How I Saved (and made) Money on My Daughter’s Figure Skating

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The following is a testimony from Jennifer:

When my daughter completed the USFSA basic skills and freestyle programs a few years ago, the cost of her ice skating training skyrocketed.

First I tried to save a few dollars here and there.

  • choosing a more affordable private coach (not such a good idea as it costs more time and money to fix bad habits)
  • supplementing private lessons with jumps classes, juniors (semi private) lessons, and camps (very helpful)
  • extra practice during summer public ice (freestyle ice time at our rink runs $15/50 minutes while public ice is $5/80 minutes once at day a noon)
  • sewing my daughter’s skating dresses (this is where the story gets good)

A few years ago I thought I would attempt to sew my daughter a figure skating dress. I’ve always been able to sew, but the slippery lycra and power mesh (the see through — usually flesh tone — panels on skating dresses) took some time to master.

I made her first dress with some bright blue lycra, the wrong kind of elastic and my basic sewing machine. Once I added a few crystals, it didn’t look too bad, so I kept going.

A few dresses later (along with one overlock machine and some experiments with lining and specialty threads) I was making dresses for my daughter’s competitions and drafting my own patterns. Then I volunteered to make a few character dresses for my daughter’s synchro team’s spring show. They were a hit.

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I started working with her coach, making all the team dresses in exchange for the cost of participating. Her coach provided the fabric, a higher-end overlock machine, an industrial coverlock machine, and a great opportunity to show off my designs.

I have since made dance dresses for a collegiate synchro team, dresses for learn-to-skate groups, and custom freestyle dresses that range from $150-$675. In the past 12 months, I have made 275 dresses!

My business has become a wonderful way to pay for my daughter’s skating and my son’s activities while still allowing me to be a stay-at-home-mom. It has also provided me with a fun creative outlet (and my daughter loves that I can make just about anything we can dream up)!

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Are You Throwing Money in the Trash?

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Guest post from Asheritah of One Thing Alone

When my husband and I went minimalist, we quickly realized that our trash habits had to change too. With a little research and some planning, we saved over $684 — and lightened our carbon footprint.

Here’s how you can too:

1. Sell old appliances and electronics ($100)

Our electric company pays $50 for refrigerators that still function, and offer reimbursements for energy-efficient replacements. And when our laptop crashed, we bought a new one and sold the dead computer for $50 online. Easy-peasy!

2. Reuse veggie scraps ($204)

I save all my veggie scraps and rotisserie chicken bones in the freezer and make crock-pot stock once a month. One batch equals $17 savings, and if I’m not planning on making soup that week, I simply freeze the stock for later use. The other scraps go into our compost.

3. Recycle aluminum, glass, and plastic ($68)

The average American drinks roughly 16 oz of soda a day (source), the equivalent of two aluminum cans or one plastic bottle. If those containers were recycled, a household of five could recover at least $68, if not more in certain states. You can also recycle wine corks, cooking oil, tennis balls, and golf balls for cash.

4. Drive scrap metal to a junkyard ($48)

When we remodeled our bathroom a few years ago, we took the old cast-iron tub to a junkyard and got $48 for something we were going to throw out anyway. Since then, we’ve also sold old wiring, aluminum house paneling, our old water heater, and other miscellaneous metals.

5. Get a tax deduction for clothing and furniture (varies)

The best way to get money for things around the house is to have a yard sale. But for those of us who just don’t have that much to sell, donating items to thrift stores results in an easy tax deduction.

6. Sell books ($156)

You know those old college textbooks you’ve been hanging onto “in case you might want to refer back to them someday?” (Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

Five years after my graduation, I still hadn’t opened the cover on a single one, and I decided they had to go. Some I listed on Amazon and others I sold in bulk for easy payments. I also sell books I receive from publishers to do video book reviews, so I get to read books and make some money off of them. Voila! More shelf space and more money.

7. Pay less for trash collection ($108)

As a result of our collective effort to throw out less stuff, we found our 120-gallon trash bin was nearly empty each week. I now pay only when I need a pickup. We went from paying $10/month to $2 every two months, and they pick up our recycling for free!

Have you tried any of these methods? How else do you throw away less trash and make more money?

Asheritah helps overwhelmed women find joy in Jesus on her blog and through her books. She likes giving away free stuff to encourage women in their walks with God.

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“Dancing” To a Successful eBay Business

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Guest post by Kimberly of Garage Sale Heaven

My online selling success story began with a “dance”. Prior to selling online, I was working as a part-time writer and full-time homeschool teacher to my three children. My husband’s job as a public employee paid the bills, and the little bits of cash I made here and there for writing gigs paid for our little extras.

My oldest daughter, Madison, has danced since the age of three and in February 2013, she was accepted into Nashville Ballet’s Summer Intensive Program. Dance is her passion. She eats, sleeps, and breathes dance.

Needless to say, she was beyond excited to get this opportunity. The only problem was that it was going to cost over $3,000 to attend the 3-week program.

My husband and I knew what an incredible opportunity this would be for her, and we wanted her to have it, but we didn’t have an extra $3,000 sitting in the bank to pay for it.

While brainstorming different ideas, my husband remembered that he had several boxes of toys in the basement from his childhood. Since they were just collecting dust, we decided to try and sell them on eBay.

To our surprise, the toys sold quickly, and for great money! And to top it off, I really enjoyed selling and interacting with customers. After our success with the toys, we wondered what else might sell.

In June of 2013, I opened my online store, This and That Shack. In July 2013, Madison attended the Nashville Ballet Intensive, where she had the opportunity to follow her passion thanks to my eBay sales! And by a happy dance accident, I also found my passion. I haven’t looked back.

Since that time, I’ve expanded my sourcing to garage sales, auctions, antique malls, and the clearance racks of brick and mortar stores. I work, on average, about 25 hours per week. My sales have continued to grow, and I’m earning about $2,500 profit each month after expenses!

While dance is my daughter’s passion, eBay has become mine. I love sourcing and listing cool stuff, and I love hearing from happy customers that I helped them find exactly what they were looking for. This is definitely the most enjoyable and lucrative part-time job I’ve ever had, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

My family is grateful, too. They are enjoying many more little extras since I started my new endeavor. We’ve enjoyed a few small vacations, and Madison has since attended another Ballet Intensive in Michigan.

For those of you who might be interested in selling on eBay too, here are a few tips:

1. You will need to set up a PayPal account. All payments on eBay are done via PayPal.

2. You’ll need to register as a new user on eBay. Just click the Sell your item button on the eBay home page, and you will be walked through this relatively quick process.

3. As far as tools/supplies, you’ll need a computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access, a digital camera or phone that takes good pictures, a shipping scale, shipping tape, bubble wrap and boxes. You can order free Priority boxes from USPS.com.

4. You will need a space to keep your inventory neat and organized. Once you sell something, you don’t want to have to dig to find it.

5. If you’re wondering what sells on eBay, the answer is practically anything. The trick is always to buy low and sell high.

6. It’s a good idea to get the eBay app on your phone. When you are at garage sales, thrift stores, or auctions, you can easily look up items you’re interested in to see what they are selling for. Keep in mind that eBay and PayPal fees will take about 10-13% of each sale.

Any other tips from experienced eBay sellers?

Kimberly is a wife, mom, teacher, and eBay Top Rated Seller. She created her blog, Garage Sale Heaven, in order to share her frugal finds and reselling adventures. She loves a good garage sale! If you feel the same way, she hopes you’ll stop by.

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5 Tips to Build a Frugal Wardrobe With eBay

Guest post from Laura of Life as a Loewen

Finding adorable clothes on a shoestring budget can be challenging, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not impossible.

Enter eBay clothes shopping!

It should take you less than 5 minutes to set up an eBay account (if you don’t have one already). Then you can link your PayPal account for easy payments, or pay using a debit or credit card.

Here are a few tips for getting the most bang for your buck on eBay:

1. Know your sizes from a specific brand.

eBay has a number of different search features so you can narrow down exactly what you need (i.e. petite, tall, color of item, etc.)

Have you been eyeing a specific brand of clothing, say jeans, but don’t know what size you are in them? Go to a store that has them, try on a few sizes, write them down or enter into your phone and then you’ll be armed for your next eBay purchase!

You can also look on some store websites to see if they have sizing charts which would eliminate the need for a trip to the store!

2. Buy used.

You can search for items that are new, used, or unspecified. I’d suggest buying second-hand items to get an even lower prices on your clothes. Nearly all items I’ve gotten used from eBay come to me looking either new or nearly new!

3. Take advantage of bidding and offers.

Many items can be purchased through bidding (auction-style) on an item. Another way I’ve gotten steals on trendy clothes is by making an offer on items that indicate “or highest offer”. You never know until you try!

Offer less than the “buy it now” price, but what you feel is reasonable (and still a good deal) for the item.

4. Don’t write off high-end brands.

I personally adore the style of Anthropologie. But spending $100 on one top at the store? I couldn’t possibly.

What I do is keep a search saved of Anthropologie items in my size, and the types of clothes I’m looking for — such as short-sleeved blouses and cardigans.

eBay then saves that search and  I get to look for the best possible deals, getting higher-end clothes that are actually in my price range.

5. Sell your own items.

Selling gently used (or new) items is a great way to boost that clothing budget. Having 3 little kids on one income means there’s not a lot of wiggle room for the clothing budget, and especially not for this Mama to get new threads.

By selling some of my clothes on eBay, I’ve earned a little money to use toward future purchases by letting the balance sit in my PayPal account until something really strikes my fancy. You can also deposit the money from PayPal into your checking out to use it for general purposes, as well.

I’ve gotten lots of cute, trendy items using eBay, and I hope this helps you have another budget-friendly way to spruce up your wardrobe!

Laura is a mama of three littles {and in the adoption process}, delighting in the Gospel of grace. Attempting to be genuine and raw, Laura seeks to find the humor in everyday life. She shares her journey through faith, motherhood and marriage at LIFE AS A LOEWEN blog. Passionate about issues of social justice, and always up for a Motown dance party, Laura seeks to live with spirited intentionality.

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Why We’re Sticking With Our Starter Home

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Guest post from Andrea of Make This the Day

My husband and I purchased our first home when we were 23 years old. With no kids in the picture, we weren’t looking for anything fancy; we were thrilled to have a house that came with a refrigerator and central air conditioning!

It was small, and we figured that we would live here for no more five years. Once we had kids, it would be time to move on to something bigger and better. Fast forward seven years and almost three kids later, and we are unexpectedly still here.

Well-meaning friends and family often ask us when we will be moving… and they are usually surprised to hear that we don’t currently have any plans to move.

Here are a few reasons why we have decided to stick with our starter home for the time being:

We Recognized Our Needs vs. Wants

Our home is about 1300 square feet. It’s not tiny, but the layout is awkward and boxy. The three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms are pocket-sized.

I will be honest and say that I dream of a larger kitchen, an open floor plan, a finished basement, and two spacious full bathrooms. But when I step back to reevaluate, those are just wants at this point, not needs.

Our Priorities Don’t Allow for an Upgrade

A priority for our family is for me to stay home with our kids. Living in a small house and not having a large monthly mortgage payment allows us to retain this priority.

Our Smaller Home is Low Maintenance

I do not enjoy decorating, cleaning, or organizing… so I am thankful that my small house makes these tasks seem more manageable.

We have also been able to complete some major renovations on our home (including a new roof and a bathroom remodel) thanks to the fact that the spaces were so small and fairly inexpensive!

Love Grows Even in Little Houses

I want my family to be tight-knit. My big kids are cheerful and content in their shared bedroom, and I appreciate the nearness that our small house affords us even though we are cramped at times!

I Don’t Want My House to Own Me

On the contrary, I want to own my house, completely. Over the years, we periodically threw extra cash at our mortgage and celebrated our 30th birthdays last year by using extra money in our savings to pay the remainder of the balance!

Some people advised us against this decision by saying that we would be better off investing the money or using it for a down payment on an upgrade. But I will attest that it was one of the best decisions that we have ever made.

We feel such greater financial freedom, and the increased cash flow is awesome! Also, since we know the sweet taste of being completely debt free, we are not in a hurry to acquire another mortgage.

So What’s Next For Us?

As our kids and family grow, we recognize that a larger home may soon become a need rather than a want. We hope to use the next few years to save money for a larger home — our ultimate goal would be to pay for our next home in cash, or to have a very tiny mortgage.

We are looking forward to working towards that goal!

Andrea is a stay-at-home mommy to two, soon to be three, blessings and happily married to her college sweetheart.  She blogs about mommy things, homeschooling, and life at Make This the Day.

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5 Lessons I Learned After Quitting Facebook

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Guest post from Mary of Adventures In Frugal Land

Last month, I made the decision to say goodbye to my personal Facebook account. It was a decision that was in the back of my mind for a while. I took the plunge on May 6, 2015.

Since then, I’ve learned five important lessons.

1. I Don’t Have As Many Friends As I Thought

One my personal Facebook page, I had hundreds of “friends”. Once I said goodbye to my account, only a handful of them stayed in contact with me.

My birthday was less than two weeks after I made the decision to quit Facebook. In the previous years, most everyone on my friends list posted “happy birthday” to me.

Guess how many thought to call or text me? FIVE.

Most of them were family… which leads me to the next lesson.

2. I Don’t Care

Learning lesson one taught me lesson two. I don’t care about the lack of communication from my former Facebook “friends”.

The true friendships that I have are even more precious to me before. I value the few close friends I have more than I ever valued the fake ones I thought I had.

3. I Have More Free Time

I am amazed at how much time I really do have in a day. I knew I spent a good bit of time on Facebook, but I had no clue exactly how much.

I no longer feel the need to check my feed because I’m bored or out of habit. Instead, I use that time to do something productive or something I really enjoy.

4. I Am Happier

Let’s face it. Facebook is FULL of negativity… and I don’t want that in my life.

I am not the type of person who can just forget about something. So, when I would see a troubling post/picture, it would stay with me for days. I don’t want to focus on negativity in my life. I want to embrace the positive.

Since quitting Facebook, I am happier.

5. I Don’t Feel “Left Out”

I honestly thought that I would feel left out of the loop since quitting Facebook. I’ve found that I don’t. My friends and family inform me of any pertinent information I need to know.

Bonus Lesson #6: My Phone Battery Lasts Longer

It’s amazing how long a phone battery lasts when you are not constantly checking for updates and messages!

Mary is the mother of an energetic four year old daughter. She is passionate about bringing awareness to thyroid disease. You can find her blogging at Adventures In Frugal Land about thyroid disease, motherhood, frugal living and whatever else pops into her head!

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