Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Finances · Frugal Life

Why we Cut the Cable and NEVER looked back!

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I remember very well telling my friends that, “I could never live without my DVR!”  I loved having my DVR and being able to record shows whenever I wanted and watch them whenever I wanted.  I loved skipping through commercials and I really could never imagine myself going back to life before DVR.

Well, I am here to tell you that I CAN actually live without my DVR!  🙂

Five years ago we decided to begin cutting some costs out of our budget.  When the talk of whether or not we should cut out the cable I wasn’t super thrilled with the idea.  But, I wanted to trim our budget and knew that my precious DVR was not a need.  We canceled our cable, including that DVR.

And you know what.  There has not been a single day when I have regretted it.  There have definitely been a few times when I have MISSED having a DVR (usually when I have to sit through a boring commercial),  but I have never regretted getting rid of it.  The amount of money that we save yearly is so worth it.

There are so so many alternative TV options available today.  It wasn’t hard to find a few cheaper services for our family.

The first and cheapest option we did was to buy a digital antennae.  This was a one time purchase of $30 and enables us to get all of the public channels for free.  The only TV we had for a few months was this digital antennae.  If you are on a strict budget, this is a GREAT option for you.  It provides great TV without any monthly payments.  My kids love watching PBS Kids and my husband and I enjoy the news and a few other evening shows.

We have since added a few subscription services to our TV options.  They are all still so much cheaper than cable or dish.  Here are a few of my favorites:

We use Netflix every single day.  My kids have a couple of favorite shows they always want to watch and I have my favorites (Gilmore Girls!).  We use the cheapest Netflix option of $7.99 a month and we think it’s worth every single penny.

I have recently fell in love with Hulu.  I only signed up to take advantage of the free month trial, but I became hooked and decided to keep the service for a few more months.  I have been so impressed with all of the TV options available on Hulu and new releases they have available.  Fixer Upper and This Is Us have been my favorites lately.

My sister loves using the Roku.  The Roku gives you the ability to access all of these subscription services in one easy place.  We already have a smart TV so felt the Roku was unnecessary.  My sister didn’t have a smart TV so it only made sense to need something a little easier.  It is a one time price and very user friendly.  There are hundreds of apps/channels available to add to your device.

I have many friends and family that use Amazon Prime for TV watching.  We are content with Netflix and Hulu for now, but Amazon Prime really is a great deal if you take advantage of all it has to offer; including their TV/Movie options, free shipping and music available.

I did a conservative estimate of how much extra we are saving a year by cancelling our cable service, it came to $480 yearly savings!  In the 5 years since we cancelled the cable we have saved $2,400.  Think about what you could buy for $2,400!  I don’t know about you, but I would rather put that money somewhere more useful than spending it on TV!  If you only use the digital antennae, with no other TV services, you will save over $650 a year.  These little expenses ADD UP!

How do you save money on TV Viewing?  What is your favorite subscription service?  Tell me in the comments so we can all help each other out!

 

 

 

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Affiliate · Amazon · Finances · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin

What we cut from our budget to save over $2500 a year

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I am not naturally a frugal person.  I was raised by two frugal parents, but I lean more towards wanting to shop and buy things.  It has been a huge learning process for me to become more frugal and to learn the value and beauty in cutting back and saving money.  This learning process has been over the course of years, and quite honestly, I’m still learning and trying to better myself.  Today though I started thinking about all the things we have cut from our lifestyle over the years, and they have all been slowly cut out, and I was blown away with the amount of money we are saving ourselves just by making a few different lifestyle choices!

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Pack that Lunch:  $1000

Packing a lunch for work, instead of eating out with coworkers, has been our biggest money saver.  Every night I pack a lunch for my husband to take to work.  The lunch mostly consists of some leftovers from dinner, occasionally he will bring a sandwich.  I was so surprised to find out this simple habit is saving us over $1000 a year!

Change your own oil:  $210

My husband taught himself how to change the oil in our two vehicles, all it took was watching a few you tube videos.  It takes him less than an hour to do and he claims it’s super easy.  He uses this oil drum to drain the oil.  You can deposit the oil for free at most auto parts stores.  This is not some natural talent he has, he had to get out of his comfort zone to learn this skill, however this simple task saves us $210 a year.

Cut the Cable:  $480

A few years ago we decided to get rid of our cable TV.  We were actually already on a fairly cheap rate, but we decided we could do without it.  We have saved $480 a year by doing this!  There are so many great options for cheap TV.  We use Netflix.  But I have friends who use Hulu, Roku, or Amazon Prime.

At Home Haircuts:  $200

I bought clippers 14 years ago for $20.  You can find a similar pair to ours here:  Wahl Complete Hair Cutting Kit.  I have been cutting my husbands and sons hair ever since.  This is a $200 annual savings.  If you know me, you know that hair is really NOT a talent of mine.  I have watched a few you tube tutorial videos and both my husband and son get very basic cuts.  I have made my some a few mistakes on both of them, but I keep learning and trying.  And luckily boys hair grows out fairly fast!  😉

Workout at Home:  $840

We have never had a gym membership and this decision saves us $70 a month.  We have learned to get a good workout in at home.  We go for a run or bike ride during the summer and find great you tube videos to follow during the winter.  I buy cheap weights and exercise equipment to use from the thrift store.  My favorite you tube channels to follow are fitness blender and yoga with Adrienne.

The Results:  $2730

Just by making these 5 adjustments to our lifestyle we save $2730 a year!  So in five years we have saved $13,650!  Ten years it will be $27,300!  Those little expenses don’t seem like a big deal, but over time they add up to be a very very BIG deal.

It really has not been hard to cut any of these things from our budget.  We have been living this way for years and honestly never seem to miss a gym membership or cable TV.  It has just become our way of life, and it’s a great life!  It can be hard to form new habits, but once you do those habits become your way of life and you often never really look back!

Take a look at your budget and lifestyle.  Can you find a few things that you could change in order to save money?  I promise the pay off is so worth it!

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Amazon · Fabulous DEALS Friday · Farmhouse · Uncategorized

Fabulous DEALS Friday: 10 Farmhouse Decor all under $20

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I moved into a new home about a year ago and I have been slowly trying to incorporate some farmhouse pieces.  I’ve included a little allowance for home decor in our monthly budget and have tried to stretch it as far as I can.  I found some great items on Amazon last night. Everything is under $20!  I purchased a few things and added a few others to my cart for next month!  🙂

 

  1.  Lanterns are very trendy right now.  I love the fresh look of this Farmhouse Lantern.  It is under $5 and has a lot of great reviews.
  2. I have been needing some new pillows and loved this Compass Pillowcover.  It is under $3 and is a great way to add a farmhouse style to your home.
  3. I have a few of these potted artificial plants around my house.  They are a great way to add a little color to any room.  I usually pull mine out around spring time and keep them out until fall.  I love them so much I might even buy a couple more!
  4. Adding a few French Stripe Dishtowels to your kitchen is an easy way to add some farmhouse charm.  This pack of dishtowels comes in a set of three and have a gorgeous soft nautical blue color.
  5. Nothing says farmhouse like a comfy throw blanket over a couch.  This farmhouse throw is beautiful and would go with a lot of different colors.
  6. I love galvanized pieces around my house.  This round galvanized serving tray would look beautiful for a coffee table centerpiece.
  7. Start your farmhouse look at the front door with this beautiful wreath.  At under $15 this is a great deal!
  8. I have these darling mini glass milk bottles sitting on my front entry table and I always get a lot of compliments on them.
  9. How fun would it be to have your very own personalized vintage farmhouse sign.  To get your name and personalized year on your own sign it will only cost you $16.99.  That’s a great deal!
  10. This rusted metal egg basket is sitting in my Amazon cart right now and I can’t wait until it gets here.  I love the wire metal basket look, but this one has the rusted metal giving even more of a farmhouse look.

I hope you find something perfect!

Amazon · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits

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It is so important to me to teach my kids how to be smart with money.  I want them to learn while they are young how to handle money, how to budget, how to save and how to spend wisely.  I would rather then make mistakes with $5 than with $5,000  I wanted to share a few things that have worked for us as we’ve tried to teach our kids good money habits.  Parenting is such a personal thing, and there is more than one way to be a fantastic parent.  This is the way we feel is best to teach our kids, but understand that others may disagree and may have other ways that work for them and their family.

A few years ago I read Dave Ramsey’s and Rachel Cruze’s book titled  Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money.  This book is so well written and gives really good advice for how to go about teaching your kids about money.  I really really recommend it to EVERY parent.  Check your library for it or buy it on Amazon, either way, just read it!  I have implemented a lot of the lessons I learned from Smart Money Smart Kids:  Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, but there are a few things we have chosen to do different with our own kids.

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Allowance

I know, I know!  There are a lot of people who are against giving kids an allowance.  I understand the reasoning’s behind not wanting to pay your kids an allowance.  I do.  I get it!  None of us want our kids to grow up to be spoiled or entitled.  We all want our children to understand that in order to have money, you have to work for it.

So why an allowance???

We decided to give our kids an allowance after discussing with my husband the different ways we were both raised.  I did receive a monthly allowance while growing up.  With that allowance I was expected to tithe 10%, save minimum of 20%, and with the rest I was expected to buy all of my own clothes, make-up, shoes, etc., and pay for any extra curricular activities or outings with friends.  I grew up to be very responsible with money.  I did not become spoiled, entitled or lazy.  I did not expect a free handout once I became an adult.  Instead I learned early in life how to budget and save and spend wisely.  Instead of asking my parents to buy me a brand new pair of name brand shoes and being disappointed when they told me it was to much money; I instead was given a set amount of money and I learned to decide for MYSELF that the name brand shoes were to much money and I would rather shop around for a better deal.  I am so grateful to my parents for helping me to learn this lesson.  My husband did not receive an allowance, his parents were against it.  However, they paid for all of his clothes, his extra curricular activities and outings with friends.  He is good with money, but he is the first to admit he wishes he had received a money lesson similar to mine in his early years.  Because of these two life experiences we have decided to give our kids a small monthly allowance.

Once our kids turn eight years old they start receiving a small allowance of $5 a month.  We teach them to save 20% and tithe 10% to our church.  After they save and tithe they can then use the rest of the money as spending money.  They use it when they want to go to a movie or other activity with their friends, they use it for buying birthday presents for friends and family, and any other thing they want to save up and buy with it.  Once they reach age 13 this allowance amount will increase and they will then be expected to buy all of their own clothes.  My oldest will be turning 13 (yikes!) in 6 months so we have been planning how best to make this work.  I went through and added up how much money I spend on her clothing and activities a year.  I divided that number by 12 (for 12 months), added a little bit of extra to help cover the amount she will save and tithe and I have come up with her monthly allowance.  She will be receiving $20 a month and will be responsible for budgeting that money to be able to pay for everything she needs to pay for.

Chores

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Chores are an excellent tool to help kids learn valuable lessons.

We have some chores in our household that my kids are expected to do without receiving any money whatsoever.  Cleaning is a part of life and I want them to learn to keep a house clean just because that’s what you do.  They have daily chores and weekly chores that they must get done before playing with a friend, going outside to play or having any screen time.

My kids daily chores include making their bed, picking up any clothes or clutter off the floor, doing the dishes (each has a separate job for dishes) and practicing the piano.

Saturday is the day we work on weekly chores.  On Saturday they are expected to:

  1.  Sort their laundry first thing in the morning.  I then wash and fold the laundry.  That evening once the laundry is done they put their clean clothes away in their dresser.
  2. “Deep clean” their bedrooms.  Deep cleaning in our home consists of picking up all clutter on floor or dresser, organizing their closet, cleaning out from under the bed, dusting, vacuuming, and making their room look very presentable and nice.  I always check after they say they are done to make sure they did it thoroughly.
  3. Change their sheets on their bed.  They take off their sheets and bring them to the laundry room for me to wash.  They then get a clean set of sheets from the closet and put those on the bed.
  4. We have 6 weekly house chores that we rotate through each week so that they all get a turn helping with each chore.  These house chores are different rooms in the house.  Each room is suppose to have a thorough cleaning, I have typed of lists to go along with each of the rooms so they know exactly what is expected.  These 6 chores are:  Entry way and foyer, kitchen, basement, bathroom, great room and your choice (the choices include cleaning out the car, doing the laundry for the day, or washing all the windows).

I wanted my kids to learn that a part of life is cleaning the house and you never get paid for that (unfortunately!).  But, I also want them to learn that the harder you work the more money you will receive.  So, we came up with some chores that they get paid to do.  We raise chickens and the kids are responsible for feeding, collecting the eggs and routinely cleaning out the coop.  They are suppose to mark it on the calendar after they do their chore and they are paid 25 cents for each day it is done.  At the end of the month I add up how many days they did their job and give them their pay.   We have also provided a list of EXTRA chores they are few to do whenever they want to earn more spending money.  My kids utilize this list often when they find something they want to save up for.

 

Teaching Money Habits

When our kids turn 8 and begin to receive an allowance we buy them a savings tin that we found on Amazon years ago.  You can buy the girls version here and the boys version here.  These tins have three separate slots for saving.  I like them because they make saving a little more fun for the kids, they love having their own key to lock their money in their personal bank, and it makes separating the money easy.   You do NOT need to spend money on savings banks though.  Feel free to set your kids up with three envelopes or three jars, anything that will store money will work!

 

The very first things our kids do after receiving their allowance or chores payment is go get their savings bank and tithe 10% to our church, save at LEAST 20% for their future, such as college and a car.  I often will pay them with change to make it easy to divide the money up between.  If it’s time for their monthly $5 allowance then I will give them 4 one dollar bills and 4 quarters.  They know that two quarters go into their tithing bank, one dollar in their savings and the rest into spending.

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Lessons Learned

The lessons I have seen my kids learn since implementing these methods have been HUGE and absolutely PRICELESS.  A few of the things I have watched them learn are:

  1.  Their future is important to them.  More often than not they save MUCH more than the required 20%.  They understand that they will be responsible for a lot of their future expenses and are very motivated to save for those moments.
  2. Some things are just not worth spending money on.  Their have been moments in the store when they have fell in love with a toy.  I always remind them that they have their own money to spend and if they want to buy it they can.  So often they have expressed that that particular toy looks fun, but is just not worth spending their hard earned money on.  They choose wisely when they make purchases.
  3. The harder they work the more money they will have.  A few months ago one of my kids was continually not getting completing her chore with the chickens.  When this happens I don’t nag them, I just go outside and do it myself.  The end of the month came and one of my kids earned her full wages, the other child who had not been making her job a priority earned very little.  She was very disappointed by this, and the next month she was outside first thing every single day making sure she was getting her job done, she did not miss a single day that month.
  4. It feels good to give.  We teach our kids that paying a tithe to our church is a way to help and bless others who might not have much money.  My kids love to stuff their tithing bank full of money, they have mentioned to me that they want to help other people and would rather give them money than buy something at the store that will only be fun for a day.

These are just a few of the things that have worked for our family.  I have loved watching my kids make mistakes with money and then learn from those mistakes.  It has been amazing when they begin making smart money choices all on their own.

What are some methods that have worked in your family to teach your kids money smarts?  I am constantly trying to learn and improve in whatever ways I can.

Amazon · Farmhouse · Frugal Life · Good Ideas

How to keep White Kitchen Cabinets White and my Honest Review of the Norwex knockoff the E-Cloth

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We moved into a new house a few months ago and fell instantly in love with the beautiful white kitchen.  White cabinets, white subway tile, white quartz counter tops.  It was what my kitchen dreams were made of!  With three kids in the house it didn’t take long for those beautiful pure white cabinets to become covered in smudges and finger grease.

 

 

I knew that using cleaners on the cabinets was not good for the white paint.  I was constantly washing them with a wet dishcloth.  This method would take off some of the grease, but not all of it.  The other negative thing I found with the wet dishcloth is that it always left behind water streaks.  I was feeling frustrated and missing the clean cabinets I originally fell in love with.

I had a few friends recommend the Norwex cloth to me.  They all swore it was the best cleaner and promised it was worth every single penny.  My frugal mindset however, was having a hard time wanting to spend $20 on a cloth!  I convinced myself I could keep the cabinets clean with my plain dishcloth.

Well, I was WRONG!  No matter how hard I scrubbed and how often I cleaned.  I could not restore my cabinets to the pure white they once were.

I finally accepted that I needed something to help me, but I still felt like $20 was to much to spend on a cloth.  I started researching cheaper options and came across the e-cloth.  It had excellent reviews and for $11 I would get not just one but TWO cloths.  This was a much better value and I added it to my February budget.

The e-cloth arrived last week and I didn’t waste any time pulling it out and attacking cleaning my cabinets.  I’ll be honest with you, I was NOT expecting it to work any different then the plain old Walmart dish rag I had been using.  I was so so pleasantly surprised to be wrong!  I was so happy with it I knew I needed to share it with everyone I know.

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The e-cloth is similar to the Norwex Cloth that it has zero chemicals and is very eco friendly.  It came with easy to follow instructions and all I needed to do in order to get started was add a little bit of water to the cloth and it was ready for scrubbing!

 

 

The water streaks and grease came off instantly!  The smudges took a little bit more elbow grease, but with some scrubbing the smudges were gone as well.  I truly could not believe how quickly and easily the cloth was cleaning these stubborn stains.  I was worried at first that there would be water streaks left behind, but when I came back and looked closely after it dried I could not find a single streak!  Not one!  My cabinets felt as smooth and clean as they felt the day I moved in.  I was in heaven!

 

 

I decided that since the cabinet cleaning went over so well I needed to try the cloth out on my stainless steel refrigerator.  I usually clean my stainless steel appliances with this cleaner.  It works great, but I thought if I could use the e-cloth for my appliances as well as the cabinets I would really be getting my moneys worth.

The e-cloth worked just as great on the stainless steel fridge as it did on the cabinets.  All those fingerprints were instantly washed away.  Look at these before and after photos, they were taken within about a minute of each other.  It was honestly that quick and easy!

 

 

After two successes I went a little overboard cleaning every inch of my house.  I used the cloth on my counter top, my tile back splash, the microwave, and our doors, and trim.  It reminded me of a cloth form of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Original (8 Count)“>the magic eraser.  But, even better!  I even used the cloth dry to dust my wood furniture.  With so many uses the general purpose e-cloth is a fantastic value!  I am looking forward to enjoying this beautiful white and clean kitchen again!  Let me know if you try the e-cloth and if you love it as much as I did.

 

Amazon · Bargain Buys · Valentines Day

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

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Do you have Valentines Day plans?  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make the day feel special.  Check out my post about 20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas for some inspiration on planning a fun and romantic valentines date while on a budget.

I LOVE Valentines Day.  It is so fun to spend a day showing the people I love most how much I care for them.  I started browsing last night for Valentine Gifts for my husband.  I knew I wanted to get him something he would LOVE, but I also wanted to make sure we would be able to stay in budget with the gift.  I made a list of ten GREAT Valentine gifts for him, and ALL of them are under ten bucks!  That’s my type of shopping!

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My husband seems to never have enough flashlights.  He loves having them in all shapes and sizes.  I loved the design of this LED flashlight.  The  Flex-Head Flashlight would be useful for needing to look in small tight spaces and the magnetic ability will make it easy to store nearby your work space yet out of the way.

-I found this great Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle for the great outdoors loving man in your life.  It is small and compact and perfect for taking on backpacking or hiking trips.  I also think this would be a great gadget to have around the house for emergency preparedness.

-If your significant other loves to grill he would love to receive this meat thermometer.  It has lots of fantastic reviews and is digital so will be very easy to read.  I also love that it is foldable, which always comes in handy for storing it.

-I was excited when I found this Versace Cologne for under $10.  I love this smell and the reviews are all really positive.

-I love this Silk Gray Stripe Tie.  It is very elegant and crisp looking.  A tie is always my go to gift for my husband, he loves getting new ones to keep his dress up look fresh.

-What’s Valentines Day without some chocolate??  My favorite chocolates are the Dove Chocolate Hearts.  The chocolate is so smooth and creamy, one is never enough!  This bag comes in heart shapes with both milk and dark chocolate.

-For the active man a Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle would be great gift.  These water bottles have a lot of different colors to choose from and a great sleek design.

-These work gloves are a good quality and super versatile.  They would be useful for construction, mechanic or yard work.

-No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden is one of my husbands favorite books.  It gives an interesting and detailed story about the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden.  You can get a paperback version of the book for under $10.  Any book loving man is sure to love it!

-Last on the list, but certainly not least is this Suavecito Pomade.  This pomade has really positive reviews and looks like a great quality.  My husband likes using pomade over gel because it usually has a lot better hold without the crispiness of hair gel.

I hope you have fun shopping for that special someone AND being able to stay in budget!

Check out my post all about 10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10.