5 Practical New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Save Money

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It’s that time of year again! The crisp air, the winter fairytale snow, the holidays; it’s all so beautiful. But this time of year is also the time when most people take a step back, reflect on the past year and decide what changes they want to make in the coming year – gulp – it’s time for the dreaded New Year’s resolution. Call it depressing. Call it horrifying. Yet, the reality is that it is something that we all must face.

But don’t fret! I’m here to help you out. The future is most always uncertain, but there are ways to make things easier. Still feeling overwhelmed and unsure? Well, here is a list of 5 super practical New Year’s resolutions that will undoubtedly help you save money in the new year.

1) Opt for water.

We all know the benefits of drinking our good ol’ friend, H2O. They’ve been touted at us for decades. Roll your eyes all you want, but the truth of the matter is that drinking water is one of the best decisions you can make for your health, both mental and physical. But if you can replace even one of your drinks (soda, iced tea, etc.) each day with water, you will reap the monetary benefits as well! Since water is often cheaper than other sugary drinks, by opting for it, you can keep some extra cash in your wallet and maybe even an extra inch or two off your waist.

2) Brew your own coffee.

This resolution might seem like common sense, but, in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it’s quite possible that it might not even cross your mind: brewing your own coffee instead of buying it from a coffee shop will undoubtedly save you money. Say you buy a cup of coffee each day for around $2. By brewing your own coffee, even just 5 of the 7 days per week, that’s $40 per month that you could be putting toward other things! When you really break it down, it seems like a no-brainer.

3) Use your crockpot.

The cooking gods blessed us with this incredibly useful and time-saving appliance, so we might as well use it! Whether you wake up late and don’t have time to prepare dinner to cook upon your return home from a long day at work or you need a dish to bring to a party, the ever-awesome, lazy man’s crockpot is the answer to your prayers. Just throw all of the ingredients into the crockpot, turn it on and – abracadabra – your dinner will be waiting for you when you get home! And, since crockpot meals are often made in bulk, not only will you have dinner for the night, but you can have lunch and/or dinner for the rest of the week too.

4) Set a limit on social expenses.

Need a resolution that, not only saves you oodles of money, but also helps you get into the habit of making smart, thrifty choices? Well then, my friends, this might just be the one for you. Limits are a necessary part of life, but that doesn’t mean that all New Year’s resolutions need to be robotic promises to ourselves that restrict us from doing something or eating something that we love. Start with smaller limits. My husband and I live a tight-budget lifestyle (and we rock it, might I add). So, being in charge of our finances, I set mental limits on how many times per week we can go out to eat or grab some takeout. This resolution involves some thinking ahead, however – it might not be a smart idea to go out to that Mexican restaurant tonight if you have dinner plans with friends at that nice Italian restaurant in a couple of days. See where I’m going with this? Healthy limits promote thrifty habits. You will save money this way.

5) Research, research, research.

Let me say that again: research, research, research! I saved this one for last because I find this to be the most practical resolution you can make, but it also provides the most benefits if you truly want to live thriftily within your means. Research everything. And don’t take this lightly – we’re talking real money being saved here, and often, a lot of it! I do my research before I do anything. No, I’m not kidding. Ask my husband and my mother, I literally research everything (and sometimes annoy the life out of everyone in the process). This research can be as simples as taking a gander at Groupon or Living Social before making a purchase, in case they might have a sweet deal on what you need. Or this research can be a little more complex, like scanning your local grocery store’s flyer and then scouring the internet for any available coupons before making your shopping list. As I touched upon in a previous post, a little foresight goes a long way, and researching will help you to ensure that you are only buying what you need (and not just because it’s on sale), and that you’re buying it at the best possible price.

Tools 101: What on Earth is This and What Does It Do?

Hi folks! I decided that, since a lot of my posts will be tutorials for various DIY projects, today I will give you an introduction to the basic (and preventative!) tools that you will need to make a whole bunch of thrifty things!

Here is a list that I’ve compiled of the most useful tools that you’ll need (some if it is very basic, but worth mentioning nonetheless):

Safety Gloves & Glasses

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I am starting with these because they are preventative tools; and they are the most important tools you’ll need. The safety gloves provide basic protection for your hands, preventing cuts and splinters while you build or work with tools. The safety glasses, while also providing basic protection for your eyes, prevent debris and shards from causing eye damage or injury. Bottom line: if you want your eyes and fingers to remain intact so you can continue crafting and re-purposing to your heart’s content, then wear safety gloves and glasses.

Tape Measure

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This tool is a basic one, and one you will most likely be using all the time if you’re as craft/DIY decor-obsessed as I! Tape measures come in all lengths, but for the needs of a basic household (and a typical crafter), a 10-foot tape measure should suffice. This tool ensures accuracy in measurements and, let’s face it, we all know how critical accuracy is when designing and building anything.

Screwdrivers

screwdriversThis tool comes in a variety of sizes and lengths, and with various tip sizes. Whether you need to tighten a doorknob, assemble some furniture (ahem, IKEA) or build a headboard, this necessity will always come in handy. If you have one, awesome. If you don’t, go get one. Here, I’ll wait…

Multi-tool

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A basic multi-tool is great for a variety of household jobs. Pictured above is a Leatherman multi-tool. This particular one includes: a serrated knife, a smooth edge knife, pliers, a mini saw, a file, a bottle opener, phillipshead- and flathead- screwdrivers, scissors and an eyeglass screwdriver. It is worth carrying one of these handy guys with you wherever you go. Heck, keep one in your purse or your car. You just never know when you’ll need it!

Drill & Drill Bits

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A drill is a priceless investment. Pictured here is a battery-operated drill, but they also come as electric plug-ins, etc.. A drill has multiple uses. In addition to drilling in screws, the drill also acts as a screwdriver and an extractor, to name a couple. There are hundreds of attachments available to suit your crafting and building needs.

Ho-Ho-How to Make a Tree Skirt for Less Than $5

Seeing as it is only 2 days until Christmas, I am feeling rather festive today – in the Christmas spirit full-force! So, to keep the spirit going, today’s post is a tutorial on how you can make a tree skirt for your fabulous Christmas tree for less than $5 and just a couple of hours of your time.

My husband and I got our tree (and by got, I mean CUT DOWN!!! That’s been on my bucket list forever!) pretty early this year. But unfortunately, we have not had a tree skirt – that is, until today! The materials that I ordered were sitting in a box in the corner for a week or so. I woke up this morning and decided that today was the day. I was going to make a tree skirt for our tiny, awesome tree. The following tutorial is for a basic tree skirt, and it assumes that you have access – or even better, you own! – a sewing machine with thread in the color of your choosing. Here’s what you will need:

  • Material: I got 2 yards of 72″ red crafting felt and I had plenty leftover for other crafting needs ($2.50/yd x 2 = $5.00)
  • Scissors (free)
  • Sewing pins (if you need to buy them, they’re under $1.00 for a bunch)
  • Permanent marker (most likely free)

Now, you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll:

1) Draw out the tree skirt. First, lay the fabric out flat on the floor. Then, you have two choices. If you’re pretty artistic, you can draw out the shape of your tree skirt onto the fabric. Or, you can do what I did and use an old tree skirt as a stencil.

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Use a permanent marker for this so that you are able to see the outline better when it comes time to cut the shape out. Keep in mind that you should allot an extra inch or so in all directions when drawing your outline because you will lose some of that when making a hem with the sewing machine.

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2) Cut out your tree skirt. Next, using a good, sharp pair of scissors, cut along your shape until you have your tree skirt outline. This is the part where you can start to see your tree skirt really come to life. Don’t worry if you can see some of the marker outline – this will go away once you hem it!

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3) Pin the hems along the outside edges of your tree skirt. Get the pins out and within easy reach because you’re going to need a bunch of ’em! This is where your eye for detail comes in handy. Decide where you want to make the hem along the outside edge of your tree skirt and start pinning away. If your outline is a bit uneven – as mine was – then this is your chance to correct that. If you have to pin a little bit more on one side of the skirt, then go for it. Do what looks right to you.

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4) Sew the hems! And the bliss that comes with the actual sewing begins! Or maybe it’s only considered bliss by crazy crafty geeks like me… Either way, the time has come to get your hands dirty. Sew along the outer hem, removing the pins as you go, trying to keep the skirt as steady as possible. Using a thread color that is very similar to the skirt material is a great idea here, as you can hide mistakes easier. Once the hem is complete, cut the loose threads because they could get in the way later.

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Now, go ahead and start pinning the inner edges, just as you did the outer edges. Again, overcompensate for mistakes here if you need to.

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Once pinned, sew the inner hem just like you did the outer hem, making sure to cut any loose threads away.

5) Cut away any extra fabric along hemlines. You’re almost there! Now take the scissors and cut away any extra fabric that remains along the hemlines. This will eliminate bulk and give the tree skirt a more finished look.

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Once the extra fabric has been trimmed off, take a minute to admire your hems. It’s okay to feel proud!

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6) Set your tree skirt up and enjoy! Stand back, ooh and aah, whatever you want – this is your time to enjoy the finished product. If you want to go one step further, you can decorate your tree skirt with anything you want. The sky is the limit! I chose to add a simple burlap “N” to mine, using some super glue. If you can think it up, you can do it!

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A Reason for Living: How I Know I’m Right Where I’m Supposed to Be

Admittedly, my posts have become sparse the past few weeks with school finals approaching, so I have not been able to give proper justice to the dozens of DIY projects, tips for saving money and recipes that I have in my head, just waiting to explode onto the page. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to share this week. Since I’ve tended to veer toward the thriftily side of Thriftily Domestic in my posts up to this point, it might come as a surprise to know that I find the domestic side of life to be exponentially more important.

For me, without domestic, there is no thriftily. The two are intertwined so perfectly and destined to remain side-by-side. So I’ve decided to take some time today to talk a little bit about one of the things in my life that I am most thankful for.

His name is John. Not only is he my husband (2 months and counting), but he’s my partner in life. And yes, I definitely just paraphrased part of our vows. But I digress…

He is the person I see when I first open my eyes in the morning and the last person I see before I close my eyes at night. Sometimes I even see him in my dreams. He is my rock, my teammate, my soul. In fact, he’s my destiny.

I often think back to when we first met and our friendship began. I was a broken-down shell of a human, self-destructive as all hell, and he was a typical 19-year old guy, living a typically 19-year old life. Our lives couldn’t have been more different. And to this day, I still wonder what made him ever – and I mean EVER – decide to stick around.

I guess the reason doesn’t even matter. What DOES matter is that he helped me save myself. Even when I was beyond the reaches of anyone’s help, he still somehow managed to make a difference. He gave me the space that I needed to get well. My family and friends gave me space too, but they knew me. They knew who I really was. John had just met me, yet he did not leave. He chose to stay and I owe him everything for that.

I got my life back on track and we started dating. And here we are, 10 years after we first met, married and happy and excited to start the rest of our lives. We’re a team now. We face the world each day, together. The versatility that John demonstrates is both inspiring and humbling. When I needed space, he gave me space. Now that I need affection and interaction, that is exactly what he is giving me. It’s like he can read my mind and predict what I want and need before I even know myself!

So what does this have to do with being domestic?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines domestic as “relating to or involving someone’s home or family”. In that case, this has EVERYTHING to do with being domestic.

I’m a wife now. And I hope to be a mother someday. John is my family. He is my purpose and the reason I go to work each day. I go to school to further my education in hopes that it will benefit us in the future. When I use my research and thinking-outside-of-the-box skills to find various ways to save us some money here and there, I am doing it because of him. He makes me want to be a better person and to make us a better team.

Sometimes I sit in bed at night after he falls asleep and I just watch him (he’s going to think I’m so creepy when he reads this!). I’m thankful for meeting him. Thankful for falling in love with him. Thankful for wanting to be with him and be happy so much so that I called “time out” in my own life, stood up, dusted myself off and CHANGED EVERYTHING.

I’m domestic now. But the even more remarkable thing is that I can see John is starting to join me. This does not make him any less of the grizzly, manly man that we all know him to be, but rather it shows that we are growing together. Every single thing that we each do now affects the other. Yes, it is going to take some getting used to. But I know that we can handle it because I know what we’ve been through.

I may never know the reason that John stood by me through it all. Maybe I don’t ever want to know. Whatever it was, it brought us together and that is the only thing that matters to me. We took what life handed us and made it our very own. Sometimes we struggle, but we support each other. I am so thankful for John and everything that he stands for. If you had asked me 10 years ago where I thought I would be now, my answer would probably have been “dead”. Now, all of these years later, looking back, I finally know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be: married to my hero and soul mate, and rockin’ the thriftily domestic life!

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Travel Deal of the Week: 9-Day Tour of China With Flights

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Hey fellow thrifty folk! I haven’t been able to post this week because I’ve had loads of school work due. But that is behind me (for now). I’m back and ready to help you save some money!

This week’s travel deal is a one-of-a-kind experience. I know you’re trying to stick to your budgets and spend within reason, but if you’ve been putting some cash aside for a vacation, then this might be an opportunity worth considering.

How does China sound? A bit too out of your comfort zone? Unrealistic? So expensive that you could only go there in your dreams? Well, my friends, Living Social might just change your mind!

China is a country that is as unique as it is populated (1 billion people and counting!). Whether you want to see its famous cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, or if rural areas are more of your thing (see also: farmland with an unparalleled view of the Himalayas), China might be the destination that you’ve been searching for. Everyone deserves a vacation now and again and, if your time has come, I urge you to at least consider China.

Starting out at only $999 (that might seem pricey, but the value is undeniable), you can take the vacation of your dreams and gain memories that will last a lifetime.

Check out this deal:
·A Nine-Day Trip to Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai, including:
·Round-Trip International Flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Houston via Air China; Seattle and Chicago via Hainan Air; Vancouver via China Eastern; and Toronto via Air Canada
·Round-Trip Ground Transportation from the Airport to Hotels and Itinerary Destinations
·Double-Occupancy Accommodations for Three Nights at Four Points by Sheraton or Traders By Shangri-la in Beijing, One Night at Grand Metropark Hotel Suzhou in Shanghai, One Night at Crowne Plaza Hangzhou Xanadu Resort in Hangzhou, and Two Nights at Renaissance Shanghai Putuo Hotel in Shanghai
·Seven Buffet Breakfasts, Four Lunches, and Two Dinners
·One Extra Night at the Renaissance Shanghai Putuo Hotel in Shanghai and One Extra Breakfast if Traveling from Chicago
·Giant Panda Bear Visit
·English-Speaking Tour Guide Throughout
·Airline Taxes, Fuel Surcharges, Hotel Fees, Admissions, and Accident Insurance Included

Flights, transportation, accommodations and even some MEALS?! Can you beat that? This package normally goes for $2,900, so if you’re interested, you better act fast. It even offers you the chance to visit China’s famous panda bears!

For more information, head on over to Living Social. It might just change your life.

3 Traits to Ditch If You Want to Save Money

The truth is that most people ultimately want to save money. Whether you have low-level income or you live comfortably, the desire is still there. Call it an itch if you will. Deep down, I really believe that everyone has this want. Maybe it has not shown itself yet, but trust me, it’s there. And just when you least expect it – BAM – you suddenly feel like you should not have to pay full price. Maybe it’s that $20 bottle of shampoo that you purchase from your salon or the new dishwasher that you’ve been eyeing for years. The fact of the matter is that you make a conscious decision to want to pay less. Well, kudos to you! Get on with your bad (and thrifty) self!

The bottom line is that everyone has the potential to save money in life. But you cannot begin to do that until you ditch these 3 traits that could be holding you back:

1. Pride

Yes, you heard me right. Pride can be a wonderful life tool, as it stops you from lowering yourself to certain levels and from settling for something when you know you deserve more. It also helps you resist the urge to sell-out, which these days, is a rarity. However, if you want to be successful in saving money, then you need to tone your pride down. Now, I’m not saying to go forward in life, lacking pride and full of naivete. I just mean that sometimes, you need to swallow your pride for the sake of an incredible deal. Perhaps you really want a pair of these really expensive black leather boots, but the reality is facing you that you cannot afford them. So you do some research and find a stunningly similar pair at your local Target, or even worse, the dreaded Walmart. Maybe you shudder to think of having to tell someone where you got them, when they undoubtedly ask. This is where you need to lock your pride in the safe, where it will stay for rainy days. What’s wrong with buying those astonishingly less expensive boots at Walmart, throwing them on, heading out the door and replying, “Hell yeah. Walmart $18!” when asked about your exquisite new fashion statement? And the answer is: nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

2. Impulsiveness

This one is über important if you stand any chance in saving money. How many times have you gone to a store only needing one item and have come home with twelve? BOGOs, clearance and sales, oh my! Your head starts spinning. We’ve all been there. If you’re not careful, in no time that $15 shirt can turn into 6 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, 2 skirts and a pair of sneakers. And it’s not just in the clothing stores, but in grocery stores too. Wow, 10 Chobani yogurts for $10?! This is the critical point in your thinking process where you need to hit pause. Do you really need 10 yogurts? Would you have bought 10 yogurts if there was not a sale? If the answer is no, then you probably have no business buying them! In a chaotic, deceptive world (I’m actually an optimistic person, I swear!), you need to be practical. This becomes exponentially important if you’re married or have children. By eliminating impulsiveness from you repertoire, you will save money. At first, it won’t seem like much. A few bucks here, ten bucks there. But after a while, that definitely adds up! Who knows, maybe by doing this, you’ll even save enough money to buy those brand name black leather boots! After all, everyone deserves a splurge once in a while too.

3. Jealousy

Just when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re not a jealous person, there comes jealousy out of the shadows, rearing its evil head. Jealousy is so common these days, with sites like Facebook and Twitter allowing us to amplify the good parts of our lives, while negating the bad parts that we don’t want the world to see. The reality is that there are good and bad parts of everyone’s life, and we just need to learn to deal with them in the way that best suits us. Yes, everyone is going to get jealous of someone else at some point. Whether it’s because of their current life situation or because of how pretty you find them to be, the effect is always the same: it makes you feel inferior. The thing that we all need to remember is that we do it to ourselves. We are the cause of our own inferiority complex. Likewise, we are the only ones who can change it. I know, I know, you’re thinking enough with this holier-than-thou, inspirational, greeting card bull-crap. But I’m serious! If you can bring your jealousy down a few notches (easier said than done, I realize), then you will be well on your way to allowing yourself to reach your full money-saving potential! So the next time your best friend shows you his or her new purchase, instead of getting jealous because you can’t afford it, be happy because your friend can. This mindset will help you to permit yourself to look for deals and discounts, without feeling bad about yourself and jealous that your best friend was able to afford something that you can’t. Your friend will be happy and you will too!

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net | Creator: Renjith Krishnan

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net | Creator: Renjith Krishnan

Travel Deal of the Week: Bahama Bay Resort & Spa (Orlando, FL)

Happy Friday everyone!

Who doesn’t like to travel? To see the world, the cultures, the history. And even if you only travel domestically, it is still pretty awesome. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy what the world has to offer!

This week’s Travel Deal is for all of you with children, and for those of you who are still kids at heart. In my humble opinion, Disney World is truly the happiest, most magical place on earth. Call that statement cliché, or overdone, but I just can’t help it. Friendly characters, childhood memories, thrilling rides, unforgettable shows and so much more – what’s not to love?

Realistically, it is not budget-friendly to stay inside the Walt Disney World Park at any one of their amazing resorts. Instead, you can save oodles of money by staying just outside the park. Most hotels in the area even provide free shuttle service to all of the Disney parks, as well as Sea World and Universal Studios. By staying outside the park, you have easier access to outside restaurants and stores. This means far less expensive prices than inside the park. If you do it right (think: research, research, research), you can save hundreds of dollars this way.

Bookit.com (my usual first stop for all of my travel research) is having one of their “99-hour sales” and it ends tonight at midnight. That being said, in my experience, they almost always extend their sales for a few more days, sometimes even weeks!

As part of this sale, you can pay only $59/night (plus tax) to stay at the Bahama Bay Resort & Spa (owned by Wyndham!). The Bahama Bay Resort & Spa is located in Orlando, right on Lake Davenport, only 10 minutes from the Disney parks. According to its website, the “Bahama Bay Resort & Spa offers the area’s best value on 2- and 3-bedroom family villas. Each villa is beautifully appointed and fully equipped with all the comforts of a contemporary Florida home, combined with all the amenities of a full-service resort. The resort offers amenities such as a heated swimming pool, spa, and children’s play area.” Okay, so where do I sign?! (And as an added bonus, having your own kitchen means HUGE savings on meal costs!)

Normally, this resort charges $197/night! So if you want to have most of the amenities of a Disney World Resort, but want the price tag of a typical motel, then this is the deal for YOU!

So head on over and take a look at this Travel Deal of the Week!

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