Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

I Paid Cash: A Viola

We paid cash!A testimony from Krysten

During my studies at college, I was required to take a strings class and learn a new instrument. My instrument of choice was the viola, and I loved it! I took the class for three semesters, and also played in a volunteer orchestra when my schedule allowed.

While in college, I met my future husband, and after we graduated, we got married, got jobs, had a couple of kids, and got busy with life. I occasionally wished that I could play the viola again, but knew that we didn’t have the money for an expensive instrument.

Six years passed in which I never touched a viola.

Last Christmas however, I received some money from a family member… and since we always use any Christmas or birthday money that we receive as “splurge” money, I decided to start saving for a viola!

My Christmas money wasn’t nearly enough, but it was a start. I checked prices and found some new low-quality beginner violas in the $400 range, so I figured that I could buy a nice used viola for about that amount.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t just scrape the extra money out of the corners of our budget. We just had another baby, so I wasn’t working at all for two months, and would only be working about half of my normal amount for the next three months, so we had already cut our budget as much as possible. This meant that I had to find an extra source of income.

I had been inspired about Crystal’s posts on living simply and decluttering your home, so I decided to find everything in our home that we did not need or use, and ended up with a hefty pile of boxes.

Next, I began my mission to sell as much of my stuff as possible. I sold some items on Craigslist and joined a friend at her garage sale, but I still had less than half of the money I needed. My household purge continued, and a few weeks later, I held my own garage sale. The money from this sale put my total at $371.75. It was time to find my viola!

The only problem was, there were no used violas for sale! I had already been watching Craigslist for two months, and hadn’t seen a single viola listed. I checked around online, but wasn’t impressed by the cheap quality of the new instruments that my budget would allow. I decided to keep waiting.

Four weeks after my garage sale, I found a beautiful viola for sale that had been owned by musicians who had taken excellent care of it. There was a minor problem with the bow, and because of that, they were only asking $175 ($200 less than my budget!)

So not only did I pay cash for my beautiful viola, but I also have almost $200 to use for lessons – as soon as I find a teacher!

Krysten is a piano teacher in central IL. She has been married for five years and has two children, ages 3 and 6 months. She loves making music, good food, and fun family memories.

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

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Turn a Ladies’ Night Out into an Opportunity to Give Back

Welcome to Decembers series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

The following is a testimony from Michelle of  The Willing Cook

I have a dear friend who has 6 children (ages 3-13) and 2 foster children (10 months and age 2). Four of the children are at home with her all day while her husband is a teacher at our Classical Christian School. They are very tight on money, time, and energy. Their days are tough, but they see their lives as a ministry to all their children.

Since I am generally seen as the social coordinator of our little group of friends, I try to plan Ladies’ Nights Out once a month. And as I was thinking through what we should do for our upcoming Ladies’ Night, the possibility of going out to dinner or doing anything that cost money was not sitting well with me. (Most of us are frugal because we have to be or because we choose to be.) It has also been weighing on me how we should come together to serve one another in times of need. Why don’t we do this more often?

So, we organized our Ladies Night to be a Freezer Meal Cooking Night and then we gave all the meals we made to our dear friend in need.This was a complete surprise for her and she was overwhelmed with thankfulness!

Oh, I cannot tell you how much of a blessing last night was. We all came together to fellowship with one another and minister to a sister in need.

Here’s it worked:

I came up with the meals to fix using mainly recipes from I did the grocery shopping the day before and was able to get everything for about $35 total (we used some ingredients I already had on hand).

The day before we got together, I did some of the cooking — like making the burrito meat and diced chicken.

I set up stations in my kitchen with the recipes printed out and put everyone to work, even the recipient! It took about 1.5 hours to get it all done, but it fun work!

The meals we made & the quantities:

And of course we couldn’t have a proper Ladies’ Night without a treat for ourselves. We completely indulged ourselves in Brigette’s Upside Down Praline Apple Pie. Amazing!

Everyone left with a full tummy of delicious pie and many laughs, as well as a full heart able to minister to a friend! And, one last thing, everyone wanted the recipes and agreed we should have more Freezer Cooking Ladies’ Nights Out.

Thank you, Crystal, for your part in such a great night!

Michelle is blessed to stay home with her three children (ages 10, 7, and 4), while her husband works to provide. When she’s not experimenting with allergy-friendly meals, she’s blogging about it at The Willing Cook. Through the Willing Cook, her hope is that you gain peace of mind in your kitchen (and your pocket book) and are able to serve those you love who suffer with food allergies.

Introducing the Amazon Search Alert: Create a Wishlist, Receive Price Alerts, + More!

With help from Mandi from Jungle Deals & Steals, we’ve now added a snazzy new Amazon Search Alert feature to!

The Search Alert tool allows you to not only search for your favorite products in an easy-to-use interface, but it also lets you create a wishlist of your favorite items and notifies you when those hit your buy now price!

You can find it in our dropdown menu under Deals & Steals. Just click on the Search Alerts link as shown above.
Jungle Deals & Steals Search Alert

One you’re on the Search Alerts page, simply type in a search term in the box below, something like “Bob’s Red Mill” or “Melissa Doug”.

Jungle Deals & Steals Search Alert

Then, when you find the product you want to add to your wishlist, click on Set Alert. Type in your email address and your alert price and click Save.

Jungle Deals & Steals Search Alert

You’ll receive an email when the price drops below your alert price. Or see all of your wishlist items by clicking the My Alerts tab.

Jungle Deals & Steals Search Alert

That’s it! You’re all set up and good to go!

Reader Tip: How I saved over $200 on my phone

Jessica emailed in the following tip:

I recently saved myself $220 on a new phone after doing a bit of research.

I had dropped my cell phone in the sink — and while the SIM card (which contains all of my phone numbers etc.) still worked fine, the touchscreen no longer worked.

When I went to the cell phone store, I found that they did not have my older model available and that it would cost $270 to purchase a new phone without getting involved in renewing my contract.

Instead, I went online and found my phone for $50! Because it was made by my cell phone company and was the same model, all I needed to do was put my old SIM card into the new phone and voila! Brand new replacement phone, same phone number, all my information, for $50 instead of $270.

If you were to buy a phone not made by your cell phone company you may need to take it to be “unlocked” at a local store (small fee for doing so) or if your SIM card was damaged you may need to purchase a replacement. However, even this would be much cheaper than paying the price for a brand new phone at your local store! -Jessica

photo credit