Tag Archives: ballin on a budget

50 Ways To Save Money (With Minimal Effort)

Some of my most popular blog posts on Finding Delight are all about How To Ball On A BudgetAnd why not? Everyone would love a little help in this department. Which is why sharing ways I personally save money (with minimal effort) is something I’m happy to do!

As the holiday season approaches, saving that extra bit of cash for all the costs that go along with the time of year becomes a necessity. Presents and parties and vacations…OH MY!

With the impending holiday expenses in mind, I put together a few of my favorite money saving ideas. Pick and choose a few of these simple lifestyle changes to implement and you’ll be well on your way to a nice little monetary stockpile. However you choose to spend (EGGNOG FOR EVERYONE!)…well, that’s up to you!

 

Shopping

Check second-hand stores first.
If that doesn’t pan out, hit the clearance racks.
Check the weekly circulars for the best deals.
Shop your pantry before shopping the store.
Make a weekly grocery list and stick to it.
Shop the periphery of the grocery store.
Don’t be afraid of the generic brand.
Sign up for rewards programs and do your homework about the benefits.
Buy seasonal items during their off-season.

Food

Pack your meals for work and school.
Always have a water bottle on hand for free hydration.
Brew your coffee at home and learn to make your indulgent Starbucks order.
Buy from the bulk bins so you’re not paying extra for packaging.
Batch cook big meals in your crock-pot.
Get into the habit of meal planning.
Find a cookbook you love and cook your way through it.

Appearance

Give yourself at-home manicures.
Color/straighten/curl your own hair. Or let it go natural.
Create a fitness plan that doesn’t involve a gym or costly classes.
Set up a seasonal capsule wardrobe.
Make your own beauty products.

Travel

Stay at an Airbnb.
Stock your kitchen-away-from-home so you can prepare meals instead of eating out.
Give yourself a daily allowance (in cash) while you’re away so you don’t go overboard.
Bring along all your lingering gift cards to treat yo’self.

Entertainment

Bust your boredom. 
Cancel cable and pick a streaming service instead.
Cancel print subscriptions and subscribe to a few email newsletters instead.
Make a list of cheap date night ideas you think sound fun and cycle through.
Host a game night for your friends.
Get your books from the library.
Go out for brunch or coffee or happy hour cocktails instead of dinner.
Start an articles club.

DIY

Consider making gifts instead of buying.
Dollar Tree is a great place to pick up cheap craft supplies.
Learn to mix your favorite cocktails.
Create your own cleaning products.
Check for tutorials online before paying someone else to do your home improvement projects.

Utilities

Call your cell phone/internet/utility provider and ask for a cheaper rate.
Turn off the lights when you leave the house (or the room for that matter).
Don’t go crazy with your thermostat.
Carpool with your colleagues.
Make payments on time.

Savings

Kick it old school with a penny bank for your loose change.
Automate your payments and savings plan where possible.
Keep a spending diary.
Read budget blogs for free financial information and resources.
Challenge yourself to a no-spend day once a week or a no-spend weekend once a month.
Look through your bank statement for any recurring costs and consider canceling whatever they’re attached to.
Research any discounts you may be afforded through your work/school/memberships.

What lifestyle changes have YOU implemented to save money? Let me know in the comments below! xoxo

 

Advertisements

A Thanksgiving Menu for Under $50

vintage-cookbook-photo

If you’re only cooking for a few this Thanksgiving, and you’re not keen to blow your whole grocery budget on a single meal, I have a few tips for you…

  1. Choose 2-3 of your favorite side dishes. You won’t be “doing it wrong” if you don’t have green bean casserole or stuffing…especially if  you don’t like those dishes anyways.
  2. Don’t waste valuable stomach-space (and cash) on a bunch of pre-dinner nibbles.
  3. Pick up one decadent dessert from a local bakery. Unless you bake on the regular, the ingredient list for your favorite pie may not be worth the hassle.
  4. Consider roasting a chicken instead of a turkey. I know, I know…super unorthodox suggestion but when cooking for less people it just makes sense.

With these nuggets of knowledge in mind, I turned to one of my favorite cook books to construct a menu. Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown is an amazing resource for anyone ballin’ on a budget (no matter the time of year). AND it’s available as a FREE PDF. Go check it out!

Here’s a Thanksgiving meal for 4 folks (or 2 with a healthy dose of leftovers). While it may not be the most traditional of menus; the recipes are easy, the costs are low, and waste is minimal. I love that the spotlight is on seasonal produce…a wonderful bounty to celebrate at any table, but it feels especially appropriate for a Thanksgiving feast! Switch the chicken out for turkey (or a turkey breast), if you like. Or nab a Tofurkey if you’re vegetarian. (Cost of each dish is indicated below.)

Appetizer

Classic Deviled Eggs (p.137) $3.60

Starter

Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup (p.26) $6

Main Course

Roast Chicken (p.78) $10

Cauliflower Cheese (p.93) $6.60

Roasted Vegetables (p.106) $5

Whole-Wheat Jalapeno Cheddar Scones (p.15) $4.50 *note – I would sub diced apple for the jalapeno in this recipe to make it a bit more autumnal. 

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding (p.175) $2.40

Total cost of meal = $38.10 (which leaves you $11.90 to nab your favorite pie from some place local!).

Pick up a bottle of Cab and a bottle of Chardonnay and Bob’s your Uncle — budget-friendly Thanksgiving Day is a go!

What are YOUR top tips for saving money on Thanksgiving? Will you be hosting this year or enjoying dinner with friends and family? Would you ever consider CHICKEN on Turkey Day?! (Chet, a former butcher, swears up and down that no one actually likes turkey anyways. LOL! He prepared a delicious chicken last year and I gotta say…I’m now a fan of the Thanksgiving Chicken.) 

 

mid-week round-up

horsehead

What’s going on this week, guys? I hope you’re enjoying the book-themed week here on the blog. It seems fitting, given all the rain we’ve been getting, I just want to curl up on the couch and read novel after novel. Are you reading anything good right now? Hope your day is great wherever you are, and below are a few reads of a different variety (back to all-things books tomorrow though!)…

Voyages: Visual journeys by 6 photographers.

10 New Orleans musts for under $10.

Stop taking pride in not knowing how to do basic shit.

This ballerina starts her day with a corn-dog as a PRE-breakfast. (#spiritanimal)

Confessions of workplace masturbators.

I’m saving this podcast for a rainy day…or road trip.

Female debaters everywhere feel ya Hillz!

How to decorate a large wall.

30-minute sheet pan potatoes and chicken sausage.

Investments that will save you money in the long run.

Hugo Lucitante’s tribe sent him into the outside world so he could return and save their village.

Typecast as a terrorist.

5 Great Ways to Save Money on Books

Hey friends! To continue with our week of all things book-related here on Finding Delight, I’ve got a guest post by fellow blogger and book-lover, Cassie

sweet-reading

Books are an amazing, enlightening and empowering force, one that has the possibility to change the world or at least the perspective of their readers. I can’t recommend enough that everyone should be indulging in the secrets of their pages as much as possible.

However, a stark truth that has to be faced is books are often expensive. New and popular releases regularly come with a hefty price tag. Avid readers often find themselves gazing longingly at titles they just can’t afford. These five tips are all great ways to save money when buying books, thus opening you up to a whole range of exciting new titles to explore.

Avoid the Hardback

While hardbacks are a beautiful and tempting product for any book lover—who doesn’t crave their shiny covers and satisfying weightiness when you read them—they are also by far the priciest. In fact, they’re often double the price of their paperback counterparts and can be over ten times more expensive than the e-book version.

While treasuring those beautiful books might seem like an important pursuit, if you remind yourself that you can indulge in numerous alternative literary delights for the same cost, then it will soon become easy to put them back on the shelf and save your pennies! Some people might argue that e-books are just as expensive since you have to add the initial cost of an e-reader, but there are numerous apps that let you download the releases directly onto phones, tablets or laptops that you already own.

Take Advantage of Project Gutenberg

There are so many classic novels that have been produced by influential and pioneering authors all throughout history. Each one of these pieces of literature is a must-read for any bookworm’s list. What’s even better is a large amount of these works can be found and read for absolutely free.

Project Gutenberg is an online resource founded in 1971 to help support the distribution of e-books. It provides readers with a staggering collection of works whose copyrights have expired, books that are in the public domain. The law around copyright varies, but in general, most books find themselves in the public domain so many years after their original author has died. The site currently holds over 50,000 titles, and many of these are famed classics—think Jane Austen, H.G. Wells, Lewis Carroll and hundreds of other timeless authors. 

Use a Virtual Private Network

The internet does wonders for helping us spend less on books. However, what many users fail to realize is the internet is not created equal. Book distribution websites and services often restrict their catalogs depending on region via a process called geo-blocking. In short, this works by identifying the IP address on your Kindle device or computer and only allowing you to view or purchase books available in your region. This means you can often miss out on great titles and deals just because you’re based in a certain country.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a handy piece of software that enables users to choose which country their server appears to be browsing from. The Kindle catalog in particular is notorious for setting up deals based on location, so by installing a VPN you can check that you aren’t missing out on great savings elsewhere. The software also provides an added layer of security to protect your credit card details when buying online. Secure Thoughts is a leading review site if you want to find out more information.

Browse the Discount Sites

As well as Kindle deals, there are many other dedicated sites that can be found online that specialize in providing discounted versions of your favorite novels. Students are probably already familiar with Half.com, as many use it to cut the cost of textbooks, but it’s also a wonderful resource for anyone looking to find great deals on favorite books. 

Powered by eBay, it’s run on the same concept as the main site but specifically caters to book lovers. Sellers can use the platform to clear out secondhand copies of books they’ve read, making it the perfect way to find discounts. As users have to compete to attract buyers to their products, you can often find significant savings if you’re willing to dig deep enough. As most books are secondhand, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for quality.

This trick is one that can be used when buying paperbacks from Amazon, as often titles can be found secondhand from individual sellers for a fraction of the bookshop price. These deals often come up when you do a search, so be sure to check them out before committing to a purchase!

Participate in a Book Swap

Last but not least, and my personal favorite way to save money on books, is the classic book swap. The concept is simple: you can pick up a new (to you) book, and all you have to do is leave another one in exchange. It’s a common practice in hostels, as travelers aren’t able to cart around large quantities of reading material, but it’s also becoming a regular occurrence in neighborhoods.

In England, many public telephone boxes—which are now largely seen as redundant —have been transformed into mini book swap libraries where passers-by can browse, borrow and donate books in return. It’s free of charge and a great way to drum up interest in literature and even engagement in your local community. If you don’t have a handy resource like this available near you, then you can get together with fellow book lovers from your friend circle, each bring a few unwanted titles and have your own mini swap session! 

Money should never be a reason for not getting your fill of reading. There are always new and innovative solutions to your financial problems when it comes to books. These are just five of my most-used tactics, but if you have any more tips and tricks, then I’d love to hear your ideas! Be sure to leave a comment below.


About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment and technology blogger for Culture Coverage. She’s been an avid reader all her life and loves that the internet has made it easier than ever to access the greatest stories out there.

 

(Photo by Galina Kochergina.)

5 DIY Projects: Acrylic Accents

acrylic calendar
Wall Calendar by A Beautiful Mess

Peruse the site of any beauty blogger worth her weight in products and you’ll start to get a sense that organization assistance of the acrylic variety is very on-trend and very must-have. A wander through the hallowed aisles of The Container Store will not only corroborate but will also showcase how this glorious plastic can extend far beyond the dressing table and into all sorts of realms of sleek home decor meets chic organizing. However, clock the price tag on a few of these items and you’ll realize the DIY route is the way to go. And if you’re down, you’re in luck. Basic acrylic sheets can be found at home improvement stores or even online. Check out this Acrylic Sheet supplier, if you’d like. Here are 5 fantastic projects that used this modern material and achieved superb results…

flower boxes
Flower Boxes by DaWanda’s DIY with love
| Danielle Poff Photography | Effortlessly Chic Sparkling Neutr
Seating Chart from Stephanie and Gavin’s wedding feat. on hey Wedding Lady (photo by Danielle Poff Photography)
bathroom shelves
Bathroom Shelves by Pneumatic Addict  
budget friendly poster frame
Budget Friendly Poster Frame by Food52

What do you think? Which would you make? Do you have any acrylic pieces in your home? 

***

Want to receive an extra dose of delight in your inbox? SUBSCRIBE! You’ll receive a weekly newsletter from Finding Delight chock-full of all sorts of goodies. Thanks so much! xoxo

The Secret to Finding Great Deals

jar of coins

(This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.)

I’m definitely a penny pincher. The older I get, the more I feel I’ve started to resemble Scrooge McDuck. “You can pry this jar of coins from my COLD DEAD HANDS!” 

Every potential purchase gets mulled over and researched. While this approach has definitely helped me curb the impulse spending of my youth (“Oh, I DO need a Magic Bullet and a new skirt, thank you!”), it’s also opened up a whole new world of saving possibilities. After a little internet perusal, suddenly the cast iron pan I spotted at the department store is markedly less money.

But where’s a beginner discount-sleuth to turn to start rescuing their coin jar from imminent demise? I’ll let you in on a little secret…Groupon Goods.

Maybe you already use Groupon for discounts on services. You may already regularly check their page to spot those rock bottom prices on fitness class packages and oil changes.  Now all you have to do is hop on over to some of the other categories. Once there, you’ll find a ton of familiar products with unfamiliar price tags. And by unfamiliar I mean cheap. And we’re talking stuff I would actually buy. Think: Stabilo pens, salt lamps, Rokus, exercise gear. Oh, and this wet brush, which I’ve had my eye on for a while now but every time I see them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond I just can’t justify the cost. Ordered!

So, before your next big purchase, hop on over to Groupon and see if a cheaper option is hanging out just waiting for you to nab it! You’ll be swimming in a sea of spare coins (a la Scrooge McDuck) in no time!!!

Stay connected with Groupon on Facebook and Twitter

What’s YOUR secret to finding great deals? Have you ever tried Groupon? 

How to save money with Groupon Coupons!

save with groupon coupons

(This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.)

One of the easiest ways to maintain a Ballin’ on a Budget lifestyle is to do a little research before you shop. The deals are out there! Sometimes they may just take a little internet perusal in order to find. Whether you’re booking your travel accommodations for that summer vacation you scrimped and saved for or headed to a department store to pick out a new winter coat, coupons and discounts can help you get the most bang for your buck. An easy way to start incorporating this pre-purchase research into your routine? Check out Groupon Coupons.

Perhaps you’re familiar with using Groupon for saving money on experiences. Think: pilates classes, massages, and 2-for-1 meal deals. However, Groupon Coupons is a great resource for locating coupons and deals from every-day retailers.

Searching for a specific retailer is super easy and they even provide a round-up of the top coupons and offers on their home page every day. There you’ll find well-known brands like Ulta, Costco, and JCPenney. I am always especially pleased to see all the deals available for Macy’s and Kohls, stores I regularly shop when I’m in need of new clothes or housewares.

So, before your next big purchase, surf on over to Groupon Coupons and see if some treasure awaits you there in the form of an exclusive sale or great coupon! You’ll never know unless you look!!!

Stay connected with Groupon on Facebook and Twitter

How do you save money on big ticket purchases? Have you ever used Groupon before? Would you? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Eat well on $4 a day.

IMG_1173

IMG_1177

IMG_1178

Good and Cheap, the Kickstarter funded PDF which showcases how to eat well on ANY budget, is now available in book form! Leanne Brown created this collection of go-to recipes while pursuing a master’s in food studies and food policy from New York University. Brown believes, “everyone should eat great food every day. Eating well means learning to cook. It means banishing the mindset that preparing daily meals is a huge chore or takes tremendous skill.” Good and Cheap was created with many budget savvy folks in mind, but particularly those living on the U.S. food stamp budget of $4 a day. The book teaches you how to prepare dishes ranging from tomato soup to deconstructed cabbage rolls, gives handy tips for creative leftovers, and features gorgeous photography.

Kudos to Leanne for this amazing idea and for her  continued efforts to get a copy in the hands of those who may need it the most. I’m thrilled to have this reference handy! It’s become a favorite guide in my kitchen and a lovely book just to flip through for inspiration.

IMG_1181

Need even MORE of a reason to purchase?  For every copy bought, a free copy will be given to a person or family in need. Books are distributed through food charities and non-profits so that someone else can have a resource for making healthy and delicious food. Buy one. Give one. Pretty cool, right?

P.S. A meal plan I created using recipes from Good and Cheap and my thoughts on food culture.

7 tips for snacking smart on the road.

snacks for a road trip

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve already embarked on a cross (part of the) country road trip this summer and am about the embark on another day-long drive to Savannah, GA to see my brother exchange vows (!!!). And since I figured I’m not the only one loading up the car for a road trip or two this season, I thought I’d share my favorite snacks to pack for nibbling as you drive (or ride) along the roads and highways on your journey! With a well-traveled childhood and over a decade of competitive forensics under my belt, I kind of consider myself a BIT of an expert and, dare I say, even a road warrior! Here’s what I pack to battle boredom  hunger on the open road…

1. PBR….no not a 6-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon (don’t drink and drive, kids!) but Peanut Butter, Banana and Rice Cake. This is typically what I would turn to if I hadn’t given much forethought to my trip as I would probably have all these items on hand. Toss a package of rice cakes, a bunch of bananas and a half-used jar of peanut butter in your backseat, along with a knife, and you’re ready to whip up a quick PBR treat! Some assembly required so leave the work to your co-pilot or save preparation of a couple for when you’re at a rest stop.

2. Bulk Bin Trail Mixes….if your grocery store has a bulk aisle, go ahead and go wild right before your trip! Fill up individual sized baggies or jars with any variety that strikes your fancy. You’d be super surprised how little a small amount of each will cost you. My store has a version that includes chocolate covered espresso beans which could keep you from turning to cans of Red Bull once you’ve hit your wall on late night drives.

3. Grapes and Baby Carrots….on more solo journeys I’m prone to mindless eating and want something with crunch that’s not gonna be too calorically painful if I just keep reaching my hand back in the bag over and over again. I can recall a fair few trips in recent memory that have included a bag of one of these two items in between my thighs as I barrel down the highway. Sorry not sorry.

4. Snack bars….it seems I don’t go anywhere any more (even errands across town) without an emergency snack bar in my bag. I am NOT someone who is cut out for sitting in traffic when even the teeeeensiest bit hangry. Lara bars are my favorite but I also enjoy a Kind bar (especially the new spicy ones) now and again. Either of these can double as a nice breakfast (maybe paired with a piece of fruit and some gas station coffee) if you’re on the road early or your options are limited upon reaching your destination. I’ve also recently discovered the S’mores Luna bar which I think is a bangin’ solution to a candy bar craving!

5. Turkey Wraps….planning to stop somewhere for lunch? Bring along an insulated lunchbox with tortillas, deli turkey, and some sliced cheese. Maybe some fancy mustard if you’re feeling crazy! This has been Chet and my go-to for outdoor adventures (hikes, beach, etc.) and it is surprisingly satisfying. Pair with the produce and trail mix mentioned above and you’ve got yourself a meal!

6. Road Snack Meal Prep….if you’re super ahead of the game and organized, these protein energy balls and roasted chickpeas (I like mine spiced with cajun seasoning or rosemary/garlic powder) would be easy additions to your weekly meal prep when you know a road trip is on the horizon. Toss ’em in tupperware and keep them within arm’s reach in the vehicle.

7. Handy Hydration and Beverages….no matter where you’re going or how many miles you plan on covering, come prepared with plenty of water! I always fill up a few of these guys and Chet is partial to these because they keep your water cold basically forever (ice still clanging around at the end of your drive? WITCHCRAFT!). I also love Vitamin Water Zeros when it’s especially hot and sweaty…I’m sure there are reasons I’m not supposed to drink these but longhairdon’tCARE. And I will never not enjoy an iced coffee with soy if a Starbucks is made available to me. A super stingy thrifty beverage lifehack that I feel no shame in practicing is to bring along tea bags and drink mixes because you can get boiling water for free pretty much everywhere and tap water for free DEFINITELY everywhere. So, no shame in that game.

There you have it! That’s how I save a little $$$ and feel a little healthier when I’m out on the road. Of course, sometimes you’ve just gotta get a bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles and a Slurpee…but you know, BALANCE!

What do you pack for snacks when you head out on a road trip? Do you throw caution to the wind and load up on gas station treats or do you bring your own healthy alternatives? I’d love to hear! Open to switching it up for my next journey!!! Thanks in advance. xoxo

Free-time this Fall? No need to break the bank!

As the weather gets a little chillier and we shift from Summer to Autumn, I’ve got penny-pinching on my mind. Summer may have seen you spending a bit more liberally (vacations, eating out, outdoor adventures) and back-to-school time can get costly as well. Looking ahead to the holidays, the next couple months can be a great time to rein it in, make some cut-backs and start saving. So, turn off those air conditioners, meal plan, host a Naked Lady party to score clothes for a new Fall look…and as for fun; here are 10 ways to spend your down-time this Fall without breaking the bank!

yoga

Sweat.

Forget the fancy gym memberships and costly classes. You can just bust a move from the comfort of your own living room. Youtube and Pinterest are fitness gold-mines! Do Erin Motz’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge. See how many reps of push-ups/sit-ups/lunges/squats/WHATEVER you can do in a row. Try to do more each day. Go upside down in a hand stand! Wanna explore? Jog in your neighborhood. Find a hiking trail nearby.

photography

Practice.

Commit to picking back up a hobby you let fall by the way-side or finally learn the skill you’ve had the equipment for in the back of your closet for ages. Play around with that camera (even if it’s just on your iPhone…you could even sign up for an Instagram “picture a day” challenge). Bust out your craft supplies. Build something. Grow something. Dust off that violin. Teach yourself calligraphy or German or darts.

backgammon

Play.

Turn off your TV, close the laptop and play a game instead. Spread out on the floor with your significant other or gather ’round the kitchen table with friends. Play Backgammon, Rummikub, Pictionary, Jenga, Chess, Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly. Got a deck of cards? Deal out Hearts, Poker, Euchre, B.S. or my always and forever favorite THIRTEEN.

meadowthorpe

Explore.

You don’t always have to strap on your hiking boots and hit the woods to have an epic adventure. Try your hand at urban exploration. Find a historic neighborhood and provide a running commentary on the architecture (even if it’s completely made up). Get lost in a gi-normous indoor flea market or antique mall. Check out abandoned buildings (don’t get arrested). See how many green-spaces, fountains, swing-sets, hot-dog stands, libraries or pedways you can walk to in one day.

whalepig

Enrich.

Do a little research and find free cultural events going on in your area. Check out galleries displaying art in public places. Go to an educational lecture hosted by a school or church or non-profit. Lots of organizations love hosting free movies. Got a friend or family member in a play, concert, dance recital? See if you can peep their dress rehearsal for free. The public library is a fantastic resource. And if you live in a university town you’re golden!

formabookclubkindle

Read.

Nothing says Fall like hunkering in a cozy spot with your latest page-turner. Join a book club. Start your own. Blaze through some Young Adult fiction on your e-reader. Pick up a stack of historical romance novels from the library. No one needs to know about your literary guilty pleasures.

pumpkinchai

Slurp.

Don’t shell out all your hard-earned money at Starbies. Yes, you may lose that gold status (R.I.P.) but you can learn to make your favorite hot beverages at home. If you want to drink all pumpkin everything until Christmas day…so be it.

braid

Pamper.

Choose one evening a week to have some “you” time. Learn a new hair-style. Do face masks. Do the DIY kind, too. Give yourself a manicure.

winecheers

Cheers.

Ok, so this may cost a LITTLE bit but if you have a Trader Joes we’re not talking much. Have a few friends over for a nice night in. BYO #3buckchuck. BYO #horsdouevrestoshare BYO #classyattire Set your Pandora station to whatever you like best, mingle, and let the conversation flow.

radioeye

Volunteer.

Evaluate your unique gifts and skill-set and figure out ways to give back. Sign up to be a mentor. Play with puppies. Organize events. Try your hand at a radio reading service. Answer phones, ring doorbells or just listen. When you give of your time, not only are you NOT spending money, the Universe finds powerful ways to reward you. : )

What about y’all, dear readers? How do you save money without sacrificing fun? Will you be ballin’ on a budget like me this Fall? Sending you an encouraging high-five if so! We got this!