(Note: This post was sponsored by Zondervan. Read our disclosure policy here.)
For a lot of people, the thought of living on a budget or trying to be more frugal can feel overwhelming. There’s a good chance you already feel stretched thin by the demands of your job and your kids and your commitments… and you want to figure out how to live on less and get a better handle on your finances, but you just wish someone would give you some easy tips and tricks to get started.
Well, you’re in the right place, because today I’m going to give you three simple ways to start living a more frugal life right away. These ideas don’t require any extra training or special skills to implement — and they probably won’t take you any additional time!
1. Drink More Water
You all know I’m a big fan of water. It is not only FREE, but it’s also so good for you.
Instead of ordering a drink when you’re out at a restaurant, order water. This simple switch will mean that you stay more hydrated and experience the benefits of drinking more water, but it also means you’ll save quite a bit of money.
And if you can get in the habit of drinking water instead of soda or fancy coffee or other beverages most of the time, this one tip could save you a few hundred dollars (or more!) per year!
2. Shop Markdowns & Clearance Racks
When you’re at the grocery store, take a few minutes to check for reduced produce, meat, bread, and dairy. (Not all grocery stores offer this, but many do and you can find some incredible deals on staple items this way!)
When you’re out shopping for clothes or other items, always check the clearance racks fi
rst. I’ve learned to scan the store when I first walk in to find the sale racks. In most cases, that’s all I ever look at!
By buying the bulk of our purchases on sale or clearance, we’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years!
3. Search for a Coupon Code
Before you make an online purchase, always search for a coupon code. You can Google the site you’re purchasing from + “coupon code” OR, you can just go to a site like RetailMeNot.com to search their massive coupon database.
While it might not seem like 10% here or 25% there will make a difference, it adds up big time. Best of all,
for the time it takes to search for a coupon code (usually a minute or less!), your return on investment can be quite substantial! (Where else can you easily save or make a few dollars for just a minute’s worth of your time?!)
See how simple and painless those were? (Okay, you might not think that giving up soda is painless, but I didn’t say you had to completely give it up!)
I was blessed to be raised by parents who were very financially savvy. We always lived beneath our means, they were very careful with every purchase, and they paid off their mortgage when I was young and then we saved up to pay cash to build a house in the country.
Because of their wise examples, living frugally isn’t something that’s difficult for me; it’s something that comes pretty natural to me. My friend, Erin Odom, is the same way.
But both of us know that frugality isn’t something that comes natural to most people and very few people were blessed to have the upbringing that we did.
That’s why I started MoneySavingMom.com — because I wanted to give practical tips and help you live on less than you make and be intentional with your money. It’s one of my passions to see families live in financial freedom and not carry around the constant stress of barely making ends meet (or of not having them meet at all!)
Erin has the same passion and that’s why she wrote the brand-new book, You Can Stay Home With Your Kids: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget.
You Can Stay Home With Your Kids is a gorgeous, hardcover book that is also compact enough to fit inside your purse. It’s super easy to take with you on-the-go when you have spare time to read.
This book is like a money-saving manual, and you can read it all at once or in spurts whenever you feel like it. You can skip around or read it all the way through.
It’s divided up into 8 categories that every family faces when it comes to living a life with financial margin and freedom (pictured below in the table of contents).
This book isn’t like most other financial books that can get quickly overwhelming. You Can Stay Home With Your Kids is packed with tons of short but meaty money-saving tips that can be implemented right away. Each tip comes with an action step to help you immediately apply the tip and see a real impact on your family’s budget — potentially saving you thousands of dollars each year!
No matter the state of your bank account, this book will give you hope, encouragement, and real-life, practical tips to curb spending, create more income, and practice gratitude and contentment in every area of your life.
Special Offer: Get $50 Worth of Bonuses With Your Book Purchase!
Want to grab a copy of You Can Stay Home With Your Kids for yourself?
Through April 22nd, Erin and her publisher are offering $50 worth of bonuses when you purchase her book! This was a pre-order promotion, but they’re opening it back up just for MoneySavingMom.com readers!
Here’s what you’ll get with your book purchase:
- The Woven Heart eBook in Kindle, Nook, and PDF formats — a book of essays Erin wrote during her first 6 years of motherhood and the perfect companion for her new book!
- Printable 2-Week ALDI Meal Plan (PDF format)
- Motherhood Art Print (shipped for FREE to your house!)
- Two bath bombs and gift certificate for half-pound of fudge from Free Reign Farm. (Shipping not included.)
What are some of YOUR favorite simple ways to save money — that don’t take extra time or know-how to implement? Share them in the comments!
Note: I know that some of you are not in a financial position to be able to purchase this book, but I don’t want that to keep you from being able to get your hands on a copy. So, if you truly cannot afford it and you are unable to get it from your library, I would like to buy a copy for you. Just shoot me an email (moneysavingmom @ gmail.com) with your address and I will order it for you.
Looking for frugal ways to enjoy the spring weather as a family? Check out this list of 25 Spring Activities for Families on a Tight Budget.
Download a free Easter Meal Planning Printable.
One of my big hopes for 2018 was that I would get brave enough to stop waiting for the invitations, and start being the initiator.
Because of past rejection and insecurities, initiation is outside my comfort zone and there are a lot of fears involved for me. But I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines of community and missing out on beautiful relationships. I’m ready to start reaching out, initiating, and opening the door of my heart and home more — despite the awkwardness and fear that is there for me.
So, with this in mind, I put it out there on the internet the first week of January asking if anyone lived in the Nashville area who was craving community with other women who wanted to live intentionally. If so, I asked them to message me.
I had no idea if I’d hear from anyone at all or maybe a dozen people, but I was excited to see where it led.
Well, guess what? I ended up hearing from at least 100 women!! Because so many women responded, I asked everyone who contacted me to fill out a form to share more details about themselves and had them sign a commitment form, as well. (I did this because I wanted to narrow down the list to people who really wanted to go deep in relationships and were willing to put themselves out there and take initiative, as well.)
Here’s what the commitment statement said:
Yes, I am interested in being part of a community of women who are committed to authentic relationship.
In this spirit I commit to the following:
√ I’m willing to be honest and vulnerable.
√ To go first.
√ To reach out.
√ To trust other women.
√ To not gossip.
√ To keep conversations confidential.
√ To love extravagantly.
√ To believe the best.
√ To listen and ask questions.
√ To be gracious when there are differences of opinion and belief.
√ To show up fully and bravely.
√ To be a safe space for other women.
Of the initial 100+ people who contacted me, 50 women filled out the form! I invited those women to a Come As You Are Night. (I shamelessly stole this idea from the pre-release copy I got to read of Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt.)
Here’s part of the email invite I sent out:
Because of the incredible and overwhelming response, my vision for what this is going to look like has changed some. I had initially pictured that maybe 5-10 women might be interested. Instead, there were dozens and dozens and dozens of women who answered my initial post and over 40 of you who filled out the Google form.
I realize that God might have something bigger here than my initial idea of one small gathering of women who meet on a monthly basis; I think maybe He’s opening the door for there to be multiple groups (maybe one hosted by you!) across the Nashville area!
So here’s what I’m thinking: I’d like to invite all of you who signed up on the Google form to a Come As You Are Night on February 9, 2018 at 7 p.m. It’s going to be hosted at XXXX.
Wear your comfy clothes (yoga pants or sweats or whatever you feel comfortable in!), bring a super easy snack or drink (whatever you have on hand or something that’s super simple), and come just as you are — without needing to pretend or perform or please or impress. Just be exactly who are, short-comings and struggles and all. 🙂
We’ll gather and get to know one another and we’ll share our hearts and we’ll talk about community and friendship. And yes, there will be questions and conversation starters that everyone will be asked and I’ll encourage you to share vulnerably with the women who are there. (You filled out the Google form saying you were willing to be authentic and vulnerable and go first so I’m going to hold you all to that! ;))
My desire for this evening is that we’ll all be brave and be willing to share openly and, that by doing so, we’ll find some connections and community with other women. Ultimately, my hope is that we’ll all leave with the names and numbers of at least a few new friends that we will plan to connect with on a deeper level in the weeks and months to come.
And 23 women (most whom I had never met and who had never met each other!) showed up at our house for the first Come As You Are night. These brave women showed up not know what to expect or who was going to be there.
The night was filled laughter, good food, amazing conversations, and incredible openness.
For those who have asked for details on the agenda, I started the evening by sharing my vision to connect women, to encourage women to get to know people in their local area, to encourage women to build authentic community, to be intentional and vulnerable.
I shared how my hope for this night was that people would connect with at least a few women in a deeper way and that they might even leave with the names and contact information of at few women that they would plan to reach out to personally and invite over to their home or invite out to coffee in the next week or two — and maybe that become good friends in the coming months!
I then had everyone go around and introduce themselves — sharing their name, where they live in the Nashville area, and telling us one interesting thing about themselves.
After everyone introduced themselves, I had a list of 8 questions that I put together and we broke into groups of two and talked about one of the questions for 5 minutes and then moved on to a different person/different question.
Here are the details of this from my notes (for those who like specifics! And yes, I had very specific notes for the evening — because that’s how I roll!)
7:50 p.m. — In an effort to help us all go deeper in relationships tonight and start being a little more authentic and vulnerable, we’re going to do a fun exercise — I have a few questions that I am going to have each of you answer… however, instead of having you share with the entire group — because I know that can be scary and intimidating, I’m going to have you turn the to person next to you and answer the question.
I’ll give you a few minutes and I want to encourage you to ask followup questions, if you have time. Ask why, dig deeper, encourage the person next to you to share as much as you feel like they are comfortable sharing. Don’t be afraid to step a little out of your comfort zone in the questions that you ask.
Remember: This is a safe place. And the more you are willing to share authentically, the more opportunity there is to develop relationships. And great questions are the way to open doors to stronger relationships.
Question #1: Where did you live in grade school and what was your house like? (I went first and demonstrated how I could answer this question. I did this with the first few questions so that women had a little bit of time to think of their answers!)
Trade places with people
Question #2: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Trade places with people
Question #3: What is one of the wildest things you’ve done as an adult?
Trade places with people
Question #4: What is your greatest fear?
Trade places with people
Question #5: What was one of the happiest moments of your life?
Trade places with people
Question #6: What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your life?
Trade places with people
Question #7: When was the last time you cried and why?
Trade places with people
Question #8: What are you celebrating right now?
We ended up going over the 5-minute mark for most of the question/answer time (I love that I had trouble getting the women to stop talking!), so we only got through 7 of the questions before it was past 9 p.m. and I wanted to make sure to respect everyone’s time. It was a great way to go deep in relationships pretty quickly and to get to know a number of women in the room in a short span of time.
A big thank you to my friend, Melissa, for all her help with pulling last night off and being my extroverted sidekick! And thank you so much to Jen for inspiring me to stop waiting to be invited and to start being the initiator!
I had no idea how much I was going to fall in love with this hospitality thing! I’m already looking forward to planning another night soon!
Tshanina Peterson attended the event and made a video sharing about how it impacted her life and she gave me permission to share it here in hopes that it would challenge some of you to step outside your comfort zone and stretch yourself, too!
It’s amazing what happens when you just open the door! Who can you reach out to today?
Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂
It was a BIG week at our house! We not only went to NYC for the New York Stock Exchange Closing Bell Ceremony with Inspire Investing (I’ll share a detailed post on our whole experience we had there later this week), but we also closed on our new house!
I also came down with a head cold in NYC and was pretty miserable the rest of the week and spent most of the time resting and reading and trying to get healthy. Gratefully, I was able to get out for an hour to go to the house closing and then I started getting my energy back this weekend and am hoping to be back to normal by tomorrow.
I got a box from Stitch Fix last week and thought it was going to be a dud… until I tried this outfit on. And I promptly fell in love. In fact, I have already worn it twice in the last five days!! It’s so comfy and fits me like a glove!
By the way, it looks like Stitch Fix may have again extended their amazing offer to get the styling fee waived on your first order. Be sure that there’s a turquoise bar at the top of the page when you go to StitchFix.com that shows this offer.
(You can also watch my latest Stitch Fix unboxing here. This was before I had tried on the above outfit and I thought I wasn’t going to like anything in my box.)
I just thought you needed some more Quill pictures! 😉
Kaitlynn decided to teach herself a new kind of drawing yesterday. She watched some YouTube videos and then freehanded these… she constantly surprises me with the things she teaches herself!
Since we closed on our house on Friday, I started working on decluttering/packing on Saturday.
Our lease isn’t up for two more months and we were unable to get out of it, so we decided to just have a slow-paced move over the course of the month and then be all moved by the end of February/beginning of March. I’m planning to just slowly go through sections of our house over the next three weeks and decluttering… because there’s nothing like a move to motivate you to declutter!
Our plan is to not pack any boxes — but to just slowly move things over to the new place in little loads at a time and then move all of the furniture/large items one day near the end of February. We’re starting with storage items and things we only use every few months. Then we’ll move on to items we can’t survive for a week or two without.
We’ve never moved slowly like this before, but my hope is that it makes it simple and means we’re able to pretty well live our normal lives without having to take a lot of time off to pack or unpack. We’ll see how it goes!
A Word of Encouragement on Fear
At the beginning of this year, God called me to step out in faith, let go of an area in my life that I’d been holding with clenched fists trying to control, and face a big fear head on.
Y’all, I was scared. Sick scared.
But I’m here to tell you that none of my fears and worries about how this might have disastrous consequences and how I might get hurt came to fruition. In fact, the opposite happened: this thing I was terrified of has become an amazing blessing and gift to my life and to our family.
I miss out on so much when I cling tightly to what feels safe and secure, when I try to control my life and my circumstances and the outcomes.
“Lord, give me the courage to live with my hands outstretched — fully relying upon You. Let me be willing to jump from what I think feels like comfort and security and let You be my Comfort and Security — even when I’m scared and there are so many unknowns.”
2018 Goals Update
1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story-driven/biographies/inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.
**Progress: I think I’ll be at 10 books read so far by tomorrow (look for a book update coming tomorrow)
2. Read through the entire Bible.
**Progress: I’m using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan and am on Day 28 — yay!
3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.
**Progress: 6 notes written total this year so far
4. Run 500 miles.
**Progress: 51 miles run so far
5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.
6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.
7. Take the kids to South Africa.
8. Go on a family road trip.
9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.
10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)
11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.
12. Launch 5 new courses.
**Progress: 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January and we’re currently working on finishing Content Creation 101 — a new YourBloggingUniversity course!