Overcoming My Shopping Addiction

shopping addiction

Guest post Elizabeth of Witty ‘N’ Pretty

The world we live in values beauty above all else. The more beautiful a person is, the more value they have. It’s no wonder people, women in particular, lack confidence. We try to make up for our shortcomings in many ways.

For me, I tried to make up for mine by shopping because in my mind, the more expensive things I owned, the more value I had.

Every time I bought something, I experienced two things.

First, was happiness, because I felt prettier and more valuable.

Then I felt guilt, because I knew I couldn’t afford what I was buying.

When I bought something I couldn’t afford, it counteracted the happiness because my value was decreasing. The lifestyle I wanted was unattainable for a girl still in college.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t come to terms with that. I didn’t accept it until I maxed out a credit card and ended up using student loans to fund my shopping trips.

I knew I had to change, so I did.

Since I’m confessing my struggles to you, I may as well say that the temptations to shop and spend money never completely go away. However, I learned to ignore the little voice inside my head telling me to spend, spend, spend.

Eventually, you’ll learn how to do this too… here’s how I’m just doing that:

1. Cut up the credit card.

Yes, the most precious piece of plastic you own will be in little pieces after the scissors gets through with it.

Having a credit card in your wallet tells you that even if you can’t afford something at that moment, your line of credit will let you buy it anyway.

Chop up those cards!

2. Write it down… with an actual pen.

Write down anything and everything you buy and exactly how much it cost. This allows you to see where your money goes and any trends in your spending.

I noticed two things about myself: I liked to drink overpriced coffee and I liked to look good doing it. Knowing this helped me take the next step toward addiction recovery.

3. Stop doing the things that cause you to spend money.

For one month, I didn’t allow myself to buy anything but food and gas. It didn’t matter what was on sale or how great of a deal it was (I love getting a bargain), I wasn’t going to buy it.

At first, this is like giving up the last life ring on a sinking ship. You feel like you’re going to drown. Just like anything else though, it becomes routine.

4. Retrain your brain.

For the longest time, I honestly believed that my worth and my attractiveness was based on how many Kate Spade bags I had and the car I drove.

During my month long shopping break, I focused on building my confidence up. I tried to find beauty in the talents I had and the personality I was born with. I talked with mentors and people I trusted to help me find my self-worth.

Truthfully, I’m still finding my worth. I believe it’s a journey though. It can’t be done in a month or even a year. I still appreciate pretty things, but I don’t place my worth in them.

Do I struggle with wanting these things? Of course, but I can say “no” to myself now. I understand and respect my financial limits and still see value in who I am.

Some may scoff and wonder what’s wrong with me, I can only tell them that everyone struggles with something and being addicted to shopping was my “something”.

Liz is a young, 20-something with a passion for living a beautiful, debt-free life. After graduating college, she realized how important it is for her to get her finances together and start sharing how you can have a great lifestyle for a lot less. She blogs at Witty ‘N’ Pretty.

photo source

Source: moneysavingmom.com

Is a Sam’s Club Membership Worth It Just for Gas?

From chicken drumsticks to paper towels or even a trampoline, you can find just about anything at warehouse clubs like Sam’s. But what if you don’t have any use for a 10-lb bag of sugar or 32 rolls of paper towels?

If you drive a lot, a Sam’s Club membership may make sense just based on the gas savings alone. Let’s look at some numbers.

How Much Does a Sam’s Club Membership Save on Gas?

A basic Sam’s Club membership costs $45 per year and gives you access to the gas stations at all warehouse club locations. However, Sam’s Club has been running promotions to entice people to join so you may pay less than the membership sticker price. (And check to see if Groupon has a deal on membership as it often does.)

Depending on the membership savings you score, the following math may work even better for your situation.

To run this test, let’s assume that you drive a Toyota Camry and you fill-up the 14-gallon tank with gas once a week. This means you go through 728 gallons of gas a year. We will assume that Sam’s Club gas costs on average $0.10 less than other gas stations.

This means you will save around $73 per year if you fill up your car only at Sam’s Club gas stations. If you also get the Sam’s Club Mastercard, you will get an additional 5% back on gas purchases on the first $6,000 per year then 1% after.

For this calculation, we will assume that gas costs $2 a gallon. If you go through 728 gallons per year and you fill up on gas at Sam’s Club using their credit card to pay, you will save $145.60. Subtracting the cost of the membership ($45) gives you savings of $100.

If you don’t get the Sam’s Club Mastercard, your savings come out to a more modest $28 per year.

The difference between the price of gas at my local gas station and at the nearest Sam’s Club is even bigger in my neighborhood. My local gas station is charging $2.05 for a gallon of regular gas while the Sam’s Club gas station sells the same gallon for $1.89.

Here’s a screenshot from the GasBuddy app showing the most recent prices for both:

That’s a difference of $0.16, which would increase the savings. However, the nearest Sam’s Club gas station is almost three miles away, which would eat into my savings and make it more inconvenient. (You can mitigate that by getting gas when you actually shop at Sam’s, which should save you money compared to a regular grocery store.)

Does it Make Sense to Get a Sam’s Club Membership for Gas?

If you drive a big car such as a truck or an SUV, the $0.10 – $0.15 per gallon you can save with a Sam’s Club membership can make a difference. This is also the case if you drive a long way for work, so you need to fill up more often.

One thing to consider is the location of the nearest Sam’s Club gas station. If you have one on your way to work or close to your house, getting a membership to save on gas could make sense.

However, if you have to drive several miles each time to fill up on gas, this will cut into your savings. The inconvenience factor will also make it less likely that you will use the Sam’s Club gas stations.

Warehouse clubs can also be a great place to get deals on other items for your household. If you have a family, you can easily save more than the annual membership cost on staple foods and household goods.

Do you have a Sam’s Club membership? Have you found it worth it just on the gas savings alone? Share your experience in the comments. 

–Veneta Lusk

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

75+ Ways to Make Money From Home in 2020

There are lots of easy ways to make money from home.  I do.  But that wasn’t always the case.  There was a time when we struggled financially to make ends meet. Fortunately, I found a side hustle that has since turned into a lucrative business. I was one of the lucky ones who found a way to turn a hobby into a business opportunity.

simple ways to make money

simple ways to make money

If you struggle like we did, you may need to find a way to supplement or even replace your income.  But, where do you even start?  What is it that you could do to make money from home?  You don’t want to stuff envelopes, and those online companies are all a sham.  It can leave you wondering what options you have to make money on the side.

Sometimes, you need to think outside of the box.  There are opportunities all around you, but you need to just look for them!  To help kick-start your work-from-home thoughts, we’ve rounded up some of the best ideas! These are all things you can do that will make you money from home.

Now, many of these won’t make you wealthy, but when you can find one or two that work, that can have a positive impact on your monthly income. There are lots of interesting and fun ways to make money and become your own boss!  We’ve got 75 ideas below!


There is nothing like being your own boss. However, knowing what kind of business to start can pose a challenge.  These ideas will allow you to use your own hobbies and talents and turn them into a way to make more money.  Some of these may require a business license, so check with your local regulations before you begin.

1. Start a blog. Believe it or not, blogging can be a lucrative way to bring money into your home. The trick is to blog about your passion!  I have been blogging for more than eight years now and have continuously made six figures per year for more than five years now.

In just a few minutes, you can create your own blog and be on your way to making money blogging too!

2. Open a Day Care. You need to love kids before you consider this option. You will need to be able to prepare meals, teach kids, and have a set-up in your home that would be safe for children.

If this interests you, it is important that you visit your own state’s childcare license office to learn what it will take to become accredited.  Share with friends to help them get the word out that you are open for business!

3. Home-Based Business. I’m sure you’ve heard of many consultant-based businesses, such as Thirty-One Gifts, Mary Kay, Party Lite, Pampered Chef, etc.  These are great companies that allow you to set your own hours, get out and meet new people and still bring in a little spending money.

The one tip I have when it comes to this type of opportunity is to make sure you do your homework, so you fully understand the start-up costs and even what you have to do to maintain your consultant status.

4. Become a tutor. You might be able to make money tutoring students. From elementary school to college, there are those who need a bit more help on various topics.  Check with your local school and college to find people whom you can help.

You might also see if you meet the qualifications to work for VIPKID, where you teach English to children in China.

5. Teach a trade/craft. Even if you are not an educator,  people want to learn now hobbies all the time.  If you know guitar, you could teach lessons. You might be a baker and can help someone learn how to decorate cupcakes.

6. Lawn maintenance. Love to be outdoors?  You might want to consider mowing, weeding and gardening as a way to make more money.

7. Become an Uber or Lyft driver.  This is a really popular trend right now and a simple way to make money.  You are able to set your own hours and make good money doing it.  You can work for Uber or Lyft to get started.

8. Call center employee. When you place a call to a company, the call rarely goes to an office, but is directed to an employee (who is probably working from their home).  You just set up an area where you can work and follow a script, taking calls from customers.  Pay varies, depending upon the type of company for which you work.  If you are interested in this option, here are some sites you can visit to learn more:  workingsolutions.com, liveops.com or sykes.com.

9. Dog walker/sitter. If you are home all day because you can’t get out, you could be a dog walker or sitter. Furbabies are family members for many, and people will pay to have companionship or weekend sitters for their dogs.

10. Pet trainer. Speaking of dogs, if you are good at training, you could become a pet trainer.  This can include obedience or even fun tricks.

11. Home organization services.  Organization is a gift that many people do not possess. You can help people clean and organize spaces in their home.

12. Clean homes. If you don’t organize well, but you can clean, become a house cleaner.

13. Balloon animals. I recently ran into an old friend at an event and she had picked up a side job as a balloon animal creator!  It was an affordable investment and she makes excellent money creating animals at corporate events, parties and more.

14. Party planner. This is where your super-original party ideas can make you money.  Become a party planner for birthdays, anniversaries and more.

15. Become a handyman. If you can fix just about anything, your handyman (or -woman) services can bring in some good money.

16. Mover. People hate to move. That is why they pay people to help load and unload moving vans and trucks. I’ve seen people paid upwards of $50+ an  hour just to load or unload trucks.

17. Shovel snow. During the winter months, you can make some money shoveling snow from driveways and walkways. If you have a truck with a plow, you could even work for companies to clear parking lots.

18. Personal shopper. Not everyone likes to shop. You could visit the grocery store and do the weekly shopping for others.

19. Photographer. You don’t have to be a high-end photographer to take photos at birthday parties, events and other occasions.

20. Power Washer.  If you own a power washer, you can offer to power wash driveways, decks and more.

21. Paint. Most people don’t like to paint. You could paint rooms, furniture and more.

22. Sell baked goods. As mentioned above, you could teach someone to bake.  However, you might even be able to sell baked goods as well.

23. Start a bounce house business. Parents and schools rent bounce houses all of the time for parties and events. Invest in the larger houses and you can set them up and take them down at various events.

24. Makeup artist. If you are good with makeup, you can freelance as a makeup artist for events and special occasions, such as weddings.

25. Face painting/tattoos.  It seems every kid loves to get their face painted at carnivals and parties.  Master your skills and then you can contract your services at different events.


Sometimes, leaving your home to earn money is not an option. There are plenty of ways to earn money at home using the web.

26. Become a freelancer. If you love to create and design or are good with proofreading and more, you could sell your services directly on Fiverr.  It is a marketplace where you can create logos, do animation, SEO analytics — all sorts of things! You can set up your shop and people will come to you, and you can also watch for people who post the type of work they are looking for.

27. Take online surveys. If you want an easy way to make money online, you should consider taking surveys. There are companies who will pay you for your opinion. Manufacturers and retailers need to know how they are performing. The best way to do that is to ask people to complete surveys for feedback.  And, they pay you for doing it, too!

Although there are hundreds of these companies online, not all of them are legit.  The way to maximize your survey-earning potential is to join more than one company. If you want to give this idea a try, here are some of the top companies I recommend:


OneOpinion US

Opinion Outpost

Harris Poll

Global Test Market

Inbox Dollars

VIP Voice

Survey Junkie

There are many others out there.  You can read my full list of recommended survey companies.

28. Virtual assistant. You must be highly organized if you want to consider this line of work. Many websites (even mine!) hire Virtual Assistants (VA) to help them.  A VA works for bloggers or websites.  They might do things such as manage social media, check e-mail, write articles or even help with accounting.

The hours and pay vary from site to site, but it is a nice way to pick up a few extra hours of work and some extra spending cash.  Visit VirtualAssistants.com or FlexJobs to learn more about how to become a VA (keep in mind that you do have to pay a fee to join this one).

29. Become a proofreader. Proofreading is a great way to make money at home. It is perfect for moms as you truly set your own hours.  Learn more about How to Become a Proofreader.

30. Ebay. If you love to search out deals, eBay might be a good deal for you.  If you find a great deal on a toy on clearance, you can probably turn around and sell it on eBay for more than what you paid for it.  Another great thing to sell on eBay is children’s clothes.

Right now, the economy is so tough that parents can’t afford new clothes, so they can head to eBay and purchase them for just a few dollars per item.  Whatever you decide to sell, eBay has tools to help you with determining your cost to ad layout.  Just do your research and get ready to sell!

31. Freelance writing. If you love to write, you can get paid to write for large publications.  In fact, many freelancers can make a very good living.  Read this post about How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer to learn more.

32. Transcription. Many think this is a dying line of work, but that is not the case. Documents still need to be transcribed and people are paid to help. Learn the tricks to starting out as a transcriptionist.

33. Sell your photos.  If you are a budding photographer, you can make money by selling your images.  There are sites where you then sell your photos.  As with any online endeavor, always read the fine print before you sign up so you know what you are getting into.  Here are a couple of sites you might check out:  iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia.

34. Data entry.  With the digital age comes the need to transfer all of that content on paper into digital media. Companies actually pay people just like you to enter this for them.  This is the one where you will find a LOT of scams, so make sure you are very careful before you sign up.  One site you can check out is HEA-Employment.

35. Sell your wares. If you love to create items, you can sell them for cash.  Check out Etsy and sign up!

36. Set up an online store. Online retailers are making a LOT of money!  While many will maintain their own inventory, you don’t have to do that.  You can actually easily create your own store and use drop shipping (where someone else mails out the products to the customer).  I know a lot of people who do this and make a nice living at it (and have been able to quit their full-time job).

One site you want to check out is Shopify. It’s great because it helps you do it all – from creating your site to helping you get up and running.  Shopify charges a minimal monthly fee for the connection process, but that is standard for any company that does this.

37. Review software. If you have a technological mindset, reviewing software is a simple way to make money.  You need to make sure you give it a thorough review and report back your honest feedback.  You can start doing this today on Software Judge.

38. Translate websites or documents. There will always be a need to translate documents and websites from one language to another.  You can visit Proz to get started.

39. Check out apps. This is a fun way to make money for trying out new apps!  Companies want to know what people think and get feedback to improve them (if needed). Check out UTest to learn more.

40. Become a website tester. In order to ensure your website is successful, you need to make sure it is user-friendly.  That is why companies pay people to test their websites.  You can sign up for free and get started right away at UserTesting.

41. Social media manager. In order to stay competitive, bloggers and companies must use social media.  If you are extremely knowledgeable in marketing and strategies, you could offer your services as a social media manager.

42. Blogging editor. If owning a blog is not your thing and you really don’t want to be an assistant, you could offer editing services.  Blogs want to ensure that posts are free from grammatical errors, and editors help ensure that they are.

43. Forum or Facebook group moderator. Owners of these pages don’t want to have to police and monitor them every second of the day.  You can be paid to be a forum monitor.  Reach out to the owner of the forums you frequent to see if they are looking for help.

44. Get paid to surf the Internet. When you get ready to search online, use Swagbucks.  You can earn points for searching the web, and then also for doing other activities as well.

45. Use Rakuten. This site will pay you when you shop online!  Just visit their site before any purchase is made, and they will give you a cut of what you spent.  They even send you an actual check! Sign up with Rakuten now and get a free $10 gift card when you spend your first $25!

46. Search for coupons. If you find coupons and coupon codes, you can get paid for sharing them with others!  CouponChief pays you for passing along the deals you find with others.


47. Flip products. If you are great at transforming trash into treasure, turn it into a way to make money! Sell your creations online or even at local flea markets.

48. Write a book and sell it on Amazon. The Kindle store sells millions of copies of books every year. It is easy to create your own book, be it a short story or a novel.  If you check out some of the best sellers, many have less than 50 pages in them!

You can transform your favorite 50 recipes into a book, your tricks on organizing your home – anything you want. Get started with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program.

49. Get paid to shop. The new way of saving money is not as much with coupons as it is with apps!  You can use apps where you buy the things you need, submit your receipt and get cash back!

I’ve talked about these apps before on the site, so these are sites I trust.  The ones I recommend you check out include:  Ibotta, SavingStar, and Checkout51.

50. Rent your home.  Join AirBNB and rent space to travelers. You are in control of who you allow to rent your space and when.

51. Sell items on Craigslist. If you have things you no longer need, you can sell them on Craigslist.  Just make sure you complete transactions in a safe environment.

52. Sell your hair. I know this sounds crazy, but people do buy hair! Hairsellon can get you started.

53. Rent your stuff. Believe it or not, you can get paid to rent out all sorts of things, from vehicles to books and even clothes and more! It is a great way to use that item you had to buy for that ONE event and now sits in your cabinet. Rent it out to others and make some money on it. You will want to check out RentNotBuy to learn more about getting started.

54. Become a tour guide. If you love your city, you can share that with others. You might even be able to make decent money doing it. Vayable is a great site to help get you started.

55. Become a resume writer.  The right resume can help someone land the perfect job. Get onto LinkedIn and other sites to market your services.

56. Sell your clothes. Clean out your closet and get rid of the things you no longer need. You can visit local stores, such as Plato’s Closet, which pay you for your items.

57. Have a garage sale.  This is a great way to clear out the clutter and turn it into cash. Make sure you read my tricks on running a successful garage sale (I made hundreds on mine — and even $1,200 one year!).

58. Sell unwanted gift cards. This clears out the clutter of the cards you don’t want and puts a little money in your pocket too!  Visit Raise.com to learn more about how to sell those unwanted cards (use the code PPINCH and you’ll get $5 free to spend on your first purchase, too).

59. Become a mystery shopper. Believe it or not, you can get paid to eat at restaurants and shop at stores. Learn more about mystery shopping.

60. House sitter. During vacation, people do not like to leave their homes unattended.  You can house-sit for them.

61. Sell plasma or blood. Believe it or not, you can sell these.

62. Be a mock juror. Many trial lawyers use mock jurors to get a better feel for their case and how a jury may lean based upon certain testimony and evidence. Visit eJury.com to learn more about this idea.

63. Become a phone nurse. Man the phones for patients who call looking for help and advice. Fonemed is one resource you can look into.

64. Use your car to advertise. Companies will pay you to put advertising on your vehicle.

65. Lose weight. I know that this sounds crazy, but you can actually bet against others to lose weight!  Check out DietDebt to learn more.

66. Rate music. This won’t make you rich but you can listen to and review songs. Visit MusicXray.

67. Answer questions. If you are knowledgeable about different topics, Ammas will pay you for answering questions.

68. Get paid to share on social media.  Companies such as IZEA and PaidPerTweet pay users and bloggers for sharing information on social media channels.

69.  Earn money by shopping online.  The ShopTracker app will actually pay you for shopping online!  Just shop as usual and you’ll earn rewards month after month.


Sometimes, part-time employment can help your financial picture, too. These jobs often work around your current work schedule so as to not interfere with your regular job.

70. Food delivery. These jobs don’t pay much, but you can make some decent money in tips.  You will need your own vehicle and insurance.  Check out UberEats to get started.

71. Newspaper delivery. Believe it or not, people still like to read the newspaper. You can deliver papers early in the morning before the rest of your day begins.

72. Substitute teacher. This can be tricky as you might get a last-minute call out to work, but there is always a need for subs in most school districts.

73. Hotel complimentary breakfast host. When hotels offer a complimentary breakfast, they need people to set it up, keep it stocked and then clean up.  As an added bonus, you can often get discounted hotel rates as well.

74. Lifeguard. Lifeguard at a private, community or even your local public pool.

75. Referee. Schools, colleges, and local recreation leagues need refs to help run their events.

76. Holiday help. Retail stores often hire seasonal workers to help at different times of the year.  These are not long-term commitments.

77. Temp agency. Become a temp and you will get short assignments to fill in for regular staffers who may be on vacation,  maternity leave, etc.

78. Personal assistant.  Those who are homebound and/or disabled often need help with shopping, chores and more.


Of course, before you ever sign up with a company, make sure you protect yourself.  Here are tips to know if the company could potentially scam you:

  • Watch out for pyramid schemes.
  • Be leery of a company that makes you pay before they tell you what your job will be.
  • Read the fine print.  Know what to expect before you agree to the terms (that means, don’t just click the accept button).
  • Research the company at the Better Business Bureau to see if it’s accredited or if there have been complaints filed.

Whatever you decide to do make money, just make sure you do thorough research. Be sure the job works for you and is something you enjoy doing.  Not all opportunities are for everyone.  Good luck!

make money online

make money online

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Turn Your Favorite Hobby Into a Profitable Business

October 27, 2015 | Crystal Paine

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How To Turn Your Favorite Hobby Into a Profitable Business

Kalyn over at Creative Savings has a great post up on how to turn your favorite hobby into a profitable business. Here’s a snippet:

I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t want to hold a 9-5 job, sit in a cubicle all day, and do it over and over again until the day I retired, or died. I know that sounds pretty morbid, but it’s true! I literally feel like a caged animal whenever I work for someone else. That’s how desperately I wanted to be my own boss.

So it’s no surprise all sorts of business ideas popped into my head after I graduated college. Okay, who am I kidding….I actually started some of these ideas during college!

It would take forever to list them all here yep, there’s a lot!, but suffice it say, if I was pretty good at something, I had to find a way to make it profitable. One of these hobbies was cake decorating. I took all the classes at Michaels, and fell in love with the craft.

Read the full post here.

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Source: moneysavingmom.com

What is Woot and How Can it Save You Money?

Recently, my husband announced that he had finally purchased us a new robotic vacuum to help with cleaning around the house. I naturally assumed that he’d ordered it from Amazon and that I could expect it to arrive in two days with Prime. To my surprise, however, he mentioned that he purchased it from a website called Woot.

Having never heard of the site, I was, of course, curious.

Seeing my skepticism, he said the only words that would put me at ease: “It was cheaper than Amazon.”

At that moment, I not only knew that I had married the right person, but that there was a new site worth exploring.

Upon my own examination, I realized that he had discovered a hidden gem that would now become a part of my online shopping rotation.

What is Woot?

So, what exactly is Woot?

Woot is a daily deals site that offers discounts and limited-time sales on everyday items. The site, which is owned by Amazon, is a hub for finding deals on electronics, clothes, appliances, furniture, and even food.

You can search deals within one of their seven main shopping categories:

  • Home & Kitchen
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Tools & Garden
  • Sports & Outdoors
  • Shirt (Custom T-shirts)
  • Gourmet (Food)

As with any deal site, you won’t be able to search for the exact item that you may be looking for. In fact, you never know exactly what’s going to be there as the selection changes every day.

However, the site is organized well enough that you can search through each category and filter to find items that you may be interested in.

The Woot community

In addition to offering deals, the site has an engaging community that consists of a blog and various forums. Customers who are a part of this community are affectionately called Wooters.

You’ll find anything from blog posts about kangaroos to community members creating and participating in games within the chat. You can also find advice about what’s being sold and people’s experiences with those items.

It is a vibrant space for those who love Woot, their deals, and random banter.

How can Woot save you money?

The advantage of shopping on Woot is its deep discounts on products. You may find items that are discounted up to 80% off of their original price, making it an obvious cost-saving.

For example, the robotic vacuum that my husband purchased was sold for 60% off its original price and $20 less than Amazon sells it for. This saved us around $300.

In addition to the deep discounts on new items, Woot also sells refurbished goods that are sold for less than retail. This is typically the case for items within the electronics category.

You can find refurbished computers, cameras, televisions, and more.

Start saving with Woot

As you might imagine, Amazon makes it seamless to shop on the site.

If you already have an Amazon account, you can simply use your login credentials to gain access. Otherwise, you can create an account with your email address.

Amazon Prime members get the added bonus of free shipping when they shop on Woot. So in addition to getting a reduced price, you won’t pay extra to ship (but it takes longer than the one- or two-day shipping Prime offers).

Once you’re logged into your account, you officially become a Wooter and can begin taking advantage of deals.

So, if you’re as into saving a few pennies as I am, I recommend checking out Woot to find deals on those everyday items you plan on buying. You, of course, may not find the exact item you want but you could find an acceptable substitute … or see something you didn’t even know you wanted.

–Fo Alexander

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

We Paid Cash: Starting A Blog

We paid cash!
A testimony from Abby from Winstead Wandering

I’ve been blogging off and on since May of 2011. And in January of 2015, I decided to finally start the new blog I’d been brainstorming for months.

I had just suffered a miscarriage and I needed something to take me out of my own head. I knew, though, that I wanted to be serious and intentional in how I went about starting the new site; I wanted to buy my domain, I wanted to be self-hosted, and I didn’t want a free cookie cutter blog design.

After crunching numbers and spending a good portion of my Christmas break doing research, I decided I needed $200 to buy the things I wanted: my domain name, 36 months of hosting, and a blog design.

I know it’s completely possible to start a blog without spending a penny, but it was important to me to treat my new site seriously — like the business I eventually hoped it would be — right from the beginning.

I also hoped that working hard to earn the money would make the commitment more real to me.

Here’s how I earned $200:

Selling Textbooks

I took four college classes in the summer of 2014, and while I’d always intended to sell my used textbooks, I never got around to it. Needing blog money was the motivation I needed to finally list them on ebay. My timing aligned with colleges resuming classes after winter break, so my books sold quickly, earning me $125.

Teachers Pay Teachers Store

As a high school teacher, I have a Teachers Pay Teachers store where I sell the random forms, worksheets, and activities I prepare for my classes. I typically bring in $30-$40 in passive income each month, but seeing as January was the beginning of a new semester, I was able to set aside my entire $75 paycheck from that month.


I’ve used Ibotta to earn cash back on groceries since the app was first introduced, but I rarely cash out. I prefer to allow my savings to build up and then cash out when I have a specific purchase in mind. Because it had been a while since I’d done that, I was able to deposit $40 from Ibotta into my PayPal account.

It took me less than one month to earn the cash I needed to start my blog. I used the extra — and I continue to use the cash generated from my TpT account — to participate in giveaways and buy odds and ends like pretty dishes to photograph my recipes in.

My goal, of course, is that my blog will eventually bring in a small part-time income to supplement what my husband and I make as teachers. For now though, I love knowing that I started this adventure without tapping into my family’s monthly budget!

new blog

Abby is an Oregonian-turned-Mississippian, teaching high school Business and Technology. When she isn’t learning cool new slang at school, she likes to hang out at the golf course with her husband and aspiring (L)PGA toddlers. Abby blogs at Winstead Wandering.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

Source: moneysavingmom.com

Taking a Disney Trip? Here Are Two Key Budget Hacks

Between the ages of 7 and 21, I visited the happiest places on Earth — Disneyland and Disney World — a total of five times. My first four times, my mom paid for my trips/tickets. For my fifth visit, I was actually paid (in per diem) to go to Disneyworld by my college to compete in a national choir championship. Yes, I know, that’s what they call a #Humblebrag, but also, we won (unlike our football team). But enough about my short-lived, semi-pro singing career…

It wasn’t until summer 2019 when my husband and I decided to incorporate Disneyland into our post-nuptial plans, that I actually paid my own way and realized the true price tag of experiencing Disney magic. While, in retrospect, we definitely overpaid, I obviously wouldn’t trade the experience of getting to the parks before opening and leaving just before closing (a total of 14 hours) for anything. After really looking at the numbers, I realized we could’ve probably traveled to an all-inclusive tropical resort and spent the same amount — you live and you learn right?

But that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to Disneyland or Disney World again. In fact, I’m in the process of planning another trip. This time, however, I’m wiser and have done my research and will be taking a more budget-friendly approach revolving around two effective (and fun!) hacks.

Here are two ways I hacked our budget to save on our seventh trip to the happiest place on Earth.

Disney Trip Hack #1: Start a Disney Jar (and set a budget)

Similar in concept to a swear jar but probably much more effective, a Disney jar can be a scary-fast way to save up for a trip no matter how large you want to live it up.

The rules of a Disney jar are simple:

  1. Anytime you see something Disney-related, you put a set amount of money in a jar or transfer it to a savings account.
  2. Don’t take any money out of said jar or account until you’ve hit the goal amount you need to take the Disney adventure of your dreams.

If you’re skeptical, consider how much Disney really has a presence in our day-to-day lives. Aside from their wide net of media brands including anything with the name Disney along with ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Lucas Films, Fox, ABC, you can also take the brand, Apple, for example. It’s a bit tangled, to say the least, but Apple and Disney are very closely tied through their respective relationships with Pixar. To me, the lines are blurry enough that I’d say it’s fair to add at least $1 to your Disney fund each day you use your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or other Apple products.

The amount you contribute to the jar depends on your target timeline, plans, and how much you’ll need to save. If it’s a passive idea, maybe stick to just a buck, but if you want to be more aggressive, up the ante.

Of course, to do this you need to work backward and plan by looking up prices in advance (something I recommend for taking a trip virtually anywhere). Here are a few things to look up in advance when setting your savings goal:

  • Research restaurant menus ahead of time and, as most people will tell you, bring your own snacks. We even brought our own RedBulls on our last visit—game changer!
  • Same goes for merchandise and experiences. You can look up these prices in advance and even order some merchandise beforehand.
  • As Disney announced in 2016, their ticket prices fluctuate at each park throughout the year.

From there, set aside an allowance you’ll stick to. And if you have kids, give them an allowance too — kids are more impulsive but the last thing you want is a toddler screaming in the middle of Tune Town over a $29 pair of ears you really wish you had known about and bought online weeks ago. This can also be an additional incentive for good behavior and chore completion in the weeks leading up to a trip (that is, if the trip isn’t a big surprise).

Disney Trip Hack #2: Think outside the resort

I know I’m going to catch flack for this but in all honesty, if your idea of visiting Disney absolutely MUST involve staying at one of their resorts, you’re already failing to hack your budget. Many Disney bloggers will preach endlessly about how you can save money on resort packages that include food or other amenities, but at the end of the day, they’ve drank a little too much of the Kool-Aid. It is by far MUCH cheaper to stay in a nearby Airbnb or even another hotel. Yes, this goes for families as well.

Again, if staying at the Disney resort is a non-negotiable item on your list of must-haves, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ll also just say, from my experience staying at a Disney resort, the rooms aren’t all that nice as far as hotels go. I’m no snob when it comes to hotels but given the room rates, you’re paying much more than you need to for a sub-par room. And at the same time, if you’re doing Disney right, you won’t spend much time in your hotel room — even if you’re there on your honeymoon.

But staying somewhere other than a Disney-run property isn’t the only or even the best way to save on accommodations. In fact, why pay for a room at all?

To uplevel this strategy, consider house sitting for local residents as a way to either stay near a Disney park for free or, even better, get paid. In some cases, you may even be able to offset some of the costs of your trip—like your flights or gas getting there depending on where you’re from, or at the very least, the $15 daily cost of Max Passes (a Disneyland/California Adventure-only item) to help you avoid lines.

Along those lines, if you have friends in the areas surrounding the Disney parks you want to visit, stop reading this article and call them. Not only might they have a spare room or couch for you to sleep on — again, all you’ll be doing is sleeping in between trips to the park(s) — but, it’s well-known that Southern California and Florida residents get very deep discounts on tickets so maybe they’ll want to come with you and show you around. (They can’t, however, typically buy you tickets as most of the deals require you to actually be a resident.)

Plan ahead

When it comes to a Disney vacation, the key to having an amazing time without going over your budget is planning ahead. From a Disney jar to staying off-site, you’ll be able to have a blast as long as you keep an eye on your bottom line.

More than anything, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t let that Disney magic carry you away to budget Neverland.

–By Melissa Hollis

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Use Priceline to Save on Travel

I don’t know about you, but one of my most exciting resolutions for this year is to travel more. In order to make this a reality, though, I need to be able to save money wherever I can on the trips that I plan for my family.

One of the biggest tools in my money-saving arsenal is to use an online travel agency site, like Priceline, anytime I’m ready to book. This can help me save tons whether I’m trying to find flights, hotels, rental cars, or even book a cruise or vacation package.

While Priceline is a pretty straightforward platform to use for travel booking, there are a few features that can save you even more money than you’d expect.

Express Deals show you star level and location, not the name of the hotel. Image source: Priceline.

Express Deals

Once upon a time, Priceline had a tool called Name Your Own Price. This allowed you to bid for flights, hotels, and rental cars, finding companies who would accept the offer(s) you were willing to make. It was a bit of a gamble and you were essentially “buying blind,” but the tool was a great opportunity to save.

Unfortunately, that tool was phased out a few years ago for flights and rental cars. It’s now only available for hotel stays and only accessible through the Priceline mobile app.

However, if you’re still itching to save money — and don’t mind buying blind — there’s another option. You can still save big using Priceline Express Deals … saving up to 60% off, in fact.

With Express Deals, you are able to pick up incredible prices on hotels, as long as you’re a little flexible (and trusting). All you need to do is choose your destination city and travel dates, and Priceline will help you find a great deal on a surprise booking.

While you won’t be able to choose the exact hotel you’ll get through Express Deals, you can choose the amenities you need and even the hotel quality you desire. You’ll see the price you’re paying as well as your overall savings. As soon as you book the room, you’ll be told where you’re staying (but, be careful because these are non-refundable purchases). And you can switch to the map view and see exactly where your hotel options are located.

A screen shot of the Priceline Trip Builder tool

Priceline lets you package airfare, hotel, and more. Image source: Priceline.

Trip Builder (new)

Sometimes, you just need a hotel room. If you’re planning a big trip or family vacation, though, you’ll need a lot more: hotel rooms, rental cars, and even flights.

Thanks to Priceline’s new Trip Builder feature, you can bundle all of those travel needs into one convenient package and save significant money.

With Trip Builder, you can combine any two or three needs from flights, hotels, and a car. If you’ll be bouncing around, you can add multiple hotel stays to the bundle and further boost your savings.

Your Trip Builder booking will all be listed under the same confirmation number, making it easier than ever to track all of your reservations in one place. You’ll also enjoy some of Priceline’s best deals in the process, leaving more jingle in your pocket for things like souvenirs and experiences.

Best Price Guarantee

Every once in a while, I’ll book a room or a flight for an upcoming trip, only to notice that the price goes even lower the very next day. Sometimes, that price continues to drop, reminding me of how much money I lost out on.

Luckily, you can learn from my mistakes. That’s because if you book a flight, hotel room, rental car, or cruise through Priceline, you’ll be covered by their Best Price Guarantee.

With this guarantee, you can receive a 100% price adjustment if the price of your reservation drops in the 24 hours after you book. If you booked an Express Deal, Priceline will not only give you double that — 200% of the difference! — but you’ll also have all the way until midnight the night before you travel to file your Best Price Guarantee claim.

There are some requirements, of course: the lower-price itinerary must be publicly accessible (no military discounts or special pricing platforms), the details must match exactly, and some airlines are excluded (Spirit, British Airways, and KLM, to name a few).

Even still, this guarantee means added peace of mind when you travel. And perhaps even extra savings in your pocket after you’ve already booked.

Double up on savings

Want to make your Priceline experience even more lucrative? Then double up on the savings.

There are a few ways to do this. You can:

  • Visit Priceline’s website through a shopping portal such as Rakuten (which is currently offering up to 5% back on your bookings)
  • Use a travel rewards credit card to earn extra miles or points on your reservations made through Priceline
  • Join Priceline’s membership program, giving you access to additional members-only discounts and easy trip management
  • Get the Priceline Rewards Visa credit card, which offers 5x bonus points back per $1 spent on priceline.com purchases

In fact, you can use more than one of these within the same booking, earning you maximum rewards, and saving as much as possible.

When booking a trip, sites like Priceline make it easy to shop around, compare prices, snag discounts, and manage reservations. You’ll have access to deals and promotions that you might not be able to find elsewhere, while also offering a best-price guarantee each time you book.

The more you save on your travel today, the more you can put toward additional trips in the future. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start seeing more of the world in 2020.

–By Stephanie Colestock

Source: pennypinchinmom.com


If you are like most people, your dog is not simply a pet. He or she is a member of your family.

You want to provide them the best of everything.  From toys to treats, you love to spoil them rotten

But the costs. Oh, how they can quickly get out of control!


Your first thought may be to buy the cheap dog food.

Please, don’t.

The problem is that the lower quality food can lead to health problems for your pet, which could end up costing you more. It is not the answer.

Instead, focus on ways you can save while still getting your favorite canine the food and treats that are best for them.


When you find a great deal on the dog food you need, buy extra! There is no reason to pick up one bag when you can get a couple and save.


Oftentimes, the larger bags result in greater savings. Compare the price per ounce of the smaller items to the bigger bags to find the lowest cost.


Just as with the store brands you buy, sometimes the store brand of pet foods is the same – simply in different packaging.

Carefully review the ingredients before making the switch. After all, if they are the same, why are you paying for the label?


Loyalty has its perks. Many stores offer loyalty programs to members. You can get exclusive offers, discounts and coupons that are only offered to those who have signed up.

Some programs also reward for your purchase in the form of points. Once you accumulate the points you can cash them in towards savings or freebies.


Even if you are a member of their program, make sure you are also on the list!  You will get alerts for sales and may even find some awesome coupons to make their way into your inbox as well.

Tip:  Make a secondary email address to use so your inbox is not cluttered with these types of emails.


There are online pet product providers, such as Chewy, who sell pet food and other items, often at a discount. The added perk here is that they deliver it directly to you – so no lugging home huge bags of dog food from the store.

You can use apps such as Honey or Wikibuy to compare online prices to ensure you also find the lowest possible price for the items you need.


Some sites, such as Amazon, offer discounts if you sign up for automated delivery of select products. Not only will it be delivered, but you also won’t have to worry about running out.


Sometimes, manufacturers offer product rebates. If you can find these, you’ll get money back on your purchase.


If you have a food your pet loves, send an email letting them know. They may send you coupons or vouchers for products as a thank you.

Alternatively, if you have a problem with a product, make sure to reach out. The company may offer a refund or alternative product for your trouble.


Skip the big box stores and head to your local warehouse. You may find larger bags at a lower cost sold there – saving you time and money.


All stores run sales in cycles. They do this on food, clothes, and more – including pet food!  Keep track of the offers at your favorite stores.

You will start to learn their cycle and can then stock up when items are on sale.


You can even bypass the store and make your own dog food right at home. There are countless recipes on Pinterest that you can try.

But, before you rush to start a cooking frenzy, make sure to carefully research each ingredient to make sure it is safe for your pet to consume.


Before you head to the store, head online, and search for coupons for your pet’s food. You may find them on the manufacturer’s website or on coupon printing sites.

Make sure to also check the product packaging as you may find them stuck to the front of that big bag of dog food.


Vets get free samples of the products they sell – so ask for one! The freebies do not cost them anything, so they should be more than happy to give you one if you inquire.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Which one has the best prices?

August 24, 2015 | Crystal Paine

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Laurie has updated her Sam’s Club vs. Costco post with the details on which store has the best prices.

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