you can try to book the a couple of days in advance. Chances are they could have empty rooms that they’re happy to fill at a discount, rather than let them sit empty and make nothing on them.

If you go this route, you’d better have a couple of back up plans just in case there’s a cheerleading competition in town that weekend, and every hotel is booked up!

Additional Traveling on a Budget Tips

These are some tried and true additional savings ideas to get your within your travel budget. While they didn’t quite fit into any of the categories above, they’re still absolutely worth mentioning!

1. Travel during off peak times.

If you’re wondering how to travel cheap in Europe, try off peak times. Off peak times, or shoulder periods, can be a great time to travel for dirt cheap.

For example, we went to Ireland at the end of February. Their high tourist season is April, May (spring flowers), July, August, and October. However, the weather was great (a little rainy) but warm enough that we didn’t freeze. We were able to get around easier and avoid the crowds for a lot of the attractions.

While there were a couple of attractions not open, it was well worth it. We even ate dinner at a restaurant one night and were literally the only patrons in the entire place!

Flights, hotels and car rental were much cheaper because it was off season as well. So instead of looking for cheap places to travel internationally, try figuring out when the off season is for your international destination. If you can grab that window right before or after the tourist season, you can save thousands.

2. Cash in those credit card points.

Assuming you have a credit card that offer frequent flyer miles or some sort of travel benefits, cash them in.

Or, consider travel hacking. It’s not for the faint of heart, but travel hacking is opening credit cards at the right time to score a ton of points and get free flights or hotel stays. Another popular option is to optimize your flights on an airline like Southwest, so that you fly enough to earn not only a free companion pass for the year, but free flights as well.

3. Find discounts through everyday places.

You’d be surprised at some of the places you can find discounts for travel:

  • Costco or Sam’s Club: While I’ve never looked there, I hear great things about the vacation packages through membership clubs. If you’re looking for an all-in-one option, this could be worthwhile if you already have a membership.
  • Groupon: Groupon has great discounted travel package deals all the time, especially for budget travel destinations and international locations.
  • Your employer: Some employers off perks such as discount travel packages through their corporate travel agent. Ask around and see if they offer any programs to their employees.
  • Travelzoo’s Top 20: This is a weekly email that goes out and has discounted hotel, flights, and activities that are flash sales. You can sign up here if you want to receive the weekly top 20 deals email.
  • Social media & newsletters: Follow your favorite brands so you’ll know when they offer an epic discount on a trip you’ve had your eye on.

4. Use your age (or cash) to get even more discounts.

Whip out your student ID or AARP membership to see if they offer student or senior discounts. Hey, it’s always worth a shot, right?

Also, try asking for a cash discount. See if paying with cash can get score you an extra discount as well. If you’re feeling really brave, try bargaining. In some countries bargaining on a purchase is expected.

Try shopping where the locals shop to get better deals. Buy your souvenirs from a local store rather than a tourist shop.

Have you tried any of these travel on a budget tips? Have you figured out how to travel the world with no money (or just a little money)? If so, leave your comments and tips below!

With all of the commitments we make to spend more time with family and friends, it can really put a dent on your budget. Luckily, there are about a million and one ways to learn how to plan a trip on a budget. Whether you're traveling on a budget with a family or you're traveling in your mid 20s, here's some great budget travel inspiration. #budget #travel #traveltips #travelbudget #frugalliving

Cheap Dinner Ideas for When You’re Broke

Cheap dinner ideas for when you're broke

When it comes to budgeting, one of the easiest places to overspend is the food category. We’re so busy running from work to picking up kids to extracurricular activities, it’s almost impossible to find the will or energy to cook dinner every night.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spent $3,008 eating out1.

$3000? That’s a reeaaaaally nice vacation, right? Or a heck of a jumpstart on a college fund, retirement savings, or debt repayment. When you give the savings a monetary value, like $3,000, it helps to make it easier to set budget goals and cut back on eating out.

Even if you fight the temptation to eat out, then we have to have meal plans in plan. At the very least, some default cheap dinner ideas that can be made without too much work or energy.

I don’t know about you, but often it can be tempting to just slosh down a bowl of cereal in front of each kid and call it a day. Especially after a long day at work when my husband’s working late and no one is there to witness my lack of cooking.

Thankfully, there are a ton of great cheap dinner ideas out there that are quick, effortless and cheap. It’s just a matter of making a quick meal plan for the week and getting the groceries. (Thank goodness for grocery pick up and delivery, right?)

Whether you’re looking for cheap recipes for families or cheap dinner ideas for 2, I’ve got you covered here with a ton of great dinner ideas to help you save money.

These cheap dinner ideas will help you create super quick, budget-friendly meals that can be whipped together in 30 minutes or less! #dinnerideas #budgetcooking #cheapdinnerideas #dinnerrecipes

Quick Tips to Jump Start Cheap Dinners at Home

Thankfully, there are a ton of quick and easy shortcuts to make cheap easy meals on a budget. These tips will help you create super quick dinner ideas that can be whipped together in a matter of 30 minutes or less.

Let me be the first to tell you: it’s ok to take shortcuts. If you want to buy frozen, pre-cooked chicken breasts, great. If you want to buy frozen vegetables, do it! It’s impossible to do cheap dinners every night, exactly how you want to. But what you can aim for is to do better than before.

If you went out to eat five times a week, aim to only go out three times a week to start. Doing it perfectly is not going to happen. But doing it better than last week can.

Buy and prep meat in bulk.

Find the best place to buy meat in bulk and freeze or prep at once. Some people shop at local farms for larger meat orders. Others use services like the now defunct Zaycon, which I loved and am so sad that it shut down.

Another great idea is to purchase a rotisserie chicken and use the meat in multiple recipes. The hard work of cooking the chicken has already been done for you, so you just need to figure out what recipes you want to use it in.

Consider using frozen vegetables and fruits.

People diss frozen fruit and veggies, but they’re flash frozen which actually locks in more nutrients. Unless you have the time to properly prepare and blanch vegetables, frozen is a great option. Plus, they won’t go bad before you can use them the same way fresh produce does. (I’m looking at you, bananas!)

Get help with trimming your grocery budget.

If you still need additional help with cutting your grocery budget, I highly recommend the Grocery Budget Makeover. We were able to cut our grocery budget in half by using the steps in this course!

Now that we have some cheap grocery shortcuts out of the way, here’s some quick healthy dinner ideas.

Basic Quick Dinner Ideas

A cheap dinner idea is to make sandwiches with items you have in the fridgeBLTs

Simple, quick and perfect for a late dinner. They’re easy to adapt to everyone’s preferences and you can even pre-cook the bacon (or turkey bacon) in the oven. Win-win!

Paninis and Sandwiches

Nothing’s easier than making a sandwich (Except maybe cereal…). They’re just so easy to dress up with some nice bread, condiments and sides to make it a filling meal. Throw it in a panini press and it’s a great way to treat yourself after a long day at work.

Soups

Whether they’re premade from the deli, or you’ve cooked it all day in your crockpot, soups are an easy and cheap dinner idea. Pair it with a sandwich or a nice crusty loaf of French bread and salad, and you’ve got a really easy and filling meal.

Sausage, Peppers & Onions

A classic and easy meal, just slice and sautee peppers, onions and sausage. From hot Italian sausage to turkey kielbasa, this cheap dinner idea is really versatile. Throw it on a hoagie bun or a bed of rice and you’ve got a meal.

Cheap Meals for Large Families

Feeding a large family on a tight budget isn’t easy. But it can be done by finding ways to purchase and cook in bulk. Hearty comfort meals that are filling and served family style are perfect for large families:

Chili with Cornbread

The beauty of chili is that it can be cooked on the stove, in a crockpot, or with an instapot. It’s easy to make large batches of, and the ingredients are relatively cheap. It can be served with sides to cater to everyone’s tastes: chopped onions, peppers, cheese or sour cream.

Cornbread is the perfect side to chili and there are a ton of great recipes out there. It can be savory or sweet, made in cast iron or a 9×11 pan. Again, the variations are endless depending upon who you’re feeding!

Potato Sausage Foil Packs

While these usually remind people of camping, they’re an easy way to cook something delicious with easy clean up, which I’m all for!

Traditionally, these are usually potato, onion and sausage. But you can mix it up and add:

  • A variety of veggies, like chunks of corn cobs, green beans, or zuchinni
  • Herbs, spices or sauces to give it different flavors
  • Cheese
  • Different meats, such as chicken, shrimp or cuts of beef

Shepherds pie is a quick and easy cheap dinner ideaShepherd’s Pie

If you have not tried Shepherd’s Pie, you are missing out. Then some amazing beef stew, topped with mashed potatoes that have been slightly crisped on top in the oven. But a zillion times better than that description.

We used to go to a fabulous Scottish Pub in Pittsburgh that served chicken Shepherd’s Pie. It has chicken, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and an amazing sauce that could have had Guiness in it. It was a thing of beauty.

You can find packets in the spice aisle at the grocery for Shepherd’s Pie to create the sauce/flavoring for you. Just add your choice of meat, cooked vegetables, and top with mashed potatoes. Perfect for a cold winter night as well as a big family.

Casseroles

Casseroles of any form are an easy go-to for cheap healthy meals for family. I love them because you can fit vegetables, protein and a big ol’ helping of comfort food together in one dish. Easy clean up, right?

If you’re looking for inspiration, think back to what your mother or grandma used to make. Unless it’s Tuna Surprise (sorry mom, love you but NOT the Tuna Surprise). Then your next best bet is to hit up Pinterest for some quick and easy casserole ideas that the family will love.

Cheap, Healthy Vegetarian Meals

Some of our favorite cheap family meals are vegetarian, since we don’t eat a lot of meat in our house. We tend to eat a lot of beans and soy sausage, along with chicken. Some of our favorite recipes are:

Stir Fry

Stir fry is so quick and easy to make you don’t even need a recipe. Just grab your favorite vegetables, a bottle of you favorite teryaki or stir fry sauce. Don’t forget to add seasame seeds, nuts, and spices. Make some rice, or, if you want to get fancy, noodles and fry it all up in some seasame oil.

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are the perfect quick and easy mealBaked potatoes are a great cheap dinner idea and can be made in the oven or the crockpot and topped with just about anything, like:

  • Vegetables like steamed broccoli or sauteed mushrooms and onions
  • Proteins like shredded chicken or bacon
  • Any type of cheese
  • Condiments like hot sauce, pesto, or sour cream

Some combinations to try:

  • Chili and cheddar cheese
  • Cheese, sour cream, chives and bacon
  • Black beans and salsa
  • Cottage cheese, black pepper and chives
  • Gorgonzola and buffalo sauce, sour cream, green onions
  • BBQ pulled chicken or pork with cheddar cheese
  • Fried egg and sriracha
  • Fajita seasoning with grilled chicken, peppers and onions, topped with sour cream

Homemade Salads

Another vegetarian cheap dinner idea is to grab a bag of mixed salad greens and top them with whatever you’re in the mood for. Grab crutons, cheese, chickpeas, nuts, or hard boiled eggs. Or try a sweeter salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, and feta cheese. Use whatever toppings you have to build a salad and make a super quick and easy meal.

Quick Dinner Ideas with Chicken

Some of the best cheap healthy family meals use chicken. It’s a cheaper option for protein for meat eaters, and is versatile enough to create a variety of cheap dinner ideas. Chicken can create the perfect comfort food, spicy entree, or healthy dinner idea for kids. Certain cuts are cheaper than others, such as chicken thighs. Stores like Aldi’s or a purchasing in bulk from local farm options can help to cut meat costs as well. Some great quick dinner ideas with chicken are:

Chicken Crockpot Meals

I have a ton of great chicken crockpot and instapot recipes that I’ve found through Pinterest. I love that I can set it up in the morning and have dinner ready by the time I’m done with work. I just make some rice and cook some vegetables, and dinner is served!

If you’re not sure where to start, these are my absolute favorite go-to crockpot recipes. Even better, these recipes are freezer meals that you can prep on the weekend and throw in the crockpot each morning. Our favorites is the Crockpot Cafe Rio Chicken, which is even a hit with the kids.

Chicken fried rice is an easy chicken dish that is cheap and quick to makeChicken Fried Rice

The beauty of chicken fried rice, besides being easy, is that you can adjust it according to what you have in the fridge. No egg? No problem. Don’t have any peas? Add extra carrots. Chicken fried rice also doesn’t need much meat either, so it’s a great way to stretch the some kitchen staples into a full meal.

Chicken and Dumplings

My kids love this – and it’s so easy. Chicken and dumplings is the perfect comfort food for a cold day. It’s a great family dinner idea for those busy nights of activities and homework as well. This recipe is the one we use and love!

Cheap Dinner Ideas for Kids

While it’s easiest to opt for cereal or peanut butter and jelly when it comes to feeding the kids, there are still plenty of easy kid friendly dinner recipes to try. They don’t have to be complicated or a crazy ton of work to be meals kids love.

Try any of these healthy kid friendly meals on a budget to help make it through the week:

A cheap easy dinner idea that kids will love is grilled cheese and soupGrilled Cheese and Soup

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a childhood classic, and for good reason. It’s easy to make and everyone loves it. Try switching it up with different combinations of cheese or other types of soup.

Sloppy Joes

Another great childhood classic are Sloppy Joes, which can be made with ground beef or turkey. Kick it up a notch by making Korean BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes. Use your favorite buns, or use thick sliced bread to make a grilled cheese Sloppy Joe combo. Sloppy Joe mix can be thrown it in a casserole dish and top with tater tots to give it a new spin. The possibilities are endless, and Pinterest has some great recipes on how to mix it up.

Breakfast for Dinner

Often called “brinner”, breakfast for dinner is a great way to serve a balanced meal without too much effort. Whether it’s pancakes and sausage, oatmeal with berries, or eggs with toast, kids love breakfast. Serving it at dinnertime adds an extra bit of excitement to the meal as well!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a cheap easy healthy meal that you can be sure the kids will eat. Really, any pasta and sauce will do, right? I usually end up making two batches of sauce – one a more traditional (plain) style of the kids, and a a second batch with onions, mushrooms and spices for my husband and I. There are a million combinations of pasta, sauce and additional add-ins that you’re sure to find something that pleases everyone.

Burritos

Whether breakfast or bean, burritos are a healthy dinner ideas for kids that they’ll love to eat. Any combination of toppings make a personalized meal for each family member, and setting out the ingredients allows them to build their own. Less work for you and more fun for the kids!

With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to find cheap dinner ideas to feed your family, no matter what their tastes. Use these ideas to help build a repertoire of go-to meals when time of short and budgets are tight.

Using these cheap dinner ideas will help you to not only save money, but to also eat out less. When you have a backup plan for those crazy busy nights with the family, you’ll be much less likely to eat out. Don’t forever to learn how to trim your monthly grocery budget as well!

Source:

1 https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/consumer-expenditures/2015/pdf/home.pdf

These cheap dinner ideas will help you create super quick, budget-friendly meals that can be whipped together in 30 minutes or less! #dinnerideas #budgetcooking #cheapdinnerideas #dinnerrecipes

The Ultimate List of Legit Side Hustles Idea for 2019

The ultimate list of legit side hustle ideas for 2019!

The easiest way to pay off debt is by finding the best side hustles that fit your schedule. There are a billion great side hustles out there, everything from proofreading to delivering pizzas. Some involve learning a new skillset, while many others have costly start-up fees to get going.

The key to finding side hustles that work are to focus on ones that fit into your life. If you have a 9 to 5, or do shift work, you’re most likely to find success with finding somewhat unusual ways to make money. Finding an MLM isn’t likely to work, seeing as how their success rates are stastically dismal at best.

Low Start-Up Cost Legitimate Side Hustles (that aren’t MLMs)

MLMs (multi-level marketing) are side hustle jobs that are dependent upon your commission from sales, but also on getting others to sign up underneath you, so you’re earning a bit of their profits as well. They usually involve some sort of in-home or online party where a friend hosts it to make money towards their purchases. It usually involves products from leggings to face creams to kitchen products to kids books to food. You know what I’m talking about, right? There’s one for just about any type of product you can imagine.

While I’m not personally against MLMs (as I’ve said before), they work for such a small percentage of people. Why? Because not everyone’s built to be a salesperson. If you don’t have the right skillset or personality (or an insanely HUGE friend/family group to sell to), it’s almost impossible to make back the start-up money that you invested. Not only have you lost our on your time and energy, but you’ve lost out on even more money than if you’d done nothing at all.

On top of that, we’ve recently run into a rash of bizarre and ridiculous news stories in which women (typically) are being pushed into buying more product to sell, even when sales are down. When they try to step away from the business, they end up stuck with a ton of merchandise they can’t offload and no way to recoup that cost.

While I believe that you have to invest money to make money, starting the best side hustle for you shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. It also shouldn’t be a steep learning curve to getting yourself up to snuff in order to make money. When choosing the best side hustle to make money, you need to think about your return on investment. If you’re looking for a part time businesses to supplement your income, and just need to make quick money, remember to keep things simple. There are plenty of ways to make money with little to no money to get started.

I’ve gathered a list of easy and low cost side hustles that aren’t MLMs to get you started quickly on your path to debt repayment!

Can't find a great side hustle that's legit? Use these side hustle ideas to find one that fits your schedule and pays you well! #sidehustle #sidegig #financialfreedom #debt #debtrepayment

Work from Home and Online Side Hustles

I love finding online jobs for extra income – they tend to be easier side hustles and can be done while watching TV in the evenings. There are a ton of side jobs from home out there, but unfortunately a lot of them can be scams. Be careful with anything that sounds too good to be true!

  • Create printables on Etsy/Crafty (if you already have the software and skills)
  • Get paid to test websites at Usertesting.com (this is my go-to side hustle when I need easy ways to make money!)
  • Teach English through a company like VIPKid, which pays $14 – $22 an hour and lets you set your own schedule
  • Do affiliate marketing. You don’t need a website, you can do this through Pinterest or landing pages at ConvertKit
  • Edit videos with software
  • Digital bills/paperwork organization
  • Offer budgeting services and help others organize their bills and get started on their debt snowball
  • Plan vacations/seek out vacation deals for others
  • Find deals for others on particular items, get paid a percentage of the savings
  • Write blog posts for other bloggers
  • Proofreading / editing
  • Do jobs on Fiverr
  • Do surveys on Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, Springboard America, etc.
  • Participate in in-home testing of products through companies like Swagbucks
  • Become a VA (Virtual Assistant)
  • Become a Social Media Manager
  • Be a coach or consultant in something you’re passionate about
  • Publish an ebook
  • Sell your photos on stock photography sites
  • Trade in old gift cards
  • Become a voiceover actor
  • Become a video game / app tester
  • Get paid to do research
  • Review and edit resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles
  • Provide translation services
  • Become a personal assistant
  • Data entry services
  • Become a customer service rep (there are many opportunities to be your own boss and work from home here!)
  • Sell items you no longer want online through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, LetGo, or Craiglist
  • Help family members or friends sell their household items online and earn a percentage of the sale
  • Start a blog
  • Create and sell crafts online through Etsy
  • Offer personal styling coaching
  • Become a brand ambassador for your favorite products

Get Paid to Drive

Driving or delivery side hustles are a great way to get out of the house and make some money. It’s not all about delivering pizzas, as Dave Ramsey would suggest.

Thanks to technology, there are so many more options to get paid to drive now. 10 years ago, your options were to deliver pizzas or find seasonal work with the post office, UPS or FedEx.

Now, there are many possibilities to make money driving. You might be able to use your own car, or even bike or scooter depending on your location. Here are just a few popular options:

  • Drive with Uber. When you drive with Uber, you can use your car to give people rides. You can earn on your schedule – including tips that riders can add from the app!By driving with Uber, you can set your driving schedule. You can get paid to a debit card up to five times per day when you register for Instant Pay! With 24/7 phone support, in-person support, and more, it’s a great way to make extra money on your schedule, not someone else’s. Click here to learn more about earning with Uber
  • Deliver with Uber Eats. Another great opportunity with Uber is to become a delivery partner with Uber Eats. There’s no picking up or dropping off any passengers (unless you count fettuccine alfredo with a side of breadsticks!). The requirements are a bit more flexible than driving with Uber as well, in that you can deliver with a car, scooter or even a bike (depending on your location). Again, you set your schedule and can get paid instantly (including tips) up to five times a day when you register for Instant Pay with your debit card.Sign up, download the app, and receive food delivery requests after you have completed your activation process. Pick the order up, deliver it, and on to the next one! The Uber Partner app gives you the option to use turn-by-turn navigation to every destination, or you use your own navigation app. This side hustle’s a win for college students, folks with full time jobs, or anyone with a family. Click here to learn more about earning with Uber Eats
  • Delivery meals with DoorDash. DoorDash is a food delivery service that has partnered with local restaurants in over 300 cities across the U.S. Be your own boss, work on your own schedule, and make great money doing it! Learn More about DoorDash
  • Drive for Lyft. Lyft provides a great opportunity to earn some extra money. With increased prime time pricing and the ability to keep your tips, means you’ll make more in less time. Learn More about Lyft

Physical and Outdoor Side Hustle Ideas

A lot of these easy hustles for cash are things that some people can’t do anymore themselves. Look for opportunities in your neighborhood, church or with family friends. They’re great, creative ideas to make money outside of your normal work hours as well:

  • Dog/house sitter
  • Dog walker
  • Start a paper route
  • Shovel snow
  • Delivery work
  • Wash cars or windows
  • Offer power washing services
  • Sell vegetables, flowers, or bulbs from your garden
  • Do laundry for those without access to washers/dryers
  • Flip furniture
  • Run errands for others
  • Clean carpets
  • Read to people who are physically unable to
  • Haul things for others
  • Pick up/trade in scrap metal
  • Help people move
  • Meal planning for busy parents and families
  • Offer latch key hours for kids in the neighborhood until their parents get home
  • Bartend / Waiter / Waitress
  • Seasonal work with USPS, FedEx or UPS
  • Provide elder care so that family members can run errands or get a break
  • Set up and take down outdoor holiday decorations
  • Batch cook food and sell the meals
  • Sell holiday baked goods at church, work or elsewhere
  • Groom pets, clip nails (assuming you already have experience)
  • Provide chauffer services to those that can’t drive
  • Offer grocery buying services
  • Offer gift wrapping services
  • Help with seasonal work around the house (changing furnance filters, winterizing, covering A/C, etc.)

Turn Your Current Job into an Easy Side Hustle

Don’t forget to look to your current job for additional easy ideas to make money. It can be easier to land one of these because you’ve already established yourself as a reliable worker and you’re already on the payroll:

  • Ask for a raise
  • Ask for additional duties at your main job for additional compensation
  • Pick up a better paying shift and/or holiday hours
  • Pick up extra shifts/hours
  • Figure out how to do your current job in a freelance capacity
  • Look around for your position at another company – get paid more for the same work!
  • See where you can earn referral fees for networking you already do
  • Teach classes about your skillset online or in person
  • Create a course online that focuses on the skills used in your current job
  • Set up a coffee cart or snack bar at work to sell goodies
  • Sell your craft items at work
  • Pick up an after hours job cleaning at your workplace

Remember, you already have the skillset, so your learning curve would be minimal as well as your financial investment. Going with a job that you already currently do – but in a different capacity – is one of the best side jobs for extra money out there.

Start a Small, Part-Time Business to Earn Extra Income from Home

If you’re looking for a bit more than side gig ideas, consider creating your own business. It doesn’t have to be formal and difficult, just find ways to make money on the side that involve having a clientele base you want to grow:

  • Small engine repair (if you already have the know-how and tools)
  • Landscaping / mow lawns
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Handyman
  • Starting a cleaning service
  • Repair computers
  • Hauling services to the dump
  • Digitize and organize documents for people and businesses
  • Teach music, art or computer lessons
  • Teach others the ins and outs of your favorite hobbies
  • Do nails (assuming you’re already a licensed technican)
  • Cut hair (assuming you’re already a licensed technican)
  • Clean pools
  • Start a painting service
  • Start an organization service to help people with clutter and cleaning out their homes
  • Become an event planner
  • Rent a room to do massage therapy (assuming you are a licensed massage therapist already)
  • Babysit or start an in-home daycare
  • Become a sleep training guru for toddlers (I would have handed over my retirement funds for this one, seriously!)
  • Create and sell crafts at craft shows or through a friend’s storefront. Anything you can possibly make can be sold, including:
    • Soaps, lotions, scrubs, and candles
    • Knitted, crocheted and sewn items
    • Painted signs, furniture, and picture frames
    • T-shirts, signs, or mugs with Cricut vinyl sayings ironed on
    • Embroidery or needlework, or printed and framed graphics
    • Birdhouses, work carvings
    • Scrapbooks, handmade cards, bullet journals or planners
    • Drawings, paintings, or graphics files
    • Hair bows, headbands, tutus, or toys for kids
    • Wreaths, swags, floral arrangements, and table arrangements
    • Home decor or holiday decor
  • Offer professional photography services at family/friend events
  • DJ for parties and weddings (without all the crazy equipment)
  • Become a wedding organizer that helps the couple arrange details, complete tasks, and ensures the day runs smoothly
  • Help with organizing tax paperwork or help file taxes (if you know how)
  • Tailor / seamstress services
  • Bake and sell treats and cakes for parties and special occasions
  • Buy flowers wholesale, then create and sell flower arrangements
  • Tutor kids with reading, math or other classes
  • Provide coaching for job interviews

Turn a Side Hustle into Passive Income

One of the absolute best ways to make money is through passive income, hands down. Passive income is money that you make while sleeping. Ok, not really – but I got your attention, right? 😉

Active income is money that you earn by doing an active job, such as your 9 – 5 office job. Passive income is income that’s created by investing either time or money into an income stream, and then reaping the benefits further down the line, once all of your work is done.

There are a ton of great passive income ideas to explore – but here are a few just to get you started:

  • Rent out a room
  • Use your home for AirBnB
  • Rent out your car
  • Rent out your possesions, such as tools, movies or books
  • Wrap your car in advertising
  • Start a blog
  • Design and sell t-shirts, mugs and signs through Amazon or CafePress
  • Dropship on Amazon
  • Create a YouTube channel and earn money off of the ads
  • Write an ebook
  • Sell stock photos
  • Earn referral fees for products you use, such as Ibotta or Ebates.

If you’re interested in learning more about other passive income ideas, check out The Best Passive Income Ideas to Boost Your Income.

How Do You Figure Out the Best Side Hustle?

The best advice I can give is to find side hustles that match your skillset. By picking jobs that you already know how to do, you’ll feel more confident when applying for them, and will be able to have a larger return on your investment by shortening your start-up costs and time.

Making money on the side doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. It’s about finding different hustles that fit your needs. When you figure out what you need, and take a look, you’ll find tons of great ways to make extra money.

Speeding up the debt repayment process doesn’t have to be difficult, costly or overly time consuming. What it really takes is figuring out your “why” and putting yourself out there. If you’re willing to work harder and smarter, you’ll find yourself debt free in no time!

Have you figured out the best side hustle for you that fits with your schedule and family? Or do you have more to add? Post them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

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How to Get Out of Debt: We Paid Off $26,619 in 17 Months

How to get out of debt

Racking up debt can happen for a variety of reasons: overspending, medical issues, a car accident, a layoff.

Often it can take just one or two unplanned instances to end up neck deep and struggling – especially if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck.

Millions of Americans are one paycheck away from accuring more debt, or worse – bankruptcy.

My family has been there. We’ve struggled with worrying about going negative every month and using the last small bit of savings we had to stay afloat. Forget figuring out how to eliminate credit card debt on top of that.

We didn’t spend lavishly or have fancy cars and clothes. But we did spend foolishly, by not keeping track of what we had coming in versus going out.

Not to mention we were so disorganized and constantly playing catch up in all aspects of life, including our money.

It doesn’t matter why you have debt – what’s important is that you’re ready to learn how to get out of debt and have the tools you need to finally become debt free.

In this article I’ll outline step-by-step how we officially, finally became debt free (hooray!) and the tools and tricks we used to get there.

Struggling to pay off your debt is no way to live. Why not make this year the year you finally drop the burden of debt once and for all?

5/01/18 Update: We’ve now paid off $26,619 of debt in just 17 months and raised our net worth by $57,952!

Our Steps to Being Debt Free

My husband and I had accrued various types of debt for almost 20 years. We were struggling to figure out how to get out of debt and stay there. While we weren’t necessarily drowning in debt, we weren’t killing it in savings and investments either. Just a lot of living for the day and never setting any financial goals.

My husband and I, on our debt payoff journey and honeymoonMost of our debt was from life in general. Student loans, two costly births, a car wreck, credit cards, home improvements. Having a house on the market for almost a year after moving to a new state certainly didn’t help.

We finally sold our house when we had $700 left in savings to cover the next month’s expenses. The term “living beyond our means” couldn’t have more accurate.

All these decisions we had made stacked, and stacked, and stacked – until I realized just how dangerously everything was teetering.

It was like a bunch of wobbly teacups stacked in angles on top of each other, just waiting for a tiny push to topple them over. I began to realize just how one tiny thing, like a job loss, could topple everything and break us financially.

We needed help getting out of debt, and fast. Continue reading

The 18 Best Cash Back Apps that will Save You Thousands

The 18 best cash back apps that will save you thousands!

Everybody I know loves to bring home the spoils of a great sale, if only to brag about how much they saved on their score. And with the holidays quickly approaching, the sales are really ramping up. So now is the time to double down on those bragging rights and start using cash back apps to sweeten the savings!

There are a ton of cash back and rebate sites out there. Sifting through them to find the best cash back apps is time consuming at best. Luckily, I’ve taken the time to pull together a comprehensive list of the absolute best.

There are a ton of cash back and rebate sites out there. Sifting through them to find the best cash back apps is time consuming at best. Luckily, I've taken the time to pull together a comprehensive list of the absolute best. #cashback #frugal #savings #savingmoney #cashback #savemoney

How to Make Money from Your Receipts

There are two options to maximize savings while shopping:

  • Cash back apps
  • Rebate websites

Cash back apps have a list of items that they provide cash back on. Then, once you purchase them, you scan the receipt and depending on the app, the barcode of the product. Your earned cashback sits in an account until you hit a certain thershold (generally $20), and then you can request for the account to be paid out via Paypal, check, or directly to your bank account.

Examples of cash back apps are: Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Shopkick, or Receipt Hog.

Rebate websites involve clicking through that website to the retailer you want to buy from. Not only do these sites offer cash back, but they often have some great coupons to help stack your savings. Sites like Ebates pay out quarterly, no matter how much is in your account.

Examples of rebate sites are: Ebates, Topcashback.

Whether it’s an app or a site, it’s really easy to submit your receipts or click through a link and claim your money. Once you get into the habit of looking at these spots for savings first, you’ll not only save cash but your time as well.

Next, I’ll cover which apps work best for shopping, groceries, gas, and other items.

The Best cash back apps for shopping

These are the best cash back apps for shopping that you can use to save your money. Stack these with sales and you’ll be golden:

Ebates

Ebates is easily one of my top cash back apps to save money when I shop online. They have cash back for over 2500 stores online, and they’ve recently added cash back in stores as well!

There are three ways to save with Ebates:

  • Go through the Ebates website and click through their link to your favorite retailers
  • Install an extension on your Chrome browser that alerts you every time you visit a retailer that Ebates offers cash back at (my favorite way!)
  • Download their cash back app for Android or iOS

As an added bonus, Ebates offer coupons that you can’t get elsewhere. Ebates also gives double cash back offers that rotate through various stores as well, so your chances of finding additional savings are great.

Ebates offers payouts via Paypal or check, and pays out quarterly. Cash back categories include vacation and travel, health and beauty, electronics, clothing, accessories, gifts, flowers, baby, home, office, auto, and much, much more.

Sign up for Ebates now >


TopCashBack

TopCashBack is a direct competitor to Ebates and is giving them a run for their money. You can get cash back at over 4,000 retailers and they have 17 different payout options! If you choose to take your payout via a gift card, some of the gift cards offer additional bonuses up to 5%.

TopCashback also offers cash back guarantee. They’ll match other cash back site amounts (with a few terms and conditions). They also offer coupons and promotions, and sign up bonuses as well.

Once your earnings clear, you can request a payout at any time, for any amount. TopCashBack offers savings in travel, home and garden, electronics, fashion, health and beauty, gift cards, and more!

Sign up for TopCashBack now >


Paribus

I love using Paribus because I’m often super busy and don’t always have time or the inclination to scan receipts. With Paribus, I don’t even have to click through any links. I just shop like I normally would online, and Paribus tracks confirmation emails and watches for price changes.

Paribus instantly scores you money back if the price drops on something you’ve bought from any of the 25+ major retailers that they partner with.

If your shipment is late, Paribus negotiates on your behalf with the retailer and gets a reimbursement without you having to lift a finger.

Think that once you finally book your hotel room, you’re locked into that price? Nope!

Paribus also can help you save when you book hotels rooms. If they price drops on a room, they’ll find the drop and help you get the difference back. Paribus works with hotel rooms booked through: Expedia, Hotels.com, Hilton, Booking.com, Priceline, and Marriott.

Sign up for Paribus now >


Swagbucks

Most people know Swagbucks for getting paid to do surveys, watch videos, play games, and more.

But did you know that Swagbucks offers cash back, just like Ebates and TopCashBack?

Just by shopping through Swagbucks, you can earn cash back at over 1500 major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target. You’ll also get exclusive deals and coupons!

Swagbucks payouts are done through Paypal or gift cards. Often times different gift cards will be discounted so you can stretch your points even further.

Once you’ve hit your minimum you can request a payout at any time, and they usually take a day or so to show up in your email.

Sign up for Swagbucks now >


Shopkick

While Shopkick isn’t exactly a cash back app, it’s worth mentioning. Shopkick is a rewards app that rewards you with “kicks” (or points) for shopping online or in-store.

When in-store, you can use Shopkick to scan select products to earn kicks. Or, you can earn kicks just for making purchases.

Online, you can visit their partner retailer websites and view offers or purchase items to get kicks.

There are a total of eight different ways that you can earn kicks:

  • Walk into a store – without even purchasing anything!
  • Scan barcodes on select products
  • Make a purchase with a linked card
  • Purchase and submit a receipt
  • Visit online stores
  • View online products
  • Make online purchases
  • Watch videos

Cash your kicks out for digital gift cards to popular places, like Target, Amazon, Starbucks, and Groupon to name a few!

Sign up for Shopkick now >


The Best Cash Back Apps for Groceries

There are a ton of great cashback apps where you can submit receipts for money. These are the best grocery rebate apps out there:

Ibotta

Ibotta is a game changer for grocery shopping – and it’s so easy! Rebates are organized by store so they’re very easy to find. Just select the items you want to redeem, scan your receipt, and scan the barcodes on the items you bought as you’re prompted.

You cash shows up within 48 hours (usually much, much faster!) and boom – you’re done! Ibotta also offers tons of great bonuses that change every month, which adds an extra bit of fun to the challenge of redeeming your rebates.

As of the typing of this post, I’ve personally saved over $456 through Ibotta. There’s nothing easier than getting paid to upload receipts!

Ibotta also allows your to link your loyalty card for certain retailers to redeem your rebates that way. No scanning involved!

Recently they’ve branched out to include mobile in-app purchases, which makes a great app even better. With over 290 supported stores, it’s easy to rack up the savings.

The Ibotta app pays out with Paypal, venmo, or gift cards. You can also earn bonuses as well as earn more by hooking up your Facebook so that you create a team of earners.Last, you can get a $5 referral fee for anyone that uses your referral link to sign up!

Sign up for Ibotta now >


Checkout 51

If you’re looking for an Ibotta alternative, take Checkout 51 for a spin. With Checkout 51 you also scan receipts for money back, but it’s not limited to which store you shop at.

The updated offer list comes out every Thursday. Just add your favorites to your shopping list, make your purchase, and scan your receipt. It’s as easy as that!

Offers are available in limited quanities, so double check they’re still available before you hit the store and make sure to upload your receipt as soon as you’re done shopping.

Checkout 51 has a $20 minimum, and pays out via check.

Sign up for Checkout 51 now >


BerryCart

BerryCart is the crunchy Ibotta alternative. Every offer that you can snag a rebate for is either:

  • All-natural
  • Organic
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Or vegetarian

Their claim to fame is that you won’t find any items that have high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals. That’s definitely a win-win, right?

Stack that with the coupons and deals available through the app, and you’re not only saving cash but helping your family stay healthy.

BerryCart works at any store that gives you a printed receipt, meaning that it’s good for over 100,000 locations in the US. Payouts are through Paypal or select gift cards available through the app.

Sign up for BerryCart now >


Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is another hugely popular cash back apps like Ibotta. However, the twist here is that you don’t have to buy certain items to get rebates.

Instead, you shop anywhere, scan your receipt, and you’re given chances to play Hog Slots, take paid surveys, win free shopping trips, and more.

Once you’ve earned enough coins, you trade them in for Amazon gift cards, magazines, or cash via Paypal.

Sign up for Receipt Hog here >


SavingStar

Another cash back app for receipts that I really like to use is SavingStar. This Ibotta competitor has very similar offers, but they’re redeemed a bit differently.

First, you add stores to your account so you can redeem rebates there. If you have a loyalty card, you can link the store automatically and be able to skip the receipt scanning. if not, you’ll just scan the receipt like on other apps.

Next, you’ll activate your offers, shop, and redeem your offers. Once you’ve hit the $20, threshold, you can select from Paypal, a bank deposit, gift cards, or choose to donate your earnings to American Forests.

This grocery receipt cash back app can be used at over 100,000 stores in over 1000 different retails chains, so there’s bound to be a grocery store you can use it at.

Sign up for SavingStar now >


Fetch Rewards

With Fetch Rewards, you can earn points with ANY grocery receipt. There’s no shopping at specific stores, clipping any coupons, or redeeming offers before shopping.

Fetch Rewards matches items on your receipt and credits you for every item you buy from their list of 250+ participating brands. You then cash out your points to purchase gift cards from hundreds of retailers.

Whether you shop at a local mom and pop store or a Sam’s Club, your printed receipt will be accepted up to 14 days after purchase. Also included are convience stores, club stores, drugstores, liquor stores, and of course, grocery stores.

Sign up for Fetch Rewards now >


Cash Back Apps for Gas

While cash back apps specifically for gas are mostly non-existent, there is one app that will accept gas station and convenience store receipts:

ReceiptPal

The Receipt Pal app is one of the few apps that let you just scan receipts for money back, making it one of the few apps like Receipt Hog.

You don’t have to buy any particular products or shop at certain stores. Just scan those receipts to earn cash back. Simple, right?

This app is unique in that it accepts any receipt – from gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, car dealerships, online retailers, convenience stores, travel and entertainment, and more. The receipt must include the merchant name, purchase date, total amount spent and phone number or zip code of the store. That’s it!

ReceiptPal also has weekly sweepstakes to give you a chance to win a cash bonus (cha-ching!). Your earned points can then be cashed out to purchase gift cards.

Sign up for ReceiptPal now >


Don’t Forget Specific Store Apps

Several mass merchandisers have created their own apps to help you save when you shop there.

The Target App

With the Target app, I’ve been able to save over $562 by stacking cartwheel offers, in-store digital coupons, sales, and my 5% redcard discount!

Saving with the Target app is easy. As you shop, scan the barcodes of the products to see if there’s a discount or manufacturer coupon that applies. When you checkout, scan the barcode in the wallet section to apply your savings, and that’s it!

The Target app also has additional coupons available in the wallet section, such as $10 off of a $50 food and beverage purchase. Plus, you can choose to store your redcard info in the app so that you just scan the barcode to pay.

It’s almost like they’re making it toooo easy to spend money there…

Get started with the Target app >


Walmart Pay

Walmart has replaced the Walmart Savings Catcher with Walmart Pay, but it essentially does the same thing.

When you pay with Walmart Pay, your digital receipt is automatically checked for lower prices at competitors. If a lower price is found, you get the difference! That cash back difference is loaded onto an egift card, which can be used with – you guessed it – Walmart Pay.

Learn more about Walmart Pay now >


Other Savings Apps

While these aren’t necessarily cash back apps, they are another way to save some cash:

Acorns

Acorns is a great app that rounds up your purchases and invests them for you. By setting up an IRA through Acorns, you can save for retirement without even thinking about it.

Besides investing your spare change, you can also schedule reccuring investments so that you can grow your investments quicker.

It’s an easy way to dip your toe into investing without too much stress over if you’re doing it “right”.

As an added bonus, if you shop at any of Acorns’ 250+ retail partners, they’ll automatically invest in your Acorns account!

Sign up for Acorns now >


Hopster

Hopster provides unique coupons for natural products. The more you do on Hopster.com, the more points you earn. And the more points you earn, the more coupon savings you get.

Not only can you print coupons on natural products, but you can also upload your receipts to earn points as well.

Learn more about Hopster now >


Mobee

Ever wanted to be a secret shopper? Now you can with the Mobee app!

Start by finding a mission near you at popular stores and retailers. Next, answer questions once you’re at the location and submit it for review. You’ll earn points for every mission completed, which can be cashed in for gift cards and prizes.

You can also unlock achievements to earn more points as well, helping you level up to earning those gift cards quicker.

Earn additional points by referring friends as well, and cash them n for the gift cards to Dunkin’ Donut, Starbucks, Walmart, Best Buy, MasterCard prepaid gift cards, and more!

Learn more about Mobee now >


Punchcard

My wallet used to be full of half-punched loyalty cards from a bunch of different restaurants and coffee shops that I loved. With Punchcard, you no longer have to carry these around and can still earn rewards.

This app works at a ton of major retailers and restaurants, including: Target, Subway, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, McDonald’s, CVS, 7-Eleven, Chili’s, Vons, Chipotle, Safeway, Best Buy, Banana Republic, Chevron, and more!

Punch, spin and win points with every purchase, then use them to get gift cards, contest entries or give them away as a charitable donation.

Some businesses that participate in Punchcard see that you’re a loyal customer and offer rewards, coupons, or offers directly to you as well!

Learn about Punchcard now >


Whether you’re at the store or shopping from the comfort of your home, there’s an app or website to help you save money.

While not every app fits everyone, make sure to give each one a try for at least a couple of weeks before you throw in the towel. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save with apps like Ibotta and Shopkick!

Have you used any of the cash back apps or rebate sites to help save cash? If so, let me know in the comments below!

There are a ton of cash back and rebate sites out there. Sifting through them to find the must have cash back apps is time consuming, but I've pull together a comprehensive list of the absolute best. #cashback #frugal #savings #savingmoney #cashback #savemoney

Dare to Conquer (formerly Billionaire Blog Club) Review: Is It Worth It?

Is the Billionaire Blog Club Worth the Investment?

Updates to Dare to Conquer (formerly Billionaire Blog Club) (1/9/19)

Dare to Conquer includes bootcamps, courses and journeys. Bootcamps get you started, and include blogging, pinterest, SEO and affiliate marketing. Perfect for someone starting out.

Courses are more in-depth, and include Pinterest, SEO, affiliate marketing, and sales funnels.

Journeys are challenges to help you achieve a specific goal within a certain time period. They include “$1,000+ a month with ads” and “Business Launch Blueprint”.

Not to mention all the community aspects that make DTC unique. There’s member exchange, where you can exchange tasks to help each other grow. Member services to hire out any paid services you want to outsource (I’m looking at you, Pinterest).

And don’t forget Slack! Think of it as an online chat with different topics to discuss. There’s a channel just for email monetizing, Pinterest, SEO, wins, just about every niche possible, and more! You’re sure to find your personal tribe of like-minded bloggers here.

Sign up for the Dare to Conquer blogging group now before the price goes up or you have to buy the courses individually. Doors to BBC/DTC are officially open again!

Update on 10/5/18: The Billionaire Blog Club (BBC) has now officially become Dare to Conquer (DTC)!

So what in the world is DTC?

Dare to Conquer is a new, holistic approach to not only building a blog, but creating an online business from the ground up. Rather than focusing on individual chunks (like SEO or Pinterest), DTC will help you to create a strong business foundation to build up on.

Currently, Paul Scrivens is updating the courses in chunks and spurts to reflect all the changes that have been going on. So far, the Pinterest course has been completed and SEO is partly updated.

Looking through the Pinterest course, I see a lot of new content. No more Boardbooster (RIP), but there’s an entire module dedicated to Tailwind – pinning strategies, statistics, and tribes, as well as more.

Paul also has plans to create a brand new, online business from scratch and let us watch how it’s done. This is from his latest email:

You ever notice that Facebook Groups have a weird panic trickle down effect? If one person sees something going wrong then that must mean everyone is seeing something going wrong.

It’s why I never say “this is the exact way or the only way to do something”. I show you and tell you what I’ve experienced through my own work on my own sites. That’s why I’m comfortable teaching what I teach but I also know that things change. It’s why you always get lifetime access to my courses. It’s why I always experiment.

I don’t want you to be a cynic about everything that you read, but I do want you to question things until you understand why they are happening. Way too many of you take things at face value right away and it’s why you are scared to experiment. This whole business thing is YOUR JOURNEY and that means YOU HAVE TO DO THE LEARNING.

The reality is that almost nobody expects you to succeed because the outside world doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do. That means you’re playing with house money. This Monday (don’t worry you’ll get an email) I’m going to start my path to a 7-figure business.

The journey is going to be a winding road that loops around. It won’t be a straight line because things change and evolve. Some of you won’t like it because it’s not a user manual for every single exact step you need to take to do this business thing. I don’t think those truly exist.

 

Update 7/24/18: If you are interested in signing up for the Billionaire Blog Club, it’s undergoing a huge change next month. Paul sent this in an email today:

The soul of BBC isn’t disappearing, it’s just moving to a new domain because the word “blog” is too limiting. It limits your mindset. It limits your strategy. It limits your revenue.

You’ll be able to buy courses on an individual basis with the idea being that the basics to help you get started (Pinterest, SEO, etc) are more affordable than the more advanced courses (branding, product creation, sales funnels) that will take you to the next level. Essentially, as your revenue grows, you can continue to scale up the Momo course list.

Purchasing now also gets you lifetime access to the Slack community which is the gem of the Internet. You’ll also be able to purchase access to the community without purchasing a course but you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Courses that will be inside of Momo when it officially launches:

  • Pinterest
  • SEO
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Building Your Tribe / Growing Your List
  • Niche Selection
  • Building a Brand You Love
  • Creating Sales Funnels
  • Product Creation & Launch
  • Running a Service-Based Business
  • Using Facebook Ads
  • Ultimate Webinars
  • Amazon Kindle Publishing Success
  • Killer Content Creation
  • Google Analytics

Hopefully you understand why buying everything will cost you over $2,999 now. Every single course is being built from the ground up.

This doesn’t even go into the other features that are going into DTC. My goal is to help you get closer to your dream every single day so when the time is right you can jump into the DTC ecosystem.

 

Bloggers are often seeking out the next best course or ebook to boost their blogging game. Every blogging Facebook group has members asking for advice, reviews and feedback about different courses. Often found at the top of this list is request for a Billionaire Blog Club review and feedback.

I joined the Billionaire Blog Club, or the BBC as members refer to it, in December 2017. I was looking for a new Pinterest strategy to help boost my pageviews.

The BBC is run by a man named Paul Scrivens, who successfully runs a multitude of blogs in different niches. His blog topics include health and wellness, personal finance, beauty/fashion, and motherhood, just to name a few.

After reviewing several ebooks and courses, I decided to opt for the BBC due to the variety of content that was available. I liked that one price got me a lifetime membership to multiple courses and the Slack community, unlike the singular courses and ebooks that I knew I would not be likely to go back to. This would be a resource I could use daily.

I began by signing up for the free 12 day bootcamp email series to see if I liked the format, the way information was presented, and if I liked Paul’s personality and approach.

Want to know if the Dare to Conquer/Billionaire Blog Club lives up to the hype? Read my thorough review on the good and bad of the blogging community. #billionaireblogclub #bbc #daretoconquer #dtc #review

The 12 Day Blogging Bootcamp Email Series

I’m annoyingly tight with my money, so I wasn’t just going to cough up my hard earned cash by reading a couple of sales pages. I decided to start my journey by signing up for the free 12 day bootcamp series.

My blog has been up and running since July 2017, so I was past the majority of the information provided in the email series. A lot of it deals with the initial steps needed to get a blog up and running.

I was able to pull some new tidbits, tips and tricks from the emails that I hadn’t run into before. But what I liked even more was Paul’s bluntness in his emails.

He began, in the very first email, admitting that his goal was to convert me from a subscriber to a customer. And I appreciate that. He says that he doesn’t sugarcoat things, and that’s absolutely true.

What I’ve come to find is that blogging is a business. You can find people who are “yes men” and take your money, all the while agreeing with everything all the time.

Or you can find those rare folks that know it’s not about agreeing or pacifying others; it’s about being honest, treating your blog as a business, and doing what it takes to set it on the right path to succeed.

This refreshing perspective found in the email series drove me to eventually sign on for the full Dare to Conquer membership. While honesty can sometimes ding your pride just a bit, I feel it’s worth it in the long run to build a successful blog and business.

What is Dare to Conquer?

The Dare to Conquer community is refreshingly different from any other courses, ebooks, or Facebook groups I’ve had the privilege to partake in. This is what makes it so unique:

First and foremost, it’s a community.

The DTC has a Slack community tied to it. If you’ve never used Slack, think of an IM app or chatroom that has categories. Members can post questions in the various threads (SEO, Pinterest, General, etc.) and other members can answer.

What makes this a unique feature is that Paul is generally in there all the time. If you need to ask him directly, you can reference him in your message and he’ll answer quickly.

I’ve used this to not only ask him questions directly, but to bounce ideas off of the other members. Bloggers from all levels of experience and backgrounds are present, making it an amazingly diverse and knowledgeable group.

DTC is a resource center.

Think of a giant library of all of your blogging resources. Then triple it, and you’ll have the DTC’s resources. At the time of this writing, there are 123 lessons spread over 9 courses:

  • SEO
  • Boardbooster Masterclass
  • Niche Selection
  • Pinterest
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Intro to Email Marketing
  • Google Analytics
  • WordPress
  • Content Creation

Each of these courses are comprised of lessons with videos. You are able to not only understand the content behind them, but you get real life examples in different blogging niches to help you apply them.

It’s an all-in-one strategic blogging resource.

Not only is the course content well thought out, it’s also easy to use to build a strategy.

For example, you learn how to find content ideas that will appeal to your audience. Then you learn how to search for keywords to use in your content, and build your SEO. Once the post is written, you apply design tactics to your Pinterest graphics, and strategically pin them to get the most traffic possible.

All of this creates a cohesive blogging strategy, helping you to build each article into a traffic magnet, creating a snowball effect.

Rather than just writing any old article idea that comes to mind, you learn to strategically pick topics that you know will build traffic, build readership, and ultimately build monetization.

What Makes Dare to Conquer/Billionaire Blog Club Unique from other Courses

There are several pieces that make the BBC unique to any other blogging resources that can be found online:

Blogging Challenges:

For the month of February, Paul posted four challenges that we could choose to participate in:

  • Launching your blog and getting 10k pageviews
  • How to Reach $1,000 in revenue and beyond
  • How to gain your first 1000 subscribers
  • Creating your first paid product

Each of these challenges has a daily video with a blogging task associated it with. It’s a great way to break down big goals into smaller, more manageable bite sized chunks. Not to mention it’s a great motivator to reach for the next goal!

Community:

As I mentioned, the Slack community beats any blogging Facebook group, hands down. A large majority of members participate in discussions, and having access directly to Paul is worth its weight in gold.

Other DTC community perks include:

  • An exchange section where members can help each other with specific blogging tasks for community points.
  • A directory of all the members so you can message someone directly with questions.
  • A Pinterest Group Boards area where members can see open group boards owned by other members.

Paul’s experience in different niches.

One final piece that makes the BBC truly unique is Paul’s blogging experience and ability to analyze data. Rather than becoming a one-off blogger that specializes in one niche, Paul’s built successful blogs in multiple niches.

He’s also created a list of the niches that are most likely to make you money. Obviously some are easier to monetize than others, and he’s able to tell you what’s worked for him in specific instances, rather than in just one niche.

This gives him real world experience in the majority of niches and can tell you what’s really worked for him in that particular niche, rather than a blanket statement that might not apply to all niches. And he tells you what the best type of blog to start or best blog subjects that make money in because he wants you to succeed.

What I Love about Dare to Conquer/Billionaire Blog Club

Videos. Lots and lots of videos.

I am a visual person. You tell me about something, I might be able to do it. You physically show me it? I’ve got it down pat.

I hate the lack of interaction with ebooks and some courses. With the BBC, I can see a descriptive video of Paul’s Pinterest or SEO strategy and apply it.

Slack and how easy it is to reach Paul.

I love the ability to ask questions and get direct responses from Scrivs. I can also email him directly and he answers quickly. The personalized response is awesome and I love that I know it’s specific to my situation, because he actually reads and responds to my specific situation.

I like mastermind groups.

I am a big fan of mastermind groups. The Slack community is similar to a mastermind group without the weekly structure of calls. If you want accountability, the members will volunteer to give it to you. If you want support, you’ve got it. You need tough love? They’re in. You need a more experience blogger to give you feedback? They’re there and participating.

It’s all encompassing, unlike one-off courses.

I truly have been able to understand and create a strategy for my blog. Previously, I was just writing about whatever topic I could think of every week. Now, I have a strategy for the long game.

What I Dislike about The DTC

I’m not going to be one of those bloggers that just blow smoke and hope you’ll go with it. There are pieces of the DTC that I find difficult to keep up with. In keeping honest, these are the pieces of the DTC that I struggle with:

I don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with Slack.

Just like with Facebook groups, I check into Slack when I have a spare ten minutes every couple of days with the app on my phone. I just don’t have the bandwidth to read all the comments, all day long. And that’s ok.

I know that if I need to find something, I can use the search function to see if anyone’s discussed the question I have previously, or if I should ask again.

This does mean that I miss out on some of the comradery of Slack. I’m also an introvert, so putting myself out there on Slack can be a little difficult as well, but I’ve gotten over it.

While I’m not in on the daily banter, I do pop in on occasion to either catch up or post a question. Luckily Slack notifies me if I’ve been tagged in a comment.

All of the courses, challenges and community can be information overload.

With so many courses and so much information, it can be overwhelming at first, not knowing where to start.

A large majority of the courses almost intertwine, so it’s not super clear which to start first. Obviously, it’s going to depend on your particular situation. There are general path suggestions in the course instructions, and you can always adjust as you need to.

The amount of information can be overwhelming, but it’s really just up to you as a blogger to figure out what your weak spots are and prioritize them, so you can get them knocked out.

How DTC has helped my blog game

I finally have a strategy and an overarching game plan.

I know what I need to do, I have a direction, and I have the tools to do it. Now it’s just a matter of me following through, and doing those steps over and over with each post I create.

I know which blogging activities that are worth my time, effort and energy.

Previously, I did so many blogging activities that just weren’t moving the ball forward. They weren’t increasing traffic or income, and they were sucking up so much time. Now that I have a better understanding of what really drives traffic and creates revenue, I have a better understanding of what tasks are going to get me there. And where to spend my time, effort, and energy.

I know how to apply this data to my specific niche.

Other courses and ebooks are generally written by bloggers that major in one particular niche. What works for one niche might not work for another. Rather than risk disappointment, I know that the methods tried by Paul apply to my niche specifically. And if not, I know how to test new ideas out to see if they will work or not for my niche as well.

If I can’t figure something out, I know who to ask.

Rather than posting in a blogging Facebook group and risking tons of random answers, I know I can go right to the source. If I don’t want to ask Paul specifically, I know which other BBC members are in my niche or have more experience than me and can provide feedback.

I’ve learned SEO, upped my Pinterest game, and know how to analyze my Google Analytics to see what’s causing traffic spikes or drops.

I’ve learned to get the hang of my data and utilize it to figure out what’s working – and what’s not – for my blog. I’ve not only picked up things like how to search for keywords, but I understand how to apply them and what makes a good keyword for my blog specifically.

I’ve learned patience.

Maybe it’s just getting more experience under my belt, but I’m learning to have more patience when it comes to blogging. I am understanding that traffic ebbs and flows, and there are seasons to Pinterest. I’ve learned to give new practices some time, and only then, to try and adjust them so that I can make the most of my time and effort.

My verdict on Dare to Conquer/Billionaire Blog Club

Would I sign up for BBC again? Absolutely. The Billionaire Blog Club not only gives me all the knowledge I need to achieve my goals, but Paul is constantly updating the information and videos.

Unlike a singular course, it’s constantly being updated to reflect new information, and I’m able to access data that entails every aspect of blogging that any blogger needs from start to finish. No matter where you’re at on the blogging path, it’s clear that the Billionaire Blog Club is a great and inexpensive way to boost your blogging game.

Interested in joining the Billionaire Blog Club? Join here or sign up for the 12 day blogging bootcamp here.



Want to know if the Billionaire Blog Club community is worth the cost? Read my thorough review on the good and bad of the blogging community. #billionaireblogclub #bbc #review #bbcreview

Want to know if the Billionaire Blog Club lives up to the hype? Read my thorough review on the good and bad of the blogging community. #billionaireblogclub #bbc #review

Super Easy Money Saving Challenge With Free Printables

Super easy money saving challenge + free printable

Beginning a money saving challenge is a great way to kickstart any of your financial goals. Whether your emergency fund needs pumped up, it’s vacation time, or one of the kids needs braces, having a padded savings fund is key to avoiding any new debt.

Can you imagine coming back from a weeklong vacation in Maui? Now, can you imagine coming back from a weeklong vacation in Maui…without credit card debt?

Have you ever been able to take a vacation without having to throw it all on a credit card? If not, do you have any idea how much you’ve paid in interest for that vacation, long after your tan (or burn, if you’re me) is gone?

This is why it’s important to set money savings goals. Without them, we’d be paying for those vacations (or braces, or emergencies) ten times over before everthing’s said and done. Having savings goals means never having to say, “Charge it!”

The best thing you can do is learn how to save money the right way, so that you can break the cycle of debt once and for all. Next, I’ll cover four types of money saving challenges and how each can help you acheive your financial goals.

Not sure how to find the best way to save money? Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks with these free, printable worksheets! #money #savings #savingmoney #personalfinance

The Four Major Types of Money Savings Challenges

In my research, I’ve found that there are four major types of money saving challenges. Some are more passive ways to save that will slowly build up and that change will be less likely to be miss.

Others are much more aggressive savings strategies that require being very proactive with your money. While these are more difficult, they also reap a much bigger reward.

Money Savings Challenge #1: Save by Type of Cash or a Percentage of Your Income

These types of challenges are smaller and tend to be easier. A popular one is to put aside 10% of your income every paycheck, prior to paying your bills. This is often referred to as “paying yourself first”.

If you use and spend cash, there are a lot that involve saving different types of currency, such as saving all your $5 bills for the year. Keeping all your dimes. These savings methods are easy to do and the outcome can vary wildly depending upon what type of change you receive throughout the year.

Some additional examples include:

  • Save any $5 bills received
  • Save all of your dimes in a two liter soda bottle, which equals approximately $700
  • A year long penny challenge, in which you save one penny on day one, two pennies on day two, etc. You’ll have saved $667.95 at the end of the year.
  • Automatically move 10% of every paycheck into savings before you pay any bills

And so on. You get the drift. There’s a ton of different money saving challenges on Pinterest for easy, small money challenges such as these. Check out 37 Easy Money Challenges to Help Smash your Financial Goals for even more ideas.

Money Savings Challenge #2: Save by Using a Financial App

There are several great financial apps that can help you round up your spare change on purchases to put money aside. Heck, even some credit card companies offer these services as well.

The key is that once again you’re passively saving by pushing very small amounts into an account without realizing they’re gone. You’re not feeling the sting, since it’s always less then 5 or 6 dollars.

Acorns is a very well known and trusted financial app that can help you easily shuffle your extra cash around. Spare change can be rounded up from purchases and recurring investments set up. You can easily set up an IRA and Acorns handles all the investing and rebalancing of your funds.

Even better, you can earn as you shop. Acorns has partnered with over 200 Found Money partners that will automatically invest in your Acorns account every time you shop there. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! Learn more about the Acorns investing app here.

Money Savings Challenge #3: Do a No Spend Challenge

Here’s where the challenges stop being passive, and start to become very hands on. A no spend challenge is a period of time – say a week, two or a month – in which you proactively decide not to spend money.

For your no spend challenge, you set up rules and exceptions, such as you can purchase gas, but not groceries and much use this time to clean out the fridge and pantry.

At the end of the challenge, all of the money you would have spent goes into your savings. It’s another quick way to jumpstart your savings or create breathing room when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.

For more no spend challenge ideas, check out:

Money Savings Challenge #4: Creating an Intentional Money Savings Challenge

What do I mean by an intentional money savings challenge? I mean that you set specifics and define a goal.

Do you want to do a 30 day money saving challenge? Is it biweekly? Is your goal to save $5,000 or $10,000 in 52 weeks? Or is that too long, and you prefer a save $5,000 in 26 weeks?

Whether you want to save $10 or $10,000, you need to set solid, achievable goals. Without details like an end date or an amount to strive for, that money can easily blow away and get spent on small, throw away items that aren’t helping you reach the next step.

This money saving challenge is the most aggressive of the four. But with the hard work and sweat of pushing yourself, you earn the greatest reward.

Money Saving Challenge Printables

I’ve created some free money saving challenge printables to help you not only plan your savings challenge, but to help you execute it.

While these money saving challenge printables are geared towards helping you save $1,000 in 12 weeks, it can easily be changed to match any time period or amount of savings. Some other popular money saving challenges are:

  • 52 week money saving challenge, saving anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000
  • 26 week money saving challenge, usually geared towards saving $5,000
  • 90 day / 3 month / 12 weeks savings challenge to save $1,000 – $3,000

Once again, this is all dependent on what your needs are and what your timeline is like. Download your free money saving challenge printables here:

A Step-By-Step Walkthrough of a 3 Month / $1,000 Money Saving Challenge

The first step to breaking the debt cycle is to build up a $1000 emergency fund. It’s also very important to learn to cash flow, or save for, other expenses such as vacations, medical costs, or car repairs before you need it.

While your personal money saving goals will vary, we’ll be using a 12 week, $1,000 saving example to walk through setting up your challenge.

Why You Need to Have at Least $1,000 Savings

We can plan all we want, but there are always unexpected expenses that pop up. Whether it’s medical, a wedding we’ve been invited to, or car issues, you can bet they’re going to show up at the worst times.

It’s not a matter of IF financial roadbumps come up, it’s a matter of WHEN.

The easiest way to stay out of debt when these roadblocks hit is to have some savings in place. I suggest having a $1000 emergency fund. $1000 is enough to cover your deductible for house issues as well as most medical issues.

Getting Started Saving Money

Now that you have your printables to help you learn how to save money, it’s time to get started saving!

Step 1: Find your motivation to Save.

It’s important to know your motivations for saving. Is your ultimate goal to be debt free, but you’re lacking an emergency fund? Do you want to take your family on vacation this year? Are you expecting a baby, or think you’ll need dental work?

No matter what the reason, take the time to figure out why you’re doing this. It’ll help you to stay motivated when things get tough.

Visual reminders are great as well – so make sure to use the saving tracker, as well as pictures of what you’re working toward to help with motivation.

Without figuring out why you’re doing the challenge, you’re much more likely to fall off the financial wagon and whip out that credit card at the next big sale you walk past.

Having a specific goal, amount and timeline really help to motivate and create drive. Which in turns makes it much, much more likely that you hit your financial target!

Step 2: Set Your SMART Goal.

As you decide on what you’d like your goal to be, remember to use the SMART method:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Action Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

To build a $1000 savings in 12 weeks, you’ll need to save $83 a week. That’s just shy of $12 a day.

Let’s create an example goal. Rather than, I want to save $1000, let’s make it SMART:

I want to create a $1000 emergency fund by saving $83 a week for the next 12 weeks.

This goal is very specific: it has a measurement of time and debt amount, it includes an action, and it’s realistic and has a time limit.

You’re much more likely to be successful at saving $1000 if you break your goals down into smaller sprints, such as one or two weeks chunks, or even a month.

Decide how you want to break your savings up and write it down on your worksheet.

Step 3: Track Your Current Spending.

In order to get started saving you need to know where your money is currently going.

I know – a lot of people think tracking spending is a bore and a snore. I get it. But unless you can see where the money is most likely to leak out of your account (I’m looking at you, coffeeshops!), then you can stop the flow.

Saving money is going to take identifying needs and wants, and seeing where you can trim back.

If you don’t already use an expenses tracking software like ynab.com or mint.com, now’s a great time to start. It can help you look back over the past 2 – 3 months and gauge your spending.

Step 4: Create a budget.

Now that you see where your money is going, you need to make some decisions on where to make cuts. This is where a budget comes in handy. It’s an easy way to play with the numbers and see where it makes the most sense to trim your spending.

I can recommend this zero based budget that we’ve used to pay off more than $26,619+ in the past 19 months!

You want to trim your spending so that you’re able to hit that SMART goal that you created in the previous step. Next, I’ll give you some ideas on how to do just that.

The Best Ways to save Money

Now that you have your goal and budget in hand, this is where you need to get creative! There are only two ways to find money:

Spend less or earn more.

Sounds simple, I know, but it’s not always easy to keep consistent with it.  I’ve written a lot of in-depth articles about each. I prefer to do a little of both, so that I don’t feel like I’m being deprived by cutting too much, and I’m still able to meet my SMART financial goals.

How to Trim Expenses:

How to Earn More Money:

What to Do with Your Savings

Now that you’ve started your savings, how do you keep from accidentally spending it?

The best approach is to create a separate savings account. This new account can be linked to your regular accounts, but I really suggest keeping them in a place where it’s not as easy to access.

I also highly recommend automating the transfers to the savings account, so that you don’t forget and spend it.

For example, we have a savings account for my quarterly tax payments. Our checking is with a local bank, and this particular savings account is with CapitalOne. The monthly payments are automated so that they get taken out of checking at the beginning of every month.

If I need to access that money, it takes a couple of days to transfer back to my checking. It’s easy to set it and forget it – which means there’s no chance of accidentally spending it!

I highly recommend setting up your budget at the beginning of the month and immediately moving whatever extra you have into savings. If you don’t pay yourself first by putting your savings into a separate account, it will get bites taken out of it until it’s half of what it should be.

I’ve Hit my Savings Goal – Now What?

Saving for 12 weeks is long enough to have created a new “normal” for yourself and for your spending. You’ve adjusted to the new budget, and you’ve hit your goal. Now what?

The absolute best idea is to keep riding your momentum and continue your money saving challenge! Either keep saving, or begin paying off your debt, depending on where you’re at on the path to financial freedom.

Saving up $1000 is pretty easy if you have a plan and break it into manageable chunks. These tips to save money and printable worksheets will help to get your savings on schedule. Once you’re on track, you’ll find it easier every day to keep going until you hit your goal!

Bonus: When Should I use my Emergency Fund?

One of the biggest questions I get is “what’s the difference between an emergency fund and sinking funds?” (Don’t worry – I had no idea what sinking funds were a couple of years ago!)

Knowing the difference between sinking funds and an emergency fund will help you to understand when it’s actually a legit reason to break into your emergency fund.

The short explanation is that an emergency fund is for actual emergencies, like medical issues or an unscheduled car issue. Basically, anything you can’t really plan ahead for.

Sinking funds are a savings account that’s for those irregular expenses that you know are coming: yearly HOA fees, quarterly tax payments, or your car registration. Items that don’t happen monthly, but you know they’re coming.

Once you’ve saved up your emergency fund, begin to save your sinking funds next so you aren’t spending your emergency fund by accident. Learn more about emergency funds versus sinking funds, and why you need both.

What amount and length of time are you thinking of using for your money saving challenge? Are you going big and tackling a 52 week money challenge, or starting out a bit smaller? Let me know in the comments below!

Not sure how to find the best way to save money? Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks with these free, printable worksheets! #money #savings #savingmoney #personalfinance

Struggling to save money? Try a money saving challenge and grab these free money savings challenge printables. Get your $1000 savings built in just 12 weeks! #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney #moneysavingchallenge
Can't seem to figure out how to save money? Use these free printable savings worksheets to get you on the right track! Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks. #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney
Even if you're living paycheck to paycheck, you can still save your $1000 emergency fund in just 12 weeks. Use these free printable savings worksheets to get started! #debt #money #emergencyfund

How to Make Money Online: 50+ Brilliant Ways to Make Money Before Christmas

How to Make Money Online: 50+ Brilliant Ways to Make Money Before Christmas

Everywhere you turn, there’s a million articles showing us how to make money online as well as working from home. But a large majority of them are either scams, involve an insane amount of dedication to earn pennies, or you have to pay start-up fees.

Yeah, no thanks.

As we’re nearing the end of paying off our debt, we’ve trimmed back our budget as much as possible. Since we can’t find additional places to save, we have to figure out how to earn more in order to keep the debt snowball growing.

Which is all fine and dandy, but we both have full-time jobs. And two kids. And a household to run, activities to shuttle kids to, and – gasp! – want two seconds to sit on our duffs and relax. Crazy, I know.

Whether you're looking to make money before Christmas or pay off your debt, here’s the ultimate list of how to m ake money online. #christmas #money #sidehustle

I’ve freelanced and done side hustles since I graduated college in 1998. Maybe it’s the introvert in me (of course it is!), but the idea of going out and picking up a second job at Tim Horton’s or Macy’s or anything involving customer service makes me cringe. (Plus, I’d spend my paycheck on donuts and coffee, no question.)

I much prefer to earn extra money online, rather than picking up a second job at a store or office. This means that I usually end up doing freelance work as a web designer or developer, along with several other easier options listed below.

But what if you don’t have those skillsets, or the time to learn them? There are still plenty of legit ways to make money online, and still have time to relax in the evenings.

Whether you’re looking to make money before Christmas or pay off your debt, here’s the ultimate list of how to make money online. These make money at home jobs are grouped from easiest to most time consuming:

How to Make Money Online Fast

You can make money online fast with these. Though, one note to remember is that the easier something is, the less you’re make at it.

Survey Sites and Rewards Programs

Survey sites usually fall into one of two categories: either you just do surveys, or there are a variety of activities you can do to earn cash. The latter usually includes anything from watching videos, taking surveys, filling out forms, clicking through links in emails sent, to playing games. These are the best company to check out those make money at home surveys:

  • Swagbucks is a great way to grab some extra cash while watching TV in the evenings or during some down time. It pays you for a variety of activities, including surveys, watching videos and signing up for different offers. I’ve done some in-home surveys through here that turned out to be pretty fun!
  • InboxDollars is very similar to Swagbucks as far as the activities involved. I felt like I made more on Swagbucks, but this is a nice alternative to try out as well.
  • Springboard America emails you when there are surveys available that match your profile. I really liked using this to earn gift cards, because it cuts down the possibility of not qualifying for the surveys, so you’re wasting less of your time. I like that it pays out both via gift card and Paypal.
  • Survey Junkie is very similar to Springboard America. You can pre-qualify for surveys as well as dig through a large inventory of them available. Points that are earned can be redeemed for gift cards as well as Paypal.
  • Vindale Research is different in that it has high paying surveys, which other survey sites generally don’t. You earn cash, not points with them, and can redeem by check or Paypal. Survey topics include sports, new technology, travel, shopping, health & beauty, restaurants, and home improvement, to name a few.
  • Survey Club is a fun site where you can sign up to be matched with available studies in your area. The studies include surveys, focus groups, phone interviews, and even daily polls. There’s an opportunity for a lot of variety here, and having done focus groups, I can say they’re actually fun. Earnings are paid out via PayPal, Amazon gift cards, or check.
  • MyPoints is a rewards site where you can earn points by shopping online, taking surveys, watching videos, reading email, and more.
  • Pinecone Research primarily involves doing online surveys, though they occasionally do in-home product testing and panels as well. Points can be cashed out through Paypal, check, a prepaid VISA, or you can use them to shop for products.

Sell unused gift cards to a site like Raise.com.

Raise.com is an awesome website where users can sell their old gift cards at the price that they set. They can be discounted up to 30% by the seller. On top of that, Raise.com runs specials that discount some cards even further. Amazing, right?

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking – used gift cards, yikes! But before you jump ship, hear me out. The great part is that Raise.com has a 1 year guarantee for any card purchased. If it doesn’t show up (physical card), has less available than expected, or any other problem, you just contact them within a year of purchase and they’ll replace it. Easy peasy!

More importantly, there are no fees, sales tax, processing or shipping fees ever. So the price you see is the price you pay, period.

Use Ebates, Swagbucks, and TopCashBack on purchases.

  • Ibotta is an app that gives rebates for everything from groceries to alcohol to booking a hotel room. They’ve recently overhauled the app and have expanded the stores you can submit receipts from, including some online! To use ibotta, you just unlock the rebates you want after purchasing them, scan their barcodes, and submit images of your receipt. It’s that easy! Get $10 for just for signing up!
  • Ebates is a great cashback program for online purchases. There’s even a browser plugin so that every time you visit a site that gives cashback through Ebates, it alerts you to both rebates as well as discount codes for that site. Ebates offer rebates on a large variety of stores, and has recently included the ability to register your credit card so that your purchases in certain offline stores count as well!
  • TopCashback is very similar to Ebates and works well. It does take a little longer to get your rebates back, but they offer some great rebates. I usually check both sites to see which I can get the higher rebate back from before I make any online purchases.

Install Apps on Your Phone to Earn Money

  • Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel will pay you $50 to install an app on your iPhone. Just install it and that’s it! The app measures your activity on your phone, tablet or other mobile device. The app won’t affect performance or battery life, and rewards include sweepstakes entries and cash, depending on how long you stay with them.
  • Google Screenwise Panel helps Google to understand trends in mobile and web usage. They then use that data to improve their products. You get paid per week that you have the extension installed on your browser, and can cash out your earnings for e-gift cards.

Side Hustles with a Qualification Process

These ways to make money online involved more than just creating an login; you have to go through an actual entry process. However, they might be a bit more work in the beginning, but they also pay more without a ton of commitment. 

Website Testing

  • Usertesting.com is a great way to earn money testing websites. You can easily complete the majority of tests in 15 minutes, and get paid $10 a test. You must submit a test review in order to get approved, but once you complete this, you’ll get emails when tests are available. Earnings are paid out exactly 1 week from when you uploaded your test. You’ll need a microphone in order to complete tests, as it records your voice and screen.
  • Whatusersdo is another website testing company that pays $5 a test. Again, you’ll need a microphone and to download their screen recorder. Upon submitting a test recording and getting approved, you can start earning. Earnings are paid out once a month on the 25th.
  • Enroll is unique in that it’s test are quick, such as deciding which logo you like better or clarifying content. You can take tests from any device, and will get paid through Paypal.
  • UserFeel lets you earn $10 for each test which lasts about 10 – 20 minutes. You’ll need to submit a qualification test to get approved. Payments are made through Paypal or Payoneer.
  • TryMyUI pays $10 for each approximately 20 minute test. Payments are sent out every Friday once tests are reviewed and cleared by their graders. 

Online Juror

If you’re a big fan of crime shows, you’ll love this. You can get paid to review legal cases from your home and provide feedback via an online questionnaire. You’ll be a mock juror and will help attorneys figure out how to try their cases. Online Verdict is one of several online juror websites that you can try out!

Data Entry

There are a ton of data entry work from home jobs available. Upwork is a great site for finding data entry, along with a ton of other freelance positions.

Sell Your Photography to Stock Photography Sites

Whether or not you’re a professional photographer, there are a lot of opportunities to sell your photos online to make some money. Payment is usually based per purchase/download of your photo. Some of my favorite stock photography sites are: iStockPhoto.com, Fotolia, and Deposit Photos.

Resume & Cover Letter Writing

I cannot describe how much I hate editing resume and writing cover letters. I’ve done this so many times in my life, and yet, I can’t seem to make my resume flashy enough, no matter how hard I try. I know I’d pay for a service like this, not to mention millions of other people!

Amazon MTurk

Amazon MTurk is a site where you get paid for performing simple micro-tasks. You do things like process images, data verification and clean-up, information gathering and data processing. The tasks are listed, and you choose which you want to complete. The longer the task, the greater the payout.

Sell Your Own T-Shirts (or Bags, or Mugs)

Merch by Amazon allows you to sell your own designs without any upfront costs. You create and upload your design, set your price, and Amazon handles the printing and shipping of what you sell. You earn monthly royalties based on your sales, and all without having to invest in product! Another similar alternative site is teespring.com.

Creating an Online Business

If you’re going to invest the time into earning money at home with these side gigs, chances are you could look into making them a full-time career eventually.

Transcription, Translation, and Captioning Services

Rev.com offers a variety of services, including transcription, translation and captioning. You can choose your own schedule, projects, and get paid weekly. You’re considered a freelancer, but work with a team to grow your skillset. Pay varies based on abilities and role:

  • Transcriptionist: $0.40 – $0.65 per audio minute
  • Captioner: $0.40 – $0.75 per video minute
  • Translator: $0.05 – $0.07 per word

Search Engine Evaluator / Internet Analyst

Leapforce offers a variety of freelance positions, including search engine evaluator and Internet analyst. They required more work hours than other side gigs, but also pay a bit more per hour. You have to go through a qualification process, and knowing additional languages is a plus. There are no set hours, and their positions are flexible so you’re able to work around your personal life.

Proofreading & Copy Writing

If you’re a writer-at-heart, there’s lot of copy that needs written or proofing. You can work for anyone from bloggers to large companies all from the comfort of your couch.

Become a Blogger

I do not suggest this lightly. At all. Blogging is a ton of hard work, but once you start hitting your goals, it’s amazing. Check out my resources page to see what programs and blogging tools I recommend.

Pinterest VA

Both bloggers and companies often hire virtual assistants to help with their Pinterest accounts. Being a Pinterest VA does require some online courses, but the pay is worthwhile. You can easily build a business out of spending your day on Pinterest for several clients!

Social Media Manager

Like a Pinterest VA, companies pay to have someone handle their social media accounts. Often, being a social media manager means writing content, setting goals, SEO and developing brand awareness.

Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is selling someone else’s product and receiving a fraction of the sale. There are several different ways you can do affiliate marketing, but the easiest is through Pinterest or your own website/blog. With Pinterest, you can create a pin that links directly to the offer. There’s a lot of ins and outs, but also a ton of affiliate programs out there. Start by promoting products you love to make it even easier.

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant does anything from scheduling appointments and meetings to answering emails to creating presentations. The job duties, hours and pay vary greatly depending on each position, but at least you know it wouldn’t be boring!

Website Design & Development

With the evolution of HTML, CSS, and CMS setups, website design and development is becoming easier and easier. CMS systems such as WordPress allows you to launch a website in hours, complete with the bells and whistles. Even with minimal knowledge, you can easily get paid to set up websites for others.

Etsy Seller

Etsy provides a great platform for designers, crafters and the like to sell their products through their online store platform. If you already create products, but are struggling to reach the right audience, Etsy might be the perfect platform for you!

Bookkeeping

Companies big and small need bookkeepers. If you already know how to run books, you’ll have no trouble finding work. A lot of the positions online are looking for hourly freelancers with experience working in Quicken or Quickbooks.

Start a YouTube Channel or Podcast

It is impressive how many people are creating their own income by running a YouTube channel or podcast. If you’re not shy about being in front of a camera or microphone, creating a videos or a podcast can lead to some big earnings.

Become an Online Teacher

VIPKid is a company that provides international learning to children whose primary language is not English. It is one-on-one language and content classes, done from the comfort of your home to theirs. The pay is great and ranges from $14 to $22 an hour. Plus, the hours are flexible and you can set your own schedule! Learn more about VIPKid here.

Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA is a fulfillment service that you can use when you sell your products through their site. You send your products to Amazon, which they store at their fulfillment centers. When one of your listings sells, they pick, pack and ship the product for you, cutting out the extra work for you.

Some entrepreneurs are able to “flip” products by finding them discounted or on closeout, and then resell them through Amazon FBA. Learn more about Amazon FBA here.

Online Customer Service Rep

There are a ton of customer service jobs online, everything from answering inbound calls to online chats. Often the hours are flexible and the pay scale can vary, based on each company’s requirements.

Websites to Find Online Side Hustles

These are the best website to find work at home jobs:

No matter what your commitment length or skillset, there’s a way for you to make money online. You just have to figure out what works best with your schedule, and how much time and how big of a learning curve you want to commit to.

I suggest mixing it up between two or three methods, so that if one dries up, you’re still able to make side money in another way. Plus, it’s a great way to keep from getting bored! Remember, every little bit of income helps with debt repayment!

Love this? Check out these articles on  Shortcuts to Finding the Perfect Side Hustle Fast or The Ultimate List of Best Side Hustles that Aren’t MLMs!

Do you have a suggestion on how to make money online that I haven’t mentioned? Adds yours in the comments below!

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Unique & Cheap Christmas Gifts Everyone Will Love

Unique and cheap Christmas gifts everyone will love

Giving cheap Christmas gifts doesn’t mean buying ugly, junky presents. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

via GIPHY

It just takes a bit of creativity to find cheap Christmas gifts that fit into your budget and the gift receiver will love. With some budgeting and planning, you can easily stick within your budget and still get that gift list checked off!

Why You Should Focus Your Gift List Around Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas

Everyone’s had that New Year’s hangover – I’m not just talking too much food and drinks, but too much holiday spending as well. You get caught up in the spirit of the holidays, end up buying waaaaay more than you intended, and come January’s credit card bill, your bank account is officially “hungover”.

Then the buyer’s remorse and belt tightening settle in, making for a painful start to the new year.

If you’re not convinced yet, here’s some gut-wrenching statistics out there on holiday overspending:

  1. 56% of Americans will take on new debt to pay for holiday gifts1
  2. 16% will take longer than 6 months to pay it off1
  3. 34% of parents will spend an average of $500 per child!1

The worst statistic I’ve read? 25% of parents are taking extreme measures such as withdrawing from 401ks, using emergency funds, or using payday loans to buy holiday gifts1.

When did it get like this? And how do we stop it?

It’s pretty clear we need to stop it before it starts by trimming down our spending for the holiday season.

Why not choose to start January off with financial peace rather than regret, worry and a HUGE credit card statement?

It takes a bit of creativity to find cheap Christmas gifts that fit into your budget. With some planning you can easily find something they'll love! #christmas #gifts #frugal #budgeting

How to be smart about what you spend on Christmas Gifts

We all love to celebrate and show our appreciation for one another through gifts. It’s an tradition as old as the first caveman dragging home extra loin cloths made especially for his cave family, right?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving Christmas gifts. However, it shouldn’t cause you panic or wrack up a huge amount of credit card debt that you pay a ton of interest on.

Start by listing out everyone you need to buy for. Don’t forget non-family members, like teachers, coaches, neighbors, coworkers, and your boss, to name a few.

Got your list? Great. Next, decide how much you want to spend on each person. Once you add that up, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed.

See if you can either trim your list or group people on your list into subcategories. That way you think of creating or buying gifts that apply to multiple people.

For example, instead of buying individual gifts for coworkers, why not bring in one gift to share, like a dessert tray? Everyone’s covered, it’ll be cheaper, and it’s less stress and work for you. Done and done!

While the average American family spends approximately $1,000 on Christmas, there are a lot of great cheap gift ideas that you can give that can help keep you from burning a hole in your credit card.

Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas Don’t have to mean…Being Cheap

Now it’s time to get creative. Just because you’re looking to trim your gift giving costs doesn’t mean you’re going to give everyone a stale fruitcake or some plastic cheap Christmas stuff.

Think about what you’re good at, what you enjoy creating, and what you know your loved ones (or boss) will enjoy.

The trick is to find something that you know they’ll appreciate and enjoy – whether it cost $1,000 or $10.

The Best Cheap Unique Gift Ideas

Spoiler Alert! Anyone and everyone would rather spend time with you and your loved ones than to get yet another trinket. The gift of time is so much more precious than we realize. However, that being said, here are some other cheap holiday gift ideas to consider as well if you still feel like you want to give a physical gift:

 

Give the gift of a homemade meal.

I know, food sounds too easy, but bear with me. The average American is so incredibly busy balancing work, kids and home duties that we all struggle to get a meal on the table. Especially a warm, yummy homemade one on a cold winter night, right?

Give the gift of a family dinner. Prepare their favorite meal in a freezer safe dish with instructions on how to heat it, and add bread and a dessert to make it a meal.

While you’re at it, double the recipe and throw one in the freezer for your family as well. It’s a total win-win for those crazy busy holiday nights when you don’t want to cook, right?

Don’t forget that everyone loves to receive cookies, breads and cakes as well. If you love to bake, now’s your chance to give them something made with love in a beautiful container.

Give the gift of free fun.

Invite your neighbors or friends with kids to meet up at the best sledding hill in the city. Host a cookie exchange, or better yet, use your kitchen as cookie baking central and let all your friends’ kids work on frosting skills.

My absolute favorite free holiday activity? Having a sleepover under the Christmas tree with my kids.

While none of us get much sleep, it feels very magical to be surrounded by all the beautiful lights and the excitement of the tree. Every year, my daughter tells me it’s her favorite and asks if we can do it again!

Give the gift of memories.

One of my favorite money saving ideas for the holidays is to give experiences. Think back to when you were a kid during the holidays. What sticks out to you the most? Was it stuff? Or was it specific memories of times you spend with grandparents, parents, siblings and extended family?

While I can remember some of our gifts, I mostly remember very specific outings with family members. Now that some of those family members are gone, those times are truly cherished memories.

This year, we’re treating my in-laws to a train ride instead of giving gifts. My father-in-law is a huge train buff, so I know they’ll love it. There’s an awesome Chinese lantern festival here in Columbus that we’re taking my parents to. We’ll also be able to take them to see the holiday lights at the zoo for free with our zoo pass.

It’s a win-win because we’re able to give these experiences as their gifts, and they’re also getting time with their grandkids.

Check out local websites to see what free or cheap holiday activities are available in your area and plan around them.

Some frugal outing ideas include:

  • Driving through neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights
  • Caroling
  • Snowball fights
  • Sledding
  • Cookie Crawls (where businesses hand out cookies in an certain area, and you visit each one)
  • Take advantage of free activities at school, like visiting Santa
  • Look into your memberships for discounted activities, like seeing the Zoo Lights

Give them the gift of time.

We can all use a helping hand, but some of us are better at asking than others. Think about what your loved ones need most and make them an offer they cannot refuse!

Here’s the perfect unique Christmas gift idea: offer to do something they hate, so you can free up their time. Clean their gutters, help them with opening the pool next summer, or even babysit for free for date night. Trust me, they’ll love you for it!

Heck, even go so far as to make those funny coupons that they can cash in to make it official. Some other services to offer gift certificates for are:

  • Wash and detail their car
  • Pet sitting
  • Yardwork
  • Handyman services
  • Oil change
  • Run an errand for them that they hate to do

Give the gift of creativity and fun.

For all you DIY junkies who are itching to make something, now’s your chance to make unique fun gifts for cheap!

Scented bath salts, lotions and bath bombs are amazingly easy to make. Whip up a big batch, buy some beautiful reusable containers, and hand them out everyone on your list. Finding something that you can buy and produce in bulk can help save money as well as time.

Use your artistic talents (or whatever talents you may have) to make something you enjoy creating and they enjoy receiving. You can even get your kids in on the action by having them help create keepsake gifts such as ornaments. There are a ton of cute and creative ideas out on Pinterest using kid’s handprints.

Other great diy ideas for christmas gifts include:

  • Family photos in beautiful frames
  • Personalized mugs with coffee samples
  • Hand painted ornaments or home decor
  • Holiday cookies, cakes, or breads in pretty, reusable packaging
  • Hair bows, jewelry or keychains
  • Re-pot plant clippings from your garden
  • Sew clothes, towels, pot holders, or bags
  • Make bath items like bath bombs, body scrub, or soap
  • Create keepsakes with supplies and craft machines that you already have

Maybe you’re not that creative? Etsy has some cute and fun thank you printables for teachers, coaches, babysitters, and anyone else you can think of! They have cute little sayings that match up with a gift, like lip balm or a Hershey’s bar.

Once you make the purchase on Etsy, you’ll receive a PDF to download. Just add some nice stock paper to the printer, print it, cut it out, and attach to the gift. Easy, beautiful, and creative!

Also, don’t forget to check out Pinterest for homemade Christmas gift ideas.

Give the gift of a night with friends.

Looking for gifts ideas for friends? Host a holiday potluck and movie night with everyone in their best ugly Christmas sweaters. Make it BYOB and play your favorite fun Christmas movies. A great party for friends or family doesn’t have to be expensive and everyone can contribute.

Some other great frugal fun Christmas party ideas include:

  • Hallmark Movie night (Everyone loves those, right?)
  • Potluck
  • Cookie Exchange (or bake cookies together)
  • Decorate gingerbread houses
  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Spend time together while wrapping presents
  • Host a Christmas scavenger hunt through your neighborhood
  • Play “Minute to Win It” style games that are holiday themed
  • Decorate ornaments together
  • Do Christmas crafts or make presents

Give the gift of cash (kind of!).

If you must give gift cards, go to Raise.com to purchase discounted gift cards for up to 20% off! They’re 100% guaranteed for a year with purchase protection and refunds, so you don’t have to worry about anything weird with the cards after purchase. Buy these discounted cards for stores you know you’ll shop at for the holidays to save money as well!

Another idea is to cash in those credit card points for gift cards. We use ours for gift cards to gas stations for so we can travel to see family. I’ve also cashed out those points to get gift cards for family members to their favorite restaurants.

You can also earn gift cards through sites like Swagbucks. Fill out surveys, watch videos, and do small tasks to earn points towards gift cards (or cash!). It’s easy enough to do while you’re watching TV to earn some cash every evening.

Give the gift of charity.

While this isn’t necessarily a gift to family or friends, we often find that the holidays are a great reminder to give to those who are less fortunate. However, sometimes we find ourselves struggling to donate the money we’d like to.

There are several ways you can still give without breaking the bank. It’s a perfect time of year to go through your clothes, toys and other household items to see what can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Winter items that kids have out grown but are still of good use would make a kid in need so happy, not to mention gently used toys as well.

Charities need people to physically help as well. Sign up to ring a bell in front of a store or serve up hot meals to the homeless. A coworker of mine would take his kids every Thanksgiving to work at a soup kitchen. I was awed at not only his devotion to helping others, but his ability to teach his kids what’s truly important during the holidays.

Additional Ways to Save on Christmas Gifts

Let’s say your’e not crafty or don’t have the time to bust our your art supplies. You can still find ways to cut costs when shopping for unique Christmas gifts.

Just remember to use these guidelines when holiday shopping to help you from overspending:

  1. Consider shopping with cash or a pre-paid card to stop yourself from overspending.
  2. Stack your savings by:
    1. Purchasing items on sale
    2. Using coupons or Ibotta for rebates
    3. Paying for purchased with discounted gift cards
    4. If shopping online, go through through Ebates or TopCashBack.com
  3. Keep the ads for anything you purchase. If you see it cheaper elsewhere, take the ad back in with your receipt and get a price match.

Learn more couponing tips and tricks here to get the best deal possible!

Use these unique and cheap holiday gift ideas to make your holidays better this year. You don’t have to be a painful financial statistic or go overboard in gift giving to show you care. Truly, what anyone really wants is time with you and your family. And maybe a pony. But we’ll settle for time together instead. ?

Have other unique and cheap holiday gifts ideas? Share them below, I’d love to hear them!

1https://www.fool.com/retirement/2016/12/01/heres-what-the-average-american-spends-on-holiday.aspx


Check out these frugal and fun gift guides for more gift ideas!

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10 frugal gift ideas for plant lovers
The best financial gifts for college students
The best frugal and fun gifts for your favorite teacher
The 10 best frugal gifts for massage therapists