How to Build Your Home Library for Cheap

Your personal library of literature won’t only help your family to gain knowledge; it can help reading to become a favorite pastime. Sure, there are e-readers and tablets, but there’s nothing like feeling the weight of a book in your hands and being able to flip through the pages. You want your family’s library to be expansive to encourage your children to read and grow, your relatives to read when they visit, and your significant other to become more knowledgeable. Additionally, having a large library of various types of literature will make it easier for each individual in your family to find something he or she actually enjoys reading. Take that library science degree and utilize it to arrange your collection of books so that they stay neat and well organized. Here’s how you can locate more inexpensive books to include in your personal library.

Go to Garage Sales

Lots of gently used books can nearly always be found at neighborhood yard and garage sales. Let’s face it, books are fun to read but they also take up space. When someone is moving, they will usually leave previously read books behind so that they can make an easier transition. As kids grow older, they often decide to get rid of their collections of Goosebumps books and opt for young adult fiction. Visit a yard sale every weekend and you’ll soon have a personal library with hundreds of cheap books that are in very good condition.

Visit Public Library Book Sales

Whether you want to add encyclopedias and biographies to your personal library or are looking for a few specific, popular paperbacks, public libraries have many extraordinary finds. Book sales at public libraries are also a joy because they’re organized by master of library science online graduates who can tell you where precisely each category of books is located. Anything purchased at a public library helps the branch to acquire new books, computers, and even pay for special events.

Check the Book Section of Thrift Stores

Did you know that thrift stores offer much more than clothes and gently used furniture? Take a trip to a well-established thrift store and you’ll find housewares, appliances, and lots and lots of used books. Some of the books that you find might be old and rare, but don’t fall out of your seat if you find some more contemporary reads as well. For a fraction of what you’d pay for new books online or at a bookstore, you can fill up your library at home with finds from a thrift store.

Your library at home will grow and grow until you need to buy additional bookshelves if you look for discounted books. Don’t think that you only need to fill your personal collection with brand new copies of books, as they all read the same. Imagine having so many books that it would take you years to read everything that you have at home. By shopping smart and acquiring used books, you can keep your family entertained by using their brains.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tips To Prepare Your Credit For Purchasing A Home

When the family begins to grow, it is time to find the right home.  Purchasing a home is a somewhat complicated endeavor, but it does not have to be an entirely foreign process.  With a little time and enough research, a person can assure that their credit is ready to stand the scrutiny of lenders.

Typically, mortgage lenders prefer a credit rating of 720 or higher to qualify for a home loan.  Here are a few helpful hints to prepare a stellar credit report before purchasing a new home for the family.

Obtain a full credit report.

Everyone is entitled to one free and complete credit report from each of the reporting bureaus every year.  It is a relatively simple process to complete online.  An array of websites provides the ability to request a free credit report.

Make sure to only inquire about credit history when absolutely necessary.  When a person’s credit reflects several inquiries, it can negatively affect their score.  It is assumed that if several agencies have to look into a person’s reliability, then they may not be very reliable.

Dispute any discrepancies.

A thorough examination of one’s credit report will often uncover one or many mistakes.  If the report shows information that is not even close to accurate, then it is that person’s responsibility to dispute the markings.

Though many individuals do not challenge (or even know about) errors on their credit, it can be very beneficial to follow through with an objection.  The bureaus have a 30-day time limit to respond to complaints, and most people are relatively pleased with the outcome.  It is worth the time to complete this step.

Maintain several tradelines.

A person needs at least three active tradelines to qualify for a home loan.  Tradelines are lines of credit, such as student loans, car loans, or credit cards.  They need to be active for a time in one to two years before they will reflect positively to mortgage lenders.

Leave unused lines of credit opened.

Older tradelines look better on credit history, and they are also capable of boosting a person’s overall rating.  Do not close those unused credit card accounts.  Leaving them opened, even if they are not being utilized, builds credit.  Try circulating through several cards, and never charge more than 30 percent of the total limit.

Understand debt-to-income ratio.

Debt-to-income ratio is not only important to prospective lenders; it will help the real estate agent determine exactly what can be feasibly afforded.  It is assumed that a buyer with a high debt-to-income ratio will have more trouble paying monthly payments, and lenders tend to shy away from those people.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Ways To Save Money For A Family Vacation

Being able to take a multi-child family on vacation can feel like an impossible task.  Life always seems to add up with new expenses arising.

However, with the right consistent efforts, saving for a vacation is completely possible.  All it takes is a goal, a strategy, and follow through.

Follow these money saving tips for your family, and you will start packing your bags in no time.

Stop Eating Out

Eating out is one of those luxuries that families don’t like to skip out on.  After all, it is wonderful not having to cook, eating delicious food, and being able to take part in a group activity as a family.

However, eating out regularly is one of the fastest ways to blow money. Even if you aren’t eating out with the entire family and are just buying a sandwich on your lunch break.  If you buy a $10 lunch each day, that alone is $50 a week.  Add that up for the month and you’ve spent $200, just on sandwiches!!

The same goes for going out to bars regularly. Heavy alcohol consumption leads to frivolously spending money, and can add up quickly.

Instead, opt for buying a bottle of wine and enjoying it at home, and pack your lunches in a paper bag while you sip.

Buy in Bulk

By shopping places like Costco, or going to the bulk section of the grocery store, you can save a considerable amount of money.  However, it’s essential to know how to buy in bulk wisely.

Check the price per unit of an item.  Go for the option that is the lowest cost per unit.  By purchasing items in large quantities, you often get the lowest price per unit available, which can save you hundreds per month.

Put away Money Each Week

Small consistent efforts can have enormous effects.  By making a commitment to yourself to put away a certain percentage of your salary each month, you will be shocked at the amount of money you can save.

Another effective and low impact way of saving is putting away all of your coins and one dollar bills into a shoebox.  Make an agreement with yourself to always save this kind of small change, and when you open up the box at the end of the year, you’ll have hundreds that you didn’t even notice was gone from your budget.

Give Up One Luxury per Family Member

If each of your family members sacrificed one luxury per week, this combined sacrifice you could be putting away a huge amount towards your vacation.

Perhaps your toddler gets an ice cream cone after school every Friday.  Or maybe your daughter likes to get her nails done. Perhaps your husband likes to go to the driving range once a week.  If everyone makes a collective decision to sacrifice one or two pleasures for the greater good of saving for a vacation, you could save plenty in no time and make your vacation a reality!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

3 Important Reasons to Open A Family Emergency Savings Account Today

In spite of the well-known importance of an emergency savings account, two-thirds of American households still fail to save even $1,000. What does this mean for families? For most people, falling on hard economic times is not a matter of if but a discussion of when. Life is uncertain, and having a backup plan to keep food on the table for your family is critically important.

While some experts argue that the crisis of savings is mitigated by the fact that many Americans can utilize credit, the reality is that some problems cannot be solved by swiping a credit card. Additionally, the very people who are the most likely to fall on difficult financial times are likely to lack the credit score necessary for emergencies. Having an easily accessible savings account is by far the best option for weathering financial storms. Included here are a few reasons your family needs an emergency savings account.


With nearly 24 million Americans addicted to some kind of substance, many homes have already been touched by the economic downturn that can occur with an addiction. Unfortunately, there are still thousands of Americans who believe addiction is an external problem, or something that happens to other people. Addictions can permeate even the most secure of homes, leaving economic destruction in its wake.

The cost of maintaining an addiction can be enormous, even in the most financially secure of homes. Because humans begin to develop tolerance for substances, they require greater quantities, resulting in a cost that exceeds their means. Within a few months, your family could go from financially secure to bankrupt. By implementing a savings account early on, you will have the means available to send your loved one to rehab before their situation worsens.

Medical Emergencies

As populations begin to live longer, their bodies are exposed to far more chemicals and toxins that increase their risk of cancer and other health problems. The rate of cancer diagnoses has continued to increase as populations age. A disease like cancer can be devastating on your finances and leave your family reeling for years.

For other common medical costs, take a look at the typical uninsured pregnancy. The average American birth costs upwards of $20,000, less if you choose to do a homebirth with midwives or go unmedicated. Having your appendix removed could cost you $33,000 and a simple broken bone can cost as much as $2,500. All of these common life events could be devastating for an unprepared family.

Job Loss

Economic stability in America continues to proceed in constant flux. Many industries see expected downturn while others are unexpected and forced to lay off workers. Losing your primary earner for your home can be devastating for the family. Having a savings account that covers at least six months expenses can help ease the stress of job instability.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Menu Planning



I have really been getting into meal planning, so I don’t go crazy at 5pm trying to figure out what to make or just staring at my pantry trying to put ingredients together to make dinner. Meal Planning also saves you money because you don’t have a tendency to go out to eat because you already have your menu planned out. Plus it helps you create an easy grocery list.

When I create my grocery list I usually write it out by aisle, most of the stores are setup similarly. You can get your grocery shopping done faster and won’t forget items and have to go back later.

I do my meal planning on Sunday night because I go grocery shopping on Monday mornings. The first thing I do is look through my cupboards and pantry and figure out what we already have and what meals I could make out of those items. Then I look through my Pinterest boards for ideas. I just recently alphabetized my boards so I can find them easier.

There are tons of articles out there that you can find on meal planning with printables that will help meal planning even easier.

You can also look at the sales flyers for the week and see what is on sale and do your menu according to what is on sale. So if chicken is on sale this week, you can stock up on chicken and make a couple of meals with chicken this week.

My friend Angie over at Angie’s Angle has several meal planning posts that will help you out.

Ease of Grocery Shopping List with Meal Planning

How to Meal Plan Part 1

How to Meal Plan Part 2

Here are some great Menu Planning Printables and posts that I think are great resources

Free Menu Planning printable

Easy Way to Meal Plan for a year with free printables

Meal Planning Made Easy

I have a Meal Planning Pinterest Board you can look at for more ideas or inspiration.

Do you meal plan if so what tips do you have to make meal planning easier?





Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Getting Away Together: 3 Tips for Budget-Friendly Family Travel


Vacations can be expensive and, as every parent knows, they are even more important after you have children. One of the greatest ways to develop and strengthen bonds with your kids is by “getting away from it all” and just enjoying family time together; no household chores, schoolwork or work responsibilities to get in the way.

Unfortunately, traveling can become expensive. Putting your entire family on a plane, renting cars, and paying for recreational activities can really add up. So if the tropical island vacation is off the agenda, what other options do you have available? Included here are a few tips for budget-friendly travel with your family.


While some people consider timeshares to be a terrible investment, in many cases they can be a good option for families. A timeshare is basically a property that you own a “share” of and gain use to it for a set amount of time each year. You help pay maintenance and basic rental fees on the place so that you can stay there for your vacations.

Timeshares exist all over the globe. You can get a timeshare in sunny California, one near the skiing slopes of Colorado, or even a timeshare on the Florida beach. Take stock of your family’s needs as well as traveling abilities (flying vs. driving), before investing. Keep in mind, most families with timeshares will always take their yearly vacation to their share, so make sure it is a place you love before you invest.

Road Trip

One of the easiest ways to reduce travel costs is to cut out flying. Saving on airfare can be astronomical when you load up the kids in a car to drive to your destination. Driving can be prohibitive if you have antsy toddlers, but most kids should be able to acclimate to the journey with plenty of stops.

Road trips offer plenty of time for family bonding, talking and interaction. There are plenty of road trip friendly games you can play as well as fun snacks to pack in the car. Bring a frisbee for a little leg stretching at rest areas and remember to be flexible. Sometimes everyone needs a break from the car, even if it means falling behind on your itinerary.

Rough It

The most budget friendly method of traveling and vacation is in going camping. Most campsites will be less than $10 per night and there is plenty of activity to enjoy in the woods. By packing all of your own food, you are guaranteed to avoid overspending on the trip and your kids can gain real world outdoor adventures.

Take time to catch frogs in a local creek, explore hiking trails, skip rocks across the lake, or go fishing. Sunbathing, reading, napping and sandcastle building are great low-key options as well. Evenings spent around a campfire are the perfect time to bond as a family and, if you confiscate all electronics before the trip, you should have your kids uninterrupted attention.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Budgeting For Home Improvements: 5 Steps To Savings

CHOEMS-WINDOW-TIP-EAR 1016 2CHave you been dying to renovate your kitchen or retile the bathroom? If like many homeowners you have an endless list of home improvements you’re planning to do, it may seem like the money is never there. But there are ways to get a little cash in hand to make meaningful improvements – it just takes some discipline.

Get on the road to home improvement savings with these 5 steps. Renovations are within your reach.

Get Goal Oriented

Before you can make a budget, you need to know what you’re saving for. Often homeowners have such a wide swath of projects they’d like to get done, it can be harder to focus on a specific task and the funds needed to accomplish it. Approach home improvements, then, like you would a business proposal. Write it all out and itemize the budget. When you see it all written down you may decide that some of these things aren’t worth the financial investment. Other improvements, though, may stand out as first on the list.

Can You DIY It? Or Just BIY It

DIY projects are a tricky financial undertaking. Many of the projects you see online are actually a money pit – they’ll cost you more to gather the materials than it would to just buy the thing you’d be making. Instead, constrain DIY projects to simple tasks like installing a new door. New doors – or even doors with a fresh coat of paint – can improve the appeal of your home, and they don’t take much effort.

For things you can’t do yourself, consider whether you have enough knowledge to purchase the materials – buy it yourself, as it were. When you hire help for a renovation, you also pay a markup on the materials. You’ll save on the renovation if you purchase what your contractor needs. Take this savings into account.

Stop Spending On Stopgaps

One reason that you may struggle to create a home improvement budget is because you’re constantly spending money on little things while you wait for the big ones. You don’t like how your kitchen looks so you try buying add-ons to cover it up, like inexpensive light fixtures or piles of new dish towels. Stop buying these things and save that money for your big goals instead.

Accept Alternatives

Sometimes when the budget still seems too big, it’s time to consider alternatives to the projects you’ve set your heart on. Wish you could put in new windows? What about a light tube? These tubes funnel in light to a small space for a third of the cost of a single new window. It may not be what you wanted, but it might accomplish the overall goal.

Home improvements will always be a budget concern, but you can take small steps towards meeting your goals. By starting with a clear vision of what renovations matter, you’ll find that happy medium – and a manageable budget – sooner rather than later.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

How to get free gifts when shopping online

Who doesn’t love a good deal? If you can save big-time with a great online deal, chances are you’re going to take it. But what about in the all-important area of education? If you’re desperate to save on the latest release from the Criterion Collection or the latest blazers and/or blouses made available by respected outlets everywhere, chances are you’re going to want to find a way to get some perks out of the deal as well. Frequent flyers on airlines get deals, and the same goes for frequent shoppers and members at many brick and mortal outlets today.
And hey, as stated previously—who doesn’t love a good deal?
So, what are some of the best ways to get free gifts when shopping online?
Well, we just stumbled one of the more popular options. As those brick and mortar stores so many of us grew up with either go extinct or find their way to inline prosperity, the chances of their offering online deals and free gifts is sure to go up. This is especially true in the latter case, as these companies are either trying to make up ground, and thus offer free gifts to try and entice new customers and keep their current base loyal, or else flourishing and able to offer free gifts as a way to grow their brand even more.
Then there are online sites such as (And if the existence of such a site in 2015 shocks you in any way, we invite you to try and get a bit more acquainted with the Internet as it is.) In any case, sites like these function much the same way as online coupon sites, wherein different listings for various opportunities are posted. Free gifts being offered by Company X? This, and places like it, are very likely to know about it. Think of it as a Craigslist of online free “stuff.”
And then of course there are online deals and coupons themselves. After all, offering free gifts has long been a favorite tactic of coupons—“buy one, get one free” a regular part of our lexicon—so it only makes sense that it’d extend to the fast-growing world of online coupons. Whether you go with Groupon, Coupon Ninja, Passion for Savings, or one of the other great online coupon sites, your ability to find out about and access free gift offers could be just a click away.


Disclosure: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Freeze your spending. Change your Life #31daysLSWZ

Could you go 31 days spending zero? Of course you still have to pay your mortgage and other bills.

If you are up for a challenge you can sign up for 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero by Ruth Soukup from LivingWellSpending

It starts October 1st and you will get daily emails to help you through the challenge. You will also get a preparation guide that will answer more questions.

You can budget money out for food and other expenses(Halloween costumes, etc)

She suggests not stocking up it is meant to help you realize wants versus needs.

I am super nervous about this challenge, I am worried I am going to fail. I love to shop a lot. But I do think this is going to be a great challenge for me to rethink my spending.

I would love for you to do this challenge along with me.


Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Great Deal at Target this week

Target has many great deals this week. Here is my favorite this week.

Room Essentials 66 qt tote box which are originally priced at $7.99 each.


There is a cartwheel deal for 50% off and you can get 4 of them at $3.99 each


Checkout the other deals you can get this week at Target .

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

5 Crazy Ways to Save on Gas

Just because gas prices are plummeting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize your purchase. There are many ways to save on gas beyond those gas-saving apps that help you pinpoint the cheapest filling station around. Plus, also remember that with many things you get what you pay for: There’s a collection of filling stations (including the “biggies” like Chevron, Shell, 76, etc.) that are committed to providing better, more refined fuel which is why they cost more. This is a must for those with collector cars, luxury cars, and others who want to protect the integrity of their investment.

However, where you can really save on gas comes well after you’ve paid for it. Already, 2015 has started off with the cheapest gas prices in recent history, so keep that ball rolling. Once you’ve filled up, follow these tips to make your gas last as long as possible. As an added bonus, many of these tips will also help make you a better driver:

1. Let bigger cars do the tough work

It’s kind of like how a flock of birds take turn tackling the head wind: Your car doesn’t have to work as hard if there’s another, bigger vehicle taking the headwind. Drive behind larger vehicles, allowing one car space of room per 10 mph, and your gas will last longer. However, if you don’t provide enough buffer room, you’re signing up for tailgating tickets, rock chips, and wearing out your brakes. To make this tip work, you need the perfect amount of buffering.

2. Give your brakes a break

The more often you use your breaks, and the heavier your foot, the more gas you’ll waste. Lightly tapping the brakes to slow down is preferable to having a lead brake foot. Know the signs of worn out brakes, and make sure they’re checked at least once a year, but also do your part to preserve them. For those with a stick shift, coast in neutral instead of braking and shifting to optimize your fuel usage.

3. Follow the speed limit

This might not be a “crazy” tip, but most people regularly speed thinking it’s doing them a favor (by getting them to a destination earlier). However, speed limits are there for a reason and it’s not all about safety. The maximum speed is posted because that’s what you can drive without having to constantly slam on the brakes or take wild turns. Follow the speed limit and you’ll save on gas.

4. Consolidate your trips

Many people with a car take full advantage of this luxury. However, obviously the less you drive the more gas you’ll save. Spend a month tracking your driving (perhaps with an app) and see just how much time you actually waste behind the wheel and in traffic. Everyone wants more time and more money, and you can get both if you consolidate your trips. If you really want to save, challenge yourself to taking public transportation or walking once per week.

5. Get your ride maintained

Your car can only do so much when it comes to working at optimal condition. A car should get a maintenance check annually or bi-annually. If you skip one, you may end up paying much more in repairs, gas, and replacements down the road. Do your homework and find a reputable mechanic who has the same goal as you: To make sure your ride is functioning the best it can be.

It’s easy to not optimize your gas during a time when bottom barrel prices are rampant. However, if you really want to save, combine low gas prices with gas saving moves.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Smartypig-Help your child save money online-Guest Post

SmartyPig: A Fun Way for the Children to Save Online

There are many ways you can teach children how to save money, but why not implement technology to make learning about savings fun? Smartypig is an online application sponsored by Compass Bank that encourages individuals to build their savings. How can using this website help encourage children to save money?

1. Helps to Set Goals – When you set up an account at, you can set goals for virtually anything you want. This could be a numerical value or titled with a certain object the children would like to buy. Each time money is put into this specific goal, a percentage of the goal is displayed. This number is the actual percentage of the goal as it is completed. Children can then see just how close to the goal they are. Multiple goals can be set up for a number of wants and needs. You could essentially create a separate goal for each child in the household. Since SmartyPig is online, the children can check their balances anywhere as long as you have a computer or device that has Internet access.

2. Yields High Interest Rates – Currently, you are hard pressed to find any bank that offers more than 0.92-percent interest. SmartyPig provides users with a solid one-percent rate for all accounts created. This means that your children could save money while earning one of the highest interest rates for a savings account available. Although it’s unlikely that they’ll become rich off of this one-percent, it is still a great return for any account.

3. It’s Secured and Safe – Funds deposited into the account are held by BBVA Compass. As such, the funds are FDIC insured for the maximum amount allowed by law. This means that the children’s money is as safe with SmartyPig as it would be with any other banking method. If you control the login and password information, you don’t have to worry about your children accidentally doing something with the money or changing various settings.

4. Provides an Easy Way to Pay for Chores and Allowances – Instead of handing out cash for allowances or completed chores, place the money in a goal of the child’s choosing. This empowers the child to make a decision about what to purchase in the future. Even if the goal is for a video game, at least he or she will learn the value of saving up for something to buy. He or she will accomplish the goal on his or her own.

5. Allows for Transfer to Debit – provides a debit card that works like any other loadable card. Money can be withdrawn at any time or loaded onto the card in order to provide a method to spend. Even though the money is technically the children’s, you can have complete control over where and how it is spent. This could be a great method to save up for children to go Christmas shopping without them tapping your own bank account for various presents.

These are just a few of the highlights that you could experience while using SmartyPig. Periodically, you and the children can gather around the computer monitor and watch as the accounts slowly grow. As the goals near completion, the children can learn what it means to save up for something worthwhile.

With over 20 years of experience in the nanny world as an award-winning nanny, agency director, and parenting author, Michelle LaRowe is considered a leading industry expert. A mom herself, she loves to educate parents and nannies on the importance of quality in-home childcare. Find out more by visiting @eNannySource on Twitter. 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Author Login